************ Sermon on Revelation 21:24,26 ************


By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman


This sermon was preached on September 29, 2002


Revelation 20:11-21:8, 22-27
Revelation 21:24,26
"The Nations' Splendors in Jerusalem"

Introduction
(Rev 21:1) Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.
Today, on this All Nations Heritage Sunday, I want to ask who will live with Jesus in the new heaven and new earth? Who are the men, women, and children that will dwell with God forever? Who are the ones to whom God will say, "I am your God and you are my people." Who are the ones from whose eyes God will wipe away every tear?

I Before the Judge
A In telling us of who will be and of who won't be in the New Jerusalem, John speaks of a final judgment. In that final judgment God opens two sets of books.

The first book is the book of works. In these books are recorded your life history, your total life history, your every deed and word and thought. Imagine that a video camera was focused upon you every minute of every day, recording everything about you. Worse, imagine that someday the tape of your life will be publicly aired for all to see all your awkward moments, silly mistakes, and secret sins. That's what the book of works is like. In other words, the eye of God is upon you. God knows everything about you. Nothing ever escapes His notice, and He forgets nothing. Everything about you is recorded in His book. And someday you will stand before Him and God will open the book and call you to account.

On the Judgment Day Bill Simon and Gray Davis, our two main contenders for Governor of California, won't be judged by a confused electorate who don't know who is lying and who is telling the truth. Instead, they and you and me will be judged by the God Who knows exactly what we have done and said and thought. It won't be one person's word against another's then; there won't be any need for witnesses or cross examination. God already knows the truth, and on the Judgment Day it will all be brought into the open.

Many people don't find this a pleasant thought. Who wants to be held accountable for everything one has ever said or done or thought? Says the Belgic Confession of Faith in Article 37:
Then "the books" (that is, the consciences) will be opened
and the dead will be judged
according to the things they did in the world,
whether good or evil.
Indeed, all people will give account
of all the idle words they have spoken,
which the world regards
as only playing games.
And then the secrets and hypocrisies of men
will be publicly uncovered
in the sight of all.
It has been estimated that most people speak enough in one week to fill a large 500-page book. In the average lifetime this would amount to 3000 VOLUMES or 1,500,000 pages! It is a frightening thought that for every one of these words we will someday have to give account.

Not only that, but God will also demand payment. He can't let sin go unpunished. Jesus taught that God does not forget unsettled accounts. Time cannot erase a person's record with the Judge of the universe. The day is coming when the books will be opened and every thought and word and deed will be judged with absolute justice and righteousness.
Topic: Debts
Subtopic:
Index: 585
Date: 11/1988.24
Title:

The state of Mississippi has a problem. European bankers have raised the issue of default on a $7 million debt. What makes the case unusual is that the debt dates back to 1841. One banker said that to pay it off now with interest would take about $50 million. With a low per capita income, Mississippi is not in a position to release that much money. The 160-year-old problem seems like ancient history to many in Mississippi, but Europeans talk as if it happened yesterday. "European bankers never forget," say state officials. With unpaid debts there is always a day of reckoning.
This is never more clearly seen than in man's relationship to God. Someday there will be a day of reckoning with the King of the universe.

In our Scripture reading John tells us that "nothing impure will ever enter the New Jerusalem, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful" (vs 27). This includes all of us so it sounds like none of us has a place in the new heaven and new earth.

B But then God opens another book the book of life. Anyone whose name is not found written in the book of life will be thrown into the lake of fire (Rev 20:15). And, anyone whose name is found in the Lamb's book of life will be allowed into the New Jerusalem.

Those who are thrown into the lake of fire, they are no worse than all others. And, those who are allowed into the New Jerusalem, they are no better than all others. The only difference is that God has put their name into the book of life. God, we are told by Paul in Ephesians 1, chooses them in Christ.

In theology we know this as the doctrine of election. Most Christians and churches do not like this doctrine. They don't want to believe that God chooses people totally apart from works or faith or any other "good" thing about us. They do not like election because it means that God is sovereign and holds sway over the salvation of souls. They do not like election because they rather believe that man is sovereign, that salvation and faith is each person's choice.

Those whose names are found in the book of life, do you know what happens to them? God erases or removes all their sins recorded in the other books because of Christ and His sacrifice. God will read off the list of their sins lies, impure thoughts, gossip, theft, adultery, greed and over each and every sin He will write "FORGIVEN, FORGIVEN, FORGIVEN! FORGIVEN BY THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB!"

II Those in the Book of Life
A Again I ask, who will live with Jesus in the new heaven and new earth? It is those whose names are written in the book of life.

On this All Nations Heritage Sunday we need to remind ourselves that those whose names are in the book of life are not all Dutch, white, and Christian Reformed. In fact, they aren't even mostly Dutch, white, and Christian Reformed. We can go so far as to say that the new heaven and new earth will be populated by foreigners.

We like to think of heaven as belonging to us and our kind. Yet, when you think about it, you come to realize that people like you and I will be foreigners in heaven. Don't forget, we are adopted children of God. Don't forget, we have been grafted onto the root of Christ. Don't forget, God has broken branches off of Israel's tree to make room for us transplants. What I am saying is that with the exception of Christian Jews everyone else whose name is in the book of life is a foreigner. In the Lamb's book of life most names belong to foreigners.

B The church in the new heaven and new earth is far more inclusive than we perhaps would like her to be. But this is God's design for her since the beginning of time. Remember God's promise to Abraham? He said, "all peoples on earth will be blessed through you" (Gen 12:3b). And they are, through Christ. You see, with His blood Christ "purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation" (Rev 5:9). So when John is given a vision of the church in heaven he sees more than Jews. He sees more than Greeks. He sees more than Dutch and Christian Reformed. He sees "a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language" (Rev 7:9). The book of life contains many names we would never recognize, names we couldn't even begin to pronounce.

C What does this have to do with us? First, it means we must accept those whom God has accepted even if they are different than us; if God accepts them how dare we not do the same? Many reject others simply because they are different than themselves. Remember what happened almost ten years ago when the Rodney King verdict was announced? At that time enraged blacks dragged Reginald Denny out of his truck and tried to kill him just because he was white. A couple of years ago in Florida two white men poured gasoline on a man and lit a match simply because the man was black. Unfortunately, the church often is no better than the world.
Topic: Prejudice
Subtopic: Racial
Index: 4083
Date: 2/1988.14
Title: Gandhi

A deplorable incident occurred in the life of Mahatma Gandhi. He said in his autobiography that during his student days he was interested in the Bible. Deeply touched by reading the gospels, he seriously considered becoming a convert. Christianity seemed to offer the real solution to the caste system that was dividing the people of India. One Sunday he went to a church to see the minister and ask for instruction on the way of salvation and other Christian doctrines. But when he entered the sanctuary, the ushers refused him a seat and suggested that he go and worship with his own people. He left and never went back.

Second, it means we must be indiscriminate in evangelism, outreach, and missions. It is not for us to decide whether someone of another tribe or language or people or nation is worthy of hearing and receiving the Good News of the Gospel. We must tell all the world the Good News about Christ.

Third, it means we must treat all believers as sisters and brothers in the Lord.
Topic: Brotherly Love
Subtopic:
Index:
Date: 10/1993.101
Title:

When Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes moved to Washington, D.C., to take up his duties as chief justice, he transferred his membership to a church in the area. Now, it was the custom in that church for all new members to be called to the front of the sanctuary at the close of the worship service. The first to be called was Ah Sing, a Chinese laundryman who had moved to the capital from the West coast. He took his place at the far side of the church. As the dozen or so other people were called forward they stood at the opposite side of the church, leaving Ah Sing standing alone. But when Chief Justice Hughes was called, he took his place beside the Chinese laundryman.
When the minister had welcomed the group in the church's fellowship he turned to the congregation and said, "I do not want the congregation to miss this remarkable illustration of the fact that at the cross of Jesus Christ the ground is level."
How true! At the cross of Christ all are at the same level. None are higher or lower than any other. All are equal. All are brothers and sisters.

III Kings and Nations
A Again I ask, who will live with Jesus in the new heaven and new earth? It is those whose names are written in the book of life. And, they come from every tribe, language, people, and nation.

But that's not all we can say about those who live in the new heaven and new earth. Our text adds what, to me, is a most surprising thought regarding the New Jerusalem. It says,
(Rev 21:24) ... the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.

(Rev 21:26) The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it.
We're talking about culture here. In the ancient world a king was not just a ruler. He also represented his nation's whole culture. A king provided for arts and learning. His patronage was given to starving artists, struggling musicians, and fledgling authors. When Revelation 21 pictures kings as marching into Jerusalem, therefore, we must also see the culture of their country as being brought with them. What is good and unique in each nations' culture will be presented as tribute to God and will enrich the life of the new earth.

It is true that most of human culture today is twisted and pagan. For instance, the gift of music can be turned to perverse and Satanic lyrics. Expertly trained physicians abort rather than save children. Top-quality photography equipment is used in making pornography. TVs and VCRs and DVDs glorify sex and violence. Yet John sees culture, human culture, the culture of the nations, in the new heaven and new earth; however, this culture is redeemed or reclaimed or redirected; it is culture that now glorifies and praises God.

The culture of the nations has a place in the new heaven and new earth. This means that though we will all be equal we will not all be the same. In some way there will still be Chinese, Dutch, Hmong, Hispanic, English, and so on but without the competition and the warfare and the racism of this present life.

The idea is that God takes pleasure in the kinds of people He has made and rescued. Red and yellow, black and white all are precious in His sight, and all have their place in the New Jerusalem. Ethnic groups can bring in their ethnic treasures without sinful pride. Races may offer their gifts to God without racism.

B The church in the new heaven and new earth may have far more variety than we would like her to have, yet this too is God's design for her since the beginning of time.
(Is 2:3) Many peoples will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob.

(Is 60:3) Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
The meeting of many nations, each bringing its own special treasure into God's city, was anticipated at Pentecost. At that time, if you remember, people from all over the world heard the Gospel preached and 3000 of them joined the church. This was further anticipated when Peter baptized Cornelius and his family because he realized "God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation ..." (Acts 10:34).

Conclusion
(Rev 21:1) Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.
Today, on this All Nations Heritage Sunday, I want to ask who will live with Jesus in the new heaven and new earth? Who are the men, women, and children that will dwell with God forever? Who are the ones to whom God will say, "I am your God and you are my people." Who are the ones from whose eyes God will wipe away every tear?

It is those whose names are written in the book of life. They include those from every tribe, language, people, and nation. And, in their variety they bring with them the treasure of their culture and society.
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