Sermons

The Beginning and The End

Sun, Oct 04, 2020
Teacher: Mark Hull
Duration:29 mins 8 secs

Message text

The Beginning & The End

Revelation 22:13 – 14

 

There are Military Slogan’s which state that : “the overall decisions start and stop here.”

Or we have heard the phrase, “The buck stops here!”

And there is the famous quote from a parent … “I brought you into this world, and I can take you out of it!!!!!!”

Back in 2008, there was a surprise best selling book entitled: “Not Quite What I Had Planned - 6-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure”

Notice the first SIX words of the title. “Not Quite What I Had Planned.” The book essentially asked people to sum up their lives in 6 words. Amongst the entries were these:

  • Stephen Colbert wrote, “Well, I thought it was funny.”
  • A writer from USA Today - who reviewed the book - offered this statement: “Dad was Santa. Downhill from there.”
  • Another writer summed up their life this way, “Never really finished anything, except cake.”
  • Someone else wrote, "Followed yellow brick road. Disappointment ensued.”
  • And still another commented, “Should have risked asking, he sighed.”

Now the author of the book apparently didn’t ask for Jesus’ reply, but Jesus might have said: “I Am The Alpha And Omega.” That 6 word statement literally sums up Jesus’ life. ALPHA was the first letter of the Greek alphabet and OMEGA was the last of that alphabet. So Jesus (in Revelation 22) said:

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

This was literally, the last “I AM” statement by Christ in Scripture. And it was how the Bible presents Jesus to us. Jesus was literally the beginning of all things:

Colossians 1:17 says that Jesus "is before all things."

And the Gospel of John describes Jesus as the “WORD” and tells us “In the beginning was the Word (Jesus), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” John 1:1-2

So Jesus was “THE BEGINNING” of all things… and Jesus will literally be THE END of all things. The last words of the book of Revelation are these: “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen. Revelation 22:20-21

Now, that’s all cool stuff, but what does that all mean to us? What does it mean to us that Jesus is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last??

Well it reminds us AGAIN. that Jesus is God. The terminology used in Revelation 22 is the same that’s used to describe God in several other places in Scripture.

In Isaiah 44:6 GOD declares “I am the first and the last”

And Psalm 90:2 states: “from everlasting to everlasting You are God”

And, in the first chapter of Revelation we find these words: “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.’” Revelation 1:8

His story makes its way through Scripture like a common thread. So, for Jesus to claim to be the Alpha and the Omega, was for Him to declare that HE WAS GOD in the flesh.

And because He was God, and because He IS the “Alpha and Omega” and the “Beginning and the End” - He IS IN CONTROL because He literally has me surrounded. And because He is before and behind and all around us, that makes it so that I can TRUST Him, therefore, I don’t have to be afraid.

ILLUS: Recently there have been individuals talking about the present lock-down in our State. Some shared that many people are literally afraid because of the news they were constantly watching and hearing through social media and radio and TV. The fear was being expressed by people right here in our community, and you can understand why. But as Christians, we shouldn’t let that fear control us. As Jesus tells us in Revelation 1:17-18 “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.”

Because Jesus is the Alpha & the Omega, the 1st and the Last, and the Beginning and the End, I don’t have to be afraid… because Jesus has it all under control.

ILLUS: As most of you know …. I have a 2 year old grandson. He’s handsome, and he’s smart and whenever we’re together we have a great time. But one of the things that humbles me is how much he trusts me. A little while back he was at my house for a nice family visit. Now, whenever he’s there I’m usually within a close proximity from him at any given time, because – after all - he is a 2 year old and we know that 2-year-olds can find all kinds of mischief to get into! But at one point I had to be another part of the house for just a few minutes and I left him alone, thinking “what kind of trouble can he get into in just a few minutes?”

I was wrong. I’d only been gone from the room about 5 minutes when suddenly I hear him crying out in panic.

I rushed to the kitchen to see that he’d pulled a dining room chair over to the kitchen counter and had crawled up – belly down – on the counter to reach something. And there he was - his belly on the counter, his butt in the air, and his legs dangling in space about a foot above the chair he’d used. Now he actually wasn’t in any danger, but he didn’t know that. All he knew was that he was stuck and he had no way to get down. And he was afraid!

When I got there and spoke to him, he seemed to relax. And after I helped him back down to the floor, he was happy again. But WHY did he suddenly relax when I got there? Because he believed that I had things under control. He saw that I was there to protect him – he trusted me.

When Jesus said “I am the Alpha and The Omega, the Beginning and the End…” He was saying “I am NEVER FAR AWAY from you. I have this under control, and I’ll always be on hand to protect you.”

That’s how we should view the crisis we now face. It is a dangerous situation, but we in Jesus we have someone who is never far away and always has things under control. In fact, that’s the kind of faith that David had about God back in the Old Testament. He wrote: “I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me; hear my words. Wondrously show your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand. Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings, from the wicked who do me violence, my deadly enemies who surround me.” Psalm 17:6-9

Notice, David did face real danger, real enemies, and the very real possibility of death. And yet he believed God had things under control… and He could trust Him. THAT’s how we can view Jesus, because He IS God in the flesh.

So Jesus - being the Alpha and Omega - tells us He has things under control and that we can trust Him, but in addition to that, Jesus is not only THE Alpha and Omega, and THE Beginning and End, Jesus is MY Beginning and End. He is MY Alpha and Omega. HE has re-MADE my life so I my life is re-NEWED. It has re-BEGUN.

You see I could live my life without Jesus. I really could get along quite well without Him.

But it wouldn’t really be living … it would only be simply EXISTING. I would simply be “getting by” with no future and no real purpose for life. But Jesus came so that my life would be changed.

When I was baptized into Christ, Romans 6:4 tells me that “We were buried … with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in NEWNESS OF LIFE.” In Jesus I have a NEWNESS of life because Jesus is the BEGINNING of that new life.

ILLUS: There’s a story about a little girl who proudly wore a shiny cross on a chain around her neck. One day she was approached by a man who said to her, "Little girl, don't you know that the cross Jesus died on wasn't beautiful like the one you're wearing? It was an ugly, wooden thing." The little girl thought about that for a moment and then smiled and replied, "Oh yes, I know that. But they told me in Sunday school that whatever Jesus touches, He changes."

And that was what Jesus came to do. Jesus came to CHANGE our lives and offer us a NEW BEGINNING. But Jesus didn’t just come to change us and walk away. One person observed: “Alpha and Omega” means that whatever Jesus starts, he finishes. Hebrews 12:2 says we should be “looking unto Jesus, the author and FINISHER of our faith....” And Paul reminds us that “He who BEGAN a good work in you will bring it to COMPLETION at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6

ILLUS: I’ve noticed that there are many craftsmen and artists in this world who do something, and then get to the point in their task where they’ll say “that’s good enough.” It’s not perfect, but it’s… GOOD ENOUGH. But Jesus is not like that. Jesus is kind of a perfectionist. When He works in our lives “good enough” is never good enough. Jesus will never be satisfied with simply beginning a good work in us and then walk away saying “I’m done.” Jesus is such a perfectionist that He will never stop working on us until He’s satisfied.

ILLUS: Some of the world’s Greatest artists have been like that. Take Leonardo Da Vinci, for example. I’m going to give you a quiz this morning and see if you know the answer:

What is the most valuable and praised painting in the world? Think about it for moment… if you guessed the “Mona Lisa” you were right! This famous portrait by Da Vinci was commissioned by a patron to celebrate a birthday. If Leonardo had simply been interested in the money, he could have painted the portrait in a month and received his payment. But money was never the object with him. It took Da Vince 4 years to paint this masterpiece… and the painting (I read) has up to 30 different layers of paint!

But, why would Da Vinci do that? Why would he keep adding more and more paint to his artwork? Well, he did that because he kept working and reworking the image until he was pleased with it. And he loved this painting so much that he never gave it to his patron. He kept it for himself for years afterward.

And that’s what Jesus does with us. He is constantly working us and reworking us. Jesus will never quite be done with us, because to Jesus… you and I are the most valuable pieces of art in existence, and He wants us to be the best that He can create! And ultimately, He keeps us for Himself because He loves us so much.

As Ephesians 2:10 tells us “We are HIS WORKMANSHIP, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which He prepared in advance for us to do.”

Lastly - Jesus is not just MY Alpha - He’s MY Omega. He’s not just the beginning of my new life, He is the END… the completion of my existence. In other words - ultimately we will be a FINISHED PRODUCT. As Ephesians 5:25-27 tells us “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”

Now, there are some people who have difficulty understanding what that means. Many may believe that the “finished product” is based on their OWN righteousness. But that’s not what is said here. The passage in Ephesians 5 says that Jesus GAVE Himself up for the church. Jesus sanctified her. Jesus cleansed her. HE DID THE WORK… not us. You can’t buy a ticket to get in because of your “sinlessness” because THAT doesn’t exist.

ILLUS: A minister had a conversation with a man on Facebook some time back about a woman who had had an abortion. From this other man’s comments made the minister got the impression the man viewed this woman as disgraceful. He was very smug as he said that he’d never do anything like that. The minister questioned him on this comment. The minister explained that we ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and that this woman was still loved by God. AND that Jesus would forgive her if she’d repent of her sins and be baptized.

The man responded that HE had never done anything “that bad” that he needed to repent of. The minister’s response to that statement was this: “THAT BAD?” Seriously???

We are reminded of the parable Jesus told about two men who came to the temple to pray.

One was a Pharisee (the very essence of righteousness and holiness) and the other – a Tax Collector (the lowest rung on the moral ladder in Israel). Jesus said that the Pharisee prayed this way “God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.” (Luke 18:11-12) In other words, the Pharisee bragged to God that he’d never sinned as badly as the tax collector.

But then, Jesus said, that the Tax Collector prayed: ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ And Jesus said “I tell you, this man (the tax collector) went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:13-14

Now, here’s the deal – you and I WILL NOT get into Heaven because of how righteous WE ARE. We’ll only get into heaven because of how righteous JESUS IS. It’s all about Jesus. If Jesus is not your ALPHA & OMEGA; if Jesus is not your BEGINNING & END;

if Jesus is not your FIRST & LAST priorities … then you and I will not make it in through the gate. To depend upon our righteousness is a fool’s game. Scripture says our righteousness will be like filthy rags unless we are washed in the blood of Christ.

We do that by believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. That He is our Alpha and Omega. And we do that by acknowledging that our own righteousness isn’t enough because we’ve sinned and fall short of God’s glory… therefore we need to repent of our sins and rely on Christ’s righteousness. And by confessing that Jesus is the true and only son of the father and that – He’s the one that we rely upon and trust. And lastly, we do this by allowing ourselves to imitate Christ by dying to our sins and being buried in the waters of baptism… and then rising up from those waters to walk in newness of life.

 

Sermon Contributor: Jeff Strite

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 Bible Study: "Virtual Meeting at 6 p.m."
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 Morning Worship "A Jewish History Lesson"
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 Bible Study: "Suspended Temporarily"
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