Revelation

Inside the Throne Room of Christ (Revelation 4-5)

If one is rushing through the book of Revelation to get to the “good stuff,” one might miss the amazing thing that happens in Revelation 4. The Apostle John, imprisoned on the Isle of Patmos for spreading the word of God, has been invited into Heaven. Not only has he been invited into Heaven, but He has been invited into the nerve-center of Heaven, the throne room of Christ.

As John is conveying to us everything he saw as he entered into the throne room of Christ, it can be easy for us to get lost in all the precious stones, gems, and spectacular sights of that place. For example, how does one interpret verse 3, which says, “And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald?”

What’s interesting is that the things John sees are not only brilliant and spectacular, but are symbolic as well. As John looks upon the One sitting upon the throne, he sees a being that looks like jasper and sardine stone. While this speaks to the glory of Christ, there is also a deeper meaning. Jasper and sardine stone are both red. Isaiah 1:18 tells us that the color of sin is red. The color of the blood of Christ is red. When you look through a red lense, that is, these precious stones and the blood of Christ, the redness of sin is cancelled out.

Thus, as the Bible says in Isaiah 1:18, “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

Surrounding the throne is a rainbow, which you might remember is the symbol of the covenant God made with Noah to never destroy the world with a flood again. Right there in front of Christ is a reminder of His grace and mercy.

In the secular world, in the business world, we tend to decorate our offices (our throne rooms, if you will,) with the things that we are most proud of… the things which are the most important to us.

When you look into the throne room of Christ, you see symbol after symbol of our redemption and salvation. What does that tell you about the Lord’s passion for you?

Advertisements

Life is More (Revelation 3)

As we continue our study in Revelation on The Point, it is important to remember that the book is really a letter being addressed to seven individual churches in Asia minor. The Lord Jesus Christ appeared to the Apostle John on the Isle of Patmos, where John was incarcerated for his ministry in Ephesus, to give him the word to deliver to those seven churches.

The Lord’s purpose in appearing to John and giving us the Book of Revelation was three-fold. (1) He appeared to remind us that He is returning. (2) He appeared to give us hope by reminding us of His return. (3) He appeared to warn us to correct the sin in our lives in preparation for His return.

It’s important to keep this context in mind, as many theologians make the mistake of treating Revelation like some artifact found by Indiana Jones. Instead of considering it as direct communication between Jesus and seven individual churches, they look for mysterious codes hidden within the text that will unlock some deep truth that will give them a special insight into the future of the human race. This is how cults get started.

With the understanding that Revelation is merely a letter dictated by the Lord (or His messengers) to seven individual churches, we can reject the notion that the letters to the seven churches in chapters 2 and 3 somehow symbolize seven ages, or seven different classifications of churches. Instead, we can simply look at what the Lord has to say to those seven churches, and learn from it.

So, in Chapter 3, we see three letters written. One was written to Sardis, one to Philadelphia, and one to Laodicea.

Sardis had all the appearances of a church that thrived. They were reaching many. The church was growing. In modern times, their programs would have been working. Jesus told Sardis that they had a reputation that they lived, but were dead (Rev. 3:1). He added that their works were not perfect before Him (Rev. 3:2), which could mean that they did things with impure hearts, or that they had wandered from truth. Either way, they were warned to “strengthen the things which remain (Rev. 3:2)” and “Hold fast and repent (Rev. 3:3)” so that they would be prepared for the Lord’s return.

This teaches us that life is more than our reputations. It doesn’t matter what people think of us as much as it matters what God thinks of us. Therefore, we are to do all things according to His truth, and obey His calling on our lives, regardless of what others think.

Philadelphia was a good, faithful church. Notice that the Lord offers no correction to Philadelphia, as none is needed. Instead, He praises their faithfulness and promises that their suffering will not be in vain. He then encourages them to stay the course.

This teaches us that life is more than the pain we feel right now, and that the Lord sees our suffering, and will reward our faithfulness. Continue in your faith. You will not be disappointed.

The final church mentioned in Revelation 3 is the church at Laodicea. Many preachers have preached that the church of Laodicea is symbolic of the modern church age, where we have become so prosperous and lazy that we are no longer making an impact for the Lord. While some may point to the modern, American contemporary church as the fulfillment of this text, the Christian in Southeast Asia who is being tortured for his faith is nowhere close to being an example of a Laodicean Christian.

Those who say that the modern church is a fulfillment of the Laodicean church age have an American-centric view of Christianity, and have disregarded the plight of the majority of Christians around the world, who have been sentenced to poverty, imprisonment, slavery, and torture as a result of their faith.

That being said, the words Christ spoke to the Laodiceans should be observed by the American church, and any church that has grown lackadaisical. The Lord wants to be an active part of our lives, and He wants us to stand for something.

This teaches us that life is more than our material wealth. Life is about what we do for Christ. What are you doing for Christ?

The overall lesson from Revelation 3 is that we need to prepare for the return of the Lord by recommitting ourselves to Christ and to let our faith in Him propel us through our day to day lives. As we move forward into the book of Revelation, “things get real.” Are you prepared to meet Christ?

 

The 7 Churches (Revelation 2)

The church is dead.

The church is judgmental.

The church is full of hypocrites.

Those common complaints against modern American churches are nothing new. For years, people have complained that the church experience can be cold, uncaring, and full of betrayal at the hands of those who pretend to be Christian, but are not.

Often, those complaints against the church are used as justification for rejecting church membership altogether, electing rather to worship God alone. After all, if Christ knew just how awful the church really is, wouldn’t He support a mass exodus from the church?

It might surprise you to know that the issues with the modern American church are nothing new. In fact, these issues permeated the first century churches. Thus, in Revelation 2, Christ begins the process of addressing each church individually, assessing the condition of each church and instructing them to repent of their sins and shortcomings.

Revelation was written to the seven churches of Asia (now known as Asia minor, or Turkey) to prepare them to meet the Lord. Speaking through the Apostle John, Jesus foretold the events that would precede His return, the events that would mark His judgment, and the promises to every believer.

The book of Revelation was written specifically to those seven churches to prepare them to meet the Lord, but the truth that is taught in this book will prepare us, also, to meet the Lord. Those churches of Asia met the Lord when they passed away. We will meet the Lord when we pass away, or when He returns, whichever comes first. Therefore, we should take the lessons of the book of Revelation and prepare for that day.

One of the most common errors in studying Revelation 2 is that many theologians believe that the letters to the seven churches are actually metaphors for seven different time periods during the church age. This approach to Revelation 2-3 is problematic for many reasons.

First, if Christ had dictated the letters to the seven churches as an allegory for the seven periods of the church age, then the message would have made absolutely no sense to those churches to whom the letters were written.

Secondly, as you read the letters to the seven churches, you will notice that Christ addresses specific issues, and specific individuals within the churches. While many try to parallel those specific individuals and issues with historic events during the church age, the fact of the matter is that there were specific issues and individuals addressed by Christ in those churches.

In other words, when these letters were read to the seven churches of Asia, no one had to ask, “I wonder what the Lord meant by that?” They knew exactly what Christ was talking about, whom He was talking about, and what He was commanding. There was no mystery to those first-century churches.

So, if these letters were addressed to the first century churches, and addressed specific issues within seven specific churches in Asia, then what’s the point of studying them today? Simple.

In the often forgotten Pauly Shore comedy, In The Army Now, Pauly Shore told the drill instructor that “welcomed” him to boot camp that she didn’t have to yell. The drill instructor replied, “IN THE U.S. ARMY, WE DO NOT YELL. WE MERELY SPEAK LOUDLY SO THAT ALL CAN LEARN FROM OUR MISTAKES!”

While it may seem sacrilege to reference a Pauly Shore movie during a Bible study, the fact is that we can learn from the mistakes of the seven churches of Asia, and we can take the lessons the Lord teaches them and apply them to our own lives.

In the letters to the churches in Revelation 2, we learn that Christ sees everything. He sees our love and works, or the lack thereof. He sees the motivation for our works. He sees our struggles and problems. He sees our errors. Then, He calls us to repent.

The above posted episode of The Point expounds those truths. If you listen, I predict you will be blessed by it.

Encountering the Resurrected, Glorified Christ (Revelation 1)

If Jesus were to appear to you today, what would He look like? What would He be like? How would He speak to you, and would you be intimidated to be in His presence?

Such was the case as the Apostle John worshiped on the Lord’s day in Revelation 1. John, who was imprisoned on the Isle of Patmos for preaching the Gospel, was in the Spirit when Christ appeared to Him. He wrote about this experience on Revelation 1:10-17:

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.

And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.

His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.

And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead.

Bloch-SermonOnTheMountThis glorious appearance of Jesus Christ is a far-cry from the happy-hippy image of Jesus made popular by Renaissance paintings.  Instead of a gentle looking man with long, brown hair and a most excellent beard, John saw Christ as bright as the sun, with white hair, eyes of fire, and brazen feet. The fact that He had a two-edged sword as a tongue is even more intimidating.

Upon seeing Christ, the Apostle John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, who was the closest of all the disciples to Christ, who walked and talked with Christ three and a half years, fell at His feet as dead.

This experience reminds us of the glory of Christ. No longer is He the suffering Savior nailed to the cross. No longer is He meek and lowly, submitting Himself to self-sacrifice for mankind. His sacrifice has been completed, and our salvation is paid. Now, the resurrected Christ sits in His glorified form at the right hand of the throne of God.

It would do us well to remember that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is not merely a “buddy” or companion. He is our creator, God in flesh, Who loved us and gave Himself for us. We should revere Him as such.

Yet, as intimidating as this encounter was for John, the mission of Christ is redemption and restoration, not judgment and wrath. Therefore, when John fell on his face as dead, Christ told Him to fear not, and lifted Him up.

Indeed, the risen Christ is a comfort, not a condemnation to those of us who believe.

In the above posted episode of “The Point,” we study Revelation 1, exploring the things Christ did for us, the power of His resurrected form, and we explore how Christ sees us. It’s well worth the listen.

Revealing Christ

the-transfigurationOn Sunday, Life Point Baptist Church began a study into the book of Revelation.

This book is known by many names. Some call it “Revelations,” and others call it “The Revelation of St. John the Divine.” However, neither of these titles are accurate.

The title of the book is given in the opening line of Chapter 1, verse 1, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.”

That title more aptly describes the book of Revelation, as the book describes the revelation, or the unveiling, of Jesus Christ to the entire world at the end time. The book is not a series of revelations, rather, it records a series of events that reveal Christ Himself.

Furthermore, the book is not “the Revelation of St. John the Divine,” as St. John was neither divine, nor is he the one being revealed. While the revelation was revealed to John, John was not the object of the revelation. Christ was.

This is an important detail as we embark on a multi-week journey through the book of Revelation. We will study how the book reveals the character of the risen, glorified Christ, and how one day He will return to Earth to establish His Kingdom and judge the living and the dead.

We will continue this study during worship service Sunday Morning at 11 a.m. at the Early Chamber of Commerce Small Business Incubator facility at 104 E. Industrial Dr. in Early. Come see us.