Preparing for Eternity
February 10-11, 2018
We've come to a really important part of the Book of Revelation because, at this point, the seven-year tribulation creates us come to an end. The Lord has returned to the earth victoriously as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He has ruled over the nations for a thousand years out of Jerusalem. Believers have been judged at the judgment seat of Christ. We talked about that last week. The non-believers have been judged at the great white throne judgment. At the end of that thousand-year period, Satan is released for a short time and leads a rebellion.
One last battle called The Battle of Gog and Magog. You say, why? Why was that? Why was he released and allowed to lead this rebellion? That is a really good question, and I'm going to answer that on Wednesday.
There's a very, very good reason for that, very important insight. That's what's happening up to this point. After that rebellion, that Battle of Gog and Magog, then Satan himself is seized and then cast into the lake of fire. Literally hell or Gehenna. That brings us to the point where we are now in the Book of Revelation looking to eternity and beyond. I thought I'll throw that phrase out there in case you got it. The reason that God shows us these things in advance is so that we might prepare and understand eternity in our hearts. There's a tremendous verse that He started out this book with which is right out of Revelation 1, "Blessed is he who reads this book. Blessed are those who hear the words of this prophesy and heed the things written in it for the time is near."
The point is, these things are written that it might make a spiritual impact on our lives. It's not just to be studied. It's not just to be dissected and all that. It's to be put into our hearts that it might cause our faith to arise because there's a sense of urgency. That's the response of eternity in our heart when we have an internal perspective. When many people think about eternity, they think about, of course, heaven, but many people have a lot of assumptions. Where do people get all these ideas? These thoughts about eternity or heaven in the future. I think a lot of them come from the culture, sometimes movies or of sayings or stories and even humor.
Of course, there's a lot of humor right about entering into heaven. Always, I don't know why it is that Peter's always the one standing at the gate. There are some really good jokes.
For example, like the time, this has to be my favorite one. It's a story of the day that a pope and a politician both died on the same day and showed up at the gates there. There was Peter to welcome them. The pope was rather surprised because he saw a band of angels coming out to welcome the politician. Music is sounding, the band is playing and cheers of celebration and they lift him up on their shoulders and ushered him in the politician into heaven. Peter could see the concerned look on the pope's face and so he said, "Is something wrong?" The pope says, "Well, this isn't exactly how I envisioned it." Peter said, "Well, you have to understand. We've had popes show up here before, but a politician, that's something special."
I'm not going to be changing my careers into standup comedy. I can see that. You've heard the phrase; you've no doubt have heard the phrase, "The pearly gates." Where does that phrase come from? Actually, that's interesting because the idea or the phrase, "Pearly gates" does have a biblical grounding, but it isn't what many people think. It does have a biblical reference, but it's not really about heaven up there. It's about heaven when heaven comes to the earth. When many people think of eternity, they immediately imagine heaven up there with the Lord. These verses that we're going to look at today really give us insight into the location of heaven for us about eternity. It's not what people think.
Heaven you might say will be on earth, spoiler alert. Heaven will be on earth, but it will not be earth as we now know it. It would be a new heaven and a new earth. That's the verse I want us to look at. Revelation 21 starting in verse one. "I saw a new heaven." He says, "All of these amazing visions that John has been shown." And He says, "Now, He has this vision. I see a new heaven and a new earth." The earth is made new. "The first heaven and the first earth passed away. He says and an interesting thing, "There was no longer any sea." Then He says, "And then I saw the holy city. New Jerusalem. New Jerusalem is a new city," He says, "coming down out of heaven from God made ready like a bride adorned for her husband. Then I heard a loud voice from the throne."
Remember that throne that John had seen in the center of that sea of glass. "I heard a loud voice from the throne, and He said, behold, the tabernacle of God is among men and He shall dwell among them and they shall be His people and God himself shall be among them." Now, this is a beautiful, beautiful picture. God, being Emmanuel. God, with us. In fact, I suggest to you that this was God's intent from the very beginning because it takes us back to Genesis. God walked with Adam in the cool of the evening. I'm talking about before the fall.
That relationship, that nearness, that just walking together in the cool of the evening. Just having that fellowship, that relationship, just Emmanuel God with him. He's telling us that is the picture of eternity, God himself will be among them. He is Emmanuel. It's been His heart. I could tell you what. You can do a study to the entire Bible of Emmanuel. It's been God's intent for a relationship. You can see that theme runs through the entire Bible. It's an amazing study. Then it says verse four, "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes." No more pain in other words. No more mourning, grief, sorrows, hurts, wounds. He says, "There will no longer be any death." That's past, that's the old.
"There will no longer be any mourning or crying or pain for the first things have passed away and He who sits on the throne said, you got to love this phrase right her, "Behold, I am making all things new." That's Gods heart too. You got to capture that heart of God. "Behold, look at this, see this, I make all things new. Then He said, "Write this down for these words are faithful and true." In other words, you can count on these words. You can stand on these words. Take hold of these words. This is like a rock to stand on. This is a halt to hold onto.
Write this down, these words are faithful and true. He said to me, "It is done, it is finished." I am the Alpha and I am the Omega. These are the first and the last letter. I am the beginning. I am the end. I would give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. That's a beautiful picture. I want us to really understand, now look into that. "He who overcomes shall inherit these things." This is the promise. He overcomes. He who has steadfastness of faith through all the turmoil and the turbulence of all the challenge and difficulties and through it all.
He who overcomes, He who holds his faith. Here's a great picture. You see this phrase all over the scriptures. He says, "I will be His God, and He will be my son or for a woman, she will be my daughter." What a beautiful, beautiful set of verses for us. These are the ones I want us to look at. We'll look at more of course on Wednesday. But these are the ones I want us to look at tonight.
I. We will Live on a New Earth
Starting with the understanding that we will live on a new earth. Now again if you were to go out and take a survey and asked people where they're going to spend eternity. People will say heaven.
No that is such a common understanding that even I as I'm teaching through the Bible and I speak about eternity, just so I don't have to explain it every single time, I say also heaven, wait and God. It's very common understanding. But here we learn of course that actually we're going to live out eternity not in a heaven up there, but a a new earth down here. Heaven will come down you might say. And what is it telling us that the old passes away. Literally everything here will burn. Remember I read this last week, out of 1st Corinthians 3, everything will be tested by fire. Everything will be burnt, but that which remains is that which is eternal because that which is eternal remains through the fire. 1st Corinthians 3. You can read that.
A. Everything here will burn
See this is such an important thing to recognize that everything here is going to burn because often times we put so much value on the things of the earth now. But the things of the earth now, are destined to be burnt. It's really helping us to change our perspective. Let me give you some verses that just coincide with this. 2nd Peter 3 verses 10 to 13. He says, "The day of the Lord will come like a thief in which the heavens will pass away with the roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat and the earth and its works." That's an interesting phrase there, but 1st Corinthians 3, gives us insight.
Will be burned up. Now he says, "Since all of these things are to be destroyed in this way. What sort of people ought you to be?" And then he adds, "In the holiness and in holy conduct, and godliness, looking for and hastening." What an interesting thing. "Looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning elements will melt, with intense heat. But according to his promise we are looking for a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells." Which of course we're reading about in Revelation 21.
All of this gives us really a heavenward or an eternal perspective. We need to make sure we don't have our hearts invested in the stuff. This earth is not our-- of course is passing away and all the stuff with it. Our hope, our eternity, our future is found of course in that heaven on earth that he's describing for us. He's giving us a new perspective. Colossians chapter three, "Therefore since you've been." That's the best phrase. "Since you've been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above. For Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things of the earth for you have died and your life is hidden in Christ, in God." That's a great insight right there. It changes your whole perspective. You have died and your life is hidden with Christ and God.
You know what Jesus said, kind of similar. Jesus said this in Luke Chapter 12 in regards to the stuff. The stuff. You know what I'm talking about? The stuff. We have so much stuff that-- we have more today an amazing materialistic kind of stuff. We have more materialism stuff than ever before. Isn't that true? I mean even Solomon in all of his glory didn't have an iPad. We are blast because of all this stuff. Right? But what did Jesus say? Very important perspective. Luke 12 verse 15, "Beware." Jesus said, "Beware. For not even when one has an abundance.
Not even when one has an abundance, does his life consist of his possessions." Your life is not found in your possessions. Your life is not found in your stuff. Therefore, hold the things of the earth loosely. My very, very, very, first car I got when I was 16, was a yellow station wagon. Yes, you can feel sorry for me. Yes.
And it had dents on every corner. Can you imagine driving to school with that?
I was proud of the next one, because that one eventually died.the next one.
See when you own a beat up yellow station wagon, it's easy so not to hold the value of it too highly. Right? It's junk. But my next one, 1971 American Motors, Javelin with a 364-barrel SST. I'm telling you. Oh dark blue with light blue Star-skin Hutch stripe.
And then I wrecked it.
But you know what. God was showing me. Hold the things of the earth loosely. Don't put your heart into the things of the earth. Jesus gave us this perspective when he said in Matthew Chapter six, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, where thieves break in. Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven." Heavenward. Live with a heavenward perspective. Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven. Value that. You know how many people put their whole life effort into the treasures of the earth.
Their whole life effort. And then when they are on their deathbed, do you think that they wish that they had more of the stuff of the earth? Or do you think that they wish they would have had more of the stuff of heaven? Jesus said, "Lay down for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy, thieves do not break in and steal." For where your treasure is, there your heart is. Put your heart heavenward. He's given us his perspective and helps us to have-- when you have a heavenward perspective, it shows you this, redeem the time.
B. Redeem the time you have
Redeem the time that you have. Hold the things that are there loosely because everything here is going to burn. We should make the most of the time then that we have on the earth. Valuing the opportunity to lay up for ourselves treasures and to have that heavenward view. That perspective. In the new heaven, and the new earth, now time will not be an issue. Right? It's eternity. Time will not be an issue. It's only an issue now. Time is an issue now. We have an awareness of time because God wants to make the most of it. Our dogs. We have two little, cute little dogs.
They have no sense of time. I mean the passing of time. I mean they have sense of time. They know when dinner is. They know when dinner is perfectly well. But the passing of time. They have no idea about the passing of time. They don't understand old age. We do. We understand the sense of urgency. Colossians 4 verses 5 to 6, he says, "Conduct yourselves with wisdom. Toward those who are outside the relationships that you have, redeeming the time." Then he says, "Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt." So that you will know how you should respond to each person.
Conduct yourselves with wisdom in your relationship is in fact, redeeming the time. When you let your speech be with grace, what you're doing when your speech is with grace, seasoned with salt, you're showing value of relationships because the value of relationships is something very, very important because relationships are eternal. You get to take your relationships with you. You don't get to take very much with you, but relationships you get to take with you. One of the most important things is redeem the time by sharing your faith.
Sharing your faith a sense of urgency because there will not be any need to share your faith in eternity. There will not be any need to share your faith on the new Jerusalem, heaven on earth. You know why? Because they're all going to know the Lord. Right. Jeremiah 31:34, " They will not teach again each man his neighbor or each man his brother saying know the Lord. For they will all know me. From the least of them to the greatest of them declares the Lord." That's a great verse.
"Now is the time. Redeem the time now. he says. Because our life here on the earth is short." That's what James Chapter four was about." Come now. Come now you who say today or tomorrow." We're going to go to such and such a city. We're going to spend a year there and we're going to engage in business, we're going to make a profit. You don't know, you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a while and then vanishes away. There's a movie coming out next month it's called Paul the Apostle of Christ, we're going to go to that movie because I've got to see it in advance because they let pastors see it.
It's excellent showing what a picture of Paul, but there's one scene I will tell you now, a little tiny spoiler, there's this one scene where Paul is a very, very, very old man now and he's held in prison, but the prefect of the prison at one point wants to have a conversation with Paul and takes him out of the prison, brings him to his garden, his place and they're having a conversation. At one point Paul says to the prefect, the Roman prefect, he says, "Do you sail?" And the Roman says, "Yes, I have sailed." He said, "You know when you're on the vast water and you deep your hand into the water and you bring it up to your mouth," He said it's sifting between your fingers so that when you get it up to your mouth, there's hardly anything left.
He said most people focus their entire lives on that handful of water, but it sift’s right through their fingers. But he says believers they are focused on that vast sea of water, eternity in view.
If life is a vapor then we should do something with the time that we have, have eternity in view is what he, he's showing us this for a reason so that we can have eternity in view, maybe use the good China, you might say.
So many people they live for something, they're always living for something. Do you know what I mean by that? There's always something, always something out there, something, longing for just planning for some distant thing and they're missing out on today. Have eternity in view, there's such a short time that we have. I remember years ago we took our family bowling and we were just having a great time, just the kids and us, and I was just, you know how sometimes you're going to get into this reflective, like this is surreal reflective moment?
We're bowling and I'm just sitting there by my side, I'm just watching the scene unfold as our kids are having a great time, they're laughing and everyone's enjoying. I sat back and I thought, "How long are we going to have? How long are we going to have with them?" Life's a vapor. I remember the night before our daughter was killed, she died on a Tuesday. On Monday evening I asked her if we could go to Starbucks and have coffee. We sat at Starbucks together for three hours just sitting there outside in the cool of the evening drinking something cold just talking about life, three hours. I'll tell you what, I will cherish those three hours for the rest of my life. Amen?
Because the stuff of life is made up of that, that's the stuff of life, that's the value of relationships. He's telling us, in vast to know things which are eternal. Philippians three, here's another great verse, Philippians three, "But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord." Everything comes from that perspective. It's changed my perspective. Then I love Revelations 21, it shows us God Himself will be with us. That's one of the great glorious points.
II. God Himself Will Be with Us
Verse 3, the tabernacle of God will be among men He will dwell among them, they will be His people and God Himself will be among them. Later on in the same chapter He talks about, in verses 22 and 23, there's no temple there for God Himself the Almighty, they are the temple and the city has no need of the sun or the moon to shine upon it for the glory of God because He's in the midst of it, the glory of God illumines it. The lamp is the Lamb. What a glorious perspective of what it means to be in the presence of God and His glory? God Himself will be among us.
A. The former things will not come to mind
Then He says, I love this phrase, He says, "The former things will not come to mind. New heaven, new earth, former things will not come to mind He explains in verse 4. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, no more crying, no more pain because the first things have passed away." It reminds me of Isaiah 65, there's a parallel in Isaiah 65, "For behold I create new heavens and a new earth, the former things will not be remembered or come to mind." There's so many things on this earth, this life we're living now that cause pain and tears. But these things will not come to mind, these things will not be remembered. It's actually a great application, there's a great application in all of this.
For many people, many people would be benefited if they would gain that perspective even now because many people would gain so much freedom if they could let go of the things of the past, if they could let go of those tears and the hurts of the past. Too many people carry the accumulation of their hurts and their wounds and they carry it with them throughout their lives and then they live in the prison of their pain and they're robbed of joy and they're robbed of peace. God wants to set you free. What does it say in Philippians 3:12-14, he says, "I press on that I may lay hold of that for which I was laid hold of by Jesus Christ. Brethren, I do not regard myself as laying hold of it yet, but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead.
I press on toward the goal of the price of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus," forgetting what lies behind. Paul has some stuff in his past, Paul has some things to be ashamed about. Paul had inflicted a lot of hurts and he himself had received a lot of hurts. He says, "But forgetting what lies behind." Too many people they carry all of these pains, they accumulate hurts, they accumulate these pains and then they live in a prison because of that pain. God wants to set us free. I love that phrase where He says, "I am making all things--" He makes all things new, verse 5. Now the Greek is really helpful because in Greek emphasizes the fact that it's a present active tense.
B. He makes all things new
In other words, "I am making all things new." Things will not become old, things don't grow old in eternal heaven on earth. Here things get old, we get old. Houses get old, cars get old, things get broken down. We're always trying to do something so that we can do something, we don't want the old, we want something new. But there won't be any need for new and improved. I am making all things new. Then here's another thing, old things passed away, we won't struggle in the flesh. This flesh, the sin nature that is so much trouble won't you agree? This sin nature and this flesh that we carry with us is so much trouble.
Isn't it? We're not going to have this flesh, this sin nature in heaven, all things pass away.
The condition of our flesh will not be like that in heaven because here it's a trouble, here it's a big trouble. Mark 14, "Keep watching and praying that you may not come into any temptation because the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." Romans 7:18, "I know that nothing good dwells in me that is in my flesh for the willing is present, but the doing of good is not." What a trouble it is? But there will not be any sin nature, there will be no more brokenness, there'll be no more broken lies, there'll be no more broken marriages, there'll be no more broken relationships.
However, it's so important that we recognize that God loves to make things new even now, even now that's the heart of the Lord. It's a theme of the Scriptures; God makes all things new now. We know it's His heart, we know for example he's emphasizing here in chapter 21, "God is with us." It's like he's making a point that we recognize the significance of that, God will be with us, it's amazing. But here's the thing, God is with us right now in the Holy Spirit that indwells every believer of Jesus Christ. God is with is, but we will not only have a down payment of the Holy Spirit, we will have the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
We have to recognize that God's heart is to be with is now, God will make all things new in eternity, but it's God's heart to make all things new right now. Here's some verses, Ezekiel 36, "Moreover I will give you a new heart." He's speaking now in this life, I'll give you a new heart, put a new Spirit in you. I will remove that old heart of stone from your flesh and I'll give you a heart that's alive, heart of flesh. How about 2nd Corinthians 5:17, one of the verses that, men you ought to write this verse in your soul, this verse is so important, so, so important.
2nd Corinthians 5:17, "If anyone is in Christ, if you are in Christ, if anyone or since you are in Christ, He is a new creature old things pass away behold, new things have come." God begins the process of making you new even when you receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He's giving you the resurrected life, He's giving you eternal life now, and now He begins to make all things new in your life.
C. He gives to the one who thirsts
Then it says, I love this phrase, "He gives to the one who thirsts." Verse 6, "I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost." I love that picture because that's like the Gospel on one verse. This is God's heart right now also, right there that is God's heart for us right now.
We will see the fullness of the promise then, but God's heart is right now to give to the one who thirsts, right now. Without costs, like Isaiah 55, I love Isaiah 55, one of my favorite chapters in the Old Testament, "Ho everyone who thirsts, come to the water." You know how many people are thirsty in their soul? How many people are longing for something? There's something deeply missing. Many people are searching, there's this big void and they're longing for, they have this deep searching. It says, "Ho everyone who thirsts come, come to the water and you, you who have no money, come buy milk, come buy wine and milk without money and without cost." God gives freely.
God gives abundantly. It says, it should say why rather, "Why do you spend money for what is not bread and your-- Why do you spend your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me and eat what is good and delight yourself in abundance," He means spiritual abundance, delight yourself in spiritual abundance right now. Incline your ear and come to me, listen that you may live, listen that you may live and I will make an everlasting covenant with you according to the faithful mercies shown to David. Didn't Jesus say the same thing? It is the heart of the Lord now.
John 7, now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood up and He cried out and He said, "If anyone is thirsty then let him come to me and let him drink. He who believes in me as the Scripture said, from his innermost being will flow rivers of living water." By this He spoke of the Holy Spirit whom those who believed in Him were to receive for the Spirit was not yet given because Jesus had not yet been glorified. That's the promise that He gives us right now. So many people are so thirsty, with such a deep longing, but He is the one who satisfies and He begins right now. Let's pray.