Six Spiritual Realities

Revelation 14

Alan Lewis
Elon, North Carolina
March 2023

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. 7 He said in 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.”

8 A second angel followed and said, “‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great,’ which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries.”

9 A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, 10 they, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb.

11 And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.” 12 This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus.

13 Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: 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.”

We are studying the Book of Revelation.  Today, we are going to look at only two new verses in the book.  We want to look at this section practically.  The goal is to not only learn what Revelation teaches but apply it to our own lives.

We want to look at Revelation 14 practically, not just prophetically.  That is the goal of the book. Let’s begin with a little review.

Last week, we looked at the ministry of three angels.  These angels will have a special ministry in the Tribulation Period.  They will be preaching angels.

Each one will preach a different message.  One had a message of salvation.  One had a message of judgment, and one had a sober warning about the afterlife.

What is the message to us who don’t necessarily live in the Great Tribulation Period.  Practically, these verses in Revelation 14 say six things to us today.

The Reality of Angels

The first reality found in this chapter is the reality of angels.  Many do not believe in angels but angels are real.  We can’t see them unless they appear to us.  Most of us will never see one but they exist.

They serve God in heaven and sometimes He sends them to earth on a mission.  During the Tribulation, they will have a new mission.  They will do something that they are not doing now.  They will preach the gospel, the eternal gospel, to every nation on the planet.

The Reality of Sin

This is our greatest problem.  Man’s greatest problem is sin.  It is not just man’s greatest problem; it is society’s greatest problem, and it will only get worse in the Tribulation Period.

Man’s greatest problem is not education. If we just educate everyone, that will solve everyone’s problems.  It won’t, as important as education is.

Man’s greatest problem is not the environment.  It is not climate change.  Man’s greatest problem is not crime.  It is not even violent crime. It is not sex crime.  It is not terrorism.

Man’s greatest problem is not racism.  It is not poverty.  Solving the problem of income inequality will not change human nature. It will not solve all of society’s problems.

Man’s greatest problem is not sickness, disease and worldwide pandemics.  All of these things are problems.  Some of them are big problems but they are not man’s greatest problem.

Man’s greatest problem is sin.  Our greatest problem is not on the outside, it is on the inside.  Internal rot is the cause.  The problem is our heart.  We were all born with a bad heart.

Jeremiah said that “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9 ESV).  We all have heart disease.  We all need a new heart.  We need a spiritual heart transplant.

We like to focus on symptoms.  If some lunatic creates a mass shooting, we blame guns or we blame mental illness or his upbringing.

The problem is not guns.  Banning guns is not the solution.  The problem is not even crime or disease.  It is not mental illness.  The problem is SIN which causes the crime.  That is exactly what Jesus said.

“Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them. (Matthew 15:17-19 NIV)

The Reality of Judgment

Hell is our greatest fear.  We have all kinds of fears, some are real, and some are imagined.  Some have a fear of insects, little bugs.  Some fear public speaking.

Some have a fear of heights.  Some have a terrible fear of being a victim of a violent crime. The greatest fear is not what people can do to us.  It is what God can do to us.  Should we ever be afraid of God?  Is it wrong to fear God?

Jesus said, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28 NIV)

Jesus says that we should fear God.  The Bible says that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10).  It is the whole duty of man (Ecclesiastes 12:13).  You don’t hear this preached too much in church.  Our problem today is that we have lost the fear of God in the world.

We have also lost the fear of God in the church.  Christians don’t seem to have any fear of deliberately disobeying what God’s Word says.  They will even say, “I know the Bible says one thing, but I am going to do something else.”

Revelation 14 is one of the most terrifying pictures in the Bible.  The scariest thing in Revelation is not the big red baby-eating dragon with seven heads.  The dragon that tried to eat baby Jesus just after He was born.

It is NOT the Beast demands to be worshiped, wages war on the saints and overcomes them.  The scariest thing is NOT martyrdom.  It is not being tortured for your faith.  It is not being fed to lions.

The scariest thing is to die in your sins, stand before a holy God and to be sent to Hell forever and ever.  Every time in Revelation we see the words “forever and ever,” they mean forever and ever.

Jesus was dead but now he is alive forever and ever, never to die again (Revelation 1:18).  The one who sits on the throne in heaven is said to live forever and ever (Revelation 4:9-10).

The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Revelation 11:15 NKJV).

The wicked will be sent to Hell where they are not extinguished and annihilated.  They are tormented.  They are tormented forever and ever.  Just as Jesus will live and reign forever; they will be tormented forever.

It is a horrible thought.  There is perhaps no greater description of Hell in the Bible.  No one would want to go to this place.

The Reality of Salvation

Salvation is our greatest gift.  The greatest gift ever given is not something wrapped up under a tree or something that we received on our birthday.  The greatest gift is the gospel.

It is good news.  It is called the “eternal gospel” in Revelation 14.  It will be preached by an angel in the Tribulation to every country.  It is not being preached by angels today.

The gospel is the greatest gift ever given.  It is the gift of salvation.  It is the gift of eternal life.  It is the gift of forgiveness of sins. It is a gift that affect where we will spend eternity.  Paul called salvation “the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8)

It is an expensive gift.  It is more valuable than gold and silver.  Jesus had to come to earth and become a man for you to receive this gift.  He had to die for you to receive this gift.  He had to die a violent, painful death for you to have that gift.

The Apostle Peter said that we were not redeemed with perishable things such as silver or gold but with the precious blood of Christ (I Peter 1:18-19)

It is a powerful gift.  The gospel is “the POWER OF GOD unto salvation” (Romans 1:16).  It brings brings life to spiritually dead people.  It can save anyone, not matter how bad.  This gospel changes people’s lives.  People chained by sins and addictions are set free by the gospel.

It is a free gift.  You can’t buy it in a store to earn it.  It is absolutely free.  All you have to do is to receive it.  You have to accept the gift of God.  Some accept it and some reject it.

The Bible says, “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (II Corinthians 9:15 CSB) and it should lead to worship.  We need to give God glory and worship Him every day of our lives.  We should praise his name.

The Reality of Commands

Now, we come to a topic that many do not like.  God’s people have some commands to keep.  They had commands to keep in the OT and commands to keep in the NT.  Revelation 14 gives us our greatest obligation.

There are actually three of them.  There are three characteristics of a Christian here.  There are three signs of salvation.  This is important for us to see.  Many in the church miss this today.

Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. (Revelation 14:12 ESV)

What are the three signs of a Christian?  The three signs are faith, obedience and perseverance.

In the modern church today, we often focus on the first sign.  The first sign is FAITH.  If we are Christians, we are believers.  We believe and are saved.  That is absolutely true.

The problem is that this verse Revelation 14 does not stop with faith.  The Bible does not just stop with faith.  There are many other things God requires of believers.  James says that faith without works is dead.

The second sign is OBEDIENCE.  This is very important to get.  The saints in Revelation 14:12 are defined, not only as those who believe some things, but also those “who KEEP the commandments of God.”  That tells us several things.

1) We have some commandments

I have heard some Christians say that we do not have any commandments to follow.  That is ridiculous.  Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

In the church today, we do not hear much about commandments for Christians.  Instead, we hear a lot about commandments for Jews in the OT but there are commandments for Christians as well.  “There are 1,050 commands in the New Testament for Christians to obey.”[1]

2) True believers keep them

Here in Revelation, 14:12, the saints are defined, not only as those who believe, but as “those who keep the commandments of God” (ESV).

We see it also in Revelation 12.  The children of the symbolic woman in that chapter represent believers.  How are they described?  They are called “those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus” (Revelation 12:17 ESV)

Why is this important today?  There are many who teach that you can be a Christian and not keep God’s commandments.  That is the view of the modern church.

There are some who teach that you can live any way you want as long as you believe in Jesus.  You can blaspheme God.  You can even commit murder.  The only important thing is that you believe.

That is not only ridiculous; it is demonic.  Based on Revelation 14:12, if you don’t keep the commandments of God, you are not a saint.  You are not saved.  One of the signs that you are saved is that you keep God’s commandments.

Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (I John 2:3-4 NKJV)

Now this doesn’t mean that salvation is by works.  Obedience to God is NOT a condition of salvation. Salvation is not by works but works are evidence of salvation.

One of the characteristics of the sheep is that they follow Jesus.  Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27 NKJV).  If you don’t like the idea of having to keep commandments I John 5:3 reminds us that “His commandments are not burdensome” (NKJV)

The third sign is PERSEVERANCE.  It is not enough to believe in Jesus.  It is not enough to keep His commandments.  We must also persevere in the faith.  In this chapter, there is a call for the endurance or perseverance of the saints (Revelation 14:12).

Many make a profession of faith but don’t persevere.  They go to church.  They make a profession of faith.   They get baptized.  They join a small group but five years later don’t even believe in God.

This is a huge problem today.  How many young people grow up in church, go to youth group, go to college and throw away their faith.  They lose their faith in college.  The biblical term for this is apostasy.

Some worship leaders have given up their faith and so have some pastors.  A lead vocalist and lead guitarist for Christian band Hawk Nelson did not persevere.  His name is Jonathan Steingard.  He sang songs about Jesus but in 2020, he announced on Instagram that he no longer believes in God,

A song writer for Hillsong Worship and United, Delirious, and Young & Free did not persevere.  His name is Marty Sampson.  He wrote songs about Jesus for years.

In 2019, Sampson said, “Time for some real talk … I’m genuinely losing my faith … and it doesn’t bother me.” He also said that Christianity is just another religion.

A famous Christian author did not persevere.  His name was Joshua HarrisHe wrote the bestseller I Kissed Dating Goodbye (1997).  About twenty years later, everything changed for Harris.

In 2019, he divorced his wife and disowned Jesus and announced, “I am not a Christian.”  The same man who kissed dating goodbye, also kissed marriage goodbye, kissed Christianity goodbye and kissed Jesus goodbye.

This happens all of the time.  There is an evangelist who preached with Billy Graham in the 1940s and 1950s who helped found Youth for Christ International.

His name was Charles Templeton.  He became an agnostic and then an atheist.  When he was 80, he wrote a book called Farewell to God (1999).  Two years later, he died and jumped into eternity.

Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, IF you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. (I Corinthians 15:1-2 NIV)

And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight— 23 IF indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister. (Colossians 1:21-23 NIV)

12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ, IF indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end (Hebrews 3:12-14 NIV)

The one who endures to the end will be saved (Matthew 24:13 ESV)

Perseverance is essential to salvation.  If you endure to the end, you will be saved.  If you don’t endure to the end, you won’t be saved.  True believers endure.  Let me show you how that will work in the Tribulation Period.

During the Tribulation Period, people will be tempted to take the Mark of the Beast.  It will be required and yet if you take it, we are told in Revelation 14 that you can’t be saved.

What would happen if a professing Christian takes the Mark of the Beast?  Will he lose his salvation?  No.  The Bible says that those who take the mark do not have their names in the Book of Life.

All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Revelation 13:8 NIV)

The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition. And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. (Revelation 17:8 NIV)

The Reality of Heaven

13 Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: 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.”

This verse gives us an unusual blessing.  It is the second blessing in the Book of Revelation.  The first one was blessed are those who read the Book of Revelation and apply it to their lives (Revelation 1:3).  The second is blessed are the dead (Revelation 14:13).

That seems strange.  Death is a curse.  Death came into the world as a result of the fall.  It came into the world as a result of sin.  How could death be a blessing?

Many of the beatitudes in the Bible seem backwards.  Blessed are the poor (Luke 6:20).  Blessed are the hungry (Luke 6:21).  Blessed are the dead (Revelation 14:13).  Blessed are the persecuted (Matthew 5:10).

That seems strange.  Poverty is not a blessing.  Persecution is not a blessing.  Hunger is not a blessing.  Death is not a blessing, but they are all called blessed.

It is NOT a blessing for everyone.  The worshippers who die are not blessed.  They are tormented day and night.

It ONLY a blessing for those who die in the Lord.  There are only two ways to die.  You can die in your sins or you can die in the Lord.  Jesus said, “Unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24 KJV).  Revelation 14:13 says, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord” (KJV)

The Blessing of Death

There is a special blessing to every Christian who dies, whether you die for your faith or die of natural causes.  How can death be a blessing for believers?  Let’s think of the many reasons why death can be a blessing for believers.

1) There is life after death

Death is not the end.  We have something to look forward to.  We have hope.  That is something that non-Christians do not have.

2) There will be reunions

You will get to meet family member who died before you who knew the Lord.  That is something I look forward to.  Women who lost babies in childbirth will see those babies in heaven for the first time.

3) You will get to see Jesus

The best blessing you could possibly have to see Jesus face-to-face.  I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. (II Corinthians 5:8 NIV)

4) You will be in heaven

You will live in a perfect world and no longer will have a sin nature.  Who would not want to die and leave this wicked fallen world and go to a sinless world.

5) You will be rewarded

We are promised REWARDS and we are promised REST.  There will be no rest day or night for the worshippers of the Beast after they die but those who follow the Lamb will rest after death.

There is a different between gifts and rewards.  Gifts are unearned.  Rewards are earned.  In heaven, we will received rewards for what we have done on earth.

Our works will follow us.  God sees everything you do for Him and your labor for the Lord is not in vain.  Everything you did for him will be rewarded, no matter how small.

We all want to hear these words: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ (Matthew 25:21 NIV).

What did the Apostle say at the end of his life just before his death?

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. (II Timothy 4:8 KJV)


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