Sermon on Revelation 21:1-5, using verse 3 of Lo! He Comes With Clouds Descending

Christianity is so often turned upside down. It is made to be about us—our work and efforts to make the world better. Helping the poor, the homeless, the disadvantaged. These are good things, but in and of themselves they have nothing to do with Christianity. The Spirit, Christ, or faith is not required to do them. They are merely external things.

Faith is not optimism for a better functioning or more fair world. It is trust in God’s explicit promises, and that He acts for us. That we have a true God, to follow and submit to. The Lord is Jesus, and He has done all we need for eternal life with Him. He accomplished salvation for all people—it is not something we make real by our works. In fact, we can only get in the way of God and righteousness. Everything we do, even with the most well-intended motives is under the influence of sin. Our sin is lawlessness against God, no matter how we feel about it. It is an affront to God to think we can be pure and do His work for Him.

So nothing has to happen in this world. This is giving up to pagans and having no purpose. But redemption is already accomplished, it’s done in Christ who reconciled the world to Himself. It comes in the Word and lifts you to God by forgiving you all your sins. This is true freedom, not making people more alike or having the same circumstances on earth.

However, things do not look good. But we don’t need all require the same challenges or trials or blessings. The temptation to fix or get rid of problems before you is great. We can serve and love, and we should—but don’t get a God-complex. Don’t think that the Lord must have you, or He can’t do anything. While this is tempting to those who disbelieve, it is a denial of the completeness of Christ’s work. We don’t make heaven on earth we wait for Jesus to deliver it.

It is tough to wait. It is like having a tracking number for a package, but the progress does not make sense. It’s too slow, nothing seems to be happening. But looking up a number online, calling the shipping company does not speed your package up. Neither does doubting, worrying, or yelling create a paradise—a heaven—around you. So it is with the end of the world—it’s coming; trust sin is defeated. But you don’t usher it in, Jesus does. The Father will bring it in His time, according to His plan.

So wait and trust in what will be the focus in heaven—not your pleasure, hobbies, or concerns. But those dear tokens of His passion Still His dazzling body bears, Cause of endless exultation To His ransomed worshipers. The center of heaven is not you, but Christ. What you believe and live by now, you will see. Gaze we on those glorious scars! They are glorious because they won righteousness for us. In His body, the Son suffered in our place—a real death for real sinners. Our Lord’s scars are the works that open heaven, not what we do in name of religion.

So you and your ideas are not the missing ingredients to a perfect world. Heaven is opened and available now due to Christ. We don’t need to save the world, the environment, or society. Only people can be saved, and sinners forgiven, so we should not worry about what is passing away.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

The temptation is to save our family and ensure it is perfect and heavenly, if that were even possible. Parents struggle to get everything just right for their kids’ future success. They can almost live in their kids’ skin, planning every step, pushing them constantly. But children are not allowed to be children, if every step determines the rest of their life. This puts their actions above what Christ did and will do. We, in the Church, are not before our head, Jesus.

Do be concerned with your children’s future, but their longest-term success, so they are welcomed by Christ in heaven. Let God be their Father, and the little stuff will take care of itself.

Married people want to fix the single people and get them married as soon as possible. Perhaps forgetting, that marriage is not a way to God or a magic boost to faith. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. Christ has done it all and continues to bring His kingdom to us. We are to wait patiently for His revealing. Only Christians are free—because nothing earthly must be done to please God. We merely must fulfill our vocation—that is our service of love. The single Christian must be chaste. The married must keep the marriage bed pure. Parents are called bring their children up in the fear of the Lord—not the fear of not being the best. It turns out you have plenty to do as you follow Christ, in freedom.

The scars of Jesus remain the prize, what we seek and live by. The blood of Christ applies forgiveness in baptism, continually washing away sins. Trust in God’s actions for you—in Christ who is coming again. Lo He comes with clouds descending. This is the true fulfillment of what we hope. Christ, the center of our lives now, will soon show Himself. Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. So look beyond what you see—hear Christ saying: “you are right with God, you are received in my name.” Our God is Jesus, not ourselves, or our hopes and dreams, but the faith and doctrine He gives in Scripture. What we believe—the price paid by Christ to earn us redemption—we will see. Amen.