Long Story Short: Re-creation

Good morning.  Welcome to Journey Church.  My name is Phil Human and it’s a joy to speak with you today as we wrap up a six week series that we’ve called a Long Story Short.

We began in the book of Genesis – the first book of the Bible.  Today we will be in Revelation – the last book of the Bible.  Chapter 21 – the second to last chapter in the entire bible.  And one of the most beautiful chapters!  I’m genuinely excited to be speaking about what is going to happen in the end.

Five weeks ago we began by explaining that God created everything.  Nothing you see is space debris.  Rather, everything, you especially, was created by God.  The story of the bible begins in a garden – where Adam and Eve walked with God as friends.  No shame.  Nothing hidden.  No worry and anxiety – no death or disease.  God was their God and Adam and Eve were his people.

Four weeks ago we learned how it all went to pot.  How Adam and Eve rebelled against God’s leadership and decided we don’t want to be your people.  We don’t want you to be our God.  We will take care of ourselves, thank you, we will run our own show!  And run it they did – they ran it straight into the ground.  And ever since, our world is pockmarked with injustice and cruelty and meanness and selfishness that generates naturally and easily within the heart of all of us – because all of us have sinned – all of us are infected by sin – and the world suffers as a result.

Three weeks ago we talked about God’s plan to rescue and restore humanity.  To once again make it possible for God to be our God and for us to be his people.

Two weeks ago we learned that Jesus was the One.  God in the flesh.  God with us.  He lived a perfectly sinless life in our place.  He died in our place – the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  And we learned that right now, the doors to the kingdom of heaven have been thrown wide open to who-so-ever will think highly enough of Jesus to trust him with their life.

See – the long story short?  Is really all about Jesus.  It’s one book, one story of one man – Jesus – and his love for his creation – and his decision to save it by carrying our debt upon himself.

And now – whosoever wants God to be their God, to be God’s people – whosoever will may come.  Right now through faith in Jesus, a new kind of reality exists.  A new kind of life and a new kind of humanity.  All through our Savior, Jesus.

Last week we looked at the church, the inward component of caring for one another, and the upward component of worshipping God and dedicating ourselves to him, and the external component of serving and loving and becoming the salt and light of the world.

Today we wrap up our story by returning to the start, really.  Someday – Jesus will return – and when he returns he will make all things new.  Check out this passage from Revelation 21.  This is the Apostle John who was transported in a vision to the end of the world.  Jesus has returned.  And everything is about to change forever and for the good.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.

The long story short is all about God and his desire that we be his people.  He is utterly, intensely relational.  He loves us.  And he invites us into the relationship he has always had with the Father Son and Holy Spirit.  He invites us in.

And what is God doingHe will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”  Can we just ponder this verse for a moment.  Can we allow our souls to soak this in and just a moment of pure joy as we think about this day.  It’s coming y’all.  It’s coming.  It’s inevitable.  Come Lord Jesus.

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.  There it is again, right?  Except even better – not just are we his people, how does God describe us?  They will be my children!

One day Jesus is going to return and what is going to happen?  How does the long story short end?  God repairs everything that was broken when Adam and Eve sinned in the garden.

Behold, I am making all things new!

First – God will make our bodies new.

The Bible teaches that when we die, our souls are separated from our body and we are immediately brought into the presence of God.  To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.

But that’s only a temporary condition.  The Apostle Paul tells us that at the end – we will be reunited with a new and glorified body.

1 Corinthians 15:21 So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. 22 Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. 23 But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back.

We will not float around like ghosts.  When we die now we are separated from our bodies but one day God will reunite our soul and our body – but our body will be right.  Whole.  Perfect.  No more sickness.  No more disease.  No more dying.

We are told that we will be resurrected, as Jesus was.  It will be like Jesus body who was able to do things we can’t – like for instance one time he walked through a wall – right through a locked doors – and the disciples said, “It’s ghost!”  And Jesus said, I’m not a ghost – give me some fish to eat.  Touch me – put your fingers in the holes on my hands – he wasn’t a ghost – but his body was a resurrected body – different and right.

We don’t entirely know what our new bodies will be like, but what if sin caused us to be numb to other senses – we are used to five senses – touch, taste hear, see and smell. What if there are like 50 senses?

I always it when people say – you know dogs can’t see color.  They are color blind.  Poor animals.  How do they even know?  Meanwhile dogs are like, humans can barely smell.  Nothing like us.  poor animals.

We don’t know what we’re missing, but the day is coming when we will.  Because God will make all things new.  We will have new bodies that are no longer subject to decay and disease and death.  Behold God is making all things new.

Not only will we have a new body, but God will make us spiritually and morally new.

You want to know what one of the most frustrating things about being a Christian is right now?  The fact that we still sin.  We are told we are new creations, and yet, we still struggle with the old habits.  We are told we are forgiven and cleansed and that we are being transformed, and yet, we still struggle with darkness within.

Romans chapter 7 describes the torment at times of this internal fight we have with the old guard that used to run the show – our selfish nature fights and wants to push God away.  And it can be a real drag sometimes can’t it?  Why do we do what we say we don’t want to do anymore?

Well, someday we will be made morally right and pure.  And we will finally be at peace with ourselves.

Now maybe you’ve thought to yourself – someday Jesus is going to make me right and I’ll be back in a perfect relationship and I’ll be sinless, and you think – oh man.  How long will it take for me to screw things up in heaven?  I’m not perfect and I will never be perfect!

Ahhh, but when we are made new again here in Revelation 21 – we will be morally and spiritually pure.  We will finally be able to see sin for what a disgusting mess it really is – and we will not need to fear sin anymore.  It’s a vanquished foe.

We will be able to see sin the way Jesus saw it.  I heard someone once ask a teacher that I value named Dallas Willard a question about Jesus.  They asked him Dallas, could Jesus have sinned?  Was it possible?  And Dallas said, let me ask you a question.  Can I take this pen and shove it into my eye right now?  Yes I could.  But why don’t I?  Because I know better!

One day we will know better.  One day sin will finally be unmasked.  We will live with a new morality and spirit.

We will be repaired and be able to live with ourselves.  No more shame and guilt and insecurities and fear and worry.  All gone.  We know better!  Finally and forever.

No more lying, manipulating, No more hiding from one another or polishing our image.  No need to manage our image.  We are made into the beautiful bride of Christ without spot or blemish.

Behold God is making all things new.

Thirdly – our relationship with creation is made new.  Creation itself is made new.

Did you know that the bible says that creation groans…It’s distraught at it’s condition and can’t wait to be made right.

Earthquakes, tornado’s, tsunami’s, blizzards, hurricanes, volcano’s, drought and floods, all of these things are after effects of sin being introduced into the world.  When Adam and Eve fell, the earth fell with them.  They plunged the earth into brokenness.

This world, it’s not supposed to be like this.  There was no need for a tornado shelter in the garden of Eden.  It’s broken right now, but at the end of the world, it’s going to be made right.

And you know what?  The earth can hardly wait to be healthy again.

Check out how Paul puts it in the letter to the Romans, chapter 8. 19 For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are.20 Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, 21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. 

What a beautiful statement.  Creation longs to be freed from death and decay.

On Friday night I was walking out of the high school football game and I came across this couple and they were getting into this brand spanking new Lexus – it was really nice looking, and I could see as they walked up they kind of did a walk around to make sure no high school kid dinged their new car.

And I complimented them and they were beaming.  And as I walked by I thought to myself, you know – I wonder how many weeks it will take for the new car smell to wear off.  And I wonder how many months it will be before they get a ding in their car or hail damage from a storm?  And how many years will go by before a shmoe like me will be able to afford to buy their car at a used car lot for a fraction of what they paid for it.

And I think that is a picture of what the curse has done to our earth.  It’s set us in a state of decay and deterioration – where new things get worn out, old and decay. The entire world is wearing down.  Slowing down.  That’s the order of things now.

But imagine with me a world where – the old way of things has passed – where one day – creation will reverse the curse and get a little bit better every day.  A little newer.  A little brighter, crisper, cleaner, fresher, a little more real than the day before.

I remember the day we bought my son Josh glasses.  And he walks into the house and sits down for dinner and looks across the kitchen and goes, “Holy cow you guys, these glasses are amazing.  I don’t mean to brag or anything but I can actually read the numbers on the microwave from here!”

We were so excited for him, although it did cause us to question our parenting prowess – seeing as it took a few years to realize the kid needed glasses.

But he put those glasses on and behold, all things were new.

Now imagine that feeling for eternity.    See now here’s the deal – the bible says that right now we are looking at God through a dark glass dimly.  1 Corinthians 13:12

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

And this of course brings us to our last piece that is repaired and made new.  One day our relationship with God will be made new.

Yes we are forgiven and yes our relationship with God is restored and yes we have the Holy Spirit inside of us.  And yet…  yet…  we long to walk with him.  We long to see him!

And the long story ends in Revelation 22:4 –  with a promise that we will see God’s face.  And he will write his name on us – he will be our God and we will be his people.  We will be his children.  He out eternal good and loving father.

All of this awaits the person who makes the decision to trust Jesus with their life.

But of course, it would be a grave error of me if I allowed you to think that everyone will enjoy these new things.  The book of Revelation indicates, including this very chapter, that those who have not placed their faith in Jesus will not be part of these new things.

And I don’t say that as a threat or fear mongering in any way.  I am reporting what I read.  And God will not drag people into the Kingdom of Heaven kicking and screaming. Whosoever will may come.  And it appears that whosoever will not, will be given that choice of living apart from God.  And life apart from God can really only be described as hell.

But that’s not the way God wants your story to end.  He wants you to see and believe and come to the point where you think highly enough of Him to trust him with your life.

Now you might be wondering – what’s the takeaway to this sermon.  I mean – what’s the so what of this sermon?  It’s something way to far off in the distant to make a difference – but that would be a mistake.

See when we read Revelation we need to remember that it was written to an original audience – it was written to Christians living under persecution.  Christians were being persecuted for their faith.  Killed in awful ways – they were thrown to lions, lit up like torches, crucified as a warning to others to stay away from these Christians – why?  Because they served a king other than Caesar.

And John knew they were dying for their faith and so he writes Revelation – and gives them a picture of what is yet to come.  And it worked!  These people died with such grace and dignity – they sang hymns as they were being killed – they forgave their killers and prayed for the people watching them die – that others began to say – what IS it with these people?

They live like no one else – unselfishly and lovingly, and they die like no one else – with such poise and grace – what is it with these people? How are they able to do it?

Well, because they saw the prize that awaited them.  Romans 8:18  Paul – in prison, writes, 18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. 

He does the math.  80 years on this side of the blip of death.  Eternity with God face to face on the other side.  This is nothing.  It was the perspective of Paul who endured more suffering in his life for his faith than almost anyone – indeed he is beheaded for his faith by the Romans…  It’s nothing, really, says Paul.

And this same attitude fuels the first century martyrs who can sing to one another as they are being put to death.

We are going to close with prayer in a moment and then we’re going to sing two more songs before we close out the service with prayer.  The first song the band will sing is a song called All Things new…  and I’ll close by reading the lyrics.

Come broken and weary
Come battered and bruised
My Jesus makes all things new
All things new

Come lost and abandoned
Come blown by the wind
He’ll bring you back home again
Home again

Come frozen with shame
Come burning with guilt
My Jesus, he loves you still
He loves you still

The world was good, the world is fallen
The world will be redeemed

So hold on to the promise
The stories are true that Jesus makes all things new

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