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He Holds Me Forever
Do you ever wish that you could experience love and relationships at a deeper level? For most of us, giving and receiving love in a healthy, God-honoring, and others-centered way does not come easily or naturally. Theresa Ingram shares her journey through broken relationships and a painful past that drove her to discover the truth about love and relationships, and how that discovery has set her free to love others and herself.More from this series
It goes on to say then, “One of the seven angels who held the seven bowls containing the last, seven last plagues came and said to me, ‘Come with me, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.’ So he took me in Spirit to a great high mountain, and he showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God. It was filled with the glory of God, and sparkled like a precious gem, crystal clear, like jasper. It’s walls were broad and high with twelve gates, guarded by twelve angels. And the names of the twelve tribes of Israel were written on the gates. There were three gates on each side: east, north, south, and west. The wall of the city had twelve foundations stones, and on them were written the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
“The angel who talked to me held in his hand a gold measuring stick to measure the city, its gates, and its walls. When he measured it, he found it was a square, as wide as it was long. In fact, it was in the form of a cube, for its length and width and height were each fourteen hundred miles. Then he measured the walls and found them to be two hundred and sixteen feet thick. The angel used a standard human measure. The wall was made of jasper, and the city was pure gold, as clear as glass. The wall of the city was built on foundation stones inlaid with twelve gems.”
And then he goes on to tell what all these twelve gems were. Beautiful, beautiful stones. “The twelve gates were made of pearls, each gate from a single pearl. And the main street was pure gold, as clear as glass.”
And it’s a real place! It’s a place with walls and gates and streets. And it’s just indescribably beautiful, more than we could ever imagine. And we might be disappointed with the houses we have now, but we will never be disappointed with our home in heaven.
It’ll be a secure place. It’s a place where no evil can ever touch your life. And it says here that the names of the twelve tribes were written on the gates. And the names of the twelve apostles are written on the foundation stones. And all believers from all time from the Old Testament saints – you know, we think about Noah, and Abraham, Moses, David, Esther! They will be there. The Old Testament saints. And all the New Testament saints: Peter and Paul, Mary and Martha – they will be there. All the people from Old Testament, New, from ages past, up until this day will enjoy together this relationship with God and with each other. We will be brought together for all time.
“Then the angel pulled out a measuring stick,” I thought this was interesting. The angel used an actual human measure, “and measured the width and height and length of the city.” It’s a big place. It’s a really big place. It’s big enough to hold everyone who has ever placed their trust in Christ and who ever will. It says, “The foundation of the city is made of twelve precious stones.” It’s a solid foundation. It’s unshakable. There are not earthquakes there. It’s unshakable.
And the twelve gates are made of a single pearl. Three gates on each side of the wall: north, south, east, and west. People from all nations, from all over this world – east, south, north, and west – will be there! No one is excluded. People from every nation, every tribe, every part of the world are welcome there.
And it says the glory of the Lord fills the place. And so, it’s a place of immense beauty because God is there and we will enjoy forever that beauty and be satisfied with our new home.
It says, “No temple could be seen in the city, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need for sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light. The nations of the earth will walk in its light, and the rulers of the world will come and bring their glory to it. Its gates never close at the end of the day, because there is no night. And all the nations will bring their glory and honor into the city. Nothing evil will be allowed to enter. No one who practices shameful idolatry and dishonestly, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
In the Old Testament, God’s presence dwelled among His people in the tabernacle. And later, He dwelt among His people in the temple. There was a curtain that separated the priest from the presence of God. No man could look at God and live. And then in the New Testament, after the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, God sent His Holy Spirit to live inside His people. We became His temple. He lives in us. He lives in our hearts, those who have accepted Him as their Lord and Savior.
But in the new city, in this new Jerusalem, there’s no need for a temple, because we will be in the very presence of God all the time. And so, there is no need for a temple. We will be fellowshipping with Him and worshipping Him face to face.
And no longer will we have any of the frailties of our human bodies, the weaknesses and the sin that will separate us from His presence.
And it says here that there’s no need for the sun or moon because the glory of God illuminates the city. There’s no darkness there. And the gates are never closed. In Bible times, the gates were always closed at night. They were always closed for security purposes and to keep the enemy out.
But in heaven, the gates are never closed. There’s no need for a security system, because there’s nothing there that can ever harm us. And when we are struggling and life seems so hard in our lives and we think about, Well, I know I’m going to make it through this and there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Well, in heaven, there aren’t any tunnels. There’s no darkness there. There’s no despair. There’s no fear. There’s no hopelessness. And there’s no death.
It says, “And the angel showed me a pure river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb, coursing down the center of the main street. And on each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.”
Well, there is a river there. And it flows down the main street of this new Jerusalem from the throne of God. And it says that there are trees and they bear all kinds of fruit, in fact, a new fruit every month. And so, we will enjoy eating and drinking in heaven. All of our needs will be met. We will have strength and health.
And many of the things that we enjoy now, we will enjoy even more so in heaven because there will be no sin to mar the creation of God. You see, what we enjoy now, we will enjoy a lot of that in heaven. It says, “No longer will anything be cursed. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and His servants will worship Him. And they will see His face, and His name will be written on their foreheads. And there will be no night there. No need for lamps or sun, for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever.”
The curse on mankind, because of their sin, when Adam and Eve sinned, the curse of God was then on mankind that will no longer be there, that will be gone forever. And we will belong to our heavenly Father and we will have intimate, personal relationship with Him.
We will know what it’s like to be loved perfectly and we will know how to perfectly love. And we will dwell with our God with new resurrected bodies. Bodies that are flawless. Bodies that are complete in every way. When we look in the mirror in heaven, we will like what we see.
And we will have our very same bodies, yet they will be perfected and glorified. We will be completely who we are, who God designed us to be, but yet glorified and made for our heavenly home.
And we will recognize each other. We will know each other. We will have rich relationships and we will serve God together. And we will worship Him. And we will experience perfect joy.
It says in the psalms that in His presence is fulness of joy. And at His right hand, there are pleasures forever more. We will have that in heaven. And we will have all of our questions answered. We will understand then why we suffered so much. We will understand why things happened.
“For now, we see in a mirror dimly,” in 1 Corinthians 13, “but then we will see face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I have fully been known.” We will understand why we suffered.
And in 1 Corinthians 2:11 it says, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him.” We have a wonderful home waiting for us.
And so, the second thing that I wanted to talk about here, this is if we have such a wonderful hope in the future. How can we live today with that awareness that I am heaven bound? That I have eternity in my heart? How can I embrace the reality of heaven and remember that this is not my home? It’s not my real home.
And I live every day in this weak, human body that just messes up. This is what I live with every day. And as I look at this world, what I see is just this world. And sometimes it seems like heaven is a fairy tale. It just doesn’t seem like it could be real.
So, how can I get my arms around it? How can I begin to live with the awareness that there is much more to life than there is in this world? And it’s a simple answer. Very simple. But, yet, it can be life-changing if we take it to heart.
In 1 John 5:4 it says, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world, our faith.” It’s our faith. It’s our faith in what Christ has done, our faith in His promises for our lives. Our faith in that the One who promises keeps His promise.
And I realize that it’s only by faith in the character and the promises of God that I can live with an eternal perspective. That’s the only way that I can have this.
In Hebrews 11:8 through 10, it says, “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place, which he was to receive for an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise as in a foreign land dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise. For he was looking for the city, which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”
You see, it was by faith that Abraham, in the Old Testament, lived as a pilgrim. He lived as a foreigner in this world, because he was looking forward to that city, even then. The new Jerusalem. His heavenly, eternal home.
And then we see in 2 Corinthians 5, Paul, the apostle Paul, looking forward to his new body. This new body that he would receive in heaven. He says in 2 Corinthians 5:1 through 7, “For we know that if the earthly tent, which is our house is torn down,” our body, “we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed, in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, shall not be found naked. For indeed, while we are in this tent we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed in order that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
“Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. Therefore, being always of good courage and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight.”
It was by faith that Paul was able to focus on his future in heaven, recognizing that the physical body that he was now in was just a temporary thing. It’s like a tent that wears out. But someday, we will be clothed with a new body. God calls it a strong building, a stable building. It’s a body that will last forever.
And both of these men, Abraham and Paul, were able to endure the difficulties and the hardships that they experienced in their lives in this world. And they were able to obey God’s calling on their lives, even though it was hard, much of what they lived through was very difficult, but they were able to do that because, by faith, they were trusting in the promise of a better life to come, and that their true home was in heaven.
And Jesus then is our supreme model of living by faith and looking forward to the day when He again would be in heaven with His Father, sitting at the right hand of God. And He lived on this earth and He endured the sufferings of the cross because He wanted you and me to be there with him.
In Hebrews 12: 1 and 2, it says, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us,” all these people – Abraham – all these people who have gone before us, “let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us. And let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus,” listen to this, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith,” that’s how we keep our faith, by setting our eyes on Him, “who for the joy set before Him endured the cross.”
He was looking forward to being in heaven with you. That’s why He did it. “…despising the shame and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” In Hebrews 11:1 it tells us what faith is. It says, “Now, faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
Now, I have given you in your notes six definitions of faith, because sometimes it’s hard for us to get our hands around, what does this really mean?
Well, faith is being sure and certain about unseen hopes and realities. It’s things we can’t see. The promises of God. And by faith, we take hold of those promises. Faith views things through spiritual eyes and perceives things invisible to the natural eye. It’s believing when we can’t see the answer yet. It’s trusting Him when the answer is still yet to come.
Faith is not based on feelings. It’s not a feeling. It trusts in God in spite of how we feel. And there are many days lately I haven’t felt like I had faith. But I keep walking forward as though I do, trusting in the promises of God.
Faith is not an evidence of outward circumstances. The outward circumstances may look impossible, but faith trusting God in spite of how things look.
Oswald Chambers has my favorite definition of faith. And he says, “Faith is unutterable trust in God. A trust which never dreams He will not stand by us.” You just never dream it. It would never enter your mind.
“Whatever you’re going through today, God is not going to stand by you and see you through that.” It just wouldn’t enter your mind. That’s what faith is.
Faith is not something that acts automatically, it’s not something that acts magically. It’s not like your thermostat in your home that just automatically adjusts the temperature of your house.
But faith is an activity. It’s something that we have to exercise. It doesn’t come into operation itself. You and I have to put it into operation. And we do that as we walk in obedience to God, no matter what the circumstances look like.
In Romans 10:17 it says, “Faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the Word of God.” And as we fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, and as we hear His Word, and as we apply it to our lives, we walk in obedience to God, our faith will grow.
And so, like Abraham and like Paul, it’s by faith and the promises of God that we today can live with confidence in our lives and live with certainty that we have a hope for the future beyond this present life. It’s by faith that we endure the hardships and the sufferings of this world, because we know that this isn’t our real home. We’re here for a short time. And we do have a purpose in being here. And we need to enjoy the time we are here.
But it’s not our real home. It’s not our true home. One of the hardest things for me ever is saying goodbye to people that I love. And especially when I know it’s going to be a long time before I see them again or sometimes, I never see them again.
And two of my sons, when they went to college, went someplace far away. And I just vividly have imprinted on my mind the day that we dropped them off and drove away. It just, it was such a hard day, such overwhelming time of grief for me, just as a mother, letting go and trusting that God was going to take care of them.
But there will be a day when we will never again have to say goodbye to our children when they go to college. And we will never have to say goodbye to friends when they move away, or to loved ones when they die. We’ll never have to say goodbye to those who have trusted in Christ as their Savior.
And one day, God will have all of His kids at His table. And they will be fellowshipping around His table, enjoying wonderful fellowship with Him and with each other.
And because God loves us so much, because He loves us so much, He sent His Son to die for us, so that we could know Him. And then He made us His temple to come and dwell within us, fill us with His Holy Spirit so that we could experience His love in our lives.
And then He has allowed us to express His love to other people in a way that they can touch and see. And He loves us so much that right now, He is preparing a home for us in heaven. And He wants to hold you in His arms forever.
And, again, our verse. I hope we’ll never forget. 1 John 3:1. “How great a love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God,” and that is what we are.