Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Sunday, April 24, 2016
It Is Done - April 24, 2016 - Fifth Sunday of Easter - Text: Revelation 21:1-7
Perhaps we have heard the saying that goes something like this: “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.” Unfortunately, as you hear me rail in Bible Class so often, why are we interjecting ourselves into the equation, as if we have something to do with anything. The more correct saying would be: “God said it, that settles it.” Our belief or unbelief have no affect on what God says or does. In our text for today, as we continue on in the Revelation of John we see, as always, God’s Word does what it says, and gives the gifts He speaks.
John begins by describing the new heaven and the new earth, “1Then 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. 2And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And 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. 4He 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” (v. 1-4).
In the beginning God created the first heaven and earth. The heaven and earth God initially created was perfect and holy. As we read of God’s creating in the first two chapters of Genesis we hear that as God is the one doing the doing, everything is perfect and holy. When we get to chapter three we hear of Adam and Eve and when Adam and Eve hit the scene that is when everything which God created as perfect and holy becomes imperfect and cursed. Thus, God’s perfect creation fell into sin, and is perfect no more.
In his vision John now sees the new heaven and the new earth which will be without sin. When God created all things out of nothing His intent was for all things to remain without sin. We see God’s great love, however, in the fact that even though He knew what was going to happen, what we call His Divine foreknowledge, even knowing He would have to suffer and die for His creation, He created all things anyway. Now as we approach the end of His revealed Word to us, He speaks to us of what will happen in the end, that is that He will make all things new.
John sees how God will dwell with man once again. Remember how in the Garden of Eden we are told that Adam and God had a very intimate relationship. God and Adam would walk together in the Garden. After the fall into sin and the curse, the relationship of God and man has been tenuous at best. After Adam broke his perfect relationship with God, having been cursed, the sin of Adam has been passed down from generation to generation so that even today man’s relationship with God is tenuous at best. Yet, because of Jesus, because of His perfect life for us in our place, because He took our sins and paid the price for our sins, because He died and rose thus earning forgiveness for us and restoring our relationship with Himself, even with God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit our hearts are being renewed daily. So, John speaks of what he sees in his vision and tells us that in the end God will once again dwell with us.
And we might, I think, obviously surmise that it will be a place of perfection. God is perfect and holy. God dwells in perfection and holiness. Where God dwells is perfection, thus as God dwells with man once again it will be a place of perfection.
John goes on to tell us that he was told to write this down, “5And 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” (v. 5). As we began so we hear from the one speaking to John, God said it and that settles it. God is the one speaking. God is the one who makes all things new. In heaven there will be no more sin.
John, the same John who wrote the Gospel of John in which many times he refers to himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved, and as he bears witness that his testimony is true, even as he speaks of Jesus own testimony that He is truth, indeed, the Way, the truth and the life, he is told to write this down, because it is trustworthy and true, that is as we say, God’s Word is efficacious it does what it says and gives the gifts of which it speaks.
Finally he says, it is done, “6And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son”(v. 6-7).
It is done. As we heard Jesus say on the cross, “It is finished,” so He declared that the sins of all people, of all places, of all times had been paid for. The price for sin, death, eternal spiritual death, hell has been paid for by Jesus’ suffering and dying. Indeed as we hear declared here again in this revelation to John, it is done, all sins have been forgiven. Notice this is an already accomplished, past action, completed action. Nothing more needs to be done, as if there is anything we need to do or can do. As we began, it is not necessary that we believe it for it to be done and true. All sins have been paid for because Jesus paid the price, because we are declared forgiven and so as God declares it is accomplished. You are forgiven, thanks be to God.
As we laid out a few weeks ago, Jesus is alpha and omega, beginning and end, even without beginning or end, there at the creation of the world and here at the end of the world, or better said here at the beginning of eternity. Jesus is the alpha and the omega, the one who died and has been raised to life. Jesus is God in flesh who accomplished all things for us.
Jesus gives eternal life, as He is the one who paid the price for our sins in order to earn eternal life for us. We do nothing to gain eternal life. We do nothing to earn eternal life. Eternal life is a gift given to us by the one who earned and paid for it, Jesus. Indeed, we come before our Lord as wretched beggars. He is the one who scoops us up our of the muck and mire of our own sin. He washes us in His blood and robes us with His robes of righteousness. He makes us His own through the waters of Holy Baptism and His Holy Word. He gives us eternal life.
Yet not just to us for He gives this inheritance of eternal life to all who believe. As we have heard many times, we are the true children of Abraham, the true Israel, not by DNA, but by faith. God’s covenant first given in Eden, to Adam and Eve, before there ever was a Jew or Gentile, His covenant reiterated to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David and so forth was always a covenant of grace, always pointing to Jesus. God said it and that settles it.
What Does this mean? I attended college enrolled in the teacher education program. Having taken many methods of teaching classes and student teaching and one phrase that continually sticks in my mind is this that the best way to teach is to teach and reteach, in other words to teach the same thing over and over until it is mastered. The Sunday morning Bible class actually expressed it well a couple weeks back, the fact that we attend Divine Service and Bible class every week because we so easily forget. Thus we need the constant reminder of God’s love and forgiveness for us. This morning John, through his vision reminds us once again of the fact that in the beginning God created all things perfect and holy and man sinned.
As we approach the end of God’s revealed Word of Holy Scripture, in this book of revelation of the vision to John we hear what John sees which is God’s recreation, that is the fact that Jesus has paid the price for sin, for all sin, for all people, and most especially for your sin and mine. In the Gospel reading for this morning, John’s Gospel nonetheless, we are reminded of Jesus’ words to love one another. Indeed, as we hear these words most certainly they remind us of how much we fail. Time and again we fail to love one another. And as I have said many times, it is only as we see just how sinful we truly are that we can then truly understand how gracious and loving God truly is. The less sinful we are the less we think we need Jesus and truly the more we simply think we can rely on ourselves, which leads only to death. The more sinful we realize we are the more we understand how much God has suffered and forgiven and the more we understand God’s grace and love.
John sees the end. Johns sees God recreating, making a new heaven and a new earth. John sees how God makes all things new, like in the beginning, except this time God will not allow for sin and a curse. God creates everything new, perfect and holy and dwells with us in perfection and holiness.
God gives eternal inheritance to all who believe. Heaven is not a matter of DNA. It is not a matter of who are your parents. It is not a matter of having your name on the roles of a congregation, especially if you never step foot in the door of that congregation. It is not a matter of what you know rather it is a matter of who knows you, who has redeemed you, who has given you faith, and who gives you eternal life, Jesus.
As we read and hear John’s words we know that we can believe his words because they are God’s words and He is faithful and true. And it is not a matter of our believing that make it faithful and true, rather it is a matter of the fact that He said it that makes it faithful and true. God said it and that settles it because He is all powerful and gives what He says and makes what He says happen.
This morning we come and see again a glimpse of heaven. As is said in a bit of a pithy song I learned in college, Heaven is a wonderful place, filled with God’s glory and grace, heaven is a wonderful place, I want to go there. Heaven is Eden undone and redone. Heaven is gift, earned and paid for by Jesus’ blood and given to us by faith, which He gives as well. Again we see, we get it right when we point to Jesus. Again, God said it and that settles it, not anything from me, but wholly from Him. And we rejoice as He stirs in us to rejoice and say, to Him be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.