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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « If Divine Election is True then What Need is There to Preach the Gospel? | Main | Preaching is theology coming through a man who is on fire »

    The Revelation of Jesus Christ, Pt. 4 by Rev. C. R. Biggs

    Introduction

    Jesus is the Speaking King who speaks through His Holy, Inerrant and Infallible Word so that His people might grow in the grace and knowledge of the LORD. Today's study is from Revelation 1:9-18, entitled Jesus the Speaking King. This will be a two-part study of how Christ speaks to His people.

    You will remember that in the Old Testament God fed His people with manna and water so that they would be filled and their thirst would be quenched. The purpose of this provision was so that His people would be sustained, strengthened and fit to finish their pilgrimage to the Promised Land. Jesus is the Manna and the Water who feeds us and quenches our thirst through His Word.

    The Book of Revelation reveals Jesus Christ as the Speaking King who reminds us that if we are to live a holy life before the face of God we need to know that it must be by every word that proceeds from His mouth. If we are to grow in Christ-likeness, it will not be by might, nor by power, but by God's Spirit and Word working in and through us! Today, the Speaking King gives to His people His Word so that we might be sustained, strengthened and fit to finish our pilgrimage to the New Heavens and the New Earth.

    Revelation 1:9-18: I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet 11 saying, "Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea."

    12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hairs of his head were white like wool, as white as snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, "Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.”

    Comforting Words

    When I was young and would get scared and afraid as I grew up and realized the world around me was not always a safe and kind place, I would rely upon listening to the comforting words of my mother as she encouraged me that "everything would be alright". One time in school I experienced trouble with a bully (I still remember his name: Mark Dunahoo- - Wow, I hope he's doing well!), and for almost a year I dreaded going to school on the school bus, because he would hit me on the back of the head, call me names, and laugh at my less than fashionable “Sears Best” sneakers.

    When I would get home, I wanted to talk to mom. I wanted her to know I was troubled. Then she would speak, and her words would comfort me and remind me that everything would just fine. She would say to me that life holds these troubles, but I was not to fear, but I was to face my troubles courageously. Thank God for mom's words of encouragement to me!

    But how much more we should thank God for Jesus' words of encouragement to us all in His Word- -and especially in his revelation as Sovereign, enthroned king in the Book of Revelation!

    As we studied in the previous lessons, John, as well as the churches to whom he was writing, were experiencing pain, trouble, and the difficulties that come from living in this scary and sometimes fearful world because of the Evil One and sinful men (cf. John 16:8-31). This passage in Revelation 1:9-18 was (and is) an encouragement from Jesus to His congregations in the church that "everything was (is) going to be alright" because he has conquered death, hell and the devil and he IS the First and the Last, the Living One who holds the very keys of Death and Hades (vv. 17-18).

    Remember that in John 16:33, Jesus told his disciples that in this world they would have tribulation, but not to fear for he had overcome the world.

    This passage reveals Jesus as the Speaking King who speaks word of encouragement to his people so that they will keep trusting him, remain faithful in their day-to-day challenges, and to continue to be obedient to His Word no matter the challenge. Jesus addresses the seven churches of the Province of Asia, correcting, rebuking, and encouraging them through His Word (Rev. 2-3; cf. 2 Tim. 3:16-17). As we learned in earlier lessons, the churches were seven true historical congregations, but their virtues as well as their vices are those experienced by all congregations since Jesus was exalted to God's right hand.

    We can see a glimpse of the visible and universal Church (“catholic church”) of Jesus Christ by looking ahead to Revelation 2-3 and notice how Jesus the reigning king still speaks to them through His Word. Jesus Christ walked among these churches and he reveals that there are some churches more faithful to his truth than others, and this should never be disputed.

    In Christ's addresses to the seven churches of Asia Minor, all Christians should seek to have "ears to hear" his address to visible congregations today. As the seven churches of Asia Minor are judged by how accurately they hold to the Word of Truth, so congregations today are judged by Jesus Christ the Lord by how accurately they hold to the Word of Truth. As some of these churches had become "synagogues of Satan", not holding to Christ's truth, so many visible congregations of Christ's church have become haunts and wildernesses with regard to the truth as well!

    Christ commends some of the churches of Asia Minor because they are holding out the Word of Truth in persecution, sufferings, and all manners of trials just because they are speaking the truth of God's Word in this world of sin and misery and this storms the institutions and organizations of hell itself! Christ encourages some of the congregations (as he does us today!) that if they more precisely and accurately teach and make known his Word, so they will grow more mature in their faith. This is a reminder of the importance of avoiding some vague and lowest common theology in the Church today, and seeking with the Church throughout history (rooted back in the 7 Churches of Asia Minor), to know the truth that we are all called to be sanctified by (John 17:17).

    "Speak Lord, Your Servants Are Listening"

    Today, Jesus still speaks through His Word to His people. In fact, God has set apart the first day of the week as the Lord's Day, so that Jesus' people will be strengthened on their pilgrimage and given help by the Holy Spirit and the Word to learn more of Christ and their need for him. In many churches, the pastor raises his hands at the beginning of the service to remind the people of God that from the call to worship, the rest of the worship service is dedicated to hearing the Word of Jesus, the Speaking King.

    This is the reason why the pastor doesn't merely say (or rather, shouldn’t say!!): "Hi, how are you? My name is Pastor Bob, and this is what I need and desire to say to you today." Historically, what pastors in Christ's Church have said is: "Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." The greeting is from the Lord and the pastor speaks and stands in Christ's place. This too is all because of God's grace and has nothing to do with the pastors own inherent righteousness. The pastor stands and speaks in the name of Christ clothed in Christ's righteousness, just as the congregation stands to hear the Word of Christ clothed in Christ's righteousness. The sermon when exegetically derived and faithfully preached, is the very Word of Christ, the Speaking King!

    However, some think of the sermon as just another nice speech, or a gentle message that should cause us all to feel good inside and meet our so-called "felt needs". But the sermon is much more than this. The sermon on the Lord's Day is the pastor standing in Christ's stead speaking His Words to His people. What happens in the sermon is unique to all over times of listening to the Word of God.

    Some of us listen to the Word of God in the car on CD or cassette; some listen to the Word of God on the radio. But nothing compares to listening and hearing the Word of God through the sermon preached on the Lord's Day when an authorized (ordained) representative of Christ (minister) stands up in the place of Christ to speak Christ's Words to His people. (Note: This is not to say that private Bible reading is not important- -it is! However, there needs to be a distinction between the true and public worship of the Living God, and our private time before God).

    On the Lord's Day, the Holy Spirit is present to apply and accomplish God's tasks and desires through the Word as the sermon is being preached. The sermon on the Lord's Day, when the people of God are gathered in a special way in obedience to God's commands, is extremely important for hearing the Speaking King every week. When we hear the Speaking King revealed here in Revelation 1, we are reminded of Jesus' life, death, resurrection and ascension for his people.

    We are reminded that no matter how difficult our situation, no matter how much pain we are suffering, no matter how strong our desire for a particular sin, that Jesus is the First and the Last, the Living One, and He is the One we look to for grace, mercy, and forgiveness in our time of need. We are also reminded that we are part of one Body, one Church, that is part of those who are privileged to still hear Jesus the Speaking King in a way the rest of the world does not, and I might add, will not! As the people of God, particularly as we prepare our hearts for worship and for hearing the sermon, but soberly remember the words of Jesus the Speaking King:

    “He who has ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit (STILL) says to the churches”- - and pray for ears to hear!

    Remember to Never Forget!

    Jesus is the Holy One who has gone before us and represented us in his person and work for us. Jesus is the Speaking King that reminds us again and again that we need his help and his grace. The people of God are diverse, but there is one thing about us all that is important for us to remember: We so easily forget God's grace and goodness in our lives! Thus, God graciously stoops in our weaknesses and inadequacies to speak to us at least weekly through the Word by the Speaking King.

    But do we have ears to hear what the Speaking King is saying? When I would go back to school after hearing the reassuring and comforting words of my mom, once I got back on the bus, out of her sight and presence, I would practically forget everything she said to me. Listening to the Speaking King as well as reminding ourselves of his promises, goodness and strength, will help us in our struggles against the world, flesh and the devil. In Revelation chapters 2-3, the Speaking King speaks to the different congregations as their King and Lord. He corrects, rebukes, and encourages them. For every congregation to whom he speaks, he says "For those who have ears, let them hear what the Spirit says (present tense) to the churches.

    We should be reminded of this as well. Once we leave the sermon, our morning or evening devotions, how soon we forget and how easy it is for us to forget all of what Jesus the Speaking King has said, and is saying to us! If we are to understand more of the depth of His love for us; if we are to understand His grace and the tight grip by which he holds us all; If we are to realize more each day that we are indeed the children of God, then we need to meditate up His Words. In John 15, Jesus told his disciples, if my words abide in you and you abide in me, you will bear much fruit. He promises that we will bear much fruit -- eternal and holy fruit- -that will never be taken away, but will continue to produce a harvest of righteousness.

    Remember that Jesus is the Resurrected and Living King, He is the Coming Judge and King, and He is the Speaking King! May God remind you today of what he has said to you. May you be reminded of all he has done for you in Christ and what he has told you he has prepared for those who believe! May you meditate and ponder in your heart of hearts the depths of His grace and the magnificence of his glorious love for those He loves! In our next study we will take a look at how Jesus as the Speaking King speaks with a double-edged sword.

    Next Study: Jesus the Speaking King, Part II

    Rev. Charles R. Biggs
    www.aplacefortruth.org

    Posted by Charles Biggs on June 15, 2006 11:22 AM

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