************ Sermon on Revelation 21:5-8 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on January 17, 2010
"He Who Overcomes"
"The time is near" (Rev 1:3). We are in the "last days" (Acts 2:17; Heb 1:2). "The end of all things is near" (1 Pet 4:7). This is not me making a prediction or reading the "signs of the times"; rather, these are all quotes from the Bible.
Some 2000 years have passed since these were written. So, what do they mean? That the Bible writers were wrong? That the Bible writers maybe were not inspired? That the Bible is not inerrant? That we are wrong to believe Scripture and to trust the God of Scripture?
No. No. No. A thousand times No. Throughout this series of sermons on the Revelation I've been telling you over and over again that the "last days" is a technical phrase for the whole time between the first and second comings of Jesus Christ. We are in the "last days," my brothers and sisters; let there be no doubt or question about that. We are in the time between Christ's two comings.
Now, most of what we have covered so far in the Revelation concerns the "last days" that whole time between Christ's two comings. In other words, what is in the Revelation applies to the seven churches of Asia Minor, to the churches of Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, to the churches of the Reformation, and to us today. We looked at the seal judgments, the trumpet judgments, the bowl judgments they tell us about God's judgments upon the earth during the "last days." But, remember, each of the judgments is more intense than the one before: the seal judgments are visited upon one fourth of the earth (Rev 6:8); the trumpet judgments are visited upon one third of the earth (Rev 8:7); the bowl judgments are visited upon all of the earth (Rev 16). So, as time marches on, we see that God's judgments upon the earth becomes more and more intense.
Beginning with Revelation 17, we see a new and different time frame. We are no longer dealing with the "last days." Rather, in Revelation 17-20 we are dealing with the events immediately leading up to the last day itself. What do we see? God's judgment upon Babylon, the harlot that lures God's people away from Christ and the Gospel (Rev 17 & 18). God's judgment upon the beast from the sea and the false prophet (Rev 19). The non-battle of Armageddon and God's judgment upon Satan (Rev 20). And, then the final judgment itself (Rev 20). Then, in Revelation 21-22 we deal with the future life.
Why am I saying this? To remind you that right now we you and I are still in the last days; in other words, the last day and the future life are not yet here. And, to warn you this means we are still dealing with Satan, the beast, the false prophet, and Babylon. They are still out there. They are still attacking God's people. So, we still need to keep watch. We still need to hold fast. We still need to overcome.
I God Speaks
A Last time we started looking at verse 5. I pointed out God's promise: "I am making everything new" (Rev 21:5). I asked what makes everything new, what defines the newness of the new creation? We heard three answers. First, everything is new because it is new in quality. Second, everything is new because sin and its consequences have been removed. Third, everything is new because God dwells with men.
B I want to take a second look at what God says in verse 5. Listen to what John has written:
(Rev 21:5) He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."
Let's start with an observation. Throughout the Revelation we have heard loud voices from heaven, from the temple, from angels, from the twenty four elders, and from the four living creatures around the throne. It is highly significant that this is one of the few times in the Revelation that God Himself speaks. Do you hear the emphasis? "I am making everything new." "I." "God."
"I am making everything new." What is significant about this? Two things. First, Who or what makes everything new? Not you, not me, not Christians in action, not kingdom activity, not social engineering, not technological advancements, not democracy, not capitalism, not education, not pluralism, not tolerance, not genetic manipulation, not humanism, not President Obama and the Democrats, not the Republican Party, not Communism, not Fascism! You know, there is something in man that makes him think he can build utopia and Paradise Lost. But, it is God and God alone Who makes everything new.
"I am making everything new." God does this. On His own. By Himself. This is His achievement alone.
Go back to verse 2. Where does the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, come from? John describes her as "coming down out of heaven from God" (Rev 21:2). So, he makes the point twice "out of heaven" and "from God." Its origin is from God. It is not the result of human effort. It is not sinful mankind who fashions utopia. This is God's work. It bears His design and carries His fingerprints. The new Creation is God's handiwork.
C "I am making everything new." What is significant about this? Second, this means it is better, far better, than anything man can come up with. Take the best we can do it isn't good enough. Take the best we can imagine it isn't good enough. Take the best descriptions of poetry or science fiction it isn't good enough. Even the Bible falls short in describing the future life because we have no categories, no language, no symbols that can communicate the perfection of the future life.
"I am making everything new." What God comes up with is the highest, the best, and the ultimate expression of perfection.
D "I am making everything new." How do we know we can trust this and believe this? After all, some two thousand years have already come and gone. And, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation (2 Pet 3:4). So, how do we know this promise will come to pass. Did you take note of the rest of verse 5?
(Rev 21:5) He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."Which makes me ask, why are "these words ... trustworthy and true"?
We run across the very same situation in verse 6. Look at what God says there:
(Rev 21:6) He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.""It is done." What is done? God is done making everything new. Really? How come this seems to be the same old world? How come we still struggle with sin and Satan and the beast and the false prophet and Babylon? How come we are not living in the immediate presence of God? How can God say, "It is done," when it isn't done? How can God make such a claim?
God can say "these words are trustworthy and true." God can say "It is done." Why? Because of Who He is. Because of His position. Because it is all guaranteed by God Himself. Notice how God describes Himself: "the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End" (Rev 21:6). Do you remember these titles from the start of the Revelation (1:8; cf 1:17-18)? Do you remember what we said then? That God is the Creator and the Consummator. That history begins and ends in Him. That He Who is sovereign over the start and the end must also be sovereign over everything that lies in-between.
"These words are trustworthy and true" (Rev 21:5). "It is done" (Rev 21:6). Who makes these promises? The Lord of history.
E "It is done." Do these words sound at all familiar? Doesn't it make you think of the cross? Doesn't it make you think of what Jesus said with His dying breath? Doesn't it make you think of "It is finished"? When Jesus said these words, He not only finished His atoning work on our behalf but He also set the new creation into motion. With the creation of the new heaven and new earth, God has brought to completion all that which was accomplished by Christ at the cross and the grave. "It is finished." "It is done."
II The Overcomer
A God's work of finishing off Christ's work results in something. God's work of finishing off Christ's work results in something for you and me. It results in life. Life fulfilled. Life consummated. Life described in terms of water:
(Rev 21:6) To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.
This maybe doesn't sound like a big deal to you. After all, even in a time of drought we are still surrounded by plenty of water. We have bottled water, city water, reservoirs, wells, holding ponds, and pools. Without thinking, we jump in the shower, wash the car, water the lawn, or fill a kettle.
When we think of Antarctica, we think of a continent covered with glaciers and sheets of ice 2.5 miles deep. Yet, Antarctica also has the driest deserts on earth deserts that get less than one tenth of an inch of rain per year. If you were to live there, you would really appreciate the vital importance of water.
The presence of water means life; the absence of water means death. In the new heaven and new earth, God promises unlimited water in other words, unlimited life. God promises His spring of living water to those who live in the new heaven and new earth.
There is a contrast here with what came earlier in the Revelation. What does God promise to those in the new heaven and new earth? That they will drink from "the spring of the water of life" (Rev 21:6). What do those in Babylon drink? They drink "the maddening wine of her adulteries" (Rev 14:8; 17:2; 18:3). They drink from Babylon's cup filled with abominations. Those who drink from God's spring get life. Those who drink from Babylon's cup get death.
B Who gets the water of life? Who gets to drink from God's spring? To whom does God give life? The thirsty!
(Rev 21:6) To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.Which makes me think of Psalm 42:
(Ps 42:1-2) As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. (2) My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
Who gets the water of life? Not everyone! Only those who are thirsty for God. Only those who are thirsty for eternal fellowship with the Lamb. Only those who are thirsty for true living.
Are you thirsty for God? Do you pant for Him as a deer pants for streams of living water? Is He your heart's desire? Do you want God this morning? Let me tell you, if this is not the case, then the new heaven and new earth is not the place for you. Because, the new heaven and new earth is a place where we find ultimate and complete satisfaction in God.
C Who gets the water of life? Who gets to drink from God's spring? To whom does God give life? Verse 7 gives us the same answer as verse 6, but from a different viewpoint.
(Rev 21:7) He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.This should remind you of the seven letters to the seven churches. Do you remember how each letter ends?
(Rev 2:7) [Church in Ephesus] To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life ...
(Rev 2:11) [Smyrna] He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.
(Rev 2:17) [Pergamum] To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna.
(Rev 2:26) [Thyatira] To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations
(Rev 3:5) [Sardis] He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white.
(Rev 3:12) [Philadelphia] Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God.
(Rev 3:21) [Laodicea] To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne ...
Who gets the water of life? Who gets to drink from God's spring? To whom does God give life? The reward is not given to those who start the race but only to those who finish the race. The reward is not given to those who answer altar calls, profess their faith, and get baptized but to those who finish the race. The reward is given to those who endure all of the attacks of Satan, the beast, and the false prophet. The reward is given to those who prevail in spite of the hatred of Babylon and the dragon. The reward is given to those who overcome!
D Who gets the water of life? Who gets to drink from God's spring? To whom does God give life? Verse 8 answers this from an entirely different point-of-view:
(Rev 21:8) But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars--their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.In other words, these people do not get to drink from the spring of living water.
Who are these people? Why does John mention them now in the middle of his description of new life in the New Jerusalem? Isn't this out of place? Shouldn't these people have been mentioned with the final judgment at the end of Revelation 20?
Who are these people? I think the key word is the first word: the cowardly. People who are scared to confess Christ before men. People who are scared of losing their jobs. People who are scared to leave the trade guilds. People who are scared of martyrdom. People who are scared of being considered intolerant. People who are scared of being laughed at and mocked by the world. People who are scared of Babylon!
Who are these people? Christians. Lapsed Christians. Cowardly Christians. Backsliding Christians. Christians who do not overcome. Christians who do not persevere. Christians who start the race but do not finish the race. Christians who end up living in Babylon rather than Jerusalem. Christians who end up following the beast rather than Jesus. Look at the list of sins they commit: cowardly, unbelieving, vile, murderers, sexually immoral, practice magic arts, idolaters, liars.
Who gets the water of life? Who gets to drink from God's spring? To whom does God give life?
We know that unbelievers don't get this water. If you are one of those, I urge you to accept Jesus before it is too late, before you get thrown into the lake of fire. Get down on your knees before Jesus, confess your sin, admit your need for Jesus' blood, and live for Him Who died for you.
We know, also, that not everyone who calls themselves "Christian" get this water. You see, my brothers and sisters, there are Christians who start off well. They get baptized. They profess their faith. They attend worship twice each Sunday. They know their Sunday School lessons and even their Catechism. But, then, they start backsliding. They quit the race. They surrender to the world. If you are one of these, I urge you before it is too late to once again follow Jesus, to run the race, to finish the course. If you are drifting from the faith, if you are not faithful in worship attendance, if you rarely take time for devotions, then you have to take immediate steps to fix this or, you may lose your reward.
Finally, we know that Christians who are overcomers drink from the spring of living water. They start the race. They stay in the race. The finish the race. They rather have Jesus than anything else. They rather live in Jerusalem than in Babylon.
Which kind of Christian are you? Are you a Christian who merely starts the race? Or, are you a Christian who also finishes the race? To repeat what I said at the start of this sermon, we all need to keep watch, we all need to hold fast, we all need to overcome.
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