What we have today in God’s Word is an invitation to receive grace and peace through Jesus Christ. We learned about three sources of these gifts from God last week (see “The Source of Grace and Peace“) and now we’ll zoom in on the third source: Jesus Christ. Through Christ, God wants to give us unmerited favor and blessing and to put our relationship with Him and other people back in place.
There are obstacles that stand in the way of us receiving grace and peace from God, however. Here are two common ones:
“I’ve already received grace and peace through Jesus and have heard the gospel a million times. This is an evangelistic message for non-Christians, not for me.” Well, it’s true that this is an evangelistic message. But, it’s not true that it’s irrelevant for you if you’re a maturing Christian. We need a fresh influx of God’s grace and peace every day to be able to function as Christ-followers.
“This is just going to be abstract theology. I need concrete advice for my real-life problems.” Don’t check out for this reason! What we’re going to see about grace and peace through Christ is as practical as putting your pants on in the morning.
So now that we’ve gotten those obstacles out of the way, let’s dig into the first part of Revelation 1:5.
Grace & Peace from Jesus Christ
What we see in Revelation 1 is an invitation to receive grace and peace through Christ. We also get three descriptions of Him:
Grace to you and peace … from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.
– vv. 4-5
From verse 5, we learn that Jesus is 1) the faithful witness, 2) the firstborn of the dead 3) and the ruler of kings on earth. These descriptions of Jesus are clues as to how we’ll receive grace and peace from God. They’re three ways we can reach out and take hold of those gifts.
Jesus: The Faithful Witness
The first description of Jesus is that He is “the faithful witness.” In other words, He is the reliable source of truth. This refers to the book of Revelation as His testimony and also to the entire Bible. When you think about it, the testimony of Jesus Christ is the only 100% reliable source of truth.
We have many different sources of truth, and we build our lives around the truths from these sources. The quality of our lives reflects the quality of those sources. But there is no other completely reliable source of truth besides Christ’s testimony.
Is the media 100% reliable? No, it’s always tainted by some level of bias or human mistake. Are politicians 100% reliable? No, they’re always emphasizing the things they want you to see and deemphasizing the things they want you to ignore. Are your friends, coworkers and even your own memory 100% reliable sources of truth? No.
Jesus said that if you build your life around God’s Word, you’ll be like someone who builds a house on rock. But if you build your life around anything else, you’ll be like someone who builds a house on sand (Matthew 7:24-27). So the question is, “What sources am I turning to for truth?”
Here we have an invitation for grace and peace from Jesus as the faithful witness. How would you benefit from a faithful witness? By listening to Him. Listen to the Bible, take notes, do daily devotions, discuss it with others – this is one way we receive grace and peace from God through Christ.
Jesus: The Firstborn of the Dead
Not only is Jesus the faithful witness, He is also “the firstborn of the dead.” This description first of all refers to sequence – Jesus was the first one to be raised to new life. (Others like Lazarus were raised before Jesus, but they all eventually died again.) He is also the first of many brothers and sisters who will be resurrected when He returns.
Being the firstborn of the dead also gives Jesus an important status. He is at the top of the org chart, the most prominent one. As Colossians 1:18 puts it:
… He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.
As the firstborn of the dead, Jesus is the most important one. This flows right into the third and final description in Revelation 1:5.
Jesus: The Ruler of Kings on Earth
Jesus is the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead and “the ruler of kings on earth.” In Ephesians 1:20-21, Paul writes about the power of God working in the church
… that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
There is no one higher than Jesus Christ. No one has or ever will have more authority than Him. Our president, Congress, bosses, teachers and peers are not higher than Him. Even we ourselves do not have more authority over our lives than Christ. We tend to live like we’re the monarchs of our own little domains (my space, my time, my stuff), but the Bible is clear that this is not the case – Jesus is the ruler of kings.
Receiving Grace & Peace from Jesus
Revelation 1:5 tells us that Jesus is uniquely qualified for our attention and allegiance. If you want to plug into Him for grace and peace, listen to Him and live for Him. Take in what Christ has said and live obediently in light of it.
There are two super practical ways for you to plug into Christ for grace and peace:
Keep coming to listen to the weekly sermon. Whether it’s one of our sermons or someone else’s, you need to hear the testimony of Christ. And come expecting to receive truths from the only reliable source.
Establish a daily devotional time. You might feel intimidated, busy, dejected or not sure where to start, but it’s so important. Take the time to find a way to receive the truth from God’s Word every day.
When we listen to Jesus and live for Him, grace and peace flow into our lives. We experience fresh forgiveness and mercy, freedom from our sins, newness of life and growth in Christ-likeness. Our relationships with God and the people in our lives begin to click into place. Jesus’ aim for our life takes hold and we get traction for daily living.
Don’t come and do churchy stuff only to go home and scrounge around just trying to piece together a good day. As Christians, we can abound in grace and peace from Jesus Christ. So let’s stay connected to Him, listening to Him as the 100% reliable source of truth and living for Him as the highest authority.
What obstacles do you face when approaching God’s Word?
What sources do you turn to for truth? How do these sources affect your life, and why?
Why is it important that Jesus is the firstborn of the dead?
How would your life be different if you always lived under the authority of Jesus?
What can we do practically to receive grace and peace from Jesus?