This sermon is offered by the CRCNA as part of our Reading Sermons series.
Scripture: 2 Peter 1:1-11
Author: Rev. Vernon Luchies of Kalamzoo, Michigan
Firemen are always concerned with exits. And well they might be! People must be able to find their way out of burning buildings! Sometimes though, you wonder if they are as concerned with entrances. Firemen regularly ignore entrances and go into buildings through windows, roofs and holes in walls.
On the other hand businesses are quite concerned with entrances! So are fast-food restaurants and movie theaters. They want to get people in their doors. Churches are concerned about entrances too.
Entrances and exits are also very important in the Bible! The New Testament book of Hebrews, chapter 11, tells about Joseph. We read that many centuries earlier in Egypt "when his end was near, Joseph spoke about the exodus (exit) of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions about his bones." But he wasn't only thinking of their exit from Egypt, he was also thinking of their entrance into the Promised Land! He not only wanted his bones taken out of Egypt, he also wanted them taken to the promised land.
In the gospel of Luke we read of Peter, James and John accompanying Jesus up the Mount of Transfiguration. There, Jesus showed them a wee glimpse of heaven! We read there: "Moses and Elijah appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about" His departure which He was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem."
The departure they were talking about included his exit from this life on the cross, but also his entrance into the life. Jesus went on and "sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
This same Peter who was there on the Mount of Transfiguration later wrote two of the letters of the Bible. In his second letter, the first chapter, the 15th verse, he writes, "I will make every effort to see that after mydeparture you will always be able to remember these things." In that verse Peter was thinking of his exit from earth and his entrance into heaven.
Entrances and exits are important! Sooner or later, everyone must exit this life! The Bible tells us, that not everyone enters heaven! Heaven is the entrance Peter is considering in our text: II Peter 1:11 "And you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ." Verse 9, stresses the fact that we should never forget that we have "been cleansed from our past sins!" And then verse 10 and 11 urge us: "Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure! For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ!"
Entrances are very important, especially this one!
What about this entrance? It's into the eternal kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ! Since it's an eternal kingdom and we can only enter it through Jesus Christ. There is absolutely no other way! Do you remember Jesus words? "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life!" How did He become "the Way," the Entrance? He did so by willingly making His entrance into our world as a baby. Scripture was predicting this that first Christmas Day two thousand years ago.
Therefore when Christ came into the world, He said: "Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You prepared Me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings You were not pleased.
Then I said, 'Here I am It is written about Me in the scroll I have come to do Your will, 0 God'" Hebrews 10:5-7 Thank God He made His entrance to bring you and me to Heaven by His life, death and resurrection. That is why in that same chapter (10) of Hebrews, we read that we may have "boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus... a new and living way!" This, is a blood-bought entrance! So you can see, entrance into heaven is not gained like Smith-Barney Investments. You don't "earn it!" Jesus Christ earned it the hard way, by crucifixion! He, the Sinless One, the One and Only Son of God, He alone could win the entrance!
This entrance into heaven is more than just squeezing in by hook or crook! It is "a rich welcome!" No way can anyone slip in undetected! No mere nod of the head as we enter! Jesus said there's joy in heaven over one sinner who repents. Think of the joy in heaven over one forgiven sinner coming home to glory! The Bible assures us it shall be so!
Now, it is true, as Jesus pointed out, the way that leads to Life, eternal Life, is straight and narrow! That does not mean it is not rich and abundant in it's welcome to those who have found the way that leads to life eternal! That way is only through Jesus Christ our Lord. Now as Christians, we all know that to be a fact. But Peter writes right after this: "I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body. Because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things." The way is straight and narrow but joyous! Christians who are dying, should be reminded of their rich and abundant entrance into heaven which is soon to come.
At different times, pastors, or elders, Christian friends come to the bedside of the dying. They often pray that soon a rich entrance would be given them into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. At such moments even people who appeared to be in a deep coma sometimes seem to realize they can now let go of this life. They seem to realize they can exit this life and experience "an abundant entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!" There are many stories about such realities. Once, the family of an old woman who was so weak they did not know if she was there or not began to keep watch. A few times in the following days, it seemed she was aware of them. A few days later she seemed a bit more restless. Then they sang to her one of the hymns she knew so well, a hymn based on Psalm 73.
In sweet communion, Lord with Thee,
I constantly abide.
My hand Thou holdest in Thine own
To keep me near Thy side.
Thy counsel through my earthly way
Shall guide me and control,
And then to glory afterwards,
Thou wilt receive my soul.
Whom have I Lord, in heaven but Thee
To whom my thoughts aspire,
And having Thee on earth is nought
That I can yet desire.
Though flesh and heart should faint and fail,
The Lord will ever be
The strength and portion of my heart,
My God eternally!
After singing the song, they prayed. They finished by praying, "And will You give Mom an abundant entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Amen!" They opened their eyes. We looked at their mother. And they watched as she peacefully breathed her last. Silently she leaving this life, only to experience that rich, abundant entrance and welcome into heaven!
We need not dwell on our exiting this life. We only have to dwell on it long enough to realize this day of exiting is coming! Then, having transacted business with Jesus, let's center our attention on the grand entrance into eternal life!
Now, I, like the apostle Peter, "have not been negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things."
May you and I find that same rich, abundant entrance when God calls us home like all those believers who have gone on before! It's either an abundant entrance, Or it's an exit into torment from which there is no escape, no exit! Believe the Lord Jesus Christ! Receive Him! He is the Truth and the Life! He is the only door into the sheepfold! Enter!
Let’s come to the Lord Jesus now in prayer!
How we thank You, our Lord and our God for making the way so clear to us this morning! How we thank You that to all those who come to You, You never say No! We are calling on You now. You have promised that You would never turn away anyone who calls on You. For Your Word says "whoever shall call on the name of the Lord will be saved!" We believe! And we are sorry for our unbelief! Save us Lord from ourself, from our sin, from this world, for Your eternal kingdom!
In Your Blessed Name we pray!
Suggested Order of Worship
Call to Worship:
Leader: "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!"
People: His love endures forever!
Silent prayer with organ response
God’s Greeting: II John verse 3
Song PH # 241 This Is the Day, & # 242 Come...praise Our God
God’s Will for us: Leviticus 19:1-4, 9-19, 30-37
Repentance & Personal Confession: Psalm 51:1-10
Assurance of Pardon: Psalm 51:11-13
Song PH # 499 My God, How Wonderful You Are
Song PH # 498 I Sought the Lord, and Afterward I Knew
Scripture Reading: II Peter 1:1-11; Text: vss 10 & 11
Sermon: AN ABUNDANT ENTRANCE
Song PH # 618 Jerusalem the Golden
Closing Blessing: Ephesians 6:24
Doxology: PH # 620:1 & 3 By the Sea of Crystal