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The Alpha and The Omega, Part 2

From the series Trusting Jesus No Matter What

The Bible says, ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.’ What does that mean? Should we really be afraid of God? In this program, Chip wraps up his series Trusting Jesus No Matter What, with the remainder of his message from Revelation chapter 1. Don’t miss how this idea of ‘the fear of the Lord’ actually connects to His faithful love for us.

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Message Transcript

“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.”

First and foremost, you would be terrified and I would be terrified. And we are going to find that John is terrified.

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.

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.”

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.”

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.” And what you’ll find is He begins to talk to all those churches in chapter 2 and chapter 3. “You think you are wonderful and clean. And I see you as naked and needy.”

In other words, this is the Jesus that He looks at me and He knows what is in my heart. He knows my motives. He knows I might say this but maybe privately I mean that. And He is the One that when people say some things about me that may be not true at all is the One who sees all and puts His arm around me and says to you and says to me, “You can trust Me. I’ll take you through this.”

This is Jesus the judge. 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 both for believers, but it’s also a motivation for those outside of Christ 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.

Well, then you go to His voice of many waters. I am the One who spoke the world into existence out of nothing and I uphold it by the Word of My power. Old Testament, New Testament.

A lot of people are saying, “I don’t know where God is, I don’t hear.” Jesus is saying, “Like a rushing water…” If you have ever been near Niagara Falls or huge waterfalls, Pssshhhhh.

He's saying, “John, I’ll tell you what. My Word, My truth, it’s going to go over all the earth. Every tribe, every nation, every tongue. No one is going to miss out. They’ll know who I am.”

And then He goes on, “In the right hand are the stars.” The stars are messengers. And they are in His right hand, a position of honor. Commentators are torn, is that the lead pastor of the church or is there an angel over each church? I don’t know the answer to that. Here’s what I know is He is in the middle of those lampstands and those lampstands are His Church. And He is here to support us and He is going to give oversight and He is going to give protection.

And then out of His mouth a two-edged sword. And, you know, there were two kinds of swords in those early days. A small flat sword and then it was used in close combat. And that’s this one.

And it’s the same sword that is used in Ephesians 6 where the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. This isn’t the written Word or this isn’t even logos. This is a word called rhema. It’s when God speaks His Word. It’s when Jesus was doing spiritual warfare or when we do spiritual warfare and there is demonic activity, we take God’s Word like He did and we quote it and we quote it out loud and we command under the authority of the King of kings and the Lord of lords, “Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.”

And we confront the evil in the world – under control – and you do something in the spiritual world and you do something in the physical world. But it’s rooted in God’s Word and you have an offensive power in the Word of God.

And so, finally, he goes on and he says His face is like shining as the sun.

And all of this is to understand you’ve got hope. There’s a righteous judge, He’s in control, He’s going to bring about the right things at the right time. You need to hang tough, you need to keep trusting no matter what.

And then John saw Him and it says, “I fell at His feet as though dead,” and I can understand that. “Then He placed His right hand on me and He said, ‘Do not be afraid,’” why? “I am the first and the last. I am the living One. I was dead and behold! I am alive forever and ever. And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”

And as I studied this I thought, first of all, there’s tenderness in His touch. There’s: I’m in control and the worst thing that can happen to you is not dying. The worst thing that can happen to you is to stop believing. It’s to let your faith waver. It’s to cave into the pressure. And whether that’s cultural pressure or actual danger, Jesus is saying, I’ve got your back. I am for you. I am the Lord, I am God. You have got this and you can trust Me.

And so, as we look at this picture of Jesus and all that He has done, I’d like to go back to our chart before we take a moment and make some real personal application, just by way of review.

The question in Revelation chapter 1, verses 4 to 18, is: Why did He do it? Why? The answer is: His focus was His mission. Jesus came to save the world. Jesus came to redeem the world. Jesus came to make things right. Jesus blazed the trail and then called us to be a kingdom and priests and disciples so that now on the earth, just like when He walked on the earth, there would be light where there’s darkness. There would be love where there is hatred. There would be truth where there’s lies.

And then his focus, not as just on His mission, but His title comes clearly as the righteous judge. We all want justice. Righteous, clear, fair. He sees everything absolutely as it is. And finally, His action is to restore. I love if you would flip back all the way to Revelation chapter 21 and 22, you’re going to find that there’s a new heaven and a new earth. And there’s no tears and there’s no evil. And Satan is gone and sin is gone and death is no more. And everything that God longed to produce and develop in those first two chapters in that perfect environment in Eden, it’s going to be infinitely better.

And you say, “Well, Chip, how could it be better because it was a perfect environment?” It’s going to be better because we are going to understand the depth of God’s love.

If sin had never occurred – and that’s on us, that was our choice – we would never understand God’s mercy, we could never grasp His compassion. We are going to have a day where we really see ourselves for who we are.

And we are fairly nonchalant about this, but there are moments, don’t you get? Where you just realize how selfish you are. When I see my motives, when I see even on my best days…

And I’m going to grasp and you’re going to grasp in this new heaven, in this new earth, and in a life that is not floating around on clouds, but in a life with a new heaven and a new earth and where there are songs to be sung and culture to be made and work to be done and in a perfect environment with the Lord Jesus Christ and no sin and no sorrow and connected to those who have gone before us, in this absolutely perfect environment with an infinite God so we will be learning forever and ever and ever and growing forever and ever and ever.

And have that thing that no matter how much we do well or succeed or relationship gets great, there’s always something missing. That ends. It’s perfect, it’s great, it’s right. And that’s why He says, Hang in there. Trust Me.

I have three questions that I’d like you to really think about.

The first one is: What emotion and thoughts come to your mind as you reflect on the Jesus of Revelation? That’s one to kick around, isn’t it?

The second question is: How does the certainty of Jesus’ return and the challenge to His Church impact your life and your priorities?

And I love C.S. Lewis. [Randy Alcorn] He says, “All of eternity is like this line and that tiny dot on that line is your or my little, little speck of time.” And he just asks the question, “Are you going to live for the dot, the right now, or are you going to live for the forever?”

Third question is: How does the certainty of you receiving a resurrected body and living in a perfect, new earth without suffering or sin, united to Jesus and fellow believers, impact your life practices?

And Jesus then ends with an incredible invitation and a command. I love this and I’m so glad that our brothers and sisters in the past have been very faithful to this.

Jesus’ invitation is to join Him in His rescue mission to save the world, to actually see people go from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. To actually be a conduit, in my mind, sort of like a piece of PVC pipe where the grace of God runs through us by our words, our actions, our time, our energy, our money where we are the light and love of Christ, first loving one another deeply and then reaching out and caring. Meeting needs and then clearly sharing the gospel.

His invitation is, “As you go, therefore,” command, “make disciples of all nations.” Well, how? “baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you,” And here’s the promise, “and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

You know, it’s not going somewhere, it’s, literally, it’s an adverb. As you are going. As you’re going to the store, as you’re going to work, as you’re out in the neighborhood, as you’re leading one of your kids’ teams. You know, as you are in the marketplace. As you are just being you, make disciples.

That is sharing of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ by your life and by your words. And then baptism, certainly it’s when people get wet, it’s really a picture of identification. Help people move from their cultural mindset of their old life that they have died with Christ, they have been raised with Him, and this new identity connected to a body of people. And then as they get connected, “Teach them not to get smarter about the Bible, but teach them to obey what I said.” Because what is the promise? “If you abide in My Word you’ll know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

And people long to meet people that are free. Free of all the expectations. Free of, in my case, workaholism or codependency. Free from addictions. Free of trying to live a life that pleases everyone potentially except the One who is most important.

And so, I encourage you. There’s hope. There’s hope because the end is clear and Jesus has said, “I am with you always. I’ll never leave you, I’ll never forsake you.” Don’t confuse hope with it’s going to be easy. He promised it would be hard. What He promised is you’ll never go through it alone.

In our last session, I read the first two commitments that Bill Bright and Henrietta Mears and Halverson made. And they created this Fellowship of the Burning Heart. And if you remember, the first commitment was about spending time with God every day, an hour.

And the second commitment was they were going to live a pure life, that they would be holy before the Lord. And I want to read number three and number four, because they make a lot of sense and they’re a good application to what we have just heard.

Number three is: I am committed to the principle of discipleship that exercise itself principally in the winning of the lost for Christ. Therefore, I pledge myself to seek every possible opportunity to witness and to witness at every possible opportunity to the end that I may be responsible for bringing at least one person to Christ every twelve months.

And then the final commitment they made was: I am committed to the principle that Christian discipleship demands nothing less than absolute consecration or surrender. Therefore, I present my body a living sacrifice, utterly abandoned to God. By this commitment, I will that God’s perfect will shall find complete expression in my life and I offer myself in all sobriety to be expendable for Christ.

This was a group of people that said, “I am going to trust Jesus no matter what.” It doesn’t take more brains than you have, it doesn’t take more experience, it doesn’t take more knowledge. The kind of people that God uses are ones that understand He is the Sovereign King, the High Priest, the Great Prophet, and the Righteous Judge and you see Him clearly and no matter what, you say, “I can trust Him. He’s with me.” He’ll protect you; He'll provide for you.

So, let’s endure. Let’s be that kind of Christian that changes the world just one at a time.

Lord God Almighty, You are doing great things all around the world. And You do it through very regular, ordinary people just like us.

Lord, deliver us from our lethargy. Help us to grasp the clarity and the need of our time and to walk with You and to obey You and to receive Your power that we might give love and grace to every single person that crosses our path.

And so, Father, I ask You right now, in light of who You are, Lord Jesus, in light of what You have done, would You fill us afresh with Your Spirit? Would You make us the kind of Christians that would just come awake from our lethargy? That we would believe that You are the Sovereign King, the High Priest.

Lord, that You are the very message of life and that You’re the Righteous Judge that we could trust You for everything. Would You fill us in such a way that we would be used by You, that we would be available to You, and we would surrender ourselves fully to You? Lord, the world just seems to be in such a mess. And so, like John, we pray, oh God, please help us. Please strengthen us. Please make us the kind of Christians You want us to be.

And, Lord, we need each other. And so, I ask that You would help us to encourage each other day after day that we might walk with You in a way that just changes our little world so that You change Your big world. And I pray that in Jesus’ name, amen.