Welcome one another, therefore, as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

Romans 15

When the day comes that by His mercy we find ourselves walking into God's Banquet Hall to feast at  the marriage supper of the Lamb, the first thing that will strike us will be  the Lamb’s glory. For a while, we'll be unable to take our eyes off our Lord.

The most magnificent sunrise we have ever seen will be as nothing compared with the awe we will know as we look at our Messiah.

Our eyes shall see the King in His beauty and the very place will throb with the light streaming from His face.

The second thing that will strike us will be the atmosphere of welcome. Every person in that vast multitude will know you by name and they'll welcome you with open arms. And you will find yourself welcoming, by name, everyone you meet.

There will be no self-consciousness, not the slightest feeling of being left out, not the faintest shadow of fear or loneliness.

The King will say, "Welcome children." And the children, after praising His glory, will turn to each other and by name will welcome one another to the glory of God.

Meanwhile, every assembly of believers on earth is meant to be a foretaste of that day in which these two signs of heaven are already present for those who seek the Kingdom first.

When those who seek the Kingdom of God come into the gathered Church anywhere on earth – if it is really the Body of Christ – they should be struck by two things:

First, by the presence of glory.

They should see glory and know that it is coming from the face of Jesus Christ.

"Jesus is in that place! Don't ask me how I know it. I just know it. I can see it, I can feel it. Just being here and breathing the atmosphere refreshes my soul and renews my body."

The second thing that should strike these Kingdom seekers as they come into the gathered Church – anywhere on earth if it is really the Church of Jesus Christ – is the atmosphere of welcome.

They should not only see glory, they should be welcomed into it. Welcome is written on every face. Brothers and sisters, even the shy, quiet ones, are smiling – glad to see these newcomers who have found their real home at last.  They just know that this is where they belong.

Of course, the first of these two marks of the Kingdom is not within our power to produce. It's not within our power to cause the Lord's glory to shine in the midst of His people. Jesus Himself has to do that – and He does.

Wherever two or three are truly gathered in His name, Jesus is there. And when He's there, His glory is there. And He is able to make His glory manifest to those who seek.

But the second mark of the Kingdom is within our power. It is within our power, under the anointing of the Spirit of God, to make those who seek God's Kingdom really welcome.

Not "welcome to our club,"

not "welcome to our organization,"

not "welcome to our doctrinal position,"

- But welcome to the glory of God.

Welcome one another, therefore, as Christ has welcomed you to the glory of God.

If our lives don't create an atmosphere of warm welcome for those who are seeking God's Kingdom, something's wrong. If the way we live, and the things that come out of our mouths, cause these people to feel left out,



or worthless, we can mouth the words of the gospel all we like but nothing will come of it.

This was the difference between Jesus of Nazareth and the Scribes and Pharisees. Jesus made people feel welcome to the Kingdom.

- When He healed the sick and opened the eyes of the blind, what was Jesus saying to these people but "Welcome to the Kingdom!"

- When He fed the multitude, Jesus was saying "Welcome to the Kingdom."

"If any one thirst, let them corm to me and drink."

- Welcome!

"Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest."

- Welcome!

"Truly, truly, I say to you, today you shall be with me in Paradise."

- Welcome!

And they responded.

- Tax collectors and sinners drew near to hear Him.

- Great multitudes followed Him because of the miracles He did on those that were diseased.

And those who decided to take off their masks and go through that narrow door and follow Jesus as disciples, while they were told to count the cost and warned of persecution, were given a tremendous welcome!

- How Jesus rejoiced over His little flock!

- How He encouraged them!

"Blessed are the eyes which see what you see. For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see and did not see it and to hear what you hear and did not hear it."

"Fear not little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom. Sell what you have and give alms. Provide yourselves with purses that do not grow old."

To this day, the Lord Jesus, in our midst,

- Welcomes us.

- Encourages us.

There isn't the slightest reservation as He says to us,

"Welcome, sisters and brothers! I'm so glad you answered my invitation."

But just as the flow of Christ's forgiveness hinges on our willingness to forgive our brothers and sisters from our hearts, so the flow of Jesus' welcome in His church hinges on our willingness to welcome others to the glory of God.

In Romans 15 we see that this welcome s has two aspects:

1. We are to welcome one another to the glory of God.

Inside the Body.

Inside the family of God there is to be a manifest spirit of welcome.

How are we ever going to make the groping seekers outside the Kingdom feel welcome to the Kingdom if inside the household of faith the atmosphere is frigid?

This welcoming of one another is a thing of the heart. Standing up in the service and shaking hands with each other may break the tension once-in-a-while, but this can soon be just another sham if our hearts aren't really warm and open to each other. Smile, for goodness sake, but not just with your face.

Is my heart really open to my brother and sister without reservation?

"But I don't like certain things about him."

"She's a hypocrite!"

"He's an undisciplined slob."

And what are you? Are you the epitome of true discipleship?

You have a blood-brother who has done all kinds of foolish things – he's still your brother. You still love him. You still come to his aid when he calls.

You have a son or daughter who has gone off the track. Do you disown that child? They’re still your child.

So you accept your brothers and sisters in the Lord. Not because they are worthy, but because your Lord welcomed you with all your scars and smears.

Granted, scripture makes clear that if a believer is living in some kind of open sin and won't repent, he has to be dealt with severely. But even this has to be done with a love that is ready to forgive and welcome that brother back at any moment. Moreover, God never puts people in a position to deal with such problems until they have warm hearts. Don't worry about learning how to excommunicate people; learn how to welcome them!

Is my heart really warm toward my brother or sister? Am I really being thoughtful?

- Thoughtful enough to lift them up before the Throne?

- Thoughtful enough to have some sense of how they feel?

- Thoughtful enough to go out of your way for them?

- Thoughtful enough to do less preaching to them and more listening?

The Spirit is telling us to welcome each brother and sister into God's glory. Even if that brother has seen ten times more of God's glory than we've ever seen, our desire for him to be blessed will increase his experience of glory.

And if he's having problems, what a lift it will give him to be welcomed into God's glory by brothers and sisters.

2. The second aspect of this spirit of welcome is aimed beyond the household of faith.

- To the Gentiles.

- To the people who haven't seen God's mercy yet.

Christ came not only to confirm the promise to Israel, but also that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy. Not only that we might have the joy of coming before our Father's throne, but that people who still grope in gloom might have hope.

This is why our Lord commands us to preach the gospel – good news. Not gloom and doom – they can get that every day in the media – but a genuine welcome into the Kingdom whose door still stands open and whose glory still waits for multitudes from every nation to enter.

We are to welcome those lonely, forgotten ones out there to God's glory, not just with words but with deeds.

- Spend time with them.

- Have them over for a meal.

- Give them money to get their heat turned on.

When they see that it's not just some more cheap talk, but real, that somebody really does care, they will know that they have finally come home, home to the Father's house where everything's all right, where their name is written on their chair at the table.

We share with people on the job, or witness to old friends, or go out on the streets with literature, not to scare them to death, or to frighten them into repentance, but to welcome them to the one place where they can find real forgiveness – to the Cross of Jesus,

- where divine-human blood was shed for their sins,

- where the veil between us and God was torn away,

- where the door swings open for them to enter into God's Kingdom.

"And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself."

How will they be drawn to Jesus? By the heavenly welcome God puts on our hearts and in our mouths.

As the skies grow darker, and the outlook for this troubled earth becomes more ominous,

- the light of God resting upon His people grows brighter,

- the warmth of Heaven radiating from the open door of God's Kingdom grows more inviting.

Our Heavenly Father doesn't want one soul left out who wants in.

May the welcome of Heaven mark our dealings with each other.

May the welcome of Heaven illumine our ministry out there in the world.

And, may the welcome of Heaven be heard by anyone reading this who is still standing outside the door of the Kingdom.

            Come on in, we’re glad to see you!