Sermon on Revelation | Blessings and Curses | Revelation 21:5-8


Blessings and Curses (Revelation 21:5-8)

Those of us who die in Christ have hope beyond the grave, and those who die apart from Christ have no hope beyond the grave.

Tonight, our text tells us about blessings for the faithful and curses for the unfaithful in eternity.

Blessings for the Unfaithful, vv 5-7

God declared, “Behold, I am making all things new.” We should not at all he surprised to find God declaring that he makes all things new, for he has just created a new heaven and a new earth. But, instead of just a new heaven and a new earth, God makes all things new. His interaction with man is new, for God now dwells with man (v 3). The nature of man has become new—1 Corinthians 15:51-53. The interaction of man with man is new- man will no longer say goodbye to one another, there will be no more sin involved in man’s interaction with one another.

God instructed John, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” God wanted those who read this to understand that these things are going to come to pass— this is not make-believe, this is not pie-in-the-sky theology, this is going to occur. The words of God are trustworthy and true. God always tells the truth (Titus 1:2). “It is impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18). Thus, everything we read here about the new heaven and the new earth is true and shall not be proven false.

God told John, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.” “It is done” is literally is has become, or it has come to be. The verb is the perfect active indicative of the verb meaning “to become.” The perfect refers to an action that occurred in the past tense that has continuing results in the present. Thus, the things in verse five being described as ‘“trustworthy and true” will continue after the end of this world.

God is the Alpha and the Omega. God is the Alpha, the beginning. He is the source and origin of all things—he is the Creator of all that is. God is the Omega, the end. He is the goal or aim of all things, he will be glorified when all things end.

God promised to give the thirst from the fountain of the water of life without payment. In the arid climate of the near east, cool water would have been quite refreshing. This water is the water of life. This is water that sustains life and allows the residents of the new Jerusalem to have eternal life. An interesting note is that even in heaven, we will need God’s help to be able to live forever—it’s not that we can just go to heaven and live forever—we must have access to this water of life.

God will give those who thirst this water without payment. Throughout Scripture, we are informed that salvation is free. “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price” (Isaiah 55:1). Christians “are justified by his grace as a gift” (Romans 3:24). “Let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price” (Revelation 22:17). The point is that there is nothing we can do to merit eternal life—God has paid the price.

The one who conquers shall have his heritage, and God will be his God and he shall be God’s son. The one who overcomes will have his heritage. The heritage the one who overcomes will receive certainly refers to the blessings Jesus pronounced upon those who overcome (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26-28; 3:5, 12, 21). Those who remained faithful in the face of persecution would receive great blessings at the hand of God.

God will be his God and he shall be God’s son. This is an old promise of Scripture. To Abraham, God said, “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” (Genesis 17:7). To David, God said, concerning Solomon: “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son” (2 Samuel 7:14). “In Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith” (Galatians 3:26). This is obviously a promise of intimacy—God will care intimately for those who are in the new Jerusalem, just as a Father does his son.

What blessings are available to the faithful!

Curses for the Unfaithful, v 8

God lists those who will not be in the new Jerusalem—

  • The cowardly will not be there. These cowardly undoubtedly refer to those who were persecuted and gave up their faith instead of their lives. They couldn’t take the pressure, and they gave up. There may be some among us who are cowardly. We’re afraid to take a stand for the right thing at work, at school, at home, or wherever. We’re not willing to take a stand and let the chips fall where they may. Let us not be cowardly, or we shall not enter the new Jerusalem.
  • The faithless will not be there. These faithless are those who gave up their faith during duress; these aren’t atheists—they are Christians who turned back. We dare not be faithless—we dare not turn back from our faith.
  • The polluted will not be there. The term “pollute” means to defile, to make detestable, to commit abomination. The word indicates that the very nature of these individuals had been polluted with the abominations they practiced in their lifetimes.
  • Murderers will not be there. This could very well refer to those who murdered Christians simply because they were Christians. But, no unrepentant murderers will have their part in the new Jerusalem.
  • The sexually immoral will not be there. This may indicate ritual sexual immorality where individuals were sexually immoral as part of their worship to pagan deities. But, we know it to be the case that the sexually immoral displease God and will not have a part in the kingdom of God. “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body” (1 Corinthians 6:18). “This is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality” (1 Thessalonians 4:3). Sexual immorality is a broad word encompassing all forms of sexual sin.
  • Sorcerers will not be there. Sorcery has always been forbidden by God. “You shall not interpret omens or tell fortunes” (Leviticus 19:26). “There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer” (Deuteronomy 18:10). Sorcery calls upon individuals to depend upon magical abilities rather than upon God. If you’re having a problem at work and you can go to the sorcerer to get the problem fixed, why pray? If you’re about to have an operation and you can go to the sorcerer and be healed, why depend on God?
  • Idolaters will not be there—Those who worshiped the emperor rather than God will not enjoy the new Jerusalem.
  • Liars will not be there. This could possibly refer to those who denied they were Christians when asked by the governing authorities. Liars will not have their part in the new Jerusalem, for lying is from the devil (John 8:44).

Instead of being in the new Jerusalem, these individuals will have “their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” We need to be certain that we are not cowardly, unbelieving, polluted, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, or liars. Do you need to come to put these sins—or some other sin—away from you?

This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at the Alum Creek church of Christ in Alum Creek, West Virginia.

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