Revelation 7:9-10


Sermon preached on October 14, 2012 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2012. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at http://www.cantonnewlife.org/.

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

In 2006 Floyd Landis won the Tour de France. The key to his victory was a sensational solo break away ride on Stage 17, one of the hardest mountain stages near the end of the Tour. It was a phenomenal ride and was likely to go down as one of the legendary efforts of any tour. Landis stood on the podium in Paris and took all the praises that were heaped upon him. He appeared to be a great champion.

Yet a few days later it was revealed that Landis tested positive in a drug test that was taken on the day of his great feat. His cycling team fired him and he was banned from cycling for two years. He was also eventually stripped of his Tour de France win.

For quite some time Landis denied that he had taken any illegal drugs and fought the charges. He asked a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency review board to dismiss the doping charges against him. Landis lost there. He then appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. He lost that appeal and I believe he was fined by them, something called an 'arbitration award'. Landis then moved to U.S. federal court to try to get them to vacate the Court of Arbitration for Sport arbitration award.

To help him with the costs of these hearings, Landis set up the "
Floyd Fairness Fund" which people could contribute to so that he would have money to defend himself against the charges. Donors gave almost $500,000 to it. Landis also wrote a book called "Positively False" in which he maintained his innocence.

But in 2010 Landis changed his story and admitted that he had doped throughout his career. He also said that many other cyclists, including former teammates Lance Armstrong and George Hincapie, had systematically doped during their careers.

The whole thing made Landis, (and eventually the other athletes) look really bad. For Landis to stand on that podium in 2006 and take all the glory when he knew he was a drug cheat—that was despicable. To take money from the public to fight charges you knew were true—again, that's despicable.

This morning we're going to look at, not about taking credit for something we shouldn't, but making sure that we give credit for our salvation where it is due. The great multitude in heaven shows us the way here.

This is the first comprehensive picture we have of the redeemed in heaven. We saw in other visions that they were represented by the 24 elders. We also saw the souls of the martyrs under the altar in the fifth seal. But our text is the first place that we see the redeemed in all their fulness. They are not just from one people group, but from every nation, tribe, people and language. They are in glory and they praise God because He is the source of salvation. They proclaim in a loud voice,

"Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb."

They know exactly where their salvation comes from.

Salvation belongs to God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.

It's vitally important that you understand this passage and that you apply it to your life. The praise that you give to God here on earth is to mimic the praise that the church in heaven gives to God. In heaven the saints are attributing salvation to God and to the Lamb. They are glorying in God because of it.

Your life is to reflect praise like that. So what I want to do this morning is to look at what our passage tells us so that we can better praise our great God and Savior.

So what does this mean—salvation belongs to God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb? Let's break it down.

At it's most basic level it means that

salvation comes from God.

The saints attribute salvation 'to' God. The Greek expresses this through the dative case, which has a wide ranging use. It's primary use is to express the idea of 'to'. But here it obviously can't mean that God is saved, that He receives salvation. Instead what we have here most likely the 'dative of cause', a common use of the dative. Salvation comes from Him. God is the cause of our salvation. We are saved because of Him. He is the ultimate cause of our salvation. So the saints are praising God because of the salvation He has provided. They are saying that salvation comes from God, that God is responsible for salvation. The 1559 Geneva Bible also expresses the idea well. It says,

"Saluation commeth of our God,
that sitteth vpon the throne, and of the Lambe."

Salvation comes from God.

But how does salvation come from God? There's nothing specific in our text except that the saints say that salvation comes from God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb. The reference to the throne implies that He is sovereign regarding salvation and that He dispenses salvation through the Lamb. But to get the full sense of what the saints are praising God for, we need to consider the different aspects of salvation that are from God. The saints in glory are telling us that salvation comes from God and they are praising Him for it—so it is important that we explore this topic. How is our salvation from God?

The best place to start is in the beginning. It is clear from the Bible that

God is the author of our salvation.

Salvation belongs to God in the sense that He is the author of our salvation. Ephesians 1:4 says,

"For he chose us in him
before the creation of the world…"

Before God created the world He planned the salvation of His people. Salvation did not originate with us but with God. He planned it before the foundation of the world.

But some Christians believe that salvation only comes from God in a general sense, in the sense that He made salvation possible for everyone. In the history of the church there have been others who haven't attributed salvation to God like they should have.

Pelagius was a British monk who lived from 354 to 420. He taught that God chose those who would merit their salvation. He taught that the elect earned their salvation, on their own, without God's assistance. His views were clearly not biblical and were condemned by the church.

After that
Semi-Pelagianism reared its head. It taught that the beginning of salvation was due to human free will, but that growth in grace and final salvation required divine assistance.

Arminianism holds that election is based on God's foreknowledge of those who will cooperate with God's grace in faith and good works.

But the Bible's teaching is different than all of those views.

The Bible teaches that God is absolutely sovereign in salvation.

Ephesians 1 tells us that God chose us before the foundation of the world, and that He chose, not on the basis of what He saw in people, but on the basis of His good pleasure and His love. Ephesians 1:4-6 gives us the

"For he chose us in him
before the creation of the world
to be holy and blameless in his sight.
In love he predestined us
to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ,
in accordance with his pleasure and will—
to the praise of his glorious grace,
which he has freely given us in the One he loves."

That says that God chose us, not because we were already holy and blameless—but for the purpose of making us holy and blameless. It says that He predestined us

"in accordance with His pleasure and will."

His love, His pleasure, His will were the motivating things here. The purpose of it was,

"to the praise of His glorious grace."

In our salvation God should be praised. He should receive all the glory. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 10:17

"Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."

Romans 9:11–12 proves that it wasn't based on our goodness. It says,

"Yet, before the twins were born
or had done anything good or bad
—in order that God's purpose
in election might stand:
not by works but by him who calls—she was told,
'The older will serve the younger.'"

In Romans 9:15–18 the apostle Paul wrote of God's sovereignty in salvation and its implications.

"I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
and I will have compassion
on whom I have compassion.'
It does not, therefore,
depend on man's desire or effort,
but on God's mercy.
For the Scripture says to Pharaoh:
'I raised you up for this very purpose,
that I might display my power in you
and that my name might be
proclaimed in all the earth.'
Therefore God has mercy
on whom he wants to have mercy,
and he hardens whom he wants to harden."

Salvation is not about merit. It's about mercy. Mercy is getting something good when you don't deserve it. Titus 3:4-7 says,

"But when the kindness
and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us,
not because of righteous things we had done,
but because of his mercy.
He saved us through the washing
of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
whom he poured out on us generously
through Jesus Christ our Savior,
so that, having been justified
by his grace, we might become heirs
having the hope of eternal life."

The point that needs to be made is that God not only planned salvation, He not only is sovereign in salvation,

He is also the One who actually accomplished salvation for us.

Romans 9 also implies that God is absolutely sovereign in salvation, that those He wants to have mercy on He will in fact have mercy on. Jesus also spoke about this. In John 6:37 He said,

"All that the Father gives me
will come to me,
and whoever comes to me
I will never drive away."

And two verses later Jesus said, (John 6:39)

"And this is the will of him who sent me,
that I shall lose none…"

In John 6:44 Jesus said,

"No one can come to me
unless the Father who sent me draws him…"

Ephesians 2:1 tells us that we were

"dead in trespasses and sins…"

Verses 4 and 5 go on to say,

"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
—it is by grace you have been saved."

Salvation, from beginning to end is God's work. Romans 8:30 speaks about this. It says,

"And those he predestined, he also called;
those he called, he also justified;
those he justified, he also glorified."

But someone may say,

"But we have to believe. We are the ones that have to exercise faith. Faith is something that we do."

That is true. But faith itself is a gift from God. He gives it. As Ephesians 2:8-10 says,

"For it is by grace you have been saved,
through faith—and this not from yourselves,
it is the gift of God— not by works,
so that no one can boast.
For we are God's workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do."

The third thing about salvation being from God is that

God is the one that keeps us so that we do not fail, that we do not apostatize.

In verse 14 the saints are identified as those who have come out of the great tribulation. Why did they stand in the great tribulation? It was because God kept them. God's grace sustained them, made them endure. He kept them from apostasy. G. K. Beale believes that the sealing of the 144,000 at the beginning of chapter 7 was in fact sealing against apostasy, from falling away. They are sealed with the seal of the living God and kept from apostasy. In Matthew 16 Jesus said that He would build His church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it.

Yes, some seeming Christians do seem to depart from the Lord. Jesus told us about that in the Parable of the Sower. Some fell on rocky soil and sprung up but then died because it didn't have any root. These didn't belong to Jesus. Matthew 7:22–23 tells us about the last day. Jesus said,

"Many will say to me on that day,
'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy
in your name, and in your name
drive out demons and perform many miracles?'
Then I will tell them plainly,
'I never knew you.
Away from me, you evildoers!'"

They were not His people. You see, Jesus keeps His people. In Luke 22:31–32 Jesus said to Peter,

"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.
But I have prayed for you,
Simon, that your faith may not fail."

Jesus kept Peter. He prayed for Him. He kept Him. In 1 Corinthians 1:8 the apostle Paul said to the Corinthian church,

"He will keep you strong to the end,
so that you will be blameless
on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ."

And in Philippians 1:6 he wrote,

"being confident of this,
that he who began a good work
in you will carry it on to completion
until the day of Christ Jesus."

Salvation comes from God in spite of our sin and rebellion. He saves us from it.

Jonah knew all about this. He rebelled against God. He ran away from God and refused to go to Nineveh. But God didn't destroy him and send someone else. He sent a storm and then a giant fish to swallow Jonah. This woke Jonah up. From within the fish's belly he prayed and said, (Jonah 2:9)

"Salvation comes from the LORD."

Christians, how you should be praising God for your salvation. Why were you chosen before the foundation of the world? It wasn't because of something good in you. It was because of God's love, His pleasure, His will. Why did you come to know about Christ—whether it was from your family, an acquaintance, a radio broadcast, whatever. Was that an accident? No. God planned it. He called you. Why was it that you saw the glory of Christ and were drawn to Him? It was because of God's grace through the Spirit. Why have you persevered in spite of the unbelief all around you? Is it because of your great strength? No. It's because of God's power in keeping you. Why will you one day arrive in heaven, before the throne and be with God to enjoy Him forever? Is it because you're strong in yourself and you will accomplish it? No. It's will be because of God's mercy and grace.

But even more than that—

who accomplished salvation?

It was the Father who sent Jesus. Jesus come to this earth and defeated Satan. He won the victory. He paid the curse that was against us. He rose triumphantly over death. He now stands at the Father's right hand and rules all things for His glory and for the church. It was He who sent the Spirit. The Spirit brought us to Christ and is transforming us.

No one else could do that. Only God could accomplish salvation. There's no one like our God. There's no one like Jesus. Christians, praise God for your salvation. Praise Him for every step of it. May praise for these things always be on your heart and lips.

Lastly, if you're not a Christian, you should see that you need Jesus.

As Peter said in Acts 4:12,

"Salvation is found in no one else,
for there is no other name
under heaven given to men
by which we must be saved."

Jesus came because He loves sinners. Ask Him to save you. Ask Him to give you faith. As Him to make you a child of glory.