Sermon #1637 Miscellaneous Sermons
Title: “Blessed Are The Dead
Which die in the Lord!”
Text: Revelation 14:12-13
Subject: The Blessedness of God’s Saints in Glory
Date: Sunday Morning — November 13, 2005
Tape # Y-81a
Reading: Revelation 7:1-17
1. And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.
2. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,
3. Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
4. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.
5. Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand.
6. Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nephthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand.
7. Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand.
8. Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.
9. After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;
10. And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
11. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,
12. Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
13. And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
14. And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.
16. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.
17. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
Early this morning I sent out an email to some of our friends around the world who have been concerned for Judy. I thought the best way to state what I wanted to say was to begin the note by simply saying, “Judy Estes is in Glory.” Bobbie called me about 11:00 last night, and I met him at the hospital. From the moment he called me, I have had one thought on my mind. And that is what I want to talk to you about this morning. — “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.” You will find my text in Revelation 14.
(Revelation 14:12-13) "Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. (13) And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them."
How often we have stood by the bed of a dying friend or relative. Our hearts ache to lose any who are dear to us. We hurt for the husband or wife, parents, children, and others who will miss the love, companionship, and aide of the faithful one who is passing out of this world. Yet, as we watch our friends leave this world of sin and sorrow, knowing that they are entering into heaven’s everlasting glory, knowing that they are falling asleep in the arms of their Savior, we say, “Blessed are the dead, which die in the Lord.”
· Notice this at the outset. — The Word of God does not say, “Blessed are the dead.” That is not true. Many who are dead are forever cursed and damned, suffering the torments of God everlasting wrath in hell.
· What the Word of God does say is this. — “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord!” That is another thing altogether.
When John heard those words from heaven, he did not have such a picture before him. Far from it. John had in his mind pictures of men and women dying in tormenting circumstances as martyrs. He had before him the picture of those dying because they worshipped Christ and received not the mark of the beast, neither in their foreheads nor in their right hands, men and women who were put to death because they would not deny Christ and his gospel. He says, with regard to those who were thrown to lions, those who died upon the rack in a loathsome dungeon, those who were burned at the stake, those Anabaptist drowned in the Piedmont, and all those countless martyrs who have been tortured to death for their faith in Christ — “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.”
C. H. Spurgeon stated the matter beautifully. “Wheresoever on this earth, whether among the snows of Piedmont’s valleys or in the fair fields of France, saints have died by sword or famine, or fire or massacre, for the testimony of Jesus, because they would not bear the mark of the beast…this voice is heard sounding out of the third heaven, ‘Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.’ ‘Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints’(Psa. 116:15).”
(Psalms 116:15) "Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints."
Yes, the Psalmist sang, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Those who die in the Lord have entered into a state of eternal blessedness. The death of a believer is precious to God and blessed to him. It does not matter when a believer dies, where he dies, by what means he dies, or under what conditions he dies. The blessedness of the believer’s death is that he dies in the Lord.
I once heard Pastor Henry Mahan relating a conversation he had with an old man in his congregation before service one evening. The aging saint said to his pastor, “I’d lots rather be going out of this world than coming in...We’ve got things backwards. We rejoice at the birth of a child and weep at the death of an old man. We ought to weep when a child is born into this world and rejoice at the death of the old man if he is in Christ.”
Very, very soon, we must leave this world. “Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth? Are not his days also like the days of a hireling?” We would be wise to take our minds off the cares and troubles, as well as the joys and riches of this world and look across the brief sea of time to eternity, to that future world so surely, perhaps nearly, awaiting us. Looking at things from the believer’s perspective, we say with John, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.”
Of whom are those words spoken? The voice which John heard from heaven declared, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth.” That is to say, those who die in the Lord are blessed, from the moment of their death, eternally.
I want to know who those people are who die in the Lord, who are those who are blessed forever. I want to be one of them. Who are they? Verse 12 tells us. — “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”
Saints — Those who are blessed of God in death are the saints of God on earth. Heaven is the land of saints. None but saints can enter therein. Since death does nothing to change a person’s character, if we would be numbered among the saints in heaven we must be made saints on earth. Yet, by nature we are all sinners. How can sinners be made saints? Only a work of God’s almighty grace can make a sinner a saint.
A saint is one who is holy. Nothing short of a work of God’s own hand can transform an unholy man into a holy man. Nothing but grace can make a sinner a saint. That work of grace which makes hell bent sinners to be the saints of God is twofold:
1. We must be redeemed by the precious blood of Christ.
Our sins have to be put away. We must be justified, made righteous, we must be made the very righteousness of God in him (Rom. 3:21-24).
(Romans 3:21-26) "But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; (22) Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: (23) For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (24) Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: (25) Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; (26) To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus."
Christ has done that for all who trust him (Tit. 2:14; Heb. 1:3; 9:26).
(2 Corinthians 5:21) "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."
(Titus 2:14) "Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."
(Hebrews 1:1-3) "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, (2) Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; (3) Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;"
(Hebrews 9:26) "For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself."
2. We must be regenerated, set apart, sanctified, born again, and given a new nature by the Spirit of God (Eph. 2:1-9; Tit. 3:4-7).
(Ephesians 2:1-9) "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins: (2) Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: (3) Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. (4) But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, (5) Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) (6) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: (7) That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. (8) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (9) Not of works, lest any man should boast."
(Titus 3:4-7) "But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, (5) Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; (6) Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; (7) That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life."
If we would enter into heaven, we must be made partakers of Christ’s holiness (Heb. 12:14). Being sanctified by the grace of God, believers (saints) set themselves apart and consecrate themselves unto the Lord by faith in him, devoting themselves to him as willing bond slaves (Ex. 21:1-6; 2 Cor. 8:5).
Patient — Those who are blessed in death are those who live in the patience of faith – “The patience of the saints.” Believers are men and women of patience. They endure the troubles of life, the temptations of Satan, and the trials of faith with the patience of faith.
The word “patience” here means “endurance.” Those who are crowned in heaven endure their crosses on earth. Many who would be saints, when they are faced with a cross, exchange sainthood for ease. God’s saints do not give up. They endure.
· They patiently run their race in faithfulness (Heb. 12:1). — “Looking unto Jesus.”
· They patiently endure adversity in faithfulness (Lk. 21:19).
(Luke 21:19) "In your patience possess ye your souls."
· They patiently wait for Christ in faithfulness (Rom. 8:25; Heb. 10:36). — “Looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life!”
(Romans 8:25) "But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it."
(Hebrews 10:36) "For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise."
· The basis of this patience is the Word of God (Rom. 15:4).
(Romans 15:4) "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope."
Keep the Commandments — That person is blessed in death who keeps the commandments of God in life. We know that John is not saying, “Obedience to the law is a condition for salvation.” We read in God’s book, “By the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight” (Rom. 3:20). Salvation is by grace alone. Legal works have nothing to do with it (Rom. 11:5-6; Gal. 5:1-4).
(Romans 11:5-6) "Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. (6) And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work."
(Galatians 5:1-4) "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. (2) Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. (3) For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. (4) Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace."
John is not suggesting that believers are to put themselves back under the yoke of the Mosaic law, “because we are not under law but under grace” (Rom. 6:15).
What John is telling us is that the believer, the child of God, the saint of God, is one whose life is governed by God’s Word (1 John 5:1-4).
(1 John 5:1-4) "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. (2) By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. (3) For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. (4) For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."
The believer is one who lives by the rule of God’s Word. He keeps the commandments of the gospel (1 John 3:23-24), obeys God from a principle of love and gratitude, and keeps and observes the ordinances of Christ. To the believer nothing revealed, taught, or commanded by his Lord is non-essential. He counts every word from God precious.
Keep the Faith — Those men and women who are blessed in death are, “They that keep the faith of Jesus.” God promises salvation, eternal life, everlasting, heavenly blessedness to those who persevere in faith (Col. 1:21-23; Heb. 3:6, 14; 10:38).
(1 John 3:23-24) "And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. (24) And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us."
(Colossians 1:21-23) "And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled (22) In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: (23) If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;"
(Hebrews 3:6) "But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end."
(Hebrews 3:14) "For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;"
(Hebrews 10:38) "Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him."
All true believers persevere in the doctrine of faith (The Gospel) and in the grace of faith (Matt. 10:22). This faith is called, “The faith of Jesus,” because it is the faith which Christ gives and the faith of which he is the Object.
In the Lord — Those who are, upon their death, forever blessed of God are men and women who are “in the Lord.” That is the great, essential, all-telling point. Those people could not have died in the Lord had they not lived in the Lord.
· By Sovereign Election
· By Eternal Union
· By Divine Regeneration
· By Vital Union of Faith
Settle this matter now. — Are you in Christ? Is he all your salvation and all your desire? Are you hanging upon him as a coat hangs upon a nail? Are you in the Beloved? Are you in Christ by the vital union of faith, as branches are in the vine? Blessed indeed is that man, that women who is in Christ! If you are in Christ, you are accepted of God; for we are “accepted in the Beloved.” If you are not in Christ, you cannot be accepted at all.
To be in Christ is to live upon him by faith, drawing life and grace from him. The Scriptures speak of us being grafted into Christ (Rom. 9:24). Wherever a branch is grafted into a tree, two cuts must be made, one in the tree and one in the branch. So it is with those who are grafted into Christ. He was wounded to death as our Substitute, and every believer is cut in his heart in Holy Spirit conviction. The wounded sinner is bound to the wounded Savior by the Holy Spirit and draws life from him. To be in Christ by faith is to have evidence and proof that God has put you in Christ by grace (Heb. 11:1).
(Hebrews 11:1) "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
Roll this thought over in your heart. If you trust Christ, God has put you in Christ. To be in Christ is to be in his heart as a bride is in the heart of her husband, in his hands as your Surety, in his loins as your Representative before God, in his fold as your Shepherd, and in his body as your Head. To be in Christ is to be saved forever and kept in absolute security.
Once in Christ, in Christ forever!
None from Him our souls can sever.
While His power and grace endure,
All who trust Him are secure.
Of whom are these words spoken? “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.” They are spoken to God’s saints, to those who live in patience, to those who keep the commandments of God, to those that keep the faith of Jesus, to those who are in the Lord.
What is the blessedness of believers in death? Obviously, I cannot begin to tell that which eye has not seen, ear has not heard, and the heart of man has not imagined, which God has prepared for them that love him. The blessedness of heavenly glory is infinitely greater than our feeble minds can imagine. But John does reveal, by divine inspiration, something of that blessedness awaiting every believer at death. “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors.”
The believer is blessed in his dying, no matter how, when, or where he dies. We have abundant evidence of this fact in the Scriptures. Both Job and Paul were blessed in the prospect of death (Job 19:25-27; 2 Tim. 1:12; 4:6-8).
(Job 19:25-27) "For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: (26) And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: (27) Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me."
(2 Timothy 1:12) "For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day."
(2 Timothy 4:6-8) "For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. (7) I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: (8) Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."
David and Stephen were blessed in the experience of it (2 Sam. 23:5; Acts 7:56-60).
(2 Samuel 23:5) "Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow."
(Acts 7:56-60) "And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. (57) Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, (58) And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. (59) And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. (60) And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep."
Indeed, every sinner saved by grace shall be blessed of God in the event of death. — “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”
God’s saints are forever blessed after they die. — “From henceforth” (2 Cor. 5:1-9).
(2 Corinthians 5:1-9) "For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. (2) For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: (3) If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. (4) For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. (5) Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. (6) Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (7) (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) (8) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. (9) Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him."
“God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” Once we have left this world, we shall have forever left behind us every remnant and evil consequence of sin. In the glory land, there shall be “no more weeping, no more sorrow, and no more pain,” because there shall be no more sin.
Once we have dropped this robe of flesh, we shall rest from our labors. I do not to understand this to mean that the saints of God in heaven have no more service to render to Christ. Not at all. Heaven is a place of unending service. But there we shall rest from the labor service. In heaven’s glory, there will be…
· no ignorant ones to teach,
· no erring ones to rebuke,
· no despondency to comfort,
· no weaknesses to strengthen,
· no error to oppose,
· no needy ones to help,
· no enemies to engage,
· no fences to mend,
· no strife to heal,
· no sick ones to visit,
· no bereaved ones to console,
· no straying ones to correct,
· no sinners to convert,
· and no tears to dry.
We shall rest from our labors!
The word translated “labors” has the idea of woe attached to it. It could be read, “they rest from the woe of their labors.” In this world, all that we do for Christ has a certain measure of woe connected with it. When John says, we shall rest from our labors, he means that we shall rest from all the toils, sorrows, faults, discouragements, and disappointments connected with our labor in this world. — “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them.”
Works Do Follow
What do the believer’s works have to do with his eternal, heavenly blessedness?
· We know that our inheritance in heaven is the free gift of God’s grace to which we have been predestinated, which Christ purchased for us with his own blood, and which Christ has claimed for us as our Representative (Eph. 1:11, 14).
· We who believe are “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ.” — All the glory and blessedness that Christ possesses in heaven today as the God-man, as our Surety, shall be ours forever by grace (John 17:5, 22).
(John 17:5) "And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was."
(John 17:22) "And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:"
(John 17:24) "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world."
Nothing in this heavenly blessedness is earned or merited by or given to us upon the basis of our works. It is all of grace. Yet, the text says, “And their works do follow them.” What does that mean? What do our works for Christ on earth have to do with our blessedness with Christ in heaven?
Our works do not go before us, as a forerunner, to prepare a place for us in heaven. Christ is our Forerunner. He went to prepare a place for us. Our works merit nothing from God, but wrath and death, because our best works are but sin. Our works do not come beside us as a ground of confidence and acceptance with God. The wicked lean upon their works, boast of their works and plead with God for acceptance upon the basis of their works (Matt. 7:22-23). The righteous are unaware of any good works performed by them (Matt. 25:34-40).
However the works of faithful men and women are not insignificant or unimportant, as many seem to think. — “Their works do follow them.” That simply means that the fruits of their works follow them in the earth and follow them into heaven. What a blessed promise this is! Those who are the beneficiaries of the believer’s works follow them to heaven.
· Children follow their parents, who taught them the gospel, in the path of faith to heaven.
· Hearers follow their pastors, who have faithfully preached Christ to them, both in the church below and into the Church of the above.
· Multitudes who never met on earth will follow humble saints into heaven, who faithfully served Christ on earth, but never thought they did anything of any usefulness to anyone.
Blest are the dead that die in Christ,
For they are with Him now!
The glories they now have in heaven
No mortal here can know.
Soon as the ransomed soul is freed
From this poor, mortal frame,
Before we know its gone, it is
With Christ, praising His name?
Faith tries, but here cannot quite see
The things God has prepared
For those He chose, redeemed, and called,
Who now in heaven appear.
We’ll now rejoice this much to know
They are completely blest!
Freed from all sorrow, pain, and sin,
With Jesus Christ they rest!
Our friends their Savior fully see
And all His glory share?
Let us be followers of the Lamb;
And we will join them there?
“Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord!”