Sermon series: Living in Light of the Returning King
Connection to unit theme
God has told us the end of His story. Knowledge of our destination helps us understand who we are in Christ and how we should live in the meantime. That Christ is coming back to claim the Church - His bride - should help us determine how we live.
Knowing the end of the story changes how you look at things. Watching a recorded athletic contest is always different than watching it live. An avid sports fan watching a live game shouts passionately at the television, but remains subdued when watching after the event has already taken place. Your viewing experience is impacted even more if you accidentally caught the final score of the game. When you watch a live game a crucial interception in the fourth quarter feels like a nail in the coffin. But if you know that your team wins with a last-second field goal that interception means less. Knowing the end of the story changes everything.
It is the same way in life. Knowing the end of our story affects how we live in the present. It even goes so far as to shape our identity.
I. Our destination shapes our present identity - 21:1-8
The fact that God has told us the end of the story impacts how we view ourselves in the present. As Paul Tripp writes, "You don't have to figure everything out. You do need to know and trust the One who does understand, and who knows exactly what He is doing . . . God will not quit until every bit of his work is complete in each of his children."
The beautiful picture in Revelation 21:1-8 is already ours. The curse is as sure as lifted. The promise is attached to the name of Jesus. When He says, "It is done!" it is a promise we can bank on today. Our identity is changed. We no longer have to be those who "grieve without hope," because we have hope. We know the end of the story. We know that the tears we cry today will eventually be wiped away. Knowing our destination takes a little of the sting out of the pain that we feel from the curse. The curse does not have the last word. Jesus does. And his word is, "I am making all things new". We are those whom Jesus is making new.
Application: Is your identity rooted in Christ's future for you? Are you trying to figure everything out, or are you simply trusting in the One who holds your future?
II. Our destination shapes our present actions - 22:17
The illustration about watching a recorded game could be misleading. God has already determined the end, and He will not fail to bring us there. From this truth one might logically conclude that because the outcome is already determined we can sit back and watch the game unfold. While it is true that we cannot thwart God's plan, it is also true that God's plan includes human responsibility.
Far from a cold fatalism Revelation ends with a plea to action. The Spirit and the Bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." Though this could be taken as an invitation for hearers of the word to come to Jesus, it is more likely a cry for Jesus to return and set things right. Part of our present action is to pray that the Lord would come speedily. It is an encouragement to be prepared for His return, to long for His coming as bride waits for her bridegroom. It is also a call for those that are "thirsty." It is a call to "come" and "take the water of life without price."
The end of the story motivates our response in the present. The only fitting response to knowing God's story is to take hold of His lavish grace.
Application: Do you cry out "Come, Lord Jesus"? Are you living for the present world or for that which is to come? How does your destination shape your present action?
Everyone longs for what God promises in the end of His story. Even those that we would consider the farthest from God were created to long for these promises. The problem is that apart from grace none of us are able to seize these promises through our own efforts. So we try to find satisfaction in the things that we can grab onto ourselves. But nothing we can obtain in this life can sustain us. Nothing we can earn satisfies the longing God has placed in us. Only grace is powerful enough to bind us to the One who can fulfill. As C.S. Lewis has said, "If our deepest desires cannot be satisfied in this world, then we must have been made for another world."
Everyone longs for what is promised in Revelation 21. The only way that it becomes ours is when we come thirsty to Christ and drink the water of life.