Ultimate Destiny — Eternal Life or Second Death — Rev. 21:1-8

Introduction to study of book of Genesis – Book of Beginnings – Book of Origins

Overall introduction and discussion of structure next week

Gen. 1:1  In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Tremendous statement of global truth – foundational to so much of our understanding of man’s relationship to God; yet a truth that is almost universally rejected today by the unsaved in our culture who have come to accept the brainwashing of the theory of evolution – in fact a multitude of Christians probably struggle with this concept of divine creation as well.

Can’t really deal with ultimate origins without also dealing with ultimate destiny;

We always like to pick a key verse to focus on as our verse for the year for Solid Rock Community Church – that is what takes us to Rev. 21:6 today and its overall context which is verses 1-8

UNDERSTANDING ULTIMATE DESTINY SHOULD CREATE A THIRST FOR THE FREE GIFT OF ETERNAL LIFE THAT ONLY JESUS CHRIST CAN GIVE

I.  (:1-5a) VISION OF THE ULTIMATE DESTINY OF GOD’S PEOPLE – ENJOYING FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD IN NEW JERUSALEM IN A NEW HEAVEN AND NEW EARTH

A1.  (:1)  New Creation Replacing Original Creation

  1. Appearance of New Creation

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth;

Emphasis on newness – not like what had come before it

Cf. Is. 65:17; 66:22

Placed chronologically here after the Millennial Kingdom and after the Great White Throne Judgment –

Walvoord: Only a few other passages in the Bible deal with the subject of the new heaven and the new earth, and these are often in a context dealing with the millennium (cf. Isa. 65:17; 66:22; II Peter 3:13).  The fact that millennial truths are mentioned in the same context in all three of these major references has often confused expositors.  However, it is a common principle in prophecy to bring together events that are distantly related chronologically, such as frequent reference to the first and second comings of Christ … or various resurrections …

The eternal state is clearly indicated in the absence of sea, for frequent mention of bodies of water occur in millennial passages (cf. Ps. 72:8; Isa. 11:9, 11; Ezek. 47:10, 15, 17, 18, 20;  48:28; Zech. 9:10; 14:8).

[telescoping effect we discussed often in our study of book of Isaiah]

  1. Disappearance of Original Creation

for the first heaven and the first earth passed away,

where we get the English word prototype

  1. Transformation of Basic Structure

and there is no longer any sea.

Large body of water in contrast to land – present in abundance at original creation

About 71 percent of the Earth’s surface is water-covered, and the oceans hold about 96.5 percent of all Earth’s water.  Average depth is 2.3 miles deep.

MacArthur: The sea is emblematic of the present water-based environment.  All life on earth is dependent on water for its survival.  But believers’ glorified bodies will not require water (unlike our present human bodies, whose blood is 90 percent water).  The new heaven and the new earth will be based on a completely different life principle.

Chris Benfield: I believe that John rejoiced in the removal of separation. He was on the Isle of Patmos when he penned these words, secluded and removed from those he loved. In God’s new creation we will never be lonely or despaired again.

Tony Garland: Some suggest the sea is omitted from the eternal state because of its negative connotation.

  • It was the sea, overflowing with rain and the fountains of the deep, which judged the world at the flood (Gen. 7:11).
  • The sea covered Pharaoh and his army at the Exodus (Ex. 14:28).
  • Leviathan, the fleeing serpent who would be slain, made his home in the sea (Isa. 27:1).
  • The wicked are compared to the troubled sea (Isa. 57:20).
  • The four vicious Gentile powersseen by Daniel arose from the sea ( 7:3+).
  • The final beastly ruler, the Antichristarose out of the sea (Rev. 13:1+).

Another possibility is that the sea represents the need of cleansing due to sin which will no longer be necessary in the eternal state.

The lack of sea in the eternal state offers a helpful guide when interpreting the OT. In passages describing times of great blessing, if the sea is mentioned, then we know the passage cannot relate to the eternal state, but must describe conditions of the Millennial Kingdom.

B1.  (:2)  New Jerusalem Prepared as a Holy and Righteous Bride

  1. Nature of New Jerusalem

And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem,

Tony Garland: The holy city is also called the holy Jerusalem (Rev. 21:10+). Throughout Scripture, Jerusalem is considered holy, although at times she plays the harlot (Isa. 1:21). Jerusalem is called the “city of the great King” (Ps. 48:2), “city of God” (Ps. 87:3), “the faithful city” (Isa. 1:21), and the “holy city” (Isa. 52:1). Joel predicted, concerning her final state: “Jerusalem shall be holy, and no aliens shall ever pass through her again” (Joel 3:17). Anyone who takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy will have his part in the holy city taken away (Rev. 22:19+).

essential nature is that of Holiness and righteousness – consistent with the character of God; how different from the wicked world in which we live

saints of all ages involved; not just NT church believers – common metaphor in the Bible – can be used with multiple applications – here it refers to all the people of God and their dwelling place for all eternity

MacArthur: the third city named Jerusalem in redemptive history.  The first is the historic Jerusalem, the City of David which currently exists in Palestine.  The second Jerusalem will be the restored Jerusalem where Christ will rule during the millennial kingdom. . .

In his vision, John saw the “new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,” its “architect and builder” (Hebrews 11:10).  The implication is that it already exists (Hebrews 12:22-23).  All of heaven is currently contained in the new Jerusalem.  It is separate from the present universe.

  1. Origin of New Jerusalem

coming down out of heaven from God,

not man-made; no human kingdom produced this state

  1. Role of New Jerusalem

made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.

Perfect passive participles – “made ready” and “adorned

  • Passive because the bride did not do this work herself; this is the work of God
  • Perfect – work that was accomplished in the past with abiding results
  1. Connotation of Beauty
  2. Connotation of Union
  3. Connotation of Majesty
  4. Connotation of Joy

      C.  (:3)  God Dwelling in Fellowship and Blessing with His People

And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is  among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His            people, and God  Himself shall be among them,’

Walvoord: last of 21 times in book of Revelation that mention is made of a great or loud voice; subsequent revelation is important and authoritative

Why did God create man and a perfect environment for man in the Garden of Eden in the first place?  So God could walk with man and fellowship with him

Greek words used in the LXX for tent of meeting or tabernacle of God

Cf. John 1:14 – “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us

Cf. name Immanuel = God with us

Gaebelein: In Eden God visited man unfallen, walked and talked with Him. Then sin severed this fellowship. He dwelt in the midst of Israel in the holiest of the tabernacle. In this age the Church is His habitation by the Spirit, but the blessed consummation in the eternal state will result in God dwelling with His redeemed creatures. What holy, glorious, never-ending intimacy that will be! It is the time when God is all in all (1 Corinthians 15:28).

Tony Garland: Of all the things which God could say concerning the blessings attending the eternal state, why is this emphasized by being the first? Because it is the greatest blessing found in all of Scripture. In this promise is found the culmination of the scarlet thread of redemption which runs from Genesis through Revelation. This has been the great purpose of the Kinsman-Redeemer, Jesus Christ.  Since the rebellion of Adam, every tabernacle, every Temple, every correspondence between God and man has been with this ultimate goal in mind: the restoration of full fellowship between God and man.

B2.  (:4)  Joy of Holiness and Righteousness Replacing Sorrow Associated with Sin and  

   with Suffering for Christ

and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the            first things have   passed away.”

Tremendous promise that gives us hope – why do people want to hold on to the things of this world?  Any type of materialistic spirit should be obliterated by this promise; our desire is for the first things to pass away and be replaced by something far superior

Alan Carr:

1.  No sadness – Wipe = obliterate, erase, blot out, wipe out!  No cause for tears!

2.  No Separation – No more untimely separations by death!

3.  No Sorrow –  No Mourning – No more broken hearts!

4.  No Suffering – No more hurts, no more labors, no more longings!

A2.  (:5a)  Sovereign God Trumpets His New Creation

And He who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’

Tone of Sovereignty of God throughout this passage – same is true for book of Genesis as a whole – God sits on the throne and is in control of His universe

II.  (:5b-8) PROMISE OF ULTIMATE DESTINY – EITHER ETERNAL LIFE OR SECOND DEATH

A.  (:5b) Certainty of the Promise

And He said, ‘Write, for these words are faithful and true.’

The scriptures contain only that which is faithful and true and can be relied upon;

God communicates His ideas and thoughts in specific language – not in some type of vague feelings or mystic imaginations – verbal, plenary inspiration

B.  (:6a) Central Figure Who Controls Eternity

And He said to me, ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega,

        the beginning and the end.’

What is done?  Work of bringing into existence this new order – seen as already accomplished —

The perfect tense emphasizes the completion of the task of creating the new order and the ongoing effects of that creative act which continue into the present as seen by John.

Reminds us of Christ’s similar proclamation from the cross as the work of accomplishing redemption was completed and He fulfilled His earthly mission at His first coming.

Same title – 4 instances  – Rev. 1:8, 11; 22:13 – 2 at beginning and ending of the book

Significance of this title:

  • The first word and the last word
  • The originator of all things and the terminator of all things
  • All things find their focus in Christ and consist in Him
  • Eternality of Jesus Christ

William Barclay: The word for beginning is arche, and it does not simply mean first in point of time, as something is in the first place of a series.  It means first in the sense of the source and origin of all things.  It means that God is the source and the origin from which all things draw their being; it means that all things have their beginning, their birth, their creation, their origin, their coming into being in and through God.  The word for end is telos, and it does not simply mean end in point of time, the last thing in a series.  It means the goal, the consummation, that in which things come to their completing and their ending.  John is saying that all life begins in God and all life ends in God.  Man comes from God and man goes to God.  Paul expressed the same thing when he said perhaps a little more philosophically: “Of Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things” (Romans 11:36), and when he spoke of “one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:6).  For all men, God is the source of being in which they begin and the final goal to which inevitably they go.

J Hampton Keathley III: Though the new creation is still in the future, these words solidly affirm the creation of all things new as though already accomplished. And what’s the basis of this? The sovereign independence and eternality of God as the Alpha and Omega, the first and last word on all things.

C.  (:6b-8) Contrasting Destinies

  1. (:6b-7)  Promise of Eternal Life

a.  Free Gift for Those Who Humbly Desire It – Divine Sovereignty

                                    “I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.

Key elements of the gospel here:

  • Salvation comes only from Christ
  • Person must sense their need for salvation – must be a hunger and thirst
  • Christ has abundant provision from the spring of the water of life (John 4:14; 7:37-39)
  • By grace apart from works – freely given without cost

Tony Garland: This is the essential difference between religion and relationship. Religion looks to find, in the puny self effort of man, something of value to present before God by which man may be justified. Relationship sees man’s utter incapability and throws itself upon the grace and mercy of God, accepting that which God has already provided as a remedy. Self-righteousness, which is no real righteousness, is the primary stumbling block leading to God for it recoils at the idea that restoration to God is completely without cost.

That’s why the great gospel chorus proclaims: “Nothing in my hand I bring; simply to the cross I cling” – Not “Something in my hand I bring …”

b.  Secure Inheritance for Overcomers – Human Responsibility

                                    “He who overcomes shall inherit these things,

not 2 groups of Christians as Dillow would try to theorize: those who overcome and inherit kingdom rewards and those who are carnal and just get into the kingdom of heaven; all believers are overcomers by God’s grace and all inherit the promises

1 John 5:4-5  those who trust in Jesus are overcomers by His grace

c.  Family Fellowship with the Sovereign God – Eternal Security

                                    “and I will be his God and he will be My son.

That is why we emphasize that salvation is about a personal relationship with God

Why would we ever resort to idolatry – to setting up something in our lives that is a rival to God in terms of our allegiance and emotional attachment and devotion?

We have an eternal relationship with the one, true God.

  1. (:8)  Promise of Second Death

a.  Description of the Character and Practice of the Wicked

                                    “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars,

Tony Garland: Jesus told the Pharisees, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. . . . there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44). The coming of the lawless one, the Antichrist, was with all power, signs and lying wonders (2Th. 2:9). Those who continue to lie will ultimately fall prey themselves to lies: they will not come to the truth (2Th. 2:11-12). Eventually, their own conscience becomes seared (1Ti. 4:2). All who reject salvation are ultimately liars: “Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ?” (1Jn. 2:22). The truth of God has been made known to men through general revelation, but men actively suppress the truth (lie) in unrighteousness. Knowing the truth, they promote false ideas such as God doesn’t exist or that His existence cannot be known (Rom. 1:18).

b.  Description of the Destiny of the Wicked

                                    “their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.

CONCLUSION:

2 Peter 3 – Live for Eternity