All Saints’ Day

 Sermon Text: Revelation 7:9-17

 Other Readings: 1 John 3:1-3 and Matthew 5:1-12


 

  1. All Saints is about thanking God for the victory he has given the saints who have departed this life, using their memory as an encouragement to us, and looking forward to our own glory. But this is also a helpful time to remember what a saint is. Use these verses to explain how one becomes a saint.
     
  2. What is “the great tribulation” (v. 14)? Is it the pressures that all believers experience from the time of Christ’s ascension until his return? Or is it a unique period immediately preceding Christ’s return that only some believers will experience? Consult Matthew 24:4-14.
     
  3. Why are the saints in heaven pictured here with palm branches in their hands?
     
  4. From our sinful human perspective, it might seem disappointing to hear that we will “serve” (v. 15) God forever in heaven. How can Romans 12:1-2 help us better understand what that service in heaven might be like?
     
  5. Jesus is pictured in two different ways in these verses. What are those two ways? How does each image comfort you?

 


 

  1. A saint is someone who is holy before God. That is, the person is without sin. We get to be saints through faith in Jesus Christ. When the Holy Spirit brings us to faith, he leads us to claim for ourselves Christ and his work. As it’s pictured here, we wash our sins away in Christ’s blood shed for us and we clothe ourselves with his perfect purity and righteousness.
     
  2. Commentators can be divided on this, but based on Jesus’ words in Matthew chapter 24, it seems best to understand “the great tribulation” as the pressures all believers face in a fallen world until Christ returns.
     
  3. Palm branches in Scripture serve as a symbol of worship. But when we remember that St. John is the writer of Revelation, we also recall that the reason we call the Sunday before Easter “Palm Sunday” is because St. John alone in his gospel tells us that palm branches were used by the crowds on that day. So, just as people acclaimed Jesus before his death and resurrection, so the saints acclaim Jesus as Lord after his death and resurrection.
     
  4. Revelation 7:15 and Romans 12:1 use Greek words that are similar. In Revelation 7, we have it translated as “serve.” In Romans 12, it’s translated as “worship.” But in Romans 12 we see that even just living our lives can be worship to God. So, when we read Revelation 7:15, perhaps we shouldn’t just limit our minds to think about heaven as one long church service. Perhaps we will be “living” or “working” in some ways that resemble the life and work we enjoy doing here on earth in service to God and others.
     
  5. He is pictured both as the Lamb of God and as the shepherd. The former comforts us to know that he is our sacrifice for sin. The latter comforts us to know that Jesus is still alive and will take care of us.