Home at Last! - Revelation 21:27
"There shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.'
Brethren, there can be no question about the place described in our text: it is heaven itself, that holy city, the new Jerusalem, which is yet to be revealed.
I would like to begin my last sermon among you by speaking of heaven. Before I depart and leave you in the wilderness of this world, I would dwell a little on that Canaan God has promised to them that love Him; "there" it is the last and best wish of my heart you may all go; "there" it is my consolation to believe I shall at all events meet some of you again.
Brethren, you all hope to go to heaven yourselves. There is not one of you but wishes to be in happiness after death. But on what are your hopes founded? Heaven is a prepared place; they that shall dwell there are all of one character, the entrance into it is only by one door. Brethren, remember that. And then, too, I read of two sorts of hope: a good hope and a bad hope; a true hope and a false hope; a lively hope and a dead hope; the hope of the righteous and the hope of the wicked, of the believer and of the hypocrite. I read of some who have hope through grace, a hope that maketh not ashamed, and of others who have no hope and are without God in the world. Brethren, remember that. Surely it were wise and prudent and safe to find out what the Bible tells you on the subject, to discover whether your confidence is indeed well founded; and to this end I call your attention to the doctrine of my text. There you will find three things:
1. There is mention of the place itself.
2. We are told the character of those who will certainly not be there; and
3. Who alone will.
The Lord grant you may consider well your own fitness for heaven. There must be a certain meetness for that blessed place in our minds and characters. It is senseless, vain, and absurd to suppose that all shall go there, whatever their lives have been. May God the Holy Spirit incline you to examine yourselves faithfully while you have time, before that great day cometh when the unconverted shall be past all hope and the saints past all fear.
1. First of the place itself. There is such a place as heaven. No truth is more certain in the whole of Scripture than this, there remaineth a rest for the people of God. This earth is not our rest; it cannot be; there breathes not man or woman who ever found it so. Go, build your happiness on earth, if you are so disposed; choose everything you can fancy would make life enjoyable, - take money, house, and lands; take learning, health, and beauty; take honor, rank, obedience, troops of friends; take everything your mind can picture to itself or your eye desire, - take all, and yet I dare to tell you even then you would not find rest. I know well that a few short years, and your heart's confession would be, it is all hollow, empty, and unsatisfying; it is all weariness and disappointment; it is all vanity and vexation of spirit. I know well you would feel within a hungering and famine, a leanness and barrenness of soul; and ready indeed would you be to bear your testimony to the mighty truth, "This earth is not our rest."
O brethren, how faithful is that saying, "If in this life only we have hope, we are indeed most miserable." This life, so full of trouble and sorrow and care, of anxiety and labor and toil; this life of losses and bereavements, of partings and separations, of mourning and woe, of sickness and pain; this life of which even Elijah got so tired that he requested he might die; truly I should be crushed to the very earth with misery, if I felt this life were all. If I thought there was nothing for me beyond the dark, cold, silent, lonely grave, I should indeed say, Better never have been born. Thanks to be God this life is not all. I know and am persuaded there is a glorious rest beyond the tomb; this earth is only the training-school for eternity, these graves are but the stepping-stone and half-way house to heaven. I feel assured this my poor body shall rise again; this corruptible shall yet put on incorruption, and this mortal immortality, and be with Christ forever. Yes, heaven is truth and no lie. I will not doubt it. I am not more certain of my own existence than I am of this, there does remain a rest for the people of God.
~J. C. Ryle~
(continued with # 32)