AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH November 21, 2010
Presbyterian Church following the Bible without Qualification
and the Lord Jesus Christ without Compromise by Faith
Sermon Notes Revelation 1:17-18
CREATION, SALVATION, BECOMING MAN,
BECOMING DEAD AND
WHAT IS BECOMING TO THE SAINTS
To extend use hyperlink where marked
"I AM THE LIVING ONE"
Alive I am! That is the triumphant announcement of the glorified Jesus Christ, received into the heavens after having become dead. That is actually what the Greek says in Revelation 1:19:
"I am the One who lives and I became dead,
and behold I am living for ever and ever."
Indeed, He is the I AM (John 8:58), whom time could never limit, before this evangelical episode of His incarnation to become Saviour. Therefore, when on earth, in communion with His Father, He could and did speak and do what no man ever did (John 15:21-24),. For this, He expressed His coming tour of duty (Isaiah 48:16), and for this expedition, He expressed His willingness to come, as seen in the predictive Psalm 40. There we learn (as in Isaiah 66) that God did not desire any more a continuation of the animal sacrifices which had etched into the soul of man his sinfulness and need of redemption.
In view of this, we hear in Psalm 40:6-7, that there is One who declares,
"Behold I come; in the scroll of the book it is written of Me.
I delight to do Your will, O My God,
and Your law is within My heart."
As Hebrews 9:26 declares,
"...now once at the end of the Ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself."
Again, as in Hebrews 10:9,
"He said, 'Behold I have come to do Your will, O God.' He takes away the first that He may establish the second."
The first ? sacrifice and offering of animals. The second ? His coming to do what is divinely required because of the removal of animal sacrifice. And that ? accomplish His own death sacrificially, that though His format as man, God might clear the books, inter guilt in the depths of the sea (Micah 7:18-19), and more intimately yet, in the depths indeed of His own suffering. In this way, arising from the premises of hell, He could and did bring hallowed life to all who were and are willing to receive it: and so do.
Thus and for this, though in the form of God, so that it was no enticement to be equal with God, since He already was this (Philippians 2:6ff.), He became in the likeness of man. Notice the 'become'. This was a strange and a marvellous action (Isaiah 28:21, 29:14), because it is unparalleled for the King of all to become man among all, so that He might serve and save many amongst mankind. Not only that, but strange indeed was it that He should do so in the lowliest of positions, though retaining in Himself His full deity as shown in word and deed (John 5:26, 14:1-10, 7:31).
HOW strange! But then love is always strange to this world, when it is seen as it is, not the sating of passion for money, pleasure or profit, but the endurance that values what it helps, and helps what it values, though death intervene! It is always marvellous when authentic. Survival of the fittest is meaningless cant; endurance of the best even through regeneration of renegades, is divine achievement!
Christ, says Philippians 2, BECAME in the form of a man; Christ, says Revelation 1, BECAME dead. "Fear not," He declares there, "I am the First and the Last. and the Living One; and I became dead, and behold, I am alive for ever and ever."
First notice that He is "the First and the Last" who speaks. Isaiah 44:6 makes this one of the signatures of God Almighty: "I am the First and the Last: besides Me there is no God." Hence what we have in Revelation 1:18 is an initial declaration that the Speaker, quite simply, is God! Next comes the divulgement that it is necessary to issue the edict that He is the living One.
Since He who speaks rapidly identifies Himself as the One who was dead, and hence as Jesus Christ in this setting, it is necessary to make it pellucidly clear that so far from being the memorialised corpse that once lived (though He IS memorialised in His death), this is not the last word. God ALWAYS has the last word since HE IS the FIRST and the LAST in being.
Just therefore as He BECAME in the likeness of man to perform a once for all sacrifice to terminate all other sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 9:1-28), SO He likewise BECAME dead, in the performance of this work of sacrificial love. That was 'the second becoming'. AS THE LIVING ONE, therefore, to whom it is given to have life in Himself (John 5:19ff.)'. Accordingly, having become dead, He is alive, literally ' living' for ever and ever. His second coming expresses Him direct. For that, we ardently wait! (Hebrews 9:28).
To be sure He became dead, and likewise, this was crucial to the performance of His saving mission for mankind, but He is and REMAINS 'the living One', in whom eternal life is inherent (I John 1:1-4), and He is authorised "to give life to whom He will," (John 5:21), though of course, "the Son can do nothing of Himself," being One of the Trinity.
LIFE is in His gift, LIFE is His and He made it (Colossians 1:15ff.), death BECAME His and He dispensed with it as a testimony of eternal and unredeemed guilt, by bearing that in one eternally infinite death of His own, sacrificially (Isaiah 53:1-6). Though it is applicable only where it is received, since those whose stripes He bears and who are thus healed, says Isaiah, are those on whom His sin is laid: yet WHEREVER it IS received, this is the result.
It might seem remarkable then, with this emphasis on death, that He should introduce Himself not only as the First and the Last, but as the LIVING ONE. That eternal life however is His nature before the episode of salvation, and it remains so, so that abundant LIFE is His desire and gift for His people (John 10:10).
He merely BECAME dead: it was not His eternal mode, and is not. Yet for all that, contrary to Himself to the uttermost, to Him who MADE life as it is, He BECAME this, just as He BECAME in the likeness of man, to BRING eternal life. It is that which remains a wonder and a grace and a gift of prodigious proportions to man who, now redeemable, receives a consummation to eternity of the wonder of God in each one who possess it.
Eternal life, adopted as a child of God, is beyond all. That it is a freely dispensed favour instead of duly announced condemnation is one of the wonders of the glory of God. Life! THEREFORE treat it with care and regard it with responsibility, both one's own and that of others. Whether or not they have received eternal life, they MAY do so, and are thus each is a precious property that may BECOME one of the children of God. Seek for it, hope for it and spread the news of the grace of God in the Gospel of the LIVING ONE, who BECAME dead.
THE BEAUTY OF THE TRINITY
One might ask, How then could the eternal God become a man and become dead, and still function ? That is one of the beautiful features of the Trinity.
Firstly, since each PERSON of the Trinity - who as One Being has inward company within Himself with three, in this like a family - has power, ONE of these may become man without compromising, or pre-empting the power of God or limiting it at all. Secondly, since the work of creation has long been finished as noted in Genesis 1-2, there is another work that the WORD of God, His ETERNAL word has to do, and this is salvation; and its nature is such that to become vested in the format of man is part of the mission. Creation past, salvation comes! Hence He is sent to do this as a Son of a family might be sent to war; and what a war!
It continues in this, that death still parades amid those who reject the salvation of God, who often not only would abhor His salvation but cancel His creation, as if before anything was there, it invented itself. To provide NO reason is irrational; to have it from itself is self-contradiction, since it, being all and being absent, must make itself present. Existence exuded from nowhere, cause free : this, their fantasy. This is a non-sequitur, reason on leave. So they err on the right, on the left: instead of realising that God being ALWAYS there, He created time and all things when He so desired. Indeed, what is needed for anything EVER to be is for ONE always to be there, eternal, so that what is adequate for EVERYTHING might duly create it. Then we have base, not as the dreams of illusion, but as the productions of evidenced brilliance.
The Creator cannot come from nowhere: His power and eternity has to BE there or we would not be; but we are... Since disciplined bits and pieces, far less mind and life, cannot come from nowhere, and all being is based on the Eternal, alone sufficient for any as for all, before time and to make time for all within it, then what follows. It is this: when it is time to go, then judgment comes.
Judgment does and will come while more, naked as murderers, dissatisfied with the murder of Christ, murder His disciples, as He foretold (John 16:2, Matthew 24), assailing their minds, blighting their spirits. Their victims, objects of rapacity, like Him, are inconvenient to this world. But He, who became dead, is the LIVING ONE, master of death as of life, and to Him the saints look. (As to these, Australia has had thousands of them over the years, made by God, not by the Church, inhabitants of the Church, not its mouthings - Colossians 1:1-2.) With God there are no limits in inordinate power, co-ordinate mercy or delight in deliverance!
He looked for them (Luke 19:10), and now they look to and for Him (Revelation 22:20, Hebrews 9:28), the latter verse stating this: "To those who eagerly wait for Him, He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation." Many are those who would like Him to disappear with sin and without salvation, and so kill many who DO eagerly await His return. This is as it was to be, as it is written: "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death," Revelation 12:11.
Thus Christ, having completed the creation, with this in stasis, as the evidence constantly attests, basic designs decreasing markedly and not increasing, and the human genome slowly deteriorated from the day of its original design, as Professor John Sanford of Cornell points out, He has now come with this done, and completed salvation likewise.
THE KEYS OF HELL AND OF DEATH
There are always results. One result of Christ becoming man, becoming dead and now being alive forever and ever, comes from the application of the salvation which He laboured to achieve, so that it might be given both effectually and freely.
It is this. As Judge (and who better than He, who vicariously received judgment, that believing in Him, man might be free to live for and in Him): He has the power to bring life and to sustain death. Man spiritually is dead already, till saved from a death both operative and eternal in nature (Ephesians 4:17-19); for he is alienated from God, as one dead, and his works in pride, power flutters, evil and hatred, spiritual indolence and self-satisfaction are all too clear a testimony of this toward man, the more when he has time to lift his head from the ceaseless persecution of his lusty fellows or from wielding or envisioning it.
From this death there is no relief except in salvation from it, and this being rejected, it is a matter of delivering to it, not as on the heads of those pitiable because of no opportunities in life, but upon those who deliberately reject these: for THIS IS the condemnation, that light has come into the world and man would rather have darkness (John 3:19). That flies in the very face of Christ not coming to judge the world (John 3:17). He would. They would not (Matthew 23:37). It is the rancid rebellion that continues that brings it to men. There is direction to light, free availability of light, but man is so made with such a dignity in the image of God, that there is no dictation. He can love his life and despise death, becoming its prey.
Thus Christ has the keys of hell, since only in Him is there escape and HE HAS DONE ALL, and would LIKE ALL to come (Matthew 11:28ff., Revelation 22:17, Colossians 12:19ff., I Timothy 2). It is well that it is HE who apportions; for bureaucracy in this world, though corruption, carelessness, hauteur and the desire to please often evil masters, does not have a good name! It is well that a glorious Person deals with the issues in love.
The keys of death likewise are His: and this not only because He can liberate from it to eternal life, but because in this world, and even now, as in His own time, if and when He wills, He can raise the dead. How often He heals those consigned to death even now, and how amazingly in His own day He raised the dead; indeed, Peter is one noted for doing the same in Christ's name (Acts 9:36ff.).
Death is not only a shut door, as when there is no deliverance from it, but an openable one, when there is no scope for it; and anyone who finds its interior forever, has only one to blame: himself or herself. Anyone on the other hand, who finds eternal life has only one to praise, and that is Jesus Christ. Both through His own blood, in paying death out for sinners, and in His own life, to give eternal life to whom He will, as in predestining assurance, gaining all who will receive Him, who seeks all: He is the ONLY operator.
It is not chance; it is not fate; it is not woe: it is life and hope and availability and a matter of calling on the name of the Lord (Acts 2:21,36ff.), which is to the point. Let us therefore who know Him, NOT FEAR, just as He tell us (Rev. 1:17), but rejoice in this Trinity, this Saviour, this Sender, this Sanctifying Spirit of God. Indeed, "again I say, rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4). Let us gladly spread the word of the Gospel of Grace as far as we may, by any means we have!.