Rev 22:18 The Life Hereafter 6/16/2002
#1. Departing in Peace (Luke 2:25-32)
#2. That They May Behold My Glory (John 17:24-26)
#3. Then, What Manner of Persons Aught Ye to Be? (II Pet 3:10-12)
Please open your Bibles to the Revelation of Jesus Christ, chapter 22:18, which is found on the last page of your Bible. Rev 22:18. The topic of the sermon today is titled: "The Life Hereafter" (2X). There are many verses in the Bible which speak about "The Life Hereafter", but today I want to address a special aspect of "The Life Hereafter", and that is: "Do we know where we are going?" (2X). If we really want to know that, then we have to use:
Here in Rev 22:18-19 we have the sharp edge of the Sword of the Spirit, ^ the Word of God.
Rev 22:18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
Rev 22:19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
The first thought that comes up in the mind of everyone reading these two verses is: "This lays our salvation on the line". God is condemning to Hell all those who add or take away from the "prophecy of this book" and from the "book of this prophecy". Does this judgment come upon all those who are adding or deleting from this Scroll of Revelation? Is this the document that is in view?
Already three years ago I answered this question in two sermons titled: "One Book" and "One God", where I proved from Hos 1:10 that the Bible is One Book, it is one coherent whole, and it is the Book that Rev 22:18 and 19 are speaking about. You can hear and read these sermons on our website. Briefly summarized, if you add to the Bible or take away from the Bible, you are worshipping another god, but it is not the God of the Bible. That is why God invokes this curse on anyone who follows someone who has added to, or taken away from the Bible.
Do we know where we are going? Do we dare to apply that sharp edge of the Sword of the Spirit to whatever doctrines we hold? That is what it takes to know where we are going. These days the adding of doctrines is much more prevalent than the taking away. For example, there are many among our listening audiences who believe in Purgatory, and who believe in praying for people who have died. I was raised in the Roman Catholic Church, which believes in Purgatory and praying for the dead. But there is nothing in the Bible that justifies that doctrine. Moreover, the R.C.Church also believes that God is still speaking today through dreams, and visions, and angel visitations, and strange tongues, and through utterances of saints and popes. All those are violations of Rev 22:18. Those people are not reading the Bible. They speak of "peace, peace, where there is no peace". Please turn in your Bibles to the Gospel according to Luke, chapter 2:25. (2X) There is an example:
#1. Of truly Departing in Peace (Luke 2:25-32)
In Luke chapter 2 we find the famous narrative about the birth of Jesus in a stable in Bethlehem, and the story of the shepherds visiting the baby Jesus. Also in Luke, chapter 2, we find that after the days of Mary's purification were accomplished, they brought the child to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord, and to offer a sacrifice according to the Law of Moses. Then we read in Luke 2:25,
Luke 2:25 ¶ And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.
Luke 2:26 And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ.
Luke 2:27 And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,
Luke 2:28 Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
Luke 2:29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:
Luke 2:30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
Luke 2:31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
Luke 2:32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
Here was a devout man, named Simeon. What did Simeon believe? Simeon believed he was not going to die before he had seen the promised Messiah. Then, while he took the baby Jesus in his arms, God the Holy Spirit revealed to him that this was the promised Messiah. Simeon said in V 29,
Luke 2:29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:
In other words, "Lord, now I have peace with my departure from this earth, because I can see that my kinsfolk are well cared for." This was the moment the nation of Israel had been waiting for, for over 2000 years. Simeon was a sinner, just like anyone else. God says, "There is NONE righteous, NO NOT ONE". Therefore, if Purgatory exists, Simeon would not have said, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace". Death would be a frightening event for all people, because Purgatory is like a Lake of Fire. But look how Simeon answers this question of the abode of the dead. He says in verses 30 and 31, "For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people". Simeon speaks here of "salvation". But what are we saved from? Salvation means we are saved from our terrible predicament after this life. That predicament is Hell, the Lake of Fire, which we deserve for committing all our sins. But for the saints death is a sweet stepping-stone into eternity, without the threat of Purgatory. Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Philippians, chapter 1.(2X) Death of the body is a sweet transition to eternity. The Apostle says:
You find Philippians after Galatians and Ephesians. This is a letter of thanks to the Philippian church for sending to the Apostle Paul a gift, after his imprisonment in Rome. This is also a loving letter of encouragement to the church at Philippi. And look at the words in verses 20-24,
Phil 1:20 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be
by life, or by death.
Philippians 1:21 ¶ For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Philippians 1:22 But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.
Philippians 1:23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:
Philippians 1:24 Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.
Paul too was departing in peace. Look again at the words of verse 21, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." The Apostle Paul was a sinner as we are. If you need any confirmation of that, just read Romans 7. If there were any threat of Purgatory, he certainly would have written about it. But we also know that Christ was his Savior. Therefore he had no fear of death. Death to him was a stepping-stone to be with Christ. Can we, each one, say that also of our own selves? Can we say, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain"?
Of course, before we can say that, we first have to know what we must be saved from. We have to know that our sins have insulted the righteousness of God. We were made in the image of God, and therefore every sin we commit is insulting God. Every sin, God declares, must be punished with an eternity in Hell. That is the predicament, from which each one of us, individually, needs to be saved.
But God has provided a way of escape. God sent the Lord Jesus Christ, the second person of the Triune Godhead, to this earth to take upon Himself the sins of all those who would believe on Him. But who will believe on Him? NO ONE will believe on Him, because God writes in Rom 3:11, "There is NONE that seeketh after God". Everyone in the human race is in rebellion against God, and will not choose to follow Christ. Who would want to believe a Savior who promises suffering and persecution in this world? No one likes that, and no one likes the Gospel that the Bible declares.
Therefore, in order to save a people for Himself, God has to choose whom He will save, and God must bend their will so that they want to do the will of God. Jesus demonstrated that by choosing His 11 faithful disciples. He said to them in John 15, "Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you". Please turn with me to the Gospel according to John, chapter 14. (2X) There the Lord Jesus said:
In John chapter 14 we have come to the last discourse of the Lord Jesus before He went to the cross. They ate the last Passover meal together. Judas left to betray his Master. The Lord Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper. Then He said to the remaining 11 disciples in John 14:1,
John 14:1 ¶ Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
John 14:2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
John 14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
Can you see: there is not a trace of Purgatory here. What did the Lord Jesus mean when He said: "I go to prepare a place for you"? Where was He going? He was going to the cross. What was He going to do there? He was going to offer Himself to atone for the sins of the 11 disciples, and for my sins and for the sins of everyone whom God had chosen to save. That is how He prepared a place for us. He purchased us on the cross, and He purchased the 11 disciples on the cross. And when He came back from the grave He told them in no uncertain terms that they would be His witnesses and they would receive the Holy Spirit. This meant that their names were written in heaven. They too, and we too can depart in peace. What a cruel hoax would this have been if the disciples would first have to spend a few years in Purgatory. No! Not only is Purgatory not found in the Scriptures; it is a doctrine that has been added to the Bible, and it is a violation of Rev 22:18. Therefore all those who believe this doctrine of Purgatory have sided with those who are adding to the Word of God, and therefore they are still under the wrath of God.
But did you see what Jesus said in verse 3: "And IF I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself". That is a big IF. He said: "IF I go and prepare a place for you". He did not say that He would prepare a place for everyone in the human race, and He did not say that He made it possible for everyone to receive this place if they accept the Lord Jesus. He said that only those for whom He prepared a place, they will be the ones for whom He will come again and receive them unto Himself. That conditional word IF is really there in the Greek text. Why is this so?
The Lord Jesus knew from before the foundation of the world whom He was going to save. He did not make salvation possible for them. He definitely would save those whom the Father had chosen to save. They were those who had been given to Christ, and they were from the beginning in Christ. When Christ came to this earth He carried the guilt of all the sins of all those who were in Him. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Beginning in the Garden of Gethsemane and ending the next day at the cross He suffered the wrath of God for all those sins, and He had to pay the full price: only the equivalent of an eternity in Hell would satisfy the righteousness of God. But Christ paid only for the sins of His people, His elect. Christ did not pay for the sins of those who themselves are going to Hell. That is why He said: "IF I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself". IF I suffer for you on the cross, then I will come again and receive you unto myself.
For what purpose will He come again? He says in V. 3: "That where I am, there ye may be also",
#2. In order That They May Behold My Glory (John 17:24-26)
Please turn two or three pages to your right to John 17:24. (2X) John 17 is the High Priestly prayer of Jesus, where He is petitioning the Father for His disciples and for all those in NT history who shall believe the truths of this Gospel. Now He says in the last three verses of this prayer, beginning in V24
Jo 17:24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.
John 17:25 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.
John 17:26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.
This is what our life in heaven is all about: that we may behold the glory of Christ. We have no idea what that means. All we know is that it will be infinitely glorious. But notice again in verse 24 that Jesus refers to that select group of people for whom Christ suffered and died: "They whom Thou hast given Me". Christ starts this verse with the words: "Father, I will". Remember that Christ is God. Whatever God desires to be done, it shall be done, or else He is not God. Therefore, we can be certain that all those whom the Father has given to Christ shall be saved and shall inherit eternal life.
Why is this so? It is because God declares that we were in Christ. That is the key to our security. God declares that we who were in Christ were crucified with Christ, and we died with Christ, and we were buried with Christ, and we were raised with Christ, and we ascended with Christ, and we are seated in heaven with Christ. Since we were in Christ when He endured the equivalent of eternal damnation, and we were in Christ when He victoriously came out of the equivalent of eternal damnation, therefore God will never condemn us to Hell because, in principle, we have already gone through the equivalent of Hell when Christ suffered on the cross. Therefore, all the elect, who were in Christ when He suffered and died on the cross, shall be safe for all eternity.
That is why God through the Apostle Paul could say:
Please turn in your Bibles to the second Epistle to the Corinthians, chapter 5. (2X) There are two topics discussed in II Corinthians chapter 5. The first is "Our Hope of Eternal Life in Heaven", and the second is "Our Task of Ambassador Here Below". Today we will focus just on the first topic: "Our Hope of Eternal Life in Heaven". God says here through the pen of the Apostle Paul, in II Cor 5:6,
2 Corinthians 5:6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:
2 Corinthians 5:7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)
2 Corinthians 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
2 Corinthians 5:9 Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.
This Epistle is addressed to the church at Corinth and to all the saints in the region of Achaia. The meaning of verse 6 is: "While we dwell in this body". The idea is not that we might feel at home in the body. This is the opposite of that which the Apostle wishes to talk about. Verse 6 simply means, "To be in the body, or to be present in the body, means that we are absent from the Lord". On the other hand, in verse 8 he says: "To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord", in order that we may behold His glory. Remember that the Apostle is speaking to the saints at Corinth. There are only two places the soul of a saint can be: either in the body while we live here on earth, or in the presence of Christ in heaven. There is no in between place, there is no Purgatory. Christ has paid for all our sins, and including the sin of unbelief prior to our salvation, and it also includes all our future sins. When Christ saves His elect, He saves to the uttermost. He does not just create the possibility of salvation. He absolutely saves and gives us the faith that is the evidence of salvation.
How can we know if we belong to that select group of people? How can we know if we are one of the elect? The evidence is FAITH. What kind of faith? Everyone these days says that he has faith. How can we be sure that we have the right kind of faith? Allow me to summarize again what I have said before: First, we must dare to apply to ourselves the sharp edge of the Sword of the Spirit, Rev 22:18-19. Do we believe and hold fast to all the words of Scripture, and do we stay away from additions to the Word of God? Second, can we honestly say, "Lord, let me now depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation"? Do we dare to say of ourselves, "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain"? Are we still afraid to die, or has that fear of death been removed? Third, do we believe Christ when He said: "I go to prepare a place for you"? Do we believe that He indeed has paid for all our sins? Do we believe that eternal life in heaven is mostly beholding His glory? Are we content with that or do we want something extra for the "good works" we have done on earth? Then, fourth, if we have answered all the previous questions correctly, our conclusion must be that "To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord". Do we look forward to this great transition in our life? That is the FAITH, which is the evidence of God having saved us. And then we can rejoice that:
Please turn in your Bibles to the First Epistle of John, chapter 3. (2X). You find First John very near the end of your Bibles, close to Revelation. God wrote this Epistle through the pen of the Apostle John, most likely after he had written the Gospel according to John. God wrote this Epistle for the purpose: "That ye may know that ye have eternal life". God wants us to have that certainty of salvation. But here in chapter 3 God touches on "The Life Hereafter". We read in verse 1,
1 John 3:1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
1 John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
1 John 3:3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
Behold the mercy and grace of God. God's mercy is on display at the cross, where God in His abundant mercy for us has made Christ the recipient of His wrath, instead of pouring His wrath on us. Since we are not able to fully endure the wrath of God, it would take us an eternity to receive the full wrath of God on our sins. But God has made Christ our stand in, and so we do not have to go to Hell. If that was all God has done for us we would already be infinitely grateful to Him. But in addition, by God's grace, He has adopted us as sons of God. God has lifted us up and made us sit with Christ in the heavenlies. He has made us part of His family. What a great honor and glory God has bestowed upon us. If a prince found in the streets a poor orphan boy, and he took him to his palace, and gave him the same privileges and honors as his own sons, we would stand amazed at such a generosity. But that is nothing compared with what the Almighty Creator of the universe has bestowed upon us. He promised that when Christ shall appear, we shall be like him. We will be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye we shall be changed, and we shall be like Him, shining in all His glory, for all eternity. And we shall continue to find more and more things to admire in His glory that we have not seen before. And we shall display His glory in a universe where only righteousness dwells.
Seeing then what we shall be, and that we are now called sons of God,
#3. Then, What Manner of Persons Aught Ye to Be? (II Pet 3:10-12)
Please turn two pages to your left, to II Pet 3:10, (2X). Here in II Pet 3 God speaks through the pen of the Apostle Peter, and God writes in this chapter about the great apostasy near the end of time and about the Last Day itself. God says in II Pet 3:10,
2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
2 Peter 3:11 ¶ Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,
2 Peter 3:12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
Anyone who expects Christ to come silently as a thief in the night will be surprised to read these words. Yes He will come as a thief in the night for most people, because most people will not expect His coming. But Christ will come not silently. His coming will be accompanied by the sound of a loud trumpet, the voice of God, and then: "the heavens shall pass away with a great noise", and "the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up". All material in this world will be destroyed. Knowing then that all these things shall be destroyed, how shall we conduct ourselves in this world? Should we strive to have a few trinkets more? Should we strive to work our buns off for our employer? The Bible says: NO! Give your employer the time you owe him, but don't let your employer control your life. Don't let your employer take more and more of your time. That time belongs to God and to your family. You work on a job just to earn enough money to lubricate the machinery of your life.
And watch your conversation, or conduct. Is it in any way God glorifying? You know that we are watched by all the unsaved in the world. They do not read the Bible, but we are the only Bible they might ever see or read. They see our conduct, and they see our mistakes, which are not mistakes but are sins. And so we are witnessing of Christ with our words and with our conduct. All the saints are called to be ambassadors for Christ's Kingdom. We watch our conduct as ambassadors, because we are representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ. How effective is our witness? That we must leave entirely in the hands of God. The grace and the mercy of God is something we have no control over.
But are we "looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God"? Absolutely true! Our witness for Christ will be the instrument God uses to bring into the Kingdom of Christ all those whom God elected unto salvation. And when the last one of God's elect has been saved, then the end will come. That is how we are "looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God".
And then we will receive:
Please turn a few more pages to your left, to the second Epistle to Timothy, chapter 4. (2X). God wrote, through the pen of the Apostle Paul, an encouraging letter to Timothy, the Pastor of Ephesus. This was the last Epistle that the Apostle Paul wrote before he died as a martyr. Therefore, having little time to express his wishes, he most likely selected topics that were closest to his heart, and topics that he considers most important. In the beginning of chapter 4 he urges again to watch our conduct and our preaching of the Gospel in this world, because the time will come that people will no longer endure sound doctrine. Then we read in II Tim 4:5,
2 Timothy 4:5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
2 Timothy 4:6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
2 Tim 4:8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
After warning us about the apostasy near the end of time in verses 3 and 4, Paul says to Timothy, and God says to us in verse 5, " But watch thou in all things". Be clear minded and be vigilant against error and against sin in the church. We are close to the end of time. Therefore watch out for all kinds of false doctrines that are going to be generated by reputable Bible teachers in the church. The threat is not from the outside, but from the inside. He ends verse 5 with the words, "make full proof of thy ministry", which means: Give a full evidence of what is the design of the Christian ministry, and of what it is supposed to accomplish. Do not let the false teachers take it away from you. If they say, "The church age has come to an end", do not believe it. Hold fast to the doctrines that you have been taught, that you may also say: "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth (in the life hereafter) there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness". What is this crown of righteousness? Is it a special reward to the Apostle Paul for doing the work of an evangelist, for fighting the good fight and for keeping the faith? NO! Righteousness is not something that is earned or deserved for doing good works. The crown of righteousness is given to all the saints in heaven, because righteousness is a gift from God. It is a gift that in value far exceeds any reward for all good works that we could have done for Christ. Just remember that the Apostle Paul was in his former life an enemy of Christ. He persecuted the church and caused much pain and death to the church of Christ. If God had not stopped him on the road to Damascus and given him another heart, then this man, Saul of Tarsus, would have been on his way to Hell. But God, in His great mercy and grace, converted Saul of Tarsus, and He became a faithful follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. Even his faithfulness was a gift of grace. Just look at the ending of this verse 8: "and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." This crown of righteousness is given to every saint. Everyone who is saved is looking forward to that Last Day when Christ will appear on the clouds of heaven. We are looking forward to that day because:
Please turn with me to Psalm 16:11. (2X) You find Psalms in the middle of your Bible. Psalm 16 is a Michtam of David, which means it is a secret treasure of David. There are certainly many treasures in this Psalm. Verse 10 indicates that this is a Messianic Psalm. It means that this is one of the prayers of the Lord Jesus Christ, and He is the One we should imitate. The last verse in Psalm 16:
Psalm 16:11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
First Christ says: "Thou wilt show Me the path of life". The Father did indeed show Him the path of life, and we have the proof of that since Christ returned from the grave. Lord, Thou shalt show us likewise the path of life: Our souls are justified by Thy mercy and grace now, and the redemption of our bodies shall follow later at Christ's return. Therefore, we can confidently sing now: "At Thy Right Hand are Pleasures Forevermore". Please turn a number of pages to your right to Psalm 36. Here in Psalm 36 God teaches us to celebrate the lovingkindness and the mercy of God. We read Psalm 36:7
Psalm 36:7 How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.
Psalm 36:8 They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.
Psalm 36:9 For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.
We can never enough value and praise the lovingkindness of God, whose overshadowing wings protect us and cherish us here on earth, in order to bear us up from here into heaven. Then we shall be abundantly satisfied with those pleasures at His right hand. God shows us here a picture of the fountain of life, spouting forth the water of life, which proceeds out of the throne of God and of the Lamb and it swells into a river of water of life. This is what we read in Rev 22.
Amen. Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.