Commentary by Walter Albritton
Eternal Home Called Heaven Awaiting the Faithful
Revelation 21:1 -- 22:5
Key Verse: And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. -– Revelation 21:3
Eight-year-old Emily had been listening carefully to her pastor. She understood the gospel to mean that faithful Christians will go to heaven while unrepentant sinners will go to hell when they die. The pastor had convinced her that she should tell others about Jesus and invite them to trust him so they could go to heaven. Emily decided to share the gospel with her brother Billy, age five.
Summoning all her courage, Emily spoke earnestly to her brother, “Billy, do you want to accept Jesus as your Savior so that you can go to heaven with Mama and Daddy and me and the angels, or do you want to go to hell and be with the devil and all the bank robbers?”
Billy stared back at Emily for a few seconds, and then blurted out, “I don’t want to go to either place; I want to stay right here!”
Most of us can sympathize with Billy. That kind of evangelism turns most of us off. While we appreciate Emily’s zeal, we would prefer a more subtle brand of evangelism. Yet we would admit that Christians should be more urgent in helping nonbelievers confront the ultimate question: Are you going to heaven or hell when you die? The truth is, millions die without ever hearing the good news that God has prepared an eternal home called heaven for faithful believers. They deserve to know that heaven is an alternative to hell, the place that will be the eternal home for all who have renounced Christ.
John sees that in the time of judgment, the wicked will be condemned and punished, while the righteous will be rewarded with the gift of heaven. The coming heaven will be “new,” replacing all that is “old” and marred by sin. The new heaven will have no sea. The sea symbolized evil in John’s day; it was a source of great fear. This was most significant to John, for it was the sea that separated him from his Christian friends. In heaven he would enjoy the fellowship of believers and no longer have to endure the painful loneliness of his isolation on the Isle of Patmos.
John wanted his
suffering Christian friends to know that God would reward their faithfulness in
heaven. In that heavenly city, the “new”
The focus there will be the glory of God and the light of the Lamb. There will be no night for it could not exist in the presence of the Lamb who is the light of the world. Therefore, the gates will not have to be shut as protection against the demonic powers that work in the darkness. God’s presence will be all the protection the Lamb’s bride will need!
Water is so necessary for human existence and a beautiful symbol of life. John sees Jesus offering to all who are thirsty the water of life freely. Last year Americans spent 48 billion dollars for bottled water. In heaven, pure water will be free for all eternity. There we will be “drinking from a fountain that never shall run dry!”
The faithful in heaven will bring glory and honor to the Lamb upon the throne, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life will go to heaven. They will be completely separated from the wicked. Lying is especially offensive so liars will not be welcome in the holy city.
One preacher shouted to his congregation, “All who want to go to heaven please stand up.” All but one man stood up. The preacher was surprised and asked the man still sitting down, “Do you really not want to go to heaven?” Whereupon the man replied, “Oh, yes, pastor, some day I want to go to heaven; I just thought you were getting up a load to go today!”
Few of us want to go today. However, we do want to go some day. There is a longing for home in every human heart. Especially do the brokenhearted, the lonely, sick and dying, wish for home. Someone expressed this universal cry in these heartrending words, “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child – a long, long way from home.”
Perhaps we long for home because God himself is Home. God is not only our Father; he is also our Home. After all, what father would not desire for his children to be at home with him, there to enjoy the peace of his presence? Is not the blessed contentment of family intimacy akin to salvation? When Jesus spoke of “two or three gathered in my name,” was he perhaps thinking of a family? When Christ says, “Come unto me,” is that not an invitation to renounce sin and “come home” to the Father for time and eternity?
Since we cannot know the hour when Christ shall return, or what day shall be our last upon the earth, it behooves us to trust Christ, live faithfully as his disciples every day, and do our best to persuade Emily’s little brother Billy and all his friends to go home with us – to heaven. If we do not choose to use Emily’s hook, we had best find one of our own so that we will be prepared to answer the Lord’s question, “Did you catch any fish?” Until he calls us home, surely he desires for us to “fish for men,” to invite others, and persuade others, to make that final journey with us to “the land that is fairer than day.”
After all, is there really anything more important than introducing people to Christ, so they may choose to be at home with him for all eternity?
When we truly believe what the Bible teaches, then we realize that we really do have Good News for lost people – there is an eternal home called heaven awaiting the faithful. Should we be bashful in the face of so great a need? Surely not! Let us tell it on the mountain – that Jesus Christ is King!
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