Take Heart [1-30-22]



We ended last week with a powerfully reassuring statement from verse five. "To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood." That's the point which must be pressed. No matter what we experience or go through in this broken, fallen world, the One who is in charge is the One who died on the cross to free us from sin and death. It is Jesus' death on the cross that frees us from the bondage and misery of sin. No matter what happens in this world, all is well because Jesus is our Savior.


Verse six is our concluding doxology. Let's say this together:

To Him Be Glory and Dominion Forever and Ever. Amen.


Because Jesus Christ is Lord, and because he has secured our eternity, we know that all will be well. What that means is we don't have to know everything or understand everything or figure everything out in order to be at peace with our lives and our place in the world. What do I know? What can I know? What am I capable of knowing? Is it okay to not know all the things I don't know? Is it okay to know there's tons of stuff I'm incapable of knowing or unable to know? Is it okay to be blithely unaware of much that is happening around me?


It seems like half the time I am Sergeant Schultz from Hogan's Heroes. If you don't know who he was or what the show was, Google it or YouTube it. I try not to assume everyone will get these kinds of references. There are both generational differences and experiential gaps. For example, a college student who works at Danley's had a new earring dangling from one of his ears. A 40-something coworker told him it reminded her of George Michael. He said, "Who?" He had to Google "George Michael" to get the reference. In so many things, my mantra can be, "I know nothing!" As I like to say, "I'm going to Sergeant Schultz that deal."


There are things I can never know. Only God knows all things, because all things were made and are sustained by Him. Who can know the mind of God? That's in the Bible.


Here's one of the places The Revelation to John wants to take us. God

knows life can be difficult and challenging and oppressive and painful and sorrowful and everything in between. God wants us to be in a place where we can say, rejoice in the Lord, always. In all things, God wants us to be loving and joyful and peaceful and patient and kind and good and faithful and gentle and self-controlled. That is the underlying aim of The Revelation to John...to get us to that place.


With that in mind, let me wedge this in right here.


In the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, researchers found that "anxiety or a lack of certainty about one's relationship with the divine represents a threat to psychological well-being." In other words, people who had a more secure or confident relationship with God had lower levels of stress in their lives.


That is exactly the assurance we get from The Revelation to John.


The specific assurance we get here is to Christians in the midst of upheaval and disruption in their world. Jesus is in charge. He often ordains and/or disposes things that displease him. It means he overrules, according to his time and purpose, the sinful acts of evil rulers. He makes their sin and their corruption a part of his wise plan for history. Jesus is in charge. He takes down governments and he raises up governments for his sovereign purposes. When you hear of wars or rumors of wars, listen with the ears of God's Word, and remember that Jesus Christ is the ruler of the kings of earth.


Let's make one last run at verses 5-6:

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 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.


Who is Jesus and why should we submit ourselves to his eternal authority?


First, because of his faithful witness. And what was that faithful witness? It was his death on the cross. All roads lead to the cross.


What did Jesus do on the cross? God's wrath for our sin was poured out upon Jesus on the cross. That is the redemptive work of Jesus Christ on the cross. That work is essential to understanding what will unfold in The Revelation to John. Jesus paid the price we didn't have to pay for our sin. As one man summed it up:

Jesus got treated by the Father as if He lived my {sinful} life even though he wasn't a sinner. So thru faith in Him I get treated as if I lived His {perfect} life.

- Kris@Kdubtru


Here's something we need to keep connected in our minds. The Empty Tomb of Easter does not make eternal life possible. The resurrection is vindication of Jesus' acceptable sacrifice on the cross for our forgiveness. It's like a verification code of Jesus' identity as Lord and Savior. In other words, through his faithful obedience that led to his death on the cross, thus receiving the full force of God's wrath upon himself for our sin, Jesus frees us from sin and death. We will live eternally with God because of the cross.


Here's a good comparison from the beginning of Jesus' public ministry. It's

from Matthew's gospel, chapter four, in a section titled, "The Temptation of Jesus." Verses 8-10 report:

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”

Jesus knew the redemptive work he was embarking on…death on the cross. What the devil offered Jesus to try to get him to turn from God, Jesus achieved through faithful obedience that led to death. Which is why Paul says, in Philippians 2:10-11:

So that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus is the supreme ruler.


This leads us to something you might want to remember. The One who

loves us and has freed us from our sins will be with us all the way through

death to victory. So even in times of tumult, turmoil, persecution, or

tragedy, all is well. Here's something you might want to write down:

JESUS CHRIST HAS FREED ME FROM SIN'S BONDAGE AND MISERY.


That is a huge affirmation. It will shade, shadow, color, and contour every experience and encounter in your life.


Finally, God wants us to know that whatever wickedness awaits us in the future, Jesus Christ will triumph. That's the point of the doxology in verse six - "To him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen." The amen literally means "so let it be." The reign of Christ over the kings on earth today means that he will triumph and bring all his saving purposes to victory.


1 Corinthians 15:25 says, "For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet." In Matthew 16:18 Jesus says, "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." This is such a wonderful image. In ancient times, a walled city was only as strong as its gates. And enemies would storm the gates to take the city. So here, Jesus says, the gates of hell…the fortress of sin and death…are no match for his crucifixion and resurrection. The gospel will break down those gates. Finally, Revelation 17:14 says,

"They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.” In other words, woven through the New Testament is the promise that the cause of Christ cannot be defeated. He will triumph over sin and death.


That is the air we breathe this beautiful winter day. Jesus is Lord over the kings of the earth. Everything that happens in history are steps toward his decisive victory. There is no other possible outcome because he is risen from the dead. Think about it. The ultimate weapon of despots and all other sorts of earthly kings is death. And because that weapon has lost its power, earthly kings will be defeated. It is only a matter of time. And that time has already been set by the sovereign wisdom of God.


That is a beautiful thing. And so verse six…to him be glory and dominion

forever and ever. Amen…verse six ends with a promise of grace and peace

for the people of God.


As we move on to verse seven next week, remember:

"JESUS IS THE RULER OF THE KINGS ON EARTH."











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