The Fulfillment of the Gospel
Revelation 21 & 22
Two years ago I was told I would probably be dead from cancer and should not be here today. He has been good that I’m here today but he is good whether I live or die. He is good because he is God.
Some are here today undone and not sure how you are going to make it and you have had a list of people you want God to kill.
But has not God been good to you in this conference to remind you about how good God is. Don’t be too much of a shepherd that you do not get shepherded.
As pastors we have a front row seat of watching God bring people out of darkness and into the light. We get to see the spectacular work of regeneration.
And at the exact same time we get to see the tragedies of a fallen world. We walk into hospital rooms and do funerals and weep with our people. We have tragedies and weighty weeks.
We have front row seats to the brokenness of a fallen world.
It is unbelievably important to have an anchor of hope for your soul.
The First Fruits of Hope Are Here
He came and lived a perfect life and a perfect death and then he called us by his grace.
I was not looking for God. I’m still marveled that he called me. I mocked Christians for years and then he opened up my heart that he is real. I did not ask for this thing.
I wonder if any of you feel like God dragged you into this thing and then left you to die in ministry.
I went kicking and screaming to The Village Church and saying all the things that ensure you do not get hired. So I sometimes feel God brought me into this to die. So I need hope!
We are not a delusional people. There is real hope even if blinded sinful people think we are delusional.
So I want to get to the finish line to see this hope.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:1-8)
This is a beautiful picture of a renewed earth.
It never ceases to amaze me how much sand there is in the Sahara when I fly to Sudan. But when God is done the Sahara will be like roses.
Amos and Isaiah and Habakkuk speak of this beautiful renewed earth.
In 1 Corinthians 15 at the end of the chapter we get resurrected bodies. One day we will all have bodies that will shame the body you have now. Those abs will betray you. If you live long enough Ecclesiastes will tell you that you will hate that you woke up.
There will be a day when we are no longer looking forward to that day. There will be a day when it is not a future thing but it is a right now.
(Matt quotes C.S. Lewis’ book “The Last Battle”)
There will be a day when we only have a front row seat to glory.
Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” (Revelation 21:9)
Why is this significant?
We are bleeding for the bride. Some days I feel like we are doing nothing and where are you God and other days it is like we are seeing amazing works of God.
But on that day we will see the bride! We get to see her!
And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed— on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And the one who spoke with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia. Its length and width and height are equal. He also measured its wall, 144 cubits by human measurement, which is also an angel’s measurement. The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, clear as glass. The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass. (Revelation 21:10-21)
The first time we see the church in Revelation is in chapters 2 & 3. This is what many of our churches are like. We see these things every week.
But that is not what we see in Revelation 21. Where is the church in this chapter?
I was reminded of what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3.
For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. (1 Corinthians 3:11-13)
God is shaping and purifying his church slowly and steadily. Then the crown jewel on that day is the church.
And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. (Revelation 21:22, 23)
There will always be worship and there will be an explosion of worship. We will be able to worship constantly.
By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Revelation 21:24-27)
Here we see all nations worshipping and there is no diversity battles. All is made right and put in its place.
I was looking at a beautiful sunset and realized it that even that beautiful sunset was broken and fallen. How much more on that day?
I want to get my view and heart here. But that is not escapism. This view of tomorrow drives me today. We must be faithful today so we can get to this tomorrow. I do not want to escape but I want to be faithful.
Our hope drains because we are not looking toward that day. We are hedging our bets.
This view calls our present sufferings light and commentary. Not worthy to be compared.
We are to be all in. SELL OUT for this day.
Some of us do not really believe this and need to repent. This is real. It’s going to happen. We are going to get there.
For those who believe this we must rest in this.