Revelation 065 – What is Wrong with Us? – Part 1

Dr. Andy Woods | Dec 29, 2019 | Revelation 20:4b-6 | Revelation

Andy Woods

What is Wrong with Us?  Part 1, Revelation 20:4b-6

Lesson 65

Good morning everybody.  Let’s take our Bibles if we could and open them to the Book of Revelation, chapter 20 and verse 4.  The title of our message this morning is What is Wrong with Us?  Have  you ever asked yourself that question, What is wrong with the human race?  Well, God in our passage today is going to show us exactly what’s wrong with us; it’s a solution or a diagnosis I get that you’re not going to get from the medical industry or the psychological industry or the educational establish­ment.  It’s the diagnosis about the human condition that comes directly from God Himself in the form of a lesson.

We are continuing our study through the Book of Revelation, that larger section of the Book, chapters 4-22, where John, on the island of Patmos was told to write down the things which will take place after these things, the futuristic vision, if you will, of the book.  So we spent a lot of time moving from chapter 6 through chapter 19 which largely covers that time period.  It involves the events of the seven year tribulation period where various judgments have been poured out upon the earth, and praise the Lord we’ve completed that section.

So now we’re in a section of the book, really the final three or so chapters of the book where we get  a description of four things that are going to happen after the tribulation is over.  Those are: number one, the kingdom.  Number two, the great white throne judgment.  Number three, the destruction of the present earth.  And then number four, the replacement of the heavens and the earth with a new heaven and a new earth.  If you look at our graph here and you’ll see the second coming there, or second advent, you’ll see it’s sort of put together under a chart form, we’ve got the second coming, the kingdom, the great white throne judgment.  At that point the earth will be dissolved and then we will move into the eternal state, the new heavens and the new earth.

So what we are in today and last week and I’m hoping to finish this today but how many times have  I said that and it never happened. If we don’t finish it this week we’ll continue next week, but we’re dealing with the kingdom, the  thousand year kingdom of Jesus Christ that will be established on planet earth when He comes back.  Are you looking forward to that?

We can divide this section up as follows: number one, we have The Great Chain, verses 1-3.  Number two, The Great Reign, verses 4-6.  And then number 3, The Great Revolt, verses 7-10.  The first part deals with Satan.  The second part deals with the saints, that’s us.  And the third part deals with sinners that are on the earth at the time and where the sinners came from will give you an explanation for that.

So we have looked at The Great Chain.  We saw the prisoner, Satan, verses 1-2, being put into a prison, verse 3, called the abyss, the place of incarceration where he will not be able to deceive the nations for that thousand year time period, and he’s put in that abyss for a thousand years. And the last time we were together and talking about this I tried to make the very radical case that one thousand means one thousand!  It’s not talking about something that’s happening today, it’s not talking about something that’s happening within the church.  It’s talking about something that’s going to happen following the return of Jesus Christ to the earth.

Robert Thomas, who is very good in his commentary on the Book of Revelation says, “no number in Revelation is verifiably a symbolic number.”  In other words, every number used you take if for what  it says; a thousand means a thousand, seven churches means seven churches, twenty-four elders means twenty-four elders, twelve thousand from each tribe means twelve thousand from each tribe, etc.  [Robert Thomas, Revelation 8 to 22: An Exegetical Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1992), 408.]

So Satan is bound during this time period.  And then what begins to be described is the great reign concerning the saints, and that great reign involves two things.  Number one, the resurrection of the just, the first part of verse 4.  And number two, the rule of the just, the second part of verse 4 into verse 6.  That is beginning to describe, at least that second one there, our future in Christ.

The last time you remember that we took a look at the resurrection of the just and we read these words: “And they came to life.”  Now this is a description of the final phase of the resurrection program.  Paul, when he talked about the resurrection analogizes it to Israel’s harvest  cycle.  Just as the Jews collected the harvest in three waves in the same way the resurrection for the righteous will take place in three ways.  Number one, you have Jesus who rose from the dead two thousand years ago; that’s what we call firstfruits.  Just as firstfruits guaranteed in the harvest cycle, the general harvest, Christ’s resurrection guarantees our resurrection.  And I hope that makes you joyful as you move into 2019 because your destiny in Christ is to receive a resurrected glorified body without all of the aches and pains that you are currently experiencing in your current body.

So His resurrection guarantees the other resurrections.  And then there was a second harvest that came in called the general harvest.  You can study all of this in the Old Testament.  And then the Jews were specifically told not to harvest everything in the general harvest but to leave some for the poor and that third harvest for the poor was called the gleanings.  So just as Israel’s harvest cycle took place in phases the resurrection unto life for the believer has three phases to it.

Number one, Jesus rose from the dead, that’s firstfruits.  Number two, the general harvest is the rapture of the church.  The rapture of the church is for the church age believer, that would be people living on the earth even today if this should happen in our lifetime.  Everyone that’s trusted in Christ from the day of Pentecost to the rapture, that’s part of its “new man” called the church of the body of Christ.  We receive our resurrected bodies at the point of the rapture which precedes the tribulation period.

But then you have a question, what about those people that get saved after the church is gone, in the tribulation period itself?  And for that matter, what about people that were saved before the church age started, Old Testament saints, Daniel, Noah, Abraham, etc.  When are they going to be resurrected?  That’s what we’re reading about here in Revelation 20:4.  It says, “…and they came to life” and now that third phase in this cycle has been accomplished as tribulation martyrs that are described in the prior verse have come to life and are in resurrected bodies.  Daniel 12:2 tells us that Old Testament saints will be resurrected at this particular time period.

Here’s what the whole thing looks like if you’re interested. The Bible, all the way back in Daniel 12:2 predicted that there would be two resurrections, a resurrection for the righteous, the resurrection for the unbeliever.  And when you factor all of the data in we learn that the resurrection unto life for the believer has three parts to id: Christ’s resurrection, firstfruits; the general harvest, that’s our resurrection at the rapture.  And then there is the gleanings, that’s the resurrection that we’re reading about here of Old Testament saints and tribulation martyrs “and they came to life.”

Now one of the things that sort of occurred to me as I was driving in today and asking the Lord to help me explain some of these complicated issues is I started to think well, people are going to think that we believe in soul sleep.  In other words, the soul just becomes unconscious and waits for its final resurrection and that also is not what the Bible teaches.  Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:8, “to be absent from the body is to be” what? “present with the Lord.”  He also said in Philippians 1:21-23, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is” what? “gain.” He said it would actually be better for me to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.  [Philippians 1:22, “But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. [23] But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better;”]

So as people die and await their resurrected body their soul, if they are a believer, goes into the presence of the Lord.  So their conscience, they’re alive.  It’s very much like the conciseness and aliveness that we have right here and now.  Those that are in the presence of the Lord awaiting their resurrected body are very much alive, they just aren’t in a state where their resurrected body has not yet been given to them.

And then there will be a terrible resurrection (which we’ll see a little bit later) for unbelievers; that is a resurrection for all unbelievers of all ages and let me tell you this,  unbelievers right now are in a state of consciousness also.  You’ll see it very clearly described in Luke 16:19-31 where the rich man wanted Lazarus to go back and warn his brothers.  And he wanted the moisture applied to his tongue.  That describes consciousness as unbelievers one day will be taken out of that terrible place called Hades also put in resurrected bodies and as their names are not found written in the Lamb’s Book of Life they will be transported at the Great White Throne Judgment from Hades into a terrible place called the lake of fire.

[Luke 16:19-31, “Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. [20] And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, [21] and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. [22] Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. [23] In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. [24] And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’ [25] But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. [26] And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here  to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’ [27] And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house—[28] for I have five brothers—in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ [29] But Abraham said,  ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ [30] But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ [31] But he said to him, ‘If they do    not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”]

This why trusting in Christ now is so important because it determines which resurrection that you will participate in.  If you don’t have Christ the only thing you have to look forward to is that terrible resurrection for the unbeliever.  But if you’re in Christ we look forward to that future resurrection where we will be with Him in resurrected bodies.  Paul, it’s interesting that when he lays out this concept of resurrection sequences doesn’t just use imagery from Israel’s harvest cycle but he says this in verse 23 of 1 Corinthians 15, the resurrection chapter.   He says, “But each in his own order:” The Greek word for order there is tagma, and many people believe, myself included, that he is analogizing the resurrection program to a Roman parade.

It’s interesting that when he uses “first fruits” he’s using a Jewish analogy but when he uses tagma he’s using a Gentile analogy.  Here’s an analogy that’s Gentiles can understand just as I just previously used an analogy that the Jews can understand.  And tagma refers to a Roman parade, when the Romans conquered a city or a people group or when they won a victory or a battle they had a parade.  The parade had four stages to it, everybody that was reading Paul and reading his words would understand these stages because it was part of their culture.  There was the conquering general out front in the parade as the victor, followed  by the lead officer, followed by the soldiers that were victorious in battle.  And then at the end of the parade were those that  had been captured, the captives in chains or cages or whatever the case may be.

And so when Paul says “each in his own order” he’s saying just as a Roman parade has an order to it the resurrection program has an order to it.  The conquering general out front is Jesus Christ; His resurrection two thousand years ago which guarantees all the other resurrections in the chain.  And then the lead officer would represent the rapture of the church.  The body of Christ receiving resurrected bodies at that particular point in time, before the events of the tribulation period take place.  That’s your resurrection, by the way, if you’re in Christ.

And the soldiers would represent the Old Testament saints and the tribulation martyrs coming to life.  That’s what’s described there in Revelation 20:4.  [Revelation 20:4, “Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.”]   And then finally the captives, that’s the terrible resurrection that we’re going to be reading about that takes place after the thousand years are over for the unbelievers of all ages.  And so you see all of that, believe it or not, in verse 4.

But notice what verse 4 says, it goes on and it says “they not only came to life but they reigned with Christ for” how long? “a thousand years.”  The phrase “a thousand  years” is used six times just in these ten verses.   So not only has there been the last phase of the resurrection for the righteous but now the righteous, which would be me, which would be you, which would be members of the church, which would also be Old Testament saints, and tribulation martyrs, are not just in resurrected bodies but they are ruling and reigning with Jesus Christ, with Satan bound, for a thousand years.  That’s    our future in God.  And this future is hinted at many times in the teachings given earlier by Jesus.  Remember what He said in Revelation 3:21 to the overcomers.  I’m understanding the overcomer is     a believer.   “He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”  [Revelation 3:21]

Jesus, when He ascended to the Father’s right hand following the ascension is on his Father’s throne, but one of these days He’s going to be on His own throne, as He’s going to be transported from heaven to the earth in His second coming.  And He will rule over the nations of the earth from Jerusalem on His own throne for a thousand  years.  And what He says here is if you are an over­comer, in other words a believer, and you say well how did you get overcome to become believer?  We went through all of that but just jot down 1 John 5:4-5 and you’ll see this as clearly as it can be spelled out, an overcomer is a believer.  [1 John 5:4-5, “1 John 5:4–5 4 For whatever is 1 a born of God b overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. [5] Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who a believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”]

Just as I am now seated on My Father’s throne a day in history will come where I will sit on My throne and those overcomers that were believers will also be sitting down with Me on My throne when I rule the world for a thousand years.  So if you are in Christ there is a throne in your future.  He called us in Revelation 1:6 “a kingdom of priests” more on that later, but He was very clear in Revelation 5:10 that what privilege is it to be a kingdom of priests.  [Revelation 1:6, “and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen]

He says in Revelation 5:10, “You have made them” that’s us, “to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign” where?  “ upon the earth.”  So part of your status as a priest in Jesus Christ is the  future authority that you will wield in this thousand year kingdom under His delegated authority.  And so everything that’s happening in your life right now is preparing you for that position.  You know, you go through the Joseph story and you look at all of the things that Joseph went through from age 17 to age 30, until finally at age 30 he was elevated to second in command in Egypt.  And you read about these things that happened to this young teenager, and you know the story, his betrayal and abuse and mistreatment, and I can tell you this, that everything that God allowed to happen to Joseph was preparing him for age 30 when he would be elevated to his position.

So everything that’s happening in our lives right now, good or bad, and by the way, we shouldn’t misquote the Bible, many people misquote the Bible and they think it says “all things are good.”  That is NOT what the Bible says.  What the Bible says is God uses all things together for good to those who are called according to His purposes.  [Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”]  Many of you are having things happening in your life that are not good, yet God is using them for good to prepare you for your future and your future is to reign under the delegated authority in Jesus Christ for a thousand years.  As one person put it, training time for reigning time.  That’s what’s happening today.  And so how important it is to never lose sight of the future that God has for us.

The Corinthians had lost sight of their future.  They were suing each other in front of unbelieving judges and discrediting the gospel in the process, and Paul writes to them and says in 1 Corinthians 6:2-3.  He says, “Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? [3] Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?”  He says to the Corinthians look,  you’re fighting, you’re backbiting, you’re squabbling, and you’re really not acting like the royal priesthood that you are.  And you’re really not acting like people that have this tremendous future.

He says here, “do you now know,” it’s an ignorance issue.  They weren’t aware, for some reason, of their future.  And isn’t it interesting that the more time  you spend thinking out your future in God the more it shapes your behavior in the present.  And if I’m going to rule alongside Jesus one day as a wise person maybe I ought to start acting like a wise person now.  And maybe, you know, well, so and so did this to me and so and so did that to me; well, given your future maybe you ought to just let it go and not be bitter or antagonistic or whatever the issue is going on.  Whatever issue is happening in  your life tempting you to go back to the sin nature why don’t you make that a New Year’s resolution for 2020?.  I’m just going to let it go, I’m not going to be so retaliatory, I’m not going to be so mean spirited about things because what do I have to be mean spirited about, given this glorious future that I have in Jesus Christ.

And so the world one day is not going to be like it is today.  Today the Christian is not ruling and reigning; we are under the thumb of the adversary.  Jesus told us in John 15:18-19 concerning this world system, He says, ““If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. [19] If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.”

Well gee, pastor, I’m just not getting along well with my family, I had all these family members over for the holidays and I just couldn’t get along with them.  And my question is well you surprised by that?  Well, gee, I’m working at this job over here and I’m the only believer in the whole place and I just am always…  you know, I just don’t really fit in with everybody.  Does that surprise  you?  Jesus told us this would happen and it wouldn’t be reversed until He established His kingdom on the earth.

In fact, in the present age the Bible makes  you a promise.   You ready for this, and this is not one  of those promises that you find at the Christian bookstores, you buy these little books today and they give you all the happy promises, which are fine to read but here’s a promise from God to you, to me, in this present age.   You ready for this!  It’s a promise, it’s iron clad.  2 Timothy 3:12, “Indeed all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”  There’s your promise.  You ay will that’s the most pessimistic thing I’ve ever heard. [laughter]  But the reality of the situation is that promise is temporary.  It’s about to be reversed once the kingdom is established.

And not only does the resurrection of the righteous happen but now the reign of the righteous for a thousand years is taking place and let me tell you something.  What a reign it’s going to be.  Revelation 20:1-10 just tells you the length of it and adds a few details but if you really want to understand this reign and kingdom that’s coming you have to give yourself to the Old Testament, in particular the Old Testament prophets because they fill in great details that you don’t find here in Revelation 20.  There’s coming a government on the earth that’s going to be established by God where God is not going to sit around and be worried about the electoral college, the latest opinion polls, oh no, they might vote me out of office.  NO, it’s a kingdom established by God, Daniel 2:44.  [Daniel 2:44, “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.”]

And it’s going to last forever because the thousand years is going to give way to the eternal state which will never end.  Daniel 7:27.  [“Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the great­ness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.’” Daniel 9:27]

It’s a time period where Jesus will rule directly, Zechariah 9:9-10, the direct rule of Christ present, Christ physically, visibly seated in Jerusalem, running planet earth with a rod of iron.  [Zechariah 9:9-10, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!  Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem!  Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.  [10]  I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem; and the bow of war will be cut off.  And He will speak peace to the nations; and His dominion will be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.”]

People today are conspiring and scheming about a new world order that they want to build.  Don’t  sign me up for that new world order, I have no interesting in participating in that new world order.   The only new world order I have any interest in participating in is the one that Jesus ministers directly.  He’s going to minister it from the earth, Zechariah 14:9.  [Zechariah 14:9, “And the Lord will be   king over all the earth; in that day the Lord will be the only one, and His name the only one.”]

All of Israel’s promises regarding land and prominence are going to be fulfilled, Genesis 15:18-21, Isaiah 29:22-23.  [Genesis 15:18-21, “On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates: [19]  the Kenite and the Kenizzite and the Kadmonite [20]  and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Rephaim [21]  and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Girgashite and the Jebusite.”   Isaiah 29:22-23, “Therefore thus says the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob: “Jacob shall not now be ashamed, nor shall his face now turn pale;  [23] But when he sees his children, the work of My hands, in his midst, they will sanctify My name; indeed, they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob and will stand in awe of the God of Israel.”]

Even there will be a functioning of a millennial temple, Ezekiel 40-46.  Even David himself will be raised and will rule under the authority of Jesus, Jeremiah 30:9.  It will be a rule of righteousness, no grafts, no kickbacks.  [Jeremiah 30:9. “But they shall serve the Lord their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.”]   Isaiah 9:6-7, the curse will be dramatically curtailed. [Isaiah 9:6-7  the curse will be dramatically curtailed.  “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. [7] There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness.”]

Isaiah 65:20-22 peace will break out all over the earth.  [Isaiah 65:20-22, “No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his days; for the youth will die at the age of one hundred and the one who does not reach the age of one hundred will be thought accursed.  [21] They will build houses and inhabit them; they will also plant vineyards and eat their fruit.  [22] They will not build and another inhabit, they will not plant and another eat; for as the lifetime of a tree, so will be the days of My people, and My chosen ones will wear out the work of their hands.”]

War is just sort of a curious thing that the nations used to do. Isaiah 2:4.  [Isaiah 2:4, “And He will judge between the nations, and will render decisions for many peoples; and they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.  Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war.”]

Prosperity, Amos 9:13-14, Isaiah 65:22.  [Amos 9:113-14,  “Behold, days are coming, declares the Lord, “When the plowman will overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes him who sows seed; when the mountains will drip sweet wine and all the hills will be dissolved.  [14] Also I will restore the captivity of My people Israel, and they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them; they will also plant vineyards and drink their wine, and make gardens and eat their fruit.”]  No unemployment, under employment, layoffs, starvation, malnutrition, changes in the topography of the earth, Ezekiel 47:1-12, to such an extent that even the Dead Sea is going to come back to life biologically.

[Ezekiel 47:1-12, “Then he brought me back to the door of the house; and behold, water was flowing from under the threshold of the house toward the east, for the house faced east. And the water was flowing down from under, from the right side of the house, from south of the altar. [2] He brought me out by way of the north gate and led me around on the outside to the outer gate by way of the gate that faces east. And behold, water was trickling from the south side.   [3]  When the man went out toward the east with a line in his hand, he measured a thousand cubits, and he led me through the water, water reaching the ankles. [4] Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water, water reaching the knees. Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water, water reaching the loins. [5] Again he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not ford, for the water had risen, enough water to swim in, a river that could not be forded. [6] He said to me, “Son of man, have you seen this?” Then he brought me back to the bank of the river.

[7]  Now when I had returned, behold, on the bank of the river there were very many trees on the one side and on the other. [8] Then he said to me, “These waters go out toward the eastern region and go down into the Arabah; then they go toward the sea, being made to flow into the sea, and the waters of the sea become fresh. [9] It will come about that every living creature which swarms in every place where the river goes, will live. And there will be very many fish, for these waters go there and the other become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. [10]  And it will come about that fishermen will stand beside it; from Engedi to Eneglaim there will be a place for the spreading of nets. Their fish will be according to their kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea, very many. [11] But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt. [12]  By the river on its bank, on one side and on the other, will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither and their fruit will not fail. They will bear every month because their water flows from the sanctuary, and their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing.”]

And then Isaiah 65:24 talks about immediate answers to prayer.  Gone are the days where we pray and we get no answer because many times we pray outside of the will of God.  Before the very words are out of our mouth God will answer that prayer, Isaiah 65:24.  [Isaiah 65:24, “It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.”]

Well gee, pastor, this is great teaching, is this really orthodox?  I mean, is this really what Christians believe, because I just went to a church down the street and the pastor over there gave me a totally different way of thinking about it…  and you’re very literal in the way you approach this and I just don’t know if you’re right.

Notice Justin Martyr who wrote in A.D. 160, this would be the first two centuries of the church. He says, “But I and every other completely orthodox Christian feel certain” not maybe it’s going to happen, “that there will be a resurrection of the flesh,” we just talked about that, “followed by a thousand years in the rebuilt and embellished and enlarged city of Washington D.C.” it doesn’t say that, “city of Jerusalem as was announced by the prophet Ezekiel” we just read some of his prophecies, “and Isaiah and the others.”

Justin Martyr in the first two centuries of the church concerning this future kingdom said we all believe it and if you don’t believe it you’re not even considered an orthodox Christian.  Well wait a minute pastor, this future kingdom, I don’t see it in the Nicene Creed, I don’t see it in the Apostles Creed, I mean if this is so clear how come it doesn’t show up in the great ecumenical creeds of the church?  You don’t need to write a creed on everybody believes the same thing.  There’s no need for a creed; there’s no need for a confession.  You only write a creed when a heretic comes in and challenges something in Christianity.

That’s what this man, Arius did, who began his day that Jesus was a created being, which is basically what the Jehovah’s Witnesses will say to you at your door, not if they come but when they come, they’ll try to argue that Jesus was not eternally existent, Jesus is a created being, and what they’re doing is they’re recycling the heresies of Arius.  And so the creed of Nicea, when it says, it has a clause in it, “begotten and not made” was designed to correct the Arian heresy.  That’s why creeds exist.  But in the first two centuries of the church there was nobody challenging this, everybody believed this to a man, that’s why this doctrine of the kingdom doesn’t show up in the great creeds and confessions of the faith which are designed to challenge heretics.

And so everybody believed this for two hundred years; it wasn’t until Augustine in the fourth century that introduced sort of a non-spiritual method of interpretation that the idea got challenged.  But pre-Augustine the first two centuries of Christianity, whether it’s Justin Martyr or any church father  you want to summon and read their writings all believed exactly what I’m saying, Jesus is coming back, His feet are going to touch the Mount of Olives, He’s going to establish a kingdom for a thousand years, Satan will be bound, the Old Testament prophecies will reach their fulfillment and the resurrected righteous will reign under the delegated authority of Jesus Christ for a thousand years.  And if you don’t believe that for two centuries then we might as well say you’re not even a Christian.

We continue on and it talks this way in verse 5, “The rest of the dead” now who would those be?  Unbelievers! Where are they?  They’re in Hades a place of conscious torment, awaiting their future resurrected bodies because they’ll be resurrected to, only to experience the wrath of God in that resurrected body.   “The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection.”  So this terrible resurrection for the unsaved is not going to happen for a thousand years; there’s a thousand year time period between the last days of the resurrection for the righteous and the resurrection for the unrighteous.  Paul, the apostle, you remember, uses the word tagma, each in his own order, and part of the order was the captives.  Who are the captives?  The unsaved of all ages.  When are they going to be resurrected?  At the end of this thousand  year time period.

So isn’t it interesting that when Daniel describes these resurrections he doesn’t give you an indication that there’s a thousand years between them.  Daniel simply says, “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.”  [Daniel 12:2]  You’ll notice that Daniel doesn’t tell you that there’s a thousand years between those two resurrections; you have to consult the Book of Revelation to get that information, which is exactly how Bible prophecy works, because Daniel himself could not see many things between the mountain peaks.  We might analogize Bible prophecy to this: you look into the distance and you see a mountain.  And the more closer to you you see another mountain that’s slightly lower that’s slightly lower in terms of height and so you can see those two mountains but what can you not see?  You can’t see the valley in between the mountains.

You see, Daniel could see the two resurrections but he couldn’t see the thousand years between those two resurrections.  Bible prophecy does this over and over again.  In fact, this was on all of your Christmas cards, was it not, Isaiah 9:6-7, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us….” and we all know what that’s talking about, right?  The first advent of Jesus Christ.  No problem.  But then you read the next sentence and it says, “and the government will rest on His shoulders;” have you seen the people that are running our government today?  [Laughter]

And then it says   and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.  And then it says, [7] “There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. [The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.”]  And the temptation you have is just go to verse 7 and you say well, it’s not literal. Well then why is verse 6 literal?  I mean, if verse 6 is literal, it’s on all of our Christmas cards so it’s got to be literal, “a child will be born to us” why wouldn’t everything else in the passage be literal as well?

Isaiah could see the two comings of Christ but he couldn’t see the valley between the two comings of Christ but he couldn’t see the valley between the two comings.  Isaiah 61:1-2, Jesus actually quotes this in the Synagogue at Nazareth.  He quotes verse 1 and He quotes verse 2 but He left something out, “the day of vengeance of our God.”  [Isaiah 61:1-2, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives and]freedom to prisoners;  [2]  To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord  and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn.”]

You’ll see the quote in Luke 14:16-21.  [Luke 14:16-21, “ But He said to him, “A man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many; [17] and at the dinner hour he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ [18] But they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; please consider me excused.’ [19] Another one said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused.’ [20]  Another one said, ‘I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come.’ [21] And the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the head of the household became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’”]

He quotes verse 1, he quotes most of verse 2 but then he leaves out “the day of vengeance of our God;” why would he leave that out?  And then he says in the Luke passage, “Today, the Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”  [Luke 4:21]  Well why would he leave out the last clause there?  Because that last clause relates not to His first coming but His second coming.

Well why doesn’t Isaiah just tell us that between, right in the middle of verse two is a comma that’s going to last two thousand years?  Why doesn’t Isaiah tell us that?  Because Isaiah couldn’t see it, that’s why.  You have to consult subsequent revelation to fit all of this together.  It’s just like a jigsaw puzzle, you’ve seen jigsaw puzzles no doubt this holiday season, some of  your kids or grandkids got jigsaw puzzles, maybe you got one yourself.  And those are a lot of f un as long as you’ve got the box top that tells you what the picture looks like. They’re miserable if you have no idea what the picture looks like.  But you look at the box top and you figure out what it’s supposed to look like and oh yeah, this piece fits here, and this piece fits over there and if you put a little energy into it you can put the whole thing together by consulting the box top.

What’s your box top?  This is your box top, you’ve got a completed canon and you can look back and tell okay, that applies to the first coming, that over there applies to the second coming.  In fact, there’s a gap right in the middle of Daniel 2:40-41, right in the middle of the ankles and the feet is at least two thousand six hundred years.  [Daniel 2:40-41, “Then there will be a fourth kingdom as strong as iron; inasmuch as iron crushes and shatters all things, so, like iron that breaks in pieces, it will crush and break all these in pieces. [41] In that you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, it will be a divided kingdom; but it will have in it the toughness of iron, inasmuch as you saw the iron mixed with common clay.”]

There’s a gap right in the middle of Daniel chapter 7:7.  [Daniel 7:7, “After this I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong; and it had large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed and trampled down the remainder with its feet; and it was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.”]

There’s a gap right between Daniel 9:26 and Daniel 9:27.  [Daniel 9:26-27, “Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. [27] And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of [e]abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”]

There’s a gap right in the middle of Daniel 11:35 and Daniel 11:36.  [Daniel 11:35-36, “Some of those who have insight will fall, in order to refine, purge and make them pure until the end time; because it is still to come at the appointed time.  [36] “Then the king will do as he pleases, and he will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will speak monstrous things against the God of gods; and he will prosper until the indignation is finished, for that which is decreed will be done.’]

Daniel could see these two great resurrections but he really couldn’t see the thousand years between them.  So we have to consult the Book of Revelation which makes us aware of this thousand  year time period.  The resurrection of the righteous, the final phase of it has been accomplished and fulfilled; the righteous are ruling and reigning alongside Jesus Christ in their glorified bodies.  All of the prophecies that God said would happen in the kingdom are happening for a thousand years.  Satan is not even around to bother anybody.  But when the thousand years are over the unrighteousness, currently in a place called Hades, a place of conscious torment are summoned and brought forth, and stand before the Lord in resurrected bodies to have their trial at what is called the Great White Throne Judgment, Revelation 20:11-15.

[Revelation 20:11-15, “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. [12] And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.  [13] And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. [14]  Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. [15]  And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”]

Verse 5 continues, it says, “The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed; this is the first resurrection.”  Now we have a lot of people today that deny the rapture. There will be no rapture they say!  There will be no rapture of the church where the church receives resurrected bodies before the seven year tribulation period even starts.  And why would they say that?  Because in verse 5 it says “the first resurrection.  [“The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection.”]

And if the rapture has already taken place it wouldn’t say the first resurrection, it would say the second resurrection.   You’ve got to be very careful with this word “first.”  First in the Bible doesn’t mean first ever.  Now in some contexts it can mean that but that’s not what it means here because if this was the final phase of the resurrection unto life for the righteous tribulation saints, Old Testament saints, is the very first resurrection ever then who else never rose?  The church never rose and Jesus never rose.  Now we’ve got a problem because if Jesus never rose you don’t have Christianity.  Christianity rises or falls according to the historical accounting of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

First here can’t mean first ever because if it means first ever then you don’t even have a resurrected Jesus. So first here, what does it mean?  It means first in relationship to the terrible resurrection coming later, after the thousand years are over.  It’s first in a sequence of two, not first ever.  It’s like when my wife says, she texts me or calls me on the phone, she says I want you to run some errands for me, first I want you to go to pick up the laundry.  Last I want you to go to the store and pick up whatever groceries.  Now when she calls me and gives me those instructions I don’t say to myself well, praise the Lord, once I go to the grocery store I’ll never have to do it again because she’s using last not last ever but last in relation to first.  See that?  When she says I want you to pick up the laundry I don’t say well, this is interesting, this is the first time in our whole marriage I’ve ever picked up the laundry.  Now if you talk to here she might think that’s true but we won’t go into that.

It’s first and last in a sequence, you see that, not first ever.  So he says, “the rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed.  This is the first resurrection,” the resurrection, the last phase of it, the soldiers and the gleanings have happened.   You already have been resurrected, you’re returning with Jesus to rule and reign.  The resurrection unto righteousness happened, it’s been fulfilled.  The only thing left if the terrible resurrection of the unrighteous which is going to take place one thousand years later.

And we continue on and we come to verse 6 and notice what it says?  “Blessed” now that’s the Greek word makarios, it’s the same word used over and over again in the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus will say “Blessed are the peacemakers,” etc.  It’s the same word.  “Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection;” look at that word “holy.”  Did you know that’s what you are in Christ.  You’re holy!  You say well, you didn’t see the family food fight we got into, and the cantankerous holiday spirit at our house this Christmas?  You’re looking at your holiness through the wrong grid.  You don’t look at it through your own self.  If you spend your life looking at yourself all the time you’re going to be very depressed.

You know, I watched all these self-empowerment type people and psychologists on TV and they’re always talking about yourself, you’ve got to get in touch with yourself, you’ve got to be your better self, and they’ve got a self magazine. And I’m sitting there thinking that’s the most depressing subject I could come to, I don’t want to think about myself. What I want to think about is what Jesus transferred to me at the point of faith.  His righteousness was transferred to me at the point of faith.  God the Father looks at me as if I’m just as righteous as His Son.

You say well pastor, I don’t always act like it.  Well what does that have to do with anything?  It’s a positional, legal reality.  You say well shouldn’t this affect our daily life?  Yes it should; we ought to let our practice catch up with our position.  I mean, if we’re holy, and that’s what it says right there, maybe I should act like it. But whether I act like it or don’t act like it doesn’t change the positional truth.  It’s a doctrine called the imputation, which means transfer.

And it says this, “Blessed” makarios, “and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection.”  Now I pointed out makarios, Blessed because in the Book of Revelation there are seven beatitudes.  You say well wait a minute, I thought those were in the Book of Matthew.  They are, here’s another set of seven.  Is there anybody in here that does not want to be blessed, put your hand up.  We all want to be blessed.  And the Book of Revelation gives us seven blessings.  Number one, it’s all the word makarios, Number one, Revelation 1:3.  [Revelation 1:3, “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.”]

A blessing is promised upon the reader and the heeder of the Book of Revelation.  If you’ll read it and take it to heart God says you’re blessed.  I mean, you’re blessed simply by showing up this morning and listening to this because it demonstrates that you take the Book of Revelation seriously.  Number two, for those in the tribulation period there’s a blessing upon the martyrs because if you die  you’re not under the oppression of the antichrist anymore, you’re in the presence of who? God!  Revelation 14:13.  [Revelation 14:13, “And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, ‘ Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.”]

Number three, there’s a blessing upon those in the events of the Book of Revelation that are spiritually prepared for the coming of Christ.  Revelation 16:15.  [Revelation 16:15, “(Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.)”  What gets you ready for the second coming of Christ?  It is the holiness that is transferred to you at the point of faith.  If you don’t have that holiness through imputation or transferred you don’t have much to look forward to.  But if you’ve got that and you receive it by faith alone then you’re blessed.

Number four, there is a blessing, makarios pronounced upon those who are going to participate in the marriage supper of the Lamb.  We read about that in Revelation 19:9 makarios is used to describe those invited to that.  [Revelation 19:9, “Then he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’” And he said to me, “These are true words of God.”]  And by the way, if you’re “in Christ” there’s an invite in your inbox inviting you to that supper.

Number five I’ll skip and go back to.

Number six, there’s a blessing once again upon this time not just the reader of the Book of Revelation but someone who takes it seriously, a heeder, Revelation 22:7.  [Revelation 22:7, “…Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.”]

Number seven, there is a blessing promised upon those that are going to enter the eternal city.  Revelation 22:14.  [Revelation 22:14, “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city.”]  And by the way, unlike the United States of America this city is going to have borders where not everybody is getting in.  And what gets you in?  The transferred righteousness of Christ.  That’s your passport.  If you don’t have the transferred righteousness of Christ you can’t enter.

And by the way, that city is going to be awesome.  Paul tells us in Philippians 3:20 that “our citizenship” is where?  “in heaven.”  Philippians 3:20 “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;”]  Why would he say that?  It’s the city that was in existence; I think it was in existence, I’ll try to make this case, when Paul was on the earth.  It’s just not fit to come down yet because we live on a corrupted earth and a city like that wouldn’t fit well on a corrupted earth.  You’re dealing with two things that don’t go together.  But one of these days this earth is going to be dissolved, Revelation 21:1 by fire, 2 Peter 3:10, by the way, that’s where you put your global warming, 2 Peter 3:10.  [Revelation 21:1, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea..”

2 Peter 3:10, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.”]

By the way, that’s where you put your global warming, everybody’s worried about global warming.  Everybody is worried about global warming; people call the church and say do you believe in global warming.  Yes we do, it’s in 2  Peter 3:10 where God takes this terrestrial ball and dissolves it by fire and replaces it with a new heavens and new earth, never marred or touched by sin.  And now that city, which has been up there since the days of the Apostle Paul, at least can come down to that earth.  And that’s your eternal home.  So there’s a blessing pronounced upon people that will enter that city.

Now what else could is there a blessing upon?  We skipped number five; you’ll notice in verse 6 a blessing is pronounced upon the participants in the first resurrection.  What does it say there in verse 6?  “Blessed” makarios, “and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection.”  Why is that?  Two reasons are given, both in verse 6.  Number one, “over these the second death has no power,” you see, if  you’re part of the resurrection program of God and you are part of the resurrection unto righteousness yours is at the rapture; Old Testament saints and tribulation martyrs is at the beginning of the millennial kingdom.  Then folks involved in that resurrection are considered blessed.  Why”  Because the second death has no power over them.

Now the first time the second death is mentioned in the Book of Revelation, it’s mentioned in Revelation 2:11 where Jesus, speaking to one of the churches, I think this was Smyrna, said, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes” by the way, who’s an overcomer?  A believer. “He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.”  And you don’t get an explanation of what the second death is until you go over to Revelation 20:14.  It says, “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.”

The second death is the resurrection of the unrighteousness at the end of the thousand years and as they stand trial at what is called the Great White Throne Judgment they are transported from Hades into the lake of fire.  It’s not something that you’d ever want to participate in; it’s not something that you would anybody that you loved to participate in.  In fact, that’s the reason why evangelize people and share the gospel week after week, for the simple reason that we are trying to people out of  the second death.

Here’s a little statement that has helped me over the years: “ If  you’re born once you’ll die twice; if you’re born twice you’ll die once.”  Think about that, if I’m born physically into the world but I’ve never ever in my life trusted in Christ as my Savior what is my future exactly?  Two deaths, physical and then eventually being cast into the lake of fire, which is the second death.

Conversely, if I’m born twice what does that mean?  Born physically into the world but I’ve received Christ as my Savior and I’m born spiritually.  We talked about that in our Christmas Eve message, regeneration, the new birth.  The very worst thing that can happen to me is I can physically die and beloved, that might not even happen either because we could be the rapture generation.  If we are, and I can’t promise that we are, death is not in your future at all.  But if we’re not the rapture generation the very worst thing that can happen to you is physical death, “to be absent from the body is to be” what?  “present with the Lord.”  And the lake of fire is not in your future at all.  Luke 10:17 says this: this was Jesus sending out the seventy.  “The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.”  Luke 10:20, Jesus responding, “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.”  Don’t rejoice at the size of  your house or the size of  your ministry or your 401K plan which might be a 201K plan or whatever it is.  Don’t rejoice in the fact that you’re a United States citizen.

Now don’t get me wrong, those are all things to rejoice in but that’s not what Jesus says here.  He says if you really want to rejoice in something rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven and that you have no part in this coming second death or lake of fire.  That’s why it says, verse 6, makarios, “Blessed is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power.”  Be joyful about that.  Be joyful about your eternal position in Christ.

And why else are those who participate in the first resurrection, why should they rejoice?  What does it say?  Why are they considered blessed?  “but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.”  See, if you participate in this first resurrection you’re considered blessed for two reasons: (a) you’ve got no place in the lake of fire.  And number two, your status as a priest is about to be actualized; it’s about to be fulfilled because when God made you a priest, and isn’t interesting in the Old Testament not everybody could be a priest; you had to come from which line in the Old Testament?  Levi, and only from Aaron’s line within Levi, only those descending from Aaron within the tribe of Levi could be called priests.  Is it not interesting that in the age of the church that we’re all priests?  Doesn’t He say that in Revelation 1:6, “He has made us to be a kingdom of priests.”

You say well who cares?  What’s the big deal?  Because your status as a priest gives you authority in the next age.  Revelation 5:10 fills out the meaning of being a priest. “You have made them” us, “to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will” what? “reign” the verb is future, the reigning is not now, the training is now, the training is in preparation for the reigning.  But one of these days your status as a priest that you now have is about to be fulfilled, it’s about  it’s about to be actualized “and you will reign” where are you exactly going to reign from?  Sitting on a cloud strumming a harp, right?  That’s NOT what the Bible says; “they will reign upon” where? “the earth.”

Well why can’t we reign upon the earth now?  Because Satan hasn’t been evicted yet.  That’s what the various judgments in the Book of Revelation are accomplishing. Satan’s grip is being loosened over the planet, he’s not evicted until Jesus comes back and puts him in a place called the abyss.  Then Jesus will take His seat on David’s throne, His thousand year kingdom will start, and you’re a part of it.  Why are you a part of it?  Because that’s what God has decreed, declared about you as a priest.  And for two centuries of Christianity this is what they all taught and this is what they all believed, because it comes right out of the pages of God’s Word.

And then something happens at the end of this thousand years called the revolt, verses 7 through10.  Revelation 5:7-10, “And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. [8] When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. [9] And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.  [10] “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”]

The adversary, verse 7, the apostasy, verse 8, the attack on the city of Jerusalem, verse9a, and finally the annihilation of Satan, 9b, second half of the verse into verse 10.  And that’s the part I was hoping to get to today.  Everything we’ve done thus far is introduction because the new people are saying what in the world is going on at this church?  And our response is just hang with us a little bit and you’ll get used to it.  Because the title of this sermon is “What is Wrong with Us?  So obviously I can’t talk about what’s wrong with us without talking about this revolt.  So the title of next week’s sermon is going to be What is Wrong With Us, Part 2.

But the reality of the situation is… you know, one of the things I like about the Bible is it just is black and white!  And the message today is what resurrection do you want to be part of?  I frankly am “the path of least resistance” kind of guy and I want to be in the resurrection where I’m blessed.  I don’t want anything to do with that terrible resurrection at the end of the thousand years and what keeps me in resurrection A and in resurrection B is a simple word called BELIEVE.!   It’s not believe that, it’s believe in, you’re believing in someone, Jesus who entered history, who stepped out of eternity into time to pay a price in His body for our sins that we could never pay.  And then He, as firstfruits, rose from the dead 2,000 years ago, guaranteeing our resurrection as well.

And He leaves humanity with the very simple message entrusted to the church: Trust in what I’ve done for you!  Don’t try to fix yourself.  Don’t try to be better?  Don’t make your flesh try harder?  Receive what I’ve done as a gift.  And you receive something as a gift from God only one way, which is to believe!  Because the Book of Romans, chapter 4, verses 4 and 5 says, “To the one  who does not work but believes,” did you catch that?   “To the one  who does not work but believes, … his faith is credited to him as righteousness.”  In other words,  you’re tied in to all of these glorious future promises, not by working for salvation but by receiving it as a gift by faith.

When you receive Christmas cards or gave out Christmas cards you didn’t give a gift to somebody of an expensive nature and then tell them  you need to start making payments on it because that’s not a gift.  The moment  you think you have to start making payments on what Jesus has done for you through too good works it loses its status as a gift.   We can’t receive what we’ve been talking about here through self effort.  It’s got to be received as a gift.  And if a person won’t receive it as a gift they don’t participate.

So our exhortation as the Holy Spirit convicts people of their need to do this is to trust in what Jesus has done.  It’s not a matter of joining a church, walking an aisle, filling out a card, giving money, it’s not a matter of a New Year’s resolution, it’s about trusting, which means relying upon what Jesus has done for you.  And that’s something that you can do now, even as I’m speaking, in the quietness of your own heart as the Spirit places you under conviction through a moment of privacy between you and the Lord.  It can happen right now.  Your whole destiny can change.  And if it’s something you need more explanation on I’m available after the service to talk.

Shall we pray.  Father, we’re grateful for what we have in Christ and we’re grateful for the future that we have in Christ and the promises that we have.  Help us, Father, to live in light of these promises, even in troubled times, knowing that there’s a better world coming. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name and God’s people said… Amen!