May 12, 2010
Waking the Dead – Part 4
Pastor Philip De Courcy
Revelation 3: 1-6

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Well, let’s take our Bibles and turn to Revelation chapter three. As we said on Sunday, we want to just wrap up this sermon on the fifth letter of our Lord to the churches in Asia Minor. A study we have entitled, “Waking the Dead.” “And to the angel of the church in Sardis right; These things says he who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars; I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive but you are dead. Be watchful and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die; For I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard, hold fast and repent. Therefore, if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments and they walk with me in white for they are worthy. He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments and I will not blot out his name from the book of life, but I will confess his name before my father and before his angels. He who has a ear, let him hear what the spirit says to the churches.”
Charlie Brown’s cut rate psychiatrist, Lucy, decided one day to give him a free and forthright diagnosis of his condition. “Discouraged again, Charlie Brown? You know what your trouble is? The whole trouble with you is that you’re you.” Charlie Brown looked disconsolate and replied, “Well, what in the world can I do about it?” To which Lucy Retorted, “I don’t pretend to be able to give advice, I merely point out the trouble.” With friends like that, who needs enemies. Some people have the gift of pointing the finger. They’ll tell you what’s broken but they have no idea how they’re going to help you put it back together again if they have any inclination to do that anyway. We come into Revelation chapter three and the Lord Jesus Christ is certainly pointing the finger of admonition and accusation to this church at Sardis. “I know your works, that you have a name, that you are alive, but you are dead. I know better. You’re not as good as you think you are, you’re not as strong as others perceive you to be.”
But the Lord Jesus Christ does not simply accuse, simply admonish. He has advice. He doesn’t simply point out the trouble, he points to a better way and a better day for this church. Following the impeachment, we saw the imperatives. The Lord Jesus Christ encourages this church to come back to a state of spiritual health and holiness, and he has told them how to do that through five imperatives: Wake, strengthen, remember, keep, repent, and that’s where we were the last time we were together. He has sympathy, he has solutions, but we’re moving beyond the impeachment and beyond the imperatives to what I might call the impetus. The Lord Jesus Christ not only tells them how they can recover this lost grind, but why they should take to this path of recovery and restoration. This brings us to verses five and six. “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments and I will not blot out his name from the book of life, but I will confess his name before my father and before his angels. He who has an ear let him hear what the spirit says to the churches.” What remains of this letter is basically a spiritual carrot on a stick.
In practical terms, The Lord Jesus is encouraging the church at Sardis to gain some momentum, to regain some motivation. And he does this by focusing their attention on the future. Remember what we said about this city and about this church, they had a tendency to look back, to kind of revel in what had taken place in the past. There’d been spiritual slippage in the presence, and maybe to solve their conscience or to cover their tracks, they tended to look back and go, “Hey, you remember?” When they tended to focus too much on the past and too little on the future. That was the problem of the city, that was the problem of the church, and The Lord Jesus here corrects that by pointing to the future and the possibility of being clothed in white garments, of living with the assurance that in a future day your name will not be blotted out of the book of life, of knowing that Christ will confess you before the Father and before his angels.
See, the past is unrecoverable, it cannot be changed, but the thought of a better future can change people in the present, and that’s Jesus’ ploy, that’s Jesus’ purpose here. He’s commanded them right to wake up, to strengthen what remains, to remember how, through the Holy Spirit, they received and heard the gospel. He encourages them to repent and to hold fast to that gospel, you can’t hold onto the gospel and hold onto sin at the same time. And what he does now in verse five is he incentivizes those commands with the prospect of future reward. “Do the hard work he says of reawakening, re-engaging, remembering, remaining, repenting. Do it in the light of these promises.” Now before I get to the promises, we just notice again he addresses himself to he who overcomes. It’s worth a comment or two. Remember what we said in an earlier study in one of the first few ladders that the overcomer is the true Christian who perseveres in love and in loyalty to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus addresses himself to the overcomers in each of these ladders back in chapter two in verse 11. He says to those in Smyrna, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.” In chapter two verse seven at the church at Ephesus, “To him who overcomes, I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” In verse 17 to the church in Pergamum, he says, “To him who he overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna.” So on and so forth. And what you and I need to remind ourselves about this, is this is not a special category of Christian, this is the true Christian. There there’s an idea that was popular for some years, and I think it was confronted by men like John MacArthur, and John Piper, and others, the idea that you can be a Christian without being a disciple. That you can have a confidence in your relationship with Christ without having any fruit, any maturity, any evidences of obedience. To be an overcomer, to be victorious, you get there at some point maybe, after five years or 10 years.
There’s a Greek word for that, it’s called “Codswallop.” It’s not true. You see here, Jesus addresses himself to the overcomer, the true Christian, the persevering saint, because you see, those who are truly saved are never lost to Christ or to the world. I’m not saying Christians can’t lapse, I’m not saying Christians don’t sin, I’m not saying Christians can’t have a bad hair day spiritually speaking, I’m not saying that. But it can’t be a pattern of life, it can’t stretch into years and decades, because he who begun a good work in us, it says, “He will perform it, he will complete it.” And the evidence of that is that we will overcome the world, we will not be overcome by the world.
Go back to first John chapter five in verse four and five, just so I show you that this is the run-of-the-mill experience of the Christian. This isn’t a special category of Christian. What does John say? “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world.” And this is the victory that has overcome the world, our faith. “Who is he who overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the son of God.” Who is the overcomer? It’s the believer in Jesus Christ. They’re synonymous terms, they’re equal. You’re a believer and a disciple, you’re under the lordship of Jesus Christ, you’re obedient, you love righteousness, you turn from sin, you overcome the world and there’s all sorts of grace available to you through the end dwelling Holy Spirit to accomplish that by God’s grace. Perseverance is the authenticating mark of true faith. The true Christian understands that it’s the cross behind us and the crown before us, and there’s no turning back.
I just finished watching a great sports documentary entitled, “The Rivalry.” It’s a documentary on the rivalry between Ohio State and University of Michigan, a rivalry that predates the advent of Major League Basketball or baseball. And in the documentary, it brings us to a time when the University of Michigan appoints a new coach, Bo Schembechler. The backdrop is the dominance of Ohio steered against the University of Michigan, hooray, and the situation up in Ann Arbor is intolerable. And so Bo Schembechler comes in, and in the first season he puts all the old players and the new players through their paces, and within a few weeks of summer camp, the 130 players are whittled down to about 75. They’re dropping like flies. He’s putting them through their pieces, but in the odd documentary it says wherever you went around the University of Michigan, Bo Schembechler had posted on the locker rooms and around the plain field these words, “Those who stay will be champions.” That’s the conquering motif isn’t it, of the book of the Revelation?
And by the way, Bo Schembechler did bring about a new season and recovery of the University of Michigan football program. Those who stay did become champions, and I think Jesus is saying that. “Those who stay will be champions.” “To the overcomer, I promise three things.” Let’s look at them quickly. He promises that they will be clothed in white garments. You see those who don’t soil their garments with the world, see, remember what he says here, “There are a few who haven’t yet defiled their garments.” We think of maybe James 1:27, “We’re to remain unspotted from the world.” Undefiled, they haven’t given in to the materialism, or the idolatry, or the sensualism of the world. To those whose garments haven’t been soiled with worldliness and compromised, Jesus promises that in a future day they’ll be clothed in white garments, the color of heaven itself. Now the background to this is probably that in the ancient world, white garments were worn by Roman citizens during triumphal precessions, as some of the Roman heroes and conquering heroes of the empire returned home from their victorious battles.
Jesus takes that image and John writes about that image here, and he wants the Christians to know that someday they will be clothed in white. And the righteousness of Christ before God through the death and resurrection of their conquering hero, the Lord Jesus Christ. We picked up this image in Revelation chapter seven in verse 13, those gentile believers who have come out of great tribulation. “Then one of the elders answers saying to me,” revelation7:13, “‘Who are these in red and white robes and where did they come from?'” This is a scene in heaven. “And I said to him, ‘Sir, you know.’ So he said to me, ‘These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation and wash their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb.'” I want to believe that the white robes speak of the believers’ justification in the Lord Jesus Christ, because when you and I put our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, God does something outside of ourselves that has everything to do with ourselves, in that he apportions our sin to Christ and apportions Christ righteousness to us, it’s called imputation.
Our sin was imputed to Christ, his account, and his righteousness is put to our account. And our sin is hidden, covered, paid for, dealt with in the death and resurrection of our conquering hero, and we are dressed in the white righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. We looked at that, didn’t we just a few weeks ago in Philippians chapter three? This is what Paul anticipates right in chapter three, where having given us his religious resume, second to none. He was a religious boy scout, par excellence, but he realizes you know what, the hope of heaven lies outside of himself. He’s to put no confidence in his flesh. He has learned that heaven is not won by self effort but by the very rejection of effort and a reliance and resting upon the work, the finished forever work of Jesus Christ on the behalf of the sinner on the cross by his death and resurrection.
And now Paul’s hope is settled there and he tells us, “I want to be found in him not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith and Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.” He anticipates that day spoken about in Revelation chapter three, when he will stand before a Holy God dressed in the white righteousness of Christ, washed in the blood, forgiven through the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ, settled by faith alone, brought about by grace alone, all focused on Jesus alone. Remember we drew the analogy from the master’s tournament just a few months ago? If you and I ever wanted to enjoy the dining experience at the Augusta National Golf Club, we need that green jacket, which brings all the attendant privileges and access to that club. And there’s only two ways of getting one, you’ve got to win the Masters. Not likely. My golf is like my preaching, it’s long, it’s to the right, and it usually lands me in trouble.
And there’s another way, you can purchase a membership, but the waiting list is so long you’ll probably have to live till you’re 150. Well, we may never wear the green jacket that gets us into Augusta National Golf Club, but if we’ll overcome, if we’ll follow Christ to the end, if we’ll draw upon all of God’s saving and sufficient grace, and go to heaven with our sword held high, Jesus promises, we’ll walk with him in white. The gates will open and we’ll find ourselves accepted into the bosom of God forever. We’ll be fitted with the white jacket of Christ’s righteousness, given free of charge to all who will receive by faith alone, at the expense of Christ atoning death, the just for the unjust.
You see, from the fig leaf episode in the Garden of Eden on, man has always tried to cover up through his own self efforts. Remember the fig leaf deal? They’re embarrassed, they’re ashamed, they have lost their innocence, they have sinned, devalued at God’s law. They’re on the wrong side of God now, they fear God, when they once walked in the cool of the garden with God. Sin does that, it separates, it dislocates, it disrupts relationships on the vertical and on the horizontal axis. Man has always sought to do that, to cover up through his own self efforts that which God is so graciously willing to cover in the death of another, finally, his son. Because God finds Adam, doesn’t he? And he clothes them in the skin of an animal. A life was forfeited, blood was shed, and a covering was made. All a figuring and a prefiguring of that final sacrifice itself in the Lord Jesus.
Here’s the second promise, “Christ will not blot out his name from the Book of life.” Go back to Revelation chapter three. This is the next thing Jesus says, “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments and I will not blot out his name from the book of life.” Now this book is mentioned six times in Revelation, it’s given various memes. It’s also mentioned in the Old Testament, it’s known as the Book of Living, the Book of Life, the Lambs Book of Life. And here Jesus talks about the believers at Sardis and how their names are entered indelibly upon that book, it’s registered in heaven. The names of those who belong to the Lord Jesus. Now there’s a whole debate on this book, some argue this is just one of two books, and I’m not going to get lost in that because I want to get the very practical and pastoral point, but as I’ve studied, I’ve come to a conviction that there’s only one book. Throughout the Bible, we’re talking about the one book, whether we’re talking about the Book of The Living, and those in the Old Testament who were threatened to have their names blotted out of it.
The Book of Life mentioned in the letter to the Philippians, and then we’ve got here the Book of Life and the Lambs Book of Life in the book of the Revelation. It would seem to me that while all the names of all the people of all time appear in this book at some point, it seems from a wider reading of the Bible that unbeliever’s names are removed, that death, their names are blotted out. And this is the kiss since in death they experienced the second and lasting death and remain spiritually dead for all of eternity. It’s only those who have life and then life in Jesus Christ who remain in the Book of the Living, in the Book of Life, and the Lamb’s Book of life. Because death does not separate the believer from life or from the love of Christ. Isn’t that what Paul says in Romans chapter eight, verse 38 through 39? “Nothing shall separate us from the love of Christ, neither life nor death.” Because we really don’t die. Jesus said that, didn’t he in John chapter 11? “Though we die, in belief in him, we really live.”
And we can debate that some other time, but Jesus is referencing a book, the Book of Life, and in this this book is registered indelibly, the names of those who’ve been washed in his blood, those who belong to him. Their death is not the end, it is but the beginning. Death is but a comma not a full stop. And so this is rather encouraging, and it’s a very strong promise here. Some people read a thread in this, those who may be open to the idea that a believer can lose their salvation might point to this and say, “Hey, if you don’t persevere, if you don’t do this, if you don’t do that, your name gets blotted out. It was in there but if you don’t comply the certain commands, then it gets taken out.” But that’s a false reading. This is not a threat, it’s actually a promise, it’s an emphatic double negative in the Greek text. “I will not blot out his name.”
It’s not a threat, it’s actually a promise. Unlike the unbeliever, his name gets blotted out. They start out in the Book of Life, but he who has the son as life, he who has not the son doesn’t of life, and at some point, their name gets blotted out of the Book of Life. But those who have the son of life, this life and the life to come, and therefore they have their names indelibly registered in heaven, and in that, they rejoice. Remember how Jesus says to disciples, they come back all Google eyed. “Hey, we’ve got to tell you, we cast out demons.” And Jesus says, “Hey, you rejoice that your names are written down in the Book of Life. Things will change, someday you won’t cast out that demon. He’ll be chasing you down the street, you’ll be in a spiritual warfare, and at times, it’ll be hand-to-hand combat. You remember, your name’s written down in the book of life.”
And this was a great encouragement to the believers at Sardis because a couple of backgrounds painted in gives this some real flavor. You see, the Romans would erase the name of a criminal from the records before they were put to death. The criminal, their citizenship would be revoked. And remember, the Christian who refused to worship Caesar like our martyr in one of the earlier letters, they lost their life and were considered criminals, and therefore whatever standing they had in the eyes of society was revoked and removed. And Jesus is saying, “Hey, the Romans may remove your name from the register, but I’m not going to blot it out, you make sure you overcome.” And if we paint then some of the Jewish animosity, it adds another layer of meaning too because we know from a number of these letters, and we’ll see it in our next study in the church at Philadelphia, there was a growing animosity between the Christians and the Jewish community.
And for a while, synagogues were a safe haven for early believers and certainly were a fishing pond for some of the early evangelists, but as time went on, we’ve seen in a couple of these letters that Jesus talks about the synagogues of Satan and how they’ve opposed his work and his people. And we can see from the book of Hebrews that many Jews who came to Christ were disinherited and disenfranchised by their families and their community, and they’re told to overcome and not turn back to perdition. And we’re told, and in some of the research I’ve done this week, that often in a Jewish synagogue, when a Jew became a believer, the prayer was offered, “May they be blotted out of the book of life and not enrolled among the righteous.” And if that is the case, my encouraging was this to the church at Sardis, and remember this is written to them, and let them hear and others hear what the spirit is saying to the church is this would’ve got to also back to Smyrna, and Pergamum, and to Philadelphia, those places where there was red-hot persecution going on from the Jewish community, and Jesus is saying, “Hey, I hear your name’s getting blotted out from the synagogue register, you remember your name’s written down in the Book of Life.
It’s just a reminder, we’ll not make a lot of this other than I think you and I need to remember, for the most part, the Christian lives on the outside of society. Isn’t that how the Hebrew writer describes it? “Go outside the camp bearing his reproach.” We’ll never really be on the in with the world. If we are, we’ve solved something to make that happen. That doesn’t mean we need to be antagonistic, that doesn’t mean that we need to wear habits and dress oddly. We’re to be in the world but not off it, but as we live radically for Christ with different commitments, and values, and ethics, you’ll find that you’ll be ostracized, vilified, and laughed on the outside. You mightn’t be asked to all the parties, and all the shindigs, and all the office things that are going on, you might get overlooked. You’ll be mocked and belittled. We go outside the camp, we’re on the outside, they’re on the inside but there’s a coming day when the tables will turn and those who are on the inside will be on the outside and those who are on the outside will be on the inside, and the who’s who of this world will be the who’s not of the next world, and the little people, the forgotten people, the mocked bride, the little flock of Christ, their names will be read out in the Lamb’s book of life.
That’s meaningful, that’s helpful. In fact, I just finished a book recently by John Wooden, the coach of UCLA, led them the many national championships, a man of Christian character and testimony. In this book, he references a poem by Walt Huntley called “God’s Hall of Fame.” He said he first heard it at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Conference in Estes Park, Colorado in 1964, and it meant something to him, it spoke to him. Now here’s a man who knew accolades, who’s had his name embossed and inscribed on cups, and plaques, and honor rolls, but this is what he really liked most of all, listen to this. “This crowd on earth, they soon forget the heroes of the past, they cheer like mad until you fall, and that’s how long you last. But God does not forget, and in his hall of fame, by just believing in his son, inscribed you’ll find your name. I tell you friends, I would not trade my name, however small, inscribed up there beyond the stars and in that celestial hall. For any famous name on earth or glory that they share, I’d rather be an unknown here and have my name up there.” Amen.
And Jesus is saying this to the church, “Overcome, pay the price, make the sacrifices, persevere and overcome and you’ll walk and be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out your name from the Book of Life, and finally, I will confess your name before my father.” That’s the third and final promise. It’s this that Christ will acknowledge in heaven before his father and the Holy Angels, those who acknowledge him on earth. This is a promise that he made to his followers back in the gospels, that if they were willing to confess, speak, utter, declare his name among the nations before an unbelieving world and not be silenced by the fear of man or the censorship of governments, he would speak theirs before the face of the Father and his Holy Angels. Let me give you those two references. Matthew chapter 10. Matthew chapter 10 in verse 32, we’ll just read it to confirm the words of the Lord Jesus earlier on in his ministry. In Revelation, he’s the risen Lord, here, he’s on earth in incarnated state before his suffering and his burial, resurrection, and ascension.
Verse 32, Matthew 10, “Therefore whoever confesses me before man, him, I will also confess before my father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before man, him, I will also deny before my Father who is in heaven.” Can’t be any cleaner than that, can it? If you go over to Luke chapter 12, Jesus widens the angle here a little in that future scene. He’s talked about confessing us before the Father, now he talks about confessing us before the angels. Luke chapter 12 and verse eight, “Also I say to you, whoever confesses me before man, him, the son of man also will confess before the angels of God, but he who denies me before man will be denied before the angels of God, and whoever speaks a word against the son of man and will be forgiven him, but to him who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him.”
If you and I will confess Christ, dare to speak his name, dare to be a Daniel, he’s going to declare us. According to Hebrews chapter two verse 11, he’s going to be on ashamed in calling us his brethren. How beautiful as that? And that’s exactly what those early Christians did. Just one example of this would be Acts chapter four, when they were censored, when they were told to be quiet and go over into a corner. We read about that in chapter four in verse 18, how the Jewish leaders called Peter and John. Verse 18, “So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus, but Peter and John answered and said to them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.’ So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing, them because of the people since they all glorified God for what had been done.”
Then the believers get together, what do they pray about? Oh Lord, change the government? No, they talked about high Herod and Pilate, and the secular society has conspired to do what they’re going to do, and it’s all in God’s hands and they simply pray. Verse 29, “Now Lord, look on their threats and grant your servants that we all will speak your word with all boldness.” We’re not going to crawl up into a ball, we’re not going to run off into the corner, we’re going to continue to speak your name. That’s exactly what they did, that’s exactly what every Christian in every age ought to be doing, because if we’ll confess him, he’ll confess us. When? Where? In the future, in heaven.
Let me try and paint the picture. Let me try and frame the scene. Here’s what I think is going to be something like. When I study the language of Revelation chapter three, it’s interesting. The word confess, homologeo, is a Greek word that speaks of testimony before a court. Okay, so you’ve kind of got a courtroom scene here, a judicial scene, and Jesus says, “I’m going to confess you.” As someone would get up and give testimony in a court. Also, the word confess his name, the word name is in the singular. So he’s going to confess each name individually. It’s not going to be, “Father, Kindred Community Church are mine.” It’s going to be individually. So here’s what I think is going on here, remember even when we go back to the idea of the white robes being justified, made right, the declared right before God through the righteousness of Christ, here’s what’s going to happen.
There’s going to come that day in the future when our advocate, we have an advocate before the Father, Jesus the Righteous. He’s going to advocate for us, he’s our eternity, he’s our high priest. He’s going to advocate before God for each of us, and I think the Book of Life, the Lamb’s book of Life will be opened, and each of us will pray it before God and our names will be written or will be read out, confessed, declared. How cool is that? Vindicated, declared righteous and acceptable through what he did on the cross for us, and so my name might be red out, “Philip De Courcy” And to the Father, Jesus will say what? “Mine.” How beautiful is that? “Jim De Courcy.” “Mine.” “Doug McAllister.” “Mine.” And the angels will hear it, it will be confessed before them. I even wonder if Satan won’t be there. You say, “Where would you get that idea?” I can’t be categorically right about this, but we do know from Job chapter one verse six that when the sons of man, that is another way of speaking of angels, presented themselves before God, it says, “And Satan presented himself before God.” How cool would that be? “Father.” “Mine.” “Angels.” “Mine.” “Hey, Satan.” “Mine.” Washed in the blood, covered in the whiteness of my own righteousness.
If that’s going to happen, we need to confess his name here, we need to prove that we are truly his, we’re the genuine article. That’s a comfort and it’s a challenge. We must not zip the lip when it comes to declaring the gospel and defending the gospel. We cannot go to heaven incognito, under the radar screen. We’ve got to pray regardless of the situation or the threat we’re facing like those early believers in Acts four. Father, help us to speak with boldness. I know a number of you have been concerned by June’s health and her fall just recently, and you know that last summer she failed during the evening and showed signs of concussion the next day, and so we called a friend of ours who worked in the ER at St. Joseph’s Hospital to see if he was on duty to see if we could get June streamlined in there.

And he happened to be in Maui when we called him, but he was gracious and called St. Joseph’s from Maui and said, “Hey, pastor’s coming down, his wife, we want you to fast track that in.” And we arrived there and we got the red carpet treatment, we were in pretty spar sprightly, and a friend of this friend started taking care of June. And as he started to diagnose her issues, he said that, “We’re going to have to put you through one of these CT scans, I’m going to do a bit of an MRI on you.” And June didn’t like the idea of getting put down that tube, don’t like kind of feeling claustrophobic, and she says, “I don’t think I could do that.” And she started to get all nervous and he said, “I’m a believer, you can do it.” And so they wheeled her off and I thought to myself, “Hey, he’s a believer.” Next time he came in, and after it was all said and done, I said, “Hey, are you a believer?”
He kind of looked at me strangely, he says, “No, I’m not a believer.” I said, “But you said you’re a believer.” “Oh, you misunderstood,” he said, “I’m talking about I’m a believer in your wife, she can do this, she can go through the CT scan.” And I said, “Sorry.” He turned to go out, he was about to go out behind the curtain when he turned around, here’s what he said to me. He says, “By the way, if I was a believer, wouldn’t that be a private matter?” I was about to say no, but he had more needles to stick in my wife and I just let it be. And I thought to myself, “That’s exactly where society’s at, isn’t it? It’s a private faith, it’s a personal thing.” Keep it to yourself, don’t come barging into the public square with it, don’t elbow into the classroom with your ideas of transcendent truth and ultimate authority, that there’s a one size all fit for mankind.
And I thought to myself, “You know what? You and I need to be challenged.” Indeed, it may be personal in putting our faith in the Lord Jesus, but it’s certainly not private. We need to confess him by our words. Romans 10, nine through 10. “You’ve got to believe with your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord.” Our words have got to confess him. We confess him by words, we confess him by water in baptism. I hope everyone in this room tonight is baptized by immersion in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. F.F. Bruce’s right, the New Testament does not countenance an unbaptized Christian, it’s just not defined. You believed and you were baptized not for salvation, but because you’d come to salvation, you wanted to publicly demonstrate your love for Christ and publicly demonstrate the gospel in this wonderful ordinance of being put down into the water and brought up out of the water. You died to sin and self, and you’ve been brought up in Eunice of life in Jesus Christ. We need to confess Christ by our words, confess Christ by water, and confess Christ by works. Matthew 5:16, we’re told that that, “People will see our good works and glorify our Father, which is in Heaven.”
Hope that’s going on in your life, in my life. Can’t pull your cap down and your collar up and try and get to heaven incognito. With your words, your baptism and your service, you’ll declare your love for him and someday he will declare his love for you. “Mine.” I will confess you, I’ll declare you, I’ll vindicate you before the Father, and the angels, and maybe even Satan. Here’s the closing thought. This church was to make a new beginning by focusing on the end, that’s where this letter finishes up. We’ve had the impeachment, we’ve had the imperatives, now we have the impetus. Jesus tells them how they can recover their spiritual health, and he tells them why they should get about that as soon as possible, there’s no time to lose. Make a new beginning when you see what is ahead and what lies at the end of this life. You see a life that is focused on the endless life rarely has time to die. Those who think most about the next world tend to do the most in this present world.
Closing thought, C.S. Lewis, this very idea. “If you read history, you’ll find that the Christians who did the most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The apostles themselves who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great man who built up the Middle Ages, the English evangelicals who abolished the slave trade, all left their mark on earth precisely because their minds were occupied with heaven. It is since, Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world, that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in, aim at earth and you will get neither.” They were told to remember for the purpose of measuring the contrast between what was and what was the case, but they weren’t to concentrate on the past, they were really to focus on the future and get back to praying with fervency, and singing with enthusiasm, and witnessing with urgency, and serving with humility because of what lay ahead.
Jesus says, “Hey, do you want to be clothed in white raiment? Do you want your name not blotted out of the book of life? Do you want me to confess you before the Father? Then think about the next life while you’re in this life. Aim at heaven and you’ll get earth thrown in, aim at earth and you’ll get neither. Let’s pray. Lord, we thank you for the reminder tonight to sat of affection on things above. It’s so easy for us to get caught up in the moment, in the material, to lose sight of the long tomorrow. Oh Lord, we thank you for these incentives to holiness these encouragements to perseverance, and steadfast faith and unwavering love. God, we thank you for the hope of being clothed in the righteousness of Christ, bold to stand on that eternal day. We thank you for the promise of having our names indelibly written on the registers of heaven. While we might find ourselves on the outside, there’s coming a day when we will be on the inside forever, and Oh God help us in this world that seeks to badger us into submission and into silence, to speak the name of the glorious son of God, to remember that every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess on that day. Help us to do it on this day so that when that time comes, Jesus will sweetly and surely say of us, “Mine, mine, mine.”
Lord, we pray these things and ask these things in Jesus’ name, Amen.