Scripture
Revelation 1:4b–8
Date
November 25, 2018
Speaker
Pastor Georgeson

End Time 4, Year B (Christ The King)

November 25, 2018

Pastor Seth Georgson

Revelation 1:4b–8

 

Grace to you and peace from him who is, who was, and who is coming, and from the seven spirits that are before his throne, 5and from Jesus Christ, 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 own blood 6and made us a kingdom and priests to God his Father—to him be the glory and the power forever. Amen.
 

7Look, he is coming with clouds,

and every eye will see him,

including those who pierced him.

And all the nations of the earth will mourn because of him.

Yes. Amen.
 

8“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “the one who is, and who was, and who is coming, the Almighty.”

Christ Eternal Reigns

Finally,” the article stated, “evolution is winning out over creationism.” New studies show that only 40% of American adults believe human beings were created as human beings. This is especially strong with younger adults where 73% believe in some sort of evolution and 51% believe in a purely secular evolution, rather than some sort of evolution guided by God. It's “fortunate,” the article said, that America is getting less religious, and the author was glad that the majority of creationists are old people because, she stated bluntly, “old people die.” Of course, she says, the fight isn't over. We need to work hard to nurture and defend the teaching of evolution, in the same way that we won the right for same-sex marriage.

That was an article a few years ago on a website that's pretty well-known for it's liberal, inflammatory opinion pieces. There are a lot of news outlets and magazines and websites like that. They make their money by starting arguments. This particular article was certainly achieving the goal of being controversial as it insulted people based on religion and age, and tying in politics as well.

As Christians, that kind of news and the statistics presented are discouraging. The article confidently asserts that religion is dying, that younger people take the anti-religious teachings of science as a given, and that we'll all be better off when evolution has won and God is gone.

Evolution is winning, so we're told.

Is it really, though? When we look at the world around us it's easy to think at times that religion, especially Christianity, really is dying off. We come at it from the perspective of the last couple generations or the last few hundred years. It's true: a hundred years ago a lot more people were involved in organized religion. But when you really study history, the world hasn't changed all that much. In the days of the early Christian church, they would have been happy if all they had to worry about were nasty news articles about how foolish Christianity was. There was some stuff like that. Archaeologists have found Roman graffiti insulting Christians. But it got much more violent than that. Instead of waiting for the Christians to get old and die off, they were being helped along. Some people claimed that Christianity posed a threat to the Roman empire, and there was a common policy. If anyone was accused of being a Christian, he would be examined. He would have the opportunity to burn incense in worship to the emperor and the gods of Rome. No real Christian, they said, would do that. And if a person refused to make the sacrifices, he would be treated like a dangerous rebel. Christians were fed to lions, they were burned, they were beheaded, and they met all sorts of other horrible and gruesome deaths.

You have to say that by comparison the attacks of the opponents of Christianity in our country today aren't nearly as vicious. Compared to lions and beheadings a nasty article seems like pretty wimpy bullying. “I hope you get old and die!” Really? Is that all you've got?

When the apostle John wrote the book of Revelation, he knew the kinds of things Christians were going through. At that time he was probably the last of the apostles, after all the others had been put to death. He himself was living on an island in exile. The persecution of Christians had been going on for years and was only getting worse over time. Christians didn't have beautiful churches to meet in. Instead, they met in secret; in people's homes, under cover of darkness, in graveyards and catacombs.

When you think about it, Christians are a pretty tough bunch. They've suffered just about every kind of persecution and yet they keep on going. Here we are today, still meeting together, still shrugging off the persecutions and the insults. Still today it's not all that uncommon that you hear another story of Christians who face a trial like they did in Rome. Will you deny your faith and live? Or will you hold to Christianity and die? And still today, people die because they will not give up their Christian faith.

What makes Christians so tough? What makes Christianity so hard to get rid of? Some of us may be stubborn people, but it's not because we're stubborn. And maybe some of us are rebels at heart, but that's not what makes Christians so tough either. Instead, it's the one we worship. John greets the Christian churches of his day and us today as well saying:

Grace to you and peace from him who is, who was, and who is coming, and from the seven spirits that are before his throne, 5and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

Does it seem like Christianity is losing? Sometimes it looks that way. Statistics say there are fewer people who identify as Christians. Scientists claim that we're smart enough now that we don't need God. Christians are persecuted all over the world, they're mocked for being old-fashioned, backward-thinking, and uneducated.

Is evolution winning? It's true, Christians today are dying off. And we'll keep dying off. But so is everyone else. Atheists, evolutionists, big bang theorists, old-earth geologists – they're all dying. Whether the world is made up of 95% Christians or 5%, all people are dying. And despite 2000 years of persecution there's no evidence that getting rid of Christians is making this world a better place or that without Christians mankind will finally discover the secret to peace and immortality.

But John reminds us that it doesn’t really matter how many people are on our side. What matters is “what is truth?” “Who is God?” God isn't losing. He doesn’t need to be nurtured or defended. He is, and was, and is coming. Nothing in this world lasts. Everything changes, everything passes away, but our Triune God is eternal.

So we can say to the world, “Go ahead. Mock our God. Make fun of Jesus and his followers. Torture and kill those who trust in him. But Jesus is the faithful witness. He's the firstborn from the dead. He's the ruler of the kings of the earth. Go ahead and put your hope in the false gods of humanism or science, but they cannot save you from death. You cannot escape what's coming.”


 

John says,

7Look, he is coming with clouds,

and every eye will see him,

including those who pierced him.

And all the nations of the earth will mourn because of him.

Yes. Amen.

8“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “the one who is, and who was, and who is coming, the Almighty.”
 

Jesus, the king, is coming And when he does the peoples of the earth will mourn. Through history people have mocked the name of Christ. They've rebelled against God and rejected his word. They pierced Jesus when they nailed him to the cross, and they have injured and put to death his people, the members of his body. What will they say when Jesus appears in glory?

Are you ready for the arrival of the king? As Christians we look forward to Judgment Day. We look forward to vindication, to being proven right. We look forward to seeing the victory and the power and the glory of Jesus and his kingdom.

But what about right now? Where is Jesus right now? Why does he let us suffer, whether by persecution or simply by the pains of daily life? Why is it that statistics show a dying Christianity?

If we just go by what we see it's easy to look at the world around us and doubt. It's easy to wonder, “Where is God?” “If Jesus is truly ruling, why are things the way they are? There are a lot of tough Christians in the world, but why should they have to suffer, why should they have to die if Jesus is in charge? Why do I have to go through the troubles I go through? And would I be so bold if I were asked to choose between my faith and my life?

But remember who our God is. Dear children of God, Jesus will come in power and glory and judgment. When he does the nations of the earth will mourn because of him. But Jesus has not abandoned you until that day. He paid for your sins on the cross and he made you his own. He destroyed the power of sin, death, and the Devil. He ascended into heaven to take up the power and authority that has belonged to him from all eternity, and will be his for all eternity, and now is his for ruling in your life for your eternal good.

You can't see the glory of Jesus' kingdom now. You won't see it until the day that God has planned for you. But you are a part of his kingdom even now. And you’re a priest, serving him in the righteousness and holiness with which he has clothed you. You belong to him. Nothing, no threats or torture – not even death – can separate you from his love. That’s the promise of him who is the Alpha and the Omega, who is the Lord of the universe, who is the Almighty.

Christ eternal reigns. We recognize that fact every time we pray in the Lord's prayer, “Thy kingdom come.” Jesus is and was and is to come. All power belongs to him. And his love endures forever.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his own blood 6and made us a kingdom and priests to God his Father—to him be the glory and the power forever. Amen.