Christ Doesn’t Exist For Us, We Exist For Him

I attended a youth leadership camp in Oklahoma after I knew God was calling me into ministry. The man preaching for the group I was in wore a jersey, carried a handheld mic, and charismatically delivered a message each day. When he finished, the whole group applauded him. Since that was my exposure to preaching, I defined the ministry God was calling me to accordingly. My objective was to say something profound enough to get people’s attention, and I only ever wanted positive attention. I would bend-over backwards to make sure people were pleased with the way I was doing things. I got pretty popular—but it wasn’t worth it. I didn’t pay careful attention to Biblical interpretation. I didn’t work very hard at presenting God’s word accurately. Instead, I defaulted to what was familiar to me and tried to make everything as cool as possible. I was promoting me, not Christ. For some reason, people seemed to like me more that way. The truth of the matter is, I wasn’t worthy. I’m not sure why God chose not to end my whole ministry then. By His grace, He still allows me to preach.

There are many people who see a relationship with Christ as a means for personal gain or comfort in this world either from the church or in their own lives.

Revelation 1:4-8

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.”

Jesus (v. 4-5a)

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.

John introduces his Revelation a second time. Not only is the letter addressed to all of Christ’s bond-servants (v. 1), it is addressed to the seven Greek churches in Asia (modern day Turkey). There are more than seven churches in Asia, modern-day Turkey. John will address seven local churches particularly in chapters 2-3. These churches are on the same postal route so the letter can easily move from church to church along the route. Seven is also the number of perfection or completion in apocalyptic literature. Symbolically, this letter is written to Christ’s complete church and not merely the seven local churches listed. Not only will John literally address seven local churches, the number seven represents completeness. As we saw in verse 1, his letter is for Christ’s complete church. Whatever John is going to write, it means something for the seven Greek churches in his own day.

John, once again, describes the Trinity. We sense, again, John’s doctrinal waltz. The Father is He who was, is, and is to come (. The Holy Spirit is the seven spirits of God (Isaiah 11:2, Zechariah 4:1-10). Once again, seven represents perfection or completeness. As we read in Zechariah, the ministry of the Holy Spirit is entirely sufficient and we depend entirely upon the Holy Spirit, being unable to contribute any more to His complete work. Jesus Christ is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of all kings. When John refers to Jesus as the firstborn from the dead, it is a positional statement. Jesus is the rightful heir of everything the Father owns. The Revelation is about Jesus assuming possession of all that is rightfully His. Grace and peace comes from the Father through the Son by the Holy Spirit. Jesus alone will rule over the earth. Revelation is a book about Christ’s dominion and lordship. If Christ is lord, none of us can be in any way. We are mere subjects of King Jesus.

Glory and dominion (v. 5b-6)

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.

For those who are members of Christ’s true church, Jesus loves us, has released us from our sins by His blood, and has made us a kingdom of priests. There are a few things to notice about the person and work of Jesus Christ. (1) Jesus is the one loving, releasing, and making. It is not granted anywhere that we can do any part of Christ’s work for Him. (2) Jesus loves us, us here referring to John and those John has addressed- the seven churches and Christ’s bondservants. The love John attributes to Christ, here, is not the type of love our society has attributed to Christ. John defined Jesus’s particular love for His people in John 15:9-17:

Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. This I command you, that you love one another.

Do you sense Christ’s particular love as Jesus, Himself, taught it and John quoted? He chooses His people, loves them, and dies for them. Those who are not really His sheep do not receive Christ’s particular love. This love only belongs to Christ’s bondservants and Christ only died for His friends—whom He chose for Himself. In John 15:18-25, Jesus clarifies that the world will hate His people because they do not really know God or His word. (3) Jesus released us from our sins by His blood. It is up to God not merely to release us from the consequences of sin but from the sins themselves; we are insufficient to overcome our own sins. Christ releases us from our sins according to His will and good pleasure in His timing as we know Him more. (4) We are called to serve God as priests, not merely attend church or watch videos to “be fed.” The Father has all glory and dominion as He conquers sin and calls people to serve Him according to His own will, which is perfect and complete—there is nothing for us to add to God’s perfect and complete work. We are merely priests in His kingdom, and God has given His people different gifts to use in service to Him and one-another (Cf. 1 Corinthians 12).

The world’s position (v. 7-8)

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.”

John writes that Jesus is coming in the clouds. “Is coming” (ερχεται) is a present-tense verb. Whatever it means that Jesus is coming in the clouds, John sees it happening as he is writing verse 7. When Daniel prophesied the Son of Man’s future coming in the clouds in Daniel 7:13-14, he explained what he meant. What Daniel described as a coming in the clouds meant the Son of Man would be presented before the Ancient of Days and would be given all dominion forevermore over all peoples, nations, and languages. When Paul references Daniel’s vision in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, he is encouraging the church—reassuring believers that they will be with Christ before the Father forever with those who have already died; Paul’s statement is not at all concerned about a rapture but, instead, being with Christ as Christ is already before the Father with all dominion. Those who are still alive when Christ’s kingdom is fully revealed on the earth and He returns to the earth will go out to meet Him as He is before the Father on His way to the earth. There is nothing about being raptured up to Heaven or even literally flying up into the clouds. If there were, it would contradict Daniel, Jesus, and John. Paul simply employs Daniel’s apocalyptic symbol.

According to Christ, His coming in the clouds and being presented before the Father was accomplished in His resurrection and ascension to the Father’s right hand (Matthew 28:18); John’s use of the present-tense indicates that Christ’s reign continues—it is perpetual, and Christ currently has authority to build His church among all nations and tongues just as Daniel prophesied.

John transitions to the future tense. Every eye will see Jesus lifted up, and every tribe will mourn over Him. It will be so even for those who murdered Jesus (Rome). Every individual will see Christ as king, either willingly or not. The world’s kingdom will mourn as Christ’s dominion is revealed because the world’s kingdom will lose its perceived dominion. The revelation of Christ’s dominion and unmasking of the world’s false dominion provides a framework for the book of Revelation.

As Jesus is coming in the clouds, He is currently saying from the Father, “I am the Alpha and Omega, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” 1, 2, 3… Past, present, future. The only one with all dominion forever ago and forevermore.

If Jesus is the one with all dominion, you and I are not. I am not worthy of the privilege I have expositing God’s word in service to His church. You are not so worthy as to make sure a church is definitely serving your material or egotistical needs. We are not worthy to have things the way we want them. This is Christ’s world. We are Christ’s people. The church is not an organization built around the world’s consumerism. Christ’s people are His church and He has dominion. Anything we have, we have by His grace alone. Too many Christians, I think, worship themselves rather than Christ and still consider it honoring to Christ. We fail to realize that Christ is Lord. We are here for Him, not He for us.

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