the gospel that are not explained
in the stories of Jesus are told in these letters.
We read in the epistles that all people are sinners. Although every one deserves to be punished for his sins, God gave his Son, Jesus,
for the sins of the world. Those who believe that Jesus died for their sins will be saved from sin and its punishment. God lives in the
hearts of the believers by the Holy Spirit whom he gives them.
These New Testament letters also teach us how Christians should live. Christians are described as being honest, good to the poor,
willing to suffer for Jesus' sake, kind to their enemies and ready to forgive them, having love for one another, and eager to win others
to Jesus Christ. Christians are happy people, for God gives them joy.
The preachers of the early church wrote that Jesus is coming again. When he comes, he will take to be with him all who believe in him. The dead will rise. All who believe in Jesus will rise to meet him in the clouds. Those who do not believe will cry out for fear and look for a place to hide, but there will be nowhere for
them to go.
No one knows when Jesus will return, but Jesus taught
that his followers should always be ready.
These letters were read many, many times when Christians met together. Copies were made and shared with churches in other
places. These letters were very valuable. They helped the Christians
know how to live. As a part of our Bible they do the same today.
On a lonely island far from his friends and homeland sat an old
man. In his younger days he had been a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee. One morning he had left his fishing to follow a dear friend.
Ever after, he had tried to please this dear friend, Jesus.
The old man was John, one of the twelve apostles. John was now a prisoner on this island because he believed in Jesus.
As John thought about God he remembered that this was the day the Christians always met to worship. They called it the Lord's
day. Then John heard a voice that sounded like the blast of a trumpet.
The voice said, "I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last. Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches of
John turned to see who was speaking. He saw seven golden candlesticks. Among them was one who looked like Jesus. But never before
had John seen his Master look like this.
Now Jesus wore a long robe. Around his chest was a girdle of gold. In his right hand were seven stars. His face shone like the
noonday sun. When he spoke, his voice sounded like the rushing of mighty waters.
John fell as if dead at Jesus' feet. Jesus bent over, touched John and said, "Do not be afraid. I am the one who was crucified, but now I am alive forevermore. Write the things you see and hear."
Jesus then told John that the seven stars represented the seven ministers who preached to the seven churches of Asia. The seven golden candlesticks were for the seven churches to whom John was
to write letters. One of the letters was for the church at Ephesus where
Paul had preached the gospel.
John wrote in the letters the words Jesus told him. The churches took good care of these messages, and today we have them in the Book
of Revelation, the last book of the Bible.
Later John had a vision of God's throne in heaven. He saw the door of heaven open and heard a
trumpet like voice calling him to come up. Around God's great throne John saw twenty-four old men
dressed in white and wearing gold crowns. Other heavenly beings
were there and all worshiped God.
John noticed a sealed book in God's hands. An angel cried out with a mighty voice, "Who is able to break the seals and open the
A search was made in heaven, but there was no one worthy to break the seven seals and open the book. John wept that no one could
open it. He longed to know what was written inside.
While he wept, one of the old men near the throne told him, "Do not weep, for One has been able to open it." And John realized that
Jesus who was called the Lamb of God was able to open the book.
The heavenly beings around the throne rejoiced and fell down before the Lamb of God. They sang a new song, praising the one who
had given his life to redeem them from sin so they could enter heaven.
When the Lamb of God opened the book, John saw the strange things that were in it. He wrote about those things so that others
could know what he had seen.
Afterwards John saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old earth seemed to pass away. In the clouds he saw the city of God
coming down to the new earth.
And he heard a great voice from heaven say, "Behold, God's house is with men and he will dwell with them. They shall be his people
and he will be their God. And God will wipe away all tears from their eyes. Never again shall they weep for sorrow. Never again
shall they cry for pain. For sorrow, pain, and death shall be no more."
And John saw the beautiful city of God, far more beautiful than anything he had ever seen on earth. The citizens of that city did not
need the sun for light, because God was their light.
John saw people from every nation of earth in that city, people whose sins had been forgiven because they believed in Jesus.
He noticed that nothing wrong or unclean entered that city. Only those
whose names were written in heaven's book were admitted. Flowing through the city John saw a river of crystal water. Along
the banks grew the tree of life, bearing ripe fruit. And the leaves
of that tree were for the healing of the nations.
When John saw all these things, he fell down to worship at the angel's feet. But the angel lifted him up and said, "Do not worship
me, for I am just a servant. Worship God. And blessed are they who
keep his commands, for they shall enter the gates of the beautiful
city and eat of the fruit from the tree of life."
Jesus then said to John, "I have sent my angel to tell you these things. And whoever wishes may come and drink of the water of life
freely, for the invitation is to all men. But only those who hear and
obey God's words may share the blessings of heaven." Finally Jesus
said, "Surely I come quickly."
And John, the aged prisoner, replied, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus."