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What Is Heaven Like?
Revelation 5:1-14
Skip Heitzig

Revelation 5 (NKJV™)
1 And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals.
2 Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?"
3 And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it.
4 So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it.
5 But one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals."
6 And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth.
7 Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.
8 Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
9 And they sang a new song, saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
10 And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth."
11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands,
12 saying with a loud voice: "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!"
13 And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: "Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!"
14 Then the four living creatures said, "Amen!" And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever.

New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.

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What's Next?

There are many preconceived ideas about what heaven is like: we might picture ourselves sitting on a fluffy white cloud playing a harp, or we see ourselves sitting on a porch or playing a round of golf. Some even think heaven sounds boring. In this message, we examine what heaven will really look like for believers and what we can expect when we get there.

We live in a culture that is constantly asking, "What's next?" We want to know the latest fashions, trends, stocks, and gadgets. In a world that's always looking for the next big thing, we can sometimes forget the most important thing. As Christians, we are called to wait with anticipation for the return of Christ. In this series through the book of Revelation, we look forward and ask ourselves, "What's next?"

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Outline

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  1. Heaven Is a Real Place (vv. 1-2, 6)

  2. Heaven Is a Relevant Place (vv. 1-3)

  3. Heaven Is a Redemptive Place (vv. 4-7)

  4. Heaven Is a Responsive Place (vv. 8-14)

Study Guide

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Connect Group Recap: January 24, 2016
Speaker: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: "What Is Heaven Like?"
Text: Revelation 5

Path

John received a revelation of heaven—a place that, whether by death or by rapture, all believers will see. John's vision showed him the great tribulation, but first he received a blueprint of heaven, providing us with an idea of what we can expect when we get there. Pastor Skip showed us four of the many characteristics of heaven:
    1. Heaven Is a Real Place (vv. 1-2, 6)
    2. Heaven Is a Relevant Place (vv. 1-3)
    3. Heaven Is a Redemptive Place (vv. 4-7)
    4. Heaven Is a Responsive Place (vv. 8-14)
Points

Heaven Is a Real Place (vv. 1-2, 6)
  • Throughout John's visit, he used phrases like "I saw," "I looked," and "Behold," all of which indicate a real sensory experience.
  • Jesus spoke of heaven as a real place. Everything that is truly important will be there: our Father, our Savior, our Comforter, our reward.
  • It will be better than most people think—no cloud-sitting or harp-playing, but the ultimate adventure, full of worship and wonder.
  • Probe: What about heaven comforts you most? How does heaven's reality affect your priorities on earth?
Heaven Is a Relevant Place (vv. 1-3)
  • John witnessed the greatest real estate transaction in all of history—one that impacts all of the earth.
  • The scroll God held in His right hand was the property deed to the earth. It required someone special to open it: a redeemer who was related, willing, and able to buy it back.
  • Earth is God's by creation. He gave it to Adam to tend, but Adam forfeited the title deed when he sinned, which affected all of creation. Now the whole world is under Satan's ownership. The question in Revelation 5 is: "Who will buy it back?"
  • John wept convulsively at the thought that no one could buy back the earth, but his tears were premature.
  • Probe: Look at Jeremiah 32. Has God asked you to make an investment as an act of faith—perhaps in a person or an opportunity? Why does He make such requests? Why do they often come during hard times?
Heaven Is a Redemptive Place (vv. 4-7)
  • John was told, "Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah" (v. 5). When he looked, he saw a Lamb. Jesus is both the Lion and the Lamb, both ruling King and sacrificial Savior.
  • In heaven, the only evidence of man's work will be Jesus' scars—tokens of His great love for us. He alone is qualified to buy back the world: He is related to us by His humanity, willing to lay down His life, and able to redeem us by His blood.
  • Probe: Consider the symbols associated with the Lamb: seven horns (omnipotence), seven eyes (omniscience), and seven Spirits (omnipresence). Read Isaiah 11:1-10. How is that prophecy related to what we see in Revelation 5?
Heaven Is a Responsive Place (vv. 8-14)
  • When the Lamb was revealed as being worthy to open the scroll, the response was fitting: rejoicing and worship.
  • Some only think of heaven in terms of earthly activities, as if the best it has to offer is the activities we enjoyed doing most here on earth. But John wasn't bored, and there is nothing more fascinating than being face to face with God.
  • We will worship in heaven and love to do so! We will also serve, helping rule with Jesus when we return in the kingdom age.
  • Probe: What appeals to you most about heaven?
Practice

Connect Up: Read Revelation 5:8-14 aloud together. Take turns praising God using the words, phrases, and ideas that will be used in heaven.

Connect In: As W.A. Criswell said, "John's tears represent the tears of all God's people through all the centuries." What things in your life break your heart? If you feel comfortable, share your heartbreaks with others and allow them to bear them with you. As a group, give thanks to God because He will wipe away those tears in heaven.

Connect Out: Randy Alcorn said that Satan slanders three things: God's person, His people, and His place. Chances are you know someone who is hurting or doubting. This week, how can you encourage people you know with the reality and wonders of heaven?

Detailed Notes

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  1. Introduction
    1. God gave John a revelation about what heaven looks like
    2. If you are a believer, you will see heaven one day, either by death or rapture
    3. The tribulation period will be the worst period of time in history (see Revelation 6-19)
    4. The rapture will trigger the tribulation
      1. The seventieth week of Daniel
      2. Last seven years
      3. Jacob's trouble (see Jeremiah 30:7)
      4. Day of the Lord
    5. Revelation 5 is the greatest real estate deal of all time
  2. Heaven Is a Real Place (vv. 1-2, 6)
    1. John's visit to heaven was both visual and auditory
      1. "I looked" is found twelve times in Revelation
      2. "I saw" is found thirty-four times in Revelation
      3. "I heard" is found twenty-six times in Revelation
    2. Heaven is mentioned 532 times in the Bible
      1. It is spoken about as a real place
      2. John 14:2; Philippians 3:20
    3. Heaven is home sweet home
      1. Everything that is important to a believer is in heaven
        1. The Father, our Savior
        2. All of God's people
        3. Our reward
      2. Philippians 1:21
    4. Behold (v. 6) denotes something remarkable
      1. "Check this out; look at this"
      2. Used to inspire awe in readers
    5. Heaven will be a lot better than most people think it will be
      1. The ultimate adventure
      2. Satan tries to lie about what heaven is like
  3. Heaven Is a Relevant Place (vv. 1-3)
    1. A scroll in God's right hand (see v. 1)
      1. Heaven has always been concerned with what is going on in the earth (see Luke 15:10; 1 Peter 1:12)
      2. Codex (plural codices): a book(s)
      3. Scrolls were rolled from both ends toward the center
      4. A portion would be written, then the scroll would be turned and sealed so it could not be opened without breaking the seal
      5. This scroll is similar to a property deed
        1. Land in Israel could never be permanently lost
        2. If a person was forced to forfeit a piece of land, eventually a relative could buy it back
          1. This person had to be a relative (a gaal: a kinsman-redeemer)
          2. Had to be willing to pay the price
          3. Had to be able to pay the price
      6. The story in book of Ruth
      7. Jeremiah 32
    2. The scroll
      1. Highly significant because it is in the right hand of God
      2. Involves the fate of everyone on the earth (see vv. 3-4)
      3. Jubilant praises erupt in heaven when someone is finally able to redeem and open it
      4. It is the title deed to the earth
        1. The earth is God's by creation, but it was lost to a usurper
        2. Adam turned over the earth's title deed to Satan in the garden of Eden
        3. Romans 5:12
        4. The earth came under a curse (see Romans 8:20-22)
        5. Satan is called the ruler of this world
          1. The god of this age (see 1 Corinthians 4:4)
          2. The whole world is under the sway of Satan (see 1 John 5:19)
          3. Satan even tempted Jesus, telling Him he had the authority to give Him the whole world (see Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13)
      5. As each seal on the scroll is broken, the earth will be purged through the judgments
      6. It is also a scroll of redemption
        1. Many people will be saved
        2. The world will be taken back from the usurper
    3. No one was worthy to open the scroll (see v. 3)
    4. John wept (see v. 4)
      1. "I wept much"
      2. Cried convulsively, wailed, sobbed
      3. If no one could open the scroll, the earth would be forever in the hands of Satan
  4. Heaven Is a Redemptive Place (vv. 4-7)
    1. An elder told John to stop crying because the Lion of the tribe of Judah had come and was able to open the scroll (see Genesis 49:9)
      1. A lion symbolizes ferocity, a menacing presence
      2. The Jews expected their Messiah to be like a lion
      3. Jesus was a lamb at His first coming
      4. The root of David, or the root of Jesse (see Isaiah 11:1)
    2. John looked and saw a Lamb that appeared to have been slain
      1. This is a picture of the Messiah
      2. The Lion was the Lamb, and the Lamb was the Lion
    3. Lamb
      1. Frequent picture of Jesus (see John 1:29)
      2. Jesus is referred to as a Lamb twenty-nine times in Revelation
      3. Seven horns
        1. A horn is a symbol of strength and authority
        2. Seven is the number of completion, signifying omnipotence
      4. Seven eyes
        1. Insight, knowledge, wisdom
        2. Omniscience
      5. Seven Spirits of God
        1. Isaiah 11:2
        2. Omnipresence
      6. Perfect in strength, knowledge, and presence
      7. Looks as though it has been slain
        1. It is alive, but it bears marks of violence from some past event
        2. It had been killed
        3. When Jesus rose from the dead, He still bore the marks of His crucifixion
        4. The only work of man in heaven that we will see are the marks of persecution that we put on Him
    4. Jesus is the only one who could open the scroll and be that kinsman-redeemer
      1. He is related to us
        1. He was fully God, but also fully man
        2. John 1:14
        3. He is related to humanity
      2. He was willing
        1. He was not murdered
        2. He willingly gave His life for us (see John 10:11, 18)
        3. His love held Him on the cross
      3. He was able
        1. His blood was the payment for us
        2. He is worthy because He spent His blood
  5. Heaven Is a Responsive Place (vv. 8-14)
    1. The fitting response to Jesus is worship
    2. Why do we reduce the glories of heaven to an earthbound activity?
    3. There is nothing more fascinating than God
    4. We will serve in heaven
    5. We will return from heaven and reign with Jesus on the new earth
  6. Closing
    1. No matter how bad your sins are, Jesus paid it all
    2. He came to take the record away

Hebrew words: gaal

Cross references: Genesis 49:9; Ruth; Isaiah 11:1-2; Jeremiah 30:7; 32; Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13; 15:10; John 1:14, 29; 10:11, 18; 14:2; Romans 5:12; 8:20-22; 1 Corinthians 4:4; Philippians 1:21; 3:20; 1 Peter 1:12; 1 John 5:19; Revelation 6-19


Topic: Heaven

Keywords: revelation, elders, Lion of Judah, Lamb of God, redeemer, worship, Savior, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent

Transcript

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Hello, and welcome to this teaching from Pastor Skip Heitzig of Calvary Albuquerque. Skip's teachings are shared globally, and we're encouraged when we hear how lives are being transformed. If this message inspires you to keep pursuing Jesus, we would love to know. Email us at mystory@calvaryabq.org. And if you'd like to support this ministry financially, you can give online securely at calvaryabq.org/giving.

Have you ever wondered what eternity in heaven will be like? Well in our series "What's Next," Skip teaches from the Book of Revelation, examining the amazing prophecies found there. Now we invite you to turn in your Bible to Revelations chapter five as Skip begins the message, what is heaven like?

Father, we always feel the need for you to bless this meal we're about to partake of, this spiritual meal. And so Father, we ask for wisdom and insight, and that your word would captivate our attention, for you have a message for us. And it's a message of hope and understanding. Lord, I pray that as heaven gets clearer in focus before our eyes, that as we used to sing, the things of this world will grow strangely dim in the light of your glory and grace. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Well, there was a preacher who preached a sermon on heaven. And the text he used was Genesis 28, of Jacob's Ladder going up into heaven and the angels of God descending and ascending on it. The pastor's son was in that sermon, and as a young boy it just captivated his attention. And a couple days later he went and said, Dad, I had a dream about heaven, about your sermon. He said, well, tell me about it. He goes, well, I had a dream that there was a ladder that went from Earth all the way up to heaven, like the sermon.

But at the bottom of this ladder there were pieces of chalk, and before anyone was allowed to go up on the ladder they had to take a piece of the chalk and write a mark for every sin they have committed on the rungs of the ladder. So I'm going in my dream up this ladder, haven't gotten very far when somebody is coming down the ladder. And Dad said, well, who would that be? He said, well, it was you, Dad. He said, I was coming down the ladder. Why would I be coming down the ladder? And his boy said, for more chalk.

[LAUGHTER]

Well, the imaginations of a boy are fun, but the revelation of God is better. And God gives to John the Apostle a revelation of the heaven of the future. Now, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, if you follow him, you will one day, either through death or rapture, see heaven. That's where you're going.

So let's get oriented on what it's going to be like a little bit so that when you arrive you won't seem like a country bumpkin, like what's that? Somebody else is going, it was in the Book of Revelation. So we want to get a little bit of a grip on what you can expect. After all, we're going to be spending enough time studying about the Tribulation period, the worst period in history from chapters six through 19. Let's get under our spiritual belts the best part of the deal. And that is what heaven is going to be like.

Because once that rapture does occur, that's going to trigger a chain of events. And part of the chain of events is called the 70th Week of Daniel. If you know the Book of Daniel, you know that that last seven-year period is known as the 70th Week of Daniel. It is also called by Jeremiah the Prophet a time of Jacob's Trouble. It's also known as the Day of the Lord by several prophets. It is the worst period of time to come in human history. It is catastrophic. But during that time, even while Israel is experiencing trouble and persecution along with the nations of the world, it will be a time of great revival as well.

But what you need to know is that the reason why, the story behind all that, the backstory as to why all this is happening, is found of all places in heaven, in Revelation Chapter 5. And I would say that Revelation Chapter 5 is the greatest real estate deal in history. You can think of a couple of deals in our nation's history that are terrific real estate deals, like buying New York, Manhattan, when Peter Minuit in 1624 or 1626 paid the equivalent of $24 for Manhattan, for New York City. I mean, that's before Donald Trump. That out trumps Trump. That's a deal.

Or you may be thinking of the Louisiana Purchase, if you remember that from school. 1803, Thomas Jefferson paid, what, $15 million for almost a million square miles west of the Mississippi River so our nation could grow-- amazing deals. But the greatest deal is this deal, because it involves all of the Earth, all of the world reclaimed.

In Revelation 5, I want to give to you four characteristics about heaven. There are many more characteristics, but because of time and text we want to look at four. Now, I want to be moving rapidly through this, and because the language is symbolic, figurative, and I'll be explaining it, it will demand your utmost attention to understand it.

But here is the first characteristic of heaven. First, heaven is a real place. Heaven isn't a figment of one's imagination. It's not something somebody made up to pass on to people who are suffering, to give them a little bit of hope in this life. It's a real place, and the Bible describes it as such. Notice the first words of Chapter 5, "And I saw," followed by verse 2, "then I saw," and then verse 6, "and I looked and behold."

You see, this is John's visit to heaven. He is given a private tour, a guided tour, and he experiences what he experiences with his sight as well as his ears. It's a visual and auditory experience, and so we find in the Book of Revelation that kind of language. The words "I looked" is found 12 times in Revelation, the words "I saw," 34 times; "I heard," 26 times. So he is fully entering into a visual, auditory experience with his senses of heaven.

And by the way, heaven is found, that word, 532 times in the Bible. It is a huge subject. And whenever it's spoken about, it's spoken about something that is a real place. How did Jesus speak about heaven? He spoke about it as a real place, right? He said, in my father's house there are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you.

Heaven then is a real place. It's so real that Paul said our citizenship is in heaven. Think of heaven as home sweet home. It really is your home sweet home. Everything that is important to a believer is in heaven. The Father is there. Your Savior is there. Your comforter is there. All of God's people throughout all of history are or will be there. Your reward is there. That is why Paul said, for me to live is Christ and to die is gain. Because of that.

So John takes a tour. And we saw in Chapter 4 he saw a throne set in heaven, and one who sat on that throne. And he uses words a lot like "behold." Now that's a Bible word, "behold." "Behold" it is a word that denotes something remarkable. It's like saying whoa or wow, or hey, check this out. Look at this. Behold. This is all to inspire awe in the reader.

I heard a story about a cat who died and went to heaven, and Peter was there at the gate welcoming the cat in and saying, look. We've noticed you've been a really great cat while you were on the Earth, so we want to do something special for you. What is it you'd like? And the cat said, well, you know, Peter, I've lived a pretty hard life. I lived with a poor family on a farm, and all the places I had to sleep were hard surfaces. Peters said, say no more. A big fluffy pillow was provided for the cat in heaven.

A few days later, half a dozen mice died and they were taken to heaven. Peter was there. Made him the same offer. And the cat said, you know Peter, we mice have had it pretty tough on the Earth. We're always being chased by cats or dogs or women with brooms-- everything. So we were thinking-- it sounds crazy-- but it would be so cool in heaven if we could have roller skates. Peter said, say no more, and the cutest little roller skates were made for the mices' feet and off they rolled.

About a week later, Peter decided to check up on these new occupants of heaven. He went over to the cat, who was asleep on that big fluffy furry pillow. Cat woke up with a big yawn and a smile and Peter said, so how's it going up here? And the cat said, Peter, it's going great. And by the way, those meals on wheels that you're sending over?

[LAUGHTER]

They're the best. They are the best. OK, so heaven is not going to be like that. But I'll tell you this, heaven's going to be a lot better than most people think heaven is going to be. There is nothing whatsoever in the text of scripture in the Bible about sitting on some dumb cloud and playing a harp, nor is there any sense that Peter's going to be at the gate like in all those dumb jokes like the one I just told you.

What John describes is the ultimate adventure. He describes a divine light show, an emerald rainbow around the throne of God. And the one who sat on the throne, this brilliant iridescent set of stones that are glowing. It's a throne room. It's heaven. It's real. You'll be there. You'll see it.

One of the best books I ever read about heaven, by Randy Alcorn, he says Satan labors to give people an inaccurate view of heaven. Our enemy slanders three things-- God's person, God's people, and God's place. Some of his favorite lies, writes Alcorn, "are lies concerning heaven." That makes sense. Satan was evicted from heaven. You are going to heaven if you know Christ. All of that would be sufficient motivation to have him work hard to try to lie about what it's going to be like. Heaven is a real place.

Second characteristic-- heaven is a relevant place. Notice in verse 1, "I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll. It was written inside and on the back. It was sealed with seven seals. And then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, who is worthy to open the scroll and loose its seals? And no one in Heaven or on the Earth or under the Earth was able to open the scroll or to look at it."

The focus now turns from the throne and the one sitting on the throne to the right hand of the one sitting on the throne. There is a scroll. There is a document in the upturned palm of the one that is sitting on this throne, and that document has something to do with the Earth.

Heaven has always been concerned about what is going on on the Earth. The New Testament talks about the angels desiring to look into the things that happen to us. Can't you just picture them peeking over the portals of heaven, wondering at human beings? Jesus even said there is joy in the presence of the angels when one sinner repents. So heaven is always concerned with what goes on on planet Earth.

Now, the scroll-- we know that a scroll were ancient documents that came before these things, before books. This is a codex, codex. And codexes or miny codexes, are books. Before books there were scrolls. And typically, scrolls were rolled from both ends toward the center. And with ancient documents, a portion would be written, the scroll would be turned, a seal would be placed of wax typically to affix it so you couldn't open it unless you broke the seal. More would be written, turned, sealed, written, turned, sealed, et cetera. Those are how ancient documents were written.

Robert Thomas said the Hebrew document most closely resembling what we're reading here was the ancient title deed property deed. So a deed was drawn up for the transaction of a piece of property. On the inside of that scroll were written the assets. On the outside of that scroll were written the requirements to buy that piece of property or to buy it back. If you remember your Old Testament, you know that land in Israel could never be permanently lost so that if you had to forfeit a piece of land, eventually someone related to you who is willing to pay the price and able to pay the price-- those are the requirements, has to be related.

So it's a goel. That's the Hebrew word. A goel is a kinsman redeemer. He has to be willing. OK, I want to go through it. I want that piece of land. And he has to have the money to do it. He has to be related, willing, and able to do it.

And that's why these scrolls all had redemption provisions or redemption clauses written within it. If the property gets lost, here are the requirements to get it back, to purchase it back. Now, what I just described is really the story of the Book of Ruth. Land is lost, the owner dies, Elimelech dies. The widow and her daughters-in-law move back to Bethlehem. The land is up for buyback redemption. A guy named Boaz who is related, able, and willing gets the land and the bride, and they live happily ever after. That's the story in the Book of Ruth.

There is also a story-- and you don't have to turn to it, but I want you to remember it if you can or write it down to look at it later-- Jeremiah 32. Jeremiah was a prophet who in Chapter 32 is in jail. You know why he's in jail? He's in jail because he was a preacher and he preached the truth, and he said judgment is coming on this nation. This nation is going down. The Babylonians are going to destroy it, take us all away, and this land will be lost to a foreign power. People didn't like that, threw him in jail.

While he's in jail his cousin comes to him to visit. His cousin's name is Hanamel. And Hanamel says, Jeremiah, buy my property in Anathoth, just outside of Jerusalem. For he says, the right of inheritance is yours. You can buy my property.

Now, that's a stupid thing to say tell him to do. Jeremiah has predicted the Babylonians are taking over the land. This land will be valueless if the Babylonians take it over like Jeremiah predicted. Why would Jeremiah want to do it? And when they come back, Jeremiah said 70 years later they'll both be dead. So he won't be coming back to the land.

But God says, Jeremiah, as a statement of faith, buy the land, pay the money for it, and get the title deed, because eventually your offspring will come back and they'll have land to settle in. So it says in that chapter, God from heaven says take both the sealed deed, that scroll that is sealed with wax seals, take the sealed deed title deed and the unsealed copy and put them into a pottery jar and preserve them for a long time, for the Lord almighty, the God of Israel, says some day people will again own property here in this land and buy and sell houses and vineyards and fields.

Back to Revelation 5. What is this scroll? Whatever this scroll is, number one it's highly significant, because it's in the right hand of God. That makes it important. Number two, it involves the fate of everybody on the Earth. And even heaven is looking and wondering at it. That's verses three and four. And also, jubilant praises erupt in heaven when finally somebody meets the requirements to redeem something, to take that scroll. I suggest to you what we're looking at is the title deed to the Earth. The title deed to the Earth. We would call Chapter 5 of Revelation in real estate terms the closing of the deal.

Some of you might hear that and go, nah, I don't know about that. I mean, why would God, who created the Earth to begin with and maintains it with His power, need to buy it back, need to do this? Now listen carefully. Here's why. Because the Earth, though it is God's by creation, was lost to a usurper. Adam in effect turned over the title deed to the earth to Satan in the Garden of Eden. That's why Paul said in Romans 5 through one man-- that's Adam-- through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and death spread to all.

But it wasn't just mankind that was affected. It wasn't just people that was affected. Property was affected. The Earth itself came under a curse. Romans Chapter 8 says, this creation was made subject to futility, and all of creation, he said, groans and travails, wanting to be delivered.

So what did Jesus Christ call the Devil, call Satan? He called him the ruler of this world. The ruler of this world, on many occasions. What did Paul call Satan? The god of this age. What did the apostle John say of the Devil? It says the whole world is under the sway of the wicked one.

And then do you remember when Jesus was taken up to a high mountain and tempted by the Devil? The Devil came to Jesus, showed him the kingdoms of this world, and said, all this authority I will give you and its glory, for it has been delivered to me and I give it to whomsoever I wish. Jesus didn't dispute that. He didn't argue that.

So the scroll is the title deed to planet Earth, and as each seal will be broken, as you see beginning in Chapter 6, as each seal is broken open, the Earth gets purged through unimaginable tribulation, judgment. But it's also a scroll of redemption, because during that time, as I mentioned, 144,000 Jews will be saved, an innumerable number of Gentiles, non-Jewish people, will be saved in all the Earth, as the world is taken back from the usurper. The usurper gets usurped by this.

And so the question comes in heaven, and it's a very, very critical question-- who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose the seals? It's a very important question. Who has the right? Who has the authority to take it? Who has the innate virtuous worthiness of character, the divine right to take that scroll? Who has the power to defeat Satan and wipe out the effects of sin on the Earth, to reverse the curse put on all creation? Who is worthy?

And then something very troubling appears, verse 3. "And no one in Heaven or on Earth or under the Earth was able to open the scroll or to look at it." In other words, the question is asked, and the answer is dead silence. Who is worthy to take the scroll? Nobody steps forward. Of all the millions of angels, not one of them-- Gabriel, Michael, none of them-- say, I can do it. Abraham, father of faith? He didn't say anything. He didn't step forward. Isaac, Jacob, the prophets, Elijah, Isaiah, Amos, Zephaniah, Zechariah, David? Nobody says a word. No one says, I'm worthy. I've got the power. I've got the right. Dead silence.

Verse 4, John says, "So I wept much." Now wait a minute, just a minute. When it says, "I wept much." Four words-- we read that and go, OK, so he wiped a tear. He had too much onion or something. Who knows. No. When it says, "I wept much," let me translate it from the Greek into English. And so I cried aloud convulsively. I sobbed in loud wails over and over again. That's the intent of it.

Who can blame him? Here's John. He's come up into heaven. He sees this. Wow, the throne. Wow! But then there's that title deed, and nobody steps forward to take it. So I wept much.

W.A. Criswell writes, "John's tears represent the tears of all God's people through all the centuries. They're the tears of Adam and Eve as they viewed the still form of their dead son, Abel, and sensed the awful consequence of their disobedience. These are the tears of the children of Israel in bondage as they cried to God for deliverance from their affliction and their slavery.

These are the sobs in the tears wrung from the heart and soul of God's people as they have stood beside the graves of loved ones and experienced indescribable heartache and disappointments of life. Such is the curse that sin has laid upon God's beautiful creation. No wonder John wept so fervently. If no redeemer could be found to remove the curse, it meant that God's creation was forever consigned to remain in the hands of Satan."

So John sees this and John hears this, and there's silence and a hopelessness grips him. And he begins to sob out loud in convulsions almost. Finally, we'll see an elder, one of the elders in heaven, says, whoa, dude. He didn't actually say, "Whoa, dude," but he says, don't cry. Stop crying. A hero is on the move. And he points him out.

Which takes me to the third characteristic of heaven. Heaven is a real place. Heaven is a relevant place. And heaven is a redemptive place. You'll notice verse 4, "So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll or to look at it. But one of the elders said to me, do not weep." Literally, stop crying.

"Behold," there's that word again. Check this out, John. Check this out, something remarkable. "Behold the lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals. And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and the four living creatures and in the midst of the elders stood a lamb, as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the Earth. And then he came and he took the scroll out of the right hand of him who sat on the throne."

So, stop crying John. Check this out. Look who's coming. And he points to and describes, in well-attested Old Testament language, the Messiah. Notice he's called the lion of the tribe of Judah. I hope some of your minds are going back to Genesis 49, where the Tribe of Judah is described as a lion. Hence the term Lion of the Tribe of Judah. The term is to convey a ferocity, a roar, a real menacing presence. That's what a lion does.

And by the way, the Jews expected their messiah to be like a lion-- roaring, taking over, ruling, king of the forest. Jesus was not that at his first coming. He was a lamb. He was a sacrifice. He was humble. He was humiliated, but for a purpose. But this anticipates his second coming. The Lion of the Tribe of Judah is on the move. In the terms of C.S. Lewis, Aslan is on the move, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.

He's also described as the Root of David that's right out of Isaiah Chapter 11. The prediction is, there will come forth a route from the stem of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David. That's a messianic term.

So get the scene. John's up there. He's crying. Elder says, don't weep. Stop crying. Check it out. Check it out. Lion of the Tribe of Judah, right over there. So he turns around to see a lion. There's no lion. And I'm not lyin'. There was no lion. He turns to see a lion and he sees a lamb, as though it had been slain.

Now, this is just Revelation speak for the lion was the lamb and the lamb was the lion. They're one in the same. Two different comings, two different emphases, but it's the same one. It's the same purpose, same person. A lamb-- a lamb is a frequent picture of Jesus, right? John the Baptist said, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." 29 times in the Book of Revelation Jesus is referred to as a lamb.

But this is a very different lamb. Notice, this lamb has seven horns. Have you ever seen a lamb with any horns? This one has seven horns. A horn is an implement by which an animal gains authority over another animal. It's a symbol of strength and authority. The idea that there are seven, seven a number of completion, suggests this lamb has omnipotence. He's all-powerful, has all authority. Moreover, he has seven eyes. Eyes signify insight, knowledge, wisdom, comprehension. Again, seven eyes would suggest this lamb has omniscience. He knows everything.

And then, which are the seven spirits of God-- that's something we saw in Chapter 4 but didn't unlock that metaphor. That's the sevenfold spirit of God. You can write down in the margin of your Bible Isaiah 11:2, Chapter 11 verse 2. It describes all of these are Old Testament analogies brought into the New Testament. So the seven-fold working of the Holy Spirit, here's what it's saying I believe-- this lamb is perfect in strength, perfect in knowledge, perfect in presence. Behold the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Lamb of God.

Something else to notice about this lamb-- it's a very different lamb, because it looks as though it has been slain. We know it's alive, because it's standing and walking and it takes the scroll out of the right hand. But it looks as though it's bearing marks of violence from some past event, like it's been killed.

Now, keep in mind this is heaven. This is a picture of Jesus in heaven. When Jesus rose from the dead, he still bore the marks of his crucifixion, right? He had to say to Thomas, reach your hand here. Look, see that it's me. Put your hands in my wounds. So he had those wounds in his glorified resurrected body. He ascended into heaven in that body. He is at the right hand of the father's throne in that crucified body.

And here's what's remarkable. Maybe this will cause a wholesale humility for all of us. Could it be that the only work of man in heaven that we will see are the marks of crucifixion that we put on him. And that would not be to shame any of us. It would be his badge of honor and glory, just to remind us, you are worth this to me.

We used to sing a great song around here. The nails in your hands, the nails in your feet, tell me how much you love me. And when the heavens pass away, all your scars will still remain and forever they will say how much you love me. That song captures this meaning.

And this is why he is worthy. This is why he's qualified to take the scroll. Remember what I said? There are three requirements in Antiquity to redeem back a title deed, a piece of property that's been lost. Three requirements-- you have to related, you have to be willing, you have to be able.

The first question, was Jesus related to us? Sure he was. He was God. But it says, the word became flesh and lived among us. He was one of us. He became a human related to humanity. So he is related, first qualification. Second, was he willing? Was he willing to go to the cross, or was this forced? Was he just murdered by the Romans? No. What Jesus said is the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. No man, said Jesus, takes my life from me. I have the power to lay it down, and I have the power to take it again.

So when we realize it wasn't those nails that held Jesus on the cross, it was his love that kept him on the cross, we understand he was related and he was willing. Third requirement, able-- was he able to do it? Did he have the bank, the price? Yeah, because what did it cost to redeem us? What did he pay for it? His blood. That's why the anthem in heaven down in verse 9 is, "We have been redeemed by your blood." You are worthy because you spent your blood. So he's related, willing, and able.

Before I read the rest of the chapter, which sort of is the same activity, I give you-- and we close with this-- the fourth characteristic of heaven. Heaven is a responsive place. It's a real place. It's a relevant place. It's a redemptive place. It's also a responsive place.

Notice what they do, verse 8, "When he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the 24 elders fell down before the lamb, each having a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying you are worthy to take the scroll to open its seals, for you were slain." And notice, "You have redeemed us." We touched on this last week. "You have redeemed us to God by your blood out of every tribe, tongue, people, nation. You've made us kings and priests to our God, and we will reign on the earth. And I looked and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, living creatures and elders. The number of them was 10,000 times 10,000, and thousands of thousands." Do a little math, you discover it's 100 million plus plus.

Singing with a loud voice, worthy is the lamb who was slain to receive power, riches, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth, such as are in the sea-- all of God's creation, all of his animate creation. And all that are in them I heard saying blessing and honor and glory and power be to him who sits on the throne and to the lamb forever and ever.

And the four living creatures said-- and I can only think that some of the four living creatures have to be Baptist, because they keep saying this word-- they said, "Amen." They say it a lot in heaven. Amen. Amen? OK, see? It's easy to say. And the 24 elders fell down and worshiped him who lives forever and ever.

So the fitting response to taking the title deed redeeming the world at the cross and through the tribulation judgments, to get it back from the control of Satan, the fitting response is worship. Worship.

You know, I have people that say things like this-- is that all we're going to be doing in heaven, worship? Because honestly, it sounds a little boring to me. Sitting around and singing, that's why I come late for service. I just want to skip the worship part and get to the meat of the stuff. That all we're going to be doing?

And that is further accentuated by the many eulogies I have heard at funerals through the years. And every time I hear something like this I just always sort of internally shake my head but smile outwardly, because it's a funeral. But somebody gets up and says, I know right now Fred's up there playing golf.

[LAUGHTER]

I'm looking like, really? That's the best you got? Or, I know that she's up there right now knitting and she has her puppies around her. Why is it that we have to reduce the glories of heaven to an earthbound activity that we think it doesn't get any better than that? Listen, I'm reading this. John is in heaven and there is worship going on, and as I read it John is not bored. And I have a hunch-- I have a hunch by reading this-- that there is nothing more fascinating than God when you are face-to-face with him. I think the last thing you're going to be thinking when you're face-to-face with God is, can I play golf now?

[APPLAUSE]

If that's all you've got, you need something better. Now, there's more to do in heaven. There will be more to do. We don't have time to say it now, but you'll see-- we will be serving in heaven. We will be returning from heaven to the earth at some point when there is an uncreation that happens to this earth and a millennial kingdom that is set up. And by the way, in the millennial kingdom you will rule and reign with Jesus during that time. So there's a lot to do. But of the many activities to do, worship, face-to-face encounter, is high on the list.

And if you have been redeemed, I think you get this. If you haven't been redeemed, all you can think about is knitting and golf. But if you've been redeemed, your response is, listen. Listen. The wages of sin is what? OK, it's death. But thank god you got to quit before payday.

So he got the paycheck. Jesus took the paycheck of death, and he died in your place. So he took the death paycheck and he gave you the Powerball paycheck. He let you cash in on heaven. So the first and fitting response is, "Worthy is the lamb who was slain. You took the debt and you paid it."

And I don't care who you are or what you have done, how bad your sins are in the past. You might be the guy that has to come down and keep getting more chalk to keep marking the ladder. But Jesus paid it all. He paid it all. And you might have a lot of chalk that you need, but he came to erase the chalkboard and take the record away. That's why he's called Savior, and that's why we worship him.

Father, we want to thank you for this chapter. And there are so many more elements in it and things that could be said, but in this context, in this setting, and for this purpose enough has been said. We are meditating on those characteristics of heaven-- a real place, a relevant place, a redemptive place, a responsive place.

I pray, Lord, for our present response. We're gathered here on Earth, just getting a little bit of a literary glimpse into glory. We're just peeking through the keyhole of the door of heaven and getting this glorious scene described. But one day we'll be there. One day we'll see it, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of your glory and grace. Father, I pray for those who have gathered here. They don't know you personally. They have come to church, but they have yet to come to Christ. They have not personally surrendered their life to the control of God. I pray that would change today.

I pray for those who have wandered away from your fold, from the flock of God. Their life is not what they thought it was going to be with the choices they've made. It's not full. It's not rich. It's empty. And some have shed tears. In their darkness they have cried out like we read even here in Revelation, wondering is there somebody to deliver? Is there somebody to fix this mess? And at such a time as that, the Lamb of God, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the one who was slain, the one who took the paycheck of death steps forward.

Lord, I pray that some who are gathered here this morning would say yes to Jesus. Our heads are bowed. Our eyes are closed. I will keep mine open. If you are willing to give your life to Christ this morning or to return to Him, would you raise your hand up in the air high so I can see it? Raise it up so I can [INAUDIBLE] this morning. I'm asking you, do you want to turn your life to Christ? God bless you to my right.

Who else? Raise your hand up. And you, right in the middle. Anybody else? Raise that hand up high in the air so I can acknowledge it. Right there, right there-- one, two, three. Three of you guys, gals. In the very back. Anyone else? God bless you in the back to my right. Anybody in the balcony? Raise it up high. Bless you.

Father, thank you. Thank you. Some of us here remember a day like this when we said yes to Jesus. But for these, Lord, with those raised hands we saw a moment ago, how grateful we are for this decision. Pray you'd bless it. Pray that you'd bring to these lives a real joy. A real joy-- a peace that passes their ability to even comprehend it as they enter into a relationship with you, a covenant relationship with you. And the old gets lost forever, and the new life comes and is enjoyed. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Let's stand to our feet. I'm going to ask those of you who raised your hands to make your way forward, finding the nearest aisle, and stand right up here in the front, where I'm going to lead you in a prayer to receive Jesus. Why do we do it publicly? Jesus himself called people publicly, and I think it does you great good when you are willing to make a break from the past and make a stand for Christ.

[APPLAUSE]

So we're going to give you that opportunity. Just come and stand right up here. Some of our counselors will join you, as well.

It's so great. It's so great.

(SINGING): Bring your sorrows and trade them for joy. From the ashes, a new life is born. Jesus is calling. Oh, come to the alter. The Father's arms are robed in white. Forgiveness was born with the precious love Jesus Christ.

I love it. Anybody else? Whether you raised your hand or not, whether I saw it or not is irrelevant. If you're outside, I don't know if there's anyone outside. If you're in overflow, they'll walk you over here. They'll walk you over here right now. Just raise your hand. There's a pastor. Just lift it up. Bless you. Awesome. Awesome.

All right, God bless you.

[APPLAUSE]

Glad you came. Anybody else? Anyone else?

[APPLAUSE]

Anyone else? This is important. I know there's a game today, right? It'll keep. That's why they invented TiVo. But this is monumental. Anyone else?

[APPLAUSE]

All you've got to do is say, OK, yes, and just step out of that aisle or say excuse me. You will part the Red Sea in your aisle if you just say, excuse me. Anybody else? I'd give it time, because I remember me. It took me a while, because I knew that I needed to do this. I knew I needed to do this, but I was just really crafty and good at fighting God. I had all the little walls up. It felt really good to knock those walls down and make a stand. Anyone else at all? God's been speaking to your heart for a while. This is your opportunity now to respond to that.

Hey, for those of you who have come-- so good to see you here.

[APPLAUSE]

I love this. I live for this. So we're going to pray right now. I'm going to lead you in a prayer. So pretend nobody's here right now. It's just us. We're just here. Come over this way. Let's gather together close.

So I'm going to lead you in a prayer. I'm going to ask you to pray these words out loud after me. Say these words from your heart. You're saying them to God, and it's your statement of a faith in him, of trusting him. It's asking him to come in and invade your life. All right? Let's pray.

Say Lord, I give you my life. I am a sinner. I know it. Please forgive me. I believe that Jesus came and died, that he shed his blood for me, and that he rose from the dead. I turn from my sin. I repent of it. And with your help, I turn to you, to Jesus as my Savior. I want to follow him as my Lord. Help me. In Jesus' name, Amen. Amen.

[APPLAUSE]

Congratulations, and welcome to God's family.

Jesus is a lamb who was slain for our sins, and he is truly worthy of our praise. How does this message give you hope for your future? We would love to know. Email us at mystory@calvaryabq.org. And just a reminder, you can give financially to this work at calvaryabq.org/giving. Thank you for listening to this message from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Albuquerque.

Additional Messages in this Series

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1/10/2016
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What's Next?
Revelation 1
Skip Heitzig
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People have always been fascinated with the future and what's next. As we study prophecy, we can't help but wonder if current events play into an end-time scenario. The book of Revelation is John's written account of the spiritual revelation he received from God about the future return and reign of Christ. As Skip begins in Revelation 1, he encourages us to look at the future with faith and hope.
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1/17/2016
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Come Up Here
Revelation 1:19-20; Revelation 4:1-11
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As believers, we look forward to the return of our Lord Jesus Christ and the blessed hope of eternity with Him. Unfortunately, some are put off by the idea of the rapture, because the date has been incorrectly predicted for so many years. In this message, we get a glimpse into the throne room of heaven as we anticipate the joy we'll have at the glorious appearing of Jesus Christ.
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2/7/2016
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Stampede
Revelation 6:1-8
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The tribulation period will be a time of deception, war, famine, and death for the occupants of the world. The Antichrist will rise to power and masquerade as the Messiah, pretending to bring peace, but instead bringing war. In this message, we learn what will unfold when the first four seals are opened and their terrors are unleashed on the earth.
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2/14/2016
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The World's Greatest Revival
Revelation 7
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During the earth’s greatest trial and tribulation will also come its greatest opportunity for salvation. Even after the church is raptured off the earth and ensconced in heaven, there will be gospel preaching during this time of global pain. This is the flicker of hope that will be offered to the world while God pours out His wrath on it. There are three unexpected discoveries we make about the upcoming tribulation period.
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2/28/2016
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What's Next? from Jerusalem
Matthew 24:1-8
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One of God's greatest attributes is that He knows what is going to happen before it actually happens, and His Word clearly maps the events of the future. In this message from Jerusalem, we learn why this city is the center of the world, as well as what we can expect to take place when Jesus fulfills His promise to return for the church.
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3/6/2016
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Cosmic Conflict
Revelation 12:1-6
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There has been an invisible war between satanic forces and God’s purpose and people since time began. To fail to understand this conflict is to fail to understand both history and prophecy. Without the lens provided by Revelation 12, our vision of everything is obscured. We will never fully grasp the plan of God through the ages, the cross of Christ, the tribulation, and the future reign of Christ unless we can comprehend the cosmic conflict that is displayed in this chapter.
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3/13/2016
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Satan's Global Conflict
Revelation 12:7-17
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"War in Heaven Brings Wrath on Earth!" That could be the headline of Revelation 12. The ongoing battle of the ages that began in heaven and has played out on earth will reach fever pitch in the coming years. If you're asking What's Next?, the answer in part lies here. The cosmic battle becomes a global battle that will be filled with both woe and worship, both fury and freedom. Let's get more insight into the motivations and actions of the archenemy of God's people.
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4/3/2016
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The Most Interesting Man in the World
Revelation 13:1-10
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Unlike the fictional beer commercials, the most interesting man in the world is coming. Dynamic, persuasive, and a breath of fresh air, this leader’s diplomatic skills will be off the charts. On one hand, he will be everything the world has been waiting for; on the other hand, he will be its biggest nightmare. Since the number six is often the designated number of man in Scripture, let’s examine six characteristics of this most interesting coming ruler.
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4/10/2016
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The Coming Deception
Revelation 13:11-18
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We know for sure that a ruler who will have international authority is coming to the earth. We also know that he will not be alone. There will come a religious deceiver who will aid and abet this global leader. Today, we consider the end-time teaching of the world’s fastest-growing religion to see if there is an interface with the Bible’s predictions about what’s next.
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4/17/2016
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The Return
Revelation 19:11-21
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We now come to the culmination of all redemptive history—the second coming of Jesus Christ. After history runs its sinister course, after the final period of man’s rebellion, Satan’s retaliation, and God’s judgment, the end of the world will come. But the end of this world will actually be the beginning of a new one. The event that hinges these together is the future coming of Christ to the earth. Let’s consider five aspects of His return, spoken of here and throughout Scripture.
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4/24/2016
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Heaven on Earth
Revelation 20:1-6
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Mankind long ago gave up on the idea of a future utopia. The thought of perpetual peace and undisturbed harmony became the stuff of fairy tales. But that is precisely what God promised He will bring to this earth one day. Though Satan has exercised a temporary authority over God’s creation for several millennia, the story isn’t over yet. Jesus will return to rule for a thousand years. And it won’t just be a spiritual kingdom in the hearts of His followers. This will be a literal dominion over a renewed earth. Let’s explore this thousand-year phase of your eternal future.
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5/22/2016
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What's Next...for Everyone!
Revelation 20:4-7; Revelation 20:11-15
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My mom used to wake me up early every morning with her sweet voice saying, "Rise and shine!" It took a few times, but I eventually got up out of bed. Jesus too will call everyone who has died to "Rise up!" But not everyone will rise up to shine; some will rise up to suffer. Let's consider three inevitable and unalterable truths about the future for all of us: We will all live, we will all die, and we will all rise again to live forever.... But where and how?
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6/5/2016
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Surprising Facts about Your Eternal Home
Revelation 21-22
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Through the years, I have observed that most people (even Christians) have ideas about what heaven will be like that are vastly different from how Scripture describes heaven. In this series, we have followed the chronological flow of the book of Revelation from the rapture through the tribulation, from the second coming to the millennial kingdom. We turn now to what the Bible describes as the final phase of heaven—the eternal state. Here are a few things that might further surprise you about your future home:
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There are 13 additional messages in this series.