May 27, 2012 by
How Great Is Your Faithfulness (by Matt Redman)
Nathan recommended that everyone get a copy of Christ Centered Worship by Brian Chapel because, “Corporate worship is at the core of God’s purpose of the cosmos.”
C.J. introduced Ian:
“Ian is easier to experience than he is to describe. He is passion personified. Last week Ian and I were at a conference together. Half the time I didn’t understand what was being talked about, but during it I organized a basketball game. Ian and I played on the same team. We put on display God’s glory through athletic ability that was a gift from God. Ian is a beast on the court. We represented Sovereign Grace well. We may not be smart, but we have game.”
MESSAGE | Ian McConnell “The Church and Sunday” | Hebrews 10:19-25
Ian’s story: I was a teenager in a rough Irish Catholic home, the oldest of six boys. I was a bad boy. Met a youth pastor at a church across the street from an arcade, went to his church and did not expect what I experienced. I began to see the love of Jesus put on display through the people who follow Jesus. People loving me like Jesus loved them. I love the church because within the walls of the church I encountered the love of God through the people of God and my life has never been the same.
We’re going to HEAVEN! If you’ve got in your mind that Heaven is boring, you need to repent. Heaven will not be boring. “No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him.” – 1 Corinthians 2:9
We will be forever amazed by the absence of sin. Everything that is messed up down here won’t be up there. No more sorrow. No more destruction, decay, or death.
We will be forever amazed by the presence of God. We’re going to see God face to face!
“God’s glory will fill and permeate the entire new Heaven, not just one centralized place. Thus, wherever we go in Heaven, we will be in the immediate presence of the full glory of God. Wherever we go, we will enjoy the complete manifestation of God’s presence. Throughout all eternity, we will never be separated from direct, unhindered fellowship with God.” - Steven Lawson, Heaven Help Us
“We will constantly be more amazed with God, more in love with God, and thus ever more relishing his presence and our relationship with him. Our experience of God will never reach its consummation. We will never finally arrive, as if upon reaching a peak we discover there is nothing beyond. Our experience of God will never become stale. It will deepen and develop, intensify and amplify, unfold and increase, broaden and balloon.” - Sam Storms, Heaven: The Eternal Increase of Joy
“The enjoyment of God is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here.” - Jonathan Edwards
“And they sang a new song, saying, 'Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.' Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, 'Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!' And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, 'To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!' And the four living creatures said, 'Amen!" and the elders fell down and worshiped.'” - Revelation 5:9-14
We will be forever amazed by the unique accomplishments of the One who enabled us to be there.
So why talk about Heaven when the topic of this conference is the local church?
Do we have to wait until we die to go to heaven? Is there an “already, not yet” experience of heaven on this earth? Yes. We can experience a taste of heaven on earth every time we gather with our local church. Because of Jesus, when the church gathers, we can draw near to God’s presence with God’s people and experience a life-transforming, soul satisfying taste of heaven here on earth. Do not neglect meeting with your church on Sunday.
We Must Not Neglect Gathering with Our Church Because:
1. We Have Great Privileges
These privileges come to us by God’s grace at our local church. They do not come to you because your church is big, your pastor is famous, or the music at your church is high quality. They come to your church because of the grace of God.
Privilege 1: We encounter God’s presence.
Heaven is not a place on earth…yet. Right now heaven is up there and we are down here, but as we gather with the church down here we get to enter God’s presence up there.
“Believers have no need to ask ‘Who shall ascend into heaven?’ when it is a question of their approaching God; here upon earth they may enter his heavenly abode and know direct communion with him ‘by the blood of Jesus.’” - F.F. Bruce
Jesus has made us ready for heaven with His blood.
What are you most thankful for about your church? Do you know who attends your local church? God does.
Privilege 2: We experience God’s care.
Jesus identifies with our needs. He sympathizes with us, not empathizes. He’s not just there. He’s there to care, help, assist, provide for us, protect us, guide us, and direct us. God is not there taking up a seat. He is there to take care of our needs! And who better to care for you than the One who made you, saved you, and will one day receive you into His presence with “Enter into the joy of your Master.”
When you go to church you should expect a very personal manifestation of care in relationship to your need and to the needs of those you care for. Do you think no one cares for you? Not true. There is one who cares for you and is infinitely rich in care for you. What a Savior!
2. We Have Great Responsibilities
It is our responsibility to go after and take hold of the privileges God gives us when we gather.
Responsibility 1: We draw near to God.
- We draw near to offer sacrifices to God.
“Animal sacrifices has been rendered forever obsolete by the sacrifice of Christ, but the sacrifice of thanksgiving might still be offered to God, and indeed should be offered to him by all who appreciated the perfect sacrifice of Christ.” - F.F. Bruce
- We draw near to get grace from God.
We have confidence to draw near and get grace from God because of the blood of Jesus. Gather with your church with specific needs on your lips, drawing near in petition.
“As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought of me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!” Psalm 40:17
Responsibility 2: Get a grip on the gospel.
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” v. 23
The Gospel is good news! And life and death and heaven and hell hang in the balance of this good news. The church gathers to get a grip on the gospel.
Responsibility 3: Look for ways to serve.
Position yourself to receive the care of God through the people of God and position yourself to serve the people of God. God will use your pastors, leaders, worship leaders, but get this: God intends to use you as well. Take responsibility to care for your church.
Don’t you look forward to going to Heaven?