AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH

June 27, 2004

A KINGDOM NOT ONLY IN NAME
Revelation 1 - 2:7

 

I.  THE WASHING OF THE WITNESS 1:5

Clothes need washing machines very often; hearts need washing but not by machine, rather by God, nor yet merely in principle, but in a practice so pure and perfect, that nothing less than an eternal redemption (Heb. 9:12) would suffice. With payment by God in the form of a man, suffering for man, securing salvation through this presentation, this portrait of sin etched by man on His very face, this gift from God is applied to His people, so cleansing, washing in the work of renewal. His people are like that: they wash, indeed, they ARE washed and then victoriously visit to this fountain.

In Numbers 8, you see that even the Levites serving in the temple had to be sprinkled with water, to assign the sense of washing: themselves first, but also of consecration to the priesthood work. In Leviticus 14, you see the disease which typifies sin, leprosy which eats INTO life and removes PARTS of life, till it desolates entirely. Here CLEANSING is required, and in this chapter we find no less than 16 references to clean or cleansing in 32 verses! The clothes have to be washed, when the disease is gone, but the sacrificial cover is symbolised with the sprinkling of oil, and the touching with blood on thumb.

Cleansing cost the sacrifice its life, and it costs the one cleansed the dignity of being non-delightful, indeed vile. It is only when one sees the depth of sin in the human heart and repents accordingly that one is really ready for salvation. Hence the Holy Spirit convicts of SIN and RIGHTEOUSNESS (ours and His respectively) and judgment (John 16).

HE washed us, replacing all animal  sacrifice, with HIS OWN BLOOD! That is the cost of sin, the measure for our abhorrence from it now, on the part of all  actual Christians.

 

2.  THE WORD OF THE WITNESS 1:8,11-17

John, friend of Christ, is persecuted and exiled to the island of Patmos - for the word of Jesus and the testimony of Jesus Christ.  Let each one here ask him/herself this question: AM I likely to be exiled for MY devotion and consecration, testimony to HIM!

A voice identifies Christ Himself as the First and the Last (Isaiah 44:6, that is God). He is to write to the churches which ARE (at that time) in Asia. John sees the pure, fiery radiance of one like the Son of Man (a name of Christ as in Matthew 16:13). With eyes like a flame of fire, He had a voice like the sound of many waters, multitudinous in intensity and grandeur, yet gracious and readily flowing to the receptive heart.

Eternal life IS knowing God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent, and it presents an actual awareness of God (John 17:1-3), a love of His commands and an assured faith in His gift of righteousness (His) and of life that nothing can sever (by the Father's power, John 10).

Jehovah's Witnesses of course deny this identification, and so are enemies of Christ as are all those who dare to use HIS name for THEIR philosophies.  Yet there are more, for all who reject His voice and His purity, His sacrifice and His revelation are still aliens from His kingdom, without hope except they repent (cf. Luke 13:1-3, and that below, Ephesians 2:12):

" ...at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ."

The way in is by the door, not by trying to take it off its hinges: that has already been tried and failed.

 

3.  THE WORK OF THE WITNESS 1:5-6, 17-18

Christ's work had many aspects. He is the FAITHFUL WITNESS (ensure that you follow Him who is the truth, in attesting HIM), the FIRSTBORN FROM THE DEAD (as if death were a womb for destruction, but HE was born from it, being incapable of being held in it Acts 2:23-24) and the PRINCE of the kings of the earth, their leader and Master. He impresses on John, as He had earlier on them all, that "He is coming with the clouds and every eye will see Him". Not surprisingly, when that advent comes, "all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him" - and you see more of the reason in the following chapters, as in Isaiah 2 and 24, when the whole earth is shaken.

John falls at His feet, but is told not to fear, for this is the ONE who was dead and is alive for evermore, and the keys of death and hell are His. Hence you need not fear the UN, or the Pope or the words of men. It is the infinite God who has the keys, and you CANNOT get there except HE allows it. As to His sheep, HE gives them eternal life (John 10:27-28). John is then given messages to the noted churches, and we consider next the FIRST of these.

 

 4.  THE WAY OF THE WITNESS  2:1-7

This first church is commended for its patient perseverance, its testing of false prophets, its steadfast stand. Yet it is condemned in one point, its having LOST ITS FIRST LOVE! The first blush of delight, the first awareness of the majesty of God, the first desire to serve Him unswervingly ... these things, with the total personal consecration, dedication and endeavour for sanctification, they have past.

Now remember that this is not an individual person, but a church. Nevertheless, so VITAL is a real love to the God WHO IS LOVE, that except that church body should repent of its coldness, it would lose entirely its place in HIS kingdom! (v. 5). Its darkened life would no longer need a lamp-stand, for these are for LIGHTS! GOD's people are to be like LIGHTS, shining in the midst of a perverse and crooked world, not inconspicuous because so very like it. There IS a challenge (cf. Phil. 2:15).

The good side of this battered picture is this, that to the one who overcomes, there is to be a gift of the tree of eternal life in the midst of Paradise. In other words, where there is faith, there is victory (I John 5:4), and in Christ this is a gift. Those who, being His, are moved to repent of sin, continue in joy in Him, seek Him continually, as children do their parents, these who have the conquest of this world, its delights, its coaxings and its coquetries, these stay in the fray, do not wander from the presence of the Worker (Hebrews 13:5) who has WON them; and being His, they taste of that eternal life which is theirs, in the very habitations of eternity.

THIS, it is a kingdom not only in name, but in power, for the KING RULES!