Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Jesus: The Alpha and Omega

“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”  ~Revelation 22:12,13
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” ~Revelation 1:8

For the most part, today's secular world does not deny that Jesus existed. What is taught and what they would have us all to believe is that He was just some nice guy who was wise and went around teaching peace and love. Then there are those who push the idea He was a religious revolutionary, struggling to lift the poor people up against a Roman government. None of these explanations even come close. What the world will not acknowledge is that Jesus is God come on the flesh.

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. ” ~Revelation 1:17,18

When the Bible declares Jesus is the Alpha and Omega it means He is the beginning and the ending of everything, He is eternal. This name and description could be used of no one properly but God. Pastor shared with us last Sunday the connection here with the other “I am” declarations of Jesus in the Gospel of John.

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. ~John 8:58,59

Who Jesus is and what He came to do is wrapped up in those two little words He used to describe Himself to the Pharisees, “I am.” The Jews who Jesus made this declaration to did nit misunderstand what He was saying because they took up stones to kill Him for claiming to be the great I Am who revealed Himself to Moses at the Burning Bush.

Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” ~Exodus 3:13,14

You see, Jesus is God. Instead of going to some “scholar”, listen to what Jesus said about Himself. When God called to Moses from the burning bush and gave him the mission of going to Pharaoh to seek the release of the Hebrews, Moses asked God what His name was. God replied His name was "I AM WHO I AM". These words express the absolute, unchanging and eternal God of all creation. "I AM WHO I AM", is a very literal rendering of the Hebrew text, expressing God's real, perfect, unconditional, and independent existence. God exists in a way that no one and nothing else does, because He is without beginning or end. He is the only Being who is self-existent and all other existence is dependent upon His un-caused existence. Jesus is this same God; Jesus is the Alpha and Omega.

“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” ~Revelation 22:12,13

In the closing verses of the book of Revelation, Jesus declares who He is. There can be no doubt He is eternal God come in the flesh. Our Lord and Savior is without beginning and without end. He is omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient. He created us and holds our very existence together in His hand. More importantly, He came into our world to redeem us. Is there any doubt that He is able to save to the uttermost? Those who have placed their trust and faith in Him, can rest in knowing their salvation is made sure by an all eternal Lord. Have you trusted in Him? Have you recognized who He is or do you still question Him as the Pharisees did so long ago? Abandon yourself to Him, turn from sin and throw yourself into the arms of a forgiving Savior; because only He can save you.

Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:25

Jesus: The Word of God

. . . and the Word was God.  ~John 1:1c
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ~John 1:1

In the gospel penned by John the disciple, he calls Jesus the “Word of God”. This is, perhaps, one of the best descriptions of who Christ is. Jesus as the Word of God, is the express image of God Himself. Jesus was God in human form communicating God's will in all He said and did; He embodied ultimate and total truth. What may be known of God then can be found in Jesus. He said so Himself when asked by one of His disciples to see the Father.

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? ~John 14:8,9

God's Word teaches us that Jesus is God in the flesh and pre-existent, He was before time began and always with God. The birth of the Messiah was foretold by the prophet Micah around 710 B.C. and in his prophecy he mentioned the Chosen One's activities had been from the beginning of time and even before that. Jesus is from everlasting to everlasting; He is God eternal!

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. ~Micah 5:2
The prophet Micah is not alone in revealing this message, for the disciple John began his account of the Lord's life the same way. John told us in the beginning the Word already existed with the God. Last Sunday Pastor gave us a short lesson on the word “Logos” which is Greek for “Word” and is an outward expression of an inner thought. What John wants us to know about Jesus when he calls Him “The Word” is everything we can see, know and understand about God can be found in Jesus. Pastor said the greatest revelation of God is Jesus, the Word made flesh.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. ~John 1:14

Jesus is the Word of God. All of God's grace and all of His truth are revealed in the person of Christ, specifically His dying for undeserving sinners on the cross. Pastor gave us three points of application from John’s message of Jesus the Word, as the greatest revelation of God:
  1. Apart from Jesus, you cannot know God or find Him.
  2. God is revealed so completely in Jesus that if you reject Him, you reject God.
  3. The closer I imitate Jesus, the more God will be seen in me.
Do you know God? Do you know Jesus? It is only when we know God in the person of His Son Jesus that we have victory over sin and death. It is only when we know Jesus as the Word we become the children of God. If you know Him, then you can look forward to day the Word will return.

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. ~Revelation 19:11-13

Friday, November 15, 2013

Jesus: Our Advocate

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31)... without the Advocate that is.
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. ~1 John 2:1

I don’t know about you, but I have come to love the truth revealed in this verse and to take great comfort in knowing Jesus is an ongoing advocate before the Father on my behalf. Over the course of my years I have been in trouble for various things and have been called before someone to give an account of my wrongdoing. I cannot think of a more fearful and horrific thing than to stand before God and give an account of my sin... alone.

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. ~Hebrews 10:31

Think of it, this very day there are people who will be called before the Almighty to give an account for their sin. I cannot even begin to describe the bone-numbing fear I would feel, if I had to stand before God as the books were opened and my violations of His Holy Law were read off. Oh, the depths of disgrace and shame one would feel at having their inner most secrets revealed and judged in the presence of God and His angels! For those who must stand before God alone and without an Advocate, it will indeed be a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” ~Revelation 6:15-17

When the day of wrath comes and God shakes this old world one last time, humanity will no longer be able to hide from Him. Those who do not have the Advocate Jesus Christ to stand with them will be facing God's judgment alone. In one last desperate attempt, man will cry out for the mountains and rocks to fall on them and hide them from God. Regardless of hiding beneath mountains and rocks or behind trees and fig leaves, God will judge sin.

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. ~Revelation 20:12

This past Sunday, Pastor described the scene as a courtroom where the accused stands before his or her accuser and the Judge. Some will be without an Advocate and others, who have trusted Jesus as their Lord and Savior will have the Advocate of the ages to speak on their behalf.

So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. ~Matthew 10:32,33

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Jesus: Friend of Sinners

And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”  ~Luke 7:48
One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. Luke 7:36

Pastor made an important observation for us this past Sunday; Jesus always goes where He was invited. It did not matter if one was a tax collector, a fisherman, or a Pharisee. When Jesus was invited to a meal, He went. There was no distinction for Him who the host or hostess was because everyone had need of what only He could bring. Forgiveness of sin.

And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. ~Luke 7:37,38

Forgiveness of sin comes only after one recognizes their need and seeks forgiveness from the only One who can supply it. Although humanity has tried a variety of ways to purify or remove this sinful condition there still remains only one method whereby we might be saved from it. The woman, pictured here in this account from Luke, is a prostitute and sinner. She is painfully aware of her sin and comes to Jesus expressing her love for Him in worship and tears. She knows something Simon the Pharisee has no clue about... She knows she isn't a “good person” and she has a debt which she cannot pay.

And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.” “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” ~Luke 7:40-42

Jesus tells a parable of two men owing a debt they could not repay. Jesus then asks Simon, the Pharisee, which one would love the creditor the more. Simon responded that it would be the one who was forgiven the largest debt, to which Jesus responded, “You have judged rightly.” This parable was to point out to Simon how the woman crying at Jesus feet saw her debt of sin great and so, loved Him much. Simon had shown little love or even common courtesy to Jesus because he saw his sin as being such a small debt if any debt at all.

Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” ~Luke 7:44-47

Jesus has a way of making clear where we stand in relation to Him and He makes it clear for Simon where he and this woman are by virtue of the way they have treated Him. The love and feelings this woman has shown with her tears, kisses and worship have validated something Jesus points out for Simon... her faith has saved her.

And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” ~Luke 7:48-50

There was a question to consider for our Growth Groups this week, it went something like this:
Is your relationship with Jesus more like the Pharisee or more like the prostitute in this story in Luke?
We should think about that one.