Our Living Lord

Revelation

Our Living Lord

April 30th, 1961 @ 10:50 AM

Revelation 1:9-18

I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
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OUR LIVING LORD

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Revelation 1:9-18

4-30-61    10:50 a.m.

 

 

On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas.  This is the pastor bringing the eleven o’clock morning message entitled Our Living Lord.  In the first chapter of the last book of the Bible; in the Revelation, chapter [1], we shall read the context.  The sermon is an exposition of verses 17 and 18, and this is the context, Revelation 1:9:

 

I John, who also am your brother and companion . . . in the patience and kingdom of Jesus . . .

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.

And I turned to see the voice that spake with me.  And being turned, I saw seven golden lampstands;

And in the midst of the seven lampstands One like unto the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the breast with a golden girdle.

His head and His hair were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire;

And His feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters.

And He had in His right hand seven stars: and out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength –

And this is the text –

 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead.  And He laid His right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the First and the Last:

I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen.

[Revelation 1:9-17]

 

And that will be the sermon of this morning.  And then next Sunday morning, the sermon will be the conclusion of that self-description of our Lord: "And I have the keys of Hell and of Death" [Revelation 1:18].  So the text this morning, "And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead" [Revelation 1:17].  That is a strong expression, "I fell at His feet – hōs nĕkrŏs – as dead."  He could not see, for the glory of that light, the countenance of our Lord [Revelation 1:16], shining above the strength of the meridian, noonday sun blinded his eyes.  He could not hear, the voice of the sound of many waters had stunned his soul [Revelation 1:15].  He lost consciousness; he was lifeless, overwhelmed, and overpowered by that vision of Deity Himself [Revelation 1:17].

This is a strange and remarkable thing.  You would have thought that John would have been lifted up in ecstasy and indescribable, unspeakable bliss as he saw his Lord.  I would think that John knew Jesus all of his life.  Their mothers were sisters.  In the flesh, they were first cousins.  John was an early disciple, from the beginning, in the ministry of the Master [Mark 1:19-20].  He was in that favored few who lived next to the life and the ministry of the Savior.  At the Last Supper, he laid his head on the bosom of our Lord [John 13:23].  At the cross he saw the blood and the water, as a fountain pour out of the heart of our Lord [John 19:34-35].  Into his keeping care our Savior committed His mother [John 19:26].  "And from that hour, he took Mary to his own home," and she lived in the house of John [John 19:27].  All of his life our Lord and John were as a master and a beloved disciple.  Wouldn’t you have thought that when he saw Him on that lonely, rocky isle of Patmos [Revelation 1:9-13], that the bliss and the ecstasy – like a flood – would have overwhelmed his soul? But it was just the opposite. 

When our Lord spake to him, He said, "Fear not."  John is prostrate before Christ, in quaking, and in trembling, and in great fear; the life has gone out of him, and he lies in prostration at the feet of the Lord as one dead [Revelation 1:17].  There are two reasons for that: the first reason is that John is looking upon unveiled, uncurtained deity.  In the life of His flesh, our Lord’s Godhead, His heavenly glory, and majesty, and wonder were clothed, were curtained, were veiled in the body of His flesh.  Just once in a while did the glory of the Lord shine through, as on the Mount of Transfiguration [Matthew 17:1-2; Luke 9:28-29].  But outside of those few, and occasional, and softened gleams that shine through the veil of His flesh, our Lord was humbled.  In the form of a servant did He minister.  He poured Himself out and made Himself of no reputation [Philippians 2:6-8].  So when John looked upon Him in the days of His flesh, he looked upon a glory that was veiled, a servant who humbled Himself.  But this, on the isle of Patmos, this vision and this glory – he looks upon the Ancient of Days [Daniel 7:9, 13, 22] – "His face as the sun shineth in his strength" [Revelation 1:16].  He looks upon the Judge of all the earth whose eyes are as a flame of fire [Revelation 1:14].  He looks upon unveiled, uncurtained deity.  And if he sees God, it is too much even for the sainted John, and he falls down at His feet as one dead [Revelation 1:17].  John looked with undimmed, undaunted eye upon the throne of jasper.  He looked unabashed upon the rainbow of emerald [Revelation 4:3], upon the seven lamps of fire that burned before the throne of God [Revelation 4:5].  He saw with ecstasy and delight the sea of crystal glass [Revelation 5:6].  Yea, yea!  When God opened for him the door into heaven and into hell; and John looked through, he did it without quailing; without quaking, without trembling, and without fear.  But when he looked upon the majesty, and the wonder, and the glory of God Himself, he became as one dead and lay prostrate at His feet [Revelation 1:17]. 

The second reason why John feared: because a man, even John, is nothing; in infirmity, and in iniquity, and in shortcoming, and in nothingness.  And he fell before God with the life out of him, overpowered and overwhelmed [Revelation 1:17].  How can an insect live in the furnace of the sun?  And how can a mortal and sinful eye look upon the light of glory?  And how can a man’s ear hear the voice of God?  How can infirmity, and folly, and nothingness behold omniscience and omnipotence?  This is the same awe and reverence that overwhelmed Daniel when, at the River Hiddekel, he saw the vision of the glory of the Lord.  And Daniel said, "And my strength went out of me: and my comeliness turned in me into corruption" [Daniel 10:6-8].  It is the same thing as overwhelmed Isaiah when he saw the Lord high and lifted up [Isaiah 6:1], and said, "Woe is me! for I am undone . . . for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts" [Isaiah 6:5].  It’s the same thing as overwhelmed Job when he said: "I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth Thee: Wherefore I abhor myself" [Job 42:5-6].  It is the same thing as came upon the children of Israel when they saw God descend on top of the Mount Sinai, and it burned, and it flamed, and thunder and lightning; and when the voice of God was heard, they drew to the far end of the valley and said to Moses, "Let not God speak to us, lest we die – lest we die!" [Exodus 20:18-19].

The great disproportion between a mortal man and God is overwhelming.  And in awe, and in reverence, and in great fear, John fell down at His feet as one dead [Revelation 1:17].  That is the reason I greatly dislike familiarity in prayer or in conversation in reference to our Lord Jesus.  And that’s the reason I dislike some songs and anthems that I hear sung that speak of familiarity with God as though He was oh, "buddy-buddy" and oh, "pal-pal." "Put’er there, God, shake!" as we laugh together, or talk together, or jest together.  No!  No!  And a thousand times no!  The place of a man who is made out of dust [Genesis 2:7] is in reverential awe and wonder before the great God and our Savior.  As Abraham said, "Behold, I have taken upon me to speak unto Thee, I who am but dust and ashes" [Genesis 18:27].  Deep, reverential humility in the presence of God, "And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet – hōs nĕkrŏs – as one dead" [Revelation 1:17].  Then comes the marvelous graciousness of this tender passage, "And He laid His right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not!  . . . And He laid His right hand upon me."  What a contrast!  The mighty God, whose countenance is "as the sun shineth in his strength" [Revelation 1:16] and the glory of His person, beyond what a mortal eye could look upon and live [Exodus 33:20].  And John in reverential awe and wonder, falling prostrate at His feet as dead.  And then, this tender, and intimate, and gracious gesture, "And He laid His right hand upon me . . ."  And that precious voice, "Fear not" [Revelation 1:17]. 

How like the Lord that John knew in Galilee in Judea, "And He laid His right hand upon me," the gesture of our Savior.  Have you ever noticed in reading the life of our Lord, He touched those in need?  If it was to open the eyes of the blind, He touched the eyes of the blind man [Matthew 9:27-30].  If it was to open the ears of the deaf, He put His hand on the ears of the deaf [Mark 7:32-35].  If it was a little baby He was blessing, He would take the child up into His arms, and put His hands upon the baby, and bless the child [Mark 10:16].  I do not know of a more moving incident than that recorded in the eighth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew.  The Book says He was thronged by great multitudes, and behold, a leper came up to Him [Matthew 8:1-2].  How could a leper, living in the tombs or on the outside of the city – how could a leper in a great throng ever come up to the Master?  Well, the answer is very plain and simple.  Wherever that leper was, there was an opening circle around him as the people drew back and away, always that chilly and terrible circle.  With his hand over his lips crying, "Unclean!  Unclean!  Unclean!" [Leviticus 13:44-45].  And he walked right up to the Savior as the people withdrew, "A leper, a leper, a leper!"  They all moved, but our Lord.  And the leper walked up to Him, and the Book says, "And the Lord laid His hand upon him" [Matthew 8:1-3].  I can see the crowd as they gasped as He laid His hand upon him and cleansed the leper.  Why, man, that was half of the healing!  He had forgotten what it was, the warm touch of a human hand.  "And the Lord laid His hand upon him and cleansed him" [Matthew 8:3]. 

It is the same Savior, it is the same Master, it is the same Lord; He has not changed [Hebrews 13:8].  The outward glory, the outward habiliments, the outward dress: resurrected, immortalized, glorified, above the brightness of the sun [Acts 26:13-15].  But He hasn’t lost His identity, He is the same Lord, He has the same nature.  "And He laid His right hand upon me" [Revelation 1:17]. The hand of favor and blessing; giving strength to those in need, helping the weak, succoring the sorrowful, sustaining the lame and the halt.  "And He laid His right hand upon me."  It’s the same Lord.  He hasn’t changed, He hasn’t changed. The heart beneath that golden girdle [Revelation 1:13] is the same heart that was moved in compassion when He looked upon the multitudes like sheep who were gone astray [Mark 6:34].  The hand that holds the seven stars [Revelation 1:16] is the same nail-pierced hand extended in invitation and sympathy and understanding to a doubting Thomas [John 20:27-28].  And the lips that rule with a rod of iron out of which the words flow like a two-edged sword [Hebrews 4:12] are the same lips that spake the gracious invitation, "Come unto Me, all ye that weary and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" [Matthew 11:28].  And the feet that burn like molten brass in the fiery furnace [Revelation 1:15] are the same feet that walk the ways of weary mankind and sat thus wearied, by the well [John 4:3-6].  He hasn’t changed, it is the same Lord: in all of His glory and exaltation, it’s still Jesus. 

"And He laid His right hand upon me, saying, Fear not" [Revelation 1:17].  That’s why the beautiful types in the Old Testament are so precious to us who love Jesus.  Joseph – a type of our Lord – exalted by Pharaoh himself.  And his brethren, prostrate before him, begging corn to eat, bread for life [Genesis 42:6], and Joseph’s heart was moved, and he turned his face away lest his brethren see that he wept [Genesis 42:24].  He hasn’t changed!  He hasn’t changed in all of his throned glory and all of his exaltation, he was still their brother!  Joseph and his brethren [Genesis 42-45]; it is the beautiful type of our Lord with all of His exaltation and all of His glory, still it is our Savior – the tender, and shepherdly, and sympathetic, and loving Lord Jesus. 

"And He laid His right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not" [Revelation 1:17].  And thus He speaks to our pitiful weakness, "Fear not."  Don’t be afraid.  Why, man! Why, man! Whatever ails us – if we’re at the feet of Jesus – it is better there dead, than to be alive anywhere else.  Whatever the trouble, and the sorrow, and the heartache, if we’re at Jesus’ feet, it’s all right.  And He laid His right hand upon me, saying, "Do not be afraid, fear not, fear not."  Isn’t He thus, always gracious and always tender?  He will not strive, neither will His voice be heard shouting in clamor in the streets as though perturbed beyond despair [Isaiah 40:11].  No!  No!  "A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoking flax He willnot quench" [Matthew 12:20].  It’s the voice of our Lord that we hear in Isaiah, "And He gathers the lambs in His arms, and carries them in His bosom, and He leads along those that are with young" [Isaiah 40:11].  It’s the voice of our Lord in the one hundred-third Psalm, "He remembereth our frame; He knoweth that we are dust" [Psalm 103:14].  Our Lord understands we’re not iron people, nor are we gods, nor are we above reproach, filled with shortcoming and every weakness to which flesh is heir to; He understands, He understands.  And it’s the voice of our Lord in the twenty-third Psalm, "He restoreth my soul" [Psalm 23:3].  Fear not.  Fear not.

Then you have the incomparable description of our Lord concerning Himself.  Would we know who Jesus is as He speaks of Himself from heaven?  Then listen to the description of our Lord:

 

One, "I am the First and the Last."

 Two, "I am He that liveth."

 Three, "I was dead."

 Four, "Behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen."

 Five –

which is next Sunday’s message –

"And I have the keys of Hell and of Death."

[Revelation 1:17-18]

 

As He describes Himself, "I am the First and the Last."  No one can assume those descriptions but God.  These are the words of deity.  Only God is first; and only God could be last.  And three times, in this short passage, does God refer to Himself in those words here in the text, "I am the First and the Last" [Revelation 1:17]; in the eleventh verse, "I am Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last"; and in the eighth verse, "I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the Ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty" [Revelation 1:8] – the pantŏkratōr, the great all-in-all.  Thrice does the Lord say it of Himself, "I am the First."  Only God can be first.  That speaks of the preexistent Savior; our Lord back, and back, and back, and into the forevers of the eternities, there is our living Lord: "I am the First" [Revelation 1:17]. 

Did you ever notice how in the New Testament they take Christ in His person, and in His work, and in His ministry back, and back, and back, and back?  "Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God, (in the roll of the book it is written of Me,) to do Thy will, O God," [Hebrews 10:7]  And "a body hast Thou prepared for Me" [Hebrews 10:5].  The preexistent Christ, a body did God prepare for Him. He lived in the eternity of the ages before this world was created as these authors take Him back, and back, and back.  John the Baptist said, "This is He of whom I said, after me cometh one who is preferred before me: because He was before me" [John 1:15].  The preexistent Christ, "I am the First," [Revelation 1:17].  

In the twelfth chapter of the Gospel of John, John describes the vision of Isaiah, when he saw Jehovah high and lifted up [John 12:41; Isaiah 6:1], and said he saw Christ, the glory of our Lord high and lifted up.  In the third chapter of 1 Peter, the apostle preaching says that it was the Spirit of Christ in Noah that preached to those antediluvians [1 Peter 3:18-20].  In the tenth chapter of 1 Corinthians, Paul says that the rock out of which they drank in the wilderness, "The Rock was Christ" [1 Corinthians 10:4].  And he said, "Lest any one of us tempt Christ, and be destroyed by serpents" Christ [1 Corinthians 10:9].  And as he began his Gospel, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" [John 1:1].  The preexistent Lord, "I am the First, and I am the Last" [Revelation 1:17].  His is a priesthood and a kingship after the order of Melchizedek, described in the seventh chapter of Hebrews as being without beginning of days and without end of life [Hebrews 7:11-28].  And He holds His throne, and His priesthood, by the power of an unending ministry and an unending life, forever, and forever, and forever [Hebrews 7:28].  When the kings of the earth shall sleep in the dust of the ground and the glory of their kingdoms are passed away, when every treasure shall have turned back to his primordial elements; and when life’s, and the world’s, and civilization’s most enduring monuments have faded away like the mist in the morning sun, He shall abide forever.  "I am the First and the Last" [Revelation 1:17]. 

And ho zōn, "I am the living One" [Revelation 1:18].  All other life is a derived life; we borrow our breath, we are given permission to be.  And our lives are brittle threads held in the hand of God, broken at the will, at the word, at the spoken fiat of our Lord.  We live, we die, but the life of God is underived.  It is not borrowed, it is not by permission, He exists in Himself, our Christ – ho zōn – the living One in Himself. 

"And I was dead," [Revelation 1:18], egenomēn, I "became" dead.  In John 1:14, "And the Word became," same word, egeneteō, "and the Word became flesh."  Same word here, "And the life became dead" [Revelation 1:18].  That is, it was a conscious, voluntary atonement; for the sins of His people, "He became dead."  There are two natures in Christ – one person.  One of those natures is human, and lived in a human body, and it was killed.  And when He bowed His head on the cross, He gave up the ghost [John 19:30], and He was wrapped in the cerements of the earth and buried in the heart of the ground. He died [John 19:38-42].  But do you notice?  It’s in the past tense, "was dead," became dead – dead no longer [Revelation 1:18].  We don’t worship a Christ nailed to a cross, that was an atonement, that was a day [Romans 5:11].  And now He is forever triumphant, risen, and glorified [Matthew 28:1-9; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57].  And we ought not to bow before a crucifix – a Christ nailed to a cross.  That was a dark, awful, deep tragedy in the atonement for our sins [Matthew 27:32-50].  But He is not dead anymore!  And He is not in the tomb anymore, and He is not nailed to the cross anymore, He is risen! [Matthew 28:5-7].  That was an atonement!  And if He is still nailed, and if He is still dead, and if He is still buried, all the sorrow upon sorrows of us who trust in Him.  But that’s past, that’s gone, and we remember it with gratitude, but our Lord is not still dead – He is alive!  He is risen!  And that is His last avowl, "And behold!   And behold! I am alive for evermore, Amen" [Revelation 1:18].  You know, the writing of that, you could not make it stronger, "Idou" – behold, look – "idou , zōn eimi eis tous aiōnas tōn aiōnōn."  "Behold, living into the forevers of the forevers," into the eons of the eons, into the always of the always. You couldn’t make it stronger, "Behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen, Amen" [Revelation 1:18]. 

Now, listen.  If that’s true, if that is true, then Jesus is somewhere now.  If that’s true, then our Lord, our Lord is living now, here.  What proof do you have that our Lord is alive, that He is living?  Well, we go back to those witnesses who’ve been dead for two thousand years.  Why, man, if He is still alive, why haven’t we proof now?  He is alive now!  Where’s the proof now? If every citizen of the Roman Empire, and the Roman Caesar himself, and the historians who wrote records back there, all of them said, "We saw the Lord after He was crucified, raised from the dead."  That’s not half the proof we need.  If He is alive, what is the proof now?  Where is this living Lord now, if He is alive?  That’s the proof we want!

I read this past week of a trial, and a man was being accused of murdering another man.  And while the prosecuting attorney was prosecuting him, and saying he had murdered this man, the man he was supposed to have murdered walked into the courtroom.  Brother, wouldn’t that have upset Judge Claude Williams?  You couldn’t think, you couldn’t describe, you couldn’t conceive of a more final truth than that, for the man who was supposed to be dead to walk into the room and stand there.  That’s the kind of proof I’m talking about.  If He is alive, if He is here, then what is the proof of it?  Show it to me.  Man, can I do it!  Listen, golden ears to listen and the Lord in heaven give me a silver tongue to speak, "I am alive for evermore, Amen" [Revelation 1:18].  Then, if He is alive, there ought to be a tangible, visible evidence of the living presence of our Savior.  What is it?

 First, healing, healing: after Jesus was dead [Matthew 27:45-50], and after He was buried [Matthew 27:57-61], and after He was raised from the grave [Matthew 28:5-7], and after He had ascended into glory [Acts 1:9-10], Simon Peter and that same apostle John, at the Beautiful Gate of the temple said, "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk!"  And the man stood up and walked [Acts 3:6-8].   And after the passing of the years, the apostle Paul was preaching the gospel at Lystra, and Paul said to that man, impotent from his mother’s womb, "Stand up and walk!" [Acts 14:8-10].  And in the name of Jesus Christ – why, I thought you said He is dead? – in the name of Jesus Christ, that impotent man stood up and walked!   And in the centuries since, and in these years, the millenniums since, there are people who stand in every generation, and in every congregation, and in every city, and in every village, saying, "And He healed my body, He touched me, and I live."  I don’t believe in paid, divine healers, but I believe in divine healing.  I spoke this morning with a blessed saint in our church.  She was dying and given up for dead; and Christ healed her, and she attended the 8:15 o’clock early morning service this very Lord ‘s Day.  If I were to ask for testimony and witness, "Will all, in divine presence at this holy hour, stand up, who will testify, I was sick unto death, and the Lord touched my body, and healed me, and gave me life, and strength, and health," we’d be here the rest of the day, and the month, and maybe the year, listening to the recounting of God’s people as they say: "And the living Lord reached down His hands and ministered unto me."

Alive!  Today, healing, praying, praying.  Why don’t you try an experiment; and you do it anytime, do it right now if you want to.  If anybody wants to volunteer this morning, and come up here and pray to Lincoln, why, try it.  Let’s just see.  Or pray to Washington, or pray to Charlemagne, or pray to any other man that ever crossed the human threshold of history.  Pray to him, pray to him.  It would be inanity itself; it would be ridiculousness itself.  But how many would stand up today and testify, "In my agony and in my sorrow, I knelt down and called on the name of the Lord my God.  And an ear bent over to hear, and a heart was moved in sympathetic understanding.  And a voice spoke to my heart and I stood up with an answer in my soul."  It kind of fits, it sort of fits, when we bow down and pray to the Lord Jesus.  Prayer, answered prayer; praying to God, praying to the Lord Jesus. 

Evidences that He lives today?  Healing, praying, saving.  Why, man, we wouldn’t be here the year, we would be here the lifetime, listening to the glorious testimony of those who have been saved by our Lord.  Not only Matthew or Simon Peter, not only Chrysostom, not only Savonarola, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Polycarp, not only John Wesley, or Charles Haddon Spurgeon, but B. H. Carroll – who I would say there are aged people today who have heard that man preach.  Everybody ought to read B. H. Carroll’s "My Infidelity and What Became of It"; gloriously saved! And many of us have heard George Truett and have heard him tell of the wonder of his conversion.  Ellen, are you saved?  Did the Lord speak to your heart?  Did He?  Did you feel the way that John Wesley described it?  "And while I was praying and reading the preface to the Book of Romans by Luther, I felt my heart strangely warmed"; saved! Saving today, saved at this morning hour, safe again at this hour, our living Lord.  Reigning, reigning; He has a kingdom, a living kingdom.  When Alexander the Great died, he had no kingdom, he had no subjects!  Our Lord has a kingdom, and around this earth are those who witness and testify to their reigning Lord in heaven, and we, His subjects, here in the earth, reigning.

Coming back again: if He is living and if He is reigning [Revelation 1:18], someday then He will come back again [Acts 1:10-11].  As the great theme of the Revelation, "Behold, He cometh with clouds: and every eye shall see Him" [Revelation 1:7].  Who looks for Apollo to come back again?  Who looks for Neptune, or Jupiter, or Jove, or Pallas Athena to come back to their ancient temples?   But by the millions, our hearts are lifted up and our eyes are raised to glory, "Someday, maybe today, He is coming back again," coming, walking, walking.

 "And I beheld seven golden lampstands; and in the midst of the seven lampstands, One like unto the Son of God . . . [Revelation 1:13], the lampstands which thou sawest are the seven churches" [Revelation 1:20].  And seven includes us all.  Seven is the number to refer to all His churches; walking in the midst of His churches, walking, and walking in the midst of God’s people who belong to this blessed and precious congregation [Revelation 1:13], speaking to our hearts, guiding us in the work, giving us strength for weakness, wisdom for lack of knowledge and understanding, help for our feebleness, convicting in the power and glory of His Holy Spirit, wooing as the pastor makes invitation, coming down these stairways, people touched by the power of the presence of Christ, coming to the Lord; why, I live in that kind of a world, and I have witnessed it throughout the years of my pastoral ministry.  Alive?  Alive; walking among His churches [Revelation 1:13]. "When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead.  He laid His right hand upon me saying, Fear not; I am the First and the Last: I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen" [Revelation 1:17-18].

We serve a risen Savior; we call upon a living Lord.  And He is here in the hush and the quiet and the reverence of this holy, precious hour this morning.  And always, a message ends in that invitation to your heart.  If God bids you here today, will you answer yes in your soul?  "Here I am and here I come," would you make it this morning?  Would you make it now?  Taking Jesus as Savior, coming into the fellowship of His church, in the great throng of us in this balcony round; coming down one of these stairways at the front or the back, "Here I am pastor, here I come, I give you my hand, I give my heart to God."  On this lower floor, a family you, "Here we come, this is my wife, these are our children, all of us are coming." As the Spirit, as Jesus speaks the word to our hearts, would you come and make it now?

We’re still on this radio; maybe driving along you have listened to this message.  If you are not a Christian, would you pull the car to the side of the road, bow your head over the steering wheel, and say, "Jesus, in repentance and faith, I give you my soul and my life now and forever"?  And at your first opportunity, witness that great confession to a congregation of Jesus Christ, and work for the Lord and with the Lord until the end of the way.  And in the holy hour of this morning’s service, if the Spirit of God bids you here, make it now, "Here I come, pastor, and here I am."  While we stand and while we sing.

 

OUR LIVING LORD

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Revelation 1:17-18

4-30-61

 

I.          Hos nekros – "as dead"

A.  A very strong expression

1.  The weight of the exceeding glory was too much

B.  The one writing this testimony was John, who had been close to the Lord(John 19:27)

C.  Would think seeing the risen Lord glorified he’d have been overcome with ecstatic joy; yet he was filled with fear and became as one dead

D.  Why this reaction from John?

1.  He was beholding unveiled and undimmed deity

2.  His own sense of weakness, smallness in presence of divine greatness

a. Like children of Israel before Mount Sinai(Exodus 20:18-19)

b. Like Isaiah in his vision(Isaiah 6:5)

c. Like Daniel at the Hiddekel River (Daniel 10:4-8)

d. Like Job(Job 42:5-6)

E.  The great disproportion between a mortal man and God is overwhelming

1.  The reason I dislike familiarity in prayer or conversation or some songs in reference to Jesus

2.  Being made of dust, our place is in reverential awe and wonder before God(Genesis 18:27)

 

II.         "And He laid His right hand upon me"

A.  The Christ pictured here seems at first to have little in common with the Christ of Galilee

1.  Then a gesture so typical of Jesus – He puts His right hand on John

B.  The touch of Jesus(Matthew 8:1-3)

C.  Christ in heaven is the same Savior as He was here – His heart is still the same(Matthew 11:28)

1.  Joseph, a type of our Lord

D.  He speaks to our pitiful weakness, "Fear not"(Matthew 12:20, Isaiah 40:11, Psalm 23:3, 103:14)

 

III.        Our Lord’s description of Himself

A. "I am the first and the last"(Revelation 1:8, 11, 17)

1.  First – pre-existence(Hebrews 10:5, 7, John 1:1, 15, 12:41, 1 Peter 3:19-20, 1 Corinthians 10:4, Exodus 3:14)

2.  Last – eternity(Psalm 102:27-28)

a. Priesthood and kingship after the order of Melchizedek(Hebrews 7:3, 16)

B. "He that liveth"

1.  Ha zon – "the living one"

2.  Our breath is borrowed

C. "Was dead"

1.  Egenomen – "became dead"; verb is in the past (John 1:14)

2.It is an empty cross

D. "Behold, I am alive forevermore"

1.  Idouzonemei – "behold, look"

2.  Eistousaionastouaionon – "into the always of the always"

 

IV.       How do we know that He is alive?

A.  He is still healing

B.  He is still answering prayer

C.  He is still saving souls

D.  He is still reigning (Revelation 1:7)

F.  He walks among His churches (Revelation 1:12-13)