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Saturday, 21 November 2015

Revelation 1:4-8 Christ our King

A minister and his wife were on their way home on a Sunday evening. He was tired because he preached five times that day. His wife asked a question to which he answered in anger. Immediately he felt conviction and apologized to his wife.

He said, “Forgive me. I’m quite tired. I’ve preached five times today.”

His wife replied, “Yes, Dear, I know, but remember, I’ve had to listen to you five times today.” 

Today is Reign of Christ Sunday. It marks the end of the church year, so it is the church’s version of New Year’s Eve. It is the day when we remember that Christ is our King and that He will return one day to claim his kingdom here on earth.

It is not an ancient festival in the Christian calendar. In fact, it was only established by Pope Pius XI in 1925. It was established at a time when Europe was in chaos. Inflation was rampant, and colonialism was at its worst. The seeds of evil that would eventually grow into the Holocaust and World War II were being planted. Pope Pius XI established the Festival of Christ the King to declare that Jesus Christ is King

The Book of Revelation is the story of Jesus himself. After the opening greeting, John gives us a prophetic description of Christ’s Second Coming. Although each of the seven churches received a special letter from Christ through the Book of Revelation, each congregation could read what was written to the others because everything was contained in one large letter. God’s people have the same advantage today. To have the same perspective of the divine Head of the church is convicting. Modern churches could solve some of the problems they face today by reading God’s recommendations to each of the seven churches.

When sinners come to Christ in faith, they receive eternal salvation through God’s grace. We don’t have to do anything or promise anything. Salvation is God’s gift to us. This new relationship with Christ will overcome any trials we have in this life, just like Christ overcame death. This new relationship is due to the work of the Holy Trinity.

All three members of the Trinity-Father, Son and Holy Spirit-were involved in the creation of the Book of Revelation, including the passage we heard from Revelation 1:4-8 earlier in today’s service. John refers to God as “the One who is and who was and who is to come.” God is in control of our unpleasant past, our unnerving present and our uncertain future. Jesus has the authority to rule as the promised King from the line of David. The Holy Spirit represents God and gives us wisdom, understanding, advice, strength, knowledge and fear of the Lord. We can take comfort in the knowledge that Jesus reigns now and forever during the good times and the bad times. 

Jesus is described as the one who loved, loosened and lifted the people up. The word “washed” could be more literally translated as “loosed” or “freed.” John 11:44 describes Lazarus as being loosed from his grave clothes. The word also recalls that the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt. Jesus has likewise freed believers from their sin. He conquered death and gave us new life. Consequently we can share his authority as Priest and King through our union with him through the Holy Spirit.

In our present, sin-filled world, guilt is something we avoid. We run from it frantically, drown it in alcohol, escape from it through entertainment, talk about it to a therapist, blame it on someone else or suppress it through mental gymnastics, but we can’t avoid it. It’s like a stain that won’t come out of our clothes no matter how many times we wash them or what type of detergent we use. Salvation is God’s gift to undeserving sinners such as us. We must never forget that. This grace gives us a relationship that offers us true peace and that peace helps us overcome any problems we face. Jesus is the only thing that can wash away our sins. God has given us a conscience with a guilt alarm that goes off when sin enters so that we will go to Jesus for cleansing.

When people are shuffling for power, prestige and wealth, Jesus reigns. He is the only person who can get rid of the plagues of terrorism, poverty, crime and disease. If we let Christ be our King, we don’t have to be kings. We don’t have to rule our world. We also don’t have to let things such as money or fame rule our lives. These things can’t make our lives worth living. Only Jesus makes our lives worth living. Jesus gives us our greatest freedom-freedom from death. That freedom gives us the freedom to live. In return, we are called to serve until Christ returns to claim his earthly kingdom.

Only in Revelation is Christ given the title of “faithful witness.” He was a genuine martyr, faithful until death, and his followers must also be faithful to death. The phrase “ruler over the kings of the earth” refers to Christ’s present reign, not the future one. He is the King of Kings now because he has triumphed over death and he is sovereign over all earthly powers.

Revelation 1:7-8 presents the theme of the entire Book of Revelation-the return of the King and establishment of his rule over the kingdom. “Coming” describes the arrival of the King and the changes in the situation that his arrival proclaims.  

Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Here they point to the eternity of Christ and his all-inclusive power. Christ is the supreme sovereign. There is nothing that he doesn’t know, so there are no unknown factors that can sabotage his return. Jesus is the beginning of all history and the goal for whom all things are made. Jesus is the boundless, tireless and powerful One. God is eternal, and he will come again at the end of time to judge and to save.

The purpose of our Christian lives is based on our faith in a God who is eternally past, present and future. It starts in the present. Each of us must encounter and experience the presence of God in our own lives on a daily basis. He continually reaches into our lives and transforms us. He gives us a future to look forward to. We need to look forward to this royal inheritance. We need to begin practicing for the perfected life that will be ours someday. We need to act like the children of a king, because that’s who we are. God ordained the nation of Israel to witness to his glory, majesty, and power. He calls on us as members of his kingdom to do the same.

Our understanding of who Jesus is determines our eternal destiny after death. Of all the pursuits in this life, the knowledge of who Jesus is will be the greatest. To know Jesus is to know who we are and what we really are in this world. To know Jesus is to know the security of purpose and the assurance of peace. Jesus is both Lord and Saviour. He has allowed us to know Him personally like never before.

Ordinary people who receive Christ’s love and freedom are willing to become Christ’s servants and ultimately his very kingdom in the world. We will witness Christ’s return, and we will have the right to enter God’s kingdom. Jesus made us to be both a kingdom here on earth and priests. We are both a kingdom and priests because Jesus loves us and frees us from our sins by dying on the cross. The word “kingdom” refers to the body of believers throughout the world, and that Christ is the King of that kingdom. We as believers are priests who have direct access to God. He is our hope, our refuge and our salvation. His return will be a joyous occasion because it is the event we’ve been waiting for. On the other hand, his return will be mourned by his opponents. Everything will change. Evil will be shut down, order will be restored, and justice will reign. 

God’s reign is the power that keeps our world turning, the rain falling and the seasons returning. It is an expression of God’s faithful, everlasting love-the love he has for us as our King. God cares about the ultimate details of our loves. No matter what comes against us in this life, no matter if all of the power of pain and chaos of the universe seems to overtake us all at once, no matter if we can’t control one single thing or fix one single thing in our lives, the worst is over and the healing has begun, because the Lamb of God is on his heavenly throne.

The Book of Revelation gives us hope in a God we can trust and expectation for a future that God has created. That’s because Jesus is the beginning and the ending, the dawn of the world and its dusk. The Book of Revelation tells us to lean into our faith in a Christ who holds the future in his hands. Nothing can frustrate his eternal will, and that eternal will includes us who will be spending eternity with him in his eternal kingdom here on earth.

Bibliography

1.      Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible, NKJV (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013)

2.      ESV Study Bible, Part of Wordsearch 11 Bible software package.

3.      Palmer, E.F. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 35: 1,2&3 John/ Revelation (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1982)

4.      MacArthur, J.F. Jr: The MacArthur Study Bible, NASV (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)

5.      Anne Graham Lotz, “Washed in the Blood.” Retrieved from angelmin.info@angelministries.org

6.      Pastor Jack Hibbs, ”Oh, To Know Him!”  Retrieved from wttw@calvarycch.org

7.      Ron Moore, “The Action of Jesus.” Retrieved from www.ronmoore.org

8.      Pastor John Barnett, “The Safest Spot.” Retrieved from enews@dtbm.org

9.      Steve Preston, “When Jesus Returns.” Retrieved from bibletalk@freegroups.net

10.  The Rev. Eugenia Gamble, “Saltwater Apocalypse.” Retrieved from http://day1.org/821-saltwater_apocalypse.net

11.  Steve Arterburn, “The Grandness of God.” Retrieved from Christianity.com@crosswalkmail.com

12.  Swindoll, Charles R.: Swindoll’s New Testament Insights on Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan; 2011)

13.  Jeremiah, David: Agents of the Apocalypse (Carol Stream, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers; 2014)

14.  Dr. J. Howard Olds, “The Lord of All.” Retrieved from https://www.esermons.com/sermon/the-lord-of-all/1442836

15.  Patrick Rooney, “The Perfect Sacrifice.” Retrieved from https://www.esermons.com/sermon

16.  Leonard Sweet, “The God Who Is, Who Was, and Who Is To Come.” Retrieved from https://www.esermons.com/sermon/the-god-who-is-who-was-and-who-is-to-come

17.  King Duncan, “Nobless Oblige.” Retrieved from https://www.esermons.com/sermon/noblesse-oblige//1347099

18.  Dr. Keith Wagner, “Thanks Be to God.” Retrieved from www.lectionary.org/Sermons/NT/27/Rev/Rev-01-04-8-ThanksBe-Wagner.htm

19.  Eric Baretto, “Commentary on Revelation 1:4-8.” Retrieved from http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1623

20.  Swindoll, Charles R.: Swindoll’s New Testament Insights on Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan; 2011)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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