God’s Saving Purpose in History (Rev. 5:1-14)

What is your fundamental attitude toward your circumstances?  Are you stuck with a sense of despair and hopelessness?  Have you been going through life with a weight of cynicism hanging upon your heart and mind?   Do you interpret everything or most everything through the lens of bitterness on account of losses and crosses? Are you in a place where you feel like you can never be happy again?  

If you feel like this, I don’t want you to think that this means that God doesn’t love you.  The fact of the matter is that many godly men and women throughout history have felt just this way at times. The Psalms are interspersed with laments. So for example one psalmist puts it this way: “Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me.  I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God” (Ps. 69:1-3).  He goes on to say, “Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none” (20).  

There are even some Psalms that don’t end on a note of hope, like Psalm 88, which opens with, “O lord God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before thee” (1), and ends with, “Lover and friend hast thou put far from me, and mine acquaintance into darkness” (18).  Why do you think God put psalms like that into the Bible?  I think one reason is that this is actually the experience of God’s people at times.  They are sometimes led to walk in darkness with no light (Isa. 50:10).  

Nevertheless, there is a difference – or there ought to be – between a Christian who is passing through the dark waters of spiritual depression and one who is not a Christian.  The difference is not in the amount or length of the suffering!  The difference is in the fundamental disposition of the soul towards God.  For the Christian, the fundamental disposition of the soul ought to be one of hope, even in the midst of sadness and joylessness and deep, deep grief.  You see this even in Psalm 88, because it is a prayer to God which is in itself an act of hope.  You see this in psalms like Psalm 42, where King David argues with himself in this way: " Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance” (Ps. 42:5).  For those who belong to Christ, there is always that yet.  “Yet I shall praise him.”  That is the hope.  It doesn’t mean you have to pretend your suffering isn’t real.  It doesn’t mean you have to say that relief is around the corner.  But it does mean that the bedrock of your soul rests upon God’s promise that he loves you, has a purpose for you in the suffering through which you are passing, and will in his good time grant you deliverance from it.  As the apostle Peter put it to suffering Christians in his day: “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you” (1 Pet. 5:10).

But what is the basis for these hopes?  It is just about having a positive attitude and hoping the positive attitude itself is what will change our circumstances?  Is it about believing in ourselves?  Or is it all just so much pie-in-the-sky?  

The basis for the Christian hope does not lie in ourselves.  If it did, we would be fully justified in maintaining a sense of hopelessness.  We can have hope because the future does not lie in our hands or in the grip of cold, chaotic cosmic forces, but in the purpose of a sovereign and saving God.  What we saw in chapter 4 is that this sovereign God rules in heaven and on earth.  He has created all things and holds all things in existence.  What happens on this planet is not outside the plan and purpose of a holy God.  But what we will see in this chapter (5) is that God is not only the sovereign Creator and Sustainer; but that he is also the sovereign Savior through Jesus Christ.  And what we will see is that if we really believe that, the fundamental attitude of our lives ought not to be one of weeping but of worship.  So the question that we are faced with is this: will we weep or will we worship?  I’m not saying that we should never weep.  Of course we should.  There are times when it would be inappropriate not to weep.  I’m talking instead of our fundamental and basic attitude towards the future.  Is it one of despair and hopelessness or is it one of hope?

The fifth chapter of Revelation helps us out here.  It helps us to see that the future for those who belong to Christ is one that ought to inspire worship instead of weeping, hope instead of hopelessness.  In these verses, the apostle John describes four scenes in heaven which he sees.  First of all, he sees the book which tells us that God has a saving purpose in history (1).  Second, he sees the challenge to open the book and shows us that only God can achieve this saving purpose (2-5).  Third, he sees the Lamb who is Jesus Christ, the one through whom God achieves this saving purpose (6-10).  Finally, he sees the praise, the universal worship which is the only proper response to God’s saving purpose (11-14).

The Book (1)

“And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.”  What John sees in God’s hand is probably not a book per se, but a scroll.  Scrolls were often used for legal documents like contracts and wills.  In many cases, the terms of the contract or will would have been written on the scroll and then sealed with seven seals.  The seals would have to be broken in order for the terms of the legal document to be executed.  

But what is this scroll?  What is its purpose?  What does it contain?  Remember that our Lord promised John in 4:1 that he was going to show him things which must come to pass.  The scroll then is about the unveiling of the future.  Ostensibly the contents of the scroll are unveiled in chapters 6-22.  It is then, God’s plan for history, a history that includes both the judgment of his enemies (and the enemies of the church) as well as the salvation of his people.  

This scroll is written on both sides, an uncommon practice because of the way scrolls were made.  For papyrus scrolls, the fibers on the side normally written on were laid horizontally, but on the reverse side they were laid vertically, making it much more difficult to write on.  The fact that this scroll is written on both sides indicates the fullness of God’s plan for history.  But it is a future that God has a lot to say about!

What is interesting is that we are never told that the scroll is read; what seems to be of upmost importance is not so much its contents but the fact that it is sealed.  As we’ve already pointed out, this is significant because this means that the purpose of God for the future will not be put into effect unless the seals are broken.  Which means that the breaking of the seals is of the greatest importance.  

The scroll is in God’s hand; let us not miss that.  As we have already seen in the previous chapter, God holds history in his hand, and this in itself should help us to move from despair to hope, from weeping to worship.

The Challenge (2-5)

The next thing that John sees is “a strong angel.”  He writes, “And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon” (2-3).  To ask who is worthy to open the book and to loose the seals of it is to ask who is worthy to carry out God’s plan for his glory in the destruction of his enemies and the salvation of his people?  If no one is able to do this, it will mean that there will be no justice to God’s people who have suffered so much injustice at the hands of their enemies.  It will mean that there is nothing better than what this world has to offer – and so no bright hope, no glorious future.  It will mean that Satan wins and God loses!  

And at first, this appears to be the case.  As the angel surveys the universe, calling out for anyone “worthy” to break the seals, his challenge is only met by silence.  No one was able – not angelic beings (those in heaven), no living man or woman (those on the earth), nor the dead (those under the earth) were able to rise to the challenge of breaking the seals.  Note that the challenge is not merely in terms of power but in terms of worthiness: “who is worthy?” is the question.  This is as much a matter of moral and ethical fitness as it is one of ability and power.

The silence to the angel’s challenge underscores the fact that we cannot save ourselves.  We cannot bring about God’s plan for justice and redemption for the world.  “With men it is impossible,” as our Lord put it, and if we try to take this burden upon ourselves, if we try to be our own saviors or the saviors of others, it will just be a burden around our necks that we cannot bear.  No mere mortal can break the seals.  The whole of human history is strewn with the wrecked hopes of people who have placed misguided trust in The Next Best Thing.  But we must not put our trust in men or in institutions made by men.

At this point, I want you to put yourself in John’s shoes.  What would be your response to this?  You see, the scroll is not just about the future in the sense of a better tomorrow.  This scroll is not just about having a better future in terms of a better life than I’ve had in the past.  John is not thinking here about the problems of poverty or addiction.  I’m not saying those things are not problems or that we shouldn’t care about them.  We should because we should love our neighbors as ourselves.  If we don’t, there is something wrong with us as Christians.  But the tragedy is that so many people can’t think beyond these sorts of problems.  What does it matter if you can put food on the table and drive your own car from point A to point B and hold a good job and so on, if you are alienated from God?  What does earth matter when heaven is lost?

And that is what is at stake here.  John knows that.  Eternity is at stake.  The glory of God is at stake.  The future happiness of God’s people in his presence forever is at stake.  If the seals cannot be unloosed, all that is lost.  Would you weep over that?  In other words, I’m asking you: are you more concerned about cycles of poverty that people are trapped in than you are about their eternity in the presence of God?  Are you more moved about your next pay raise than you are about heaven?  Are you more anxious over your physical condition this side of the grave than you are about your body and soul in the age to come?

Would you weep like John weeps?  Are you moved by the things that John is moved by?  “And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon” (4).  The Greek here indicates not only the amount of weeping (“much”) but also the volume of weeping (“loudly,” ESV).  This deeply moved John.  He was at this moment a living illustration of something the apostle Paul said to the Corinthians: “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Cor. 15:19).  John was miserable because for a moment it looked like the only kind of hope he could have was hope in this life.  And that made him weep – it made him miserable.

Now you might be thinking, “But I thought this was about moving from weeping to worship.  Why are you saying that we should weep like John weeps?”  Well, I’m saying that if it were the case that God’s plan for salvation could not be put into effect, then there would be grounds for weeping.  If we just have the hope that the world gives, then all that would be left would be weeping.

But this is not the end of the story.  At this point, “one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof” (5).  John is told to, “Weep not.”  There is good reason for this.  This is not about just keeping your chin up.  This is not about being bold in the face of despair.  This is not about thinking positively when you really have no reason to do so.  That is not what the Christian faith tells you to do.  No!  There is a wonderful and true reason not to weep.  

It is because there has been found someone to break the seals.  It is Jesus.  He has prevailed.  A better word would be conquered.  He is not only able, but he has also conquered.  He has won the victory.  He can do this because he is not just another human, though he is fully human.  He is not some angel.  He is not some departed spirit in the realm of the dead.  No, he is in a category all by himself, the God-Man, described here as “the Lion of the tribe of Judah.”  This goes back to a prophesy that the patriarch Jacob made concerning Judah: “Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be” (Gen. 49:9-10).  This is a prophesy about the Christ, who is described both in terms of a lion and then as a king with universal dominion.  What John is seeing in heaven is the fulfillment of that prophesy.  The Lion has come and he has conquered!

He is also described as “the Root of David,” which shows that our Lord fulfills another prophesy, this one by Isaiah.   Our Lord descends from Judah, and he descends from David.  He is the Davidic king foretold by the prophet: “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots” (11:1).  Because of Israel’s sins, and the deportation to Babylon, it looked like the Davidic monarchy was finished.  It looked as if the tree of David was cut down.  But Isaiah is saying that though it is cut down, it will begin to grow again.  A Branch will grow out of his roots.  He then goes on to write that “with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked” (4).  The verses that follow are clearly a description of a new heaven and new earth (6-9).  This is a king who will wield universal power and will usher in an age of unprecedented peace and justice.  John is seeing the fulfillment of that prophesy before his very eyes.  

We can, like John, move from weeping to worship because someone is able to break the seals of the scroll.  The Lion has come and won the victory.  But that is not all the apostle sees.

The Lamb (6-10)

The Lion has been announced.  John turns to see this Lion, but instead he sees a Lamb!  “And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth” (Rev. 5:6).  This must have been unexpected.  Was the elder who told John about the Lion of the tribe of Judah wrong?  Did he get the description of the Seal-Breaker wrong?

No, of course not.  Jesus is both a Lion and a Lamb.   Of course, this is not just any kind of Lamb.  This is a Lamb with seven horns, which indicates strength.  And since the number is seven, this is the perfection of strength.  He also has seven eyes, which is identified with “the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth,” a reference to the one Spirit of God in the perfection of all his power, sent into the earth to mediate the presence of the risen Christ.

We are told that what John sees next is that “he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne” (7).  God the Father gives the scroll to his Son because he is worthy and able to break the seals and to set God’s plan for his glory and the good of his people into action.

Why and how he is able to do this as the Lion-Lamb who was slain is now revealed to us in the praises of the four beasts and twenty-four elders who fall down before the Lamb and worship him.  This is one of those great proofs for the divinity of Jesus.  God is the only one who is worshiped.  Not angels, who are fellow servants of God (cf. 22:9).  Since Jesus is worshiped here – right before the throne of God! – we can take it for certain that the Father is God and the Son is God, both worthy of the same worship.  The Father is worthy (4:11) and now we will see Jesus proclaimed as worthy (5:9, 12) in the same way.

Here is what happens next: “And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (8-10).  Here we see how the Lamb has conquered and the significance of his sacrifice.  We are told that his sacrifice and blood-letting and resurrection (for he has not only been slain but stands risen in the presence of the Father) led to people being redeemed to God, a people from every people group, and that the result of this redemption was the making of the redeemed kings and priest who will reign with Christ in his kingdom.

A kingdom of priests

To understand what the Lamb has accomplished and how he did it and why he did it this way, let’s work our way backward here, starting with the end result. The redeemed are made a kingdom of priests who will reign with Christ in the age to come (note the future tense).  This is the hope, a hope which is held out to the churches for those who overcome.  This is the blessed hope of the Christian.  Despite the fact that they are persecuted now, despised now, suffering now, the time will come when they will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.  There is no suffering now whose shadow will forever darken the hearts of the saints.  The night will end and the morning will come.  Their kingdom is coming and they will reign.  They will enjoy perfect and unencumbered access to God and to Jesus forever.  What was promised to Israel on Mount Sinai is fulfilled perfectly in the congregation of the redeemed in the age to come.

We need to stop here and ask ourselves: do we really believe this?  Is this just a theological truth to say we believe?  Brothers and sisters, if this is true, can we not hold on?  Can we not endure to the end?  I don’t know what kind of suffering you are enduring right now.  But I know this, that if this is true, then there is no reason to walk away from Jesus out of bitterness.  There is no sorrow that heaven will not heal, and heaven is what God has promised you.  Be faithful to the end, and he will give you the crown of life.

Redeemed to God

Those who are made a kingdom of priests are precisely those who are redeemed.  To be redeemed means to be ransomed, to be bought back.  It points to the debt we are under because of our sins.  Unfortunately, a lot of us live under the impression that God owes us a good life and we get mad at him because he doesn’t deliver it.  But this is mistaken.  God is God and we are not.  He is your King and Sovereign.  He is your Creator.  He is your Lawgiver.  And you know what?  We have all rebelled against our King.  We have lived as if there is not Creator, as if we get to define our own reality.  We have lived as if we get to make our own laws.  We have lived as if we were self-sovereign.  And so we have not loved God with all our hearts and minds and strength.  We have not been thankful to him for his gifts.  We have lived in ways that are obnoxious to him: in sexual immorality, in deceitfulness, in slander, in hatred and anger and abuse.  We have lived in pride instead of humility, in selfishness instead of worship, in worldliness instead of godliness.  And we think that God owes us something?  He doesn’t owe us anything except judgment.  That is the debt we owe to God: a debt of judgment because of our sins.

But the amazing thing is that the gospel of the kingdom of God is not first and foremost news of future judgment.  It is news of redemption from sins to those who receive it by faith and repentance.  To say that a person is redeemed in the sense here means that their debt of sin before God has been erased.  It means that their sins, all of them, have been forgiven.  However, it doesn’t just mean that our debts are not cancelled and that’s it, but that in releasing men and women from their debt of sin against him, God at the same time draws them to himself.  To be redeemed is amazing.  To be redeemed to God is mind-blowing.  It means that God is our God.  It means that God is eternally for us for our good.  It means that God is our refuge and strength forever.  It means that he loves us and cares for us.  It means that as a father pities his children, so he pities those who are his.  

By his blood

Now the question is, how in the world can God do this?  He has been declared as three times holy in 4:8. How can a holy God overlook sins and release us from our debts?  Must not the Judge of all the earth do right?  But it would not be right for God to not punish sins!  

This is where the sacrificial nature of our Lord’s work becomes absolutely critical for understanding how God can save sinners.  Their sins must be punished if God is to remain just and holy.  But we cannot purge our own sins.  Sins against God are infinitely heinous.  We are like a gambler on minimum wage who has gambled his way into a trillion-dollar debt.  We are responsible to pay it, but we cannot.  

How then can redemption happen?  The Biblical answer to this question is the death of Jesus Christ.  He didn’t just die as an example of righteous suffering.  He didn’t just die as a martyr for the truth.  The gospels tell us that he died as a substitutionary sacrifice for sins.  He paid the price that we couldn’t pay.  He absorbed the sin debt by taking the punishment due to our sins.  This is the point of the Lamb imagery.  John the Baptist understood this.  He proclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).  The lamb in the sacrifices appointed by the Law of Moses functioned in this way.  They were substituted for the sinner and their death was meant to take away the sin of the offeror.

This of course goes back to the Passover, when every Israelite family had to sacrifice a lamb and put its blood on the doorpost in order to avert the death of the firstborn.  It also points us to another prophesy in Isaiah.  He prophesied of the Servant of the Lord who would shed his blood for Israel:

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. . .. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.  (Isa. 53:4-7,10-11)

We all understand what it means for someone to step in and pay a debt we cannot.  Now some people say that this can’t apply to moral debts – that it can’t apply to sins.  But in God’s moral government of this world, he has made it so that it does apply.  And so by his death on the cross, Jesus paid the sin debt for all who believe in him: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16).  

In redeeming a people to God, Jesus has overcome the reversal that sin brought into the world.  Sin brought brokenness and death.  Sin brought alienation from God.  By redeeming a people for himself, Jesus Christ Gods’ Son has reversed all this.  Thus, as the Lamb of God, Jesus has died for his people and by doing so he has won the victory and is creating a new people with new hearts who will one day be raised in new bodies in a new heavens and new earth – and hence the appropriateness of singing a “new song” (9).

Who are these people for whom the Lamb died?  They are described as those “out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” (9).  This excludes universalism for they are out of every kindred, tongue, people, and nation.  However, though the atonement does not bring salvation for all without exception, it does bring salvation for all without distinction.  God’s people will be found in every corner of the globe, in every people group.  This should encourage the church in its mission to obey the Great Commission, to go into all the world.  It should encourage us to be willing to go or to support those who go into all the world to reach those who have never heard the gospel.  The Lamb will have the price of his blood.  Our efforts therefore to bring the gospel to all the ends of the world are therefore not futile.  It doesn’t matter how enraged the devil is, or how opposed the world is to the church.  We need to have a commitment to gospel proclamation, not because we think God can’t get it done without us, but because we have absolute confidence that because God is sovereign and the atonement is effective, the Lord Jesus will get it done in his way and in his time through us.

Why can we move from weeping to worship?  We can do so because Christ didn’t just conquer his enemies, but as the Lamb of God he died for sinners so that their sins might be forgiven and brought them to God as a kingdom of priests who will share in his reign in the age to come.  God who was once our enemy because of our unrighteousness is now our Father and friend because of Christ’s righteousness.  Our prayers are brought into the very presence of the Father (8).  He doesn’t despise our prayers, but they rise as incense in the very throne room of God.

You may ask, “But how does a person know they are redeemed?  How do they know they are one of those among every people group and language?”  The answer is not that you are good enough.  You don’t look inside yourself for reasons to have this hope.  You look to Christ.  You trust in him.  You receive him as Lord and Savior, and the Bible says that those who do will never be ashamed.  He rose from the dead so that those who believe in him will also rise from the dead.  Do you believe that?  Then you too can go from weeping to worship.  You too can join the living creatures and the elders as they worship the Lamb.

The Praise (11-14)

But the praise doesn’t stop in verse 10.  It continues in the following verses and swells to include the whole of God’s universe: “And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.”

There are a number of things about this worship scene in heaven that ought to grab our attention.  First, the same worship which was given to the Father in chapter 4 is now given to the Lamb in verses 11-12, and then to the Father and the Lamb together in verses 13-14.  The fact that they are praised together with the same blessings is another pointer to the true divinity of Jesus Christ.  It is unthinkable to imagine that this kind of worship would be given to a creature, or that God would share his glory with one of his creatures (cf. Isa. 42:8).  

Second, one the emphases of these verses is the number of those who are praising God the Father and God the Son.  The point of “ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands” is not to get a precise figure of the heavenly host through multiplication.  The point is that this number of angelic beings is simply innumerable.  This would have been an encouraging reminder to believers who live in the first century Roman world.  In that world, they were definitely outnumbered.  In that world, they were marginalized and persecuted.  But John is reminding them that they are surrounded by an innumerable host of angels (Heb. 12:22) who praise God with them. This is another reminder that despite their present circumstances, they are on the winning side.  It is a reminder that it is of the utmost folly to abandon the faith for a paganism that cannot persist past the grave.  The God of the Bible alone lives for ever and ever.  The gods of the heathen are dead, and their followers will die with them.  And in our day, when a new paganism is rising again and the faith is again being surrounded and besieged, we need to keep the reality of the heavenly hosts in our minds and hearts as well.

Third, in verse 13 the angelic hosts are joined by “every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them.”  As the psalmist put it, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth his handiwork” (Ps. 19:1).  The God who created all things is the God who will bring in the new creation through Jesus Christ.  The redemption purchased by Christ does not just save the soul; it renovates the universe.  And therefore it is just that the whole creation joins in the praise of God and of the Lamb in verse 13.  

Now what is your response to this?  God and the Lamb are alone the only ones in the universe who are truly worthy to receive riches and power and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing (12-13).  This is not saying that we are giving these things to God in the sense that God needs them from us.  What we offer to God we first receive from him (cf. Rom. 11:35; 1 Chron. 29:10-14).  No, the point is that God alone is the fountain of everything good.  All power and riches and wisdom ultimately derive from him.  And so all honor and glory and blessing ultimately belong to him.

What this means is that God did not create us or anything else out of lack.  He didn’t make the world because he needed the world to fulfill some need in him.  The point of worship is not to meet some need that God has.  No!  God created, not out of lack, but out of abundance.  The world and everything in it is the overflow of the fulness of God’s abundance and delight in himself.  The point of creation is to share this.  And the point of salvation is to share this.  God doesn’t need to, and he doesn’t have to.  But he does out of his grace and generosity and mercy and love.  

Which means that there is nothing and no one in the universe who can meet the needs of your soul at the deepest level and in a lasting way, other than God through Jesus Christ.  To substitute earthly power and privilege for the power of God is a cheap substitute.  The same goes with earthly riches and wisdom.  To substitute earthly blessings for God is not only idolatry and sinful, but it is also spiritual suicide.  We need God, which is why the promise of the gospel to not only cancel our debt through the atonement of Jesus, but also it bring us to God who is the fountain of all blessing, is the very best of news.  It also means that to turn from it is wicked and foolish.

My friend, the gospel call to trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is a call to embrace a redemption that brings us to God.  The only appropriate response to that call is worship.  Will you come to Jesus Christ in this way?  If you do not, if you reject the worship of the Lamb, I can tell you on the authority of God’s word that you will end up some day weeping.  For these are, at the end of the day, the only two options.  You may be oblivious now, but at the judgment seat of the One who sits on the throne, there will only be two possible responses: one of weeping and gnashing of teeth for those who rejected the gospel and the other of worship for those who through the Spirit embraced the gospel by faith in Jesus.  My prayer is that you will see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ and that seeing you will embrace him with a worshiping faith.


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