< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: Christians are Pilgrims Looking Forward to their Real Home

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Christians are Pilgrims Looking Forward to their Real Home

This is still from the Sunday School lesson I prepared using Steve Berger's book "Between Heaven and Earth."

Peter in 1 Peter 1:1 calls the people he’s writing to pilgrims. We, as believers are not earth-dwellers; we are pilgrims. We are people who are not in their real home. The dictionary says a pilgrim is a stranger, not simply passing through, but a foreigner who has settled down, however briefly, next to or among native people.

Abraham knew it too. Here’s what the book of Hebrews says about him:

Hebrews 11:9-10, 13-16 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Abraham was wealthy. We live in a beautiful part of the world. But when God calls us home, we can’t have our fists clenched around the things of this world. We can’t get too attached, because it’s temporary – and heaven is better!

Knowing the promise of heaven changed the way Abraham lived his life.

1 Peter 1:3-4 tells us what it is like: incorruptible, unfading, always fresh, always new.

Sometimes you can better understand something by what it’s not:

Revelation 20:10 10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

The devil and his demons are not in heaven!

Revelation 21:4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

No tears, no death, no pain, no sorrow.

Revelation 21:23-25 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.

No darkness. God illuminates heaven with His Glory.

Revelation 21:27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

No sin. Nothing that doesn’t reflect the perfection of God.

Revelation 22:3 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.

No more curse.

The author says that when we talk about God and the things of God, our finite minds can’t have thoughts that are greater than God really is. What awaits us in heaven is actually beyond description.

1 Corinthians 13:12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

Right now, living on earth, we see God dimly, but we will see God face to face.

In order to see Him, in order to get to heaven, we have to make a decision to receive Jesus Christ as our Savior. Heaven is not everyone’s default destination. Often when someone dies people say “he’s in a better place”, but do we know about that person for sure? The absolute truth must come from God’s Word, not people’s opinions.

Galatians 5:19-21 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

We cannot live a life of sin, rejecting Christ and His solution for our sin and then expect to live eternally in the kingdom of God. We must say yes to Christ and live a life that reflects that decision. Yes we still sin, but we don’t live in a sinful life style saying it’s ok. Hell is a real place. It’s a place of torment because the people there could have said yes. But they said no to God’s free gift of eternal life.

And it’s too late when you’re already in hell. But it’s not too late now! CS Lewis wrote, “A man can’t be taken to hell, or sent to hell! You can only get there on your own steam.”

You reject God’s offer. The people who end up in hell are getting exactly what they want – a life without God and His goodness…forever. But God loves you! With all your sin and baggage and doubts. In spite of everything you’ve ever done. You need Him and He knows it. That’s why He sent His Son, Jesus.

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

God didn’t even wait for us to clean up our act before He sent Jesus to take the penalty of our sin and die in our place. We can let go of our past and start a new life in Christ today. As long as we are breathing. It’s called being born again. We are to repent (which means change your mind and change your direction) and believe in the gospel. Believe Jesus rose from the dead. Believe He paid the price for all your sins; past, present and future. Believe He died in your place because God loves you! And receive Him through prayer.

John 1:12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.

If you haven’t made the decision for Christ, simply tell Him. Tell Him you want to repent and that you believe in the gospel. Invite Him into every part of your life. To heal you, restore you and to break your bondage with sin. And when you pray the prayer, meaning it, you become a child of God and are born again! And the angels and saints in heaven celebrate!



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