Preserved and Perfected on the Day of the Lord (Revelation 5:12-13)
..."Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!" ¹³And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!" —Revelation 5:12-13
Our passage this week pictures the throne room of God where the living creatures, elders, and myriads of myriads of angels are worshiping Jesus with a loud voice. It is a glorious—and potentially terrifying—vision. How is it that anyone will be able to stand in the presence of the Lamb on the last day and not be destroyed, let alone rejoice? How is it that we will love His appearing?
In the following excerpt from his forthcoming book, Come, Lord Jesus, John Piper says Jesus will return with grace and transformation. Christians will not only endure when He returns to judge the earth, we will also be changed. Like those in John’s vision, we will worship the Lamb with unfettered joy.
Christians do not escape the end-time judgements of God in the sense of never entering into suffering. Rather, we escape the destructive effects of suffering by experiencing them as purification, not punishment. This is Peter’s point when he refers to these sufferings in chapter 1:
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith–more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire–may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Pet. 1:6-7)
Similarly, in chapter 5, Peter comforts the believers not with escape from entering their sufferings, but with escape from the destructive effects of suffering:
After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Pet. 5:10-11)
Standing before the Son of Man–by Grace
…Jesus and Peter both teach that Chistians are called to use means (agile, active, alert mental activity) for the sake of hoping fully in the grace of God and thus being able to stand before the Son of Man at his coming. The opposite of standing before the Son of Man is to be separated from the righteous and cast out forever from before the Lord:
So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matt. 13:49-50; cf. 25:31-46)
Such a warning is sobering–indeed, frightening, if we are left to ourselves and our own capacities. Left to ourselves, the coming of the all-holy Christ is terrifying. Our minds run to every possible shortcoming we will feel at that day. This could easily undermine our love for the Lord’s appearing. Peter’s answer to that danger is a precious reminder in the form of a merciful command: hope fully in the grace being brought to you at the revelation of Christ (1 Pet. 1:13). Yes, we will bring shortcomings to that final day when we face Christ. Perfection awaits our final transformation in that face-to-face meeting (1 Cor. 13:9-12; John 3:2). Until then, we need forgiveness every day (Matt. 6:12; Phil 3:12, 1 John 1:8-10).
Therefore, Peter’s precious word to help us love the Lord’s appearing is that Jesus is bringing grace to us, not condemnation. The forgiveness that he purchased decisively on the cross will be as applicable to us on that day as on every other day of our lives. Grace will triumph over our sin on that day. This is why we love his appearing. …
Every Hindrance to Marveling Removed
If the heart of the matter at Christ’s second coming is the glory of the Christ magnified in the marveling of his people (2 Thess. 1:10), how will this marveling be worthy of Christ’s greatness if our capacities for marveling are crippled by the dullness of our spiritual vision, the weakness of our affections, and the remaining corruption in our fallen hearts? And how will we marvel at the glory of justifying and sanctifying grace if our sinning is only forgiven and not abolished?
The answer is that “we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed” (1 Cor. 15:51-52). We will be conformed fully to Christ. That will include sinless hearts and flawless bodies. None of our powers to marvel will be hindered by dullness, weakness, sin, or physical impediments. No restraint on the joy of worship will exist. No restraint on the bodily expression of that worship will exist. The glory of Christ will be the supreme reality of that day, and he will be glorified in the unfettered joy of our marveling.
John Piper is founder and lead teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary.
Come, Lord Jesus releases from Crossway on January 24, 2023.
This excerpt, from pp. 71-72, 104-105, was used by permission.