< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: Part 3 on what Revelation has to say about Heaven

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Part 3 on what Revelation has to say about Heaven

Near the end of her book "A Visioin of His Glory" by Anne Graham Lotz she says, “After reading Revelation are you convinced Jesus Christ will reign in the world at some future time, but you don’t know what difference that makes in your life today? And she ends with a challenge: not to place our hope in the things of this world, but to keep our focus on Christ in every aspect of our lives.

David was anointed by God as king over God’s people 14 years before he even sat on the throne. Saul tried to destroy David during that time. There were 400 men who feared Saul. They were distressed and discouraged in their daily lives because of his authority. Then they heard about David. They heard that he was God’s anointed king. They heard that one day he would sit on the throne in Jerusalem. They heard he was a courageous, compassionate leader; undefeated in battle. So they gave up everything and put their hope in David.

1 Samuel 22:2

David, as a king in exile, became a rallying point for God’s people. His leadership in their lives, even before he ruled from the throne in Jerusalem, radically changed their perspective of the present as well as of the future. David gave them hope. They became David’s mighty men. And when he was crowned king of Israel, they reigned with him.

In one sense, Jesus is God’ anointed king in exile. The enemies: Satan, Self and Sin – reign supreme on His earthly throne of authority. Like King Saul, often their power and authority cause us to be discouraged and distressed. But, we’ve heard about God’s anointed one. About His compassionate leadership – and we chose to put our hope in Him. To give Him our loyalty, to make Him our priority and one day we will reign with Him.

The angel’s words to John are a personal challenge as the vision of the glory of Christ draws to a close.

Revelation 22: 6-7

Do you believe that? Do you believe not only that, but that His Word, the Bible, in its entirety is trustworthy and true? That the prophecies still to come will come? Because God said so. Even if you don’t understand everything in it, will you make the decision to believe God’s Word? God does not lie. Take it by faith.

So if we do believe it, the challenge is to live it. Keep His Word and live as Jesus commands us to.

The promise of blessing to those who “keep the words of the prophecy in this book” is given directly by Jesus Christ. The promise specifically regards Revelation, but generally it applies to the entire Bible. To keep the word means read it, study it, apply it and obey it. Keep it in our heart, on our minds and our lips.

And the blessing we receive is a growing, confident, fully committed hope in Jesus Christ.

1 Timothy 1:1

Staying focused on Him and His Word gives us a stability as everything else in the world around us seems to collapse. There is no other foundation to build our life on. No other purpose higher to live for. Nothing more important then to know Him. And He’s revealed in the Bible.

To worship God literally means to attribute worth to Him. And we do this by making Him our first priority, obeying what He says, praising Him for who He is and what He has done. You would think after this vision John would only worship Christ, but look at what happens.

Revelation 22: 8-9

It’s so easy to let other things crowd Jesus right out of His rightful place.

Next – Revelation 22:10 – 12

When all is said and done (and Revelation is the last book in the Bible) God has nothing more to say. Those who reject Him will be judged. If Heaven is refused, that only leaves hell. If the revelation of Jesus Christ from Genesis to Revelation hasn’t brought a person to a humble confession of sin and repentance from sin and conversion to Christ thru faith, nothing else will. If God’s message is rejected there is no other message. Time is running out for nonbelievers. Believers have little time to spread the word.

Jesus said in John 9:4 “as long as it is day, we must do the work of Him who sent me. Night is coming when no one can work.” When night comes: either by the Rapture or death, our work on earth will be over. If we knew it would happen in 5 minutes – before it does would we wish we had told 1 more person? Taught Sunday School? Opened our home to Bible study or a neighborhood prayer group? Gone on a mission trip? Made ourselves available to serving in church? Written a note of encouragement? Given money to missions? Visited the sick?

Revelation 22:12

Revelation, The Vision of His Glory, motivates us to use every moment we have left. It keeps our focus on the big picture so we don’t grow weary in doing good. We live for His rewards, not earthly ones.

The Bible is really an entire book of instructions and one of the last minute instructions He gives us is –

Revelation 22:14-15

Our robe is our right standing before God, given to us at the cross of Christ. We are given this robe as we are forgiven for all our sins. Past, present and future sins.

Small sins; like gossip and white lies. Medium size sins like losing our temper and even big sins like stealing and adultery. All are forgiven.

If you’ve ever walked on a beach and seen the different indentions and holes – tiny holes from sand crabs, big foot prints, whatever …and the tide comes in and washes all of it away – no matter what it’s from or how big it was. That’s what Jesus’ blood did.

Obviously Christians still sin – we just hate doing it now, and sin doesn’t keep us from being God’s children. But, it will break our fellowship with Him. That’s why we still confess our sins daily and repent. We’re agreeing with God that what we’ve done is sin and we turn from it. Instead of sugar coating it, like calling adultery “an affair” or lying an “exaggeration” or pride “self-esteem” or murder “the right to choose”…

Daily confession of sin keeps us in a right loving relationship with God. We don’t run hide behind a bush like Adam and Eve did when they heard Him coming!

We’re about at the end of the book. And what we’ve learned from reading the book of Revelation we must share –

Revelation 22:16-17

Every one of us comes into contact with people who don’t know Christ. We are put where we are in life to be able to help someone. The book of Revelation makes us aware that we could be standing before Jesus at any second and we need to act before it’s too late. Think about whom you know – who’s not saved. Invite them to “come.”

Revelation 22:18-19

At the very beginning of history God told Adam not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil for when he die he would surely die. And Satan said to Eve, “Did God really say ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?” And as he cast doubt on God’s Word and His Goodness, Eve responded, “God did say ‘You must not eat the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden and you must not touch it, or you will surely die.”

She added to God’s Word. And it had a devastating impact on her and her husband and her children and every generation since. At the very end of God’s revelation of human history He warns against repeating the same sin. His Word, the Bible, conveys His thoughts and ways and will and not one word is to be tampered with.

People add to His Word and take away from His Word all the time. They pull verses out of context. They ignore the ones they don’t like. They say this part of the Bible is true, but this part isn’t. But, none of this affects God’s truth.

And the book ends with Revelation 22:20-21

Because we know He is coming, we need to be prepared. We need to stay faithful to His Word, faithful to worship, faithful to His work, faithful to confess our sin and stay in a right relationship with Him. Faithful to witness and warn and watch. Faithful to live our lives like we know He’s coming back for us!

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