11 November 2010

Verse-by-verse through Philippians (4:19-4:20, part 3)

We saw last week that, although it is a very hard thing to imagine, but God is glorified, and is seen to be a true and righteous God, when He commends sinners to eternal punishment in Hell. We talked about the fact that while we live on earth, while our court systems are overseen by humans—humans judges sitting on the bench, humans sitting in the jury box—we will never see pure justice be done. Guilty men will go free, and innocent men will go to prison. Another thing is, if you go from city to city, and even from state to state, you will see that what may be legal in one place may be illegal in the next. You can't buy fireworks in Knoxville. But if you go just a little ways up Rt. 33, you can buy all the fireworks you want. But God, being the perfect Judge that He is, will not only punish all sinners, but He will punish them according to the same standard—the Laws that He laid down, to be obeyed by ALL men.

Now, when I say “The Law,” or “God’s Law,” these are not necessarily laws that are enforced by the various criminal law departments in our country. Stealing, and murder—yeah. And until just a few years ago, adultery was still a punishable offense in many states. But a person can, unfortunately, blaspheme the name of God or they can worship Allah or Buddha or even their own self, and not run afoul of KPD or Knox County Sheriff or even the THP or TBI. However, God requires punishment for those sins. And unless the person has accepted the payment that Christ made on the cross for their sins, that person will, necessarily, be punished for all eternity in Hell. And because all sins will be paid for—either by the person, or by Christ—God will be seen to be the just, righteous, and glorious God that He is. So that’s the bad news. That’s how He will be glorified in Hell. Now, for something a little more joyful. The good news. Today we’re going to see the glory of God in Heaven, and we will see how we glorify Him on earth.

Philippians 4:19-2019 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. 20 Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

A couple weeks ago we read one of the most beloved passages of Scripture, in Isaiah 6:1-4--In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. Now, let’s read as the apostle John gives us a more detailed peek into Heaven in the Book of Revelation First, we see God the Father glorified and praised. Revelation 4:8-11--The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.” Six wings—just like the angels in Isaiah 6. They also utter the same praise as the angels in Isaiah 6.

Not only does John show us that God the Father is praised in Heaven, but also God the Son, Jesus Christ. Revelation 5:1-4--And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?” And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it. So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it. God the Father holds, in His hands, a scroll. It is a very important scroll, so much so that it is sealed with seven seals. What this scroll contains—men who know a whole lot more than I do have debated this for years. Suffice it to say, all the creatures and the angels realize that no one in Heaven or earth has the authority to open this scroll.

There is One who steps forward and possesses the authority needed to open that scroll. Revelation 5:5-14--But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.” And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.” Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom,
And strength and honor and glory and blessing!” And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying:“Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!” Then the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever.

So we see God the Father and God the Son being the objects of worship in Heaven. And this is before the Great Tribulation, the rise of the Antichrist—this is when God is getting everything ready to be judged. Then comes the judgments on the earth—all the plagues and the natural disasters that we read about in the next 12 or so chapters. But then, once all those plagues have come about, and after Christ judges the living and the dead, when Death and Hades and all sinners have been cast into the Lake of Fire—then He makes all things new in Revelation 20:13-21:4. How many of y’all always thought that the Book of Revelation was nothing more than death and destruction and the Apocalypse and Armageddon? Those are major events in Revelation—but when we see those things for what they are, we see just how blessed we are that God has saved us, and we will be spared of all those things! Revelation 20:13-21:4--The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Once Death and Hades and sin have been judged and destroyed, we will see God in all His glory. We cannot see that glory now, because we are in these unredeemed, sinful bodies. 1st Timothy 6:15-16The blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen. Philippians 3:20-21For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body. Then, once we have that new body, once sin and death are done away with, there will be a new temple in New Jerusalem. This will be the final fulfillment of the words that God spoke through the prophet Haggai, in Haggai 2:6-9“For thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the LORD of hosts…‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the LORD of hosts.” How great and glorious will this temple be? I'm glad you asked.

Revelation 21:22-27--But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. God the Father and God the Son will be the temple. There will be no darkness, not even shadows. Think about sunlight for a moment. The sun only gives light in a direct, straight line. If something is in the path of that light, there will be darkness behind that object. In Heaven, the glory of God will fill every square inch, and even if you stood directly in front of the throne, there will be no shadow behind you, because it is the glory of God that will fill every square inch with light. These people who think that when we get to Heaven all we’re gonna do is sit on a cloud and pluck a harp—they have no idea!

One final thing: look at Revelation 21:25Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). Would you ever go anywhere without shutting and locking your front door? The gates of this new city will never be shut—know why? Revelation 21:27But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie. Nothing sinful will ever get in. We won’t have to worry about locking the gate—anybody we might have ever been afraid of will be in Hell, and the only people in Heaven will be those who will never sin ever again! God glorified in Heaven.

So, what does that mean for us while we walk this earth? I'm glad you asked. See, a lot of people think that once they say a little prayer and go to church for a while, they can just put it on cruise control for the rest of their lives and just wait for ol’ St. Peter to stamp their ticket when they get to the pearly gates. WRONG!! You see, God has a reason for keeping us alive after we get saved. What is that reason? If I were to mention the Westminster Confession of Faith, that may not mean a whole lot to some people. But it was a statement of beliefs drawn up by the Church of England and the Church of Scotland back in 1646. And it is still used by many Presbyterian and Southern Baptist churches to this day. It’s made up of several Q&A’s that help to outline our beliefs.

Question 1: “What is the chief purpose of man?”
Answer: “To glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”

Philosophers have devoted their lives to the question “Why are we here?” The answer has been around for thousands of years. We exist to glorify God. We find that answer in several Scriptures. Titus 2:11-14For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that…we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. Jesus told us in Matthew 5:14-16“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” If someone is going to claim to be a Christian, then their life has to square up with that claim. Sadly, there are many people walking around claiming the name of Christ on their lips, yet they go out and get drunk or do drugs or they're sleeping around—they are glorifying God with their lips, but their lifestyle actually brings reproach on His name. Romans 2:23-24You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” as it is written. When we openly defy God while claiming to be His child, we give His enemies a reason to blaspheme against Him. And we bring shame to Him.

BUT—when we do what He commands, and seek His righteousness, and wake up every day with a heart that says, “I'm going to serve Him today,” and if everything we do is done with an attitude of thankfulness, then we bring glory to God—that is, we make His fame and His righteousness known to a world that does not know Him. Peter told us pretty much the same thing in 1st Peter 2:11-12Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. Philippians 2:14-15Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.

Finally, friends, it is not only through our lives that we glorify God. The day may come when we may have to give up our earthly life in order to declare the name of our God. Listen to what Paul told these Philippians in the first part of this letter. Philippians 1:20-21My earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness…Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. To the apostle Paul, it did not matter if he ever got out of prison, or if he spent the rest of his life chained to a Roman soldier—or if they took his head. Which they eventually did. If he went on living, that meant he could preach the gospel to more people—and we’ll see in a couple weeks the outcome of that preaching. If he died, he got to go home to be with Christ. It was a win-win situation! And that’s how it is with us, too. If we live, we get to keep showing the world our faith in Christ is real, we show them what a life looks like when it is devoted to God. And if we die, we go to Heaven! I'll take those odds any day.

And last, listen to these words written by the apostle John concerning the last recorded conversation between our Lord Jesus Christ and the apostle Peter. John 21:17-19Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep. Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. Dr. John MacArthur cites certain historical sources that say this about Peter’s death:
“Peter had to watch as his wife was crucified, but encouraged her with the words ‘Remember the Lord.’ When it came time to for him to be crucified, he reportedly pleaded that he was not worthy to be crucified like his Lord, but rather should be crucified upside down. Tradition says he was in ca. A.D. 67-68.”
About 33-35 years after Christ’s crucifixion. If these sources are correct, then this was a fulfillment of Christ’s words. One way or another, Christ’s words were fulfilled, whether it happened this way or some other way. Whether by life or by death, may God be magnified in our bodies.

Jesus Christ is Lord.
Amen.

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