“These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them….” Revelation 7:14-15 (Read v. 9-17)
In the opening verses of “For All the Saints” (by William W. How), we sing: “For all the saints, who from their labors rest, who Thee by faith before the world confessed, Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed … Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might; Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well-fought fight; Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light. Alleluia, Alleluia!” (Lutheran Service Book, Hymn 677).
Who are these saints? They’re not only the apostles and other prominent Christians over the past centuries; they’re all who have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ – all who trust in Him and His cross for forgiveness and life everlasting (cf. Eph. 2:11-22; Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:2; Eph. 1:1; Phil. 1:1; Col. 1:2).
And for these and all the saints we give Jesus glory and praise, for He paid the price for our sins and sent His Holy Spirit to regenerate us and bring us to faith in His cross, thus making us His saints – holy and righteous in God’s sight through faith in His blood shed upon the cross for the sins of the world (cf. Eph. 1:3ff.; Rev. 7:9-12).
As His elect, we are sealed and preserved in the faith by the gracious working of the Holy Spirit. He keeps and protects us as we face persecution and trouble in this evil world which is under the judgment of the Almighty (Cf. Rev. 7:1ff.; 12:1ff.; 2 Tim. 4:18; Phil. 1:6; Eph. 6:10ff.; v. 5-6 in LSB).
And when we die – whether martyred or of natural causes – we who trust in Christ leave the tribulations of this world to join all the saints who have gone before us into heaven, to be with those who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb who suffered and died to take away the sin of the world (Cf. Rev. 7:9ff.; Phil. 1:23; John 1:29).
And there we await that day when Christ returns to judge the living and the dead and to raise up and give eternal life to all the saints, to all who have trusted in Him for salvation (cf. 1 Thess. 4:13ff.; John 14:1ff.; 1 John 3:2).
In the words of the hymn: “But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day; the saints triumphant rise in bright array; the King of glory passes on His way … From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast, through gates of pearl streams in the countless host, singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost: Alleluia, Alleluia!”
We thank and praise You, O Christ, for redeeming us and bringing us to know and trust in You for forgiveness and life everlasting. Preserve us in the true and saving faith until we join the saints in heaven singing Your eternal praises. Amen.
[Scripture quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]