The River and Tree of Life aka Back to the Garden

Revelation 22.1-5

John finishes his description of the new heaven and the new earth with a trip back to the garden. Or maybe better a trip forward to the garden. The river and tree of life. The removal of the curse. God’s presence. Seeing Him face to face. Serving Him. Ruling and reigning with Him forever.

But now we live in this in-between time…in between the time of Jesus’ ascension and His return…where life seems to be crashing down around us because of sin and death and the effects of the curse. In this in-between space where the consequences of our own sin…we might call it compromise…and the sin of others, especially persecution, impact us in often tragic ways, we can’t forget that our hope is not in this broken world. Let me say that one more time…our hope is not in this broken world. I think we forget that. We are just sojourners passing through, on our way home.

As I was thinking about that, it struck me…this world is like a burning house. Hang with me for a minute. When you see a house on fire, you don’t go in to rearrange the furniture. You don’t settle in and make yourself comfortable. Nope. You grab the first person you see and pull them out. Then you go back and grab one more. And then you go back and grab one more… Our job is to keep pulling folks out of the fire until God calls us home. To storm the gates of hell until we see our Savior fact to face. To share our story with those around us, investing our mina until the King returns. No…our hope is not in this broken world, but in a new one, a re-created one where Jesus is reigning. So Don’t give up on your faith. Don’t give in to the pressure of this world. Don’t forget…Jesus wins.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Revelation series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.

The New Jerusalem

Revelation 21.9-27

The New Jerusalem. A city beyond our wildest dreams. More beautiful and breathtaking than anything we’ve ever seen or even imagined. The home of a redeemed Israel, and the destination of believers from the nations who bring their glory into it. Diamond walls, pearly gates, radiant jewels and streets of gold…

A strong contrast to Babylon and the fate of those who aligned themselves with that city. Those who chose rebellion over submission, subjecting over serving, the dragon over the Lamb.

Again John reminds us of what we are hoping for…why we don’t give up or give in. Jesus wins, and this is what winning looks like. More than we could have ever truly hoped for or expected. A good reminder in the world we live in today that is nothing like that. A world where pain and suffering, the ugliness of sin in all of its manifestations is so obvious. Where maybe most days we feel beat down and trampled under foot. We need to be reminded…we need to be encouraged…not to give up or give in. The kingdom will be worth it.

But only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life will be there. And your name will only be in the book if you have trusted in Jesus, so if you have not yet trusted in Jesus, please don’t wait. It’s as simple as admitting that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Believing that Jesus came to save you from your sin. He lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death on your behalf, and was raised the third day, so that you might have forgiveness of sins and eternal life and might walk in the light of His glory in the kingdom forever.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Revelation series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.

A New Heaven and a New Earth

Revelation 21.1-8

John describes for us a new heaven and a new earth…the realization of the hope for which we have been saved, so that even in the midst of suffering the afflictions and persecutions of this present darkness, this present evil age, we will be encouraged knowing that we will one day be rescued and vindicated by the sudden appearance of Jesus, whose coming will destroy the powers of evil and make all things new. Throughout the NT the message is clear: this future hope should impact our lives today…our behavior and devotion to Jesus. So knowing this let us persevere in the present as we await the return of our King to set all things right…don’t give up, don’t give in, Jesus wins!

This beautiful picture reminds us of God’s amazing love for us. The lengths that He has gone to so that we might be reconciled to Him, that we might become His children are nothing short of incredible. From the first few chapters of Genesis, He’s been relentlessly pursuing us. It started with a promise…Genesis 3.15. One day He would send the Hero to rescue us from the sin and death caused by our rebellion against Him and provide a way back to the garden. That Hero, of course, is Jesus, who lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death, was raised the third day, and ascended to the throne of God. By believing in Him we have eternal life. To those who thirst…the water of life without cost. The retirement package is chill…paradise with Him forever.

Now we wait with anticipation His return…not as a sacrificial Lamb, but as the conquering Lion. Not as our Savior on a cross, but as the fierce Warrior-King on a white horse.

Today is the day. John’s encouragement to believers is also a warning to those who are not following Him. Judgment is certain. Jesus is coming back. The consequences are final. No do-overs. There will be no escape. No watching from the sidelines. You are either for Him or against Him. My prayer is that you are thirsty today…I love that His relentless pursuit continues till the end. The offer stands open, to drink from the springs of the water of life without cost.

So don’t give up because following Jesus is sometimes hard. Don’t give in to the culture around you. Why? Because Jesus wins! Amen, come Lord Jesus!

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This post is based on a sermon from our Revelation series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.

The Great White Throne

Revelation 20.7-15

At the end of the thousand years, Satan is released to once more deceive the nations and gather them for one last battle, which isn’t much of a battle. Fire comes down from heaven to consume the enemies who have surrounded the camp of the saints, and the devil is thrown into the lake of fire. The great white throne is set up, and the sheep are separated from the goats.

I seem to say this a lot with this book. There are only two sides to this conflict. You are either for Jesus or against Him. You are either a sheep or a goat. But know this…Jesus wins. And you will either kneel before Jesus as King or cower before Him as Judge. So you have a choice to make…life or death, blessing or curse. The choice is yours. So why not choose life?

As believers, I hope that this motivates you to share your story…to tell others about Jesus. As I’ve said before, most of the folks you come in contact with on a daily basis don’t know Jesus. If they were to stand before the throne today, they would stand condemned to the lake of fire. I pray that that breaks your heart and creates in you a sense of urgency and intentionality about the way you are pursuing your relationship with them.

Knowing that we too will be judged/evaluated based on our deeds, let us live a life worthy of the calling. Not out of fear, but out of love. Love for the One who has so loved us, so that we too may hear, “Well done good and faithful slave.”

If you have not yet trusted in Jesus, please don’t wait. I don’t want you in the lake of fire. Jesus doesn’t want you in the lake of fire. He will bring judgment, but He would rather you choose mercy. I want you…He wants you…in the kingdom. It’s as simple as admitting that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Believing that Jesus came to save you from your sin. He lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death on your behalf, and was raised the third day, so that you might have forgiveness of sins and eternal life and might reign with Him forever.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Revelation series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.

For a Thousand Years…

Revelation 20.1-6

Following the return of the King and the defeat of His enemies in battle, namely the beast and the false prophet and their armies, an angel with a great chain binds the dragon, throws him into the abyss and then shuts and locks it over him, so that he will not deceive the nations any longer for a thousand years. Meanwhile, the overcomers are resurrected and serve as priests of God and of Christ, reigning with Him for a thousand years.

While the details of how all of that works out are sometimes hotly debated, the end result is still the same. Jesus wins. And you will either kneel before Jesus as King or cower before Him as Judge. You are either for Him or against Him…life or death, blessing or curse. The choice is yours. So why not choose life?

It’s as simple as admitting that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Believing that Jesus came to save you from your sin. He lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death on your behalf, and was raised the third day, so that you might have forgiveness of sins and eternal life and might reign with Him forever.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Revelation series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.

The Return of the King aka the Ballad of the White Horse Rider

Revelation 19.11-21

The King returns, and none of those who are His enemies will be able to stand before Him. His fury will be terrifying and His vengeance on His adversaries complete.

Jesus is coming…He is coming in judgment, He is coming in vengeance, He is coming as Sovereign over all, and you want to be with Him and not against Him.

In Luke 19, Jesus tells the parable of the nobleman who goes off to receive a kingdom. Before the nobleman leaves, he calls together his slaves and gives each one a mina to invest until his return. And generally the focus is on the slaves investing the nobleman’s mina. But there is a third group in that parable…those who didn’t want the nobleman to rule over them. In Luke it for sure represents the religious leaders who rejected Jesus. In Revelation, it represents the folks aligned with the beast. Seed of the serpent types.

There are only two sides in this conflict…only two. You are either on the side of the White Horse Rider, or you are aligned against Him. There is no middle ground. No Switzerland here.

As believers, this is our blessed hope…the return of the King in all His terrible glory executing judgment and vengeance for every wrong done on earth. Ever since Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit and plunged humankind, and all of creation, into a world of sin, death and corruption, we’ve been waiting for the Seed of the woman who would crush the head of the serpent, the One God promised would set everything right. So for us, the White Horse Rider is our Fearless Commander, our Conquering Warrior-King riding into battle against an already vanquished foe. His appearance is salvation and the realization of our greatest hopes. Jesus wins. And because of our faith in Him, we also win.

For those who are facing the White Horse Rider, there is great dread and fear as they see a Fierce, Ruthless, Unrelenting and Vengeful Warrior-King bent on destroying them. None will escape. All will face His wrath.

So where are you? Are you with Him or against Him?

If you have trusted in Jesus, give thanks! Jesus wins. The realization that He is coming back in all His awesome glory is good news indeed, for He will right the wrongs that have been done. But knowing that He is coming back with such terrifying vengeance, there should be a sense of urgency in sharing our story with those around us who don’t know about Him.

If you find yourself today in the position of an enemy of Jesus, be afraid! Jesus wins. The realization that He is coming back in all His awesome glory is sobering news indeed, for He will right the wrongs that have been done. Knowing that He is coming back with such terrifying vengeance, now is the time to repent…to trust in Him, for now is the time of God’s favor. We are in a holding pattern awaiting His return. Part of the reason for the delay is so that folks will come to trust Him and join His side. It’s as simple as admitting that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Believing that Jesus came to save you from your sin. He lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death on your behalf, and was raised the third day, so that you might have forgiveness of sins and eternal life, that you too may look forward to the return of your King.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Revelation series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.

The Great Hallelujahs

Revelation 19.1-10

The fourfold hallelujahs are ringing out in anticipation of the coming of the King. The long wait is nearly over. The time is near.

The return of the King is good news for His servants, for those who have entered into covenant relationship with Him. For them He has come with His reward. For them there is the “well done good and faithful slave” of a benevolent and magnanimous Master. For them their righteous deeds are the linen garments they will wear as they enter the kingdom to feast at the wedding supper of the Lamb.

But His return will not be good news for His enemies. For them He has come to judge them for their wicked deeds and avenge the wrong done to His people. For them it will be a dark day, a terrible day. For the King will be their Judge…their uncompromising and just Judge.

Life and death are set before you, the blessing and the curse. So choose life.

It’s as simple as admitting that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Believing that Jesus came to save you from your sin. He lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death on your behalf, and was raised the third day, so that you might have forgiveness of sins and eternal life…a covenant relationship with Him, feasting together with Him at the wedding supper of the Lamb and reigning with Him forever.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Revelation series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.

Lament for Babylon

Revelation 18.9-24

Babylon has fallen, and the kings of the earth, the merchants and the seafaring peoples will all mourn over her…not for what it means for her, but for what it means for them. And while those who participate in her wickedness mourn, the righteous will rejoice.

One day every wrong will be righted. Truth will prevail. Good will crush evil. Sin will be atoned for. But until that day we live in a time of waiting. Patient endurance. We don’t like it. And like the martyrs under the altar, we too cry out, “How long?” But God’s patience is mercy. It allows time for repentance. For those far from Him to come to Him…through Jesus. And during this time of waiting, He calls us to be investing…investing our mina. Sharing our story. The hope that we have found in Jesus. Telling them about Him. That’s why we’re still here…waiting. Longing for Him to come back. So don’t give up. And don’t give in. He’ll be here soon enough. 

If you are one of those who have not yet trusted in Jesus, please don’t wait. The world as we know it is quickly coming to an end. Soon all the vain things that you have been pursuing will be no more. But the things that remain…the eternal things, the unshakable things…they can be yours. It’s as simple as admitting that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Believing that Jesus came to save you from your sin. He lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death on your behalf, and was raised the third day, so that you might have forgiveness of sins and eternal life and that you might reign with Him forever.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Revelation series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.

Babylon is Fallen

Revelation 18.1-8

The unthinkable has happened…Babylon is fallen. Though her kingdom seemed to be impregnable and her self-proclaimed reign absolute, her judgment is swift and her doom sure. So come out of her lest you share in her downfall.

It’s disturbing to think that believers would have to be warned to flee Babylon…a city described as the Mother of Harlots and of the Abominations of the Earth”, and yet it’s not altogether surprising. Let’s be honest with ourselves…too many of us compromise far too often in far too many areas of our lives. And while we’re being honest…some of those who are the closest to us might be the most surprised to find out that we are Christians based on the way we conduct ourselves at work or school or in social settings, etc.

But it shouldn’t be that way…and it doesn’t have to be. We can’t save ourselves, and we can’t change ourselves…only the Spirit can do that. But He will only do that as we allow Him to. There is a divine partnership involved. We talked about it when we were going through Romans. Saying “yes” to Jesus, and “no” to all the other junk. That looks like…time in God’s Word everyday, praying throughout the day, spending time with other believers as often as possible, sharing my story with those who haven’t yet trusted in Jesus and living a generous life. Beginning to live my life in light of the truth that I am no longer who I used to be. I really have passed from death to life. And now I have the opportunity to live like it. Motivated, not by fear of stepping out of line, but out of love for the One who first loved me.

So don’t give up. Don’t give in. Jesus wins…and that means that you do to.

If you have not yet trusted in Jesus, please don’t wait. You too need to get out of Babylon before it’s too late. It’s as simple as admitting that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Believing that Jesus came to save you from your sin. He lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death on your behalf, and was raised the third day, so that you might have forgiveness of sins, eternal life and a place in His kingdom.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Revelation series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.

The Doom of Babylon

Revelation 17.7-18

The time is short. The end is coming quickly. The fall of Babylon is on the horizon, as well as the destruction of the beast. Though it may seem like the bad guys are always winning, the truth will soon be apparent…their demise is sure.

It’s not a time for us to be fearful…it’s a time for us to be faithful. We have been chosen and called. Our names are written in the book…if we have trusted in Jesus. But that’s not true for a majority of folks you see every day. Most have no clue that the end is near…that there is anything more to this life than what’s right in front of them. And then it’s over. They are without hope and destined for hell. But you have the words of eternal life. You can tell them about Jesus. God can use you to change their trajectory, to rewrite their destiny. But it means you can’t give up or give in. And you’ve got to be willing to share your story with them.

If you are one of those who have not yet trusted in Jesus, please don’t wait. Your name too could be written in the book of life. It’s as simple as admitting that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Believing that Jesus came to save you from your sin. He lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death on your behalf, and was raised the third day, conquering both sin and death…so that you might not only have forgiveness of sins, but that you too might conquer death and have eternal life. That you could be one of the called and chosen and faithful whose name is written in the book of life.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Revelation series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.