Book: Revelation 7:9-17

Look at the Church Above!

By James Wiese on May 7, 2022

Easter 4: Misericordia Domini;   Good Shepherd                                                     Sunday May 8, 2022
Text: Revelation 7:9-17                                     CW-22 3 Year Series C                   22:2323

Theme: Look at the Church Above.

At the funeral service of a Christian, I sometimes tell the custom of the ancient church that is both beautiful and meaningful for believers who are left behind. We are told that in days gone by, when a member of a congregation passed from this present existence, his name was not removed from the membership roll. Instead, following his name, a notation was added: “Transferred to the Church above.”
So sure were those early Christians of the unity of the Church below and the Church above that death was merely a transfer, a changing over, a moving from one congregation of saints to another.
What a beautiful thought! But it’s more than a thought – it’s true, as true as any other truth that God has given us in His Holy Word. There is no reason that you and I should not be just as sure of this glorious fact as were the believers of an earlier age.
Our loved ones who have departed this life, trusting in Christ as their Savior, are still members of Christ’s Church, of which He is the Head. There is but one Church, and we are still united in that “mystic sweet communion” which binds together all those who belong to Him. Paul writes, “If we live, we live to the Lord and if we die, we die to the Lord, so whether we live or we die, we are the Lord’s. For this reason, He died, rose, and lived, to be the Lord of both the dead and the living” (Ro.14:8f).
As much as Christ is our living Savior, so He is still the living Lord of our departed loved ones in the faith. They are still members of His Church, even as we are. But they are members of the Church Triumphant as one day we too, in faith, shall be upon departing this life. This is partly what John means when he started this section by saying, “After these things (he means the life of God’s people, the Church, here in this world, vv.1-8), I saw, and look! A great multitude!” Look at the Church Above.

I. Look how many! They were made up of a number “that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing in front of the throne and the Lamb.”
What’s the biggest crowd of which you’ve been a part? Maybe a
Cardinal baseball game, a Mizzou football game, a concert, a political rally? Probably the biggest crowd of which I was ever a part was at a Rose Bowl game back in 1981 in Pasadena, CA. There were over 103,000 people there. That’s a lot of people. I could never have counted them; but somebody did.
The crowd John saw was much, much bigger. So big that no one could begin to count them. It’s as if John were saying, “Look how many there are. You can’t count them all.”
Doesn’t that remind you of God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that their descendants would be “innumerable as the stars in the sky, like the grains of sand on the seashore”? God was not just talking about physical descendants; He was talking about spiritual descendants, people who would be saved by faith in the coming Savior. God says, “The promise is by faith, so that it may be according to grace and may be guaranteed to all of Abraham’s descendants…to the one who has the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all” who believe in Christ (Ro.4:16f).
Think of all the believers that lived in the past, throughout the Old and New Testament times – and all believers from the time that John saw this vision until now – and all believers that are yet to be born in the years that lie ahead before Jesus returns. Look how many!
If John had recorded the names, you would read of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Malachi, and all Old Testament believers. You would read of John’s fellow apostles like Peter, Paul, James and the rest. And you would read of all our faithful Christian friends and those whom we have never met here in this world – all who cling in faith to Jesus as the Savior.
You would read of children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren yet unborn. You would read of black and white, red and yellow, people of every type of skin tone and style of speech. So many that no one could count them all. And neither could you. Yet Jesus, the Good Shepherd, knows them all by name (Jn.10:27) and treats them all the same. He gives them the white robes of His righteousness for they trust only in Him for salvation from sin. Look at the Church Above. Look how many are in it. If you believe in Jesus as the Savior, your face is among them.

II. Now, Look where they stand. They stand united, unharmed before God’s throne.
God’s throne symbolizes His great power and His gracious rule over all things. He, the almighty and faithful God with whom nothing is impossible; He is the God of salvation. Everything is under His control. For those who look to Him, that throne, His presence, symbolizes the place where no harm can ever touch His people again.
Before Jesus ascended to heaven after His resurrection, He declared that “all power in heaven and on earth had been given to Him.” The Father sitting on the throne bestows it, and Jesus wields it in the eternal interest of His people. Look where they stand, before the throne where He is in total control over all things for them.
Sometimes, to us who are still here on earth, it doesn’t seem like He is in control. Was Jesus in control when Russia, for no reason, invaded Ukraine? Is Jesus in control when sickness overcomes and strikes a person down? Will Jesus be in control if we should ever enter a nuclear holocaust? Often it seems like He’s not in control. If He were, why do such things happen? Why do hardships come to all?
We can’t always give the specific reason for every hardship that comes our way. Too often the mystery of His will and His workings escape us. But isn’t it a bit presumptuous on our part to judge the wisdom and ways of the One who sits on the throne above?
We do well to remember that all we are and have are God’s doing. We could not exist for one second without Him. And the many sorrows and troubles we go through in life here are evident of that fact that we could not survive without Him. Besides, it is not He who caused this world to fall into such disarray. It was we in our sin who caused it and the troubles that enter because of it. Such trials and difficulties are inescapable on earth and keep us mindful of our need to rely upon Him for every need of body and soul. He will use all things to keep our eyes on Him and the narrow way that leads to everlasting life. Without Him we would perish.
But He is on the throne, making sure that these things won’t harm us eternally. We’re His sheep. “Nothing can pluck us from His hands” (Jn.10: 28). Look at the Church Above. Those who are there are a sure sign of that promise. They made it through and now look where they stand, before God’s throne. His presence is ever with them; His tabernacle spread over them. They are with Him evermore.

III. Look at their joy.
“Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat.”
What must it be like to never again any kind of setback – of body or of spirit? To feel like you never lose anything but only gain blessings upon blessing, one after another? That sounds great! But it’s not how life works here on earth. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of heaven.” People get sick, people lose jobs, they lose homes, they get cancer, and in the end all die. Life doesn’t work perfectly here on earth, does it?
But it does in heaven. Look at the joy on the faces of the crowd dressed in white that stands before the throne. There God’s people experience nothing but victory, His victory forever. That can be hard to wrap our minds around because it’s not our reality in the present. But it is there, in the Church above.
But the biggest reason for their joy is this: “The Lamb at the center of the throne is their shepherd; He leads them to springs of living water. And God wipes away every tear from their eyes.”
It’s the One who was slaughtered for sin! It’s Christ Jesus! He’s the cause of their joy! The Lamb, yet also the Shepherd that He always is, is there to guide and protect them forever. Never again will they have to face any kind of loss or hurt caused by sin. Such is the existence of those who dwell in the Church above.
So why is this picture given to us? That we might find comfort knowing where our loved ones in Christ now dwell? Yes! But more.
A cartoon appearing in a daily newspaper, showed a crowd of people walking along a busy street in a major city. Each person had his head slanted downward, at the same angle, eyes fastened on the ground. Beneath the picture appeared the caption, “Almost no one looks up anymore.”
How true when you consider the majority of people in our day, in our country. So concerned about all the chaos in the world or all the luxuries that could be had, most have lost the capacity to “look up,” to see where it all ends for those who cling in faith to Christ Jesus. Those who have gone before us, who have been transferred to the Church Triumphant already enjoy His tent spread over them. And someday when the clocks of heaven strike the hour of our own departure here, we shall worship with them all, where time will never end, together again, before God’s throne. But without the upward look to the Lamb that was slain who is our Shepherd, it will never be.
So, look up to Him in faith. Look to the sky for His return, and know that the joy, the complete joy of His victory over sin, death, and the devil awaits in the Church above. “Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” God grant it to us in faith for Jesus’ sake. Amen.


Zion Lutheran Church of Springfield

(A member congregation of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod)

4717 S Farm Rd 135 (Golden Avenue)

Church phone: 417.887.0886                                                  Pastor’s cell phone: 417.693.3244

www.zionluthchurch.com                                                        email: revelehmann@gmail.com

You can also find us on Facebook 

The Fourth Sunday of Easter: Misericordia Domini      “Good Shepherd Sunday”        May 8, 2022

“The earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.” Psalm 33:5

F o r    O u r   V i s i t o r s

The family of Zion welcomes you as we worship the Lord today. We encourage children to worship with us. However, if you need to leave with your child, there is a nursery room to the right as you exit the sanctuary. The rest rooms are located in the hallway between the sanctuary and the fellowship hall. Visitors, please sign our guest book to the right, just outside the sanctuary. We’re glad that you are here and pray that through our worship the Lord grants you peace.

U p o n   E n t e r i n g   G o d’ s   H o u s e

“The LORD is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside still waters; He restoreth my soul. Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” (Psalm 23).

W h a t   T h i s   S u n d a y   i s   A b o u t

The Lord Is My Shepherd. Of all the titles that the Savior claims for Himself, “The Good Shepherd” is perhaps the dearest. It comforts Christians in distress, it emboldens them in prayer, and it motivates them to witness to the grace that they have found in Him.

From the earliest times of the New Testament era, the Church has portrayed these wondrous truths of the Gospel shortly after Easter. Knowing that the risen Savior is such a Good Shepherd, comforts us and moves us to follow Him. We trust His guidance in life and eagerly wait to see those things which lie ahead when we “dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” He is the Good Shepherd who cares for all our needs.

To that end we pray: O Lord Jesus Christ, You are the Good Shepherd who laid down Your life for the sheep. Lead us now to the still waters of Your life-giving Word that we may abide in Your Father’s house forevermore; for Your name’s sake. Amen.

– T h e   W o r d   o f   G o d   f o r   T o d a y –

The First Lesson: Acts 13:15,16,26-33

On his first missionary journey, the Apostle Paul preached an excellent summary of the Savior’s redeeming work: He lived, died, and rose again, fulfilling God’s promises. Through such preaching others are led to believe in Him as the Good Shepherd.

The Epistle Lesson: Revelation 7:9-17

Through the eyes of the Apostle John, the Lord gives us a peak into heaven. There we see a great host dressed in white praising the Lamb that was slain. He shed His blood and cleansed them of their sin. Now He is their Shepherd who guides them to eternal joys with Him above.

The Gospel Lesson: John 10:22-30  

The Good Shepherd speaks words of comfort and hope as He assures His sheep who believe in Him that He knows them. They hear His voice; they follow Him; nothing can harm them. Their eternal protection lies in the hands of God.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The Organist: Jane Rips (is not with us today)                The Preacher: Pastor Edwin Lehmann

Fulfilled Words and Works

Jesus tells you in His Word that He cares for you dearly. He would do anything for you. How do you know you can trust Him? Plenty of people say that in the world, but fail to carry it out when the time comes. Jesus followed up His words with works. He said He would suffer, die, and rise again for you, and He did. He fulfills His promises. His words are followed by His works. He illustrated that point in a striking metaphor, The Good Shepherd. Every word our Good Shepherd speaks is trustworthy and true.

Point to Ponder: “Let Him see and care where my soul will stay. He has so faithfully provided for me, even sacrificing His life in order to redeem my soul. My ears hang on the voice and word of my Shepherd. Praise to Him throughout eternity, to the one true and faithful Shepherd and Bishop of all souls that believe in Him!”                                                              — Martin Luther on “The Good Shepherd Knows How to Care for Me”

Outline of  Our Worship

The Preparation

Opening Thoughts on the Service

Daily Devotions pages 235-247

The Office of “Lauds” – Dawn pages 238-239

Opening Hymn: #778

The Ministry of the Word

Psalm 23

Acts 13:15.16.26-32

Revelation 7:9-17

Hymn Response: #551

John 10:22-30

Hymn: #555

Sermon: Revelation 7:9-17     Look at the Church Above!

Our Response to the Word

The Offering

“The Song of Zechariah”     page 238

The Prayers

The Close of Service

 The Blessing

The Benediction

The Closing Hymn: #890

Silent Prayer


The Fourth Sunday of Easter – Series C

First Lesson: Acts 13:15,16,26-33 Paul at Antioch in Pisidia

15After the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the leaders of the synagogue sent a message to them, saying, “Gentlemen, brothers, if you have a word of encouragement for the people, say it.” 16Then Paul stood up, motioned with his hand, and said, 26“Gentlemen, brothers, sons of Abraham’s family, and those among you who fear God, this message of salvation has been sent to you. 27The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize him, and by condemning him they fulfilled the statements of the prophets that are read every Sabbath. 28Though they found no grounds for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29When they carried out everything that was written about him, they took him down from the cross and laid him in a tomb. 30But God raised him from the dead, 31and for many days he was seen by those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. These same individuals are now his witnesses to the people. 32“We are preaching to you the good news about the promise that was made to our fathers. 33God has fulfilled this promise for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm:

‘You are my Son. Today I have begotten you.’

34“That God would raise him from the dead never again to be subject to decay, God said in this way:

‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings promised to David.’

35“Therefore he also says in another place:

‘You will not let your Holy One see decay.’

36“For David, after he had served God’s purpose in his own generation, fell asleep, was laid to rest with his fathers, and saw decay. 37But the One God raised did not see decay.

38“So, gentlemen, brothers, let it be known to you that through this Jesus forgiveness of sins is being proclaimed to you, also forgiveness from everything from which you could not be justified through the law of Moses. 39In this Jesus, everyone who believes is justified.”

Epistle Lesson: Revelation 7:9-17 – In Heaven; the Lamb Is the Shepherd

9After these things I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing in front of the throne and of the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and with palm branches in their hands. 10They called out with a loud voice and said:

“Salvation comes from our God, who sits on the throne, and from the Lamb.”

11All the angels stood around the throne, the elders, and the four living creatures. They fell on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, 12saying:

“Amen. Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and might belong to our God forever and ever. Amen.”

13One of the elders spoke to me and said, “These people dressed in white robes, who are they and where did they come from?”

And I answered him, “Sir, you know.”

14And he said to me:

“These are the ones who are coming out of the great tribulation.

They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

15Because of this they are in front of the throne of God,

and they serve him day and night in his temple.

He who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them.

16They will never be hungry or thirsty ever again.

The sun will never beat upon them, nor will any scorching heat,

17for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd.

He will lead them to springs of living water.

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Gospel Lesson: John 10:22-30 – The Shepherd and His Sheep

22Then the Festival of Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, 23and Jesus was walking in the temple area in Solomon’s Colonnade.

24So the Jews gathered around Jesus, asking, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

25Jesus answered them, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I am doing in my Father’s name testify about me. 26But you do not believe, because you are not my sheep, as I said to you. 27My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. 29My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. No one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30I and the Father are one.”

The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version® (EHV®) copyright © 2019 The Wartburg Project.


        C a l e n d a r     &     A n n o u n c e m e n t s     f o r     Z i o n     L u t h e r a n     C h u r c h

Today

May 8

Monday

May 9

Tuesday

May 10

Wednesday

May 11

Thursday

May 12

Friday

May 13

Sat.

May 14

Next Sun.

May 15

9:00 am

Divine Worship Service

online -Facebook

10:15 am

Fellowship & Bible Study

 

Easter 4

“Misericordia Domini”

  6:30 pm

Elders & Trustee Meetings

7 pm

Joint Council Meeting

11 am

Bible Class

 4:30 pm

Confirmation

 5:45 pm

Choir

  9:00 am

Divine Worship Service with Holy Communion

online – Facebook

 

10:15 am

Fellowship & Bible Study

 Easter 5

“Cantate”

 

 A Brief Bible Study on God’s Word for Today

Imagine that everyone on earth was a needle: there are well over six billion needles in a huge pile. How can God keep them all straight? How can God keep His eye on you in particular, and hear your prayers? He has no trouble at all—and not only because He is Almighty. Jesus is your Good Shepherd. He knows you as well as He knows the Father, and as the Father knows you. That’s why He laid down his life for you.

 The Gospel Lesson: John 10:22-30 (answers are found on the back side)

  1. What two testimonies should have convinced Jews of Jesus’ day that He really is the Son of God?
  2. What great comfort does Jesus give to people who, like sheep, are prone to wander?

Those We Remember In Our Prayers: Those We Remember In Our Prayers: Greg Miller; Lou Schulz; William & Laurie Moon; Pauline Jaeger; Dave Ballou; John Workentine; Kirsten Jaster (Laurie Moon’s sister, long term covid); Lois Wiese; Greg Pierson (the Long’s son-in-law); Libya, Jodi Milam’s granddaughter, diagnosed with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, an autoimmune disease of the brain; Elizabeth Lisenby, looking in the near future at shoulder surgery; Barbara Long, following hospitalization.

Forward in Christ’s next edition for May has arrived. You may find copies on the credenza in the narthex. Also, the next edition of Meditations’ devotions, beginning at the end of May, will be found there.

Upcoming Events

Sunday, June 5 – Pentecost Sunday and Confirmation Sunday for Emily Mabra

Sunday, June 5-Tuesdsay, June 7 – WELS/ELS Family Camp at Heit’s Point

Monday, June 6-Thursday, June 9 – WELS Minnesota District Biennial Convention at MLC, New Ulm

The Week in Review

Last Sunday Worship: 27; Bible Class: 14; Midweek Bible Class: 2; Offering: $2,124; Mickelson Memorial: $575.

 Next Sunday’s Lessons:               

Easter 5: Acts 11:1-18; Revelation 21:1-6; John 13:31-35  (CW -21, Series C)

Answers to Today’s Gospel Lesson Brief Study:

  1. a) Jesus’ repeated statements about His relationship with the Father and b) His miracles both testify that Jesus is the Son of God.
  2. Jesus assures us that no one can snatch us out of His hand. He will keep us trusting in Him as we keep hearing His voice, the voice of our Shepherd.

                  

This week I am praying for……      



 

Home with Jesus

By James Wiese on June 11, 2019

Sermon for the 4th Sunday of Easter                                                                          May 11, 2019
Text: Revelation 7:9-17                         3 Year Series C                                            19:2131
Theme: Home with Jesus

Years ago a number of skylarks were imported from England and set loose in one of the eastern parts of our country. Soon they made themselves at home and began to breed.
One day a student of birds was listening with interest and taking notes about the song of the emigrant birds. As he was listening to their song, his eye caught sight of a laborer nearby, who had heard the larks sing in his native Ireland. The Irish laborer suddenly stopped, took off his cap, and turned his face skyward. There was a look of surprise and joy and memory upon his face as he listened, entranced, to the song of the birds he had heard sing in his youth. What was the difference between the two men as they listened to the same song of the birds?
For the bird expert it was only a scientific observation, but for the Irishman it was the listening of recollection and remembrance, of affection and hope. So also, through the Gospel of Christ, there come to us those songs which tell us of our heavenly home, the homeland of the soul. One of the greatest songs of recollection and remembrance, of affection and hope is in our lesson today.

I. Look, how many are there.
John writes, “I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing in front of the throne and of the Lamb.” It was a crowd so large that no one could count.
What’s the largest crowd of which you’ve been a part? Perhaps a sporting event, a political rally, a concert in a stadium? How many were there? Someone probably counted them. A thousand…ten thousand… perhaps fifty thousand or more? That’s a lot of people. But the crowd John saw was even bigger, so big that no one could count them. It’s as if John saw and gasped, “Look! How many there are!
Ah, that ought to remind us of the promise that God made to our father Abraham so many years ago: “Your descendants,” He said, will be as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the grains of sand on the seashore.” That was true of Abraham’s physical descendants, which includes many Middle Eastern peoples. But God was not talking about those as much as He was talking about the descendants who are of the faith of Abraham who looked to the promise of the Savior to come.
Think of all those who lived in the past, throughout the Old and New Testament times. Then think of those who lie beyond it. Think of those who are yet to be born in the years that ahead until Jesus returns. Think of everyone who has or will believe in the Savior as Abraham did. John saw them before heaven’s throne, so many that he could not count them all.
If he had gotten a closer look at their faces, John would have seen Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David and all the O.T. believers. He would have seen Peter, Paul, James and the rest of the N.T. believers. And wonder upon wonders, God-willing in the future, John would have seen in his vision you and me and all our faithful Christian friends who cling to Christ Jesus alone as our Savior from sin.
He would have seen children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren yet unborn. He would have seen black and white and red and yellow and people of every type of skin color and style of speech – American, African, Chinese, and more – so many that John could not count them all, and neither could we. But the Good Shepherd knows them all by name and they know Him (Jn.10:27). And He treats them all the same, for they believed in Him. They are at home with Jesus above, as John saw it. Look! How many there are! No one could even begin to count them all. And if you believe in Jesus as the Savior, your face is among them.

II. Look! They are all dressed in white, free from sin.
That’s the special way John described them in their heavenly home. It is a place free from sin and its consequences – free from all the bad things that affected life here. That’s the way the Bible often speaks about our heavenly home to us. It tells us what won’t be there so that we might begin to grasp the reality of its eternal joys. Why does it do that? Think of it this way.
If you were going to describe the land of Hawaii to a person who lived at the South Pole, you could hardly give him an idea of it by mentioning some of the things that are there. What would a palm tree mean to a man who had never seen anything but snow and ice? What would the flash of a brilliantly colored bird’s feather mean to one who had never seen any bird but a penguin? What would the elephant or lion mean to one who had seen only a floundering seal? You would have to describe a land that one has never seen by telling him what was not there by things he knew. That is similar to what the Holy Spirit employs in telling us about our heavenly home and life beyond the grave.
It does that because here we are sinners living in an imperfect world.
We’ve never known perfect joy and happiness. So God speaks to us in terms of sin and its accompanying sorrows and tribulations as completely gone from us above.
Isn’t that the reason we often hear someone say about a family member or friend who has died, “Oh, it’s a blessing! They are better off now”? Why do we say that?
Usually, it’s because that person has suffered through things like cancer, Alzheimers, or excruciating pain of some sort. It’s a relief to see the sufferer released from it. “Oh, it’s a blessing,” we say. “They’re better off now.”
Sadly, such sentiments are not always true. Death is a release from sin and its consequences for the redeemed, those who cling to their Savior in steadfast faith for cleansing from sin. But make no mistake about it. Death is not a release for everyone.
The Bible says, “Whoever believes and is baptized shall be saved; but whoever does not believe shall be condemned” (Mk.16:16).
So, if we ask, “Who are the ones for whom death is a blessing as it frees them from sin and brings them to an eternally happy home where all sorrow and sufferings are gone?”…our text responds, “They are the ones coming out of the great tribulation who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
Such people knew their sin and weakness here. They recognized their total inability before God. But the difference about that multitude is that they clung to the merits and work of Christ Jesus alone for forgiveness. Of them we are told, “Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat…and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
Look! Dressed in white, free from sin, that’s what the saints in glory enjoy. And one day we too will enjoy it as we cling steadfast in faith to our Savior. We’ll find ourselves in such a perfect home.

III. Look! They stand face to face in God’s presence forevermore.
And there’s more. “They are before the throne of God and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will spread His tent over them…for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd.” Look! They stand in God’s presence forevermore.
The presence of God is a blessing; it’s a comforting thing. That’s why Christians like to spend time in God’s House. For God’s Word is here and where His Word is, there He is also. He is here even as we sing and speak His Word, and we find peace and rest in it, even in the darkest moments.
Still, we are often troubled because we can’t see Him or touch Him; we can’t look into His eyes and speak to Him face to face. That is something Christians long to do, especially as they “pass through the valley of the shadow of death.” We can’t do it here – face to face.
But there the great multitude, dressed in white, freed from sin see God face to face. They stand before His throne; He spreads His tent of protection over them; and they find joy forevermore in their Good Shepherd’s presence and leading. You can’t have a closer life with God than that. I wonder what my first glimpse of the Shepherd, who gave His life for a sinner like me, will be. How wonderful! You and I yearn for it and are hope filled. But those who have already fallen asleep enjoy it and are content. They are content for they are now home with Jesus. God grant it in His day to us all in faith; for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

What the Saints in Heaven Enjoy

By James Wiese on March 25, 2019

Christian Funeral Service for Audrey Darlain Waples
Saturday, March 23, 2019                                                                  Text: Revelation 7:9-17
Theme: What the Saints in Heaven Enjoy                                          19:2117

What do you remember Audrey for? People who are close to us, people whom we’ve known for a time – there’s always something about them that we remember. For Audrey, what is it?
Sometimes I wonder why I remember the things I do. It’s not the “big” things I remember as much as little things, simple things.
For example, when we moved to Missouri in 1992, we lived a little way up Golden Ave. from church. One of the first times I ventured out, I went to see your mom and dad. Early one evening I drove down Campbell before it was a big thoroughfare. At the time there was little built south of James River Frwy. In fact, the freeway ended at Kansas Expwy. No Sams, no Andy’s, no Library, there was a water slide, a nursery, a few businesses on the way to Nixa. Nixa’s population was only 4,000. You boys lived on College St.
The first time I came over the hill and down into the James River Valley where Steinert’s is, I thought, “Wow, that’s pretty!” Believe it or not, there were probably only 3 or 4 other cars on the highway – a far cry from today’s busy road. It was a pleasant drive.
I came into Nixa for the first time and couldn’t find where your parents lived, not too far from the house today. They lived in an apartment, but it didn’t face the street and was tucked back, on the side. Your dad answered and we sat and talked. I don’t remember our conversation other than it was a pleasant visit, and I heard about Shoji Tabuchi for the first time. Your mom and dad were some of the first members I visited after moving here. I won’t forget that.
Other things I remember about Audrey are the things she seemed to enjoy: Bible class (she knew her Bible well); taking the Common Cup in the Lord’s Supper and Emily watching her out of the corner of her eye; talking about the history of WELS and CLC in South Dakota, and church family names we both knew. She enjoyed many hymns. In fact, it made it a little difficult for me today. We sometimes talked about what she would like to have sung for this service. I would mention one and she would say, “Oh, I like that one.” And then another, “Oh, I like that one, too.” And then another, “Oh, that’s one of my favorites.” If I picked all the hymns to sing today that she liked, we would be here until 2 o’clock. The same with Bible verses. And I know that she enjoyed potlucks. I grin about that because I think that she took more food home with her than she ate here. I ribbed her about it once. She chuckled her little Audrey chuckle: “Well, I just want to try a little of everything,” she said as she walked out the door. It’s memories like that, simple things about my friends here at church that I enjoy.
It makes me wonder what my good friend, Audrey, and so many other saints who died in faith now have and enjoy. Here in our text we get just a glimpse of What Those Saints Enjoy in Heaven.

I. Dressed in white they enjoy an eternal existence, free from sin. That’s the special way John described heaven here, as a place free from sin and its consequences. Freed from things, from all bad things – that’s the way the Bible often speaks to us of heaven. It tells us what won’t be there.
It does that because here we are sinners living in an imperfect world. We’ve never known perfect joy and happiness, and we cannot imagine what that will be like because it goes beyond our present experience. So, God speaks to us in terms of sin and its accompanying sorrows and tribulations, things we understand and suffer here, being completely gone from us in heaven.
Isn’t that the reason that we often hear someone say about a family member or friend who has died, “Oh, it’s a blessing! They’re better off now”? Why do we say that?
Usually it’s because that individual has suffered through things like cancer, or Alzheimer’s, or, like Audrey, the continuing pain of shingles and other weaknesses of the body that have gone on for a time. It’s a relief to see them, to see her released from that suffering. “Oh, it’s a blessing. They’re better off now,” we say.
Sadly, such sentiments are not always true. Death is a release from sin and its consequences for the redeemed, those who cling to their Savior in steadfast faith for cleansing from sin. But, make no mistake about it, death is not a release for everyone.
The Bible says, “Whoever believes and is baptized shall be saved; but whoever does not believe shall be condemned” (Mk.16).
So, if we ask: “Who are the ones for whom death is a blessing as it frees them from sin and brings them to an eternally happy existence where all sorrow and sufferings are gone?” – our text responds, “They are the ones who are coming out of the great tribulation who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
Such people knew their sin and weakness here. They recognized their total inability before God. But the difference about them is that they clung to the merits and work of Christ Jesus for forgiveness. They are the ones who love to sing, “Just as I am without one plea, but that Thy blood was shed for me.” Of them we are told, “Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat…and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” They are dressed in the white robes of Christ’s righteousness, relying completely on Him.
That was Audrey. Her complete trust in Jesus as her Savior was evident in the things she did and said. Was she perfect? No! And she would be the first to confess that. But she was washed in the blood of her Savior and held to Him alone in faith. In that faith she now takes up a place with the “great multitude that no one can count…standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They are wearing white robes and are holding palm branches in their hands. And they cry out in a loud voice: Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne and to the Lamb…Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”
What a blessing to see What the Saints in Heaven Enjoy. It lifts our hearts and sends us away rejoicing in the Lord for her.

II. Dressed in white they enjoy a close life with God forever.
And there’s more. Our text continues, “They are before the throne of God and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will spread His tent over them.”
The presence of God is a blessing – a comforting thing. That’s why Audrey liked to spend time with God in His House. She knew that God’s Word is here and where that is, so is He. He is here, and one finds peace and rest in His Word, even in the darkest moments.
Still, we are often troubled because here we can’t see Him or touch Him; we can’t look into His eyes and speak to Him face to face. That is something Christians long to do, as we “pass through the valley of the shadow of death.” We can’t do it here.
But there, dear friends, after the believer has closed her eyes here for the last time, there she opens them to see that reality. She sees God face to face in glory. She stands right before God’s throne. And the Lamb of God who died in her place fills the believer with joy in His presence. You can’t have a closer life with God than that which Heaven’s Saints, dressed in white, now enjoy.
You and I yearn for it and are hope-filled. Those who have already fallen asleep enjoy it and are content – content forever in their life with God. That’s What the Believer Enjoys in Heaven.
So, dry your tears and rejoice. No longer a stranger here, heaven is home, to Audrey and Keith, once more united after 19 years apart, and to all who believe in the Savior. What a wonderful truth to hold! And that’s a blessing for us today, to see What the Saints in Heaven Enjoy. God grant it to us in faith; for Jesus’ sake. Amen