14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do - this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God - through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. 1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”
5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him.”
The Bible begins and ends with God. Last week we looked at Genesis 1:1. “In the beginning God.” These words form the basis and foundation of everything else we believe and stand for. If you have trouble believing the first 4 words of the Bible, you will struggle to believe the rest of God’s Word.
Now we move to Revelation 22:21, the very last verse in the Bible: “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.”
What we know as the book of Revelation was written by the apostle John to Christians who were experiencing tremendous persecution for their faith in Asia. They needed to be encouraged and given hope.
The book of Revelation itself is very dramatic, and it tells the story of the triumph of good over evil. It speaks of the total victory over satan, and reminds us of the completion of our salvation. Jesus is proclaimed as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and it is in and through Him that our final and eternal triumph over sin and death is promised. Yes, much of what is written in Revelation is very difficult to understand. Countless books and commentaries have been written over the years as Biblical scholars have tried to grapple with the many mysterious prophecies in Revelation. Some scholars believe it to be a literal account of how the end times will unfold. Others see it more as a collection of word pictures and poetic writings that should not be taken literally, and there are many other interpretations that fit somewhere in between these two.
However, it is a mistake to become too caught up in all of the details and become embroiled in the debates and arguments, because when we do, we easily miss the real message of Revelation. Whether you view Revelation as an a, pre or post-millenniast, (and that’s another whole sermon series on it’s own!), the important thing to remember is what Revelation tells us: Jesus Christ is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and the grace of the Lord Jesus will be with God’s people. Amen.
John in fact, sets the scene with this truth in Revelation 1: “Grace and peace to you from Him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. 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! Amen.” In essence, the book of Revelation is no different to the other 65 books of the Bible – its prime purpose is to point us to Christ.
There is a lot of uncertainty in the world at large, in our own country and in our lives as individuals, but the Bible reminds us, in the beginning God, and the grace of the Lord Jesus is with God’s people. When we know and believe this, and we’re able to keep our eyes fixed firmly on Jesus, we’re reminded that He is still on His throne, and the victory is still ours. That is the firm hope we have.
The last verse in the Bible is the final word from God to us. It is the note on which God wanted His word to end, and it’s the truth He wanted to leave with us until the end of the world.
There is in fact a remarkable synergy between Genesis 1:1 and Revelation 22:21, because the Bible ends by answering the question it begins with.
If it is obvious that the world exists, it is also obvious that something very serious is wrong with the world. Life is not easy, and we all have our share of heartaches and pain. Some more than others, but every single human being knows what it means to struggle with the challenges of life. Not only that, but when we take an honest, hard look at ourselves, we have to recognise and admit that we are not the people we would like to be. Something is seriously wrong with us as individuals, and something is seriously wrong with the world in which we live.
But if this was all we knew - that the world is not right - life would be very discouraging. We would have no hope.
What the first and last verses in the Bible do for us is put the problem of life into its proper perspective. Genesis 1:1 tells us that God made us, and this is the truth that makes the problem make sense…
The brokenness that we see in the world and all of the fallout from that brokenness can be traced right back to the very beginning. Everything that is corrupt and broken about the world is a direct result of our broken fellowship with the God who made us.
The Bible has a word for this thing that has gone wrong – sin. And the story we find between the first and last verses of the Bible is the story of God working out His plan to deal with this problem and save us from sin and the dreadful consequences of our sin. The mess that the world is in is not God’s fault. It’s our fault. I’m to blame, and so are you.
So long as the non-believing world continues to deny the reality of God as He is revealed in the Bible, there will be no peace on earth. Without God and His grace there is no answer. Sin is our problem, but thanks be to God – His grace is the answer to our problem. The secular world refuses to acknowledge God and His plan of salvation as revealed in Scripture, so it tries to sort out the problems and challenges of this broken world on its own, but always with disastrous results. Because of the arrogance and sheer bloody mindedness of the non-believing world, it will remain a broken world.
A solution that does not acknowledge God cannot deal adequately with the problem because it does not see the problem for what it really is. Revelation 22:21, the last verse in the Bible, tells us about the grace of God, and this is the truth that contains the ultimate solution to our sin problem. There are some belief systems that do acknowledge God in one form or another, but remove the grace given to us through Jesus Christ, and you are right back where you started.
Paul writes so eloquently about this struggle in Romans 7. Most people would accept and agree that there is much in our lives that needs to change, and in the closing verses of Romans 7 he hits the nail fairly and squarely on the head. I know what I should do, but I can’t. The things I shouldn’t be doing, I do, and the things should be doing, I don’t. That’s the quandary every sinner faces. My sin has warped the image of God within me so badly that at times it is hardly recognisable anymore. Because of who I have become, I have moved so far away from the God who created me that I have to agree with Paul – I am spiritually dead, and I cry out with him in Romans 7:24, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”
But – grace. Thanks be to God that the Bible does not end with Romans 7:24! “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Without Christ all that awaits us is a hopeless end, but thanks be to God, because of Christ we have an endless hope.
So why then, do so many still reject Jesus and the forgiveness He brings? We looked at this question last week – when we do, it means are now accountable and answerable to Him, and many do not want this in their lives. Jesus challenges sinful human beings. He challenged the status quo in society 2000 years ago, and He does the same today. Many people avoid God at all costs. You’re all here this morning because you want to be here - at least I hope you all want to be here! My point is that you know you need God’s mercy and forgiveness, and that is one of the reasons you are here today. You are asking the big questions of life, and God’s Spirit has prompted you to seek out Jesus in your quest to find the answers.
Weddings and funerals are completely different. Please don’t think I’m judging anyone, but the truth is that at every wedding and funeral there are people who clearly don’t want to be there – rather it is out of a sense of duty to their friends or family. You can see in their faces that sitting in a Church is the last place they want to be, because they know that somewhere during that service they’re going to hear about Jesus Christ, and they will be challenged to take a look at their real selves. To the non-believing world Jesus Christ and all that He stands for is offensive and an embarrassment. Paul put it like this in 1 Corinthians 1:23 – “We preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.” The truth of Jesus Christ has always challenged sinful human beings. The question is, are we prepared to believe the truth about what God has done in Christ to deal with the problem of our sin? We have to accept our sin problem before God can deal with that problem by His grace.
But this is the good news of the Gospel of Jesus: Triumph over sin and its consequences is possible.
The Bible begins with God and it ends with Him, simply because the God of creation is also the God of our salvation. Hebrews 2:10 says, “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.”
Some say they believe in God but do not believe in Jesus Christ. In John 14:1 He says, “Believe in God. Believe also in me.” Some people believe that Jesus Christ is one of many means of salvation, but this goes against the exclusivity of the Gospel. “I am the way, the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me.” From Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21 this message is proclaimed. In the words of the song we sang earlier this morning, “It’s all about you, Jesus.”
The victory that we have in Jesus is all the result of the victory of the grace God offers us. Without His grace we would be dead and lost in our sins forever, but now everything is different. Grace is His last word, and it is the end of the story of salvation.
We’ve heard the words of Ephesians 2:8-9 often enough, but they’re worth repeating because they’re so important: “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Even in the Old Testament, before Jesus walked on this earth and died for human sin we see God’s grace at work. In Numbers 6 God said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: ‘The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.’ So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.” (Numbers 6:23-27)
To be a Christian is to experience all the blessings that come from God’s grace, not because we deserve it, but because He loved us enough to send His Son to die for us. His unmerited favour and blessings are ours. We no longer need to fear Him because of Jesus. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Charles Wesley, in arguably his finest hymn combined this truth and the truth of Romans 8:1 when he wrote, “No condemnation now I dread; Jesus, and all in Him, is mine! Alive in Him, my living Head, and clothed in righteousness divine, bold I approach the eternal throne, and claim the crown, through Christ my own.”
All of eternity is not long enough to plumb the countless treasures in the Bible. All we have done during the past two Sundays is take a bird’s eye view of just two things it teaches us – God is, and His grace is available to all who put their trust in Christ.
But it is important for us to know all of God’s Word – not just the first and last verses, but the entire Word of God, including everything between Genesis 1:1 and Revelation 22:21. It is dangerous to limit our study to parts of the Bible that we like, which is why it is important to have some kind of methodical reading plan of the Bible. Our understanding of the truth proclaimed in Scripture needs to be both deep and broad.
Those who teach and lead Bible studies and homegroups should be able to say the same that Paul said to the Ephesians in Acts 20:27: “I have not avoided declaring to you the whole counsel of God.”
If we agree that God is who He claims to be, then we simply have to get to know Him better, and there is no better place to learn that than in His Word.
Finally, we need to be able to say the last word of God’s word: “Amen.”
Often we don’t have the attitude of “let it be so” towards all that God has said in His word from Genesis to Revelation, and we pick and choose which bits to obey and which bits we decide do not apply to us. That’s a dangerous game to play.
There are only two options: We either believe all of God’s Word, or none of it. Either Jesus is Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all.
The story of the Bible is the story of God saving us from our sin and the consequences of our sin.
Jesus is the answer, and He is the only answer. He has and He is the final word in God’s plan of grace and salvation.
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.”
Homegroup Study Notes
Read the first and last verses of the Bible.
In which ways do these two sentences summarise the truth of God proclaimed throughout the Bible?
Read Ephesians 2:1-9
There are some remarkable contrasts in these words. Firstly the human condition without God is described in detail, followed by the dramatic change which takes place as a result of what Jesus has done for us.
The key to all of this is God’s grace.
How do you understand His grace?
How have you experienced it in your own life?
Why is the name Jesus Christ so offensive to the secular world?
The Bible tells us that the Lord is a God of wrath and a God of love and mercy.
These characteristics seem to be complete opposites, so how do you understand His nature?
The very last word in the Bible is ‘Amen.’ (So be it, or let it be)
In which ways have we read parts of God’s Word and not agreed with Him?
We often hear that the Bible was written thousands of years ago, and much of it is no longer relevant in the modern world.
How do you react to comments such as these?
Close by praying that we would believe all of God’s Word.
Pray that the grace of the Lord Jesus would continue to be with God’s people.