Stand Up for Jesus!
Pastor Jim Kniseley presented this sermon at Resurrection on All Saints Sunday, November 2, 2014. The text is Revelation 7:9-17.
Dear Friends in Christ,
(The houselights are lowered and the flickering light from the candles floating in water is evident, a reminder of John’s Vision of Heaven in the Book of the Revelation.)
On this All Saints Sunday we pause in reverence and remember our loved ones who have fought the good fight of faith and are now in heaven before the throne of God.
On All Saints I like to think that heaven and earth come a bit closer than usual and our loved ones are very aware of us, as much as we are aware of them. Our lighting of candles may be symbolic, but it helps us remember and look forward to when we too will stand before the throne of God in heaven.
Our first lesson today from John’s Revelation, the 7th chapter, gives us a positive/hope-filled glimpse of what is to come. Some think that just a limited number of folks will make it to heaven, the number being 144,000 that is mentioned in chapter 6. But John goes on to explain here in chapter 7 that the number of folks around the throne of heaven is too vast to count. They come from every nation and tribe and people and languages. The role of all folks in heaven is to praise and worship God and Jesus. The clothing in heaven is significant. All are dressed in white robes, having been washed clean by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ.
This past Wednesday evening I spoke with Pastor Carlos Duran from the Spanish Seventh Day Adventist Church. We are planning a joint worship with them on November 23rd. He has two hymn requests and is delighted that he found those two hymns in our Lutheran Book of Worship. The first hymn is “A Mighty Fortress” which they know well. The second seems appropriate for today. It is “Stand Up Stand Up for Jesus.” We can think of stand up for Jesus in earthly terms, as soldiers of the cross. Today I think of it as standing before the thrones of God and Jesus in heaven, where there will be no more fighting or death or tears, but only rejoicing.
Yesterday at the Men’s Bible Study, we read further in The Revelation and came to chapter 20 where two books are mentioned. Most folks know of the one book, the one that contains the record of everyone’s good deeds and bad deeds. This will be read at the Day of Judgment. A second book is revealed, the Book of Life. Everyone who has been forgiven of their sins by Jesus has their name written in that book. The first book is thrown away. No one can get to heaven through the first book of deeds. It is this second book that alone counts, for it is all about Jesus and what he did on the cross that brings forgiveness of sins and makes everything new and pure and eternally blessed.
You and I are the saints here on earth, still fighting the good fight of faith. Let’s sing now about our saints in heaven, who are standing before the throne and are singing their praises to God and Jesus.