“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God:” Ephesians 2:8. Grace describes God’s part in salvation. Faith describes man’s part in salvation. Salvation is not forced upon man. Salvation is offered as a free gift. God has done everything for man to be saved which man cannot do for himself. Man must accept God’s gift of salvation. It is accepted by faith. That faith is in Jesus Christ. Galatians 2:16 “ Nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.” This faith believes in Jesus as our Savior. This faith obeys Jesus as his Savior. This faith trusts Jesus as our Savior. This faith obeys Jesus as our Savior. (Matthew 7:21; James 2:24-26) Salvation is God’s free gift to man; however, man does not receive this gift unless he accepts it with obedient faith.
“But if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:5-6) If a Christian prays in faith, his prayers will be answered. Faith means confidence that God will answer the prayer. The opposite of faith is doubt, his prayer will not be answered. He will be like the waves which are blown one way by the wind and then are blown another way by the wind. The waves are unstable. The person in doubt cannot make up their mind.
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17) The word of God, the gospel, is intended to produce faith in Christ. One cannot have faith in Christ without it.
A Christian’s obligation is to use their possessions to support God’s works and to take care of family. To have material things is not a sin; however, we Christians have a great responsible in how we use them. The words of Jesus say this to us, Matthew 6:19-20 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal.”
We all have things that we possess. We would think in our own minds that we work hard for them and we deserve to have them. It could be pictures of family or things that we use for our hobbies. It might be the houses that we live in. There are a multitude of things we possess. It is not the things we have that might cause us problems but it is how we use the things we have. In all of this we always need to remember that it is God who really did bless us with what we have. The lessons that we receive from the Bible should tell us how to use these things that we have. It is not about how much we have, a little or a lot, it’s just how we use it, and if we give thanks to God for what we have.
The rich man in Luke chapter twelve who had so much that he needed to build bigger barns to hold all his wealth is one example. He did not get the benefits of this because he did not give God the credit and kept all that he had for himself. He was not willing to share. The poor widow in Mark chapter twelve gave all that she had, which was not much, and Jesus gave a place in the written word to say how great she was. Acts chapter five tell us about Ananias and Sapphira, they had things to share but just wanted glory, they did not get to enjoy what God had blessed them with.
The question that comes is, how do we as Christians use the things God has blessed us with. Is it to give back to God the glory He should have or is it to give us that glory. Lay up the treasures you have been blessed with in heaven and you will have rewards that cannot even be counted. Great is our God.
In John 14:2 these words were recorded by John as spoken by our Lord Jesus. “In My Father’s house are many mansions; If it were not so, I would have told you.” What a guarantee we have. The apostles had some troubling in their hearts, their faith was wavering. Jesus tells the apostles do not be troubled. These words spoken to the apostle were also spoken to us today. We can get so carried away with things that happen to us we fail to remember the words spoken by our Lord. Jesus assures the apostles His departure is not permanent. When Jesus ascends to heaven, He is going to prepare the place for them in heaven. He will come back and get them and get us. Jesus is referring to His second coming. Our Christian hope depends upon Jesus’ return when He will raise people from the dead and take the righteous to heaven. John 5:28-29 “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tomb will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who did committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.” With Jesus’ ascension to heaven in view to His apostles all doubt about who Jesus is, has disappeared. He is now in heaven preparing a place for us. That is a great comfort.
Some of the words from Sweet By and By. “There is a land fairer than day and by Faith we see it afar. For the Father waits over the way to prepare us a dwelling place there, and our spirit shall sorrow no more. For the glorious gift of His love and the blessing that hallow our days.”
So many songs we sing are about Heaven. Above the Bright Blue, Heaven Holds All for Me. How Beautiful Heaven Must Be, No Tears in Heaven, Paradise Valley, and When We All Get to Heaven. We sing these because of the words of Jesus, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:3
We have an incredible description of heaven by John when we read Revelation 21:9- 22:5. The language is symbolic but we can still get an idea of what heaven is like. Heaven is a big place, figuratively fifteen hundred miles in each direction.
We are told heaven is a beautiful place Revelation 21:9-27. When John tries to describe the most beautiful place which consists of nothing of earth, he had to describe it in terms that we understand. He uses precious gems and streets of gold. There is no greater beauty than that which exists in heaven. We see terms like crystal-clear jasper, all kinds of precious stones and street that are made of gold. This is a prepared place for all the saints of God. It is a wonderful place where our God dwells. The songs that we sing say “Oh I Want to be There and Look Upon His Face,” and “No Tears in Heaven.”
Heaven is a bountiful place. Revelation 22:1-2 “Then He showed me a river of water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for healing of the nations.” The description here reminds one of the Garden of Eden, but the garden of God is much better than the Garden of Eden. The things that are essential to life are mentioned here, water, food and health. He also describes heaven as a place where there is no want, everything is provided in the highest quality. It is a place of a perfect life and health. Heaven is a blissful place 22:3-5 John also remind us that heaven is a place of personal and permanent association with God. A place of peace and a place of joy and love that will last forever.
Some scripture that I want to “share” with all of you:
The LORD will give strength to His people; The LORD will bless His people... (Psalm 29:11)
The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and the expanse shows His handiwork. (Psalm 19:1)
You have given me the shield of Your salvation, and your right hand upholds me… (Psalm 18:35)
For You light my lamp; The LORD my God illuminates my darkness. For by You I can run against a troop; and by my God I can leap over a wall. As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him. For who is God, but The LORD? And who is a rock, except our God, the God who arms me with strength and makes my way blameless? (Psalm 18:28-32)
The law of The LORD is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of The LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of The LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of The LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. (Psalm 19:7-8)
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)
For The LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD gives grace and glory; no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly (or, with integrity). (Psalm 84:11)
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen…And without faith it is impossible to please Him… (Hebrews 11:1&6a)
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our LORD Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God…and also, we exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings perseverance (endurance), approved character, hope; hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who was given to us. (Romans 5:1-5)
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)
Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting (turning) shadow. (James 1:17)
Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. (John 14:27)
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has given to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence (virtue). (2nd Peter 1:2&3)
Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In my Father’s house are many dwelling places (or, mansions – NKJV); if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14:1-3)
But when this perishable (corruptible) put on the imperishable (incorruption), and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your victory?... your sting?” …but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our LORD Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the LORD, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the LORD. (1 Corin. 15:54-58)
(Rev. 2:10 excerpt): Be (or, prove to be) faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
Finally, may we, the Ripon church of Christ, a family of God which is rooted in Christ, pray ALWAYS:
Let the words of our mouths and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, our rock (strength) and our Redeemer!
(a paraphrase and personalization of) Psalm 19:14
600 West Milgeo - Ripon California 95366