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Christ Alone is the Alpha and Omega

September 13, 2020 Speaker: Allen Snapp Series: Christ Alone

Topic: Christ Passage: Revelation 21:1–21:8, John 7:37–7:38

Christ Alone

Allen Snapp

Grace Community Church

Sept. 13, 2020

 

Christ Alone is the Alpha and Omega

As we wrap up the Christ Alone series, I felt that an appropriate way to do so was with Jesus’ claim to be the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. There are three places in Revelation where we see the title Alpha and Omega. We will be focusing our attention on the one found in Rev. 21, but we will touch on the other two references in this message. Let’s read Rev. 21:1-8 and pray.

21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place] of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people,[ and God himself will be with them as their God.[ He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” Rev. 21:1-8

John sees in his vision the turning of a page in history. The end of one age, the beginning of another. Satan and his hordes have been conquered and thrown into a lake of fire. God looks at this tired, sin-beaten old world and says we’re going to start over again. He destroys the heavens and earth that we’ve always known and creates a whole new heaven and earth. One thing God doesn’t recreate is the sun because the the glory of God and the glory of Jesus will be all the light this new earth needs.

This tells us something pretty awesome about the brilliance of the glory of God. We live by the light of the sun…but we can’t look directly at the sun. Looking directly at the sun can do permanent damage to the retina in just a few seconds. We don’t even think about it, it’s so natural to us, but we spend our whole lives averting our eyes from the sun. If we were to see the glory of God in our fallen, sinful state, the Bible says we’d die. God’s glory is brighter than the sun, and it’s that glory that will light the recreated earth. 

God will also restore the close fellowship that Adam and Eve enjoyed with God in the garden. Once again God will not only walk with us, but dwell with us. 

God Himself will wipe away every tear. All heartache and grief, pain and loss, fear and regret, sadness and suffering, and the enemy we call death, will be taken away and not even the memory of these things will remain. 

Jesus then says, I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. 

This tells us something about God that is beyond our comprehension. Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet, Omega is the last letter of the alphabet. But, as John Piper observes, God is talking about something bigger than alphabets, He’s talking about reality. God and Jesus are the beginning of reality, the end of reality, and all reality in between. 

Jesus is the beginning and the end, but Jesus himself has no beginning or end. Rev. 1:8 Jesus says he is the Alpha and Omega, who is, and who was, and who is to come. 

Past tense, Jesus was, and there never was a time when Jesus wasn’t. Everything else had a beginning. The earth had a beginning. The universe had a beginning. Angels had a beginning. Jesus had no beginning. Billions and trillions of years ago, Jesus was. Trillions of years before trillions of years ago, Jesus was. 

Future tense, Jesus is to come. He will always exist – there is no end to God. He never gets tired, never gets depleted, never changes, never needs to change for He is perfect. Trillions and trillions of years from now…no, that’s far too little…an infinity of years from now Jesus is. 

Present tense: Jesus is. He is the first and the last and everything in between. He is the source of existence for everything else that exists. Jesus is the ultimate reality from Whom everything else derives reality. John Piper writes:

We might marvel that God is infinite, eternal, and unchanging in his justice, wisdom, power, goodness, and truth. But when you pause to think that he never chose to be this way, nor did anyone else choose to make him this way, it staggers the mind. The justice and wisdom and power and goodness and truth of God are eternal reality. The character of God is not what reality brought forth. It is reality. God did not emerge out of many possibilities. Everything emerged out of him. He determines all possibilities. God is not a piece of reality that you try to fit in with other pieces. He is the first and the last and the all-encompassing reality: "In him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28). – John Piper

Christ alone is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. What Jesus then tells us is that he is the Omega of every life.  At the end of every person’s life, we will stand before Jesus as the Judge, the final say, the Omega, over our lives. 

For some the end will be a new beginning, a forever fountain of life. For others, the end will be a forever lake of fire. And what might surprise us is that those who spend eternity drinking from the fountain of living water and those who spend eternity in the same lake of fire that Jesus threw Satan in are divided by this: thirst.

To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. (vs 6)

Why does Jesus emphasize thirst? I think there are two reasons:

  1. Thirst is at the core of our humanity and our identity
    1. We are thirsty people living in a thirsty world

When Jesus hung on the cross, just before he died, he said, I thirst. It was another way that Jesus took on our humanity – because we are all thirsty people living in a thirsty world.

I’m not talking about thirst for water, I’m talking about a deeper, more basic thirst. At the core of who we are is thirst. A desire, a longing, a thirst. A longing for meaning. A longing for love. A longing for our lives to count. A longing to belong. A longing for…we can’t quite identify it, but it’s always just beyond our reach. At times we might think we know what it is

  • If I could meet the right person and get married
  • If I were popular
  • If I could find the right job
  • If I were successful 
  • If I could just be left alone to do what I want
  • If I had a million bucks

But those who get those things still find they have a thirst inside. Depression is a thirst. Sadness is a thirst. Loneliness is a thirst. Fear is a thirst. Materialism is a thirst. Selfishness is a thirst. 

I think at the core of all these thirsts, is a thirst for meaning. A thirst for significance. We are thirsty people living in a thirsty world. 

    1. Thirst not only describes who we are, it has the power to shape who we are 

There’s a saying “you are what you eat”. Not sure if that’s true, but in a very real sense, we are what we thirst for. Because what we thirst for will eventually shape and form us. 

  • A greedy person thirsts for more and more money
  • An immoral person thirsts for illicit sex
  • A murderous person thirsts either for vengeance or for getting someone out of the way, or just for violence itself
  • A coward thirsts for safety more than for doing what’s right
  • The sorcerer thirsts for spiritual power apart from God
  • A liar thirsts for what lying can get them more than truth
  • A legalist thirsts for the pride of being good enough to earn a relationship with God through their efforts

What we thirst for eventually begins to shape who we are. 

I think this is one big reason why Jesus as the Omega, the end, the final Judge, divides people by thirst. If we’re all thirsty people living in a thirsty world, then Jesus isn’t strictly talking about thirst, he’s talking about where we go to satisfy that thirst.

John chapter 7 records Jesus standing in the midst of thirsty humanity and calling them to bring that thirst to him.  

37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” John 7:37-38

“Let him come to me and drink.” In Revelation, Jesus says to all those who did come to him, here’s an eternal fountain of living water that will forever slake your thirst. Life flowing, rushing, gushing, in and through you forever and ever. At the very end Jesus the Omega brings us to the end…of our thirst. And welcomes us into an eternity of no more thirst, only complete and total satisfaction.

Being a Christian is more than believing information about Jesus. It’s thirsting for him. It’s coming to him to quench our thirst. It’s believing that Jesus is the fountain that can slake our thirst. It’s wanting Jesus more than we want the world. More than we want the other thirsts.

I think that’s what Jesus means by those who have conquered. Conquered the other thirsts by making Jesus our first thirst. 

Those who didn’t want Jesus, who had no desire for him, no thirst for him, he will give them what they wanted, what they thirsted for: an eternity without him.

  1. Thirst emphasizes what Christ gives us, rather than what we give to Christ

To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. (vs 6)

Thirst isn’t a payment. There’s nothing meritorious about thirst. Thirst is not a good work that earns us the fountain of life. Thirst isn’t a positive, it’s a negative. It’s an empty place waiting to be filled. 

If someone invites you over for dinner and you say, “what can I bring?” and they say, “just bring your appetite” they didn’t just split the workload with you. They’re saying you provide the empty stomach, I’ll provide what will fill you up. 

The gospel is our saying to Jesus, “what can I bring?” and Jesus saying, you just bring the need, I will provide all that will fill up that need. 

  • We bring the sin, Jesus provides the forgiveness
  • We bring the failure, Jesus provides the success
  • We bring the empty life, Jesus provides the meaning, the significance
  • We bring the death, Jesus provides the abundant life
  • We bring the thirst, Jesus provides the fountain of living water

So we don’t get the glory, Jesus gets the glory. The more we thirst for Jesus and say, he is the only One who can satisfy my thirst, the more Jesus is glorified in us. 

As John Piper puts it: God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him

As we bring the series Christ Alone to a close, let’s aim our thirst at Christ. Let’s ask God to give us a greater thirst for that which can truly satisfy our souls, for the fountain of living water that will usher in an eternity of joy and love and meaning that satisfies our souls more deeply than we can even imagine right now.

And let’s be done with lesser thirsts. Repentance means a change of mind, but maybe it also means a change of thirst. Turn away from trying to quench our thirst with sin and coming to Christ to drink deeply.

This isn’t mystical or impractical. It’s a faith that stirs a thirst, a thirst for Christ. A thirst for the beauty and glory and meaning and love and joy and eternal that only Christ, Christ alone, can provide. Let’s come to Jesus and drink from the living waters he freely gives us.