The city is like one massive perfect diamond gem, flashing the reflection of God's glory in infinite light—the ultimate light show. All of eternity then becomes bathed in the radiating splendor of God. And that is the remarkable general appearance. It is like a massive—and when I say massive, I mean massive, because it is 1,500 miles cubed—one massive, crystal clear diamond gem with the glory of God shining out from the center of it and splattering its rainbow colors all over the new heavens and the new earth.
John MacArthur delivered that spectacular description of the New Jerusalem in 1995 during a sermon called “The Capital City of Heaven, Part 1.”
It’s still a timely message today, as illiteracy about eternity seems to be at an all-time high in the church. The disappearance of hell from most pulpits is no great mystery. It’s not a pleasant subject for anyone. Liberals deny it, and most evangelicals would prefer to avoid it. Christ’s numerous discourses on damnation have been deemed too frightening and confrontational for our modern sensibilities.
But sermons about heaven are becoming increasingly scarce, too. And even when preachers do mention the heavenly city, they rarely describe it.
The depictions of heaven scattered throughout popular culture often end up filling that void. We may not buy into harps, clouds, and pearly gates, but those caricatures are emblematic of the way many Christians perceive heaven—a spiritual dimension devoid of any tangible, physical reality. Such views do little to cultivate any deep longings for the eternal state.
Instead, a disturbing fixation with the here and now has emerged. Your Best Life Now and Every Day a Friday are bestsellers in Christian bookstores. Heaven’s barely a blip on their radar. Even the good news about eternity is remarkably absent from many modern gospel presentations.
There is an enormous need right now in the body of Christ to have our heavenly affections revived. Like Abraham, we should live as aliens in a foreign land, looking for “the city . . . whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:9-10). Perhaps you’ve heard of the streets of gold and a river of life. But how much do you know beyond that?
In “The Capital City of Heaven,” John MacArthur shows us around heaven. It is a real place where resurrected Christians will one day live in God’s presence in glorified physical bodies. We should want to know more about it, and be encouraged and motivated by the reward God has in store.
Paying great attention to specific biblical details, John explains many aspects of the coming heavenly city. Centered around Revelation 21, John vividly describes details about New Jerusalem’s appearance, architecture, and illumination. He provides specific measurements regarding its dimensions and layout. He helps us to understand its design, spaciousness, and what it will be like to live there. The world completely loses its allure against such a breathtaking and glorious backdrop.
John’s message reminds us that heaven may appear at the end of our Bibles but it’s not the end of God’s story. Rather, our entry into the heavenly city will represent the beginning of a glorious eternity. The New Jerusalem is a real city where we will one day live forever in God’s glorious presence. What greater hope could we possibly offer a dying world?
Here’s what one of our staff members said about “The Capital City of Heaven”:
I heard this message on a Sunday evening at Grace Community Church more than twenty years ago. It remains etched in my memory because, as a young man and new believer, it gave me my first real desires for heaven. Because of this message my eyes were opened to the fact that heaven is an actual place—a place I want to be, a place where we can worship God perfectly. Before hearing “The Capital City of Heaven,” I had no real understanding of what’s in store for true believers. My thinking boiled down to a very simple dichotomy: Heaven is good, hell is really bad. My view on heaven was pretty apathetic. But now heaven is my single greatest longing—the glorious place where I can worship God perfectly. —Jay M.
Click here to listen to “The Capital City of Heaven, Part 1.” John’s message is the first of a two part sermon series. “The Capital City of Heaven, Part 2” can be heard here.
[Ed., This article was originally published on September 23, 2016.]