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The Sure Promises of Heaven

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The Sure Promises of Heaven

Revelation 21:1-23

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - Sept. 16, 2012

*People are looking for a sure thing. I googled “sure thing” Friday and got over 9 million hits. -- But what’s a sure thing?

-The election isn’t sure, -- even though this is the most important election of our lifetimes, and we urgently need Godly leaders.

-The economy isn’t sure. Millions are out of work, and a tidal wave of government debt threatens to overwhelm our country.

-The stock market went over 13,600 on Friday, but it could collapse tomorrow.

*An old cliché said the only sure things were death and taxes, but that’s not true either. I’m still hoping for the rapture!

*When you get down to it, the only sure things are the things of God. And as we look into the Word of God this morning, we can see four sure promises about Heaven, four sure promises for all who have trusted in Jesus Christ.

1. First: God promises a home.

*By the end of Revelation 20 all evil has been defeated. Satan, all of his demons and all lost people have been thrown into the lake of fire. Endless perfection begins in Revelation 21, so in vs. 1 John said: “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. (1)

[1] Notice in vs. 1 that the first heaven (today’s heaven) has passed away.

*Why was that necessary? -- The only explanation I’ve ever heard is because sin did not start on the earth. It started in heaven when Satan and the other fallen angels rebelled against God. So the heaven and earth that exist today are going to pass away.

*2 Peter 3:10 describes at least part of this destruction with these words: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.”

*It will be a fire of unimaginable proportions, but Christians, we have nothing to fear! God has promised us a new home. And we need a new home, because our old home is passing away.

*We moved around a lot when I was a little boy. Eleven different houses by the time I was in the 7th grade. That’s when we settled down for a while on 248 Vista Circle in Macon, GA.

*I have fond memories of living there: Playing with my little brother, picking on my big sister, the creek behind our house, riding skateboards down those big hills. (We had to make our own back then, you know.)

*Whenever I go to Macon, I drive by, just to take a look. A few years ago, I even knocked on the door, and the nice young man living there let me go on a little tour. He was the Youth Pastor at a Methodist Church in Macon. And I guess he thought this old nut knocking on his door looked harmless enough.

*I got to go back to the house in Macon, but that’s not my home. We lived on Comanche Trail in West Monroe for 23 years, but that’s not home either.

*God is preparing a new place for us beyond compare. And Christians, He gives us a glimpse of our new home in vs. 2: “Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

*Our new home is going to be incredibly astounding! -- In vs. 2, the best thing John can compare it to is a bride, coming down that aisle, all dressed up for her husband.

*Then, down in vs. 9-16 the Apostle John tells us a little more about it:

9. Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, "Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife."

10. And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,

11. having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.

12. Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:

13. three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west.

14. Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

15. And he who talked with me had a gold reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall.

16. The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs. Its length, breadth, and height are equal.

*Twelve thousand furlongs: Church, that’s fifteen hundred miles, -- all the way from Texas to Pennsylvania!

-Fifteen hundred miles long, fifteen hundred miles wide and fifteen hundred miles high! -- But you won’t get tired going up the stairs! (2)

*In vs. 17-21, John continued to describe the New Jerusalem. Listen to these verses from the NLT:

17. Then he measured the walls and found them to be 216 feet thick* (the angel used a standard human measure).

18. The wall was made of jasper, and the city was pure gold, as clear as glass.

19. The wall of the city was built on foundation stones inlaid with twelve gems: the first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald,

20. the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst.

21. The twelve gates were made of pearls -- each gate from a single pearl! And the main street was pure gold, as clear as glass.

*Gates made of giant pearls, a street made of gold, foundations decorated with sapphires, emeralds and other precious stones I know nothing about. But here’s something I do know: Our new home is going to be beautiful beyond compare!

*When the great inventor Thomas Edison was on his death bed, he could barely speak. But his doctor saw that Edison was trying to say something. The doctor bent down very close and heard Thomas Edison whisper, “It’s very beautiful over there.” (3)

*Edison’s last words testified about the beauty of Heaven. And the reason why our Heavenly home is going to be so great is because Jesus Himself is putting it together for us! That’s what He promised us on the night before the cross.

*In John 14:1-6, Jesus said:

1. "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.

2. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

3. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

4. And where I go you know, and the way you know."

5. Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?"

6. Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

*It is most important to stress that our new home is not for everybody. God the Father reminds us of this vital truth back up in vs. 7&8, where He said:

7. "He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.

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.''

*Christians: vs. 8 reminds us that just because we are Christians, just because we are forgiven does not mean that we can live any old way. God wants us to strive every day to be holy, because He is holy.

*But our new home in heaven is not for everybody. In vs. 7, God the Father said, “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.”

*Who is he that overcomes? -- The Apostle John has already told us in 1 John 5:4&5. There he said:

4. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world our faith.

5. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

*Our new home is not for everybody. -- But it IS for anybody who will trust in Jesus Christ!

*This vital truth is also supported by vs. 22&23, where John called Jesus the Lamb, and said this about Heaven:

22. . . I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.

23. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.

*Jesus is the Light of the world, -- but notice that He is also the Light of Heaven.

-And notice that the Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are the Temple of Heaven. -- So it makes sense that if you are not willing to worship the Lord, you just don’t belong in Heaven.

*But Jesus is the Way.

-And if you will receive Him, God promises you a home.

2. He also promises Himself.

*Last Sunday, in Jeremiah 31:33, we heard the LORD make this great promise:

-“But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”

*In Ezekiel 37:26-28, the LORD also promised this to the believing Children of Israel:

26. Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore.

27. My tabernacle also shall be with them; indeed I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

28. The nations also will know that I, the LORD, sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.

*Now here in Rev 21:3, we see these great promises fulfilled. Here the Apostle John said: “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.’”

*What’s the best part of Heaven? -- We know don’t we. With all of the wonder, beauty and joy of Heaven, the best part is getting to be with Jesus.

*So for us, vs. 3 is the greatest announcement that has ever been made. Notice a couple of things about this announcement.

[1] First, there’s great repetition. This news is so tremendous, he repeats it 5 different ways to get it to sink in:

-“Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men!

-And He will dwell with them!

-And they shall be his people!

-And God himself shall be with them!

-And be their God!”

[2] There’s great repetition and it’s about a great reunion: Our reunion with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

-The one who died on the cross for our sins.

-The one who paid the price we could never pay.

-And rescued us from the greatest danger we ever faced, -- eternity in Hell.

*In 1975, Lisa Greene was 3-years-old, when a fire totally engulfed her family’s home in Brooklyn, New York. Firefighter Marvin Bunch arrived on the scene to find 3 women on the porch of that burning house. They were screaming that children were trapped upstairs. Marvin crawled up those fiery stairs, and brought Lisa out unconscious in his arms. Two other children were also rescued that day.

*Fourteen years later, Lisa called the New York City Fire Dept, and learned that the man who saved her life was a retired fire captain living in Las Vegas. Lisa’s family brought Marvin and his family to New York as guests of honor for Lisa’s high school graduation. And Lisa was overjoyed to be in the presence of the one who had risked his life to save hers. (3)

*Imagine how thrilled we will be, to be in the presence of the one who gave His life to save ours? And Christians, we will be with Him. This is God’s promise to all who trust in Jesus. God promises us Himself.

3. He also promises happiness.

*The Apostle John tells us about it in vs. 4, where he said, “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.”

*We’re not there yet, are we? -- A few years ago, George Barna reported that over 70 million Americans are struggling to find meaning in life. And over half of all Americans struggle with some type of depression. (4)

*All of our tears have not been wiped away. At our best, we are like the 10-year-old boy who wrote this thank-you letter to the Lord. His name was Spencer, and he said:

Dear Lord,

Thanks for the bike last Christmas. It has made me very happy, -- except for May 13th, at 4 o'clock, when I rode into a big ditch that I did not see.

I am okay now.”

Spencer (5)

*Some days all of us are going to ride into that ditch. All of our tears have not been wiped away, but one day they will be!

-No more death.

-No more sorrow.

-No more crying.

-No more pain!

*Melvin Newland tells about a Sunday School Teacher who asked her class to tell her what they thought Heaven will be like. She got all kinds of answers, but Melvin especially liked the answer from the 3rd grade boy who said: “Heaven is going to be the happiest part of my dead life.” (6)

*And it will be for you too, -- IF Jesus Christ is your Savior and Lord.

-God promises us happiness.

4. And He promises hope.

*It’s the hope we have, because of what John heard from God in vs. 5&6:

5. 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."

6. 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.”

*One of the best things about being a Christian is that we have hope! And God wants all of us to have this hope. That’s why God told John to write what he had heard.

[1] And Christians, in vs. 5, our hope is based on an absolute guarantee.

*There God Himself says: “These words are true and faithful.” Then in vs. 6, He makes the guarantee to everyone who thirsts for eternal life: “I will freely give you water from the fountain of life.”

*Our hope is based on God’s absolute guarantee.

[2] And it is backed-up by His absolute greatness.

*In vs. 6, God the Father says: “I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End.” Jesus said the same thing. Listen to the Lord in Rev 1:8: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

*God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit has the last word on our eternal destiny. And He is absolutely able to do what He says He will do. So Christians, we have hope!

*And I like that other thing He said in vs. 5: “Behold, I make all things new.”

-That sounds pretty good to an old man like me!

*Billy Graham gave this testimony: “The first death in our immediate family was that of my maternal grandmother, Lucinda Coffey.

*Grandmother talked often about her husband, Ben Coffey, who had been badly wounded while serving with the 11th North Carolina Regiment, -- which led the advance on Gettysburg from the west on July 1, 1863.

*Shrapnel almost severed his left leg. While Ben was lying on the battlefield, a bullet grazed his right eye, blinding it forever. Doctors were forced to amputate his wounded leg some time later.

*His (friends) testified to his concern for spiritual values. I never knew him; he died in 1916 at the age of 74.

*When Grandmother Coffey died, I was in elementary school, and my sister Catherine and I were called out of school. The manner of her dying became a legacy of faith for our family.

*She sat up in bed and almost laughingly said, ‘I see Jesus. He has His arms outstretched toward me. And there's Ben! He has both of his eyes and both of his legs.’” (7)

*God says, "Behold, I make all things new." This is our hope as believers.

*Do you have this hope? -- God wants you to have it!

-Put your trust in the promises God gives here.

-Receive the great promises of Heaven by receiving Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior of your life.

*You can do that today as we go to God in prayer.

1. Adapted from “The Tree of Life” by John W. Morris - Rev 21 - First Christian Church, Frankfort, IN

2. Adapted from SermonCentral sermon “Heaven Out of this World” by Dave Martin - Rev 21:1-3

3. sermon “I Saw a New Heaven” by John R. Brokhoff and Robert W. Stackel - Revelation 21 - from “RENEWAL OF THE NEW,” The C.S.S. Publishing Company, 1990, 1-55673-250-3

4. SermonCentral illustration

5. David Holwick illustration #2138 - SOURCE: “Redbook” - TITLE: “Dear God, What Religion Were the Dinosaurs?” - AUTHOR: David Heller (From His Book) - DATE: 111990

6. SermonCentral sermon “Heavenly Relationships” by Melvin Newland - Rev 21:1-7

7. “Just as I Am” - The Autobiography of Billy Graham, Harper San Francisco and Zondervan, 1997 - p. 4

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