THE CHRISTIAN’S TAIL
Revelation 14:12-13 (NKJV)
12 Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.
13 Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’”
“Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.”
This passage of Scripture refers to people who came to know Jesus Christ as their Savior during the Tribulation Period. These are the Tribulation Saints. We are told that their labors for the Lord are not in vain, but that their works will follow them to glory.
While this passage has little to do with you or me today but there are still some important applications that we can make to our own lives and work for the Lord.
For instance, notice that the phrase “their works do follow them”, literally means “their works are following them.” That is, their works follow them all through life, they follow them on into glory and they continue to follow up that life here on the earth in the presence of those who have been left behind. It brings to mind a continuous procession that will continue on into the future.
I don’t know if you have ever tied a bunch of tin can (empty cans) to a dog’s tail, but it sure does tear them up, so I’ve heard. Try as he might, running this way and that, the dog just can’t get rid of those cans. They are attached to him and they follow him on and on, until someone releases him from them. Much like that bunch of tin cans, you cannot get away from your works. Whether they are good or evil, they will follow you always and they will live longer than you do! Just like a dog’s tail, the things you do shall follow you forever.
It is that phrase, “their works do follow them” that I would like to talk on for a while this moment. I want to talk about our works and how they follow us through life, into Heaven and even continue after we are gone. I want to talk to you about The Christian’s Tail.
Our works follow us:
I. THROUGH ALL OF OUR LIVES
A. They Declare Our Spiritual Conversion – James 2:18; Eph. 2:10. (Ill. We can say anything we please, but the things we do always tell the truth about our salvation experience!)
B. They Demonstrate Our Spiritual Compassion – Matt. 22:37-39; Jude 22-23 (Ill. When we are active in the service of the Lord, it proves that we love Him and that we have a heart for the lost. Our work for Jesus indicates that we do not want to see our fellow man die and go to Hell. Therefore, we work so that the Lord’s Kingdom might grow through souls being saved.)
C. They Define Our Spiritual Condition – John 14:15 (Ill. There is a special promise to those who keep His Word – John 14:21)
Our condition is revealed by:
1. Our Priorities – Luke 14:26-33 (What comes first : God’s will or your’s?)
2. Our Praying – The Bible has much to say about prayer. It seems to indicate that “a holy heart is a praying heart!”
3. Our Practices – The things we do, or do not do, reveal the condition of our heart before the Lord. Things like:
a. Our church attendance – (Heb. 10:25)
b. Our attitudes – (1 Cor. 13:4-8)
c. Our actions – (Ill. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding! They also say, “Actions speak louder than words!”)
d. Our likes and dislikes – (What we listen to, what we watch, what we read, what we spend our time doing is an indicator of our spiritual condition.)
e. The things to which we give our time – (Ill. We are told to be “redeeming the time.”; Eph. 5:16)
f. The people with whom we spend our time – (Ill. 1 Cor. 15:33 – This verse tells us that we should watch the company we keep. Those with whom we surround ourselves can have an adverse effect on our walk with the Lord!)
g. Our attitude toward the Bible – (Ill. 1 Pet. 2:2)
h. Our attitude toward the lost – (If we really care, we are engaged in telling them! Remember the message of the Great Commission – “Go!” Literally, “As you go tell them about Jesus Christ.”)
i. Our attitude toward the Lord – (Ill. Is He really in control of every area of our lives? Fact is, He is either Lord of all, or not Lord at all! Acts 10:36.)
j. Our attitudes toward those who may have wronged us – (Ill. We are to offer forgiveness just like Jesus offered forgiveness to us – Eph. 4:32; Matt. 18:21-22; Luke 1:3-5)
k. Our responsiveness to the Holy Spirit – (Ill. It is possible to hurt the Holy Spirit. We are told not to “quench” (Ill. Literally “Do not stifle His divine influence in your life!”) Him, 1 Thes. 5:19; and we are told not to “grieve” (Ill. Literally to “Do not offend Him or make Him feel uncomfortable”) Him, Eph. 4:30.
I. Our Works Follow Us Through All Of Our Lives
II. UNTIL WE MEET THE LORD
(Our works will follow us all the way to the Judgment Seat of Jesus Christ. Our sins will not be mentioned there, they were taken care of at Calvary. However, the works done in these bodies, whether good or evil, will be addressed on that day!)
A. All Will Be Presented – Rom. 14:12; 2 Cor. 5:10 (Ill. Every work done in the body since the day of conversion will be brought to light at the Judgment Seat of Christ! Friends, that ought to be a sobering thought for each of us this morning!) (Ill. He will miss nothing!)
B. Some Will Be Praiseworthy – 1 Cor. 3:10-14
Among the rewards the believer can obtain, are five crowns. They are:
1. The Incorruptible Crown – 1 Cor. 9:25 – This crown is awarded to those who are able to live a consistent, Spirit controlled life.
2. The Crown of Righteousness – 2 Tim. 4:8 – This crown is given to those who love the appearing of the Lord. How does one love the Lord’s appearing? By living a clean and holy life – 1 John 3:3.
3. The Crown of Life – James 1:12 – Given to those saints who successfully endure temptations.
4. The Crown of Glory – 1 Peter 5:4 – This crown is awarded to those pastors who love the flock and serve them faithfully.
5. The Crown of Rejoicing – 1 Thes. 2:19 – This is the soul winner’s crown. There is no greater work than that of sharing the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ – Dan. 12:3.
6. We are told of the crowns, but we are guaranteed none of them. It would seem from the Scriptures that they can be lost – Rev. 3:11.
7. What is the purpose in these rewards? Their purpose is the same as everything else that has ever been created. They will be given so that we might cast them down at Jesus’ feet and honor Him for what He did for us – Rev. 4:9-11.
C. Some Will Be Painful – 1 Cor. 3:15 (Note: The issue here will not be for salvation. No one will be forced to leave, nor will they be able to leave. The issue here is purely rewards, or the loss thereof!)
I. Our Works Follow Us Through All Of Our Lives
II. Our Works Follow Us Until We Meet The Lord
III. TO THE LIVING
(My whole point this morning is to remind you that your influence in the world does not have to end when your life here does! Jesus has fixed this thing so that our works can continue after we are already home with Him!) (Ill. To the “fourth” generation)
A. Our Works Will Continue – Those things the Lord has used our life to accomplish will live on after we depart.
(Ill. Testimony : Camp Zion in Myrtle Mississippi. Camp Zion was the dream of Dr. Percy Ray. He founded that camp meeting to foster a better understanding of the Word of God and to encourage God’s children to a deeper spiritual experience. Brother Ray is in Heaven this morning, but Camp Zion is still touching lives for the glory of the Lord!)
B. Our Walk Will Continue – That changed life that Jesus Christ produces in each of His children will continue to bear fruit long after the person who lived it has gone on to glory.
(Ill. Nearly every one of us can remember some special person who lived a godly live in front of you and who made a lasting impression on your life. The nights where our loved ones was travailing in prayer for our souls. Our godly walk will continue to bear fruit for the Lord even after we have departed for glory!)
C. Our Words Can Continue – Those we witness to and have a part in their conversion will live on after we have perished! When we win a soul to Jesus, it is like throwing a pebble in a pond. It creates a ripple effect that can literally touch generations for Jesus.
(Ill. Testimony – I think of a pastor who labored for years in a small country church. He never saw many results in his lifetime and he died defeated, discouraged and exhausted. He had literally poured out his life in his love for and ministry to the people of that little church. Yet, before he died, he stated that he felt his work to have been wasted and his labor in vain. Few souls had been saved. Few people had ever encouraged the preacher. Few had even taken an interest in his needs as he struggled to get by on the small salary he received. However, he served on and eventually Jesus called him home to Heaven. After he died, a new pastor came to the little country church and began to preach the same Gospel that the old preacher had proclaimed for years. Amazingly, souls began to get saved. Dozens in fact! People from the community that the old pastor has witnessed to for years began to come to the church and get saved. Was it the ministry of the new Pastor? No! Was it the fact that he was a better preacher, better prayer or better worker than the old Pastor? No! Without exception, each new convert stood to testify that one of the primary reasons they responded the Lord for salvation was the tireless work, prayers and godly life of the old preacher. What you do matters! It will live long after you have left this world!)
“The muffled, distant sound had broken the quiet reverie of his walk across the meadow. The sharp barking of a dog almost irritated him. It was abrasive in that tranquil setting. As the barking grew louder, his eyes scanned the meadow, looking for the culprit.
“Suddenly a small doe broke through the edge of the woods. Now he understood. Leaning against the fence post, the man watched with compassion as the doe cut across the broad expanse of meadow. She was running straight toward him. He stood motionless, not wanting to add the fear of man to the animal’s frustration. As the frightened deer leaped the fence, she staggered. The chase had taken its toll. Her wet coat gleaming in the sun, the doe stopped, took a few steps in one direction, then, ears held high, looked back toward the sound of the barking.
“The dog had broken through the woods. Eyes wide with fright, seemingly confused and worn out, the doe surveyed her surroundings until she discovered the man standing beside the fence. Looking back again at the dog in hot pursuit, then at the expanse of open field before her, she turned weakly and walked straight toward the man and buried her head in his jacket. Compassion filled his eyes. She had found a protector.
Like that little doe, sometimes we feel hounded by our works. The sad fact is, we have failed the Lord, we will fail Him again, and many may be in that shape this morning.
Our greatest need is to stop running from those things and to turn to Jesus for the help we need. He will help us to develop a lifestyle of godly works that we won’t have to run from and that will live on, long after we ourselves are gone. He will help us learn to do the things that please Him and serve to glorify His great Name! Since our works reveal so much about our lives, and since they say so much about our Lord, I think we need to take an inventory this morning and see how our works stack up to the Lord’s will.
Has He revealed an area of your life that needs His touch this morning? If He has, then take time to do something about it is right now. I don’t know what you need to do, but I know that each of us needs to do something. Let’s respond as the Lord leads this morning.