God's Greatest Promise
What The Bible Teaches
Is There Life After Death?
What Is God’s Greatest Promise?
Romans 5:1-2 (NKJV)
1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
The hope of glory – there is an amazing promise contained in God’s Word. This promise provides that the eternal future with God is the “end” of every believer. Not only are the saints sins forgiven, but eternal life is a life spent in the very presence of God.
As stated in the below verse from Revelation, God will wipe away every tear. There will be no more death. Ultimately, death is overcome for the believer.
1 Corinthians 15:54-55 (NKJV)
54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?”
What are some promises you have made? Do people keep them? Have they come true.
Knowing and Practicing the Bible
I. Prophetic Hope for the Ages
The Bible points to a better day ahead. Paul calls this the “hope of glory.” In Colossians, he writes:
Colossians 1:27 (NKJV)
27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
These riches in glory are the promises of God for a better future. That future is described in Revelation 21:
Revelation 21:1-8 (NKJV)
1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 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.” 5 Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” 6 And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. 7 He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. 8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
Ultimately, for the believer, God will right all wrongs. When will this occur?
Well, the simple answer is at the end of the age. The age involved is the current age of grace, the Church age. When the “fullness of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24) is complete God will commence the next step in His plan.
The rapture of the church
The next step in God’s prophetic calendar is the rapture of the church. This is the “catching up” of the universal body of believers into the sky to forever be with Jesus. Christ returns to remove the church before the great and final Tribulation and wrath that will result in the restoration of Israel and the judgment of the nations.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (NKJV)
13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
The restoration of Israel is foreseen in Daniel’s prophecy of seventy weeks of Jewish history. These weeks are periods of seven years each and the last week lies in the future. Daniel’s verses provide the timeframe of history.
Daniel 9:24-27 (NKJV)
24 “Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy. 25 “Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times. 26 “And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined. 27 Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.”
The final week is a time of wrath as God cleanses the world. God has decided that the Church (those believers in Jesus from the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2)) will not have to endure this time of trouble. Those saints alive just before the commencement of the Tribulation will be raptured in the air. Those saints who have died will be resurrected. Next will come the Day of the Lord, a time of seven years of Tribulation.
1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 (NKJV)
9 For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
1 Thessalonians 5:2 (NKJV)
2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.
1 Thessalonians 5:9 (NKJV)
9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,
Following the rapture, all believers will enter into a time of judgment before the Lord and then they will return with Christ at the end of the Tribulation period to enter the Kingdom with Christ (Rev 19).
Romans 14:10-12 (NKJV)
10 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 11 For it is written: “As I live, says the Lord, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.” 12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.
1 Corinthians 3:13-15 (NKJV)
13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
The restoration of Israel
In reading the Bible and reviewing prophecy, it is important to understand that Israel and the Church are two different institutions. Each are God’s chosen people (Exod 19:5-6; 1 Peter 2:9-10). Israel is a community with an ethnic and religious identity. The nation is promised the land of Palestine (Gen 15:18-21). On the other hand, the Church is a spiritual body. There is no land nor any material promise given to the Church. The Church is an international body of persons who all believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
The Church is removed from earth before the Tribulation. On the other hand, one of the major purposes of the Tribulation is the restoration of Israel. The nation will be one of the major players during the seven years of God’s wrath (Dan 11:36-12:1; Rev 7; 12).
Prophecy is clear that at the end of the Tribulation period Jesus will return to deliver Jerusalem and the nation of Israel from the Antichrist (Zech 12-14; Dan 7:13-14; Matt 24; Rev 19). The nation of Israel is saved by believing in Jesus as the Christ (Rev 7; cf. Rom 11).
This Kingdom Age will be characterized by Jesus ruling from the new Jerusalem (Zech 14). All the nations of the world will come to Jerusalem to worship (Isa 2:1-4). The nation of Israel will finally own the promised land, never to be removed from it again (Amos 9:14, 15; Ezek 37-48). This age will be ruled by the Messiah’s law, by peace, and by the return of the Jews to the promised land (Isa 11). This will fulfill the covenant given to Abraham (Gen 12:1-3; 15:1-21; 17:1-14). This includes the fulfillment of the additional covenant given under the Abrahamic covenant to David (2 Sam 7; Ps 89; Luke 1:30-33) and the New Covenant (Jer 31:31-34; Ezek 36:24-38). This future Kingdom will last forever (Dan 7:13-14; Rev 22:5), being inaugurated with the Millennial reign revealed in Rev 20.
The judgment of the nations
The United Nations building in New York City have a portion of Isaiah carved on its front. However, even a full reading of just this portion of Scripture indicates that the nations will, ultimately, worship God. We have seen the condition of the world and understand that mankind will not create this condition.
Isaiah 2:1-4 (NKJV)
1 The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. 2 Now it shall come to pass in the latter days That the mountain of the Lord’s house Shall be established on the top of the mountains, And shall be exalted above the hills; And all nations shall flow to it. 3 Many people shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 4 He shall judge between the nations, And rebuke many people; They shall beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war anymore.
Only God can bring about such peace. This will come as a result of the Tribulation, when, according to the book of Revelation all persons in the world who do not believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior will be killed. It is the coming of Christ, as well as the outpouring of the wrath of God, which will judge the nations for their failure to believe.
Isaiah 9:6-7 (NKJV)
6 For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
Cf. Matt 25:31-46; Rev 22:2
The renewal of Creation
Romans 8:22 (NKJV)
22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.
Genesis 3:17-19 (NKJV)
17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: “Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. 18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. 19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.”
One of the results of original sin in the Garden is that God cursed the earth. This curse is found in Gen 3:17-19. Paul writes that creation looks forward to the ultimate salvation of mankind so that planet earth may be restored. While the curse may not explain all natural disasters, many are simply the result of that original “sin.” God did not intend that earth be the enemy we find today, but the curse is real and alive. God’s plan of redemption will not only redeem mankind, but He will redeem the planet as well. Earth will be even better than the Garden of Eden.
Prophecy indicates the renewal commences with the Second Coming of Christ and the Millennial Kingdom (Zech 14:4-11; Isa 11:35; Isa 11:6-9; 65:25). The earth will be more productive, will undergo topographical changes, and will blossom forth in peace in the animal world. Although rare, death will still exist (Isa 65:20).
At the end of the Millennium, God will finalize the restoration of Earth by the destruction of the old heavens and earth and the creation of the new eternal kingdom.
2 Peter 3:10-13 (NKJV)
10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
II. Divine Promise For Eternity (Rev 21:1-21:17)
Eternity will be a time when all death, hurts, and pains will be eliminated. These promises of God will be fulfilled with the establishment of the new heavens and new earth at the end of the Millennium.
The new Heavens and new earth
Revelation 21:1-5 (NKJV)
1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 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.” 5 Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”
Revelation 22:1 (NKJV)
1 And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.
Just as Peter foresaw, John provides us with his own version of the new earth. The unusual item here is the absence of the sea. This may be a reference to the removal of the curse on the earth. This would provide a look-back at the time of Noah.
The New Jerusalem and God’s presence
Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.
God will make His dwelling place with men. During the Millennium God the Father will remain in heaven while the Messiah will rule on earth. At the end of the Millennium the Triune God will make earth His home. God will have direct communion with His people. This communion will surpass anything that has gone before.
Revelation 21:7 (NKJV)
7 He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.
The greatest promise
Revelation 21:4 may be the greatest verse in the Bible, when considered from an individual perspective. God will truly make all things rights.
Revelation 21:4 (NKJV)
4 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.”
All the hurt of the world will disappear. Christians will enjoy the full benefit of all of the promises of God and the fruit of the Spirit. Death is the final enemy to be overcome.
1 Corinthians 15:26 (NKJV)
26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.
Revelation 21:5-6 (NKJV)
5 Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” 6 And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.
The recipients of God’s greatest promise
It is important to remember that not everyone will receive these great blessings. God’s offer of the eternal kingdom is made to those who are “thirsty” and who come to freely take the water of life. The gift of God is only offered to those who consciously and deliberately receive God offer of grace.
Revelation 21:6 (NKJV)
6 And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.
Revelation 22:17 (NKJV)
17 And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.
In other words, those who receive the promises of God are those who believe in Jesus Christ, those who are justified by faith.
1 John 5:4-5 (NKJV)
4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
It is a wonderful promise God offers to everyone who has ever been born. This offer is the answer to the greatest question people may ask. We considered this question in greater detail last week. Tragically those who have chosen not to accept the offer of God will find themselves experiencing the second death in the Lake of Fire. What a terrible fate for those who refuse to believe in God.
Applying and Practicing the Bible
Once again we are at the crossroads of life. God has a wonderful future for those who will accept His promises. God’s justice and wrath demand those who do not accept this invitation will face an eternal future of damnation. This is the most important message of life.