Revelation 069 – There Is a New World Coming

Revelation 069 – There Is a New World Coming
Revelation 21:4-8 • Dr. Andy Woods • January 26, 2020 • Revelation


Andy Woods

There Is A New World Coming

Revelation 21:4-8

Lesson 69

Good morning everybody.  Let’s take our Bibles and open them to the second to last chapter in the Bible, the Book of Revelation, chapter 21 and verse 4, seeing if we could look at this morning verses 4-8.  The title of this message is not a title that originated with me, it was a title of a commentary on the Book of Revelation that I read as a fairly unchristian and the title of the commentary is There Is  A New World Coming.  And that’s exactly what we see happening here at the end of the Book of Revelation, there’s a new world coming.  Do you believe that?  There’s a better world coming and it’s so easy to get sort of despondent about the course of the present world and we forget very fast that the things that are happening today are very, very temporary.  God has something in store where He’s going to bring in things as He intended.  And that’s what we’re seeing here in Revelation 21.

If you’ve been tracking with us in our series on the Book of Revelation we have finished all of those terrible judgments that God is using to evict Satan from planet earth.  That seven year time period ends with the personal return of Jesus Christ to the earth to establish His long awaited kingdom.  And then what?  The Book of Revelation doesn’t end there, it describes four events that will happen after Jesus comes back to the earth.  The first is the thousand year kingdom, which we’ve studied.  The second is… I’m glad we’re finished with that part anyway, the Great White Throne Judgment.  We just heard from some missionaries, that’s why missionaries are necessary because if people around the world don’t hear the gospel that’s their prospect, they will stand at that Great White Throne Judgment.  And so we talked about that sort of as an impetus for missionary activity.

And then what follows after that is the destruction of this earth, we saw a little bit of that last week and it’s replacement by a new heavens and a new earth.  So here are the three parts of the Book of Revelation yet to come in our study: we have a description of the New Heavens and New Earth, verses 1-8, hopefully finishing that today.  And then beginning next week we will see the eternal city, the New Jerusalem which will be part of that new heavens and new earth beginning three in verse 9 of chapter 21, going all the way to chapter 22 and verse 5.  And then the Book will conclude with an epilogue, sort of some thoughts that tie everything together.

But notice Revelation 21:4, we’ve been talking about this new heavens and new earth.  Last week we saw it’s a new creation.  And that new creation is going to be marked by the defense of an eternal city.  You see that there in Revelation 21:2, and it will probably look something like that, look at that.  [Laughter]  And last week we talked about… I had a different picture on there, remember, it had am ocean on it and I said well that’s not quite theologically accurate because John says “I saw no sea.”  So Pastor Jim went to work, without even being asked, and put together a different one without any visible ocean so we can be absolutely biblically correct.  But that is the city which I think exists now in heaven which will descend to this earth one day.  And we’re going to get a tremendous description of that city later on in our chapter, most likely for next week.   And then we saw a new fellowship, verse 3, where the tabernacle of God has now come amongst men walking in fellowship with God; the potential for sin is over.  And there’s nothing left for us to do but to enjoy unbroken, unhindered fellowship with God throughout the ages.

And then we move this morning into a new order; we see verse 4 the old order passing away to be replaced by a new order, verse 5.  Notice if you will Revelation 21 and verse 4.  “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”   One of the things to understand about sin is sin always has a price tag.  Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages,” that’s a cost isn’t it, “For the wages of sin is” what?  “is death.”  And this is where Satan is so good at getting our eyes off of the cost and instead onto the short term benefits of sin.  Yes, you heard that right, there is a passing pleasure associated with sin.

Moses forsook that, he decided to suffer ill treatment with his people rather than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin.  Hebrews 11:25.  {Hebrews 11:25, “choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin,”]   Satan is very good at getting us focused on those passing pleasures but what he doesn’t tell you is the long term consequences, the cost, the price.  This goes back to Genesis 3:6 in Eden, it says, “When the woman” that’s Eve, “saw that the tree was good for food and it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, good, delight, desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.”  The furthest thing from their minds is the price tag that’s coming.  Even a price that would be exacted by God’s only son to reverse that situation.  The serpent just got their eyes focused on the short term pleasures.

But we’re coming into a world now after the Lord returns, Revelation 21, where sin won’t even be a potentiality, it won’t even be a possibility.  And if sin is no longer a possibility then neither are the terrible consequences or the price tag associated with sin.  What kinds of consequences?   Number one, tears.  Number two, death.  Number three, mourning.  Number four, crying.  And number five, pain.  Think about all of the tears and mourning and crying that has taken place since Adam’s fall in Eden because of the price tag of sin.  It mentions there death.  You know, it’s interesting, God is very clear at the beginning, Genesis 2:17, He said to our forbearers, “but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

They died spiritually that very day and they began to die physically and consequently the Bible says, Hebrews 9:27, “It is appointed once for a man to die and after this comes the judgment.”  The interesting thing about death is it doesn’t respect persons.  Have you noticed that?  It treats us all equally.  And that terrible process of death began to manifest itself, you don’t have to get far in the Bible to see this, the fall of man happened in Genesis 3 and then you go to Genesis 5 and it says, “So all the days of Adam were nine hundred and thirty years and he died.”  All the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years and he died.  All the days of Enoch which were nine hundred and five years and he died.   So all the days of Kenan were nine hundred and ten years, and he died.  All the days of Mahalalel say that five times fast, were eight hundred and ninety-five years and he died.  So all the days of Jerod were nine hundred and sixty-two years and he died.  And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred and sixty-nine years and he died.  I think I’m seeing a pattern here.  All the days of Lamech were seven hundred and seventy-seven years and he died.”

What a depressing chapter.  The only bright spot is Genesis 5:24, “Enoch walked with God and he was not for the LORD took him.”  Wow!  So somebody in that generation didn’t experience death.

And what does the Lord say about us?  A hope of His return in an event called the rapture; “we will not all sleep” Paul says, “but we will be changed.”  [“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,” 1 Corinthians 15:21]  In the moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet”  Maybe we’re that generation.   Maybe we’re just like Enoch, where we’re going to be exempted from the prospect of death.  I can’t personally guarantee that, I wish I could guarantee that.  But there is a generation out there that will not experience death, Enoch sort of being a type of that future generation.

But other than those few bright spots we’re living in a world with death in it all the time, even in this own congregation and fellowship the people that were once among us that re now departed, deceased and in the presence the presence of the Lord.   But think of a world where there’s no sin in it and therefore there can’t be any consequences of sin, there can’t be death any longer, there can’t even be pain.

It’s interesting what God said to our forbearers when they sinned in Genesis 3:16. He talks about pain that would come.  “Unto the woman He said, ‘I will greatly multiply your pain and in thy conception” or child birth, every female in here that’s borne children know exactly what this is talking about.  It says, “…In pain you will bring forth children….”  [Genesis 3:16, “To the woman He said, ‘I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.’”]

I don’t even think it’s necessarily talking about the physical pain of childbirth, it includes that but  this is the pain of rearing children and having children be a disappointment to you.  Just like were a disappointment in many ways to our parents and all of the sort of emotional burden that involved, now pain and heartbreak is now part of daily life because of sin.  And yet there’s coming  world with no pain in it.  God said to our forbearers in Eden,  “Thorns and thistles it shall bring forth,” your life now as  you eke out a living will be characterized by thorns and thistles.  I know this much about thorns, that they hurt.  The pain of normal life being erased because sin is now a distant memory.  That’s the world that’s coming.

I like what Stephen Lawson says in his book, “Heaven Help Us” as he is describing these last two chapters of the Bible.  He says, “There will be no more funeral homes, no more hospitals, no abortion clinics, no divorce courts, not brothels, no bankruptcy courts, no psychiatric wards, no treatment centers, there will be no pornography, no teen suicide, no aids, no cancer, no talk shows he says, I might miss that a little bit.  No rape, no missing children, no drug problems, no drive by shootings, no racial tension, no prejudice, there will be no misunderstanding, no injustice, no depression, no hurtful words, no gossip, no hurt feelings, no emptiness, no child abuse, there will be no wars, no financial worries, no emotional headaches, no physical pain, no spiritual flatness, no relational divisions, no murders, there will be no tears, there will be no suffering, no separations, no starvation, no arguments, no accidents, no emergency departments, no doctors, no nurses, no heart monitors, no rust, no perplexing questions, no false teachers, no financial shortages, no hurricanes, no bad habits, no decay, no locks,” (I like that).  We will never need to confess sin, we will never need to apologize again, never need to straighten out a strange relationship, never have to resist Satan again, never have to resist temptation.

There’s a better world coming, isn’t there.  That’s the hope of the Christian.  He speaks here about how the  first order of things, the end of verse four, has passed away.  [Revelation 21:4, “and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”] What is the first order of things?  It is what in our world is considered normal because of the fall in Eden living in a post fall world.  And even many of the songs that we sing in church, sometimes even with the kids singing “This is my Father’s world,” are we sure about that one?  I’m not completely sure this is the Father’s world; it’s certainly God’s creation but it obviously has been tremendously marred from God’s original design.  And think if that design was set right; that’s what you have in Revelation 21 and 22.

You say well can you teach on something a little bit more practical?  Let me tell you how practical this is.  When  you evangelize, and by the way you’re biblically commanded to do that, the number one question that you’ll get from unbelievers is well, you’re talking about this God of love and my spouse just died of cancer or my child or grandchild just got his in the crosswalk by a drunk driver.  What do you mean a God of love!   The reality of the situation we actually have an answer to that.  The answer is very simple; the answer is the world that we are experiencing today is not the way God designed it because you see many people today are angry at God and they’re angry at God because some problem, some infirmity, some adversity, some difficulty has come into their life and they don’t know who to blame other than God.  And so they stay away from God.

And the very simple answer to that issue is today is an abnormality.  Genesis 3 all the way through Revelation 19, even into chapter 20, is an abnormality.  What is happening today is not normal; it’s not what God intended.  You say well what is normal?  Normal is Genesis 1 and 2, before the fall of man.  Normal is Revelation 21 and 22.  And so the story of the Bible is from a garden to a city with a cross in between and Jesus doing everything possible to step out of eternity into time to redeem us from our abnormalities.

And if your life your life with that sort of belief system, the world system can throw all kinds of things at you but it cannot destroy hope because you realize that everything that’s happening today is an abnormality that God really never intended; in fact, God has a whole design in mind where He’s going to restore everything back to how it was.  See this even will help you with hope in daily life, it will help you with evangelism.  And how many people today with all of the problems that they’re experience simply numb their problems through chemicals, chemicals of pleasantry, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, seeking after pleasure, anything to numb the pain.  And yet the Christian can live in a world like this even with its pain and endure it because we understand that it’s just temporary.

You know,  you throw  out the Bible, which is what I call [can’t understand word], you throw the world biblical view and you’ve just cut the cord on hope, that’s what you’ve done.  And we have this generation of very depressed people today, young people coming up, they don’t know how to cope with circumstances.  How should they cope, the don’t know how to cope, you can’t expect them to cope when you cut the cord on this Book.  It’s only in this Book that you understand what normal is versus what abnormality is, hope, walking with hope, walking with optimism.

He continues on, not only talking about the old order that passes now John begins to see in his vision the new order that comes.  And notice, if you will, verse 5.  Notice what he says: “And he who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new. And He said, ‘Write, for these words are faithful and true.’”  God’s specialty, the title of last week’s message, is making all things new.  In fact, if you are in Christ this morning by way of faith you are, according to the Word of God, a new creature in Christ Jesus.  2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”  And since we are new creatures in Christ Jesus why would God leave us in a world that doesn’t fit who we are?  So just as we are new “in Christ,” His end game is to bring us into a new heavens and new earth to fit who we are, to fit our position in Christ.

And John is seeing these things, verse 5, and he is told to write them down.  John, going all the way back to Revelation 1:11 was told this: “Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: [to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”  And John may have thought what an insignificant task that is.  And yet if John had not done what God called him to do we wouldn’t even be having this Bible study, would we?  Because John did a very simple thing by way of obedience; his life was used by God to trans generationally bless God’s people.

Those are the kind of people that I think about when I read the great books of the Bible.  I think of Phoebe; it says this if Phoebe in Romans 16:1, “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, [who is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea;]”’  Who was Phoebe?  She delivers the Book of Romans from Corinth to the church at Rome.  What about Tertius, we know about Paul, don’t we.  Have you ever heard any Bible study by Tertius?  We don’t even know he’s in the Bible.  We know about Paul, don’t we?  Have you ever heard any Bible studies on Tertius?  Most people don’t even know he’s in the Bible.  But there is in Romans 16:22, “I, Tertius, who write this epistle, salute you in the Lord.”

The word used Paul the Lord revealed the great majestic truth of the Book of Romans to Paul but if you don’t have a Tertius who acts as a scribe and writes it down and if you don’t have a Phoebe who delivers the letter, you don’t have a Book of Romans.  If you don’t have a Book of Romans you don’t have the Protestant Reformation that happened in the 16th century.  You think little old Tertius and little old Phoebe could ever contemplate how God was going to use them doing something small for Him to trans generationally bless the world.  I don’t even know if John understood what was happening.  He just did what God told him.

The application to this is there’s a lot of us that God says to do something, it could be very small, it could be very anonymous, no one could even know you’re doing it but God says do it.  And you have no idea what one little step of obedience is going to do because God doesn’t show you the big picture necessarily.  When you die and get to heaven you’ll see it, you’ll say Oh Lord, how foolish of me to think that the task was beneath me or to second guess you.  I think it’s very significant that John is just doing what God told him to do, God says write and he’s writing what he sees in this vision.

Now why write it down?  Notice what it says in verse 5, “For these words are faithful and true.”  You might recall Revelation 19:9, it says the same thing, “These are true words.”  These things are going to happen.  I’m reminded of 2 Peter, (come join us Wednesday nights we’re going through 2 Peter.)  Peter, of prophecy, says this, “So we have the prophetic word made more sure,” made more sure than what?  You back up in the context and it’s an eyewitness testimony because Peter, in that context is talking about how he was an eyewitness to the things of God, even the transfiguration he saw.

The most potent and powerful witness you could ever introduce in a court of law is eye witness testimony.  And yet Peter says through the prophetic word we have something “made more sure.”  Made more sure than what?  Eyewitness testimony, the most potent form of evidence that there is, “to which you do well to pay attention because it’s a lamp shining in a dark place,” Would you say the world today is in a dark place?  What would give you hope in the midst of that?  There’s this lamp that God has given us, which is His prophetic word.   “… until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.  But first of all know that no prophecy of Scripture was a matter of one’s own private interpretation, [21] for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”

If there’s ever an hour in church history that we ought to be studying where God says of the future it’s right now, because if you don’t have that angle if Satan cuts you off from the past and he cuts you off from the future there is no basis for hope as you navigate the painful terrain of life.  So John is reminded in verse 5 that  you need a righteous stand because these words “are faithful and true.”  Well of course they “are faithful and true.”  Who did they come from?  They come from Jesus Christ Himself who was called, Revelation 19:11, “Faithful and true.”  [Revelation 19:11, “And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war.”]

In fact, did you know that there are some things that God can’t do?  I know the philosophers recoil at that.  If God is God how can He not do certain things.  Well, there are some things He can’t do and won’t do because it violates His character, one of which is to lie.  Numbers 23:19, “God is not a man that He should lie.”  I can lie,  you can lie, church leadership can lie, the people that you trust most, parents or grandparents can lie.  You already know your kids can lie.  And we all know the politicians can lie.  But God can’t lie!  For God to say something inaccurate or incorrect or to sugarcoat things, or to misrepresent things would be outside of His character.  So John writes this down because this is true; this is going to happen, and this is your hope.

And we move from a new order, verses 4 and 5 to a new satisfaction.  Notice what it says there in Revelation 21:6, “Then He said to me, “it is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.” “It is done,” it is finished; the plan of God and man being tested is over.  You know, every age of time, as  you go through the Bible God is putting man through a test.  Even right now in this age of grace man is being tested.  There are, we believe, about seven ages of time dividing up the Bible where God puts people through tests.  But now it’s done, there’s no more tests, this is the eternal state.  Man is no longer on probation.  Whatever decision has been made for or against Christ has been made and now eternity is started and those decisions are now solidified in cement.

By the way, it’s why Revelation 21 and 22 looks a lot like Garden of Eden but not quite the same.  Did you notice that?  This is a chart from Henry Morris in his book, The Genesis Record, comparing Genesis 1 and 2 to Revelation 21 and 22.  Genesis 1 and 2, in Eden there was a division between light and darkness; we don’t have that in the eternal state, there’s no night.  In Eden there was a division between land and sea; you don’t have sea in the eternal state.  In Eden there was a sun and a moon: you don’t have a sun and a moon in the eternal state.  Eden is the garden; Revelation 21 and 22 is a city.  The river flows out of Eden in the Garden of Eden, but the river is flowing from the throne in Revelation 22.  Gold is in the land in Eden but not in the eternal state, gold is in the city, in fact we’re walking on streets of gold. There’s a tree of life in the middle of the garden in Eden; you have trees of life throughout the city in Revelation 22.  You’ve got some strange stones mentioned there in Eden.  You have all manner of stones in the eternal state.  God is walking in the garden in Eden but in the eternal state He is dwelling with His people.

Have you ever asked yourself that, why didn’t God just put us right back in a garden?  The answer relates to the fact that man in Eden is under probation; God made man in God’s image which basically means he has to have a choice; if he doesn’t have a choice to have a relationship with God or not have a relationship with God then he is really not being respected as the image bearer of God that God made him.

So there’s got to be a tree of knowledge in Eden.  There’s got to be an avenue of rebellion should man choose that path.  But you get to the end of the Bible and there’s no tree of knowledge anymore, there’s just a tree of life.  Why is that?  Because it’s done, the probation is over!  The test has been run, people have made their decision, people have made their choice.  So we’re put back in an environment that’s like Eden but not exactly the same.  From a garden to a city with a cross in between!

He not only says there in verse 6 “It is done,” Jesus says “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.”  Alpha, as you know, is the first letter of the Greek alphabet; Omega as you know, ends, it’s the last letter in the Greek alphabet.  Jesus is saying I am the first and the last.  Just to get the point across He says the same thing later in Revelation 22:13, “ I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”  What is the great lesson to take away from the ages?  It’s Jesus, it’s the point of history, Jesus is the point of reality.

They’re trying to teach history without God?  How do you do that exactly when Jesus is the whole point of history.  I like the anachronism, history is His story.  You can’t teach history without God.  In fact, you can’t even teach any subject correctly without Jesus because He’s the point.

Colossians 1:16-17 Jesus says this:  “ For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. [17] And “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”  He is holding the whole universe together preventing the molecules and the atoms in our bodies from exploding right now as I speak.  I mean, He’s appointed the past, He’s appointed the future, He’s appointed the present.  He’s the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

And if that’s true the foolishness… the FOOLISHNESS of living one’s life without Jesus Christ.  The foolishness even for the Christians who resist the influence of Jesus Christ as we sometimes quench the Holy Spirit.  We start doing things like that we’re missing the whole point of life, we’re missing the whole point of existence because this is who Jesus Christ is.  Revelation 19:10, it says of Jesus He is the Spirit of prophecy.  [Revelation 19:10, “Then I fell at his feet to worship him. But he aid to me, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”]

You mean to tell me the Book of Revelation is not about the mark of the beast and the coming one world economic system and the antichrist.  That’s not the point of the book at all.  You get to the end of the Book of Revelation and  you think that’s the point of the book  you missed the point.  Those things are relevant as they’re studied in light of Jesus.  But if you missed Jesus Christ you missed the whole point of prophecy; He is the Spirit of prophecy. And He says there in verse 6, “I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life.”  [Revelation 21:6, “Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.”]

John wrote another book, didn’t he?  The Gospel of John and he talks there about a woman that Jesus encountered in Samaria, the woman at the well.  [John 4:13] “Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again;  [14]  but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him like a well of water springing up to eternal life.”  If you want Me in your life let Me into your life is what he’s saying, by way of faith.  “Then Jesus said to her go call your husband to come here.  [17] The woman answered and said to him, I have no husband.   Jesus saith unto her, You have answered correctly that you have no husband.  In fact, you have five husbands, and the one whom currently with is not your husband;” and I like her response, well sir, you must be a prophet.  A great response.  You think?

So this is a picture of what we are like without Christ.  I think it was Augustine who said God has created each of us with a God shaped vacuum that can only find fulfillment in a relationship with the God that made us. But sin has sort of marred that, hasn’t it?  It’s alienated us from God and so there’s this longing in the heart to fill that void with something.  And that’s essentially what people are seeking that don’t know Christ.  Everything they try, power, prestige, success, prosperity, pleasure, artificial substitutes, abusive tendencies, violence, whatever it is it’s an ache in the heart.  Nothing seems to work, nothing seems to fit.  I’ve tried this, I’ve come up empty.  I try that, I come up empty.  I try five husbands, I come up empty.  And yet Jesus Christ says there’s water and as you drink it you will never thirst again.  It’s not that your life is perfect but you come into relationship with the One who made you, the point of history itself, and suddenly you discover that this is why I exist.

What a tragedy it is to go through decade after decade after decade of life, not even understanding why we’re here or why we exist, just a dull ache in the heart that I know is there and that I keep trying to fill with this or that and I keep coming up empty.  And yet here we are in this eternal state where sin and alienation from God is no longer a problem.  And what does he say here?  “I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life.”  I hope you didn’t chop off the last little part there, verse 6, did you catch that, “without cost.”  [Revelation 21:6, “Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.”]

In fact, it says that at the end of the Book of Revelation, Revelation 22:17, “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.”  The reality of the situation is we think we’ve got to crawl on a bed of nails to get this because we’re so works oriented in our pride.  You’re going to give me something that wonderful for free?  And that’s exactly how it’s offered!  It’s offered completely and totally on the basis of faith, which is the only way to receive a gift from God.         This is why John in his other book, the Gospel of John, mentions believe or believing ninety-nine times, no bed of nails to crawl over, no denomination loyalty I have to ascribe to, I don’t even have to ascribe to some sort of moral revolution that’s going to happen in my life where I’m making God a return promise.

Wow, wait a minute pastor, are you talking about unholiness in the Christian life.  That’s not what I’m talking about; I’m not talking about growth in Christ, I’m talking about how to come to Christ.  No cost without cost.    And how we need to understand today the grace of God and we need to understand the clarity and the simplicity of the gospel.  And how we need to now present Jesus to people as faith plus something else.  It’s faith plus NOTHING!   Hebrews 11:6,  “Without faith it impossible to please God.  And how the apostle Paul pronounces a curse on people that add to the gospel and make it sound as if they’ve got to somehow do this or do that, do this good work or do that good work when the whole reality of the situation is we’re saved on our good works, we’re saved on His good works.  I’m not saved based on my sacrifice, I’m saved based on His sacrifice.  I’m not even saved because I take up my cross and follow Jesus, I’m saved because He took up His cross.

Now once the Spirit of God is in you He’ll start dealing with you on certain things.  And that will probably last your whole life or till death or the rapture, whichever comes first, I’m not dealing with growth in Christ, I’m talking about coming to Christ.  You know, it’s interesting in John 4, this woman with five husbands, if there was ever a chance for Jesus to say well I need to see a moral reformation in you first.  That was would have been the chance, which he does not say.  What He says is there’s resources available to you that you don’t know anything about.  The water you’re drinking from will make you thirsty again.  The five husbands.  Trying to build a void in your life through promiscuity, rapid divorce, remarriage, we all do this maybe not that particular sin but we’re all trying to fill the void with something.  I want to give you water that will give you the meaning and purpose for your existence.  You can have it without cost.  John emphasizes here without cost.

He continues on with verse 7 and he begins to talk about a new realization.  But backing up to verse  6 just for a moment, imagine living in an environment where sin isn’t even in the picture anymore.    There’s nothing that can take you outside of the fellowship with Christ and you’re just there throughout all eternity in a new order experiencing not just unbroken fellowship but satisfaction at the Jesus level.

But then notice verse seven where he begins to talk about a new realization, “He who overcomes will inherit these things, I will be his God but he will be my Son.”  [Revelation 21:7]  Again John wrote another book, didn’t he, called 1 John.  If you put 1 John together with this statement here in the Book of Revelation  you don’t have any doubts as to who the overcomer is.  Because many people look at the word overcomer and they think the pressure is on me, I’ve got to do X, Y and Z to gain a status as an overcomer so I can enjoy all of these provisions and blessings one day.  And that’s not what the Bible is saying.

1 John 5:4-5 says, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. [5]  Who is the one who overcomes” that’s a great question, “Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”  Jesus said in the Upper Room, “Do not let your heart be troubled for I have overcome the world.”  My status as an overcomer is not based on me climbing up some kind of ladder.  My status as an overcome comes to me when I trust in Jesus because He’s the overcomer.  He died on the cross, He was buried on the third day, He rose from the dead, He ascended to the right hand of the Father, He overcame!  I am trusting not in myself to be an overcomer, I am trusting in Him, the ultimate overcomer and that automatically makes me as a believer an overcomer.

You say well I don’t feel like an overcomer.  I don’t look like an overcomer.  What does that have to do with anything?  You don’t live your life by what you feel or a mood at any given point in your life; you live it according to the objective truth of God’s Word. God says you’re an overcome;  God can’t lie!  If  you’re “in Christ”  you’re an overcomer.  And the overcomer here, verse 7, gets benefits because he’s been promised a lot, and now these promises are becoming a realization.  “He who overcomes,” that’s the believer, “will inherit all these things,” everything that’s described here in these two majestic chapters.  [Revelation 21:7, “He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.”]

1 Peter 1:3-4 says that the day is going to come when we will receive an inheritance. [1 Peter 1:3-4, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, [4]  to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.”]  Verse five says, we “are protected by the power of God through faith” as we speak for that inheritance.  [1 Peter 1:5, “who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”]

What is an inheritance?  It’s something that’s legally yours but you haven’t yet entered into the enjoyment of it,  possession of it.   You get left a piece of property or a sum of money in a will but until the person that left the money passes on the money is legally yours, you just don’t have access to it yet.  How do I know I’m going to get access to it?  Because the Bible says I’m being protected by God’s power until the day comes when I receive it.  And what we discover here is now the hope of an inheritance is now a realization.  “He who overcomes will inherit” all of these things.  It’s no longer a distant hope, it’s a present reality  that’s being described here in these verses.

And what does it say here?  “I will be his God,” is that not a personal walk with the Lord?  You mean the God of the universe wants to be my God?  This is more than a set of creeds adhering to a religious system, this is a personal relationship with the one that made it, AND redeemed us!  Matthew 7:23 says this, “Then I will declare to them, I never knew you, depart from me  you who practice lawless-ness.”  God wants to know us.  God wants to relate to us.  God wants to walk with us.  God wants to have a personal relationship with us.  In fact, that’s why we were made, to experience intimacy with God.  But boy, sin certainly short-circuited this, didn’t it.  Sin put that barrier right there between us and God and so now we’re living outside of our intended design with this deep ache and need in the human heart, knowing it’s there but not knowing exactly how to fill that void.  That’s what the whole conversation with the woman at the well was about.

And so we’re walking in this relationship with God, our inheritance has now reached a fulfillment or a realization and if you look at the end of verse 7 it says, “He will be my son.”  Galatians 4:6 says, “Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!”’  Which means Daddy!  You’re not a servant in the household, you’re not even the CEO of the company; you’re the inheritor of the estate.  See the difference.  I mean, who would you rather be?  Somebody that starts a Fortune Five Hundred company, you want to be the CEO, I’m sure it pays pretty well.  Or do you want to inherit everything?

Your status as a son or a daughter in Christ gives  you inheritance rights.  That’s why in verse 7 when it talks about inheritance it mentions our status as His Son.  Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son!  And if a son then a what?  An heir!  Heir to what?  Heir to the eternal state.  The inheritance is now realized.  What legally is yours payday has arrived because of our relationship to Jesus Christ.

But that discussion is followed by verse  8 which speaks of not just a new creation, not just a new city, not just a new fellowship, not just a new order, not just a new satisfaction, not just a new realization but a new holiness.  Look at verse 8.  “But” a very important word there, “But for the cowardly and the unbelieving and the abominable and murders and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone which is the second death.”  Notice the contrast, we just went from a son and an inheritor to the plight of the unsaved.  Don’t misread these verses; this is not talking about Christians that struggle with sin.  This is speaking of people who never knew Christ, never had a relationship with Christ.  And what we see of them are eight characteristics and God help us not to be like these people in our daily choices, because that’s not who we are.

Eight things, the first thing they’re called is cowardly.  Every time I read that I’m shocked by that. I think it should say ax murderer or something.  But the very first thin on the list is the coward because being a coward is not a characteristic of the godly.  Proverbs 28:1 says, “The wicked flee when no one is pursuing, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.”   Paul, writing to young Timothy says God has not given us the spirit of timidity but of love and power and self-discipline.

The second characteristic here is the unbelieving; that makes sense because “without faith it is impossible to please God.”  This is why God one hundred and fifty times conditions and relationship with Him on faith alone in Christ alone… period!  He says this in Romans 4:4-5,  “Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due.  [5]  But to the one who does not work,” but what? “but believes [in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteous­ness”]  That’s why I think it’s such a big deal to God.  It’s the only thing that we can do which God does not accept as a work.  If salvation is conditioned on anything other than faith by itself then it becomes a work.  But in the mind of God the one who believes is the one who does not work.  God won’t accept us on the basis of works; He requires faith!  And so the unsaved are characterized as unbelieving.  They’re also called abominable.

Isn’t it interesting how our culture is mainstreaming things that used to be considered abominable.  Did you know that the Bible says homosexuality is an abomination, among other sins, not to just pick on that one, it calls it an abomination.  And isn’t it interesting how people today are sort of main-streaming that.  Jim Wallace says, “Abomination is a pretty strong word, there’s a debate and questions about the meaning of the word “abomination.”  No there’s not !  God calls a spade a spade, not just homosexuality, any other sins.  You know, everybody today is all worked up about climate change.  Let me tell you about the real climate change; it’s the moral climate change that’s happening in this country and around the world.  There’s your climate change, where things that were once considered abominable, taboo, off the charts, are now mainstreamed into ordinary life, even mainstreamed right into the church.  My God help us understand this.

The unsaved are characterized as murderers, a violation of the sixth commandment.  Of course, that’s who Satan is, John 8:44, a murderer.  [John 8:44, “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father.  He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him.  Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”]

You know, we can commit murder a lot of different ways.  Did you know that?   We think of murder one way but God says, Proverbs 18:21, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”  You mean this two by two slab of mucous membrane called the tongue can kill?  Yes it can.  It can kill a reputation, it can kill emotions, it can destroy someone’s self-image and that’s who the unbelievers are characterized by, they’re murderers.  Personally I can’t tell you how thrilling it was to see the President of the United States march in the March of Life event.  And the news people are telling us that this is the first President we’ve had in forty-five  years to actually go down and march and speak in a prolife event.  I’m thrilled with that because I don’t want our nation through abortion or whatever else to be known as the murder nation.

The unsaved are characterized by immorality.  When Jesus was questioned about morality He started quoting Genesis 1:27, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”  God blessed them and said be fruitful and multiply…. The two shall become one flesh, etc.  [28, “And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.”]

etc. Mark 10:8, “and the two shall become one flesh: so that they are no more two, but one flesh.”  God’s standard for sexuality is one man for one woman for one life.  And I understand that many of us through decisions and things that have happened to us may have fallen short of the standard and the grace of God is always available for people, but that never changes the standard.   Who do we think we are exactly inventing or reinventing sexuality, as if we’re the creators of the whole thing.  God is the One that gives us the blueprint for that.  You see it there in the Garden of Eden and it’s violated so fast with the fall of man where Genesis 4:23 says, “Lamech said to his wives,” plural, that’s not exactly what God had in mind a few chapters earlier.  And that’s who the unsaved are.  You’ll also see that the unsaved are characterized by sorcery; you already know enough of the Book of Revelation to know what sorcery is, it’s the Greek word pharmakeia, where we get the word pharmacy, opening oneself up to artificial substances.

And isn’t it interesting that we’re seeing this rash of shootings all over the nation.  And how many of those people are addicted to some sort of artificial substance, listening to some kind of voice in their head telling them to do this horrific act.  The  unsaved are idolaters, you can’t get far in the Bible to see God doesn’t like idolatry.  That’s one of the first two commandments, “no God before Me,” “no graven images.”  So what are you placing before God today?  Success, power, prestige, pleasure, anything that we set over God in terms of importance becomes an idol.  And then he mentions “liars,” the ninth commandment, don’t bear a false witness; when we lie and misrepresent we are not walking with God because God can’t lie.  In fact, Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 5:33-37, it  says, don’t swear by Jerusalem. Don’t swear by the hair on your head.  Let your yes be yes and your no be no.  [Matthew 5:33-37, “Again, you have heard that  the ancients were told, ‘You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.’ [34] But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, [35] or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. [36] Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. [37] But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.”]

He’s dealing with people who are saying I’ll keep my word, I swear on my mother’s grave I’ll keep my word, by swearing on something more important than yourself.  Jesus says you shouldn’t even have to do that; you shouldn’t have to convince people you’re telling the truth because you’re swearing on something greater than yourself.  You ought to just be so reliable that if it comes out of your mouth it’s going to happen because that’s the way God is.  God cannot lie!

And then lastly in this verse it says, “their part will be in the Lake that burns with fire and brimstone which is the second death.”  [Revelation 21:8, “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”]

We’ve seen the phrase “second death” three other times in the Book of Revelation. Revelation 2:11; Revelation 20:6, Revelation 20:14.  [Revelation 2:11, “ He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.’”  Revelation 20:6, “ Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.”  Revelation 20:14, “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.”

What does it mean?  A. W. Tozer put it this way, “Twice born, once died.”   In other words, if a person that’s physically born into the world but they’ve never been spiritually born, they’ve never trusted Christ as their Savior, then this is their future in the second death.  But how different it is for the person who has been physically conceived and then later spiritually conceived because they’ve read John’s other book.  John 3:3-7 where Jesus says, marvel not when I say to you “You must be born again.”    Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’

[John 3:3-7, “ Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  [4] Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” [5] Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. [6] That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. [7] Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’]

These aren’t my rules; this is what Jesus said.  You have to be born again and so that of course would transition us into the gospel wouldn’t it, where you can be born again right now as I speak, by trusting in what Jesus did for us two thousand years ago, because when you trust in that, that provision is now applied to your life and the sin barrier is removed and the Holy Spirit in a nanosecond enters  you.  That’s what the spiritual birth is.   Without that happening in a person this is their future, the second death.  And so our exhortation to people here at Sugar Land Bible Church, even people listening online, listening after the fact perhaps, simply as the Spirit convicts them to respond to that convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit by trusting in Christ and Christ alone for their salvation.   You can do that right now as I speak; it’s not something you raise a hand to do, walk an aisle to do, join the church to do, it’s a matter of privacy between you and the Lord where the Spirit convicts you and you respond to that conviction by believing or trusting in what Jesus did for you.  That ALONE saves, sola fide, faith by itself, faith alone.

Well, I’m just going to kind of live off of what mom and dad did.  The reality of the situation is God doesn’t have any grandkids!  He only has children.  You’ll see no record in the Bible when He says, Abba, Father, my Son, there’s no grandkids here!  There’s children and they become children by being born in the Spirit.  If it’s something that you need more explanation on I’m available after the service.  But a new creation, a new city, a new fellowship, a new order, a new satisfaction, a new realization, a new holiness and beginning next week, you might want to take a look at Revelation 21:9 all the way through chapter 22 verse 5 in your reading this week as we’ll begin next week to look at the eternal city in detail.

Shall we pray.  Father, we’re grateful for Your Word and how it speaks directly to our lives and gives us a wonderful glimpse of what  You have in store for us.  Help us to live these things out this week; help us to share these things with others.   We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory.  We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said…. Amen!