Sermon Overview & Prayer: "Finally Home"

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"Finally Home" - Jeff Purswell | Prayer Points
These written prayers are intended to fuel your meditation on this passage and your enjoyment of God in prayer

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.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable...their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

Revelation 21:1-5a, 8

While this scene seems remote – foreign to our everyday lives where we experience pain and hardship and temptations and uncertainty – it’s actually more real and concrete and enduring than anything you’re experiencing now in your life.

PRAYER: Father, this magnificent scene defies my comprehension! As I read this passage, fill my heart with the awesome and central reality that I will be face to face with my Creator, my Savior, my Comforter...in all your beauty, holiness, and glory!

We begin with a Transcendent Vision – v 1-2 Finally, at the conclusion of the book, after all evil is abolished and judged, we see the outcome. The first thing John sees is “a new heaven & a new earth”.  “For the first heaven and first earth had passed away.” When Christ returns and deals with all the enemies of God, this world will be transformed. All the effects of sin that have brought pain and distortion and catastrophe, will be removed.

PRAYER: Lord may my present, temporal situation and circumstances – bleak though they may be – never rob me of the hope-filled joy and anticipation of a new heaven and new earth. Thank you that because of the gift of faith in your promises, unseen realities can sustain me well beyond fleeting temporal comforts.

Now we see a “city – the “holy city”, the “new Jerusalem” – the perfection of the people of God dwelling in joyful communion with God.  Then the imagery shifts. It moves from a “city” to a “bride” – a marriage bond, stressing the intimacy, love, and pleasure of communion with God. Life is a wedding preparation! That’s what we see so far in this transcendent vision – a transformed world for a treasured people.

PRAYER: Lord God, thank you for this unveiling and fulfillment of our citizenship being in heaven! And thank you for the wondrous prospect that because of the gospel, we are seen not only as citizens of a new heaven and new earth, but as your very bride – chosen (in spite of us), loved (in spite of us), and treasured (in spite of us).

The heavenly interpretation...the trajectory of the entire storyline of the Bible: In His creating, in His ruling, in His saving, in His sanctifying, God has purposed to personally dwell among a people He has made His own. This picture points us, away from this world, away from our trials, away from our sufferings to that day when we'll see Him. And we will have Him in fullness.

PRAYER:  Father, the trials and sufferings of this world and this life often tempt me to demand, “why?!”.

When such anguish fills my soul, remind me that there is a greater “why” – why should I be among those

forgiven and granted to spend eternity in glory with you?!

To God’s people who have experienced the trials and temptations and sufferings in a fallen world, it means receiving God’s personal comfort. Behold the tenderness of your God!  “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes” Nothing will slip out of His powerful hands – hands that are at work even now – shaping, protecting, restoring, working all things for your ultimate good.

PRAYER:  Holy Spirit, draw me again and again to the cross of Christ that I might be reminded that the most wicked and unjust slaughter of the innocent was working the most glorious salvation of mankind. May I humbly embrace the perplexing, and often painful, as purposeful and preparatory for my good.

“The former things” – all the woes that have infected the created order through sin – all of those things will be, as the text says three times, “no more!”

Finally, we hear a Divine Declaration from the One seated on the throne, “Behold, I am making all things new!” From heaven’s perspective, all that John has seen and heard – the new creation, God’s presence forever among His people, all sin removed – “They have happened!” From heaven’s perspective, it is all accomplished.

PRAYER:  Glorious Lord, thank you that you have not only saved me “from”, but saved me “to.” And while I will never fully grasp the infinite extent of either, I thank you that there awaits me an eternity filled with the beauty, the glory, and the perfection that is you!

There was a cry that preceded, and made possible, God’s declaration, “It is done!” It was the cry of Jesus on the cross, “It is finished.” That cry – that accomplishment – makes our salvation possible. It purchased God’s forgiveness, and favor and sustaining presence with us now! And it guarantees a future in God’s presence forever, where we will behold Him face-to-face.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I pray that every day of my life will in some way reflect the glory of your great salvation! May righteousness, peace, and joy...may holiness, gratefulness, humility, and grace...may all these be displayed in my life as testimony of your perfect and completed sacrifice. And may that which you have completed, and that which I have received, stir within me a compelling compassion to share that good news, at every opportunity, with others!

OVERVIEW OF THE SERMON:
Revelation 21 inaugurates the central and climactic theme of the entire book, a scene which will persist throughout the remainder of the letter: God will fulfill his ultimate plan to dwell with his people in a newly created order, absent of all sin, suffering, pain, and death. John reveals where all history is heading in order to provide God’s people life-shaping perspective and soul-strengthening encouragement. However, there is also a tragic warning for those who do not trust Christ for salvation, a sharply contrasted vision of their impending eternal destiny.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  1. Regarding the final two chapters of Revelation, Jeff reminds us “Your Bible will not make sense without these chapters. Your life won’t make sense without these chapters.” How did the first eight verses of this chapter give you “life-shaping perspective and soul-strengthening encouragement”?
  2. Jeff described John’s vision in this passage as heaven coming down to join with earth, in contrast with a more culturally assumed understanding of heaven in which the souls of believers depart to an ethereal existence. Why is it important to rightly (biblically) view the new heavens and new earth as presented in this chapter?
  3. The new heavens and new earth are described in verses 3-4 in three major categories: God’s dwelling with his people (v. 3), God’s rectifying of all past sorrow (v. 4a), and God’s protection of his people from any future sorrow (v. 4b). Which of these themes were you least familiar with before the sermon and what stuck out to you about that theme from the sermon?
  4. Verse 8 provides a picture of the eternal destiny for those who do not trust Christ for salvation. How do you blend this grievous picture with the merciful offers from the previous 7 verses in order to convince unbelieving friends or family to put their faith in the Purchaser of the new heaven and new earth?