The New Heaven and the New Earth
“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.” (Revelation 21:1)
A New Heaven and a New Earth
Other than John, the phrase, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth,” is only mentioned by Isaiah and Simon Peter. The Lord, through the ancient prophet, said, “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind” (Isaiah 65:17). And then He said, “For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain” (Isaiah 66:22). Peter said, “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13).
How Will the New Heavens and the New Earth be Brought About?
Peter also said, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?” (2 Peter 3:10-12). This will take place at the conclusion of the thousand-year Kingdom Age (2 Peter 3:7). “Pass away," in verse 10, in the Greek, is parerchomai and means “to pass from one condition to another.” It never means annihilation. It does not indicate the elimination of heaven and earth but, rather, a remaking of heaven and earth. New in the Greek is kainos and means “freshness with respect to age.” The idea is this, when finished, it will be new, as is obvious, but, the beautiful thing is, it will remain new and fresh forever. This is because there will be no sin to cause corruption, which incorporates itself now in everything. Only God could build something in that manner.
The phrase, “for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away,” refers to the original creation. It has been marred by sin and shame. Therefore, it is necessary to completely eliminate the old surface and bring into existence a brand new surface. The word heaven, as used here, does not refer to the abode of God but, rather, the atmospheric heavens around the earth. The idea pertains to the pollution these heavens have experienced and, above all, the fact that demon spirits have occupied this region basically for the entirety of human history (Ephesians 2:2). That is due to the fall. So, all of this will be cleansed by fire, making a new heaven and a new earth. Peter said, “But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (2 Peter 3:7).
No More Sea
The phrase, “and there was no more sea,” refers to the giant oceans, such as the Pacific and the Atlantic. There will continue to be lakes, bodies of water, rivers, streams, etc. The great seas and oceans presently occupy nearly 3/4 of the globe’s surface, and, to that extent, they prevent occupation by men, except for a comparatively small number who are mariners. The idea is that the whole world will then be habitable, and no part will be given up to vast oceans. Although there will still be bodies of water, as stated, they will be strategically placed, providing not only beauty but, as well, contributing to the overall benefit for the entirety of the planet. The present oceans make their contribution as well. However, their vastness severely limits the possibilities of life and living as it regards the population of the world. The new earth will, no doubt, have the blessing of many many bodies of water with its rivers, lakes, and waterfalls, but it will not suffer the loss of vast areas of land.
The Millions on Earth
By the time of this great change, there will be untold millions of people on this earth. This will include all the glorified saints, which will, no doubt, number into many millions. It will also include Israel, along with all the Gentiles who accepted Christ during the Kingdom Age. None of these (Jews or Gentiles) will have glorified bodies but will still be inhabitants of this earth. What will The Lord do with this vast number while the heaven and earth are being renovated by fire? There’s only one answer of which I am aware. The Lord will take everyone to Heaven, there to await this wonderful renovation. As we come to the conclusion of The Word of God and looking at our own experiences that affect each of us, I’m sure that we understand. by now, that The Lord can do anything. As Christ said, “…with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
“And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” (Revelation 21:2) The phrase, “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem,” presents for this new earth a new city. In Matthew 4:5 and 27:53, Jerusalem is referred to as “the holy city." It is not referred to again as such until Revelation 11:2. No doubt, this is because of the rejection of her Messiah, The Lord Jesus Christ. Each and every city in the world presently is filled with sin, shame, murder, heartache, and suffering. It is filled with death and dying and, with that, is coupled loneliness, even extreme loneliness. The city that John describes here is new, meaning that it is not touched by sin, shame, or anything that sin may bring about. Such no longer exists. Even the Kingdom Age will not be able to compare with the Perfect Age. In fact, it will not be possible for the New Jerusalem to be brought down until the heaven and earth are cleansed by fire. Every vestige of pollution, sin, and shame has to be cleansed before such can be done.
Going back to the fall, man was dispossessed of all that God intended for him. It was the purpose of God that man would have total dominion, not only of this earth but of all creation, but sin cursed this purpose and, thereby, destroyed this dream. Due to the fall and the terrible entrance of sin into this world, man is doomed to earn his living by the sweat of his brow and to do so in a world of death and misery. He watches as youthfulness turns to age and, with even all of vaunted modern science, there’s nothing he can do about it. He must ultimately go back to the dust of the ground, out of which he was made. This is the curse of sin in the earth. Let the reader understand that, as far as sin has destroyed, just as far does redemption go and then beyond. Because of sin, man has been disposed from his rightful dominion, but, in grace, God will restore to man the lost creation. Whatever sin has polluted, dirtied, and soiled, redemption will cleanse. Whatever sin has wasted, God’s grace will abound in glorious regeneration and renovation. There will be a new heaven, a new earth, and a new city.
Let the reader also understand that, when we read here about the new Heaven and the new earth and, as well, about this glorious New Jerusalem, we must forever know that all of this has been made possible by what Jesus did at The Cross. The Holy Spirit reminds us of this in verse 9. The Cross is the means of redemption and, thereby, makes it possible for the life of redemption to cover every vestige of the death of sin. In fact, in these last two chapters of Revelation, which describe the Perfect Age, the name Lamb is used seven times. He wants us to understand that all of this is coming, the beauty, the glory, the power, the wonder, and the perfection. All and without exception has been made possible what Jesus did at The Cross. It must never be forgotten!
Out of Heaven
The phrase, “coming down from God out of heaven,” proclaims the fact that this world will never evolve a golden age or ideal state. The New Jerusalem must descend from God. The true pattern, which alone will realize man’s highest wishes, can only come from God, our Creator and Redeemer. Man cannot produce such, irrespective of how hard he tries. Salvation and redemption came from Heaven. Grace and glory have come from Heaven. The Baptism with The Holy Spirit has come from Heaven. Eternal life has come from Heaven. And now, the new Jerusalem, the dwelling place of the redeemed, comes from Heaven as well. It is God Who must do the doing, or it is not done.
The phrase, “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband,” proclaims as a dwelling place the eternal home of the redeemed. The word prepared probably harks back to Jesus’ promise to prepare a place in His Father’s house for His own (John 14:2-3). Some have tried to limit the New Jerusalem as the home of the church alone; however, it evidently includes all the redeemed of all ages. Paul wrote, “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1). The terminology given here by the apostle and, more particularly, given by The Holy Spirit, includes all redeemed and not just a select group. The phrase, “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband,” refers to the fact that this city is prepared especially for the redeemed. While the angelic host will definitely have access and will, no doubt, function greatly in this city, still, it is prepared especially for the redeemed.
A Great Voice
“And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God” (Revelation 21:3). The phrase, “And I heard a great voice out of heaven,” proclaims the last time this term is used of the 21 times it is used in the book of Revelation. The word a denotes both importance and urgency. According to the best manuscripts, the voice now heard was heard out of the throne, giving it even more power and strength. This great voice will proclaim a message of unprecedented proportions. It will be that which will satisfy the longing heart of man and do so forever and forever. What this great voice says is what will make the New Jerusalem wonderful and glorious.
The Tabernacle of God
The phrase, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God,” finally proclaims that which God intended all along. It is amazing concerning the parallels in the opening chapters of the Bible with those near the close. The Lord God is said to be waiting in the garden and to be present among the trees of the Garden (Genesis 3:8). It is the horror of sin that has disrupted the union between God and man. In fact, spiritual death, which was caused by sin, is the separation of man from God. However, immediately, God set about to restore this union, even though it would take some 7,000 years to do such, at least as described here. Down through the centuries of the Word of God, we see the Lord ever coming closer.
God Dwells with Man
In order that a thrice holy God might have fellowship with sinful man, the sacrificial system was instituted at the very beginning, which, as a portrayal of the great redemption process, pictured Jesus dying on The Cross (Genesis 4:4). The sacrificial process of communion with God remained for some 2,500 years. The Lord, then, gave to Moses the plan for the tabernacle, which included the Holy of Holies, where the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat were, with the cherubims at each end. Concerning that, The Lord said, “And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel” (Exodus 25:22). Then, some 25 years later, The Lord chose the city, Jerusalem, where He would place His Name and, as well, have a temple built there in which He would dwell (2 Chronicles 6:6, 10). After The Cross, which was about 1,000 years after the building of the temple, The Holy Spirit then came to dwell permanently in the hearts and lives of believers (John 14:16-17). As should be obvious, The Lord is ever drawing closer to that which He desires to do. “(H)e will dwell with them".
At the Second Coming, Christ will, as well, come down to dwell with men (Zechariah 14:4). Even though Christ will, then, reign personally, the situation still will not be ideal, simply because of the fact that sin remains, although in a limited manner. But, then, the heaven and the earth will be renovated by fire, thereby cleansed from the practical results of sin, even as The Cross cleansed from the spiritual results of sin. Then, the New Jerusalem will come down from God out of Heaven, which, in effect, means that God has transferred His throne from Heaven to earth. He will then dwell with men permanently and be their God, which means there will be no other gods. The expression, “God himself,” is significant because this implies that here is the final consummation of all things. Concerning this, Paul said, “Then cometh the end, when he (Christ) shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all" (1 Corinthians 15:24, 28). Once again, we emphasize that all of this is made possible by what Jesus did at The Cross. That should be overly obvious to every believer, and, if not, then The Word of God is not being interpreted properly. The story of the Bible is the story of man’s redemption, and redemption was brought about by The Cross of Christ. We might quickly add that all redemption was and is brought about by The Cross of Christ.
No More Tears
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Revelation 21:4) The phrase, "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes,” actually says in the Greek, “every teardrop.” This refers to tears of heartache, sorrow, pain, and suffering, which have bathed the faces of every human being who has ever lived and has done so in copious ways. This will be one of the characteristics of that blessed state, that not a tear of sorrow or heartache shall ever be shed there. All tears have come from sin’s distortion of God’s purposes for man. An enemy has done this to the original order. Then, God will have defeated the enemy and liberated His people and His creation. The story of this world is a story of bereavement. Jesus wept with Mary and Martha at the tomb of their brother. Here, on this earth, is misfortune and poverty, even as Lazarus, the righteous one, yet a beggar, was laid at the door of the rich man, who, incidentally, was unrighteous. This means that the iniquities abound, and, to be sure, these iniquities bring the tears. However, one day, that’s all going to be over. God, Himself, will wipe away the tears from our faces, even every teardrop, and that will be the end of that! Let the reader understand that the wiping away of every teardrop is not actually referring to a literal cleansing of the face. It is referring to all the sorrow and heartache caused by tears. Only Christ could address the cause, which He did at Calvary. At Salvation, we experience the firstfruits of the atonement, at the resurrection, the totality. However, all sorrow and heartache cannot truly be said to be gone forever until the time of the New Heaven and the New Earth, when the New Jerusalem will come down from God out of Heaven. All sin will, then, not only be gone but all effects of sin as well!
The Agonizing Quartet
The phrase, “and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain,” addresses sin and all its results. This mentioned is what causes the tears, and, with all of it taken away, there will be no more tears or cause for tears. Chapter 3 of Genesis tells us of the coming into the world of death, sorrow, crying, and pain. Here, in the next to the last chapter of the Bible, we have the promise that they shall be no more. When we think of this, our minds span nearly 6,000 years of recorded history between the entrance of sin into this world and its finish, and, yet, we must realize that we are living presently on the very eve of that great change that is about to come. Death is an enemy, and it will be the last enemy defeated (1 Corinthians 15:26). It was caused by sin, i.e., separation from God. God made Adam and Eve to live forever, and this they would have done had not sin entered the picture. Even then, the physical bodies of that time, which were so wonderfully created, took nearly 1,000 years to die. To be sure, the ages given in Genesis Chapter 5 are not fictitious. These are people who actually lived that long. Such will, again, come back during the Kingdom Age, and, of course, all believers will live forever. Jesus said, “…I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die…” (John 11:25-26). Victory over death was made possible by The Cross. Jesus died that we might live.
Concerning sorrow, The Lord said to Eve upon the advent of her terrible fall, “…in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children…” (Genesis 3:16). The idea is that sorrow would plague the child from its infancy till the time it died, and so it has been, and so it is. Crying comes from sorrow. The pain addressed here refers not only to physical pain but, as well, to the pain of a broken heart. Jesus addressed this at the beginning of His ministry. He said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel (good news) to the poor (poor respecting money and poor of spirit); he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted (the sorrows of life), to preach deliverance to the captives (we are delivered by trusting in what Christ did at The Cross), and recovering of sight to the blind (spiritual sight), to set at liberty them that are bruised (the bruises of life in prison, the spirit of man), To preach the acceptable year of the Lord (the year of Jubilee)" (Luke 4:18-19). If it is to be noticed, all of these things are spiritual. As well, all were made possible at The Cross.
In Revelation 21:4, the phase, “for the former things are passed away,” refers to the entirety of the effects of the fall. Things will now be as God formerly intended for them to be. None of these types of former things were His will. Now, in totality and completeness and into perpetuity, the prayer of Christ will be answered, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
“And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.” (Revelation 21:5) The phrase, “And he that sat upon the throne said,” presents God himself as the speaker for the second time in this book. From His throne comes the assurance that The One who created the first heaven and earth will indeed make all things new. Since these words are, in truth, God’s words, it is of utmost importance that this vision of the new heaven and the new Jerusalem be proclaimed to the churches. He actually says seven things in this message to John, and in reality, to all believers.
The phrase, “behold, I make all things new,” proclaims His first Word. Two words for new are used in the New Testament, but there’s a difference between them. The one contemplates the object spoken of under the aspect of something that has newly been brought into existence. The other word speaks of that which has previously existed but has been outworn and is now given a fresh aspect. The latter word is employed here.
True and Faithful
The phrase, “and he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful,” refers to the second statement made. This message, in its totality, must not be forgotten, so John is instructed by The Lord to write it down. He is to understand that what is being said is true and faithful, meaning that it is exactly as The Lord describes, i.e., true. As well, the word faithful guarantees that it will all be brought to pass. The glorious words, true and faithful, are also the Name of Our Lord but in reverse order.
Alpha and Omega
“And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.” (Revelation 21:6) The phrase, “And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end,” presents the third part of the message. The same word, “It is done,” (Revelation 16:17), pronounced the judgment of the world as finished. Now, God proclaims, with these same words, “It is done,” that He has completed His new creation. Let it ever be said that, this time, there will be no entrance of satan and sin as it was after the former creation (Genesis 3). The words, “he said,” (Revelation 21:5-6) assure reality in fulfillment. The heavens and the earth will be revived, but death and the grave never will be. They will never have any power again, for death, the last enemy, is destroyed. As well, there will no longer be a mediatorial kingdom. God is all in all; man will be in God’s dwelling place. It will be a paradise that nothing can pollute. The mighty declaration, “finished (‘It is done’)”, heard at the morning of creation, at Calvary, and now repeated here for the last time, closes all prophecy. He Who, as the Alpha, created the primal heavens, will, as the Omega, establish the new heavens. What He began, He will now finish.
The Water of Life
The phrase, “I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely,” presents the fourth statement. This particular statement does not refer to the coming Perfect Age, for all men will have this water of life and, in effect, will always have this commodity. This promise, and it is a promise, was meant to apply to all who would live from John’s day forward. Of course, for those who had died previously without the water of life, which all could have had by faith, there was no way that it could now be had. Death always ends the opportunity of salvation. In fact, this promise stands good even at this very hour and will stand good even throughout the Kingdom Age, which is yet to come. This fountain of the water of life is tied directly to the Cross of Calvary. The prophet Zechariah said concerning this very thing, “In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness" (Zechariah 13:1). There is only one fountain that cleanses from all sin, and that is the precious blood of Christ (1 John 1:7). Once again, The Cross is held up as that which makes possible all things.
The reader may wonder why I refer to The Cross again and again. I do so because The Holy Spirit, in one way or the other, refers to The Cross again and again throughout the entirety of the Bible. As well, satan has been very successful in the last several decades at pulling the church away from The Cross. In fact, it is presently so bad that preachers openly repudiate The Cross and refer to it as “past miseries” and “the worst defeat in human history,” which the propagators of the word of faith doctrine do. And, yet, few raise a voice against this gross error. Actually, it is “doctrines of devils (demons)” produced by “seducing spirits” (1 Timothy 4:1). It doesn’t matter how much the Name of Jesus is used or how much the Word is quoted, if it is not understood that the Name of Jesus has its authority in The Cross and, in fact, that the Word of God is the story of The Cross, then such exercise is a fruitless effort. That is what Paul was speaking about when he referred to “another Jesus,” which doctrine is brought about by “another spirit” and which produces “another gospel” (2 Corinthians 11:4). That’s why Paul said, “we preach Christ crucified” (1 Corinthians 1:23). It is not enough to merely preach Christ; it must be Christ crucified.
No Answer Outside of The Cross
This means that there is no answer outside of The Cross, no cleansing outside of The Cross, no healing outside of The Cross, and no deliverance outside of The Cross, in other words, no salvation outside of The Cross. What we are teaching and preaching to you is not something new. In fact, we are doing our very best to teach and preach exactly what The Lord gave to the apostle Paul and which the apostle gave to us. I seek not to deviate one iota. For every Christian who reads these words, let it be known and understood that, if you are to walk in victory, then you can do so only through what Christ did at The Cross and faith in that finished work. When I say victory, I mean victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil, and I mean victory in totality. Making The Cross as the forever object of your faith gives The Holy Spirit latitude in your life (Romans 8:1-2; 11). In fact, that and that alone gives Him latitude. This means that millions who have been baptized with The Holy Spirit still do not enjoy His power because they have made something else other than The Cross of Christ the object of their faith.
What The Lord Revealed to Me
The year was 1988 in the month of March, and my world had come to pieces. The only thing I knew to do was to pray. I knew that no one had the solution but The Lord, so I continually importuned Him, despite the fact that the majority of the church world was laughing at me and, in effect, telling me that there was no hope from The Lord. I knew there was hope only from The Lord. One particular morning, while trying to pray, it seemed that the powers of darkness were excessively heavy at that particular time. In those days, I would almost always pray while walking. We live on some 25 acres outside of the city limits of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Both my home and Donny’s home are located on these 25 acres. Satan fought so hard that morning that words actually fail me if I would attempt to describe his actions. Suffice it to say, it was unbearable. He taunted me as only he can do, telling me that it was hopeless and that I was wasting my time, but thank God I continued to attempt to implore The Lord.
The Spirit of God
At a point in time, I suppose about 30 minutes after I began praying, it happened all of a sudden. The Spirit of God came upon me, which immediately displeased the powers of darkness. The Lord then began to say some things to me. Among other things, He told me that morning that He was going to teach me some things about The Holy Spirit that I did not then know. Of course, there were many things I did not know about The Holy Spirit. He is God. However, The Lord was answering the cry of my heart as it regarded the working and moving of The Holy Spirit within my life pertaining to the problem at hand. I had seen literally hundreds of thousands, and I exaggerate not, brought to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, which, of course, is a direct result of the moving and operation of The Holy Spirit. As well, I had seen tens of thousands baptized with The Holy Spirit, and, again, I exaggerate not. So, The Holy Spirit helped me in one of the greatest efforts of evangelism the world has ever known, and I speak the truth. Why wouldn’t He help me as it regarded attacks against me personally by satan? I did not understand that, and now The Lord told me that He is going to explain this to me as it regarded The Holy Spirit.
And yet, it would be approximately nine years before this answer would come. In fact, for the answer to come, The Lord had to shut me up strictly unto Himself and away from rudiments of the world or anything else, for that matter. He told me to begin two prayer meetings a day. This was in 1991. He told me that, during these times of prayer, I was to seek Him more so for Who He was than for what He could do. In other words, a greater relationship had to be established. During those six years, and especially those six years of concentrated prayers, The Lord gave me promise after promise but, yet, never related to me the answer for which I sought. Then, in 1997, it came. And the moment it came, I knew it was the answer, and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt. The Lord first took me to Romans Chapter 6, and literally explained it to me. He then said to me, “The answer for which you seek is found only in The Cross.” Then, a few days later, He beautifully gave me the answer concerning the Holy Spirit, for which I had so long sought. But let the reader understand that the understanding of The Cross had to precede that.
The Way The Holy Spirit Works
For the answer regarding The Spirit and how He helps us in our own personal lives, The Lord took me to Romans 8:2. The reader must remember that Chapter 8 of Romans cannot really be understood unless one, first of all, understands Romans Chapter 6. He showed me the following three things:
From that time, my whole world had changed, my life has changed, my message has changed or, I should say, became more complete. As well, my understanding of The Word of God has changed and, again, I should say, became more complete. Thank God that The Lord has done exactly what He said that He would do. Now, I am doing everything I know to do to preach the message of The Cross to all who will hear and believe (Revelation 3:13). Of course, I am doing it with His help and guidance.
I think I can say that the one word freely sums up all of this that I’ve said more than any other word. How is that so? Almost every Christian in the world would heartily agree that the things of The Lord are given to us freely. However, by not understanding The Cross, they turn right around and attempt to earn what all the time claiming is free. I know. I have been there. As the sinner cannot earn salvation, neither can the Christian earn sanctification, and that’s where the rub comes in. Again, almost every Christian will agree that the sinner cannot earn salvation, but it’s another story when it comes to their thinking as it regards sanctification. Sanctification means to be set apart completely from the world and unto God. In its brief sense, it means to have victory over all sin in that sin does not dominate one in any way (Romans 6:14). While the Bible does not teach sinless perfection, it most definitely does teach that sin is not to have dominion over us. If the Christian does not understand The Cross as it regards our sanctification, in other words, how we live for God on a daily basis and how we have victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil, then such a believer is going to life a life of defeat, no matter how much that believer loves The Lord.
At the moment the believing sinner comes to Christ, such a person, first of all, is sanctified, then justified, then, one day, will be glorified. And that day will be when the trump sounds. Paul said, “And such were some of you (before conversion): but ye are washed (refers to the blood of Jesus cleansing from all sin), but ye are sanctified (one’s position in Christ), but ye are justified (declared not guilty) in the name of the Lord Jesus (refers to Christ and what He did at The Cross in order that we might be saved), and by the Spirit of our God (proclaims the Third Person of the Triune Godhead as the mechanic, so to speak, in this great work of grace)" (1 Corinthians 6:11). We must understand that we have to be made clean (positional sanctification) before we can be declared clean, (which is justification). When the person comes to Christ, he is instantly made clean and then declared clean. That is positional sanctification. However, our condition is not nearly up to our position. The position we have in Christ does not change and will not change. Progressive sanctification, in other words, our condition, changes from day to day. It is the business of The Holy Spirit to bring our condition up to our position. To be sure, it is a lifelong process (Matthew 3:11-12). Paul also said, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly (this is progressive sanctification, which can only be brought about by The Holy Spirit, Who does such as our faith is firmly anchored in The Cross, within which parameters the Spirit always works. The sanctification process involves the whole man); and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body (proclaims the makeup of the whole man) be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 5:23). So, as believers, we have positional sanctification, which is what is given to us upon our conversion to Christ and progressive sanctification, which is a work of The Holy Spirit and which, as stated, is a lifelong project. Of course, The Holy Spirit is also very much involved in conditional sanctification, as should be obvious. So, as a believer, you are sanctified, and, at the same time, you are being sanctified. As should be obvious, sanctification is extremely important but, yet, that of which most Christians have little understanding.
The Believer’s Part in Progressive Sanctification
This is so important that The Holy Spirit, through the apostle Paul, designated that about 98% of all his writings in his 14 epistles be dedicated to the subject of progressive sanctification. That’s how important it is. So, how is the believer to function in this capacity? Let us say, at the first, that the way, and the only way, that we can grow in grace and knowledge of The Lord is to place our faith exclusively in Christ and what Christ has done for us at The Cross. Growing in grace and knowledge of The Lord refers to progressive sanctification. We must not only place our faith in Christ and what He did for us at Calvary, but we must maintain our faith in every capacity in Christ and what He has done for us at The Cross. What needs to be done in our hearts and lives cannot be done by the means of the flesh. It can only be done by The Holy Spirit, and He works exclusively within the parameters of the finished work of Christ.
How The Holy Spirit Works
Many Christians, if they think about The Holy Spirit at all, think that whatever He does is done automatically. Were that the case, there would never be a failure among Christians. The Holy Spirit would step in and stop the believer from going in the wrong direction, but we know that is not the case, don’t we? The Holy Spirit does not demand much of us, but He does demand one thing, and on that, He will not bend or move. He demands that our faith be exclusively in Christ and what Christ has done for us at The Cross. Paul said again, “There is therefore now no condemnation (guilt) to them which are in Christ Jesus (refers back to Romans 6:3-5 and our being baptized into His death, which speaks of the crucifixion), who walk not after the flesh (depending on one’s personal strength and ability or great religious efforts in order to overcome sin), but after the Spirit (The Holy Spirit works exclusively within the legal confines of the finished work of Christ. And our faith in that finished work, i.e., The Cross, guarantees the help of The Holy Spirit, which guarantees victory). For the law (that which we are about to give is a law of God devised by the Godhead in eternity past [1 Peter 1:18-20]. This law, in fact, is God’s prescribed order of victory) of the Spirit (Holy Spirit, i.e., the way The Spirit works) of life (all life comes from Christ but through The Holy Spirit [John 16:13-14]) in Christ Jesus (any time Paul uses this term or one of its derivatives, he is, without fail, referring to what Christ did at The Cross, which makes this “life” possible) hath made me free (given me total victory) from the law of sin and death (these are the two most powerful laws in the universe. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus alone is stronger than the law of sin and death. This means that if the believer attempts to live for God by any manner other than faith in Christ and The Cross, he is doomed to failure.)" (Romans 8:1-2).
What is Flesh?
Paul used this term flesh quite a number of times in his teaching. It refers to the motivation, education, ability, talent, self-will, willpower, etc., of the individual. In other words, it’s what the human being can do. So, The Holy Spirit, through Paul, is telling us that we cannot do what we need to do, be what we need to be, function as we need to function, and have the victory that we must have, in other words, our sanctification, by means of the flesh. It cannot be done that way. It has to be done by way of The Holy Spirit, which is the way of The Cross (Romans 8:5-10).
“He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” (Revelation 21:7) The phrase, “He that overcometh shall inherit all things,” proclaims the requirement for inheritance. This is the fifth statement. The message of Our Lord to the seven churches of Asia is unequivocally clear regarding the necessity of being an overcomer. Considering that He repeats Himself seven times, we should understand how absolutely necessary is this requirement. Understanding that, surely it is incumbent upon us to desire to know exactly how we can guarantee the position of overcomer. Please understand that this position of victory is required for all. There is no such thing as a believer who is such but, yet, does not fall into the category of being an overcomer. Now, we should think about that statement because, in effect, the Holy Spirit links salvation and the position of the overcomer as the same. Please allow me to be clearer. There is no such thing as a true believer who is not an overcomer. There are millions who claim to be believers but are not overcomers, which God, in effect, labels as unbelievers. That’s why Paul said, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Corinthians 13:5). As is obvious in this passage, one is either in faith or else he is a reprobate. Reprobate in the Greek is adokimos and means “unapproved, worthless, rejected, cast away." So, how does one guarantee one’s position as an overcomer? In the first place, there is nothing we can do in our own strength, ability, or prowess that can make us an overcomer. Any and all efforts of this nature constitute the person walking in the flesh, which God can never accept (Romans 8:1, 8). Regrettably, if most Christians were told that they had to be an overcomer, which, incidentally, is seldom preached, they would automatically resort to the effort of attempting to be more religious, whatever that means.
How to Be an Overcomer!
The believer is an overcomer only in Christ. There is no other way. Actually, it is a simple way and would remain so were it not for the self will of Christians. The believer is to understand that everything he is in Christ, everything he receives from The Lord, and every attribute of salvation, all and in entirety, comes through what Jesus did at The Cross. Consequently, the believer’s faith must rest exclusively in the finished work of Christ. God honors such faith, which, in fact, is the only thing He will honor (Romans 5:1-2, Ephesians 2:8-9). Let us make the following statement, and then we will elaborate on it. Every person in the world who is truly born again is an overcomer. It’s not something they will be, but it’s something they presently are. Please understand that we are overcomers because of our faith in Christ and what Christ did at The Cross and not because of other things we do or don’t do. When the word overcomer is mentioned, most believers start looking at themselves. We always find some things that are wrong, and, thereby, we judge ourselves as not quite being overcomers and that we have to try harder to, in fact, be overcomers. That’s the wrong way to look at the situation. Forget about yourself. Look exclusively to Christ and His Cross, and keep your faith there, and that constitutes your being an overcomer. When the believer places his faith exclusively in Christ and The Cross and maintains it exclusively in Christ and The Cross, God marks him down as an overcomer, simply because he is in Christ. If we try to bring this about by our own machinations, then we will fail. I am an overcomer, not because of what I have done or not done but because of what My Lord has done for me at The Cross and my faith in that finished work. Now, that does not mean that God overlooks sin in any capacity. You must understand; the only way you are going to get victory over your weaknesses, your failures, or your sins, whatever they might be, is by placing your faith exclusively in Christ and The Cross. Then, The Holy Spirit can go to work in your life and make things as they ought to be. Once again, we are coming back to sanctification, with our condition being brought up to our position. Whatever is wrong with us, it is impossible for us to overcome it within our own strength and ability, and I don’t care how consecrated we are as believers. It can be overcome only by the means that The Holy Spirit has given us, and that’s by the means of The Cross. That’s why Paul said, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). That’s why Paul also said, “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2). All of this is the reason that satan fights The Cross to such an extent. He knows that all salvation is in The Cross, even as all victory is in The Cross and The Cross alone. In fact, The Cross is the great dividing line between the true church and the apostate church. In relationship to this, Paul also said, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:14).
The phrase, “and I will be his God, and he shall be my son," refers to the fact that we, as true believers, are definitely in Christ, and being in Christ means that we are part of the family of God. Paul also said, “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption (a work of The Holy Spirit), whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself (Himself) beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs (we are in the family); heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together" (Romans 8:15-17). To be frank, everything hinges on Christ and what He did at The Cross and our faith in that finished work. Let not the believer misunderstand this. This is the single most important thing that one can know. Praise The Lord! The believer does not have to be a theologian, does not have to be a so-called faith giant. However, one thing he must do is understand his salvation and how it is obtained. As well, properly understanding salvation means that one properly understands sanctification also.
Salvation and Sanctification
Let us explain. In effect, salvation and sanctification are, in a sense, one and the same. In other words, the sinner is saved by simply believing in Christ and what Christ has done at The Cross. To be frank, he doesn’t understand anything about it. He just simply believes. When this is done, he is instantly placed into the family of God, which Christ referred to as “born again” (John 3:3, 16). After the believer comes to Christ, The Holy Spirit now takes up residence within the believer’s life and is there for the purpose of guiding us “into all truth” (John 16:13). This “all truth” is wrapped up in the words as given by Christ, “He (The Holy Spirit) shall glorify me:…” (John 16:14). This refers to what Christ has done for us at The Cross. In fact, The Holy Spirit works exclusively, as previously stated, within the parameters of the finished work of Christ, and, by that, we speak of the atonement. The Holy Spirit does not work according to parameters that we lay down but always within the confines of the sacrifice of Christ. That is what makes everything possible. So, the believer is to understand this and, thereby, anchor his faith in that great sacrifice, understanding that it is through this that all things are made possible. That is why Paul said, “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of (enticing) words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect” (1 Corinthians 1:17).
The apostle was not belittling water baptism or any other ordinance of the church. In fact, these things are very very important but only in their proper place. It is through The Cross that all victory comes and not through water baptism, The Lord’s Supper, speaking with other tongues, confessing certain Scriptures, or anything else we might name of this nature. As stated, all of these things we’ve named, and many we haven’t named, are very important. However, they are important in their own place and right. We are to never major in these things but only in The Cross. When we major in The Cross, understanding what The Cross has afforded us, The Holy Spirit, Who works exclusively within the parameters of The Cross, can do great and mighty things within our hearts and lives (Romans 8:1-11; 1 Corinthians 2:2, 5). So, to have a proper relationship with God, we must understand that we are sons only in respect to what Christ has done for us at The Cross and our faith in that finished work. It is all in Christ! John also said, “…this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4). So, there you have the meaning of the word overcomer.
The Fearful and Unbelieving
“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8) Revelation 21:8 proclaims two facts:
All of this corresponds with the “works of the flesh” as outlined in Galatians 5:19-21. “Fearful, and unbelieving” are, in a sense, linked together. What does that mean? Paul plainly told us that there is an offense linked to The Cross (Galatians 5:11). Consequently, this same verse proclaims the fact that, for those who place their faith and trust in Christ and what He has done at The Cross, persecution will definitely follow. As Paul put it, persecution will come from within the church. If one pulls aside all the cover and veneer, one finds that The Cross, even as we’ve already stated, is the dividing line. That’s where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. You have those in the church who look to other things and then the few who look to Christ and The Cross. There is a war going on between the two exactly as the one between Cain and Abel. No, the war was not begun by Abel but, rather, by Cain (Genesis 4). Neither is this present war instigated by true believers. However, those who look to things other than The Cross will definitely wage war. They not only oppose The Cross, but they also feel that they must stop the voices of all who trust in Christ and The Cross. In fact, this is where the great war is and always has been. There are millions who fear the wrath of those who hold up their works religion, which means they simply will not buck the tide. Their fear puts them in the place of unbelief, which puts them in the place of the lake of fire. Then, we have the abominable, the murderers, the whoremongers, etc. This constitutes the group who claims that one can have salvation and sin at the same time. The church world is full of this type also.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ changes men. In fact, if there is no change wrought in one’s life, despite the profession, the individual simply is not saved. This is not meant to attempt to teach sinless perfection, for the Bible does not teach such. However, the Bible definitely does teach that sin will not have dominion over us (Romans 6:14). So, for one to claim salvation and, at the same time, continue on in an ungodly lifestyle with no effort to change, such a one is only fooling oneself. Regrettably, there are millions who fall into this category. Jesus said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven (The repetition of the word ‘Lord’ expresses astonishment as if to say, ‘Are we to be disowned?’); but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven (What is the will of The Father? Verse 24 tells us.). Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils (demons)? and in thy name done many wonderful works? (The things are not the criteria but, rather, faith in Christ and what Christ has done for us at The Cross [Ephesians 2:8-9, 13-18]. The Word of God alone is to be the judge of doctrine.) And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you (Again, we say the criteria alone is Christ and Him Crucified [1 Corinthians 1:23]): depart from me, ye that work iniquity (We have access to God only through Christ and access to Christ only through The Cross and access to The Cross only through a denial of self [Luke 9:23]. Any other message is judged by God as ‘iniquity’ and cannot be a part of Christ [1 Corinthians 1:17])" (Matthew 7:21-23). Jesus went on to say, “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: (The ‘rock’ is Christ Jesus, and the foundation is The Cross [Galatians 1:8-9])” (Matthew 7:24).
Fire and Brimstone
In Revelation 21:8, the phrase, “shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death,” proclaims the eternal destiny of Christ rejectors. The entirety of verse 8 is the seventh statement made by The Lord to John. The seven statements are as follows:
Incidentally, eternal hell, which will be the eternal destination of Christ rejectors is the second death. As someone has well said, “There is nothing worse than a false way of salvation.”
Sing the wonderous love of Jesus,
Sing his mercy and his grace;
In the mansions bright and blessed
He’ll prepare for us a place.
While we walk the pilgrim pathway,
Clouds will overspread the sky;
But when traveling days are over,
Not a shadow, not a sigh.
Let us then be true and faithful,
Trusting, serving every day;
Just one glimpse of Him in glory
Will the toils of life repay.
Onward to the prize before us!
Soon his beauty we’ll behold;
Soon the pearly gates will open;
We shall tread the streets of gold.
When we all get to Heaven,
What a day of rejoicing that will be!
When we all see Jesus,
We’ll sing and shout the victory!