Agonizomai: Rev 1:4-6 - The Trinity in Cameo

Friday, March 27, 2009

Rev 1:4-6 - The Trinity in Cameo

Play in your default mp3 player

4-6 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Having told what the letter contained in the most general terms, the Apostle now begins to communicate the details of that message to the church. It is true that this is addressed specifically to the seven churches that are in Asia (which was a Roman province including present day Turkey) whose names we shall shortly be given, but these churches were not the only churches in Asia. It was the custom of all the churches to pass along teaching from city to city by copying and reading aloud the letters of the Apostles and others - so John knew that what he wrote would find an ear throughout Asia and, from there, into the Christian congregations throughout the Empire.

In other words, this is for all of us who profess to believe; each congregation, each person, has within them the weaknesses and propensities, as well as the potentialities that we shall find in Pergamum, Laodicea, Philadelphia and the others. We have a common Lord and Saviour precisely because we share a common fallenness as well as, hopefully, a common salvation.

Now, even though some of the churches addressed will be on the receiving end of some stern warnings it is worth noting that the message carries genuine invocations of blessings and peace from the Triune God. God is not like us. We, in our limited three dimensional natures and with our corrupted tendencies cannot manage to be both gracious and angry at one and the same time. We are told "be angry, but do not sin" as if that is something of which we are innately capable. We aren’t. Not apart from the grace of God Who alone is quite able to be angry without sin. And He can also be angry and gracious at the same time towards the same objects. His anger never morphs into malevolence. And His grace and mercy are over all His works.

God’s kindness in the face of rebellion or disobedience is meant to bring rebels and ingrates to repentance. God’s forbearance towards His church and His saints has the same objective. He corrects us because He loves us. He admonishes, rebukes, exhorts and corrects not because He desires to condemn, but in order that He will not have to. In fact, from the eternal perspective, He does so as the means by which His true children will be turned from their wicked and wayward ways back into the path. He hedges us in like a sheepdog worrying the dumb sheep of the scattering flock. He shuts us up to perseverance through the saving power of His Word. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation for those that believe - not just those that come to a moment of salvation, but those who, having entered through the narrow gate, must now walk in the narrow way by the same grace that justified them.

The greeting is from the God Who is triune in His nature. Eternal Father (was, is, is to come) and the seven spirits (or seven-fold Spirit, denoting the scope of the ministries of the Holy Spirit) and the God-man, Jesus Christ. Saviour of the world. Note that Jesus is THE faithful witness and not A faithful witness. He is the only One Who is faithful and He has once for all displayed this by becoming the firstborn from the dead. No mere man is faithful, nor can he be. But once he is joined to Christ then some small imprint of Christ’s divine faithfulness can be seen through the veil of corrupt flesh. O to be free from the vain idea of being faithful to God of ourselves, and to cling to the idea of abiding in the faithfulness of Christ, the truly faithful one!

And see, Christ is not only the first born from the dead, but also the firstborn of the dead. He precedes, yes - but He also is the inheritor of all the Father has purposed for the one who overcomes. This concept is important because it keeps removed from us the temptation to regard ourselves as overcomers even though we are exhorted to be, and will ultimately rewarded for being so. We are indeed overcomers (and thereby inheritors) but we are only so because of Him.

He is, in this book, going to be revealed as the "ruler of the kings of the earth". This obscure Mediterranean peasant who died ignominiously after a short, controversial life in Roman backwater called Israel. This rejected one - scorned by his own people, brutalized and crushed by the powers of the world - this apparently weak and foolish disappointment of a man (as far as the world is concerned) always was and now will be, revealed to be the ruler of the kings of the earth. Oops! The mea culpa will be audible.

He will be seen to be what He always claimed to be, but what the world did not believe Him to be. Not only King of kings, but Lord of lords. Once He came riding on the foal of an ass, and now He will come riding with the clouds of heaven. First the humiliation and only then, the glory. {Php 2:8-11} Such a way is unthinkable to fallen humanity. But God gives grace to those he is saving to see the power and wisdom of God in it.

See it is His love for "us" (his church) that came and actualized our freedom from the penalty and power of our sins. See how he did it through the shedding of his Own blood - blood without the shedding of which there could be no remission. Remember that the blood of bulls and goats had no power to do this. They were mere symbols to be engaged by faith in the One who would ultimately provide the real thing. But now the precious life of the Son of God was in the blood of Jesus the Christ, and it was shed for us. The blood of a thing is the life thereof. {Le 17:11}

What a doxology here! See what Christ has wrought. It’s about him and not about us. He loved us, He freed us from bondage to sin, He made us his dwelling place, His temple, His servants and reconciled us to the Father. No wonder, then, that all glory and dominion is due Him forever. Was it not due before all of this? Yes! But it is doubly due and it is seen and agreed to be doubly due on account of what He has done. In this opening, then, the Apostle leaves no doubt as the deity, Lordship and worthiness of Christ, the God Who saves us.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home