Look at chapter 13, verse 11, and “I saw another beast.” The Tribulation is going to be so horrible, but now we have this other beast “coming up out of the Earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes” over and over. It keeps saying he causes; he has this very powerful effect on people. He “causes the Earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. He performs great signs,” verse 13, “so that he even makes fire come down from Heaven on the Earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the Earth by those signs.”
Look what I wrote, the false prophet of Revelation 16:13, 19:20, and 20:10 is the final, most powerful of all the deceiving prophets. There have always been false prophets, all the way back to the magicians in Egypt that were duplicating what Moses was doing. Satan has always been in the false department, but this one’s job is to promote the worship of Satan, the originator of all false religions. This is the ultimate pointer to Satan of all the false prophets and he wants to get the world to do what Satan’s always wanted. Satan wants, as the god of this world, to have everybody worship him. This person is the puppet of Satan.
He will have so much power he can even perform supernatural events and he causes eight things to happen. It says he deceives people by mimicking God’s two witnesses, by causing Satan prompted fire to fall from Heaven. Wait a minute. Look at number two, beware of Satan empowering fake signs and wonders. Did you know this isn’t limited to the Tribulation? There are many people on Christian television today who are following people who can perform signs and wonders, but when you listen to the messages those people teach, they are contrary to the scripture and they’re leading people astray.
You do not verify a ministry by whether it can perform signs and wonders. That is one of the powerful messages, why this book was so important to the Church because the Church of the 1st century saw there’s a coming false miracle worker. They started being very skeptical of anyone who performs signs and wonders until they heard the content of what they were bringing to see if it checks out with the scripture. Remember even the Bereans checked Paul’s normal sermons against the scripture and that’s what we should do.
Verses 16 to 18, notice what it says. “He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads.” This is the mark of the beast that everyone talks about. “That no one may buy or sell except” by the mark of this number. We already talked about that yesterday, but look at this, the mark of the beast is a chosen, visible mark or ID.
When John wrote to his recipients in Asia Minor the Roman world had a mark. He uses the exact same Greek word they used. It’s the word for a soldier’s brand. Have you guys ever seen Russell Crow in the Gladiator digging out the SPQR brand of the Roman Legionnaires? They all got, and that’s the word, the mark, they were all marked that they were a Roman Legionnaire.
Also, if you joined a mystery cult. I’ve told you about them. The cults were mysterious. They were from Persia, many of them, and they came into Rome through the soldiers. One of them, for example, was called Mithras, M I T H R A S. If you were walking down the streets of Rome in the 1st century and you bumped into someone, they would say, hey, how are you? You would say, great. They would say I’ve been born again. You’d stop if you’re a born-again Christian, Word of Life student, and you saw them on the street, and they said I’m born again. You would say, I am too, tell me about how you got born again.
Oh, this Mithras mystery cult person would say I was born again by the blood of the Son of God. You’d say I was too. Oh yeah, I was washed in the blood. I was washed in the blood. Oh. You’ve been born again. Yes. You want to come to our meeting? You’d go to the meeting. Mithras met down in the depths of subterranean Rome. They would bring down living sacrificial animals. They would, while they were alive, get in a pit underneath them and take all their clothes off, and slit the throat of the animals so that the blood would come out and wash them. In that orgy down there, they were born again.
See, what words mean is very important. Don’t just take words at face value. You’ve been born again. I’ve been born again. Yeah. We’re all born again. We’ve been washed by the blood. Oh, good. By the blood of what? By the blood of the Son of God. Who is the Son of God? Oh, it’s the bull god Mithras. Oh. Be careful, words matter. As the New York Times logo says, “Facts Matter.” The truth of the scripture matters because this deceptive time is coming.
Not only the mystery religions but a slave’s registration was printed on their body. Anti-Christ uses his mark to authorize all financial transactions and at that moment he becomes the most powerful human ever, but he’s merely a human and never almighty God. When you can have people starve to death if they don’t follow you, you have gotten sway over most people because most people will do anything to save their life. That’s the moment that we’ve come to.
By the way, what’s the only protection against the mark of the beast? What is it? It’s the Gospel. I have pasted that little chart that I’m going to read to you right in the front of my Bible here. Let me find it. I paste it there. This is what it says. This is God’s signature on my life. I’ve been forgiven. He removed my debts. I’m justified. Mark was talking about it the last hour, or two hours ago. He changed my state. I am regenerated. God transformed my heart. I am reconciled. I have become God’s friend. I am adopted. God has changed my family. I am redeemed. God changed my ownership, and I am sanctified. God has changed my behavior. Those are the seven elements the Bible presents that are what God does when He saves us. He does all of those things to us.
I call it the confessing Church and it’s on our website there. In all the churches that I’ve pastored, I had them get this and make it in card form. When Satan tempts me to despair and tells me of the guilt within, I just look up and remind myself of what God has done for me and I preach the Gospel to myself. Have you ever heard someone say that when you’re struggling and don’t feel close to the Lord you just preach the Gospel to yourself again and say, I’m forgiven? I am justified. I’m regenerated. I’m reconciled. I’m adopted. I’m redeemed and I’m sanctified. We immediately enter into life. I’m still in the last hour. Life as God intended it to be.
Do you remember the Christian life that all believers enter into? David described it this way in Psalm 16:11. “You will show me the path of life.” We have a guide through life. “In Your presence is fullness of joy.” We have the source of endless overflowing joy as long as we stay close to the Lord.
All of us have a little indicator in our pocket that indicates how far away the cell tower is. I only have two bars here. I’m with, I don’t even remember what carrier I have. It used to be Nynex or something like that, but whatever it is, there’s not a tower too close because it shows me. See, I can tell how close I am to the tower by how many bars I have. You can tell how close you are to the Lord by how much joy you have. Why? Psalm 16:11 says “in your presence is fullness of joy.” If this is the Lord’s presence, then I would really be full because I’m close to Him, but the more backing away I do the more I leave His presence, and the less joy I have.
Then Psalm 16:11 says “at your right hand.” That means when I am obedient to what He wants me to do, that’s what the one at their right hand is. That’s my right hand man, they used to say about workers. They’re the one that stays so close to the boss that whatever he wants they want to do it. If you stay at God’s right hand, check-in in the morning. I’m starting my day; I want to live for You. God says I’ll give you endless pleasures.
Did you know I had a friend; his name was Carl? He introduced me to what life beyond understanding could ever be. I was a student like you. I was in my early days, my training days in ministry. One of our classes was about how to do pastoral ministry. The teacher said I want all of you to do a hospital visit. I said I’m in college, 1,700 miles or whatever from home. I don’t know anybody in the hospital. He said you’ve got to learn to be a pastor so go to any hospital in the city and visit someone. I said, okay. I was a good student, and obedient, so I took my Bible, and I didn’t have a car, I walked everywhere. I walked to the closest hospital. I got to the hospital, and this was in the 70’s. There were no rules back then. No masks. Nothing. I just walked down each hall of each floor of the hospital looking in the rooms; probably not a good thing to do. I looked for someone I thought would let me talk to them.
Finally, on about the third floor I walked by, and I saw about the saddest person I’d ever seen lying in bed. I knocked and they looked up and said, yeah? I said hi, I’m doing hospital visitation. Could I visit you? They said nobody else does. Real positive person. Nobody else does so you can. I said, okay. I went to the bed, and I found the scripture that I’d read that morning. I said, I’m a born again Christian and I want to come and encourage you and this is what God promises. I read to them from Isaiah about the God who has held him from birth and is still wanting to take care of him to the very end. I tried to share the Gospel. They just sat there, stone silent, motionless, and everything. I went through the whole thing and prayed with him, and I said thank you. I’d done my assignment. I turned around to leave. They said wait a minute.
That was the first time they had talked since they said I could come in. They said I thought you wanted to help me. I said I did. I read you the verse, I prayed for you. They said I’m starving, and the hospital food is horrible. I want a Wendy’s triple. I don’t even know if they make Wendy’s triples anymore. It was a three decker hamburger that I think cost 99 cents. I was a poor college student. I used to wash other people’s clothes so I could put my clothes in with theirs. I didn’t have enough quarters to wash the clothes and I didn’t have enough money to buy the tide to put in it. I said to other people, I’ll make you a deal. If I can put my clothes in with yours, I’ll wash them and fold them and deliver them back, but you pay for the whole thing. They said, okay. I used to do that every week.
A dollar for a stranger’s hamburger? I thought, I really did say I wanted to help him. I said, you want me to buy you a hamburger and smuggle it into the hospital? What if he was dying of insulin levels? I would disrupt all that, but I didn’t think of all that. I said, okay, I’ll go buy you a hamburger. I walked all the way down the street until I found a Wendy’s, got it, snuck in the back door, went up three floors, and handed him the Wendy’s. He said, thanks. That’s all. I said, “thank you for letting me do my hospital visit.” I got my assignment done. I started to walk out. He said what’s your name? I said I’m just down the road at the college down there. He said, what’s your name? I told him. He said where do you live on that college campus? I told him my address. That’s all he said, and I left.
About three weeks later, I got an envelope in the mail at that Christian college. It was made of paper that most of you probably have never seen or felt. It’s paper that’s made of cloth. It has cloth fibers in it. It’s the most elegant paper. My name was pushed into that thick paper. It was embossed. There was a golden color to it. My name was pressed into the cloth, fancy fibrous paper, and I opened it. A card was inside. It had my name again and it said I was invited to dinner on this date and to be out front of where you live at 6:00 PM. Signed, your friend from the hospital.
I’d never got a letter like that in my life. I’d never seen paper like that. My name was never pushed into anything with gold foil. It was amazing. Boy, I got my best little suit on and stood out in front of my dorm before 6:00 PM. A limousine, one of those with multiple doors, pulled up and the driver opened the door. I looked and there was the guy sitting in there from the hospital.
To make a long story short, Carl and his family had a 10,000 acre ranch in Texas where they grew two things. Barzona cattle, the big, giant black ones that are the good steaks, and oil wells. When I finally visited him the seats around his table were interesting. This is gross and I know animal lovers will be mad, but to show you their wealth the table was held up by real ivory elephant tusks and each seat was a real elephant’s foot made from leather. They were big game hunters in Africa back when people could do that in the 70’s.
What he said at dinner, and by the way, dinner was amazing. We went to a restaurant, and you didn’t even stop. You just walk and they take you to a table. They don’t really talk to you. There are no menus. It’s just so different. It was like we were in this fancy house. We sat down and all of a sudden, the person came walking out with a towel over their arm, pushing a little cart and they pulled back the cloth. It was a marble slab, and it was a quarter side of beef. They sharpened their tool, and they told you all the different cuts you could have of your beef, and they would cut it at the table and cook it and bring it back to you. Talk about fresh.
At that meal, I had never experienced that. It was fun driving in the big car. He said, hey, by the way, I’m a Christian too. It was really nice of you to come to visit me. I acted like I acted to see if you were genuine or not. He said, so thank you. No one’s ever visited me in the hospital before so thank you. He said, what are you doing in the summer? I said I’m going on a mission’s team. I’m going to smuggle Bibles into Eastern Europe. (I already told you about that.) He said, when are you starting to smuggle Bibles? I told him the date. He said, what are you doing the week before? (I used to paint fences to earn money.) I said I’m going to be painting fences to earn money. He says, how about you skip that for a week and just let me show you Europe that you’ve probably never seen? I said, okay, so I flew on my mission trip ticket over to London.
When I started to get off the airplane, I walked through the door. You know how you do, pulling your little bag. There was a person standing there with a sign with my name. I didn’t go to the terminal. Did you know that those hallways into the airport also have little doors in them that go down somewhere? That person took me down the stairway. There was a car waiting there. I didn’t go through all the bumping around. They got my bag from the bag place. I rode in the car. They said, Carl’s waiting for you. I said, okay.
We rode up to a hotel. You didn’t go to the front desk and give them the credit card. They took you in through a back door, up an elevator to your room. No questions. These people are watching over you. They said to get ready for dinner, Carl will get you in an hour. My bag was already there. I went, wow, this is amazing. I got ready and I only had two outfits, so I wore one of them. Carl said, hey, you ready for dinner? I said, yeah. He said let’s go to my favorite place.
We went to a restaurant. I thought it was an aquarium. It had a fish tank as big as your wall right there. Solid glass, a deep fish tank, and all kinds of fish were swimming around. I said, what do they serve here? He said fish. I said, really? He said, yeah. Look down, the pictures show what they have. What kind do you want? He said I like sole. I said I want sole. Someone went down, speared it, and they took it up and cooked it and brought it to our table.
I said I didn’t know places like this existed. He said people like you probably would never see them. He said, there’s a whole world that wealthy people live in that none of the commoners ever see. He said we’re going to see Orphan Annie. This is in 1978. Orphan Annie was big in London, the original Orphan Annie. We went to the play and when we got there we went in the back door again, none of these ticket lines. We go in the back door; they take us to a box seat. I was sitting in the box seat. Annie was singing right there. I could see our eyelashes. It was like, where is everybody else? All the other people were sitting back there somewhere. I don’t know where they were. We were right here.
That’s how the whole trip was. That was the first night. We went from place to place I never knew existed. Do you know what I thought? That’s Carl and it’s because he was a multi-multimillionaire. Guess what? Psalm 16:11 says God wants to give you a life that is indescribably wonderful. Along the way you might suffer, you might even suffer ultimately. You might even be called upon to lose your life for His sake, but He says, if you stay with Me in My presence is fullness of joy, at My right hand are endless pleasures and I will guide you through life. I got a small taste of that with Carl. The lesson for you is that you should always visit people in the hospital. You never know what will happen.
We’re in part 15. What is the eternal Gospel? That shows up in our text in chapter 14. We’re still in the Tribulation. We’re still in that red block that you’ve seen. We’re encountering now the 144,000 after they finish their tour of duty. That’s what chapter 14 is. The tide for the war of the world has turned in Revelation 14. Jesus is now standing on the holy hill of Zion in chapter 14. Beneath Zion, the beast from the abyss empowered by Satan has crawled ashore on the Earth. Death stalks all who refuse Satan and turn to Jesus. That’s what’s happening. Everybody that gets saved is martyred. It’s an instantaneous price, but we see them standing on Zion. They’re secure. They’re joyful. They’re pure. They’re His servants.
What we’re looking at in chapter 14, if you want to look at verse 1 with me of Revelation 14, let me get there. What we’re looking at is the compassion of Jesus. I wrote in my journal when I was studying this like you are, I just read verse 1. It says, “I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him 144,000,” look at this, “having His Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from Heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of the loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists.” Thunder and harps. What we’re seeing is something amazing. We’re seeing, we’re feeling Jesus. You notice where He is. He’s standing with the 144,000.
Remember when Stephen was being stoned? Do you remember that in Acts, when Saul was standing there with the coats and they were stoning Stephen to death? Do you remember what he said just before the last stone crushed his life out of him? He said I see the Son of God. I see Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father. Did you ever catch that? Jesus went at the ascension to be seated at the right hand of the Father. When Steven saw Him just before he died, why was Jesus standing? Because He was coming to get him.
See, that’s the compassion of Jesus. Jesus is standing with these because He stood and walked them through the valley of the shadow of death. These are the people that were His missionaries that are leading the innumerable multitude to the Lord, who is going through all the horrors of the Tribulation for Christ’s sake… and He’s standing with them. It’s beautiful. Jesus offers true security and joy.
Secondly, as the world plunges into desolation and destruction, God is showing us living proof of His care. Do you see why the book of Revelation was so popular in the 1st century? They just were all over this. They said, wow. If the emperor marches us in the arena and we’re killed by the lions, Jesus is going to be right there standing with us and they’re going to be playing the harps. I can’t wait to get there. See, they were believing all this. With Jesus are His blameless, unstoppable witnesses. This picture is telling us more about these 144,000.
By the way, the 144,000 were normal people like us. These are not angels. These are normal humans, and it shows you what God can do with a normal person. Look what He can do. They are blameless, unstoppable witnesses who have security because their Father’s name is written on their forehead. God says you are mine. God has named all the stars. They’re merely inanimate objects. He calls them each by name, but God’s servants have God’s name on their foreheads.
Did you know if you’re saved here this morning you also are sealed by the Holy Spirit? Jesus has a new name, Revelation 3, remember when we covered that? He’s going to declare your new name, my new name before our Father in Heaven. We have the same true security and joy as them and all the people in the 1st century were saying, wow, this is amazing salvation that we have.
Now, where we are. Remember all these charts we’ve gone through. I guess I’ll see it here. All the green grass and trees, remember I told you about that. The asteroid comes and the comet comes. The Lord, fourthly, dials back the sun, then those demon locusts come. Then those four angels by the Euphrates come and it’s the largest loss of human life. Then we have all the chapter 10 stuff and then chapter 11 and we’ve gone through all that. This is what those witnesses have lived through. They lived through a fourth of all humans dying and a third of all humans dying and they faithfully served the Lord through all that carnage, trying to win more people to Christ. God calls Himself a Savior. God always has evangelists; the Church, these 144,000, the two witnesses we just saw die. Next, we’re going to run into the Gospel Angel. Then the millennial temple.
Look at the details. This I love. I used to preach this as a youth pastor because Jesus offers purity in a sea of filth. Remember Herodotus described the Roman empire as living in a cesspool of sin. I would say that all of us are living in a cesspool of sin now in our culture. Where death and killing and occultic things and immoral things and everything else are just common. We live in an unshocked generation. People aren’t shocked by sin anymore. They’re acquainted with it. Look at verse 3. “They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except 144,000 who were redeemed from the Earth.” These have special privileges because they did this special work for the Lord. “These are the ones who were not defiled with women.”
Wait a minute, women are defiling? What is this saying? Is this bad? No. The way this is put is these have chosen because they were saved, that they would have nothing to do with Revelation 9:21. What did Revelation 9:21 say? That the whole world was involved in sexual immorality. The whole world was. I don’t know if they all have their VR headsets on, but they are entirely engrossed in sexual immorality. These 144 were not. They lived around it. They were in a sea of filth, but they weren’t letting it seep in. Boy is that good news. That means it’s possible. It’s possible to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts.
“For they were virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.” Do you know what this is? They were virgins after they were saved. It doesn’t say they were born. They were not immaculate, or sinless, but they were redeemed and saved. From the instant of their salvation on they never allowed their body to be sinned against, the Holy Spirit living within, by committing sexual immorality. It’s wonderful.
Look at this. John explains more about those who are singing the song. Earth dwellers are drunk on fornication. We already read about that. The wine of their passion, that’s in 14:8, all nations are drunk with the wine of the wrath for fornication. Everybody is into this sinful life because they won’t repent of murder, sorcery, immorality, or stealing. Against that backdrop of complete wickedness, God’s servants stand out in purity. They stand out.
Fourth, Jesus offers truth. These servants of the Lord live the truth in a world of lies. Look at verse 5. “And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they were without fault before the throne of God.” It’s amazing. The world, however, is like their father the devil who is a murderer. He doesn’t stand in the truth. There’s no truth in him, but Jesus said believers, put away lying. They accepted Christ’s offer. He said I’m the way, the truth, and the life. They said we’re going to be truthful. He said that I’ve come to make you a holy and pure temple of God. They said that’s what we want. We will not get defiled. Did you know that sexual immorality is a choice that you say yes or no to? So is fantasizing, so is giving into temptation. It’s a choice and the Lord says I’ve set you free and if I’ve set you free, you’re really free. You don’t have to give in to that.
That means God can sanctify us anywhere and all the time if we allow Him to. This description is what God can do with consecrated individuals. Do you know what my greatest desire was when I was your age? Remember I told you I would walk the campus at night when they let us out of study hall? I’d go walking around the 260 acres and I’d get to the spot, look at the stars and I’d say, I know Your eyes are running to and fro throughout the Earth. I’m waving my hand that I want my heart to be completely Yours. See, that’s what it’s talking about. We can live a life of consecration kept from immorality and deceit even in the most demon polluted times there will ever be. That’s why Revelation was written. Now, that’s cause for hope. Since Jesus could keep them, He can keep us.
By the way, there are only healthy Christians and sick Christians. There aren’t 27 grades of Christians. There are just two, the healthy ones and the sick ones. Which are you? Let’s do some vital signs. We can do a little medical thing here, a pop-up medical clinic. There are seven vital signs of how you’re doing, how we’re doing, and how I’m doing spiritually. Healthy believers are, number one, prompted by love. Their consecrated living is not them saying I’m going to try my hardest and I’m going to really do this. I’m going to keep all the rules. No, look at what John 14:21 says. “He who has my commandments,” the Word of God, “and keeps them.” The word keep is a very interesting word. Do you know what it means? Tereo, look it up in your Logos, it means to guard. It’s like soldiers guarding Paul in prison. Soldiers guarding James and John in prison. Soldiers guarding the tomb of Christ. If you keep, you guard My word. That means it’s important to you. It’s vital in your life. That’s how you know you love Me.
“He who loves me.” We say, Lord, with my whole heart I want You, I want You to have all of me. I already have all of You. I want You to have all of me. As soon as we say that, look at what the Lord does. “I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” Have you ever met people that every time you have devotions in the room or you’re in a small group with them or you hear them sharing it’s just like whoa, that really was impactful. How do you know all that? The secret is right there. The people that love the Lord and guard their time with Him and are obeying Him, “I love him and manifest Myself to him.”
The Lord, Revelation 3:20, every day is knocking. He says, can I come in? I’d like to spend time with you. I’d like to revolutionize your day. You go I can’t, don’t have time for the Bible this morning. Got to study and everything. Oh, I don’t have time, I’ve got to keep up with all my friends. I don’t have time. I’ve got to get ready. The Lord says another day you didn’t have time for Me. I want to manifest Myself. They’re prompted by love.
Secondly, they’re trained by grace. We live a holy life because we love the Lord, not because we have to, someone’s watching, they’ve got security cameras around here and my parents pay a lot of money, and I don’t want to get in trouble. That’s a very bad reason to obey the Lord. It’s prompted by love and secondly, they are trained by grace. The grace of God that saves us, verse 12, teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts. I ask the Lord all the time, I want to know more about how to deny ungodliness, and how to not let worldly lusts have any place to start conquering parts of me. I want to live soberly, righteously, and godly in my world. How do I do that? Verse 13, I’m looking for the blessed hope and the glorious appearance of my Savior. Jonathan Edwards resolved not to do anything he would be ashamed of doing when Jesus comes. See, it’s a simple way of living by saying I know You’re watching. Prompted by love trained by grace.
Look at number three, a healthy believer makes daily choices. It isn’t enough to say, yeah, I did that when I was 13 or 12, I went forward and dedicated my life or whatever. Paul doesn’t talk in those terms. What he says is we’re supposed to be constantly doing Ephesians 4:22, making these choices to “put off, concerning my former conduct.” Every time I see myself acting the way I used to act, I don’t want that. I want to get rid of that. “The old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,” and I want to constantly be renewed. He already told us in Romans 12, the renewing of your mind comes through the truth of the Word of God. I want to put on the new man that was created according to God and true righteousness. I want more and more of my life to be under God’s control. The moment I got saved, I got all of God. You get everything at once. It’s just that He doesn’t have all of us.
There was a great Christian author. His name was Robert Boyd Munger. He wrote a little tiny booklet called My Heart Christ’s Home. What he says is that when we get saved, it’s like Christ is in the living room, but we don’t want Him in the kitchen and certainly not in the fridge, so we keep Him in the living room. Then all of a sudden, He starts wandering around and we say, oh, You can’t go in the bedroom, I don’t want You to see what’s in there. Oh, You can’t go down to the basement. The closet is locked. He said the Christian life is constantly throwing everything open. Anything Christ disapproves of, get rid of it, put it off, renew that part, and put in what He wants it to be.
Fourthly, a healthy believer makes sacred vows. Here’s a great one. Have you ever marked Psalm 101:3? David wrote three psalms or more when he was young. He wrote the 101st psalm, probably the 19th, probably the 23rd because he talks about being a shepherd and living in Bethlehem. Look what he says. “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes.”
I remember raising our kids, teaching them. That verse is 3000 years old. I remember teaching this to my older boys and I forgot that the younger kids fiddling around are always listening too. One day I was walking at the outlets with two of our kids. We have eight children, the big four and the little four, and I had two of the little four. I was walking like this and thinking because mom and the rest were doing something, and I don’t like to shop so I was just walking my laps around. All of a sudden, one of the two buddies, it was like I was dragging him. I just kept walking, but my hand was being pulled behind me and I finally looked back at him. I said, what are you doing? He was walking with his arm over his eyes. He was holding my hand, but he was covering his eyes and I said, what are you doing? He pointed up. We were walking in front of the Playtex, Bali, and there was a 40 foot tall woman in her underwear on their window. He was covering his eyes and I said what are you doing? He said, “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes.”
Does that ever happen to you? Do advertisements, images, previews, trailers, or shows offend you? Have you made a sacred vow? I will set nothing that God calls wicked before my eyes. I will hate everything that those who fall away from God are promoting and it’s not going to cling to me. You know, a good boat, they take it out of the water all the time and scrape the barnacles off. Barnacles are little creatures that are tiny, and they stick to the boat and then they grow. They slowly drag and slow down the boat so it’s using too much fuel. They bring it into the dry dock, put it up, and get these tools and they blast away at those barnacles that have encrusted the boat. You know what? We should make sacred vows to go to the dry dock regularly. We need to say I don’t want any of the things that offend You, grieve You, quench You to cling to me.
Next, purge bad files. I always think about this. Did you know I was a truck driver in the good old days? High school was interesting to me. I got it all done in three years. The four-year high school I went to. I used to go after school, I’d go early. I did summer school, so I got done with high school in three years and I said, what do I do now? They said, oh, you just get a job. You have to stay for the fourth year, but you can go get a job. I didn’t even go my last year. I’d already finished high school and won my scholarship and had done everything. I started working. They had all these jobs and I decided to be a truck driver just to try it out. I worked for a battery company, and I used to take my truck. It was the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 wheeler, it wasn’t a 13 wheeler. It wasn’t a semi. It was just those big, heavy ones, especially the ones that have the extra wheels that go down in tandem when they really load it.
I would take my truck and my little clipboard, we used to have paper stuff, and I would back my truck up, put on the air brakes, jump out and get my clipboard. I would slide it across the desk. I remember my very first day delivering at the loading dock and I delivered it, and I looked up and I went, uh! Remember, I was raised in a good Christian home, I went to church three times a week. Behind the shipping/receiving clerk’s desk was a centerfold, not just one. Many of them. This guy was an addict to some pornography magazine, and he had taped behind him all the centerfolds. The centerfold is a bunch of pages of an immoral magazine, where if unfolded, it’s almost life sized and he had glued them up.
It was the first time; I was 19 years old. It was the first time in my whole life I ever saw a woman with no clothes on, ever. It was shocking. I wish it was even faster and I looked away. The problem is if my cell phone has a 14 teraflop camera, my head has an even better one. It recorded what I saw. I remember that image stayed with me for too long; until I was at Bible college. Remember that was my senior year, then I went to Bible college. I was memorizing the book of Hebrews, all 303 verses. I was pacing in my dorm room, memorizing Hebrews out loud. “How much more shall the blood Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God. Cleanse your…” I opened my eyes. What was that verse saying? “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God. Cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” I was in Bible college, and I was constantly haunted by what I saw.
By the way, I fled from the desk where the pinups were, and I went to the restroom because you used the restroom at the loading dock because you were driving between all your accounts. When I got to the restroom, guess what was in the restroom? It was worse than the loading dock. There were stacks of magazines. The guy’s entire life’s collection of every type of pornographic magazine. He had them all. This guy was a really immoral type. It was horrible. I felt like I was in the Roman world. Surrounded.
Do you know what I learned? God can purge the bad files. Did you know that there is no memory you have of anything you did that was wrong or anything you saw that was wrong or anything you heard that was wrong that offends God, there is not one thing that God, through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, can’t purge? The Lord can actually go into your mind, open the files, and clean that up. The problem is we don’t want Him to because some of these are very dear to us. Events and things and stuff that we’ve done or said or heard or seen, but God offers complete removal.
That’s not all. Healthy believers don’t just purge the bad files, they reclaim boldness. A little bit later I was pacing along. I had already been overwhelmed by that verse as I was memorizing Hebrews. I got to Hebrews 10:22 and it says, “Let us draw near…in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” I said what? “Let us draw near… [to God] in full assurance of faith.” Every time I read the New Testament, I read about people that were bold for the Lord and I at times wasn’t bold.
We reclaim boldness by drawing near to God because He’s cleansed our hearts. We’ve been honest with Him and let Him clean us out as often as we need it. It’s not like once and every bad thing is gone, but it’s once I decided I don’t want the bad things. He keeps cleansing them away. We can have full assurance of faith that our hearts have been sprinkled, 9:14 talks about that, from that evil conscience, and our bodies are washed with pure water. What’s pure water? The washing by the Word, the scriptures talk about it. Your body’s washed with the pure water of the Word of God. We constantly are being cleansed.
All of this means that healthy believers are constantly renewing their consecration. Romans 6 talks all about it. It talks about all those imperatives that we’re not supposed to present to our members anymore. Then Paul concludes it in Romans 12 saying, I beg you, believers, because of all God did for you, present your body as a living sacrifice. What does that mean? Every day I’m going to live like I died with Christ. Every day I’m going to live like I’m on the altar. I want to be holy. I want to be acceptable and pleasing to You. It’s your, and this is an interesting word, reasonable service. The word there is latreia. It’s the idea of a worship sacrifice. I’m offering this sacrifice of worship. I don’t want to conform to the world. I want You to transform my mind. Wow.
Now we get to the eternal Gospel. We only have five minutes. Look at verses 6 and 7. These healthy believers are in Heaven, but now “I saw another angel flying in the midst of Heaven, having the everlasting Gospel.” One of my times reading through the Bible, I told you I read the Bible once a month for several years till I caught up and got way ahead of my age. Every time I look for something different. Do you know what I looked for once? Every time the Gospel’s talked about. Everybody debates it and you have all kinds of books and camps and groups, but most people don’t know what the Bible says. Rarely does the Bible present the Gospel the same way twice, but this one’s interesting.
This is the everlasting Gospel. God sent us “the everlasting Gospel to preach to those who dwell on the Earth – to every nation, tribe, tongue and people.” This is important. This angel who’s come directly from the presence of God is giving the ultimate declaration of the Gospel of the God of the universe and he says this, “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him.” Remember, I talked to you in chapter 11 about how important worship is, how it quickens and transforms us. “Worship Him,” look at this, “who made Heaven and Earth, the sea and springs of water.” Creationism does matter. It’s not just Ken Ham and his ark. God says for those people to be saved, they had to believe that He is the One He declared He was, the Creator who is the only One that can be your Redeemer, or else you’ll face Him as the Judge. Wow.
God adds a third source. The 144,000 are out there and they finish, the two witnesses were out there, and they were martyred. Now He sends the Gospel Angel, and the message has turned to the true living God. Bow to Him, obey Him, worship Him. God proclaims His eternal Gospel to the entire world through an angel flying overhead that can be heard.
By the way, it’s the very same Gospel. In the New Testament, it’s called the Gospel of God. It’s called the Gospel of Grace. It’s called the Gospel of Christ. It’s called the Gospel of Peace. It’s called the Glorious Gospel. It’s called the Gospel of the Kingdom. Anyone even here at the crescendo of the Tribulation who will turn to God will be gloriously saved. Wow.
Do you know what that is? It’s the Gospel Angel. I don’t think we’re going to turn the world around because in the future they’re not turned around. We’re not going to save the planet because you see it being destroyed before your eyes. The ecology isn’t going to get better and better, but I still have great hope going through life. I know that those who I lead to Christ will not be marked by the Anti-Christ because they will already be sealed by the Holy Spirit of God, and they will have a future and hope. That’s why we can have hope in a world of doom. We don’t simply hide out, sitting on a mountaintop, waiting for the end of the world. We rescue as many people as we can by telling them about Jesus.
That reminds me, Bonnie and I started out married life, I told you this, we’d eat breakfast out every day. I worked at Grace Community Church. We’d eat every day at The Pantry. After our second week, the waiter we had every day wore this black hat and had nostrils this big that were red. Do you know what that means? He snorted coke. When someone snorts coke it constricts your blood vessels, your nose swells up, turns red, and it runs. It’s hard to snort cocaine. Every morning we would sit there, Bonnie and I. We’d eat our breakfast. We’d read our Bible back and forth between chews. Finally, our waiter came over, Mr. Big Nostril, bent down to look at us directly and he got our attention. He gave us an even better view of his nose and he said to us, I’ll never forget this, hey man, what are you two on? He was asking what drug we were on.
He said I’ve been serving you for two weeks, you’re high every morning. He said I snort cocaine. I said I can tell you snort cocaine. He said it only lasts a little while. I got to get more money and get more. He said, what are you two on, it doesn’t seem to wear out. Do you know what he was asking us to do? Share the Gospel. See that’s the Gospel of hope that Jesus offers compassion in the midst of judgment. The most noted emotion of Christ was compassion. The way we get it is to ask Christ for it and to put it on.
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