Dean Affleck - The Language of Heaven - Maroota II, Australia Convention - 2017

We have sung that hymn already but when we sang it, I put a little sticker on a word, "learned." The way of Jesus is for those who want to learn. We have heard about lots of different parables here, and in Matthew’s Gospel there are all kinds of different pictures as to what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. We also heard that it is like a lighthouse, it is like good news, it is like a friend. I was thinking that the Kingdom of Heaven is also like a school. “I never can forget the day I learned to walk in Jesus’ way.” A disciple is a learner, a student. All who followed Jesus were called disciples. There are many schools and colleges that can make you better equipped for the future of your life, but there is no school in any capital city that I know of to prepare you to be with God in Heaven, and to speak the language of Heaven. There are some schools called churches, and they actually charge money for something that God has made free.

 

In the Gospel, there is a school that is not preparing us for something natural, it is not to make money or to be a better person, or to make some great accomplishment in this world. It is a school that helps us to know how to behave in the Kingdom of Heaven. It is a school that teaches us the language of Heaven. John was telling us the other day about Nicodemus. There were things that Nicodemus didn’t understand because Jesus was speaking in a language that Nicodemus was not familiar with. John 3:5, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” That was a very strange language to him, and yet there was something that drew him.

 

Nicodemus was a very educated man but this was a language that he did not understand and the nice part is that he wanted to understand it. He knew that Jesus was no ordinary teacher. I am sure he was familiar with many different teachers in his career but he had never found a teacher like Jesus. There are schools that are very academic and they cram theory into your head, but what Jesus was teaching was not theory, it was life; it was the real, living language of the Kingdom of Heaven.

 

For the last couple of years, I have been going to a school in Brussels. Every couple of weeks, we would be given a new subject and the teacher would go through several topics about the city of Brussels so we could get an idea of what the people are like. Matthew 18:3, “Verily I say unto you, 'Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.'” That is a strange language to many people in the world, but it is a lovely language to us. When we went to this school, it was lovely to just sit and listen to the teacher because she spoke so clearly and slowly and we understood a little bit here and there. That is how Jesus is. He speaks and gives us little pictures so we can understand. Our teacher gave us little cards because we didn’t have much vocabulary, and they had questions we could ask such as, “What is your name?” “Where do you come from?” She would tell us the words and we would try to pronounce them.

 

It is very uncomfortable to start saying a few words for the very first time in a new language because it is not natural at all, but there is the lovely, lovely language spoken in Heaven and our teacher, Jesus, spoke it perfectly. Never once did He make a mistake in His words. Hebrews 5:1, “For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins; who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.”

 

That is how our teacher was; she was kind and didn’t laugh at us. For all who choose to learn to live and walk and speak like Jesus, I am sure there are days you never forget. The day I took that first step in the Gospel was a very special day for me; I knew I wanted to be in this school because I want to be in Heaven with God. That is the bottom line.

 

In the Acts of the Apostles, there are a couple of stories of people who started speaking the language of Heaven for the first time. Acts 8:27, “Behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.”  The Ethiopian had great authority and was a very educated man who knew many things, but he didn’t speak the language of Heaven. When Philip asked him if he understood what he was reading, he said, “How can I, except some man should guide me?” That is the language of Heaven.

 

Even in his first contact with a messenger from God, he said a little sentence in the language of Heaven. It would have been music to Philip’s ears to hear, “Help me to understand.” It is not the language of this world to say, “Help me.” The language of this world is, “I will do it myself, thank you.” Saul also was a very educated man and very religious. He thought he knew the language of Heaven but he really didn’t. Acts 9:4, “'Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me.' And he said, 'Who art Thou, Lord?' And the Lord said, 'I am Jesus whom Thou persecutest; it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.' And he trembling and astonished said, 'Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?'” Some things you have to say over and over again until you get it right, and if you can keep practicing, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” then it will help you to be the kind of person God will be happy to have in Heaven.

 

There are lots of little words we have to learn in order to get into the Kingdom of Heaven. If you ask someone to read a textbook, it is not easy. They really need a teacher to help them. Jesus came to teach us how to really learn the behavior of Heaven. Jesus sat the people down and taught them His doctrine; they were there to listen, they were not there to talk. When you learn a language, you don’t learn much if you are talking. You have to listen to the teacher. In Matthew 5, Jesus talked about the pure in heart, the peacemakers, the merciful. What school in this world teaches you how to be a peacemaker, or how to be pure in heart, or merciful? There is no other school on earth to learn that other than in the Gospel.

 

Matthew 5:23, “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” Forgiveness is often a difficult word to pronounce. To be reconciled is to clear the air so you can be on the same page and have fellowship again. Sometimes, being reconciled means saying, “I am sorry.” They can be very difficult words to pronounce but in the language of Heaven, they are wonderful words. In the language class, we practise for hours, and after we get a few words in our minds, our teacher says, “Let’s go on an outing.”

 

One outing was to a little elementary school downstairs and our exercise was to tell the children a nursery rhyme in the language we were learning. We read it as best as we could ourselves, then we went and read it to the children and they loved listening. Little by little, we got more confidence by speaking to the children, and of course, the children corrected us as well.

 

They would say, “You don’t say it like that,” but you can’t take offence at a child. My companion met a child when he was distributing invitations to Gospel meetings one day. This little boy said, “What have you got, Mister?” He said, “I have some invitations to come and listen to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Do you know who that is?” The boy said, “Yes, I know who He is and He is coming back again, too.” Wouldn’t you love to have a little child like that in the meeting today? Children are not afraid to learn and they catch on quickly.

 

Another outing we went on was to an old folks’ home, and we were scared. Most of us went and talked to the old people in the dining room of the nursing home and they were so happy, and for the very first time, we all found that we could speak a little bit and what is more, they were enjoying it. Matthew 5:38, “But I say unto you that ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Any disciple of Christ who is learning to put these things into practice will find great pleasure that it works.

 

It is a recipe for true happiness. It is the attitude that reigns in Heaven, it is the language of Heaven and it is the language that Jesus spoke His whole life. In Canada, there used to be One-Room schools, with all the pupils in one room with one teacher. Some students were further along than others, but that didn’t mean the older ones were proud of their accomplishments, they were still in the same school, just moving along. For a child of God who is enriched in this school of life, we don’t want to stay at the ABCs. We have to build on it.

 

Matthew 4:19, “And He saith unto them, 'Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.'” Jesus spoke to four people that day. They were already students but they took further steps; they went into another class, and the thing that gives me courage even to come to this meeting is that several others here in Australia have answered the call to go and become fishers of men. It is like going into another grade, with more things to do for the first time. When we went on those outings, our teacher went with us. Our teacher who came from Heaven is like that. He came, He spoke, He accompanied His disciples all His life and then when He left, the Holy Spirit came to continue to teach. I am so thankful to be here and I am so thankful to see further steps being taken. It is lovely to see people take first steps, then to see others go into further grades and it is so lovely to see people finish faithfully and pass.

 

So, there are things to say, there is behaviour for the Kingdom of Heaven and we learn all these things in this wonderful school. Luke 10:17, “And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, 'Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through Thy Name.'” Jesus sent out seventy disciples and they came back rejoicing. It is like when we came back from the nursing home rejoicing because the language was working. On a far greater level, these disciples were learning and teaching the language that was bringing them a lot of joy. We have had four days of listening here, and have heard lovely things pertaining to the language of Heaven, but it is not theoretical.

 

Now, we can go on a big outing and we have a chance to put into practice the things we have heard, the words that we are trying to get into our hearts, and find out that they will work when the language of Heaven is growing in our hearts. Then we can gather another time and learn more, rejoice more, because it is the language that unites the family of God and it is the language that will be spoken in Heaven. May God help us have the courage to begin to learn.