DREAM HOME SERMON SERIES
MOVING INTO YOUR ULTIMATE DWELLING PLACE – HOUSE HUNTING
AUGUST 4, 1996
I want to ask you to do something for me just now. Please take out a pen or a pencil and jot down on the front of your bulletin a description of your dream home in two sentences or less. That’s right. I want to find out what your dream home would look like. I will give you about thirty seconds to do so. And once you have these sentences written, I might come by and read them out to everyone. But don’t worry. I will not embarrass you or put you on the spot or give your name to anyone. Ready, go. Your dream home, the ultimate dwelling place. I see all the women really going after it here, they are burning up the pens and pencils. If you are finished, will you lift your hands. OK, here is Kay’s dream home. “White, light, never dirty.” That’s a good description, Kay. OK, someone else. How about a man. Bill says, “Overlooking the Pacific at Pebble Beach.” He is a man after my own heart. That is a good dream home. Someone else, very quickly. “Paid for.” How about that.
Over the next couple of weeks we are in a series called Dream Home. I have discovered a common pastime in our culture is for many Americans to drive around nice neighborhoods and look at houses. Have you ever noticed that? Just think about it. On any given weekend, long lines of minivans and suburbans move through neighborhoods at a snail-like, parade-like pace trying to check out their dream homes. Have you ever wondered what the conversations are like behind the tinted windows and above the purr of the air conditioner? It might sound something like this. “What a monster. Honey, I wonder how much that baby costs. It must have eight bedrooms.” And then finally as you are driving past the structure, you look at your spouse and say, “It must be nice.”
What drives us, whether we live in a mobil home or a mansion, to read Architectural Digest, Traditional Home or Southern Living? What drives us to read about the new homes in the Dallas Morning News every weekend? I believe the desire that we have for our earthly dream home is a microcosm of our longing to live in our heavenly home which happens to be our ultimate dwelling place. And this desire that we all have, I believe, is God-driven because it focuses on the most important issue in the universe, where will we spend eternity after we die? Will we end up in the right place once we pass away from this earth.
During my study break I planned a twelve-month menu of messages. I was really excited about beginning, this weekend, a brand new series called Fatal Distractions, a study of the seven deadly sins. However, eight days ago through a lot of prayer and talking to some people, I decided to put the seven deadly sin series on hold. It was tough to do because the whole thing was planned out. Stan and I had gone through the drama, the music. It would have been a lay-up to start that series. Yet God impressed upon my heart to do a series called Dream Home and it is amazing how this series came together. So over the next month I am going to talk about the implications of a life and a relationship with Jesus Christ. But I am going to warn you right up front, this message series is dangerous. It will separate the men from the boys, the women from the girls, spiritually speaking. It talks about the high cost and also the high reward of living a life of faith.
Today we are going to talk about house hunting. How do I end up in my dream home in heaven? I don’t know if you checked the statistics lately but the death rate in the world is pretty high, 100% of human beings die. A recent survey said that three out of four of us believe we have a good to excellent chance of spending eternity in heaven. Now the Bible comes along and the Bible says that we don’t have to guess about it, we don’t have to speculate about our home in heaven. The word of God says that we can know for sure where we will spend eternity. Basically, God has given us two options to choose from. And all of us in this room are going by one avenue or another whether we realize it or not.
I want to share with you a couple of options and I want you to think about where you are and I want you to ask yourself this question. Do I have my dream home in heaven secure? Do I know beyond a shadow of doubt that if I was to die right now I would spend eternity in heaven? Let’s go to the first option. The first option is to choose to qualify for our dream home in heaven by our moral and ethical performance. Did you miss that? The first option is to choose to qualify for our dream home by our moral and ethical performance. Scores of us are on the qualifying plan, whether we realize it or not. God says, if you perform morally and ethically up to My standards, you can get into your heavenly home. If you are on this plan, all you have to do is meet two basic requirements. You might want to write these down if you are on plan one, option one. First, you have got to live a sin-free life, spiritually, morally, ethically, vocationally and relationally. That is the first requirement. The second requirement on option one is, you must reflect perfect righteousness at all times, in every encounter, over every decision regarding your family and your work, every motivation. Everything you think about must reflect the righteousness of our loving and transcendent God in a holy and perfect way. God says, if you can meet those two requirements of option one, on judgment day He will look at you, He will check our your moral portfolio and say “This is unbelievable. Put out the welcome mat. Come on in to your mansion in heaven.” God will say that if you live a sin-free life and if you reflect righteousness in a perfect way. But, don’t miss this one, the moment you have one lustful thought, the moment you tell one white lie, the moment you have one selfish attitude, it becomes mathematically and categorically impossible to secure your home in heaven. Our holy God is not going to lower His standards. He is perfect and He knows that we all fall short and we all sin. Yet, a lot of us are duped into thinking that we can go up to some celestial mortgage company and say, “God, surely I can finance, surely I can qualify for this dream home in heaven. I can finance it through good deeds, Lord. Look at my moral portfolio.” One day, though, when we meet God face to face, He will do a quick audit of your life and mine. He will look at every page, every ledger sheet, every statement and we will see that the Xs are dried in ink, just for July 1 through July 31, 1996. If you are on option one, do you realize that you have to carry this portfolio to God and say, “Go ahead and accept me.” He is not going to lower His standards. He is going to say, “You sinned. Look at the gossip, you talked behind your neighbors back. Look at the pride, you elevated yourself in that conversation. Look at the lust, you watched Baywatch a couple of weeks ago. You are in trouble.”
Love motivates me to share this with you. If you think that you can get into heaven by the good works, moral portfolio plan, you are facing a homeless eternity in hell. Homeless throughout eternity in hell. The Bible says that hell will be a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth. I hear people say, now and then, that they will go to hell where they can party with all of their friends and have one wild time. I hate to rain on your party but you won’t know it if your buddies or friends or comrades or fraternity brothers or sorority sisters are there because you will be in utter isolation. The Bible says that there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, meaning we will realize that we missed the greatest gift known to mankind. We will realize that we tried to get to heaven through the qualifying plan.
The Bible says in Romans 3:23, “Yes, all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious ideal.” Circle the phrase, fall short. This phrase, fall short, in the Greek is in the present tense and it is stressing here continuous action. It really reads, Yes, all have sinned; all keep on falling short of God’s glorious ideal. We didn’t just fall short July 4th weekend. We keep on falling short day in and day out. Yet, we are so good at rationalizing, aren’t we? We are so good at comparing ourselves with others. We like to take our moral portfolio and say, “I’m much better than my neighbor. I have many more credits. I’m a lot cleaner than the Unibomber or some Middle Eastern terrorist.” God doesn’t grade like that. God doesn’t look at your portfolio and my portfolio like that.
Then some of us who are sly say, “OK, God, I’ll file Chapter 11 spiritually. I’ll reorganize. That is what I will do, God, I will reorganize.” And then while I am reorganizing I will come before You and because I am trying to change things and build my own dream home out of this dilapidated structure, you will say, “OK, come on into heaven. Here is the welcome mat. Welcome to My mansion.” That doesn’t do it either. We rush back to Romans 3:23. “Yes, all have sinned; all keep on falling short of God’s glorious ideal.” Are you trying to get into heaven through the performance plan ethically and morally? Hey, your eternal dreams are going to be dashed if you continue down this avenue.
God could have said this when He saw our plight. God could have crossed His arms, pushed Himself away from the negotiating table and said, “The deal’s off. Too bad. Human beings fail Me. I am perfect. I am not going to lower my standard. Homeless in hell forever. See ya.” God didn’t do that, though, did He? The Bible says that we matter so much to God, we are so loved, that God arranged an ingenious transfer plan. He took it upon Himself to give us another option. He said you can try to perform your way in but you are going to be disappointed. God said that He would give us option two. Option two is not some second class option. It is a world-class, dream home, eternity securing option.
It is penned for us in Ephesians 2:8-9. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is a gift of God – not by works so that no one can boast.” What kind of place would heaven be if we could get there by good works. It would be an ego fest. “Look what I gave. Look what I did. Look how moral I am. Look at this, I only had one X in July on gossip, you had thirty-seven. That is horrible. Look how good I am.” It is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. Listen to God’s brilliant, ingenious plan. God took it upon Himself to send Jesus Christ to live a sin-free life on this earth and to reflect righteousness perfectly in every situation. He bled to death on the cross for your sins and mine and rose again. And because of Christ’s performance on the cross, two cosmic transfers can take place the moment we sign up for the Christian life. Here are the transfers. The first transfer is this. All of the guilt, the sins, the moral foul-ups, the gossip, lust, lying and pride is transferred, if we accept the terms of this contract, from our shoulders to the shoulders of Jesus Christ. That is the first transfer. Now how is this transfer possible? Jesus accepted the punishment that you and I deserve. We can’t work for it. He just did it because of His unfathomable love.
The second transfer that takes place is, the righteousness of Christ is transferred from His shoulders onto our shoulders. Thus, when God sees us, He does not see someone with all the inked X marks on our moral portfolios, He sees the righteousness of Jesus Christ. When God looks, then, at your life and mine He says, “My Son has served you well. You qualify for this dream home.” You see the dream home has been purchased, it has been paid for. All you have to do is sign your name. Where are you? Are you still banking on option one. Isn’t it time to scrap option one and go to option two and sign up and request the two cosmic transfers. “I want to go to contract with You. I want to close this deal right now.” The work has been done, the home has been paid for. Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you.” He also said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions.” A dream home like we cannot comprehend, is waiting if we chose Christ’s way.
I want to read to you a scary verse of scripture. Sometime during the next twelve months I will deliver a sermon series entitled The Most Dangerous Passages in the Bible. This is one of them. This is directed at people who think they are Christians. Matthew 7:24-27. “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” The key phrase is “hear and practice.” Jesus is saying that many people, not a few, many who think they are saved are not. What is the test of our salvation? The test is, is there life change. The test is, obedience. If you prayed a prayer in your life to receive Christ or you signed some contract, maybe a month ago or a year ago, and you don’t see some real change in your life, you might not be saved. I can say these words like, “I am the greatest business mind in the world today.” Is that true? No, it is not true. I can say it. You can say, “Jesus Christ, I accept You into my life.” But you have got to mean it. You have got to live it out. There has got to be change. The Bible says that first we have got to repent and turn toward Christ. The word repentance means to make an about-face. We turn to Jesus and are saved by grace through faith. But a result of our faith is a change in our lifestyle. Over the next three weeks we are going to talk about the test of our faith. We are going to see this landscaping stuff as it emerges around our dream home because, if you don’t have any landscaping, you had better check out to see if Jesus Christ is at home. Are you obedient to the Lord? Has he brought change in your life? Are you walking differently? Are your friendships altered?
Then the Bible says in II Corinthians 5:1, “…we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” I Peter 2:5 says, “You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house…” Is your house on sand or on rock? It is on the Lord or on good works? Where are you? We can’t get into the Lordship of Jesus Christ or the implications of following Him until we have this issue settled. Now some of you here are not ready to make this decision. You are still investigating the claims of Christ and that is fine. Our church is for you to sit back and to seek. But you can’t seek for your entire life. One day you have to either make the step or not. If you are not there, that’s fine. Pray about, engage in conversation with someone who will share with you what it means to be a Christian. Or you can pray the prayer today.
The second group of people I am talking to are people who think that they are Christian but aren’t. You know down deep in your heart of hearts that you are not secure, you don’t know beyond a shadow of doubt that if you died tonight, you would spend eternity in your dream home. You are saying, “Well, Ed, I am a leader here. I am doing this. I am doing that.” I don’t know. Where are you? It is between you and God. But we have to know that we have made this step. So where are you? Some are ready, some are thinking about it. Some think they are Christians and they are not. I want to settle this issue. The moment we, to the best of our ability, with the most faith that we can muster, sign our name on this contract, the two transactions take place. God puts out the welcome mat at your mansion and my mansion in heaven and He invites us to spend eternity in His neighborhood, on His street, as a part of His household. That is the dream home. That is where we start this dangerous series.
Again, you either sign it or not. You either pick up the pen or not. God wants you to. He is right there at the table saying, “Please sign. It is out of love. Please sign. Settle the issue right now. Please sign.” You will be glad, eternally, that you did.