KNOWING CHRIST - KNOWING GOD

Copyright © Rosemary Bardsley 2003

STUDY NINE: JESUS CHRIST - THE OMEGA

[This Study relates to Knowing Christ - Knowing God Worksheet 9 designed for use in group study situations. Some of the suggestions in the Study Tasks are specific for group study leaders; these can be adapted for personal study.]

REVIEW:

In Study One we asked the question 'What are we here for?' and found in the Bible the answer that we are here for God. We looked at various opinions and ideologies of the world and compared them to the teaching of Scripture that we are:

  • Created by God to reflect of his glory.
  • Dependent on him so that we may find fulfilment in him.
  • Saved by him to express his glory.
  • Loved by him in order that we may love him.
  • Known by him in order that we may know him.

In Studies 2 to 8 we have focused on Jesus Christ and learned from the Scriptures that all of this is accomplished and perfected in Christ. We have seen that:

  • Jesus Christ, the Light, shatters the darkness - that in seeing Christ we see God.
  • Jesus Christ, the Truth, identifies the truth and exposes error.
  • Jesus Christ, the Door, in contrast to every false teaching, is the one entry point to knowledge of God and eternal life.
  • Jesus Christ, the Way, is the breaker of the sin-barrier, providing a comprehensive forgiveness that enables us to stand in the presence of God guilt-free and unafraid.
  • Jesus Christ, is the Lord our Righteousness, in whom law and grace, Sinai and Calvary, are united.
  • Jesus Christ, the Vine, is the source, substance and sustenance of our spiritual life.
  • Jesus Christ, the great I AM, is the absolute, eternal, self-existent LORD, and is himself the comprehensive salvation that he gives.

In this final study we return to that original question: What are we here for? What is the end, the goal, the purpose, the ultimate reason and fulfilment of human existence, and in particular, of the Christian's existence? From the previous studies, if we have been thinking and understanding, we have learned that this question 'What are we here for?' is not the ultimate question. The ultimate question, the question forgotten by many within the Christian church, focuses not on us, but on Jesus Christ, a question that he himself posed: 'who do you say that I am?' That other question: 'what am I here for?' is answered as we answer this question. If he is indeed all that the Scripture claims for him, then he is the end of all other questions, for everything finds its meaning in him.

Indeed we find that not only do we humans find our meaning, purpose, goal and fulfilment in Christ, but the whole of history, the whole of God's Scriptures, find their meaning, purpose, goal and fulfilment in Christ.

INTRODUCTION:

JESUS CHRIST: THE BEGINNING AND THE END - THE ALPHA AND THE OMEGA

There are a few verses that identify Jesus as the beginning and the end:

Isaiah 44:6

I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.

Isaiah 48:12

I am he; I am the first and I am the last.

Hebrews 12:2

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith ...

Revelation 1:8

'I am the Alpha and the Omega' says the Lord God, 'who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.'

Rev 1:17,18

'I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! ... '

Rev 21:6

'I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End ... '

Rev 22:13

'I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.'

These verses identify God and Jesus Christ with the same words: the beginning and the end, the first and the last, the alpha and the omega. They teach us that our source/origin is Christ, and our purpose/goal/end is Christ. Everything, including our lives, including our salvation, is not only dependent on Christ for its existence, but also finds its meaning, purpose and fulfilment in Christ.

In this identification of Jesus as the 'end' or the 'omega' or the 'last' there are two concepts:

  1. that he is the end or the last in that there is nothing more to come, and
  2. that he is the goal, purpose, culmination, fulfilment of all that has gone before; he brings all that has gone before to its completion, to its ultimate meaning and purpose.

In this study we will look at several aspects of this finality and culmination in Jesus Christ.

The study tasks:All of the tasks in this study, after the first one, require the group to analyse the various aspects of Jesus Christ - the Omega. Encourage the group to discuss the implications of each of these for their lives: for their relationship with God, with themselves and with each other, and for their attitude to the religions, attitudes and value systems that we humans have developed for ourselves. Lead the group to a Christ-centred, Christ-focused mindset that puts Jesus Christ as source, centre and goal of their lives, so that he will be honoured and glorified in and through them as they commit to a life focused on him alone.

A. JESUS CHRIST: GOD'S FINAL REVELATION OF HIMSELF

In Jesus Christ God has spoken his final word about himself and his purposes. There is no further revelation beside or beyond Jesus Christ. Any supposed revelation of God additional to Jesus Christ is counterfeit, and, if added to the knowledge of God which we have in Christ, only dilutes, disturbs, displaces and distorts that perfect revelation. The following Scriptures testify to this finality and completeness:

John 1:14

'The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.'

John 1:18

'No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's, side, has made him known.'

John 12:45

'When a man looks at me, he sees the one who sent me.'

John 13:31

'Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him.'

John 14:7,9

'If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him ... Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, "Show us the Father"?'

John 15:15

' ... everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.'

2 Cor 4:6

'God ... made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.'

Colossians 1:19

'God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him.'

Colossians 2:2,3

'My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.'

Colossians 2:9

'In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form ..'

Hebrews 1:1,2

'In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son ... The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being ... '

B. JESUS CHRIST: THE FINAL UNVEILING OF GOD'S SECRET PURPOSE

The whole of Scripture moves towards a hidden and secret purpose. It contains a great multitude of prophetic words, prophetic symbols, prophetic rituals, which at the one time hide a mystery, and yet reveal that there is a meaning greater and grander than themselves as yet not made known. This mystery, this grand eternal purpose of God is unveiled in Christ:

Luke 10:23,24

'Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.'

Romans 16:25,26

'Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God ... '

1 Cor 2:9-10

'No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him' - but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.'

Ephesians 1:9

'And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure which he purposed in Christ'

Ephesians 3:3-6

' ... the mystery made known to me by revelation ... the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.'

Ephesians 3:9-11

' ... to make plain to everyone ... the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord. '

Colossians 1:25-27

' ... to present to you in its fullness - the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.'

1 Peter 1:10-12

'Concerning this salvation, the prophets ... searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ ... was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ ... they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you ... Even the angels long to look into these things.'

C. JESUS CHRIST: THE FULFILLMENT OF ALL PROPHETIC WORDS

Repeatedly in the gospels we read that things that Jesus did and things that were done to Jesus happened 'in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled' or because 'it is written'. Jesus Christ consciously and deliberately chose to live in line with the Scriptural prophecies concerning himself, and, while not justifying or excusing them, recognized the opposition and disbelief on the part of the Jews and their final rejection of him as happening in fulfilment of the Scriptures. In every way Jesus Christ is the fulfilment of the Old Testament prophets:

Matthew 5:17

'Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them.'

Matthew 26:56

' ... this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.'

Luke 1:70

' ... as he said through his holy prophets of long ago ... '

Luke 18:31

'We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled.'

Luke 24:25-27

'How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! ... and beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.'

Luke 24:44-46

'This is what I told you while I was still with you: everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.' Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, 'This is what is written ... '

John 1:45

'We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote - Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.'

Acts 3:18

'But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer.'

Acts 3:24

'Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days.'

Acts 10:43

'All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.'

Acts 13:32

'We tell you the good news: What God promised our fathers he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus.'

Acts 26:22-23

'I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen - that the Christ would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles.'

Acts 28:23

'He explained and declared to them the kingdom of God and tired to convince them about Jesus from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.'

Romans 1:2,3

' ... the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son ... '

2 Corinthians 1:20

'For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. '

D. JESUS CHRIST: THE FULFILLMENT AND THE ULTIMATE REALITY OF ALL OLD TESTAMENT RITUAL AND SYMBOL

Not only does Jesus Christ fulfil the Old Testament prophetic words, he also is the real meaning of all Old Testament ritual and symbol. Below are the more significant areas of ritual and symbol of which Jesus Christ is the reality. Each of these has no intrinsic meaning or significance: they all take their significance and their effect from Jesus Christ: without him they are nothing:

Re: Cleansing rituals

John 13:10; 15:3

'You are clean. ... You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.'

1 Cor 6:11

'You were washed ... in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God.'

Ephesians 5:25,26

'Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word. '

Titus 2:14

' ... who gave himself for us ... to purify for himself a people that are his very own ... '

Titus 3:5

' ... he saved us through the washing of rebirth ... '

Revelation 1:5

'To him who loves and has freed [=washed] us from our sins by his blood ... '

Revelation 7:14

' ... they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.'

Re: Priestly rituals

Hebrews 2:17

' ... he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful hight priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.'

Hebrews 4:14

' ... we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God'

Hebrews 6:20

'Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever ... '

Hebrews 7:24

' ... because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood '

Hebrews 7:26,28

'Such a high priest meets our need - one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. ... the oath ... appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.'

Hebrews 8:1,2

'We do have such a hight priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man.'

Hebrews 9:11

'When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. ... he entered the Most Holy Place once for all ... having obtained eternal redemption.'

Hebrews 9:25

'Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year ... Christ ... appeared once for all at the end of the ages ... '

Hebrews 10:12

'When this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.'

Hebrews 10:21,22

'Since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith ... '

Re: the Ritual of Sacrifice

Matthew 20:28

' ... the Son of Man came ... to give his life a ransom for many'

Romans 3:25

'God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement ... '

Galatians 1:4

'Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age ... '

Galatians 2:20

' ... the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me ... '

Ephesians 5:2

' ... Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.'

1 Timothy 2:6

' ... the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men ...'

Hebrews 9:26

' ... Christ ... has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.'

Hebrews 9:28

' ... Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people ... '

Hebrews 10:10

' ... we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.'

Hebrews 10:12,14

' ... when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God ... by one sacrifice he ahs made perfect forever those who are being made holy.'

Hebrews 10:17,18

'Then he adds: 'Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.' And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.'

1 Peter 2:24

'He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree ... '

1 John 2:2

'He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.'

1 John 4:10

' ... he ... sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.'

Re: the Ritual Feasts and Days

1 Corinthians 5:7

'Christ our Passover lamb has been sacrificed. '

Colossians 2:16,17

' ... do not let anyone judge you ... with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. '

E. JESUS CHRIST: THE FULFILMENT OF THE LAW AND THE END OF THE LAW

As we have already seen Jesus fulfilled the law. In his living he perfectly kept its requirements; in his dying he fully bore the penalty for our disobedience. In every way he upheld the law. He also, through his substitutionary death, brought the ultimate purpose of the law into effect:

Matthew 3:15

' ... it is proper for us to do this to fulfil all righteousness.'

Matthew 5:17

'Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law and the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them.'

Romans 3:21,22

'But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness comes through faith in Jesus Christ ... '

Romans 3:26

' ... he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.'

Romans 8:3,4

' ... what the law could not do in that it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of flesh to be a sin offering in order that the righteousness requirements of the law might be fully met in us, ... '

Romans 10:4

'Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.'

Galatians 3:23-25

'Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.'

Philippians 3:8,9

' ... that I may gain Christ, and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ ... '

Hebrews 10:1

'The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming - not the realities themselves.'

F. JESUS CHRIST: THE ONE WHOSE COMING IS THE CULMINATION OF HISTORY

The Bible also teaches that all of history moves towards the incarnation. With the coming of God in human flesh the point to which God has been moving all history arrived. Here comes the Lamb, slain before the foundation of the world, here comes the salvation anticipated in Genesis 3, here comes that central event from which all history takes its meaning and to which all previous history moved. Now, in the coming of Christ into the world, God's time has come. We now live 'in these last days', at 'the end of the ages' - because Jesus Christ, the Omega, has come.

Mark 1:15

'The time has come'

John 12:23

'The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified ... '

John 12:27

' ... what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.'

John 17:1

'Father, the time has come.'

Acts 2:17

'In these last days ... .'

Galatians 4:4

'When the time had fully come, God sent his son, born of a woman, born under law ... '

Hebrews 1:2

' ... but in these last days he has spoken through his Son ... '

Hebrews 9:26

'Now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin ... '

G. JESUS CHRIST: THE ULTIMATE MANIFESTATION OF THE GLORY OF GOD

In the New Testament we learn that the glory of God is seen in Jesus Christ. There is no revelation of the glory of God beyond Jesus Christ : he is the end, the telos , the culmination point of God's revelation of his glory.

Matthew 15:31 KJV

'Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel.'

John 1:14

'The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.'

John 2:11

'This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.'

John 12:28

'Father, glorify your name!' ... 'I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.'

John 13:31,32

'Now is the son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.'

John 17:1

'Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.'

John 17:4

'I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. '

2 Cor 1:20

'For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God.'

2 Cor 4:6

'For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.'

Philippians 2:11

' ... and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father'

Revelation 1:5,6

'To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father - to him be glory and power for ever and ever!' [See also 4:11; 5:9-13; 79-12; 19:1]

H. JESUS CHRIST: THE ULTIMATE GLORY OF MAN

Not only is Jesus Christ the ultimate glory of God: he brings humans to their ultimate glory of living in the presence of God and reflecting (imaging) his glory. In him and through him we come to our ultimate destiny and meaning and purpose. In him and through him we live in the positive relationship with God that we were created to enjoy and express:

Romans 5:1,2

'Therefore, since we have been justified through faith ... we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.'

Romans 8:18

'I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.'

2 Cor 3:18

'And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.'

Ephesians 1:12

' ... in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.' [see also verse 6 and 14]

Ephesians 3:21

' ... to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!'

Philippians 1:11

' ... filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ - to the glory and praise of God.'

Colossians 1:27

' ... Christ in you, the hope of glory.'

1 Thess 2:12

' ... encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.'

2 Thess 2:14

'He called you to [belief in the truth] through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.'

Hebrews 2:10

'In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.'

1 Peter 4:11

' ... so that in all things God may be praised (glorified) through Jesus Christ.'

1 Peter 5:10

'And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, ... .'

In this way the two things come together in Jesus Christ:

  1. in the person of Jesus Christ and through the saving work of Jesus Christ God is glorified. He is the ultimate revelation of God's glory and the ultimate cause of God's glory.
  2. in Jesus Christ and through his saving work, human beings are brought to glory: to that ultimate purpose of living life to the full, in his presence, as his image.

I.  JESUS CHRIST: THE GOAL/PURPOSE/FULNESS OF HUMAN LIFE

In the references above to Jesus as the ultimate glory of man are some references to our purpose and goal: to live our lives to his glory. In addition to these are verses that indicate that we are here for Christ: that life lived for him is the ultimate life, the ultimate commitment.This means that all we are, all we do, all we say, all our aspirations and endeavours, are to be geared and directed towards him:

Mark 9:34,35

'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it ... '

John 6:35

I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.'

John 10:10

'I am come that they may have life, and have it to the full.'

John 12:25,26

'The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be ... .'

Romans 6:11,13

'In the same way count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus ... offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life. ..'

Romans 7:4

'So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God.'

1 Corinthians 10:31

'Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.'

Ephesians 6:7

'Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men ... '

Philippians 1:21

'For me to live is Christ ... '

Col. 1:16,17

' ... all things were created ... for him. ... in him all things hold together.'

Colossians 2:10

' ... you have been given fullness in Christ ... '

Colossians 3:17

'Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus ... '

Colossians 3:23,24

'Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, ... it is the Lord Christ you are serving.'

CONCLUSION:

From all of this it is clear that the Bible expects and commands us to have a Christ-centred, Christ-focused life:

  • to view everything and to do everything from the mindset which knows that Jesus Christ is Lord of all, including ourselves;
  • to live with the mindset that knows that all of human history and all of God's purposes move towards Jesus Christ and is brought to its ultimate goal in and by Jesus Christ;
  • to demonstrate the mindset that knows that Jesus Christ, not we ourselves, is the centre of existence;
  • to live with the complete and absolute confidence Jesus Christ is our God, and we are his people, his own special treasure, the objects of his incredible love, recipients of his amazing grace, co-heirs with him of his glory.

This Christ-centred, Christ-focused mindset is the true motivation for true obedience. Any obedience issuing from a man-centred, self-focused mindset has no value, and is but a hypocritical obedience, a manifestation of the pride and/or the fears of the sinful human heart and mind, rather than an expression of a true recognition and acknowledgement of God. [Romans 14:23b; Hebrews 11:6].