Tuesday: The New Jerusalem
The biblical description of the New Jerusalem is what Abraham saw by faith. “For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10). The New Jerusalem is God’s masterpiece, built for those who love Him and keep His commandments. The New Jerusalem will be the home of God’s faithful children in heaven during the millennium and, afterward, on the new earth for eternity. There is good news for those of us who don’t like packing or moving. God takes care of everything. John says he saw the city. “Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:2, NKJV).
Read Revelation 21:1-27, NKJV. What are some of the things that we are promised?
There’s so much here that our minds can barely comprehend, damaged as they are by sin, and knowing only a fallen sin-racked world. But what we can understand is so full of hope.
First, just as Jesus dwelt with us in this fallen world when He came in the flesh, He will dwell with us in the new one. What a privilege it must have been for those who saw Jesus up close and personal! We will have that opportunity again, only now without the veil of sin distorting what we see.
Then, too, how do we who know only tears and sorrow and crying and pain understand one of the greatest promises in all the Bible: “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4, NKJV)? All those “former things” will have passed away, things that never should have been here to begin with.
Also, flowing from the throne of God is the pure river of life, and on either side of the river is the tree of life. God’s throne will be there, and “they shall see His face” (Revelation 22:4, NKJV). Again, the redeemed will live in a closeness to God that, for the most part, we don’t have now.
|Read Revelation 21:8, about the fate of those who will face the second death. Which sin of those depicted there cannot have been forgiven by Jesus? Why, then, are these people lost when some who have done the same things are saved? What is the crucial difference between these two groups?|
When cities are mentioned I think of our modern cities like Sydney - a giant sprawling metropolis that takes about 3 hours and 2 heart attacks to drive through. People living in boxes like sardine tins, sandwiched between concrete and electrical conduit, Huge international planes rumbling overhead as they come in to land at the airport. The never-ending rumble of traffic snarled between traffic lights and hedged in by double-B semi-trailers. The squeal of steel on steel as a commuter train slides in and out of the station. The dodging and weaving of pedestrian traffic as people move between shopping and business in the CBD.
I go to Sydney a couple of times a year. It is in many respects a beautiful city, but I am glad to get back home again.
I never really understood the concept of the Holy City until I visited Europe and saw the hill cities of Italy appearing above the mist in the valley early in the morning. Each of the cities occupied a hill, often with steep cliffs. They stood above the vineyards of the valley and they glowed golden in the early morning sun. It was peaceful and quiet and they had withstood the ravages of time and battle. I think this is the sort of city John was familiar with. These cities were built on hills because they provided a safe refuge.
The Holy City may be a physical reality but it is also a symbolic representation of safety at last from the destructive results of sin. While we await the materialization of the Holy City, citizenship is available now.
Today's lesson concludes by asking the question as to which sin cannot be forgiven by Jesus. Answer: the sin that I deliberately hold on to (see Proverbs 28:13).
This aligns with the notion of "unpardonable sin"*. When the Holy Spirit convicts me of sin, I have two options. I can either respond to that conviction and confess and renounce my sin (1 John 1:9), or I can resist the Spirit's conviction and instead cherish and indulge my sin/sinning. As my habitual tendency, the former will reflect a heart-state of self-renouncing, the latter a terminal heart-state of self-seeking/indulging. That is the real issue (1 Samuel 16:7; Genesis 6:5; Psalm 51:10).
* "Unpardonable sin" is a concept derived from Mark 3:28-30 and possibly 1 John 5:16-18.
How do I advise an individual with addictions who feel they don't love God enough to overcome their addiction and who doesn't truly see God's love as a reality? They want to see it, but are worn down by their addiction, and feel they don't love enough.
Perhaps share some of David’s Psalms where he is lamenting his actions and tell the stories of his misdeeds, ie, Bathsheba.
Or the stories of Saul who warred against the early Christian church until Jesus accosted him on the road to Damascus. Salvation was given to him when he repented and he went on to do a great work for the Lord.
He became known as Paul! Maybe taking a new name at conversion is a constructive idea. Symbolic of leaving the past behind!
An alternative to advising an individual is co-exploring their experience with them - to the extent they are open to that. This assists with identification of what the foundational issue/s is/are for them - and which issues are downstream consequences of that. Hypothetically in the scenario you mentioned, whatever contributes to them not presently being able to see God's love as a reality (Romans 5:8) may potentially be a foundational issue that is exacerbated by their worn-downness. Feeling that they don't love God enough may reflect a perception that unless we love God enough, then God can't/won't love us. This unfortunately reflects how things can be in human relationships - but it's not how things operate with God (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Just some hypothetical thoughts as I am not giving advice...
No more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. No more pain. The concept of a world without pain, death, or sadness is difficult for us humans to fully comprehend. A sense of comfort and relief that seems too good to be true.
The answer to the question posed in today’s lesson is simple.
1 John 5:11-13
We read about the concept of the „remnant“ throughout the Scriptures, of those who keep the commandments of God not as a means of salvation, but as demonstration of their love to their Savior.
The difference to those who will not be saved is that the remnant people refuse to compromise with the enemy, depending wholly on the Lord:
See also Romans 9:27 and Joel 2:28-32.
We know that Satan hates God‘s law and hates all those who keep the law and have the testimony of Jesus Christ (Rev.12:17); that‘s why he‘s waging war against them. So true end-time followers of the Lamb are those who remain faithful amidst widespread apostasy and persecution.
The good news is that God‘s grace is still available to everyone and keeping in mind, not to prejudge anyone.
The difference between the group of people who will be saved and the other, which will experience the second death, is in the acceptance! To accept Christ is to embrace Him, and learning to love Him, because He is Love.