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 Sermons on important subjects by Rev. Paul C. Jong

 

The Holy City That Descends from Heaven


< Revelation 21:1-27 >

"Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.' Then He who sat on the throne said, 'Behold, I make all things new.' And He said to me, 'Write, for these words are true and faithful.' And He said to me, 'It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.' Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, 'Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife.' And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west. Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And he who talked with me had a gold reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs. Its length, breadth, and height are equal. Then he measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel. The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life."



Exegesis

Verse 1: Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.

This Word means that our Lord God will give His New Heaven and Earth as His gift to the saints who had taken part in the first resurrection. From this moment on, the saints will live not in the first heaven and earth, but in the new, second heaven and earth. This blessing is God's gift that He would bestow on His saints. God will give such a blessing to only the saints who had participated in the first resurrection.

The ones who are to enjoy this blessing, in other words, are the stains who had received the remission of sin by believing in the holy gospel of the water and the Spirit given by Christ. Our Lord is the saints' Bridegroom. From now on, all that awaits the brides is to be clothed in the Bridegroom's protection, blessings, and power as the brides of their Bridegroom Lamb, and live in glory in His glorious Kingdom.


Verse 2: Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

God has prepared a holy city for the saints. This City is the city of New Jerusalem, the Holy Palace of God. This Palace is prepared purely for God's saints. And this has all been planned in Jesus Christ for the saints, even before our Lord God created the universe. The saints therefore cannot help but thank the Lord God for His gift of grace and give all glory to Him with their faith.


Verse 3: And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God."

From now on, the saints are to live with the Lord in God's Temple forever. All this is by the grace of the Lord God, a gift that the saints would receive for their faith in the Word of salvation of the water and the Spirit. All those who are clothed in the blessing of entering into the Lord's Temple and living with Him would therefore give thanks and glory to the Lord God forever.


Verse 4: "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."

Now that God dwells with the saints, there will be no more tears of sadness, nor wailing over the loss of their beloved ones, nor crying in sorrow.

All the sorrow of the first heaven and earth will disappear from the saints' lives, and all that would await the saints is to live their blessed and glorified lives with their Lord God in His New Heaven and Earth. Our Lord God, having becoming the saints' own God, will make all things and all surroundings new, so that there would be no more tears of sadness, nor crying, nor death, nor wailing, nor sicknesses, nor anything else that had tormented them on the first earth.


Verse 5: Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful."

The Lord will now make all things new, and create a new heaven and a new earth. Making His creation of the first heaven and the first earth disappear, He will make new, second heaven and earth. What this verse tells us is not that God would recycle the old, but instead create a new universe. God will thus make the New Heaven and Earth and live with the saints. The saints who had taken part in the first resurrection will partake of this blessing also. This is something that the mankind could not even dream of with its man-made thoughts, but it is what God has prepared for His saints. The saints and all things therefore give all glory, thanks, honor and praise to God for this great work.


Verse 6: And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts."

Our Lord God has planned and fulfilled all these things, from the very beginning to the end. All the things that the Lord has done, He did them for Himself and for His saints. The saints are now called as "Christ's," and are made God's people. Those who have become God's saints by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit now realize that though they give thanks and praise to God forever, they still cannot thank Him enough for the love and works of the Lord God.

"I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts." In the New Heaven and Earth, our Lord has given the fountain of the water of life to the saints. This is the greatest gift of all that God has bestowed on His saints. Now the saints are to live forever in the New Heaven and Earth and to drink from the fountain of the water of life, from which they will never thirst again forever. The saints have now become, in other words, God's children who would have eternal life, just like the Lord God, and live in His glory. I give thanks and glory to our Lord God once again for giving us this great blessing. Hallelujah!


Verse 7: "He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son."

"He who overcomes" here refers to those who have defended their faith given by the Lord. This faith allows all the saints to overcome the world and God's enemies. Our faith in the Lord God and in the true love of the gospel of the water and the Spirit given by Him is what gives us victory over all the sins of the world, over the judgment of God, over our enemies, over our own weaknesses, and over the persecution of the Antichrist.

I give thanks and glory to our Lord God for giving us victory over all. The saints who believe in the Lord God overcome the Antichrist sufficiently with their faith. To each and every one of the saints, our Lord God has given this faith with which they can all triumph in their fight against all their enemies.

God has now allowed the saints, who have thus overcome the world and the Antichrist with their faith, to inherit His New Heaven and Earth. Our Lord God has given the faith of victory to His saints so that they could inherit His Kingdom. Because God has given us the faith that triumphs over the Antichrist, God has now become our God, and we have become His children. I give thanks and praise to our Lord God for giving us this faith of victory over all our enemies.


Verse 8: "But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

In His essence, our Lord God is the God of truth and the God of love. Who, then, are these people that are fundamentally cowardly before God? These are the ones who are born into the original sin and who have not cleansed of all their own sins with the Word of the gospel of the water and the Spirit given by the Lord. Because in their essence they worship the evil ones more than God, they have clearly become Satan's servants. It is because they worship the evil before the Lord God, and because they love and follow the darkness more than the light, that they cannot but be cowardly before the Lord God.

God in His essence is the light. It therefore is an established fact that these people who by themselves are the darkness itself would fear God. As the souls of those who belong to Satan love the darkness, they are cowardly before God who is the light Himself. This is why they must take their evilness and weaknesses to God and receive the remission of their sins from Him.

Those "unbelieving," whose hearts fundamentally do not believe in the love of our Lord God and in His gospel of the water and the Spirit, are His enemies and the greatest sinners before God. Their souls belong to the abominable, and they stand against God, love and commit every sin, follow false signs, worship all kinds of idols, and speak all kinds of lies. So, by the righteous judgment of God they will all be cast into the lake burning with fire and brimstone. This is their punishment of the second death.

God has not allowed His New Heaven and Earth to these people who are cowardly before Him, who do not believe in His gospel Word of the water and the Spirit, and who, having turned into Satan's servants, are abominable. Instead, our Lord has allowed them only His eternal punishment, casting all of them (including murders, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars) into the lake of fire and brimstone. Hell, which God would thus give them, is their second death.


Verse 9: Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, "Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife."

One of the angels who had brought one of the plagues of seven bowls said to John, "Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife." Here, "the Lamb's wife" refers to those who have become the brides of Jesus Christ by believing with their hearts in the gospel of the water and the Spirit given by Him.


Verse 10-11: And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.

"The great city, the holy Jerusalem" refers to the Holy City where the saints are to live with their Bridegroom. This City that John saw was indeed beautiful and fantastic. It was majestic in size, adorned by precious stones inside out, clean and clear. The angel showed John where the brides of Jesus Christ would live with their Bridegroom. This Holy City of Jerusalem descending out of heaven is the gift of God that He would bestow on the Lamb's wife.

The City of Jerusalem shines brilliantly, and its light is like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. Therefore, to all those who live in it, the glory of God is with them forever and ever. God's Kingdom is that of light, and so only those who have been cleansed of all their darkness, weaknesses and sins can enter into this City. As such, we must all believe that for us to enter into this Holy City, we have to learn, know, and believe in the true Word of the gospel of the water and the Spirit that our Lord has given us.


Verse 12: Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:

The gates of this City were guarded by twelve angels, and on them were written the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. The City had "a great and high wall," telling us that the way to enter this Holy City is that much difficult. Being saved from all our sins before God, in other words, is impossible with human efforts or the material things of the world of God's creation.

To be delivered from all our sins and enter God's Holy City, it is absolutely required that we have the same faith of the twelve disciples of Jesus, the faith that believes in the truth of the gospel of the water and the Spirit. As such, no one who does not have this faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit can ever enter this Holy City. This is why twelve angels appointed by the Lord God guard its gates.

The phrase, "names written on them," on the other hand, tells us that the owners of this City have already been decided. Its owners are none other than God Himself and His people, for the City belongs to the people of God who have now become His children.


Verse 13: three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west.

As three gates were place in the east of the City, its north, south, and west were also placed with three gates each. This shows us that only those who have received the remission of sin by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit with their hearts can enter this City.


Verse 14: Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

Huge rocks are well used as the foundations of buildings or edifices. The word 'rock' is used in the Bible to refer to faith in our Lord God. This verse tells us that to enter the Holy City of the Lord God, we must have the faith that He has given to the mankind, the faith that believes in His perfect redemption from all our sins. The faith of the saints is more precious than even the precious stones of the Holy City. The verse tells us here that the City's wall was built on twelve foundations, and on them were written the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. This tells us that God's City is allowed only to those who have the same faith that the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ had.


Verse 15: And he who talked with me had a gold reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall.

This Word means that to enter into the City built by God, one must have the kind of faith that is approved by Him, the kind that would bring him/her the remission of sin. It says here that the angel who spoke to John had a gold reed to measure the City. This means we must believe that our Lord has given us all these blessings within the gospel of the water and the Spirit. As "faith is the substance of things hoped for (Hebrews 11:1)," God has indeed given us the Holy City and the New Heaven and Earth, things that are even greater than what we had hoped for.


Verse 16: The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs. Its length, breadth, and height are equal.

The City was laid out as a square, with its length, width, and height measuring the same. This tells us that we must all have the faith of being born again as God's people by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. As a matter of fact, our Lord will not allow anyone who does not have this exact faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit to enter into the Kingdom of God.

There are many people who have such a vague notion that they would enter the Holy City just by being Christians, even if they still have sin. But our Lord has given the salvation from sin and the Holy Spirit and has made His people only those who believe in the truth that He has forgiven them of all their sins through His baptism on this earth and He blood on the Cross. This is the faith that our Lords demands us of.


Verse 17: Then he measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel.

The biblical meaning of the number four is suffering. The faith that the Lord demands from us is not something that just anybody can have, but this faith can be had only by those who accept the Word of God, even if they cannot entirely comprehend it with their own thoughts. As a Christian, it is impossible to enter God's Holy City just by believing in Jesus' Cross, and that the Lord is God and Savior. Do you know what the Lord meant when He said in John 3:5, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God"? Do you know the meaning of our Lord coming to this earth, being baptized by John, carrying the sins of the world to the Cross, and shedding His blood on it? If you can answer this question, you would understand I am talking about here.


Verse 18: The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass.

This verse tells us that the faith that allows us to enter the Holy City of God is pure and does not have anything of the world at all.


Verse 19-20: The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.

The foundations of the wall of the City were adorned with all kinds of precious stones. This Word tells us that we can be nourished of different aspects of faith from the Word of our Lord. And these precious stones show us the kinds of blessings that our Lord would give to His saints.


Verse 21: The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

Pearl implies 'the Truth' in the Bible (Matthew 13:46). A real truth-seeker would gladly abandon all his/her possessions to possess the Truth that gives him/her eternal life. This verse tells us that the saints who would enter the Holy City need to have much patience while on this earth, standing firmly anchored to the center of their faith in the truth. Those who believe in the Word of truth spoken by the Lord God, in other words, need to have great perseverance to defend their faith.


Verse 22-23: But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.

This passage means that all the saints would be embraced into the arms of Jesus Christ, King of kings. And the Holy City of Jerusalem has no need for the light of the first sun or moon, for Jesus Christ, the light of the world, would illuminate it.


Verse 24: And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it."

This passage tells us that the people who had lived in the Millennial Kingdom would now enter into the New Heaven and Earth. "The kings of the earth" here refer to the saints who had been living in the Millennial Kingdom. These kings of the earth, the verse continues, would "bring their glory and honor into it." This tells us that the saints who had already been living in their glorified bodies would now move from the Millennial Kingdom to God's newly created Kingdom of New Heaven and Earth.

As such, only those who were born again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit while on this earth and thus were raptured to live in the Kingdom of Christ for a thousand years would be able to enter the Holy City of Jerusalem.


Verse 25: Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there).

Because the New Heaven and Earth, where the Holy City is located, is already filled by the holy light, there can be no night in it, nor any evil ones.


Verse 26: And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it.

This tells us that through the amazing power of the Lord God, those who had been living in the Kingdom of Christ for a thousand years are now qualified to move to the Kingdom of the New Heaven and Earth, the Kingdom where the Holy City stands.


Verse 27: But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.

Among both Christians and non-Christians of this world alike, all those who do not know the truth of the gospel of the water and the Spirit are defilers, abominable, and liars. They therefore cannot enter into the Holy City.

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The Word of God here allows us to confirm just how great is the power of the gospel of the water and the Spirit that the Lord has given us on this earth. Although the gospel of the water and the Spirit has been preached to many people on this earth, there were times when this gospel was ignored and scorned even by so-called Christians. But only the faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit given by the Lord is the key to Heaven.

Many people still remain ignorant of this truth, but you must know that anyone who realizes and believes that with the gospel of the water and the Spirit the Lord has given him/her the keys to Heaven and to the remission of sin, will have his/her name written in the Book of Life.

If you accept and believe in the truth of the gospel of the water and the Spirit, you will be clothed in the blessing of entering the Holy City.

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