LAWTON CHURCH OF GOD, LAWTON OKLAHOMA

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THE NEW JERUSALEM, PART 1

   

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, 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 heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Revelation 21:1–8

 

We saw in chapter nineteen that the earth and the heaven fled away from the throne of the glorified Christ. In the wake of God’s judgment expressed in the everlasting gospel during the end-time revival John now sees a new heaven and a new earth. John also remarks that there was no more sea. The everlasting gospel produces the miracle of a changed moral and spiritual nature within the human spirit. Even though people continue to be humans with human limitations, this moral transformation enables them to overcome the spiritual hazard of temptation and remain faithful to Christ.

This moral and spiritual transformation is pictured as the New Jerusalem come down from heaven as a bride prepared for her husband. This is New Jerusalem nothing more than the church as Jesus built it. This will not be a new movement calling itself the church of God. This is just the awareness that is revealed to the redeemed that they are indeed the body of Christ and that the everlasting gospel places them into the relationship with the glorified Christ that is expressed in the bond of marriage. This realization is called the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.

A loud voice from heaven, in other words, the clear teaching of the everlasting gospel during the end-time revival, declares the truth of the indwelling presence of God in the lives of the redeemed that makes this possible. Jesus taught this truth in John 14:15–23. He taught that after he made atonement for sin he would send the Holy Spirit whom he says in verse seventeen will be in us. From this we understand that in accepting God’s gift of salvation we actually receive the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. The truth of the Trinity reveals that no single Person of the Godhead works independently of the others. Jesus goes on to teach that with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit also is the presence of the Father and the Son. He said in verse 23, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.”

God unites the redeemed as his people through his indwelling presence so that they are truly the one biblical church however scattered and diverse they may be across the face of the earth. Even with our diversities, there is a sameness in our spiritual natures that resembles Christ. Furthermore, wherever they are on the face of the earth the redeemed will be kept secure by God’s presence; he will never leave them. He will be their God with such personal proof and power in their lives that they will not be drawn away by the influence of false and apostate religions. Those religions may be attractive to the unregenerate world but they have no attraction for the people of God.

Holiness is the hallmark of the New Jerusalem, the church of the redeemed in Christ. This is pictured in verse 4, “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Isaiah tells about no more death and God wiping the tears away from our eyes in Isaiah 25:8, “He will swallow up death forever, And the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces; The rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; For the LORD has spoken.” The sorrow of death is taken away because we have been raised from spiritual death to spiritual life. There is no cause for weeping in sorrow over committed sin because it has been pardoned, cleansed, and taken away. Through the power of the indwelling Spirit, we are enabled to obey God and overcome temptation so that there will be no rebuke for sin anymore in our lives. That former life of sin has truly passed away. Isaiah goes on to express the joy of salvation in verse 9, “And it will be said in that day: Behold, this is our God; We have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the LORD; We have waited for Him; We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.” The loud voice from heaven declares the glory of New Jerusalem as “God Himself will be with them and be their God.” Isaiah prophesied exactly the same, “And it will be said in that day: Behold, this is our God!”

John then hears the glorified Christ speaking from the throne testifying of the spiritual and moral change that brings people into the holy city, the New Jerusalem. He says in verse 5, “Behold, I make all things new.” Where have we heard that before in the word of God? It is found in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” All things have become new because the blood of Christ has redeemed us from sin as we are told in Titus 2:11–14,

 

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

 

All things are made new in the lives of the redeemed that reflect the mercy and holiness of God as Peter wrote in 1 Peter 2:9–10,

 

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

 

The glorified Christ now instructs John to write down his words. These words are specifically the words that follow in verses 6–8. The first thing he says is “It is done.” Jesus says this as he here approaches the end of the Revelation just as he said as he approached the end of his work of redemption on the cross where he said, “It is finished.” When Jesus says it is done it puts an end to all contradictions and all other arguments. The matter is settled and it is unalterably set in the annals of time and can never be changed. It also tells us that what has been said and done in teaching the everlasting gospel is truth and will come to pass as God has determined.

Next he says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.” This is how he introduced himself in Revelation 1:8 and he restates these words here at the end of the Revelation to assure us that as he is the beginning and the end, all things revealed from the beginning to the end are truly the revelation that he has given. The Revelation is not just a dream that John had on the Isle of Patmos. There can be no question as to the authorship of the Revelation and there can be no question as to its meaning. The Revelation is not left up to our imaginations; it means only what Christ reveals it to mean.

Jesus gives us the promise, “I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.” This is spiritual life birthed into the soul of the redeemed as we will see in the final chapter of the Revelation.

He leaves us with a final word of encouragement in verse 7, “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.” The end-time revival is the final struggle between good and evil, truth and error, God and the spirit of false religion. It will cost us everything to be on the side of the everlasting gospel and there will be much to endure that will be difficult for us. That is why he uses the word overcome. We cannot be passive in this last battle; we must be active, involved, committed, and trusting in the grace and power of God. As we stay true to God and teach the truth of his word we will inherit all the blessings and promises the word of God offers us. The greatest of all blessings is the reality of God being our God and our being his children. As Barnes describes this inheritance, “He shall sustain to me the relation of a son, and shall be treated as such. He would ever onward sustain this relation, and be honoured as a child of God.”

Jesus closes his remarks to John describing the fate of those who reject the everlasting gospel and remain in the sins of religious Babylon in verse 8, “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” In this verse Jesus condenses the Ten Commandments given by God on Mount Sinai.

Wherever civilization has existed in the history of the earth, laws were drafted based on these moral standards for the protection of the people and to ensure orderly progress in the culture. Religions have been founded that have embraced the moral principles of the Ten Commandments. These facts attest to the inborn awareness of God in the hearts of the human race. But yet, in spite of the benefit to human life in following these moral principles, the fallen nature of mankind still reaches out to the first lie of Satan which is that man must be his own God. Man must make the rules. And history has shown us that when man makes the rules, the rules are in favor of the ones that make the rules at the cost of the lives of those over whom they rule.

The fallen nature under the influence of the spirit of false religion applies this same standard to the religions man has devised. They pay lip-service to God’s moral principles but we apply them to our advantage. Our religions are designed to deceive ourselves so that in our transgressing God’s laws we believe we are in some way pleasing our personal concept of God. Yet guilt overshadows manmade religion to where we are led to believe we must placate God through ritual and sacrifice—or in modern times, through philosophy and humanism.

Jesus calls all this false religion cowardly, or fearful as in the King James Version. The word implies faithlessness and Jesus tells us this faithlessness leads to unbelief. False and apostate religion rejects the everlasting gospel and disbelieves the judgment put on it by the word of God. The everlasting gospel has cast the dragon and the false prophet along with the very spirit of false religion into the lake of fire. But, people that hold to them remain unmoved in unbelief and follow their debunked religions into the same lake of fire, which is the second death.

Remember the first death is the spiritual death inherent in native depravity and the absence of the Holy Spirit; this is the condition of all people until they are reborn into spiritual life through the atonement in Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The second death is the spiritual death that follows the rejection of the gospel of salvation from sin. Nothing else can save man from his sin. It is the second death that is the road to eternal death. This is a tragic view of the end of false and apostate religion. However, as we continue in the chapter we find a much more encouraging and uplifting sight in the New Jerusalem descending out of heaven from God.