Summary: Sing the Song of Saints! 1) It’s learned here by faith 2) It’s sung there in glory
What’s your favourite hymn? “Amazing Grace”? “I Am Jesus’ Little Lamb”? “Jesus Loves Me”? Do you suppose we’ll sing these hymns in heaven? Probably. I do know of one song we’ll sing in heaven for sure – the Song of Saints. Do you know it? Are you singing it? If not, you won’t get into heaven. Today we’ll discover that the Song of Saints must be learned here by faith if we want to sing there in glory.
So how does the Song of Saints go? “Oh when the saints, go marching in…”? No. That might be the melody but the words go like this: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb” (Revelation 7:10). In a vision he had, the Apostle John heard and saw a mass of humanity singing this song at the top of their lungs. It’s such a simple song and yet one the Holy Spirit must teach us, for by nature we would rather crow: “Salvation comes from me!” But that’s not true. “Salvation” or deliverance from our sins, our fears, escape from a meaningless life and hopeless existence, belongs to God because he designed it, and to the Lamb, Jesus, because he manufactured it. God owns the patent on salvation, you could say, and distributes it according to the standards of his grace (Preach the Word, March/April 2007, p. 2). This truth is illustrated in the white robes the singing saints wore. The robes are white, John learns, because they have been washed in the blood of the Lamb. Now you wouldn’t normally think of washing things in blood to get them clean but Jesus’ blood is special. It’s free from the taint of sin and therefore sterile and able to absorb our sins the way a sterile bandage would absorb the puss from a wound.
Unfortunately many believe they can make it to heaven apart from the cleansing blood of Jesus. They’re preparing for heaven the way they prepare for a dinner party. Some are meticulous in their preparations, like one woman Sarah and I heard about at a recent parenting seminar. This woman (the wife of the seminar presenter) would line up all of her shoes in front of the mirror and then hold a dress to herself while sliding down the row of shoes. She would repeat the process with all of her dresses until she felt she had found the perfect match. Her husband, however, wasn’t as meticulous in his preparations to go out. While she was painstakingly looking for the perfect outfit to wear, he was pawing through the hamper to find a shirt that didn’t smell so bad.
In the same way there are those who believe that if they have to stand before God some day, they’ll just come as they are. They figure that if they aren’t good enough for God the way they are, then they wouldn’t enjoy partying with him anyway. On the other hand there are those who are truly concerned about their eternal future and are working hard to ensure that they get into heaven. They try their best to be kind and considerate. They keep their sidewalks clear during the winter and their lawn clipped during the summer. If there is trash blowing around the neighbourhood, they pick it up. They even give money to charities. Still they know they could do better and so they fret, like that woman getting ready for a dinner party would fret. They’re worried about what God will say when they have to stand before him.
The Bible is clear that both approaches are inadequate to prepare us for standing before God, for even one flippant remark, or one dirty look is enough for God to reject us from his presence. Is it hard to believe that God would be so harsh and particular? I don’t think so. Not when you consider the uproar we had a month ago over the surgical instruments that weren’t properly sterilized at a nearby hospital. If you wouldn’t want an instrument that hadn’t been properly sterilized to touch you, why should a holy God have to put up with people who have not been cleansed of all sin? So how are we cleansed? Only through the blood of Jesus. That’s why the saints in heaven sang the song that they did honouring the Lamb whose blood had cleansed them.
Are you singing the Song of Saints? Well of course I am! That’s why I came to church this morning isn’t it? OK, then what about during the rest of the week. Do we sing the Song of Saints then? Or do we sing a song about our work achievements, our family, our grades, our looks? Are these little ditties getting in the way of the one song that matters? I find it interesting that the things John mentions about the saints in heaven, what they’re wearing and what they’re singing, all point to Jesus. In other words, the only thing that will matter in the next life is Jesus – not how many friends we had, how much money we made, what kind of car we drove. Are we living as if the only thing that matters is Jesus?