I wanted to clarify a few things from yesterday’s sermon on Heaven. This is a wonderfully complex subject, and one that I hope you will study more about. Hopefully this brief follow up can wrap up some loose ends, but it by no means is a complete summary of Heaven!
John is writing a description of his vision of the reality of Heaven, while using a specific genre of literature called apocalyptic writing. This writing style was popular during the inter-Testimonial period and first century Judaism. At the same time, John is attempting to convey the Heavenly realm, a reality that the our human minds have trouble grasping. When reading Revelation, we must understanding this tension: Limited language to describe the infinite beauty of Heaven, a specific writing genre, and the reality of John’s vision.
When we come to chapter 21 and 22 we are seeing the coming of the Bride, Jerusalem (the Church!), and the consummation of the entire narrative of Scripture! What had been undone and broken in Genesis 3 by sin, is being redeemed and made whole again here at the end. I believe that what is being shown here in John’s vision isn’t necessarily a play by play description of heaven, but an explanation of the reality of God dwelling with his people in the New Earth and the New Heaven. It is a place of such profound beauty and richness, that our human language is simply to limited to express it!
Ultimately, the description of the open gates and the foundations of the city are meant to convey the openness of the Kingdom to all whose “names are written in the Lambs book of Life, and whose robes are washed white with the blood of the Lamb”. How is one’s name writenin the Book of Life and how are their robes washed white? By surrendering to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and receiving his Grace! As I said yesterday, the ability to enter into the Kingdom of God through Christ is open to all who would believe!
My hope and prayer is that we would be challenged to reach out to our friends, our families, our neighbors, co-workers, and even strangers with the news that they too can enter into the Kingdom of God. Often times we have our preconceived notions that this person or that person will never come to church. But this way of thinking limits who we think God can save! The truth is, God is at work in the lives of the people around us at all times. We are given the gift and the responsibility to reach out to them in Christ’s name! What a holy, and awesome responsibility our Father has entrusted us with!
The Outer Banks is full of people who are lost and far from the saving grace of Jesus. But the Gates are open for them to come in, It is our job to walk beside of them, and do all that we can to make sure that their path to Christ is clear, as we lead them to the open arms of the waiting savior Jesus Christ.
Who will you walk beside? Who will you invite to church?
Note: For deeper study on the book of Revelation, watch or listen to Dr. Robert Mulholland's Asbury Seminaries Masters level class NT666 made available as a series of podcasts. Dr. Mulholland passed away just over a year ago, and Asbury made his class available to all. This is a rich resource. Dr. Mulholland was a faithfull, brilliant, and passionate teacher. Please take advantage!