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The Best Is Yet to Come | Sunday Message

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
May 30, 2021 3:00 am

The Best Is Yet to Come | Sunday Message

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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May 30, 2021 3:00 am

All believers have a common longing for another world: a place called Heaven. In this Sunday morning message, Pastor Greg Laurie concludes the Book of Revelation with a powerful exploration on the glories of our eternal home. You’ll learn about the blessings of this book and how you can experience these blessings for yourself!

It’s the final message in our series, Revelation: A Book of Promises.

Notes

Heaven and the New Earth are a place of satisfaction.

Heaven and the New Earth are a place of sufficiency.

“The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:2).

Heaven and the New Earth are a place of service.

Heaven is a place where tragedy turns to triumph.

“Joy is the serious business of Heaven!” —C. S. Lewis

The blessing is promised to those who read and hear the words of this prophecy (Revelation 1:3).

Reading Revelation energizes and excites you to know that God is in control.

The blessing is promised to those who keep the things which are written in it (Revelation 1:3).

Whenever you read about what the Bible says about the future, there is an exhortation to live a godly life (2 Peter 3:11).

We learn about the future to motivate us to live right in the present.

Why should we keep these words? Because they are faithful and true.

“Behold, I am coming quickly” (Revelation 22:7).

We must keep His word and we must do His work.

Our objective is not to conform Scripture to the changing culture, but to conform culture to Scripture.

“Surely, I am coming quickly” (Revelation 22:20).

There are two words in the Bible that show us what our focus as Christians should be:

The first word is come, and the second word is go.

The closing verses of the Bible make it perfectly clear that salvation is a matter of the will.

“Happy is the man whose sins are forgiven” (Romans 4:7).

Scripture Reference

Hebrews 11:8–10

John 14:1–6

Luke 6:21

1 Corinthians 15:58

Matthew 4:7

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Learn more about Greg Laurie and Harvest Ministries at harvest.org.

This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

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Hey everybody, Greg Laurie here. You're listening to the Greg Laurie Podcast and my objective is to deliver, hopefully, compelling practical insights in faith, culture, and current events from a biblical perspective. To find out more about our ministry, just go to our website, harvest.org.

So thanks for joining me for this podcast. It's yet to come. Heard a story about a very wealthy man who was near death and he just wanted to take some of his possessions to heaven. So he asked God, could you make an exception?

I know we can't take it with us, but could you make an exception and allow me to take one suitcase with me to heaven filled with whatever I want to take? The Lord said, alright, I'll make an exception for you. So shortly after that, the man died. And arrived at the pearly gates and he was met by Peter. Peter knew of the arrangement this man had already made with God. And Peter said, could I check to see what you brought in your suitcase? And the wealthy man said, sure. And Peter looked inside.

The man closed it up. Little bit later, someone came up to Peter and said, I have to ask you. We heard about this guy who brought his suitcase to heaven. Tell us what was in the suitcase? Peter said, it's the funniest thing.

This guy brought a suitcase filled with Ascot. You get what I'm saying, right? Because the Bible says, the streets of heaven are paved with gold. So we're talking together about heaven, which is a real place waiting for us. It's not some mysterious atmospheric realm of smoke in mirrors. No, it's a real place for real people.

To do real things. This is the place Abraham was searching for. The place we're all searching for and longing for. In Hebrews 11, eight, it says that when he reached the land, God promised him, Abraham lived there by faith like a foreigner living in a tent. Abraham did this because he was constantly looking forward to a city with eternal foundations designed and built by God. That's what heaven is. It's a city designed and built by God. A foreigner.

Guess what? You and I are like foreigners too. We're passing through this world. As the old song says, this world is not my home. I'm just a passing through.

My treasures are laid up way beyond the blue. And we are like someone in a different country. Sometimes I travel internationally.

Haven't done that for a while because of COVID, but I look forward to traveling perhaps overseas again. But I remember when I was in Italy. I don't understand their language. There's aspects of their culture I don't understand. And definitely I don't understand their driving. Okay, so they have a different way of moving through traffic in Italy. So I thought it would be fun to rent a Vespa.

And I said to my wife, Kathy, come with me. Well, it's different over there because the folks on the little scooters, and a lot of people ride Vespas and other scooters there in Italy. They're like swarms of bees. They'll come to a light and go around other cars. In between lanes, and at first it was kind of terrifying. And after about 20 minutes, I thought, okay, I got the rhythm of this.

I'm kinda liking it. It was like a different set of rules. And then inexplicably, despite these rather unusual traffic rules, I managed to get a ticket. I found out later because three months or so afterwards, I get a ticket from Italy because I actually pulled into the bus lane.

It just looked like an open lane to me, but I was in the wrong lane. But I was a foreigner who did not understand what was going on around me. And we're that way in this world.

There are things in this world that don't make sense to us. But we're longing. We're looking forward to another world. And that is the hope of heaven.

Everything we're going through right now is preparing us for that day. Don't forget, Jesus said to his disciples, I go to prepare a place for you. By the way, the night that our Lord delivered those words was a night like no other.

All the disciples could see that Jesus was heavy of heart. Then he dropped the bombshell that one of them was going to betray him. And he identifies Judas Iscariot. As the betrayer and says to Judas, whatever you do, do it right now. So Judas leaves the room and Jesus says to the others in John chapter 13, the time has come for me, the son of man, to enter into my glory. And God will receive glory because of all that happens to me. And God will bring me into his glory very soon.

But you cannot come where I am going. Jesus just did. He said, listen Lord, though all of these disciples deny you, I will never deny you. Jesus says, well since you brought it up, not only will you deny me, you'll do so three times for the rooster has crowed twice. So everything is unraveling before the eyes of the disciples. Judas has betrayed our Lord. Peter's going to deny our Lord. They're thinking, what is going on? And it's against the backdrop of that alarm and panic. That Jesus then says these familiar words recorded in John 14, let not your hearts be troubled.

Neither let them be afraid. You believe in God, believe also in me. 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. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself that where I am, you may be also. Thomas, it's not understanding what Jesus is talking about. Jesus goes on to say, and where I go you know and the way you know.

Thomas says, actually we don't know what you're even talking about. Jesus then of course says, I am the way, the truth and the life and no man comes to the father but by me. The apostle John was there with the 11 that night. John would often write of how he would lean on the chest of Jesus.

Probably so he would not miss a single word. Now as we look at John, he has banished to the island of Patmos. Presumably he's there all by himself. Maybe he's thinking back to this night when the Lord gave those words. 60 years have passed and now John has actually had a personal glimpse of this place that Jesus has talked of.

I go to prepare a place for you. John has seen it. John has been catapulted into the future and he's seen eternity. He's seen heaven. He's seen hell. He's seen the tribulation period.

The antichrist. He sees angels. He sees demons.

He sees everything. And now here are the closing words of the apostle John in Revelation 22. Look at verse one. It says, So Revelation 21 gives us a glimpse of the new Jerusalem from an outside perspective.

Here in chapter 22 we go inside to see what's actually waiting for us. John's description of heaven is actually getting clear. He's described it as a kingdom. He's described it as a city.

Now he describes it as a garden. And the first chapters of the Bible we see paradise lost when Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit. The final two chapters of the Bible describe the paradise that God has created for us in heaven.

Now if you're taking notes, here's a few things we learn about heaven from what we have read. Number one, heaven and the new earth are a place of satisfaction. Heaven and the new earth are a place of satisfaction. We will want for nothing.

All of our needs will be met. Our thirst will be quenched because verse 17 says, Number two, heaven and the new earth are a place of sufficiency. Look at Revelation 22 too. Now remember because of the sin of Adam and Eve, they and all of humanity was banned from the tree of life because they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

I wonder if when we get there we'll meet Adam and Eve and we can ask Eve like, hey, what's up? What did you have to eat of that forbidden fruit? You wonder what these fruits are. You know, there's certain fruits I favor, certain fruits I don't love.

Comquats, don't get those, don't like those. Oranges, eh, take them or leave them. Apples, kind of like them. But I'll tell you, I love peaches, I love nectarines, I love plums, I love cherries, I love berries, I love bananas, but I don't like them too ripe. When I see someone eating an overly ripe banana, it kind of grosses me out.

I like them when they're not quite green but just starting to get yellow. But we all love our favorite fruits and by the way, as summer is approaching, I especially love the fruits of summer. But here's what's interesting, the leaves of this tree are there for the healing of the nations. The Greek word used there for healing is therapeutic.

You can probably imagine what English word we get from that, therapy. There's therapeutic value in these leaves, not that we'll get sick in heaven but there's this life-giving power in the trees that are there. Why is it that all the things that taste good are not good for you? At least taste good to me. I've already told you I love hamburgers, I love all Mexican food, I love pasta, pizza, et cetera.

Those things, they're good to eat but if you eat too much of that food, you can gain a lot of weight. Well, I think in heaven we're gonna have tasty, delicious food. I think I can say authoritatively, there will be no kale in heaven.

In fact, it's been revealed to me and that is the main food of hell. No, I'm joking but we're gonna have these trees that are there for the healing of the nations and the curse is gone. Verse three, there'll be no more curse.

The curse brought sickness, the curse brought aging and worst of all, the curse that came upon humanity after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, the worst part was death itself. And this is something that affects everyone as I've often said, one out of every one persons will die. Three people die every second. 180 people die every minute. 11,000 people die every hour. You see, that's like the most depressing statistic I've ever heard.

I know but it's true. On any given day, 250,000 people are entering into eternity but now we read death is gone. We won't even talk about it anymore. Heard a story about a mom and her little boy who were walking along the beach and they came upon a dead seagull lying in the sand. A little boy said, Mommy, what happened to the seagull? Wanting to protect him from the harsh realities of death, she said, well honey, the little seagull was sick and so God took him to heaven.

And the little boy still looking at the bird lying in the sand said, well then why did God throw him back to the earth? Well, death will be gone. The curse of death will be gone. Here's the surprising thing, number three, heaven and the new earth are a place of service. Heaven and the new earth are a place of service.

Look at verse three, his servants will serve him. Yes, heaven is a place of rest but I can only rest for so long. Pretty much every day I take a short nap.

I probably shouldn't admit this but usually after lunch I'll maybe fall asleep for 12 minutes. And then I'm revived. Now I'm ready to get back out and do things. And so there's gonna be opportunities in heaven and the new earth. There's gonna be things to do. You artists, get ready. God's gonna utilize your creative abilities.

You people who are mechanical, there'll be a place for you as well. You singers and vocalists and instrumentalists, get ready because God's gonna use all of your skills in the afterlife and it's gonna be a fantastic time. And you wonder if we might be able to finish some of the tasks that remained uncompleted on earth in heaven. You wonder if dreams that were shattered here will be ultimately fulfilled there. Point number four, heaven is a place where tragedy turns to triumph. It's a place where tragedy turns to triumph. Sadness turns to joy. Disability turns to ability.

Handicaps will be gone. Mental and physical disability is banished and there'll be joy. Heaven is a happy place. Heaven is a hopping place. Heaven is a joyful place. The psalmist says in your presence there is fullness of joy and on your right hand there are pleasures forevermore. C.S. Lewis said and I quote, joy is the serious business of heaven, end quote. I cannot agree more.

Listen to this. You're going to laugh in heaven. Do you like to laugh? I love to laugh. I actually like to make people laugh as well. And we're gonna be laughing in heaven. Luke 6 21 says God blesses you who are hungry now for you will be satisfied. God blesses you who weep now because the time will come when you will laugh with joy.

The book of Revelation reminds us we win in the end. The other day I did a post on all my social media accounts. I'm on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter.

You ought to follow me. And I asked this question of the folks out there. I said what are you looking forward to the most when you get to heaven?

Here's some of their responses. A man named Joey wrote me and said and some of these are pretty sad I have to warn you. But also mixed with confidence and trust in God. Joey writes I'm looking forward to dancing with my 11 year old daughter. She left this earth so unexpectedly. I miss everything about her. Her smile, her laugh, her kind spirit, her joy. The way she would call me papa. I can't wait to see her sweet face again. I promise when I get to heaven I won't let her out of my arms.

Jada he says to his daughter. Daddy loves you so much. We'll dance, we'll sing, we'll play hide and seek. You'll be daddy's little girl. Yes he'll be reunited with his daughter in heaven. Kimberly writes what I look forward to most in heaven is seeing my grandparents again. And thanking them for praying for me. And meeting my son Jacob who died when I was four and a half months along in my pregnancy.

I'm sure they have already all played and laughed until they cried together. Mike writes these words. In heaven I'm looking forward to a new body. I know that sounds selfish but I've been paralyzed for 35 years.

And my health has been declining in the last four years. I'm ready to be whole and complete with our Lord. Mike you'll get that new body that God has promised you.

Sandy writes these words. This is a surprising one. I'm looking forward to meeting my baby that I aborted at the age of 17. I hope you quote this in your sermon because I think it's something a lot of women need to hear. I love to share my story.

The story of pain and deep remorse but ultimately a story of the forgiveness and healing that only God can give. Can I say a word about that? Are you a woman who is pregnant and you're contemplating an abortion? Can I just say to you do not do that. You're taking the innocent life of an unborn child. Say well Greg the child was conceived out of wedlock.

Guess what? I was conceived out of wedlock. And think well my mother carried me to term and that child deserves to live. And if you can raise that child then put that little one up for adoption. There's plenty of families out there that would love to adopt a child. But this girl's being very honest and she's saying it's a story of pain and deep remorse. But let me say this if you are a woman who has gotten an abortion ask God to forgive you of that.

And rest assured in this truth that Sandy has brought to our attention. You'll be reunited with your child again if you put your trust in Christ. Bob writes I'm 83 years old and the thing I'm looking the most forward to in heaven is being with the son that I lost just before his seventh birthday.

This literally killed me then. Then he says you're aware of the pain writing to me because our son went to be with the Lord 13 years ago. He says but the Lord gave me life again and a few years later I invited Jesus to take it over. Bob also writes I'm an artist and I'm looking forward to the beauty of heaven. Oh Bob it's going to be more beautiful than you can even imagine. Carly writes I'm looking forward to seeing my baby girl Emily in April of 2020. I was 40 weeks pregnant when we found out sweet Emma no longer had a heartbeat due to her umbilical cord accident.

I was induced and she was born the next morning. We had to say hello and goodbye for now to our first born daughter that day. Heaven now feels so much closer.

I can't wait to hear Emma say mama for the first time. It's true when you have a loved one that's close to you die. Heaven is closer isn't it? Les writes my wife died four and a half years ago and I miss her so much. We were married for 36 years and 11 months. We started going to your church in 1984 and I still go. That's great Les. But when I get to heaven I want to meet Jesus first and then find my wife and take her hand and take a 100 year walk and just talk. You'll see your wife again Les. And finally Edna. I save Edna for Les because I found what she said a bit humorous. I'm looking forward in heaven writes Edna so I can wear one outfit.

She doesn't like to change clothes apparently. Wearing one outfit never crying again being reunited with my friends and family. I dream of kneeling at the foot of Jesus laying my head in his lap and thanking him and rejoicing that the sorrows of this world are over.

Oh yes. These are sad but hopeful because they're all putting their faith in Christ. Let's read Revelation 22 verse 6. And he said to me, these words are faithful and true. And the Lord God of the Holy Prophet sent his angel to show his servants the things which must shortly take place.

Behold I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book. Verse 8. Now I Johnson heard these things and when I heard and saw them I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things. And he said, see that you do not do that. I'm your fellow servant and of your brothers the prophets and of those who keep the words of this book.

Worship God. And then he said to me, do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book for the time is at hand. He was unjust let him be unjust still. He was filthy let him be filthy still. He who was righteous let him be righteous still. He who was holy let him be holy still. Behold I am coming quickly and my reward is with me and I will give to everyone according to his work. Remember I pointed this out to you many times as we have studied the book of Revelation together. And by the way this is all archived on our website at Harvest.org if you missed any of the messages.

Try to go back and watch the whole series in its proper order. But there's a blessing promised in this book. This is the only book in the Bible that has an actual blessing attached to it. And remember it says in Revelation 1 3 blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep the things that are written in it for the time is near. So if you want to receive the blessing first you have to read it. That's why I like to just read Revelation out loud as we have already done.

This phrase read actually means to read out loud but it doesn't stop there. Secondly you must hear the words of the prophecy. You see if you just read the book of Revelation as a piece of literature or religious writing you're not necessarily going to get much out of it.

In fact you'll probably be pretty confused. But if the Holy Spirit of God opens your spiritual eyes and ears to see and hear what God is saying in this book it can make all the difference in the world. Because reading and understanding the book of Revelation will energize and excite you and remind you that God is in control of your life. The events that are happening in our world right now are not random or haphazard. Everything is going according to plan.

God's plan. And we really will one day live happily ever after. And finally the blessing of Revelation is promised to those that keep the things that are written in it.

Keep the things. In other words applying these truths in your own lives. You know it's worth noting that whenever you read what the Bible says about the future there is always an exhortation to live a godly life.

Let me say that again. Whenever you read what the Bible says about the future there is always an exhortation to live a godly life. 2 Peter 3, 11 says since everything around us is going to be destroyed we should live holy and godly lives.

Listen to this. The reason we learn about the future is so we can live right in the present. But why should I keep these words? Verse 6, because they're faithful and true. We've all had promises broken to us, haven't we? Husbands and wives make vows to each other. To be faithful to each other. And those vows are violated.

Or maybe your parents made promises to you and they broke their promises and it broke your heart. I want you to know something. God keeps His promises. Jesus never breaks a promise because His words are faithful and true.

And listen to this. He says I'm coming quickly. Verse 7.

Now wait. Coming quickly? Wasn't Revelation written around 2,000 years ago?

Yes it was. Well it seems like God's definition of the word quickly is a little different than my definition of the word. Well it's sort of like when my wife and I are going out somewhere. I'll say okay Kathy we're going out to dinner and we're going to meet someone at 5 o'clock. So we need to be ready to walk out the door at 4.45. And I'll start counting her down. You have 20 minutes. You have 10 minutes.

You have 5 minutes. Someone might say you shouldn't do that to your wife. No actually she likes it. Because the other day I didn't count her down. And I said it's time to go Kathy. She says I'm not ready. I said I told you we're leaving in 15 minutes. She said yes but you did not count me down.

See so she likes it. But anyway her definition of I'm ready and my definition of I'm ready are very different. My definition of I'm ready means I'm ready to walk out the door, get in the car, and drive away. Kathy's definition of ready is well I'm ready-ish. I may clean a couple things. I may run upstairs and grab a sweater.

I may bake a cake I'm not sure. But it's a little different definition of the word ready for each of us. So what does Jesus mean when He says I come quickly? The Greek term here for quickly has less to do with how soon He will come and more to do with the suddenness of the event when it occurs. So when John uses this word quickly he's not using it in a sense of time as in hours or months but in a sense of a series of events happening together in rapid succession once they start. The final events of the end times are all very close together.

You can compare it to dominoes. Once the first domino falls the others fall in rapid succession. First domino would be the rapture of the church, then the emergence of the Antichrist, then the tribulation period, then the second coming, then the millennium and so forth. And so Jesus is saying this is going to happen in rapid succession. And when that time arrives the events will follow one another quickly. The whole machinery of history will be shifted into high gear in a race to judgment. So we must keep His word.

He told us that. We must also do His work. He says in verse 12, I'm coming quickly and my reward is with me to give to everyone according to His work. As I've already told you the Bible promises rewards, crowns, acknowledgement for your faithful service to the Lord. The Bible says don't be weary in well doing for in due season we will reap if we do not give up. And we hear that verse don't be deceived God is not mocked whatsoever a man sows that will he also reap if he sows that the flesh will reap corruption. So when we hear you reap what you sow we always think of it in a negative way.

And there is a negative way that can play out in your life. But then the verse goes on to say but if you sow to the Spirit you'll reap life everlasting. So just as surely as the person who has sown to sin will reap the consequences of it the person who has sown to righteousness will reap the blessings of it. Jesus says my reward is with me and I'll give to everyone according to His work. So my question is are you working for the Lord? Not working for your salvation. Salvation is a gift from heaven to you.

But because I'm saved I should want to do something for the Lord. Not working for salvation but rather working from salvation. A faith that works will produce works.

A faith that doesn't won't. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15, 58. Therefore my brothers be steadfast and movable always abounding in the work of the Lord knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. Listen to this.

The decisions and the lifestyle I choose in this life will impact me in the life to come. Look at verse 11. He who is unjust, let him be unjust still. He who is filthy, let him be filthy still. He who is righteous, let him be righteous still.

He who is holy, let him be holy still. Let's understand what John is saying. He is not saying that you should live an ungodly life. He's simply saying if you live this way in an ungodly way you'll face the consequences of it. Really it's a warning. Chuck Swindoll in his commentary in the book of Revelation did a paraphrase of this verse that I just read to you.

Revelation 20 to 11. You wrongdoers go ahead and keep doing wrong. You'll see what happens. And all you unclean sinners keep rolling around in the mud. Just ignore God's offer of cleansing.

You've seen what's in store for you. As for you righteous and holy saints, keep practicing righteousness. Keep being holy and you'll get your reward in due time. So now Jesus gives us a stern warning here in the book of Revelation. Chapter 22 verse 18. If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book. And if anyone takes away from the book of this prophecy, God will take away from the book of life and from the holy city and from the things which are written in this book.

Wow, loose paraphrase. Don't mess around with the book of Revelation. This would speak of those who would disobey or disregard or distort or dilute Scripture. I mean who are we to edit the Bible? The story is told of Thomas Jefferson, one of our founding fathers, who had his own version of the Bible.

It came to be known as Jefferson's Bible. Apparently Jefferson went in with a pair of scissors and cut out all the parts of the Bible he did not agree with. He just sort of wanted the ethics of Christ without the miracles and other things the Bible records. You can't just make up your own Bible and cut out what you don't like. Someone might say, well what if you don't agree with what the Bible says on this topic? Well the simple answer is change your opinion because the Bible is right. Our objective is not to conform Scripture to culture.

It's to conform culture to Scripture, you see. But this warning that is given to us here would include disobeying God's Word. It would also include disregarding it, sort of tuning it out. That's why Jesus would often use the statement, He that has ears to hear, let him hear.

Allow me to update that. Listen up. Pay attention to what is being said. We all know what it's like to tune things out. Maybe someone's saying to us and something to us and we don't want to hear it. So we just tune it out. Jesus is saying tune it in.

Listen to what I'm saying to you. Another way that we would do this is by distorting the Word of God. Sort of forcing it to fit into the lifestyle that we have perhaps chosen. Well I don't know if I really agree with that interpretation.

I've come up with my own interpretation. That's what the devil did with Jesus and what we call the temptation in the wilderness. Remember Satan quoted Scripture. He said to Jesus go ahead and jump off of the temple because the Bible says that his angels will give charge over you. And so the devil quoted the Bible but then Jesus quoted the Bible back in context to Satan and Jesus said it is written you shall not test the Lord your God.

Now we come to the finale. Revelation 22 20. He who testifies to these things says surely I am coming quickly.

Amen. Even so come Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. We sang even so come.

Lord Jesus come. Jesus is giving his last recorded words in the Bible. Last words are important. If you knew you were going to die you had to write down a final statement.

What would your last words be? They reveal what's important to you. They give a glimpse into your character. Some parting comments that are recorded through history are surprising. Others are thoughtful.

Some are just odd. For instance Karl Marx one of the founders of communism was on his deathbed and his housekeeper came and said to him tell me your last words and I'll write them down. Marx replied get out of here. Last words are for fools who haven't said enough end quote. In contrast to Karl Marx there's Groucho Marx. His last words were die my dear.

Why that's the last thing I'll do. And then he died. Nostradamus who's known for predicting the future. Not very accurately I might add but in one instance he was right. Nostradamus gave his last words which were tomorrow I will no longer be here.

And that ended up being true. Pablo Picasso the great painter gave his last words. He said drink to me.

Drink to my health because you know I can't drink anymore. The Roman Emperor Julian having attempted to reverse the official endorsement of Christianity by the Roman Empire gave his last words when he said you have won oh Galilean. Now the words of people of faith are far different than the ones I just mentioned. When Stephen was being stoned and his life was draining from him his final words were I see the heavens open and I see Jesus standing on the right hand of God.

And then he said Lord don't lay this sin to their charge reflecting our Lord's words when he hung on the cross of Calvary and said Father forgive them for they know not what they do. The last words of evangelist D.L. Moody were quote I see earth receding and heaven is opening. God is calling me. John Wesley said the best of all is that God is with us. Pancho Villa the revolutionary said don't let it end like this.

Tell them I said something. Well Jesus did say something. He says in verse 20 surely I am coming quickly.

John is so overwhelmed he offers this beautiful prayer. Even so come Lord Jesus. In fact the word amen means so be it. So John is saying yes so be it or as Saint Paul reminded us let it be.

That's Saint Paul McCartney bad joke. So the Bible closes with an invitation. Revelation 22 verse 17 and the Spirit and the bride say come. And he who hears says come. Let him who thirsts come.

Whoever desires let him take the water of life freely. Did you know that come is one of God's favorite words? In the face of judgment on the earth God commanded Noah to build an ark and when it was built the Lord said come. Come into the ark of safety.

Come. Moses was standing in the midst of the people who had given their worship to the golden calf and he said let him who is on the Lord's side come and stand by me. God says come and let us reason together says the Lord.

Though your sins be as scarlet they'll be as white as snow though they're red like crimson they'll be as white as wool. Isaiah 55 the Lord says hey everyone that thirsts let him come to the waters. Jesus to an inquiring man said come and see. Jesus again said come unto me all you that are laboring and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.

Come. In fact there are two words in the Bible that show us what our focus as Christians ought to be. The first word is come and the second word is go. First we come to the Lord then we go out and tell others. Now this beautiful promise of having your spiritual thirst quenched in verse 17 of Revelation 22. Whoever desires let him take the water of life freely. The closing verses of the Bible make it perfectly clear that salvation is a matter of the will. Whoever will let him come it's an offer it's an invitation.

Whoever will let him come it's a matter of the will or maybe I should say it's also a matter of the won't. You either will or you won't accept God's offer of forgiveness. And then when you accept that offer of forgiveness you find the satisfaction you're looking for. Because there's nothing this world offers that will satisfy that deep thirst in your soul. I mentioned earlier that Abraham was looking for a city made by God and in the same way we're all wired that way. We're longing for a place we've never been to before. We're effectively homesick for heaven.

Nothing this world offers will satisfy that homesickness or that spiritual thirst. There's a doctor named Robin Smith who wrote a book with the title Hungry the Truth About Being Full. She writes about those who feel a great emptiness after they have experienced great success. She calls it being hungry for the high note.

And she writes about Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston and their early deaths. And here's what she says and I quote, People say that drugs killed them. Drugs didn't kill them. What killed them is they were striving and hungry.

They were striving to hit the high note again. She's right about that. We're all striving and hungry and thirsty for truth. For a life that is worth living. And Jesus can give you that life.

And you can have the hope of heaven. So let me ask you in closing. Are you sure you will go to heaven when you die? Is there any more important question than that?

I don't think so. Heard about a man who died and went to heaven. And Peter met him at the pearly gates and said, Okay buddy, this is how it works. You need a thousand points to get into heaven.

Tell me all the good things you've done and I'll give you points for each item. The guy thought about it for a moment and he says, I've been married to this same wonderful woman for 50 years. I've kept my vows to her.

I haven't even had an impure thought. Peter says, that's good. I'll give you three points. Wait, three points?

How many do I need again? You need a thousand points. I'll give you three points for being faithful to your wife.

Oh wow, okay, the guy says, I attended church and I supported it with my prayer and with my tithes. Peter said, good, that's worth one point. One point? Well, wait, the man says, I started a soup kitchen and worked in a shelter for homeless people. Peter said, well, that's good for two more points. Finally, the guy, completely exasperated, said, Man, the only way I'm gonna get into heaven is by the grace of God. Peter said, you've got it. That's worth a thousand points.

Is he getting it? It's not something you do. By the way, that's a fictitious story. I'm sure you know that.

But it's a story to make a point. You don't get to heaven by what you've done. You get to heaven on the basis of what Christ has done for you on the cross. That's the only way into heaven. Coming back to that statement of Jesus when he said, I go to prepare a place for you.

Thomas said, we don't know where this is or where you're going. And Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no man comes to the Father but by me. Why is Jesus the only way to the Father? Because Jesus was the Son of God. There has never been a man that walked this planet who was like Jesus, fully God and fully man. And when he died on the cross, with one hand he took hold of sinful humanity, with the other hand he took hold of a holy God and nails were driven through those hands and he died in our place. The Bible says Christ died for our sin. It was not really nails that held him to the cross 2,000 years ago.

It was love for you. Did you know that God loves you? Did you know that God has a plan for you? Did you know that God wants you to join him in heaven one day?

And if you want to join him, you must accept his offer. You must respond to the invitation. Let's say I sent you a text and I said, meet me for lunch at 12 at In-N-Out Burger. Now if you respond, then great, we're gonna go get lunch. If you don't respond, I'm going to assume you either didn't get the message or you don't want to meet me for lunch. And then if I get the dot, dot, dot, dot, dot, you know what I'm talking about, dot, dot, dot, oh, you're responding, then I get nothing, I'm thinking what happened, you were gonna say yes? And then you decided not to say yes, maybe a better offer came up, whatever. If you don't accept my offer, you're in effect rejecting my offer. God offers you forgiveness of all of your sin. He offers you a fresh start.

I mentioned earlier, you could be a woman who's had an abortion. You could be a man that has sinned in so many ways and you wonder, would God ever forgive me for what I've done? The answer is yes, because Christ died for those sins. But you must be willing to turn from them and ask Him to come into your life to be your Savior and your Lord. And if you do this on the authority of this book that is completely trustworthy, you, my friend, will go to heaven. Years ago, I was wrapping up a message in one of our evangelistic crusades and I said these words, friend, you may never have another opportunity like this to come to Jesus Christ. There was a guy sitting in the audience whose last name was, you guessed it, friend.

When I said that, he was like, he's talking to me. And he went forward and gave his life to the Lord. So friend, God is offering you forgiveness. Now it's up to you if you want to accept it or reject it. Listen, eternity hangs in the balance. Your choice is heaven or hell, forgiveness or judgment.

Make the right choice and believe in Jesus. Right now I would like to close in prayer and I would like to extend an invitation to anyone watching me right now, wherever you are, if you're not sure that you are going to heaven, if you are living with the guilt of your sin, if you would like to have a fresh start in life, pray this prayer that I'm about to lead you in. This is a prayer where you will be asking Jesus Christ to come into your life. Again, as I pray this prayer, pray this prayer wherever you are after me. You can pray it out loud if you like. But pray this with me if you want God to forgive you and if you want to go to heaven.

Pray this with me. Lord Jesus, I know that I'm a sinner, but I know that you are the Savior who died on the cross and rose again from the dead. Jesus, come into my life now. I choose to follow you. Be my Savior and Lord. Be my God and friend. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Hey everybody, Greg Laurie here. Thanks for listening to our podcast. And to learn more about Harvest Ministries, please subscribe and consider supporting this show. Just go to Harvest.org. And by the way, if you want to find out how to come into a personal relationship with God, go to KnowGod.org. That's K-N-O-W-G-O-D dot org.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-12 00:39:50 / 2023-11-12 00:56:38 / 17

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