F r i e n d s h i p B a p t i s t C h u r c h

2945 West Shore Road Warwick, RI 02886

Rev. Robert F. Reid, Pastor

738-4392, 737-1265, RFRFBC777@cs.com

Fbcfriends.com

July 1, 2001

The Seven Blessings of Revelation

Please open your Bibles to the Book of Revelation, chapter 1.

For several months weíve been looking at the first public words of Jesus - the 8 beatitudes beginning with Matthew 5:3 - spoken to His disciples here on earth in His first training/discipling session with them.

But that wasnít the only time Jesus spoke words of blessing. As a matter of fact, the capstone, the glory and the climax of His Beatitudes are found in His last words - words spoken from glory - words which became the Book of Revelation - the book which also includes some 25 groups of seven, one of which is 7 more beatitudes.

The Apostle John, who along with thousands of other followers of the Lord had sat on the grassy slopes by the Sea of Galilee and heard Jesus first Magna Charta of Happiness. Now this same John sat alone on the Isle of Patmos some 60 years after the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of the Savior, banished and imprisoned because of "the Word of God and the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ."

During those terrible days, John really could have used special blessings from the Lord.

Here he was on a barren rock, some 10 miles long and 6 miles wide, located in the middle of nowhere off the coast of Asia Minor. There were no trees, no green grass, nothing anywhere to attract the tourist trade.

All of his fellow apostles and contemporaries have been martyred.

Life was hard; the guards were cruel; there was no privacy, no place to hide; beatings were an everyday occurrence; food was scarce; he was facing death daily.

Through all of these long 60 years or so, John had been faithful to the Lord. But now in his old age, instead of a life of ease, he was serving hard labor because he would not turn away from the Lord and bow to Caesar. No doubt his heart whispered words of assurance to him daily, "Wherever I am, whatever circumstances I am in, however I feel, I know that Jesus loves me and will never leave me or forsake me. His strength is my refuge & He is my fortress."

Is there any sorrow or suffering we might face that John wasnít experiencing?

And then one day there was the sound of a great voice from heaven.

It sounded like a trumpet we are told in Rev 1:10

Its volume was like a waterfall - vs 15.

But it was sweeter than honey and chocolate to Johnís heart.

He recognized the voice immediately.

It was his companion of compassion

the Love of his longing

the Sovereign of the Sea

the Surgeon of the sick

the Supreme One over Satan

the Savior of the Cross

the Lord of Creation

The words that He spoke would become the Book of Revelation. The 7 Blessings of Revelation are exactly what John needed to make it through the crises of his suffering and persecution.

They are exactly what we need to make it through the crises of our lives and safely into heaven.

The first of these beatitudes is found in 1:3

"Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand."

This is the Beatitude of Prophecy. Blessing comes through knowing and understanding the times - past, present and future.

This requires:

reading the Word

hearing the Word

keeping the Word

Later in this same book we are given the sternest warning concerning adding to the Word or taking away from the Word. Anyone who does this will have his place removed from heaven and spend eternity in the Lake of Fire, separated forever from the Lord and His love. The integrity of the Word must be guarded at all cost. What does this say about the Jesus Seminar people - or liberals, such as the Presbyterian Church of America who take away from the Holy Scriptures? World Magazine reported that the Presbyterians just voted on June 15 to remove every moral, sexual and homosexual standard from requirements for pastors, elders and deacons. And what does that say, for example, to the Roman church or fundamental legalists who add to the Word of God?

The 2nd Beatitude is found in Revelation 14:13 - "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 labors; and their works do follow them." "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord." This is the Beatitude of Life.

1 Corinthians tells us that the last enemy is death.

Death is the common fate of all mankind - the rich and the poor - the famous and the unknown - the powerful and the nobody - all die. "It is appointed unto man once to die, and then the judgment." Hebrews 9:27

We try to deny the reality of death.

Reincarnation - the false religious philosophy - is an attempt at this.

New age space trips with spirit guides is an attempt at this.

Books promise eternal youth - you just need the right diet, the right skin cream, the right vitamins & the right exercise - this too is a denial of the reality of death.

The truth is - you can swim in vitamin E or lubiderm - you can jog every day through rain and snow - you can wear the latest Nike outfit that make you the envy of the neighborhood - you can eat health foods three times a day - and there will still be a time when you are destined to die.

"What is your life," asks James, "Your life is like a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes." Everyone of us sitting here this morning is just a heartbeat away from eternity.

Most people are not concerned. Death to them is a long time off in the future, they think. But no one has a guaranteed promise that he will not be in tomorrowís obituary column.

We fear what we do not understand and we do not want to face it, or even talk about it. This is true of death. But listen - before a baby is born, it lives in a perfect environment, created by the genius of God. Its every need is met. It lives in absolute comfort and tranquillity. Motherís songs and words of love bring joy and assurance. What a wonderful place to be - who would want to leave it?

But then comes the moment when that baby is squeezed and pushed and forced to leave that ideal place to begin the adventure of life on earth. No wonder the baby is born screaming and protesting, even as at the same moment the mother and father are rejoicing in their greatest happiness at the new arrival to their family.

Dying is how we are born into eternity. Death is the birth channel to the life to come. Life on earth is far from a perfect environment; but itís all we know, and so we cling to it tenaciously. In Godís time each of us will be forced to leave this life for the next. We fear it. We scream. We cry. We pray. We donít want to leave. But just on the other side of the curtain, The Lord is rejoicing with the angels, because one of His precious children for whom He died on calvaryís cross and rose from the dead, is coming home! Blessed are the dead, which die in the Lord.

A child was born blind. He never saw the light of day or the beauty of nature. His mother learned of a clinic with a new procedure that restores sight. She took her son in for surgery. He came out of the operating room with huge bandages on his head. Many days later, the surgeon came and removed the bandages. When the last one was off, the little guy cried, "I can see! I can see!" He ran to the window and for the first time saw the beauty of a rose, green grass, and a dogwood tree. He turned to his Mom and said, "Why didnít you tell me the world was so beautiful?" "I tried honey - but it was beyond my ability."

The Bible gives us certain truths about heaven; but, like the mother trying to describe the beauty of this world to her blind son, speaking of our eternal home is far beyond any personís ability. The Bible says, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, the things that God hath prepared for them that love Him." 1 Corinthians 2:9

Jesus promises that heaven is real - "In my Fatherís house are many mansions, if it were not so, I would have told you; I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself that where I am, there you may be also." John 14:3,4.

Heaven is our eternal home of beauty and perfection., created by the master architect of the ages for the family He has purchased with the blood of God the Son. It is a city "whose architect and builder is God." Hebrews 11:10. It is a haven where there is "no more hunger, no more thirst, no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, nor pain, for the former things are passed away." Revelation 7:16, 21.

Our first experience in heaven will no doubt be the hand of our heavenly Father wiping away every tear from our eyes. We may die suddenly without family or friends nearby to comfort us.

But none of us who are saved will ever die alone - our heavenly Father will be there to strengthen us and welcome us into the new world of beauty and joy He has created just for us.

As we arrive in New Jerusalem, the sound of music will be breath taking as the choirs of the

angels and redeemed worship the Lord with glorified voices. Weíll see people arriving from every nation, tribe and tongue. Weíll see that each side of the city has three beautiful gates of solid pearl. On each gate is written one of the names of the twelve tribes of Israel.

Weíll see that the city is built upon twelve layers of precious stones. Inside the gates weíll see streets of pure gold. The streets will have no streetlights - the city will have no need of the sun or the moon - the glory of God lights it and the light of God the Son shines like 10,000 suns.

Weíll see a boulevard of pure gold leading to the throne of God. On each side are mansions of unspeakable and incomparable magnificence. Over the doors in clusters of diamonds are the names of heavenís heroes - Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Isaiah and the other prophets, Paul and Peter and the other apostles. Then weíll see our own mansions with our names over their doors - at last, our eternal home where weíll live forever in an abundant life that is beyond our comprehension.

But we wonít be alone. As we walk toward the throne of the universe to join in the celebration, weíll see our departed loved ones running to greet us, shouting with joy, "Youíre home! Youíre home.!" Weíve all seen great reunions in airports and bus stations when long separated loved ones are reunited - but the glory of this grand reunion day will be unlike anything weíve ever experienced before.

As we approach the throne, the Lord will present us with a white stone that has our new name engraved on it. Yes, thereís a new name written down in glory, and itís mine and yours. Just as Abram was changed to Abraham, and Jacob to Israel, so our names will be changed to reflect for all the ages of eternity the great plan He had in mind for us when He planned our creation before the foundation of the world.

Then weíll see the Lord placing crowns upon our heads. It may be a soul-winnerís crown, the crown of rejoicing, It may be a crown of glory. It may be a crown of righteousness for those who love His appearing. It may be a crown of life - the martyrís crown - for those who were killed for their faithful testimony. It may be a victorís crown, for those who fought in the warfare of the ages. Whatever it is, it will perfectly match the pure, white robe of righteousness, without spot or wrinkle - the very righteousness of Jesus - which the Father will give us.

This and more - so much more - is what awaits the family of God, purchased with the blood of the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world.

Blessed are the dead, which die in the Lord!!!

The third Beatitude of Revelation is found in 16:15. "Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame."

This is the Beatitude of Readiness. In light of all that lies before us and in light of all that Jesus suffered for us that we might be saved, we must be ready for our departure, whether it be the rapture or the valley of the shadow of death. In Matthew 24:44 Jesus said, "Be ye also ready, for in such an hour as lye think not, the Son of Man cometh."

The fourth beatitude is found in 19:9. "And He saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And He saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God." This is the Beatitude of Celebration. Thirty five years ago tomorrow, Dee and I stood in this spot and made our marriage vows to each other. We had two pastors, Stan Allaby from my home church in Bridgeport and Pastor Andresen from here at FBC because we wanted to make sure the chains were going to be solid. And then what a celebration we had afterwards. Wednesday we went down to New London for a Fourth of July picnic at our daughterís home. When we got there we were surprised with an anniversary party. Relatives were there that I hadnít seen for many years. That too was a wonderful celebration. But these were nothing - no earthly celebration could ever come up to the Celebration of the Ages - the marriage supper of the Lamb - when the body of Christ becomes the bride of Christ. Wow! When you get to glory, when you see all this, when you sit next to long gone loved ones, when you see the Bridegroom and the nail prints on His hands, youíll never be more thankful that you are there.

The next beatitude is found in 20:6. "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection; on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years." This is the Beatitude of the Millenium. It includes:

1 - the first resurrection - the resurrection of life.

2 - deliverance from the Great White Throne judgment and deliverance from the power of the second death - an eternity in hell and separation forever from the Lord and His glory.

3 - access into the closest intimacy possible with the Lord

4 - reigning with Christ for the 1000 years.

The sixth beatitude is found in chapter 22, the last chapter of the Bible, and verse 7. "Behold I come quickly. Blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book." Quickly means suddenly and unexpectedly rather than fast. We know His coming is near. The church has always believed in imminency. No additional prophecy needs to be fulfilled before the

the Rapture. The stage of the world scene has been set. But - no one knows the day or the hour. However, the emphasis here is on obedience. This is the Beatitude of Obedience. Readiness turns into obedience. "Love so amazing, so divine, demands my life, my soul, my all." One fact is always true. "He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth meÖ" John 14:21

Revelation 22:14 is the final beatitude of Revelation and the Bible. "Blessed are they who wash their robes, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." Here, once again the blood of Christ, as well as a life of walking with the Lord and following His Word is underlined. With this last blessing, the Bible record has made a full circle. What God began in the book of Genesis, where the human race had its beginning in the Garden of Eden, He now completes. Through His incarnation and perfect life, through His victory at Calvary and the power of His resurrection, Jesus has restored all that was lost when our first parents sinned.

This is therefore the Beatitude of Restoration and Completion.

This final beatitude of the entire Bible lists three concepts: Blessed are

1 - they who have washed their robes

2 - they who have the right to the tree of life, and

3 - they who have access to the gates of the city, New Jerusalem.

1 - When our first parents sinned, they lost their innocence and tried to hide from God. They knew they were naked. They were ashamed. They tried to cover their shame with fig leaves; but a gracious God made them coats of skin through the shedding of blood and death.

Here in Rev. 22:14, we read of those who are not naked, who are not ashamed, but who have robes - robes of righteousness - the very righteousness of Christ - robes washed and made white in the blood of calvaryís lamb. Isaiah had written centuries before, "All our righteousnessí are as filthy rags (and) your iniquities have separated you from our God"

But Isaiah also promised, "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow." That time has now arrived. Innocence has been restored. Innocence has become holiness, through a deliberate decision of faith, made possible by grace.

2 - When our first parents sinned, they were immediately banned from eating of the tree of life. The curse was pronounced. Spiritual death took place and then later, physical death. But here in this final beatitude we read that Godís people will again have access to the tree of life that grows by the throne of God. Again, because of Jesusí victory over sin and death and the grave, the separation of sin is overcome once and for all and we shall live in the presence of the Lord forevermore. "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

3 - When our first parents sinned, they were banished from the Garden and Godís presence in the perfect environment of the Garden of Eden, where, as Donna and Pauline sang this morning, they walked and talked with the Lord. The Fall and all of its consequences took place. Every person born after that would be born physically alive but spiritually dead. Thatís why Jesus said, "You must be born again." We must be born into the spiritual world in order to possess spiritual life just as we had to be born into the physical world to possess physical life. Spirital birth takes place by faith. Then, forgiven and restored, regenerated and redeemed, removed from the kingdom of Satan and baptized into the kingdom of Godís dear Son, we have the authority to go in and out of the gates of the New Jerusalem, and it will be home forever with the Lord.

Do you see the full circle - Godís plan of love, begun in Genesis and now completed in Revelation - beginning in innocence and now fulfilled in holiness - where human attempts at covering sin and shame failed, God succeeded, purchasing our cleansing and our covering with His precious blood, and giving us robes of righteousness. Where Genesis records the broken dreams, shame, disobedience and failure of the flesh, Revelation shows how our Champion, the Pioneer of our faith, the Prince of Life, the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world, the great Shepherd of the sheep, the one and mighty God, - opened access to eternal life. Where the first Adam won exile from Paradise, the Second Adam won entrance to Paradise. "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ, shall all be made alive." Praise the Name of the Lord!

So there you have it - Seven Words of Blessing.

Can we really find blessing today?

Can we really find it through this book?

Can we really find it here on earth with all the sorrows and sufferings of life?

Can we really find it though death and the fear of death stalk us all our life through?

Can we really find it in a future after the grave?

Can we really find it in a life of holiness, righteousness and worship?

Yes, says the One whose 7 fold description follows the first Beatitude of Revelation in ch. 1.

Yes, says the faithful witness, the truth - verse 5 - you are blessed.

Yes, says the first begotten of the dead - you are blessed

Yes, says the King of Kings - you are blessed.

Yes, says the One Who loved us - you are blessed.

Yes, says the One Who washed us in His own blood - you are blessed.

Yes, says the One Who made us kings and priests - verse 6 - you are blessed.

Yes, says the One Who made us eternal recipients of glory and dominion - you are blessed.

That ought to be enough verification and confirmation for anyone.

Nothing demonstrates the wonder and awe of all this as does Johnís response to the personal manifestation of Jesus to him in Chapter 1. When he saw Him, he fell at His feet. I donít know if anyone ever fainted at the feet of some earthly monarch such as the King of England or not; but thatís what John did at the feet of Jesus - he was so overcome. For the Jesus of Revelation was no longer the humble carpenter of Nazareth. He is the Majestic One, exalted and glorified, the Sovereign Ruler of all kings, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Who is coming again when every eye shall see Him. The Bible uses the word Parousia for the Second Coming. This is a Greek word for a future event which immediately changes a situation. When you went to school, Iím sure you never threw erasers or spitballs around when the teacher wasnít in the room. But I confess that I did. When the teacher left the room, the erasers started flying, The chalky missiles filled the air with white dust until she returned. Then the erasers and other UFOís would stop in mid air and every student would immediately and absolutely be a model of holy behavior. That was a parousia, immediately changing the situation.

Christís return is The Parousia, His Sovereign Rule judging unbelief and changing cursing into blessing for those who believe.

In the meantime, the arrival of Jesus into any human heart today by faith, immediately brings the greatest of change - sorrow and sadness are changed into joy

anxiety and stress are changed into peace

lives become hid in Christ

eternity begins to dwell in hearts

condemnation becomes communion

Faith has opened the door to the One who has been knocking at the door all the long years of life

"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved."

"The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." "If thou wilt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."