Christ: Witness, Firstborn, Ruler

Revelation 1:5-6: …And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood; and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father…

Training to Become a Faithful Witness

The Lord Jesus Christ is the faithful witness. That is a characteristic of His humanity. He was faithful from the beginning to the end, even to His death on the cross. As servants or slaves of the living God, as stewards, it is required that we, too, be found faithful (1 Cor. 4:1-2). When the Lord comes back, He will reward the “faithful and wise servant” (Matt. 24:45). It is not easy to be faithful, but it requires us to exercise the wonderful life of Christ that is within us. To be a witness does not just entail speaking about Christ, but we must put our life into it. Our testimony is not just what we speak, but how we live. To live, to be a testimony of the Lord Jesus and a faithful witness, means that we are willing to die in many small things. Even in small tasks, are we faithful or does the Lord have to wait two months for us to get around to it? When the Lord speaks, do we react immediately and say, “Amen, yes, I’ll do it now”? This is a training to be faithful.

The word about being faithful is not an easy word. Many who started out well ended up terrible. They were not faithful; they quit or they stuck to their own opinions instead of obeying the word of the Lord. But John was one who “bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw” (Rev. 1:2). John bore witness not just with his word, but with his life. That is why he ended up in Patmos right at the beginning of the book of Revelation: because he was faithful to the word.

The apostles were all very faithful. It is not easy to find faithful servants. We must all learn from the Lord how to be a faithful witness. We like to proclaim that the Lord is the King of the saints, and that He has been appointed as head over all things to the church (Eph. 1:22) – yet we do not listen to Him; we are not faithful. The Lord said that if we are not faithful in the small things, how can He entrust us with the bigger, weightier things (Luke 16:11)? What sort of testimony must we keep? This testimony encompasses our entire way of life. That is what it means to be a witness. When the Lord was on this earth, wherever He went and whatever He said (even without words), in His entire living, He was a faithful witness to the Father. No wonder the Father proclaimed, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17, 17:5)! Those who follow Him must also be faithful.

Christ, the Firstborn from the Dead

The Lord is also the firstborn from the dead. This is mentioned repeatedly throughout the New Testament. What does it mean to us? He is the firstborn from the dead, and we are His many brethren (Rom. 8:29). Are we like Him, and like Paul who desired to know the power of His resurrection (Phil. 3:10)? The church was born of the resurrection from the dead – thus the church should not be dead. Unfortunately, Sardis was a dead church. But our Christ is risen from the dead, and we have been born again – regenerated through His resurrection (1 Pet. 1:3). Through Christ’s resurrection, He was begotten as the firstborn Son of God: “declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:3-4).

How important is resurrection to us? Are we daily experiencing the power of His resurrection to swallow up the death that is in us? If our body resists doing God’s will, that is not sin but death. Sin entails doing something evil. But death is something that weakens us so that we are unable to do anything. If we are sick, we will not be able to do anything but lie in bed. That is weakness, and weakness to the uttermost is death. In our experience, the Lord often tells us to do something now, but we procrastinate. “No Lord, I’ll do it next time, tomorrow.” Tomorrow never ends because there is always another tomorrow! But now means today. We like to put things aside, but the Lord never put aside what the Father asked Him to do. He was always on time, always obedient to the Father in whatever He said, always doing what was well-pleasing to Him. The Father will never force me to do anything. That is why the Lord said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink” (John 7:37; cf. Is. 55:1). If we are not thirsty, He cannot force us to come and drink. If we wash our robes, then we have the right to the tree of life (Rev. 22:14). What does it mean to have the right? It means that we can choose whether we will do it or not. Just because we have the right does not mean we will exercise it. We choose not to come to the tree of life because the power of death is working in us.

As the firstborn from the dead, Christ is “the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence” (Col. 1:18). If the church has no power of life, she cannot do anything. An electric car with a dead battery is useless and cannot go anywhere. This is exactly how death renders us. Because of death, we are not able to carry out what God wants us to do. It is good to hate this death that is in us. Tell the Lord, “No Lord, You have destroyed him who has the power of death; You are resurrected and You swallowed up all death. Like Paul, I want to know the power of Your resurrection.” To us – to the church, His body, Christ is the firstborn from the dead. Paul realized this; that is why he said, “O wretched man that I am” (Rom. 7:24). Did Paul say this because he was sinful? No – he asked, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?“ (Rom. 7:24). The sinful things that Paul should not have been doing, he was doing – due to the law of sin. But the good that he should have done, he did not do – due to the law of death (Rom. 7:13-20). Paul felt more wretched about death than about merely doing sinful things. If we sin, we can confess, take the blood, repent and have forgiveness. But if we do not do so, we cannot carry out the good things that we should do. How can a dead man do anything? To get a dead man to do something is impossible. So Christ is the firstborn from the dead in relation to His church, who is His body to carry out God’s will.

Judging What Needs to Be Judged

Finally, in Rev. 1:5 Christ is the ruler over the kings of the earth. He is sitting on the throne, with the book and the seven seals and all that is written there, in order to rule over the nations as a Man, and He wants us to be His co-rulers. Do we not desire to rule with Him? We had better start to do so now by judging what needs to be judged! Of course, this does not mean that we would go out and physically fight and argue with people. But we must spiritually judge what needs to be judged, including the entire evil that is transpiring in the U.S. If we do not judge it, if it does not stir us up and bother us, that is not normal. We should tell the Lord, “No Lord, I don’t accept this.” Paul said in 1 Cor. 6:2-3, “Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that shall pertain to this life?” We must learn now to judge the world. There are so many things to be judged. If so many evil things are going on in this world and we are indifferent, that is not good. In our heart, we must be one with the King, the ruler over the kings of the earth, the righteous Judge who is sitting on the throne, who hates lawlessness and loves righteousness (Heb. 1:9). Tell the Lord, “We are going to exercise the authority You have given to Your church to bind and to loose.” The church has this authority.

It is hard to imagine an ambassador who does not stand up for what his nation is doing. Today, we are God’s ambassadors on this earth. What is Zion doing on this earth? We represent God’s kingdom, the heavenly kingdom. We cannot be indifferent. We have a spirit that is one with the Lord to judge – just like what Paul wrote concerning the brother who sinned in the church in Corinth. Paul was exasperated that the Corinthians did not even judge that brother. He said, “I indeed, as absent in the body but present in spirit, hve already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed” (1 Cor. 5:3), and he was ready to cast him out (v.5). In the same way, we must tell the Lord who is sitting on the throne, “Lord, I do not agree with this, with what is happening in the world today. Lord, I am one with Your judgment.” We represent Him on this earth to judge. Are we sitting on the throne with Him today, or are we comfortably sitting in a nice meeting hall week by week?

Let us learn to be one with the One sitting on the throne who has the scepter of righteousness. He is the Son of Man and He is our King! He will make all of His enemies His footstool (Ps. 110:1; Heb. 10:13) – but how will that happen? As the body of Christ, we are here not just to preach the gospel, but to take the kingdom out of the hands of Satan. When it comes to the kingdom, there is always a reference to the spiritual battle. Let us learn to fight this battle today because the kingdom of God is quickly approaching!

(Deutsch) Der Thron Gottes und das Gebet der Gläubigen

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Das Buch Offenbarung, besonders die Kapitel 4-5, ist in unserer Zeit sehr aktuell. Dort sehen wir den Thron Gottes. In der momentanen Weltsituation hat uns der Herr gezeigt, dass ER alles beherrscht. IHM gebührt aller Segen, Herrlichkeit, Ehre, Macht und Anbetung von Ewigkeit zu Ewigkeit (vgl. Offenbarung 5:13). 

Egal, wie viel Ungerechtigkeit heute auf dieser Erde geschieht, wir kennen jetzt schon den Ausgang dieses Zeitalters. Am Ende der Offenbarung sehen wir, wie sich die Braut bereitet hat und als das Neue Jerusalem vom Himmel auf die Erde herabkommen wird (vgl. Offenbarung 21:2). 

Wir richten unsere Augen auf den Herrn und seinen Thron

Die Situation auf der ganzen Erde – insbesondere in den USA – soll uns weder entmutigen oder beunruhigen. Vielmehr sollen wir ausharren, bis der Herr in Kürze handeln wird. Wie Johannes sind wir heute Mitteilhaber an der Trübsal und am Reich und im Ausharren in Jesus (vgl. Offenbarung 1:9). Es ist nicht einfach, dass wir mit anschauen müssen, wie die Gottlosen auf der Erde tun können was ihnen gefällt und wie die Gerechten verfolgt werden. Aber in Offenbarung 4 und 5 sehen wir den Thron Gottes. Heute sollen wir lernen, unsere Augen auf diesen Thron zu richten, bis der Herr uns gnädig ist. 

“Ich hebe meine Augen auf zu dir, der du in den Himmeln thronst. Siehe, wie die Augen der Diener auf die Hände ihres Herrn, wie die Augen der Magd auf die Hände ihrer Gebieterin, so sind unsre Augen auf den HERRN, unsern Gott, gerichtet, bis er uns gnädig ist” (Psalm 123:1-2). 

Das Gericht Gottes geht aus von seinem Thron

 

Der Thron zeigt auch Gottes Gericht, das über die ganze Erde kommen wird. In Offenbarung 6:10 sehen wir, wie die Märtyrer vor dem Thron mit lauter Stimme sagen: „Wie lange, du heiliger und wahrhaftiger Herrscher, richtest du nicht und rächst nicht das Blut an denen, die auf der Erde wohnen?“ Haben wir auch eine solche Sehnsucht nach der Gerechtigkeit Gottes? Oder sind unsere Herzen kalt?  

Heute stehen wir als Mitteilhaber an der Trübsal und am Reich mit Ausharren vor dem Thron und beten für den Vorsatz Gottes. Dieses Gebet ist eine Voraussetzung dafür, dass Gott sein Gericht über die Erde bringen kann. In Offenbarung 5:8 sehen wir goldene Schalen voll von Räucherwerk, das die Gebete der Heiligen sind. In Offenbarung 8 sehen wir, wie das Räucherwerk eine Voraussetzung für das Gericht Gottes über die Erde ist. Erst wenn die Gefäße mit dem Räucherwerk gefüllt sind, werden sie über die Erde ausgegossen.  

Offenbarung zeigt uns in den Kapiteln vier und fünf den Thron Gottes. Erst in den Kapiteln danach sehen wir, wie Gott das Gericht ausübt. Daran erkennen wir, wie wichtig es heute für uns ist, den Thron Gottes zu erfahren. 

Wenn wir heute lernen, mit unseren Augen Gott auf dem Thron zu sehen und im Gebet vor ihm zu stehen, dann können wir den Herrn nur noch loben und ihm die Ehre und Anbetung geben für alles, was er tut und noch tun wird. Er allein ist würdig! 

It is finished

The book of Revelation is an encouragement to focus on this wonderful Christ, who is everything to us. He is the Alpha and Omega, Beginning and End, the First and Last who said “It is finished”, the Bright and Morning Star, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and not just the Offspring but also the Root of David. He is everything: a Lamb with seven horns, seven eyes, seven Spirits. If we see Him, how can we be discouraged? The Word of God shows that we have to focus on Him. If we are looking at the wrong things, we will be discouraged and will weep, like John. But if we turn our eyes to the One sitting on the throne who has the scepter of justice, who loves righteousness and hates lawlessness, then we will be encouraged, full of joy and peace.

If we think that the Lord does not see the whole situation in this world and is doing nothing, we are gravely mistaken. The Lord is full of wisdom. We must ask Him to show us the things that will shortly come to pass, and to see things the way He sees them – not the way we see them. It’s good to have dove’s eyes like in Song of Solomon. A dove can only focus on one thing because it lacks peripheral vision. It has single vision. But we have not only double but multiple vision – which not even an optometrist may be able to cure! Let us experience having dove’s eyes to look only at our Lord Jesus Christ.

We do not want to see so many things, but to focus on the things that cannot be seen. This is faith: “the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:3). “The things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18). We must learn to see the things that are eternal. Whatever man does is short-lived. Man lives only for a limited time, but the Lord is alive forevermore! “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore“ (Rev. 1:18).

When the Lord lived on this earth, there were so many terrible, negative things surrounding Him. But He only looked at the Father; that is how He had peace and continued to go on despite all sorts of attacks from the enemy. Ultimately, everyone forsook Him and He was crucified. Was that the end? The enemy may have thought it was the end, but for the Lord, it was just the beginning! All these wonderful words in the book of Revelation should open our eyes to see how God sees everything. If we think something is the end, the Lord will say, “That is just the beginning.” This is God’s way and His wisdom.

God has never taken and will never take the easy way. We like to take the quickest, easiest way and get frustrated if things aren’t completed quickly. But if we turn our eyes to Him, everything is different. Song 196 says, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus…And the things of earth will grow strangely dim.” It all depends on what we see! If we look around at the temporary things, then we will sink like Peter. When Peter looked at Jesus walking on the sea, he was able to take a few steps. He should have continued to look at Jesus so as to walk many more steps, but when he turned his eyes to look at the waves, the wind, and the boat rocking back and forth, he started to sink! What is better – to sing or to sink? “Sing unto the Lord a new song” (Psalm 96:1,98:1,149:1; Is. 42:10) – this is the way! Revelation 14:3 says that they sang a new song which no one could learn. If we do not learn that song, we will sink.

Praise the Lord for such wisdom in the humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ. He did not sink, but went all the way to the goal and was not angry with anyone – not even with Peter, who denied Him three times. At His resurrection, He remembered Peter as a man, as a disciple, and foresaw his future. It is wonderful to see things the way God sees them. When we look with our own eyes at what is happening, it looks like everything is falling apart. But when we turn our eyes upward, we see that this is just the beginning. We must learn to see what cannot be seen. If we look at the things which are seen with our outward eyes, we will be deceived. But many very real things can only be seen with our inner eyes. Let us experience Christ’s wisdom to see as He sees, and then everything will look very positive. We will have peace and joy and will sing instead of sinking. Our Lord is really wonderful! Pray for all the saints and bless all the saints. Blessed be God our Father. Unto Him be all blessing, honor, and glory.

(Deutsch) Nicht Wunder und Gaben, sondern Christus

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Bei allem, was wir tun, sollten wir darauf achten, dass es dem Aufbau des Leibes Christi dient. Wir können zwar viel Gutes tun, doch wenn dadurch die Gemeinde nicht gebaut wird, hat es wenig Wert. Das Ziel ist unser Wachstum und der Aufbau; beides kann nur durch das Leben Gottes hervorgebracht werden. Paulus sagte im 1.Korintherbrief 3:6: “Ich habe gepflanzt, Apollos hat begossen, aber Gott hat das Wachstum gegeben.” Und in den Versen 10-11 schreibt er: “Nach Gottes Gnade, die mir gegeben ist, habe ich als ein weiser Baumeister das Fundament gelegt; ein anderer baut darauf. Ein jeder aber sehe zu, wie er darauf baut. Denn ein anderes Fundament kann niemand legen außer dem, das gelegt ist, welches ist Jesus Christus.” Das Fundament ist eine lebendige Person, Jesus Christus, auf die und mit der wir alle bauen sollen. Paulus führt dies in den Versen 12-13 weiter aus: “Wenn aber jemand auf dieses Fundament Gold, Silber, kostbare Steine, Holz, Heu, Stroh baut, so wird eines jeglichen Werk offenbar werden; der Tag wird es klar machen, denn im Feuer wird es sich offenbaren; und welcher Art das Werk eines jeden ist, wird das Feuer erproben.”

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(Deutsch)  Die erste Liebe ist umkämpft 

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Die erste Liebe ist in unserer Beziehung zum Herrn Jesus Christus das Höchste und Kostbarste. In Matthäus 22:36-40 heißt es: “Und Jesus sprach zu ihm: Du sollst den Herrn, deinen Gott, lieben mit deinem ganzen Herzen und mit deiner ganzen Seele und mit deinem ganzen Denken. Das ist das erste und größte Gebot.” Wenn wir unseren Herrn so lieben, dann werden wir die Welt wie Dreck achten und dem Herrn folgen, wohin er auch geht. Das möchte der Feind, Satan, jedoch unbedingt verhindern. Er weiß auch, dass seine letzte Stunde geschlagen hat, sobald sich die Gemeinde bereitet hat und dem Lamm nachfolgt, wohin es auch geht. Also wird er alles daransetzen, die Liebe Stück für Stück zu ersticken und erkalten zu lassen (vgl. Matthäus 24:12). Das Ziel der Schlange ist es, dass wir die erste Liebe zum Herrn verlassen, wie es in Offenbarung 2:4 heißt: “Aber ich habe gegen dich, dass du deine erste Liebe verlassen hast.” Doch wie versucht es der Feind, uns von der ersten Liebe wegzubringen? Wir wissen, dass er eine listige Schlange ist – listiger als jeder andere in diesem Universum. Er kommt oft nicht mit großen und offensichtlichen Angriffen. Vielmehr benutzt er die “kleinen” Füchse, von denen Hohelied 2:15 schreibet: “Fangt uns die Füchse, die kleinen Füchse, die die Weinberge verderben; denn unsere Weinberge haben Blüten bekommen.” Der Feind wird alles versuchen, um schon die Blüten des Weinbergs zu verderben, so dass keine Frucht mehr möglich ist. In Lukas 8:14 kann man sehen, was solche Füchse sein können: “Was aber unter die Dornen fiel, das sind die, welche es gehört haben; aber sie gehen hin und werden von Sorgen und Reichtum und Vergnügungen des Lebens erstickt und bringen die Frucht nicht zur Reife.” Ein Beispiel: Solche Vergnügungen des Lebens können YouTube-Videos sein, die vielleicht nur sehr kurz sind, aber unser Herz vom Herrn wegbringen und den Heiligen Geist dämpfen können. Das können wirklich kleine Füchse sein! Vielleicht redet der Feind uns ein, dass wir “nur noch dieses eine Video anschauen sollen”, bis wir zum Herrn kommen und die Bibel lesen. Doch auf das eine folgt das andere, und am Ende sind wir versklavt. Der Feind ist ein Lügner von Anfang an. Lasst uns doch lernen, beständiger mit dem Herrn zusammen gegen den Feind zu kämpfen! Wir wollen unbedingt die erste Liebe zum Herrn bewahren und darin immer noch zunehmen. Hohelied 3:7 sagt: “Siehe da, Salomos Sänfte: sechzig Helden sind rings um sie her, von den Helden Israels! Sie alle sind mit Schwertern bewaffnet, im Krieg geübt, jeder hat sein Schwert an der Seite, damit nichts zu fürchten sei während der Nacht.” Der Herr hat uns nicht grundlos die ganze Waffenrüstung gegeben. Lasst uns lernen, beständig im Glauben die Waffen der Gerechtigkeit zu nutzen. Wenn die Gemeinde bereit ist, in den großen als auch den kleinen Anfechtungen zu kämpfen, dann hat der Herr Wohlgefallen an ihr und wird ihr den vollen Sieg geben. Am Ende ist der Herr sogar überwältigt von ihrer Schönheit, wie es in Hohelied 6:4 heißt: “Du bist schön, meine Freundin, wie Tirza, lieblich wie Jerusalem, furchtgebietend wie Heerscharen mit Kriegsbannern! Wende deine Augen ab von mir, denn sie überwältigen mich!” Lasst uns das Kriegsbanner erheben bis unser Geliebter Herr Jesus zurückkommt.

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