Thoughts on Revelation 1:5-6

Revelation 1:5‑6  •  13 min. read  •  grade level: 6
The ways in which the gospel may be preached and reach the heart are so many, that one has to look to the Lord to direct one, that it may be brought so as to comfort the saint and awaken the sinner. The moment the word is revealed to the soul in grace, the point is gained. There may be a thousand thoughts on men's minds, but there is enough in this blessed word to meet these thoughts, and to bring everyone of them into captivity to the obedience of Christ. He is the Lord of all; and in His person all truth centers. He is the substance of all truth—the ground and center of truth to the soul. As we know Him, we get comfort, peace, and joy; as we walk with Him, we have power to overcome. In verse 5 we have Christ presented in a threefold character. He is the one most drawn out by the Spirit of God. Alas! it is not always so drawn out in our heart. The answer character to that in the spirit of grace is, “To him that loveth us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.” In verse 7 is an application to the world—it will be a day of mourning to them. The Jews behold Him whom they have pierced, and the nations wail because of Him.
Let us especially consider the way in which Christ is presented to the soul. First, we have grace and peace in a peculiar form from God, that is, Jehovah; and the seven Spirits, His spiritual perfectness; not the Father speaking to His children, but the Eternal, and the seven spirits, the Holy Ghost exercising the varied power of the throne. Christ is brought near as connected with the earth; the faithful witness when He was here below. This is what our souls need to remember—faithful testimony to what God is; for without this we have no certainty, whether as saints or sinners. A holy man cannot know God without the witness, nor whether the witness would suffice to meet a holy God. When I know God, I get sure ground to go upon, I shall know where I am—a terrible thing if I am walking in sin; but there is only uncertainty out of Christ, for He is the light.
There are sufficient traces of power in creation to serve as a witness of the eternal power and Godhead—enough of misery around us to see ruin—enough in conscience to learn that we have sinned; but we cannot learn God in providence, for we know not why He does this, or refrains from doing that. Providence is a depth out of our reach; we are not able to find out and judge the ways of God, nor indeed of the thoughts of a man's mind very often. There is another, the law, which appears to be a clear witness for God against sin. It is true that this is a witness of God's claim on man. We ought to love God with all our hearts, mind, and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves, but it reveals nothing of God's thoughts to us, and if this were the only witness, we should be reined forever. The object of the law is not love, but righteousness—God's everlasting claim of righteousness. But the law cannot meet what we want, for it says,” Thou shalt not covet,” and there was never a man since the days of Adam that did not covet. If you do not satisfy God's claims, there is a curse upon you. Thus the law is man's letter of death. We turn to Christ, the faithful Witness, “the same yesterday, to-day, and for over” —the Witness down here amid the same circumstances in which we are placed, and dealing with men in all the feelings of life.
Jesus Christ was not as a king shut up in His palace, but in the midst of all man's wants, passions, propensities, and desires. The first grand comfort is when I see Christ, the faithful Witness, in the same circumstances as I am: our hearts can say what God is to us. When I look at Christ down here, I see the faithful Witness, and I am brought into certain ground as to what I should meet in God. Jesus did not come claiming from man what he ought to be, but showing out Himself in all the circumstances of man—showing us what God is.
Whatever character I meet, Christ is the faithful Witness—the life and the light of man. This faithful Witness owns no goodness but in God. When the young man came to Him, Jesus does not tell him that He Himself is God, for that was not the time to do this. The young man was very lovely, and he thought by adding something to what he had already done he should go to heaven. He came to seek teaching of Jesus, and be gets Him as the end of the law. The faithful Witness touched him. All was laid bare, and the young man's heart was found given to mammon. With the Pharisees the faithful Witness sheaved that their righteousness was only adding the sin of hypocrisy, as all outward show is. He knocked down men's righteousness with a terrible band. What was the company that Christ came to? He was the friend of publicans and sinners. This upset the whole standard of man's righteousness. How came this? Because all pretenses to righteousness were found to be false. This is a terrible thing for those who are building their hopes of heaven on their character. The world is constantly presenting their character at the expense of their conscience.
On the other hand we see that Jesus did not want a character from man, but from God. John the Baptist came in the way of righteousness, and le went into the desert, and was company for no man. He came in the way of righteousness, not in grace. It is commonly said, a man is known by the company he keeps; and this is true, in a certain sense, of Jesus. How? He who in His own nature was holy, undefiled, and separate from sinners, was the companion of publicans and sinners, the faithful Witness to them of grace that God is love. Jesus would make no allowance for man's claim to righteousness. He had compassion for sinners—He was always grace.
Whatever your state, come to Jesus, and you will find that He is always gracious, that He has always grace. The disciples would send some away when they brought young children to Jesus. They thought Him a great doctor, and that He must not be approached. Jesus took them up in His arms, and blessed them. The disciples had no sympathy with the thoughts and feelings of Jesus; yet He spoke to them as if they had sustained Him. “Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptation.” “They all forsook him, and fled” (Matt. 28:5, 65And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. 6He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. (Matthew 28:5‑6)), Peter even denying that He knew Him.
If I find difficulty in the way of the sheep, Jesus goes before them. In everything He had gone before us. Do I fear death? Jesus set His face steadfastly to go to Jerusalem, knowing that He should there be crucified. In this faithful Witness we find the activity of love. He came to seek and to save those that were lost, to bring them to Himself. The moment I find Christ I find a true God and Savior. I may have been walking in all sin, but when I find Christ, I find One who was such to such as I am—to sinners. If I take God's witness of Himself, and give up reasoning, I know what God actually is—He is seeking sinners—and have no uncertainty at all. I may think I may get better, and may put off coming to God; the God has come down first in Christ; or I should never repent at all. God, who so rich in mercy to come down into all my loneliness, He has come down as the faithful Witness to make such as me—He could be the friend of publicans and sinners—He was despised for it; faithful in love going through all the scene of man, because He was the faithful Witness. The grace may come to me when I am ashamed to be seen of men: then Christ comes to seek me out, determined to be the Faithful Witness of God, who is rich in mercy. It is not that God has given a good character of Himself up in heaven; but it is goodness come down to earth, to identify Himself with all the misery of man. The One above all, our Savior, is God, and God is love, and Christ came to be a faithful Witness of this. You cannot be in any condition that Christ did not come into. He plunged into the very sea of men's misery to help you out. It is a comfort to get man's sympathy, but he often cannot help us. What is it to get God's sympathy, which has power in it? This was the accepted time, from the time of Jesus, coming into the world, to His coming again in the day of grace.
What a comfort to the saint to meet the faithful Witness, who never reproached the disciples' negligence, but said in the tenderest manner, “Could ye not have watched one hour?” He waits upon all our circumstances—upon all our anxieties. As our High Priest He bears us always on His breast—the accomplishment of God's love to saints, as well as to sinners.
The conscience makes even a saint afraid of God; he finds an evil will in himself, and the devil often gets an advantage over a sincere saint, and keeps him away from God; but the comfort is, Christ met the enemy in all His power, and He is presented to me as the First-begotten from the dead, the One who has put Himself under all the consequences of my sin, and now in His new character I find Him “the faithful Witness” —One who has borne all my sins—not now under them. The Father in righteousness was obliged to raise Him from the dead, and I can say, as a believer in Him, that I have no guilt—He sees all washed away. This is beholding Christ as the First-begotten from the dead. I see One who has blotted out my sins before Him, who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, and I get true and settled peace, not a cold, hard-hearted way of saying I have peace; but I look to Jesus as my Savior, and this re-kindles love, and impels me to keep His commandments.
We are by nature under Satan's power, the end of which is death; but the Lord Jesus overcame through death him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, and through this I have not only victory over Satan in Christ, but I may say all things are mine, whether life or death, &c. Satan could not deal with the heirs of salvation, unless he had foiled the Captain, and Jesus submitted Himself to the power of Satan, but in the resurrection that power was broken forever. Liberty and joy are ours; not freedom from conflict, but deliverance from Satan.
Now the way that Satan gets power over us is by his wiles, persuading us to receive him as a friend, instead of treating him as a friend— “Resist the devil, and he shall flee from you.” It is not said, Overcome him, for this Jesus did before. Jesus was the expression of grace and truth, the blest Son of God before; put now in resurrection, He presents us with a new character to God, such as man never had before—a Man who had put Himself under the power of death, risen to absolute dominion. A new thing—man without God, in the very presence of God, and the very pattern of God's mind and delight! Sin is done with in Christ, and our standing in Him is quite a new thing— “Bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh.” There is no past history of this, no experience, not any old thing; all is done away, there is an entirely new Headship in the second Adam, the Lord from heaven. Is this my place? Yes; but we find difficulty in apprehending this, because of the weakness of the flesh, for the moment I look at myself, I have another man full of failure; but my standing before God is in Christ the new Man, not in Myself that I have to struggle against, but the new Man, the Lord Jesus Himself I am one with, who bore my sins and put them away forever. “Beloved; now are we the sons of God,” &c. (1 John 3:1616Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. (1 John 3:16)), but it is not by being in glory that I shall be justified, but that is by faith now. Now justification is from two causes; first, that Christ bore my sins; secondly, that He is before God without sin.
“Prince of the kings of the earth.” I would say a few words on this point, together with the response from the heart of the saints. We see not here the dominion of Christ over the kings of the earth, but we shall shortly. As to the response of the church, when God enables me to believe the testimony of the Son, He gives me the Holy Ghost, He pots the Spirit into man's heart as a seal, and earnest of glory. What is the effect in this verse 5? It gives power to say us— “To him that loveth us,” no uncertainty. The Holy Ghost always says us, not them (1 Peter 2:1212Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. (1 Peter 2:12)), that we shall be loved, but He does love us—no doubt, but the fruits of the Spirit, consequent on the Holy Ghost's dwelling in me, we see in the Old Testament saints. Things were not so ministered to them, though they may be its holy. Christ has come, was dead, has accomplished righteousness, has sat down, so now the answer to all His titles is, “To him that loved us and washed us,” &c. All the promises of God are in Him, Yea and Amen, to the glory of God by us. (2 Cor. 1:2020For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. (2 Corinthians 1:20).) God path anointed us, hath sealed us. Do I doubt? What do I doubt? That the Father sent the Son for poor sinners? If you believe this, you cannot doubt that you are saved. Your salvation is based upon the unchangeable revelation of God; and what a tide of affection flows from knowing this! God, through Christ, has saved not me alone, but the whole body of saints. What a difference does it make to me, in thinking of the joy and blessedness, whether I am going alone, or in looking at many of you, and being able to say, “He has made us kings and priests!” Just exactly what He is Himself—the highest in authority, and the nearest to God. Can you all; dear friends, say this according to the Spirit, “To him that loveth us?” —so settled in the consciousness of it, that the heart can only go out in fullness of praise If it is not so with you, dear friends, it is because you have not received the testimony of the faithful Witness, who was grace, and the Messenger of God's grace to us. The Lord give us to give place to the Holy Ghost in His thankful testimony to His love, and grant us to walk nearer to Him, in the conscious power of it.