In my sermon today I would like to take you into the future, not only the near future but into eternity.
That is our destiny. That is why we suffer, why we bear persecutions, why go on from day to day dealing with a multitude of trials and tribulations.
My sermon is divided in two sections: I first of all want to remind us of the absolute promises that we Christians have a sure hope awaiting us. The second one is a step-by-step exploration of the stunning stages we will experience as we move into eternity.
Eternity is something that humans everywhere seem to long for. Most religions, in fact, offer a promise of eternity.
All strive to satisfy this longing that dwells inside the human psyche.
Where did this great longing come from?
The answer is given to us in
Yes, God is the One who has put the awareness and the craving for eternity in our hearts. He wants us to long for it for that is the destiny of humanity.
Thatís what we were called to:
1Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God's elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godlinessó 2a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time,
Eternity is a promise form the one who cannot lie: our great Father.
We can bank on it. We can be totally assured of it.
6God "will give to each person according to what he has done."[a] 7To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.
1 John 2:17
This is our hope. This is our joyful hope which we hold on to, day by day.
Before entering the next section of my sermon, I would like to take you to more very inspiring scriptures.
1 Corinthians 2:9
Eye hath not seen nor ear heardÖ The future is stunning beyond comprehension but Paul will not go any further.
David gives us a vague but very inspiring glimmer of that future
In Psalm 16:8
8I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
9Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.
11Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
This is figurative language of course. We will not spend our eternity sitting at the right hand of God. Being at the right hand of God implies position, divine rulership, divine authority, divine power.
But what are these pleasures? What will give us fullness of joy forever and ever?
Does the Bible give us any hint?
Yes, the Bible gives us several hints into our future which I will now share with you.
To do so I will break my sermon into several chronological phases, beginning with the return of Christ and on to eternity.
Letís, therefore, start with phase one.
Phase one: Our transformation.
This area has probably already been explored during the Day of Trumpet, but I would like to dwell on it for a few minutes, notheless.
We donít know if weíll be dead or alive when Christ will appear. Whatever happens, there will be a moment when we will be transformed from mortal to immortal. For awhile we will not know if itís a dream or reality. But the moment will come when we will realize that we have passed from death into eternal life. That, in my opinion, will be one of the most overwhelming and joyful moment of our existence. Everything is in doubt until that moment, but at that moment the ultimate hope and dream of our existence will be fulfilled. That is the moment when the war against Satan will be declared won. That is the moment when the great enemy death would have lost its grip on us. That is the moment when the finish line will be crossed and eternal life will be assured.
This is what Peter is referring to in
1 Peter 4:13
13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christís sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.
In other words, because you have suffered with Christ, when He will appear, you will experience ecstasy.
1 Corinthians 15:54
That moment when we will realize that we have been clothed with eternal life is also the moment when we realize that the enemy will never again have power over us.
The transformation phase will be characterized by another aspect as well: the realization that there has been a transformation not only into eternity but also into power and glory.
Weight will become weightlessness; weakness is suddenly replaced by power. The eyes can see clearly and far into the distance without the need of glasses; the ears can hear clearly without the need of ear instruments; the aches and pains that accompanied us for years are no longer.
Soon after this amazing realization we will be puzzled by the fact that the blinding light emanating from others around us is the same blinding light that emanates from us as well. We will then realize that Godís promise to make us shine as the sun has also been kept and that we are fully in the divine realm.
The realization that Christ has indeed returned, and our participation in the drama that will follow.
After coming to terms with our transformation, we will be overwhelmed by a blinding light at the centre of all the commotion. Thatís the moment when we will see Christ for the first time, but not as a human being, but as the glorious, powerful God that He is. From that point on, it will be very hard to take our eyes off our glorious older brother. Will He communicate with our minds at that point and tell us personally ďWelcome!Ē? Congratulations, you made it, I canít wait to spend time with you?
One thing is for sure; we will look at Him and we will be filled with wonder. Jesus said in His prayer to the Father, before his death, that He was impatiently looking forward for us to see His glory. That moment will come and it will be majestic.
We will then fly with Him to Jerusalem where His feet, and our feet, will finally rest on the Mount of Olives.
Then the nations will surround us and a horrific battle will ensue. Millions of soldiers will gather to attack Christ and us His saints, only to have their eyes melt in their sockets. It will be a battle humans will never forget.
We will be there speechless, witnessing the awesome power of God, slowly becoming aware that much of that power is available to us as well.
Phase three: Meeting Christ and GOD OUR FATHER
I do not know when, but there will be a time appointed when we will meet Christ personally. Will there be a long line up? For certain there will be hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of Old and New Testament saints longing to meet Him. Will we meet Him in alphabetical order? Will we meet Him in chronological order? Is there need for either? Christ can be anywhere at any time, He, being God, can be in many places at the same time, if He so wishes, Christ can meet will all of us separately at the same time and spend much time with all of us at the same time as well, if He so chooses.
The moment we will be able to say thank you to our great Savior face to face will be a time of incomparable joy. How will we feel? Will, we be overwhelmed by the experience?
I believe that when I will first appear before Christ I will probably be speechless. I believe that I will probably be overwhelmed by emotion, and that I may have a hard time saying anything for a while. I believe that at that moment I will experience powerful emotions of great joy, mixed with awe and the deepest love and gratitude. I will, for certain, get on my knees and will worship Him and will probably say ďThank YouĒ countless times, while crying with joy.
What will you do? What will you say? How will you feel?
He will then ask us to rise and will doubtlessly tell us how happy He is that we made it, and that He had known us since time began and was rooting for us all this time. He will probably tell us He canít wait to spend time with us and that He will answer any question that we may have in due time. If any Archangel will be present, He will probably introduce us to them and other mighty angels that He surrounds Himself with.
Then probably the most sweet and most longed for words that anyone could ever hope to hear:
Our Father would now like to meet you.
Those words will probably bring tears of joy into our spiritual eyes. We will probably answer: ďI canít waitĒ
We will then fly into Heaven and as we approach from the distance we will see millions of angels looking our way. We will see a Great light shining in their midst. We will probably land onto the sea of glass and we will be overwhelmed by the spectacle: A glorious throne emanating light so powerful that no human eyes could bare to look at. And a stunning rainbow framing it all. We will also see smaller thrones set on both sides with beings looking at us with a joyful smile.
But our eyes are transfixed by the centre of it all. The One who loves us with love we cannot comprehend, there looking at us, showering us with warmth; our eternal Father, the source of everything, right there in front of us.
Will Jesus announce our arrival by name.
Will the Father ask us to approach? What will we do?
We will for certain fall on our knees on the glass floor.
What will we say? Will we be speechless for quite some time.
What will the Great God say to us? What will be His first words toward us?
We are his babies; newly born, sort of speak.
Will He say come to us, my beloved child? Will He stand up and meet us? Will he hold us to His spiritual self? We are his children that He invested so much time and anguish over. His love for us is beyond anything we can ever feel.
Will He be a distant father? Will it all be a formal event?
God is Love. He will neither be cold nor distant. That moment will be the most loving moment we will ever experience. And that is the love we will feel forever.
For He is our Dad and will be our Dad forever.
A dad who only wants our best. A dad who wants to share all he has with us. A dad who will love us with holy love forever.
A dad we can access at any time, that we can talk to at any time, that we can consult with at any time.
A dad who will most probably be present during the most important moments in our eternity and will celebrate our achievements forever.
Will there be a gigantic Feast? Will there be a magnificent celebration that will go on and on?
We will never tire. We will not get tired and want to go to sleep. How many angles will we meet? What will we say? What kind of spiritual drinks will be served? Or spiritual snacks? What kind of music will be played? How big a chorus of angels will sing to our Honor? Will there be a song composed and sang for each one of us? I can assure you that whatever will be sang will be much greater than anything Handel or Beethoven could have ever composed.
But there is more.
Letís read Revelation and some intriguing scriptures.
17He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.
Known by us only and the Father and Christ, of course. When will it be given to us? What will it be? Will it capture the essence of who we are to Our father and Christ? Itís our secret. And without doubt, we will treasure it for ever.
12Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name.
Write on us a new name? Where? On our forehead?
If itís Christís new name it probably is greater that the previous ones. Or maybe itís a name that will encompass some or many of His attributes. And He will want to share that name with us?
When will he do so? Will the father give us the stone and will then Christ write on us the name?
Can you visualize that?
There is more? V. 20
21To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.
Where is Christís throne? Beside the father? Does it mean that anytime we go to the Father and Christ is not there we can sit beside Him. For certain it means that we will share in the rulership of everything as we are told by Paul that we are co-inheritors with Christ. Can we comprehend it all, brethren?
1 Corinthians 9:25
1 Corinthians 9:25
25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.
2 Timothy 4:8
8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
Is Paul saying that the crown will be given to us the day of Christís return, or is it a generic ďdayĒ . Meaning at the general time following Christís return.
Will it take place in Heaven?
Can we visualize the moment when Christ will place that crown on our heads? The deafening shouting on the part of millions of angels and saints?
Can our minds even begin to imagine the exhilaration of the moment?
OUR FIRST ASSIGNMENT
Christ promised us that some will be rulers over a few cities some over several.
Will the assignment be given after the crowning? There will be a time, soon after Christís return, when we will receive our assignment. Will they be big cities; will they be small cities? Will they be a combination of both? The world has hundreds of thousands of big and small cities. There will be plenty for all of us.
Soon after we will fly to the location and rest assured none of us will find a joyful, thriving cities. The cities of the world will be in a terrible mess. Buildings will be rubbles, water will be polluted, food will be scarce, disease will be rampant. You have seen the mess in New Orleans. You have seen the desperation in the eyes of the elderly and the children. You have seen their longing for help. They knew that soldiers were coming to give them help. But the throngs of the nations will not have such a luxury. Their desperation over time would have turned to listlessness and hopelessness. We will be their only hope, and this will be our opportunity to use our newly-found powers to serve and heal.
Upon our arrival, most probably, with a squadron of assisting angels, the people will be bewildered by these shining beings that appeared out of nowhere. At first, their reaction will be fear and astonishment. Some will run and hide, some will be frozen with fear. They will soon be reassured by the warm and shining smiles emanating concern and love, and though they will be anxious they will be soon reassured by our soothing words and kind and loving actions.
Then comes our first opportunity to use our powers for good. Who will be the first person we will heal? An old man covered with painful boils nearing starvation? A sickly starving woman protecting a baby? A paralytic? A blind person? A deaf and dumb person? A dying baby? Who will be the first one we will touch and totally heal?
There will be a blissful moment when we will touch and totally heal our first patient, and the sight of complete recovery will fill us with unspeakable joy. And then another, and then another, then hundreds will crowd around us and then thousands seeking relief from countless diseases, like they did with Jesus while He walked on earth.
READ SCRIPTURE IMAGINE YOU BEING THERE
24And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them.
25And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan.
Re-read using ďyourĒ instead of ďHisĒ
And the lame will walk and the blind will see and the deaf will hear and the sickly will regain their health, be it physical or mental, and the dying with life and vigor. Terror will be replaced with peace of mind; depression with joy; anxiety with assurance; confusion and hopelessness with hope and meaning.
The rivers, lakes and ponds will be filled with fresh clean water teeming with fish. The land will produce abundant crops; the weather will be neither too hot nor too cold neither too wet nor too dry.
We will watch over the people assigned to us with love and concern and they will experience true loving, godly rulership for the first time ever.
And then we will share with them the truth and the knowledge of the true God and spiritual, physical and spiritual principles that will bring lasting solutions to chronic human problems.
Phase five: Getting to know our millions of eternal brothers and sisters and the myriads of faithful angels.
Once things are under control, then comes a phase that I long for. Getting to know my eternal brothers and sisters and the angels that have been faithful to God.
I want to get to know Adam and Eve. We all came from them. I want to know how they felt after they sinned; I want to learn about their life on earth after they left the Garden. I want to know Abel a man that greatly pleased God. I want to Know Noah and ask so many questions about the ark. I want to know Abraham and the patriarchs. I want to know someone I greatly respect: Joseph, a man who remained faithful to God no matter what terrible trials he went through. I have many questions for David and for the great prophets of old. I want to spend much time knowing Paul, Peter, John, and the other apostles. I want to know the fascinating character that is Timothy. I want to share as much time with them throughout eternity as I can -- and each moment will be bliss.
I want to spend much time with Michael the Archangel. I want him to know how much I appreciate His example of total commitment to God. I want him to know how honored I was to have his name and that his example was a source of inspiration to me during my physical life. I want to know Gabriel the other Archangel, and slowly I want to know the millions of angels that populate the universe. And each moment with them will be indescribable joy.
Phase 6: The final judgment of Satan and his demons.
After re-building the world and making it a stunning planet, God has seen it fit to give humanity one last taste of what Satanís spirit can do. Satan will be freed for a little while and the results will be utter chaos (REV. 20:7). Again he will possess the nations and they will try to attack Christ, you, me and all his saints. The results will be catastrophic for humanity and for Satan and his followers.
The day will come when we will witness the end of Satanís work forever. The day will come when the great destroyer will be banished for eternity. The personification of evil, the one who has brought about nothing but chaos and turmoil in the universe will be totally neutralized for ever; and we will be there to witness it. And as he is taken away into his eternal prison and the door is sealed forever, a deep sigh of indescribable relief will engulf our minds; and great feelings of jubilation will invade our spirit.
That day there will be great celebration that will last a very long time. That will be another time of great joy we will never forget and we will probably Feast for a long time.
Phase 7: The New Heaven and the New Earth and the arrival of the New Jerusalem
What does the term ďA New Heaven and a New EarthĒ mean? Will God just refashion what is in the universe? Will He create totally new galaxies and a totally new planet where we will dwell but with different dimensions? Will this planet be just cleansed and simply retain the present dimensions? Hard to say.
One thing is for sure: we will be a part of that recreating and refashioning.
And then one of the most astonishing things ever seen:
The arrival of the New Jerusalem.
We know that The stunning New Jerusalem will come down from Heaven. Now. Will we get to see it before it comes down? Will we be allowed to have a say in the completion of our mansion as Christ mentioned. Will it be kept a surprise until its arrival?
The day will come when our eyes will behold what is Godís greatest architectural masterpiece that He has ever conceived.
We are told that
1Then 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. 2I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
10And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. 11It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. 13There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. 14The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
What is stunning about the New Jerusalem is its great size.
16The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia[a]in length, and as wide and high as it is long. 17He measured its wall and it was 144 cubits[b] thick,[c] by man's measurement, which the angel was using.
Twelve thousand furlongs is approximately 1,364 miles on a side, and 1,364 miles tall.
SOURCE 2 (Low estimate)
216 Feet High
One cubit is approximately one foot and a half.
Therefore, the height of the wall approximates 216 feet.
Does it mean that there are hundreds of levels? Does it mean that there is a building at the centre that is that high were God and His children will live. Will God be at the very top? Will it be cube like or pyramidal?
One thing is for sure? This city will be the greatest architectural wonder ever conceived, with buildings with amazing original designs and sizes. Will there be city squares, and fountains and gardens teeming with the most magnificent plants ever made? We will slowly explore Godís wonder and we will be awed by every detail.
I have a minute glimpse into this because I am awed by the beauty of Venice where I have gone several times. The architecture is so original and the buildings so stunning. Yet, Venice will we a pathetic, insignificant memory compared with what God has put together. We will be there savouring every detail, awestruck by the shapes, the designs, the scents, the order, the peace, the joy, the harmony, the unity, the grandeur of it all.
The city will be teeming with life. Countless angels of all shapes and sizes will be found therein as will be billions of trasformed humans. That will be the centre of the universe, a thriving, living universe teeming with life and action.
PHASE 5 INTO THE UNIVERSE
By that point we would have finished our rulership over the few cities assigned to us. The Universe is now ready for re-creation. The children of God are now manifested. Itís time for life and beauty to replace the vanity, and emptiness, and barrenness that is present apparently in all galaxies.
Now itís time for the next assignment: Most probably we will be assigned our first planet in groups. Go will want us to try to experiment with our own ideas. We will then proceed to transform arid areas into shimmering seas and lakes, and majestic mountains, with flying creatures, never before conceived, and land animals never before seen. And angels will be there to behold our stunning new creations, and just like they celebrated the creation of the heavens and the earth when God the Father and Jesus made them, they will celebrate our glorious accomplishments as well.
How will our first tree look like? What kind of stunning flower will be our first one. What kind of bird will be our first bird? What about our first animal?
I still have some artwork that I created when I was a teenager. I keep them jealously because they were some of my first works of art. Those first creations in the future we will treasure forever, not because they will be our best but because they will be our first.
And our other brothers and sisters will come to visit and behold our accomplishments, and we will travel throughout the universe to behold the glorious accomplishments of our millions of brothers and sisters. And there will be no competition, no envy, no strife, just joys for evermore.
But what is next?
Millions of years have passed and by now we would have become competent creators. We too have the ability to create self-sustaining planets. We would have experimented with thousands of various life forms. What then?
Letís not forget that the estimate is that there are 100 billion galaxies in the universe each containing 100 billion suns, each having several planets rotating around them thatís several hundred billion planets all waiting to come alive. There is work out there for hundreds of billions of years.
Exciting, awe-inpiring work.
Once we are been able to re-create and administer planets, and then galaxies, could it be that the day will come when we will be given the opportunity to create, not just to re-create, on a vast scale. Could it be that the day will come when our Great Father will say to us: ďNow itís your turn to create your own universe, from scratch.Ē And could it be that there will be a time when there will be another Big Bang when many of us will get together as brothers and sisters, and we will plan together a totally different universe which will keep us busy for hundreds of billions of years.
And thenÖ AND THENÖ
No doubt the joys of creating will be unfathomable and stunning. But to me the greatest joys will not come from recreating or creating. To me the greatest joys will come from being together with the ones I love for ever. And who will I love then? Millions of brothers and sisters, that share the same views, the same goals, the same values, the same fruits of the spirit, the same longing for peace, the same craving for harmony, that rejoice at my accomplishments as I will rejoice at theirs. To work with them and to share eternal happiness with them.
Most of all, to me the greatest joys will come also from knowing personally my Saviour who loves me without end and without reservation.
To me the greatest joys will also come from knowing my Father and your Father personally and intimately. To be able to access Him at any time for as long as I want to and to talk to Him and to look into His loving eyes knowing that I can totally trust Him at all times, and that He loves me without end and without reservation and that he will love me without reservation forever. That I can address Him not as Father, but as he wishes: Daddy, not in prayer, unseen, but face to face.
That to me will be the greatest joy of all. That is the thing that moves me and motivates me the most: To Know God our Father and Jesus Christ our Brother personally, intensely and being with them forever. That will be my greatest joy, your greatest joy, our greatest Joy forever and ever and ever.
On this Last Great Day, we therefore do not only celebrate the end of Godís plan but the beginning of many stunning new phases in Godís plan. For eternity stretches before our eyes, brethren waiting for us, inviting us to enter into it for days without end.
Thus, in summar, the reassuring
and inspiring words of Paul the Apostle: in
and the words of David
: In your presence there are pleasures forevermore.
Letís never forget what our destiny is brethren. Letís think about it. Letís long for it. Letís crave it with all our being so that nothing, ever may prevent us from reaching our stunning future.