The Worthy Lamb

Cross-posted at Vertical

Revelation 5:9 world

The scene in Revelation takes place in the throne room of God. The great scroll that outlines God’s plans to restore the universe and reign in sin is there. Sadness fills the room as it seems no one is worthy to open the scrolls. Tears stream down John’s face. Is there anyone on heaven or earth worthy?

Then when all hope looks lost, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, the Christ is announced as the worthy conqueror (v 5). The blood stained, seven horned, seven eyed Lamb of God makes his entrance. The four living creatures and the twenty-four elders sing a new song of worship celebrating the Lamb’s redemption (v 9-10). A great angelic choir joins to offer a tribute to the Lamb’s deity (v11-12). Finally, every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea offer join in confessing that the Lamb (Jesus) is the Lord to the glory of God.

Let’s take a closer look at the redemption of the Lamb. Jesus was slain, and by his blood he ransomed a people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. Marinate on that for a while. The people of God come from every single people group!

How does this Biblical truth impact our thinking? Think about issues like racism and ageism. Or attitudes that lead us to separate from sinners like those people. What about missions? Are we motivated to share the gospel with our enemy? Do our churches (our small groups, our bible studies, etc) look like the community shown in verse 9?

Looking ahead, what a great day it will be when all believers are gathered together at the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19). All of God’s people, from every tribe and language and people and nation, from all of human history gathered together called through the gospel of grace.

God is not a State Farm Agent

Cross-posted at Vertcal

Many Christians love to recite verses from the Bible such as Romans 8:28. “God is on my side; it will all work out,” they say. “God is in control and working everything out for my good,” they will tell you. It almost sounds like God is a State Farm agent, ready to help out whenever trouble strikes.

But is that really what the Bible teaches? Just open it up and look at Romans. Paul’s thoughts don’t stop at verse 28. There are two more sentences that too many of us ignore. The Bible tells us that God is not just working things out for our good. No, God is working all things together so that His elect will be conformed to the image of Christ and attain eternal  salvation.

[28] And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called  according to his purpose. [29] For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. [30] And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Romans 8:28-30 ESV)

Paul is teaching us that God wants to do more than just help solve our earthly problems. He is conforming you into the image of His Son. In fact, there is no guarantee that God will solve your plight. Just ask John the Baptist (Luke 7:20-23). Does that discourage you? It shouldn’t.

Watch this clip with Matt Chandler.

The Good Shepherd

Cross-posted at Vertical

Brothers and Sisters, if you died tonight do you know for certain you will go to heaven?

Do you say, “I hope so!”?

Do you say, “No one can know”?

Do you say, “Yes, because I…”?

As a child I would have said, “Yes, because I am Catholic.” Today, my answer couldn’t be more different.

In the tenth chapter of John we meet Christ, the Good Shepherd. It is here that we can go to learn the answer to our question. It is here that we come face-to-face with God’s sovereign grace.

In answering the Jews questions, Christ gives us the answer we are looking for.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

(John 10:27-30 ESV)

Do you understand what Jesus is saying here?

We are His sheep (v 3-4) and He is our Good Shepherd (v 11). He is the door (v 9) by which we enter eternal peace with God. He lays down his life for His sheep (v 15). Christ is the one shepherd of one flock (v 16) and we are to follow Him. He gives us eternal life that begins in the here and now (v 10).

We are His sheep. All of His sheep hear his voice. None of His sheep will ever perish. Not one of His sheep will be lost. He joyfully receives His sheep from His Father. The sheep are held together in the hands of of Jesus and the Father. Jesus, the Father (and the Holy Spirit) are one in unison here.

If you died tonight, do you know for certain you will go to heaven? The sheep find rest in the answer. Yes, my Good Shepherd shed His blood to reconcile me, a sheep gone astray, to God the Father through his death and resurrection. I will be with my Shepherd for eternity!

Blood is Required

Cross-posted at Vertical.

In the beginning of Ezra 6, we find the second temple completed and dedicated, 16 years after the return from Babylonian captivity. There is much that could be said here, but I want to turn my attention to the second half of the chapter that takes place a month after the dedication of the temple.

In verses 19-22 we have the first Passover celebration in Jerusalem since the return from Babylon. Most of these people had never witnessed a Passover. Participants included the people of Israel who had returned from exile, and also by every one who had joined them and separated himself from the uncleanness of the peoples of the land to worship the LORD, the God of Israel. (Ezra 6:21 ESV) Estimates of 60,000-70,000 people have been given. Picture the scene: Some 6,000-7,000 spotless lambs and an equal number of heads of households within the temple along with the priests and Levites.

Now picture the scene as the ritual slaughter of those lambs began. The Levites dressed in white slitting the throats of the lambs and catching the blood in basins. Blood being passed from the Levites to the priests and poured out on the altar. The fatty parts being cut from the lambs and burnt on the altar as an offering. Can you even imagine the gruesome scene? Do you understand how much a holy God detest sin?

These Israelites were brought face to face with the blood that God requires. Looking back to the first Passover, the shed blood on the doorposts covered all within the house as the Lord’s avenging angel swept throughout Egypt. The shed blood of our true Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ, covers the sins of all who trust in God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Like the lamb, Christ is our substitute. He was pierced for our transgressions (Isaiah 53:5 ESV).

Chapter 6 ends with a joyful celebration of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Don’t miss the fact the Lord had made them joyful. He had turned the heart of the Assyrian king, Israel’s worst enemy. He had brought Israel out of Babylonian captivity. He is faithful to his promise. One day we will stand in joyful celebration because he has already defeated our worst enemies sin, death, and the devil. One day we will stand together and sing a new song, saying,
     “Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood
you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and
people and nation,

(Revelation 5:9 ESV).