We Believe: The Beginning is Near!
This is a sermon preview for a sermon in the “We Believe: Back to Basics” sermon series. To watch the recording of any of the sermons in this sermon series, visit our website.
I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
— From Revelation 21:1-7 (NIV 2011)
“We believe that the end of the world is approaching; that at the Last Day Christ will descend from heaven, and raise the dead from the grave to final retribution…”
— New Hampshire Baptist Confession, 1833 | Article XVII. Religious affiliation and attendance may be slipping in the Western world, but belief in “Heaven,” remains very high. Pew research, in 2021, found that two-thirds of U.S. adults believe in heaven.
Good theology is not decided by public opinion survey, but it still suggests that many have hope in something “hereafter.” The researches at Pew asked those two-thirds follow-up questions. And the results suggest a diversity of ideas about what happens “in the end.”
What do we make of this, as Christians?
The Scriptures do not give us a blueprint of heaven, as if parts of the Bible are a travel brochure for an eternal vacation.
Neither should the end fill us with dread – which is how many people feel when they hear the word “Apocalypse.” But the original meaning of the word “Apocalypse” is “an unveiling” which is the true meaning of Revelation (also called the “Apocalypse of John.”)
The poetic and symbolic visions of John reveal the heart of God and God’s intentions for his people.
And God’s intentions are to live with his people, and his people to live with him.
Wrongs shall be righted.
Death shall be no more.
The old order of things – the order of sin and death, despair and defeat – will be finally and fully replaced with the new order of righteousness and life, hope and victory.
We have a common image of the doomsday prophet, with a cardboard sign, a dire warning scrawled in black ink – “THE END IS NEAR!”
The Christian hope of the last day needs to reclaim the hope of the last day – “THE BEGINNING IS NEAR.” And in Christ Jesus, it is. That is good news.
Has the idea of “the last day” or “final judgment” ever been used (intentionally or unintentionally) to scare you?
What comes to your mind when you think of the doctrine of “the last things?”
How might it be good news that a book like Revelation reveals God’s intentions to set wrongs right, and to live with his people – as part of a new beginning: new heavens and new earth?