HOME AT LAST 11-5-17

HOME AT LAST

November 5th, 2017

                   In the first chapter of Ephesians, the apostle Paul prayed that the believers in Ephesus would have the eyes of their hearts enlightened, that they would know what is the hope to which God had called them, what are the riches of Christ’s glorious inheritance in the saints.  While we are still sojourners on this earth, we can scarcely imagine what that glorious inheritance is.  We often think of heaven as just a more perfect earth, or maybe a city sitting on clouds with St. Peter at the gate; and picture God the Father as an elderly man with a long white beard, his son Jesus in his human form, and the Holy Spirit as a white dove.  But the saints that have already crossed the river into eternity, have actually seen God face to face, and have a full realization of His supreme deity, as well as the incomprehensible glories of heaven. 

          Their joy can scarcely be compared to any of those we share here, but the closest approximation I can think of is that of a soldier who goes overseas to battle, armed with a conviction to fight for what is right, with a love for his God, his country, and his family, and courage in the face of the certain danger and hardships he will endure.  Then after several long years and countless injuries and sorrows, the war has been won, and he returns home to those he loves and who love him and have been eagerly waiting his return.  His is the joy of being home, of being with those who love him, and receiving honors for his service; just as the saints who have gone home are with the Lord who loves them more than any human being ever could, and who gives them not just a medal of honor, but an eternal crown. 

           When Jesus told His disciples that He would not be on the earth for much longer, they were sad.  But then He said to them, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.  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” (John 14:1-3).  And so while we mourn our own loss when Jesus brings one of our beloved saints home to be with Him, our hearts should not be troubled.  Their spirits are now truly home.  They fought the good fight, they have finished the race, they have kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7).  They no longer have to deal with any of the consequences that sin has wrought on this earth.  They will never again suffer illness or injury, the effects of age, hunger or thirst, pain, sadness, fear or anger.  Their joy is complete, their knowledge is complete, and their hearts are full of praise for the God who loves them so much that He sent His Son to pay the ultimate price for their redemption, so they could come home to Him.     

          I truly believe that if they could tell us anything now, they would reassure us that what the Bible promises is true beyond a shadow of a doubt.  They would urge anyone who has not yet committed their salvation to our Lord Jesus Christ to do so immediately and not hesitate, because there could be nothing more foolish than refusing the gift that God offers us through His Son.  It would be like throwing away the winning lotto ticket that could buy you a magnificent mansion here, and choosing to live in a cardboard box under a dark bridge instead. 

          And what else do you think they would say to us?  I believe they would want us to know that they are counting on us to carry on the message of the Gospel here, to share God’s love with others, to be a light in the darkness, to give hope to the hopeless, and guidance to those who are lost.  We must think as the apostle Paul did when he told the church at Philippi, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith” (Philippians 1:21-25).  So let us also continue onward until we at last reunite with the saints that have gone on before us to our eternal home and always remember, that heaven is our true home, as Thomas R. Taylor wrote in this hymn back in 1836:

I’m but a stranger here, Heaven is my home;
Earth is a desert drear, Heaven is my home;
Danger and sorrow stand, round me on every hand;
Heaven is my fatherland, Heaven is my home.

What though the tempest rage, Heaven is my home;
Short is my pilgrimage, Heaven is my home;
And time’s wintry blast, soon shall be over past;
I shall reach home at last, Heaven is my home.

Therefore I murmur not, Heaven is my home;
Whatever my earthly lot, Heaven is my home;
And I shall surely stand, there at my Lord’s right hand.
Heaven is my fatherland, Heaven is my home.

Amen.