Share This Episode
Beacon Baptist Gregory N. Barkman Logo

The Blessedness of the First Resurrection - 54

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman
The Truth Network Radio
September 10, 2023 7:00 pm

The Blessedness of the First Resurrection - 54

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 570 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.


September 10, 2023 7:00 pm

The Christian's hope is in the promised resurrection. Pastor Mike Karns continues his exposition in the book of Revelation.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
The Charlie Kirk Show
Charlie Kirk
MoneyWise
Rob West and Steve Moore
In Touch
Charles Stanley
The Verdict
John Munro
Cross the Bridge
David McGee

Well, we have been journeying in our expositional study of the book of Revelation for quite a while and you have become aware of the significance of the number seven and how often that number comes up in the pages that make up the book of the Revelation.

That of something that's being finished or done. And we encounter in chapter one the seven golden candlesticks, the seven stars, chapters two and three, the seven churches that are mentioned, and then the seven seal judgments, and the seven trumpet judgments, and the seven vial or bowl judgments. Seven is a rather predominant number that continues to come up and as I have showed you in our study that there are seven cycles that make up the book of the Revelation and we have begun into the seventh cycle that began in chapter 20. And I have told you numbers of times that one of the characteristics that marks out these seven cycles is that each cycle begins with some reference to the first advent of Jesus Christ. And each of the seven cycles ends with some reference to the second advent or the second coming of Christ and we see this in our study. One other seven is that there are seven Beatitudes that are scattered through the book of the Revelation.

They are chapter 1 and verse 3, chapter 14 and verse 13, chapter 16 and verse 15, chapter 19 and verse 9, chapter 20 and verse 6, and then 2 and chapter 22 verse 7 and verse 14. There is a progression of those seven Beatitudes that begins with a blessing promise for those who read and heed the things written in the book of the Revelation and then moves to a blessing for the saints that endure in all things and remain faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ unto the end. Blessing is promised to those who overcome to those who endure and then blessing is promised to those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb and concludes with those who enter into the salvation blessings we have in Christ and the everlasting joy that awaits every son or child of God. All that to say that our focus this morning is going to be in verse 6 on that fifth blessing of those seven.

Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection over such the second death has no power. So this morning I want to examine the subject of the blessed state of those who have experienced the first resurrection. The blessed state of those who have experienced the first resurrection and we will make it very clear to you what is meant by what is being communicated by the first resurrection as we preach through this sermon.

But I have five headings this morning to guide us and let me give those to you and then we'll walk through them together. Number one, we see a statement of blessedness. A statement of blessedness. Number two, I want you to see the recipients of blessedness. Number three, the nature of this blessedness.

Number four, the reasons for this blessedness. And then number five, the contrast to this blessedness. Now, we're going to look at verses 4, 5, and 6. I believe that the first sentence in verse 5 is a parenthesis. It breaks the thought, it breaks the flow of the argument that John is making. So, I'm going to read verses 4, the last sentence of verse 5, and then verse 6.

And I'm doing that for continuity's sake. I'm doing that to eliminate the parenthesis. And we will deal with that parenthesis, but it kind of throws us off a bit. We're wondering, well, what is meant by that?

Why is that there? So, let me read verses 4, the last sentence of verse 5, and verse 6. John again says, And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus, and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark, or on their foreheads, or on their hands, and they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

Skip that parenthesis, then the last sentence of verse 5. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such, the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. So, let's think, number one, about a statement of blessedness. The word is, blessed and holy, verse 6, is he who has part in the first resurrection. Now, this is not the assessment of a believer as he considers who he is in Christ, what he has, and the blessings he has because of his position in Christ. That's not what this is. This is not a feel-good statement of someone who is having a particularly good day that respond to the question, how are you doing?

Oh, I'm too blessed to be depressed. This statement is a statement of God Almighty. Concerning those that he has called away from us into his holy and perfect presence.

How do we know the state of being? How do we know the experience of those who have died in Christ and are no longer with us? Well, we have the Word of God.

We have this description as well as other descriptions from God himself concerning their state of being, concerning what they are experiencing in that glorious abode of heaven. And the question that should rise in our minds is, why? Why has God told us this? Why has he declared to us this statement of blessedness? Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Well, there's a number of ways to answer that question.

But let me answer the question this way. Remember what God said through the Apostle Paul on this important matter recorded in 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 and verse 13. Paul is writing to the church at Thessalonica and he says, I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. God does not want us to be ignorant. God does not want us to be in the dark.

God wants to fuel our faith, encourage our faith so that we have hope. And not hope like the world has hope. There was a balloon fest out in our area planned for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. And we drove around a couple of different times looking for balloons in the sky and never ever did see one. And those who planned the event were hoping it would not rain.

Hoping for bluebird skies. Well, that didn't materialize, did it? So, what is biblical hope in contrast to that flimsy hope-so kind of hope? Well, biblical hope is a confident assurance of a certain future event based on the promises of God, the character of God, and the finished work of Jesus Christ.

It is a confident expectation of a certain future event. We enjoyed a wonderful, I think, summer elective with our adult classes this summer. And last Sunday we began in our regular classes.

I'm teaching in the Home Builders class. We began last week with the subject about the truth about trouble. The truth about trouble. That none of us are immune to it. Trouble is on every side in every way. We are to expect it. We're not to be caught off guard by it. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivered them out of them all. Jesus promised us trouble, not to be surprised by trouble.

And this morning I'm going to build upon that introduction with this principle. This is how we have hope. This is how we fuel our hope. We feed our faith and we starve our fears.

And there are many things, if we want to give ourselves to, that will feed our fears and cause us to be without faith or have weak faith. So we want to do the contrary. We want to feed our faith. And how do we do that? By listening to the Bible, by hearing the word of God, by believing the word of God.

And the more we do that, the more able we will be to starve our fears. So, our first heading is a statement of blessedness. Number two, let's think about the recipients of this blessedness. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection.

Question, who has a part? Who has part in the first resurrection? Well, those who are described in verse four, the souls of those who were faithful to Christ while they were on the earth, who have died and whereupon their death, their soul was separated from their body and they were immediately translated into the presence of Christ.

No purgatory, no waiting time. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Paul said to depart and to be with Christ, and that's what it is for the believer, that is far better. And you see, it's the emotions that come in the midst of physical death and earthly separation that reminds us of how critical we need the word of God to tell us the truth about this transition. Because when our loved one is here in a box, it's hard for us to say, this is far better. Our emotions say, what's far better is if they're still with us. No, to depart and to be with Christ is far better.

Not just better, it's far better. The recipients of this blessedness, it says of them that they live. Verse four, he talks about they refused the mark of the beast, would not receive it on their hands or on their foreheads, and they lived, toward the end of verse four, and they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. And remember, that thousand years we have identified as the church age, that time between the first and the second advent of Christ, however long that might be.

Not a literal thousand years, but a set period of time that God has determined between the first and second advent of Christ. And what are these departed saints doing according to that verse? They are alive. They are more alive than they've ever been.

And we need to hear that. This life that they are living and experiencing in heaven as perfected souls in a perfect, unbroken union with God is said to be the first resurrection. And it is a blessed resurrection. Now Jesus made a promise to the church of Laodicea.

Let me read it to you. This is the seventh church in those list of churches. He makes a promise in Revelation 3.21 to the church in Laodicea that is fulfilled here in Revelation 20 and verse 4.

And what was that promise? Jesus said, to him who overcomes, I will grant to sit with Me on My throne as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. And then He says, He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Jesus promised a place of reigning with Him to those who overcome in Revelation 3.21. And we turn to Revelation 20 and verse 4 and here they are. Here are those ones who overcame.

Here are the ones who received that promise. The souls in heaven that John sees. They are the same souls that he saw when the fifth seal was opened in chapter 6 and verse 9. You say, well why are we going back to chapter 6 and verse 9? Because it reinforces this structure of the book that we're seeing these cycles.

Not new events, the same events. And they're discussed and looked at and details are given in different ways, repeatedly, seven different times. So, the fifth seal was opened in Revelation chapter 6 and verse 9. It says, when He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. Here they are again in chapter 20 and verse 4.

Not different people, the same people. And how did they overcome? How did they overcome? Revelation 12 and verse 11 says, they overcame by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony. They overcame by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony. And if you and I are going to be overcomers, that's what is going to be necessary for us to be overcomers. That we are trusting. My hope is found in nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness.

That's how we're going to overcome and by the word of our testimony. So, we've seen a statement of blessedness. We've considered the recipients of this blessedness.

Think with me in the third place, the nature. The nature of this blessedness. The nature of this blessedness.

Let me again read verse 6, the first part. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. To enjoy this state of blessedness, one must have a part in the first resurrection. And that begs the question, what is the first resurrection? It is the resurrection to life and blessing in heaven reserved for all believers who have died trusting Christ.

It is not the resurrection of our bodies at the end of the age when Christ returns. You remember what Jesus said at the tomb of Lazarus to the sorrowing sisters of Mary and Martha? Jesus said, I am the resurrection and the life. He who believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he what? Yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? Jesus asks.

I hope you believe that. The nature of this blessedness. Listen, being alive in a perfected state of holiness in heaven where nothing molests, nothing hinders, nothing disrupts our communion. Being in the presence of glory and splendor, that's what our loved ones who have departed and all who have died in Christ are experiencing even now. I felt a little frustrated when people have asked me about our trip to Europe. Well, what was it like? How was it? What stands out to you?

And it's a hard question to answer. What stands out to me were the things that I experienced at the beginning. I love Prague. I love seeing Prague at night. It's a beautiful city.

We were able to visit with the Valhalla's when we got there. And as I'm thinking back, why those things stand out to me is because those are the things that I experienced first. But after a while, I think you can only see so many castles. It's like in palaces, you suffer from sensory overload. You know what I mean?

After a while, it just kind of all just kind of blends together and you're like, OK, I've had enough. Listen to me. That will not be heaven. We will not suffer from sensory overload. We will be overwhelmed. We will be amazed continually nonstop. There will be no time will be. Oh, ho, hum, I've seen that. No.

No. We will never tire. We will never have fatigue. We will never become weary of enjoying the things that God has secured for us at great cost. Think with me about the reasons for this blessedness. The reasons for this blessedness. Those who have a part in the first resurrection are blessed for two reasons, according to the text.

One is negative and one is positive. Negatively, it says, verse six, blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection over such the second death has no power. Those who have a part in the first resurrection will not experience the second death.

It has no power over them. And it is a wonderful, glorious thing to be delivered from the second death. What is the second death? Well, the answer is found in Revelation 20, verse 13, 14 and 15.

Let me read them to you again. This is at the great white throne judgment. The sea gave up the dead who were in it and death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. Being cast into the lake of fire is the second death. The lake of fire is the everlasting abode of Satan and his cohorts and all who have rejected Jesus Christ. To believe in Christ is to experience the first resurrection, but never the second death.

It has no power over them. All people, apart from those who will be on the earth at Christ's second coming, all people without exception will experience physical death. Believers experience physical death. To believe in Christ is to experience the first resurrection. That is when the soul is separated from the body and we are translated immediately into the presence of the Lord. That is the first resurrection. And to experience that secures you from being exposed to the second death.

And while those who reject Christ are denied the first resurrection, they are condemned to the second and final death. Now here's a summary. Don't let this make your brain hurt.

Just think through. I'll read it a couple of times so that you get the truth here in a nutshell. Those who believe in Christ die once, but rise twice. They rise, number one, spiritually when they physically die and their soul is separated from their body and they are translated into the presence of Christ. That's the first resurrection. And when Christ returns, they will experience a second resurrection when their bodies come out of the grave and their souls are reunited with their body.

They now have a glorified body like Jesus had after he rose from the dead. In contrast, those who have rejected Christ rise once, but die twice. They die twice. They die physically, physical death, and they die a second death which is spiritual death which is eternal separation from God and eternal abode in the lake of fire. So, those who belong to Christ die once, but rise twice. Those who have rejected Christ rise once, but die twice.

They rise once. They rise at the great white throne judgment. The sea gave up the dead who were in it.

Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. Those who have rejected Christ, when they die, their souls go to hell. But when Christ returns in his second coming, they will be called out of hell, out of that abode, and they will suffer eternal condemnation in the lake of fire as their souls are reunited with their bodies.

Our confession confesses this. We are considering what the passage here has to say about the reasons for blessedness. We've seen negatively they will never experience the second death, but what is the reason positively? Well, positively, those who experience the first resurrection shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him during this period of time between the first and second advent. And that raises the question, how do Christians reign with Christ in heaven after they die? Well, John answers it in verse 6. He says, Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection, over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. They shall reign with Christ.

You know, I think we have too long entertained erroneous thoughts about those who have departed us. They're not on the sidelines. They're not in a waiting mode, waiting for the next great event. They have been elevated. They have been translated to a higher esteemed position than they ever knew on this earth. They shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him, reigning with him. It seems that they have a place of greater spiritual influence than they ever could have had while on this earth. Now, the manner in which the saints exercise judgment and reign with Christ, it's not specified. But I think we can infer that they are approving of Christ's judgment and his royal reign. They're reigning with him. They're participating with him in some way. I hesitated to use this as an illustration if it falls short.

It will fall short. But I'm trying to understand in some way to communicate to you what's going on here. When my children were at home growing up, we came here. Gabe was 11.

Abigail was 9. And any project I was doing, Gabe was right there with me. And if you were to ask Gabe about projects around the house, he would say, yeah, we built this. We built that. Okay.

Now, if you're doing carpentry work and you're wrestling around 12 foot, two by sixes or two by eights, you only got two hands. All right. So you're going to need some help if you're going to build something, construct something. So I'm not minimizing his help.

But he's 12 or 13 years old. So for you to ask him, you say, well, we built this. We built that. And in a sense, we did. He helped. But how much did he contribute? I mean, I'm not minimizing his contribution.

But you see what I'm saying? Christ is reigning. And we have the privilege of participating in that reign, whatever that looks like. And I think it's a gracious overture for him to say, the saints are reigning with me. He doesn't need you and I to reign with him.

Right? So, blessed and holy, it says, verse six, blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. God has set his claim upon those that he has redeemed and they are his treasured possession. And they are blessed to dwell with him and reign with him and to be priests to God and to Christ in his glorious presence.

Which brings us to our last heading. The contrast to this blessedness. The contrast to this blessedness. Let's go back and look at that first sentence in verse five that we omitted in our reading on purpose. It is that parenthesis.

Notice what it says. Verse five. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. The rest of the dead.

Here's a contrast. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. The rest of the dead. That is those whose souls do not go to heaven when they die. They do not live again until the thousand years are finished. And again, what is that thousand years?

It is that set period of time according to God's decree between the first and second advent of Christ. They do not live again until Christ returns. This death that they experience when they died during the church age, that is their first death. When the wicked die, their souls are not only separated from their bodies, but their souls are also finally, permanently, and irrevocably separated from God.

They are both physically and spiritually dead. Their souls are cast into hell and they remain there for the entire period until Christ returns. And the Bible says this is their first death. And it is only when Christ returns that they are brought out of hell and reunited with their resurrected bodies. And therefore, since they are reunited with their resurrected bodies, they can be said to live again, as it says in verse five. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. The living again at the end of that period between the first and second coming of Christ is described in Revelation 20 verse 12 and 13.

It's a very short period of time that they live. Their souls are reunited with their bodies, judgment is executed against them, and then they are cast into the lake of fire. So, the righteous have a two-stage resurrection. First, their souls are raised to heaven and made perfect.

It says, blessed and holy, a state of holy perfection is their existence even as we speak. Then, at the second coming of Christ, their bodies are raised and made perfect and reunited with their perfected souls. Then, that is the second resurrection. That's the blessed state of the believer who dies in Christ. In contrast to the two-stage resurrection of the righteous, the wicked have a two-stage death. First, when they die physically, their souls are condemned to hell and experience torment there. Then, at the second coming of Christ, their bodies are raised, their corrupt souls are reunited with their bodies, and they are cast into the lake of fire. That is referred to as the second death. Challenging, sobering, and it causes me to wonder.

No wonder. It causes me to affirm the doctrine of total depravity. In the face of such a future, why would any man or woman continue in their rejection of Christ knowing what awaits them?

Eternal separation from God, eternal torment in hell fire, and cast into the lake of fire forever and ever and ever and ever. If a man is not totally depraved and he understands this, he is going to run to Christ to escape that. But men, in spite of knowing the truth that God has revealed about the future of all unrepentant rejecting of Christ, that's what awaits them. And they are affirmed in their unbelief. And it takes a work of the Spirit of God in the hearts of men and women and boys and girls to arrest them to the danger they are in.

And apart from that, they're unmoved. But a final word to those who are in Christ. If you remain faithful to Christ until the end, you will forever be a priest and a king in the kingdom of God to live in eternal happiness and blessedness with God who made you for Himself. Because this ruling and reigning and serving as a priest and a king in heaven brings the reign of Christ to earth in chapter 22. And what we're doing, what the saints are doing in heaven, they will be doing on this earth. But if you're here this morning and you do not have a relationship with God through Christ, you can never be happy in time or in eternity. You must repent of your sins. You must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. You must follow Him to the end in order to be a part of this blessed company.

Blessed and holy is He who has part in the first resurrection. Life can be hard, and there I think are going to be very hard times coming. And we need strengthened, we need fortified, we need galvanized, we need steadfastness. Because the Bible says the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.

No comparison. You're not left to yourself. You don't have to rely on your own strength to overcome. God gives grace.

God gives enabling help to all who are His. And the glorious news is, when we're all gathered on the other side, there will not be a single soul missing for whom Christ died. He will keep everyone, you included. He will keep the weakest.

He will keep the most feeble. Because He is an all-powerful Savior. So be encouraged this morning, church. I wish, I wish, I wish somebody that we know could make the trip from heaven and stand in my place and tell you what they've experienced for however long they've been there. But that's not going to happen, is it? What more can He say than to you He hath said? We have an all-sufficient word.

God has told us enough about what awaits us that we might be prepared and have anticipation and joy as we look forward to it because this life is short. I got that phone call yesterday about Peggy Coney. I didn't know who this was on the other end of the phone and I said, I remember Dick and Peggy Coney.

I said, I've been, my wife and I have been at the church for 28 years. We moved in the neighborhood where they lived and they were the first persons to visit us. They came on a July and brought a watermelon to our door.

Dick and Peggy Coney. And I thought to myself, hearing her name over the telephone reminded me of something they did in service to me and to Christ. And Jesus said, if you give a cup of cold water in His name, you will not go without reward.

I don't know what reward you get for delivering a watermelon to a preacher's house. But that happened 28 years ago and God keeps perfect record. So we ought to be busy serving. We ought to be busy and find joy in serving Christ and His people and His church. And, oh, there is a glorious reunion awaiting us all. Let us pray.

Father, thank You for Your Word. Thank You for telling us what awaits us, even though it's veiled a bit and we have to receive it by faith. We don't see it. We can't touch it.

We can't talk to people who are on the other side. And yet that does not diminish nor take away from the reality of what You have prepared for those who love You. So strengthen Your church. Help us, Father, to be faithful unto the end. Help us to rejoice in Christ. Help us to have hope, Bible hope, a confident assurance of a certain future event, that there is a day coming when life upon this earth will be over.

Jesus is coming again, and when He does, He will settle all accounts. May we be found among the saints and not among the goats. May we be found among the wheat and not among the tares. May we be found among the believing and not among the rejecting. Work in hearts, our God, we pray, for the honor and good of souls and for the honor and glory of Christ. We ask in Jesus' name, Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-28 16:48:34 / 2023-10-28 17:01:22 / 13

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime