Summary: This sermon addresses the question "How do we get into the family of God?"
I don’t know about you but as the list of names were read today from Matthew, I was a little bored. I noticed some of you were too. It reminds me of attending
several middle school, high school and college graduations this past June. Hearing the list of names being read off was boring because I didn’t know them. But the most exciting part was cheering for the friends I knew as they walked across the stage to get their diploma. To many of us, today’s Matthew reading may have sounded like someone reading a phone book. But God sees it differently.
To God, this list of names is His family album. What He’s doing in the first chapter of Matthew is opening up His family album to us and proudly showing who’s in His family. Who He calls His beloved sons and daughters. Each person on the list is very precious to God,. just as each of us here are precious to God.
But the strange thing about His family album is they include people that you wouldn’t expect to be in there. Rahab was a prostitute. David an adulterer and murderer.
If we were to examine each of these people’s lives carefully, we would see their flaws and sins and conclude they are far from perfect. So how did they get into God’s family album?
That’s the question I want to address today, “How does one get into God’s family?”
On my airplane ride to Michigan, I was sitting next to Tony. After chatting for a while, the conversation went something like this…
Tony: “So what do you do?”
Me: “I am a youth minister. Do you have any religious background?”
Tony: “Yes, I’ve been a life long Methodist.”
Me: “Can I ask you a question?”
Tony: “Go, right ahead.”
Me:“ Do you know where you’re going to go after you die?”
Tony: “I am going to heaven.”
Me: “How do you know?”
Tony: “I’ve done lot of good things in my life.”
Me: “Well I believe heaven is a perfect place designed for perfect people.
If imperfect people went to heaven then it would be just like earth.
So, that leaves me with a problem because I am not perfect. Are you perfect?”
Me: “So, we’re both in trouble. Like everyone else, I like to see myself as good and like to think my good works will get me to heaven. But you know, I deserve to be in jail right now.”
Tony: “How come?”
Me: “Well, for 17 years I’ve been driving. Every time I drive I must at least break 5 traffic laws. I often speed, run through red lights, don’t stop completely at stop signs. If the police videotaped every time I drove in 17 years of driving, they would convict me of thousands of traffic violations, costing me millions of dollars and since I couldn’t pay for them all, I would be in jail right now. The only reason I’m not in jail right now is because I haven’t been caught all those times. I believe if perfect justice was carried out on each of us, we would all be in jail.
So you see, when we break man’s laws, there are consequences.
When we break God’s laws, there are also consequences. God tells us not to lie, not to steal, to always honor our parents, and always put Him first.
No one has lived up to God’s standards. No one is perfect. People who are in prison did some good things in their lives but they have to violate only one law to go to jail. Violating only one of God’s commandments disqualifies us from heaven and qualifies us to eternal prison.
The Bible states that everyone will be judged by God according to how they lived. (Revelation 20:12: “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.”) On that Judgment day, I will stand before God and see my entire life pass before me. .I don’t know about you, but I would like to edit out a lot of things I did in my life. And then God asks me, ‘Do you plead innocent or guilty?’ I will look down and say, ‘I plead guilty as charged.’
And God is very fair and just. God says, “The consequence of your sin is death- eternal separation from me and into eternal prison. (Romans 6:23)
But fortunately, that’s not the end of the story.
For God is not only a fair judge but also a forgiving Father.
So God says, ‘I love you too much to be separated from you. So what I am going to do is give the best defense attorney I have.’