The Coming Kingdom 039Revelation 21-22 • Dr. Andy Woods • March 28, 2018 • The Coming Kingdom
The Coming Kingdom
3-28-18 Revelation 21-22 Lesson 39
Let’s open our Bibles if we could to the Book of Revelation, chapter 21, and as you all know we’re continuing our study on the doctrine of the Kingdom. We’re actually in chapter 14 of the book I wrote and as you all know the book that I wrote is not the important book; the Book that God wrote is the important one, mine’s just sort of a supplemental resource to organize biblical data on the kingdom. So we’re basically trying to ask and answer what does the Bible say about the kingdom, which is a very tricky question on my part, it requires you study the whole Bible because the kingdom, as we’re trying to say, is the dominant theme of the Bible.
And here’s the ground that we’ve covered as we’ve traced the doctrine of the kingdom through the Scripture, numbers 1-10, and then numbers 11-16, and so we’re at the very end of this chart, we’re at number 17, second from the end where we have been talking about the eternal state. So in this prophecy chart that I have here on the screen you just go to the far right and you see an area called the eternal state, Revelation 21 and 22.
What is life going to be like in the eternal state? At this time the thousand year kingdom has already taken place, the Great White Throne Judgment has already taken place and we move into the eternal state, Revelation 21 and 22. So to sort of help us to understand the doctrine of the eternal state we’re basically looking at five things and many of these things we’ve already spoken of.
One of the things we noticed is that the doctrine of the eternal state, which is the new heavens and new earth, only comes into existence after what we call the office of theocratic administrator has been restored. There has to be a time in history where God rules a man who rules planet earth and the structure that started in Eden is restored. And we believe that this structure comes back during which time period, does anybody recall? This structure comes back during the thousand years, that’s when the office of theocratic administrator is restored. So that’s when God the Father rules over a man, God the Son who rules over the earth. So there has to be a time in history that what was lost in Eden is restored.
And after that happens now God is free to start over because He’s won that battle in history. So that’s why the doctrine of the eternal state or the biblical teaching on the eternal state really doesn’t come into existence until after the thousand year kingdom is described or prophesied for us. Then what God does is He takes the current earth and He literally destroys it by fire and that’s what you see happening there in Revelation 21:1. It says, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.” And you could put as a cross reference 2 Peter 3:10 which talks about the dissolution of this earth by fire. [2 Peter 3:10, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.”] So God has gained victory over this earth and now He’s free to create a new earth which He has to do because this earthy has been tainted by sin. So He starts all over again.
And that takes us to number 2 here, I tried to make the case that the eternal state is not a renovation but it’s a brand new creation. The fancy Latin name for that is ex nihilo, something out of nothing. The renovation is the thousand years; the thousand years are now over and now we have a brand new creation, a world where sin never entered it at all. And I’ve given, I think five reasons why it has to be that way, not a renovation but a brand new creation.
And then the third point we made on the eternal state is we talked about how the eternal state, a lot of people look at it as just sort of symbolic and we’re sort of on clouds and things like that and we have a tendency to kind of deliteralize the eternal state. But when you look at the actual terms that are used to describe the eternal security, we went through several of them and I have them on this slide, and you study those terms anywhere else in the Bible they’re always very literal. So don’t over celestialize our eternity with God; it’s an earth just like this one and it’s just as physical and literal and real as is the present earth.
And then from there we moved to number four where we said the eternal state also represents a time period where the Davidic throne is going to continue but it continues on in a slightly adjusted way. So the promise that was given to David is that through David, all the way back in 1000 B.C., through David is going to come an eternal dynasty and a forever throne. 2 Samuel 7:16. [2 Samuel 7:16, “ ‘Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.”’] The promises of the Davidic throne are such that having the Davidic throne in existence in Jerusalem during the thousand years really wouldn’t satisfy this language. So the Davidic throne has to continue.
So what happens is today you see a separation between the two thrones; the Davidic throne of Jesus on the earth in Jerusalem during the millennium, not to be confused with the throne in heaven which is who’s throne? The Father’s throne. But by the time you get to the eternal state and you get to Revelation 22:3 what you see is those two thrones merge together. And it says in Revelation 22:3, “There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him;” so you notice the throne is called “the throne of God and of the Lamb.” It’s no longer separate the way it is today and will be during the thousand years. So it’s in that sense in the new form that it’s in as the Son’s throne merges with the Father’s throne that the Davidic throne continues in an adjusted way. We’ve spent some time talking about that concept.
And then last time we were together we were talking about the eternal state’s description. I mean, what exactly is the eternal state going to be like? And we said number 1, it’s very different than the millennial kingdom. A lot of people take the eternal state and the millennial kingdom and merge them together and we went through several reasons, like this chart here, and this chart here, why those are two different things. Those are two different time periods entirely.
And then we talked about the significance of the eternal state and why does there need to be an eternal state. And we went through, I think about three theological reasons why the eternal state is so significant. This is all review from last week. And then to help us understand the eternal state’s description we talked about things that aren’t in the eternal state, are not there. And you can tell a lot about something not only by what’s there but also by what’s not there. So we went through a list of things that will not be there. Satan won’t be there. Evil won’t be there. The curse won’t be there. Even the potentiality of sin won’t be there.
Then from there we talked about some things that will be in the eternal state. I mean, what exactly is going to be there. And here’s sort of a list we went through: God’s presence, God’s glory, God’s people, God’s city, and when we got to the city, the New Jerusalem, which descends out of heaven to the new earth. And I tried to make the case last time that I think the eternal city exists right now in heaven because when Paul talks about it in Galatians 4:26 he says the New Jerusalem which is above. And He uses in Galatians 4:26 the present tense verb. [Galatians 4:26, “But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.” KJV] So I believe the eternal city is in existence right now, it just can’t descend to this world because this world is marred by sin. So what it’s waiting for is a new world where sin never entered. So it’s waiting for the destruction of this earth by fire after the millennial kingdom, and then the ushering of the new heavens and new earth. And once the environment is perfect then the eternal city, which exists now, descends to the earth.
That’s what you see happening in Revelation 21:1-8. [Revelation 21:1-8, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them,  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.”  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.  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.  He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.  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.”]
And there’s a lot of information about this city, its existence, its name, its dimensions, its walls, its gates, its foundation stones, a lot of this we went over last time, its influence, its character, its glory, its colors, there’s a lot of information about its colors and about its street. And I thought we’d finished all that stuff about the city but then I remembered there are two things we left off, so let me just cover those two things real quickly.
Two final things about the eternal city that the Bible reveals. Number 1, its water of life and when you look at Revelation 22 verse 1 it says, “Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb,” because the two thrones have merged, and so it talks about this beautiful river or this pure river flowing from the throne. And then also there’s a reference here to the tree of life.
Now you remember the tree of life was in the Garden of Eden and when you go to Revelation 22:2 you see the tree of life again, except I think it’s trees as dispersed throughout the city because it says “in the middle of its street, on either side of the river was the tree of life.” And look how literal this is, “bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month;” and that’s interesting to me because a lot of people say well, there’s not going to be time, time won’t exist anymore in the eternal state but it clearly talks here about months, so there are definitely increments of time. It says, “on either of the river was the tree of life flowing, twelve kinds of fruit yielding its fruit every month, and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” So there was a tree in Eden that apparently allowed, as I understand it, people to live forever and that same tree, now trees, is in the eternal state.
The only tree that I can think of that is in Eden that’s not in the eternal state is which tree? The tree of knowledge; why is that? Because man, by this time, has already been tested and whatever choice people are going to make they’ve already made for or against Christ. And man, in Eden, was in a probationary environment untested. And in order for us to really be made in God’s image we have to have the freedom to reject Him, and how do you reject Him unless you have an avenue of rejection, which is the tree of knowledge, which they weren’t to eat from. So man was untested in Eden, by the time you get to the eternal state man has already been tested.
So those are the final two things I wanted to cover about the city and where I wanted to move on to tonight is the last two things on the list here: what’s life going to be like in the eternal state, and what are we going to be doing exactly. And then number two, how do you get into the eternal state, because there’s only one way in. So let’s talk about life in the eternal state. What exactly is it going to be like.
The first characteristic of life in the eternal state is it’s going to be a life of unbroken fellowship with God. And if you look at Revelation 21:3 it says, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them.’” And you might remember from the early chapters of the Book of John, when the incarnation of Christ was described, around John 1:14 it talks about how He became man and made His dwelling amongst men. [John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”] John 1:14 literally means, when you look at in the Greek, He tabernacled amongst them. So once He became, once humanity was added to eternally existent deity man could now relate to God, understand God. And so this same sort of concept is there in Revelation 21:3 because it talks about God tabernacling once again amongst man, and it keeps saying over and over again in that verse He will be “among them” and He with them.
And this takes us to number two, not only will it be unbroken fellowship with God… by the way, what breaks our fellowship with God? Sin! That’s why Isaiah 59:1-2 says, “Behold, the LORD’S hand is not so short that it cannot save nor is His ear so dull that it cannot here. the hand of the Lord is not so short that He can’t save, nor His ear so dull that He cannot hear,” but your sins have separated you from God. [Verse 2, “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.”]
And that’s why 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” is such a big deal for the believer because 1 John 1:9 doesn’t get you saved again. What it does is it restores broken fellowship. I mean, if you offend your spouse you’re still married, although your spouse may not want to be married to you, legally you’re still married but what’s broken is intimacy, or fellowship. That’s what unconfessed sin does in our lives. So that’s why we need to exercise 1 John 1:9 regularly, not to get saved again but to stay in fellowship with Christ and you can think of yourself without even the capacity to sin any more. You won’t even have the desire to sin. So if there’s no sin then there’s no way you could ever get out of fellowship with God. So the eternal state is characterized by unbroken fellowship with God. It’s very similar to what you had in Eden where God strolled with our forbearers in the cool of the evening. I mean, there was no sin yet, there was no broken fellowship yet, there was no need for confession and that’s what the eternal state is going to be like.
Something else about the eternal state to understand is it’s going to be a life of service; a lot of people think we’re going to just be kind of hanging around bored, not really knowing what to do with our time, sort of twiddling our thumbs. But when you look at Revelation 22:3 it’s very clear, it says, “There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it,” and look what it say at the end, “and His bond-servants” that would be us, “will serve Him.” So think of the time period where you want to do something for the Lord, you have a passion to do something, maybe it’s a skill you want to develop or a problem you want to solve, or let’s say God has given you a passion for writing or artistry or something like that, and you just can’t really devote yourself to it because you have to work at another job that you really don’t like anyway, just to pay the bills. And why do we have to do that? Because the earth has been cursed, Genesis 3, where we have to make a living. Amen.
So we go through a lot of drudgery in this life doing things we really don’t want to do just to pay the bills, when we’d rather devote ourselves to our passion. So think of being in an environment where the curse is gone and you no longer have to work the ground to survive, and you’re free to just unleash yourself into whatever your passion is, in service to the Lord. And that’s what the eternal state is like. So it’s a life, I believe, of creativity, it’s a life of activity, it’s a life of service. And I think something else about the eternal state is it’s a life of unbroken fulfillment because when you look at Revelation 22:17 it says, “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.” So unbroken access to “the water of life.”
And I believe that part of that entails fulfilment, and I get a lot of that from John chapter 4 where Jesus had the encounter with the woman at the well. Remember that story? And He basically said, you know, if you drink from this water (referring to the well that she was at) you will thirst again, but if you drink from living water, which I can provide to you, you’ll never be thirsty again. [John 4:14, “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 a well of water springing up to eternal life.”] She had had five husbands and her current partner she wasn’t even married to so she had what, I think it’s what Blaise Pascal said is a God-shaped vacuum inside of her, a vacuum that only a relationship with God can fill.
And if people don’t have a relationship with God what do they do? They try to fill that void with something else. The two best substitutes, I would call them artificial substitutes, are power and pleasure, the two “p’s.” And so she didn’t have a relationship with God so she’s got this void in her life and she’s trying to fill it with promiscuity and things like that. And the problem is because you can only be satisfied in a relationship with God any artificial substitute you try still leaves you thirsty. So you have the sexual experience, you have the pleasure and then it’s short lived and it’s gone and you’ve got to go back for me. And that’s what Jesus was saying to her when He said if you keep going down this road you’re going to thirst again, but if you drink from the water that I give you you’ll never be thirsty.
So when this imagery is used in the eternal state to describe our unbroken access to the water of life without cost I think part of that is communicated to us that we’re going to have a life where there’s never that nagging emptiness anymore. There’s so much emptiness in us because we’re meant to have a relationship with God and we reject God and we try to fill it with other things but that’s no longer a problem. So you’re in a life which is totally optimized; you’re totally living within your design, which is really the only way to have a little contentment, right, or joy.
And it’s interesting that when Jesus spoke to the woman at the well He never told her to get her act… He never said, you know you need to really morally clean yourself up. And if there was ever an opportunity to tell her that, to get saved. He would have told her because coming to Christ is not I’ve got to clean myself up and come to Jesus; that’s not the gospel. The gospel is come to Jesus on His terms, let the Holy Spirit come into you, then once the Holy Spirit is inside of you do you know what the Holy Spirit starts to do? He starts to clean you up. But Jesus never makes cleaning yourself up as some kind of prerequisite to experience justification before God. There’s only one condition that has to be met which is to believe, which is a synonym that he’s using for her to receive the water of life.
So the Holy Spirit did come into her and the Holy Spirit did fulfill her and I believe over time her lifestyle changed but that wasn’t what she had to do on the front end to come to Christ. And so many times we are so eager to see people’s lifestyles change that we end up reaching a works gospel to them—don’t smoke, don’t chew, don’t go with girls who do, or things like that. Or we go to people that are caught up in the same sex movement and we say you need to renounce your homosexuality to come to Christ and the fact of the matter is there’s no such biblical criteria for justification; it’s to believe. Once you believe you receive the Spirit and guess what the Holy Spirit starts to do once you’re saved? He starts to bother you about your homosexuality, or your adultery or your drug abuse or your materialism and things like that.
So she experienced fulfillment through that and I think we experience total fulfillment and if you ever think that money is going to bring you fulfillment read the book by Randy Alcorn called Money, Possessions and Eternity. It’s the best book… I read it years ago and it’s the best book on money I’ve ever read. It’s a very biblically based book where he goes through every biblical passage on the subject of money and finances which might surprise you as a dominant theme in the Bible. It’s a very biblically based book where he goes through every biblical passage on the subject of money and finances which might surprise you is the dominant theme in the Bible. The Bible talks more about money than any other subject. And in that book he has quotes of the richest men that have ever lived and the quotes reveal how unhappy they were, whether it be Henry Ford or John Jacob Aster, all these guys, even Howard Hughes. You know Howard Hughes basically has four goals, he wanted to be number 1, the world’s richest man. Number 2, he wanted to be the world’s greatest aviator. Number 3 he wanted to be the world’s greatest movie producer. And number 4, he wanted to be the world’s greatest golfer. And here’s a guy that achieved three of the four in his life. He never got the golfer but the other three he achieved; at some point in his life he was the greatest in those three areas. And I watched the interview very carefully, you can find it on You tube, one of the last interviews of his life, the interviewer asked him point blank, “Howard, are you happy?” And he just comes right out and says no I am not, I am not happy.
So if you think that all these things are going to satisfy you talk to the people that have achieved those things because we’re built for a relationship with God. That’s the only thing that satisfies and that’s what the eternal state is. And think of also a time period when all of your needs, every single one of them is met; you have total satisfaction of every single need you can ever think of, physically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually.
If you look over, just for a minute at Revelation 7:16, which I think hints a little bit of the eternal state, it says, “They will hunger no longer nor thirst any more, nor will the nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat;  for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd,” and this is imagery right out of Psalm 23, He “will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.” Isn’t that great! Any need you could possibly think of in the eternal state is satisfied.
And to a certain extent it’s also a life of rest and if you look over at Revelation 14:13, which is also describing the eternal state it says, “And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, ‘Write, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.’” You say well Andy, you’re contradicting yourself because in number 2 there you told us we were going to be active. Now you’re telling us we’re having a life of rest so which is it? Well, you’re in a body that is uncontaminated by the fall so it won’t need any sleep, can you imagine that? It won’t need any recuperation, it won’t need any rejuvenation, and you’re no longer laboring to survive. See, labor and the institution of labor is a pre-fall institution. God gave to Adam and Eve labor, work; He wanted them to be productive. He told them in Genesis 2 to keep the ground, till the ground, that’s before the fall ever was introduced. [Genesis 2:15, “Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.”]
So labor, productivity, activity was always a design of God. What the fall changes, because now you have to work to survive. So think of yourself being in an environment where we don’t have to work to survive anymore because the old things have passed away and you’re able to channel your energy into whatever your passion is. And so yes, it’s a life of service but because the curse is gone and we don’t have to work to survive and we’re not in a body that needs constant rejuvenation through sleep it can all be described as a life of rest as well. So those two aren’t necessarily contradictory.
And think of a life where the frontiers of ignorance are peeled back and you have knowledge that you didn’t have before. Now I’m not arguing here that we become omniscient because only God is omniscient, but the scientists all tell us that we only use a fraction of our minds. Think of your mind completely activated and able to go down paths and directions it’s not able to go down right now. And think of a time period where so many nagging questions that we have about things suddenly are answered, just like that! And you say well where are you getting this from? Over in 1 Corinthians 13:12 I think there’s a reference to it. 1 Corinthians 13:12 of eternity says, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.”
And it also says in verse 13, “But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is” what? “love.” See right now with fragmented knowledge, because we don’t see Christ face to face, we have to trust Him. Right? So what muscle is being worked in us? The faith muscle. And so since I don’t see Christ face to face right now I have to operate in hope that what I’m going to one day receive I will receive. But think of seeing Jesus Christ face to face; you no longer have to believe because He’s right there in front of you. You no longer have to have hope because you’ve entered glory. See that? So faith becomes irrelevant in the eternal state; hope becomes irrelevant, but what will always continue, of the three? Love always continues.
So that’s why He says “But now faith, hope and love abide, these three, but the greatest of these three is love.” He’s telling the Corinthians here to focus on love because they’re using their spiritual gifts in an unloving way, when you study the book of 1 Corinthians because love is something that never disappears. There is even a time in history where faith isn’t necessary nor is hope necessary.
So once you’re in that condition the fragmented knowledge that you have is erased and all of these nagging questions about why did I lose that job and why did I get that bad report on the doctor’s report and why did my best friend die of leukemia and why did my child get hit in the crosswalk and why are there drive-by shootings, I mean, all of those things are answered. Well, you’re not struggling with those things any more. I mean, right now we’re struggling with those things by the design of God because He wants us to walk by faith. But think of a time period where all of those questions are answered. I mean, think of a time period where there’s not even theological debates any more. I mean one side says the sovereignty of God; the other says the free will of man. Nobody can reconcile that, it’s an unsolvable problem. Well, think of living in a time period where the whole thing suddenly makes sense to you. And so the frontiers of ignorance are pushed back and knowledge… I don’t think we become omniscient but the small use of our minds that we have right now suddenly that mind is enhanced and we understand things we couldn’t understand before.
So the eternal state will be a time period of knowledge. Will we know everything there? I don’t think so but you’re going to know a lot more there than you know here. Amen. That’s why now we’re looking dimly into a mirror, a glass, but then face to face. And it’s also a life characterized by authority, you know, your destine as a child of God for authority. You know, we’re ruling and reigning alongside Christ in the millennium but because the Davidic throne continues the authority of God continues and so does our delegated reign under God.
If you look over at Revelation 22:5 it says there, “And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them;” and look at this, “and they will reign” that’s authority, the “they” is us, “they will reign for” how long? “forever and ever.” So think of a life of unbroken authority. Think of a life of unbroken worships to God. Take a look at Revelation 7:11-12. You know, a lot of people, they don’t like to worship the Lord. How do I know that? Because I see them out there in the lobby drinking coffee while everybody else is singing, they just come in for the sermon; singing to the Lord is really not something that’s a big priority to them. Well, you’d better get used to worship and you’d better get used to singing because the eternal state is characterized by unbroken worship.
Revelation 7:11-12 says, “And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders” now I think the elders is a reference to the church there, for a lot of reasons, “and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God,  saying, “Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” So the elders there are worshipping God forever and ever.
And what do we worship God for anyway? Well, there’s two reasons we worship God. The first one is in Revelation 4:11, there again it talks, verse 10, about the twenty-four elders. [Revelation 4:10, “the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying,”] And then it talks about what they’re saying in worship.  “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You” what’s the next word, it starts with a “c,” “created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.”
The first reason we worship God is He’s our Creator and this is why the theory of evolution is such an assault on the glory of God because it tries to explain creation (without God) as some kind of spontaneous accident. And then the second reason we worship God is in Revelation 5. The first reason is in Revelation 4, the second reason is in Revelation 5. And if you look at Revelation 5:9 it says, “And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy” that’s worship, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” In other words, the second reason they worshipped God is because He’s not only their Creator but He’s their Redeemer. And if you’re the Creator and the Redeemer, if you spoke the universe into existence, and then you died and paid a penalty to redeem the earth through the horrific death on the cross and the resurrection, which is what we’re celebrating this week, then you don’t have any higher credentials than that, do you? I mean, if someone is your Creator and your Redeemer is there a higher office than that? I can’t think of one.
And so this is why we worship the Lord. We don’t worship the Lord because we want the liver quiver of the day. I don’t worship the Lord because oh, they’re singing my favorite song today, I think I’ll get in there, I don’t like that contemporary stuff anyway. Or the younger folks saying I don’t like the traditional stuff, I want the contemporary stuff. And it’s all about me, me, me, me, me, me, me, my preferences when the reality of the situation is you ought to worship the Lord if they sing any song, whether you like the song or don’t like the song that’s irrelevant. You worship the Lord in spirit and truth because He deserves it, worthy are Thou because He’s the Creator and the Redeemer. So worship really has nothing to do with my feeling of the day or whether I want to do it, it’s something that God naturally deserves because of His credentials as Creator and Redeemer. And I think in our worship wars we lose sight of this really fast. If becomes about my preferences, I’ll worship the Lord if I get my preferences met. And I think in the process we’ve lost sight of what actual worship is.
By the way, worship is a response to truth. You hear the truth of the Word of God, that He’s your creator, you hear the truth of the Word of God that He’s your Redeemer, the truth hits you and the only thing you can do is explode into praise to God. That’s what’s reasonable. And so I think in our evangelical church services we’ve got the order backwards because usually worship is looked at as the warm up act for the preacher. Let’s get everybody in the right mood so the preacher can preach when actually when you look at this biblically maybe we should do the sermon first because worship is a response to truth, because it’s through truth that you discover who He is,. As Creator/Redeemer, and then worship is just the opportunity to respond in song to what He’s done.
So the eternal state, I believe, is unbroken worship. No worship wars, no fights between the generations, no battle between contemporary music versus traditional music, all of these things that we’re so preoccupied with today in the American church are a thing of the past. You’re in the presence of Jesus Christ, you totally recognize who He is as your Creator and Redeemer and the only thing you know how to do is worship Him.
And did you know you’re going to experience this whole thing in a glorified body? By the way, it’s still you but you’re going to look a lot better and I’m going to look a lot better because it’s the body as it’s intended, with the curse pulled out of it. Because our body is under a curse, right? Remember Genesis 3:19, “From dust you are, to dust you shall return.” The body started to deteriorate the moment our forbearers sinned, so we’re in bodies that are deteriorating. And as I like to tell people, if you don’t believe this then just break out your high school yearbook tonight and compare it to your modern day driver’s license picture and you’ll see that your body’s deteriorating. So think of being in a body, it’s still you, it’s still your body but the curse has been totally removed and so it’s a very physical existence. So are we just going to be kind of ghosts and spirits in heaven? Or are we going to have actual bodies and the answer is you’re going to have an actual physical body.
And if you look over at 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 there’s a contrast there between your current body and the body, what it will be like one day, once we enter eternity. Your current body is earthly, your next body will be heavenly. It’s still a physical body but it has heavenly qualities. [1Corinthians 15:42, “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body;  it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power;  it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.”]
It’s patterned in 1 Corinthians 15, I think verse 49 talks about this, 1 John 3:2 talks about this, it’s patterned after Christ’s resurrected body. [1 Corinthians 15:49, “Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.” 1 John 3:2, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.”]
So there are two occasions in John’s Gospel where the disciples are locked in the Upper Room, afraid, John is very clear in John 20 that the doors are locked, and two times, on different days Jesus comes into the Upper Room. Now how in the world did He get into the Upper Room when the doors were locked? Well, He got in the Upper Room because He’s in a new body that’s not bound by the same limitations of this body. A door is not a problem, a locked door, a wall, is not a problem. Something is changed in the body at the molecular level. I’m not sure how you would explain this scientifically but it doesn’t have the limitations that your current body has. So it’s obviously a physical body because Thomas touched Christ’s hands. Right. And Jesus had a meal with the disciples in His resurrected body.
But at the same time it’s a heavenly body because the normal laws that govern this body are no longer applicable. The current body is weak, amen. What are you guys going to do when you get home tonight? You’re going to fall asleep. (Some of you probably have fallen asleep already.) Why? Because your body needs rejuvenation. And when you get up in the morning if you’re a coffee drinker you’ll probably load up with coffee. My wife told me I only get one cup of coffee per day, so I went and bought this great big cup because I need that extra jolt. So this body is very weak, the next body you won’t even need to sleep, you won’t even need to visit Starbucks. This body is perishing, the next body is imperishable. This body is portrayed in the Bible as lowly.
And I think we ought to take care of this body as best we can. Paul talks about how bodily exercise profiteth little, so it profits some but it doesn’t profit a lot because the current body under a curse is still deteriorating even if you have the best diet in the world and the best exercise in the world. You say well, you don’t understand, I drink that green stuff every single morning. Okay, you have a green decaying body. And I have pumped the weights, and okay, you’ve got a muscular decaying body. I mean, diet and exercise, and I’m trying to turn over a new leaf in some of that, I’m not against that but what I’m saying is the only thing that does is it postpones the inevitable; that’s what it does. You’re going right back into the dirt from which you came even if you’re a member of a lifetime fitness and all that stuff.
This body is lowly, the next body is glorious. This body is natural, the next body has a spiritual quality. Now you all know this story of this lady, don’t you? Joni Erikson Tada, it’s an incredibly heartbreaking and at the same time sort of heartwarming story where she, as a teenager, dove off the pier (I think it was) in Chesapeake Bay, she didn’t see a rock submerged beneath the water, she dove in, her head as a teenager struck that rock and she spent her whole live in a wheel chair, basically paralyzed from the neck down. And through it all she never renounced Christ and she actually has a ministry all over the world through her writings and her interviews, TV appearances, conferences and things she does. And it’s just an incredible story and you can imagine what a promise like this is to someone like Joni Erikson Tada, that one of these days she is going to be out of that body where she’s currently incarcerated and her body will experience the fullness that it was always intended to have. So this is one of the reasons she has been able to survive through this trial because she has the hope of prophecy, she recognizes that her current circumstances, as severe as they are, I wouldn’t wish this on anybody, are still temporary.
And it’s also a life where there are no consequences of sin. If you go over to Revelation 22:2 it says, “in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month;” and look at this, I love this, “and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” So think of the nations that came into existence at the tower of Babel and how these nations have been at war with each other for all of this time. And so nations, you know, have to spend massive amounts of money to build up its armament. We just saw that, that was one of the arguments that was used to pass the omnibus bill. We’ve got to do this for the military because our military is weak, so we have to spend trillions of dollars on military things. Well, think of a time period where military isn’t even needed anymore. And you can take all that money and spend it somewhere else, invest it somewhere else. Why is that? Because the eternal state is a time period where the consequences of sin are removed. The nations are in a total state of healing.
You know, consequences follow sin like night follows the day. You can pick your sin but you can’t pick your consequences. And that’s what our young people need to understand; yeah, you can go out and sin and do all this stuff but there’s going to be a lot of consequences that are going to show up in your life that you don’t get to pick. And think of what David experienced when he committed murder, first adultery and then murder, adultery with Bathsheba then murder of Uriah, the Hittite, 2 Samuel 11. Think of all of the consequences that David went through because of that moment of sin. Think of being confronted by the prophet Nathan. Think of the sword never departing from his household as Nathan predicted. Think of the death of his son that came into existence through this illegitimate union and David, he got to pick his sin but he didn’t get to pick the consequences.
And so you can imagine living in a time period where the consequences of sin are removed because there’s no more sin and the nations are no longer at war with each other but are in a perpetual state of healing. And then probably my favorite part of the eternal state is that it is what? It is eternal, that’s why they call it the eternal state. It’s not like a dispensation which runs its course and then it’s over; even the thousand year kingdom doesn’t last forever, but the eternal state, as we’ve been describing it lasts forever.
Revelation 22:2 says, “in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; [and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.’” Let me go back to verse 2 in a second. Verse 5 says, “And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign” for how long? “forever and ever.” So the eternal state just goes on and on and on and on and on and on.
This is our future in God, which raises an interesting question that I alluded to earlier—is there going to be time in heaven? I mean, are there going to be watches, are there going to be calendars. I used to say no, I used to just boldly say the eternal state is timeless, the concept of time will disappear. But my problem is verse 2 which I read a second ago and at the beginning of this study where it talks about the tree of life bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every what? Every month! Isn’t a month an increment of time?
Who started increments of time? Who started the concept of seasons and years and months and calendars and decades and centuries? I used to think man came up with that but when you got back to original creation, Genesis 1:14, and it mentions day four, when was man created? Day what? Day six, so two days before man ever existed this is what God says. Genesis 1:14, “Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and” for what? “for years;” so seasons, days, years, exist on day four before man is created on day six. So man obviously didn’t come up with time or increments of time. I mean, increments of time is something that God came up with.
So therefore it’s really not surprising, is it, to learn in Revelation 22:2 that the tree of life bearing its fruit in months. [Revelation 22:2, “in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”] So I think increments of time still continue. But what’s different about the eternal state is that there’s no fixed duration; the eternal state never ends, it just goes on and on forever.
So we’ve looked at the eternal state’s description and I just want to cover one last thing. This may be the most important and I can do this very fast. How do you get into the eternal state exactly? I read this and I really don’t feel like I belong there, and the reason I don’t feel like I belong there is this is a holy environment. Revelation 21:8, Revelation 21:27 says nothing unclean will ever enter. [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.” Revelation 21:27, “and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”]
And that creates a problem for me because I’m a sinner by nature. So I don’t really belong, so how do I get in? I can’t get in by my own righteousness can I. Philippians 3:9 is your passport in. [Philippians 3:9, “and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,”] You know, when you travel internationally, recently I’ve been in Germany, Australia, Canada, I’m going back to Canada twice this year, I’m going to Greece, Jerusalem, Rome, I mean, when you travel internationally what you figure out real fast is your driver’s license doesn’t help you. What helps you is your passport. If you don’t have your passport you’re in a lot of trouble, you can’t get in, and in some cases you can’t get out.
So the question is: well, what’s your passport into the eternal state, since you can’t get there through your own righteousness if it’s holy and we’re unrighteous by nature? Philippians 3:9 is your passport. In Philippians 3:9 Paul says, “and may be found in Him,” watch this now, “not having a righteousness of my own” you see that? “not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through” what? “faith in Christ,” watch this, “the righteousness which comes from” where? “God…” “the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,” and that’s what you call imputed righteousness, transferred righteousness, righteous which is not yours but comes from another source.
Martin Luther, the great church Reformer, called this alien righteousness. You know what alien means. Alien righteousness is righteousness coming from another source that doesn’t belong to you. And that’s what you get in Christ. The moment you trust Christ you get His righteousness, positionally, in exchange for your own righteousness. And I’m not planning on beating down the door into the eternal state with my own self-righteousness, I’m planning on getting in, my passport in through the alien righteousness of Christ.
And most of you I know, a few I don’t, but it’s possible someone could come here today and really have never… this is a new idea to them and they’ve never heard this before. And that’s why at this church we like to preach the gospel with great frequency. We want people to be given the opportunity to trust in Christ, have faith in Christ, to get this alien righteousness. And trusting in Christ is something you can do where you are; it’s a matter of privacy between you and the Lord where the Spirit convicts you of your need to do this and you respond by trusting in Him. And the moment you trust in Christ is the moment the righteousness that belongs only to Jesus is transferred to your account forever. And God looks at you just like He looks at Jesus. Isn’t that an amazing thing. If you’re “in Christ” God is looking at you just like He looks at Jesus. And you say well, I certainly don’t deserve that. That’s the whole point, that’s why it’s called alien righteousness, a righteousness that’s not my own Paul says. And if you don’t have that you can’t get into the eternal state, so that’s your ticket in.
So those are the things that we’ve looked at with the eternal state and that takes us to the very end of the Bible and there’s more to come believe it or not, even though we’ve exhausted the Bible, because I’m going to be showing you some other things beginning next week about the church fathers, how they totally concurred with the viewpoint I’m presenting here. This is not some weird view, that the kingdom is future. And then we’ll be getting into some Scripture that people abuse to argue that we’re in the kingdom now and then we’ll also be looking at why does it matter, because if you get the kingdom wrong, as many do, it opens up the door to almost every false doctrine you can imagine. I believe that that every false doctrine that has ever come into the church is related to a misunderstanding about the kingdom. So we’ll be connecting the dots on that. So we’re sort of finished with the tour of the Bible in terms of the kingdom. So we’ll stop here and let people go, if they need to pick up their kids or whatnot.