LAMB ON MOUNT ZION, PART 6
I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who
die in the Lord from now on.’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may
rest from their labors, and their works follow them.” Revelation 14:13
verse is often read at the funerals of Christians. Its use in funerals takes the
verse totally out of context, but, nevertheless, it is comforting and reassuring
to loved ones as they say their final goodbyes.
those saved from sin and following the Lord Jesus Christ, our ultimate goal in
life is to die in the faith and to be received into the eternal presence of God.
That motivates us when the going is difficult; that keeps us focused when the
cares of life seem to overwhelm us; and, it helps us to deal with aging and
physical disabilities that come upon us during life. Who does not want to go to
the saints of God, death is not seen as something dreadful; it is seen as rest
and that is how Jesus depicts the death of the saints in the parable of Lazarus
in Luke chapter 16.
this may be interesting, we must put verse 13 in its context—it immediately
follows the messages of the three angels we have just heard. The first angel
preaches the everlasting gospel. The second angel introduces spiritual Babylon,
which consists of religions and churches that reject or nullify the everlasting
gospel. The third angel pronounces God’s judgement on Babylon. That judgment
essentially is the fact that people who follow spiritual Babylon and its watered
down gospels will still face the everlasting gospel at the final judgment.
are told in verse 12 that the saints keep the commandments of God and the faith
of Jesus. As the saints are faithful in following the Lamb wherever He goes, we
hear a voice from heaven speaking the words of verse 13: “Blessed are the dead
who die in the Lord from now on . . . that they may rest from their labors, and
their works follow them.”
the context of the messages of the three angels, the expression “die in the
Lord” evokes thoughts from Romans chapter 6.
are those who die in the Lord?
look at Romans 6:1–3 for our answer.
shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly
not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that
as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?
everlasting gospel brings people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, which
Paul here likens to being baptized into His death. The death of Christ is a
death that puts an end to sin in the life of the redeemed. In being saved from
sin, we are baptized into Christ and in like manner we are morally dead to sin.
Paul says we have died to sin—if we are dead to sin how can we possible
continue to live in sin? To continually live in sin after professing salvation
is prima facie evidence that a person has not really experienced the salvation
made possible in the everlasting gospel. Romans 6:6–7,
this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be
done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died
has been freed from sin.
Christ died by means of crucifixion, for us to die in the Lord our old man must
also die a death through crucifixion—His crucifixion. The expression old man
appears in two other passages of the New Testament:
4:22, That you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows
corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.
3:9, Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his
old man according to the context of these verses is the life-style of sin, which
is contrasted to the new man, the new life-style, mentioned in verses following
each of these. The new man is the new life-style that results from the work of
the Holy Spirit on the moral condition of the redeemed. In being saved we put
off the old man, so we are to understand that we cannot carry this old man
around with us and be saved at the same time.
who is this old man that is crucified with Christ? Jesus said that we must be
born again of the Spirit of God. In the new birth the Holy Spirit applies the
merits of the shed blood of Christ to cleanse all sin from the heart of the
believer. Second, He fills the heart with His presence and reorients the moral
compass to the knowledge of good and directs the will to the spirit prompting
works of righteousness. This process moves the moral compass away from the
knowledge of evil which is directed to the flesh producing works of sin, and it
is in this sense, the old man is put to death.
the old man crucified with the crucifixion of Christ and the body of sin done
away, Paul affirms that we are no longer slaves of sin. As Barnes says it:
“The sense is, that before this we were slaves of sin, but that now we are
made free from this bondage, because the moral death of sin has freed us from
it.” Paul concludes that if we have died in the Lord we have died to sin and
as he wrote in verse 7, “He who has died has been freed from sin.”
voice from heaven in Revelation chapter 14 tells us that those that die in the
Lord are blessed in the fact that they rest from their labors. Remember that
Jesus said in Matthew 11:28, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy
laden, and I will give you rest.” Paul echoes the sense of Jesus’ words in
verses 8 and 11, “Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also
live with Him . . . Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to
sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
we are dead to sin we have the rest from our labors in that we no longer have to
submit to sin; in fact Paul states the glorious truth of this in verse 14,
“For sin shall not have dominion over you”; to which Adam Clarke adds:
“God delivers you from it [sin]; and
if you again become subject to it, it will be the effect of your own choice or
Works That Follow
voice also tells us that the works of those that have died to sin in the Lord
will follow them. What kinds of works follow those that are dead to sin in
Christ? They can be nothing other than good works.
New Testament teaches that we cannot be saved by doing good works, but it does
teach that good works follow our faith and are necessary to show evidence of
that faith as seen from James 2:17 (The Living Bible), “So you see, it isn’t
enough just to have faith. You must also do good to prove that you have it.
Faith that doesn’t show itself by good works is no faith at all—it is dead
writing to Titus Paul said, “This is a faithful saying, and these things I
want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be
careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.”
believed it is essential for good works to follow our profession of faith. In
Titus 3:14 he exhorts us to learn to maintain good works and in verse 1 he tells
us to be ready for every good work.
works are not limited to acts of charity; good works is the life-style of
holiness. Paul defines good works in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren,
whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just,
whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of
good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything
praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” These are the good works that follow
and demonstrate a life saved from sin through the everlasting gospel.
fact, we are told in Ephesians 2:10 that, in addition to being made right with
God, the purpose of our salvation is good works as determined by God: “We are
His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared
beforehand that we should walk in them.” In the words of Adam Clarke:
new creation was produced by his power; for we are created in Christ Jesus unto
good works. He has saved us that we may show forth the virtues of Him who called
us from darkness into his marvelous light. For though we are not saved for our
good works, yet we are saved that we may perform good works, to the glory of God
and the benefit of man.
good works are prepared or ordained by God to which Clarke says, “For being
saved from sin we are made partakers of the Spirit of holiness; and it is
natural to that Spirit to lead to the practice of holiness.”
voice says that our works follow us, not to make people think we are nice
people, but for one purpose and only one as Jesus said in Matthew 5:16, “Let
your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify
your Father in heaven.”
we receive many benefits and blessings in living a holy life, we do not live a
holy life just for our own benefit. Jesus demands we live the holy life in the
presence of all mankind and that the good works produced by holiness be seen by
people to convince them to glorify God. God’s glory is not people thinking we
are such nice people; it is people seeing our lives and realizing that if God
can do that for us, then He can do that for them. Adam Clarke says the same
thing in more formal language:
Christians are the children of God—they are partakers of his holy and happy
nature: they should ever be concerned for their Father’s honor, and endeavor
so to recommend him, and his salvation, that others may be prevailed on to come
to the light, and walk in it. Then God is
said to be glorified, when the glorious power of his grace is manifested in the
salvation of men. (Bold added for emphasis.)
works are essential because they are the logical result of the messages of the
three angels about the everlasting gospel, the fallen state of Babylon, and the
wrath that follows the rejection of the everlasting gospel. These good works are
the basis for the two events that follow in the rest of this chapter.