Summary: In the midst of all of the persecutions and difficulties of these Christians, there is a blessed relief -- to be with Him for eternity. Our passing from this life is blessed because we Reside in the Lord; Rest from Labors; and will be Rewarded by deeds.
1. Back in 2014, Andy Russell of Tarzana, CA passed away. His three year old grandson, Bobby wanted to know what had happened to his grandfather. His parents told him, "Grandpa was so sick and felt so bad that God did not want him to hurt any more so he sent the angels to get him." Astonished, Bobby asked, "The whole team?" Death is a challenge to us.
2. Cape of Good Hope! For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. Psalm 16:10
The southernmost point of Africa is a point, which for centuries has experienced tremendous storms. For many years no one even knew what lay beyond that cape, for no ship attempting to round that point had ever returned to tell the tale. Among the ancients it was known as the "Cape of Storms," and for good reason.
But then a Portuguese explorer in the sixteenth century, Vasco De Gama, successfully sailed around that very point and found beyond the wild raging storms, a great calm sea, and beyond that, the shores of India. The name of that cape was changed from the Cape of Storms to the Cape of Good Hope.
Until Jesus Christ rose from the dead, death had been the cape of storms on which all hopes of life beyond had been wrecked. No one knew what lay beyond that point until, on that morning; those ancient visions of Isaiah became the victory of Jesus over our last great enemy. Jesus defeated Satan.
Suddenly, like those ancient explorers, we can see beyond human death to the hope of heaven and eternal life with the Father. More than that, we dare to believe that we shall experience in our own human lives exactly what the Son of God experienced in His, for the risen Christ says to us, "Because I live, you shall live also." This is the heart of our faith.
3. We have a different view of the death of believers than we would see in the world. --
a. Precious/Costly -- Psalm 116.15
b. Blessed -- Revelation 14.12-13
4. Why is death, "Blessed"? -- Consider three insights in this beatitude:
I. It is Blessed in Its Residence -- "In the Lord"
A. Out of the Lord We have the Cup of Wrath -- 14.9-11
1. For Rebellious "Nations" --
Jeremiah 25.15-16 15 Thus the LORD, the God of Israel, said to me: "Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it. 16 They shall drink and stagger and be crazed because of the sword that I am sending among them."
2. We are/were included -- Romans 3.23; 6.23
a. Jesus Drank the Cup of Wrath for Us -- Isaiah 53.4ff
b. We become acceptable to God by HIS merits -- 2 Corinthians 5.17 (new creation)
B. In the Lord We Have the Cup of Grace
1. Four Cups in the Passover: Sanctification; Praise; Redemption; Acceptance/Protection
2. Jesus' cup of blessing in the last supper -- "for remission of sins"
3. Given the opportunity to be In the Lord by his grace -- not our merits -- Ephesians 2.8-10; Galatians 3.26-27 -- 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
II. It is Blessed in Its Rest -- from Labor
A. Many Kinds of Labor
1. Creative Labor -- God (Genesis 1-2); Man
2. Maintenance -- "sweat of brow"
3. Here -- Laborious, toilsome effort; dealing with troubles and temptations
(God tests us to bring out the good; Satan, the evil)
B. A Promised Rest from Labor -- 2 Thessalonians 1.5-8
5 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering-- 6 since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
1. Sabbath was important
2. Sabbath looked forward to a rest for our souls (Hebrews 4.9)
III. It is Blessed in Its Reward -- deeds (actions/behavior/toil) follow
How We Live
From the book OUTLIVE YOUR LIFE: [Explorers were sailing through uncharted waters] strong winds blow the ship off course. The sailors spot six uncharted islands rising out of the blue sea waters. The captain orders the men to drop anchor and goes ashore.