Image above is from https://youtu.be/xI6DBVATM1Q
As we saw in the last post, Chapter 21 teaches—
Christ will consummate His kingdom in the end by renewing heaven and earth, and filling them with His resurrected, glorified people.
Let’s continue from last week’s post—
III. God will establish close family ties with His people making each a child of His own and a sibling of all other family members. vs. 7
vs. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.
John is not speaking of a select group of Christians. He is speaking to all Christians. Compare Romans 8:38-39
38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The promise connected to these verses in Romans 8 is the essence of the covenant—a personal relationship with God through Christ.
Compare Genesis 17:7…I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. [ESV]
Compare the Genesis verse with Exodus 6:7—I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. [ESV]
IV. Nothing harmful or sinful will be permitted into God’s newly restored heavens and eart. vs. 8
vs. 8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
John uses the contrast “but” (de in Greek) to indicate that this list stands in marked contrast to the people just mentioned above.
An Example of Faith without Full Understanding
The question of what about those who’ve never heard of Jesus always comes up in the discussion of Christianity’s necessary exclusiveness. John 14:5-6 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (ESV; emphasis mine.)
We as humans do not have all the information about the lost. God does.
Bethan Lloyd-Jones, an M.D. herself and wife of the famous preacher, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, M.D., at Westminster Chapel, London, UK; had a good answer to that question. She always referred to Abraham’s intercession for the city of Sodom. Genesis 18:25 Far be it from You to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from You! Shall not the Judge† of all the earth do what is just?”
† The word “judge” (in Hebrew shaphat) at the end of this verse does not refer to a trial judge. “The “Judge” of a Semitic people was ruler, judge, and advocate. God does not judge after the sight of the eyes, or the hearing of the ears, but righteous judgement. Cf. Deuteronomy 32:4; Isaiah 11:3. (see Ryle, H. E., below.)
We may not understand God’s ways with other people, but He always does the right thing in regard to them. Of this we can be sure even though we do not understand God’s ways. As an older Christian said to me, “Where we cannot trace the hand of God, we can trust His heart.”
Note these are a list of sinners who refuse(d) Christ’s offer of forgiveness.
- The fearful cowardly, timid (in Greek deilos; mentioned only 3 times in the NT; these are afraid of allegiance to Christ in times of persecution in John’s day (and in the future).
- The unbelieving faithless, disbelieving (in Greek apistos; these refuse to commit themselves to Christ.
- The vile, detestable, abhorrent (in Greek bdelussomai; this occurs in its perfect participial form (ebdelugmenos—”those who were in the past and continue to be in the present vile persons”); this word is used regularly to describe those who worship idols. (In classical Greek the word bdeō meant to “break wind silently and send out such a stench that others distance themselves from the vile odor”). (BDB Hebrew Lexicon.)
- Murders, killers (in Greek phoneus; they are such because they have killed the saints.
- Sexually immoral, fornicators, whore-mongers (in Greek pornos; this the most general word In the Bible that is used to describe any and all forms of deviant, anti-Biblical sexual behavior.
- Those who practice magic arts, sorcerers (in Greek pharmakeus); this word is used of one who mixes potions and poisons in order to manipulate people through so-called magic arts; it includes the use of drugs to achieve ‘religious experiences,’ (Timothy Leary’s “God in a bottle,” a reference to LSD.) This also includes all attempts to alter one’s consciences by any drug. It doesn’t include experimental use when one is young. In other words, use of mind-altering drugs once or twice or even more is not an unpardonable sin. It is a problem when mind-altering drugs become the controlling desire of one’s life. Paul makes this clear in Romans 12:1-2—1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (ESV; emphasis mine.)
- Idolaters (in Greek aidōlolatrēs); those who worship idols.
- Liars (in Greek psuedēs; note the definite article is used with the adjective as a substantive—the (all) liars.”
John is describing a group of individuals who possess a certain character. He is not describing individuals who may have once, or twice, etc. done these things. Some struggle with substance abuse all their lives, but they are struggling to quit. Those who reject Christ’s forgiveness are settled in their practice of these sins. God condemns those who refuse to repent of sin and turn to Him. Those who repent and throw themselves on the mercy of God in Christ are saved from this lifestyle. The exclusiveness with Christianity is asserted by Jesus Himself. Dr. Alexander Whyte used to say, “The perseverance of the saints is made up of multiplied new beginnings.”
In every place of ministry there has been at least one timid soul who was fearful he or she had committed the unpardonable sin; and, therefore, would absent themselves from Communion. I always assured the person she or he has not. The person who has committed that sin did so after hardening his heart, and he would not entertain such thoughts as, “I might have committed the unpardonable sin.” The only unpardonable sin is the rejection of Christ as Lord and Savior for the final time.
Prayers with the dying
I heard a man was in the hospital who was a notorious profligate in our community, or at least he had been in his youth and middle-aged adulthood. People said, “Don’t go visit him; he is a vile man and will curse you out.”
I had heard all the curse words before, so I went. I spoke with him in the bed he knew he would not arise from again. I had visited him often when he was wheelchair bound. We would sit on the side porch of his house with another friend and just talk. I never had heard him curse at me before.
We talked briefly at the hospital. At the end of my visit I asked him, as I do all hospital patients, “Could I have a prayer with you before I go?”
He replied calmly, “I would like that.” I prayed, as I do with all persons I visit, “Lord, forgive us of our sins.” I then left him, and he died the following week. I believe I will see him in heaven.
You might think that I “let him up light.” Are we not in the “salvation business”? I do not play the attorney for the prosecution! I hold out hope for the dying.
For the living, I usually urge repentance of sins. And will pray this prayer above with the repentant who is not at death’s door.
I heard of a man who put off the offer of forgiveness of sins for a later time. “Not at present, but maybe tomorrow.” The pastor said, “Tomorrow is not promised.”
The man countered, What about the thief on the cross!
The preacher replied, “Which one?”
We must remember one refused salvation. Another one accepted it.
The final question is, “Will we let Jesus save us from our sins.”
Dr. Alexander Whyte Administering Communion
In the summer of 1974, I spent several weeks in Scotland working with smaller churches so they could have Vacation Bile Schools. I spent most of my time in the border areas and began at and ended at Edinburgh. I saw Free St. George’s Kirk where Alexander Whyte ministered from 1870-1916.
He was a “hard preacher” when it came to sin. One older man said after hearing a sermon, “Yon man was a devil of child, I suspect.”
However, Dr. Whyte was kind in preaching forgiveness and grace. One day he was serving communion and came to a young girl sobbing. She tried to push the cup away. He looked down at her and lifted her hands with the cup to her lips saying, “Go ahead, Lass. It’s for sinners!” One of my earlier pastors added, “The Lord’s Supper is for sinners who are tired of their sinning.” (Image of Whyte above is from Wikimedia Commons.)
Romans 5:8 reminds us “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” We must always remember salvation is by grace through faith.
Next time we will see the meaning of the Bride of the Lamb and the New Jerusalem.
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation)
Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.
ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com
Rushdoony, R. J. (2002). Genesis: Commentaries on the Pentateuch,Vol. 1. Vallecito, CA: Chalcedon Foundation. Kindle Edition.
Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).
Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.
Ladd, G. E. (1972). A Commentary on the Revelation of John. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition
Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Ryle, H. E. (1914). Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges Volume I Genesis with Notes. Cambridge, UK: at the University Press.
Sproul, R.C. (2014). Everyone’s a Theologian: An Introduction to Systematic Theology. Sanford, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing, a Division of Ligonier Ministries.
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