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6

The Gift of Heaven

Key References: Revelation 21; 22; The Great Controversy, chap. 42, pp. 662-678; The Bible Story (1994), vol. 10, pp. 167-175; Our Beliefs, nos. 28, 25, 18

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“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the  rst heaven and the  rst earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:1, 2).

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Eternal life is ours when we accept God’s gift of grace.

“Oh, another dreary day. Nothing exciting is going to happen.” When was the last time you felt like that? John the disciple probably did on the island of Patmos. But something exciting did happen one day—he saw a vision of heaven and the new earth! Imagine it.

It was the Sabbath day. John sat quietly, all alone on the rocky island of Patmos, where, as punishment for preaching the gospel and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, he had been sent far away from everyone and everything. John was lonely. But he wasn’t discouraged, for now he had all the time in the world to pray and worship God.

As John looked out over the rocky shore, suddenly a loud voice like a trumpet called out to him. “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea” (Revelation 1:11).

John was startled. He turned quickly to see the source of the voice, and he saw seven golden lampstands. But what really caught his attention was the Person who was walking among the lampstands. It was a Man wearing a long white robe with a golden sash around His chest. He shone with a dazzling brightness, and His voice was like a thundering waterfall. This must be Jesus, John thought in awe.

Then Jesus, putting his hand on John’s shoulder, spoke to him. “Don’t be afraid,” Jesus said. “I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore!” (verses 17, 18).

Jesus told John many things about God’s people and the Christian church down through the ages. As though he were watching pictures on a giant screen, John watched in amazement as Jesus showed him the exciting events that would one day become reality.

Some of the things John saw were diffi cult for him to understand, but there was one scene that John had no problem understanding. It was a glorious vision of the new heaven and the new earth—the awesome place that God has prepared for His children. “I, John, saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband” (Revelation 21:2).

As he admired this gorgeous city, glistening like crystal, John heard a voice saying that God would now live with His people. He would wipe away their tears. There wouldn’t be any more sadness or pain or death. He would make everything new.

John watched in amazement as this gorgeous city came down and rested right in the spot where Jerusalem had been before God cleansed the earth and made it new. The sight was so breathtaking that John could hardly find the right words. It was more beautiful than anything he had ever seen. John described it something like this: “The golden city forms a perfect square, with three gates made of pearl on each side. Around the city is a wall made of beautiful, bright, glimmering stones. The streets are made of solid gold that is so pure, it has the appearance of transparent glass.

“The presence of God and Jesus makes the city so bright that there is no need for the sun or even the moon. And in this city the doors never have to be locked, because there is no night there nor anyone who steals. Only those whose names are written in the Book of Life can live in this city.

“The river of life with its crystal clear water fl ows from the throne of God across the city. And in the middle of the city, on both sides of the river, is the tree of life, bearing 12 kinds of fruit every year.” Can you imagine that? A different fruit for every month of the year! But the best news that John heard that day is that Jesus is coming soon. “Look, I am coming soon!” Jesus said, “Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll” (see Revelation 21:10-22:7).

When Jesus comes, He wants to take you and me to heaven to live with Him forever. Are you planning to accept the gift of eternal life?