Where Grace Has the Final Word

by Andy Wood on October 22, 2014

in Esteem, Exploring the Possibilities, Five LV Laws, Life Currency, LV Cycle, Principle of Eternity

Heaven Worship

I could duplicate stories like these all day…

The Job Site

I was working construction (pausing here for those who know me to gasp or laugh or something).  It was a high-pressure day and I was off with a coworker on an assignment with a deadline that just wasn’t getting done.  It was Friday afternoon, I was leaving out of town, and the pressure just kept building.  I was a failure at this, and knew it.  I figured at that point the whole world knew it.

I had to swing by the other job site where my boss and Ricky were, to give the boss the bad news. Ricky and I usually worked together, but we’d been separated for a few days on different projects.  I’ll never forget the way Ricky made me feel – it was as though we hadn’t seen each other in years.  After hours and hours of devaluing myself in my head, his infectious smile and greeting made me feel like the king of the world.

It was a foretaste of heaven… where grace has the final word.

The Classroom

In a transparent moment in an online classroom filled with future and present church leaders I wrote this:

“If I could go back and do one thing over again in my 32 years of pastoring… I would be more ruthlessly intentional about leadership development.  I would allow myself to be criticized more for neglecting some things in order to focus more on developing discipling leaders. As passionate as I am and was about preaching, and as passionate as some of you are, may I just say, preaching alone won’t come close to accomplishing this.  Leadership development isn’t about lessons, outlines, or proclamation.  It’s about duplication of your passion, knowledge, skillsets, and passion in the lives of others.”

In reply to that, I got a simple, but profoundly encouraging reply from a student in that class:

I hope you know that by teaching guys like me you ARE accomplishing leadership development.  I doubt I will meet you here on earth, but someday I look forward to seeing you in glory! Thanks for everything, and may God richly bless you as you follow Him.

It was a foretaste of heaven… where grace has the final word.

The Stains in our Thinking

Look at someone else in light of their life history, and out come the labels.  Failure. Liar. Cheater. Thief. Junkie. Egomaniac. Entertainer.  Terrorist. Holy Terror. Superstar. Sandbagger.

We even do that to people in the Bible.  We speak of the woman caught in adultery, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, or the friend of Jesus who was always irritated because she didn’t have any help in the kitchen.

Get inside your own head long enough, and it’s very easy to see only the labels and stains in ourselves as well.  We can easily see our own lives as ordinary at best, or terribly flawed at worst.  Then when somebody shows up with a different perspective, it’s easy to get caught off guard by the fresh, honest sincerity of a foretaste of heaven… where grace has the final word.

A Fresh Look at Our Destiny

What comes to mind when you think of heaven?  Is it the place, with all its bedazzled trappings?  That certainly has something to do with it, but they pave streets there with our most precious metal here.  Yes, it’s beautiful, but in the larger scope of things, what’s beautiful today becomes ordinary tomorrow.

Is it heaven because Jesus is there, and we get to spend eternity with Him?  That’s certainly the reason He said he was going away – to prepare that kind of place for us.

But I want to remind you that a face-to-face encounter with the Son of God isn’t bliss for everybody. He will be the object of terror and mourning for many.

The other day I was reading at the end of the little book of Jude and got a fresh look at what Heaven will be like.  There were no mansions over the hilltop or crystal walls.  It was something a lot more personal than that:

“Now to Him Who is able to keep you without stumbling or slipping or falling, and to present [you] unblemished (blameless and faultless) before the presence of His glory in triumphant joy and exultation [with unspeakable, ecstatic delight]—” (Jude 24, Amplified).

The glory of any place is in the impact it has on us.  I glory in my back porch settings because they help me start the day, reconnect me with nature to an extent, and help me set my emotional and spiritual bearings.  I glory in the family farm settings because they remind me of my roots and represent a change from the hectic place I live in.  I glory in standing behind a pulpit or in front of a classroom because it connects me with a sense of calling and identity.

So what does that have to do with heaven?  Here Jude says that Jesus is able to present me unblemished – blameless and faultless before the presence of His glory, with unspeakable, ecstatic delight.

It’s heaven because I’m standing in the presence of His glory.

It’s heaven because I am standing there in triumphant joy and ecstatic delight.

And it’s heaven because I am standing there faultless. I, who am anything BUT faultless, have been made faultless by the grace and covering of the Lamb of God.

And that is Heaven.

Being in Heaven means knowing what we’re capable of, yet at every turn being treated as if we are faultless before the throne of His majesty.

What if in Heaven we never forgot? What if Peter remembers denying Christ and Paul remembers killing and arresting Christians, yet they’re presented faultless?  What if their stains are washed away, but they remember the stains?

We know that in Heaven God remembers our sins no more, but what if we’re fully conscious of them – yet continuously experience the sensation of being presented faultless before the throne of God’s majesty?

Then Heaven is a place of eternal surprise… where grace has the final word.

In the Mean Time (and it IS a Mean Time)

Heaven is the place where grace has the final word over shame and defeat.  What an amazing promise.  But the earlier one is just as important – He is able to keep us from stumbling.

If grace only worked for us when we die, it isn’t very powerful.  But the fact is, that the same grace that makes us faultless also keeps us standing and walking instead of stumbling and falling.

What an amazing promise.  This isn’t about “white knuckling” our way through, but appealing to the willingness of the Lord Jesus to stoop to help us and the Holy Spirit to rise up within us.  Can there be a greater foretaste of Heaven than being carried to places of safety and power by a risen Christ and an indwelling Spirit?

The next time you’re caught up in the stains of your stinking thinking or frustrated with the faults of the people in your universe, be prepared for a foretaste of heaven… where grace has the final word.

And who knows? Maybe you can be the voice of grace for someone else – and an instrument in the hands of your God to be a foretaste of heaven – or to keep somebody else from stumbling.

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