"LIFE AFTER DEATH" What Is The Eternal Destiny Of The Redeemed? INTRODUCTION 1. As we rapidly near the end of this series, we have considered what the Bible says about... a. The "intermediate state", i.e., the condition of man between death and the resurrection b. The second coming of Christ c. The resurrection of the dead d. The day of judgment 2. In the last two studies, we shall examine what the Bible reveals about the FINAL state of man... a. What is the eternal destiny of the redeemed? b. What is the eternal destiny of the wicked? [With this lesson we shall look first at "The Eternal Destiny Of The Redeemed"...] I. THE "HOPE" OF THE REDEEMED A. WONDERFUL PROMISES ARE GIVEN BY CHRIST AND HIS APOSTLES... 1. Jesus speaks of the righteous as being in "the kingdom of their Father", and inheriting "the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" a. In explaining the "parable of the tares" - Mt 13:43 b. In describing the judgment scene in Mt 25:31-34 c. Compare this with statements by His apostles... 1) Paul speaks of the "heavenly kingdom" - 2Ti 4:18 2) Peter speaks of the "everlasting kingdom" - 2Pe 1:10-11 2. Jesus speaks of the redeemed being with Him a. In the "parable of the talents" ("Enter into the joy of your lord") - Mt 25:21 b. In praying to the Father in Jn 17:24 (cf. Jn 14:1-3) c. Paul also alludes to this continued fellowship with the Lord - 1Th 4:17-18 3. Indeed, promises such as these are comforting for the Christian, for they speak of unhindered and uninterrupted fellowship with our Lord! 4. Is this not our ultimate hope? To be with the Lord for eternity? B. BUT WHERE WILL WE EXPERIENCE THIS "HOPE"? 1. In other words... a. Where will this fellowship with the Lord be experienced? b. Where will the "abode" of the righteous be? 2. Will the "abode" of the redeemed... a. Be heaven itself? b. Or is it something "reserved" for us in heaven now, but when experienced it will actually be somewhere else? [Previously I have suggested that when Christians die they will spend the "intermediate state" in heaven. While most Christians automatically assume they will spend the "eternal state" in heaven, it appears the Biblical evidence concerning the eternal "abode" may state otherwise! Consider carefully, then, as we examine what the Bible says about...] II. THE "ETERNAL ABODE" OF THE REDEEMED A. TWO PASSAGES ARE OFTEN QUOTED TO SAY THAT IT WILL BE HEAVEN... 1. The first is Col 1:5 a. Which speaks "the hope which is laid up for you in heaven" b. Note carefully: this verse does not say that our hope IS heaven, but rather that our hope is "laid up for you IN heaven" c. Whether our hope, when experienced, will be IN heaven, cannot be determined with certainty in this verse d. Only that for "now", heaven is where our hope is stored 2. The second is 1Pe 1:3-4 a. This passage speaks of our hope and inheritance, "reserved in heaven for you" b. Again: this does not say that our hope (or inheritance) IS heaven, but rather that it is "reserved IN heaven" c. As before, we cannot determine from this passage alone whether our hope and inheritance, when realized, will be in heaven ITSELF d. Only that for "now" our hope and inheritance are presently secured in heaven B. THE "ETERNAL ABODE" AS DESCRIBED IN HEBREWS... 1. First, we find the author speaking of having "a better and enduring possession for yourselves in heaven" - He 10:34 a. Here the same point can be made as before b. I.e., at the present, our "possession" is IN heaven; but when we receive it, will it be in heaven then? 2. In describing the hope of Abraham and the faithful, the author speaks of a CITY (or dwelling place)... a. "...the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God" - He 11:10 b. "...for He has prepared a city for them" - He 11:13-16 3. Speaking of himself and his fellow Christians, the author writes: "For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come" - He 13:14 4. Here, then, is one way of speaking of the hope of the righteous, as it relates to their eternal abode: a. It is a "city", whose builder and maker is God b. It is a "heavenly city", in the sense of its NATURE c. This "enduring possession" is PRESENTLY "prepared...laid up ...reserved" for us in heaven! 5. But we have yet to answer the question: "Where will this city (abode) of the righteous actually be when they experience it?" C. THE "ETERNAL ABODE" AS DESCRIBED BY PETER... 1. After describing the "day of the Lord" in which the present universe will be dissolved, Peter speaks of looking for "new heavens and a new earth" - 2Pe 3:7-13 2. For Peter, this is what "we" (himself and all Christians) should be looking for! 3. Some questions: a. Is the "new heavens and a new earth" just a figurative reference to heaven, or is it something different from heaven? b. How do we reconcile looking for the "new heavens and a new earth" (Peter), and looking for "the city whose builder is God" (Hebrews)? -- The answer to these questions is found as we now look at... D. THE "ETERNAL ABODE" AS DESCRIBED BY JOHN... 1. After describing the judgment scene (Re 20:11-15), John says that he saw: a. "a new heaven and a new earth" - Re 21:1 (cf. Peter) b. "the holy City, New Jerusalem" - Re 21:2 (cf. Hebrews) -- In this way, John brings together both the "hope" of the author of Hebrews and the apostle Peter! 2. But where is this "city" at this point? Note carefully how three times in the Book of Revelation, it is stated that the city is NOT in heaven at this time... a. "...the New Jerusalem, which comes down OUT OF heaven from my God." - Re 3:12 b. "...the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down OUT OF heaven from God..." - Re 21:2 c. "...the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending OUT OF heaven from God..." - Re 21:10 3. Rather than being IN heaven (the present dwelling place of God), this "eternal abode" is described as being in "the new heavens and a new earth"! a. A realm where there is the absence of death, sorrow, and pain - Re 21:4 b. A realm in which there is complete fellowship with God and Christ - Re 21:3,22-27 c. A place of perpetual life and good health - Re 22:1-2 d. A place where God's servants both serve and reign!
- Re 22:3-5 E. TO SUMMARIZE AND PERHAPS CLARIFY... 1. The redeemed have a wonderful hope concerning their "eternal destiny" 2. It pertains to a "city", built by God and PRESENTLY reserved for us in heaven... a. However, when experienced, this "city" (abode) will not be IN heaven b. But having come down OUT OF heaven, it will be in the "new heavens and new earth" (i.e., a totally new order of things) 3. This is NOT to say that we will not be with God and Christ... a. For as one considers the experience of the righteous as described in Re 21-22, we see that we will be with God and Christ forever! b. To be exact, however... 1) It is not that we will be with God and Christ in heaven... 2) But that They will be with us in the "new heavens and new earth"! c. Consider... 1) "Behold the tabernacle of God IS WITH MEN, and HE WILL DWELL WITH THEM...and GOD HIMSELF WILL BE WITH THEM" - Re 21:3 a) Note that in each phrase the direction is one in which God is with us; He dwells with us in this "city" which comes down out of heaven b) Contrary to the idea that we are in heaven with God! 2) "...the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be IN IT" - Re 22:3 a) In the "eternal state", the throne is in this "holy city" which comes down out of heaven b) Whereas earlier in the Revelation, the throne of God was in heaven - Re 4:2; 7:9-17 1) The latter passage (7:9-17) I take to describe the "intermediate state" 2) It is during this interim that the righteous are with God in heaven 3) "But I saw NO TEMPLE in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple." - Re 21:22 a) John saw no temple in this "holy city" b) Whereas he saw the temple of God in heaven when describing the "intermediate state" - cf. Re 7:15 d. Again, the indication is that God will dwell with us for eternity in this "new heavens and new earth" (in the "New Jerusalem"), not that we will be with Him in heaven CONCLUSION 1. Admittedly, in a book like Revelation we are dealing with very symbolic language, and must be careful not to strain a point too far... 2. But the terminology used by John is the same as that used by Peter and the author of Hebrews as they wrote plainly of our "hope" (i.e., such terms as "city", "new heavens and new earth") 3. And these terms are used consistently in such a way as to make a clear distinction between... a. What is currently the dwelling place of God (i.e., "heaven") b. And where God will spend eternity with the redeemed (i.e., in the "holy city" that comes down "out of heaven" into the "new heavens and new earth") 4. Should we not be careful to make the same distinction? Do we, "according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells" (2Pe 3:13)? If so, then be sure to heed the admonition of Peter... "Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation..." - 2Pe 3:14-15a And remember the words of John: "Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city." - Re 22:14