The Church - A Foretaste of Heaven

Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth (A Foretaste of Heaven)
In concluding a discussion on the church, it is fitting to remember that the church provides believers with a foretaste of heaven. Though imperfect, the church represents the one place where the activities of heaven are reflected on earth.
Theme: The church should resemble heaven in a number of important ways.

1. The church should desire to submit to God’s will as expressed in His Word.

Matthew 6:10 NKJV
Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.
Submission is a key in every healthy relationship. Knowing when to be strong and when to submit is an important part of being mature in relationships. We have all seen immature people talking about how relationships are all about them, what they get from it and what they want and not about the other half of the relationship and their feelings. As a church, we should help people understand and grow mature in this.

A. The church seeks to obey God out of their love and devotion to Him.

John 14:15 NKJV
“If you love Me, keep My commandments.
1 John 2:3 NKJV
Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.
Our faith can’t only be about what we get out of it and how it makes us feel! God has standards. If we can’t obey those standards it will impact our relationship.

B. In heaven, believers will serve God perfectly, and that future hope motivates their pursuit of holiness in this life.

1 John 3:2–3 NKJV
Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
So, in the church we seek to live in light of what we have seen of Him in His Word. That is why we so diligently study this book!

2. The church offers worship to God as a sacrifice of praise.

Hebrews 13:15 NKJV
Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.

A. Worship characterises life of heaven.

The apostle John provides a glimpse of heaven’s perpetual worship in Revelation 4:8–11.
Revelation 4:8–11 NKJV
The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: “You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.”
Worship is not just singing songs. Worship is all of life in line with the reality of who He is.

B. For all eternity, believers will exalt God in worship as we praise and thank Him.

Revelation 5:11–14 NKJV
Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!” And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!” Then the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever.
The worship that echoes through the halls of Christ-exalting churches here on earth will continue to reverberate, without end, throughout the halls of heaven.

3. In the church, though its members are not yet perfected, we begin to glimpse the holiness and purity that characterises heaven.

We all understand that, this side of heaven we are not yet sinless. However, this is the place where we hold to God’s standard and encourage one another to live by His holy standard.

A. There is absolute holiness of heaven.

Revelation 21:8 NKJV
But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
Revelation 22:15 NKJV
But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.
Why will some not be in heaven? Because they to not accept God’s standard of holiness in His house. We let anyone come to church, but we don’t let people inject drugs during our service because we have standards.

B. The church reflects this holiness when we live by the standards God gave in Scripture.

(Eph. 4:1; Phil. 1:27)
1 Peter 1:15–16 NKJV
but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
This phrase is said 3 times in scripture! It is important to know and live by.
Colossians 1:10 NKJV
that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;
Again, this is about our lives impacting others! Being fruitful in good works is not about getting rich. It is about impacting the lives of others. We want this church to grow because it is then that it impacts peoples lives and they increase in their knowledge of God as well.

4. The church enjoys rich fellowship.

A. The fellowship here is a foretaste of the perfect eternal communion we will one day share with all the saints and with our Saviour.

1 John 1:3 NKJV
that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.
When believers gather in the church, they are reminded that they are citizens of heaven (Phil. 3:20–21) and that this world is not their home.

Conclusion: The church should resemble heaven in a number of important ways.

Submission to God’s will, Christ-centered worship, the pursuit of holiness, and fellowship with other believers—these are just some of the ways that the church on earth foreshadows the glories of heaven.
Our anticipation should cause us to grow both in our love for the church and in our longing for heaven. As the apostle Paul explained to the Corinthians, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Cor. 13:12).
Q1. Though we know about the importance of submitting to holiness, do we desire it like we desire heaven?
Q2. Worship in heaven will be perfect, but do we discipline our minds to really focus on worship here?
Q3 Fellowship, in the church, comes from who’s we are and not what we want. Are we embracing others according to God’s standard of belief or our preferences?
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