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Lowell Brueckner

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Revelation 1:14-18


14. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire,
15. his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters.
16. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.
17. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last,
18. and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.”

The Glorified Christ

Purity is the first word that comes to mind, when I read, “His head and His hair were white, like white wool, like snow” (v.14).  It speaks of moral and spiritual character without blemish or flaw. Christ is the spotless Lamb of God.

Three qualities are related to purity. It is unpolluted, undiluted and unalloyed. Jesus came through earth’s trials morally unscathed. The presence of greedy tax collectors and filthy harlots never dropped a blotch on his pure spirit. While He physically walked among them, His character stood aloof. He never compromised, experimented, nor stooped to relate to their foul ways. He never met them on equal ground. He stood high above and lifted them out of their stench into the pure atmosphere of holiness. The devil never found a lodging place for his unclean thoughts and motives in Christ. Jesus said the devil had “nothing in me” (John 14:30). John Bunyan’s “Vanity Fair” offered no attractions to Jesus. The world could not touch the lofty level of His heart.

Nothing neutralizes, waters down, nor dilutes in any fashion His powerful, full-flavored and rich purity. There was no sin found in Him, to be sure, but neither were there any weights, to which the writer of Hebrews refers (Heb. 12:1)—nothing but pure godliness. He stood above legitimate practices of mere humans. He had no place to lay His head. He never undertook a business venture, nor got involved in sports. Even the distractions of a female companion were not considered. Therefore His matchless, white purity stands before us in undiluted strength.

His purity is unalloyed. In the language of science, no chemical reaction has ever taken place—it has never been compounded. He is unyoked from all, but that which has heavenly properties. He is not linked to money, might or worldly power. Nothing can add to His completeness. He is all sufficient in Himself and altogether lovely.

During his earthly walk, some saw beyond His 30-odd years into eternity to catch a glimpse of the Ancient of Days. Simon Peter certainly did and exclaimed, “Depart from me for I am a sinful man, oh Lord!” (Luke 5:8)  Any corrupted soul confronted with the presence of Jesus knows his unworthiness in being there. Any human spirit, quickened by His life and destined to spend eternity with Him, will have a consuming desire to be like Him.   “Everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (1 John 3:3)  Jesus is preparing a place for him and he is preparing himself for that place where “nothing unclean and no one who practices abomination or lying shall enter, but only whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Rev. 21:27).

Is there burning within your breast a desire to experience Christ in his pristine beauty and know the gospel in its Book-of-Acts freshness? Stick to this simple formula if you would see Christianity at its best: Jesus + anything = nothing; Jesus + nothing = everything. Let the church be pure in her devotion and stop her infernal fornication with the world, the flesh and the devil. May she fix her eyes on her bridegroom alone.

The eyes of the One we study in the apocalyptic book are “like a flame of fire” (v.14). They pierce their way into the deep recesses of man’s being. They root out and uncover the secrets of men’s hearts. They are heaven’s detectors to keep from its gates all spiritual skyjackers. Heaven must be secured from all that would contaminate or corrupt. Christ brings sin to light—the devil hides it.

Jesus said, “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin” (John 15:22). The eyes of fire are evident in the gospels. They searched the adulterous condition of the woman at the well and she went away proclaiming, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did” (John 4:29). Jesus reminded the lame man at Bethesda (John 5) of his sin and warned him to abandon it, as He did the woman caught in the act of adultery (John 8).         

Christ’s vision penetrates perfectly. Nothing happens behind the scenes without His knowledge. The Lord took Ezekiel under the temple to see what the rulers of the people were doing behind everyone’s back (Ez. 8:7-12). He revealed to Elisha plans that a king devised in his bedchamber (2 Kings 6:12).

The flaming eyes of Christ even now burn through the superficial profession of Christianity and go straight to the thoughts, purposes and feelings of every individual. We will pay attention to his scorching look now or we will face it at the seat of judgment. Do not allow some demon to sidle up to you, look at you lovingly, and excuse your sin, selfishness or rebellion!

John saw in his vision that the feet of Jesus glowed with the fire of heaven’s refinery (v.15). All judgment was given over to Him. The nail prints on His feet are the marks of authority for treading on His enemies: “He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.” (19:15) The Lord Jesus will come to earth with His angels “inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (2 Thess. 1:8).

It is far from the truth to assume that all calamities upon a believer’s life are judgments from God against him because of disobedience, rebellion or other sins. There are many reasons for suffering and only God knows what those reasons might be.

It is just as untrue to say that God is never the source of the troubles that befall His people. Paul informed the Corinthians that God was judging them, because they had failed to judge themselves: “That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died…When we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.” (1 Cor. 11:30-32)  “The Lord will judge His people,” the writer of Hebrews warns, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Heb. 10:30-31)

One of the needs in the church today is a revival of godly fear. Few see Christ as John saw him and He is often taken lightly. There is a good deal of writing for us in the New Testament designed to inspire and stir up fear. “Therefore, let us fear,” the writer of Hebrews admonishes and cautions, “How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” (He.2:3; 4:1) The devil’s sleep-inducing ether of false security upon lukewarmness must be shaken off! Many need a revelation of the glowing heat of God’s wrath in Jesus’ nail scarred feet, so that they may offer to God “an acceptable service, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:28-29). 

The voice that John heard, when the Son of Man spoke to him, was “like the roar of many waters” (v.15). It was His post-ascension voice as He stood in the midst of the churches. There was neither hesitation nor vacillation in his tone. He rebuked the churches in no uncertain terms. He pronounced judgment against continued disobedience and sure rewards to the overcomers.

Out of the mouth articulating the voice of many waters “came a sharp, two-edged sword” (v.16). A sword is nothing more or less than an implement of war. It is a divisive instrument. Jesus resolutely informed his disciples, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matt. 10:34). He said it would upset families, as it had already done in Old Testament situations. It was the word of God that separated Cain from Abel, Jacob from Esau, and Joseph from his brethren. Wherever the gospel was preached in the book of Acts, it stirred trouble. Sheathe this sword and the world’s people will go peacefully to their eternal damnation.

No effort is spared to dull the sword proceeding from the mouths of preachers. The devil works unceasingly to get them to compromise principles and doctrines, soften their attitude against sin, and minimize the message of repentance, righteousness and judgment. The more effective his attempts, the more souls that he will carry with him to their doom. The dull sword that is unsheathed today seldom cuts deeper than the emotions and lacks the penetrating power to pierce the spirit. Results are judged by outward reactions, without the discernment to test the inner thoughts and motivations.

The sword of the Lord reveals the secrets of a man’s heart, convincing and convicting him, and so “falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you” (1 Cor. 14:25). From that contrite position, he is elevated to a new life in Christ Jesus. We pray for one more slash from the great Swordsman to prostrate another host at His feet. May his church be motivated by the passion of Charles Wesley, who wrote:

“Come Thou incarnate Word, Gird on Thy mighty sword,
Our prayer attend.
Come and Thy people bless, and give Thy word success
Spirit of holiness on us descend.”

It is essential in our study of Christ, as He is portrayed in this book, to see that it is a revelation to His church throughout the centuries. He has been crucified and resurrected. He has ascended to the Father in heaven. Now, the apostle sees him standing among the golden candlesticks, which represent the seven churches in Asia. There is nothing in Scripture to indicate that He has ever changed his position from that time to this. He still stands in the midst of his church to be seen as John saw him!  Please capture this point, if all others escape. It is so vital and it bears repeating.

There is no area of the church in which the Lord needs to be more involved as much as in its leadership.  Leadership determines, in large part, the state of the church and the direction that it will take. I cannot imagine a greater responsibility on the face of the earth. For this reason, the apostles firmly established the practice of giving themselves continually to prayer and the ministry of the word.

The great need in church leadership today is a clear recognition of the dominating right hand of the glorified Lord (v.16). Serious problems develop when the church fails to distinguish between that which is heaven-appointed from that which has its origin in the earth. Beware, first of all, those who are self-appointed. John identified Diotrephes, for 2,000 years of dubious distinction, as one who loved to have the preeminence (3 John 9). Self is always in opposition to the Spirit and where self leads, the moving of God is never accepted.

We also have those, who are institution-appointed. They can tack a paper on the wall that assures that they have had the proper training and have fulfilled certain prerequisites to satisfy the conditions of a small body of men. They are duly qualified to represent their particular organization. This usually brings about a slow decay as each succeeding generation gives increasing credence to human wisdom.

We have the democratically appointed. They are elected by popular consent. Nothing could be better suited to assure people they will hear only what they want to hear. They will surely tend to satisfy “itching ears” (2 Tim. 4:3). None of the above guarantees a position in Jesus’ right hand. How adept we are at convincing ourselves things are as they should be, after accepting something less than heaven’s best!

It is in periods of revival that we see the best examples of God moving through leadership. When Duncan Campbell, the well-known Scottish evangelist, landed on the island of Lewis in 1949, a church elder approached him.  “Are you rightly related to God?” he asked. Campbell answered, “Well, at least I can tell you that I fear God.” The movements of the Hebrides Revival and the salvation of lost men on the island required such sensitivity to the Holy Spirit that none, but God’s man could possibly give direction. There was no place for human manipulation, no room to comply with organizations and no compromise with the masses. The Lamb that was slain led His army onto the Hebrides battlefield and souls were swept into the Kingdom of God.

Moses spoke of a Prophet who was to come from greater heights than that of Mount Sinai. In the opening remarks of his Gospel, John records concerning Jesus, “We have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Jesus’ relationship with the Father was not only that of a servant, as Moses was, but as the eternal Son of God. It was complete and perfect, to the point that he could say, “Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).

Saul of Tarsus met Jesus as He is presented in the Apocalypse. This seething Jew was determined to use all his power and influence to stop what he thought to be a rival sect. He threatened, imprisoned and killed. Such a terrorist could not be soothed or loved into the kingdom. Saul needed an encounter with the One whose “face was like the sun shining in full strength” (v.16). He toppled headlong upon the Damascus road, trembling, astonished and blind. He found that he alone had been the loser and his persecution had taken nothing away from the glorified Son of Man.

The face of Christ shines in overwhelming strength as he walks among the candlesticks today. It can still shake assemblies of believers, smite infiltrating liars and cheaters, melt sinful, rebellious hearts, astonish whole communities, and bring His worst enemies to cry, “What shall I do, Lord?”

The people, who are related to Christ by personal experience, need to pray, as Moses, for a greater manifestation of His glory. When God answers that prayer, they will find themselves on their faces as dead at his feet, just as John, the beloved apostle (v.17). There will be no strength left to perform by their human abilities. No flesh will glory in His presence, no applause will be accepted, and no personalities will charm. There will be no strutting, joking or sham. All will be swept away in one instance by a mighty revelation of the Christ of the Apocalypse.

“Fear not,” He said, “I am the first and the last” (v.18) Those who fear Christ, need fear no one else. He is before all and outlasts all. He is over all, so that no high power can touch us; He is below, so that none of hell’s forces can reach us. He surrounds us as a wall of fire that nothing on this earth can penetrate. He is the living one: “The last Adam became a life-giving spirit” (1 Co.15:45). He is back from the dead, as living proof that He has conquered death and hell. He has the keys and they will never turn against His own. “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died… more than that, who was raised… who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us” (Ro.8:34).

No man can lift another from that place of prostrate crucifixion, where the apostle John fell as dead before Christ. No encouraging words, pep talks, nor self-motivation will move a muscle. Here only the right hand of Christ will suffice. His sovereignty, person, call, preparation and assurance will set him again on his feet to minister. It will be in the power of the Spirit, who is the Advocate on behalf of the glorified Christ.


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