Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.…
I. THE CHARACTER.
1. "Here is the patience of the saints." To be blessed when we die we must be saints. By nature we are sinners, and by grace we must become saints if we would enter heaven. Since death does not change character, we must be made saints here below if we are to be saints above. The word "saint" denotes not merely the pure in character, but those who are set apart unto God, dedicated ones, sanctified by being devoted to holy uses — by being, in fact, consecrated to God alone. Do you belong to God? Do you live to glorify Jesus? "But how am I to attain to holiness?" You cannot rise to it save by Divine strength. The Holy Spirit is the Sanctifier.
2. But the glorified are also described in our text as patient ones. "Here is the patience of the saints," or, if you choose to render it differently, you may lawfully do so — "Here is the endurance of the saints." Those who are to be crowned in heaven must bear the cross on earth. Ii we are to win the glory we must be faithful unto death. "Here is the patience of the saints"; it cometh not by nature; it is the gift of the grace of God.
3. Farther on these saints are described as "they that keep the commandments of God."
4. The next mark of the blessed dead is that they kept "the faith of Jesus." Do not waver in your belief, but keep the faith, lest ye be like some in old time, who "made shipwreck of faith and a good conscience," and were utterly cast away.
5. Notice that these people continue faithful till they die. For it is said, "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord." Final perseverance is the crown of the Christian life.
6. Those who thus entered into rest exercised themselves in labours for Christ. For it is said, "They rest from their labours, and their works do follow them." The idle Christian can have little hope of a reward.
7. To close this description of character, these people who die in the Lord were in the Lord. That is the great point. They could not have died in the Lord if they had not lived in the Lord. But are we in the Lord? Is the Lord by faith in us?
II. THE BLESSEDNESS which is ascribed to those who dis in the Lord. "They rest from their labours."
1. By this is meant that the saints in heaven rest from such labours as they performed here. There we shall not teach the ignorant, or rebuke the erring, or comfort the desponding, or help the needy. There we cannot oppose the teacher of error, or do battle against the tempter of youth.
2. They rest from their labours in the sense that they are no longer subject to the toil of labour. Whatever they do in heaven will yield them refreshment, and never cause them weariness. As some birds are said to rest upon the wing, so do the saints find in holy activity their serenest repose.
3. They rest also from the woe of labour, for I find the word has been read by some "they rest from their wailing."
4. To the servant of the Lord it is very sweet to think that when we reach our heavenly home we shall rest from the faults of our labours. We shall make no mistakes there, never use too strong language or mistaken words, nor err in spirit, nor fail through excess or want of zeal. We shall rest from all that which grieves us in the retrospect of our service.
5. We shall there rest from the discouragements of our labour. There no cold-hearted brethren will damp our ardour, or accuse us of evil motives; no desponding brethren will warn us that we are rash when our faith is strong, and obstinate when our confidence is firm.
6. It will be a sweet thing to get away to heaven, I am sure, to rest from all contentions amongst our fellow Christians.
III. THE REWARD of the blessed dead. "They rest from labours, and their works do follow them." They do not go before them; they have a forerunner infinitely superior to their works, for Jesus and His finished work have led the way. Jesus goes before, works follow after. Note well, that the works are in existence and are mentioned; immortality and honour belong to them. No desire for another's good is wasted, God has heard it. A word spoken for Jesus, a mite cast into Christ's treasury, a gracious line written to a friend — all these are things which shall last when yonder sun has blackened into a coal. Deeds done in the power of the Spirit are eternal.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.