By Russ Ramsey
Don’t take this as alarmist, but hear me when I tell you that just as this year is about to come to a close, the church itself will also one day come to an end. In fact, the glory awaiting God’s people, described in Revelation 21, ensures the end of the church as we know it, because much of what the church today is called to live in response to will cease.
Revelation 21 tells us crying, pain and death will be eternally remembered as “previous things” (Revelation 21:4). What do you cry over? Those tears will all be wiped away. Why? Because everything that causes them will be “previous things.”
Jesus will restore to us an eternity of perfect relationships with everyone! Imagine the pain you’ve caused in your life. Never again! And the pain you’ve absorbed. Completely healed! No more miscarriage, tragedy, or cancer. No more lies or slander. No more starving children. No more women selling or giving away their bodies for money or acceptance. No more young men dying in battle. No more soup kitchens or prisons. The church stands today to respond to these things—to be a sanctuary for the hurting, shelter from corruption, and hope for the grieving. This will all end.
In the new Jerusalem, there will be no temple because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb have taken its place. But its absence doesn’t create a void. Christ Himself will be in our midst. And He is so glorious that we won’t require the sun or moon to shine on us. The glory of Christ will be our light! And by that light, we will walk every step as we were meant to. We will be surrounded with glory, yet never tempted to claim it for ourselves. We will be fully revealed and exposed by the light of Christ, and yet rather than wanting to run and hide, we’ll want to draw nearer to Him.
And this will mark the end of hope. Paul writes in Romans 8:23–25, “we…eagerly wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. Now in this hope we were saved, but hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees? Now if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patience.” Who hopes for what He sees? In glory we will see our adoption complete, our bodies redeemed. Hope will have no function because there will no longer be anything to hope for.
It will be the end of faith too. 1 Corinthians 13:12 says, “now we see only a reflection as in a mirror, but then face to face…” And Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.” No longer will we see through a mirror dimly. We will see Christ face to face! Everything hoped for will be before us. Paul said three things abide for the believer—faith, hope, and love. “But the greatest of these is love” because in glory, only love remains (1Corinthians 13:13). Faith and hope are the conviction that the love we see in part now, as through a mirror dimly, will be fully known. When that happens, faith and hope will serve no purpose anymore. And then, only love.