And they lived happily ever after…

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And they lived happily ever after…
I love a good children’s story that ends with those words. If you’ve ever read a story to a small child, a story that had villains or other scary parts, it might have been helpful for the child to know beforehand that the villain loses, the troubles come to a joyful end, good wins out, and the story, of course, ends “happily ever after.”
After reading again the final chapters in God’s story of redemption, salvation, overcoming satan, sin, and death, and the glorious future for all believers in Christ, I wonder:
Should new Christians begin their faith-journey reading the book of Revelation so that they know that the story ends happily ever after?
I know that the imagery the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ is strange, and there are difficult parts to understand, but if you can hear the overarching message of the book, you discover its simple, hope-filled, and truly comforting message: God’s story ends happily forever after for those who by grace believe.
While the bible’s primary message is all about Jesus Christ coming to rescue all people from sin, satan and death, the truth is: every person born into the world is in His story, either as a lost sheep waiting to be found, or they know the LORD is their shepherd, they believe and are baptized and have the hope of eternal life and for them, the found ones, for you who believe in Jesus, your story ends happily forever after.
As we bring our ONE Chapter A Day to a conclusion TODAY, let’s walk through three simple profound truths in the final chapters of God’s Story, from the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ.
Here is the first one, from the final two verses of the bible: Christ is coming again, and soon.”
He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! 21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.
Revelation 22:20-21 (ESV)
Three times in the final chapter, Jesus repeats, “I am coming again and soon.
While many a “theologian” or “modern day prophet” has announced knowing when the Day Christ is coming again. Don’t believe them. For Jesus revealed to His disciples just before His death,
Matthew 24:36 But concerning that day and our no one knows, not even the Angels of heaven, nor the son, but only the father.
Eight verses later he repeats that truth and adds a command,
Matthew 24:42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day you’re Lord is coming.
Just before He ascended back to heaven on the clouds, He told the Disciples on the mountain:
Acts 1:8, It is not for you to know times or seasons that the father has fixed by his own authority.“
While we don’t know the time or season of Christ’s return, the good news is: The Father, God, has set the time of Christ return and the day of judgment.
Ever since Christ’s incarnation, suffering, death, and resurrection, all the signs that precede his return have been visible in every generation.
Wars and rumors of wars, nations rising against nations, famines and earthquakes, increase in lawlessness and hatred towards believers, especially those who live and share the gospel. But the one thing we know for sure, Jesus said, is this:
And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:14 (ESV)
Make no mistake! When the Gospel is proclaimed to the ends of the earth, Christ will return, and the end will come. That leads to The second truth Christ reveals in the final chapters of this book, We will spend eternity in a new heaven and a new earth.
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I 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 the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” 5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:1-5 (ESV)
Believers will live forever in a new heaven and a new earth.
No doubt you’ve heard about global warming and air pollution cause by man’s reckless use of natural resources - coal, oil, and gas – which some believe are causing the end of our world as we know it. But ecological concerns are one small struggle we face on this planet. Jesus identifies some of the greater struggles our world faces:
6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. Matthew 24:6-8 (ESV)
When I read that list, it makes me want to pray, “Come, Lord Jesus. Come quickly.“
Let’s not forget that the body you were born with won’t last forever. BUT, the great news is this:
Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. 1 Corinthians 15:49 (ESV)
51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 (ESV)
Immortality. Total transformation. That’s what we have to look forward to - no more tears, no more crying, no more pain. The Curse, that began with rebellion in the Garden, broken relationships, suffering, and death, all goes away forever in the new heavens and the new earth created by the hand of Christ!
IN this new heaven and new earth, God is once again dwelling with us, like He did at first in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. But look what’s missing. Look what’s gone.
Everything that brought sadness to our hearts and lives is gone. In this new heaven and this new earth, sin is gone, and all that hurts, harms and destroys is gone. Sorrow and sadness, pain and suffering, the old and worn out is replaced by new. Death, The last enemy is destroyed. NO ONE WILL DIE in heaven.
Here is the third truth in this book, The Day for Judgment has come. Christ has “come again, to judge the living and the dead.”
Christ begins the judgement and sentencing with the devil.
10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Revelation 20:10 (ESV)
The devil and his army of evil are judged and cast, thrown into hell forever. Next comes the judgement of every soul who ever lived.
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Matthew 25:31-34 (ESV)
On the Day of Judgement Christ the good shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. The Sheep, believers, are first welcomed into the Kingdom, the new heavens and the new earth. And the goats, the unbelievers?
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. Matthew 25:41 (ESV)
Unbelievers are judged and sentenced to an eternity in Hell. But fear not, you saints of Christ,
1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1 (ESV)
Thanks be to God for sending His Son, Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord.
The question we should be asking is Peter’s question.
2 Peter 3:10–13 (ESV): 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. 11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”
What kind of people ought we to be while we wait for the coming of Christ and hasten its coming? We ought to be a people who
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:23-25 (ESV)
Let’s be a people living in the grip of grace, who boldly confess Christ as Savior and Lord both with our lips and lives.
Let’s make it our habit to keep on meeting together here in God’s house and all the more as we see The Day drawing near. The last place we want is to end up is here…where
Luke 13:28 (NIV) 28 "There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out.
Let us be an encouraging people and church, encouraging one another toward love and good works. For when we live in the grace and love of God, we live happily ever after in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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