Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sermon for 11/3/13 Revelation 7

Picture of fear and terror in the life of Felix the paranoid cat

beloved? safe? terrified?

biblical tension
 law   gospel
 saint   sinner
 have nothing   have everything
 joy   sorrow
Here in Revelation 7 we have saints who have come from the great tribulation. They are people a lot like you and me. They are people a lot like the people whose funerals I’ve conducted this year. In fact, I guess those people are here in Revelation 7. Marlan Bruens, Marian Harms, Don Theesfeld, Lafe Milar, Marylyn St. Germain. Whenever I do something like that I’m always afraid I missed someone. I hope I didn’t.

These people, all who have died in Christ, have come out of the great tribulation. That’s another piece of biblical tension.
We’re in the tribulation.
 time of suffering
 time when people are killed for their faith
 time when some people simply die in Christ
 time when people die apart from Christ, which is the truly terrible thing in all of this
At the same time the we see we are in a millennial period.
 Christ is ruling in his kingdom.
 Sins are forgiven.
 The Holy Spirit is saving people.
 The Church of God goes forth to destroy the works of the devil.

Counter example - Left Behind series - tries to draw a picture of a future time of tribulation, tries to create a millennial reign of Christ but can’t work out the details. We can talk about that in Bible class if we need to. It doesn’t work. Throughout history the picture has been consistent. Jesus reigns in the lives of all believers. We are in a millennium, a thousand-year reign of peace, that time that is so big and wonderful we can’t count it. We’re in that time. At the same time, we’re in a world that is cursed by sin. We’re in a period of tribulation. The seven years suggests completion. It is a time when we endure hardship, even death, for the cause of Christ. We’re in both at once. Don’t look at popular attempts at writing a Christian thriller with a teaching point that says you have to believe well enough. That’s man-centered, works salvation. The Bible never gives us that.

We look around ourselves. Just like the Bible pictures it, we’re dying, one by one, day by day. And if the Lord waits for another hundred years, there’s not a one of us who will be here.

 surrounded by tribulation
 surrounded by trials
 tired of wrestling
 tired of losing
 tired of loneliness
 tired of pain

What will we do?

The day is coming, it will be at a different time for different people, when we are ushered out of this life, out of this life that’s full of joy and full of pain, this life that’s at the same time in the millennium and in the tribulation, into eternity.

For those who trust that Jesus is their savior . . .
 robes of white washed in the blood of the lamb
 we have given our lives to Jesus
 we have given our lives for Jesus
 we have confessed our sin
 he has given us his righteousness
 we have given filthy rags
 he has cleansed us and clothed us for eternity

Unlike the people who have to trust on how well they believe, we have true good news.

Are we scared sometimes? Discouraged sometimes? Yes. And no doubt, just like the differences between Felix the cat and myself, we’re bothered by different events. The way we view the world and our life is different. But the troubles are just as real for Felix as they are for me. The fear of ruin is just as great, maybe greater, for him, than for me.

Do we trust ourselves? If we do, we’d better run and hide somewhere.
Do we trust Jesus? His perfect love casts out all fear.

Jesus has accomplished salvation on our behalf. We trust on what he has done, not on how well we believe. He has taken care of our salvation. Trusting in him we will stand before his throne.
 come weak
 come weary
 come last, lost, least
Trust that Jesus is your redeemer. Know that he will deliver you from your tribulation. He will wipe every tear from your eye. He will present you before his throne.

Jesus has given himself - body and blood, life and all, for you.

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