CROWNS OF VICTORY AND A HOME FOR THE REDEEMED

THE ETERNAL DESTINY OF GOD'S PEOPLE

Do you know what it's like to be bored? Really bored? True boredom can be a painfully unpleasant experience, stemming from a variety of causes. It tends to follow one of two general forms. One form is the feeling of being trapped in a routine of unsatisfying activity; an unhappy relationship, an unsatisfying or overly stressful job. It leaves us endlessly tired and unfulfilled. Another form is characterized by a lack of motivation for any number of reasons. It could be avoiding life's challenges due to fear, discouragement, failure, or low self-esteem. Life seems to move past us like a merry-go-round, just a little too fast to jump on. There appears to be no place to fit in. The present seems futile and the future without solution.

As a boy and a young man, I experienced boredom often. Somehow I had become convinced that I was unlikely to succeed at anything. Fearing failure, I avoided life's challenges and opportunities, was increasing pulled into the vicious cycle of low self-esteem, watching from the sidelines, stagnating at times in the dregs of boredom.

When some people think of heaven, the first word that enters their mind is "boredom." You know the old cliche, "sit on a white cloud and play a harp all day." What could be more boring than that? But "heaven" will not be made of white clouds and putty-faced people with wings, harps, and halos. The same God who made this earth will make the "new earth", the eternal home for all those men and women who receive the gift of eternal life. As for "heaven", that will consist of the entire universe; myriads of galaxies, stars and planets. It will be an endless opportunity for explanation for those who have learned to appreciate the works and ways of their Creator.

In fact, it could have been like that right now. But humanity took a detour into the realm of disobedience and self-destruction. Nothing was gained, but much was lost. We lost our right to eternal life. ("The wages of sin is death." Romans 6:23). We lost our righteous character. We lost our perfect home. ("Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden. Genesis 3:23). We lost our dominion over the earth and Satan became the "god of this world." These things will be restored but only those who have been tested and found worthy will have the privilege of sharing them. The world today is not a playground. It is fulled with untold suffering and misery. Most people in the world are doing little or nothing to counteract that condition, and many are actively adding to it. Some find fulfillment in serving the needs of a fallen world. Some will experience eternal joy, some eternal loss.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus presents a parable that describes an important difference between the two classes of people on earth. Read Matthew 25:31-46. In your own words, describe that difference and tell what it will mean for each individual.

God wants His people to be in tune to the needs of this troubled world. He wants them to learn responsibility, and find reward in self-sacrificing labor for others. In short, He wants them to learn to care. God knows that it is not within the power of mankind to reverse the effects of sin. He has promised to take care of that Himself. But it is within the power of men and women to come into harmony with the law of God's government. and by His grace make their lives an expression of that allegiance. The Old Testament prophet Micah summarized it like this:

"He hath shown thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God." Micah 6:8
But while we are living and working in the "here and now", God also wants us to know that there is a glorious future for all who love Him and are faithful to Him. And it is not the boring, stereotyped place many believe it to be. The Bible does not overwhelm us with details about what it will be like. That will be ours to discover throughout eternity. But it does tell us enough. Let's find out what the Bible does say about the future home that God is planning for His people.

1.

What will be the eternal home of the saved? Matthew 5:5; Revelation 21:1

Helps and hints: The new earth will not be some vaporous cloud where disembodied spirits roam, or even a fluffy cloud for playing harps on. It will be as real as the earth we are now living on, only it will not be cursed with the effects of sin. The people who live there will be as real as you are right now.

2.

What are some of the activities that people will engage in on the new earth? Isaiah 65:17,21

Helps and hints: Building and decorating their own houses on the new earth will be just one of the privileges of the redeemed. All the best materials will be available, and there will be plenty of time. We can get advice from some of the world's master builders and have fun helping our friends with their projects. I imagine I'll spend a few thousand years just thinking about mine and getting ideas from what other people are doing.

3.

What will be present on earth, prepared for us by God Himself? Revelation 21:2, Hebrews 11:16

Helps and hints: Everyone will receive as a special gift a dwelling place in the city built by God. The description in Revelation 21 tells us that there will be no night because there be no sun. The city will be illuminated by the light of God's presence. The gates will be never be shut, and there will be no need for locks or policemen. Everyone there will be completely trustworthy.

4.

What will be absent from the new earth? Revelation 21:4

5.

What else will be missing on the new earth? Revelation 21:22

6.

What are four things that God will restore to fallen mankind?

  • Romans 6:23
  • 1 Corinthians 13:12; 2 Corinthians 3:18
  • 2 Peter 3:13
  • Matthew 25:21; Revelation 3:21
  • Helps and hints: The most obvious thing that God will restore is life itself. But equally important is the restoration of a righteous character, without which the blessings of life cannot be fully appreciated or enjoyed. We have seen that God will restore mankind's beautiful home in a world unmarred by sin, but He will also restore the dominion that was lost when humanity subjected itself to the authority of Satan through disobedience. The elements will now longer be unfavorable or unpredictable, and the animals will be tame.

    7.

    What special honor will be bestowed upon the new earth? Revelation 21:2,3,22; Revelation 22:3,4

    Helps and hints: The earth, once the center of rebellion against God, will become His dwelling place and the capital of the universe.

    8.

    Why would it be difficult to give an accurate description of the new earth? 1 Corinthians 2:9

    Helps and hints: There is no human description that can do justice to what the universe will be like after the last traces of sin are gone. It will be eternally interesting. It will be eternally beautiful. Eternally peaceful. And eternally happy. But we need not wait until the day of fulfillment to begin experiencing the peace and happiness that will be ours in our eternal home. The apostle Peter once confronted Jesus with the following remark, "We have left all and followed Thee." Jesus answered, "Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come everlasting life." Luke 18:29,30. There is unmeasurable satisfaction that comes from walking with God even in the midst of the problems we encounter in this sinful world. Whose who taunt Christians about the "pie in the sky, by and by" theory will one day find that they have missed the best of this life as well as the life to come.

    9.

    What did Paul look forward to at the end of his life? 2 Timothy 4:6-8

    10.

    What does James tell us is the reward for those who endure temptation? James 1:12



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