The Alpha and the Omega
August 4th, 1963 @ 10:50 AM
THE ALPHA AND THE OMEGA
Dr. W. A. Criswell
Revelation 22:12-13, 16
8-4-63 10:50 a.m.
On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the eleven o’clock morning message entitled The Alpha and the Omega. In our preaching through the Bible after these many years, we have come to the Revelation. In our preaching through the Apocalypse, we have come to chapter 22. The sermon last Sunday morning on the New Jerusalem, The Heavenly City of God, was the last sermon on the apocalyptic visions that God gave to Jesus, the unveiling of our Lord, and sent and signified it through His servant John. And John wrote these things that he heard and that he saw [Revelation 1:1-2]. And those visions concluded with the sermon last Sunday morning, Revelation 22:5.
Beginning at the sixth verse of the twenty-second chapter of the Revelation, John writes an epilogue of affirmation and authentication to these visions that he saw and wrote here in the Book. I am preparing to deliver three sermons on this epilogue, the first one delivered this morning, and the last two – of the last two: one, Revelation 22:17, "The Spirit and the bride say, Come," that verse; and then the last sermon, after almost eighteen years preaching through the Bible, will be delivered on Revelation 22:20, "He which testifieth these things saith: Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus." The last two sermons will be delivered when I return after Labor Day in September. And the sermon this morning is based upon the passage in Revelation 22:12, 13 and 16:
Behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last,
I Jesus have sent Mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and the Morning Star.
This is a message on the deity, the exaltation, the honor of our living and glorified Lord. "I am Alpha and Omega, I am the Root and the Offspring of David." Four times in this Revelation do you find those words: "I am the Alpha and the Omega." The first time is in the first chapter of the Revelation, verse 8: "I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the Ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty."
This is an avowal of the omnipotence of the Lord Christ: the Alpha – the beginning word, the beginning letter of the Greek alphabet – and the Omega – the concluding letter of the Greek – Greek alphabet. "The Beginning and the Ending," the First and the Last, "the all-inclusive revelation and reality of being and existence," God Himself; all of God! "I am Alpha and Omega, the Lord God which was, and which is to come," the pantokrator, "the Almighty." This is an avowal of the omnipotence of our Lord Christ.
The second time that expression is used is in verse 11 of this first chapter:
I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia.
Here it is avowed of Him that He is the Lord of time and of history –
All of the unfolding ages that are yet to come, write as I reveal them unto you, and send those revelations to the churches.
The Lord of time and of history! In the twenty-first chapter of the Revelation and verse 6 is the third time that expression is used: "He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new," a new heaven and a new earth and the new capital city, the holy Jerusalem; "I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End" [Revelation 21:5-6]. Here it is affirmed that He is the Lord God of the new order and the new creation. Then the last, the fourth time it is found is in this epilogue:
Behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with me, to give to every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.
Here it is affirmed of our Lord Christ that He is the Judge of all men, "My reward is with Me to give to every man according as his work shall be." He is the great Judge of the earth, sitting in judgment upon time and history and all creation. This is an affirmation and avowal of the deity of our Lord Christ.
That same affirmation is found in the text below. "I am the Root and the Offspring of David. I am the Offspring of David" [Revelation 22:16], which would be a reference to His genealogical descent from the great king of Israel. David begat Solomon, and those "begats" all through the genealogical tables; "I am the Root and the Offspring of David"; Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham, the Son of Adam, the Son of God.
"The Offspring": His descent came, in the flesh, in His human body, from David. But do you notice He says first, "I am the Root of David?" That expression is used in the fifth verse of the fifth chapter of the Revelation:
And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.
"The Root of David," a tree grows from its roots; the root is first, then the sprout and the growth. So, this is an avowal that our Lord Christ was anterior to David. In the eleventh chapter of the Book of Isaiah, He is called "the Root of Jesse" [Isaiah 11:10]. He existed before them both; and their spiritual life was derived from Him; before Abraham was, before Jesse was, before David was, this great God pantokrator, who created them, and gave them their spiritual and heavenly assignments.
This also is an avowal of the eternal existence and being of our Lord, "the Root of David." You have that marvelously, marvelously prefigured in the glorious prophecies of Isaiah. "For" – that matchless Prince of Glory –
For unto us a Child is born, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and thou shalt call His name Immanuel, with us, God, For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall rest upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
[Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-7]
"For unto us a Child is born": that Child born is the eternal Word enveloped in flesh. This Son that is given is the Everlasting Father in the person and presence of the child and offspring of the womb of Mary. "And His name shall be called Wonderful": a reference to the inexplicable, indescribable glory of the mystery of the union of His two natures, deity and humanity. "And His name shall be called Counselor," with the counsels of God in the beginning, "and His name shall be the called the mighty God," or God the Almighty, "the Everlasting Father," the Father of eternity, the beginning of all time and creation in Him, "the Prince of Peace," the King of God’s saints of reconciliation in the world.
The Son is not just another man sent here to teach us a new ethic, as some super-Socrates, nor was His death that of a distinguished martyr – but in the providence of God, in the fullness of time, the Lord God descended from heaven, wrapped Himself in human flesh in the womb of a virgin girl, offered [Himself] as a sacrifice for our sins in the body God prepared for Him, in whose blood and atonement our iniquities and transgressions are washed away, and [was] exalted up to glory – King forever of all of the saved of mankind and of all God’s creation! This is "the Alpha and the Omega, the Root and the Offspring of David!"
But, oh! We haven’t touched the hem of the garment of the exalted deity and being and existence of our Lord Christ. All of the qualities and attributes and perfection of the Lord Jehovah are also the qualities and attributes and perfection of the Son, the Lord Christ our Savior. Whatever can be said of the holiness and deity and perfection and glory of Jehovah God, can also be said of the manifestation of God in the flesh, in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ.
For example, in the incomparable, incomparable reference of John speaking of the glory of our Lord, he quotes a passage from the sixth chapter of the Book of Isaiah. And after he quotes that passage in Isaiah 6, John writes: "These things said Isaiah, when he saw His glory, and spake of Him" [John 12:41]. What is this passage where John says: "These things said Isaiah, when he saw the glory of Jesus, and spake of Him"? Turn back to the sixth chapter of Isaiah, and this is the vision:
In the year that king Uzziah died, I saw also the Lord – Jehovah – high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple, and the earth was filled with His holiness. And I heard the seraphim singing: Holy, holy, holy.
Who is that, that Isaiah saw high and lifted up? In the twelfth chapter of John, the apostle says [Isaiah] saw the glory of the Lord Jesus, and spake of Him. "I and My Father are one" [John 10:30]; the Father and the Son in the mystery of the Trinity.
You’ve heard me say many times there are not two, nor are there three immutable, eternal, infinite, omniscient, omnipotent Gods, and when you come to glory and mingle with the saints on those golden streets, you’ll not see three Gods – that would be basic paganism and idolatry – but when you get to heaven and walk the street of that celestial city, in the midst of the heart of all of its government and convocation, you will see the Lord God Jesus, Jehovah Christ. The only God there is, is the Lord God our Father! the only God you shall ever see is the Lord God Christ our Savior! and the only God you will ever feel is the Lord God the Holy Spirit, who lives in our hearts and in whose power we shall be raised from among the dead.
But we continue: there are no attributes, there are no perfections of the Lord God Jehovah but that they are also the same attributes and perfection of the Lord Christ Himself. We speak first of the immutability, the immutability of the Lord God. And the immutability, the unchangingness of the Lord God is also ascribed to our Lord Christ. In the first chapter of the Book of Hebrews:
Thou, Lord Christ, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; And the heavens are the works of Thine hands. They shall perish, but Thou remainest; they all shall wax old as doth a garment; And as a vesture shalt Thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: But Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail.
The immutability of the Lord Christ! And He is from eternity, the same glorious attribute of the Lord God Himself. In the prophecy of Micah 5:2:
Thou, little Bethlehem – over there just beyond the hills – though thou art little among the cities of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come who shall rule My people; whose goings forth have been from old, are from everlasting.
There was no time, not in the eternity of the eternities, when He did not live, born of a virgin in that little town of Bethlehem. In John 8:58: "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Before Abraham was, I Am." Colossians 1:17: "And He was before all things, and in Him all things consist" – hold together – upholding all things by the might of His power. Or, John 1:1-3:
In the beginning was the Word Christ, and the Word Christ, was with God, and the Word Christ was God. And all things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.
Every quality and attribute of the Lord God is also the perfection and the quality of our Lord Christ. I could conceive of these worlds and God’s starry universe passing away like the mote that danced in a sunbeam, like the sparks that fly up from an anvil, like the bubbles on the crest of an ocean wave. But after these have passed into nothingness, our Lord Christ shall still be "God over all blessed forever. Amen." "The same yesterday, and today, and forever" [Hebrews 13:8].
Thou, O Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of Thine hands. They shall perish, but Thou remainest; they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt Thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: But Thou art the same, and Thy years shall never fail.
The immutability and the eternity of our Lord Christ! He is the One who forgives our sins: "Thy sins, My son, be forgiven thee." But these who carpingly criticize say, "No man can forgive sins but God. This Man blasphemes!" and the Lord said, "In order that you might know that a Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sin," He says to the man sick with the palsy, "Rise, take up thy bed and walk." And before the astonished amazement of these who looked, there the sick of the palsy stood up and carried his bed and walked [Luke 5:20-26]. The Son of Man hath power in the earth to forgive sins, and He accepts divine and holy worship. "And they fell down and worshipped Him."
And the beginning of the Apocalypse to the end: "Unto Him who loved us, and gave Himself for us, unto Him be glory, and praise, and honor, and majesty, and dominion, world without end. Amen. Amen" [adapted from Revelation 1:5-6].
He is the foundation of His church: "On this rock," the rock of the deity of the Son of God, "Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God." "Upon this rock, I shall build My church" [Matthew 16:16-18]. "Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ" [1 Corinthians 3:11].
He is not only the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the revelation of the existence and being and person of deity; He is also the Alpha and the Omega of the Holy Scriptures, this blessed Book I hold in my hand. All of it is a revelation of our blessed, blessed Lord Jesus. From the first verse of the Book of Genesis, when by Him all things created were flung into existence, unto the last benediction, "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all" [Revelation 22:21], He is the great alphabet of the Holy Book I hold in my hand, the "Alpha and the Omega."
In the beginning, "Let Us make man" [Genesis 1:26], [God said] in the counsels of eternity, and when our parents failed, [He said] "the Seed of the woman shall crush the serpent’s head" [Genesis 3:15], a protevangelium of the coming of our Lord Christ into the world; and the rest of the Book is His story. If there is an ark in which the family of the earth is saved, that one door into that ark is a type and a prefiguration of the hope we have in our blessed Lord [Genesis 7:1]. If there is a lamb slain at the Passover, it is a prefiguration of His atoning blood, spread over the houses in which we live, covering our hearts and our lives that the angel of judgment and death might pass over us [Exodus 12:23]. If Israel, Jacob, dies, "Judah, the scepter shall never depart from thy hand nor a lawgiver from between thy feet, but a government shalt thou have until Shiloh come" [Genesis :10]. And if there is a Levitical law of sacrifices, and blood, and altar, and veil, and propitiation, and atonement, all prefigure the gospel message of blessed hope and forgiveness in our great High Priest, the Lord Jesus. And if there are prophecies that are spoken, and if there are messages of God that are delivered, they all point toward the coming of the great King, our God and Savior, whose name is Wonderful, Counselor, the Everlasting Father [Isaiah 9:6].
And the New Testament is nothing but the story of our blessed Lord Jesus. Take Him out of the Gospels; there is nothing left. Take Him out of the epistles of the apostle Paul; it is a fabric shorn of its meaning and substance. Take Him out of Hebrews, of Peter and John and Jude and out of the Apocalypse, and there’s nothing left. This Book, this Book, this Book are the golden garments of our blessed Lord. It is the chariot of fire in which He rides. Unwrap the swaddling bands of the Scriptures, and you will find the Babe of Bethlehem, God manifest in the flesh. The quintessence of the Holy Word of God is Jesus of Nazareth. Its very essence is of Him, the Lord Christ who should come to die for our sins in the world.
He is the Alpha and the Omega of honor, and blessing, and glory, and exaltation. If there is any reference to any high and holy majesty in the Bible, or any prophetic office, or any priestly character, its sublimest is found in Him. Is He a prophet? Then all of the other prophets follow at a humbled distance, pointing and prophesying toward Him. Is He a priest? Then He is the great High Priest, making atonement for the souls of the people. Is He a king? Then He is the King of kings, and of His dominion there is no end, and His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. Is He a shepherd? Then He is the great Shepherd of the sheep. Is He a stone? Then He is the chief cornerstone of the building of God. All worship, and adoration, and glory, and exaltation belongs unto Him! And did He die? Did He?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there?
Oh, sometimes it makes me to tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there? Such misery and such agony, and such shame and such disgrace! Were you there? Surely that is the end of Him. Surely, having so descended into the likeness of a man, into the fashion of a felon, crucified and dead, like a common criminal! "Oh, surely this is the end of Him."
Were you there when God raised Him from the dead?
Were you there?
Were you there when He burst the bonds of death?
Were you there?
Were you there when He came forth from the tomb?
Were you there?
[Adapted from "Were you There" (traditional)]
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; that all should confess He is Lord, to the glory of God our Father.
"The Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End," of all honor, and worship, and love, and devotion; all exaltation and glory!
And last: He is the Alpha and the Omega of our salvation, the Beginning and the End, the all-in-all. What it is to be saved is to be saved by the Lord Jesus; what it is to be a Christian is to be a Christian in the Lord Jesus; what it is to have hope is to have hope in the Lord Jesus; what it is to be forgiven is to be forgiven in the love and mercy of the Lord Jesus; and what it is to go to heaven is to see His dear and blessed face. He is the Alpha and the Omega of our salvation.
Unto Him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory forever and ever. Amen.
"I am the Alpha and the Omega," and that same marvelous sentiment here in the passage in the twenty-first chapter: "He said unto me,I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give to him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely" [Revelation 21:6].
Do our hearts hunger for God? Then we must come to Jesus. Do our souls seek forgiveness of sin? Then we must go to the blessed Lord Jesus. Is there to be stain washed away in our lives? Then we are to carry the burden of our wrong and our transgression to the blessed Lord Jesus, the Alpha and the Omega of our salvation.
The first breath we breathe of life comes from Him. The first light of our new-born, born-again lives comes from Him. And the last shout of these who die in the Lord, as they come to the streets of celestial glory, are to the praise and honor and the blessedness of Him.
If we are kept in the way, He has kept us. If we have been blessed in these years of our pilgrimage, it is His gracious, nail-pierced hands that have blessed us. And if we know aught of God, it is in His revelation. If we someday arrive without fault and blemish before the throne of His glory in that celestial city, it is in His mercy and His grace: He is the Alpha and the Omega of our salvation.
It is in His blood that our sins are washed away; "Unto Him who washed us and made us clean and white in His own blood" [Revelation 1:5], unto Him. The atonement of Christ is the basis upon which God forgives our sins, and to become a Christian, we must confess our faith in the Lord Jesus. "And falling down before Paul and Silas, he cried, saying, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" [Acts 16:30-31]. "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus is Lord, and shalt believe in thine heart that He liveth, that God raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved" [Romans 10:9-10]. "There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" [Acts 4:12].
The Alpha and the Omega of our salvation is the blessed, eternal, atoning Lord Jesus, and we come to Him in that honor and devotion of a public, unashamed, open, unreserved confession of faith in Him. "Whosoever therefore shall confess Him before men, him will the Lord God confess before the throne of glory in heaven" [Matthew 10:32]. "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus is Lord" [Romans 10:9] – and that’s the substance and the prayerful purpose of this holy hour this day.
Maybe you, somebody you, humbly bow at the feet of our blessed Lord, confessing the sin, and the weakness, and the iniquity, and the unrighteousness of our lives unto Him, and in His love and mercy asking forgiveness and salvation, would you do it? Would you do it?
While our instrumentalists come, and while our choir and our people prepare to sing "My Faith Looks up to Thee," in the great throng in God’s house this morning, somebody you, coming to the blessed Lord Jesus, would you make it now? A couple you, putting your life in the fellowship of His church; a family you, "Pastor, this is my wife, these are our children. We’re all coming today." As the Spirit of God shall lead in the way, would you come? We’re just a mouthpiece, and this assembly is just the house in which the blessed Lord Jesus lives. Come unto the Lord. It is just in His name I extend an invitation. And if the Holy Spirit of God bids you respond, would you make it now? Would you make it this morning? "Here I am, pastor, and here I come." As I stand down here at the front, would you come and stand with me? From that topmost balcony, from side to side into the aisle, and down to the front, "Here I am, pastor, and here I come," while we stand and while we sing.