We Can All Live There

February 01, 2021

The Apostle John’s writings help us visualize what we will experience in the future.

FROM A SERMON BY Darrel Lee

M

y wife and I have traveled to many places around the world, so she has heard my impressions about various locations a number of times. One that comes to mind is our first trip to Newfoundland, Canada. It took place in the winter, and after our arrival at the airport in Deer Lake, we drove for four or five hours through blizzard conditions to the city of Roddickton where our Canada headquarters church is located. During that drive, we saw a number of spectacular scenes that we will not soon forget. One was what I can only describe as frozen waves in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Picture stormy waves that break along any coastline—in Newfoundland in the winter, the waves freeze mid-crest. It was a stunning sight nearly as far as we could see. When we returned to Newfoundland in the spring on another trip, that time the countryside was a beautiful green. We saw moose and bear alongside the highway, and Debbie heard me say what I have said about many other locations, “I could live here!”

In Revelation chapter 7, we find a description of a place where we all can live some day. John the Revelator wrote, “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9-10). 

In Heaven, the beauty is not primarily in the landscape, although that will no doubt be spectacular. The chief beauty of Heaven centers on the presence of God and those who dwell there. When I read these words about the Lamb and the multitude clothed in white robes, the thought comes to mind: I could live there! You can live there as well, and we want to keep that eternal destination in view as we go through this life. 

In the Book of the Revelation, we read that the Apostle John, who had been banished to the Isle of Patmos, was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day. The book begins with these words, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass.” In verse 19 of that opening chapter, John was told to write to the seven churches “the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter.” 

“The things which thou hast seen” was what the Apostle had been shown in the Revelation. He gave instruction concerning “the things which are” in his message to the seven churches in Revelation chapters 1 through 3, explaining how those he addressed were to conduct themselves in the present. Then, beginning with chapter 4, he related “the things which shall be hereafter,” describing our destination and events that will transpire in the future.

We are at a great advantage compared to those who did not have John’s writings: we have his description of what was revealed to him, and that helps us visualize what we will experience in the future.

We have a reason to look toward the future. The world we live in is temporary but the hereafter is permanent, and that is why it is important to consider it. The revelation to John helps us do so. We are at a great advantage compared to those who did not have John’s writings: we have his description of what was revealed to him, and that helps us visualize what we will experience in the future.

In chapter 4, following his message to the seven churches, John related, “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven.” He heard a voice he likened to the sound of a trumpet that said, “Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.” Then the Apostle attempted to recount what he saw: “And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.” 

John did the best he could using earthly language to describe a heavenly scene, and that is the best we can do as well. He saw the glory of God in the form of brilliant, shining colors, and a sea of crystal in front of a beautiful throne. He witnessed angels and heavenly beings and elders who fell down and worshipped, saying, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Revelation 4:11). This is a preview of what we will see when we get to our destination!

The description continues in chapter 5, but in this chapter, John’s attention shifted to the book sealed with seven seals, and held by the One seated on the throne. An angel asked the question, “Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?” John said he wept when no one was found worthy, but one of the elders told him, “Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof” (verse 5). 

It is noteworthy that the elder alluded to Jesus as the Lion, but in the following verse, John described Him in the midst of the throne and the heavenly beings as “a Lamb as it had been slain.” Jesus is the Lion in the sense that He is mighty and He conquers, but He is the Lamb in the sense that He yielded His life—He shed His blood as a sacrifice for you and for me. In fact, John noted that the marks of His sacrifice were still upon Him. He related that as the Lamb, Jesus came and took the book out of the right hand of Him that sat on the throne. 

John went on to describe how the heavenly host fell before the Lamb and joined in worship, all having harps in their hands and vials of prayers that were released as they sang “a new song.” He recorded the words of that song for us: “Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” (verse 9). 

It is hard for some people to come to a point where they will admit they are sinners, but we all need Jesus. Only He can wash away our sins and make us ready for that amazing place.

Notice that the ones who sang were redeemed. There is no other way to get to Heaven except through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It is hard for some people to come to a point where they will admit they are sinners, but we all need Jesus. Only He can wash away our sins and make us ready for that amazing place.

As the song was sung, John looked around and beheld the vast multitude about him, which he described as “ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands” (verse 11). We can picture a sea of individuals that seemed endless, stretching to the horizon. As John looked out over that vast host “which shall be hereafter,” I wonder if he tried to recognize someone he knew. Maybe he saw you there in that great throng! John went on to recount that “every creature which is in heaven” was saying, “Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever” (verse 13).

In Revelation 6, we read about the opening of the seals of the book, and with each seal, judgment came upon the earth. In view of the terrible events that occurred, the question was asked in Heaven, “Who shall be able to stand?” The answer is given in chapter 7: it is those who overcome.

Over the ages of time, a multitude of individuals have come one by one to the foot of the Cross and had the Blood of Jesus applied over their hearts and lives. Their sins were forgiven, and they lived victoriously subsequent to that experience of salvation until the end of their time on earth. They were persecuted and tested, but they came through victorious. By the grace of God, we want to be among those who face daunting circumstances with courage and Christian grace, believing that God will carry us through no matter what comes our way. If He did it for millions of others, He can surely do it for you and me.

We read later in the Revelation how these individuals overcame: it was through the Blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony. God honors those who are uncompromising in their stand for Him. John observed that these overcoming individuals were clothed with white robes, the physical attire being symbolic of their spiritual condition. A holy, consecrated life that has been dedicated and set apart for God and made pure within is manifested outwardly. By the grace of God, we want to be among those who demonstrate the Christian graces that the Lord shed His Blood to provide for each of us.

John also described palms in the hands of the heavenly multitude. That detail makes us think of Palm Sunday and the jubilation that existed the day the disciples followed Jesus into Jerusalem. The people who participated in that joyous occasion over two thousand years ago thought Jesus was going to establish His kingdom immediately, but that was not God’s plan. Jesus needed to provide for the atoning of our sins, and He did so a few short days later, on the Cross.

In John’s revelation, the people with palms in their hands rejoiced for good reason, saying, “Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.” They were celebrating that God had delivered them from sin! We can be part of that joyful number. We do not have to languish in sin and defeat as we go through this life. Those who reach the goal will give God glory for salvation, and we can be counted among them.

If Heaven rejoices when someone prays through, think of the jubilation that will take place when all of the redeemed are gathered there together! No wonder there is a celebration and the words ring forth, “Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever.”

In verses 11 and 12 of chapter 7, John again described the worship that took place in Heaven, relating that those present fell on their faces before the throne. Of course, there is worship and celebration in Heaven! We are told that when a sinner repents, the angels of Heaven rejoice. If Heaven rejoices when someone prays through, think of the jubilation that will take place when all of the redeemed are gathered there together! No wonder there is a celebration and the words ring forth, “Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever.”

In verse 13, an elder asked two rhetorical questions of John: “What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?” John did not know, so he responded, “Sir, thou knowest.” We have the elder’s answer, which John recorded for us. It began, “These are they which came out of great tribulation, . . .”  These were individuals who had triumphed over persecution and tests.

No one will drift easily through life into Heaven. Paul wrote to believers in Asia and exhorted them to continue in the faith, saying that we all “must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). In the United States, we have had it relatively easy so far, compared to the persecution believers have endured elsewhere in the world. However, we all will be tested, and we dare not faint when the testing comes. Our goal is to be among the victorious!

These white-robed individuals not only had triumphed over persecution, they had also “washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (verse 14). To those who have not experienced the transforming power of Jesus’ Blood, it might seem a paradox to think that anything could be made white through blood. However, the Blood of Jesus is unlike any other; it is the means by which we obtain forgiveness and have our sins washed away. We are made clean through the Blood of Jesus, as clean as if we had never sinned. We are rendered innocent though we were guilty. The greatest injustice in history occurred when Jesus Christ gave His life for your sins and mine. No wonder we will spend eternity giving thanks to Him!

The elder in John’s revelation went on to tell him, “Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.” The presence of God is a wonderful blessing. We know the Spirit of God is always there when two or three gather in His name, but we have been present in church services over the years when the Spirit of God swept through the sanctuary in a mighty way and the whole audience became aware of His divine presence. When that happens, it feels like Heaven—it is a foretaste of what we will enjoy eternally over there. We thank God for those moments, but in the hereafter, the presence of God will be ceaseless.

I want to join in the worship before the Lamb. I want to look out over that endless crystal sea and if I see faces, I want to see you there.

In the final verses of this chapter, we find that those in Heaven enjoy sources of comfort and sustenance that will never be lacking, but always in surplus. “They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.” Over there, our bodies will be brand new and immortal; they will never wear out. We will never feel pain, or be tired, stressed, or worried. We can hardly relate now to what shall be hereafter, but I like the idea that we can be part of the number who enjoy the blessings of Heaven. I want to join in the worship before the Lamb. I want to look out over that endless crystal sea and if I see faces, I want to see you there. I want to live there!

We can all live there. Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2). The privilege of dwelling in Heaven forever simply requires having the Blood of Jesus applied to our hearts and then enduring the trials and tests we encounter in this life with courage and strength from above. May we all be challenged to keep our eyes fixed on the hereafter and our ears open for the sound of the Trumpet, as we anticipate the coming of Jesus. 

About the author

Darrel Lee is Superintendent General of the Apostolic Faith Church.