September 1, 2019 BACK TO THE FUTURE (4) Revelation 1:9-11 We know this morning that this book is a book of prophecy and it extends all the way to eternity. But it also has some personal information about John, and he gives us some insight into how he came to write this book. In the verses we are given some a glimpse into what John was going through and how the Lord came to him in a vision. As we look at these verses, I want you to keep this thought in mind…people matter to God. Even though this book looks at some very complex prophecies, awesome judgments and profound truths…God still takes time to give us some insights to who John is! Let’s look at this passage in Revelation 1:9-11. This morning we are going to take a look at John because people do matter to God in New Testament days as well as in the 21st Century. V.9 says, “I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” I want you to see who John is by his words. He begins with, “I John…” Notice that John has now referred to himself 3 times (vs. 1, 4, 9). He is identifying himself as an apostle and even though he was well known among the seven churches he was also, the pastor of the church in Ephesus at one time. Even though he did not refer to himself as the apostle John he did identify himself in two ways. “I, John, your brother…” We see first of all he was their brother. John MacArthur says it this way, “John was an apostle, a member of the inner circle of the twelve along with Peter and James, and the human author of a gospel and three epistles. Yet he humbly identified himself simply as your brother. He did not write as one impressed with his authority as an apostle, commanding, exhorting, or defining doctrine, but as an eyewitness to the revelation of Jesus Christ that begins to unfold with this vision.” Next, he adds these words, “…and companion…” John was not only their brother spiritually but was also their companion. Other translations use the word, “co-sharer” (Lexham English Bible), “fellow partaker (New American Standard Bible) in three specific ways. He was their partner “in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus.” He is emphasizing that Christians are members of Christ’s Kingdom and because of that truth persecution would grow against them, but if they remained in the faith they would patiently endure because they were all “…in Jesus.” This is a description of how we should live our lives. There is no place to stop, no place to quit, no place to sit down and do nothing. “…was on the island of Patmos…” The question might be asked is why was John on this specific island? Tradition tells us that Domitian banished John to Patmos. It is a small island located in the Aegean Sea about 30 miles from Ephesus. It is 10 miles long and 6 miles wide. It was formed from rough, volcanic rock and was used by the Romans as a prison. “…because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” John was sent there as opposition to Christianity was gaining momentum and because he preached the word of God that bore witness to Jesus Christ. Garrett Osborne says, “Life there was not too harsh…John would have lived a fairly normal life as an exile on that island. John was not under house arrest or in a dungeon. He had the freedom to walk around the island and banishment meant he could take as many possessions as he wished to the island. John was carrying on what Christ had commissioned him to do…proclaim the gospel and because of that obedience he was being punished for his faithfulness to Christ! On a side note here, someone once asked, “If you were ever accused of being a Christian would there be enough evidence to convict you?” Would your family, your neighbors, your friends, your colleagues and so on be surprised that you were arrested? Or even worse, would you even be arrested? Something to really think about in these last days! V.10 says, “On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet…” Notice first of all that John was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day! The words, “in the Spirit” occurs three other times in this book but it means, “the Holy Spirit enabling a vision and/or experience that was beyond the bounds of normal human apprehension. John MacArthur said, “Under the Holy Spirit’s control, John was transported to a plane of experience and perception beyond that of the human senses. In that state, God supernaturally revealed things to him…” The expression “on the Lord’s Day” means different things to different theologians but I believe on a Sunday, while on the island of Patmos John was in worship and the Lord Himself showed up and met with him. Despite everything that John faced on that remote island he rose above it and found himself in the presence of the Lord for worship. John’s physical location was that island, but his spiritual location was in God’s presence. John was literally occupied in two worlds at once. Another little side note here: It is ok to get lost in worship as it will allow you to step out of this old world and enjoy a tiny bit of Heaven! “…and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet…” This sound got John’s undivided attention and if we were to look ahead at vs 12-13 and 17-18, we can see the loud voice was none other than Jesus Himself! John received two commands from Jesus in v. 11. “’Write on a scroll what you see…’” He had to write what he saw! The words he writes is a reminder to all of us that this book was not written by a man…he was only the penman. The author of this book, along with every other book of the Bible, is the Lord Himself. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…” “’…and send it to the seven churches…’” John was then commanded by Christ to send his letter directly to the seven churches. These churches were real churches and are representative of the church as a whole. This Revelation is not just for those churches that existed in that day and time…they are also a message to us in our day as well. God had a message for those churches and that message rings true for our churches today! This morning God is reaching out to us and asking us to be prepared for His return. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be found lacking…I want to be found faithful until He calls me home. Let each of us today determine to serve Him, love Him and worship Him and, if necessary, suffer for Him.
August 25, 2019 BACK TO THE FUTURE (3) Revelation 1:5b-8 Last week I shared with you that the seven churches spoken of (chapter 2 & 3) were real churches with real problems in v. 4. We are a church today that is real and with real problems! Nothing has really changed except for the fact we are in the 21st century instead of the 1st! I went on to share that Jesus is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead and the ruler of the kings of the earth in the first part of v. 5. Today I want to move on and look at vs. 5b-8. If you have your Bibles let’s look at these verses. Let’s look at the last part of v. 5, “to him who loves us…” This is an amazing phrase because it lets us know that God’s love for us continues on day after day, week after week, month after month and year after year! His love never stops as it is unceasing, unfailing and unconditional. Let me put it this way…He loves us with an everlasting love! It was His love for us that brought Him to this world. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” It was His love for us that bound Him to the cross. Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” His love for us is a guarantee that can never fail. Romans 8:37-39, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, not any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” “…and has freed us from our sins by his blood…” The word “freed” can be translated as “cleansed.” Jesus shed His blood on the cross and when we trust Him…His blood frees us and washes and cleanses us from every stain of sin! But there is a condition and it rests on this one thing… we must confess our sin!! 1 John 1:7, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” There is an old hymn called, Deeper Than the Stain Has Gone and the chorus says this: Praise the Lord for full salvation, God still reigns upon His throne. And I know the blood still reaches Deeper than the stain has gone. V. 6 says, “…and has made us to be a kingdom of priests to serve His God and Father – to him be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.” This phrase sends us a reminder that Christ doesn’t leave us like He found us! He found us in sin, but He loved us, and He washed us in His blood and saved us. Amazing as it may seem, once we become Christians by faith, Christ makes us kings and priests. He takes our old hell bound life, make us new creations and turns us around so we are heaven bound! Now we may not look like kings today, but there is coming a day when we will rule and reign with Him. 2 Timothy 2:12, “…if we endure, we will also reign with him…” Tim LaHaye said, “Our present condition does not accurately convey our future realization, but it is as certain as the eternal God.” The next two verses give us a small glimpse of what we can expect as this book unfolds. It reveals to us some exciting things that are going to happen as we continue through this book! V. 7 says, “Look, he is coming with the clouds…” Christ is coming again. Yes, Jesus is coming again! This is a certified, guaranteed promise. If we read in Acts 1:11 it says, “This same Jesus, who has been taken away from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go to heaven.” The world waited in anticipation for 6,000 years for the Messiah to come. He came, He lived, and He died so that you and I might have redemption through His precious blood. Just as Jesus left this world, He will return in the clouds to catch away His bride, you and I! “…and every eye will see him…” When Jesus returns in the clouds it means that He will come visibly to the earth and every eye will see Him. That means not only those who are on the earth at that time…it means every eye will see Him! The thought of everyone being able to see the same thing at the same time all over the world was considered impossible just 20-30 years ago. With the advent of satellite technology people can witness events as they are happening simultaneously. When Jesus returns, He will not need any news agency to broadcast His coming…He will appear in the clouds and the whole world will be able to see Him at the same time. “…even those who pierced him…” Jesus told Caiaphas, the high priest in Matthew 26:24, “’…But I say to you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’” Caiaphas is now dead and those who “pierced him” and all that participated in the crucifixion of Jesus will face Him again, for He is coming visibly in power and great glory. “…and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him…” Matthew 24:30-31 says, “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.” The Bible makes it clear that the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus will not be a pleasant event for the people of the world. This passage is speaking about His second coming not the rapture of the church. These are two different events that we will look at later on in this book. They will mourn because they have rejected Christ and are eternally lost. If the book of Revelation teaches us nothing else, it teaches that Jesus Christ is coming again to judge this world, and the basis of judgment will be whether or not people have received Him as Savior and Lord. John concludes with “…So shall it be! Amen.” The closer we get to Him the more we should praise Him. The more we learn about Him, the more our hearts should be stirred to give Him praise, honor and glory. Then we seal it with our Amen…so be it! V. 8 begins with the words of Jesus who says, “’I am the Alpha and the Omega…’” What God began in Genesis is now coming to an end in Revelation. Alpha and Omega are from the Greek alphabet with Alpha the first letter and Omega the last letter. Jesus lets us know that He sees all and knows all. This reference to the Greek alphabet reminds us that He is the One who started this universe on its present course, and He is the One who pilots it to its proper conclusion. “’…who is, and who was, and who is to come…’” Jesus proclaims His Deity with these words. Jesus is all-present, all-knowing and all-powerful who transcends time and space. He will see to it that all things go as He planned them, and everything written in this book will come to pass. “’…the Almighty.’” This word means, “one who holds sway over all things.” It proclaims Christ to the be sovereign Lord of the universe. He is the One who is able to bring everything He has planned and promised to fulfillment. He will do it and no one will be able to stop it!” What are we to do with this information? Let me share a few thoughts with you in closing: We should be sure that we are ready to meet Him when He comes! We should be in prayer for those who are not ready, and we need to get busy and tell them how to be ready! We should realize that our time is short in this life and we should commit ourselves to doing all we can for Him while there is still time! One last question for you: Are you ready for His return?
August 18, 2019 BACK TO THE FUTURE (2) Revelation 1:4-5a The book of Revelation is an amazing book. It is also a very complex book. There are many twists, turns and rapid plot developments in its pages. This book contains all the elements of a great thriller. In its pages you will find action, suspense, mystery, wonder, fear, drama, horror, and much excitement. While it takes a full 22 chapters for all the action to completely develop, he whets our appetites for that which is coming our way in the remainder of the book. The verses we have read today are an introduction into the material that will be developed as we move through the book of Revelation. Let’s look at these verses one at a time this morning: V.4 says, “John, to the seven churches in the province of Asia.” This letter was to be sent to seven specific churches in Asia Minor. These churches are mentioned by name in verse 11 and they are dealt with in detail in chapters two and three. We will consider each of these congregations when we get to those verses. For the time being, what we need to remember about these churches is this: First, they were real, literal congregations, seven of them, that existed at the time John penned this book. Jesus spoke to them about real saints, real sinners, real situations and real solutions. Second, these churches are representative of every Christian church that has ever existed. Every church contains some of the characteristics that marked these early churches. So, while this letter was not addressed to the Bowman United Methodist Church…this book has as much to say to us as if it was addressed to us. We see John write, “Grace and peace to you…” Grace is the Greek method of greeting and peace is the Hebrew form of greeting. Both of these ways of greeting come from God not humans. Grace and peace are not the birthrights of people. Grace and peace come out of our relationship with God! We now possess grace and peace and can now pass it forward. “…from him who is, and who was, and who is to come…” You will notice the word “from” is used three times in vs. 4-5 and each time it appears, it introduces another member of the Godhead. These two verses remind us that this book was not the creation of a man. It is the Words of God to man! Therefore, it carries awesome power and ultimate divine authority and dispenses grace and peace. In this phrase we can see God, the Father. This identifies the God Who is “the self-existent One”. The God Who called Himself “I AM” in Ex. 3:14. The God Who has always existed in the source of grace and peace. The God Who is the eternal One…Who lives in three – dimensions, past, present and future, all at the same time! He is the source of grace and peace. This God, the One Who has always existed…Who exists…Who will always exist, is the source of this grace and peace. This God Who never changes. Malachi 3:6, “I the LORD do not change…” James 1:17, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” He is our source! The phrase “…from the seven spirits before His throne” speaks of the “fullness, the perfection and the completeness” of the Holy Spirit. It refers to His ministry in our lives. He is able to give us His grace and peace because He is so perfect and so complete. He is all we need as we pass through this life. He is sufficient! The seven spirits are a reference to the sevenfold work of the Spirit…not seven Holy Spirits but the seven ministries of the Holy Spirit. It is found in Isaiah 11:2, “The Spirit of the Lord will rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.” Now, John tells us that there is a third source of grace and peace. He tells us that these things come “from Jesus Christ”. When John mentioned the Father and the Spirit, he spoke of them in symbolic language. When he speaks of Jesus, he uses straightforward language and sets Jesus on center stage. Why? Well, the purpose of this book is to reveal, to unveil Jesus. So, right here in the beginning, John tells us exactly Who Jesus is. He does not want there to be any confusion about Jesus, Who He is, or what He is about. John knows that believing right about Jesus is absolutely critical to getting everything else right. If you get your beliefs about Jesus messed up, you are going to be off base in everything you believe. “The Book of Revelation presents the Lord Jesus more magnificently than any other book in the Bible.” (Tim LaHaye, Revelation Unveiled, p. 30) Jesus is: “…the faithful witness…” This little phrase calls to mind His coming to the world the first time. Jesus came to reveal the Father as He says in John 12:45, “’I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.’” Hebrews 1:3 says, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being...” I hope you will pardon the pun, but Jesus is the only Person in history Who has the right to bear the title of “Jehovah’s Witness”! You see, in the Old Testament, Israel was God’s witness to the world. Today the church is His witness to the world as we read in Acts 1:8 where Jesus says, “’…and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’” All that we need to know is that God is revealed through His Son, Jesus! As Jesus spoke to Philip and said, “’Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.’” (John 14:9) Though there were many instances of other witnesses to the person of Christ, but His witness is enough! This is the reason Jesus could pronounce of Himself, “’I am the way, the truth and the life’” (John 14:6). Jesus is: “…the firsborn from the dead…” Now, Jesus was not the first one to get up from the dead. There were some in the Old Testament (Elisha, Elijah) and several in the Gospels (Jesus raised 3 from the dead). However, these people all died natural deaths later…Jesus was the first one to get up and stay up. The word translated “firstborn” comes from the word that gives us the word “prototype”. Jesus set the standard that the rest will eventually follow. He is the example of what will happen to all those who believe in Him. Just as He got up to stay up from the grave forever, so those who trust in Him will also experience a resurrection one day. Because He lives, those who have their faith in Him have “…crossed from death to life” (John 5:24) and they “will never die” (John 11:26b). Jesus is: “…the ruler of the kings of the earth”. This establishes Jesus to be the “King of Kings and Lord of Lords”. This phrase pictures Him as the One Who is in absolute control. We will see Satan send his king, the Antichrist, into the world. He will rampage and exalt himself above “all that is called God.” But even he will have a Master, and His name is Jesus. One day, every ruler, every tyrant, every dictator, every king, potentate, etc. who has ever lived will bow before the nail-pierced feet of the Lord Jesus Christ and will call Him “Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:10b). He is the ultimate Ruler! Let me close with this: One of the most thrilling stories in English history tells of the conquests of Richard 1, the Lionhearted. While Richard was fighting battles, his kingdom fell on bad times. His brother, John, did evil and the people of England suffered. They longed for the return of their king. One day Richard returned and John faded into the scenery. Richard laid claim to his throne and no one dared stand in his way. The people shouted with delight, “Long live the King!” One day a King greater than Richard will return and lay claim to a realm larger than Richards! All that is written in Revelation will come to pass and we need to be sure that we are ready to meet Him when He comes. We, also, need to get busy and tell others how they can be ready to meet Him as well! Jesus told us in Luke 21:28, “’When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.’” Is there something He would have you do today??
August 11, 2019 BACK TO THE FUTURE (1) Revelation 1:1-3 Over the next couple of months, we are going to take an amazing adventure that I would like to call, “Back to the Future” as we look at the Book of Revelation. I want you to understand that I am still learning about this book and to be honest with you there are as many interpretations of this book as there is sand on the beach. This book has been misunderstood, misrepresented and misinterpreted by many, many people. I am not here today to tell you I am some great scholar of this book because I am not!! But what I want to share with you are instances of truth that I feel would be beneficial for us in this day and time. If you are not aware let me share this with you: We are living in the early days of this book! Jesus is coming and His appearing is imminent! Let me start this morning with some introductions to this book. In theological circles there are four primary interpretations: The Preterist Interpretation. This sees the events recorded in Revelation as being historical records of the first century. This view believes that Jesus has already returned to earth. It ignores the fact that Revelation is clearly prophetic in nature. The Idealist Interpretation. This is a liberal view. The idealist sees Revelation as a series of allegories or stories designed to show the struggle between good and evil. This view does not believe Revelation will become actual events. The Historicist Interpretation. This view believes Revelation to be a sweeping overview of church history. Most of the events recorded in Revelation are considered to be past events. They, also, believe in viewing this book as allegories. This view ignores the book’s claim to be prophetic and normally offers odd interpretation and strange applications of the text. The Futurist Interpretation. This view sees Revelation as being events that are in the future and that it is prophetic in nature. This view is a literal approach to interpretation meaning the events to come will be actual events. The people, places and occurrences are not spiritualized and relegated to myth or allegory. This view sees the book of Revelation as a real, actual, future event. For the sake of argument, I want to take this interpretation and use it for our study of this book. This book was written around 95 AD give or take a few years. The author is John (not John the Baptist), the same disciple who wrote the book of John and 1, 2, 3 John. The title of this book is The Revelation of Jesus Christ not revelations! The word, revelation, in the Greek means, “an unveiling.” It is about “showing or exposing to view” as if a painting were unveiled. Tim LaHaye says it this way, “This book, then, is the unveiling of Jesus Christ…to show his servants what must soon take place.” (Revelation Unveiled, p. 25) The key verse of this book is found in Revelation 1:19 when Jesus says, “’Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.’” We can outline it this way: The Things Which You Have Seen – Chapter 1 The Things Which Are – Chapter 2-3 The Things Which Will Take Place Later – Chapter 4-22 The source of this revelation is something we need to keep in mind because it did not originate with John. This revelation came through a four-fold sequence: God – Christ – Angel – John: to the Church. The true source of this book came directly from God and John was the one who was employed to write what God dictated. There are many people who do not believe in the Trinity and that it is not mentioned in the Bible, but I want to show you a reference to the Holy Trinity. It is found in verse 4 that says, “Grace and peace to you from Him who is, and who was, and who is to come…” The use of these words connotes to the triune God. You can also see the same usage of these words in v. 8. The background of this book was written during the dark days of the early church. They suffered horrible persecution but was written to give them hope, comfort and encouragement. This book was written to let the early church and the church today know how the plan of God would eventually play out. It was not written to frighten people but to give all hope. Titus 2:13 says, “…while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” This is the least you should know about this book: This book is a book of prophecy and it speaks of future events used in symbolic language. This book is tied into the Old Testament. Of the 404 verses in this book…278 refer to the Old Testament in some way. To understand this book, you must have a working knowledge of the Old Testament to understand all that is taking place. Let me give you a picture of this book. The book of Genesis and the book of Revelation stand like great bookends of God’s creation. Those things that were started in Genesis finds its conclusion in Revelation. I hope I haven’t lost you with this introduction, but I felt like you needed to have some background on this book. Let’s Go Back to the Future! In the time remaining let’s look at Revelation 1:1-3. Notice this book is about Jesus! There are some people who think this book should be called, “The Revelation of St. John the Divine.” That is not the title of this book as a matter of fact I just read it in the first line of v. 1. “The revelation of Jesus Christ” and that is what this book is! Jesus is the theme of this Bible! It is possible to even say the Bible is a “Him” book, because it is about Him! Everything we read in the Bible points to Jesus in one way or another. It points to the “unveiling” of the Person, Purposes, Plans, Power and Promotion of Christ. When Jesus was here the first time, He was veiled. He was not recognized as the Messiah even though He was God in the flesh. Philippians 2:7 says, “…but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness…” There was one time in Matthew 17:1-8 the veil of His glory was pulled back and His glory was shown. It was on the Mount of Transfiguration. His heavenly glory burst forth but only Peter, James and John viewed it. When the world saw Jesus, they saw His poverty and His humanity. They saw a lowly carpenter from Nazareth. As a matter of fact, the last thing the world saw of Jesus was a convicted criminal dying in sorrow, shame and suffering on a Roman cross. The book of Revelation reveals to us that we have not seen the last of this man, Jesus Christ. He is coming again and when He comes, He will come not destined for a cross but for a crown. He is not coming as a suffering Lamb, but as a sovereign Lord. He is not coming in shame and poverty but coming in splendor and power. The world will truly see Him as He is. As we move through this book, I pray you will that Jesus has always been and will always be the answer to the problems of this world! We see a world in turmoil and Jesus is the answer. We will see when sin, Satan and sorrow have all been defeated…Jesus will still be Lord. Remember no matter what you are facing today that Jesus is the answer…He is your only hope! I want to close today with the chorus of an old hymn: What a day that will be, When my Jesus I shall see, And I look upon His face, The One who saved me by His grace; When He takes me by the hand, And leads me through the Promised Land, What a day, glorious day that will be.