WORTHY THE LAMB
SERMON PREACHED BY REV. THEO. M. BAMBER ON SUNDAY, 4th JUNE, 1961 AT CONCLUSION OF HIS MINISTRY AS PASTOR at RYE LANE BAPTIST CHAPEL
"Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing." Revelation, chapter 5, verse 12.
There are many people who believe the truth of the Bible who have yet to submit to the implications of their belief. Occasionally one finds the Bible and the newspaper on the same table. One knows that the contents of the newspaper will have little or no significance in the course of a few weeks. Then one looks at the Bible, to some a stodgy book, to many Christians one to be read in portions daily but never exceeded. Yet there it is, the book of the ages, a priceless revelation of truth which if believed and obeyed will surely guide the mind through the labyrinth of time and open to us the vast and immense vistas of eternity into which we may with confidence and assurance, by the grace of God enter.
Often the newspaper will report in impressive language the setting of some splendid occasion. Every line is read with the deepest interest and yet there will be Christians whose carnal enthusiasm can so be raised who would never stop to grasp with the imagination something of the splendour of the scene depicted in this chapter. In chapter 4 we have the pattern in advance of the effort of John to capture in words, the magnificent and solemn scene as the Ancient of Days is seen enthroned in heaven. All words fail him as he attempts to convey in words the glory of the Throne and of Him that sat upon it. There are 24 elders, crowned, seated on thrones and the scene was altogether breathtaking with the lightnings and thunderings proceeding out of the throne. Before the throne a sea of glass like unto crystal and in the midst of the throne and round about the throne were four living creatures full of eyes, before and behind.
God intends that the believer should dwell on these things, use the homely inadequate words to vivify the imagination and exercise the simple faith that tells you one day these splendours will by the grace of God be apprehended in the measure in which there is capacity to engage and share them. This is not the convenient occasion to dwell on details but it may be said that these 24 elders are evidently high administrative officers of the angelic creation, and probably of the high order of the cherubim. While the four living creatures are evidently the directors of the creation of God and beings of great and extensive administrative power and authority. That such high beings should be so prostrate in worship and adoration of Him Who sits on the Throne is an indication of the majesty and magnificence of the heavenly circumstance.
The apostle tells us that as he surveyed the scene it was as if one feature was brought into emphatic focus. In the hand of Him who sat on the Throne was a book or roll, sealed with seven seals. The critical need was that the seals of the book should be opened in order that the processes revealed in the subsequent chapters should be inaugurated and consummated. It is a cause of weeping for the apostle, that there is none in heaven or on earth or under the earth, able to open the book or even to look thereon. One of the enthroned elders however, evidently a person of knowledge and insight, charged him not to weep because there was One Who could and would break the seals, even the Lion of the tribe of Judah.
When John turned to see, he saw not a Lion but a Lamb coming and taking the book out of the hand of Him that sat on the Throne. Of course, on earth if you want anything done you require the man with the Lion spirit but in the world of reality the achievements that are eternal are accomplished by the spirit of the Lamb. The Lion spirit emanates from him that goes about roaring, seeking whom he may devour, but the will and purpose of God is in and through the Lamb. The Lion spirit is destroying mankind although most human beings still believe in it, but when God gives you insight you see the majesty of the Lamb! The Lamb then is the Key to the whole complex problem of mankind in all its evils and perils for time and eternity. No man may call himself a Christian if he does not follow the Lamb! These then in heaven who rejoice, do so with understanding that in some measure every Christian is to share and indeed must share if one day he is to stand on Mount Zion with the Lamb in the supreme glory of eternal triumph.
(1) THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD
This then is the mind of God before the world was. The greater the age of the universe, which the scientists declare, the greater becomes the wonder of this Eternal Mind whose attitude to us is vital. The Lamb was slain from before the foundation of the world. It is a stupendous declaration that few trouble even to apprehend but it plainly declares that before God was Creator He was Redeemer. Redemption is not an afterthought of God, it is not an emergency device stressed by evangelists to get a hearing for the Gospel; it is vastly more. Redemption is basic to the stability of the universe and of all creatures related thereto. The Lamb is slain! Something happened in God that involved a corresponding element in man so that while God ordained redemption He no less capacitated man to make him competent to receive its benefits.
That man should have a will that, being rightly directed in correspondence with the will of God, should lead him to the highest felicity, is buttressed by the truth that if in the exercise of that will, by which he could reach the heaven of heavens in God, he used his will against God instead of for Him, then the slain Lamb should provide the way of reconciliation. The Lamb slain declares that the one sure and inescapable necessity is that for his highest and eternal good ,the creature should exercise his will in correspondence with the will of God, that to do otherwise is temporal and eternal suicide. The obedience of the Lamb before the foundation of the world is the Divine security that where man sins God in grace redeems. Man's perverted will can not only be forgiven, but redirected and inspired so that he may delight to do the will of God beyond which nothing in the universe matters. Redemption is the spring of creation. The life forces that animate creation came to be out of redemption. Before the world was there was violence within the being of God!
(2) JESUS THE LAMB
The Baptist had an understanding of these things. How much we do not know but as Jesus walked John said to his disciples, "Behold the Lamb of God." This then is the profound mystery. This Man Jesus is linked in the mind of John the Baptist with the operation of God before the world was. Here in time is the ONE slain from the foundation of the world. This is no ordinary man walking amongst men, this is the Being Who before He became in the form of man, was in the form of God, and in that form was slain to redeem the universe. Now He appears in time to deal within the realm of the human with the titanic need of mankind in consequence of its rebellion against the will of God. What happened before the world was is now brought into the focus of time and is enacted as an eternal operation of God within the human race in the Person of Him Who shared the glory of the Father before the ages came to be. The shed blood of the Cross is not the simple matter that the ungodly ignore. The shed blood of Christ brings to us in time the shattering declaration that to rescue man from an evil state words cannot describe, there must not only be a Lamb before the world was, but His path must bring Him within the human and through the human to death. This One must pursue the path of violence to His person if sin is to be expiated.
It is just impossible for any believer to be casual or indifferent about this matter. Here this evening we shall he sitting at the table and in the simplicities of the bread and wine remembering Calvary. If we have by grace the faith, if there is a possibility of depths within being touched and moved as by no other, then here in these unfathomable simplicities we shall rejoice with trembling; for this shed blood means more to us than we can now imagine. Eternity itself is the measure of the mystery of the wisdom of redemption. As thus we survey it, however, we are enabled to come to the scene of this chapter. It unveils to us
(3) THE LAMB OF DESTINY
Here then we come to the text. If you read the subsequent chapters you will see that as the Lamb breaks the seals in heaven so tremendous things happen on the earth. That is one of the elementary lessons every Christian is to learn. Events on earth are related to the supernatural realm. If you tackle them as things that find their causes in the earth you will never find the answer to them. Very few Christians have learned that simple lesson, so they are absorbed in the childish solutions of the people of the world. By resolutions and so forth they join with the unredeemed in endeavouring by measures other than redemption to put the world right. Nothing the Word of God can declare has the least influence on their minds! Christians care nothing for the significance of the Lamb, they think they do but the awful nerve racking earthquake their minds need is yet to come!
Since John saw this vast scene it may be an indication that the enlightened redeemed will share it. As this present age comes to its close as it is surely doing, the Lamb will take the book and receive the adoration of that vast host. Then He will break the seals and as He does so the whole created world will be involved in the judgment of God. Upon the coming judgment of God clergy and ministers are silent. In this matter the union of the Churches is complete! There is also another significant truth. Hitherto the Lamb of God has exercised His redemption in suffering, in supplication and in baptising men and women with the Holy Spirit. The world is so used to talking about Jesus meek and mild that it really thinks that Jesus has no more significance! He is a useful subject for the nursery but not of course for the House of Lords and the great Trades Unions. He has nothing to draw with and the well is deep!
Many Christians agree with the world. They really cannot see what there is in Christ apart from a sentimental attachment and the possibility of being able to do something for their souls when they can no longer stay here. Hence we never mention Him seriously in world affairs. But if you read this book you will see that just as our Blessed Lord was one with the Father before the world was, so He is the Arbiter of all eternity. He prevails to open the book because in His absolute obedience unto the FATHER through the ages, He has the authority to bring this age to a close. Presently He will cease His ministry for saints at the Throne of Grace and He will proceed to inaugurate the age when He directs the universe by His sole Personal administration. That is why these heavenly beings are moved to such praise. They perceive the hopeless complexity of human affairs, the intertwining of wickedness of man and the deception of evil powers. They know that man is utterly without hope unless God shall cause the book to be open! Their grief can be understood by their joy and relief when the Lamb takes the book.
For the world, however, it is horror beyond words to describe as the Lamb moves to administer the will of God on the earth. How soon it will be before the Lamb takes the book and begins to break the seals I do not know but if it were at this very moment the chaotic conditions of the world would justify it. If we were Christians taught by the Word we should be pleading with men to save themselves from this evil generation. As we see evil getting the mastery in every field our prayer should be that the Lamb will speedily take the book and break the seals and set up His kingdom ! Every unbeliever if he be wise will give the most earnest consideration to these things. In the meantime as by the grace of God we may have the privilege of this table this evening, let us hail the Lamb slain from before the Foundation of the world, the Lamb by whose precious blood we have been redeemed, the Lamb the Omnipotent Man of God, destined to bring history to its consummation to the shattering of all the ideas of man social, political and religious. For those who know the power of the precious blood of Christ to redeem us from our sin and are looking for His coming to end this evil age there is but one overwhelming conviction, one passionate testimony, one Being alone who can command our hope, peace and assurance. In the anticipation of faith we join with the elders, the living creatures and the vast triumphant host of heaven in exclaiming
"Worthy the Lamb."
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