There is much that could be said concerning this topic and many have tackled it head on. Yet there is one aspect that is new, at least to me, which helps to explain what was heretofore hidden, at least from me. We see this first in Eve (Gen. 3:1-8) when the serpent spoke lies to her and she received them as truth, she actually thought that eating the fruit was the right thing to do. According to 1 Tim. 2:14, Eve was the only one deceived, Adam was not deceived about the fruit and its consequences but ate the fruit anyway knowing full well what he was doing was wrong and yet proceeded on. Eve ate the forbidden fruit thinking that what she was doing was right; Adam ate the forbidden fruit in full-on rebellion, his 'thought process' is not made known to us.
The type of deception used on Eve by the serpent, the devil, is seen throughout history and is still successfully employed by the wicked one today. Eve believed it was the right thing to do as she was convinced by the serpent that being "like God" was more important that obeying Him---see Isaiah 14 for the mindset of Lucifer, the devil, and find the same things in Eve, "I will be like God." Her conscience played little to no role in her decision because her lust for godhood overruled any twinge that might come forth to stop her. Today we see the conscience of most people "seared with a hot iron" to the point that it is silent, while their lust for whatever indulgence is before them takes center stage and full control of their mind, body, and soul. They are fully convinced that whatever they do is okay (I can do no wrong). It begins with simple selfishness, advances to various stages of narcissism, and ends up in the worst case scenario, a psychopath. Whatever modern day term may be attached, the lost ones view themselves as being without sin, no matter their crime or 'indiscretion.' There is no escape for them unless God Almighty intervenes.
A lost person may have an active conscience toward his fellow man showing sympathy and empathy for another's plight (too often even this is motivated by self-interest); they may even have a 'pullback' from within regarding the consequences of their activities as far as man is concerned where friends or peers are involved and in regard to the law of the land. The attitude and mindset of the lost is focused on the pleasure derived from whatever things they do (the ultimate selfishness); the rightful claims upon man imposed by God (repent and believe the Gospel) have no bearing nor place nor time allotted in a lost man's mind and soul. What he does is right, because it is right for him or so he has convinced himself. There is no fear of God for such a person. This is common to all the lost, without exception, their bragging to the contrary notwithstanding.
It is interesting that the first 'revelation' Adam and Eve knew was that they were both naked. Not just naked before each other, but mainly before God as they took fig leaves to cover themselves and sought to hide from God when they heard His sound approaching (Gen. 3:7 & 8). It is one thing to know the difference between good and evil and quite another to choose the good over the evil; something that man has never been very good at doing. Soon enough man found himself choosing evil and ignoring good (as we see in Rom. 1:18-23) as evidenced by Cain who begrudgingly offered to God what he thought God was worthy to receive and killed his brother for obeying God by offering the prescribed sacrifice. Things have not changed one iota since that day whether by physical death, character assassination, or lies and false accusations against the elect, judgment awaits those who have persecuted God's chosen ones.
Perhaps the kindest judgment by the Lord that day was the blocking of access by man to the Tree of Life. As the nature of man changed from Innocent to Depraved in an instant by the rebellion of Adam and Eve what a nightmare it would be to live eternally in a human body whose only interest was sin, whose only capability was sin, whose only future was sin, whose only hope was sin, whose only master was sin. Thanks be to God that He had better things in mind for His creation through the Sacrifice and Resurrection of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is my hope that I will be able to do justice to the "intervention of God" as a fitting sequel to this post.
"Afresh, precious, precious Jesus, I resign this body to You, for doing or suffering, for living or dying. Will You accept it? Will You use me for Your glory more than heretofore, that You may have some little return for all the benefits You have done to me? Oh, do grant this request; my heart longs for it, my spirit pleads for it; and "if You will, You can." You know the hot temptation of which I am the subject. Bring Your glory out of it, and keep me from the evil, and it shall be well." - Ruth Bryan
Tuesday, February 26, 2019
FOLLOW THE LAMB
by William Dyer
"These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes!" Revelation 14:4
The title of this book tells us, that it is the Revelation of John. And John tells us in the first verse, that it is "The Revelation of Jesus Christ!" It is Christ's Revelation to John—and John's Revelation to us.
The command of this book is set forth: "Write what you have seen, what is, and what will take place after this." Revelation 1:19. Into these two parts, this book is divided.
First, A revelation of the things that referred to the seven churches of Asia.
Secondly, A revelation of the general state of the church to come, and from John's time unto the second coming of the Lord.
The words of this book are the true sayings—of the true God, "These words are trustworthy and true!" Revelation 22:6.
The matter of this book so much concerns the good of the church, that Jesus Christ commanded everyone who has an ear to hear, to hearken to what the Spirit of God says to the church; and to show how earnest Christ Jesus is to have all his members and servants acquainted with the things revealed in this book; this charge he repeats eight times over.
A blessing is pronounced upon the reader, hearer, and doer of these things written in this book, "Blessed is the one who reads, and blessed are those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep what is written in it, because the time is near!" Revelation 1:4. Oh! what can be said more, or more effectually to stir us up to hear and read and obey—than blessedness? "Look, I am coming quickly! Blessed is the one who keeps the prophetic words of this book!" Revelation 22:7. But how shall we keep them—unless we read them?
The excellency of this book is such as neither man nor angel, none in heaven or earth, or under the earth—was found worthy so much as to look into it, until Jesus Christ went and took it out of his Father's hand to open it to us, chapter 5:7.
The holy John could not but weep, for fear lest this book should have been kept closed from him and the church—so earnest was he to know these things, which we neglect to know, "And I cried and cried because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or even to look in it." Revelation 5:4.
This book is a most precious jewel which Christ has bestowed upon his church in the latter days; and it is our great duty to look into it, and read it, and study it, open it, and expound it—that all the people may be acquainted with it; especially in these times. For now in this age is the brunt of the battle between God—and Belial; between Christ—and Antichrist; between the Lamb's followers—and the beast's followers. Now this book lays all open, and plainly tells us what shall be the outcome and success in the day of battle; which side shall have the victory, and which side shall go down. And certainly the sons of Belial shall not prevail; their time draws on apace, wherein both they and their beast shall be laid in the dust. This book shows us the rising of the beast, the declining of the beast, and ruin of the beast, chapter 18.
Our Lord Jesus has showed in this book, the sorrow, and sufferings, and afflictions, and tribulation which the church was to meet with in the latter times. He also shows us, her deadly and her cruel enemies, the whore of Babylon, the mother of harlots, the beast, the false prophets, and the great red dragon, which makes war against her, and and try to destroy her.
This book shows us likewise the true state of the true church upon earth, and what state is now in: where she is, how she is, and what she shall be hereafter; and that before her slaying, under her slaying, and after her slaying.
1. BEFORE her slaying time, the true church is in the wilderness, where she has a place prepared for her of God, "The woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared by God, to be fed there for 1,260 days." Revelation 12:6.
Before the slaying of the witnesses, the true worshipers of God are in a low condition, in heaviness and sadness, in sackcloth and ashes, in a mourning and suffering state, being scattered and dispersed here and there, as Israel was of old. But though this is the condition of the poor woman in the wilderness—yet she is not without comfort, she may take comfort in three things.
1. That God prepared a place for her.
2. That God nourished her, and locked her up in his chamber of providence.
3. That God numbered her days of suffering. The tribulation of the saints in the Old Testament is reckoned up still by years; as the bondage of Egypt 430 years, and the captivity of Babylon 70 years. But under the New Testament, the tribulation of the saints is reckoned up by days, "You shall have tribulation ten days," chapter 2:10. "And the two witnesses shall lie dead three and a half days," chapter 11:9. So the woman was to be in the wilderness 1,260 days.
The church is compared to a woman for four reasons:
1. As a woman is weak and feeble, so is the church. She can do nothing without Christ, John 15:5.
2. As a woman is useful and fruitful, so is the church, John 15:2.
3. As a woman is fair and beautiful, so is the church, Ezekiel 16:13.
4. As a woman is full of love and affection, so is the church, Song of Songs 2:5.
2. UNDER her slaying times. The worshipers of God, and witnesses of Jesus Christ, lay dead on the streets of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, "Their bodies will lie in the street of the great city, which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt." Revelation 11:8. She is called Sodom, for her filthiness, and wickedness; and Egypt for her cruelty and oppression. That is, in antichrist's kingdoms and dominions.
The true servants of God and members of Jesus Christ, who bear witness for him against the evils of the beast and against the evils of the world, are here called 'two' witnesses:
1. Because of the fewness of them.
2. Because two is a number sufficient to bear witness, John 8:17.
3. Because antichrist's beasts are called two, chapter 13:4.
They are called 'witnesses' for six reasons:
First, Because their work is to bear witness for Christ and his truth—against the world, the flesh, and the devil. A true believer is to bear a threefold testimony to, and for Christ:
a word-testimony,a life-testimony,a blood-testimony, Hebrews 12, John 5:33.
Secondly, Christ's members are called witnesses, because they stand up for Christ to maintain his name, his honor, his cause, his truth, his worship, and his glory in the world, Daniel chapters 3 and 6. "And you killed the Prince of Life, whom God has raised from the dead. We are witnesses of this." Acts 3:15. "It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed!" Acts 4:10.
Thirdly, the Lamb's followers are called witnesses, because they keep the testimony of Jesus Christ; Revelation 12:16 and 6:9. A testimony of all the offices, works, and kingdoms of Jesus Christ—as King of saints and King of nations.
Fourthly, God's chosen and precious ones are called witnesses, because they appear boldly and openly for his truth! They own it, they love it, they publish it, they hold it fast, and suffer for it. They, through the teaching of the Spirit in the Word, and by the power of the same Spirit, are found in the practice of Christ's appointment; they cannot deny the truth which is a testimony of it, Acts 24:14.
Fifthly, the true worshipers of God are called witnesses, because they bear witness against the beast, and the whole mystery of iniquity; against the whore of Babylon, who has committed fornication with the kings of the earth, and made herself drunk with the blood of the saints, Revelation 17:6.
Christ's faithful witnesses bear an eminent testimony against all her abominations, and filthiness, and wickedness; against the Pope, his government, his clergy, his doctrine, his worship, his religion, and his abominable proceedings, Revelation 19:7.
Sixthly, Christ's redeemed ones are called witnesses, because in dying they bear witness for him; for to die for the truth is a living standing testimony to it. Those who for Christ's sake, do not love their lives so much as to shrink from death—die as most glorious witnesses of Christ! "They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death." Revelation 12:11. "Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them!" Revelation 11:7.
Antichrist rises in a double beast, in his civil power, and in his ecclesiastical power:
First, In his civil power; so he makes up one beast with the ten kings, chapter 17:12. And this is the beast that rises out of the sea, which had seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his head the name of blasphemy. "And now in my vision I saw a beast rising up out of the sea. It had seven heads and ten horns, with ten crowns on its horns. And written on each head were names that blasphemed God. This beast looked like a leopard, but it had bear's feet and a lion's mouth! And the dragon gave him his own power and throne and great authority." Revelation 13:1-2.
Secondly, In the ecclesiastical power; so he makes up another beast, the clergy; and that is that beast that rose up out of the earth. "Then I saw another beast come up out of the earth. He had two horns like those of a lamb, and he spoke with the voice of a dragon." Revelation 13:11.
Now these two monstrous beasts, antichrist's magistrates and ministers, slay the faithful witnesses of Jesus Christ, and rejoice over their dead bones, and make merry, and send gifts one to another! "All the people who belong to this world will give presents to each other to celebrate the death of the two prophets who had tormented them!" Revelation 11:10. Oh, how do graceless, faithless, and Christless men, rejoice at the afflictions and calamities of God's people, saying, "Where is now your God, and Christ your king?" Psalm 42:10.
As touching the nature of the witnesses death, we are not only to conceive thereof, as only being a bodily killing or slaying—but also a civil killing or slaying! Not only the killing of their bodies—but also their testimonies, depriving and stripping them of their liberty, worship, ordinances, religion, and the free exercise of their gifts; not allowing a servant of Jesus Christ to bear a testimony against the abominations of the beast, nor against her national wickedness; making laws against them, and lying in wait for them, stopping their mouths, and imprisoning them, beating and hunting them up and down, afflicting and tormenting them, and taking possession of their possessions, killing and slaying them all the day long, and accounting them as sheep for the slaughter! Romans 8:36. This is to be killed all the day long—and upon this account the witnesses are said to be slain.
"But after three and a half days, the spirit of life from God entered them, and they stood up! And terror struck all who were staring at them!" Revelation 11:11. They had a spirit of boldness and courage, zeal and undauntedness, and resolution to appear for Christ and his cause—against antichrist, and the whole brood!
Therefore rejoice all you saints, and be glad all you upright in heart; though the witnesses are dead, they will not be always dead—but rise again!
3. AFTER the slaying time, the church is with the Lamb on Mount Zion, "Then I saw the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him were 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads." Revelation 14:1. This denotes a fixed state, "Those which trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved," Psalm 125:1.
Before the slaying time, the church is very low; but under the slaying- time lower; but after the slaying time the church is very high—she is rejoicing and shining, and triumphing on Mount Zion! "And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth." Revelation 14:3
The true church having gotten the glorious presence of the Lamb, and the Lamb in the midst of her; and having gotten the victory over the beast, they rejoice mightily. "And I heard a sound from heaven like the roaring of a great waterfall or the rolling of mighty thunder. It was like the sound of many harpists playing together!" Revelation 14:2
But this was not until after the resurrection of the witnesses; and when the witnesses are risen, the church is exceeding joyful.
This chapter out of which my text is taken, contains six principal things:
First, A lovely description of Jesus Christ; and he is described by the similitude of a Lamb, "Lo, a Lamb stood upon Mount Zion," verse 1. "Behold the Lamb of God," John 1:29.
He is called a Lamb in a double respect:
1. In respect of his innocence, 1 Peter 1:19.2. In respect of his meekness and patience, Acts 8:12.
Secondly, A lively description of the church, the Lamb's wife, and that from verse 1 to verse 5.
Thirdly, A glorious description of the church's ministers. As the church is in this book called heaven, so her ministers are called angels, "Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people," verse 6. "A second angel followed and said, "Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries!" verse 8. "A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb!" verses 9-10.
Fourthly, Here is set down the doctrine which these angels preach and publish:
The first angel published the free grace of God in Jesus Christ openly against all the inventions of men, saying with a loud voice, "Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water!" verse 7. Namely, that man should only fear God and worship him, and give all glory to him: none to creatures, none to images, none to antichrist; none to he who worships the beast and the devil, chapter 13.
The second angel proclaims utter ruin to Babylon, and the destruction thereof over the world, saying, Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries!" verse 8.
The third angel does seriously and solemnly give warning to all those who shall adhere to the beast, showing the clanger and misery of it, "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb!" verse 9, 10.
Fifthly, A sweet word of heavenly consolation to the saints and people of God: "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them." verse 13.
Sixthly, the judgment and vengeance which shall be executed upon the false church; the Spirit does set it forth by a double similitude: the one by reaping, and the other by gathering. "So the one sitting on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the whole earth was reaped. After that, another angel came from the Temple in heaven, and he also had a sharp sickle. Then another angel, who has power to destroy the world with fire, shouted to the angel with the sickle, "Use your sickle now to gather the clusters of grapes from the vines of the earth, for they are fully ripe for judgment." So the angel swung his sickle on the earth and loaded the grapes into the great winepress of God's wrath. And the grapes were trodden in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress in a stream about 180 miles long and as high as a horse's bridle!" Revelation 14:16-20. God will, as it were, rain hell out of heaven upon Babylon! He has fire and brimstone for his spiritual Sodom, judgment without mercy, and fury without compassion!
I shall now come to the words of my text, "These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. They were redeemed from among men, and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb!" Revelation 14:4.
This text is one of the golden characters, of the one hundred and forty-four thousand, who stood with the Lamb upon Mount Zion.
In these words, are three things.
1. The subject—These.2. The act—Follow,3. The object—The Lamb wherever he goes.
I shall gather this observation from the words, that it is the sweet temper and frame of a soul truly gracious, to "follow the Lamb wherever he goes." In the handling of this point I shall show you five things.
First, What it is to follow the Lamb?
Secondly, Why they follow the Lamb.
Thirdly, the excellency of following the Lamb.
Fourthly, the misery of those who who do not follow the Lamb.
Fifthly, How the Lamb's followers may be distinguished from the beast's followers.
First, WHAT it is to follow the Lamb?
First, to follow the Lamb wherever he goes, is to follow him in four things:
1st, We follow the Lamb in his COMMANDMENTS. "If you love Me—you will keep My commandments!" John 14:15.
"You are My friends—if you do what I command you." John 15:14
"Blessed are those who do his commandments—that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates!"Revelation 22:14. Oh, beloved, we cannot follow the Lamb wherever he goes, unless we follow him in his commandments! "Then shall I not be ashamed," says David, "when I have respect unto all your commandments," Psalm 119:6. True Christians take as much delight in those precepts that enjoin holiness, as in those promises that assure happiness.
2ndly, We follow the Lamb in his TEACHING. "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me! But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice." John 10:5, 27.
3rdly, We follow the Lamb in his PROVIDENCE. Through all afflictions, all straits, all discouragements and sorrows whatever, though it be the way of death—we must forsake all to follow a crucified Christ, a condemned Christ, in bloody paths of sufferings—if he calls us to it! "Yes, though I walk through the dark valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me," Psalm 23:4. "For," says Paul, "I am ready not to be bound only—but also to die at Jerusalem, for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ." We must be willing to venture the loss of all for him: our liberty, estates, relations, and life itself! "We have forsaken all and followed you," Matthew 19:27.
4thly, We follow the Lamb in his EXAMPLE. "I have given you an example that you also should do just as I have done for you." John 13:15. "Christ has suffered for us, leaving us an example that we should follow his steps," 1 Peter 2:21. To follow Christ's steps—is to take him for our example. We must walk in the same spirit, the same steps, and in the same obedience. We must not follow wicked men's example, who walk in the broad way that leads to death. "They are the children of their father the Devil, and they love to do the evil things he does!" John 8:44.
But we must follow our head Christ, who went about doing good, Acts 10:38. Now this is to follow the Lamb wherever he goes: in his commands, in his teaching, in his providences, in his examples.
Secondly, to "follow the Lamb wherever he goes," is to follow him TRULY, without hypocrisy; and CONSTANTLY, without apostasy.
1st, A believer follows the Lamb TRULY, without hypocrisy. Many follow the Lamb, as beggars follow a rich man—only for his money. They prize the wages of religion above the works of religion! "I tell you the truth, you are looking for me . . . because you ate the loaves and had your fill!" John 6:26. Oh, beloved, God abhors a hypocrite more than a Sodomite! Hell is provided on purpose for hypocrites, "He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth!" Matthew 24:51.
My beloved, following the Lamb fully, is to have the heart fixed and resolved for God, "My soul follows close to you," says David in Psalm 63:8. "As a deer longs for streams of water, so I long for You, God. I thirst for God, the living God!" Psalm 42:1-2.
And the faculties of his soul are working after God, "My soul, and all that is within me, praise the Lord," says holy David.
2ndly, A believer follows the Lamb CONSTANTLY, without apostasy.
A true believer after he begins to follow the Lamb—he never stops following him—but follows him wherever he goes! "Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or anguish or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!" Romans 8:35-39
Oh, beloved, he does not follow the Lamb wherever he goes—who follows the Lamb earnestly for a while—but afterwards forsakes him, when the storm arises! "Since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the Word—he quickly falls away!" Matthew 13:21.
He does not follow the Lamb wherever he goes—who follows the Lamb in some things, and the beast in other things! "They worshiped the Lord—but they also served their own gods in accordance with the customs of the nations from which they had been brought." 2 Kings 17:33
He does not follow the Lamb wherever he goes—who follows the Lord in a dull heavy manner, and lukewarm temper. "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of My mouth!" Revelation 3:15-16. "Be appalled at this, O heavens, and shudder with great horror," declares the Lord. "My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water!" Jeremiah 2:12-13.
Oh! this is not following the Lamb! Those who follow the Lamb—abide in the Lamb, and cleave to the Lamb, and continue constantly in the Lamb's ways, unto the end of their days. "Yet the righteous person will hold to his way!" Job 17:9. The righteous man follows the Lamb wherever he goes. "Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him!" Hosea 6:3.
This is to follow the Lamb wherever He goes:
1. Speedily2. Sincerely3. Whole-heartedly4. Zealously5. Humbly6. Cheerfully7. Diligently8. Constantly9. Faithfully10. Supremely
2. Now I shall show you WHY believers follow the Lamb wherever He goes.
First, Because they are REDEEMED by the blood of the Lamb. "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect!" 1 Peter 1:18-19. He paid a price for our redemption—so that he might discharge the debt of our sins.
"And they sang a new song: You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation!" Revelation 5:9.
There are three things called precious in the Scripture.
First, Faith is called precious, 2 Peter 1:1.
Secondly, the promises are called precious, 2 Peter 1:4.
Thirdly, the blood of Christ is called precious, 1 Peter 1:9.
Oh! Christ's precious blood has redeemed us from six enemies.
Thirdly, From sin. Romans 6:18-22.
Oh! What precious blood! His blood has slain our enemies; he has purchased by his blood: reconciliation with the Father, union with the Son, communion with the Holy Spirit, "You who were once far off, are now made near by the blood of Christ," Ephesians 2:13-16.
Secondly, they follow the Lamb, because they are WASHED in the blood of the Lamb! "He who loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood!" Revelation 1:5. "These are those who came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb!" Revelation 17:4. "The blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin," 1 John 1:7. Christ's blood washes away our bloody sins! "I said unto you, when you were in your blood, Live!" Ezekiel 16:6. For as we were united with Christ—our sins are upon him, and his righteousness is upon us. It is Christ who gives us life, and puts excellent ornaments upon us, to cover our nakedness, and decks us with jewels, and gems of gold, so we become beautiful in his sight!
"That he might present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless!" Ephesians 5:27.
Thirdly, Believers follow the Lamb, because they are RISEN with the Lamb! "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God." Colossians 3:1
"We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life," Romans 6:4.
Every man, besides a believer—is a dead man in trespasses and sins, Ephesians 2:1. Therefore they are exhorted to rise from the dead,Ephesians 5:4. They must rise from evil to do good, from earthly mindedness to heavenly mindedness. But now, by faith believers are risen from darkness to light, "For you were once darkness—but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light," Ephesians 5:8, "Arise, shine, for your light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon you," Isaiah 9:1. When the Lord shines forth upon his people in glorious discoveries of himself, he calls them away from their former condition; when the Lord revealed himself in a gospel dispensation, his people were no longer to sit under dark clouds of legal ceremonies—but to follow the Lamb wherever he goes.
Fourthly, they follow the Lamb, because they are ENLIGHTENED by the Lamb! "God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ," 2 Corinthians 4:6, "But we all, with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit," 2 Corinthians 3:18. "Yes, doubtless, and I count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ," Philippians 3:8.
Divine and heavenly knowledge brings men near to God, it gives a man the clearest and fullest sight of God. The nearer any man comes to God—the clearer vision we have of God, and the more communion with God.
The reason why others do not follow the Lamb, is because they do not see the worth and need of the Lamb, "Having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their hearts,'' Ephesians 4:18.
Where there is a veil cast before the eyes of knowledge—there is a bar set before the hands of practice. An ignorant person neither knows what he is doing, nor does he know where he is going! He does nothing-but undo himself. Carnal men see no preciousness nor loveliness in Christ. "Oh! What is your beloved more than another beloved!" Song of Songs 5:9. "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water!" John 4:10.
Christ goes undesired by the world—because he goes unknown by the world. "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned." 1 Corinthians 2:14. But now, believers being enlightened by the Spirit of God, and by the Word of God—they see what they themselves were before faith, and what they are by faith, and what they shall be at the end of faith. They see Christ to be—all precious in his ordinances, all precious in his discoveries, all precious in his graces, all precious in his gifts, all precious in his promises, all precious in his members, all precious in his ministers, and all precious in himself, 1 Peter 2:7.
Therefore believers cannot but love him, and follow him.
Fifthly, they follow the Lamb, because they LOVE the Lamb! "Grace be with all those who love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity," Ephesians 6:24. They love him with a superlative love, "Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth!" Psalm 73:25.
The Christian looks upon what he is—as not great enough for Christ's remembrance; and what he does—as not good enough for Christ's acceptance! "Look not upon me—because I am black!" Song of Songs 1:6. The Christian is never more lovely—than when he judges himself to be the most deformed! The Christian is never more happy—than when he reckons himself most miserable! The Christian is never more holy—than when he accounts himself most polluted! The Christian is never more rich—than when he sees himself to be poorest of all.
The soul that loves much—is a soul that works much! The commands of the gospel are not grievous to him—but precious to him! "Tell me, O you whom my soul loves, where you feed?" Song of Songs 1:7. A soul who loves Christ, has his eyes upon Christ, and his desire is after Christ! "All night long I search for you; earnestly I seek for God." Isaiah 26:9
True believers love Christ more than they love themselves, "They loved not their own lives unto the death," Revelation 12:11. Christ is dearer to them than their lives. They slighted and despised their very lives—when they stood in competition with Christ, and his glory! They chose rather to suffer the greatest misery—than he should lose the least grain of his honor. The love of Christ has made the saints yield all the members of their bodies to the cruel and merciless treatment of bloody persecutors: their backs to be whipped, their eyes to be bored, their tongues to be cut out of their mouths! Hebrews 11. Oh! how strongly did these love!
The measure of loving Christ, is to love him without measure, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Tribulation shall not, persecution shall not, famine and nakedness shall not, peril and sword shall not. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord!" Romans 8:35-39.
Sixthly, they follow the Lamb, because they are MARRIED to the Lamb. Jeremiah 3:14, "I am married unto you." Revelation 21:9, "I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife." Song of Songs 2:16, "My beloved is mine—and I am his." Here I will show you two things:
1. How Christ comes to be ours.
1st, Christ comes to be ours—by free donation and gift of the Father, "God so loved the world—that he gave his only begotten Son," John 3:16.
2ndly, Christ freely gave himself unto us, so that Christ is ours by his consent. He has, as it were, passed over himself unto us, "Christ loved me, and gave himself for me!" says the apostle, Galatians 2:20.
3rdly, Christ has given Himself to his church by marriage, and therefore she is called—his queen, his spouse, his bride, and his wife. Although we had nothing to bring to Christ, but poverty, shame, sorrow, and misery—yet he took us, and loved us, and married us!
4thly, Christ is ours, by communicating his own Spirit to us.
2. How we come to be Christ's. The saints are Christ's four ways:
1st, We are Christ's by the donation of the Father, "God has made him both Lord and Christ," Acts 2:26. "And has put all things under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church." Ephesians 1:20. "And now," says Christ, "Behold I and the children whom you have given me! Yours they were, and you gave them me," John 17:6. God the Father gave us to God the Son, that he might redeem us; and God the Son gave us to God the Father, that he might sanctify us, and keep us from the evil of the world, verse 17.
2ndly, We are Christ's by divine choice, "You only have I chosen, out of all the families of the earth!" Amos 3:2. The saints are said to be "chosen in Christ," Ephesians 1:4. "But you are a chosen people," 1 Peter 2:9. "His people are the called and chosen and faithful ones," Revelation 17:14.
3rdly, the saints are Christ's by purchase. We were in our enemies hands, and under their power, and could not free ourselves from the bondage of the law, sin, Satan, death, and hell. Therefore, says the apostle, "We are bought with a high price," 1 Corinthians 6:20. For in respect of God's justice, we are bought by Christ.
4thly, We are Christ's by covenant. "I entered into covenant with you—and you became mine," Ezekiel 16:8. That is, I did make a solemn covenant of stipulation with you, that I would take you to be my people. So it is no wonder that believers follow the Lamb wherever he goes—they are married to him, he is their Head and Husband.
Seventhly, they follow the Lamb, because they have the SPIRIT of the Lamb. " Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, in order to know what has been freely given to us by God. We have the mind of Jesus Christ," 1 Corinthians 2:12,16. "You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ." Romans 8:9. The Spirit that the Lord Jesus gives to believers, is a sealing Spirit, a lively Spirit, an enlightening Spirit, a leading Spirit. The Spirit leads from all evil to—all good. All the Lamb's followers are in the Spirit of the Lamb; and therefore, they pray in the Spirit, and with the Spirit, and by the Spirit, and for more of the Spirit. Those who have this Spirit, do not need a book to pray by. Now, all true believers have the Spirit of the Lamb; therefore they follow the Lamb wherever he goes.
Eighthly, Believers follow the Lamb, because all their PRIVILEGES come from the Lamb. They are all "kings and priests!" Revelation 1:6 and 5:10, "And sons and heirs." "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" 1 John 3:1. "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ." Romans 8:17.
Though believers have not a crown of life—yet they are heirs to a crown of life. God puts the greatest honor upon his own people, "The righteous man is more excellent than his neighbor." Proverbs 12:26. All the honor that other men have—is not worth the having. That which makes a man great in the eyes of the world—makes a man nothing in the eyes of God. Men are never the better for their greatness, if they are not the better by their greatness.
But now, believer's greatness and honors come by Christ, the faithful and true Witness, the First begotten of the dead, and the Prince of the kings of the earth. "He has made us to be kings and priests unto our God!" Revelation 5:10. All the light, and life, and hope, and joy, and peace, and beauty, and honor, and riches believers have—they have it all by Christ, and from Christ! He gave them rich grace, and rich glory, and all things richly to enjoy! 1 Timothy 6:17.
Take a man that is out ot Christ, and he has none of all this! Ephesians 2:12, "Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world!" Yes, he is wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked," Revelation 3:17. Oh! this is the condition of every graceless, faithless, and Christless person.
But now, a believer, though he is ever so poor in the world's eye, he is rich in God's eye, "For all things are his, and he shall inherit all things!" 1 Corinthians 3:22. "He who overcomes shall inherit all things!" Revelation 21:7. But how does it come to pass—that a believer has so much, and all others so little? He has it all from Christ, "From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another," John 1:16. Therefore believers glory in Christ, because they have all their glory by and from Christ, 1 Corinthians 1:31. He has enough to glory in—who has Christ to glory in. Now believers cannot but cleave to him, and follow him, because all their good things come by him.
Ninthly, they follow the Lamb, because their names are written in the Lamb's book of life. Revelation 13:8, "And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, "And there shall in no wise enter into it anv thing that defiles, neither whoever works abomination, or makes a lie; but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life; Revelation 21:27.
"AH the rest of the worshipers of the beast, and all unbelievers, shall be cast into the lake of fire which burns and flames forever," Revelation 19:10.
There be a great many that follow the beast, worship the beast, receive the mark of the beast, and admire the beast, chapter 13:16. But what are they, are they many that have their names written in the Lamb's book of life? No, no; for this see, Revelation 17:8, "The beast which you saw, was, and is not, and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and shall go into perdition; and those who dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names are not written in the book of life." So that you see what that cursed crew are that follow Babylon, they are such whose names are not written in the book of life. But those who have their Father's name written in their forehead, and their names written in the Lamb's book, they follow the Lamb wherever he goes; And those who are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful, Revelation 17:14.
Tenthly and lastly, Precious ones follow the Lamb, because they shall be forever with the Lamb, "Then we which are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we be ever with the Lord. Wherefore comfort you one another with these words,"' 1 Thess. 4:17, 18.
"Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in the temple; and he who sits on the throne shall dwell among them.
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more, neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat; for the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of water, and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes,"Revelation 7:15 17. How troublesome soever a saint's beginning is, his end is joyful. When believers change earth for heaven, they do not lose their happiness—but complete their happiness. John 17. 24, "Father, I will that they also whom you gave me, be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory which you have given me; for you love me before the foundation of the world." Not only with me forever—but with my saints, with my angels, and with my Father, and with all that are with me.
To be with God and Christ forever, implies these seven things:
1. The presence of God.2. The happy union with God.3. The blessed vision of God.4. The glorious communion with God.5. The fruition of God.6. The rest that the saints shall have in God.7. The enjoyment of themselves in God.
Qh! how unspeakable is the glory of heaven! Oh! how infinitely glorious is the Lamb! Now true believers follow the Lamb wherever he goes, because they shall be forever with the Lamb, in fullness of glory, and endless felicity, Romans 8:17.
Thus have I showed you WHY believers follow the Lamb.
3. Now I shall show you the EXCELLENCY of following the Lamb.
The first excellency is, those who follow the Lamb, have the PRESENCE of the Lamb with them.
The hundred forty and four thousand that stood upon Mount Zion, had the Lamb with them. Psalm 46:5, "God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, and that right early; the Lord Almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge," verse 8. God is in the midst of his church, not only to behold her—but uphold her; though the church's enemies may be waves to toss her—yet they shall never be rocks to split her; because God is in the midst of her. This is that which comforted and strengthened David, "Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me," Psalm 22:4. "When you pass through the waters I will be with you, and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you; when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burnt, neither shall the flames kindle upon you," Isaiah 43:2. Oh! Those who follow the Lamb, who stand for the Lamb, have the presence of the Lamb, his glorious presence, his gracious presence, his comforting presence, his protecting presence, his quickening, sanctifying presence.
The second excellency is, that those who follow the Lamb, shall know the mind of the Lamb. "It is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven—but to them it is not given." "Blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear;" Matthew 13:11, 16, "Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knows not what his Lord does; but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father, I have made known unto you."
Jesus Christ, who lies in the bosom of the Father, he unbosoms and unveils the heart of his Father to believers; they know his secrets, his mind, his counsel, and his will, and none knows it but them. "I thank you, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and have revealed them to babes;" Matthew 11:25. Those who walk with God, know much of the mind of God, and the mysteries of the gospel.
The third excellency of following the Lamb is, those who follow the Lamb, may come boldly to the Lamb. "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need," Hebrews 4:16.
A soul that has a saving interest in Christ, may come boldly to Christ, and speak boldly to him, and to his Father, for any mercy he needs! He may go to the throne of grace for grace, and open his heart to God, as one friend to another. Oh! what liberty have believers! Oh! what a privilege have they, that they may go to God with a holy boldness!
The wicked proud ones of the earth are so high—that the poor saints cannot come boldly and freely unto them; but they may come boldly and freely unto the Lord their God. Matthew 11:28, "Come unto me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
The fourth excellency is, that those who follow the Lamb, shall have all their needs supplied by the Lamb. Philippians 4:19, "But my God shall supply all your needs, according to his riches in glory by Jesus Christ." Those who follow the Lamb shall lack no good thing!" "Oh, fear the Lord you his saints; for there is no lack to those who fear him. The young lions do lack and suffer hunger—but those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing," Psalm 36:9, 10. "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want," Psalm 23:1. "Delight yourself in the Lord, and he shall give you the desire of your heart!" You shall have whatever you desire to have. He who has the chief good—shall lack no good.
"Whoever shall drink of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst; and he who comes unto me shall never hunger!" John 6:35. Oh! who would not follow and believe in the Lamb! Oh happy are all who love the Lamb!
The fifth excellency is, those who follow the Lamb, shall share with the Lamb.
First, They share with Christ in his divine nature. "Whereby are given unto us, exceeding great and precious promises, that by these you might be made partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust," 2 Peter 1:4. That is, "of those divine qualities whereby we are made like unto God, in wisdom, righteousness, and true holiness," John 4:24.
Secondly, they share with Christ in his conquests. The poor saints share with Christ in all his noble and honorable conquests, 1 Corinthians 15:55, over all the world, death, and hell, and over sufferings, "In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us," Romans 8:37.
Thirdly, they share with Christ in his graces. "Of his fullness have we all received, grace for grace," John 1:16. As the paper from the press receives letter for letter, as the wax from the seal receives print for print, or as the looking-glass from the image receives face for face, so do believers receive from Christ grace for grace; that is, for every grace that is in the Lamb—there is the same grace in us, in some measure.
Fourthly, Believers share with Christ in his glorious titles. He is called a Son, so are they. He is called a King, so are they. He is called a Priest, so are they. He is called an Heir, so are they, Romans 8:17, Revelation 5:16 and 1:5, 6.
Fifthly, they share with Christ in his glory. "I go to prepare a place for you; I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there you may be also," John 14:3. "And the glory which you gave me, I have given them; that they may be one even as we are one," John 17:23. "My sheep hear my voice, and they follow me, and I give them eternal life," John 10:27, 28.
The saints shall have the same glory which Christ himself has! The saints in heaven are not only glorified with Christ (which is the great exaltation) but they do enjoy the very same glory which Christ himself does, the same for kind, though not for degree. The head and members are glorified together with the same kind of glory. God has not one heaven for his Son, and another for his saints; but one and the same for both! Believers shall be as truly glorious as Christ is–as eternally glorious as he is, "Our vile bodies shall be fashioned like unto his glorious body; and we shall be glorified together with him, and appear with him in glory," Romans 8. Col. 3. Oh! here is the excellency of following the Lamb; those who follow him, shall share in his glory!
The sixth excellency of following the Lamb is, those who follow the Lamb shall be protected by the Lamb. "He allowed no man to do them wrong; yes he reproved kings for their sakes; saying, touch not my anointed, and do my prophets no harm," Psalm 105:14, 15. which are his saints. "Who is he who will harm you, if you are followers of that which is good? And if you suffer for righteousness sake, happy are you, and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled," 1 Peter 3:13, 14. "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; yes, I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, yes, I will uphold you with my righteousness omnipotent hand," Isaiah 41:40. "Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yes, they may forget—yet I will not forget you," Isaiah 49:15.
Who can harm a man if God is with him and for him? He who has the love of God—needs not be concerned about the anger of man. A true believer has the love of God, the love of Christ, the love of good angels, the love of good men, and the love of all whose love is worth the having. God protects men in his way—but none out of his way. He is good to them in affliction, and he does good to them by affliction.
The seventh excellency is, those who follow the Lamb, shall not feel the wrath of the Lamb. Revelation 2:11, "He who overcomes shall not be hurt of the second death!" 1 Thess. 1:10, "And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, who delivered us from the wrath to come!" "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh—but after the Spirit," Romans 8:1.
Oh, how sad is the condition of those who live and die without Christ; They are sent to hell, Psalm 9:17, "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forsake God!" "They shall be punished with everlasting destruction, away from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power!" 2 Thess. 1:9.
They shall feel and suffer the wrath of the Lamb, because they despised the truth and love of the Lamb, "But since you rejected me when I called and no one gave heed when I stretched out my hand, since you ignored all my advice and would not accept my rebuke, I in turn will laugh at your disaster; I will mock when calamity overtakes you— when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you. "Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me. Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord, since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes!" Proverbs 1:24-31. Do you hear this, sinners? And will you still die in your sins? Be sure of this—hell will show you no mercy!
Now the believer will feel and suffer none of this; he is in an eternally happy state and condition.
The eighth excellency is, those who follow the Lamb shall reign with the Lamb! This is another excellency of following the Lamb. True believers now reign over the pomp and pride of the world, over evil spirits, over sin, and over sufferings; but besides all this, they shall reign with Christ, and over those who now reign over them, Revelation 5:10, "And we shall reign on the earth,'' chapter 20:4, "And they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years." And as the wicked tread down the saints under their feet now—so shall the saints then tread down the wicked under their feet, Malachi 4:3.
The Lord has promised that the meek shall inherit the earth. Do not the Scriptures say, that "In the last days, the mountain of the Lord's house shall be lifted up above the hills, and shall be established in the top of the mountains." Isaiah 2:2; and that the kingdoms of the world must become the kingdoms of our Lord Jesus Christ? Revelation 11:15. And he who loves to see the face of the church beautiful, will before long wipe away all her bloody tears. It is not long before you will triumph and say, "Lo the winter is past, the rain is over and gone, the flowers appear on the earth, the time of the singing of birds is come." Song of Songs 2:11, 12
The ninth excellency is, those who follow the Lamb shall sit on the throne with the Lamb. Revelation 3:21. "To him who overcomes, I will grant to sit with me on my throne, even as I also overcame, and have sat down with my Father upon his throne." "You also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel," Matthew 19:28. Oh! what an honor is this, what a glory is this, to sit upon the throne with Christ! Is it not honor and glory enough for us to be in heaven with God, and Christ, and angels—but we must sit upon Christ's throne there! Oh, what an honor is this! And yet this honor shall all the Lamb's followers have.
The tenth excellency of following the Lamb is, those who follow the Lamb shall judge the world with the Lamb. If you consult the sacred records, you will find that God, and Christ, and the saints—are all said to judge the world. The ordination is God's, the execution is Christ's, the approbation is the saint's. When the apostle would stop the sinful lawsuits among the Corinthian brethren, who did not want men of piety to put an end unto their controversies, he says, "Do you not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?" 1 Corinthians 6:2. "Behold the Lord comes with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all." Jude, verse 14-15. "When the Son of man shall sit upon the throne of his glory, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Matthew 19:28.
Now the world judges the saints—but then the saints shall judge the world. Now they judge and condemn Christ and his members—but then they shall be judged and condemned by Christ and his members. For as the world cannot endure God himself, so neither can they endure God in the saints! The more God dwells in the saints, the more the world afflicts the saints; but those who follow the Lamb wherever he goes, shall then sit in judgment upon those who now sit in judgment upon them.
Thus I have showed you the excellencies of following the Lamb.
Fourthly, I will show you the misery of those who do not follow the Lamb—but follow the beast! Oh, their misery is great in this life—but it will be greater in the eternal world!
The first misery of those who follow the beast is, those who follow him, shall share with him in all his plagues! "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name." Revelation 14:9-11.
Oh, the plagues, the terrible plagues that shall fall upon the beast! "Death, and mourning, and famine, and fire," chapter 18:8. The judgment shall come upon all those who join with the beast; all those who partake of his sins—shall share of his plagues!
There is, First, "A vial poured out upon the earth;" that is, upon the common people, chapter 16:2.
Secondly, "Another vial upon the sea," that is, the jurisdiction of Rome, verse 3.
Thirdly, "Another vial upon the rivers," that is, their ministers, verse 4.
Fourthly, "Another vial is poured out upon the sun," that is, princes and magistrates, verse 8.
Fifthly, "Another vial upon the throne of the beast," that is, Rome itself, the throne of the beast, verse 10.
So that all that worship the beast, and receive his mark, and belong to him, whether they be high or low, rich or poor—they shall all share with him in all his plagues.
"Come out of her, my people, that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not her plagues," Revelation 18:4.
The second misery of those who follow the beast is, they shall cry to the rocks, and to the mountains of the earth! "Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand!" Revelation 6:15-17.
The wicked, though here clothed in silk and velvet, shall wish for the mountains to cover them, which would be but a poor shelter; for the mountains melt at the presence of the Lord, and the rocks rent asunder when he is angry. Those who made others flee away from them, as innocent lambs from devouring wolves, shall be afraid of the wrath of the Lamb, who sits on the throne.
Oh! how will these great men dare to appear before his tribunal, who have stained the sword of authority with the blood of innocency, by turning its back against the wicked, and whetting its edge against the righteous! Many an unjust judge, who now sits confidently upon the bench, shall then stand trembling at the bar. Oh! how will they be able to lift up their heads before Christ, who have lifted up their hands against Christ! "The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ," Acts 4:26.Revelation 17:14. Instead of helping the Lord against the mighty, they help the mighty against the Lord, "The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One!" Psalm 2:2.
Oh! how many great men are there, who make no other use of their greatness—but to be great in wickedness, great swearers, great drunkards, great persecutors, great adulterers, great atheists—who instead of denying or forsaking the devil and all his works, follow the devil and all his works; who sin with delight, and are delighted with their sins!
"The princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves," Isaiah 1:2. But the great God against whom the sin is committed, is greater than the greatest, "before whom all nations of the world are but as a drop of a bucket, and as the smallest dust of the balance," Isaiah 40:15. "No one is like you, O Lord; you are great, and your name is mighty in power. Who should not revere you, O King of the nations? This is your due. Among all the wise men of the nations and in all their kingdoms, there is no one like you!" Jeremiah 10:6, 7. He touches the mountains, and they smoke! The devils fear and tremble before him. Therefore, woe, woe, be to those who forsake him, and follow the beast; they shall cry and call for help—but there will be none to help them!
The third misery of those that follow the beast is, they shall be cast into a lake of fire with the beast.
"And the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who did mighty miracles on behalf of the beast—miracles that deceived all who had accepted the mark of the beast and who worshiped his statue. Both the beast and his false prophet were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur!" Revelation 19:20. "The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven, with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on those who know not God, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction, away from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power," 2 Thess. 1:7-9.
Oh what a dreadful thing it is to lie under the wrath of God—to lie in burning flames, and forever to be banished from the presence of God, and his holy angels! This will be the portion of the beast's followers. Oh, will they not wish they had never been born, or that they might be turned into stocks and stones! But, alas! their wishes will do them no good; Christ will say to them, "Depart, you who are cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels!" Matthew 25:41.
Oh, you rulers and great ones of the earth! It will be no dishonor to your honors—to lay your honor at his feet; in whose presence "the angels veil their faces, and before whose throne the elders cast their crowns!" Isaiah 6:2. Revelation 4:10. Oh! it is better with patience to suffer with Zion and the church's party a while—rather than join with the Romish party, and be ruined with them at the end. Revelation 14:12, "Here is the patience of the saints." You shall suffer a while, and be trodden down by them—but I will surely come, and I will recompense all your patience!
And therefore be not discouraged, and faint in your minds; let not your hearts turn back into Egypt, and hanker after Rome, those remnants of Baal, which God will surely destroy.
Fifthly, I will show you now how the Lamb's followers may be known discerned from the beast's followers.
1st, You may know the Lamb's followers, by their NUMBER—they are in number the fewest. "Many are called—but few are chosen" Matthew 20:19. The Lamb's followers may be known discerned from the Beast's followers, by fewness of their number. Christ calls his flock, a little flock, "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom!" Luke 12:32. Truly, beloved, there are but a few who follow the Lamb, and believe in Him. The Heathen follow Satan, the Turks follow Mohammed, the Jews follow Moses, the Papists follow the Pope, and the loose Protestants and carnal professors follow the world, the flesh, and the devil; and false teachers, false doctrine and false worship! "The whole world was astonished and followed the beast!" Revelation 13:3
Believers, though their nature is the sweetest—yet their number is the smallest. In heaven are the best—but in hell are the most! Oh, there are but few sincere Christians! There are many thorns—but few lilies; many almost Christians—but few altogether, Christians.
2ndly, You may know the Lamb's followers, by their CHARACTERS.
You have nine lovely characters of them in this 14th chapter of Revelation:
1. They stand with the Lamb upon Mount Zion.
2. They have their Father's name written on their foreheads.
3. They sing a new song, which none can learn but only the hundred forty and four thousand.
4. They are redeemed from the earth.
5. They keep themselves pure.
6. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes.
7. They were purchased from among men.
8. They bring their first-fruits unto God and to the Lamb.
9. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless; for they are without fault before the throne of God.
Oh! how holy, how heavenly, how gracious, how glorious, how lovely and spiritual are these! They live in the Lord, on the Lord, to the Lord, and with the Lord, "They are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people," 1 Peter 2:9.
3rdly, You may know the Lamb's followers, by their SPIRITS. They have another spirit, Numb. 14:24. All the Lamb's followers are in the Spirit of the Lamb, Romans 8:9. And by the Spirit they are led and taught; a spirit of holiness, a spirit of meekness, a spirit of love, a free spirit, and a true, humble, and faithful spirit, to and for the Lord. Now, as the Lamb's followers are in the Spirit of the Lamb—so the beast's followers are in the spirit of the beast, which is no other than the spirit of the devil! Ephesians 2:2, "According to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience." This is a spirit of lording and domineering, a spirit of cunning and craftiness, a spirit of deceit, a spirit of superstition, a spirit of persecution and cruelty! And in this spirit, are all the followers of the beast. Now, by this you may know the Lamb's followers from the beast's followers.
4thly, You may know the Lamb's followers, by their NAME. They have another name, a new name, Revelation 3:12. God gives his people honorable titles, though the beast gives them reproachful titles! God calls them the dearly beloved of his soul, Jeremiah 21:7; the apple of his eye, Zech. 2:8, his jewels, Mal. 3:17; his glory, his portion, his bride, his friends and children. But the beast calls them seditious, heretics, deceivers, and deluders, and blasphemers, and fools, and madmen—as if they were not worthy to have a being among men! But though they are ravens in the world's eye—yet they are doves in God's eye! Yes, they are such worthies of whom the world are not worthy! Hebrews 11:38.
Now, dear Christians, by this you may know the Lamb's followers from others—by the nicknames the world gives them, and by the glorious names that God gives them.
5thly, You may know the Lamb's followers, by their GRACES. The Lamb's followers, are full of faith, full of love, full of grace and goodness. They are very fruitful, and bring forth much fruit, John 15:5. They are called heavenly, because of their heavenliness. They are called holy, because of their holiness. They are called spiritual, because of their spiritualness. They are called faithful, because of their faithfulness. There is much of God to be seen in them—in their words, works, duties, and conversations.
Philippians 3:20, "For our conversation is in heaven." They seek heavenly things, and walk by a heavenly rule. They eye heavenly objects, and are led by an heavenly spirit; they submit to a heavenly government, and imitate heavenly ones. There is much of heaven in them—and much of them in heaven, "When I awake—I am still with you," says David.
But now the beast's followers they are full too—but it is with blood, swearing, cursing, stealing, lying, blasphemy, rebellion, and all manner of abominations and filthiness! "There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed." Hosea 4:2, Romans 3. Now, beloved, by this you may know Christ's precious ones—from the beast's filthy ones!
6thly, the Lamb's followers may be known from the beast's, by their keeping the commandments of God, and faith of Jesus Christ. Revelation 14:12. "This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus." So in Revelation 12:17, "The dragon was angry at the woman and declared war against the rest of her children—all who keep God’s commandments and maintain their testimony for Jesus." True believers cleave to the Lord, and follow him fully, "But my servant Caleb has followed me fully," Numb. 14:24.
Enoch walked with God, Genesis 5:34. Noah walked with God, Genesis 6:9. "Let us walk in the Spirit," Romans 5:25.
They follow the Lamb wherever he goes: they hear his voice, they profess his worship, and obey his doctrine. They abhor antichrist, they do not follow the beast, nor receive his mark; but keep the beautiful garments of gospel innocency, and will not touch beastly Babylon!
7thly, You may know the Lamb's followers, by their COMPANY. The Lamb's followers keep company together, "On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people," Acts 4:23. So they are said to stand upon a sea of glass together, " And I saw what looked like a sea of glass mixed with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and over the number of his name. They held harps given them by God," Revelation 15:2. So those who are with the Lamb upon Mount Zion, are together, keep together, and follow the Lamb together.
Christ's faithful witnesses do not hear with antichrist's teachers, nor worship with those who worship the beast—for they have come out of Babylon, chapter 18:4, "Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes!" "Therefore come out from among them, and be separate, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you, says the Lord," 2 Corinthians 6:17. The children of God will not keep company with the children of the devil, for they cannot agree, "for what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness. and what communion has light with darkness? and what concord has Christ with Belial? or what part has he who believes with an infidel? and what agreement has the temple of God with idols?" 2 Corinthians 6:14-16. Therefore believers keep together, walk together, and worship God together. "And those who believed, were of one heart, and of one soul, and continued in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship," Acts 4:34 and 2:42. By this the Lamb's followers are known—by their company.
8thly, You may know the Lamb's followers, by their LANGUAGE. True believers speak the language of Canaan; their language is Scripture language. You may know them by their speech, as Peter was known by his speech, "Surely you are one of them, for your speech betrays you," Matthew 26:73. Their words are holy and heavenly; they speak of God, and to God, and for God—and he hears them! Malachi 3:10.
But the beast's followers speak wickedly, proudly, daringly and blasphemously! The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies. He opened his mouth to blaspheme God!" Revelation 13:5-6. Men are known who they are, and what they are, and to whom they belong—by their language. If they are of God, and in God—they cannot but speak much of God.
9thly, the Lamb's followers are known by this—they are more afflicted with the church's heaviness, then they are affected with their own happiness. "So the king asked me, "Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart." I was very much afraid, but I said to the king, "May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?" Nehemiah 2:2-3. How can Zion's sons be rejoicing, when their mother is mourning? Though they were the Jews desolation—yet they were Jeremiah's lamentation. How can such rejoice in her standing–who do not mourn for her falling? When the church's adversaries make long furrows upon her back—we should cast in the seed of tears.
"Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering." Hebrews 13:3. Sympathizing with others, makes an estate that is joyful more happy, and an estate that is doleful less heavy.
"The righteous perish, and no man lays it to heart!" Isaiah 57:1. We may draw up the charge against many now, "How terrible for you who sprawl on ivory beds and lounge on your couches, eating the meat of tender lambs from the flock and of choice calves fattened in the stall. You sing trivial songs to the sound of the harp and fancy yourselves to be great musicians like David. You drink wine by the bowlful and perfume yourselves with fragrant lotions. You care nothing about the ruin of your nation!" Amos 6:4-6. Oh! that there were not so many such now-a-days, who eat the fat and drink the sweet, and are not troubled for Zion's troubles! Instead of sympathizing with them in their misery—they are censuring them for their misery. But the true servants of God are tender and broken-hearted; they weep and mourn, and wring their hands for Zion's sins, for Zion's breaches, for Zion's calamities, for Zion's grievances! And thus they do, and will do, until they arrive on Mount Zion with the Lamb.
10thly, the Lamb's followers are known by their love to Christ, and sufferings for Christ. They choose the worst of sorrows, before they will commit the least of sins, "For your sake we are killed all the day long, and counted as sheep for the slaughter!'' Romans 8:36. "And you shall be hated of all men for my name's sake," Matthew 10:22. "Blessed are you when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake," Matthew 5:11. Love can walk on the water without drowning, and lie in the fire without burning. How shall we land at the haven of rest—if we are not tossed upon the sea of trouble? A believer should live above the love of life, and the fear of death. Though we cannot live without afflictions—yet let us live above afflictions! None are so welcome to that spiritual Canaan, as those that swim to it through the red sea of their own blood! In suffering—the offence is done to us; in sinning—the offence is done to God. In suffering—we lose the favor of men; in sinning—we lose the favor of God. Therefore Daniel chose the den of lions, rather than he would forsake the cause of the Lamb, Daniel 6:6. And the three Hebrew children chose rather to suffer sadly, than to sin foully, Daniel 3. And "Moses chose rather to suffer afflictions with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season," Hebrews 11:25. It is better to be a martyr than a monarch; it is better to be a prisoner for Jesus Christ, than to be a prince without Christ or against Christ.
Oh, how precious how glorious, how lovely, and how sweet is Jesus Christ to believers! Oh, they love him entirely and sincerely. They love his glorious person and the beauty of his holiness, and his name, his honor, his cause, and his members. They will suffer for him, and die for him—because he suffered and died for them. Revelation 21:11, "And they loved not their lives unto the death." Now by this all men may know the Lamb's followers from the beast's followers, namely—by their sorrows and sufferings for Christ, for truth, for righteousness, and for conscience sake, Hebrews 10:34, "You suffered along with those who were thrown into jail, and when all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever." "Others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.' Hebrews 11:35-38
Eleventhly, the Lamb's followers are known by this–they seek the public good of others, above the private good of themselves. "I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart; for I could wish myself were accursed from Christ, for my brethren, my kinsmen, according to the flesh," Romans 9:2-3, "And now, O Father, glorify your Son—that your Son may glorify you," John 17:1. He prayed for glory, more for the Father's sake who bestowed it, than for his own sake who received it.
A true Christian does not desire grace only for this end—that God may glorify him; but he desires grace for this end—that he may glorify God. "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet, for our sakes, he became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich," 2 Corinthians 8:9. Oh! that the Lord Jesus should not only in pity, save us—but in love, die for us!
And David, after he had served his own generation, by the will of God, fell asleep, Acts 13:36. His generation did not serve him—but he served his own generation; and not by his own will, but by the will of God. Old Eli mourned more for the loss of his religion, than for the loss of his relations, 1 Samuel 4:18. "Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation." But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God. "O Lord," he said, "why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? Exodus 32:10-11. Moses was no self-seeker, but a nation preserver.
Reason makes a man a man—but grace makes a man a Christian. Every gracious spirit is concerned for the public good—though everyone who is concerned for the public good is not gracious.
As we are not born by ourselves, so we are not born for ourselves. But the beast's followers and Babylon's merchants are for themselves, and seek themselves, "Like greedy dogs, they are never satisfied. They are ignorant shepherds, all following their own path and intent on personal gain." Isaiah 56:11. "They teach things they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake," Titus 1:11. "Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees; for you devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers! Therefore you shall receive the greater damnation," Matthew 23:14. These make not gain stoop to godliness—but godliness stoop to gain.
12thly, and lastly, the Lamb's followers may be known from the beast's followers by this—they are more for the power than form; for heart than art; for matter than method; for substance than show. "Having a form of godliness—but denying the power thereof, from such turn aside," 2 Timothy 3:5.
As they who have the power of godliness cannot deny the form, so they who have the form of godliness should not deny the power. Alas! what is hearing without doing, and praying without practicing, and teaching without reforming? God loves to see his plants of righteousness; he bears greater respect to our hearts, than he does to our works, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God," Romans 12:1.
The formalist is all outward actions, and for nothing of inward sincerity; he is for a body without a soul, and a show without a substance. But it is not a show of outward piety—which will excuse inward hypocrisy, "A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise is not from men, but from God." Romans 2:28, 29, "I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews, and are not—but are the synagogue of Satan," Revelation 2:9.
They are better in their outsides, than they are in their insides; but believers are better in their insides than they are in their outsides. "The King's daughter is all glorious within, her clothing is of wrought gold," Psalm 45:13. The one bows but his knee at the name of Jesus, the other bows his heart to the truth of Jesus. The one only signs with the cross, the other carries the cross. Oh, what would not hypocritical men do for heaven—if they might have heaven for their so doing? But those who sail in this rotten bottom—will surely sink!
"The multitude of your sacrifices— what are they to me?" says the Lord. "I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—I cannot bear your evil assemblies!" Isaiah 1:11-13
It was not the clay and spittle that cured the blind man—but Christ anointing his eyes. It was not the troubling of the waters in the pool of Bethesda that made them whole—but the coming down of the angel. Alas! the dish without the meat will not feed us. Men may spread thenet of duty—but it is God must take the draught of mercy.
Now by these twelve marks, beloved, you may know the Lamb's followers from the beast's followers.
And thus I have briefly and clearly showed you these five things:
First, WHAT following the Lamb is.
Secondly, WHY gracious souls follow the Lamb wherever he goes.
Thirdly, the EXCELLENCY of following the Lamb.
Fourthly, the MISERY of following the beast.
Fifthly, How the Lamb's followers may be distinguished from the beast's followers.
I shall now make some Practical Application of this:
First, For self-examination and trial. Oh, friends, for the Lord's sake, and for your souls' sake—examine yourselves, try yourselves by this, that you may know whose you are, and to whom you do belong. "Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?" Romans 6:16.
Oh! who do you follow? If you follow men—truly you have your reward. If you follow sin—you shall have your sins' wages, which is woe and misery in this life, and eternal death, hell and destruction in the next life. But if you follow God—then you shall have eternal life. Therefore be not deceived, mistake not yourselves! "God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that shall he reap!" Oh! beloved, examine yourselves, and try yourselves—what do you mind, what do you seek, what do you do. Do you follow the Lamb in his commandments, in his teaching, in his appointments, and in his examples, and through suffering and reproaches? Have you forsaken all, and followed him? Matthew 19:29. Have you taken up his cross and denied yourselves? Matthew 16:24.
Have you learned of him to be meek and lowly? Matthew 11:29. Have you visited and clothed his members? Matthew 25:35. Have you kissed the Son, and made your peace with him? Oh, beloved, are you new creatures? Are you in Christ? Are you in faith? "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you are reprobates?" 2 Corinthians 13:5.
The Second use is exhortation.
First, Oh, beloved, let me beseech you for your precious and immortal soul's sake—to come out of Babylon, from the beast's image, and from his worship, and from his mark, that you may be not defiled.
Oh! come away to Jesus Christ, "Arise, my love and come away!" Song of Songs 2:10. "Come unto me all you who labor and are heavy laden—and I will give you rest," Matthew 11:28. Oh! sinners, he calls you to come to him—will you not go? We must forsake sin, and embrace virtue. We must put off the old man, and put on the new man. We must have repentance and mortification of sin, a dying unto sin, and living unto righteousness. We must put off the love of earthly things—and desire heavenly things. Our bodies and our souls must come away unto Christ: our souls, because they are the spouse of Christ; our bodies, because they are the temples of the Holy Spirit.
"Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes!" Revelation 18:4-5. We must come away from the enticements of the flesh, and the allurements of the world, and suggestions of the devil, and from the whore of Babylon, and from all the inventions and traditions of men—that we may walk with God, before God, after God, and in the name of God, and in the Spirit of God; and that we may live in Christ—as Christ lives in the Father.
Oh, what more happy, than to live forever; and so to live forever as Christ himself lives! Surely this is a blessed and glorious life. This is a believer's life.
Secondly, Labor more and more to be like those who follow the Lamb fully. They are very holy and pure, they are called virgins:
1st, For their chastity. "That I may present you as chaste virgins unto Christ," 2 Corinthians 11:2. These love Christ with a chaste love—but not with an adulterous love.
2ndly, For their purity. They are virgin saints, they have not dined with the whore of Babylon—but have kept themselves from her idolatry and superstition, and from her sin and wickedness; and in their mouth was found no deceit.
Believers are called heavenly; Christ's members are glorious members. They are called heavenly for two reasons.
First, Because there is much of heaven in them.Secondly, Because there is much of them in heaven.
1st, there is much of heaven in believers—much of God, much of Christ, and much of the Spirit. "Of his fullness have we all received, and grace upon grace," John 1:16. The glory of God, the knowledge of God, the presence of God, the love of God, the holiness of God, the joys of God, these are the things that make heaven to be heaven. Now there is much of these things in believers, therefore they are called heavenly.
Believers are holy ones, and they have glorious titles:
1. The Lord's portion, Deuteronomy 32:9.
2. The Lord's pleasant portion, Jeremiah 12:10.
3. The Lord's inheritance, Isaiah 19:25.
4. The dearly beloved of his soul, Jeremiah 12:7.
5. God's treasure, and peculiar treasure, Exodus 19:5.
6. His glory, Isaiah 46:13.
7. The house of God's glory, Isaiah 60:7.
8. A crown of glory, Isaiah 62:3.
9. A royal diadem, Isaiah 62:3.
10. The glory of God, Jeremiah 3:17.
11. Golden candlesticks, Revelation 1:12.
12. Kings, Revelation 5:10
13. And in my text, heavenly.
There is as much difference between the Christian and other men, as there is between gold and dirt, as between diamonds and bubbles, in the Lord's esteem. They are to God—above all people, "The righteous is more excellent than his neighbor." Proverbs 12:26. Oh! how precious, how happy, how blessed and glorious are believers! They are called heavenly.
2ndly, Believers are called heavenly, because there is much of heaven in them.
1. Their thoughts are in heaven, Psalm 139:17.2. Their desires are in heaven, Psalm 73:25.3. Their affections are in heaven, Col. 3:2.4. Their hopes are in heaven, Titus 2:13.5. Their conversations are in heaven, Philippians 3:20.6. Their hearts are in heaven, Matthew 6:21.7. Their aims are in heaven, Luke 10:20.
Oh! there is much of believers in heaven! Their souls are in heaven, when their bodies are walking upon the earth. They live in heaven, while they are on the earth. Ephesians 2:6, "And has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places, in Christ Jesus." The saints are set in heavenly places, with heavenly dignities, heavenly privileges, heavenly prerogatives. The saints of the most high God are set on high places. The true church is that spouse that is fair and beautiful, Song of Songs 2:14. Oh! the church of Christ is lovely and glorious!
1. Glorious in her head.2. Glorious in her titles.3. Glorious in her gifts and graces.4. Glorious in her offices.5. Glorious in her privileges.6. Glorious in her members.
Oh, the church of Christ is a holy church, and a glorious church! "That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy without blemish," Ephesians 5:27. "These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless." Revelation 14:4-5.
Now, he who has an ear to hear—let him hear!
I shall exhort you who are members of this heavenly church:
1st, Seek heavenly things, before and above all things else! Let your hearts be filled with knowledge and heavenly riches!
2ndly, Delight in heavenly things! Let it be your heaven upon earth, to serve the God of heaven.
3rdly, Act by heavenly principles.
4lhly, Have a holy dependence upon God—for direction, for protection, for assistance, for a blessing.
5thly, Eye heavenly objects—God, Christ and the Spirit.
6thly, Imitate heavenly ones—follow those who follow Christ.
7thly, Walk by a heavenly rule; walk according to the law of heaven.
8thly and lastly, Live much in heaven.
Your Father is in heaven,
your Head is in heaven,
your Husband is in heaven,
your King is in heaven,
your treasure is in heaven,
your crown is in heaven,
your wages are in heaven!
So where should you be—but in heaven?
"You know that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions." Hebrews 10:34. "Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands!" 2 Corinthians 5:1.
Oh! these are blessed and holy ones! "And those who were with him, are called the chosen, and faithful," Revelation 17:14. Oh! labor to be like those in purity and piety, in holiness and humbleness, in meekness and patience, in faithfulness and uprightness, in spiritualness and in all godliness.
Thirdly, Follow the Lamb out of Babylon.
"And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, do you not judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" Revelation 6:10. "Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, "Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe." So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested. Another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle." Revelation 14:15-17. The whore of Babylon shall be destroyed with a double destruction. Her walls shall fall down, her wall of power, her wall of polity, her wall of superstition, her wall of maintenance. And that for these reasons:
1st, Because she has a corrupt religion, both in doctrine and worship, "Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication," Revelation 14:8, and 18:3.
2ndly, Because she has poisoned the kings of the earth. The whore of Babylon has been the great corrupter of kings. "Then I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty!" Revelation 16:13-14, and 17:2.
3rdly, For her cruelty. "In her was found the blood of the prophets, and all the saints that were slain upon the earth," Revelation 18:24. "And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus," chapter 17:6.
4thly, Because her ruin and destruction is published and proclaimed over the world, "And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils!" chapter 18:2 and 14:8.
5thly, This is the great design that Christ has in the latter days of the world—to destroy Antichrist, "The Lamb shall overcome them, for he is the Lord of lords, and King of kings," chapter 17:14.
"His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he was clothed in a vesture dipped in blood, and his name was called the Word of God; and out of his mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations!" chapter 19:12, 13, 15.
6thly, Because he has greatly insulted and triumphed over the Lord's people in their miseries and calamities, "All the people who belong to this world will gloat over them and give presents to each other to celebrate the death of the two prophets who had tormented them." Revelation 11:10.
7thly, Because of all the church's enemies that ever were, this is the crudest enemy—the fourth beast is worse than any of the former beasts. "And behold a fourth beast—terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns," Daniel 7:7, Revelation 18:14.
8thly, It is the expectation of all the saints, that Babylon is to be destroyed, and thrown like a millstone into the sea, chapter 18:21. Now, that God has raised this expectation in the hearts of his people, he will not frustrate their expectation, he will fulfill their petition.
9thly, God has promised to destroy the scarlet whore, because she has destroyed his saints, and she is to be punished as she has punished others, chapter 15:5 and 18:8.
10thly, the whore of Babylon shall be destroyed, because she trusted in the arm of flesh, and gloried in her strength and riches, "Give her as much torture and grief as the glory and luxury she gave herself. In her heart she boasts, 'I sit as queen; I am not a widow, and I will never mourn.' Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her: death, mourning and famine. She will be consumed by fire, for mighty is the Lord God who judges her!" Revelation 18:7-8.
Now, beloved, consider this, and think of this, and keep yourselves from Babylon, that you do not partake of her sins, lest you receive of her plagues! Oh, poor sinners! if you have any love to your souls, if you have any mind to be saved—follow the Lamb, that you may be saved by the Lamb! He leads poor souls: From darkness to light. From death to life. From vice to virtue. From poverty to plenty. From sorrow to joy. From misery to glory. From Satan to God. From an earthly kingdom to a heavenly kingdom.
"Come you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom," Matthew 25:24. Oh! the kingdom which Christ leads poor souls to is:
1. A rich kingdom.2. A peaceable kingdom.3. A righteous kingdom.4. A blessed kingdom.5. A glorious kingdom.6. A satisfying kingdom.7. A universal kingdom.8. An everlasting kingdom.
Oh! follow the Lamb, follow the Lamb—that you may be ever glorified with the Lamb, and by the Lamb!