Peter wrote in his second epistle that one day “the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up” (2 Pet. 3:10). Jesus also foretold that “heaven and earth will pass away” (Matt. 24:35). Obviously, the righteous will be far away from earth then, safe from harm. John was blessed to see the new heaven and earth that God will create, and he noted that there will be no sea. Surely there will be lakes and rivers though! (I hope!)
John was also blessed to see the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven to earth, which leads us to believe that the New Jerusalem is currently in heaven. It is quite a large city—1,500 miles by 1,500 miles. It would stretch halfway across the United States. Because it is also 1,500 miles in height, some imagine it to be a pyramid in shape (rather than a cube), with God dwelling at the pinnacle. The entire city shines with His brilliant glory.
The walls of the city are over 200 feet high, and they will appear somewhat like a grand encircling rainbow, being constructed with layers of precious stones (21:17-20).
John tells us that “the city was pure gold, like clear glass” (21:18). How gold can be transparent is impossible for us to comprehend, so we’ll have to wait to see it for ourselves. But if the entire city is transparent, God’s glory will penetrate every corner. John tells us that “the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb” (21:23). That doesn’t mean that there will be no sun or moon, but that they will both be unnecessary for illumination.
The New Jerusalem will be the eternal capital of the world, and from there God will rule over the nations. It will be a city that is full of joy, void of death, crying or pain (21:4). Everyone will continually sense the love of God.
Most importantly, it will be a holy city. It is promised only to those who “overcome” (21:7) which are those who persevere in obedient faith, “those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (21:27). God solemnly declared to John:
The cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death (21:8).
How tragic it is that so many modern preachers assure their carnal audiences that “carnal Christians” (an oxymoron if there ever was one) are safe under God’s grace, and that it is impossible for any saved person to ever forfeit salvation. John would disagree with both of those lies. Is it possible for a saved person to become an unbeliever, a murderer, immoral, an idolater or a liar? If yes, then it is possible for a saved person to forfeit his salvation. Heaven is not for the unholy, and that message sounds forth strongly, right to the final pages of the Bible (even through the final chapter, which is all that remains for us to read together)!