Christianity 201

July 5, 2022

Two Verses Containing a World of Truth

Ever so slightly cheating on our six-month rule, we’re back again highlighting the writing of Gary Henry at WordPoints for the eleventh time. Click the title below to link to where this first appeared, listen to it on audio, learn about Gary’s books, and then check out other devotionals.

To Him Be Glory and Dominion

“. . . from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (Revelation 1:5,6).

Here, in just two verses, is a world of truth about Jesus Christ.

In his greeting to the seven churches of Asia at the beginning of Revelation, the apostle John ascribed glorious praise and honor to “him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood.” We could spend a rich lifetime pondering these two verses, learning more deeply to appreciate the King of kings and Lord of lords who has given us salvation and eternal hope.

The faithful witness. One of the claims of Jesus was that, having come from the Father, He brought us information about heavenly things that we could not know about otherwise. Speaking of Jesus, John the Baptist said, “He who comes from heaven is above all. He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony” (John 3:31,32). And Jesus Himself said, “I speak of what I have seen with my Father” (John 8:38). So when Jesus is described as “the faithful witness,” the point is that His testimony is true — whatever Jesus said about God can be believed and trusted.

The firstborn of the dead. When He was raised from the dead, Jesus became the “firstfruits” (or “guarantee”) of our own resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20,23). He has broken the power of death, the worst weapon of Satan (John 11:25,26; Hebrews 2:14,15).

The ruler of kings on earth. Jesus has been given “all authority in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18). Earthly rulers are all answerable to Him; none is independent of His power. The kingdoms of men rise and fall only with His permission, and at any instant He can depose any ruler whose power stands against His eternal purposes (Psalm 2:1–12; Daniel 2:44; 7:13,14; Revelation 11:15).

Here, then, is One whom we may love and worship. “To him be glory and dominion forever and ever.” Eternal with God the Father, He is the Alpha and the Omega. The world was created through Him, and He is moving history toward its final destination. For us, salvation means this: being found “in Christ” when He returns.

“Christ himself is living at the heart of the world; and his total mystery — that of creation, incarnation, redemption, and resurrection — embodies and animates all of life and all of history” (Michael Quoist).

Today’s devotional was shorter, but keep this in mind: Gary posted four devotionals the same day! Click the header below to read one more.

Made to be Filled

Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.
(Psalm 107:8,9)

One of life’s most important insights is the understanding that we were created to be the recipients of God’s glory and grace.

We are vessels. We are instruments. We are personal beings to whom and through whom God intends to communicate the benevolence of His own character. When we learn to see ourselves in this way — as existing for the purpose of receiving God’s goodness — we are then able to glorify Him in a higher way than we ever could have done in the past.

There is, as the old saying goes, a God-shaped hole in our hearts that only God can fill. Philip James Bailey said it this way: “Naught but God can satisfy the soul.” Most of us recognize that God is perfectly able to fulfill our needs, just because He is our Creator. What we perhaps don’t recognize as well is that God is the only adequate fulfillment of our needs. Having been made for this very purpose, if our hearts are not filled with Him, we can only die. Between life and death, there is no middle way.

It marks a huge step in the growth of any person when he or she learns the truth of Jesus’ statement, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). It is also important, however, for us to see that what we’re to give is that which we’re intended to receive from God: His goodness. We were created not merely to be receptacles of God’s grace, but channels through which that grace would be conveyed to our fellow human beings.

Paul’s prayer for his Christian friends in Rome was typical of his wish for Christians everywhere else: “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). There is simply no higher request we can make, at least insofar as our human needs are concerned. When we see that this is the meaning of life — to be filled with God ourselves, and then to communicate Him to others — we can begin to fulfill the potential for which we were made.

“It is the goodness of God, and a desire to communicate this good, that inspired creation. We are designed to receive God’s goodness” (William Law).

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