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November 4, 2018               Who Has Made Your Reservation?                   Revelation 21:11

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Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,

Along with the words & thoughts we have heard from Revelation chpt. 7,   we’ll add this teaching from Rev.21vs 11: “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.”   The only ones entering heaven are those whose names are written,/registered,/& reserved in the Lamb’s Book of Life.   *Do you have reservation?

Let’s begin with the obvious: Heaven is an actual place to go to. It’s a perfect place;  it’s called the ‘Holy City’ because it’s the home of God. It’s referred to as ‘the heavenly Jerusalem,/et.Zion’ just as Jerusalem & Mt.Zion was the real place God was dwelling with his people in the OT for a time.   So, heaven is an actual place to go to; our Creator desires us to live with Him; so we are expected to show up in heaven. 2 questions to ask today are:

# 1, HAS your reservation been made there?   And # 2, WHO made your reservation?

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At some level, we can all appreciate the importance of having a ‘confirmed reservation.’ Whether on a vacation trip, or out to eat for a special occasion, we’ll want the security of a reserved place. You may know what it’s like to arrive at a campground, or at a hotel late at night, being tried from a long day’s drive, and counting on a place to rest; only to find that there’s no place available. “There’s no room at the inn” = so to speak.   All because we didn’t make a reservation.

But, *what should we expect?   For any place worth going to, we should expect that reservations are required. +We don’t pack our things for an important business trip, & run down to the airport that day, expecting to just hop on the next plane out; if it’s important, we reserve a spot. +And if we are serious about celebrating a special occasion at a fine restaurant, we wouldn’t take a chance that the place might be full that night. We make reservations because they’re necessary; they also give us security or peace of mind, so that instead of anxious worry, we’ll relax & have confidence thru a guarantee for the celebration to come.

In God’s Bible, we discover that those things are comparable to heavenly & eternal things;   specifically concerning our place of eternal rest & celebration in the heavenly city.

The ‘Gates of Pearl’ are open for all, but reservations are required.   Our verse from Rev.21 said: “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.”   Each of our names MUST be pre-registered in that special book: The Lamb’s Book of Life.   So the questions still remain:   *Do you have a reservation?   and *who made your reservation?

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Our passage confirmed 2 bits of BAD NEWS for us;   2 things which stand against our future hopes & assurance.   First, that God’s Holy City of Eternal Life will not receive anyone who is impure, or who does shameful or deceitful things.   In other words, ‘heaven doesn’t take sinners.’   That’s a problem for US => sinners.   The second disappointing news is that the reservation book is up there = in heaven.   In other words, we don’t have access; we can’t make our own reservation; someone from up there has to make it for us.

The holiness of God demands holiness for all of heaven’s inhabitants. No one will pass thru the gate if they have broken God’s Law = any bit of it = even one little law.   Just as Adam & Eve were forced out of God’s holy presence in the Garden of Eden,   so no one can enter into his holy presence without absolute purity.   Just like Jesus told us in his ‘kingdom parables;’ heaven’s gate will close in the face of those who are not worthy to enter. Many stand outside with excuses, & they say, “But Lord…we did this, or we did that, we tried…”   We hear the Lord answer them, “I don’t know you; go away from me.” God’s Law of Perfection is the only admission standard, and we don’t measure up.

God’s perfect Bible Laws of Life expose our deceitfulness, our shame & many impurities. This is why so many don’t want to hear what the Bible says; they don’t want to compare their life to God’s holy expectations.    When we think back to that terrible event of ‘the fall’ with Adam & Eve, we might think that God was unfair, because they did such a little thing; they only took a piece of fruit from a tree that God said not to; *what’s the big deal? The big deal is partly in their disobedience, but mostly in their defiance.

At it’s root, sin may not seem like a ‘big deal’ if it’s just a little disobedience.

But defiance means that Adam & Eve were accusing God of not being good/fair; they were trying to replace God with themselves. We defy our Creator when we declare that we know better than Him what’s right & wrong for our life in His world.

All sin, at its root, is us trying to be our own god over our life. This rebellion & defiance against our Holy Creator deserves death; death is separation from The One who gave us life as a gift to be lived with him.   All the Laws of God, big ones & little ones, exposes our soul’s defiance & impurity.

When we’ve been turned away from a full hotel or restaurant, we’re disappointed, but we get over it. But that can’t be compared to being turned away from heaven’s gate, because that rejection will be forever.   We must face the reality told us by God: IF it depends upon us being holy & perfect, our names won’t be found in His Book. And if we can’t admit this, then we won’t think we need God’s perfect solution to our problem.

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*Can we count the number of sins we have committed in thought, word & deed? = God can.  We have a sinful nature, and it stands against us. He declares that we have fallen short of his glory; *…will we deny that? +God has called us to follow him, & we’ve pretended not to hear. +He has said, ‘do this,’ &we’ve found other things to do. +He says ‘love,’ & we serve ourselves instead. +He says ‘speak,’ but we have many excuses not to talk about His truths with others. The wages of these sins is death, he says.

The Law reveals our disobedience, & condemns us as law-breakers; and physical death proves His Word is true. That means that the only reservation we can be sure of,   based on our own effort, is that of another real place == a place of eternal separation, and eternal weeping & gnashing of teeth. Jesus called this place ‘The Lake of Fire’, also called ‘Hell’; which is the place reserved for Satan and his followers = all who defy God.

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BUT God’s Word also reveals another message for us; one that has the flavor of ‘good news of great joy’ which is to be heard by all people. That: /even tho we have failed God, HE has not failed us; /altho we’ve been impure, HE has remained pure; /altho our love-for-others often runs dry; HIS mercy & love has continued to flow out; /even tho we turned away & rebelled, HE did not turn away from us == He provided one way for us to yet dwell with him, and in his Eternal City.   Now, *do you think that knowing this good news will affect how we live our life? …would it affect how we face: /our choices, /our troubles, /& the attitude we have each day, …/& how we face our death?   I think this good news affects everything.

Altho our sin DID close His Book of Life in our faces, The Lamb has REOPENED it. The Lamb-of-God desired to write each of our names there; to confirm our reservation, and to secure our place in His Holy City. If that was not the purpose of Jesus coming to the earth & going to the cross, *what good did he actually do?   But that IS what the Gospel of Christ Jesus promised: The Lamb has reopened His Book.

AND, *how is it that Jesus was able to overcome our impossible obstacles, and secure our admission in His Holy Heaven? To begin with, Jesus’ reputation & status with God was excellent; the Father perfectly trusted his own Son with the work of redemption. That’s because Jesus IS God =God-the-Son= and God could not fail himself.

And also, the Book of Life is under the control of Jesus; it is THE LAMB’S own Book of Life.   Whoever HE writes in there, the Father doesn’t question, but honors & accepts. By the authority & power vested in him, Jesus is free to open that Book, and to register anyone he desires.   And because of his immeasurable love, he desires us ALL.   It is an open invitation;   that all who believe & are baptized in Him, will be saved == that’s his promise.   And so, when he came to earth to work out the salvation plan, it was a ‘group’ plan = a ‘family’ plan.

Often a father or mother of a family, or a senior executive of a business group, will make reservations for the whole group under his own name. Legally, he/she alone becomes responsible for paying the deposit, & the final bill.   All the members of the group get in free; all that’s necessary is for them to be identified as a part of the group, and under the name & authority of the one recognized leader.

Heaven’s reservations are similar. God the Father did not want to destroy his creatures; He loves those he has given life to, and He’s the God of life, not of death. So when we rebelled & earned death, He didn’t just destroy everything & start over; he had a life-solution.

But the price of sin had to be paid for under his Law, and that price was too expensive for us; that price is death for both body & soul. The death of our body is not enough of a payment, & heaven would remain closed to the sinner who tries to pay his own debt. And besides, WE still don’t have access to that Book; we can’t write in our own name; it is not our Book of Life == it’s The Lamb’s.

So, we needed someone to do those two things: to have access to that Book of Life, AND to pay our debt. We needed that someone to be both God and man. Jesus set aside his throne & glory for a time, and came down to us.   He humbled himself under the Law to keep it perfectly for us. Then he went to the cross in order to pay for the penalty of our sins. The death he died, he died once-for-all; the perfect substitute. And to conquer death, he opened up his own tomb.

And now, because of his work, the gate of heaven stands open for all who acknowledge him & trust in him; those who confess him & obey him. God the Father accepted Jesus’ name for a family reservation; for there is only One Name by which anyone will be saved. The name of Jesus is enough for all people = the whole world = and Jesus says, ‘no one comes to the Father except thru him.’

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So now, one thing remains for you & me to actually go thru the gate: its necessary that we each be identified as belonging to Christ Jesus = as part of his group; a member of his body-of-believers, the Church Family. How is that done?

In Baptism the name of the Triune God was placed upon us; the name by which Jesus’ name is one with the Father. By the promise of God, thru the water & the Name, the Holy Spirit was given to us as a down-payment and a guarantee that we belong to Jesus = the Sacrificial Lamb.   Thru this gift of faith he calls us as his own children.   And we confess him as our Lord & God. He then leads us in our new, daily life; and we follow him, trusting his promise. When our body dies, our soul will enter into his kingdom in Jesus’ Name; nothing can keep us out.

In this earthly life-of-faith, we have another personal assurance. In, with & under the Bread & Wine we are made ‘one’ with his Body & Blood of forgiveness & life. The Supper of the Lord is a participation in the Body, or Family, of Jesus in this place & with Jesus Himself.

So, by his Word & Baptism he invites us by name, AND by his Meal he assures us that we are included in his Book of Life. YOU have his promise that your name is there. Your reservation has been made & confirmed by Jesus, the very Son of God; His promise makes the Holy City your true home; and that makes this life a ‘pilgrimage’ until we get there.

*Does this good news affect how we look at this life & its troubles? It affects everything. Because he has loved us that much, we lose the desire to disobey him, or defy him. His cross makes us gladly confess him, & follow him as a sign of trust & thanks. We will gladly follow The One who has promised us entrance into that Heavenly City.

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On this All Saints Day we give thanks to God for that marvelous salvation plan accomplished for us at the cross. We also give thanks for and remember all of those who had once been with us, but have already gone ahead of us & thru those gates.   One day we will see our Savior face-to-face.   At that time, we will also see our loved ones, and all those who have already entered that eternal home of rest & peace.

So, yes! Our reservations have been made by the only One who could = by Jesus.    That confidence now defines our daily life as Christians. In faith & trust, we acknowledge our Christ; follow & obey him.   May the Lord Jesus grant that our faith will be patient, obedient, & strong as we wait for our eternal heavenly home.

Amen