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The Revelation of Jesus Christ: Chapter 50 - The Coming of the Perfect, and the Departure of the Imperfect

By Horatius Bonar


      "The former things are passed away."--Revelation 21:4.

      'The things which are seen are temporal,' says the Apostle Paul; and again he says, 'Old things are passed away;' and again, 'The fashion of this world is passing away.' These are words that suit us well in our changeableness, and vanity, and mortality. It would not be well for us, if our present earthly condition were immoveable and eternal. Fading and dying, and then entering on the possession of an unchanging life--this is surely far better than a 'prolonged mortality of pain and weakness' like that which we have here and now.

      The words do not teach annihilation of any kind--of man or matter. When one is renewed of the Spirit, there is a new creation--old things pass away, all things become new, yet the man's identity is unchanged. He is the same individual, and yet a new man. So is it here. Former things pass away, all things are made new--yet all are in the truest sense the same--the same, only without the sin, and the evil, and the pain, and the decay.

      These former things are many--great and small, material and spiritual--all of them more or less connected with earth and man. Note some of these:

      I. The former things connected with the BODY have passed away. Our bodies shared the ruin into which sin brought our race. Mortality and corruption took possession of them. They became subject to pain, and weariness, and disease--in every organ and limb. The one drop of poison coming from Adam's sin has spread itself out and pervaded every part of us. The whole head is sick, and the whole heart is faint. We begin with pain--and we end with it. Our flesh, from the cradle to the tomb, is feeble, broken, ready to faint--the cause and the inlet of a thousand sorrows. It is truly an 'earthly house,' a frail tent, in which we groan, being burdened; a 'vile body,' needing such perpetual care, and food, and medicine, and rest--yet, after all, incapable of being preserved; the seat of a daily warfare between life and death; in spite of all our pamperings, hastening on to the sick-bed and the separation from its guest, the soul.

      All this shall yet be reversed. Former things shall pass away. This head shall ache no more; these hands and feet shall be weary no more; this flesh shall throb with anguish no more. 'God Himself shall wipe away all tears from these eyes; and there shall be no more death; neither, sorrow, nor crying, for the former things are passed away.' 'He will take these vile bodies of ours and change them into glorious bodies like His own!'

      He who once hung upon the cross, but now sits upon the throne, says, 'Behold, I make all things new.' 'This corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal immortality, and death be swallowed in victory!

      II. The former things connected with the SOUL have passed away. The beginning of this renovation was our 'being begotten again into a living hope.' This rebirth displaced the old things and introduced the new. The sin, and the darkness, and the misery, and the unbelief, and the distance from God--all these shall come to a final end. In their place shall come holiness, and love, and light, and joy, and everlasting nearness--unchanging and unending fellowship with that Jehovah in whom is life eternal. Every fragment of evil shall be expelled from our souls--and we shall then know what perfection is--perfection according to the mind and after the image of God--perfection without a flaw, or taint, or shadow--perfection without the possibility of reversal or diminishing. From our heart, from our conscience, our intellect, our feelings, our affections, from every part of our spiritual being--shall all evil depart. 'Former things shall pass away.' We shall be holy as God is holy; we shall be perfect as He is perfect; we shall be children of the light and of the day in the fullest sense--no trace of remaining sin in any part of us. We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is! We shall be changed into His image from glory to glory! He who is righteous shall be righteous still; he who is holy shall be holy still.

      III. The former things connected with the EARTH have passed away. Since man fell, this earth is the seat of evil. The curse came down on it--creation was subjected to the bondage of corruption--Satan took possession of it. It has been overshadowed with sin, overspread with misery. Its air full of sighs and groans--its soil made up of decomposed bodies--its cities the centers of ungodliness and rebellion--its thrones the fountainheads of misrule--God disowned--Christ rejected both in State and Church--the Bible despised--the gospel mocked--blasphemy resounding on all sides--evil everywhere!

      These are the former things which shall pass away. Satan shall be bound, and his angels traverse earth no more. The devouring lion shall be in chains, and 'no lion shall be there.' The curse shall vanish from creation; the blight disappear. Beauty shall clothe all things. Paradise shall return. Holiness shall revisit earth. God shall once more delight in it and set His throne in it. The second Adam shall be its Lord and Ruler. His scepter shall supersede the oppressive scepter under which the race has groaned from Nimrod downwards. Righteousness shall flourish, and holiness to the Lord be inscribed everywhere. The ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads. The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the lamb. The meek shall inherit the earth--and the glory of the Lord shall shine over all its skies. There shall be the new heavens and the new earth, wherein dwells righteousness.

      And all this irreversible! No second fall. No second overflow of evil. No failure on the part of the righteous King. No waxing old; no ruin; no decay; no return of disease and death. All is everlasting! Messiah--even He who died for us and who rose again--is on the throne, and no usurper can assail it! He ever lives and ever reigns!

      Blessed consummation and hope! It draws nearer and nearer. Soon shall 'time' no longer be. Soon shall this present evil world give place to the glorious world to come. Our king is coming! He will not tarry. Our Bridegroom is at hand! He is not slack concerning His promise. In an hour when we do not think, He will arrive. Are we ready? Is the oil in our vessels? Have we put on the garments of beauty? Are we preparing to bid Him welcome? 'Lo, this is our God, we have waited for Him!

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See Also:
   Chapter 1 - The Book of the Last Days
   Chapter 2 - The Grace and Peace of the Three-One God
   Chapter 3 - The Chief Among Ten Thousand
   Chapter 4 - The Great Advent
   Chapter 5 - The Fullness of the God-Man
   Chapter 6 - The Voice from Patmos to the Churches
   Chapter 7 - The Seven Golden Lamps
   Chapter 8 - The Glory of the Son of Man
   Chapter 9 - Fear and its Remedy
   Chapter 10 - The Symbolic Sevens
   Chapter 11 - Watchman, What of the Night?
   Chapter 12 - Self-Denial Christianity
   Chapter 13 - First Love Left
   Chapter 14 - Paradise and the Tree of Life
   Chapter 15 - The Divine Food of Our Heavenly Life
   Chapter 16 - The Morning Star
   Chapter 17 - The Fullness of the Holy Spirit
   Chapter 18 - The Key of David
   Chapter 19 - The Church's Little Strength, and the Lord's Great Love
   Chapter 20 - The Philadelphian Conqueror
   Chapter 21 - The Charity of the Lord Jesus
   Chapter 22 - The Heavenly Merchant and His Goods
   Chapter 23 - The Love and the Discipline
   Chapter 24 - Christ's Loving Earnestness
   Chapter 25 - The Victory and the Crown
   Chapter 26 - Glory to the Glorious One
   Chapter 27 - The Weakness and the Power of Christ
   Chapter 28 - How Long?
   Chapter 29 - The Recompense of Martyrdom
   Chapter 30 - Pent-Up Judgment
   Chapter 31 - The Great Multitude
   Chapter 32 - The Earthly and the Heavenly
   Chapter 33 - The All-Fragrant Incense
   Chapter 34 - The Cross of the Lord Jesus
   Chapter 35 - Strangership and Pilgrimage
   Chapter 36 - The Heavenly Song of Victory
   Chapter 37 - The Blood of the Covenant
   Chapter 38 - The Church Dwelling Alone
   Chapter 39 - The Model of a Holy Life
   Chapter 40 - The Everlasting Gospel
   Chapter 41 - The Swift and Sudden Advent
   Chapter 42 - The One Witness and the One Testimony
   Chapter 43 - The Great Prophetic Theme
   Chapter 44 - Messiah's Many Crowns
   Chapter 45 - The First Resurrection
   Chapter 46 - The Great White Throne
   Chapter 47 - Death and the Grave
   Chapter 48 - The Vision of the Restitution of all Things
   Chapter 49 - God's Tabernacle on Earth
   Chapter 50 - The Coming of the Perfect, and the Departure of the Imperfect
   Chapter 51 - The New Things of God
   Chapter 52 - The Conqueror's Reward and the Coward's Doom
   Chapter 53 - The Glorious Bride
   Chapter 54 - The Holy City
   Chapter 55 - The Light of the New Jerusalem
   Chapter 56 - The Life River
   Chapter 57 - The Tree with its Twelve Harvests
   Chapter 58 - The Serving and the Reigning
   Chapter 59 - The Curse Cancelled, and the Kingdom Begun
   Chapter 60 - The Vision of God
   Chapter 61 - Entrance Into the City
   Chapter 62 - Come, O Savior! Come, O Sinner!
   Chapter 63 - The Divine Word, and the Doom of its Defacers
   Chapter 64 - The Free Love of Christ
   Chapter 65 - The Last Amen

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