Sunday, August 9, 2015, 8:17 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Revelation 1:1-8 (NASB).
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John, who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.
John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood— and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
The Lord Jesus put in mind this song which is about being like Jesus, i.e. concerning emulating Jesus Christ, his divine character and actions. As well, this passage in Revelation 1 is about Jesus Christ and his divine character and actions, so I believe the Lord would have me, this morning, look at these various characteristic traits of Jesus which we, as his followers, should emulate, in the power and working of the Spirit within us, as we submit our lives to the will of God for our lives, and we allow him to live his life out through us.
The Faithful Witness
Jesus Christ was the faithful witness. He said, “For this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth” (Jn. 18:37). Jesus’ first sermon was most likely “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matt. 4:17). Jesus pronounced: “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me” (Matt. 10:37-38). He said, “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters” (Matt. 12:30). Jesus declared: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it” (Lu. 9:23-24). He exclaimed that no one can enter the kingdom of heaven unless he is born from above of the Spirit of God (Jn. 3:3-8). Jesus pronounced that whoever believes (present tense) in him will not perish but have everlasting life (Jn. 3:16). He also stated, basically, that unless we participate with him in his suffering and death (to sin), we do not have eternal life (See: Jn. 6:53-58).
As Christ’s followers, we also are to be his witnesses in sharing the gospel of salvation with the world around us so that they can be saved from sin and have the hope of eternal life with God both now and forevermore. He told his followers that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them and that they would be his witnesses throughout the world (See: Ac. 1:8). He declared to them that all authority in heaven and on earth had been given to him, so they were to go and make disciples (of Christ) of all nations, baptizing and teaching them to obey everything Jesus had commanded them (See: Matt. 28:19-20). Jesus said that we are the salt of the earth (persevering the Word of truth) and the light of the world (the truth and righteousness of Christ), which should not be hidden. He said, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (See: Matt. 5:13-16). We are his body, his temple, in which his Spirit dwells. We are to continue the work which he did on the earth, and we are to become like Jesus, and to have the same attitude and do the same things as he did. So, we should be fervent and intentional in sharing the truth of the gospel so others can be saved.
Ruler of Kings
Jesus Christ is God the Son, the second person of our triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He was with God in the beginning, and all things which were made were created by him. Our God and Savior Jesus Christ is far above all rule and authority, power and dominion. God the Father has placed all things under Jesus’ feet. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. In everything he has the supremacy. Amen! He is the ruler of God’s creation; the head over every power and authority; and all angels, authorities and powers are in submission to him. [See: Eph. 1:15-23; Col. 1:15-20; Rev. 3:14; Col. 2:9-10; & 1 Pet. 3:21-22.] In that we can rest secure, knowing that God rules supreme over all.
So, this means God/Jesus is the head over Satan and all who are workers of iniquity along with him. The devil cannot exist but what God allows it. God could have completely destroyed Satan and all his angels, but he didn’t. God allows evil to reign on the earth, because he allows human beings to exist upon the earth, who are inherently evil, because they were born with sin natures due to the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. Yet, through Jesus’ death and resurrection he put our sins to death, defeating Satan on our behalf, and he delivered us out of the bondage to sin and slavery to the control of Satan over our lives. So, we never have any reason to fear Satan or his workers of iniquity, or their evil schemes against us, because Jesus reigns supreme and Satan can do nothing unless God allows it. God is completely faithful in all he does, and he has and he will provide for us all we need to resist Satan, to flee temptation, and to draw near to God. We can be victorious over Satan because Jesus reigns supreme. Daily we need to put on our spiritual armor with which to fight off Satan’s evil attacks against us. Our Lord will see us through to the end.
Who Loves Us
God so loved the world that he gave his one and only begotten Son, that whoever believes on him has everlasting life. Jesus Christ, God the Son, left his throne in heaven, came to earth, took on human flesh, suffered as we suffer, and was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. He was mocked, betrayed, rejected, forsaken, beaten, falsely accused, persecuted, spat upon, and crucified on a cross, although he had done no wrong. He healed the sick, raised the dead, comforted the sorrowful, delivered from demons, and gave messages of hope and of deliverance, but also of judgment. He warned against going our own way, and following in our own sinful path, and he called people to repentance, and told them that following him means death to sin and living to righteousness. He said his sheep listen to him, they know his voice, and they follow (obey) him. He said if we love him, we will keep his word and do what he says.
So, to love like Jesus loves, we must also humble ourselves, be willing to suffer unjustly for the sake of the gospel, be self-sacrificial in thinking of others above ourselves, and we must treat others according to what is in their best interest, i.e. according to what is God’s best for them, not necessarily according to what they want or desire. God does not give us everything we desire. He gives us what is best for us, according to his will and purpose.
Who Has Freed Us
Jesus Christ died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might be free from slavery to sin and so we might become slaves of righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave himself up for us. His grace which brings salvation teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for his return. He died that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. He died that we might be turned from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that we may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ. [See: Ac. 26:16-18; Ro. 6:1-23; 8:1-14; 2 Co. 5:15; Eph. 2:8-10; 4:17-24; Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Pet. 2:24-25; & 1 Jn. 1:5-9.]
The way in which we emulate Jesus Christ here is that we live the life of freedom from bondage to sin for which he died, and we lead others to believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of their lives. We teach them the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ which says that when we believe in Jesus we die with Christ to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to new lives in Christ Jesus, i.e. we are born from above of the Spirit of God, and we forsake our former lives of living in sin and we now walk in the Spirit according to Christ’s righteousness which has been credited to our accounts because of what Jesus Christ did in dying on the cross for our sins, so we could go free. We teach them that God’s grace to us is not liberty (license) to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse, for if we say we have fellowship with God, and yet continue on a course of conducting our lives according to the flesh, and not according to the Spirit, we are liars and we will die in our sin.
Who Made us Priests
When Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, the veil that hung between the holy place and the Holy of Holies was torn in two by God, making the way for all who believe in Jesus Christ to come into God’s holy presence. Jesus has made us, his followers, into a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father, and to offer up spiritual sacrifices, pleasing and acceptable to him. We are to offer ourselves to God as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to him, which is our reasonable service of worship of him, no longer conformed to the ways of this sinful world, but transformed of the Spirit of God in the renewing of our minds. As a holy priesthood, we are to proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light. [Ro. 12:1-2; 1 Pet. 2:5-9; Rev. 1:6; 5:10; 20:6]
Again, the way to be like Jesus in this is to first of all live the life for which he gave his life, to lead others to Christ by the example of our own lives, and to be the kingdom priests Jesus made us to be, to serve God, to proclaim Jesus and the gospel of salvation, and to walk in Christ’s righteousness and holiness, all in the power and working of the Spirit within us. Then, we can make disciples (of Christ) of people of all nations, teaching them to obey what Christ has commanded us, using our spiritual gifts and body parts (assignments) to further the gospel and to edify and encourage our fellow believers in their walks of faith.
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Thomas O. Chisholm / W. J. Kirkpatrick
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.