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Revelation 21:9-2:5

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As we saw last week, is a picture of eternity as it begins, and the fulfillment of God’s purpose in creating a people for His name.
The Church is pictured in two ways, as the Bride, the Wife of the Lamb, and as a City, the Holy City Jerusalem.
What we see here is the glory of God in His glorious Church.
We don’t think of the Church as being very glorious, do we?
A pastor friend recently said that the Church is flawed, finite, and finicky. Virtually every New Testament letter addresses issues of sin within the Church.
But we need to remember three things.
Paul described religion in the last days this way:
2 Timothy 3:1–5 ESV
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
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We know that these are religious people because they have an appearance of godliness; another way to put that would be that they have a godly form or structure.
But they deny the power of godliness. What’s the power of godliness? It’s the power that makes people lovers of God and others rather than self; lovers of generosity instead of lovers of money; humble instead of proud; kind instead of arrogant; peaceful instead of abusive; cooperative instead of disobedient; grateful instead of ungrateful; holy instead of unholy; affectionate instead of heartless; eager for unity rather than unappeasable; supportive instead of slanderous; self-controlled instead of out of control; gentle instead of brutal; loving what is good instead of hating what is good; loyal instead of treacherous; reasoned instead of reckless; modest instead of conceited; lovers of God rather than lovers of pleasure.
In short, the power of godliness is the power of God to make us like His Son.
The Church is pictured as the Bride of Jesus Christ, the Wife of the Lamb of God. We see this throughout the Bible.
For instance, says,
Isaiah 54:5 ESV
For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.
says,
Hosea 2:19–20 ESV
And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.
And in the New Testament the apostle Paul writes in ,
Ephesians 5:25–27 ESV
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
This is clear, isn’t it? That’s why the Church is compared to a wife and a bride. says that Jesus died for His Bride, giving His life to sanctify and cleanse her, in order to make her glorious, eternal, holy, and perfect.
He will not fail. He will succeed. He will not give up. He will finish what He started. We see the perfection of His work in .
The Church is described as having perfect and wonderful intimacy with the Lord; she is His Bride, His Wife.
We will have perfect and eternal communion with Him.
Each Christian will be made to be completely like Jesus Christ in His character, His holiness, His sinlessness. The united community of His people – the Church – will know Him and be like Him and bear His glory.
The Church is also described as the Holy City Jerusalem, a perfect community, living in the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control.
That eternal Community of Believers will be comprised of all those who are in Christ, regardless of what they were in this life.
Galatians 3:28 ESV
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
This is spiritually true today, true by God’s declaration, but He will make it literally true, practically true.
Consider the description given of the Church in .
She is described as the holy city Jerusalem, a perfect community of believers. Jerusalem is the place where God directed His temple to be built; His people were to be centered around His presence. Jerusalem is where the Savior suffered and died, where He was buried, and where He rose from the dead. Of all the cities on the face of the earth, Jerusalem is utterly unique as the one place God chose to be the public stage of His relationship with His people.
The Church is described as Jerusalem because of that spiritual intimacy with God, and because the Church is a perfectly united spiritual people. As says, the Church is spiritual Israel. As says, the Church is formed of Jews and Gentiles alike; Christ’s purpose was to form one new people from Jews and Gentiles.
She comes down out of heaven from God. In fact, this phrase is given twice, in , . Why repeat it? Because John is not merely describing an event, but an ongoing reality. When God created the heavens and the earth, He rested from His creative work on the 7th day. He will never cease giving life and existence to the Church.
The Bible regularly refers to the people of God as His Wife or Bride:
Because it is a picture of the Church’s divine origin. In Jesus promised to build His Church, and has done so faithfully since Pentecost.
5 For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.
19 And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. 20 I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.
Perhaps most significantly,
25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
The Church is not self-defined, but is defined by the Lord Jesus in the Scriptures.
It’s common to hear so-called experts and theologians insist that the Church must change to suit the times, or fade into obscurity. That claim is utter nonsense; in fact, the history of the Church shows that her weakest times have been when she compromised the truth, and accommodated the spirit of the age.
It’s common to hear so-called experts and theologians insist that the Church must change to suit the times, or fade into obscurity. That claim is utter nonsense; in fact, the history of the Church shows that her weakest times have been when she compromised the truth, and accommodated the spirit of the age.
The Church has a divine origin and continues to thrive as she lives in faith and obedience to her Lord.
The Church has a divine origin and continues to thrive as she lives in faith and obedience to her Lord.
This is clearly stated in , and is really described in glorious terms in the rest of the chapter.
Scripture speaks about the glory of God coming and settling in the old tabernacle, and the temple. It speaks of the glory of God departing from the temple because of Israel’s idolatry.
But the Church will have the glory of God within her, because each and every believer will have been glorified, made perfectly like the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Church is the joining of all those glorified believers in Christ.
Her gates are described as bearing the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. Her foundations are described as bearing the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. This tells us that the Church is comprised of both spiritual Israel and the historical Church.
God doesn’t have multiple peoples and multiple heavens. Jesus said in ,
There is only one people of God, and it consists of those who have trusted and obeyed Him as God. The Church is spiritual Israel, as we see in . says that Christ's purpose was to form Jews and Gentiles into one new kind of man. The new city Jerusalem is a picture of that eternal unity.
Jesus told His disciples that He would build His church:
John 10:14–16 ESV
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.
 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter (lit., a stone), and on this rock (bedrock) I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
John does just that in :
Revelation 4:1–3 ESV
After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald.
tells us that Gentiles had been separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise.
The Scripture is full of references to Jesus actively building His church:
rev 4.1-3
Ephesians 2:13–16 ESV
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.
eph 2 13
What else do we see about the church in ?
Popular opinion aside, the true difference is not between Jews and Christians, but between Jews and Gentiles. Christians are neither Jews nor Gentiles, but are a new kind of people in Christ, an eternal community of those redeemed by the Lord.
By the way, all of the Church enters the new heavens and new earth at the very same time, coming down from heaven to God. Just as Hades was the temporary residence for the wicked awaiting judgment, heaven appears to be the temporary residence of the righteous awaiting the new heaven and new earth.
We see that she is a community, a city, and not merely any city, but the holy city Jerusalem ().
John does that . This divine city is a perfectly symmetrical cube of vast dimensions, 1,400 miles on a side. She is also adorned with precious jewels and pure gold that is as clear as glass. Her twelve gates are each a single pearl.
The city John sees in his vision is a perfectly symmetrical cube of vast dimensions, 1,400 miles on a side. That’s about the distance between here and the Pacific Ocean, and between the Canadian border and Houston, Texas. She is also adorned with precious jewels and pure gold that is as clear as glass.
Throughout eternity God’s glory will be revealed and manifested in His Church.
Jerusalem is the place where God directed His temple to be built. It's where the Old Testament sacrificial system was carried out. It is the place where the Savior suffered and died, and was raised from the dead. Of any city on the face of the earth, Jerusalem is the one God chose as the public stage of His relationship with His people.
When Jesus prayed for us in He asked this:
John 17:20–22 ESV
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,
John 17:20–21 ESV
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
What have we done to deserve this? Absolutely nothing. What can we do to make it happen? Absolutely nothing. This is the work of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. We are the recipients of His blessing, the focus of His attention, the object of His affection.
The city John sees in his vision is a perfectly symmetrical cube of vast dimensions, 1,400 miles on a side. That’s about the distance between here and the Pacific Ocean, and between the Canadian border and Houston, Texas. She is also adorned with precious jewels and pure gold that is as clear as glass.
jn 17 20
All of this is from Him.
I'll be so bold as to say this – The importance of the Church to God is second only to His own glory, and is His greatest creation.
There is only one people of God, and it consists of those who have trusted and obeyed Him as God. The Church is spiritual Israel, as we see in . says that Christ's purpose was to form Jews and Gentiles into one new kind of man. The new city Jerusalem is a picture of that eternal unity.
gave Himself up for the Church, dying for her;
sanctified the Church, setting her apart for Himself;
cleansed the Church, taking away her sin guilt through His Word;
will present the Church to Himself in splendor, or glory;
will make the Church eternal and ageless;
will make the Church holy and perfect in every way.
This is the very picture that we see in Revelation 21.
We see that the Church has a divine origin ().
She comes down out of heaven from God. The Church was created by the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. She is the focus of the ongoing ministry of Jesus since His ascension. In Jesus promises to build His church, and has done so faithfully.
The church is not a human organization, but the Body of Christ on earth. She is not self-governed, but is governing by Him, through His Word. She is not self-powered, but is empowered by the Holy Spirit. She is not self-defining, but is defined by the Scriptures and the Gospel. We frequently hear that the church must change to suit the times, or fade into obscurity, a claim which is utter nonsense; the gates of hell themselves will never prevail against the church of Jesus Christ.
We see that the Church has the glory of God ().
That glory is described a radiance, and that radiance is described as being like a most rare jewel, like jasper, clear as crystal. Scripture speaks about the temple on earth and in heaven being filled with the glory of God, and of the glory of God coming and settling on a place. But the Church has the glory of God because God Himself is eternally within her.
Listen to what Jesus says in His prayer in :
20 “I do not ask for these only [the eleven disciples], but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
The Church is the totality of God's people throughout time ().
She is comprised of spiritual Israel and redeemed Gentiles, represented by the names of the twelve sons of Israel on the twelve gates, and the names of the twelve apostles on the twelve foundations.
Let's be clear: the promises made to Israel as a nation are not given over to the the church. In the great tribulation, Israel's long standing idolatry will be broken, and as a nation she will be restored to faithfulness to her God. That means that, at long last, the nation Israel will acknowledge that the One God is Three Persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and that their Messiah is Jesus of Nazareth.
But let's also be clear: God doesn't have multiple peoples and multiple heavens and eternities. Jesus said in ,
Paul wrote Titus,
 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep [Gentiles] that are not of this fold [Israel]. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.
The importance of the Church to God is second only to His own glory, and is His greatest creation.
In we read about what Jesus accomplished on the cross regarding this unity:
11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.
Titus 3:4–7 ESV
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Truly, the contrast is not between Jews and Christians, but Jews and Gentiles. In Christ, Jew and Gentile have zero meaning.
titus 3
And so the picture that we see in is not of the Jewish people, or the Gentile people, but of God's people, those redeemed by Jesus Christ, born again in Him, who have been joined together as a perfect community of saints in Christ.
The Church is glorious in her perfection ().
The city is perfectly formed, not only a perfect square, but a perfect cube, with exact symmetry. The dimensions of this vision-city are enormous, 1,400 miles on a side. That's about the distance from here to Boston, and the Canadian border to Houston, Texas. The city is also adorned with precious jewels, pearls, and gold so pure that it is clear as glass. This city is the Bride of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb, chosen and precious, adorned by Him as He promised in :
25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
This is precisely what we see in : the people of God who are
loved by Jesus Christ, died for by Jesus Christ, set apart from all the rest of humanity by Jesus Christ, cleansed from all impurity and sin and every evil thing by Jesus Christ, fully embraced by Jesus Christ, made magnificent by Jesus Christ, made eternal and ageless by Jesus Christ, made holy by Jesus Christ, and made perfect by Jesus Christ.
Does the Church deserve any of this? Absolutely not. There is only one difference between a Christian and a non-Christian, and that is the sovereign love of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Nothing in the Christian can explain that love. Nothing in the Church merits that love. There is nothing worthy, nothing good, nothing valuable, nothing deserving, nothing commendable.
3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
The focus of is
The Church is God's greatest creation. The focus of is not a city, but a community; not a place, but a people; not a location, but the beloved of Jesus Christ. The Church was Christ's focus on earth. The Church is the reason that He died on the cross. I'll be so bold as to say this – the importance of the Church to God is second only to His own glory. We sinners, who have been born again, saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, justified by His resurrection, forgiven of our sins, sanctified by His cross, filled with the Holy Spirit, given the precious revelation of the Scriptures, will be perfectly and fully glorified with and in Jesus Christ for all eternity. The Church is God's greatest creation.
not a city, but a community;
not a place, but a people;
not a location, but the beloved of Jesus Christ.
The Church was Christ's focus on earth. The Church was what Jesus came to redeem. The Church was what Jesus came to establish. The Church is the reason that He died on the cross.
I'll be so bold as to say this – the importance of the Church to God is second only to His own glory, and is His greatest creation.
Redeeming a people for His own name out of the mass of sinful humanity is God’s eternal purpose. And so we who are redeemed sinners, who have been born again, saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, justified by His resurrection, forgiven for every sin, washed clean of every stain, made holy by His cross, filled with the Holy Spirit, given the precious revelation of the Scriptures, will be perfectly and fully glorified with and in Jesus Christ for all eternity, as God’s greatest creation.
The Lord will grant us perfect relationship and intimacy with Himself. John tells us that there was no temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple.
Earthly temples limited access to God. God’s glory filled the holy of holies, and the high priest could enter that place once each year, but only the high priest could enter, and only once a year.
In eternity God will be the temple, and we will have unrestricted access to Him. Right now we are still apart from Him, even though we have access to the throne of grace. But in the resurrection, when our mortal flesh has been raised to immortality, and our sin has been utterly removed, and we are holy and perfect, we shall see Him as He is, and we shall be exactly like Him. And we will know Him without barriers, without interruption, made eternally new and alive.
We no longer have a temple, a place where we meet God under very narrow circumstances. We are a people chosen to worship God in spirit and in truth, not in a building.
There is not temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The temple, of course, is where God met His people.
These are future blessings and realities. We don’t need to worry; God will fulfill His promises.
We've talked about the narrowing access to God's presence in the biblical temples; ultimately, only the high priest could enter the presence of God in the holy of holies, and then only one day a year, and then only after the strictest observances of washings and sacrifices. None of the other priests could enter the holy of holies, much less the rest of the people.
So, do we just nod our heads and say, “Yes, that’s wonderful,” and leave it at that? No, we need to takes these truths and apply them to our lives.
Jesus said to a Samaritan woman in ,
23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.
Nothing unclean is allowed in the eternal Church. We are saved by grace through faith; without repentance of sin, there is no faith in the Savior.
Ephesians 4:1 ESV
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,
Ephesians 4:1 ESV
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,
Of course, the word Church has several different meanings.
We no longer have a temple, a place where we meet God under very narrow circumstances. We are a people chosen to worship God in spirit and in truth, not in a building.
Ephesians 4:1–3 ESV
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Philippians 1:27 ESV
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,
There are buildings that are called churches; that’s a human invention, by the way.
Yet we are still apart from Him. The Spirit of God indwells us; in fact, we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, as individual Christians and as the church. Yet we do not yet see Him. The apostle John, the same one who wrote Revelation, writes in his first epistle,
Philippians 1:27–29 ESV
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,
There are groups of people who gather together and call themselves a church. Within those groups will be saved and unsaved people, true believers in Christ, and merely religious people who don’t believe and will not submit to Jesus.
2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
Colossians 1:9–10 ESV
And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;
And there is the true Church, which is not denominational but spiritual, all those on earth who have been born again. This is the universal Church, or the “catholic” in a theological sense Church.
We do not, and cannot see, see Him as He is in this world. We couldn't bear it. We are not yet able to see Him.
1 Thessalonians 2:11–12 ESV
For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
Over and over again we are urged to live up to the blessing of new life in Jesus Christ, to live like those who have been born again in Jesus Christ, worthy of the calling, worthy of the Gospel, worthy of the Lord, worthy of God.
Brothers and sisters, in Jesus Christ we are inseparably joined to our God and to one another. We have been granted communion with Him and with His people.
But in the resurrection, when our mortal flesh has been raised to immortality, and our sin has been utterly removed, and we are holy and perfect, we shall see Him as He is, and we shall be exactly like Him. And we will know Him without barriers, without interruption, made eternally new and alive.
As we come to the Lord’s table today, the Scripture calls us to remember the price Jesus paid for us; we are not our own, but His, if He has truly redeemed us.
Jesus was sinless, but took the guilt and blame of sin. He accepted and suffered the death that we deserved. He suffered the wrath of God, utterly satisfying God’s wrath against us. He truly died, and was buried. He rose from the dead on the third day, not just alive, but resurrected and glorified.
We read in ,
Matthew 26:26–28 ESV
Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
matt 26 26-2
This is the Lord’s supper that we share each month. It is an act of obedience, since we are commanded to do this, and it is an act of faith, since we are called to believe while we observe it.
What are we to believe? It’s very simple. We are to believe that Jesus actually died on the cross in our place, His body given for us. We are to believe that Jesus’ blood was shed for us. We are to believe that through His death we are forgiven, cleansed of sin, and made alive in His resurrection.
Jesus’ death was not a token death, a mere picture of love. It was a substitutionary death, an act of love. He suffering the punishment that we deserved. Through His death and resurrection we are delivered from the penalty, power, and presence of sin, in that order.
He bore the penalty, and those who have trusted Him, and entrusted themselves to Him, need not fear hell, but can look for the glory we’ve see in .
He broke the power of sin, and though it continues to harass and tempt us, it’s ability to kill us is gone.
And He banished the presence of sin from our eternal flesh, though it remains in our mortal flesh. This is one reason that we are to repent and confess our sins; we recognize that sin remains within us, but we acknowledge that our loyalty is no longer to sin, but to our Redeemer.
I urge you to take a moment and acknowledge your sins to the Lord, confess them, and repent of them.
What will eternal life be like? ().
We really know very, very little, just the few statements that are made here.
Eternal life will be eternal.
John sees the river of the water of life flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb, right through the middle of the street of the city.
(By the way, here's more evidence that the city is not a literal city; it's described as a cube 1,400 miles on a side, and yet the river of life flows down the middle of THE street. If we need a literal city in which to live, then we also need more than one street.)
There is also the tree of life, which we first see in when God first places Adam in the garden. This tree bears twelve kinds of fruit, and bears its fruit every month. It is a constant source of life and provision. also talks about the tree which bears the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil; that tree is nowhere to be found. It will no longer exist. The tree of life is there for the healing of the nations, for the ongoing eternal life of the city.
So, the eternal life of the people of God will be eternal. It is not simply life which begins and doesn't end; it is life which is constantly renewed and provided. Everything God provides for us, represented by the river of life and the tree of life, brings newness of life.
Eternal life will also be life.
The nations will live by the light of God, and the glory of the kings of the earth will be joined together. The gates of the city will never be closed. And nothing unclean, nothing detestable or false, nothing sinful or evil or wicked will ever enter it. Sin – rebellion against God – and the consequence of sin – separation from God and man – will never be allowed inside.
The Church will be in perfect communion with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The Lord will be our light and our temple, our life and our joy, our peace and our contentment. We will know Him as He knows us. We will worship Him, serve Him, delight in Him, honor Him, and receive His love, His provision, His delight in us, and His glory poured out upon us.
And the saints will be in perfect community with one another. No fighting, no jealousy, no bitterness, no bigotry, no critical spirits, no competition, no backbiting, no unforgiveness and nothing to forgive in the first place, no disquiet, no scheming, no fear, no anger, no resentment, no contempt, no pride. If I can put it this way, the Church will be an orchard where the fruit of the Spirit, which is the character of Jesus Christ, will be produced by each one for the blessing of all the rest: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
The Call to Respond ().
As we've seen before in Revelation, there is a pause to the vision while John speaks of what the Church is in the world today, and gives another warning against disregarding the Word of God.
Jesus told His disciples,
14 “You are the light of the world."
Jesus commissioned His disciples, and all the church, to proclaim the Gospel to the entire world. This proclamation is opposed by the world itself, as we know, and is opposed by the devil as well. Evangelism is truly spiritual warfare:
the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ
The light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been proclaimed for almost 2,000 years, and the nations of the world have been tremendously impacted by the Gospel. In fact, some of the nations that are most opposed to the Gospel now were once the headquarters for the church: Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Libya.
The gates of the church are never shut, but nothing unclean will ever be allowed into the church. There are only redeemed sinners in the church, but there are no unredeemed sinners in the church; there never have been, and there never will be. The church is not a human organization of like-minded people who believe in Jesus Christ, but the spiritually transformed, born-again community of those for whom Jesus died.
The purity of the Church throughout eternity is emphasized – nothing unclean or detestable or false will ever be allowed to pollute the Church in its eternal state. But the warning is for today as well: there is no such thing as an unredeemed Christian, a not-born-again Christian, a spiritually dead Christian.
Do we continue to sin? Yes, we do. But no true Christian takes sin lightly or disregards it. No true Christian says "My sins don't matter, and they don't bother me." It's not just a matter of being rightly taught. It's also a matter of having a new nature which is alive to God and hates wickedness. Genuine Christians do sin, of course, and can even be trapped in sin, but they know that they are living contrary to the Father's will, and they never rejoice in their sin.
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