The Apocalypse of Jesus Christ
October 7th, 1973 @ 10:50 AM
1 Peter 1:13
THE APOCALYPSE OF JESUS CHRIST
Dr. W.A. Criswell
1 Peter 1:13
10-7-73 10:50 a.m.
On the radio and on television you are worshiping with us in the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Apocalypse of Jesus Christ. It is an exposition of a text in 1 Peter chapter 1, verse 13, "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ," apokalupsis, at the apokalupsis of Jesus Christ. The word apokalupsis means the "uncovering," the unveiling of Jesus Christ. The Revelation begins with that word, Apokalupsis Iēsou Christou; apokalupsis [Revelation 1:1], a tremendous, significant, world-shaking, heavenly meaningful word. Apokalupsis: the unveiling, the uncovering of Jesus Christ.
In the days of His flesh, His humanity covered Him over. Just once in a while did His deity shine through, such as on the Mount of Transfiguration when His face became as the sun in its strength and His raiment white as the driven snow [Matthew 17:2; Mark 9:3]. Now He is hidden. He has gone away into a far country, waiting until the earth be made His footstool and all of His enemies be subjected to His name [Psalm 110:1]. But there is coming a time of apokalupsis, unveiling, uncovering, when the Lord will appear in all of His deity and supernal glory.
It is remarkable, when you read these pages from these apostles, how full their minds were of the Lord, steeped and saturated in the things of the blessed Jesus. And one of the things that was constantly before them was the return, the advent, the apokalupsis, the revelation of Jesus Christ. The apostle Peter, for example, he will say in the seventh verse of this first chapter, "The trial of your faith is precious,,that we might be found unto the praise and glory and honor at the apokalupsis," the appearing, "of Jesus Christ." And then my text: "Waiting,hoping for the grace that shall be brought unto us at the apokalupsis, at the revelation of Jesus Christ" [1 Peter 1:7, 13].
He will say in his second letter, "We have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and parousia" [2 Peter 1:16]. That’s the visible presence, the coming of the Lord. And in the third chapter of 2 Peter, the entire passage is given to a description of the consummation of the end time when the Lord shall come again. They believed in the imminency, the nearness, of the approach, of the coming of Christ. Were they mistaken? No! For they were dealing in eternities, and in the eternities, even the ages in between are but as for a moment.
Another thing: they looked upon the event with indescribable joy and anticipation. In 2 Peter chapter 3, he says that the whole creation will be on fire, that the very elements will melt with fervent heat [2 Peter 3:10]. But there was no fear to them in the dissolution of the world and in the consummation of the age, for to them that meant that Jesus was coming; the Bridegroom of their souls was drawing nigh. And they used that doctrine, that revelation of the coming of our Lord for a motive of obedience, and of purity, and of holiness, and of faithful work for the Lord. For the text says:
Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind,
be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
As obedient children,
[1 Peter 1:13-14]
There could hardly be a finer motive for Christian work and obedience and devotion than this: that the Lord is coming soon. And we’re His stewards; and we’re His disciples; and we’re His faithful followers and believers, and when He comes we will be ready and watching and waiting.
So the apostle begins the thirteenth verse of our text with a "wherefore" [1 Peter 1:13], "wherefore." And that word "wherefore," "therefore" is a common one when the apostles write under inspiration. It is used so often by Simon Peter, "wherefore," he says. Here in the second chapter of this first epistle, he begins it with a "wherefore." When I turn the page, in the sixth verse, he says, "wherefore," and in the seventh verse, he’ll say "therefore."
I would judge, as I read from these holy men, that true religion is rational and reasonable. I would think, as I study their words, that true religion brings our faculties and our perceptions up to their highest heavenly usefulness. True religion is not far out, nor is it fanatical, nor is it insane, nor is it stupid. It commands the finest thought and the finest honor from the finest minds in the human race. "Wherefore" it is a rational faith that we have embraced, and it appeals to a sound mind.
Well, what does he mean when he says, "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, hope . . . for the grace that is to be brought to us at the apokalupsis of Jesus Christ"? [1 Peter 1:13]. Well, the "wherefore," of course, the "therefore," of course, refers to what he has said before. Here’s what he said before; he says that we are elect according to the foreknowledge of God and according to the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ [1 Peter 1:2]. We’ve been washed clean and white in the blood of the Lamb [Revelation 1:5].
"Wherefore" refers to his word when he speaks that we have been elected "To an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for" us [1 Peter 1:4]. Ours is the harp of gold and the starry crown, and to see the King in His beauty, and to share the governorship and rulership of the entire universe with our joint heir, Jesus Christ.
"Wherefore" refers to His word here in the chapter when He says we are elect, "and we are kept by the power of God," "we are kept by the power of God" [1 Peter 1:2, 5]. There is a wall of fire that surrounds the people of the Lord and not until omnipotence can be vanquished, and not until immutability can be changed, and not until the immortal God can die will the least of the Lord’s saints be lost, "we are kept by the power of God."
And he says that we are tried in our faith to the praise and the honor and the glory at the apokalupsis of Jesus Christ [1 Peter 1:7]. Our trial does not work for us some evil and villainous thing, but our trial and the pilgrimage through the wilderness of this world is to bring us to honor and glory under God. It was the trial of the faith of Abraham that crowned him as the father of the faithful. It was the trial and the suffering of our Lord that brought His love to us as a Savior and atoning Christ. And it is our trial and temptation in this life that brings us to God in honor and in glory.
That "wherefore" refers to the joy we shall have when we see the Lord, "Whom, having not seen, we love; and yet believing in Him, we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory" [1 Peter 1:8]. The Christian has two heavens: he has one here with the Lord, and he has one there with the Lord; whether here or there, he is one with the Lord. And the "wherefore" refers to those marvelous endowments and gifts that the Lord has brought to us in His grace and love.
"Wherefore," the apostle says, "gird up the loins of your mind" [1 Peter 1:13]. Isn’t that a magnificent imagery? "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind." You know, religion seems to hang loosely on God’s people as though it didn’t fit, or it’s about to fall off. To so many of us the faith of Christ is kind of like quicksilver. It’s like mercury, when you touch it, it fractions. He says, "Gather up, gather up the loins of your mind." You know, I wonder how it is that the apostle used that figure, "gird up!" I wonder if it comes from his own idiosyncratic mannerism; I wonder if Simon Peter, when he spoke, had a habit of gathering his garments together, pulling them together, just an idiosyncratic gesture.
For example, three times in the twenty-first chapter of John it speaks of Simon Peter girding himself. He girded his fisher’s coat about him and came to Jesus [John 1:7]. The Lord said, "When you were young, you girded yourself; when you shall be old, another shall gird thee" [John 21:18]. I just wonder if that could arise out of a mannerism of the apostle; when he spoke, he had a habit of pulling his garments close to him.
I wonder if it might refer in imagery to what happened at the Passover when the Lord said that each one was to have his staff in his hand and his loins girded, ready to march for the Lord! I wonder if it might refer to the happiness and the joy that God’s people have when, overflowing in gratitude to Him, they gird up their loins like Elijah and run all the way to Jezreel from Mount Carmel. When we run and we’re not weary; when we walk and we’re not faint, gird up!
Well, however the imagery may have been peculiar to Simon Peter, the habit of Eastern life is very apparent in the use of the metaphor: "gird up the loins of your mind." For you see, the clothing of the Easterner was long and flowing, and if he went into battle or if he ran a race, he had to gather his clothing around him and tie it up and tight with a girdle, with a belt, lest the flowing robes entangle his feet and he fall. So the apostle says we are to gird up the loins of our minds as though we were getting ready for a warfare or for a race.
And our experience confirms that it is easy to drift downstream, but if you go against the current, you toil in rowing. It would be easy to follow the inclinations of the world, but to mount the steep ascent to heaven requires effort. We must gird up for the race or for the fight. I think the Lord had deep meaning in that thing when talking about John the Baptist, He said, "From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force" [Matthew 11:12]. The soft and the easy don’t win heaven. It’s a dedication; it’s a warfare in Christ.
One of the most majestic of all of those beautiful imageries by which John Bunyan described the pilgrim life is this: he describes the entrance into heaven, and he says heaven is at the top of a great staircase, and there’s warfare on every step as the pilgrim mounts and ascends upward. And he says up there on the top of the palace there are singers who sing, "Come in. Come in. Eternal joy, glory thou shalt win." And he says that many assay to enter into the beautiful city, but they are discouraged, and they are thrust away because the gate is filled with armed men who fight against those who would intrude.
John Bunyan says as he looks, why, he sees a man come, and determination is written on his countenance. And the man walks up to the one who has the inkhorn by his side, and he says to him, "Set down my name, sir." And when his name was recorded, the man drew out his sword and ascended the steps and fiercely combated those who were blocking the way. And there ensued a great fight, but the man conquered and made a lane through those who hindered the progress of the Christian pilgrim, and he entered in triumph, conquest, and glory.
Now, that’s a poet’s imagery and description of what it is to gain heaven. But he isn’t far wrong, for the Christian life is an obedient life. It is a dedicated life; it is a sacrificial life, and heaven is won by those who give themselves to the will and the purposes of God; "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober . . ." [1 Peter 1:13]. That is, we are not to be distracted and distraught, but we’re to have calm, clear minds. And could I say it means that we’re not listening to those who shout the loudest on the streets nor those who beat the biggest drum, but we’re confident and quietly assured in the promises of God. "Gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end."
It is oft times that in times of great trial or sadness or discouragement, illness, ah the things that can overwhelm us, it is oft times that we’re prone to lose hope. Even God seemingly forgets us. Sometimes in the promises of God and what we see in our lives, God seems to be against God.
You couldn’t help but think of Abraham when God said to him, In this boy, in this boy shall thy seed be called, and all the nations and families of the earth are going to be blessed through him [Genesis 26:4]. That’s what God said to Abraham, "Not Ishmael, send him away. Isaac, the child of faith and of promise" [Genesis 17:18-21]. God says that. In him the seed will come, and the families of the earth will be called in Isaac.
Then at the same time the Lord says, "Now Abraham, I want you to take that son and go to the mountain that I will tell thee of, the one named Moriah, and on top of Mount Moriah, I want you to offer him to Me as a sacrifice. Bind him, build an altar, place on it the wood, take the knife, plunge it into his heart, and offer him as a sacrifice [Genesis 22:2-10].
What do you do? What do you do when promise seems to be against promise and when God seems to be against God, and don’t understand? And the perplexity is crushing. What do you do? You hope to the end. You never lose faith, you never give up. The New Testament says that Abraham staggered not at the promises of God but believed that God was able to raise him from the dead, rather than that God would break His word or His promise prove untrue. Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son, believing that the Lord would raise him from the dead [Hebrews 11:17-19].
Oh, the hope, the faith that never fails; "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end." For what? This is our great expectation: waiting for, hoping for the grace that is to be brought to us at the apokalupsis, at the revelation, at the uncovering, at the parousia, at the appearing of Jesus Christ. Notice: for the grace that is to be "brought to us" [1 Peter 1:13].
A long time ago God shut the door of personal merit, it isn’t in us. When a man stands before God in his own righteousness, he is clothed in filthy rags [Isaiah 64:6]. If Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God" [Romans 4:3] because God knew him just as God knows you and God knows me. And when we stand in His presence our personal pride and our famous self-esteem turns to dust and ashes because He knows all about us. That door of merit was closed from the beginning; there’s not one of us that can stand before God in his own strength, in his own purity, in his own righteousness, in his own goodness. We’re just not righteous.
You see the Lord deals with us in grace. He did it from the beginning. He has never failed; and He will deal with us at the consummation in grace, waiting for, praying for, hoping for the grace that shall be brought to us at the apokalupsis of Jesus Christ. Well, what is that grace? What is the grace that we’re waiting for at the coming of the Lord? Is it atonement? Is it atoning grace? No, for that was brought to us in the first advent of the Lord Jesus when He died to wash our sins away, when He made atonement for us.
Yesterday was the Jewish Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. To us that Day of Atonement brings afresh to our minds and our souls what Christ did for us on a hill called Calvary. Is the grace that the Lord shall bring at His return, is it atoning grace? No, for He brought that to us in His first coming.
Well, is it justification then? No, for the Lord gave that to us when He was raised from the dead to declare us righteous! [Romans 4:25]. "Justification" means to declare someone righteous; he is justified. And before the throne of God’s judgment Christ declared us righteous by His resurrection from the dead. He had the right to do it, and He does it; He is at the right hand of the throne of God now interceding for us who by faith come to Him.
Well, if it isn’t atoning grace and if it isn’t justifying grace, then surely this grace that shall come at the return of the Lord, surely that will be sanctifying grace. No, for sanctifying grace was poured out upon us at Pentecost, when the Spirit was poured out into the earth [Acts 2].
Well, what kind of grace is this that the Lord shall bring to us at His apokalupsis, at His coming? I read what the apostle says, and I see it here on the page written beautifully and gloriously. He speaks of our faith that God has given to us unto salvation, ready to be revealed at the last time. The grace that God shall bring to us at the last time will be the ultimate and final and completed and full salvation [1 Peter 1:7-9].
Now, we see God’s redemptive work just in part, just a piece of it, just a little of it, kind of like an earnest of it. When we accepted the Lord as our Savior, we trusted in the Lord, and He saved us. He regenerated our hearts, He gave us a new love, and a new vision, and a new hope, and a new dream, and a new promise, and a new tomorrow, a new covenant, a new testament. He did that when we were saved, but oh, oh, oh, the full purchased possession is yet to be won. Our full salvation will not be ours until the apokalupsis of Jesus Christ
And by that, I think of two things. One: as long as I live in this body of death I have the drag of this old carnal nature. I don’t do what I would do, and I do do what I would not do, and I feel the drag of it for as long as this life shall last. But when the Lord shall come and that full redemption will be ours, this old carnality will be taken away. There will be no more of the drag of weakness, and mistakes and wrong and sin in our lives. We’ll be delivered wholly and completely. Not only that, we shall have the whole purchased possession: a new and glorified and immortalized body. For in this we pain and suffer and grow old and finally senile. If you live long enough, you’ll know every syllable of the word that I’ve just said. And if you live long enough, your mind even will decay.
Out of all of the sadnesses of life, I do not know one sadder than to see somebody in this church that was so fine and so strong and now cut down. Their very minds wander; they don’t think good anymore, and finally they don’t think at all. Oh, no wonder Paul said, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable" [1 Corinthians 15:19], wretched: if this is the end of life: senility, sickness, and invalidism, and even the loss of my mind where I cannot even think. That’s why he speaks of the glorious fullness of salvation at the apokalupsis, at the unveiling of Jesus Christ. And he speaks of the vindication of our faith at the apokalupsis, at the appearing of Jesus Christ.
Why, the world is full of scoffers and mockers who think that we are soft in our heads, that we are not sound in our minds, that we have some kind of derangement, that we need "crutches to walk on" as they speak of religion, and that we have to have some kind of a confessor in order to live with ourselves, but that they out there in the world, they are sufficient. They are adequate; they don’t need any crutches such as religion. They don’t need anybody to pray to, unless they pray to themselves. They don’t need any strength outside of their own abilities and adequacies and sufficiencies. And they look upon us who bow before Jesus, weep before Him, and call for His help, and bless His name, and look up to heaven, they look upon us as being some kind of people who are inwardly sick and ill. That’s what they think.
Oh, the apostle says that our faith will be vindicated at the coming of the Lord. There’s not a syllable of it but that God will prove true. When the mists have rolled away, all of the perplexities that somehow frustrate and beset us and a thousand things that we’re not able to answer, when the Lord comes, He will have answers for them all. And the trust we have placed in the blessed Jesus will prove to be the most sweetest, the most precious of all of the posessions we’ve had in this world. When everything else has passed away, there shall remain our love for our Lord at His personal appearing.
I haven’t time to speak of the other one: "And the glory that shall follow" [1 Peter 1:11]. "The glory that shall follow." What is glory? "And the glory that shall follow." What is glory? I presume you’d have many definitions for it, but as I read the Holy Scriptures, "Christ in you, the hope of glory" [Colossians 1:27]. To me glory is the manifestation of God in us, the shining of the Lord in us, the shekinah presence of God in us. We shall shine; we shall glow; we shall be iridescent. We shall reflect the image of God from glory to glory as in the image of the Lord.
I grant you that sometimes we don’t reflect much of the beauty, and the purity, and the holiness of the Lord Jesus now, but there is coming a time when each one of God’s saints will reflect the image and the glory of our Savior. Oh, happy day, wonderful day, glorious day that the apostles spoke of so often; that Jesus promised so faithfully and in which we believe so devoutly, the apokalupsis, the uncovering, the unveiling, the coming of the Lord.
Our time is spent, and while we sing this hymn of appeal, a family you, a couple you, or just one somebody you to accept the Lord as your Savior, to put your life with us in the circle and circumference and fellowship and communion of this dear church, would you come and stand by me? I’ll be here to this side of our Lord’s Supper table. And while we sing the song of invitation, in the balcony around, you, down one of these stairways, on the lower floor you, down here to the front, "Here I come, pastor. Today I have made the choice, and I’m coming now." Do it, make it now, while we stand and while we sing.
THE APOCALYPSE OF JESUS CHRIST
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Peter 1:13
A. Apokalupsis – "the uncovering", the unveiling of Jesus Christ (Revelation 1:1)
1. In the days of His flesh, once in a while His deity shined through(Matthew 17:2, Mark 9:3)
2. Now He is hidden, waiting until earth is made His footstool (Psalm 110:1)
B. How full of the Lord the minds of these holy writers, and how ardently they expected the coming of the Lord Jesus(1 Peter 1:7, 13-14, 2 Peter 1:16; 3)
II. "Wherefore" – conclusion of an argument
A. True religion is rational and reasonable
B. Refers back to all he has said before in this chapter
1. We are elect, washed in blood of Jesus (1 Peter 1:2, Revelation 1:5)
2. We have an inheritance incorruptible(1 Peter 1:4)
3. We are kept by the power of God (1 Peter 1:5)
4. We are tried with fire to the praise and glory of Christ (1 Peter 1:7)
5. We have Jesus, joy, glory(1 Peter 1:8)
III. The triple exhortation
A. "Gird up the loins of your mind"
1. Areference to his own mannerism of pulling his garments together?(John 21:7, 18)
2. A reference to the Passover – staff in hand, loins girded
3. A reference to joy after trial(1 Kings 18:46)
4. Habit of eastern life apparent in use of metaphor
a. Steep ascent to heaven requires effort(Matthew 11:12)
i. John Bunyan’s description of the entrance into heaven
B. "Be sober" – have calm, clear minds; confident, quietly assured
C. "Hope to the end"(Genesis 17:18-21, 22:2-10, 26:4, Hebrews 11:17-19)
A. The grace that is to be brought to us(1 Peter 1:9-10)
1. God never deals with us on basis of merit(Isaiah 64:6, Romans 4:3)
2. The grace we are to look for is linked with the Lord Jesus Christ
a. First advent – atoning grace
b. Justification given when He was raised from the dead (Romans 4:25)
c. Sanctifying grace poured out at Pentecost(Acts 2)
B. The grace the Lord shall bring to us at His coming
1. Ultimate and final, completed and full salvation (1 Peter 1:7-9, 1 Corinthians 15:19)
2. Vindication of your faith
3. The sufferings, then the glory(1 Peter 1:11, Colossians 1:27)