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Revelation’s Fifth Beautiful Beatitude
Revelation 20:6


Pastor Kevin Vogts
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Dakota Dunes, South Dakota
Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost—August 29, 2010

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

We continue our sermon series on “Revelation’s Seven Beautiful Beatitudes” as listed on the back of the bulletin.  You are invited to follow along the sermon outline on the bulletin insert as we consider “Revelation’s Fifth Beautiful Beatitude” from today’s Epistle Reading: “Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.”

Also in the box on the bulletin insert is a little chart to help explain what is meant by the “first resurrection” and the “second death.”

“First” and “Second” Deaths
and Resurrections in the Bible

First Death

Spiritual Death

Sin and Separation from God

“As for you, you were dead in your trespasses and sins”(Ephesians 2:1)

First Resurrection

Spiritual Resurrection

Coming to Faith—“Born Again”

“But because of His great love for us,  God,  who is rich in mercy, made us alive  with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions” (Ephesians 2:4-5)

Second Death

Physical Death

Final Consequence of Sin

“For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23)

Soul Leaves Body to Await Resurrection

“I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far” (Philippians 1:23)

Second Resurrection

Physical Resurrection

Body Raised and Reunited with Soul

“Whoever believes in Me, even though he dies, yet shall he live (John 11:25)

“Everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day”(John 6:40)

The first death is spiritual death.  Paul says in Ephesians, “As for you, you were dead in your trespasses and sins.”  All of us, by ourselves, are spiritually dead.   As Paul says in Romans, “Are we any better? No, not at all . . . for all alike are under sin. . .  There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.  All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”

We are all sinners, deserving the wrath of God because of our wickedness and evil.  “As for you, you were dead in your trespasses and sins.”  The first death is spiritual death.  And, because we are spiritually dead, we deserve the punishment of the second death, physical death, eternal death, and damnation in hell.  “For the wages of sin is death.”

“Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them.”

The “first death” is spiritual death; and the first resurrection is spiritual resurrection.  After saying that we were spiritually dead in our trespasses and sins, Paul continues in Ephesians, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions.”

When God brought you to faith in Christ it was actually a spiritual resurrection.  That’s what it means to be “born again.”  Your dead and doomed soul, spiritually brought back to life!

The slogan to encourage people to donate blood is, “Give the gift of life.”  With his blood Jesus gave you the gift of eternal life, as Paul says in Colossians, “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things . . . by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. . .  When you were dead in your sins . . . God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins. . .”

God forgives you all your sins.  God makes you holy in his sight for the sake of Christ.  God makes you born again, alive with Christ.  That is the first resurrection: faith in Christ, being born again, a spiritual resurrection from a spiritual death.

“Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them.”  “I am the resurrection and the life,” Jesus promises.  “Whoever believes in me, even though he dies, yet shall he live.”  That is Jesus’ promise to you.  Because you have been spiritually brought back from spiritual death, which is the first death; because you have part in this first, spiritual resurrection; because you are spiritually born again, therefore even though you still suffer the second death, physical death no longer has any power over you.  For even though you die, yet you shall live.

Jesus promises: “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”  That is the second resurrection, the physical resurrection of your body, the same body you have now, to eternal life.  As Martin Luther says in the Small Catechism: “On the Last Day he will raise up me and all the dead, and give unto me and all believers in Christ eternal life.  This is most certainly true.” “Do not be amazed at this,” Jesus says, “for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear the voice of the Son of God and come out.”  “For the trumpet will sound,” Paul says in 1st Corinthians, “and the dead will be raised.”

“Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them.”  Paul writes in 1st Corinthians, “”Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? . . . Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!”

Thanks be to God!  Our Lord Jesus Christ earned you forgiveness and salvation, by his sacrifice on the cross. 

Thanks be to God!  Our Lord Jesus Christ triumphed over death for you, rising from the dead so that you also will rise to eternal life.

Thanks be to God!  Our Lord Jesus Christ has made you born again, you are spiritually resurrected, you have a part in the first resurrection, and so the second death, physical death, has no power over you.

Thanks be to God!  Our Lord Jesus Christ will raise you up at the last day.

“Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.”

In Biblical symbolism the number 1,000 is a combination of two numbers, which in Bible times represented completeness and perfection: ten, as in the Ten Commandments, the complete will of God; and three, as in the perfect Holy Trinity.  A thousand is ten to the third, 10 x 10 x 10, completeness times perfection.  It is essentially equivalent to the symbol for infinity in modern mathematics.

“They will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years” means that you and all the faithful in Christ will worship serve him in heaven for all eternity.  As the old English ending to prayers puts it, “world without end.  Amen.”

“Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.”

Blessed are you, and holy in God’s sight.  He has made you born again, you have a part in the first resurrection, and the second death has no power over you.

Amen.

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