Non Plus Ultra.
If you go to Valladolid Spain today you will find a monument honoring Christopher Columbus. It is a large, fascinating statue with the great discoverer poised heroically in a boat, looking off into the distant new worlds. Beneath the boat you see a giant sculpted globe propping the voyager and his humble raft high above your head. Then your eye catches the banner wrapped around it displaying the the words, “Non Plus Ultra”. The Latin phrase formed the national motto of Spain at the time. Translated it means No More Beyond. Before Columbus made his voyages, the Spaniards thought they had reached the outer limits of earth – they thought everything they knew was all there was. Thus their motto was “Non Plus Ultra,”: “No More Beyond.” Yet, this is what makes another aspect of this monument perhaps the most interesting and illuminating. At the side of the globe is a lion, standing on its hind legs, with one paw on the globe and the other paw destroying one of the Latin words. The word being torn away by the lion is “non” or “no,” making it read “Plus Ultra.” Columbus had proven that there was indeed “more beyond.”
God has also told us there is “more beyond”. Stamped across the last chapters of Revelation could be the words “Plus Ultra”. For all that we know right now is indeed not all that there is. God has planned much, much more beyond what we now know.
The New Creation (1)
First we see the new creation. Verse 1 says, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.”
Carl Sagan, the brilliant atheist cosmologist epicly declared in his book Cosmos, “The Cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be.”
As long as there has been Scriptures there has been the promise of heaven and earth “2.0”. “Behold”, Jehovah declared, “I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.” Jesus said in Luke , “Heaven and earth will disappear but my word endures.” Peter has something to say about it too, “By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. The heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will be destroyed by fire, the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and hte elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with His promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. (2 Peter 3:7, 10-13). The new is coming.
The last part of Peter’s sentence is very important: the home of righteousness. This answers the question of “Why is God going to make a new heaven and a new earth?” The answer is because sin has ruined this current earth and heavens. It is all under a curse. “Cursed”, God said to Adam in the Garden after he sinned, “Cursed is the ground because of you” (Gen. 3:17). The thorn is the fruit of man’s sin. Isaiah 24:5 says, “The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt.” “For creation”, Romans 8 says, “was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the One who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from it bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up the present time.”
The home of everlasting life cannot be subject to death and decay. The home of the righteous cannot itself be corrupted by sin. The home of glory cannot be under a curse. The groaning, the frustration, the struggling, the withering, the barren branch, the thorn, must all be done away to make way for the new. There must be a righteous home for God’s righteous people.
The absence of the sea on the new earth. This change has implications both physically and theologically.
The New Capital (2)
We not only see a new creation, but, we also see a new capital. Verse 2 says, “I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.”
We’re going to go into great detail next week on the New Jerusalem, as the rest of the Revelation describes it in great detail.
The New Community (3-8)
There will be a new community.
One time after a campaign speech, a young man rushed up to Senator Everett Dirksen. “Senator,” the young man declared, “I wouldn’t vote for you if you were St. Peter!” The Senator eyed the young man for a moment. Then he said: “Son, if I were St. Peter, you couldn’t vote for me. You wouldn’t be in my district.”
Not everyone will be in this new community, but praise God for what kind of community it will be. [Our beloved Apostle Paul told us: Our citizenship is in heaven (Php. 3:20). We have been transferred from the dominion of darkness and have citizenship now in the kingdom of the Son of God (Col. 1:13). This kingdom is not of this world (Jn. 18:36).]]]
#1: This New Community will enjoy the presence of the Sovereign Lord. Verse 3 says, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people and God Himself will be with them and be their God.’”
Richard Baxter wrote about heaven like this:
My knowledge of that life is small
The eye of faith is dim
But it’s enough that Christ knows all
And I shall be with Him
God has been the hunger of every righteous person. Moses said, “If Your Presence does not go with us do not send us.” (Ex. 33:15). Paul said, “I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far” (Php. 1:21). Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now?” (John 13:37). The Lord reassured us when giving the Great Commission, “And I will be with you until the end of the age.”
Deists are people who believe God created it all, but, afterwards He abandoned it all. Like some project left in the garage unworthy of anymore time and energy, like outdated technology to be thrown away, God has “moved on” from us. We simply don’t interest Him anymore.
Thank God that is not true. The Deist’s ideas are severely challenged by Scripture. The Bible presents God in tireless pursuit of us. Old time preachers called Him the “Hound from Heaven”. Rather than turning His back on Adam and Eve when they sinned, remember it was God who promised a Savior. Remember it was God who promised the Israelites in Leviticus 26:11-12, “I will put my dwelling place among you…I will walk among you and be your God..” Ezekiel 37:27-28 the promise is found again, “…” The New Testament expands this promise out to not only a future Israel, but, to the Church. Second Corinthians 6:16 declares the fact of God’s intention to dwell with us, “…”
#2: In this New Community there will be no Sin: All the agents of sin, the perpetrators of perdition, the workers of wickedness, will be absent. Their feet were followed the path of unrighteousness, so their feet will never walk among the righteous. Satan, his angels and all the wicked of the human race will have been sent to the Lake of Fire at this point. None of them will ever lay eyes on the new heaven and new earth and none will ever enter the New Jerusalem.
Sin separates man from God, but, the removal of sin rejoins. Christ has joined us to God by wiping out our sins and setting us on the course of righteousness. He’s given us the taste. Pursuing righteousness is the mark of fellowship with God. Righteousness is what God will join Himself to. A man occupying himself with the righteousness of God will find God occupied with him. So it is in eternity that righteousness will prevail in every way on the new earth. Sin within will be gone, all will be driven by the inward principle of righteousness.
Application: Live right now worthy of the righteous world to come. In pursuing God’s righteousness now we prove our belief in this future righteous universe, the home of the righteous as Peter calls it. Or, to say it another way, if I am going to be a person of righteousness right now in this godless culture, it is precisely because I believe in the inevitable world of righteousness God is bringing. Live righteously right now, compelled by your belief in the home of righteousness God will bring.
#3: In this New Community there will be no Suffering. Notice verse 4, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Read quote from Steve Lawson, THE END, pg 453
Medicine, wheelchairs, walkers, crutches and canes, surgeries, aspirin, tylenol, hospice,
#4: There will be perfect Satisfaction in this New Community. Verse 6 says, “He said to me: ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.”
People are thirsty today: Thirsty for a drink. Thirsty for success. Thirsty for affection. Thirsty for glory. Thirsty for love. Thirsty for a fix. Thirsty a thrill. Thirsty for anything that will make them feel alive. But the thirsts of the flesh, the thirsts of this world, will only leave you thirstier and emptier. These thirsts are only symptoms of a deeper thirst, welling up from your soul, your empty soul, your soul that is thirsting after its Creator. When you recognize this you then your true thirst will be quenched, your soul be refreshed, and you will long after your Maker alone and enjoy His blessings.
I could not understand this week why verse 6 is written the way that it is. “Why does God declare who He is as the Beginning and the End and what does that have to do with Him giving the water of life? Then it hit me: Only our Creator knows our deepest thirst and as our Creator only He can satisfy it. He is the Beginning and the End, meaning He caused the beginning when He created it all. He is the End in that He is the Final Judge of men and angels, and He is the End because in the end . I think He is the End too in a personal sense: When you come to Him He puts an end to your soul’s thirst. When you come to the God of life, He and only He will give you the water of life.
Listen to what Jesus says to you, “If anyone is thirsty let Him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scriptures have said, ‘Streams of living water will flow from within him.” (Jn. 7:37-38)
You have to be like the Psalmist though and feel deeply your souls thirst: “As the deer pants for streams of water so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God.” (Ps. 42:1-2)
#5: This New Community will the Sons of God. Verse 7 says, “…”
God is putting His family together.
Conclusion: Emigrate Today!
The goal of this sermon is to compel you to emigrate. The dictionary defines emigration as moving from one country to another. THere is another country that God is preparing for His people. And when you become one of His people you become a citizen of this place. When you become a Son of God you become an alien in this world, and you become foreign to this world. But that is because its no longer your home. That’s okay because youre in good compnay. Hebrews 11:13-16 describes your new countrymen: “….turn and read….”
Emigrate today. Come to Jesus and He will make you a New Creation, and, He will take you to the coming new creation.