Posted by: cghearn | 09/14/2014 | 12:00 pm
Download: The Lord of All Time – Rev. 1:4-8
How can we know we can be confident in this “Jesus?”
The first thing I need to say about this passage is that it’s as if it’s a mosaic of independent pieces from each other that are combined together to make one large picture. Some of the most famous of these forms of art are easily recognized in many churches as “stained glass windows.”
As early back as 675, church buildings in Britain had stained glass in their window frames. It’s remarkable what the artists of that day intended for the stained glass however in that they used these windows, not as decoration, but as a way to teach others the stories of the bible. Even the windows acted as a mosaic inside the church to teach the larger truths of the Bible.
This entire passage that we’re going to go through is almost as if it’s a resume or the truths of what Jesus’ qualifications are: that is what he’s done, what he’s doing currently, and what his plans are for the future. Wouldn’t these be important for us as believers to know especially if we’re entrusting ourselves and others that we care about to this man? Fathers are more careful in who date their daughters than in who many “Christians” claim they have as their Messiah!
Rules for dating my daughter:
- If you pull into my driveway and honk, you’d better be delivering a pizza because you’re not picking anything up.
- In order for us to get to know each other, we ordinarily would talk about politics, sports, and other issues of the day. But, the only information I require from you is an indication of when you expect to have my daughter safely back at my house, and the only word I need from you on the subject is “early”.
- If my daughter is returned to my house in a different state than when she left, you will be leaving my house in a different state than when you returned.
- If you hurt her, I will hunt you. If you make her cry, I will make you limp.
- If you cannot keep your eyes or hands off of my daughter, I will remove them.
We are so cautious with things that we love in this life from our houses, to our money, to where we spend our time, and even what kind of clothes we wear. How much more so should we be with our eternal souls?
Doctrine of sermon:
We have confidence in Jesus Christ because of what he has done, is doing, and will do
We have confidence in Jesus Christ because of what he’s already done
There are a few things that I want to address concerning the first part of this passage:
- First, this letter was addressed to the 7 churches which were ACTUAL churches. They were very influential and located on a well-known circular route. Additionally, their cities were centers of the imperial religion. The Dispensationalist gets started in reinterpreting the Scriptures immediately in stating that these 7 churches are the “7 ages of the church” rather than real churches. As if this letter wasn’t ACTUALLY addressed to 7 churches, but that John is already being mystical. Question: If you were writing a letter (archaic though it may be) to your Grandma, when you wrote “Dear Grandma” would you be addressing your Grandma or your Grandma and cryptically all her descendants?
- Jesus is the one who was, and is, and is to come-This simply means that Christ always was, never having a time that he was not which Jehovah’s witnesses and Mormons would disagree with saying that Jesus is a created being; and that Christ always will be. John begins this passage with this understanding of Christ and then finishes this passage with this understanding. John is telling us by doing this that this passage is meant to be taken as a whole and not split up.
- The seven spirits are not specifically seven spirits, rather this is in reference to what Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 11:2 “And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.”
Here’s the part that I want to camp on and that is that Jesus is a faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. We see 2 past things leading up to what Jesus currently is:
- Jesus was a faithful witness-Nobody, by looking at the Scriptures, could ever accuse Christ of not believing what he was teaching. Some of the greatest historical figures of all time ended up giving their lives for what they believed. But Jesus is one of the very few who did so willingly knowing what he would suffer. He was faithful to his witness.
- Firstborn from the dead-This is the part of the Christian narrative that is the most widely rejected; probably even more so than the virgin birth. However, once again, there’s no way to look at the Christian Scriptures and dismiss this part of the story; this is the reason that we follow Christ. John understood that this may have been the greatest of all the things that Christ had done.
- It’s because of these things that we finally read that Jesus is the ruler of all kings of the earth. This means very simply that there is no one higher than Christ; that even the greatest of earthly rulers cannot overcome the power of Jesus and it is because of all that has been, is now, and has yet to be.
It was 1536 and the very prominent scholar William Tyndale was tried and convicted of translating the Scriptures from Latin (which during this time was the only authorized language for Scripture in the West) into the vulgar, common language known as English. For years, Tyndale had secretly been translating the Latin New Testament into English, then had people sneaking these highly illegal copies into England and for the first time, the common man had access to God’s word. After his trial, Tyndale was sentenced to be strangled while tied to a stake. Right before his sentence was carried out, Tyndale’s last words were, “Lord! Open the King of England’s eyes.” After 4 years, that same king that Tyndale was executed under authorized 4 English versions of the Bible…all four of which were based on the translation done by Tyndale.
Redemption: No matter what the circumstance, Christ is in control even when it doesn’t feel like it presently…
We have confidence in Jesus Christ because of what he’s doing right now
Once again, there’s a lot of things listed here that need to be broken down:
- Christ has freed us from our sins by his blood – We have been freed, by grace through faith, from our own sins.
- Christ has made us a kingdom – Every Christian on this planet, no matter where they’re from, now has Christ as their country. We’re not separate because we have the same nation and kingdom of Christ.
- Christ had made us priests to the Father – This has to do with a doctrine known among Protestants as “The Priesthood of the Believer” which I could give an entire sermon on; but know that there’s a reason that we, under the New Covenant, don’t have priests any longer. The priest first off, was chosen by God and set aside for His purposes. All of us in this room are chosen by God and set aside for His purpose. The priest secondly is offering up spiritual sacrifices which include (according to Hebrews) praise from our mouths, to do good when we know what is good, and to share what we have. We no longer need someone to intercede for us, we have Christ himself.
Jesus Christ deserves, therefore according to John, glory and dominion (also translated as might) forever. Have you ever truly thought about what Christ has done for us and is doing in this very moment?
—Turn to Hebrews 1:3a
In this moment, because Christ has freed us from sin through his blood; because he has made us his kingdom; because we are priests; this all means that we have the closest relationship possible in this very moment with the Creator of heaven and earth. You could be praying in this very moment and your prayer is as if before the very throne of God. On top of that, He holds together all of you, that which surrounds you, and all things through His power.
In 1964, a physicist with the last name of Higgs developed a theory about a particle that gave mass, that is energy, to everything on the planet and probably everything in the universe and making matter possible. Now, in 2013 he was awarded the Nobel peace prize for his discovery of the Higgs boson which is also dubbed, “The God Particle.” They used a 17 mile long ring in Geneva to confirm their theories by making particles collide with each other and watching the outcome, proving the theory true. People criticize the Bible for being archaic, yet it gave us the truth about the God particle in A.D. 65 when the book of Hebrews was written putting science 1,948 years behind Scripture. Now who’s archaic?
Redemption: If we can see what Christ is doing presently and know that it’s true, then we can have full confidence that he’ll also fulfill what is yet to come…
We have confidence in Jesus Christ because of what he has promised he will do
There’s a lot in this passage that I need to take apart, once again:
- Behold – John really wants you to pay attention to this. This word is used whenever the writer is being emphatic so if you’ve not been paying attention, come on back and stop thinking about what you’re doing after church today.
- He is coming with the clouds – That is, Jesus is coming back to us in the same fashion in which he left. At the start of Acts Jesus ascends into the clouds and the angels tell the apostles that he’ll come back again the same way.
- Every eye will see him – Will it be a secret when Christ returns? No; everyone will see him return. This conflicts with the idea that there will be a secret rapture which is propagated by the fictional work “Left Behind.” This theory is based on the passage in 1 Thessalonians 5:2, “For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” However, later on Peter says something similar when he says in 2 Peter 3:10, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.” So Peter speaks of a singular event in which the world will be judged according to their works which is consistent with what John is writing here.
- Even those who pierced him – Does this passage mean specifically those who pierced him, which would only be a handful of Jews? Not likely, because it’s connected with “all tribes of the earth” meaning that both those who pierced him and those who did not will be present to mourn. This more than likely has ties to the idea that both the Jews who reject Christ and the Gentiles who have done the same will see Christ and mourn because they have not believed.
So, how do we know to interpret this prophetic text this way? By interpreting it by the other prophets who came before John.
—Turn to Zechariah 12:10
In the year 1346, there was an outbreak of disease in Europe known as the “Black Death” resulting in the deaths of an estimated 75 to 200 million people and peaking in Europe until around 1353. The Black Death is estimated to have killed 30–60% of Europe’s total population during those years. The origins of the Black Death has been found out to have been because of rats carrying the disease during that time. Shortly before the Black Death took place, Europe had a great deal of superstition gave rise to the idea that somehow witches could turn into common household cats. As a result, people in Europe often killed cats in order to kill off the witch population. The very low population of cats, many theorize, gave rise to a higher population of rats which led to the rapid spread of the Black Death. Our actions, whether we think so or not, have consequences that we may not be able to see initially.
Christ is coming back and for those who have not known him, their reaction will not be joy; it will be weeping and mourning. They will know that Christ is coming for justice and they will know that they cannot rely on him to save them.
Redemption: We know that Christ is coming according to his own word and that justice will finally be given by the only one who truly has the right to save or condemn.
Doctrine of sermon:
We have confidence in Jesus Christ because of what he has done, is doing, and will do..
Illustration: In this life, we have three main enemies to watch out for:
- We have Satan himself – Jesus shows us by his temptation that we don’t have to give in to Satan
- We have the world – Jesus says, “…take heart, I have overcome the world.”
- Finally, in this present moment, we have our own flesh that is fighting with us – But Paul writes to us concerning the Spirit in Romans 8:26, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”
Application: Today, we have a song we’re going to sing by John Mark McMillan called, “Future/Past.” I encourage you to think about the lyrics as we sing but one line in particular always moves me and it’s when he sings, “You are my first, you are my last, you are my future, and my past.” Believers often speak about how terrifying and horrible the reformed view of predestination is…but what about the beautiful side of it? That even when I was still a sinner, even when I was still God’s enemy, God sent His son to be crucified for me so that even before I gave my life to my Master, he reached through eternity, picked me up in his arms and called me his friend.