Worship Helps for Saints Triumphant

Artwork: Adoration of the Lamb
Artist: Jonathan Mayer
Location: Scapegoat Studio, Seward, Nebraska

Jonathan Mayer is a WELS member and artist. Check out his artwork on Facebook under Scapegoat Studio. Or you can go to his website at www.mayerillustration.blogspot.com.

Worship Theme: The relationship between God and his saints will last into eternity.

Old Testament: Isaiah 65:17-25
"Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. 18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. 19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more. 20 "Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; he who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere youth; he who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed. 21 They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. 22 No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the works of their hands. 23 They will not toil in vain or bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the LORD, they and their descendants with them. 24 Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. 25 The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent's food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain," says the LORD.

1. When will the saints be triumphant according to God’s first promise? (See 65:17.)

2. What will the new heavens and the new earth be like? (See 65:18–25.)

Epistle: Revelation 22:1-5
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

3. We cannot see life as a concept, but God showed John life itself. What two things did it look like to John? (See 22:1-2.)

4. We will see God. We will serve God. We will belong to God. What thing will we not go through in eternity?

Gospel: Luke 20:27-38
Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a question. 28 "Teacher," they said, "Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and have children for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died childless. 30 The second 31 and then the third married her, and in the same way the seven died, leaving no children. 32 Finally, the woman died too. 33 Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?" 34 Jesus replied, "The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, 36 and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God's children, since they are children of the resurrection. 37 But in the account of the bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord 'the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.' 38 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive."

5. Since the Sadducees of Jesus’ day rejected all but the first five books of the Bible, why was the source of Jesus’ answer to them very fitting?

6. Jesus quotes a verse from Exodus 3. How does that verse show that believers live on with God after death, and that believers will rise from death with new bodies?



Answers:
1. The saints will be especially triumphant on Judgment Day, when God makes new heavens and a new earth.

2. In summary, God’s pictures seem to say that the new heavens and new earth will be full of joy and life. No work will end up worthless. God will be close at hand to each of us. Perfect peace will reign in Christ.

3. John saw a) the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb, and b) the tree of life, bearing fruit monthly, with even its leaves giving healing to the nations. In other words, God’s gift of life, like a river, flows constantly. It is beautiful and pure. It is refreshing. Like fruit it is bright and good-looking, sweet and sustaining.

4. In eternal life, we will no longer live under the curse that is the result of our sin.  There will be no more night. We will not need any light, not even the sun. God himself will be our light. And all of this will never end.

5. Jesus’ answer to the Sadducees comes from Exodus 3, the account of Moses hearing the Lord speak from the burning bush. Sadducees officially accepted Exodus as God’s Word, so they ought to have agreed with Jesus.

6. Jesus proves his point that believers live on now, and will rise on the Last Day, by quoting himself. God, the Angel of the LORD and the Second Person of the Holy Trinity did not say to Moses, hundreds of years after his three servants died, “I was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” He says, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”


Putting your faith into action
Are you discouraged when you see the direction in which the world is headed? The news every night reports so much evil and so little good. As Christians, we know that this world will only get more and more evil as the last day approaches. We could easily get discouraged and give up.  Turn your thoughts to Christ. He chose you through the work of the Holy Spirit. He called you to share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Christ gives us hope. He is our encourager. But what do we do while we wait for him to take us to glory? We rejoice in our Savior. We remain steadfast in the faith. We pray that the message of our Lord spreads rapidly and is honored. We pray for protection from evil men. We look to God’s love and Christ’s perseverance and are confident in our Lord.


A reading from the Book of Concord for Saints Triumphant
Paul says, “There is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me” (2 Timothy 4:8).  The justified are due the crown because of the promise.  Saints should know this promise, and labor not for their own profit, but for God’s glory.  Saints should know God’s will: He desires to aid, to deliver, and to protect them.  Although the perfect hear the mention of penalties and rewards in one way, the weak hear it in another way.  The weak labor for their own advantage.  Yet the preaching of rewards and punishments is necessary.  God’s wrath is set forth in the preaching of punishments.  This applies to repentance.

Grace is set forth in the preaching of rewards.  Scripture offers grace together with other rewards.  We find this in Isaiah 58:8–14.  We also affirm that although justification and eternal life go along with faith, nevertheless, good works merit other bodily and spiritual rewards and degrees of reward.  According to 1 Corinthians 3:8, “Each will receive his wages according to his labor.” 

The righteousness of the Gospel, which has to do with the promise of grace, freely receives justification and new life.  But the fulfilling of the Law, which follows faith, has to do with the Law.  In it a reward is offered and is due according to our works.  Those who earn this are justified before they do the Law.  – Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article V, Love and Fulfilling the Law (paragraph 242-245)


Hymns: 550; 394; 219; 788; 551; 728


1  Behold a host, arrayed in white,
Like thousand snowclad mountains bright;
With palms they stand. Who is this band
Before the throne of light?
These are the saints of glorious fame,
Who from the great affliction came
And in the flood Of Jesus’ blood
Are cleansed from guilt and blame.
Now gathered in the holy place,
Their voices they in worship raise.
Their anthems swell Where God does dwell
Mid angels’ songs of praise.

2  Despised and scorned, they sojourned here;
But now, how glorious they appear!
Those martyrs stand, A priestly band,
God’s throne forever near.
So oft in troubled days gone by,
In anguish they would weep and sigh;
At home above The God of love
Fore’er their tears shall dry.
They now enjoy the Sabbath rest,
The heav’nly banquet of the blest;
The Lamb, their Lord, At festive board
Himself is host and guest.

3  O blessed saints, now take your rest;
A thousand times you will be blessed
For keeping faith Firm unto death
And scorning worldly trust.
For now you live at home with God;
You toiled and sowed the Word abroad.
Rejoice and bring Your fruits and sing
Before the throne of God.
The myriad angels raise the song;
O saints, sing with that happy throng!
Lift up one voice; Let heav’n rejoice
In our Redeemer’s song.

Text: Hans A. Brorson, 1694–1764; tr. composite. St. 3 © 1978 Lutheran Book of Worship.

All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of Augsburg Fortress.

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