Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode 584 · 3 months ago

The Blessed Dead (Revelation 14:6-13)

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Revelation 14:6-13

Revelation, chapter of fourteen and verses six through thirteen, hear God's word to us. Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead with an Eternal Gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people, and he said with a loud voice, fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water. Another Angel, a second, followed saying falling, falling his babyl on, the great she who made all the nations drink the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality. And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, if anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God's wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the Holy Angels and in the presence of the lamb, and the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest day or night, these worshippers of the beast and its image and whoever receives the mark of its name. Here is a call for endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven saying right this blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on, blessed indeed, says the spirit, that they may rest from their labors for their deeds follow them. Please be seated. Back home in Kansas there's a lady in the congregation that I have become close to in terms of she and her husband, and on the Lord's Day in the afternoon, after...

...our afternoon service that we have, I dropped by their home my visit with her. I visit her with her many times and she shared a lot about how she came to know the Lord and she told me that she had been raised seventh day adventist and this, this church building, is a seventh day adventist church building. They built it and so I was wondering, what is the significance of this window? Have you wondered about that? In the book of revelation there are seven angels and seven trumpets, but that's not what's here. There are three and when I told her, described it to her and told her that there were three angels, one, two, three, she immediately said revelation, Chapter Fourteen, and I said, are you sure, and she said yes, I'm sure. As a child I had to memorize that because this very passage is kind of the which we say the the basis of the seventh day adventist view of their job in the world today, that they are called to share the Gospel, but they're also called to warn everyone about Babylon and about the mark of the beast. I realize that the book of revelation seems strange to a lot of believers. I think in reform circles it's probably one of the more neglected books. I preached through this book and when I get back to Kansas one of my duties will be to teach the adult class there at Church the book of revelation and one of the things I always do when I start with looking at the book of revelation is to go there, go to the first chapter and the first verse, and the first first begins the revelation of Jesus Christ. A lot of people think of the book of revelation is the future for told, and I'm not denying that that's...

...here in the book. But you need to realize that the things that are accounted are given in this book. Some of them, at the time of this writing, had been fulfilled. The letters to the seven churches were delivered to them with the warnings right there. There were things that were soon to be fulfilled and there were things that were in the long distance. And is people approached the book. I think often what they do with it is that they have a system that there are some people who believe that most everything in the book was fulfilled there in the first century, and there's some people that believe there's very little in the book that has been fulfilled. And personally I like to stay out of those arguments. I like to approach the way the book the way my professor told this in seminary. He said, if you want to understand the book of revelation, first of all you need to understand the symbolism of the Old Testament. If you don't have a clear view of that, then this stuff gets crazy and fantasy notions about things. As a matter of fact, as a young man confession here I had hair cleared down to here. I show you a picture of it. The graduate of college and I worked out at a Bible camp in the summer there in Kansas and the director of the camp, his sister in law, was really hung up on the book of revelation. In fact I think she called it the book of revelations plural, but she was really hung up on that. And one day we went on a car ride and I was sitting in the front with him, his wife was sitting in the back with her sister and we got to the end of the car ride and we were getting out. We'd gotten home on seeing some things come back. Just before we were getting out she started reading from the book of revelation. It was about these terrible creatures that had the hair of the woman and a face of a man, and I didn't think anything of it until Richard said to me after she got out of ear sight, he came over to me and he tugged on my hair and...

...then he pointed to my nose and he said the hair of a woman in the faith of a man, that she was talking about you. He said she thinks you're part of the locust plague, and so he said something about calling me locust and I said, well, that's not nice. You know that I'm a brother in Christi says, okay, we're going to call you brother locust, and so that became my nickname. Their camp was brother locust. So Anyway, I've had a interesting relationship with this book and the things that are spoken of in here, but I'd like to draw attention to some things. First of all, it's very clear what the first angel is all about. The Gospel, and we've seen the Gospel go out into the world. This isn't something that happens at the end of the age. This is something that has been going on since God made that promise in Eden, and the Church has been proclaiming the Gospel since the day of Pentecost. The second angel comes with judgment on Babbel, in the great judgment on those who have made the nations drink the wine of the passions of sexual immorality. Now again, you might have some footnotes in your Bible at that point that suggests that that it's that it's not talk about sexual immorality, it's talking about idolatry or something like that. I've seen that. No, I've lived long enough that I realize that this is the thing that the world today is really pushing and is always push and what we have here is that clear promise that ultimately that will fall, no matter how successful evil may seems to be in our age and how prominent it becomes, God has pronounced judgment on it. And then the third angel is the warning about those who worship the beast. Who is...

...the beast? What it is? His Mark? I'm not willing to speculate on that one, but I know something for sure. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you've been marked by him and set apart, and you don't need to fear ever being tricked into following the beast. Those who follow the beast are those who receive this and those on whom God's anger and wrath will be poured out. But this section ends with something, something wonderful, something encouraging, a call for endurance. We believe in the perseverance of the saints. God encourages us in there to stick with it, to not give up. There are times that we may be tempted, there are times that we fail, but we are to endure and to keep God's commandments and to keep trusting in Jesus. And so we get to the verse that mentions the basis of my title of my sermon this evening, and that is verse thirteen. And I whrror heard a voice from heaven saying write this. Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. From now on, blessed indeed, says the spirit, that they may wrest from their labors, for their deeds will follow them. There's a rock group that went by the grateful dead, but we will be the blessed dead. There's a difference. Blessed are those who die in the Lord. What is this special blessing that we have? If you'll, if you'll turn to the back of your Hymn Books, the Westminster Confession, the the the shorter catechism, question number thirty seven. Someone had the page on that. What that is? Nine hundred and seventy...

...n seventy. I'll ask the question. I'll read that and I'd like for all of you to read the answer that we have here. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at death? It's a beautiful promise. Remember the first time that I read that I didn't find the first part strange, but I found a second part. Do you find it that way a bit, that your body is united with Christ? You See, the scriptures and the confession, reflecting the teaching of the Scriptures, do not teach the notion that what we achieve in death is to get rid of our bodies. And it doesn't matter what happens to your body, if you're cremated, you're buried, if you're blown up, if there's no nothing that anyone can retrieve, none of that will stop God from accomplishing his purpose in bringing you back, raising you physically from the dead, just as Jesus was raised from the dead. Turn to Hebrews Chapter Twelve, in Verse Twenty three, just couple of proof texts. I'm going to read Verse Twenty Two and Twenty Three there. But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the Living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and too innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge...

...of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect. No purgatory there is there, not even limbo. Second I'd like to have you turned to John Chapter Five, versus Twenty eight and twenty nine, where we are informed. Do Not Marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life and those who have done evil to the resurrection of Judgment. This was some thing too, that became a surprise to me as a young person, when I was quite young, the idea that the wickeder race from the dead. I believe that believers were because we're going to spend eternity in a perfect body as well as having a perfect sinless soul, and that's why when people ask me now if I believe in a literal hell, well, I believe in a literal resurrection, and the physical body has to have some place to be, and there's only two options. This is our real hope, the resurrection from the dead. Remember speaking one time, to call him a skeptic, about his plans for the future. Young Man. Well, he was finishing high school. I said, well, what are you gonna do then? Go to college, and what are you gonna do after that? Get a good job, and what are your plans after that? Will Helpe to get married and after that have children and...

...after that work until I retire, maybe have grandchildren. I don't know whether he mentioned grandchildren or not. Some younger people don't think so much in those categories, but you know it's grandchildren. And and then I said, and then what? And eventually got the point. He says, well, then I'll die. And then I said and then what? He was shocked. He said, what do you mean when you're dead? You're dead. I says, oh no, I have something to look forward to when I'm dead, and that is the resurrection. It's a hope, and hope is not something that you know means I hope it happens. No, it's something that I'm confident in. It hasn't happened yet. I haven't seen it, but I believe it because God tells us that, and they'll just briefly. I'd love to look at another issue, and that is I have a real top problem with the apostles creed in that line where it says that Jesus descended into hell. Now I realize in the original, in the Latin, it's Hades is the place that's identified. It's the place of the dead. It's not the place of eternal torment and torture. But if you'll turn again to the back here and this time to the larger catechism, question number fifty, I don't know whether you've noticed it or not, but I find the catechism quite helpful. I'm not equating the catechism with the scriptures, don't get me wrong, but I do believe that the men who wrote these things down for our benefit point us to the scriptures in understanding these things. And again I'll read the question. Have you read the answer here to number fifty? It's on page nine forty five, wherein consisteth Christ's humiliation after his death. Christ suffered all the punishment due to sin on that cross and before he died he said...

...it is finished. So the the teaching is not that Christ went to punishment after his death, but the teaching is that Christ his humiliation continued even after he had died, and we understand his humiliation in that, being the second person of the Trinity, the Eternal Word of God, he came to this earth and was born of a woman of Virgin and he suffered in this life and he died on that cross. But when he died on the cross he did not immediately go to glory, he remained with those who were dead. He wasn't living on the earth. His body was lying there in that grave, dead and cold, but his spirit, or his soul was in paradise. Luke twenty three, verse forty three, Jesus is speaking to the penitent thief, the one who confessed that he deserved that death on the cross, and that thief simply says in Verse Forty Two, Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. And he said to him. Truly, I say to you today, you will be with me in paradise. I read a tract one time that I picked up some place. I don't think I burned it, I probably have it at home somewhere. But then this tract that was written by someone who believed you had to be baptized to be saved, that you had to have water baptism to be saved. There was no way around it. And so what he interpreted here was that Jesus told the thief, sorry, Buddy, but to day you'll be in hell with me.

Now that's not the way I read it and I hope you don't read it that way. Paradise, Paradise, Abraham's Bosom in the story that Jesus tells about Lazarus and the rich man. They both are in the place of the dead, but Lazarus is in the bosom of Abraham being comforted there. That's where the saints went under the Old Covenant, and when Jesus, after his death, went to that place, when he left it, he took all those saints with him into the Glory of Heaven, the glory that spoken of here in the book of revelation, and that's why it says blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on, now that there wasn't some blessing before and that it was a good place, but to see God's glory. It took the death of Christ to accomplish that, and now when we die, we go there immediately. We are blessed indeed. The spirit says that they may rest from their labors. I don't know about you, but the older I get, it seems, the more rest I need. There's a lot of things to be done and there's much that we can accomplish here, but we are promised rest. It's things like that that convinced me beyond any doubt that there is no such place as purgatory. There is no halfway place. When a believer in Jesus Christ dies, he rests from the Labors here and is blest in the presence of Christ. And he comments that their deeds follow them. You ever heard somebody say you can't take it to heaven? They never saw a hearse with a you haul behind it. I...

...think somebody's got to have done that as a joke at some time or another. The physical things of this world, know, none of those things will we take with us, but the good that God accomplishes in and through US stands even when we die. There are many people in this world that are very rich and have all kinds of possessions and when they die, well, it's like Rockefeller, John D Rockefeller's pastor was asked his funeral. So the reporter said how much did he leave behind? And the pastor looked at the reporter and said, young man, all of it, that wealth, he could not take with him. But the good that we accomplish and our children, as we share the Gospel with them and as God moves in their hearts and works with them, the ones who are elect and draws them to himself, those children will one day be in heaven with us. These are the things that count in life. The world seems powerful, the world seems to succeed so many times, but in the end everybody's going to die. I realize there's an exception. Got To make this ex exception. When Jesus returns, those who are alive at that time will be transformed. They won't have to go through death. But other than that we're all going to die. What will it mean? My mother had a plaque on the wall and I'm trying to remember the way it went. It said something about it closed with the words only what's done for Christ will last. My resister remembered it. She's younger and I she's got a younger memory. Only what's let something about this life will soon be passed. Only what's done for Christ will last, and my mom sought to live that. When they were singing that Psalm earlier that we open and with it had that line in there that the psalmist says...

...that he was the son of the Lord's handmade. I think he's talking about his mom. My mom was a believer as it was growing up as a child. My father wasn't, but she encouraged me and prayed for me and with me, and I'm looking forward to being reunited with her one day. But the most important thing that will happen to those who have put their faith in Christ is to see Jesus, and when we see him, we will be like him. Doesn't mean identical to him, like him, like him in holiness, like him in the resurrection of his body, the last born eternity, in the joy of God's presence. So every time you see these three angels up there, remember what they stand for. I think it's good, good symbolism the Gospel, the judgment that is going to become this is going to come on sexual immorality and the judgment that is going to come on those who worship the false the beast. Two.

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