Light from heaven

Making everything new – Revelation 21:5-6

Light from heaven

Previously: God’s dwelling is with humanity – Revelation 21:3-4

The scripture

Rev. 21:5 – Then the One seated on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new.” He also said, “Write, because these words are faithful and true.” 6 And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give water as a gift to the thirsty from the spring of life.” (HCSB)

Making everything new

In verses 5-6 John writes, “Then the One seated on the throne said, ‘Look! I am making everything new.’ He also said, ‘Write, because these words are faithful and true.’ And He said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give water as a gift to the thirsty from the spring of life.’

In the creation, God makes everything out of nothing (ex nihilo) and declares all He has made to be good. Sinless perfection is the norm until Adam and Eve fall into sin, bringing death upon themselves and entropy upon the created order. From the garden, however, God provides atonement through a substitutionary sacrifice and a promise that the “seed” of Eve will crush Satan’s head and set things right.

We get glimpses of the world set right throughout scripture. Yahweh defeats the false gods of the Egyptians and parts the Red Sea for His people. A widow finds an abundance of oil and flour after she offers the last of her supply to the prophet Elijah. A leper is healed after bathing in the Jordan River. An army of 185,000 Assyrians is struck dead in a single night. And the prophets of old share inspiring predictions of a world restored, where the lion and the lamb lie down together while the child plays over the cobra’s den.
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God’s dwelling is with humanity – Revelation 21:3-4

GODPreviously: The Holy City – Revelation 21:2

The scripture

Rev. 21:3 – Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look! God’s dwelling is with humanity, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away. (HCSB)

God’s dwelling is with humanity

In verses 3-4 John hears a loud voice from the throne: “Look! God’s dwelling is with humanity, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away.”

The greatest joy of the new heaven and new earth is restored intimacy with our Creator. Before the Fall, Adam and Eve walked with God in the garden and spoke with Him face to face. But sin shattered that closeness. The first humans hid themselves among the trees from the presence of God. Shame and separation haunted them, as it did their offspring and every person after them. While we see examples of righteous people who walked with God – Enoch and Noah, for example – the norm for human beings is to hide ourselves from Him.

And, frankly, God so often seems to hide Himself from us. We seek Him in times of trouble and seasons of great need, and so often He seems unwilling to be disturbed. When pain and suffering, loneliness and alienation, despair and grief – all consequences of the Fall – engulf us, we cry out to the Creator and hear only the faint echo of our own voices.

Where is He? Does He not hear? Does He not care? Why has He forsaken us? It’s hard to admit it, but we routinely experience a loss of intimacy with God because that’s the kind of world in which we want to live. The sin nature – that inbred tendency to live independently of God – churns within us and drives us to live as if we are the masters of our destinies; we seek our Creator only when we come to the end of ourselves.
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Did Jesus descend into hell?

This is the first in a two-part series on the whereabouts of Jesus between His death and resurrection.

One of the more puzzling questions about the redemptive work of Christ is where His soul went between death and resurrection.

The Gospel writers confirm that Jesus’ body was placed in a tomb after His death, and remained there until His resurrection.

But what about the immaterial part of Jesus – namely His soul and / or spirit?

One view is stated in the Apostles’ Creed: “He [Jesus] descended into Hell; the third day He rose again from the dead.”

The meaning of this phrase is much debated. The traditional interpretation is that Christ went to the abode of the dead to preach the gospel to Old Testament saints in order to set them free for the full experience of heaven.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church embraces this view, as do many Protestants.

However, theologian Wayne Grudem points out that the troublesome phrase, “He descended into Hell,” is a “late intruder into the Apostles’ Creed that never belonged there in the first place and that, on historical and Scriptural grounds, deserves to be removed.”
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The Holy City – Revelation 21:2

Previously: The sea no longer existed – Revelation 21:1

The scripture

Rev. 21:2 – I also saw the Holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband. (HCSB)

The Holy City

John moves from the vision of a new heaven and a new earth in verse 1 to a New Jerusalem in verse 2: “I also saw the Holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.” The name “new Jerusalem” is used in only one other place in the Bible. In Rev. 3:12 Jesus says, “The victor: I will make him a pillar in the sanctuary of My God, and he will never go out again. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God – the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God – and My new name.”

We should note that the New Jerusalem is called “the Holy City,” in contrast with the earthly Jerusalem, which spiritually is compared to Sodom in Rev. 11:8.

John writes that the city is prepared like a bride adorned for her husband. We see the bride in Rev. 19:7-9 and we understand her to be the church, as in other New Testament passages. But in what way is the bride also the New Jerusalem?

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Beings

Should you believe in ghosts?

BeingsThis is the last in a series of columns on the afterlife and the unseen realm.

Ghosts are everywhere. They star in major motion pictures from The Shining to Scary Movie 2. Some ghosts are friendly (Casper) and some are frightening (Bloody Mary).

Popular television shows like Ghost Adventures use the latest technologies to “prove” that spirits of the dead are all around us – and want to make their presence known.

But is this true? The short answer is no. As Christians, we must gauge all truth claims by the Bible, the ultimate and unchanging measure of reality.
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