GETTING THE MESSAGE/God’s gracious gift of grace

GETTING THE MESSAGE/God’s gracious gift of grace


In Revelation 1:4, we see that the book of Revelation is a letter to seven churches in Asia. Seven is the favorite symbolic number in the book which is full of symbolic language. It signifies the idea of completeness or perfection. So, the seven churches, though they literally existed in the first century, represent the church in all ages. The letter, then, is meant for us, for all Christians.

John begins the letter with the salutation, “grace and peace to you.” This is not a perfunctory or superficial greeting. The Christian life is lived hand to mouth from fresh infusions of grace from God. A Christian is converted by grace and continues to live by grace. All we have is by God’s gracious gift of grace. 

Grace is the unmerited favor of God. The book of Revelation shows us two entirely different scenes. The scenes of heaven show us a realm where all there glorify God and delight in being in the presence of God. The scenes of earth show us a realm where God is not glorified by men. Redemption is the power of God to turn sinful, rebellious man back to the praise and glory of God.

Peace flows from God’s grace. We receive peace with God through the blood of Christ cleansing us from all sin. We have the inward peace of God through walking with God, knowing that Christ has made us children of God. 

What we see in the beginning of this letter is how willing God is to pour out grace and peace to his people. The book of Revelation will show the tribulations Christians should expect to encounter in this world. But right at the beginning, God wants his people to know that they are blessed and that he will supply all their needs in Christ Jesus. 

There is a trinitarian promise of grace and peace that John pronounces in verses 4 and 5. He begins with, “Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come.” This represents God the Father’s promise as the all-sufficient God to bless his redeemed people.

God appeared to Moses in the burning bush and pronounced his name as “I am,” meaning he exists in and of himself eternally. A fire needs something to consume or it will die out. But the burning bush was not consumed. As such it represents God, who is dependent on nothing or no one. He has always been and always will be the eternal, unchangeable, infinite God.

Grace and peace come from our Father in heaven. It also comes from “the seven spirits which are before his throne.” Again, the number seven is completeness, so the seven spirits aren’t created things, but represent the perfection of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the gift of God, who is poured out from the throne of God after Christ ascended into heaven.

The New Testament makes clear that the difference in men is essentially those who have the Spirit of God and those who do not. The Spirit makes us alive in Christ. We are taught as Christians to live in step with the Spirit of God. Jesus says, “Blessed are those who have ears to hear what the Spirit says to the church.” This means we must apply the words of Scripture to our lives.

In verse 5, grace and peace are from “Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn form the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.” Christ is the faithful prophet of God. We can trust what he says. He came to bring us to God. The Father says, “Listen to him.” 

He is the firstborn from the dead. Christ, as the eternal Son, had no beginning, but his resurrection begins the new creation, reconciling all things in heaven and earth to God. His resurrection promises life with God for all who are united to him. All our hope is in Him. That he is the ruler of all kings is good news. His kingdom prevails over the power of Satan. Whatever his people must endure in their short lives now on earth, they have a place in the kingdom of God.

We learn in these verses how willing God is to give us the grace we need. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit promise to sustain souls who believe. From the first to last, we are in need of God’s aid. Pray continually for his grace and peace. God commands us to pray and promises to hear us in Christ. Grace and peace are rich treasures God is pleased to give to needy souls.

The Rev. Chris Shelton is pastor of Union’s First Presbyterian Church.

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