Ruling or Drooling?

Posted on 12/09/2012 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)

*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***


Public Prayer Requests:

*** there are no public prayer requests this week ***


WE BRING THE SACRIFICE OF PRAISE

We bring the sacrifice of praise
into the house of the Lord
We bring the sacrifice of praise
into the house of the Lord
And we offer up to you
the sacrifices of thanksgiving
And we offer up to you
the sacrifices of joy



TREES OF THE FIELD

You shall go out with joy
And be let forth with peace
And the mountains and the hills
Will break forth before you
There'll be shouts of joy
And all the trees of the fields
Will clap, will clap their hands

And all the trees of the fields
will clap their hands
The trees of the fields will clap their hands
The trees of the fields will clap their hands
While you go out with joy



BLESS THE LORD O MY SOUL

Bless the Lord O my soul
and all that is within me
bless his holy name

For he has done great things
he has done great things
he has done great things
He's so good to me

He saved my soul
he saved my soul
he saved my soul
He's so good to me

He is coming soon
he is coming soon
he is coming soon
Bless his holy name


*** listen to the audio for the introduction ***

You know, when you forget about everything else and completely focus on Jesus, and when you are lost in the presence of God, you are experiencing heaven, you are tasting eternity with God.

Well, today, I'd like for us to spend the next few minutes exploring what the Bible says about what we can expect in heaven.

And you know, it's become a pretty popular notion that, if heaven even exists, it's a place where you float around on clouds all day playing a harp.

If you've looked at the notecard yet, you probably noticed the title of my message today, and you're probably wondering how in the world I'm going to say anything serious with a title like that.

But it's a three-word contrast between the heaven described in the Bible and the heaven portrayed in society, and the title of today's message is, "Ruling or Drooling?"

Sure, if you're used to meditating every day, maybe you could site serenely on a cloud for all eternity doing nothing but floating around. But for the here-and-now folks who are overly stimulated, and that's most people, the idea of peacefully floating in total serenity forever and ever is equivalent to sitting around drooling.

And when you think about it, why in the world would we need to undergo any change at all, except for maybe a lobotomy, for us to be ready to sit around playing a harp? We wouldn't need any character, any holiness, any integrity, or even any relationship with God. Anyone, with the right amount of morphine, could float around on a cloud all day.

And this type of false concept of heaven is why so many people have come up with statements to the effect that heaven is boring, while hell is going to be one big party. And it's no surprise. Jesus Himself said that the kingdom of heaven advances by violence, and the violent take it by force.

Not too long ago, we talked about this, and we examined what He meant by "violence," which was not doing bad things to people, but was a highly focused, highly passionate, and righteously aggressive advancement toward the prize.

Do you think such a person would be very excited about the idea of sitting around all day on a cloud?

Personally, the idea almost appeals to me, floating around unlimited heavenly dimensions while in a deep trance. But I'm weird. I admit it. There'd be no point in my trying to hide it. But that's not what heaven's going to be. And if we're supposed to be preparing for eternity during this life, don't you think it's important for us to have at least a vague idea of what that eternity will be and what we will be doing?


First, let's read the first four verses of the twenty-first chapter of Revelation.

Revelation 21:1-4 (NKJV)

1 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.
2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
3 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.
4 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."

So we know that, first of all, we will be in the presence of God; and not just like we are today during times of intimate worship... We will see Him face to face.

Next, we see that God will wipe away every tear. And it goes on to expound upon that statement: "There shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."

No more pain. How many of you know today that boredom is pain. So this could have accurately said, "There will be not one single trace of boredom." And if you're not the least bit bored, and you are in joyous rapture, wouldn't you agree that you're probably having a pretty good time?

You've probably heard that we will be worshiping God 24/7. And while I believe this is true, the idea that to worship, you have to be doing what you'd be expected to do in what we would consider a worship service, isn't consistent with what the Bible teaches.

In fact, we should ALREADY be worshiping God 24/7 RIGHT NOW!

Colossians 3:17 says, "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." And 1st Corinthians 10:31 says, "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."

So we are already supposed to be worshiping God all the time. If something you do is not an act of worship to God, then you need to either change your attitude about it or the way you do it, or you need to do something else instead.

And we've talked about this before, that this does not mean we aren't supposed to relax or to have fun. At the risk of offending someone's holy cow, I'll throw out there the possibility that having a beer and watching the game could be an act of worship. But to get this point across to those of you who think beer is evil, I'll change it to this: having an iced tea and watching the game could be an act of worship.

But the life of worship can be summed up like this: Whatever you do, do it with Jesus, in a way that would please Him, enjoying it together with Him. And make sure that the things in your life don't crowd out your ability to clearly hear what He wants you to do.

Sure, that might mean missing the game because the Holy Spirit is telling you to do something else instead. After all, a life of worship is a life that has surrendered EVERYTHING to God. If He tells you to let something go, you let it go. And it's not a life of boredom -- boredom is completely foreign to God's nature; rather, it's a life of great fulfillment and joy.

And this life of worship automatically creates a life of repentence, and we talked about that last week. If you're careful to make sure everything you do, say, and think is an act of worship to God, then you won't have room for sin; and if you do mess up and fall to temptation, to continue living your lifestyle of worship, there's nothing to do besides to repent and ask for forgiveness. Amen?


Okay... So I think we can all agree that we won't be floating around on clouds playing harps, and that while we WILL be constantly worshiping God, that doesn't mean we'll be bowing around His throne all the time.

So what WILL we be doing? Well, let's find out.

Revelation 22:5 gives us a clue about one of the things we'll be doing. It says this:

5 There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.

First, this tells us that we won't work the night shift, and we won't work ANY shift for a lighting company.

And then it gives us a clue as to what we WILL be doing: "And they shall reign forever and ever." Obviously, the reason I said this is only a clue is because "reigning" could mean any number of things.

Let's back up just a little bit and cover something that just might give us a better perspective.

Lots of Christians think that heaven will be fundamentally different from earth. We'll fly around, walk through walls, we'll never eat or drink, and the laws of the universe will be completely done away with as we live out eternity in some sort of astral realm.

First of all, Heaven is not going to be "up there somewhere." Rather, Heaven will be on earth. Remember what we read in Revelation chapter 21, that the holy city, the New Jerusalem, will "come down out of heaven from God." This doesn't mean that a city has been built somewhere inside the "Pearly Gates" and that some day, God's going to take the city out of heaven and put it here on earth. Many times, when the Bible mentions "heaven" or "the heavens," it's talking about the skies and beyond. Other times, it seems to be talking about spiritual, rather than physical, locations, or dimensions.

But the New Jerusalem is going to "touch down," if you will, here on earth. And Jesus will restore all things.

Genesis chapter 1 and verse 31 says that after God had made everything, He saw that it was "very good." It wasn't faulty. It wasn't mediocre. It wasn't in need of improvement. No, it was "VERY GOOD." Excellent. Incredible.

It was only after man sinned against God that all of creation was cast into degridation. You see, God didn't have a "Plan A" that failed, after which He had to come up with a "Plan B." No, Jesus did not come to do away with, but to fulfil. And to restore.

Before sin, God walked with Adam in the garden. They had fellowship. They talked face to face. The earth was perfect. It was paradise. And while man tended the garden, it was not work. Struggle and toil came AFTER the curse of sin settled over all that was under man's authority.

So Jesus did not come to establish a Plan B, but to RESTORE Plan A.

Romans 8:22 (NKJV) says this:

22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.

Creation is groaning under the curse of sin. You see, sin is anything that is contrary to God's ways. When you choose to do things your own way instead of God's way, you are living in sin.

And note here that God's ways are the ways of life, and any deviation from those ways results in decay and eventual death. So Adam, being put in charge of the creation, took that creation out of perfect agreement with the ways of the Creator, and things immediately began to break down.

And then we read the following in Acts 3:19-21 (NKJV)

19 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,
20 and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before,
21 whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.

So there will come times of restoration of all things. Not doing away with and replacing all things, but RESTORING all things... ALL things.

God's order will be restored not only in the affairs of mankind, but in the very heartbeat of creation. The death and destruction that is the result of things not operating in perfect harmony with God's laws of life, will come to an end, as all of creation is RESTORED to what God originally created it to be!


So Heaven is not necessarily some abstract, mystical realm like so many of us have somehow come to believe. Instead, it is paradise restored -- vibrant, exciting, breathtakingly beautiful, and neverendingly perfect. No more death. No more "running down of creation's clock" like we see today. Everything will be completely and perfectly restored.

And it is in THIS atmosphere that we will rule and reign with Christ, here on the restored earth, the global paradise, with no more struggles with temptation and sin.


Let's get back to that question: What will we do in heaven? Well, consider that, while you'll have a new body, a glorified body, it will be YOU who is wearing it. What does God have for you to do today? Have you ever considered that it just might be preparation for what you'll be doing for all eternity?

Now don't get me wrong. I am NOT suggesting that eternity will be the same old thing that you have to make yourself do day in and day out on this earth. And even if it was, consider the difference between what Adam did before and after the fall.

Before the fall, Adam tended the garden. After the fall, Adam tended the ground. His job was still agricultural; but it drastically changed from being a wonderful joy, to being a burden, as the curse of sin caused the ground to stop yielding, and as Adam sweated, became sore, got injuries as he removed the thorns from the land, and as he started to age.

If the truth be known, I don't think we can really imagine how things will be, or how things WERE. Life under the curse of sin is all any of us have ever known.

The earth is under the curse. Our bodies are under the curse. Our attitudes and our minds are, to one degree or another, under the curse. And it's hard for us to think about work outside of the context of labor in a sin-sick world.

But not only will we have purpose, not only will be have something that we do, something that makes a real difference, but we will, for the first time, truly and fully experience it in the way God intended.

And in several places, the Bible tells us that we will rule and reign. Not in the way we think of it today with all of the oppressive and controlling governments we see in the world today, but as perfect representations of Jesus.

1 John 3:2-3 (NKJV) says this:

2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

So all of our imperfections, all the things with which we struggle, those things that hold us back from walking more closely with God, from stepping into the place He wants us to be, and from being a clear reflection of Jesus; those things will disappear; for when we see Him, we shall be like Him. That's a promise. That's a statement of fact.

And it goes on to say that everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as Jesus is pure.

Are you happy with yourself just the way you are? Does your sin not bother you? Are you content to remain where you are because, after all, you're not perfect and you're not Jesus?

If so, then according to this Scripture, you don't have that hope, the hope of glory. And I urge you to examine your true condition with God today. Are you REALLY walking with God? Or have you been fooling yourself?

I'm not suggesting you won't struggle. In fact, that's what I'm suggsting you SHOULD be doing. If you're surrendering to your sins, or saying they're okay, or excusing them by saying that "God understands," then you need to get some struggle in you. For the hope of eternal salvation produces a heart that will accept nothing less than daily purification.

"And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure."

So right now, today, we should be purifying ourselves, looking toward that hope, that assurance, that when we see Him, we will be like Him. Let's be moving toward eternity instead of holding on to the world, and to the way things are today.


After the New Jerusalem comes down from heaven, there will be a thousand years in which we will reign with Christ over the nations. We will have things to do, responsibilities, "jobs" if you will, although perhaps that word has too much of a negative conotation for us to use...

Are you preparing yourself to judge with Godly judgment that is unpoluted by human reasoning and pride?

Are you preparing yourself to be pure, not just in your own eyes or in the eyes of others, but measured up to the level of purity found in Jesus?

This life is just a training ground for eternity. Don't get caught sleeping in or neglecting your responsibilities. Instead, approach life like Jesus, doing everything you do for the purpose of pleasing God.


So we will be worshiping, working, ruling, and judging. We will be just like Jesus. And if we have within us the hope of glory, then we are already purifying ourselves with the goal clearly in mind of being pure just like He is.


And now we get to ask ourselves that silly question that somehow turned into the title of today's message: Are we living today as though, in eternity, we will be ruling? Or as though we will be drooling?

Too much of the Church's lives look a lot more like the latter than the former. And I'm not innocent of doing my share of drooling.

And it's important for us to realize that the answer is not just to do the things that we would do IF we had within us the hope of glory; rather, the answer is to GET that hope, and then to live in it.

I'd like to open up the altar today, and the invitation is simple: Do you need to renew your perspective? Do you need to adjust your approach to life? Do you want to dedicate or rededicate yourself to a life of purity?

Then you're invited to get out of your seat right now and make your way to the front.

Or maybe you simply don't have that hope of glory, and you know that because you haven't been purifying yourself. Well, the Spirit and the Bride say, "Come!" Come to the Savior. Ask Him to give you a repentant heart. Surrender your life and everything in it to Jesus. And He will make your life brand new, and will put the hope of glory inside of your heart.

Come to the front, and let's seek after God today.

Whenever you need to go, you're dismissed, and after this time at the altar, you're all invited to make your way up the stairs and to the room on your left, and we'll all meet there in a few minutes for a time of fellowship.

Come, and let's step up to the plate, as we embrace our eternal future, as we start preparing for that future today.


Lord God, thank you so much for speaking to us through your word today. I ask that what you've spoken into our spirits won't be lost, but that we will draw it into deep soil by acting on it right away, so that it will take deep roots so that we will be changed.

I ask that no one would leave here today without having within them that hope of glory, and that through each and every one of our lives, you will be glorified.

And we ask these things in Jesus' wonderful name.

Amen.