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Titles of the Risen Lord
by T. Austin-Sparks
We are today occupied with the Resurrection side of the Cross, and this afternoon I'm going to ask you to consider with me some of the titles of the Risen Lord: the Resurrection titles of the Lord Jesus. In the Book of the Revelation, chapter one, at verse four: 'John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you, and peace, from Him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before His Throne; and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the Firstborn of the dead, and the Ruler of the kings of the earth'.
There you have three titles of the Lord in Resurrection. That they relate to Him in Resurrection is quite clear from the context where He Himself says to John: 'I am the Living One; I became dead, I am alive for evermore' [Revelation 1:18]. Three titles: the faithful Witness, the Firstborn of the dead, the Ruler of the kings of the earth.
Now it is important to note two things as we advance to this. Firstly, this is the Book of the Revelation, or the Unveiling of Jesus Christ, so the first sentence declares. Secondly, it is the Revelation of Him as exercising authority and judgment: firstly, in the Church; secondly, in the nations, and thirdly, in the kingdom of satan. Those three things comprehend the whole of this book. This authority, which He is here revealed as exercising, is itself based upon three things:
first, what He has proved Himself to be in Person, in Incarnation;
secondly, what He has become in Triumph over death; and thirdly, what He is in Exaltation and Divine Vindication.
At a glance, you will see that those three things are but an exposition of the three titles:
 what He has proved Himself to be in Person, in Incarnation: the faithful Witness, taking Him right up to the Cross and into all the experience of the Cross;
 what He has become in Triumph over death: the Firstborn of the dead; and
 what He is in Exaltation by Divine Vindication: the Ruler of the kings of the earth.
All His authority and judgment is based upon those three things, or upon what He has proved Himself to be in Person.
The Faithful Witness
'The faithful Witness', the testimony in incarnation: that is, in His Person while here on the earth.
Now a witness is the embodiment of the truth, if he is a true witness. If he has the right to be called a witness, he himself should be the very embodiment of the truth. Jesus was THAT! Jesus as the faithful Witness was a, we may say THE, faithful Representation of God's Mind concerning man. What God intended man to be, what the whole race of men had failed to be, Jesus became THAT: a faithful Representation of God's Mind in the creation of man.
That is how we must look at Him while here on the earth: not just following His steps, noting His words and His actions, being interested or even fascinated with His teaching and with His mighty works. But looking deeper, deeper into His heart, into His mind, His whole mentality, His whole Spirit, looking deeper to see what kind of a Man this is. What comes out from the very nature of this Man, all the reactions that He makes to all the play of conditions and trials and sufferings and disappointments. All that He meets in this world, and all that He meets in men, all that He meets in His life circumstances, and how He behaves, and what Spirit He shows. What comes out from the inward Man? What kind of a Man this is?
I think we can sum up the Life of the Lord Jesus here in three ways:
Perfect Love, perfect Love: perfect Love to God His Father. That is not only seen in things that He says about it, and as to it, but it is seen in His relationship to the Father all the way through, a perfect Love. And, mark you, if He had been other than He was, He might have had some questions about the Father: why His lot should have been what it was, why this and why that, from infancy to the Cross, why He was called upon to do this, to endure this, why He was so tried with the very men whom He said the Father had given Him. He said: 'Those whom Thou hast given Me.' You know, He might have looked at those men, if you had been other than Christ, and said: 'Look what You've given Me. Look what You've given Me, what I've got to put up with. These are what You've given Me.' You see what I mean. But at no point, at no time, under no circumstance: suffering, adversity, trial, provocation, disappointment, do you find a cloud coming over His love for the Father.
And what shall we say about His love for them. It needs to be a perfect Love, doesn't it? But here's the declaration: 'having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them to the end' [John 13:1], 'to the end': that's the love that never faileth, that never gives up, that never disappears. It might have broken down many times. Here is perfect Love.
And what about the world? What about the world? I mean the world of sinful, weak, evil, persecuting, mankind, the world. I'm not speaking about the world system, which He positively hated and repudiated, but the world of man, that world that God so loved, that He gave Himself for that world, and in its worst representatives, its WORST representatives, who were exercising their power for His utter destruction, to SLAUGHTER Him. No, not too strong a word: 'He was led as a sheep to the slaughter' [Acts 8:32], to SLAUGHTER the Son of God. He says: 'Father, forgive them', perfect Love. Here's a Man that God intended men to be. And here's the Man to the likeness of whom God will work to have all men in His Kingdom. Perfect Love, 'the faithful Witness.'
It's quite clear that His Life from its very beginning, right on through to the end, was placed deliberately by God upon a basis of faith. In all material and temporal matters, His was a life of faith. But far, far more deeply and testingly than in the temporal, in the spiritual realm His was a life of faith. You've only to sit down and think for a little while about how far your faith would carry you under the conditions of His life.
You will discover, I am quite sure, that you won't go very far with Him. Your faith won't stand up to very much of what came upon Him. If we understood all that was going on in this necessity for faith: one Who had, through past eternity, never had to live by faith at all, never had to live by faith. He had all that heaven can give: its riches, its honour, its glory, its servants to wait upon Him to fulfil His behest to the Word, never had to live by faith. It was all sight! It was all possession! And, now, emptied of all THAT!
You know, it's one thing if you've never had anything else. It's not so difficult, if you've never had anything else, to go without. But if you've had it all and suddenly found yourself in a position where you just cannot, cannot do what you did before, you haven't got it to do with. You may not in any case do it, you're morally bound not to do it. You have accepted a life and a course and a ministry which FORBIDS you to draw upon those other resources and COMPELS you to live wholly out from Another, out from God in all things. It's a big changeover, and this is faith, this is faith! His faith was a perfect Faith. And that is how God meant man to be. It is just at that point that the first man broke down. He did not implicitly trust God.
We need not dwell upon it. We know how at all times and in all things, having committed Himself to the Will of His Father, He fought right through on that: 'Not My will', 'Thy will, Thy will, Thy will' [Luke 22:42] to the end and through all, and what an 'all' it was. And Paul is right when he said: 'He became obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the Cross' [Philippians 2:8]. Perfect in these three things, and that is how He was the faithful Witness to God's thought concerning man. He was a perfect Representation of God's Mind. In that way, He was a 'faithful Witness.'