Hope for Worried Saints (Revelation 21-22)

MOTIVATE

If you have a destination you plan to attend it is best to gather information that will help you understand how to get around the area. You will want to know who to see, where to go, what life is like there.

illus NASA
Can you imagine astronauts at NASA preparing for several years to travel on mission to Mars. After a period of extensive training, the launch date finally arrives. As the rocket lifts off, one of your fellow astronauts says, “What do you know about Mars?” Can you imagine shrugging your shoulders with ignorance? Unthinkable isn’t it?

illus Disney
My family recently had the privilege to travel and experience Disney World in Orlando, FL. My wife, along with her sister and their mother planned for over a year long the details of the trip, the itinerary of daily activities – where we stayed, what activities we’d do each day (even to each hour), where we would eat and more.

illus Job travel
If your job causes you to travel to various cities or even countries then you no doubt will research the best hotel to stay in and places to eat or shop.

illus. MPNICA
Our church travels to Nicaragua and we have people, if not the team members themselves who have no doubt at the very least gone to google “Nicaragua”. I have gained information about Nicaragua as a tourist destination as well as learned cultural information about the people.

Whether you travel to a destination for your job, personal vacations, mission trips, it is to your benefit to know as much as possible about such location.

Likewise, as believers it is to our benefit to know and understand about our eternal home in Heaven. The more we learn about it the more we will love it; and the more we love Heaven will be the more we have our hope fixed on what is eternal rather than what is temporary.

hope for worried_logo

Colossians 3:1-4 “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity, said: “Hope is one of the theological virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not, as some modern people think, a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.”

Christians today are losing hope and lack influence in today’s world because we do not understand Heaven and the kingdom of God. We fail to realize that what we do on this world will echo in eternity (Gladiator). Our lives are making investments into the future and rather than viewing Heaven as an eternal bank account we see it as a boat on the lazy river or a luxury resort destination. We have flipped the ultimate life question from “What can I do to glorify God” to “How will God gratify me?” Therefore, churches and Christianity is filled with consumers or spectators rather than contributors and participants.

Our message series “Hope For The Worried” is not just to make us feel warm & fuzzy but to instill faith that results in a transformed life. Theologian Donald Bloesch (Theological Notebook, p.183) said “Our greatest affliction is not anxiety, or even guilt, but rather homesickness – a nostalgia or ineradicable yearning to be at home with God.”

EXAMINE   Revelation 21-22 Hope for the worried saint

The book of Revelation is a book of mystery and majesty. It speaks prophetically about future events as well as the glorious nature of God and eternity in Heaven. I’ve noted before that there are 2 great themes in the book of Revelation: 1) Jesus is Champion: He is the Risen Savior, King of kings & Lord of lords.
2) Jesus is Coming: Swiftly and Visibly for all to see and may happen at any moment.

In the book of Revelation we see the church endure trial and tribulation until Christ returns to rapture believers and join in the “marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev 19:7). Upon that time Jesus will establish a millennial kingdom. Following this 1K year reign there will be the battle of Armageddon where Jesus will eternally defeat satan and judge unbelievers at the “great white throne judgment” (Rev 20:11). Then begins God’s creation of a new heaven and new earth.

@wedding, Mia turns to me and says, “Daddy, when are they going to kiss?” That is the question everyone is asking, when is Christ the Groom & going to kiss his church, the bride.

In the final 2 chapters of Revelation there are 2 reasons believers can have hope today.

Believers can have hope because of God’s promise for re-creation (Revelation 21:1-7)

The book of Genesis tells the creation story. God took great care to create, spending 4 days creating the earth (1 day animals and 1 day humanity). And yet in God’s plan were the Fall of humanity and the decay of the world. Genesis tells the story of Paradise lost but Revelation tells the story of Paradise restored. The entire Bible is God’s story of working to reverse the curse; reconciling humanity to Himself and redeeming the earth.

Acts 3:21 “He (Jesus) must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.”

God is restoring beauty (Rev 21:1-2): John sees a “new heaven and new earth… the holy city coming down prepared as a bride adorned for her husband”. This is the place that Jesus has been preparing (John 14:3). Since God is a God of creative beauty and goodness (Genesis 1 “and it was good”), there is no doubt the passed two-millennia in God’s eternal mind will produce an even more beautiful creation. God’s redemption is for more than humans and includes the skies & seas – removing smog and pollution, plants & other organisms – renewing life.

“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in pains of childbirth until now” – awaiting this final resurrection (Romans 8:22).

Revelation 21:10 – 22:5
The best things we love in this life and that this world has to offer are simply a brief preview of the greater things to come. God does not frown when we enjoy good food, He isn’t perplexed when we find pleasure in marital sex nor does he grumble when we enjoy great games of football or any other sport. God’s nature is filled with joy, favor, blessing and hope. Once we view God in terms of how the Bible speaks about Him and reveals about Heaven then we in turn can be transformed to fulfill the purposes for which God has saved us toward.

God is restoring our bodies (Rev 21:3): John hears a voice saying the “dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them and they will be his people.” Jesus’ resurrection gives us the hope and promise to conquer death. Heaven and eternal life is more than just a spiritual experience but a physical one. The Bible teaches that, like Jesus, we will receive a bodily resurrection. Death is simply the doorway that transports our souls into heaven and then awaits reunion with new resurrection bodies.

1Corinthians 15:53 “For this perishable body must put on the imperishable and this mortal body must put on immortality.”

Philippians 3:20-21 “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”

God is restoring the broken (Rev 21:4): John says, “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.”

ð     Since God is re-creating & restoring all things, you can have hope that God can bring renewal & refreshing into any stale or sad situation you face.

ð     God’s power through the gospel is available to forgive all your sin.
2Corinthians 5:17 “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

Believers can have hope because of Jesus’ promise of reward (Revelation 22:12-21)

The Lord Jesus actually gives two promises to conclude this vision. The first is His promise to return soon.

Jesus warned the disciples to be ready for His return is coming unexpectedly (Matt 24:27-51, 25:13; Luke 12:35-40).

Angels promise Jesus’ return at His ascension (Acts 1:11)

Apostles promise Jesus’ return

PAUL1Thess 4:16 “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.”

PETER2Peter 3:10 “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief , and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.”

JOHN1John 3:2 “we know that when he appears we will be like him”

HEBREWS9:28 “so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.”

as well as other Scriptures speaking to the imminence of the second coming (Titus 2:13; 1Thess 5:6)

Every future sign that Jesus predicted to happen before His coming has occurred, except the galactic events of the sun & moon darkening and with the stars falling from the sky (Matt 24:29-31). Yet, if you watch the news even in the past year you hear from NASA that these sort of meteorological phenomenon are bound to happen and can happen quickly.

Jesus’ second promise that He will reward everyone according to their deeds; His recompense is with Him. This is both positive and negative; positive for the faithful and negative for unbelievers.

What is the reward for believers?

v.14 blessing of forgiveness of sin and access to eternal life
v.15 escape from eternal judgment
v.12, 16 affirmation from Jesus
– “well done good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21)
1 Cor. 9:25 (imperishable crown); 1 Thess. 2:19 (crown of ministry joy); 2 Tim. 4:8 (crown of righteousness); James 1:12 (crown of life); 1 Pet. 5:4 (unfading crown of glory)

– perhaps these crowns are rewards for future responsibility and capacity to glorify God (Matt 25:14-30)

Heaven inspires hope and joy.
–        When it comes to Heaven, most Christian’s speak with bore and reluctance. In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain portrays the common misconception about Heaven. The Christian spinster Miss Watson takes a dim view of Huck’s care-free, fun-loving spirit. According to Huck, “She went on and told me all about the good place. She said all a body would have to do there was go around all day long with a harp and sing, forever and ever. So I didn’t think much of it… I asked her if she reckoned Tom Sawyer would go there, and she said, not by a considerable sight. I was glad about that, because I wanted him and me to be together.” 

Oh if Miss Watson would have spoken what the Bible says about Heaven. She could have spoken about living life to the fullest. Living in a resurrected body that would never get old or wear out. She could have spoken of the gardens to grow, the rivers to ride, the mountains to climb and master and many untold adventures that are all to be had – especially for a young boy; this would have gotten Huck’s (and many today) attention!
–        19th C. preacher J.C. Ryle said, “I pity the man who never thinks about heaven.”
–        Randy Alcorn in book Heaven says, “The moment we say we can’t imagine Heaven, we dump cold water on all that God has revealed to us about our eternal home. If we can’t envision it, we can’t look forward to it. If Heaven is unimaginable, why even try… So, when Heaven is portrayed as beyond the reach of our senses, it doesn’t invite us; instead, it alienates and even frightens us. Our misguided attempts to make Heaven ‘sound spiritual’ (i.e., non-physical) merely succeed in making Heaven sound unappealing.” (p.17)
–        Heaven is more than a luxury retirement hospital. Heaven is the world’s greatest hope

APPLY/THINK

What happens when we do not live with Heaven as our hope?[1]

  1. We have unrealistic expectations. When we forget that this world is not our home then we try to force it to become what it was never intended to be. Rather than finding contentment, peace and gratefulness we have disappointment, sorrow and fear.

–          Our relationships are endless cycles of paranoia and hurt

–          Our jobs are empty of fulfillment

–          Our view of trials or tragedy makes us bitter rather than trusting a God of resurrection power.

–          The pleasures of this world (relationships, jobs, etc.) are meant to wet our appetite and instill a hunger in us for the full meal waiting for us in eternity.

  1. We are unbelievably self-centered. Failing to understand our eternal purpose means we live for the glories of this world.

–          Life becomes about an obsession to meet my needs and desires.

–          Life has no long-term plans, only short-term gains for the immediate here and now.

  1. We are unmotivated to put faith into action. Eternal consequences are viewed either as temporary or  non-existent, so we have a low passion to pray, know the Scriptures, serve in meaningful ways that stretch outside of comfort zones and much more share the gospel with someone who’s destiny depends on it.

–          Believers who have the hope of heaven should do all they can to bring that same hope to the hopeless. We must inspire others to the splendor of Heaven as much as warn about the suffering of hell.

Heaven can be your home, hope is available in the gospel of Jesus Christ.


[1] Adapted from Paul Tripp, Forever, pp.24-26.

 

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