This sermon is from our Expositional Study of the Book of Revelation and was preached at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Cherry Log, Georgia on Sunday, March 16, 2014 by Pastor Paul Mims. You can hear this sermon at www.csbccl.org
Revelation 1:1-3There are nine Beatitudes in the Gospel of Matthew given by our Lord and seven in the Book of Revelation. We shall consider the seven as a group of blessings that God bestows upon his people in the most difficult of times. All of these except the first are given in the context of the end times and the judgments of God upon the world.
What is the blessing of God of which these Divine Pronouncements speak? It is a blessing of His favor, presence, protection, and provision. We are humbled at the lengths to which our Lord goes to secure his people in the face of judgments so unspeakable and un-imaginable. The Christian should never fear to examine the future as unfolded in this book. The consideration of these seven blessings brings unbounded hope and comfort to the people of God.
I. THE BLESSING UPON THOSE WHO READ AND THOSE WHO HEAR AND TAKE TO HEART WHAT IS WRITTEN IN THIS BOOK (1:3).
John was instructed to write down the vision of Christ that he saw in his worship as he was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day. In that lonely penal colony on Patmos he was given the greatest privilege of his life. As an Apostle he was given the privilege of writing an account of the life and ministry of Jesus in which we know as The Gospel of John. His pen of inspiration also gave us three letters we know as I, II, & III John. Now as an old man in his nineties with a mature and faithful walk with his Lord, he is given the privilege of recording God’s last message to the church and the world. He gives us the harshness of judgment upon evil and the tenderness of grace upon believers.
This document was designed as a circular message to the churches. You can envision a Christian man commissioned to take it to the seven specified churches: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. You can also envision an alert congregation listening with rapt attention and understanding the symbols in which it is written to protect them from the Roman authorities who could use it against them.
The blessing is upon those who read – which would be us today and those who hear and take to heart its message. Anyone who takes to heart the unveiling of Christ in a way that is far superior to the way he is presented in the Gospels will grow deeper in the faith and will have an assured confidence in the future. Someone has supposed:
YOU MAY BE A SUPERFICIAL CHRISTIAN OR RELIGIONIST IF…
10. You show up to church only for you to be blessed…
9. You only come to church on Sunday…
8. You only talk like a Christian on Sunday…
7. You only act like a Christian on Sunday…
6. You only come to Church on Special Days, (Christmas, Easter)…
5. You are last into Church and first out…
4. You figure you are plenty good enough not to be in Church this week…
3. You figure whatever your walk may be, it has got to be better than _.
2. You look at the offering plate and think of what you would rather be buying…
1. You seek after the greatest blessing and growth in God, yet you put forth little are no effort in growing in a relationship with HIM, then wonder why HE isn’t blessing you…
II. BLESSED ARE THE DEAD WHO DIE IN THE LORD (14:13).
“Then I heard a voice from heaven say, ‘Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.”
From chapter 4 on throughout the book is the UNVEILING OF THE FUTURE. Chapter 14 is the context God’s judgments upon the earth. Look at 14:12: “This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.”
Look at 14:6: “Then I saw another angel flying in mid-air, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth – to every nation, tribe, language, and people. He said in a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment is come. Worship Him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and the springs of water.’”
For those of that time and our time who die in the Lord there are blessings on the other side of the veil. The blessings do not stop when this life is over. The faithful in Christ in heaven are the recipients of blessings which we cannot imagine. Think of your loved one who is there and rejoice in the continued blessings suited especially for them. I often think of my mother and wonder what she is experiencing.
III. BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO ARE READY WHEN JESUS COMES (16:15).
“Behold, I come like a thief!” “Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.”
This is addressed to the church of the first century and to the church at the time of judgment. Here the shame is not being physically naked, but being exposed in unfaithfulness to the Lord with a sinful life of backsliding.
Is it hard for you to keep yourself pure and uncontaminated from the world? It is so easy to drift with the current of contemporary thought and soon nothing is considered sinful. Look at how far our nation has drifted from the moorings that made it great.
These very words are said to the church at Sardis in 3:3 “But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.”
This was his way of saying that it could be at any time. Have you ever had anyone walk in on you when you were doing something you should not be doing? The shame of that is nothing compared to what it will be like when the glorious light of Christ will be shined upon the church when he comes. The blessing is for those who will be ready and faithful when he returns.
IV. BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO ARE INVITED TO THE WEDDING SUPPER OF THE LAMB (19:9).
“Then the angel said to me, ‘Write: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ These are the true words of God.”
This is after the return of Christ and the judgments are over. There is a great celebration in heaven and the multitudes are shouting praises that evil has been judged and that the Lord God Almighty reigns! The wedding of the Lamb is taking place. The Lord has his bride, the church, received unto himself.
David Jeremiah writes: “The Diamond Wedding Gown, offered exclusively by a chic bridal salon in Beverly Hills, can be yours for only $12 million. It’s the most expensive wedding dress in the world, and it’s bedecked with 150 carats of diamonds. If that’s over your budget, you might consider the world’s second most expensive wedding dress. It comes in at a mere $8.5 million and features 1,000 pearls and a rare five-carat white gold diamond.”
The believer will be dressed in attire that is vastly more costly.
Blessed are those who will be in that great throng. When I see some actors and actresses on television who give themselves to parts that are totally opposed to God’s will – I think “they will not be there.” When I see pagan world leaders persecute Christians – I think “they will not be there.” When we try to win unbelieving family members and friends to Christ and they are rebellious in heart – I think “they will not be there.” All of the unbelieving world who reject Christ will not be there.
It is likely that you did not invite to your wedding anyone who scorned you and assaulted your personhood. Those who scorn Jesus and assault his personhood as the Son of God and Savior of the world will not be invited.
But those who are invited will be blessed in seeing the end of evil and the reign of Christ as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
V. BLESSED AND HOLY ARE THOSE WHO HAVE PART IN THE FIRST RESURRECTION (20:6).
“Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.”
This is a reference especially to those who were martyrs of the faith and in the time of tribulation did not give in to the false religion portrayed by evil forces. The second death which is the eternal separation from God will not affect them.
VI. BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO KEEP THE PROPHECY OF THIS BOOK (22:7).
“Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book.”
Keeping the words of the prophecy involves several things. It means to keep the moral teachings that will keep one’s life pure. As our society continues to decay, this will be even more important for the church to have clear moral standards of truth and justice.
Columnist Bob Green of the Chicago Tribune has a theory about what’s wrong with the world. He blames it on what he calls the “Death of The Permanent Record.” He recalls that grade school children once lived in fear of having their bad behavior noted on The Permanent Record. Because of this people learned in their youth to stop before they did something deceitful or unethical. They didn’t stop because they were so good but for fear of having their actions written down.
Today, according to Bob Green, people have come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as a permanent record. In fact, they believe no one has a right to keep track. Green says that with today’s emphasis on our rights to privacy, if a school child were ever threatened with something going on his permanent record, he would probably file suit under the Freedom of Information Act and gain possession of his files before recess.
Behind Green’s humor is an excellent point: Where there is no fear of a lasting record, people tend to do what they think they can get away with. The problem for mankind, however, is that a permanent record does exist – and it is kept by God. Revelation 20 declares that one day “books” will be opened.
It also means that we must keep a clear understanding of soteriology or the means of salvation. One is not saved by church attendance or by being a good person, or by doing good. One is saved by grace through faith in Christ as Lord and Savior.
Keeping the word of this prophecy also means that we understand and accept God’s plan for the ages in which he will bring time to merge with eternity and will set right all that man has messed up in his creation.
It does not mean that we have to be obsessed with end times and interpret everything that happens through these lenses. Some Christians are so obsessed with Revelation that the rest of Holy Scripture is neglected.
VII. BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO HAVE A RIGHT TO ENTER THE GATES OF HEAVEN. (22:14)
“Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may go through the gates into the city.”
“Washing their robes” is a reminder that in every human being is the stain of sin and that the blood of Christ has made us free. In the prologue John said, “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father – to him be glory and power for ever and ever!” (1:5-6). This is the theme all the way through the Book of Revelation. It begins and ends with the same teachings.
The Bible begins with a garden where everything is perfect – nature, fellowship with God, and man himself is perfect without sin and any emotional hang-ups. The Bible ends with a garden in which the trees are in full bloom and are full of fruit. A river flows through it where the tree of life is open to all of the redeemed.
The blessing is that man is back like God made him in the first place. He has been redeemed, restored and made useful for eternity.
Each of these scripture segments will be examined more in depth when we come to study of their place in the prophecy.
Dottie Rambo started writing songs when she was just a child. Some of her songs were born out of the hardships of her life, and others were born out of very ordinary circumstances. She wrote “We Shall Behold Him” during revival meetings in Ohio.
She and a young woman were driving from their motel to place where the services were being held. As she drove, she noticed an unusual cloud formation. She said, “I saw colors that I had never seen before.” And then she looked and the clouds parted and there seemed to be a passageway through the formation.
Dottie began to weep and she asked her friend to take over the driving. She stared at the cloud formation and in her mind she could see the Savior coming with trumpets sounding. As they stopped by the side of the road, Dottie composed the song. That night in the service, she introduced the song, “We Shall Behold Him.”
“The sky shall unfold, preparing His entrance:
The stars shall applaud Him with thunders of praise.
The sweet light in His eyes shall enhance those awaiting:
And we shall behold Him then face to face.
The angel shall sound the shout of His coming:
The sleeping shall rise from their slumbering place.
And those who remain shall be changed in a moment:
And we shall behold Him then face to face.
And we shall behold Him, we shall behold Him,
Face to face in all His glory, we shall behold Him face to face
Our Savior and Lord.
PRAISE BE TO HIS NAME!