By Miltiades Yiapanis
HE ALONE IS WORTHY
In the 5th chapter of the Book of Revelation John sees in the vision, a book sealed with seven seals, it lies in the right hand of Him that sat on the throne. The book represents the counsels and decrees of God, things that have been settled from the beginning. John wept much when he saw that there was no one to be found anywhere who was worthy to respond to the cry of the strong angel and take the book and open it. He was crying until an elder comforted him commanding him to cease from weeping. The angel pointed him to the Lion of Judah, the root of David in the midst of the throne. John looked and at the center of all things and every creature a lamb was standing, it had the marks that it had been slaughtered but it was alive and took the book out of the right hand of the One that sat on the throne. He realized that the lamb that he was beholding was none other than Jesus, his beloved Lord. John was weeping until he saw the lamb in the mist of the throne. He was weeping, for the throne without the lamb in the mist of it would have been nothing more than a fearful throne of judgment, there will be no mercy for sinners, no forgiveness, no grace, no salvation, no hope, no future. The lamb in the mist made the difference and put an end to the tears of John, but also to our tears and to the tears of every one who by the grace of God sees the lamb. The lamb was found worthy to open the book and to administer the counsels written within and so set in motion all that was to come to pass, He was and is the one in full control until the restoration of all things. The heavenly beings then fell down before the Lamb, each one of them had harps and golden vials full of incense that were the prayers of the saints, they were singing a new song saying, “You are worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for You were slain and have redeemed them to God by Your blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people and nation; and have made them unto God kings and priests: and shall reign on the earth. …” Rev.5.v9&10. The recognition of worthiness of Christ does not end there for John says, “And I beheld and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands; saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing” Rev.5.v11&12. To this immense choir “Every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and such as are in the sea” join in saying, “blessing and honor and glory and power, be unto Him who sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.” Rev.5.v13. Jesus, the Son of God, the everlasting Word, the One who was made flesh and emptied Himself taking the form of a servant and He humbled Himself becoming obedient unto death; He Who tasted death for every man, is the One now ascended and given the Name that is above every other name so that at the Name of Jesus every knee in heaven and in earth and under the earth should bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord to the glory of God the Father. He, the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End is alive for evermore and is the Worthy One. Only He has the key of David, He opens and no one can close, and closes and no one can open. He also has the keys of death and Hades.
The Lamb took the book and began to open the seals, this is a powerful symbol to us for it points to the fact that Jesus is in full control of all that happens and shall happen in the future, all is under Him, nothing is outside His rule. No one can move a finger doing good or evil unless it is given or allowed by Him from above. In Christ every word of God is being fulfilled, every promise and prophesy concerning His people and the nations, the end of the age and the judgment of the world, His kingdom to come and the triumph of His church, the final defeat of all the enemies and the ushering in of the new age of ages, the new heaven and the new earth upon which the New Jerusalem comes down; we can gladly say that everything needed has been done in Him already, waiting to be revealed in its own time. At the end of this age everything man has built not founded on Christ the rock of ages, shall fall like a cardboard house and shall be destroyed, nothing shall remain, it shall be consumed in the fires of His judgment. Jesus said that every plant that the Heavenly Father had not planted would be uprooted; the final and complete fulfillment shall take place when He comes in glory and presides in judgment. All kingdoms and empires, human systems and religious organizations, every Babylonian structure and high tower, all that exalts self and commends human pride, shall be no more. “And the pride of man will be humbled and the loftiness of man will be abased, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day. But the idols will completely vanish.” Isaiah2.v17&18. Jesus Christ is the Lord, His God and Father has put all things under His feet for He is ”far above every principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” Eph.1.v21. His final victory is sure, and His kingdom is an unmovable, incorruptible and eternal kingdom.
EVERYTHING WAS GIVEN UNTO HIM
Jesus the Son is supremely precious to His Father, He ever beholds Him in eternal love, the Son is an everlasting bliss and joy to His Father’s heart, His preciousness and worthiness is without compare. Risen, ascended and glorified Jesus is the heir of all things and the possessor of all power, riches, wisdom, honor and glory and blessing. All things belong to and are given to Him. He is the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last, the Αlpha and Omega, the centre, the fountain, the pillar of the universe, by His word all things consist, and His Name is higher than any other name. Every blessing His church enjoys and all that she possesses is because He, her bridegroom and head freely grants it to her; Clothed and adorned with His glory she is His future bride. “The glory you gave me Father, I gave to them,” is how He expressed it in the prayer in John17.v22 “Father, I will that they also, whom You have given me, be with me where I am.” John17.v24 When Jesus spoke to His disciples concerning the coming of the Spirit one of the statements He made was: “He shall glorify me: for He shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.” John16.v14. This is part of the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit, He reveals to us and in us what we have received in Christ. It should be no surprise to us that when Paul, a man filled with the Spirit, was describing his ministry he said it was to preach through the Spirit the unsearchable riches of Christ Eph.3.v8. This vividly captures in a simple phrase the nature of authentic Christian ministry. Our Beloved Savior met us whilst we were in our poverty and wretchedness and poured the love of God into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, and with Him come many gifts too, these are among the things that “eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things that God has prepared for those that love Him, the deep things of God.” 1Cor.2.v9. This is our Lord, Our firstborn brother; He did not keep back anything that the Father gave Him; He shares it all with His brethren. “To Him who loves us and has made us a Kingdom of priests to His God and Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” Rev.1.v6.
What the church must not do is to usurp His position and sit as a queen but without Him, this is the nature of Babylon. She must be of the same mind as He was, Who, being in the form of God made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant humbling Himself. Her attitude must be therefore one of deep gratitude and profound humility, with reverence she must be submissive to Him Who is and shall be the Lord of lords and the King of kings forever and ever. He gives to her all things freely and she is rich and complete as she abides in Him, who is her glorious head. This must never be reversed; she must never attempt to become the head and Christ the body. She must walk by His wisdom, knowledge and direction, at all times abiding in love to her Husband with adoration receiving from Him all His gifts with a thankful heart. At one point John was carried in vision to a great and high mountain to behold the holy city, New Jerusalem; he was told that she is the bride of the Lamb. By this time, in the series of visions he was receiving, the old had passed away and time was no more, all the enemies of God had been judged and all the tares had been removed from God’s field. All was now become new and he saw the church, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Her beauty surpassed every other and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. Rev.21.v10&11. In this vision the church is revealed in her glory; the impression is one of unspeakable radiance and exceeding pricelessness, all of this she has clearly received from Him. She is full of the glory of God alone, all that had polluted was gone and she was without spot or wrinkle, holy and without blemish.
THE PRICELESS TREASURE
In Matthew’s gospel chapter thirteen there are a series of parables in which Jesus speaks of the kingdom of heaven, one of them focuses on a treasure hid in a field, when a man discovered it he went and sold everything he had in order to buy that field. Something of great value is prominent in another of these parables; this time it concerns a pearl of great worth, a merchant was searching for valuable pearls and when he found it he went and sold all that he had and bought it. Christ bought the field of the world because in it was the treasure of His church. The priceless pearl is His bride for whom He gave all in order to make her His, ‘Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her that He might sanctify and cleanse her, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing but that she should be holy and without blemish.” Eph.5.v25-27. There is more conveyed to us in these parables though; for the church, in finding Christ discovers Him as her priceless treasure and pearl of great price; nobody can compare with Him, she loves and adores Him and she is ready to set all things aside for Him, no cost is too great. When He is revealed in the heart all things that previously glittered lose their appeal and He becomes the centre of the thoughts and emotions and will of the soul.
Whilst writing to the church in Philippi, Paul, with much clarity, expresses the immense estimation he had in his heart for Christ and the continuing and deepening relationship he desired to have with Him. He already knew the Lord in a deep and inward way, He had been revealed to him and he was continuing to receive revelation of Him, but he hungered and thirsted to know Him more and for this he was ready to part with and die to everything else. “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss, for the excellence of the knowledge of Jesus Christ my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I might win Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death; if by any means I may attain unto the resurrection of the dead Phil.3.v7-11. These words were not a religious formula to Paul, they were the expression of the profound longing and counsels of his heart, in his estimation the Lord was incomparably Precious. In his earlier days he had thought himself righteous under the terms of the law, as to his obedience to its codes he was blameless; yet when He met Christ, as he himself confessed, he knew that this righteousness did not commend him in any way, it was not of value in the eyes of God. He knew that it could never be sufficient to enable him to stand justified before Him and he could not be saved or attain to the high privilege of the resurrection by any effort of his own. He needed something more, a perfect righteousness without fault or defect and through the gospel this righteousness was revealed as that which is through the faith of Christ, none other than the righteousness of God. Paul became a quickened and enlightened man and for him there was only one pursuit, one purpose, one price, one Person; nothing else could satisfy him, nor quench his thirst, he wanted to know Christ, the fellowship of His suffering and be made conformable to His death. Paul understood that a life, though much improved was only as good as a patch of new cloth sewn on to an old rag. Nothing but a new life in Christ and Christ in him could suffice and he continued to hunger and thirst for a deeper conformity to that life. In saying these things Paul opens before us with clarity and sincerity what lies in the heart of an authentic apostle.
Our esteem for our Savior must not be diminished one degree from this. We must examine ourselves and allow Him Who has the two-edged sword, to search the thoughts and intents that lie within. Nothing is hidden from His searching sight. He shines His light within us and as He does so our own values, directions, pursuits are all censored and become aligned with His. Paul’s testimony shall then be ours; the things important to him shall be central to us too. May the Holy Spirit, sent from the Father to glorify Christ, so magnify Him in our eyes that our admiration and appreciation of His preciousness, majesty and worth shall rise to the highest possible degree. The revelation of Christ in the heart comes as the light of the rising sun that disperses the darkness and causes the lights of men to become completely needless, for the majesty of His glory surpasses every other glory. If we are to know the richness of God in Christ and what it is to be clothed with the spotless garment of unspeakable beauty which is Christ’s righteousness, we must turn from the way of this world, from trusting in our own self and anything in which we might glory, embrace His cross and lean wholly on Him. In order to be filled with Christ and the things that are in Him we must be emptied, there is no other way. It is His faith that must live in our hearts, His patience, His humility, His love and all the other virtues that adorned all His words, works and actions. Christ Jesus, because of the beauties of His life was a sweet smell unto God His Father, we by being made conformable to His death become a sweet savor of Christ unto God for He abides in us and we in Him. It is when we let go of our own wisdom and become as fools that we can receive and walk in His wisdom thereby having the sound mind of Christ. Thanks be unto God, Paul says, “Who causes us to triumph always in Christ and makes manifest through us the savor of His knowledge in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ, in them that are saved and in them that perish; to the one we are the savor of death unto death, to the other the savor of life unto life. ”2Cor.2.v14-16. God seeks to manifest His life through us, to a world that does not know Him and towards this end He gives us always the victory. The knowledge of God is mirrored through us as the life of Christ is manifested in us and not so much by words. When we become conformable to His death He abides in us and we in Him and His risen life is revealed in us and that is what makes us a continuous sweet savor unto God. In the same epistle Paul explains that in the midst of all his afflictions he was not overcome for he always carried about in his body the death of the Lord Jesus that His life might be made manifest there too. Here we see the authenticating marks of a minister of God. Only as death works in the vessel of God does life work toward and in those that are being ministered unto. The vessel of God in order to be a minister of the new covenant must die and remain dead concerning sin and the world and self and the flesh. It is then that Christ lives in him in fullness and His life is ministered with power. Ministries and ministers that do not bear the marks of the cross are carnal and psychic. Such cannot really meet the depths of human depravity and need although inasmuch as any of them speak a measure of the word of God, then God will honor His own word though not thereby authenticating the minister. True power for life and ministry only comes from conformity to His death. Unfortunately in most cases the issue is avoided, similar to the young rich ruler who came to the Lord inquiring about eternal life but was not ready to pay the price.
Compared to eternity our time on this earth is a very brief one, whilst we are here we are in the building business. This is the way that spiritual growth is referred to in the writings of the apostle Paul. Whether it is our individual lives in Christ, or the lives of one another, or the temple of the Lord, building up is of central concern. However there are serious warnings given in this area for great care must be taken by the one who builds, we dare not build on any other foundation than the one already laid. Paul described himself as a wise architect and a true apostle appointed by God and not of man and he had laid the foundation. There can be no mistake about this for all who build together with God must not depart from His pattern. Furthermore on this sure foundation care must be taken by the builders as they continue the building, it is vital that they use the precious materials described as gold, silver and precious stones, there is nothing of wood, hay and stubble to be in the structure. “Now if any man builds on this foundation gold. Silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be revealed: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed with fire”1Cor.3.12,13. It seems that through all the centuries of church history and it is certainly true in our day that unfortunately this is not the case, for men depart from the pattern and build on other foundations that are not based on the character and nature of Jesus Christ, further in their labors they use cheap materials. They use the methods of the world to build churches, their own uncrucified talents to draw people to God, their own psychic powers, human doctrines that do not include the call for repentance and the separation from the world, the mortification of the flesh and its lusts. The building materials are mainly carnal, which do not promote the need for transformed lives and the way of holiness and the spiritual character of the believer, instead they promote happiness and prosperity and sensuality and not the real joy of the Lord which springs from within, when there is nothing outside to excite it, but is the fruit of the Spirit. Every so often we hear of new revelations or new experiences which sweep the churches, most of them so unspeakably vulgar that it is hard to imagine how they can be confused with that which is godly. It is a grief when such things find a place in the building up of believer’s hearts. Such spectacles degrade the Lord and His gospel and should be resisted by those that esteem and love Him. Whoever has an ear to hear let him hear, there is no other foundation than the one that is already laid, and this is the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. There is nothing more and nothing new that needs to be added by man. False prophets, false teachers, self-styled apostles and so called angels of light come with their false doctrines and pseudo experiences finding a ready audience in churches these days, where a disobedient rebellious attitude is to be found and confusion is often the normal state. The church as a whole must exercise far more discernment and there must be more than the very few standing as defenders of the faith. May the church find again her precious foundations and build on them the gold, silver and precious stones, which are the life and nature and character of Christ. His life has been through the fire and it has been tested, everything else is esteemed by God as being wood, hay and straw and will be burned up, to our loss at His return. “May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power towards us who believe Eph.1.v17-19.