Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Return of Jesus Christ & the New Jerusalem


"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." -C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, New York, Macmillan, 1960, p. 119.

This life is short. Anything can happen. Our bodies function for a certain number of years, and then we die. Life can seem very difficult at times. Life can seem great at times, and we’re happy. Life is a strange thing. We walk around in these mechanical bodies working jobs, driving cars, getting married, making babies, walking about hustling and bustling to do this or that on this mud covered sphere flying through the void of space at thousands of miles per hour. You’ve got the moon, the stars at night, the clouds and sun during the day. It’s quite odd.

We do many things in life. We try many things. We work, we wonder, and we dream. And we yearn for something more.

I always had a yearning within. Even when I was very young, me and my sister would do little more than play all day. But after a few years I began to ache, just slightly at the end of the day, and think to myself: Is this all life is? The best way I could describe it is that it’s like the day after Christmas. There’s been this great build up for all these gifts I’d thought I’d wanted, that I thought would fulfill me, and they’ve just let me down.

In the same way, using marijuana, or speed, or getting drunk, I’ve done those things. And eventually after a few years your just waiting for the hangover, or your waiting for the “come down.” You can hardly enjoy it anymore. Because increasingly every day there is growing sense of meaninglessness. There is a growing sense of frustration, as time and again and again and again, I set a goal for myself, I set a desire, a product, a relationship, a marriage, a trip, a season, as my ultimate, that somehow when I reach this point finally, finally finally everything is going to be ok. But that moment never comes. It’s always a let down, and I’m disappointed beyond belief. What a cruel reality, and how frustrating after 50 tries, after 100 tries, after 500 tries.

The true story is told of Deion Sanders, a hall of fame corner back who played for the Dallas Cowboys. He had just won the superbowl. He’d had a great game. He was back at the hotel with superbowl ring. And he was on the phone ordering a new Lamborghini. He set down the foot and a very, very disturbing feeling fell over him. Meaninglessness, he had just achieved every goal he had set, and there was nothing. Just emptiness. In the hotel room, Deion Sanders fell down onto his knees, and called out to Jesus Christ.

All we seek after, the fame, the glory, the relationships, the perfect marriage… it all fails to satisfy that sacred yearning.

That yearning is eternity, set up the human heart by God almighty. It is why we ache for something we’ve never had, a perfect timeless existence in full connection to God almighty. I fall into that too, thinking about the perfect romantic relationship. Maybe then my depression will go away, maybe then my tiredness will fade, maybe then I won’t feel lonely at night. But it isn’t true. Only God can satisfy that eternity, because he has placed it upon our hearts, as a desire for a new world. We have within a sacred desire for life without boundaries, for perfect justice, for perfect love, and for a perfect world. Does it make sense to you? If nothing in this world satisfies me, then I must be made for another world.

As Christians we believe that Jesus Christ the son of God came to Earth, that he died a replacement death for us, he died in our place on the cross, to redeem us in God’s eyes. Jesus then resurrected from the dead bodily. And he returned to heaven. As Christians we believe Jesus Christ will return to collect us, his people, and give us all the promises he has made.

Revelation 22:12-17 “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”

17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life."

Jesus answers our call for eternity, the desperate desire within all of us for something greater when he says “I am the alpha and the omega. I am the first and the last. I am the beginning and the end.” What an astounding statement, to save that he is all. He is the answer to the yearnings of our deep souls. We’re made in the image of God, making this limiting world quite exhausting, sad for us, we’re like teenager on a kindergarten playground. We’re capable of much more, desiring of greater things, yet stuck on the monkey bars. For now.

Because Jesus Christ is coming back. And when he returns, he will do many wonderful things. We’ll talk about that in a minute, first, let’s look at our apologetic moment.

1. The universe exists and it must have a cause, everything that begins to exist has a cause. The universe began to exist. Evolution can't create, neither can science. The universe needs a first cause that is timeless, outside the system and infinitely powerful. God is the logical first cause (cosmological argument)

2. The universe is finely tuned, there is order in the universe at work that allows for planets, stars and galaxies. There are laws in the universe, constants like gravity, relativity, and so on. It's reasonable that when we find mathematical laws and cosmological laws in the universe, that there is a powerful being that created those systems (argument from design)

3. Within the human cell we find massive amounts of information. When we look at the human eye, we see a system so incredibly complicated that it could never come about by chance. When scientists look into the human body they see a complex yet harmonious system of machinery. We see cells and tissue, and DNA and systems that all function as one, and are irreducibly complex. (specified complexity, irreducibly complexity).

4. The human mind intuitively knows that there is good and evil, right and wrong, good and bad. Objective moral laws exist, they are universal. If objective morals exist, then an objective moral law giver must exist, therefore God exists. (moral argument)

So to review, Jesus came the first time to offer himself as a sacrifice to save us, but this return of Christ has to do with rewarding those who are waiting for him.

We await our savior. We await the great chance to be with Him forever. So we must be careful that we continue in the faith. Jesus has entrusted us with his gospel, and he requires of us that we share it with others. Do you recall the parable of the 3 servants? Each of the servants were good stewards of the gifts the master gave them, aside from the 3rd servant who simply buried his gift and didn’t make any use of it.

Again, think of the parable of the ten virgins. 5 of them were prepared, 5 of them were foolish. The master took a long time to return, and they fell asleep. They didn’t bring enough oil to keep their lamps lit. So they were not able to enter the kingdom. The master told them “I don’t know you.” Those words terrify me. The parable of the ten virgins has always scared me. The last words say “Therefore keep watch, because you don’t know the day or the hour.”

I’m hoping after hoping to hear some very sweet simple words from my savior: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Faithful, and good. Interesting combination. We live by faith, yet we must also try our best to live in holiness.

In the future, we die, or perhaps in our lifetime, Jesus Christ returns. Either way, we meet Jesus face to face. Whether you believe in God or not, you will see God face to face. Every person will. I feel sorry for those killed in the Orlando shooting, because they may find themselves hearing the words “I don’t know you.” I can’t judge, only God knows for certain. But I can examine and discern the truth.

If we are found faithful and good in the eyes of Christ Jesus, we will be rewarded for our good deeds, at an event called the great white throne judgment. Some might say “oh judgment, Jesus wouldn’t judge anybody.”

"Well, actually, he will judge everyone. And to add to that, do you not know you will judge angels?" -1st Corinthians 6:3. Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!

But for those of us who know Christ as our savior and Lord, there is no judgment for us, there is only reward, glory, honor, praise and riches in heaven. For those outside the cross, there will be judgment. And I’m glad for that, because God is a perfectly righteous judge. I’m certain every judgment he makes, the smallest, to the greatest will be 100% just, and right, and deserving.

Judgment offends our modern sensibilities. But judgment is a good thing when done by God. I trust Him. The return of Jesus Christ shows us a whole new side of our savior. Jesus while on earth 2,000 years ago lived a life of radical service, he was meek, lowly, and merciful. The returning Jesus Christ, we see is powerful, strong, and a warrior.

Revelation 19:11-16 “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: king of kings and lord of lords. -Revelation 19:11-16 NIV

So we make the cut, we’re a precious friend of Jesus and we’re welcomed into a new state of existence. Many things must come to pass in the end times before that can happen. We’re not going to get too much into that today. We’re going to talk about the city of God.

The scriptures say that our current reality, this Earth and the stars, all of it are destined for fire, for destruction. And in Revelation it says that then comes a new heavens, and a new Earth. And a new city, called the New Jerusalem. Our eternal home, in the next life, will be the city called New Jerusalem.

Now let me tell you about this city, it is really something special. It will amaze you. The New Jerusalem is a city, are you ready for your mind to be blown? God’s eternal city is a giant cube, about 1500 miles wide and 1500 miles high. That gives the New Jerusalem an area of 2.25 million square miles.

This is an approximation of the size of the city when compared with Earth as it is right now. Simply astounding.

Revelation says the city will literally come out of the heavens. Almost like a ship, landing on the new Earth. Revelation 21:11 says the city shined with the glory and presence of God.

Now every once in a while we get a tiny taste of the presence of God. Sometimes when I’m leading Bible study, or preaching or praying at night, I get a sensation of the true presence of God. And it’s the most amazing feeling ever, and I wish it would stay, but it always flees. That’s how things are in this life, in the fall of man. But in the eternal city, the full presence of God will be everywhere. The city has twelve foundations on each foundation is written the names of the 12 apostles of Christ and 12 entrances along the sides, marked with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel.

The walls were made of jasper, which is a beautiful red stone. And the city itself is made of gold. The twelve foundations are decorated with all sorts of precious stones, like topaz, emerald, ruby, and amethyst. The twelve gates were each made from a single, giant pearl. Thus the old adage, the “pearly gates.” Literally, the gates to New Jerusalem, your future home, will be pure pearl.

I won’t you to think about that, and picture yourself touching the gate with your hand. Because God willing, one day you will. You really will.

There is no temple necessary in the city, because the city itself is God’s temple. And you live there! Nothing impure will ever enter the city. The nations will come into the city, aka the gentiles. Who are gentiles? We are gentiles. Finally it says in Revelation 21 that the city has no need for moon, stars or sun, because God himself lights the city.

The angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. –Revelation 22:1-5 NIV

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