Kingdom of Power
And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”
This final message is one that I have been looking forward to ever since we decided on this series. I’m haven’t been looking forward to it because it means that I am done preaching for the weekend, but because it is a great way to end the weekend. As we begin this message, my prayer is that God will open your mind to understand this better and that he will open your eyes so that you can really see it. My prayer is that you will leave this retreat will a peace that you don’t understand and with a confidence you’ve never experienced. I can almost picture all of you walking out of this room, standing a little taller, walking a little faster, with a glimmer in your eye and a smile on your face. That is my prayer, may God do that work in us!
Depending on which translation of the bible you have, this verse may or may not be included with the previous verses. Remember that the original manuscripts of the bible didn’t have chapters and verses and didn’t have paragraphs. So when you read your bible, the paragraphs and the headings that separate them, are all part of the interpretive procedure. Why does this matter? If this verse is part of the passage we are studying, that means it fits with what we’ve been talking about and helps to explain it more. If it is supposed to be a part of the next section of verses, then it isn’t necessarily tied into our verses and we shouldn’t try to force it. Obviously, since it is our verse today, I feel that it is part of our passage. I have a few reasons for believing this but for the purpose of this message, I will only give you one.
At first glance, this verse seems to be disjointed from the previous verses–one reason why people put it with the next set of verses. Jesus jumps from talking about being ashamed of people those who are ashamed of him to talking about the kingdom of God arriving in power. What is the connection here? Some try to tie this into the next passages because they think the he is alluding to the transfiguration. I don’t think that fits well. When I look at the purpose behind Jesus’ statement, I am convinced that it is supposed to go with our verses.
So what’s the purpose? Why would Jesus throw in this talk of the kingdom of God arriving in power? What is the motivation behind it? Jesus wants us to continue looking past this life, to the life to come, as we go through this life denying self and taking up our cross. Part of our motivation to follow him in this life, flows from our meditation on the life that is to come.
We see this all over in scripture. Titus 2:11-13 says, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.” This sounds a lot like denying self, taking up our cross, and following Jesus doesn’t it? Now w what else does Paul say we should be doing? He says we should be “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” As we are waiting for this blessed hope, the glory of God, we live this life denying self and taking up our cross. Looking heavenward isn’t our only motivation for living the life of the cross, but it an important one.
Let’s look at the verse we mentioned last night. Hebrews 11:13-16 says, “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” How did all of these faithful followers live? They “desire[d] a better country, that is, a heavenly one.” They lived their lives in light of heaven. That was their motivation.
In light of that I want us to spend the rest of our time meditating on scripture that speaks of what heaven will be like. .
1 Peter 1:3–9
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
“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. And you know the way to where I am going.”
2 Corinthians 5:1
For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.”…For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.
2 Corinthians 12:2–5
I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.
1 John 3:2–3
Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.
And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.
Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. “Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 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.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 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.” Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed— on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And the one who spoke with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia. Its length and width and height are equal. He also measured its wall, 144 cubits by human measurement, which is also an angel’s measurement. The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 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. Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.