Getting Fit for Heaven – Covenant February 22, 2015

Genesis 9:8-17 1 Peter 3:18-22

The Sunday School teacher was talking to his class about going to heaven. So, he asked, “Who wants to go to heaven?”

All the kids raised their hands. That is except for Johnny. The Sunday School teacher asked Johnny, “In heaven, we will get to see God and be with God. Don’t you want to go to heaven?”

Johnny replied, “I do want to see God and be with God.”

The teacher asked Johnny another question, “Then why didn’t you raise your hand?”

Then Johnny said, “I thought you was getting us ready to go now!”

I am not getting a group to go to heaven right this minute. But we do want to think about being ready for heaven. I say that because God is already making plans for his people to be in heaven witbh him. It is important that we know the plans God has for our good. This covenant that we see God making with Noah, every living creature, and even the earth helps us see what sort of God we have.

As we are studying this covenant, we realize that it contains a promise that God has kept. What lead God to make this covenant with all flesh and the earth?

A. How did things get to this point? (Genesis 1-8)
+++1. God created everything
+++2. Woman & man decided to disobey God
+++3. The generations that followed Adam & Eve disobeyed God – they were evil
+++4. God sent a flood to wipe out all life on the planet, except for Noah & his family
+++5. Noah & his family have left the ark and have offered praise to God for his deliverance
+++6. God has told Noah & his family to be fruitful & multiply
++++++a. Rule over the animals
++++++b. Eat any animal & all green plants
++++++c. Yet God did not say wipe out various animal or plant species
+++7. It is important to know the background to God making a covenant with Noah and all of creation. God judged the world at that time by water. And the flood was devastating. Many cultures have stories of a great flood that covered the earth. But God is doing something new. God’s grace is being extended to us in this covenant.

B. What is the essence of this covenant (Genesis 9:8-17)
+++1. This is God’s part – he is telling us what he is going to do
+++2. God is going to remember his creation, even us
+++3. All future generations would know that God has made a promise
+++4. We realize every time we see a rainbow in the clouds that God has kept his promise
+++5. By God keeping his promise from so many years ago, we know that we have hope for life with him. Now you are saying, that is a mighty big jump there, to go from the covenant with Noah to knowing that God has a life for us with him in heaven. I say that it is not a big jump. For God has made a promise and he has remembered it. We also know that God has made this promise, to not destroy us by flood waters across the earth. Yet, we also know several important points. First, that God made this agreement with all of creation. So God has concern for all creatures, not just the human ones. Second, God can and will judge us. Because of our sin, our wrongdoing, God has every right to judge us. What has been keeping God from judging us?

C. Now we see what Jesus does for us (1 Peter 3:18-22)
+++1. We easily can recognize how unrighteous we are
+++2. Yet, Jesus suffered for sins, our sins
+++3. Noah & his family were saved through water
+++4. We are saved through our faith in Jesus that is shown through our being baptized
+++5. Jesus suffered so that we may follow him into heaven
+++6. Our conscience is cleared through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because of this, we have a way to get to heaven and to escape the punishment that will come. Now this does not mean that we can do whatever we want, hurt whoever we want, or getaway with anything. But it does mean that as we follow Jesus we are pursuing the promise of being with God in heaven. It is Jesus who makes us fit for heaven, by giving us his righteousness.

Getting fit for heaven involves us knowing the covenant that God has made with all creation. For God has promised not to judge us by flooding the entire planet. Yet, God reserves the right to judge all humanity. So, we hear that God remembers his promise when he sees the rainbow in the clouds.

For us to escape God’s judgment, we are to get rid of our unrighteousness. However, we canyh 5not do that on our own. Jesus Christ had to die so that we could be brought before God. Our baptism shows then that Jesus, who has gone into heaven, has made a way for us to be in heaven.

We get fit for heaven by being baptized in the faith that Jesus Christ makes us righteous. We are trusting the faithful Creator, who remembers his covenant. We are realizing that Jesus makes us fit for heaven.

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