Pure Grace

Read: Revelation 20:11–21:8

The home of God is among mortals. (21:3 NRSV)

I started this series of devotionals saying that the event we truly await during Advent is not the birth of Jesus but the second coming of Jesus. Our Scripture today takes us beyond that to the culmination of history in the final judgment.

A lot of fear and anxiety has been created over the centuries by John’s graphic vision of a second death in a lake of fire, but it is best not to focus exclusively on these verses. If we do, we will have big problems with John’s assertion, repeated twice here, that we are judged according to our works. Without Christ, it’s the lake of fire for every one of us!

Better to focus on God’s love than our worthiness. There are wonderful images here. May the glory of John’s vision wash over you today: God will wipe away every tear; death shall be no more; and there shall be no mourning, crying, or pain. That’s the vision of heaven I cling to. This is pure grace. We have not earned God’s love, we cannot earn God’s love, and we will not earn God’s love. He gives the water of life freely, without pay. He makes all things new. He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, and his dwelling is not in some distant heaven inaccessible to you and me: the dwelling of God is with people. This is why we yearn for Immanuel, God with us, in Advent. —Jeff Munroe

As you pray, thank God that grace is a gift freely given, and ask God to be with you.

About the Author

Jeffrey Munroe is the Executive Vice President of Western Theological Seminary and, in addition to being the author of the best-selling book Reading Buechner: Exploring the Work of a Master Memoirist, Novelist, Theologian, and Preacher, is also a poet, blogger, and essayist. His work has appeared in Christianity Today, The Christian Century, US Catholic, and The Reformed Journal.

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