Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 15 What will Jesus say about our church? . Christ's eternal relevance to the church (Part 3)

. Christ's eternal relevance to the church (Part 3)

WHAT WILL JESUS SAY ABOUT OUR CHURCH?

CHRIST'S ETERNAL RELEVANCE TO THE CHURCH (PART 3)


Revelation 1:17-18 (ESV)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.”

Introduction.

 

We are busy with a series entitled: “What will Jesus say about our church?” As mentioned human opinions do not bug us at all, but what Jesus says is what matters. There are so many opinions of what the church should be. People leave the church because they want a church that is tailor made perfectly after their needs. They want a package deal. The sermon should be this long, have that kind of content, worship must include my kind of songs, I demand koeksisters for tea as I do not like lemon creams, the pastor must or must not ever use humour, we must or must not talk about finances and so the list goes on, and if you do not do it my way, I leave, or I do not contribute or I will eat roast pastor for lunch. And then the hard seats. They are nearly as hard as the seats were in stadiums not too many years ago, when we sat on concrete. I remember having to take my cushion with to Loftus.

 

While I understand the desire to have things perfectly my way, we all need to humble ourselves before the Lord and realise it is His church, and it is all about uniting with other individuals who might have different preferences to worship Him and Him alone. When you understand the revelation of Christ as seen by John, and you realise that He is the one walking amongst His Golden Lampstands which is His church, then we understand that it is not our opinion on the matter that counts but the opinion of the one revealed in Revelation 1, and what a revelation. It was such a great revelation that John fell before Him as though dead. He fell in awe and worship.

 

What did we see in this revelation so far?

 

We looked at His apparel (His dress) and we saw that He is standing amongst His golden lampstands, which are His churches, dressed in a Robe and a sash around His chest. This shows that He is the great High Priest who entered the Holy of Holies once and for all, to intercede for us before the Father. We then looked at His appearance and saw that His hair was white like wool, like snow. He is the ancient of days according to Daniel, He has the wisdom that we need, and His judgement of His church will be wise and final in all ways. We saw that His eyes are like a flame of fire. He does not have dull, tired, droopy eyes, but He has piercing eyes. It is those same eyes that are seeking ‘to and fro’ through the whole earth to show Himself strong amongst those whose eyes were set upon Him undivided. It is those very eyes that are looking into the churches, and nothing escapes His sight. He knows everything because He sees everything. Whether it is good or bad, Jesus sees it. Where shall we go, but there is the Lord? We saw that His feet are like burnished bronze. Everything is under His feet, He has the final authority. His voice was like the sound of many waters. You admire His voice and you fear His voice. When He speaks, you listen. With that voice He can create, and He can destroy. In His right hand He holds the 7 stars. Those are the ‘angelos’, the messengers, the one that are appointed by Christ to lead His church. The church is not led through the democratic views of all its members. The church has structure and the structure needs to be respected. We saw that a double-edged sword comes from His mouth. In the context of Revelation that sword is there to fight for us. Christ is siding with His church against the enemies from within and from without. Then we saw that His face was like the sun shining bright. God is light and in Him is no darkness. His glory shines and as a church we have a privilege to put that multifaceted wisdom on display, as the Glory belongs to Him in the church both now and evermore.

 

How do you respond to a vision like that? John fell at His feet as though dead. What a revelation of His glory that you cannot stand in the presence of Christ. And it ought to be so, as the focal point of the book of Revelation is the Lord Jesus Christ. That is why it is called ‘the Revelation of Christ’. Don’t stress with all the difficult stuff that was an is to come, all the symbols, metaphors etc. Rather head straight to the main character which is Jesus Christ.

 

How do you respond to a vision like that? You respond with fear and reverence as you observe the apparel of Christ, as you observe the appearance of Christ and as you now observe the appeal of Christ.

 

What John saw was overwhelming. He was not the only one with similar visions. Daniel had a vision like that. Daniel 10:7-9 (ESV) 7 And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision, but a great trembling fell upon them, and they fled to hide themselves. 8 So I was left alone and saw this great vision, and no strength was left in me. My radiant appearance was fearfully changed, and I retained no strength. 9 Then I heard the sound of his words, and as I heard the sound of his words, I fell on my face in deep sleep with my face to the ground.”

Such prostration, such fear, such shock was the experience of a number of people who had visions. Oh, that we will grasp just something of the vision.

 

Ezekiel 1:28 (ESV) 28 Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.”

Ezekiel 3:23 (ESV) 23 So I arose and went out into the valley, and behold, the glory of the Lord stood there, like the glory that I had seen by the Chebar canal, and I fell on my face.”

You see it with Paul in Acts 26:13-14 (ESV) 13 At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me. 14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’”

Why would John fall before Him as dead that John walked with Jesus, here he simply has a different revelation of Jesus.

 

I believe there are two reasons. I have often said that I am saved based on my good looks, to which you all disagree. But I am saved because I took one look at myself at God and saw Him, holy, righteous, sovereign and willing to save me, and I took one good look at myself and realized I am a sinner desperately in need of His grace, and I was saved by His unmerited favour. Now I believe that John fell on His face due to his good looks.

 

He took one good look at Jesus and He sees Jesus no longer in the flesh, but in His Shekinah glory. He is seeing the unveiled glory and deity of Christ, he is seeing the Ancient of Days. He's looking at God whose countenance shines like the sun. He's looking into the eyes of the judge of all the earth, eyes that burn in flame like fire. He is beholding the presence, the face of the great living God Himself. As such he falls before our Lord as one who is dead.

 

And then he takes one good look at himself and he became conscious of the burden of his own nothingness, the burden of his own folly, the burden of his own insignificance, his own shortcoming, his own humanity, his own sin and iniquity. No sinful mortal can look into the face of God. No man's ear can hear the voice of the Almighty. In awe, in reverence, in godly fear for his own destruction because of his sin, he fell like a dead man at the feet of Christ.

 

This is a reverential fear that recognizes who he sees, and who he is.

 

This is similar to Isaiah’s vision of God. He saw God and he saw himself. Look at his response to that glorious revelation of Christ. Isaiah 6:5 (ESV)5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” Some versions say, "I am ruined." Some say, "I am disintegrating." The verb means "I am going to pieces, I am shattered, I am devastated, I am destroyed." What does "woe" mean? Curse, damn, sentenced to judgment... I'm damned, I'm doomed, I'm cursed, I'm destroyed.

Seeing God is a frightening thing. It fills the heart with fear to see the glory of God. We have seen the apparel (dress), we have seen the appearance, but we have one last view of Christ.

 

3. The appeal of Christ.

3.1 He is the first and the last.

Revelation 1:17 (ESV) 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,..”

There John lies in the dirt, but Christ who has been revealed to us so far, puts His right hand on him and says that he must not be afraid. Oh, for the right of Christ on us and the seven churches. For the right hand on our lives. It is a touch of reassurance, a touch of comfort, as we will see with some of the churches. This is wonderful comfort to all Christians who feel overwhelmed by the glory of Christ, for all Christians who feel overwhelmed by the holiness of God. To all who are overwhelmed by the glory of God and the holiness of God, here is a touch. And Jesus said, "Fear not." The reassurance is all bound up in who Jesus Christ is. And here we see that the one who touches him is “the First and the Last”. It's like saying, "Don't be afraid “I am” is here." And who is "I am"? God. That's the personal name for God, that's Yahweh, that's His name that He took in Exodus 3:14. That's not only His name that speaks of His eternality, but that's His redemptive name. And so, He is saying to him, "Don't be afraid, I am is here, the redeemer God is here, the God who loves us and released us from our sins is here.”

 

We don’t have time to turn to all the verse, but study Isaiah 41:4, Isaiah 44:6, Isaiah 48:12, in all of those places God says, "I am the first and the last" Here Jesus Christ is saying, "I am the first and the last," and therefore claiming to be whom? God. This same title is applied to Jesus Christ at the end of the book of Revelation 22:13 (ESV) 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” In chapter 2 He is the “First and the last” to the church of Smyrna.

John doesn't need to fear because the one who tenderly touched him, to reassure and comfort him was no other than the glorified God/Man who is the First and the Last. Everything has its origin in and through Him and He never ceases to exist. When all false gods have come and gone, He remains. He was before them the first and He will be after them the last.

3.2 He is the Living One.

Revelation 1:18 (ESV) 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.”

Sometimes we forget that “God is,” that “God is alive” and that “God is there for us.”

When Jesus says that He is the Living One, He is saying nothing less than He is God almighty.  It's a title for God all over the Bible. Our God is alive.

 

In Joshua 3:10 God is called the Living One. In Psalm 42:2, Psalm 84:2 God is called the Living One. In Hosea 1:10 God is called the Living One. You come in to the New Testament, listen to Matthew's gospel chapter 16 and verse 16, "And Simon Peter answered and said, `You are the Christ the Son of the Living God.'" Later on, in Matthew's gospel chapter 26 verse 63, the high priest said to Him, "I command you by the Living God." You find the same kinds of references in Acts 14:15, Romans 9:26, 2 Corinthians 3:3, 6:16; 1 Thessalonians 1:9; 1 Timothy 3:15 and 4:10; you find it in Hebrews 3:12, 9:14, 10:31. God over and over and over is called the Living One.

 

And Jesus here says, "I'm the Living One." This is a claim to deity. There is no other explanation for this. He is saying, "I am God the Living One." Jesus is no dead idol, He is not the creation of man, He is not a philosophical idea or a good hypothesis. He is God almighty. And He is the one that touches John and you and I and says: “Fear not”. He came to give us life and it to the full. There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. Fear not. There's nothing to fear for I will always be alive, I have conquered death for you and I will always live to secure you. He ever lives to make intercession for us, says the writer of Hebrews.

 

Jesus Christ then claims to be the eternal redeeming living God, the God who is before and after all other gods. The God who has personally conquered sin and death and hell and lives forever to secure His people. The God who alone has the power to give life and take it away. And it is that God who says to us today, "Stop being afraid of Me, rather come to me."

 

3.3 He has the key of death and Hades.

Revelation 1:18 (ESV) 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.”

Death and Hades in a way are synonyms, although if you want to make a distinction, death is the condition and Hades is the place. Hades would be the equivalent of Old Testament Sheol, the place of the dead. He says, "I have the keys." What does that mean? Keys mean access, keys mean authority. A key gives a person the power to open and close. And the living exalted Christ says, "I'm the One who controls the door to death and Hades." I have the keys that open it and let people in. I have the keys to close it. I decide who dies and when. I decide who lives.

 

What a statement. What does John have to fear? Holy God in the form of the living glorified Lord of the church reaches down and touches this sinner and says, "Stop being afraid." The touch is a touch of comfort, amazing reassurance because it comes from the eternal "I am." The One who transcends all the gods that come and go, the One who alone is life and gives life, the One who has died and conquered death, and the One who controls life and death. John, you have nothing to fear. Nor does anyone who loves Him. No matter what we might see of His glorious holiness, no matter how it might traumatize us and shock us and leave us lifeless, no matter how unworthy we feel, no matter how deserving of the judgment of God, no matter how fearful of death, Jesus touches us and says, "Stop being afraid, you belong to Me, I the eternal God have determined your destiny. I have paid the price for your sin, you have nothing to fear."

 

And so, as we wrap up chapter 1 and prepare for an exciting series on the 7 churches. I pray that we will behold something of the Glory of God, and we do. 2 Corinthians 3:18 (ESV)
“18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

 

And let me say this, you don’t get pushed down by man, you don’t fall over backwards, you shudder before the awesome revelation of the Glory of God and you fall on your face. Oh, that God will transform us from one degree to another, that we will grow, that we will mature, that we will become holier and holier, and that day after day we will look more like our Jesus.

Next week we start with the first of the seven churches, and we will see ourselves in the mirror of their experience, and we will experience Christ revealed, as we saw Him in chapter 1 and I pray that as we study the churches, we will grow from Glory to Glory.  So, you and I am in for a life-changing experience.

Amen.

Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church:- 27 May 2018