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The Alpha and The Omega, Part 1

From the series Trusting Jesus No Matter What

Have you ever thought about what it would be like to meet Jesus face-to-face? In this program, Chip will give us a glimpse of what we can expect as he begins to wind down his series Trusting Jesus No Matter What. He’ll walk through the glorious picture of Christ described in Revelation chapter 1, and explain why this account matters to our faith now.

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Message Transcript

Faith grows when the object of your faith gets crystal clear. When you see Jesus for who He really is, then you can trust Him.

So, in Colossians chapter 1, the question was: Who is Jesus? The focus was on His majesty, His supremacy, Creator, Sustainer. His title? Sovereign King of the universe. And His action? He reigns. Right now, He reigns over everything. And one day, all the evil will be put aside and He will reign in a perfect heaven, a perfect new earth. The invitation to us was when you’re weary and tired and life is not working, come. And the result is He gives us peace.

In Philippians chapter 2, verses 5 through 11, it answers the question: What did Jesus do? And the focus is on His method. In other words, what did He do? He humbled Himself, took on human flesh, and His title is High Priest. He came and revealed the Father and then He took our needs and He took them to the Father. His action was redemption. He paid the price for our sin and then rose again. And then He says to us, “Here’s the invitation. Follow Me. Descend into greatness. Consider others more important than yourself. And as you take up your cross daily and follow Me, it’s in giving away your life that you find it. And the result is love.”

And then in Hebrews chapter 1, the first three verses, it really answers the question: How did He do it? And the focus here is on His message. It’s the Word of God. We learned He has the Word of God, He speaks the Word of God, He is the living Word of God. And His title, He’s the greatest prophet. And His action: He reveals. He reveals who God is. He reveals what is true. He reveals our need and the solution.

And the invitation is to abide. “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you,” Jesus said, “you’ll bear much fruit.” And finally, the result is joy.

He says, “When we are connected, the joy that I have I want to be in you and your joy will be made full.”

And now we are going to look at Revelation chapter 1.

He’s going to answer two questions. Why did Jesus come? And we’ll look at verses 4 through 6. And then he’s going to answer: How will He come again?

Pick it up with me as I read. “To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from Him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before the throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.”

So, let me just pause, okay? Here’s what I want you to get. He is getting revelation, the word means “to be unveiled.”

And he is giving this to the Church. And he wants them to know, these seven churches, it’s actual churches, right? This isn’t like metaphor. There are seven churches on a very predicable trade route. And he’s sending it to these seven churches.

And then it says, “Well, who is it from?” It’s from God, the one who is – the Father – who was, who is to come. And this little picture of the seven spirits before the throne, the word “seven” is a perfect number. It comes all the way through the book of Revelation. It’s the absolute holy, perfect Holy Spirit.

And then it says, “And from Jesus Christ,” so you have the Father, the Spirit, and the Son. And then it describes Jesus. Who is what? The faithful witness – the Truth. The firstborn from the dead – the Way. And the ruler of the kings of the earth. He brings life. Life and death is in the power of the one and only Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ.

And then he goes. “To Him,” Jesus, “who loves us and who has freed us from our sin by His blood—and made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve His God and Father—to Him,” Jesus, “be glory and,” some translations will be “power.” The idea is dominion. He’s in charge of everything, “…forever and ever. Amen.”

And so, the description of Jesus here, notice, in the present John says, “He loves us,”

In the past, “He has freed us from our sin,” He shed His blood. And then finally, future, “He has made us to be a kingdom,” we’re a part of this kingdom movement and priests.

And notice this, the Son’s relationship with the Father. A kingdom of priests that we would come to know Jesus, we would be transformed, and then we would serve Jesus’ Father and our Father.

I love J.I. Packer. He has this great line in Knowing God. And as I read it, I never thought about it this way. He talks about Jesus as our elder brother. Isn’t that a great picture? An elder brother. That He wasn’t ashamed to take on human flesh and that He’s at the right hand of the Father and we have an elder brother.

Because when you meet Jesus, it’s not like He’s different. He, for all time and all eternity, took on human flesh and became one of us. That’s the depth of His love.

And then it goes on to say, not only why did He come? He came to save us, He came to make us a kingdom, and these priests to His God and Father. But then that we would be on mission with Him.

Look at verses 7 and 8 where he begins to answer the question: Will He come again or how? “Behold, He,” Jesus, “is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.”

And now listen where Jesus describes Himself, “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.’”

Now, for you and me as we read this, part of this is like, “Okay, you know, I kind of get the idea that He is coming back and this is what Jesus has done, this is a tremendous introduction of who He is and what He has accomplished. And now He is coming in the clouds.”

And that doesn’t mean a lot to us. You’ll notice in your notes I put all those in bold, because if you were a first century Christian, especially a Jewish Christian, but you have heard lots of messages about Jesus being the Messiah. And where they get this idea, of the Son of man, it was Jesus’ favorite title for Himself.

So often He says, “And the Son of man, and the Son of man, and the Son of man.”

And for most of us Christians, when we hear and read the New Testament and where Jesus says, you know, “The Son of God and the Son of man,” often you’ll hear people say, “When He says, ‘The Son of God,’ that’s when – about deity. And Son of man, well, that’s when He’s talking about His humanity.”

Actually, the opposite is true. When you read the New Testament, actually Abraham is called a son of God. Isaac is called a son of God. The genealogies are all about the son of God. This phrase, “The Son of man,” Jesus said that because what He wanted them to know is that, “I am reaching back about six hundred and plus or minus thirty to fifty years to someone called Daniel,” who as a teenager is ripped out of Jerusalem into the Babylonian kingdom under King Nebuchadnezzar. And he walks faithfully with the Lord for about the next seventy years. And he had this prophecy about the end times.

Let me read it to you, because the Son of man is the most descriptive, He is deity and He is coming back and He is Messiah. Daniel chapter 7, verses 13 and 14. Daniel writes, “In my vision at night I looked and there before me was one like the Son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. And He approached the Ancient of Days,” speaking of the Father, and He was led into His presence.”

Now, listen to this, “And He was given authority, glory, and sovereign power. And all dominion, everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” It is the clearest, most graphic passage about the Messiah.

And now we are hearing: This is who Jesus is. And so, he is letting those people who have very little hope, humanly speaking, and who are really struggling and have lost their leaders, and asking, “Am I willing to die for this Jesus?”

He is saying, “This is the Jesus who is the Messiah.” And then we get, I’m just going to warn you, some of the most unusual passages that you’re ever going to find in all the New Testament. And you need to understand a little bit of Jewish background in order for them to make sense. And just a quick aside.

You know, often you’ll have people say, “You know, where does it really say Jesus is God? And, you know, there are three or four very clear passages.” But one particular cult does not believe that Jesus is God. And as I have met them, I have talked with them a lot. And they are young guys, they go on these two-year missions. And I just have, met so many of them and I like them. And I remember, you know, a couple guys came and they like to play basketball so we’d play basketball together and I said, “Do you want to open the Scriptures together?” And they said, “Well, sure.”

And you know, I knew sort of the Mormon doctrine and they told me the things that they were taught. And I said, “You know, the Scriptures clearly teach that Jesus is God.”

And they said, “No, no, you know, that can’t be true.” And they sort of had answers for the, sort of the typical text.

And I said, “Have you read Revelation?” They said, “Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.” And I said, “‘You know, at the beginning it’s God the Father and what did He say? “The one who is, who was, and is to come. I am the Alpha and the Omega.” ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah.’” I said, “Well, go down and read at the bottom. It’s clearly Jesus speaking and who is He? He is the Alpha and the Omega, the one who is and is and is to come.”

And so, I just want you to understand that sometimes we kind of want to have a little devotional and read the Bible a little bit, but we need to handle accurately the Word of God. God’s Word is the authority. And so, I just want to encourage you with that little aside.

And with that then, let me continue with John’s experience. We are in verse 9. “John, your brother and companion in the suffering,” right? “the persecution and the kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus was on the island of Patmos because of the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus. On the Lord’s day I was in the Spirit and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, which said, ‘Write on a scroll that what you see, and send it to the seven churches.’” And then he gives the churches, “Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.”

And then verse 12 says, “I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands; and among the lampstands was one,” are you ready for this? “like the Son of man dressed in a robe reaching down to His feet, with a golden sash across His chest. His head and His hair were like white wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were like blazing fire. And His feet were like bronze, glowing in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp double-edged sword; His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.”

Now, I don’t know about you. First and foremost, you would be terrified and I would be terrified. And we are going to find that John is terrified.

He’s coming to let John and these people in a world that is completely messed up, “I want you to know I am absolutely in control and there is a game plan that is coming.”

And all these pictures that John is experiencing, literally, I am going to go through each one quickly.

But when it says, “The fire,” literally it’s the fire is coming out of His eyes. I mean, this imagery is like, “Whoa!” What does it mean? What I want to do is I want to go through quickly and go through what those are, tell you what they mean, and then we’ll circle back around and talk about: What are the implications for us in a world that is desperate for hope? And maybe some of us are desperate for hope as well.

And so, let me jump in. Here’s a picture of the risen Christ. The general appearance is the Son of man. And what does that mean? It means: I am the Messiah, the Son of God, the Son of man, the Sovereign Ruler of all people and nations, men of every language will worship Me. And that’s what He is saying when He comes. One like the Son of man. His power, His kingdom, His rule forever and ever.

Second picture is His dress. That He is robed with a golden sash. Basically, this is: “I am a greatly honored One who exercises all authority and judgement as a once-and-for-all High Priest, Judge, and King, Prophet and Messenger of God.”

If you had a robe all the way down, it meant you were either a priest, a prince, or a king. And if you’ll remember in the Old Testament, who wore a sash? It was the high priest. And so, this is a picture of one who has all authority, but one who is going to take the needs of man and bring them to God and take the power and the grace of God and bring it to man. Are you starting to see that for John, this is going to be hopeful.

This is for the whole Church. Life is crazy, it’s falling apart; this is Jesus in this unusual way of presenting Himself that is going to give hope when you understand it.

His head and hair? White as wool. The implication: “I am the holy, eternal One who is before all things. The all-wise, all-knowing God of time and eternity.” This is that picture of Him in Colossians chapter 1. The white and wool is a picture of holiness, of purity.

He knows all things, He is all-wise, He sees the end from the beginning. You don’t have to worry. “I am the One who is going to bring about the best possible ends in the best possible way for the most possible people for the longest possible time. You need to endure.” Over and over and over in Revelation it’ll talk about patient endurance and overcoming.

John actually describes Himself as, “We are the saints who are suffering.” Suffering and trouble, according to Jesus, is a reality in your life. But He has overcome the world. So, it’s trusting His Word, trusting His Spirit, trusting God’s plan. And this is what John is doing.

Notice, His eyes are a blazing fire. It’s this, “I am the righteous judge of all the earth whose judgement is just because I see all things as they are, not as they appear to be.” You don’t hear much about that anymore. But we really need to remember that we will give an account, even as believers, for our life. For our salvation? No. For reward? Yes. And this judge also will be, you think of your friends and my friends and our neighbors and maybe co-workers that don’t know the Lord. He is the judge of all the earth. And there will come a day when He will separate the goats and the sheep, those who have trusted Christ and those who don’t.

Those who say, “Thy will be done, Lord,” and those who say, “My will be done.” And in His grace and in His honoring of people’s will, there will be people apart from Jesus forever and ever and ever.

And part of what He is saying to John is, “It may be hard, but you need to understand I am the righteous judge. It’ll be fair because I see all things.”

But it’s a motivation for us to care and to share and to love and to reach out and not be intimidated by the world that we are living in.