February 1, 2012
By John Barnett
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As we open to Revelation 1:14 this is the second set of twin descriptions of Christ: His head and hair are white, like wool and snow; and His eyes are like burning flames of fire.
When John turned to see who it was that spoke to him, he turned and so the Ancient of Days Himself, in all His power, in all His holiness, and with those eyes ablaze with an inescapable and penetrating gaze.
That is how Jesus Christ the Risen Lord appears at this moment, as we gather before Him.
Let that sight get imprinted upon your heart:
*Christ’s Flaming Eyes of Penetrating Holiness*
In the Old Testament world, and the New Testament era, white signified purity as well as signifying great age.
By combining head, hair, snow, and wool we see a picture of Christ's being both the all-powerful Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:9-10) as well as the pure and holy One.
The first point John makes as he details Christ's appearance is to emphasize:
The eyes as a flame of fire speak of both power and purity.
We see portrayed both the purifying work of fire as well as the unquenchable power of fire.
Fires that are allowed to burn hot enough can refine and purifying metals such as silver, gold, brass, and iron.
The same fires can consume, and eat through even to the weakening of metal and crumbling of rock.
When fires powerful flames are combined with the idea of Christ's eyes, it speaks of an unstoppable, all-powerful, purifying gaze.
Remember this is the second set of twin descriptions of Christ.
Our loving, merciful God first reminded us in v. 13 that He is supremely the Compassionate Priest: “One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.”
Jesus is always first the One we can come to, cry out to, and share our struggles with.
Hold on in your hearts to this great truth: Jesus does not condemn, rather He showers us with compassion and intercession.
*Christ’s Arms of Compassion and Love*
So God first wants us as His servants who struggle through life to see: Jesus is a Compassionate Priest who ever lives to pray, encourage, help, and encourage us in our walk through life for Him.
Today we are God’s servants, and He wants us to understand this second facet of Christ's character that will focus and change us as we meditate upon Him.
Let’s turn to Revelation 1.14-17, notice what John saw about Jesus.
Revelation 1:14-17 /His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes like a flame of fire; 15 His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; 16 He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.
17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead.
But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.
The sight of Jesus looking at us with those power-filled, fiery eyes is not immediately a comforting sight.
But it is a truth we need to understand and respond to.
As the Psalmist says about Christ's coming: mercy and truth have met in Jesus (Psalm 85:10).
We must never forget that there is only one of God’s attributes that is stated in triplicate.
You know which one I mean, right?
Both Isaiah in chapter 6, and here in Revelation 4:8 we hear the anthem of Heaven, repeated over and over again around the Throne:
Holy, Holy, Holy is how that attribute is declared.
We never see God surrounded by angels singing Sovereign, Sovereign, Sovereign.
Nor do we see them saying a three-fold Omnipotence, any other attribute.
The compassionate, lovingly gentle intercessor of v. 13 is also the all-powerful Ancient of Days who with His white head and hair, and piercing eyes seeks to refine all sin from our lives.
This description of our Savior here in His Church calls us to deeply ponder the desire God has for our holiness.
This picture of Revelation 1:14 declares that:
*Jesus Desires my Sanctification: Are you Experiencing Christ’s Holiness?*
v. 14a His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow,”
When we see God represented by Christ in the Old Testament He is called the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7), and He is described as “Holy, Holy, Holy” (Isaiah 6).
This description of Christ combines those two elements into one.
The Ancient aspect and the Holy aspect are combined into a white head and hair, as white as wool and snow.
Jesus always kept this holiness aspect before His disciples as He spoke of His plans for them, and us.
• Do you remember when He promised the Comforter who would come to them, that Jesus described Him as the *HOLY* Spirit (John 14:26; 16:7-14).
• Do you remember what Jesus said to the disciples after the Resurrection?
Receive the *HOLY* Spirit (John 20:22).
• Then, just before His Ascension, Jesus told them to wait in Jerusalem (Luke 24:46; Acts 1:4-8) before they did anything else for the coming of the what?
The coming of the *HOLY* Spirit.
• Finally, on the Day of Pentecost God poured out His what (Acts 2:4)?
He poured out the HOLY Spirit upon Christ's Church.
Notice what the first part of the Name of the third person of the Trinity always is: the *HOLY* Spirit.
So it is the Spirit of God living within us that is to cause us more and more to reflect the Holiness of Christ.
He is the Spirit that causes Holiness, and He sent to live with us.
Christ’s flaming eyes are representing His desire that we experience the purifying work of His Spirit at every level of our lives.
The workings of the Spirit inside of believers is not automatic.
God’s plans for our earthly sanctification must be unleashed by our participation.
God has chosen for the Spirit of God to reflect His pleasure with our faith and obedience, or His displeasure with our unbelief and disobedience.
That is the work of sanctification.
*Sanctification Means Purity of Mind & Body*
Since the Third Person of the Godhead is usually introduced by the word “Holy” before the word “Spirit”, it is clearly His primary ministry to purge and cleanse saints from their sins.
The work of the Spirit is described as sanctification, or increasing our individual conduct in holiness or godlikeness.
When we are saved it is the Holy Spirit that does the complete cleansing of our hearts and lives, totally severing all the connections that had fed the lusts of habitual sin that characterized our pre-salvation lives.
Paul describes this sanctifying work to the new believers in Corinth by reminding them that, “You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1Cor.
6:11; see also Titus 3:5).
During the ministry of John the Baptist one promise he made was that Christ's coming would bring the work of the Spirit with fire.
That metaphor of fire pointed to the cleansing and purifying work that Jesus would bring when people were saved and baptized “with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matt.
3:11; Luke 3:16).
When the Spirit of God is present He empowers us to reflect God more and more.
Paul summarizes the direction of a believer’s life as “being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another,” we should be reminded that “this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor.
Remember that God never commands me to do what He hasn’t already given me the grace to accomplish by faith through His Spirit!
Listen again to the theological description of this powerful doctrine:
/“Our participation in the process of *sanctification* comes only after we've been totally accepted and made right before God through faith in Jesus./
/So yes, we work hard at obeying God's word.
We read our Bibles.
We meditate on Scripture.
We memorize Scripture.
We share the gospel.
We serve in our church.
/God commands us in His Word to do many things, and our obedience is both pleasing to Him and brings His blessing to our lives.
But not one adds to our justification, our standing before God, our eternal life./
/Only grace sustains lasting change and *sanctification*.
Through the cross we overcome not only the guilt of sin, but the power of sin as well./
We can not sanctify ourselves, we must rely upon and desire for the Spirit of God to conquer more parts of our lives by His power (2 Thess.
2:13; 1 Peter 1:2, cf.
8:4; 15-16), so that we realize each time we face the tug of sin, and feel the coldness to spiritual things that sinful desires, attitudes, and choices bring: we respond “by the Spirit”.
When we ask the Spirit to “protect me” we find are able to “put to death the deeds of the body”.
That is what growing in personal holiness is all about (Rom.
8:13; see 7:6; Phil.
When Jesus was describing the salvation He purchased for us on the Cross, He used the simile of the Spirit being ‘like a powerful river’.
Salvation means we have more than we could ever need when the Holy Spirit resides within, not less.
So John 7:39 means we would be able to feel and know, and others would notice also the powerful work of God’s Spirit pouring out into our daily lives.
*Sanctification Means the Blessings of God Are Tied to Our Responses*
Throughout the Bible we see examples of the Spirit of God blessing or removing blessing based on whether the events pleased or displeased Him.
But it is most clearly stated in the New Testament that the Holy Spirit can be so grieved that He ceases to bless those that grieve Him.