“And there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie; but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
There are people going to heaven!
The wonder of it!
The door to the New Jerusalem is opened to a countless throng!
John is almost at the end of the book which he wrote to the churches. One more chapter follows the one out of which we have taken one verse. And in that chapter he will paint the beauty of heaven. And then he will write finis to the book of the revelation of Jesus Christ, which finis is at the same time the end of the Bible. Nothing will be added; nothing may be subtracted: the Lord has spoken!
In the context he had written about the beauty of the New Jerusalem, which is the center of a new world. It shall be a city which will be glorious: the kings of the earth will bring their honor and their glory into it.
And the people of this city shall be happy for evermore.
And in the words of our text we hear the full story of entrance into that Jerusalem the golden.
It is at the same time beautiful and terrible.
Some will in no wise enter! And that is terrible. There is nothing more terrible than not to enter heaven. For such as cannot enter must go to the pit that burneth with fire and brimstone which is the second death.
But it is also beautiful: some enter the city.
And who are these happy creatures? They are those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
Wondrous story of the sovereign grace of our covenant God!
Wondrous story of joy unspeakable: we will enter the New Jerusalem!
There is an entrance into the city! It is a disclosure to glory!
But the same entrance is a bar to the night.
First: it is a disclosure of glory!
The subject matter is the New Jerusalem.
If we are to write about that subject, we would have to say many things, for that subject you will find throughout Holy Writ. From Genesis to Revelation you will hear about Jerusalem.
As to its historical meaning, we would have to begin with Paradise.
It may sound strange to you, but Jerusalem has its beginning in the garden of delight. In the midst of the garden we saw the tree of life. And that tree of life is really the historical and symbolical prefiguration of Jerusalem.
In order to see that, we must first ask: what is the meaning of Jerusalem. Well, the meaning of the word is: city of peace. And that brings us to Paradise. Man, eating of the tree of life, had communion with God, and the result was peace in his heart, peace in his soul, peace on his entire pathway.
But it did not last very long. He sinned, and God barred him from that tree. And being barred from the tree of life meant that he would taste of the unrest which characterizes the rebel.
But God remembered His eternal covenant. At once after man’s defection, He called Him from darkness to light.
And although the historical and symbolical Jerusalem disappeared, the Lord gave Adam and Eve another, a better chapter to read in the history of the city of heavenly glory. He gave them the altar and the sacrifice. And that is Jerusalem regained and Jerusalem exalted. Really, dear reader, the altar and its sacrifice was a more beautiful picture of Jerusalem than the tree of life in the first Paradise.
Did you ever note that every altar is an actual elevation of the earthy? Any altar, worthy the name, had to be a little heap of stones or of earth, and on it the saint of the Old Testament would offer his bloody sacrifice in obedience to God’s command.
And that would be a little Jerusalem: a city of peace. Note how father Jacob called the place and the altar a house of God.
And it really did not change in all the long history of the Old Testament. Yes, I know that Moses built a tabernacle, and that Solomon built a temple unto the Lord, but essentially it was nothing new. Abel’s altar and the bloody sacrifice on it was essentially the same as the costly Temple at Jerusalem.
Let us see.
What is the heart of Palestine? The land of Canaan. What was the heart of Canaan? The city of Jerusalem. What is the essential Thing in Jerusalem? A little child in that city would have pointed to the temple of God. What was the heart of that temple? The holy of holies. What was the core of that Most Holy Place? The ark of the covenant! And there we are. That ark of the covenant was also an altar, for once each year the High Priest would come into the Holiest Place and sprinkle the blood.
And so we come to the heart of the altar. It is the blood that is offered on that elevation of the earth: and that blood spoke of the Christ of God to come!
And I assure you that when that blood of the Christ is properly and fully explained by God Himself, you will see the glory of the New Jerusalem.
It is so glorious that it cannot be contained on the earth: God took it to Himself in heaven. That is the ascension of Christ. When Christ went to heaven, Jerusalem went to heaven. And it is there now: it is called the New Jerusalem.
And to see it is to see glory!
But it is barred against the night!
And that is terrible.
Listen to the text: that which defileth will in no wise enter therein.
What is that which defileth?
I could give you a very vivid picture of the throng that defileth if I took you to the Jerusalem of Jesus’ sojourn on earth. There you would have seen a defilement that is abhorable. There you would have seen a defilement which was worse than the foul scene in Sodom and Gomorrah. In the old Jerusalem you found floods of defilement.
What is defilement?
Defilement is made when the sinner takes the holy thing in his foul hands and besmirches its beauty and splendor. It is when you take the holy things of Jehovah God and sin with them.
Could I point you to a clearer instance then when they reached for Jesus Christ at the place of the skull? They took Him and said: you are so unclean and so foul that neither the earth nor the heavens can bear with you any longer! We will hang you on a tree. And they crucified Him. And in order to make the picture more vivid, they hung a murderer on either side of Him.
That is defilement.
It is when they count the blood of the everlasting covenant impure and when they trample underfoot the Son of the living God.
That is defilement.
When God speaks and when He will have His word revered and obeyed, and when you or I then take that Word and cast it behind us, or if we use that Word in our low and evil lives for sport or for filthy lucre, then you see defilement.
And if you do that, and who does not? then you are barred from entrance into the New Jerusalem.
Neither will he enter heaven who worketh abomination.
What is that?
Abomination is a very descriptive term. It is used in the Septuagint for the detestable thing, for the foul thing which is detested because of its stench.
It is a man who works the sinful thing before the face of God. The point of view, therefore, is the sin of man as it is seen by God and the holy angels. And it tells us that holiness turns away from us in detestation and in disgust.
And the doors of heaven are closed against all those that work abomination.
And the greatest abomination is when man takes the earth and earthy things, falls on his knees before them, and says: Thou art my God! Unto thee I will sing my praises. Reason why this term in the Old Testament is often used for the sins of idolatry.
Be an idolater, and you cannot enter through the gates into the city.
Or who maketh the lie.
The lie is, as to its root, the raw cry: there is no God!
Therefore, the devil is the father of the lie.
And we all follow him in the making of that lie.
The lie is a fearful thing.
It is really that which does not exist. It is the nothing, the vain, the absolutely empty, the void thing. Live the life of the lie, and the end is that you fall into the pit that has no bottom. We cannot live there, we die eternally. We receive exactly that which fits the lie: we must be devoid of God. We must exist, but then without that which makes existence happiness, and that is God.
But when we have said during all our vain days on earth: there is no God, and when all the manifestation of our lives has been conform to that lie, then we will reap that which conforms to that life of the lie: the desert of hell, the wilderness of desolation, the howling abyss.
At any rate: no entrance into the New Jerusalem!
Because the New Jerusalem is glorious.
And that means that it is radiant with virtue, with the virtue of God in Jesus Christ the Lord. Heaven is full of His glory. You cannot travel anywhere into that wonderful new world, but you find the glory of God. And the radiance of that new world is such that it exceeds the earthy by far. In the present world we also see the glory of God, but it is dull compared to the glory of the new world. Sin and the earthy has made it dull. But in heaven everything shines and is radiantly brilliant. Did you note that whenever and wherever the heavenly beings and messengers appeared, that there we saw glory, and then a glory that caused us to weep, to fall down as dead, and to make us fear with a very great dread? It is because it was a heavenly glory.
Second, there is a bar against the night, for the New Jerusalem is spiritual over against the carnal, and it is eternal over against the temporal.
And, thirdly, and in close connection with the foregoing: the New Jerusalem is heavenly over against the earthy.
As you are by nature you cannot go to heaven.
Heaven is closed to us.
Woe is us unto all eternity.
We have followed the devil, and so we reap the reward of the devil: if nothing more happens, we will share his place which is prepared for Satan and his imps.
In no wise enter. . . .!
And still. . . .there are people going to heaven. The New Jerusalem is almost filled while I am writing at this moment. Many, many saints have gone before. And more will follow. Although I think that the end is in sight.
How is it possible?
The text will tell you in very plain and simple speech. Men have made it difficult to hear.
This is the simple truth: if your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life you may enter the gates into the city and be blest forevermore.
Just that simple.
Oh, how men have rebelled against this beauteous truth of God. They have no objection that men go to heaven. Oh no. They do not even object to it that some go to hell. They would not even object if very few go to heaven. But, by all means, let those that go to heaven deserve to go there by their own merits. There you have the crux of the matter. It is the poison of the devil: the pride of life. That is at the root of all heresy.
Man does not like it when they hear of a Gospel that tells them how God chose His own people from all eternity, and that He decided from all eternity that they would go to heaven gratuitously, freely, gratis, only because God sovereignly willed it thus.
And yet, that is the way it is stated in my text.
The defilers and the abominable and the liars (and that includes every son and daughter of Adam) cannot enter and will in no wise enter through the gates into the city of God.
And yet people go to heaven.
Yes, and they are those whom God foreknew in His indescribable lovingkindness.
They are those that are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
That Lamb is Jesus Christ, the Lord.
He is a Lamb, for He was sacrificed for all the defilement, and all the abominations and all the lies of the elect. And, mark you well, He cleansed them from all their sins by that one sacrifice which He brought on that solitary altar which we call the cross.
And the names of the elect are all written in the book of the Lamb. God owned them. God gave them to Jesus. And they are all known to God and to Christ by their names.
And they enter the New Jerusalem.
And when you ask me: how do I know that I am written in the Lamb’s book of life, then the answer is easy. You need not go far to read their description. Take, f.i.,: Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life (There is that old tree of life again. We heard of that tree in the first Paradise. But here it is infinitely more glorious.), and may enter in through the gates into the city.
There you have it. It is very plain.
All those that do His commandments.
You say the same thing when you repeat Paul in Rom. 5. All those that have the love of God spread abroad in their hearts through the Holy Ghost that is given unto them.
And do not say to me: I know not whether I have the Holy Ghost in me, and I know not whether or not I have the love of God in me.
You dare not express ignorance of the fact that you love God or that you hate Him?
Those written in that Lamb’s book are the lovers of God!
And they enter now, in principle, but they long for its fulfillment.