Thursday, September 13, 2007

Give God the Glory for Our White Garments

The call to be faithful to Christ is no small matter. For instance, John writes in Revelation 3 about Christ's word to the church in Sardis (Asia Minor):

Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. 4Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. 5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. (Revelation 3:2-5)

In these verses, Christ warns some Christians to repent in order to avoid judgment (v.3) and commends others, who have not "soiled their garments" (v.4) and thus will be receiving the benefits of walking with Christ in their white garments (v.4-5) and having their names never blotted out of the book of life (v.5) It's interesting to note that these white garments are later described as having been washed in the blood of Christ (Revelation 7:13-14) and made up of our faithfulness (righteous deeds) that will allow us to be properly covered and dressed for the presence of Christ (Revelation 19:7-8) [1]

13Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, "Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?" 14I said to him, "Sir, you know." And he said to me, "These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Rev. 7:13-14)

7Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory,for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready;8 it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure"— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. (Rev. 19:7-8)

If our righteous deeds are necessary to make ourselves ready for Christ's presence, how should we go about doing them? I think Piper said it best:

We do our righteous deeds, and therefore it is fitting that heaven cry out: "The Bride has made herself ready." But we do not do them in our own strength. They are a gift from God—prepared before the foundation of the world that we might walk in them (Ephesians 2:10). And therefore it is even more fitting that heaven cry out, "Give God the glory." [2]

[1] The connection between Christ's blood and the empowerment towards righteous deeds can also be seen in verses like 1 Peter 1:17-19, 2:24 and 3:18

[2] Sermon by John Piper, "Worship God", Revelation 19:1-10

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