Sermons

Eternal Fellowship With Christ Our Bridegroom

May 8, 2022 Speaker: Reid Strahan Series: Visions That Give Us Hope

Topic: Hope Passage: Revelation 19:1–19:10

When we believe in Christ we are given a gift, deep down inside of us, called hope. Peter said we have been born again to a living hope!  We are born for hope! Hope is our signature! We have hope because we believe something unspeakably wonderful is out there just ahead of us.  We live with great expectation, because we have unshakable promises from God of good things to come.

We do have reason to face every single day with hope. Jeremiah said God’s mercies are like new gifts, that we  experience every morning. David said, “Surely goodness and loving-kindness will follow me all the days of my life.”  

But our ultimate hope is the hope of being with Jesus Christ, and glorified with him forever. It is a hope that begins now and stretches on out into eternity. Randy Alcorn said, we have “a happy ending without an end.” 

Hope in the Bible essentially refers to our glorious, happy eternal existence with Jesus Christ. We will be with him in the new heavens and earth, in resurrected bodies, face to face with God, serving him with great joy, day and night, in a place where there is no evil, no sin, no darkness, no sadness.

One of our main goals at RLC is to set your hope on this eternal joy with Christ.  We are here to help you know him, and love him, and enjoy him, and treasure him, and to look forward to being with him.

Throughout the Bible, especially in the book of Revelation, God has given us visions to help us understand the unspeakable joy and privileges coming to us.  And one of them is the marriage supper of the Lamb. This image of the marriage supper is given to us to stir up in us, a joyful anticipation of heaven. 7 “Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come,”

All who believe in Christ are called the bride of Christ. This heavenly wedding celebrates us being united with Christ forever. It is the glorious fulfillment of our deepest desires to be in unbroken fellowship with Christ. 

It will also fulfill Christ’s longing to be with you forever. 

John 17:24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory.”   John 14: “I will come again and will take you to myself so that where I am you may be also.” 

The image of a wedding feast communicates intimacy, joy, a relationship of love and friendship with Christ!  It communicates that heaven will essentially be life together forever with Christ. We are not going off to judgment, we are not just going to die and be buried, we are not going on a journey into the unknown, we are going to a wedding!  We are going to a great supper, celebrating our union with Jesus Christ.

Even now in this fallen world we have sweet fellowship with Christ. But this marriage supper will mark the beginning of fellowship with Christ that far exceeds anything we have yet experienced.

This promise of eternal happiness, glory and fellowship with Christ is able to infuse great joy into our hearts now, even in the pain and problems of life.  Peter said, “In this (hope) you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials.” *Spurgeon said,  “I know no better idea of heaven than to be eternally content with Christ, and Christ to be eternally content with me;….Therefore, lay aside your cares, dismiss your fears, murmur no more. Such a destiny awaits you that you may be well content”.  (happy or satisfied)

Many of the Christian martyrs comforted themselves in death that they would soon enjoy the marriage supper with Christ.  Foxes book of Martyrs records the story of 5 men and one woman in 1543 sentenced to death for their protestant faith.  Four were to be hanged; one to be burnt; and the woman, to be put into a sack and drowned. John Foxe wrote, “As they were carried to the place of execution, they were all “comforting one another, and assuring themselves that they should sup together in the Kingdom of Heaven that night...”

This was the source of such joy and comfort for them that the woman parted from her husband with a kiss, and said, "Husband, rejoice, for we have lived together many joyful days; but this day, in which we must die, ought to be most joyful unto us both, because we must have joy forever; therefore I will not bid you good night, for we shall suddenly meet with joy in the Kingdom of Heaven." 

Many believe Jesus Christ was looking forward to this supper the night before his crucifixion. Matthew 26:29 “I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”  

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The marriage celebration actually begins with the overthrow of the wicked forces that are against the Lord. The marriage of the Lamb follows 2 chapters describing God’s judgment on Babylon.  Babylon represents the world system of defiance toward God.  God crushes and destroys this Satanically inspired global opposition to Christ.

Verse 1 “After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out,“Hallelujah!  The “hallelujah” is because Babylon has fallen, wickedness and evil has been dealt a fatal and final blow.  18:5 says, “her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes.”

Babylon is called “the great prostitute”. The world system is like a prostitute, seducing people away from loyal love to the Lord. In all ages, all throughout the scriptures God people are told to come out from Babylon.  To come out from Babylon means: do not to have fellowship with her sins, do not love her, do not to be ensnared by her allurements.  

So a vast crowd of people in heaven are shouting loudly, “Hallelujah!  Salvation and glory and power belong to our God!” Wickedness and wicked people seem to have the upper hand.  The other side seems to have the glamour and glory. But that will soon be all over.  God has the glory and power.

The reason for this shouting and praise is given in verse 2 “for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality,
and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”

God’s judgments are just.  God always judges what should be judged.  And he never judges what should not be judged. 

First, God’s judgment is just because she has “corrupted the earth with her immorality”.  This world is saturated with the disease of defiance and rebellion toward God.  Secondly, God’s judgment is just because God is avenging the blood of his servants.  Revelation describes persecution as a war on the saints.  Much blood has been shed and will be shed by followers of Jesus.  But God is going to deal with all this.

God has not forgotten a single one of his children who was cruelly treated, or burned, or drowned, or shot or decapitated, or tortured, or beaten.  William Hendricksen said, “It may seem as if God has forgotten Babylon’s sins.  He has not.”

Verse 3 “Once more they cried out,“Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever.”  God’s judgment against her evil will never be lifted.  The smoke goes up forever and ever!  Forces opposed to God will never again rule the earth or the heavens. Evil men and governments will never again persecute and afflict God’s people. We will finally be safe and happy, and free from the tyranny of evil.

4And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who was seated on the throne, saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!”  The 24 elders probably represent the church. The 4 living creatures, are likely angels or some other heavenly beings! 

Verse 5 “And from the throne came a voice saying,“Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great.”       John hears a voice, possibly an angel, near the throne, commanding praise to God, with NO exceptions!  ALL who serve the Lord. ALL who fear the Lord.  Small and great.  Every single believer is commanded to praise our God!

6Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! FOR the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.”  The Lord’s rule and reign will be put on full display and everyone will see it. This stirs up thunderous shouts of hallelujah, from those who love God! 

*It might seem strange to begin this wedding feast with a celebration of God’s defeat of his enemies.  But victory over wickedness is necessary for the safety, peace and happiness of the marriage supper of the Lamb. Our salvation comes on the heels of judgment!  Isaiah 35:4 “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution, he will come to save you.” We are as a bride rescued from danger, by our victorious warrior bridegroom. (It is like the old theme of a damsel in distress rescued by a knight in shining armor) Christ goes out and conquers evil then brings us to the safety and happiness and our wedding feast.    

In John’s vision the wedding supper begins with a very loud and joyful celebration!  Go back to verse 6 “Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.  7 “Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come,”

The loudest noise I ever heard in my life was a crack of thunder one night, so loud that shook the entire house. A massive bolt of lighting had struck the huge elm tree in our back yard. Huge pieces of bark exploded off the tree. John said the praise, the “hallelujahs” was like mighty peals of thunder!  Or like the roar of the ocean.  It is loud because people with joy make noise!  

This union with Christ stirs up such loud, joyful praise, because we don’t deserve to be at this wedding at all! Not one of deserves to be loved by Christ and taken in as his bride!  Our relationship with God severed in the Garden of Eden by Adam’s sin. “through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners.” Rom. 5:19  Since that time we were “far from God, alone and without God in the world”. 

But Christ died as a lamb sacrificed for our sins!  He died to bring us back to God! Before Christ came, lambs were sacrificed for the sins of the people. We don’t do that anymore because Christ is THE Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the whole world, your sins and mine.  It is so fitting that this is called the marriage supper of the Lamb. Because that reminds us that our bridegroom was also our Lamb who took away our sins and made us fit to be united to him in marriage!  

“From heaven he came sought her to be his holy bride; with his own blood he bought her and for her life he died.”

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Verse 7 “Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come,”.  At last, this wonderful event, this union with Christ we’ve always longed for has come!  Let us rejoice and exult and give him glory.  Heaven is joy.  It is ecstasy.  Words cannot describe the joy  of heaven. That’s what we will experience with Christ!!   

In the Bible, marriage is the pinnacle of joy and celebration.  A prophecy in Jeremiah 33:11 says, “Yet in the empty streets of Jerusalem and Judah’s other towns, there will be heard once more the sounds of joy and laughter. The joyful voices of bridegrooms and brides will be heard again.”  The joy of bride and bridegroom is used to tell us how much God rejoices over us!  Isaiah 62:5 “As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so you God will rejoice over you!” 

You can only understand Heaven by comparing it to the joy of a wedding party!  The bride and the bridegroom are very happy. Everyone is dressed in their best and celebrating! There is no other earthly event that could communicate the joys of heaven. 

Jesus said, Matthew 22:2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.”  Coming into the kingdom of God is like coming to a great banquet.  And rejecting Christ’s invitation is to miss out on the banquet. Jesus said, "I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet." (Luke 14:24)   

Heaven will be like a great wedding feast.  So expect great joy and a loud celebration with our bridegroom, Jesus Christ. 

Verse 7 goes on to say, “and his Bride has made herself ready;”  Hebrew marriage involved the betrothal, in which the couple are formally committed to one another. Then there was an interval between betrothal and the wedding feast. During that interval the bride prepared herself (or made herself ready) for the upcoming wedding. When the day of the wedding came, the groom dressed in his best clothes would go to the home of his bride and take her to his home. Then finally the wedding feast, including the marriage supper.

How are do we make ourselves ready?  Verse 8 says: “it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”—for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.”  

WE prepare for this wedding day by doing good and righteous deeds for Christ our Bridegroom now.  We get ready for the wedding by living for him now, by good or righteous deeds. These are our wedding clothes.  But notice it was granted her to clothe herself in this fine, bright and pure clothing! God himself gives us the power and the desire, the new heart in order to do these good and right and pure things!  We live out or we live in these good works that God has prepared beforehand for us to do.  As we do that we are being prepared as a bride for this wedding with Christ.  

9 And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” Those who get to come to this marriage supper are blessed, happy, fortunate beyond measure!  Spurgeon said, “We do not know yet, beloved of what happiness we are capable.”

In one sense all are invited. Revelation 22:17 “Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” But you must come to Christ.  Only those who belong to Christ (only those who are betrothed to Christ) here in this world will be at this happy event in heaven.  

Verse 9 goes on to say, “These are the true words of God.”  This marriage supper is going to happen. Isaiah said, “The LORD Almighty has sworn, “Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen.” Isaiah 14:24 In the 10 commandment Ramses 2 played by Yule Brenner gives a command and then says, “So it is written, so will it be done.”  That’s what John is saying here. 

This passage is meant to stir our hope.  It’s meant to make us more hopeful people!  We are born to be people of hope in this world. Yet we need these glimpses of future glory in order to strengthen our hope, in order to increase our hope.  Paul prayed that we would abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  I think one of the ways we abound in hope is by looking at these visions of future glory and happiness with Christ.  And fixing our hope on these things!

Are you looking forward to the marriage supper of the Lamb? I hope you are. Are you getting ready for the marriage supper of the Lamb?  I hope you are.   In THIS (hope) you greatly rejoice, EVEN in the midst of various troubles!  

Sam Storms: The wedding day is near.  The bridegroom is coming!  Have you betrothed yourself to Christ?  Have you made yourself ready by turning to him in faith and clinging to him above all others? The invitation has been (given).  If you wish to attend the marriage feast of the Lamb, you must respond.  RSVP in trust and adoration and confident hope that Jesus alone can save your soul, forgive your sins, and clothe you in fine linen.”

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