All Saints Day- 11/1/20- Pastor Joe Asher, Kaiserslautern Ev. Lutheran Church, Germany, Office of International Mission- LCMS. *IN NOMINE JESU*
A Great Multitude from Every Nation
9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15 “Therefore they are before the throne of God,
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
All Saints Day is a festival day in our church year, and on this day we celebrate the Saints of God from the past, and also those currently living now in the present. A “saint” is a person, any person, who has been redeemed by Christ, washed clean by His blood, and who is destined for heaven, or in the case of those who have died, they are the “saints” in heaven. We think of the apostles Saint Paul and Saint John… they are already in heaven in the presence of Christ. And with the apostles are all other Christians who have gone to glory, and they are enjoying a blessed eternal life forever.
Other well known Christians already in heaven include the evangelist Billy Graham, who passed away earlier this year. Others currently in Paradise with Christ include the great theologian J.I. Packer, author of “Knowing God,” and Ravi Zacharius, who routinely defended faith in Christ in the public arena. This is hope and joy of all Christians. Heaven awaits all who trust Jesus in faith. And those who have died in the faith are now saints in heaven with the Lord.
Christians who have “gone to glory” are part of what we call the Church Triumphant, for they have fought the good fight and finished their course, and now they are in heaven in the place that Christ has prepared for them. My parents are up there. All your loved ones who have died, who trusted Jesus as Savior, they are now praising God at His throne in His glorious presence. And I hope that you noticed that the saints of God are described in today’s gradual from Revelation 7-
These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation,
They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
The “tribulation” is what every Christian faces in this fallen world. But in heaven, the good news is that tribulation ceases. It is replaced by the joy, peace, and the salvation of Christ.
So, I want to encourage you to have this way of thinking. When you go to a Christian loved one’s grave… this is a person who has “died in Christ” and is now with the Lord in heaven… remember that there is reason for joy even when confronting the stark reality of death at your dear one’s grave. Why? Because your loved one isn’t there. While their earthly remains are in the ground, the spiritual reality in Christ is that when a believer dies, their soul goes immediately to be with the Lord.
How do we know this is true? Because Jesus told the thief on the cross, Luke 23:43-
Today, you will be with Me in paradise.
And Jesus also said to Martha in John 11-
I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies. And whoever lives and believes in Me will never die.
For every Christian, we can trust Jesus’ promise. Death is the immediate and instantaneous doorway into heaven and eternal life. And in today’s Revelation reading, we get a glimpse of heaven. Verse 9-
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages
These are the saints of God. Billy Graham is there. My mom and dad are there. All your Christian loved ones are there. Every believing child of God who has died and gone to heaven is in this pictured assembly. And what are they doing? Again, to verse 9-
(They are)- standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
In John’s vision, the throne points to the Deity and royalty of Christ. He is the “King of kings, and Lord of lords,” (Revelation 19:16). And in the same way that we sing the liturgy-
This is the feast of victory for our God, alleluia.
The saints in heaven are shouting and singing Christ’s praises as well.
Then in verses 11-12 we see the angels and heavenly beings, which are the elders and four living creatures, take up the chorus in worship of our God.
Now, please look at verse 13! An elder asks the apostle John to identify the people in the white robes. He is unsure because the vision of heaven’s throne is new to him. So, he asks the elder to answer his own question. Verse 14 repeats today’s Gradual for us-
“These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
The blood of Christ, shed on the cross, makes everything clean for us. Sins are forgiven. Guilt is removed. We are made righteous and worthy to be in heaven because Jesus has cleansed us of all
sin. This picture of heaven was given as a vision to the apostle John so that we would know that as believers in Christ, we win in the end.
Most date the Book of Revelation as written around 95 AD. The apostle, since he was Jesus’ disciple around the age of 16, would have been at the end of his ministry and close to 80 years old. Also, at this first century time, the Christian church was going through terrible persecution. So, as a comfort to the church, God gave John’s vision as an encouragement to believers so that we would all know that by faith in Christ, believers win in the end.
So the good news is that the blood of Christ gains us entry into heaven and salvation.
Once in, what are we going to do there?
The simple answer is that we’re going to serve and praise the One Who died on the cross and rose again for us.
Now please look at verse 15. The first four lines indicate that our Lord has plans for us, but far more significant is Christ’s service to us concluding this reading. Verse 15-
Therefore, they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple.
This is all we’re told about our activity in heaven. But then Jesus, Who sits on His throne, will…
- Shelter us with His presence
- Provide for us so we don’t hunger or thirst
- Protect us from punishing sun and heat
We are told that Christ will lead us in the way our Good Shepherd has always led us, taking us to springs of living water. Here our Lord is assuring us that He will sustain us in the blessedness of of heaven.
But there is one more thing. The last two lines of the reading comforts us with the knowledge that God will wipe away all tears. Living in this fallen world, we have reason to weep. We experience the death of loved ones. We have unmet expectations. We suffer physical pain. We have to endure the consequences of sin, for sometimes we hurt ourselves with our unrighteous choices, and other times we are hurt by others.
Because of the fallen nature of our existence, this world is often called a “veil of tears.” But heaven will be the great contrast for us. God Himself will wipe every tear from our eyes… and the result will be that in His presence, joy will replace all sadness.
You can see this in today’s reading. Shouting God’s praises is the expression of uninhibited joy by the saints! This same joy is ours today in Jesus our Savior.
Now, I’ve got one final point for our Confirmation youth. Usually, it’s the pre-teens and teenagers who press me on the question: “But pastor, what will we do in heaven?” They would say that serving God day and night in His temple is a little thin and non-specific. And when we’re talking about eternity, heaven looks “boring” and young people want specifics.
Here is my answer… God always describes our heavenly home using the absence of the negative.” In
other words, all the bad things we regularly experience in our world won’t be in heaven anymore. So, paradise will be a place where there will be no more…
- Crying, or
- Pain… anymore, for these former things have passed away! (Revelation 20-21)
In Scripture, all we are told of heaven is that the dwelling of God will be with His people, and we will meet Him and live with Him. Heaven will also be a place of rest where Christ has prepared a place for us. 1st John 3:2, which is on our bulletin insert, also tells us that we shall “be like Jesus”, which means glorified, but also in our flesh. And one of the most wonderful things is that we shall see Jesus as He is!
And finally Christ tells us in Revelation 21:5-
Behold, I make all things new!
At some point, Confirmation youth, we have to accept the mystery that we don’t have all the answers about what heaven will be like. God tells us what we need to know.
So we don’t know if there will be tennis, or basketball, or horseback riding, or hang gliding and laser tag. We don’t know if heaven will be like a camp, or a resort, or a Disneyland. God is God, and He doesn’t have to use the patterns we are familiar with on this earth.
But when God’s Word tells us that we will have perfect peace and joy in the presence of Christ, I am content to leave the details of heaven up to God, for we can trust Him with heaven and what He has prepared for us.
For the Bible tells us, (1st Corinthians 2:9- New Living Translation)
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
and no mind has imagined
what God has prepared
for those who love him.”
So God has it all worked out. And we can trust Him.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
+Sola Deo Gloria+
KELC Prayers- All Saints Day- 11/1/20
Dear heavenly Father, through the salvation provided by Your Son Jesus, we thank You that we can be secure in the knowledge that heaven awaits all believers in Christ. We thank You for the example of all the saints who have lived before us. We thank you that in Your Word You show us that they are safe and secure with You in heaven. We pray that You would give us the confidence that when our lives are at an end, that You would comfort us with Your Gospel, and bring us quickly home to heaven with You.
Lord in Your mercy…………………………………………………… Hear our prayer.
Almighty and eternal God, we remember before You the saints and martyrs of every generation, who trusted in You in the face of terror and threat. Grant that when facing persecution and trial in our own day, we may be steadfast in faith. Deliver those whom You have washed in Baptism from all pestilence, peril, and sword, granting always what You have promised- the new life that death cannot overcome.
Lord, in Your mercy…………………………………………………….. hear our prayer.
Almighty and eternal God, we beg Your grace that our lives may be ordered by Your commands, and we ask You to bless those who govern us in Your name. For the United States, bless our president, the Congress, all governors, and all local officials, that pursuing the path of justice and public safety they may act with humility and honor for the good of all people. Give wisdom to all who vote, and bless its result.
Lord, in Your mercy, ……………………………………………………………..hear our prayer.
Blessed Triune God, give wisdom to the Chancellor of Germany, and all who govern in Europe, that as we face a second wave of COVID, that in Your wisdom all may be done for the public safety.
Lord in Your mercy…………………………………………………………………hear our prayer.
Finally, Lord, in our families and among our friends and co-workers there are many who are in need of Your care. For those who are sick, hospitalized, away on duty assignments, traveling, unemployed, lonely, and for all other needs, we name our loved ones in our hearts before you now…
Lord in Your mercy…………………………………………………………………. hear our prayer…
Into Your hands, O Lord, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in Your mercy through Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.