Foundations of Faith: The Life Everlasting, Part 3

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Please remain standing for the reading of God’s Word. We finish up our sermon series
on the foundations of faith. I title my sermon this morning, Foundations of Faith,
The Life Everlasting, Part 3. And for my sermon text this morning, we consider a passage,
another passage from the book of Revelation, Revelation chapter 22, verses 1 through 5.
You’ll find that beginning on page 1234 in your Pew Bible. I’m going to read the first seven
verses of this chapter to fill out the context a bit. So let us hear with reverence and awe the
word of our God. Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal,
flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb, through the middle of the street of the city,
also on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit,
yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it,
and His servants will worship Him. They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads,
and night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be
their light, and they will reign forever and ever. And He said to me, These words are trustworthy
and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent His angel to show His
servants what must soon take place. And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps
the words of the prophecy of this book. Your friends, the grass withers and the flower fades,
but the word of our God endures forever. Let’s seek the Lord’s blessing upon the preaching of
His word. Our Lord and Father in heaven, we would pray that as we approach this text of sacred
scripture, that your Holy Spirit would help us to see the glory contained in this passage of your
word. We ask, Lord, that you would open our minds and our hearts to behold wondrous things from your
word. We pray, Lord God, that through this text of scripture, you would strengthen our faith,
deepen our hope, and broaden our love. We would pray, Heavenly Father, that you would once again
set a guard over my lips, that I, your unworthy servant, may only speak that which is faithful
in your sight, for the edification of your people, the salvation of the lost,
and the glorification of your holy name. In Jesus’ name we pray, and all of God’s people said,
Amen. You may be seated.
And the six key words that the children can listen for today are the words water,
spirit, tree, curse, light, and life. Think about Adam and Eve before the fall.
Adam and Eve had it made. The Bible teaches that God created mankind, male and female,
after His own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, with dominion over the creatures.
As our shorter catechism summarizes the Bible’s teaching on this subject in its answer to question
number 10. Dear friends, the Genesis creation account tells us that Adam and Eve were created
in God’s image and likeness. No other creature was created in God’s image and likeness.
Adam and Eve were. They were created without sin. They were created in a way in which they were
possessed of a perfect righteousness, and they were placed in a perfectly safe, sinless environment,
the Garden of Eden. Not only did they have all of their material and physical needs met
in that original garden paradise, the Garden of Eden, but most important of all, Eden was also
a place of spiritual delights. It was a place where Adam and Eve enjoyed unhindered, unbroken
personal fellowship and communion with the loving and holy God who had created them in His
very image. Eden was not merely a lush garden with ample fruits to satisfy their physical hunger.
It was also a holy sanctuary where they could freely glorify and enjoy God in worship and in
personal communion with their covenant Lord and Creator. This was paradise indeed. But sadly,
and you know the story, sadly our first parents forfeited their place in the garden paradise of
God by their own free choice to sin against God through their eating of the forbidden fruit.
And as scripture indicates that Adam had been appointed by God as humanity’s original covenant
head and representative, when Adam under the temptation of Satan, when he fell into sin
by eating the forbidden fruit, we sinned in covenantal union and solidarity with him.
And what was the result of this act of cosmic treason on the part of Adam and Eve? Well,
tragically, paradise was lost. In its covenant head, Adam, mankind was now fallen into a state
of sin and misery. Adam and Eve themselves were thrust out of the garden sanctuary and paradise
of Eden into a dangerous world, a world where they would have to eke out an existence by the
sweat of their face in toil and suffering and pain. In Adam, fallen humanity was now under God’s
righteous wrath and curse and barred from eating of the tree of life, a sacramental tree that
symbolized and pointed forward to eternal life in a glorified, consummated, never-ending paradise.
Ever since that tragic day, ever since that tragic day when God expelled Adam and Eve from
the garden of Eden, the history of the human race has been a tragic story of almost unbroken
disease, suffering, hunger, death, crime, cruelty, greed, violence, injustice, and war.
But dear ones, in our text for this Lord’s Day morning, we are given a glorious vision of paradise
restored. In this vision of paradise restored, the water of life flows freely. It flows freely
from the throne of God and of the Lamb. The tree of life bears abundant fruit and its leaves bring
healing to the nations of mankind, and the Lord God replaces the darkness of sin with the light
of his presence. This restored and consummated paradise that we read about in this highly symbolic
vision is made possible because of the saving work of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God,
who taketh away our sin. The ultimate paradise of the consummated new heaven and new earth,
the ultimate life everlasting that we in the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ confess in the
Apostles’ Creed, that ultimate life everlasting is secured for God’s people in Christ because of our
Lord’s suffering on the wood of the cross. Indeed, my friends, the cross of Christ has become the tree
of eternal life for all who are effectually called by God’s sovereign grace to embrace Jesus Christ
as their very own Lord and Savior. Beloved, this wonderful passage of God’s Word continues the
vision of the holy city, New Jerusalem, a vision which is revealed to John by the angel beginning
back in chapter 21 verse 9. The New Jerusalem, of course, is not to be understood as a physical or
earthly city, you know, a city of brick and mortar, of buildings and bridges and roads and so forth,
but rather it represents, it symbolizes the elect church, it symbolizes the body of Christ,
in other words, it symbolizes all true believers, all who are savingly united to the Lord Jesus
Christ through faith in him and him alone. Like the new heaven and the new earth, the holy city,
New Jerusalem is already in principle a spiritual reality in the hearts and lives of those who
follow Jesus and in the life of Christ’s true church. But the New Jerusalem will not be here
in its final, glorified, consummated form until our Lord Jesus Christ returns in glory at the
end of this age to usher in the ultimate new heaven and new earth wherein righteousness dwells,
the ultimate life everlasting, and that will happen at our Lord’s future glorious second advent.
So friends, this is a glorious passage of scripture. Let’s dive in and consider what we
can learn from this passage of God’s inerrant word. And the first thing I want us to consider
as we consider the first two verses, the opening two verses of our passage, let’s consider first
of all the meaning and significance of the water of life, the meaning and significance
of the water of life. We read in verse one,
then the angel showed me, and let me just pause there and remind us that the term angel means
messenger. This is a heavenly messenger that had been sent by the Lord to John the apostle
to reveal these glorious apocalyptic visions that are recorded in the book of Revelation.
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal,
flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. Now, would this be a concept that would be
unfamiliar to John? Is this a concept that was unfamiliar to the people of God before
the book of Revelation was written? No, of course not. The idea of water of life coming from the
throne of God traces all the way back to passages like the one we see in Ezekiel, and I would argue
even goes further back to the Garden of Eden out of which flowed the various rivers and so forth.
And so friends, this is a familiar image, but what does it represent? What does this water of life
represent here? When we consider this passage of God’s word in its context and in the broader
biblical context as well, it is clear that the water of life symbolically represents eternal life
in Christ, that life which Christ communicates to us by the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Think about the imagery of water. Water is life-giving. You know, I’m not much of a gardener.
I don’t have much of a green thumb, but you don’t have to be into gardening to know that flowers
and fruits and plants don’t ordinarily flourish without a proper supply of water. And likewise,
animals and people will eventually die of dehydration without water. Well, friends,
that’s true in the physical realm, but in the spiritual realm as well. Spiritual and eternal
life is not possible without the divine supply of the water of life. In this passage, the water
of life is a symbol for God’s gift of eternal life, a gift which he gives to his people through the
Holy Spirit in which they receive by faith in Christ alone. This is confirmed when we compare
Scripture with Scripture even in the book of Revelation. Let me just refer you to a couple
other passages in this book. Let’s turn back to Revelation 7 and look at verse 17, Revelation 7,
17. It says this, For the lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide
them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Living water,
the water of life. And then skipping ahead to chapter 21 and looking at verse 6 of chapter 21,
we read these words, And he said to me, It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning
and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.
Again, the water of life representing the gift of eternal life. And if you go towards the end of
the very last chapter here in Revelation, chapter 22, look at verse 17. It says this,
The spirit and the bride say, Come, and let the one who hears say, Come, and let the one who is
thirsty come. Let the one who desires take the water of life without price. Without price,
it’s free. It’s a gift. Now what is the source? So the water of life represents and symbolizes
life eternal, which is found in Christ and by his grace alone. But what is the source of this water
of life? Again, as we consider verse one of our passage, we are told that the angel showed me the
river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from where? Flowing from the throne of God
and of the lamb. Now one thing is very important to understand. God is a spirit. He doesn’t have a
body like we do. And since God is not a body but a spirit, he doesn’t need a throne to sit upon.
But what does this throne imagery represent? It is a symbol. It is a representation. It points to
the lordship and rulership of God and of the lamb. This throne imagery highlights
the royal sovereignty of Almighty God and the divine royal lordship of Jesus Christ, the lamb
of God. Jesus as the lamb of God is not only the crushed and bruised lamb who was sacrificed for
our sins. Remember that the lamb of God is also the lion of the tribe of Judah. He is the royal
messianic son. And this throne imagery highlights his divine lordship. And I want you also to notice
that God and the lamb are presented here as being on the same level. They are presented as being
equal one to another. Did you notice that God and the lamb, in other words, God the father and God
the son, seem to share one and the same throne? It says that this water of life was flowing from
the throne of God and of the lamb. It doesn’t say the thrones of God and of the lamb or the throne
of God and the throne of the lamb. The implication seems to be there’s one throne. We see that also
in verse three. No longer will there be anything accursed but the throne of God and of the lamb
will be in it and his servants will worship him. Again, friends, this would seem to clearly imply
that the lamb, Jesus Christ, is equal to God the father. Here it seems we have just another
powerful biblical testimony to the full deity and godhood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus the lamb
is not a helpless lamb. He is God Almighty. So the source of the water of life is the throne of God
and of the lamb. And what is the course that is taken by this water of life? Look at verse two.
It says that this water of life goes through the middle of the street of the city, also on either
side of the river, the tree of life, and so forth. The course of this water of life goes through
the middle of the street of the city. It’s going as it were through Main Street
in the New Jerusalem. What is this symbolism meant to imply? Well, I believe brothers and sisters
that this may be understood to imply that the good news of eternal life in Jesus Christ is
absolutely central to the life, the vitality, and the well-being of the true church of the
Lord Jesus Christ. Every true church of Jesus Christ will proclaim and have at the center of
its life and confession the good news that Jesus Christ is Lord, that he was crucified for the
forgiveness of sins and raised from the dead for our justification, and that all who believe in him
might not perish but have eternal life. That is at the heart and center of every true church of
Jesus Christ. And when that is removed from the heart and center of the life of the church,
the church is on its way to becoming a synagogue of Satan. We need to keep Christ and his gospel
central to the life of the church. Certainly we must preach the whole counsel of God. The Bible
touches upon many different subjects and we need to address those subjects from the Word of God.
But we always need to keep Christ crucified and risen from the dead central to the life and
fellowship of the church. Dear ones, may God grant us the grace to keep Jesus and his gospel central
to the life of Grace Church now and always. And what are the effects of this water of life that
we read about? The effects are spiritual sustenance and healing for the nations of humanity. It says
this in verse 2, that this water of life goes through the middle of the street of the city,
also on either side of the river, the tree of life. Remember reading about, where did we read
about the tree of life? Genesis, right? Adam and Eve, when they fell into sin, they were barred from
eating of the tree of life, that tree which signified and sealed glorious consummated life
eternal. But now the tree of life is accessible to all who would avail themselves of it.
The tree of life with its 12 kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the
tree were for what? The healing of the nations. The healing of the nations. This is not preaching
some kind of superficial, worldly minded health and wealth and prosperity gospel.
The ultimate thing we need healing from is the cancer of sin. And Jesus Christ, by his death on
the wood of the cross, the true tree of life provides forgiveness and ultimate healing,
forgiveness for our sins and reconciliation with the Father through his obedient life and
atoning death upon the cross. Through the saving work of our Lord Jesus Christ,
paradise has even now been restored, at least spiritually speaking, and in an inaugurated sense.
Even in this present evil age, we as God’s people have access to the spiritual healing
and saving fruits produced by the tree of life. Man’s fall in Adam barred access to the tree of
life. But now through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, God given faith in the Lord Jesus Christ,
and ultimately on the final day when Christ returns in glory, access to the tree of eternal
life and communion with God have been opened up to repentant believing sinners through the
proclamation of the gospel. Dear listener, are you burdened by your sin? Are you contrite for your
sin? Does the Spirit convict you of your sin? You are called to repent, to have a change of mind
that leads to a change in direction, to turn away from your sin to Christ receiving and resting upon
him and him alone for your salvation. And the good news is that whoever believes in him,
whoever trusts in Christ and his perfect atonement on the cross and his glorious
resurrection from the dead shall not perish but have everlasting life. Would you know in your own
heart and life what we confess in the church in the Apostles Creed? I believe in the life everlasting.
Would you know that life everlasting in your life today? Then by the grace of God receive and rest
upon Christ and Christ alone for your salvation. Friends, as we move on in our text of verse three,
I next want you to observe the curse removed and paradise restored. The curse removed
and paradise restored. It says in verse three, no longer will there be anything accursed,
but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it and his servants will worship him.
His servants will worship him. Dr. G.R. Beasley Murray in his commentary on Revelation says,
there shall no more be anything accursed may simply mean that nothing unclean or abominable
shall find entrance into the holy city. But it is more likely that we have here a deliberate
contrast to the curse pronounced in the original paradise that brought woe on all creation. And he
refers us back to Genesis 3 verses 14 through 19, where God pronounces a curse upon the ground
and a curse upon humanity because of its fall in sin. Beasley Murray goes on to say the effects
of that curse have been completely overcome in the New Jerusalem. And indeed, this is what the
gospel points to. I would have you turn briefly. Let me read to you from Galatians 3 verses 14
through 19. Galatians 3 verses 10 through 14. Galatians 3, 10 through 14.
Paul writes this, For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse, for it is written,
Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law
to do them. God required of Adam and Eve perfect personal and entire obedience, and they failed
because they gave in to the temptation of Satan in the garden. They failed that probationary test,
and the curse came upon them. And the curse of the law is pronounced on everyone
who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law to do them. It’s all or nothing.
You either perfectly obey or you’re not obedient at all with respect to the demands of God’s law.
And Paul goes on to say, Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law,
for the righteous shall live by faith, but the law is not of faith, rather the one who does them
shall live by them. And here’s the good news. Christ redeemed us from what? From the curse of the law.
The law is good. The law is spiritual. The law is holy. We love the law, but the law cannot save us.
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law. How? By becoming a curse for us, for it is written,
Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree, so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham
might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
Dear ones, the curse has been overcome and reversed through the Lord Jesus Christ,
who himself became a curse for us on the cross, the ultimate tree of life, so that we who trust him
for salvation from sin might know the blessing and gift of eternal life. God the Father and
Christ the Lamb reign redemptively over the holy city. In other words, over the church,
which is presented in this passage in idealized and glorified form. Believer, rejoice for Christ,
your Savior took that sin burden upon himself, and he bore your sin on the tree of the cross.
Praise God for his amazing grace that gives us the spiritual blessings of salvation and
eternal life as a free gift in Christ. But finally, beloved, as we look at verses four and five,
rejoice in the promise of the vision of God and his illuminating presence. Rejoice in the promise
of the vision of God and his illuminating presence. It says in verses four and five,
of those who are redeemed, those who taste of the tree of life and its fruits, they will see
his face. Now let me pause there. Throughout the Bible, there is this teaching that no man can see
God, that is, see him in his inexhaustible, unhidden glory. No man can see God and live.
To see God is to face death, because God’s holy presence requires the death of the sinner. But
here it says, they will see his face and his name will be on their foreheads. We’ll talk about that
in a second. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God
will be their light and they will reign forever and ever. Here is the ultimate hope that we
affirm when we confess together, I believe in the life everlasting. Dr. Dennis Johnson, in his
helpful commentary on Revelation entitled The Triumph of the Lamb, says this. He says,
the promise that God’s name will be on the foreheads of his servants reminds us of the role
of that name as a seal, marking believers as God’s property and therefore assuring us
of protection from his coming wrath. We are sealed in the Spirit, cleansed by the blood of Christ,
sealed in the Spirit. Through Christ, the biblical principle that no man may see God and live will be
overturned. In principle, we already, through the eyes of faith, see the glory of God in the
face of Jesus Christ, of course. If you know Christ as your Savior, there is a sense in which
by faith you see his glory. As you read the Gospel, the Word is alive to you. And as you read about
Christ and the glorious saving work that he accomplished for us, your heart is strangely
warmed and you see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul hints at this or
speaks to this in passages like 2 Corinthians. Let me just read 2 Corinthians 4 verses 3 through
6. Let me just get there. 2 Corinthians chapter 4 verses 3 through 6 says this.
And even if our Gospel is veiled, why is it that not all see the glory of the Gospel? Why is it
that to some the Gospel and its glory is veiled? Even if our Gospel is veiled, it is veiled to
those who are perishing. In their case, the God of this world, referring there to Satan,
has blinded the minds of the unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the
glory, the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants,
for Jesus’ sake. For God who said, let light shine out of darkness, has shown in our hearts
to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. By faith,
we even now see the glory of Christ, not with our physical eyes, but with the eyes of faith.
However, ultimately, we believers are promised that we will see our Lord face to face in
consummated glory when Jesus returns in glory. Christian, are you looking forward to that day
when you will look your Savior in the eyes and you will see him face to face?
That beatific vision is a central aspect of that ultimate life everlasting that we look forward to
at the end of the age. The life everlasting is not going to be a boring eternity of floating around
on a cloud and with a harp. That looks rather boring to me. No, it will be an amazing eternity
of worshiping and serving the God who created us and who in grace through Christ has redeemed us.
And then it goes on to say in verse 5, and night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp
or sun, for the Lord God will be their light and they will reign forever and ever.
Friends, our Lord Jesus speaks of himself in John 8 verse 12 as the light of the world.
Friends, through Christ and his gospel, the church, in other words, the holy city,
new Jerusalem of this vision, receives spiritual light and illumination. As we walk by faith in
Christ and in the light of his word, walking in obedience to him and bearing the fruit of the
Holy Spirit, we can even now be assured that we reign spiritually with Christ as we’re told that
we do in passages like Ephesians 2 verse 6. And by his grace, as we walk in the light of his word
in this present age, we can be assured that we will one day dwell in that ultimate consummated
holy city, that new heaven and new earth where there will be no need for light or lamp or sun,
for the Lord God himself will be our light. Beloved, let us walk in the light living in
fellowship with Christ, Christ who is the light of the world, Christ who is the life everlasting.
Amen. Let us pray. Our gracious Lord and Father in heaven,
we thank you for paradise restored. We thank you for Christ, our tree of life.
We thank you for the gift of grace and life eternal that we have in him. We pray that by
your Holy Spirit, as we continue to make our journey through this valley of tears to that
ultimate new heaven and new earth where in righteousness dwells, that you would give us
grace to be strengthened in the hope that we have in Christ, for it is not a misty hope that
will pass away, but it is sure and certain, even as your promises are sure and certain and confirmed.
And so Lord, as we wrap up our time in your word and especially as we receive together
the gift of the Lord’s Supper, we pray that by your Spirit you would confirm us in faith,
in hope, and in love that we might faithfully confess and live out the implications
of the life everlasting. In Jesus name we pray and all of God’s people said,
Amen. Friends, let’s respond to what we’ve heard today by rising and we’ll sing him 473
by the Sea of Crystal, 473.