In this world, Jesus tells us plainly, we will have tribulation. Tribulation is a period of great trouble or suffering. He goes on to say, “But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33) Whenever people say that God simply wants us “to be happy” or that faith brings us “health and wealth,” they really need to study the Scriptures. The people of God will experience trials, problems, and persecution (2 Tim. 3:12; James 1:2-3: 1 Pet. 1:6-7). Before His crucifixion, Jesus knew that afterwards, He would not only be resurrected but He would return to the Father. He gives this promise to His disciples,
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. ~ John 14:1-3
What will this place be like? The book of Revelation gives us some glimpses of this glorious place, the Celestial City.
First, it will be a place of pulchritude; that is, a place of incredible beauty. Its beauty is compared to that of a beautiful virgin bride.
And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. ~ Revelation 21:2
The beauty of Heaven is not haphazardly slapped together thoughtlessly. It is designed and prepared by God Himself, with such deliberate thought as a bride prepares and adorns herself for her wedding day
The Celestial City is a place of peace. This world is in constant turmoil and pain. Never, since the fall, has our world ever been free of violence, war, and abuse. Every generation must experience sickness, loss, grief, and death. We don’t get used to these, because we’re not supposed to. But the redeemed are given this promise:
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “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. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” ~ Revelation 21:3-4
Life will be to the fullest. Persons will not simply exist but truly live. God will no longer be approached in faith but the redeemed will dwell in His presence. Furthermore, persons will not be sitting on clouds playing harps. It will be a place of genuine love, joy, laughter, and belonging. There will no longer be sadness, rejection, depression, anxiety, or loneliness.
Our world is polluted and intoxicated by sin. Everything humanity touches is somehow defiled by selfishness, greed, lies, abuse, and perversion. The Celestial City will be a place of perfection.
But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” … And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. ~ Revelation 21:8, 23-27
“God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). All that corrupts and defiles is prohibited from the Celestial City. Those who are not redeemed and regenerated by the atoning work of Christ will not find entrance. The destructive power of sin will not exist in the heavenly city. There will be no crime or violence, no greed or corruption, no immorality or perversion, and no lies or deception. The City will be completely safe for it’s redeemed citizens.
Finally, the Celestial City is a place of proposal. To many, it sounds mean that so many won’t gain entrance, but people are extended an invitation through Christ, who paid the penalty for our sins. Through faith in Him and repentance of sin anyone can find mercy, new life, and citizenship to the Celestial City, but the majority of people stubbornly refuse. It’s not for no reason we are told,
Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy…. The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. ~ Revelation 22:11, 17
The invitation is extended to any and all who are willing to come through Christ. But those who love evil will cling to their evil. Those who love their perversion will hold fast to their perversions. Mockers will continue to mock and scoffers will continue to scoff. Although the invitation is extended to all, it is rejected by many. Have you responded to God’s invitation, and will you be among the citizens of the Celestial City?
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” Jesus says, and “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out” (John 14:6; 6:37). Is the pig slop of temporal pleasures really worth giving up the eternal delicacies provided by the King of Glory?