We long for the day when sin, suffering, and death will be no more. Yet to consider eternity is beyond anything we can fully grasp or express. Pastor Lutzer responds to common questions about heaven, highlighting the wonder of God’s presence. What if the glories of heaven could bring hope to our troubled souls?
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Transcript: Welcome to 5 Minutes with Pastor Lutzer! Thanks for joining us again. If you were with us last time, you know that I talked about the doctrine of hell—the difficult doctrine of hell—and i just introduced, very quickly, the whole concept of eternity, which is really beyond our imagination. But today, I want to think of a very happy subject and that is heaven, which of course also endures forever. The reason I’m doing this is because the Bible gives us a glimpse into heaven, and I say only a glimpse.
C.C Lewis said that for us to talk about heaven is like two unborn infants having a discussion, wondering what life is going to be like once they are born and 25 years old—it’s more than they can grasp. And when we think of the glories of heaven, it is more than we can grasp but we’re invited to think about it. And I want you to recognize its beauty.
Also, I want to say a word to those of you who are suffering: Life is very hard—tragedies, brokenness in families, health issues. We all know that life, often times, is so filled with difficulties. Could you just for a moment, as God enables us, to put all those things aside?
I want to read to you about our eternal state, namely the glories of the new Jerusalem. Chapter 21, of course, of the book of Revelation. You’ve probably read it yourself, but I want to read it again and make some comments. But let us thank God for this glorious description, “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. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 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. 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.’” Let that sink into your troubled soul.
First of all, the new Jerusalem is going to come down from God, out of heaven. There’s going to be a new heaven and a new earth. Theologians are divided on the topic of whether or not there’s going to be a brand-new earth created ex nihilo out of nothing or whether or not this earth will simply be remade. Peter talks about this world being “burned with fire”. I think it will be this world because this is the world where the sin of Adam and Eve affected the entire creation and here God is going to redeem this earth, purified by fire. “But I saw the new Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven,” the Bible says, “like a bride adorned for her husband.” J. Vernon McGee, a preacher from another era, a southern preacher, said that God does a miracle because on every wedding day, McGee said, the bride looks beautiful. Well, this bride is going to look very beautiful, the new Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven, a new heaven and a new earth.
Now what isn’t going to be there? Oh my. You’ll notice that the text says, “There is no more tears.” God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. Perhaps you’ve heard me emphasize that the Greek text actually says God is going to wipe away all the tears out of their eyes. It’s as if God is getting to the very source of our sorrow and our regrets. There’s going to be no mourning, in the sense of the morning that takes place at a funeral; no more death, for the former things are passed away. All your troubles, all your pains, all your worries, the past with all of its sin—gone forever.
But the question is, “Where are we going to dwell?” Well, we’re going to dwell in the new Jerusalem. I’ll be mentioning more about that next time but you’ll notice it says the dwelling place of God is with man—with men, with women. Now, the dwelling place of God. Some of the translations say, “the tabernacle of god.” In fact, I memorized this in the King James and that’s what it says, “the tabernacle of God.” I want to put an idea in your mind that I will expand upon next time once we get to the new Jerusalem. We’ll discover that it is a cube. Where else do we find a cube in Scripture? Well, the answer is the Holy of Holies was a cube. When the temple was built, the dwelling place of God, where the Shekinah glory came in the Old Testament, so that God was localized among His people, that is now going to be with men with. We, who are redeemed by God, we will be there in the very citadel of where God dwells. Think about that. It’s hard for us to grasp but that’s what the Scripture teaches.
Joni Eareckson Tada, I’ve referred to her before, said the thing that she looks forward to most, and you will remember she’s been in a wheelchair for about 50 years, is not just getting rid of the wheelchair and all of the pain that she has endured throughout these many decades. But it will be finally to be in the presence of God without any sin ever coming between.
What’s going to make heaven “heaven” is not the beautiful streets. It’s not going to be the gold on the street. It’s not going to be all of the beautiful descriptions that John has in this chapter. The beauty of heaven, finally, is man dwelling with God with no sin ever coming in between. Is that a description of where you are going to be someday through your faith in Jesus Christ? I trust so. If not, come to believe on Him because He’s the only one who can take us scoop us out of our sin, clean us up, declare us as righteous as He is, and bring us into the very presence of God. And someday, no sin will ever come between.
Next time, we’re going to conclude this particular series. I’m going to be talking about the new Jerusalem again. But you know, of course, that as for today you just go with God.