The Holy Spirit part 5
Our Guarantee of What's to Come
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
June 28, 2009

Over the course of the past month we’ve been working our way through a message series about the Holy Spirit. We’ve talked about who He is, about what He does in our lives, about the qualities that shapes in our character, and about how He equips us with gifts to serve each other and really make a difference for the Kingdom of God. We’ve actually covered a lot of territory in a relatively short period of time.

And I hope as we’ve gone through this series, you’ve discovered more about the Holy Spirit and about His importance in your life. Because the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life really is essential to the life and growth of every Christ-follower. In fact, you can’t do it without Him. You can’t become a Christian and you can’t live as a Christian without Him. You absolutely need Him.

Today, we’re going to finish up this series by exploring just one more area. We’ve talked about how He brings us to new life in Christ, we’ve talked about how He enables us to live the Christian life now… and this morning we’re going to talk about how He assures us of the life to come.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (NLT)
It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.

So while the Holy Spirit is in and of Himself God, He is also kind of a down-payment. He’s the deposit God makes in our lives as a guarantee that He’s going to fulfill His promise of providing us with a future home with Him… where…? In Heaven.

So the Holy Spirit is our guarantee of Heaven. It’s God’s way of saying, “Look, I’m serious. I promised you eternal life and I intend to come through on that promise. You can count on it.”

So with the Holy Spirit in your life, you don’t just gain the ability to live the Christian life today… you gain the confidence that you will be able to live with Christ Himself throughout eternity.

When my mother was over visiting a couple weeks ago, I helped her spend a lot of money. I’m sure that’s nothing new; I’m sure I’ve done that plenty of times through the years. But this time it wasn’t for me, it was for her.

You see, next February she’s planning to be in Vancouver visiting with some family there, at the same time that the Olympics are going on. And as it turned out, she was her on the day that some of the tickets went on sale.

So I helped her navigate around the Vancouver 2010 website, we found some events she wanted to see, we added them to the online shopping cart, went through the checkout process, and she bought the tickets.

Now figure this out. Has she already bought the tickets? Yes. Do they already have her money? Yes. But has she gotten to see the events? No. What’s up with that? You’d think that as soon as you bought the tickets you’d see the events, right?

No, obviously the events haven’t happened yet. But what is going to happen is this: the price has been paid, so she’s going to be sent tickets as a guarantee that when she shows up next year she will be let in.

Well, God has already paid the price of admittance for you into Heaven, to cost being the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. And as a guarantee that when that day comes you’ll be let in, He has sent you the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 1:13-14 (NLT)
And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people.

The Holy Spirit is the down-payment, He’s the deposit, He’s the guarantee, He’s the assurance that as a follower of Jesus Christ you have eternal life in store in Heaven.

So let’s talk about Heaven.

“When you speak of Heaven, let your face light up. When you speak of Hell, well then, your everyday face will do.”
~ Charles Haddon Spurgeon

So as we talk about Heaven, I expect all your faces to light up. In the church, when we talk about Heaven we’re usually talking about the place where God lives. Now, theologically, we talk about God being omnipresent, which means that He is present throughout all of creation. But Heaven is where His presence resides. It’s His home.

And it’s the place we all hope to end up someday. The Bible teaches that there are two and only two possible destinations for every person. Either we end up in Heaven where we spend eternity experiencing great joy and fulfillment in the presence of God, or we spend eternity in Hell, which by definition means we will be separated from God and subject to unending pain and torment. And where we end up depends on choices we make during this lifetime. And really, it all comes down to one choice: What will you do with Jesus? It’s not about how good you are; it’s about what you do with Jesus.

You know, this week in particular there have been a lot of people thinking about death and what happens after death. With Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, and Michael Jackson all dying in the same week, it’s affected a lot of people and we’ve contemplated the afterlife.

Ed McMahon was the first of the three to die this week, and you know him best as being the sidekick of Johnny Carson for 30 years on The Tonight Show. But way back before they took over the reigns of The Tonight Show, they worked together on another show, a game show called “Who Do You Trust?”

And it occurs to me that is the central question when it comes to determining your eternity? Who do you trust? Do you trust in yourself, and what you can do and what you’ve accomplished in life and in your ability to measure up and live a good life? Or do you trust in Jesus… in what He’s done for you, in what He’s accomplished, in His goodness, in His promises? Who do you trust?

Entrance into Heaven depends on who you trust. What will you do with Jesus? Because when you put your trust in Him, He gives you the Holy Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing your future home in Heaven.

In Jewish writings, including the Bible, the word “Heaven” has three different meanings:

First, it can refer to the atmosphere surrounding the earth. It’s the sky.
Second, it can refer to outer space… where you find the sun and the starts, the moon, other planets, comets and so on.
And third, it can refer to what we’re talking about this morning… Heaven is the home of God where we hope to go someday to be with Him.

So to help us understand this Heaven a little bit more, let me give you four facts about Heaven…

Facts about Heaven:

A.    Heaven is a real place

Some people would say that Heaven isn’t a place at all… it’s a state of mind. It’s a state of consciousness. But that’s not what the Bible describes. Heaven is not a state of mind, it’s a real place.

Just before Jesus was arrested and executed, and then rose from the dead, made His post-resurrection appearances and then ascended into Heaven… just before all that happened, Jesus told His followers…

John 14:2-3 (NLT)
“There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.”

Jesus talked about a physical place that He was preparing for you and for me. It’s not a dream-state, it’s not a mirage, it’s not any kind of visualization, it’s not an illusion… it’s a real place. That’s the way the Bible portrays it.

What kind of place is it? That’s hard to say. Not much is given in the Bible by way of a physical description of Heaven. And what we are given is mostly figurative. After all, how could we ever understand the true nature of Heaven before we get there? It is a wonderful place that goes beyond our ability to comprehend or put into words right now.

In the New Testament book of Revelation, in chapter 21, it says…

Revelation 21:21 (NLT)
The twelve gates were made of pearls—each gate from a single pearl! And the main street was pure gold, as clear as glass.

So we’re given a bit of a description there. But I’m not sure that description is meant to be taken literally. I think the point is that Heaven will be a beautiful, wonderful, glorious place.

So we’re not really given much of a physical description of Heaven. But we are told about some things that won’t be there and some things that will be there.

For example, it’s a place free from danger, fear, turmoil, sin, confusion, sickness, death, despair, sorrow, regrets, pain… none of that will be there. But what will be there is joy, gladness, compassion, love, peace, fulfillment… it’s going to be like nothing we’ve ever experienced before.

So Heaven is a real place. Secondly, as we’ve already said…

B.    Heaven is the dwelling place of God

In the book of Matthew, Jesus gives us instructions on how to pray and He begins by saying…

Matthew 6:9 (NLT)
“Pray like this: Our Father in Heaven, may your name be kept holy.”

“Our Father in Heaven.” Heaven is the dwelling place of God. Now, as I’ve already said, that fact does not mean that God is only in Heaven. He is omnipresent. He has the capability to be anyplace and everyplace at the same time. After all, He is God. In several different verses, the Bible talks about His presence being with His people. The Bible talks about God’s presence stretching throughout the whole earth.

Psalm 139:7-12 (NLT)
I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night—but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.

Heaven is the dwelling place of God, but He is not confined to Heaven. His presence stretches throughout all of Creation. He’s everywhere. But Heaven is His home base.

C.    All of us can go to Heaven

“We have no future, heaven wasn't made for me. We burn ourselves to hell as fast as it can be. And I wish that I could be a king, then I'd know that I am not alone.”
~ From The Shadow Of The Valley Of Death by Marilyn Manson

Well, contrary to what Mr. Manson has to say, Heaven was made for Him. And it was made for you and me, too. All of us can go to Heaven.

You know, one of the things I hear a lot of atheists and skeptics saying today is that they have a problem with Christianity because they see it as being exclusive. In other words, when I point out that Jesus Himself said that He is the way, the truth and the life, and that there is no other way for us to come to God the Father except through Jesus… There’s no other way, no other path, no other religion… no other option but Jesus… well, skeptics complain that we’re being too exclusive.

Well, remember first of all that we’re not the ones saying that; Jesus said it. So either He was telling the truth and He really is the one and only way, or He was just a liar and He’s really no way at all.

But beyond that, it’s not exclusive anyway. Because every person is invited to come to Jesus, place their faith in Him, and follow Him. It doesn’t matter what ethnic background you are, doesn’t matter what social status you have, doesn’t matter who your parents were, doesn’t matter whether you’re old or young, rich or poor… Every person is invited. We can all place our faith in Jesus, receive that deposit of the Holy Spirit, and be guaranteed entrance into Heaven.

And the great thing is there is no maximum capacity in Heaven. No one will be turned away because the Fire Marshall said you can only have this many there. We can all go to Heaven.

2 Peter 3:9 (NLT)
The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.

So all of us can go to Heaven. That’s what God wants. But the sad fact is…

D.    Not all of us will go to Heaven

The opportunity is there for all of us to enter Heaven, but not all of us will. Jesus was talking about Himself when He said…

Matthew 25:31-34,41 (NLT)
“But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world…
“Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons.”

So it would seem pretty clear that even though everyone can enter Heaven, not everyone will enter Heaven. Well, take a look at something else Jesus said…

Matthew 7:22-23 (NLT)
“On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’”

Notice that these people did some pretty good things, but they were still turned away. Why? Because of what Jesus said… “I never knew you.”

Look, we should all be good people. That goes without saying. (But I said it anyway.) But what makes the difference is, do you have a relationship with Jesus Christ? Do you trust Him? Have you placed your faith in Him? Have you chosen to follow Him? And has He given you the Holy Spirit as His guarantee that you will spend eternity with Him in Heaven?

John Newton, the writer of the famous hymn Amazing Grace, himself a former slave trader, said this…

“If ever I reach heaven, I expect to find three wonders there: first, to meet some I had not thought to see there; second, to miss some I had expected to see there; and third, the greatest wonder of all, to find myself there.”
~ John Newton

And the great thing is, we can all find ourselves there, not because of anything we’ve done, but because of what Jesus has done for us. Even someone who has done things as wicked as a slave trader can receive forgiveness and the Hope of Heaven because of Jesus. And everyone of us who place our faith in Jesus have Heaven to look forward to… and we have the Holy Spirit in our lives today to give us that assurance.

So where are you at? Are you on your way to Heaven? What are you counting on to get you in? Are you relying on the good things you do? Are you counting on the fact that you’re a nice person? Are you counting on your generosity, or even on the faith of your parents or your spouse? None of those will do it for you. You need to accept that what Jesus did He did for you, and enter into a relationship with Him today.



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