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by Reverend Anthony R. Locke
Sermon Series in Revelation # 22
Preached on Pulpit Freedom Sunday 2012
English Standard Version
15 Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”
16 And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God,
17 saying, “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign.
18 The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.”
19 Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.
The Revelation repeatedly offers a blessing for those who bow the knee to Jesus, and judgment for those who resist God’s commands. The last half of chapter 11 focuses on God’s blessings which are given for the faithful witness of the Church.
The message of Revelation isn’t hard to understand. God wins. God’s powerful plans overcome all enemies, conquer all darkness, glorify Himself and bless His children forever and ever and ever. God doesn’t do anything half heartedly.
God always impresses. In verse 19 God’s presence is electrifying. God shakes the ground, burns up the inconsequential, pummels the unprepared and overwhelms the senses.
When God shows up, things change according to the holiness of His character. That’s what our passage is about this morning. After considering these verses, we should be encouraged to live today like God is already here and in charge . . . because He is.
Verse 15 could be compared to a formal announcement for the entrance of a great person. When the President of the United States enters the Congress someone heralds, “The President of the United States!”
Heavenly persons of great power make this declaration. They don’t need a microphone, speakers or amplification. All creatures hear this declaration, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”
Verse 15 happened before the foundation of the world. The soul of man was created with this declaration resounding in their conscience and heart. Every time we sin our hearts remind us that we will have to stand before Jesus and give an account for what we just did.
The Heavens declare that Jesus is LORD! Jesus is God. Jesus is Emmanuel: God with us.
Do you live for Jesus?
All eternal creatures, the human and the angelic hosts, have to make a personal decision in response to the rule of Jesus. You will either live for yourself or God.
This passage is primarily about those who find their reason for living in God, but we see those who live for themselves in verse 18. They are identified by their rage.
The people of God are identified by their worship.
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This is a broad truth. When the Kingdom is preached, and the Crown Rights of Jesus are declared, there are two responses. Some people bow down in worship while others become enraged.
The appearance of Jesus at the Second Coming will only serve to multiply this reaction. People submitted to God will bow down and worship more fervently, and those resisting God’s rule will become even more enraged that they are being judged.
We see this work itself out in churches. Faithful ministers preach God’s word. Eventually, a passage about adultery or gossip comes up within the preaching cycle. God shares His standards of holiness. The minister preaches the Word. God says that such sins are worthy of Hell’s fire, and certain people stop coming to church.
Even if those people who stop coming are not guilty of those sins, they are guilty of something, and they leave to find a church where the Bible is preached with greater flexibility.
But the rule of Jesus isn’t flexible. God loves the sinner. God sent His Son to pay for their sin, but the holy standards of God revealed in the Bible are not the beginning of a negotiation.
God’s commandments are the light that shines on our unholy life. We are supposed to repent and place our faith in the finished work of Jesus on our behalf. We are encouraged to run to God, not away from God. We are encouraged to be embraced by His love, not reject His salvation.
This is the way things really work. God declares His opinions in the form of commandments. We are given a chance to respond. God’s people bow down to worship. Others get angry.
The larger context provides even more instructions for the Christian. In chapter 10 we are told that faithful witnesses consume all of God’s word. We make it apart of ourselves.
We then speak that word to the nations with power and confidence. We are supplied by the anointing oil of the Spirit of God without interruption. Our light need never be diminish.
Our faithful witness then brings us into the sufferings of Jesus. The world celebrates the suppression of God’s people, but God rewards us with life and an invitation into Heaven as over-comers. This is God’s Kingdom plan for expanding His reign.
God isn’t impressed by Christians who find a way to weaken the impact of this book so that they can live in peace and harmony with the world.
Lot did that in Sodom. He silenced his witness so that he could live at peace within a secular and corrupt city. But that turned out real bad for him and his family.
Let me ask a probing question. Why is our experience as Christians in America not like Paul’s experience in Rome? Romans 8:36-39 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Why do the witnesses in Revelation suffer, but Christians in America almost never suffer?
Is it because America is such a holy nation? Are God’s laws celebrated? Are the commandments about adultery and greed championed by our political or economic leadership? On the contrary, most people in power abuse that power and corrupt themselves and the organization they lead. I need only reference some names and we all blush: Clinton, Anthony Weiner, Eliot Spitzer, Newt Gingrich, JFK and Marilyn Monroe, Jim & Tammy Bakker, etc.
This world is no friend to God’s ways. They give lip service, but if we proclaim the Lordship of Jesus as the judge over their actions, then we will be mocked, scorned, derided and slandered.
Why do Christians have it so easy? Because we have weakened the message of this book. We have sued for peace. We have compromised our stand. We have found a way to live in harmony with God’s enemies. We no longer call sin . . . sin. We ask what’s legal, not what’s right.
We are living like Lot in Sodom. We have gone silent. We don’t talk about sin anymore.
Let me illustrate. This last week I was watching a presidential debate on television, and I heard a word I never seem to hear anymore within the public dialogue.
Mitt Romney said that our national debt is immoral. He said it three times. He is right. It is a sin for us as a nation to live so large that our children are born into the chains of our debt.
How long has it been since you heard a politician use the word immoral? And Mitt Romney did it in front of 65 million viewers. (How could a Christian not vote for Mitt?)
I hardly ever hear my fellow Christians speak of things as immoral anymore.
Why not? Because we have discovered that if we call everything amoral, or morally neutral, then we never confront the world with the claims of a Holy God and we live at peace within the world.
Mitt Romney stood as a man of principle and said that our national debt is immoral. He didn’t say it was illegal. Lots of things are legal. No judge is going to hold congress in contempt for breaking a law when they put us into trillions of dollars of debt. It’s legal, but it’s immoral.
Only a Holy God speaks in terms of moral and immoral. The Holiness of God provides the basis for what’s right and wrong. This book is the light, the North Star, to guide a life to Heaven’s shore.
If we neuter the message of this book, then the world will leave us alone. Have we?
The Church almost never talks about homosexuality with moral or immoral language. Calling homosexuality a sin is almost a hate crime within the public dialogue. We limit our minds from imagining their activities. We change the label from sin to an acceptable alternative lifestyle.
We have stopped sharing God’s opinion as it would make us the objects of their anger.
In California this last week Governor Jerry Brown signed law SB 1172 which makes it a crime to tell any person under age 18 that they can find forgiveness and freedom from homosexuality through repentance and faith in Jesus.
There are ministries in California that exist only to bring the freedom of Christ to the gay community. Their Gospel witness is now illegal. Were we silent too long? We kept ourselves safe from the world’s anger, but now look at where things have progressed!
How many Christians voted for a man they knew would limit their religious freedom? How many believers added their civic vote to support this Christian persecution? That vote was a sin.
Let’s use another illustration. How many public officials talk about abortion as immoral? Thankfully some still do.
The irony is that in the late 60s and early 70s Christian women were tricked into supporting the freedom of woman to choose. Science that is now proved wrong argued that an unborn baby was only female tissue, like a tumor, and it could be cut out if the mother wanted. The baby was her body and it was her decision.
Good Christian women voted for the right of other women to retain their freedoms of choice. But the abortion conversation shouldn’t have been about what’s legal, but what’s moral. Make no mistake, the Bible is very clear, those who murder, or condone murder, have their place in the fires of Hell. We cannot vote as Christians to advance the Kingdom of Darkness with impunity.
We need to stop thinking that Jesus is waiting to reign. He is LORD now. What we do matters to God now. We are being judged now. Treasures are being laid up in Heaven now.
This world is right now under the sovereign reign of Jesus, but it will only get more intense as the prophetic clock winds down. One day the skies will roll back and the inhabitants of the earth will look up and see the court room of Heaven itself. We will see the Temple of Heaven and our eyes will see the Ark of the Covenant. God’s full holiness will be unveiled before a shocked world. We can see that same holiness right now by repentance and faith in Jesus.
Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. And it was awesome! There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.
Jesus is coming again! It is Time NOW to live for Him.
No one will defend themselves before God saying, “But marijuana was legal in California! I wasn’t breaking any laws getting stoned!” God will answer, but you were breaking my laws.
Environmentalists who worship the creation instead of the Creator will not be given extra credit for recycling. Retirees who only use their stored resources for their personal temporal comforts will be rewarded by what they did for Jesus’ sake. Jesus is Lord now.
Let me see if you were listening to God’s message by giving you a test. Did you know that 60% of single parent families live in poverty? Should the Church fight against divorce because of the human suffering that results? Or, should we repeat God’s opinions and call divorce immoral?
We can refashion God’s Word to make the Church look socially conscious, or we can speak God’s Word without fear and suffer with Jesus. God won’t bless the Church if she puts the light of the Gospel under a bushel.
May we realize that the TIME HAS COME right now for us to speak God’s Words. We can’t neuter the Bible and at the same time be faithful witnesses. If we become friends with the world, then we will find ourselves the enemy of God. That’s not a good trade.
May we live for Jesus today as though He has already come, for He has. Amen.
 The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.