Christ Grants Lasting Glory

Christ Grants Lasting Glory

Revelation 21:15-22:1-5

My children have often said that it is important that we don’t build anything up too much, lest when we come to experience it there will be a letdown.  This can happen when speaking about a movie, a television show, a restaurant, among many other things.  We can speak so highly about something that when other people experience it, it isn’t as great as they were led to believe.

Today as we reflect upon heaven, we don’t have to worry about building it up too much.  Rather our concern is to be that we don’t try and understand heaven from an earthly perspective, lest we lesson its true beauty and glory.

Heaven is a very important aspect of the Reformation and Lutheran theology as noted by Martin Luther’s seal.  Luther closed out his letter to Lazarus Sprengler on July 8th, 1530, by referring to the gold ring that encircles the outer part of the seal.  Luther wrote: “And around this field of blue is a golden ring, symbolizing that such blessedness in heaven lasts forever and has no end.  Such blessedness is exquisite, beyond all joy and goods, just as gold is the most valuable, most precious and best metal.”

Our text for today describes heaven, and we pray that as we look at this text and its symbolization in Luther’s seal we may properly behold heaven’s beauty, and eagerly await the time when heaven’s beauty will be our eternal experience.

At the center of heaven we find the Lord Himself.  The Lord revealed to John that in heaven “there is no temple, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.”

It sounds strange, but in heaven we are not going to find any church buildings.  Why?  Because the original temple and all church buildings after that time were built to recognize that God was with His people and that God wanted to bless them in that place.  In heaven this concept of a worship center is no longer needed because we will be in full fellowship with God.  In heaven the original fellowship between God and man prior to the fall will be restored.

Paul states in I Corinthians 13:12: “Now I know in part, but then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”  Our spiritual sight in this world rests in seeing Jesus by faith through His Word and Sacraments.  However, when we enter heaven’s gates faith will be replaced by sight and we shall see God as He is.  We shall behold the glorified Savior with the redeeming marks that scared His body for the payment of our sins.

Heaven is bright for the greatness of our God illuminates this place.  The Lord reveals through John: “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is it lamp.”

References to darkness in Scripture often refer to the spiritual ignorance of mankind and the darkness of his ways.  For example, in Job chapter 5, man’s natural spiritual state in this life is described this way: “Darkness comes upon them in the daytime; at noon they grope as in the night” (Job 5:14).  Isaiah speaks of man’s natural state on earth in similar fashion: “See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the people” (Isaiah 60:2).

When we get to heaven this darkness of spiritual ignorance and sin will be removed from us.  In heaven we will behold the answers to all the questions about God and His ways of leadership that we have struggled with in this life.  In heaven we shall see clearly the glory of the Lord in all things and the wonderful pattern He designed for us in the events of our earthly sojourn.

The next point we note is that heaven is free from all the effects of sin.  The Lord reveals to us through John: “Nothing impure will ever enter it…. No longer will there be any curse.”  Practically speaking what this means is addressed by John in Revelation 21:4: “He will wipe away 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.”  In heaven all sin and its consequences will be forever gone.

This is why the circle around the outside of Luther’s seal is gold.  Gold not only was used to describe heaven earlier in our text, but gold stands for the most valuable, precious metal on earth.  Nothing is better than heaven, because in heaven we will never need medicine, corrective eye wear, canes or wheel chairs.  In heaven we will fully be healed from all afflictions, and we will be delivered from our own flesh with its sinful desires.  In I Corinthians 15:44, we are told that in heaven we will have a spiritual body.  This does not mean we will not have flesh and blood.  Our resurrected body will be like Christ’s, which can consume food and be touched.  Having a spiritual body in heaven means that the old sinful desires within us will be no more.  We will be restored to the perfect image of God man originally had in the Garden of Eden.  We will be in full communion with God, always walking in His ways and doing His will.

Finally, we see from out text that heaven will be our eternal home.

The circle of gold in Luther’s seal not only points to the beauty and value of heaven, but to its everlasting nature.  The circle has no beginning or end, indicating that heaven will be an eternal experience where we will have everlasting peace and joy.

There is a song I have shared with the children in children’s church about heaven.  It goes like this: “Heaven is a wonderful place, filled with glory and grace.  I want to see my Savior’s face, ’cause heaven is a wonderful place.  I wanna go there.”

Heaven is a wonderful place, better than anything else you and I could ever know on earth.  This is why Paul said: “I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better” (Philippians 1:23).  Luther illustrates heaven’s wonder and beauty with the gold ring encircling his seal.

But what is it that brings us to this beautiful place of lasting glory?  Go back to the center of Luther’s seal and we are reminded that heaven is ours through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Luther through his seal leads us to search our hearts and minds to see if Jesus really lives in our hearts.  Do we truly place our trust in Him for our salvation?  Do we truly believe He gave His body and shed His blood in payment for our sins?  Does our life reflect this faith by blossoming for the Lord where He has planted us?

Luther’s seal reminds us that the heart of Christianity is faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection for our salvation, and living out of that faith until Christ brings us to eternal glory.  Let us then keep in mind these words of our Lord: “The sufferings of this present life are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).  “All men will hate you because of Me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matthew 10:22).  “Be thou faithful until death, and I will give thee the crown of life” (Revelati

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