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Worthy Is the Lamb

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
March 22, 2022 12:01 am

Worthy Is the Lamb

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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March 22, 2022 12:01 am

At the heart of God's unfolding purpose for history is the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, who is redeeming a people out of this fallen and fading world. Today, W. Robert Godfrey revels in the glorious hope that we have in our triumphant Savior.

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Today on Renewing Your Mind... ... .... ... ... ... ... . . ... ... . ... .... harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints." Now this is another of those important testimonies that the book pays to the divinity of Jesus. He is being worshiped here just as God the Father was being worshiped in chapter 4. They fall down before Him and sing praise to Him.

And we also see how John helps us by interpreting symbols. Those worshiping before the throne are holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. So you don't have to guess about what the golden bowls full of incense stand for.

And you can see what an appropriate symbol that is, can't you? What happens with burning incense? Well, smoke goes up, and the sweet smell goes up, and that's a most appropriate picture of what the prayers of God's people are before Him. He sees them as a presence and a sweet aroma before Him that He recognizes and honors, and as we will see as we go along, answers. So here's this beautiful picture in verse 9, and they sang a new song. Okay, now we've moved from the old song of creation to the new song of redemption. Worthy, remember the first word addressed to God as Creator was worthy. Now the first word addressed to the Lamb as God is worthy. Are you to take the scroll and to open its seals? What made you worthy?

What was the qualification that qualified Jesus to be the scroll opener? For you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. And you have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.

Here's a wonderful summary of redemption. Jesus ransomed a people, that is, He paid to rescue them from their slavery to sin. And that people is a people drawn from every tribe and language and people and nation. It's Jews and Gentiles.

It's what we saw prophesied in Psalm 87. It's all these peoples brought together equal before God and part of His people. And you have made them to be a kingdom, one kingdom. They are united in one kingdom. I don't see how a literalist can read this verse and conclude there are forever two kingdoms, a Jewish kingdom and a Gentile kingdom. It's one kingdom, not displacing the Jews but bringing the Gentiles in with the Jews.

All Gentiles and all Jews who believe will be saved and united in this one kingdom, and there'll be no discrimination. We'll all be priests before God. And that's a glorious promise here. Every redeemed person is a priest before God and shall reign on earth, reign on earth.

We'll come back to this several times, but this is an important point. The hope of the Christian is not heaven. The hope of the Christian is a new heaven and a new earth in which we dwell in righteousness. The hope of the Christian is not just the redemption of the soul but the resurrection of the body.

Sometimes in our language we can almost seem to forget and deny that, but here it's really underscored isn't it? We shall reign on earth. So here's this wonderful song of praise. And then I looked and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands and thousands, saying worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing. You almost are forced to hear that chorus from the Messiah, aren't you, as we read those words. It says, I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea and all that is in them, saying to him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever. And the four living creatures said, Amen, and the elders fell down and worshiped.

What a glorious saying, all of redeemed reality before God, all singing the old song of creation and the new song of redemption and filled with joy in the presence of God. So this is the introduction. We're just getting started here in the second cycle. So chapters 4 and 5, our introduction, it's a long introduction.

As I said, not everything is neatly balanced in John's divisions of the book. The longest cycle of the seven cycles in the book runs to 110 verses, 110 verses. That's the seventh cycle. And the shortest cycle, the fifth cycle, is only 15 verses.

But, you know, that's a lot like the Psalter, isn't it? Psalm 117 is two verses. Psalm 119 is over 170 verses. So it doesn't always have to be all nicely balanced.

My daughter always preferred that we read Psalm 117 at the table and tried to avoid Psalm 119. But there doesn't have to be a balance. There's an exuberance here and a kind of freedom. But here's the backdrop to what's going to happen in cycle two. The introduction must never be forgotten.

We don't read the introduction and move on. The introduction remains the introduction, the reality that guides us as we turn to the opening of the seals. But before we open the seals, actually before we watch Jesus open the seals, do you notice here in these songs and in this description of Jesus as we find it in Revelation 1 and now as we find it again in Revelation 5, the name Jesus doesn't appear. The name Jesus doesn't appear. In fact, in the book of the Revelation, the name of Jesus appears only 14 times, and most of those are either in the very beginning or the very end. I'm not exactly sure why that's true, maybe in part because so much is symbolic and John wants us to think through the symbols and doesn't want us to think Jesus as a symbol of anything. Jesus is the reality to which the symbols point. I mean, Jesus is all through this book, but it's interesting not by name. Just as Handel's great oratory of the Messiah is entirely centered around Jesus, but His name isn't in there once.

So John is doing something that Handel maybe picked up on. In any case, what is highlighted as the description of Jesus in the Revelation is the word lamb. He is the Lamb of God. Twenty-eight times the word lamb appears in the book of the Revelation, and that notion that Jesus is the Lamb of God, of course, has become so common, so rightly common to Christians and to Christians thinking about Jesus that we may not recognize that He's actually only a very few times referred to as the Lamb of God outside the book of the Revelation. He, of course, is famously called the Lamb of God in a gospel. Which gospel? John's gospel. John particularly wants to communicate to us that Jesus is the Lamb of God, and it's so crucial to John because of course it connects the work of Jesus with the whole sacrificial system of the Old Covenant. The whole Old Testament, in a sense, is a symbol to help. It was a reality, but it was also a symbol to show us what the work of Jesus would be. He is the Lamb of God sacrificed on the altar of the cross to bear the sins of His people.

And so John particularly wants to highlight that for us, and it's one of the great blessings of both his gospel and of this revelation. So now to chapter 6, to the seven seals and to the opening of the seven seals. Chapter 6, now I watched when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder, come. And I looked, and behold, a white horse and its rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering and to conquer. Ah, what a scene.

What a great scene. Jesus has conquered. Jesus is Lord of time. Jesus is now opening the scroll of time, and what a blessing it will be, right, as we see history unfolding under the control and majesty and reign of Christ.

And there it is, that first seal, a white horse, a rider in white, conquering with a crown. Great, right? Isn't that what we'd expect? It's going to be great. So what my younger son says about his sermons, talk to him on Friday, how's the sermon going? It's great. It's going to be great. And that's sort of what we anticipate here.

It's going to be great, but it's not. This is another of those surprises. We might initially think white horse going forth to conquer, it must be Jesus, but we soon discover it's not.

It's not. We have to read on. Verse 3, when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, come, and out came another horse, bright red.

Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, to take peace from the earth so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword. Wait a minute, wait a minute. This doesn't sound so hopeful.

This doesn't sound so great. All of a sudden we realize we're reading about what we all know to be the four horsemen of the apocalypse, the four horsemen of the apocalypse that come not to bring peace, but to bring a sword. And that's what follows.

Then he opened the third seal. I heard the third living creature say, come, and I looked, and behold, a black horse and its rider had a pair of scales in its hand, and I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, a quart of wheat for a denarius and three quarts of barley for a denarius, and do not harm the oil and the wine. This is not blessing. This is cursing. This is not success. This is loss.

What's going on here? When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, come, and behold, I looked, a pale horse, and its rider's name was Death, and Hades followed him, and they were given authority over a fourth of the earth to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth. So imagine John's disorientation. Jesus has conquered, Jesus is Lord of history, Jesus is unrolling the scroll of history, and what's coming out of the scroll of history, not blessing but misery.

That's the picture here. That's what the four horsemen of the apocalypse are bringing. They are not bringing peace and prosperity. They are bringing war and famine and death. What's going on?

What's going on? Well, what's going on is a description of what life really is like in the world, and I think what we need to see is this is not the beginning of final judgment, rather this is the revelation of the way life goes. Life is always a life of war and of famine and of death. Thankfully, we don't all experience it all the time.

This hits a quarter of the earth, we're told. It's a very somber picture. Just at the moment where you expect some glory, we're brought back to reality. The glory is in heaven. The misery is on earth. That's the present reality.

The glory is in heaven. The misery is on earth. I don't know about you, but when I watch the news, particularly in places that are just being torn apart by their own governments, whether it's in the Near East or in Venezuela or various places, my heart just breaks for common people where there's no place to run, no place to hide, no place to escape. And reminding us how fragile life can be in this world.

Venezuela seems a particularly good example, a country that seemed to have made great progress in democracy and economically, and just watch it all collapse. It's such a reminder of the fragile world we live in. And so I think the unfolding of this scroll is not so much to say at some point in the future the four horsemen of the apocalypse will ride forth. I think this is to say this is the world we live in now. And this is really important if I'm right about this.

You don't have to agree with me, but I am right. If I'm right about this, it's important to see that although this is presented sequentially, one horse after another, often in the book of the Revelation what is presented sequentially as if one thing happens after another is in fact not sequential, but actually is happening all the time together. So you don't have one horse that brings famine, and then later another horse brings war, and then later another horse brings death, but rather war and famine and death pretty much all come together as a package, and that's what's being represented here. And so we have to recognize that time and chronology and sequence in the book of the Revelation sometimes is presenting what all happens at once, and we'll need to be sensitive to that as a possibility as we go along and read.

It's part of the challenge of reading this book. But the opening here of the first four seals is very much the opening of the reality of this present evil age and the suffering in it, and Jesus is not bringing that to an end immediately. Jesus is not bringing that to an end immediately. There's another representation of that great truth that Jesus taught, first the suffering, then the glory. There has to be first suffering and then glory, and there's a reason for that, and the reason for that we will find in the opening of the fifth and sixth seals, and that's what we'll turn to next time as this second cycle then begins to move into new territory to help us think through how we live in this present world of suffering. Amazing imagery from the book of Revelation. Thank you for joining us today for Renewing Your Mind.

I'm Lee Webb. Dr. Robert Godfrey has been our teacher, and what we just heard is from his series Blessed Hope, the book of Revelation. This is not an easy book to understand, plenty of mystery to be sure, and we may not understand all of it this side of heaven, but Dr. Godfrey has shown us that it was given by God to encourage us to help us see our blessed hope. You can request the entire series, 24 messages on three DVDs, when you give a donation of any amount to Ligonier Ministries.

You can reach us by phone at 800-435-4343, or if you prefer to give your gift online, our address is Our goal at Ligonier Ministries is to proclaim, teach, and defend the holiness of God in all its fullness to as many people as possible. We're committed to working alongside the local church and equipping people to know and love the Scriptures. In that light, you may want to use this series in a Sunday school class or a small group setting and then donate the DVDs to your church. So again, request Blessed Hope, the book of Revelation, when you contact us with your gift of any amount.

Our phone number again is 800-435-4343. Well tomorrow, we'll skip ahead in Dr. Godfrey's series to the end of the book of Revelation. His message will show us how this book influences our thinking today. That the Lord is in charge of history, that even when we're weak, we're strong. Even when time seems short, we have time. When time seems to drag on long forever, it won't be so long. The Lord's in charge, and the paradoxes help us think through the strangeness of our life before the glory is revealed. Please join us Wednesday for Renewing Your Mind. God bless! .
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-19 19:48:15 / 2023-05-19 19:56:23 / 8

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