Communion, Review: Nutshell Christology
Since this is the second Sunday of the month, this is the time which we celebrate communion. You know, one of the ideas behind worship is the idea of celebration. That’s what we had on Friday night. Friday night was different from Bible class. It was an installation service. It was a celebration of something; and that is what worship is. It’s to celebrate what God has done for us. The Lord’s Table is indeed a celebration of the Person and the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is what is spoken of in the two elements of the communion meal. Now you know that the elements of the communion meal did not originate at the Last Supper when our Lord met with His disciples and instituted the Lord’s Table. It actually has its roots in the original Passover feast that Israel celebrated in approximately 1446 B.C. when God delivered them from slavery in Egypt. In that meal were incorporated the unleavened bread and the cup of wine; the unleavened bread was taken by the Lord at the Last Supper and it was invested with new meaning.
The fact that it was unleavened has symbolic significance. Leaven in the Old Testament (OT) represented sin. At the beginning of Passover you also have a seven-day feast of unleavened bread. The day before Passover begins the parents go through the house and sweep out and remove all of the leaven and they make a ritual show of it in a modern orthodox Jewish home. It is a sign of purification, removing sin. It is also symbolic of what we do at the beginning of every Bible class, and that is to confess our sins. It is just as they were sanctifying the home, we are sanctifying our souls. We are recognizing the need to be cleansed from sin. They would remove leaven from the house and then they would have the Passover meal. Leaven cannot be present in the bread because the symbolism of the bread is that it represents the humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ. It represents His body, who He is. That is a different symbolism than the cup.
The cup represents what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross. Therefore, the cup was originally a cup of wine. Some discussion has come up in some circles that asks, well, wasn’t it grape juice? No, it was wine. Have you ever tried to keep grape juice to not ferment in a hot Mediterranean climate? It doesn’t happen. The Jews never understood that fermentation was leavening; otherwise, they would have never have had wine and to this day they would not have wine in the home once they’ve removed the leaven. It was the legalistic Baptist who came along in the 19th century who decided based upon the American temperance movement that we shouldn’t have alcohol in church. So they changed it to grape juice and a Baptist pastor by the name of Welch developed a process to keep grape juice from fermenting. He started a whole business that way. Legalism pays (laughter).
But the Lord’s Table is our opportunity to stop on a periodic basis and reflect on who Jesus Christ is and what He has done for us. It is that opportunity when we all recognize that there’s nothing special in anyone of us. That despite whatever talents, abilities, whatever position in life, whatever status, whatever economic standing a person may have, we are all in the same boat when it comes to salvation. We’re all sinners condemned before the bar of God’s justice. We must all come into the presence of God on the basis of the completed work of Jesus Christ on the cross. It’s real easy for us, if you haven’t noticed, to slip into arrogance on an occasion or two. We tend to forget that we are all sinners saved by grace and we all have a sin nature and we all still fail. The Lord’s Table is a great opportunity for us to stop and reflect on that. It sort of brings us back to ground zero once a month to recognize that we are who we are solely because of whom God is and what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross.
In the early church the Corinthians would come together and the tradition in the early church was that the church has a meal surrounding the Lord’s Table just as the Passover meal out of Jewish tradition was part of the ritual; and then they would conclude with the bread and the cup, an indication that it was alcoholic was that they got drunk. They wouldn’t drink just a tiny little cup like we do. They had goblets and they would come and have a big covered dish dinner and bring all the kosher food and everybody would sit around and they would eat until they were full. They just gorged themselves and then they would get drunk. As a result of that, there was divine discipline on that Corinthian congregation; and in the Lord’s Table God punished them because they were treating it lightly. There were many Paul said, who were sick and weak spiritually, and some had died the sin unto death.
There is a warning that Paul gives that we are to examine ourselves to make sure that we are right; that we have the right attitude when it comes to the Lord’s Table; that we have indeed cleansed our souls from sin through the use of 1 John 1:9, which says, “If we confess our sins,” which means to admit or acknowledge our sins to God the Father, then “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” We always begin with a few moments of silent prayer, and then we pass out the elements. The Lord’s Table is for anyone who is a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not to be restricted by church membership or any other human factor. All that is required, all that is necessary for you to participate is that you have put your faith alone in Christ alone and are a member of the universal body of Christ.
Since this is our first time to have communion together we’re still working out some of the details in how we carry out the procedure. What we will do is we will have a few moments of silent prayer and then I will return thanks. Let’s bow our heads together and pray. Father, we do thank You for this opportunity to gather together to reflect upon the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ. The bread that we are about to partake of represents His Person. That He is He of whom the Scripture says was without sin. He is sinless and the Scripture tells us that He who knew no sin was made sin for us. As we partake of the bread, Father, we pray that we might be mindful of the fact that it was necessary for You to send Your Son, the eternal Second Person of the Trinity, Your Son whom You love, Your only Son, to come and enter into the human race so that He could be rejected, suffer, and die on the cross for our sins, where He paid the sin penalty that we might enjoy the benefits of that freely given to us by faith in Him alone. We ask Your blessing on the bread in Christ’s Name. Amen. It is our custom to retain the bread until all have been served.
Our Lord then took the bread and having broken it He passed it out to the disciples and He said, “This is My body which is given as a substitute for you. Take and eat.”
The symbolism of the cup is designed to represent the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. The point of analogy in the wine is the death of Christ on the cross. It is a picture of blood. It is red. It is not white wine. It’s red wine. It’s a picture of the shed blood on the cross. But the shed blood on the cross is actually an idiom representing His death. It is a picture of His atoning work, His spiritual substitutionary death on the cross. As we partake of the cup we are to be mindful of that spiritual sacrifice; that time between 12 noon and 3 p.m. when the sins of every single human being were poured out upon Him on the cross; when He suffered in agony that went far beyond that of the physical torture that He had endured leading up to the cross. I think this is one of the reasons why the Scriptures emphasize that He was silent like a sheep being led before its shearers. He only screamed out once He began to endure the pain of bearing our sins. It was so much more horrible than anything we could ever imagine. Let us bow our heads together and give thanks for the cup.
Our Father, we do thank you for what this cup represents in the work of our Lord Jesus Christ, when He hung there on that cross on Golgotha and You and Your righteousness imputed to Him all of the sins of the human race, so that salvation was completely paid for, sins were completely paid for, so that the issue would no longer be our sins; the issue would be Jesus Christ. The Scripture says that the issue is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. Father, we pray that we’d be mindful of its significance as we partake of the cup. We pray this in Christ’s Name. Amen. It is our custom to retain the cup until all have been served. Our Lord then took the cup. It was the third cup in the ritual of the Passover meal known as the cup of redemption. And He took the cup and He said, “This is the new covenant of My blood which is given for you. As often as you drink this do so in remembrance of Me.” Let’s stand together and we’ll sing hymn 258, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.”
The ministry of giving is part of every believer’s spiritual life. In many ways it may be a barometer of our own spiritual growth. It certainly is a barometer of our gratitude toward God for gracious giving is a response of gratitude of what God has done graciously in our own lives. Scripture says that we are to give not grudgingly nor of necessity, for God loves a cheerful; that is a grace oriented believer. At this time we will take up a collection. It is the responsibility of every believer-priest to support the local church where he is being fed as well as to support foreign missions. Let us pray. Father, we do thank You for these gifts and the giver, for the spiritual growth that lies in the motivation behind the gifts. We ask Your blessing on this in Christ’s Name. Amen.
Before we begin our study this evening we need to ask the Lord’s guidance on our study. Let’s bow our heads together and pray. Father, we do thank You for this opportunity to gather together this evening to study Your Word. We thank You for Your Word, for it’s perspicacity, for it’s power, for the prophecy that You have put into Your Word to give us an understanding of Your plans and purposes in history. Now Father, as we study the Revelation this evening, we pray that the Holy Spirit would challenge us with the things we study and would make these things profitable for our own spiritual advance. We pray this in Christ’s Name. Amen.
Last night we began a review that will go on for three or four Sundays just to make sure we’re all up to date in our understanding of Revelation. As a part of that I am going to be adding some new things as I’ve gone through this once. I am going back, picking up some threads here and there and tying them together. You can expect that not only are we teaching Revelation, which has so much in it about the angelic conflict, but as I warned you when I came, the angelic conflict would intensify. Last night all the sound went down. There’s no recording from last night whatsoever. The DVD worked great, but it is a silent movie (laughter). So we will hope that tonight things will go better. We will have sound, but no visual. We have to pray that the demons in the machinery will somehow get removed. When I went to Preston City it took several months before all of that finally got worked out.
One other little thing, those of you who did not go to the Dead Sea Scrolls with us today out of fellowship; we got there this morning and most of the group was there. We had an entry time of 11 a.m. and there was a very large group of obviously Jewish individuals who were ready to come in right behind us. You could tell because all the men had on their yamakas. As we went in we got our little headsets and our microphones and we are listening, and after we’ve been in about five minutes, going from one little display to the next, suddenly the loud voice of their guide began to become apparent. We stopped and we began to listen to him and during the break I asked him a little bit about who he was, and in fact, I think I brought his card with me tonight. He is Lawrence Schiffman. He has written a book on the Dead Sea Scrolls. He is the Judge Abraham Lieberman Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies in the Skirball Department of Hebrew in Judaic Studies at NYU (New York University) in New York. He knew Randy Price and had his book as well. We just kind of slipped in and joined their group and we had an excellent lecture on the introduction to the Dead Sea Scrolls by a man who has translated some of them and published some of his translations. Next time you won’t stay at home (laughter).
We are in our study of Revelation. Let’s see where we’re going here. We have to understand the overall framework of Revelation, and so this is given in our main verse, our main text in Revelation 1:19. Revelation 1:19 gives us the overall structure of Revelation.
We went over this last night. We’ll go over it a couple of hundred more times just to make sure you don’t forget it. “Write therefore the things which you have seen” When this is said the events of chapter one are almost over with. That refers to chapter one, “the things which are,” that is those things that are taking place present time, the Church Age. This refers to Revelation 2–3, “the things which shall take place after these things.” That is the future from Revelation 4 on. Revelation 1 focuses on the glorified Christ who returns in a vision for the Apostle John. He is going to commission him to write these things. It is a vision of Jesus not as our Priest-Intercessor, but as the risen Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Priest-Judge moving in the midst of the churches. That is why He is walking in the midst of those seven golden lampstands.
Revelation 2–3 is the outworking of His judicial ministry to the church in the Church Age. These seven churches represent the trends in the Church Age. At the end of Revelation 3 the church is raptured. This is indicated by Revelation 4:1 when John hears a voice from heaven that says “come up here and I will show you the things that will take place after these things.” Not the things that already took place at the destruction of Jerusalem. See there are some folks that want to come along and say all of this is just code language for A.D. 70. It is called preterism. We’ll get there if you haven’t studied it with me already. Revelation 4–22 are yet future in the post-Rapture period. Revelation 4–19 describes the horrific judgments of the Tribulation period, as God purifies the human race and prepares the human race for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ as the King of kings and Lord of lords in Revelation 19.
Revelation 20 describes His kingdom known as the Millennial Kingdom, the 1,000 year rule and reign of Christ, when Jesus Christ reigns literally from the throne of David in Jerusalem; at the end of which there is the great white throne judgment and then the present heavens and earth are destroyed and we have a new heavens and new earth. The eternal state is described in Revelation 21–22. All you need to remember is those three things: the things which have been; the things which are; and the things which will take place after these things. If you’ve said that, you’ve given the structure of Revelation. You can easily summarize Revelation. You just have to say, “We win; they lose.” You’ve got the whole book. See, then everything else is just filling in the gaps.
We’re in Revelation 1 which is the things that have been; the things that were, as in Revelation 1:19. If we’re to outline Revelation 1:
- Prologue: Revelation 1:1–8 divided into four sections.
- Preface: Revelation 1:1–3, which gives us a brief introduction that this is the revelation from Jesus Christ that God gave Him to disclose to the saints. That’s the meaning of Revelation, the Greek word APOKALYPSIS, meaning an unveiling or disclosure.
- Salutation: Revelation 1:4–6, when John once again identifies himself as the author.
- Theme: Revelation 1:7, Authentication, Revelation 1:8
We had communion this evening, so we are running a little long, but we have some special events afterwards, so I don’t know how far we will get in this review, but you may have to strap on your seatbelts. You are in for a fast ride; but I am assuming that many of you have gone through this and this is review. If you haven’t you can order the DVDs or download the messages from www.deanbibleministries.org. The new Dean Bible Ministries website is up and operational.
Revelation 1:1, “The revelation from Jesus Christ” the corrected translation “which God gave Him to show” or to disclose to “His servants – things which must” take place in a rapid manner, literally. He communicated it by sending His angel. You always have this dynamic of angelic involvement. I will almost belabor this point to boredom. Angels are used again and again and again as mediators in carrying out both revelation and divine judgment in the book of Revelation. You can’t get away from that. He communicated it by sending His angel to His servant John. John then states his task that he bore witness, a legal term indicating that we must understand this within the overall scope of what we refer to as the appeal trial of Satan and the angelic conflict. Now that’s a new title; if that is a new term for you, in about another week or two I will start doing an extensive review of the appeal trial of Satan to set us up for what is happening in the angelic realm in Revelation.
Revelation 1:2, he “bore witness to the Word of God”; that is the revelation from God, “and to the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Once again you have this technical legal term. Bearing witness and giving testimony is the act of giving a deposition in a courtroom case. He goes on to say, “to all things that he saw.” He is a faithful communicator of this revelation. Revelation 1:3 gives us a blessing. “Blessed is he who reads,” ANAGINOSKON. ANAGINOSKON doesn’t mean to simply mean to sit down to read in your morning devotions. It means to explain, actually to read out loud, but in our context that means to explain it, to exegete it. Then we come to the salutation itself, Revelation 1:4–6, “John, to the seven churches that are in Asia.” This is not East Asia that is China, India, Burma, Viet Nam; this is the Roman Proconsulate Province of Asia, located on the western part of Turkey. Here’s a map.
We’ll see some more pictures of some of these sites as we get to them in Revelation 2–3.
Last summer we had the privilege to go to Ephesus, which is the first of these sites, and Ephesus looks a lot like the Hill Country, only hotter. In early July it was 117 degrees and very dry. This is the location. These seven churches represent the churches in the Church Age. John says, “to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace.” This is your standard Greek greeting in Christian letters, in Christian epistles. It is the indication that grace comes only from God and grace precedes peace. Grace is God’s unmerited favor. It is His unearned kindness toward man. We don’t earn or deserve anything. Salvation is not based on who we are or what we do; it is based on who God is and what Jesus Christ did on the cross. We must always respond to God’s grace before we can have peace.
What Paul and the other writers of Scripture did was to take these two common greetings, the common greeting of the Greek was KARANNE, “Hello”; that’s how you said “Hello”; and for the common greeting of the Jewish “shalom.” The writers of Scripture under the inspiration of God combined these so that they had a meaning that was greater than the sum of the parts. You can only have true peace because you have responded to the grace of God in accepting the free offer of salvation. Then we have the source, the origin of this revelation. It is given in a trinitarian formula. The First Person of the Trinity, God the Father, is described as Him who is, who was, and who is to come. The Holy Spirit is identified as the seven spirits before His throne. This is a phrase taken from Zechariah indicating the full orb ministry of God the Holy Spirit.
Then we come to Revelation 1:5, which identifies the Third Person and we have three verses that focus on the ministry of Jesus Christ. Where’s the emphasis? When I teach Bible Study Methods I always tell students that you have to look at repetition and you have to look at emphasis; when the Holy Spirit elaborates on a point for two or three verses, that’s your emphasis. When you find a statement or a phrase repeated even twice, pay a lot of attention to that because the Holy Spirit is very economic in the way He uses His words and He doesn’t repeat Himself very often. In fact, there is one verse in Proverbs that’s repeated twice, “There is a way that seems right to man but the end thereof is death” (Proverbs 14:12; Proverbs 16:25). Now why do you suppose that would be repeated verbatim two times in Proverbs?
We are told (Revelation 1:5–6) that this is “from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness.” Then you have two triplets. John is fond of triplets; that is the threefold phrases in his writing of Revelation. First we have Jesus Christ identified as the “faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth.” Then there’s a dedication “To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins” by means of “His own blood; and made us a kingdom of priests to our God. To Him be the glory and dominion forever. Amen.” Look at the structure here. When it comes to Jesus, we are told that this is “from”, APO plus the genitive indicating ultimate source. This is “from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth.”
I’ve structured this on the slide so that you would see that these three titles are seen as equal:
1. He is the faithful witness. This describes His ministry during the First Advent. He was a witness in the appeal trial of Satan. His life is a witness to the integrity of God and He is faithful.
2. He is said to be the firstborn from the dead. This refers to His resurrection after the accomplishment of salvation. Therefore, it stands for the entire work of salvation accomplished on the Cross. He is the firstborn from the dead because He has conquered sin and death by means of His work on the Cross.
3. He is the ruler over the kings of the earth. This is a proleptic use. That word means it is looking to the future. You can learn a few vocabulary words here.
He is not actually the ruler over the kings of the earth right now because He is seated at the right hand of God the Father in heaven. But He will activate that title. It is His potentially, but not actually. He will not activate that title until the return at the end of the Second Coming when He returns and you see that title emblazoned on Him, “the King of kings and Lord of lords,” at which time He conquers the kingdoms of the world and defeats Satan, the Antichrist, and the false prophet, and establishes the Messianic Kingdom.
Then there is a dedication: “To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood and made us a kingdom of priests to His God.” Now one thing I want to point out here is the structure in the Greek in these two verses (Revelation 1:5–6), which indicates three different ways of talking about Jesus. Some people get confused because in Revelation 1:4 it says that this is from the One who is and was and is to come. They scratch their heads and say, well, this book ends with the coming of Jesus, so that must be who this refers to. How can this phrase “Who is to come” be a reference to God the Father? Last night I went through several verses in Revelation 4, Revelation 11, and Revelation 21. You have these references where you have God and the Lamb. You have the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb. You have two personages and yet the One who’s sitting on the throne is the One who is called the One who was and who is and who is to come four different times in the book of Revelation. So that must say something about the Father coming.
This is indicated in Revelation 21:3ff that He, God, will tabernacle or dwell among us and establish His temple among us in the new heavens and the new earth and we will see His face in Revelation 22. No one has seen God the Father at any time. It is the only begotten, the unique Son of God that has explained Him. So in the book of Revelation the Father is also coming. He is the One who is to come. This is indicated with the Greek structure. You have the introduction, “Grace and peace,” the salutation, “from”. This is the Greek word APO. It’s used three times with each individual. That indicates that there are three distinct individuals. If they were three different titles of the same person, the preposition would only be used one time. They’re linked by the conjunction KAI. So you have God the Father as He who is and was and who is to come. You have the Spirit, who is identified under the title “the seven spirits” who were before His throne, that is God the Father’s throne; and third, Jesus Christ identified as the “faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth.”
This is a salutation. It adds a heavy note of seriousness and somberness to this introduction. This book that bears a blessing in Revelation 1 and warns of a curse for mishandling it in Revelation 22 is serious! I heard one pastor one time say, well, I’ll never preach through Revelation because people just want to hear it because they want to have their emotions stimulated and their curiosity satisfied about future things. Well that just showed that that pastor had a very shallow understanding of the book of Revelation. That may be true that that is why a lot of people come out; because they want to find out what’s going to happen next. But this book is a rich study in a lot of different doctrines, not the least of which is going to be a study of worship. Because when we get to Revelation 4-5 and other chapters later on, we see a picture of the angels in heaven, the church and OT saints worshiping before the throne of God. We will begin to develop from the text a sound concept of what biblical worship is all about; as well as understanding the theology of singing because that is indeed what takes place before the throne as they sing praises to God.
Jesus Christ is referred to as the faithful witness, HO MARTUS HO PISTOS. He is not simply the witness, but He is the faithful witness. Only God is faithful. This is a clear reference to His deity. Jesus Christ or the deity of Jesus Christ was not something that the Emperor of Constantine cooked up in A.D. 325 at the Council of Nicea to unite the Roman Empire and provide a power base for him. This is the popular theory that is being promoted in the Da Vinci Code. I will mention that again and again until you are probably sick of it, but this is going to be a hot issue next year. You have Ron Howard’s production team that is going to produce that movie and Tom Hanks is going to play the main character. This is going to be a major blockbuster movie, extremely popular, and the whole theme of the movie and the whole idea of the book is to destroy Christian’s confidence in the canonicity of Scripture and the deity of Christ and in anything that He did.
This book in hardback form has been out for a year and a half, sold over six million copies. I can’t remember a hardback book that has sold like that. It is a book that is a sign of the times, folks, and I don’t mean that eschatologically. It signifies what is happening in our generation. It resonates with people because people today don’t want there to be a God to exist or a God who has entered into or has interfered with human history. This gives them a rational for justifying their negative volition, their rejection of God. But it’s also going to provide a tremendous opportunity for us to talk about Jesus. But in order to talk about Jesus to anybody who has read this, you have to talk intelligently about Jesus. You have to know what these issues are. That is why you need to go back, if you haven’t, you need to listen to that series I did on Who is Jesus last year and listen to those tapes on the Da Vinci Code and there are two or three books written by Christians now.
You need to study those so you can be a well-prepared witness in your evangelism. It is not just enough to slap somebody upside the head with the gospel and say, well just believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you’ll be saved; because what they are hearing is that there is no reason to (believe). They’re going to say give me a reason for this hope or confidence that is in you. 1 Peter 3:15 says that we are to always be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in us. We have to become more sophisticated. I think Christians today have a much more difficult time than believers 30, 40, or 50 years ago. Not that the issues have really changed, but I think that with the advent of television news, satellite, the mass production of books and information, all the material that is available on the Internet, that this is a time that the unbeliever is much more sophisticated than any other time in history. He’s heard more of the challenges to Christianity.
Frankly, believers are a lot more sophisticated than they were 30 or 40 years ago. They have access to more information. Consequently, they have greater questions. We need to recognize that this “our Lord”, the deity of Christ, is something that goes back to the OT, identifying Him as the “faithful witness” recalls the OT passage of Lamentations 3:21–23, talking about God and His mercies. “The LORD’S (compassions or) lovingkindness indeed never cease, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning, Great is Thy faithfulness.” In 1 Corinthians 1:9 we are told “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” And then, Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering for He who promised is faithful.” It is God who is faithful, not man, in the Scriptures. Finally, Revelation 19:11, when Jesus returns on a white horse “He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.” Faithfulness is an indication of His deity.
Next, He is called “the firstborn from the dead.” This is a title of Christ in reference to His resurrection. Passages such as Colossians 1:18 utilize this term. He is “the firstfruit” according to 1 Corinthians 15. Acts 26:23 says “that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.” Also, Romans 1:4. I’m just going to skip through these without reading them all. You can check some of these a little later. He is called the ruler of the kings of the earth. This is a title that He will not activate until the Second Coming. Right now Satan is still the prince of the power of the air and the god of this age. But this title “Ruler of the kings of the earth” goes back to the OT. See, you can’t understand the New Testament (NT) unless you understand the OT. The early Christians in Acts didn’t just pop up and say, wow, isn’t this great! When Peter preached to them he preached out of the OT. When Paul wrote those famous lines to Timothy and said that “all Scripture is breathed out by God”, he’s not talking about Acts and Romans. He’s talking about Genesis to Malachi. Look at the context.
We have to know the OT. You have to know the difference between Malachi and Nahum. You have to know where Habakkuk is and the Song of Solomon. You have to know the key players and the difference between Mephibosheth and Mahershalalhashbaz. It’s a sign of the poverty of the modern evangelical church that most of those names and books that I just mentioned kind of fly past you and you don’t know them. Maybe we ought to start singing those songs the kids sing with the books of the Bible just so all the adults will know all the OT books and all the NT books. I talked about prep school last night and one of the things I want to see in prep school is “Sword Drill”. It is a game. It’s fun, but it teaches everybody where the books of the Bible are. If you are going to make the Bible useable then you should know how to get around in the Bible.
Psalm 89 talks about not only Jesus as firstborn; it is prophetic, but He is “the highest of the kings of the earth.” Then Revelation 1:5 describes Jesus as the one who loved us, New King James and King James, but in the New American Standard and New International Version it has “loves us and washed us from our sins.” Then we have an instrumental dative, by means of “His own blood.” This is the means of our salvation. Now last night I pointed out that there are some textual problems now and then in Revelation. We’re sure what the text says, but there are different words in different manuscripts. Some say “to Him who loves us” and those few manuscripts that were used as a basis for translating the King James had a past tense of AGAPEO there; and so it was translated “loved us.” But actually it should be “loves us.” It is emphasizing the ongoing love of the Lord Jesus Christ for us.
The love of God demonstrated on the cross when He sent His Son to die for you, He is demonstrating to you day in and day out in your spiritual life. He will never leave us or forsake us. He is always faithful even when we are faithless. You can always depend upon Him even when we are undependable. That is because He is the one who loves us. Because of His love for us it began with His work on the cross. This is the classic demonstration of what love is. There again we have another textual problem in the Greek. The copier either added a letter or took out a letter, so I wrote this up on the overhead so you could see the difference:
lu,santi, lusanti OR
lu,w luō OR
to release OR to wash
Some manuscripts have the top word, which is LUSANTI; other manuscripts have LOUSANTI, pronounced the same way. But one means “to wash” and one means “to release.” So which is it? Both fit context, so you have to compare manuscripts. The first word comes from LUO meaning to release; and we are certainly free and released from our sins, that’s true. The second is LOUO, which means “to wash”; and that is the imagery that is used many times in Scripture; that we are washed, cleansed of our sins by means of His blood. I believe that the better reading here is “to wash.” We are washed from our sins, removed from them by means of His blood. That is the spiritual substitutionary death of Christ on the cross.
That term “blood” is a word that really challenges a lot of people. They think that it refers to the literal blood of Jesus. Many of you know that there was a medieval heresy that the angels scooped up all of the literal shed blood of Jesus, carried it to heaven, and poured it out on a heavenly altar. That completely misses the whole emphasis of this metaphor and I have a quote here that I thought some would like to hear just to show that my interpretation isn’t just made up out of old cloth. This is from a book by E. W. Bullinger called Figures of Speech in the New Testament. It is about three to four inches thick. I remember in Hebrew class in seminary, on the exegesis of Psalms; poetic literature is filled with figures of speech, that I just about broke the spine of that book because you were in it every single day for hours.
Bullinger says of this figure, “In the New Testament, the expression “the blood of Christ” is the figure metalepsis.” Most of you have no clue what that is because all you were ever taught in school was that there were similes and metaphors. See how horrible your secular modern education is. If all you had were similes and metaphors where did he get the other 900 pages in that book? It is the figure metalepsis “because first the ‘blood’ is put by (synecdoche).” See a metalepsis is two different figures of speech joined together; one is synecdoche. It is put (by synecdoche) “for blood-shedding: i.e., the death of Christ, as distinct from His life; and then His death is put for the perfect satisfaction made by it, for all the merits of the atonement effected by it: i.e., it means not merely the actual blood corpuscles.” I would disagree with the “not merely”. “Neither does it mean His death as an act, but the merits of the atonement effected by it and associated with it.”
It stands for something. It is a physical representative of a spiritual reality because the penalty for sin was spiritual death. Physical death is a consequence. Suffering is a consequence. Sickness is a consequence. Thorns and thistles are a consequence. These are all the consequences of sin listed in Genesis 3. Shedding of blood is clearly a metaphor in Scripture for violent death. This is seen in Genesis 9:6, the basis for capital punishment. “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man.” See, this is an emphasis. It’s an emphasis on the violent nature of the blood. It doesn’t mean that the person had to die by shedding blood. What if you poison them? What if you strangle them? Wouldn’t that still be murder? Sure it would. But it is captured in that figure of speech “the shedding of blood.”
Revelation 1:6, He “has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever, Amen.” Jesus Christ made us kings. This is what we will do. We will rule and reign with Him. This focuses on our future ministry. This is why we need to live today in light of eternity. Revelation 5:10 says, “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God, and they will reign upon the earth.” But not only that, Revelation 20:6, “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection.” That’s us; literally an inheritance in the first resurrection. “Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God.” Now that is a challenging idea that I am wrestling with. Not only is there going to be a resurrection of the Zadokite priesthood in the function of the millennial temple during the Millennium, but there is also going to be a function of Church Age believers that is a priestly function in the Millennial Kingdom.
Remember, a prophet is someone who takes God’s Word and communicates it to man. A priest’s function is a go-between between man and God. How are we, as Church Age believers in resurrection bodies functioning as priests in the millennial kingdom? I don’t know. This is the only reference to it; and as you can tell, descriptions about it are rather lacking. We’ll have to do a lot of thinking and studying before we get to that particular point. Then in Revelation 1:6 John ends with the statement “to Him,” that is Jesus Christ, “be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” That word “dominion” is an interesting word, KRATOS, and it is used again in Revelation 2:1 of the power and authority of Jesus over the angels of the churches. We are told in Revelation 2:1 that He holds the seven angels in His hand. It is the verb KRATEO. Interesting how these words link together. It is just like a daisy chain. You’ve got to know the original languages so you can tie these things together, string them together, because that is what the Holy Spirit wants us to notice.
The last verse, Revelation 1:7, “Behold, He is coming with the clouds.” This is not a reference to the Rapture when Jesus comes “in the clouds.” This is a reference to the Second Coming when He comes with literally “the clouds.” There’s an article in the Greek. And every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. “Coming with the clouds” indicates the coming of judgment. Joel 2, Zechariah, other passages indicate that when Jesus comes at the Second Coming in judgment He will be enveloped in clouds and there will be clouds of doom on the earth. The phrase “every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him” comes out of Zechariah and is a reference that “even they who pierced Him” is of the Jews. “Every eye will see Him” references all of humanity. “Even” is a sub-group of that whole. “Even they who pierced Him” indicates that the Jews will finally recognize that Jesus is the Messiah when He returns. “Then all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.” We will finish there this evening. Next Sunday we’ll come back and look at the statement of authority in Revelation 1:8 related to the Father. There are too many details in that to take the time with tonight, so I want to wait and cover that next time as we set up for giving the commission to John to write on the Isle of Patmos in Revelation 1:9.
With our heads bowed and our eyes closed, Father, we do thank You for this opportunity to study Your Word this evening, to recognize the seriousness of the nature of this revelation. There is a warning to us that the time is near, a recognition that even though we are believers and we are saved and have an eternal destiny, there is still a time of accountability for us. And this revelation is designed to bring us up short, to capture our attention, to make us realize that we must be serious about our own spiritual life because we are being prepared to rule and reign with the Lord Jesus Christ. At this time we pray that if there is anyone here this evening that is unsure of their salvation or uncertain of their eternal destiny that they would take this opportunity to make that sure and certain. Scripture says, “Believe on the Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” It is not a matter of changing your life, bargaining with God, somehow entering into some ritual that impresses God with your piety. It is a matter of appropriating the perfect righteousness of Christ. This is only done by trusting in Him alone. This is your opportunity to determine that eternal destiny by trusting in Him for your salvation. Father, we pray that You would challenge us with the things that we’ve studied this evening. We pray this in Christ’s Name. Amen.