Saturday, December 06, 2014, 7:32 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Jesus Paid It All.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Revelation 14:1-13 (ESV). Followers of The Lamb Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. The voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins. It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These have been redeemed from mankind as firstfruits for God and the Lamb, and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are blameless. ~ vv. 1-5 The Redeemed of the Lord are those whom God has called and chosen, and who have believed in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives, by God’s grace. We are able to be redeemed only because Jesus Christ, God the Son, died on the cross for our sins. He became sin for us who knew no sin so that we might be made righteous in God’s sight. When he died, our sins died with him, and when he rose from the dead, he conquered death, hell, Satan and sin on our behalf. He died so that, through faith in him, we might be delivered from the ultimate punishment of sin, which is eternal damnation and eternal torment in hell. He also died that we might be set free from the control of sin over our lives day-to-day, and so we might be free to walk daily in his righteousness and holiness. Jesus Christ did not die on the cross, though, just so we could escape hell and have the promise of heaven when we die. When we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ to save us, we submit to the cross in dying with Christ to our old ways of living for self and sin, we are transformed of the Spirit of God away from sin and to walking in the Spirit, and we are given new lives in Christ to be lived out in the power and the working of His Spirit within us, for the glory of God. In other words, being saved is not just positional, i.e. we are not just righteous because of Christ’s righteousness credited to our accounts, but because of Christ’s life lived out through us day by day. And, he can only live his life out through us as we daily surrender our lives to him, submit to the cross of Christ in our lives, put off the flesh, put on the armor of God, and walk in the Spirit – all in the power of his Spirit within us. So, what this means for us is that if we are truly the Redeemed of the Lord, it should be evident by how we live our lives day-to-day, not in absolute sinless perfection, but in humble surrender to God, daily sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening to what he teaches us, doing what he says, being sensitive to the Spirit’s voice within us, and following our Lord Jesus wherever he leads us, even in the face of much opposition, persecution, rejection, mockery, and criticism. Many people will not understand such a commitment to our Lord and will think, perhaps, that we have lost touch with reality, or that we are off our rockers, or that we are “addicted” to Jesus, and/or that we are taking this religion thing way too far. People, including those who profess Christ, will think we need to be more like them and make compromises with this sinful world in order to “win” the world, but to what? We don’t win the world to faith in Jesus Christ by becoming like the world. Jesus said we are to come out from the world and be separate. He said we are to be holy, not just positionally, but in not being like the world because we are becoming like Christ; in not conforming our lives to the ways of this sinful world because we are being conformed to the image of Christ. The Eternal Gospel Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.” ~ vv. 6-7 The true gospel of Jesus Christ does not “make nice” with the world of sin. It does not compromise Biblical truth to make the world feel comfortable and accepted. It does not entertain the sinner to make him or her feel good, and it does not shy away from speaking about sin, repentance, obedience, judgment and hell, out of fear we might offend someone. No, the true gospel of Jesus Christ speaks the truth, but in love. It tells the same old truth that Jesus Christ and the apostles spoke of in days of old. Nothing has changed! The gospel does not change with the passing of time. It does not change its message to fit with the culture of society in order to be culturally relevant. Yet, so many church leaders today have bought into the lie that says we need to alter the gospel to make people like it. The true gospel of Jesus Christ teaches the fear of the Lord. Much of today’s “gospel” message is absent of the fear of the Lord, and is more concerned about pleasing humans. The modern church of today operates more like any human-based business, utilizing human marketing schemes (trickery, cunning, craftiness, deceit and manipulation) in order to draw in large crowds of people into their meetings. Is this the Biblical role model of church? NO! How did we get so far away from what God intended his church to be? How did we let the gospel of Jesus Christ erode into something that barely resembles the true gospel anymore? And, why are not more Christians standing up and speaking out against this false gospel? We are supposed to fear the Lord, not in the sense of being afraid of him, but in the sense of standing in awe of him, in honoring him as the holy God that he is, and in respecting, reverencing, obeying and following him wherever he leads us into his service for his glory. How is it that we have become so casual about God? What went wrong? I think the church began making compromises with this sinful world and so they had to change the image of God into something else in order to excuse away their adulteries and idolatry, so they would not feel guilty for their sin against God. And, so they made God out to be altogether like them, and they weakened him and made him into a doting grandfather in the sky there to grant our every request and who makes no demands on us whatsoever. Oh, how wrong! If we read Acts-Revelation, chapter by chapter and verse by verse, and we really pay attention to what is being said in these scriptures, it is impossible to come away from our times in God’s word with this fluffy image of God or with this watered-down barely a resemblance of the true gospel of our salvation. All throughout these books we are taught how to live godly and holy lives pleasing to God, which is our reasonable service of worship of him, no longer conformed to the patterns of this sinful world, but transformed in the renewing of our minds away from sin and to walks of faith and obedience to Christ (See: Ro. 12:1-2). All throughout these books we are told what we are to put off and what we are to put on. I hear so many people scream “Works-based Salvation” when these scriptures are taught, yet this can’t be works-based salvation if this is what God’s word teaches us we must do, not just to live holy lives, but as proof that we are truly in Christ by faith. So, don’t take God lightly. Don’t take sin lightly. Don’t think your sin doesn’t matter to God anymore just because you believed in Jesus. Read the scriptures. And, do what they say. Fear God, and treat him with the honor, respect, and the reverence which he so deserves. The Saints’ Endurance Another angel, a second, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who made all nations drink the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality.” And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God's wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.” Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!” ~ vv. 8-13 Babylon the Great is thought to be many different things by many different people. I believe she represents the world’s system to all of us, but in particular within the church, i.e. I believe there is an element of her which is comprised of the institutional church in an adulterous relationship with the world, and that God is calling his people to come out from her – both from the world’s system and from the worldly institutional church, which is not the true church, and for us to rejoin ourselves with the true church, the body of Christ. Yet, I also see Babylon the Great as a specific location, perhaps where this is most grievous to the Lord, and I believe that is within the U.S.A. And, I believe we are on this downfall, and it won’t be long until we will hear these words, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the Great.” Truly this modern church here in America is guilty of leading others throughout the world into living lives of immorality, spiritual adultery and idolatry, without the fear of the Lord. When we follow Jesus Christ in full surrender to his will for our lives, and we don’t make compromises with this world of sin, and we hold fast to the truths of God’s word, and we preach the full message of the gospel of our salvation, we will be hated, persecuted, mocked, rejected, and cast aside by this sinful and ungodly world, even within the worldly and institutional church of today. Yet, we should not fear them or their words against us or their mistreatment of us, for God has a plan and a purpose for it all, and he will judge them for their sin. This calls for much endurance of the saints of God, i.e. to those of us who keep the commandments of Christ (God) and our hold strong to our faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus Paid It All / Elvina M. Hall / John T. Grape … your sins… they shall be as white as snow… Isaiah 1:18 I hear the Savior say, “Thy strength indeed is small; Child of weakness, watch and pray, Find in Me thine all in all.” For nothing good have I whereby Thy grace to claim, I’ll wash my garments white in the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb. And now complete in Him my robe His righteousness, Close sheltered ’neath His side, I am divinely blest. Lord, now indeed I find Thy power and Thine alone, Can change the leper’s spots and melt the heart of stone. When from my dying bed my ransomed soul shall rise, “Jesus died my soul to save,” shall rend the vaulted skies. And when before the throne I stand in Him complete, I’ll lay my trophies down all down at Jesus’ feet. Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe; Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.