BEAUTIFUL BRIDE

Ps.45:13,14 – All glorious is the princess in her chamber, with robes interwoven with gold.
In many-colored robes she is led to the king, with her virgin companions following behind her.

This beautiful Psalm is a glimpse into the greatest of all mysteries. It is a sneak peek into the future glory of the bride of Christ. The presentation of the Lord’s bride is the ultimate display of God’s glory. We see His glory and power in creation, we see His wisdom in His written Word, we see His compassion in the miracles of Jesus but He reserved His greatest display of His glorious grace on the fallen sons and daughters of Adam and Eve. The wedding supper of the Lamb will be the celebration culminating at the presentation of His beautiful bride. His church made up of former liars, the immoral, all varieties of addicts, and criminals; will be cleansed, clothed with His beautiful garments, and celebrated at the greatest party of all times. Here is a glimpse of this passage from Spurgeon.

“In the latter-day glory, and in the consummation of all things, the glory of the bride, the Lamb’s wife, shall be seen by all the universe with admiration. While she was within doors, and her saints hidden ones, the church was glorious; what will be her splendour when she shall appear in the likeness of her Lord in the day of his manifestation? The finest embroidery is but a faint image of the perfection of the church when sanctified by the Spirit. This verse tells us of the ultimate rest of the church—the King’s own bosom; of the way she comes to it, she is brought by the power of sovereign grace; of the time when this is done—in the future, she shall be, it does not yet appear; of the state in which she shall come—clad in richest array, and attended on. Let none hope to be brought into heaven at last who are not purified now.”

We will be with Him, enjoying His love for us throughout all eternity. He will wipe away all of our tears and lead us to His glorious streams of living water that will satisfy us all of our days. Only then will we begin to see the ramifications of His grace. Not only did He love us when we were unloveable, He has crowned us with His own beauty for eternity.

THE CELESTIAL CITY

Rev.22:5 – Night will be no more. They will never need the light of the sun or a lamp, because the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign as kings forever and ever!

The light in this beautiful city is a different kind of light. The light from the sun carries warmth, energy, light to see, and a healing nature but it is created and flows from a created object. The light in the New Jerusalem is similar containing all of the mentioned characteristics but is totally different. This light flows from Christ Himself, there will be no need for the sun in the New Jerusalem. This light in the New Jerusalem is more than light, it is the very life of God, it is the Spirit of God. This heavenly light will not only light up our world, it will light up our beings. This light will flow into us and flow out from us. We will be radiant, corporately a radiant bride. The glory of the Lord will be on full display shining out from this New Jerusalem. Here is how Jonathan Edwards describes the light of the celestial city.

“Everyone and everything there shall conspire to promote love, and promote the enjoyment of each other’s love. Heaven itself, the place of habitation, is a garden of pleasures, a heavenly paradise fitted in all respects for an abode of heavenly lovers, a place where they may have sweet society and perfect enjoyment of each other’s love. All things there, doubtless, remarkably show forth the beauty and loveliness of God and Christ, and have a luster of divine love upon them. The very light which shines in and fills that world is the light of love. It is beams of love; for it is the shining of the glory of the Lamb of God, that most wonderful influence of lamblike meekness and love which fills the heavenly Jerusalem with light. The glory which is about him who reigns in heaven is compared to the beautiful sight of the rainbow for its pleasantness and sweetness,”

Edwards describes this light as the love of God. We will be living in an environment totally immersed in the love of God. This love that attracted us to Christ and sustains us now will be our reward and our treasure in heaven. There will be streets of gold and incredible structures of unparalleled value all around us but it will not even concern us. Our focus and our joy will be the radiant light of love that floods our lives. Heaven is a world of love and this Celestial City is the very heart of all the action.

THE GREAT DAY

1 Cor.4:5 – So resist the temptation to pronounce premature judgment on anything before the appointed time when all will be fully revealed. Instead, wait until the Lord makes his appearance, for he will bring all that is hidden in darkness to light and unveil every secret motive of everyone’s heart. Then, when the whole truth is known, each will receive praise from God.

I think we may be surprised when we finally find ourselves in heaven and see things from the Lord’s perspective. People that were apparently famous and important in this world may be insignificant or even non-existent on the other side. Famous politicians, wealthy business people, and even world renowned preachers may not be so much when the Great Day arrives. People we have never heard of might be shining with the glory of God with more prominent roles in His coming kingdom. I can never forget the story told in George Whitefield’s biography. It tells the story of the broken relationship between John Wesley and Whitefield in England. Their breech became irreconcilable and was effecting the congregations all over England. Whitefield chose to walk away from everything in England leaving it to Wesley. Whitefield’s followers contested, claiming that history would forget his role in the awakening in England. Whitefield’s response was quite amazing. He said let the Great Day decide what sort of man George Whitefield was. That is quite accurate, the Great Day will show what sort of people all of us are. Here are some comments from the Passion notes on today’s passage.

“The clear inference is that God will bring to light the secret motives of love, faithfulness, righteousness, kindness, etc.—not only evil motives, but the pure motives of believers. When the Lord judges his godly lovers, their secret devotion and sacrifices will all be brought into the light and God will praise them for their faithful love. The reward of eternity will be that God affirms them. The word for “praise” can actually be translated, “thanks from God.” Can you imagine the day coming when God praises his faithful servants?”

This is the way we should live our lives. What can bring us to a mentality that will actually choose to let the Great Day decide? It’s really quite simple. One moment in the presence of the Eternal One fixes that. In His presence eternity becomes our treasure overturning the foolish ambitions of this world.

HEAVEN’S INCREASE

Rev. 4:9-11 – Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:

“You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.”

Have you ever wrapped your head around eternity. I remember my first glimpse of it came when I was a little child. My mom was reading a story to me about Abraham and how he counted the stars. The book had a picture of Abraham outside looking up at the infinite number of stars. In that moment I remembering asking my mom about eternity, specifically eternity past. “Where did God come from?” I asked. I don’t remember my mom’s answer but what can you say? He has always been and will always be.

Have you ever wondered about eternal heaven and what that will be like? Jonathan Edwards says that it will be a place of ever increasing and ever intensifying joy. The longer we are there the greater the happiness will be because we will be living in a state of the constant unveiling of the magnificence of God. Her is how John Piper describes it.

“Heaven will be a never-ending, ever-increasing discovery of more and more of God’s glory with greater and ever-greater joy in him. If God’s glory and our joy in him are one, and yet we are not infinite as he is, then our union with him in the all-satisfying experience of his glory can never be complete, but must be increasing with intimacy and intensity forever and ever. The perfection of heaven is not static. Nor do we see at once all there is to see—for that would be a limit on God’s glorious self-revelation, and therefore, his love. Yet we do not become God. Therefore, there will always be more, and the end of increased pleasure in God will never come.”

There will always be more. Unthinkable!!! It will be impossible to be bored and want to move on to what’s next. His glory that we glimpse in His creation will be unveiled right in front of us. We taste just the edge of it now, eternity will be greater than we can imagine.

THE LAKE OF FIRE

Rev. 20:14 – Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

Hell is seldom mentioned in our have it our way world. Ministers seem to be fixated on success in the here and now and not so much on eternity. It appears that the measuring stick of successful ministry is something like “how are the crowds and how is the money?” If you were to take a look back at historic revival that effected society it was not like that, eternity was on the forefront of the preaching and in the thoughts of those being effected. Some examples that come to my mind was first the ministry of John the Baptist. This is an example of what John preached. ‘But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?”’ (Matt. 3:7) Then there was the ministry of Jesus, He preached about hell often. “And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire—

where “Their worm does not die And the fire is not quenched.” Mk.9:47,48

And who could ever forget Jonathan Edwards. Here is a quote from John Piper speaking of Edwards emphasis on hell.

“Hell is unspeakably real, conscious, horrible and eternal—the experience in which God vindicates the worth of his glory in holy wrath on those who would not delight in what is infinitely glorious. If infinitely valuable glory has been spurned, and the offer of eternal joy in God has been finally rejected, an indignity against God has been committed so despicable as to merit eternal suffering. Thus, Edwards says, “God aims at satisfying justice in the eternal damnation of sinners; which will be satisfied by their damnation, considered no otherwise than with regard to its eternal duration. But yet there never will come that particular moment, when it can be said, that now justice is satisfied.” Of the love of God and the wrath of God, Edwards says simply, “Both will be unspeakable.”

Soooooo, how is it with your soul? Are you prepared for life beyond the grave? Life is precious and eternity is close. Open your heart to Jesus today.

HEAVEN’S SONG

Rev.15:3,4 – And they sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,

 

Great and marvelous are Your works,

O Lord God, the Almighty;

Righteous and true are Your ways,

King of the nations!

“Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name?

For You alone are holy;

For ALL THE NATIONS WILL COME AND WORSHIP BEFORE YOU,

FOR YOUR RIGHTEOUS ACTS HAVE BEEN REVEALED.

The book of Revelation is a book filled with contrasts. There are terrifying images of unimaginable destruction that fill the pages of the entire book. Images like fiery mountains being hurled into the sea, one hundred pound hailstones, and huge scorpions that attack humans. There are outbreaks of boils, and plagues, apparent nuclear wars; frankly, it is obviously worse than any of us could ever dream up. On the other hand there are the scenes in heaven and glimpses of the glory of God displayed in Jesus Christ. We see Him as the lion and the lamb, the exalted King of the Universe, the Lord of the harvest, and the triumphant returning King of all Kings.

The responses from the inhabitants on earth and those in heaven provide another amazing contrast. On earth there is terror, anger, and cursing of God. In heaven you have quite a different story. We see angels, seraphim, the elders, and an innumerable host of the redeemed caught up in worship. The contrast could not be more vivid.

Here is a scene of horror of the end of the Great Tribulation from Revelation 16:17-19,21 – “Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl upon the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple from the throne, saying, “It is done.” And there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder; and there was a great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth, so great an earthquake was it, and so mighty… And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And huge hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, came down from heaven upon men; and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, because its plague was extremely severe.”

Compare that with this glimpse, the redeemed worshipping in heaven, Rev. 14: 2,3 ¶ “And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder, and the voice which I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth.”

How does this effect our lives today? I guess you have to ask yourself, “which world am I focused on?” The answer to that question will define your life.

PRESSING TOWARD THE MARK

Phil.3:14 – I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

I know what pressing is, most guys do. It’s what we do when we really, really want something. Whether its that job or new position at work, or maybe that new motorcycle or new set of golf clubs, or maybe the girl that grabbed your eye; pressing is what we do when we want something desperately. It’s something you just can’t get out of your head. Paul knew about that from his old life. He had climbed to the very pinnacle of the ranks of the world of the Pharisees. He had pressed for that spot for years. Now it meant nothing. In his words he said his former ambitions were like rubbish (what he really said is that it was like a pile of, you know ….“mess”).

What was so, so valuable that his former passions meant nothing? It was what he saw on the Damascus Road, a glimpse of Jesus. The veil had been pulled back for a minute and he saw the beauty and pricelessness of the other side. Paul couldn’t get away from the joy that he had begun to taste that day and the promise of more to come. That’s why Paul was pressing. Here is what Matthew Henry says about this passage.

“A Christian’s calling is a high calling: it is from heaven, as its original; and it is to heaven in its tendency. Heaven is the prize of the high calling; —the prize we fight for, and run for, and wrestle for, what we aim at in all we do, and what will reward all our pains. It is of great use in the Christian course to keep our eye upon heaven. This is proper to give us measures in all our service, and to quicken us every step we take; and it is of God, from whom we are to expect it.”

So that was it, heaven had now become Paul’s prize. This prize had replaced all of those other prizes that had crowded Paul’s life before. In light of the power and beauty He experienced in the presence of Jesus the prizes of ambition and riches faded away into nothing. So how about you? Is your life crowded with pressing for those other things or have you been struck by the heavenly goal like the Apostle Paul?

FORGET ABOUT IT

Phil.3:13,14 – Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

This is one of those amazing Paul passages that causes us to rethink everything. Many people live their lives in the past reminiscing about glory days gone by. Paul had many great things in his past to get all nostalgic about but he would have none of it. There would be plenty time for that on the other side of the eternal curtain but as for now, He had his sights on other things. He was convinced that the daylight of this life was coming to an end and the new day was about to burst on the scene, there were souls in the balance so he was going to press in. How did He stay focused? Here is how Paul says it in his own words “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection”. Knowing Christ was His passion, out of that flowed His passion for the lost. Here is how Albert Barnes describes this passage.

“There is an allusion here undoubtedly to the Grecian races. One running to secure the prize would not stop to look behind him to see how much ground he had run over, or who of his competitors had fallen or lingered in the way. He would keep his eye steadily on the prize, and strain every nerve that he might obtain it. If his attention was diverted for a moment from that, it would hinder his flight, and might be the means of his losing the crown. So the apostle says it was with him. He looked onward to the prize. He fixed the eye intently on that. It was the single object in his view, and he did not allow his mind to be diverted from that by anything—not even by the contemplation of the past. He did not stop to think of the difficulties which he had overcome, or the troubles which he had met, but he thought of what was yet to be accomplished.”

That pretty much tells the tale. People make incredible sacrifices to win sporting events. How much work goes in to winning an Olympic medal or a Super Bowl ring? Paul teaches us what really matters, get your eyes on the eternal reward, everything else will get sorted out.

ETERNAL FELLOWSHIP

Ps.110:1 – The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at My right hand Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”

David saw some incredible things by the Spirit. This verse seems like an intrusion on the holiest ground. David is describing a conversation between the Father and the Son. It’s kind of hard to talk about past and future when talking about the Lord. After all, He lives outside of space and time. But for our purposes David actually heard a conversation between the Father and the Son a thousand years before it happened. This is the Father placing His Son, after the resurrection, as a man on the right hand of the throne of power. The beauty of this is not only the substance but the glimpse into this fellowship that the deity has enjoyed from eternity. This is the fellowship we have been called into. Incredible! This is how Spurgeon talks about this mystery fellowship.

“Jehovah said unto my Adonai: David in spirit heard the solemn voice of Jehovah speaking to the Messiah from of old. What wonderful intercourse there has been between the Father and the Son! From this secret and intimate communion springs the covenant of grace and all its marvelous arrangements. All the great acts of grace are brought into actual being by the word of God; had he not spoken, there had been no manifestation of Deity to us; but in the beginning was the Word, and from of old there was mysterious fellowship between the Father and his Son Jesus Christ concerning his people and the great contest on their behalf between himself and the powers of evil. How condescending on Jehovah’s part to permit a mortal ear to hear, and a human pen to record his secret converse with his coequal Son! How greatly should we prize the revelation of his private and solemn discourse with the Son, herein made public for the refreshing of his people! Lord, what is man that thou shouldest thus impart thy secrets unto him!”

It’s hard to grasp but this is why Jesus came. He purchased us from our sins so that we could be brought into this supernatural fellowship. This is our hope and this is why we preach Christ. John the Apostle said it best,

1 Jn.1:3 – “what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.”

DELUGE OF LOVE

Rev.4:1 – After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.”

Do you ever think about life after death? What about heaven, what is heaven really like? I think we have quite a few surprises in store for all of us. I think the first surprise will be who is there and who is not there. Jesus told a parable about heaven in the form of a wedding feast thrown by the son’s father. The terrifying lesson of the story, apparently some who thought they were invited to the party were quickly ushered out into outer darkness. The reason they were thrown out gives us a glimpse as to who will be there. The ones thrown out were not wearing the wedding garment. The garment is a picture of the righteousness of God given to us by faith in Christ. Those who do not believe in the saving power of the blood of Jesus simply will not be in heaven.

Another surprise will be the very atmosphere of heaven. This is where we get to the indescribable part; heaven will be an amazing unveiling of the beauty and glory of our three in one God. Here is how Jonathan Edwards describes this incredible place.

“There Christ dwells in both his natures, his human and divine, sitting with the Father in the same throne. There is the Holy Spirit, the spirit of divine love, in whom the very essence of God, as it were, all flows out or is breathed forth in love, and by whose immediate influence all holy love is shed abroad in the hearts of all the church. There in heaven this fountain of love, this eternal three in one, is set open without any obstacle to hinder access to it. There this glorious God is manifested and shines forth in full glory, in beams of love; there the fountain overflows in streams and rivers of love and delight, enough for all to drink at, and to swim in, yea, so as to overflow the world as it were with a deluge of love.”

In other words the great surprise is that IT WILL BE BETTER THAN WE THOUGHT. We will see Jesus, the Father, and the amazing Spirit of God. So I would urge you to make your preparations to be there. The other alternative is unthinkable.