Thursday, January 15, 2009

We Will Always Praise The Lamb

I've slowly read this section from Horatius Bonar's The Everlasting Righteousness (pp. 33-36)several times. My heart sings each time I read it. I hope your heart breaks forth in praise for the Lamb.

We are never done with the cross nor ever shall be. Its wonders will be always new and always fraught with joy. "The Lamb as it had been slain" will be the theme of our praise above. Why should such a name be given to him in such a book as the Revelation, which in one sense carried us far past the cross, were it not that we shall always realize our connection with its one salvation; we shall always be looking to it even in the midst of the glory; and we shall always be learning from it some new lesson regarding the work of him "in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace"? What will they who here speak of themselves as being so advanced as to be done with the cross say to being brought face to face with the slain Lamb, in the age of absolute perfection, the age of the heavenly glory?

You fool! Do you not know that the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ endures forever and that you shall eternally glory in it, if you are saved by it at all?

You fool! Will you not join in the song below, "To him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood"? Will you not join in the song above, "You were slain, and here redeemed us to God by your blood"? And do you not remember that it is "the Lamb as it had been slain" that "the seven spirits of God are sent forth into all the Earth"? (Rev. 5:6)

It is the Lamb who stands in the midst of the elders (Rev. 5:6) and before whom they fall down. "Worthy is the Lamb" is the theme of celestial song. It is the Lamb that opens the seals (6:1). It is before the Lamb that the great multitude stand clothed in white (7:9). It is the blood of the Lamb that washes the raiment white (7:14). It is by the blood of the Lamb that the victory is won (12:11). The book of life belongs to the Lamb slain (13:8). It was the Lamb that stood on the glorious Mount (14:1). It is the Lamb that the redeemed multitude are seen following (14:4), and that multitude is the first fruits unto God and unto the Lamb (14:4). It is the song of the Lamb that is sung in heaven (15:3). It is the Lamb that wars and overcomes (17:14). It is the marriage of the Lamb that is celebrated, and it is to the marriage supper of the Lamb that we are called (19:7, 9). The church is the Lamb's wife (21:9). On the foundations of the heavenly city are written the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb (21:14). Of this city the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb (21:27, 22:1, 3) sum up this wondrous list of honours and dignities belonging to the Lord Jesus as the crucified Son of God.

Thus the glory of Heaven revolves around the cross, and every object on which the eye lights in the celestial city will remind us of the cross and carry us back to Golgotha. Never shall we get beyond it, or turn our backs on it, or cease to draw from it the divine virtue which it contains.

The tree--be it palm, cedar, or olive--can never be independent on its roots, however stately its growth and however plentiful its fruit. The building--be it palace or temple--can never be separated from its foundation, however spacious or ornate its structure may be. So, never shall the redeemed by independent of the cross or cease to draw from its fullness.

In what ways our looking to the cross hereafter will benefit us; what the shadow of that tree will do for us in the eternal kingdom, I know not, nor do I venture to say. But it would seem as if the cross and the glory were so inseparably bound together that there cannot be the enjoyment of the one without the remembrance of the other. The completeness of the sacrificial work on Calvary will be matter for eternal contemplation and rejoicing long after every sin has been, by its cleansing efficacy, washed out of our being forever.

Shall we ever exhaust the fullness of the cross? Is it a mere stepping-stone to something beyond itself? Shall we ever cease to glory in it (as the apostle gloried), not only because of past, but because of present and eternal blessing? The forgiveness of sin is one thing, but is that all? The crucifixion of the world is another, but is that all? Is the cross to be a relic, useless though venerable, like the serpent of brass laud up in the tabernacle to be destroyed perhaps at some future time and called Nehushtan? (2 Kings 18:4). Or is it not rather like the tree of life which bears twelve manner of fruits and yields its fruit every month by the banks of the celestial river? Its influence here on Earth is transforming. But even after the transformation has been completed and the whole church perfected, shall there not be a rising higher and higher, a taking on of greater and yet greater comeliness, a passing from glory to glory--all in connection with the cross and through the never-ending vision of its wonders?

Of the new Jerusalem it is said, "The Lamb is the light [or lamp] thereof" (Rev. 21:23). The Lamb is only another name for Christ crucified. Thus it is the cross that is the lamp of the holy city; and with its light the gates of pearl, the jasper wall, the golden streets, the brilliant foundations, and the crystal river are all lighted up. The glow of the cross is everywhere, penetrating every part, reflected from every gem; and by its peculiar radiance transporting the dwellers of the city back to Golgotha as the fountainhead of all this splendor.

It is light from Calvary that fills the Heavens of heavens. Yet it is no dim religious light, for the glory of God is to lighten to it (Rev. 21:23). Its light is "like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal... and there is no night there, and they need no candle, neither light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light" (Rev. 21:11; 22:5). Yes, we shall never be done with the cross and the blood; though, where all are clean and perfect in every sense, these will not be used for purging the conscience or justifying the ungodly.

It is the symbol both a a dying and of a risen Christ that we find in the Revelation. the "Lamb as it had been slain" indicates both. But the prominence is given to the former. It is the slain Lamb that has the power and authority to open the seals; implying that it was in his sin bearing or sacrificial character that he exercised his right, and that it was his finished work on which this right rested and by which it was acquired. It is as the Lamb that he is possessed with all wisdom and strength--"the seven horns and the seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God" (Rev. 5:6); the Holy Spirit, or the Spirit of omniscience and omnipotence.

The Lamb is one of his special and eternal titles; the name by which he is best known in Heaven. As such, we obey and honor and worship him; never being allowed to lose sight of the cross amid all the glories of the kingdom. As such we follow him, and shall follow him eternally. As it is written, "There are thy that follow the Lamb wherever he goes" (Rev. 14:4).

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