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Worthy is the Lamb: I am the Alpha and the Omega

Worthy is the Lamb  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega — the beginning and the end.

Notes & Transcripts
Text: Revelation 1:4-8
Theme: Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega — the beginning and the end.
Date: 10/01/2017 File Name: Revelation_02.wpd ID Number:
Weather it’s in the sciences or the humanities, most fields of study will categorize the past into distinct, quantified blocks of time or periods that we often refer to an age — i.e. the “age of discovery” or the “age of empires.” Major categorization systems include cosmological ages (time periods in the development of the universe), geological ages (time periods in the development of the Earth), and historical ages. When I was in school I can remember being fascinated by the different historical periods of man — the Prehistoric Age, the Neolithic Age, the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, the Iron Age, and now the Nuclear Age.
There are also theological ages of biblical history we find in the Scriptures. These theological ages are known covenantal periods. They include:
The Adamic Covenant
The Noetic Covenant
The Abrahamic Covenant
The Mosaic Covenant
The Davidic Covenant
The New Covenant
We are in the period of the New Covenant. The new covenant age was prophesied by the Prophet Jeremiah in (Jer. 31:31–34, NIV84), and was fulfilled in the life and redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ. The first five covenantal periods are are described as the Age of the Law and are found in the Old Testament. The Age of Grace is described in the New Testament. John’s Gospel alludes to this: “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17, NIV84).
This New Covenant era is also referred to as The Church Age, and is the period of world history beginning on the day of Pentecost and culminating at the Second Coming of Christ.
There is one last theological period, and the Bible simply refers to it as “The Age to Come.” It includes Christ’s millennial kingdom and then eternity.
In our text for this morning the apostle John describes the characteristics of the age — that is, the theological period — in which we live.

I. JOHN DESCRIBES THE COMMUNITY OF THE AGE

“John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne,” (Revelation 1:4, NIV84)
1. the primary community of the age is Christ’s Church
a. the revelation of Jesus Christ is not for everyone
1) it is for a specific group of people, and that group is his Elect who make up his body, called the Church
b. the local church is not an organization of individual believers, but a single body united in Christ
1) the word the New Testament authors use to describe this sense of unity — this sense of community — is koinonia
2. Koinonia expresses a relationship of great intimacy and depth, and the implications of this word when used to express the nature of our bond with Christ and the brethren is profound
a. the Church is not simply a society; it is a fellowship in God and with God, AND a communion with other people who are in fellowship in God and with God
b. the fundamental nature of this fellowship is love
3. the apostle is writing specifically to seven churches in the province of Asia — which today is the modern nation of Turkey
a. theses are not the only churches in the province of Asia at the time — there are many more
1) seven church will receive specific messages from our Christ as we will see in the 2nd, and 3rd chapters of the book
2) these congregations include the Church at Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea
b. but once John arrives at chapter four, the message of Revelation concerns all congregations of the entire church age
1) how do we know?
c. seven is a number we’re going to see crop up again and again in the Book of Revelation
1) Revelation 1:4 is the first verse in the book where the number seven appears
2) before we are finished with the book we will come across it 54 more times
3) it’s a number that represents fullness or completeness
b. so when John writes to the seven churches, he is giving a message for the whole church throughout this age
4. the essential community of the age is the Church
a. in our society we often refer to different types of community
1) some are identified by race — we refer to the black community, or the Hispanic community
2) some are identified by location — we talk about the urban community, or the rural community or the suburban community
3) some are identified by age — there is the millennial community versus the baby-boomer community
4) in more recent days we’ve come to identify people according to sexual identity — we talk about the gay/lesbian community, the transgendered community, and the straight community
5) and of course some are identified by economic status — there is the blue-collar community, and white-collar communities
b. all of these community types have different characteristics, a different focus, different mores, different interests, and different agendas all of which tend to alienate one community from another
5. only one community transcends all societal differences and unifies its members
a. that community is the church — the Body of Christ — those who have been born from above, cleansed from sin, and made part of the household of God
"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." (Galatians 5:6, NIV84)
1) did you hear the Apostle clearly? ... The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love
b. all the things that alienate us from others in the broader culture, all the things that separate one cultural community from the other cultural communities in our society are transcended by Christ, and our allegiance is to the one Lord who indwells his community, and commands that community to “love one another”
1) some would say this is pollyannaish in today’s culture ... that America is so divided that even the local church cannot transcend our differences
c. it’s pollyannaish only if God’s people are disobedient to the Scriptures
ILLUS. When I was young, I learned the little rhyme — it even had hand motions — that goes like this:
Here is the church,
Here is the steeple,
Open the doors,
See all the people.
I have a better version of that rhyme:
Here is a building,
On top there’s a steeple,
Open the doors,
The Church is the people!
6. the church is the essential community for raising Christian — no other community within our culture can do that

II. JOHN DESCRIBES THE CONSOLATION OF THE AGE

“John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,” (Revelation 1:4–5, NIV84)
1. scarcely has john picked up his pen then a blessing pours from it to God’s people
a. our consolation — our solace, our comfort — derives from grace and peace
2. the book deals primarily with judgment, yet God begins it with grace
a. in this book, wicked men receive richly deserved judgment from God
b. the floodgates of God’s wrath, held back since Calvary, burst over their banks and pour forth in all of their fury
c. yet God begins revelation by telling men they can have what they do not deserve — grace!
1) later in the book John sees a multitude that no man can number, men and women who have washed their robes in the blood of the lamb and who loved not their lives unto death — all because of grace
3. in our consolation in Christ we also receive peace — the kind that passes all understanding
a. here is a book that deals with graphic violence
ILLUS. If the judgments found in this book could be accurately portrayed on film, the movie would most likely be “R” rated, for excessive violence.
1) it deals with bloodshed and war, and rings with the din of noise and strife
2) it tells of carnage and conflict — earthquake and famine, pestilence and woe
3) it tells of purges and persecutions that dwarf all those of history — blood flows in crimson tides
4) the book tells of the crash of Empire, of anarchy, oppression, terror, and despair
5) it tells of war in heaven, and of war on earth — revealing a possessed beast of a man, driven and indwelt by the devil, wrecking fearful vengeance on the saints of the Most High
6) thunder’s role, stars fall from heaven, plagues issue up from the abyss, demons take control of human affairs, armies are marshaled by countless millions of men
b. and yet, God begins this book with the word — peace!
4. the world rages, and the raging will only get worse, but in the midst of it all God’s people can experience a peace that passes all understanding

A. WE EXPERIENCE GRACE AND PEACE BECAUSE GOD IS ON HIS THRONE

vs. 4 “ ... from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ ... “
1. grace and peace are promised to the people of God from the Triune Godhead God the Holy Spirit
a. Grace and Peace Come from God the Father — who is, and who was, and who is to come
1) the Father is presented to us as the one who transcends all time
2) this is the God who met Moses at the burning bush, and when Moses asked what name should he give the people if they asked for God’s name, and God says tell them “I Am” has sent you
b. Grace and Peace Comes from the Seven Spirits Before His Throne
1) this is a reference to the Holy Spirit
2) here again the number seven is used and reminds us of the perfection of the Holy Spirit’s person
c. Grace and Peace Comes from Jesus Christ
1) he is the faithful witness
2) he is the firstborn from the dead, and ...
3) he is the ruler of the kings of the earth
a) let’s take a moment to look at these more carefully
2. Jesus Is the Faithful Witness
a. He Witnessed to the Name of God
1) revealing God the Father was the focus of his ministry
a) he revealed the nature of the Father through his own character
b) he revealed the words of the Father through his own speech
c) he revealed the works of the Father through his own deeds
d) he revealed the grace of the Father through his sacrificial death
e) he revealed the power of the Father through his resurrection
b. He Witnessed to the Nature of Sin
1) the Old Testament has an extensive vocabulary for sin — it employs some 15 words to describe it’s character and nature
2) yet the full horror and criminality of sin was not fully revealed until Jesus came
3) sin scourged his back and crowned him with thorns; sin hung him up on cruel nails; sin sneered at him through the jests of mankind; sin broke his body, and broke his heart
4) sin was revealed in all its naked, unmasked horror in the Passion of our Savior
c. He Witnessed to the Need for Righteousness
1) Mount Sinai’s commands demanded a perfect righteousness from sinners
2) Mount Sinai’s prescriptions could not be permanently met by the blood of goats and bulls
3) only in the shed blood of Christ can we find a righteousness imputed to sinners who come to him by faith
d. He Witnessed to the Nearness of Judgment
1) in the Scriptures, Jesus warns that a day of judgment is coming
“Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, ... And he has given him authority to judge ” (John 5:22, 27 NIV84)
2) never assume that because God has delayed His judgment that His wrath is not soon to be poured out
ILLUS. In his 2nd Epistle Peter reminds his readers that in the days of Noah, Noah’s neighbors scoffed at his proclamation that judgement was coming. They continued to live unrepentant lives, and scoffed ... until the rains came and the water covered the earth. John the Baptist prophesied that Messiah would “gather his wheat into his barn; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
3. Jesus Is the Firstborn from the Dead
a. John means that Jesus experienced death, and was the very first person to triumphantly rise from the dead
1) he has ascended into glory, where he sits at the right hand of the Father, ready at a moments notice to consummate the plans and purposes of the Father that are announced in this book
4. Jesus Is the Ruler of the Kings of the Earth
a. he was born in a barn, and died on a cross, but he is coming back in pomp and power, with banners flying, trumpets blaring, angels singing, and saints shouting
b. he will confront evil, and death and destroy them both
c. the kings of the earth who seek an alliance with the Beast will mourn their decision when confronted with the King of kings, and the Lord of lords
5. We Experience Grace and Peace Because God Is on His Throne

B. WE EXPERIENCE GRACE AND PEACE BECAUSE GOD HAS REDEEMED US

“ ... To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood.”
1. what can we say about Calvary’s love? — a love that cannot be quenched ... a love that will not let us go ... a love that endures forever?
a. here is the heart of the Gospel ... sinners are forgiven by God, set free from sin, death, and hell by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross
b. God made Him our substitute, killing Him for our sins, so that sin’s penalty was fully paid for us
c. the depth of his love for his Elect is revealed in the price he was willing to pay to free us — literally loose us — from our sins
ILLUS. In 1839 Charles Wesley penned the hymn titled O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing. The forth stanza declares ...
He breaks the power of canceled sin
And sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood availed for me.
“For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4 in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:3–4, NIV84)
2. by his redemption we have now become a kingdom of priests to serve his God and Father
a. grace and peace come with a purpose — God does not save us to sit, but to serve
3. Christ has accomplished all this so that to God the Father be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen

III. JOHN DESCRIBES THE CONSUMMATION OF THE AGE

“Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.” (Revelation 1:7, NIV84)
1. ages do not last
a. man moved out of the Stone Age when he leaned how to smelt first copper and then tin, mixing them together to make bronze
b. the Bronze age ended when some metallurgist discovered how to smelt iron, and then later to infuse carbon into it to make steel
c. the Iron age ended on July 16, 1945 when the first atomic bomb was detonated at Trinity, NM
2. just as these ages end, and new ones begin, so John writes to the Churches that a new age begins with the Second Coming of Christ
“Look, he is coming ... So shall it be! Amen.”
a. the word look here is actually behold and means more then to merely observe something with your eyes
1) this is the first of twenty-five uses of behold in Revelation — a book filled with startling truths that demand careful attention
b. it’s the idea that you need to pay really close attention, because what you’re witnessing is an earth-shattering event ... Divinity is riding on the clouds
ILLUS. Authors of suspense novels will spend an entire book building toward a climax. They spend chapter after chapter keeping the reader in suspense. Not so God. John is going to see vision after vision, but he begins this book where most authors would end — the coming of our Christ in power and glory.
c. John does not keep us guessing for 22 chapters
1) we don’t get a series of apocalyptic visions that scare us half-to-death followed by “Look, everything is going to be all right ... he is coming ... “
2) we get the assurance right up front, “Look, he is coming ... and with that glorious good news, let me flesh out for you what that involves.”
3. John sees it all ... the apostasy of the church, the breakdown of law and order, the crash of the establishment, the growing horror of war and woe, the dreadful bloodbaths of persecution, and the ascendancy of the most evil and powerful dictator the world has ever known
a. finally, and most terrifying of all, he describes the final judgment and the sentencing of all rebels, angelic and human, to eternal torment in hell
b. he sees how it’s all going to end, but he does not wait to tell us the conclusion to the matter
4. he tells the Church plainly at the beginning; the Lord who reigns over his universe is coming to establish his reign over his creation
a. he’s coming with the clouds
b. every eye will see him — even those who pierced him
c. and people will mourn because of him
5. Jesus came the first time as the Lamb of God forgiving sin, he’s coming back a second time as the Lion of Judah judging sin
a. his coming is when God’s plan for His Creation is finalized
b. the word consummation means to bring something to a conclusion
1) it is the point at which something is complete or finalized
c. God is going to succeed in the purpose for which He created the world
“For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” (Habakkuk 2:14, NIV84)
1) all injustice, everything that belittles God, ignores God, that tramples down the glory of God will be cast out into everlasting darkness
2) the only ones left will be those who magnify the glory of God
3) even Creation, that waits with eager longing for the redemption of the sons of God (Rom. 8:19), will be restored
d. the Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 1:6 that God’s ultimate purpose is to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ meaning that nothing will be done outside the will of God ... the Lord’s Prayer will be fulfilled: God’s will in Heaven will be perfectly done on earth

IV. JOHN DESCRIBES THE CONFIDENCE OF THE AGE

““I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”” (Revelation 1:8, NIV84)
1. our Lord’s triumph will be complete and everlasting
LLUS. On January 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler established what he called the Third Reich. The First Reich was considered to be the Holy Roman Empire. It lasted 844 years. The Second Reich the German Empire. It lasted 47 years. Hitler boasted that his Reich — which mean Realm or Kingdom — would last 1,000 years. It lasted for the grand total of 148 months.
2. Jesus will come to set up a kingdom that will last for a thousand years, and when that golden millennium has run its course, the kingdom will be dissolved
a. it will not decline or decay, it will not surrender to forces of superior arms
b. it will end because he wills it so, and because the time has come to set up an everlasting kingdom that will never end
3. the Christian’s confidence has always been that Jesus is the beginning and the end
a. this is John’s way of announcing the full deity of our Christ
1) the One who claims to be the Alpha and the Omega is the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.""
V. APPLICATION
ILLUS. Earlier this year Allan Evans of Colorado, who claims to be a descendent of a royal Welsh bloodline dating back to the 3rd century, vowed to return to Great Britain, and challenge Prince Charles as heir to the throne. He has given legal notice, that he is laying claim to numerous royal estates as well as the throne of Great Britain.
In March, Evans placed a lengthy ad in The Times newspaper of London, asserting his royal lineage. The advertisement reads in part, “ ... Allan V. Evans, shall claim any and all said Estate lands, assets, peerage titles, armorial bearings, Royal Titles, and the Royal Title and Crown of Wales; And shall further pursue an injustice of history by claiming by right the Throne and Sovereign Crown of Great Britain at Westminster, upon whence the sad future death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the II, as he will not, out of greatest and most deepest respect, depose her in life for the great service and selfless sacrifice that she and her husband His Royal Highness Prince Phillip has rendered to the great nation.”
I’m sure the House of Windsor is gratified to know that Mr. Evans is not planning an immanent coup d'etat against the English throne.
It’s that last paragraph of Evan’s add that I find interesting. The ad concludes: "Take heed and rejoice, all Welshmen, Scots, Manx, all Britons, and all citizens of the great nation called Great Britain, that the light of freedom and egalitarism shall be promoted and promulgated, that democracy and all democratic values will be promoted and that Lady Britannia who has contributed so much to the culture and history of the world shall be renewed and made great once again; For the legend was not a myth, but was indeed true, and more than a mere Tolkien story, that the men of the West are now returning, and now is the time of the return of the King."
I have a feeling that the citizens of Great Britain are not overly concerned about the return of “King Allan,” but there is a King who will some day soon not only dispose the occupant of the throne of Great Britain, but the throne, and seat of every King, every Prime minister, every Emperor, Prince, President, Shah, Chief Executive, Monsignor, or Chief. His name is the Alpha and Omega. Take heed and rejoice all you in Christ. The world shall be renewed, and made great once again. For the legend is not myth, now is the time of the return of the King!
Is he your Savior and Lord?
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