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Gathering God's People

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Gathering God's People

Text:  Revelation 14

Big Idea:  Wearing the mark of Christ has its benefits.

Purpose:  To demonstrate the consequences of a life of sin.

Introduction:

Commercial - telling you membership has its benefits.

            -acceptance in certain stores

            -ability to purchase in emergencies

            -you have status, clout – which is what people want

For people in Asia Minor, reading this story of Revelation

            -their own lives, and this story to this point could have prompted the question

                        -“What benefits or privileges?”

            Wearing the mark of Christ has meant shame and outcast

-you get ostracized, no citizenship in Rome, no justice, no purchases

            -and while going through this, you are told, just endure

                        -and it will be worthwhile

In our text today

            The people get to see what worthwhile will look like

            -both the positive side – in God’s presence

            -and negatively – by seeing the end result for those who wore the mark of the beast

We often hear - what the blessing will be

            -peace, prosperity, blessing, assurance

            -which are wonderful

                        -but not the primary emphasis of this chapter

                        -before this story of Revelation draws a picture of blessing

                                    -it gives us a glimpse of consequences for sin, allegiance to the beast

This text - and next few chapters

-makes a point by looking at the other side

-the torment of walking away from God

-and facing His judgment

Textual Outline:

1.  The Kingdom Established

-144,000 (totality) gathered

-in God's presence

-singing new songs

-sounds boring?  is a picture of luxurious pleasures

-contrasted to life of torture

-our music today - pervasive, then, was a rare pleasure

            The establishment of this kingdom turns the previous kingdom upside-down

                        -v. 4 – those who were redeemed were saved

                                    -they couldn’t buy, but their freedom was purchased

                        -v. 7 – judgment is about to come

                                    -they couldn’t get justice in the Old Kingdom

                                    -but in God’s Kingdom – justice would come

            For the people first reading this

                        -purchased, justice – were beyond possibility in Roman world

                        -but hope of pleasure – music, was beyond their hope

2.  The Final Warning

-three angels call people to fear God

-fallen is Babylon (couldn't say Rome - Babylon, great Kingdom, pagan)

            The original churches were not worried about Babylon

            But Babylon – OT image of the enemy

                        -they took Israel into exile

                        -Israel had never been fully re-established

                        -the Roman Empire was now in Babylon’s place

                                    -embodied wickedness, paganism, in run amock

-called to fear God - and His judgment

            -there was only one fear that could dominate their lives

            -if you feared Rome – and the punishment it could bring upon you

                        -then you submitted to Rome, wore the mark of the beast

                        -to avoid prison

            -IF, HOWEVER, you feared God, consequences of offending Him

                        -then you pledged allegiance to Christ

                                    -and wore His mark

-it is better to be dead - the dead in Christ are blessed

            -than to face what those who will wear the mark of the beast have to face

3.  The Judgment begins

-time to reap

-picture is a grotesque scene - not literal

-but emphasizes the terrible anger of God

-giving a picture of the consequences of sin

            -blood running very deep and covering a vast area

Furthermore, it ushers in the final judgments that God will bring

            -this section runs through chapter 17

            -15:1 tells us that this is the final judgments

                        -this is God’s wrath

7 seals – Christ has a claim

7 trumpets – Christ fighting to re-claim, take possession

7 bowls – similar imagery – punishment on Christ’s enemies 

Sermon Body:

Movement 1:  *The consequence of sin is facing God's wrath.

-and God's wrath is often - just being let go

-Romans 1 - do it on your own

-Prodigal son - wallows in his own misery with the pigs

-child runs away - no food, shelter, comfort

God's wrath, purify is coming

-if you wear the mark of the sinful world - put your allegiance there

-you will face the consequence of sin - worse than death

The consequence of sin – rebelling against God – is facing God’s wrath

            -maybe we don’t realize it

            -but if we live to please the world – we have declared ourselves to be God’s enemies

            -there is no middle ground in this end times judgment

If you are more worried about pleasing friends and peers – than pleasing Christ

            -you run the risk of putting your allegiance elsewhere

            -you have your membership privileges in this world

                        -which means you have shunned the privileges of God’s Kingdom

            Not just friends

                        -money (economy), power, influence, pleasures

                        -not that money, power, influence, pleasure are evil

                                    -but they may not command your allegiance

                                                -allegiance belongs to Christ

                                                -His will before these pursuits

            And if, we put our allegiance elsewhere, we must be prepared to face consequences

Movement 2:  *God's wrath comes after numerous warnings.

In this text - throughout the book - warnings and signs of power

-even in 14 - angels cry out one last time

In our lives

-depth that people fall into

-alcohol ruins family, lies ruin a reputation, anger leads to lack of trust

These consequences of sin are a warning

            -that greater (meaning more terrible) consequences are still to come

Good News

            -Until the wrath is poured out

            -you can still turn to God in fear

It is truly sad what pledging your life to the ways of the world will do

            -even when God’s domination is certain

            -people will not let go of the world

            -they will not deny the mark of the beast

It would mean swallowing pride, humbling yourself

            The greatest danger is not that God won’t forgive

            But rather – that you won’t want forgiveness

                        -because the lies of the world will dupe you into believing you don’t need it

Movement 3:  *Pledging allegiance to Christ frees us from God's wrath.

            It is understandable that you may fear what this world can do

                        -shut you out, throw you in prison, even kill you

                        -but we are told – if you die in the Lord

                        -it is better than what will be faced by those who pledge allegiance to the beast

Pledge allegiance to Christ

            -and you need not fear

            -because the worst the world can do

                        -is nothing compared to the wrath of God. 

Conclusion:

            Membership has its privileges – but you can only hold one membership

                        Membership with the beast – Kingdom of this world

                                    -you get to enjoy this world – commerce, relative ease

                                    -but your relative ease will end

                        Membership with the beast is a nasty credit trap

                                    -enjoy now – pay for eternity – a bad deal

                                    -for the wrath of God is more than we want to pay

            Membership in Christ’s Kingdom

                        -may mean self denial

                        -will certainly mean rejection from this world’s kingdom

                        -but it means you will be gathered into God’s presence

                                    -to enjoy luxuries and riches you would not have dreamed of

            It also means

                        -the consequences of sin, God’s wrath, are something you will never face

            Where is your membership, allegiance?

            Choose wisely – for you can only choose one.

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