Heavenly Reward

Sermon for Sunday, July 30, 2017

Heavenly Reward

Text: 2 Peter 3

John 3:

[16] For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

[17] For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  [18] Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

1 Corinthians 15:

[19] If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.

Our subject today is heaven.  Sometimes when I preach on this I get the feeling that some people think this is a subject that is not very practical.  Some think that when we get to heaven we will have plenty of time then to worry about the subject, but right now they think we ought to spend our time thinking about the here and now.  They say,

“Aren’t people who are heavenly minded no earthly good?”

The idea is that if we focus on the heavenly streets of gold we will forget about the potholes here at home.

If it wasn’t for the Bible, we might be able to reason like this, but one of the most consistent truths of the New Testament is this:  What you think about heaven, determines how you live today!

2 Peter 3:

[10] But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.  The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.

[11] Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?  You ought to live holy and godly lives [12] as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.  That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.

[13] But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

[14] So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.

Notice, Peter asks “What kind of people ought you to be?”

This is not someday, but right now.  What difference does it make now that we know about heaven and God’s future plans for us?  The difference is, the more we know about heaven, the more we should be changed in our living here on earth.

Look at verse 11, “You ought to live holy and godly lives.”

In this verse, Peter describes the lifestyle of a Christ follower who understands the future plan of God.  The Greek word for ‘holy’ is hagios and it means ‘set apart.’

Because we believe that someday we are going to go and live with a holy God, we are to be in the process right now of becoming more and more holy.

Important point:

Over and over again in Scripture, we are told that holiness is associated with 1) the return of the Lord, 2) the end of the world, 3) judgment, and 4) heaven; that is, it is associated with last things.

Here is the point: knowing about the future tells us how to live today, so don’t think that a sermon on heaven is not practical to you in the here and now.

Now, let us notice two things as I go through these texts with you: 1) the connection between last things and 2) holiness.

Colossians 3:

[4] When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.  [5] Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.

1 Thessalonians 3:

[12] May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.  [13] May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.

1 Thessalonians 5:

[23] May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.  May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 John 3:

[2] Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.  But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.  [3] Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.

Notice that when we read about the future it always has an impact on the present.  Because of heaven and judgment to come, we all ought to be motivated to live in a godly way.

The point: If our focus is on heaven, sin will become less and less appealing.  It is when our minds drift from the thought of heaven that we are more susceptible to sin!

Sin seems more attractive when we think less and less about heaven.  Our high tolerance for sin testifies for our failure to prepare for heaven.

Look at 2 Peter 3:13 again:

[13] But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

This means that we should be interested in what will happen in the future.  This is why it is important that we study about what happens after death and the end of the world.  Look at verse 3 of our text:

2 Peter 3:

[3] Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.  [4] They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised?  Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”

[5] But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water.  [6] By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.  [7] By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

Some today scoff at the idea that the world will end, or that there will be a Great Day of Judgment, or that Jesus is coming back.

There are Bible scholars who believe the apostles were mistaken about the return of Jesus and that this shows the Bible is not the inspired word of God.  They were not mistaken that Jesus would return, or the world would end, or that there will be a Great Day of Judgment.  They just did not know when it would be!

Remember what Jesus said about these matters:

Matthew 24:

[36] But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

Now return to our text and listen to what Peter actually says:

2 Peter 3:

[8] But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.

[9] The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Let me remind you something about the prophecies in the OT concerning the first coming of Christ.  Everyone of those prophecies were fulfilled in exact detail.  Without Jesus, many of those prophesies do not make sense even today, but they make perfect sense when we consider that Jesus fulfilled them all.

Now, if it is the case that the prophesies regarding his first coming were fulfilled, don’t you think those of his second coming will be fulfilled also?  Go back to verse 4 of our text and look again:

[4] They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised?  Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”

Verse 5 indicates they willfully forget the power of God’s word in creation.

The same God who made statements about his coming at Bethlehem has made statements about his coming again and they will be fulfilled exactly as the statements regarding his first coming were fulfilled.

Hebrews 9:

[27] Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, [28] so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

(See also Philippians 3:20-21; Titus 2:12-13; 2 Timothy 4:8)

The point:  One day we are going to stand before God and give the final report on what we have done here on earth.  Note verse 17 of our text:

2 Peter 3:

[17] Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position.

[18] But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  To him be glory both now and forever!  Amen.

J B Myers

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