The Scroll and the Lamb
It is always encouraging to read articles in a magazine such as Clarion that outline the challenges and dangers of our world and show how to deal with them. Thumbing through recent issues, I think of Dr. C. Van Dam’s editorial on the severe moral crisis of our culture regarding gender blending. I also think of Rob Wildeboer’s published speech regarding the need to ignite our culture through legal challenges and defence. Such articles not only point out the dangers of our world, but they show what we as Christians can do about it. The point is that Christians do not and should not take attacks against the kingdom of God lying down. Too often mainstream Christianity has been accused of a “quietist religion.” In other words, Christians have ducked their heads when the salvos of the evil one are aimed their way and they have kept their heads down, much like an ostrich buries its head in the sand. The idea here is that this world is passing and will be burned up with fire on the last day. Christians can wait for a better day and a better world. Meanwhile there is nothing to be done for this world. However, such an attitude flies in the face of even such a basic teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
Suppose we say, “I have read these articles and I have thought about what it means to be a Christian in this world and I am not going to take modern culture and the seductive attacks by Satan lying down. I am going to do something about it. I am going to make a difference.” We love it when people talk so enthusiastically. We admire them. And we find ourselves feeling a little bit breathless when we start to think and talk that way ourselves. But then, perhaps, a small dose of reality sets in. We start to consider whether we really can have an impact on our government and the legal system of our country. We wonder whether we can change ethics and morality such as it is in our culture. Do we really think, for instance, that we are going to bring back the norm of one man and one woman in a marriage as long as they are both alive? Do we really think we can change the mass dependency on alcohol, drugs, pornography, gambling, and other vices in our world? A reality check suggests that maybe with God’s grace we can change ourselves and we can have some influence on our children and best friends. But changing society in such a fundamental and revolutionary way seems improbable.
The Lamb Who is Worthy
As a Christian you can feel like you are stuck between a rock and a hard place. We are supposed to be positive and active as we live out our faith in this world, but we wrestle with the tremendous obstacles that face us. However, the sense of being stuck is only true and it is only real if you think that your actions and accomplishments all depend on your own strength. We are reminded of what Paul writes in Philippians 4:13, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”
At this time of year we commemorate the ascension of our Saviour. This is described in a very special and powerful way in Revelation 5. There we read of a scroll in the right hand of God as he sits on his throne in heaven. That scroll is described by some as being the Book of Life which is referred to elsewhere in the Book of Revelation. Given the context and given the obvious connections with Daniel 7:13-14 and Matthew 28:18, the scroll with the seven seals in the hand of God would be better understood as God’s plan outlining the purpose and conclusion of redemptive history. The question then comes up in Revelation as to who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll. Who is worthy to run this world? The answer indicates that there is only one person who is worthy and that is the Lamb, looking as if it had been slain. This is Jesus Christ of whom the four living creatures the twenty-four elders then sing:
You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.
Because Jesus Christ laid down his life for sinners and redeemed them with his blood, He has the right to take the scroll of history as He ascends into heaven. He is now the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the King of kings and Lord of lords. He has almighty power and authority to run this world in accordance with God’s plan. And what is at the heart of that plan? For what reason does Jesus Christ now govern the world? To gather, defend, and preserve the very people whom he redeemed with his blood, to make them a kingdom and priest to serve God on earth.
Opening the Seven Seals
Almost immediately, the Book of Revelation demonstrates how Jesus Christ starts to open the seven seals. The opening of the first four seals which send out the four horsemen of the apocalypse outlines for us that we live in a world of much turmoil and suffering that affects believers and unbelievers alike. What it does for the believer is test, prove, and strengthen faith. The opening of the following seals makes clear that everyone who is chosen by God, sealed by Jesus Christ, and holds in faith to Jesus Christ cannot and will not be separated from the love of God in Christ Jesus. While the ups and downs of life may challenge us and while Satan may relentlessly step up his attacks, a true believer will not succumb to Satan or the culture of this world. Amazingly we learn that the number of believers is so great that they cannot be numbered. Obviously we should not be thinking too small about the kingdom of Jesus Christ.
In our brief analysis of Jesus Christ’s ascension into heaven we realize that we have a lot to celebrate. On the one hand, Jesus Christ is absolutely sovereign in this world and, on the other hand, we as believers are a kingdom of priests in this world. Therefore in our country, matters of government, the legal system, education of children and youth, the institution of marriage, issues of morality, and so on all belong to Jesus Christ and require the kingly and priestly service of those whom He washed in his blood and Spirit. If we have a strong and very real sense of the power of Jesus Christ and our position in his kingdom, we will understand not only how much we are needed but also how much we can do in our world and within our culture. We can effect change through Him who strengthens us. How many poor, poor people are out there in our world who would never hear anything good or experience anything good unless they meet Christians who demonstrate the power, the glory, and the will of their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ?
We have every reason to be optimistic and positive in Jesus Christ. He redeemed his people and He is running this world for the sake of his people. How about a little more of the attitude, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength”?