What Is The World Coming To:  Revelation 7:1-12 – Worth It All In The End

Grace For The Journey

We are continuing our series of studies through the Book of Revelation.  We are in the part of the Book that mainly concerns future events.  Chapter 6 described for us certain events that would take place during the time of Great Tribulation upon the earth.   Chapter 6 ends by describing the cataclysmic events to occur when Jesus returns and we hear the unbelievers crying out, “The great day of His wrath has come; who is able to stand?”  Chapter 7 is the answer to that question.  We read in chapter 7 about those who are able to stand when the Lord returns.

I suppose we could sum up the main point of the entire Book of Revelation with a paraphrase of its main point and the main point is: “Hang in there.”  God is in control.   He has a perfect plan.  He is guiding the events of history to fulfill that perfect plan.  So … hang in there.  When I think about this, I recall the song, “Through it All.”  The lyrics remind us of God’s guiding hand in our lives: “Through it all, through it all, I’ve learned to trust in Jesus.  I’ve learned to trust in God.  Through it all, through it all, I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.”  Chapter 7 is a reminder that receiving Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior and then living for Him will be worth it all in the end.  He is guiding us “through it all.”  What we see here in these verses are at least four major blessings of the Lord. 

First, we see . . .

I. The Blessing Of His Sovereign Protection – Verses 1-3.

Chapter 6 detailed the coming of the Great Tribulation upon the unbelievers of the earth.  It tells of the coming of the “four horsemen of the apocalypse,” how God is going to allow man to get what he wants.  The result will be war, famine, pestilence, and death upon the land.  But before God allows this judgment to come, we see the working of His sovereign protection.

Verse 1 tells us, “After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth (an idiom for the four directions: north, south, east, west), holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree.”  We see God sovereignly holding back His judgment.  Before the four winds of judgment blow upon the earth, God steps in and exerts His sovereign protection.

Verses 2 and say, “Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, ‘Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.’”

There are four angels getting ready to allow the four winds of judgment to blow upon the earth and God steps in and pauses the action.  Then we see another angel coming from the east – the direction from which comes the blessing of sunshine – and he has in his hand “the seal of the living God.”  A king’s seal was used to denote ownership and authority.  The seal here may be like the king’s signet ring, a ring impressed into hot wax, denoting the king’s “stamp of approval” and “ownership” of a thing.  Here we read that God’s seal is marked upon a people.  The fifth angel who appears says, “Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.”

More about that in a moment, but for now I want us to simply note the blessing of God’s sovereign protection.  These verses remind us that God is in control of every single detail of history.  This doctrinal truth encourages me like no other.  I heard about a boy who in the fourth grade.  There was a bully in his class by the name of Arnold Arlinbaugh.  Arnold was one of those guys who was just bigger than life.  Bigger and taller than anyone else.  Seemed to this fourth grader like maybe he was already shaving!  Just a big, mean, dude.  The young boy was out on the playground one day, and the bully came over to him and started throwing punches.  As he was taking the blows to the chin, he could see a teacher looking at what was happening but she was too scared to do anything.  The young boy remembered when Arnold it me with the first left cross to my face he was surprised that it did not hurt as much as he expected.  He was so surprised that the words just came out of my mouth: “That didn’t hurt.”  Of course, saying that out loud in front of Arnold did not help his situation any.  He remembered Arnold saying something like, “Oh, yeah?!  Well, how about this and this,” and he threw the punches.  The young boy remembered at the time just being absolutely surprised by what a punching he could take.  It was like there was this mysterious, strengthening power within me, sustaining me through it all.

We all get beat up a lot in this world.  The outworking of sin is all around us.  Tragedy comes to us in many forms: sickness, job loss, financial strain, people problems, and worry.  But God has promised to be with us and to work out a perfect plan for every single one of us (Romans 8:38).  Nothing escapes His notice, and He demonstrates His sovereign protection over our lives by allowing us to suffer only what He knows we can handle, by the help of His grace.  So . . . When you are taking hits from life’s challenges, remember the blessing of God’s sovereign protection.  He is there, empowering you, guiding you for His glory.  The blessing of His sovereign protection. 

Secondly, see . . .

II. The Blessing Of His Sealed Possession – Verses 4-8.

In verses 4-8 we read of the people who receive God’s special seal of possession and ownership.  Verse 4 says, “And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed.”  Then we read of the 12 tribes: Reuben, Gad, Naphtali, and so forth.  12,000 each for a total of 144,000.  It Is interesting how people have interpreted this 144,000. 

  • For years, the Jehovah’s Witnesses said it referred to them.  They were the 144,000.  I think they now believe it is a number that refers to their leadership.
  • There are many good scholars who believe the number symbolizes the church.
  • I think it is best, however, to take this text as straight-forwardly as possible.  John tells us that these 144,000 people are Israelites.  He identifies them as “servants of God” who are “one hundred forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.” 

I think we have to conclude, then, that the 144,000 are Israelites who will receive the blessing of God’s seal during the time of Tribulation.  It suggests that they will be specially protected by God and used of God during this time.

Some scholars believe the 144,000 Israelites are Jewish evangelists who will share the Gospel during the tribulation period.  That may be true, but the text does not explicitly say that.  In fact, we do not read of that anywhere in the Book of Revelation.  We do read, however, in the Gospels that the “gospel must first be preached to all the nations” (Mark 13:10) before the end comes.  It is more likely how these 144,000 will be used of God in this way.

These Israelites receive the blessing of God’s sealed possession.  Israel is, and will forever be, a special people chosen of God.  God gave Israel an unconditional promise in Jeremiah 31:35-37, “Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for a light by day, The ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night, Who disturbs the sea, And its waves roar (The LORD of hosts is His name):  ‘If those ordinances depart from before Me,’ says the LORD, ‘Then the seed of Israel shall also cease from being a nation before Me forever.’  Thus says the LORD: ‘If heaven above can be measured, And the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel For all that they have done, says the LORD.’”  God promises to forever bless the nation of Israel.  That is why Israel is always in the news.  That is why Israel cannot be annihilated.  As S. Lewis Johnson, Jr. puts it, “Pharaoh tried to drown the children of Israel and they would not drown.  Nebuchadnezzar tried to burn them and they would not burn.  Haman tried to hang them and they would not hang.”  Each person failed in his attempt to annihilate the Jews.  We could add others; Hitler for example, and every Muslim who understands the Koran as teaching that all Israel must be killed will fail also.  Someone said, “The history of Israel is the history of a miracle and the miracle of history.”

The Bible teaches in Romans 11 that Israel is now experiencing a blindness, a hardness of heart.  But when the Lord Jesus Christ returns, the nation of Israel, those living during Christ’s return, will look upon the One who was pierced for their sins and they will be saved.

We see the blessing of God’s sovereign protection, His sealed possession, and now . . .

III. The Blessing Of His Saved Procession – Verses 9-14.

Verses 9 through 14 declare, “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’  All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: ‘Amen!  Blessing and glory and wisdom, Thanksgiving and honor and power and might, Be to our God forever and ever. Amen.’  Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, ‘Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?’ And I said to him, ‘Sir, you know.’  So he said to me, ‘These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’”

John gives us a vision here of all the Christians who have come out of the Great Tribulation, saints who have given their lives as martyrs for the Lord Jesus Christ.  They are God’s saved procession.  They are there around the throne, dressed in white robes, which signify the purity and victory of the Lord Jesus Christ.  They have “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb (verse 14).”  That is the theme of the Bible!  We are reminded by the hymn writer, “What can wash away my sin?  Nothing but the blood of Jesus.  What can make me whole again?  Nothing but the blood of Jesus.  O precious is the flow, that makes me white as snow.  No other fount I know.  Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”

This leads naturally to the final blessing.  We see also . . .

IV. The Blessing Of His Supreme Provision – Verse 15-17.

What we read of these Christians who have died during the Tribulation time teaches us what lies in store for every Christian.  Verse 15 states, “Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them.”  In heaven we will not be sitting on a cloud with a harp in our hands.  That sounds boring to me.  We will be doing stuff.  We will be in the presence of God Himself, finding our greatest joy in serving Him.  Look at God’s supreme provision for Christians.  Whatever we have been deprived of here because of this fallen world, we will be provided for there.  In fact, it may be better to say: whatever need we have here is a need removed there

Heaven will be all about Him!

We will need eternity to

Discover and express the

Wonderful truths about

Who God really is and

What He has done for us!

Verses 16 and 17 declare, “They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”  Talk about it being “worth it all in the end!”  The blessing of God’s supreme provision.  Whatever trials, pain, and loses we encounter here, God will remove completely there.  There will be no more suffering.  The Great God Himself will take His strong, loving hand and wipe away every tear from our eyes!  Praise His holy name!

I read a story recently from a correspondence I received in an email.  I think it fitly illustrates how receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and living for Him in this world is worth everything: In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in “the room.”  There were no distinguishing features save for the one wall covered with small index card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order.  But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endlessly in either direction, had very different headings.  As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read – “Girls I Have Liked.”  I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one, and ashamed at some of my comments and thoughts recorded on each.  And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was. This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life.  Here were written the thoughts and actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn’t match.  A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me and I began randomly opening files and exploring their content.  Some brought joy and sweet memories, others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching.  A file named “Friends” was next to one marked “Friends I Have Betrayed.”  The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird. “Books I Have Read,” “Lies I Have Told,” “Comfort I Have Given,” “Jokes I Have Laughed At.”  Some were hilarious in their exactness: “Things I’ve Yelled at My Brothers.”  Others I couldn’t laugh at: “Things I Have Done in My Anger,” “Things I Have Muttered Under My Breath at My Parents.”  I never ceased to be surprised by the contents.  Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes there were fewer than I hoped.  I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived.  Could it be possible that I had the time in my brief life to write each of these thousands or even millions of cards? But each card confirmed this truth. Each was written in my own handwriting. Each signed with my signature.

When I pulled out the file marked “Songs I Have Listened To,” I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn’t found the end of the file.  I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of music, but more by the vast amount of time I knew that file represented.  When I came to a file marked “Lustful Thoughts,” I felt a chill run through my body.  I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card.  I shuddered at its content.  I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded.

An almost animal rage broke on me.  One thought dominated my mind: “No one must ever see these cards!  No one must ever see this room!  I have to destroy them!”  In an insane frenzy I yanked the file out.  Its size didn’t matter now.  I had to empty it and burn the cards.  But as I took it at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it.

Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot.  Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh.  And then I saw it.  The title bore “People I Have Shared the Gospel With.” The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused.  I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than three inches long fell into my hands.  I could count the cards it contained on one hand.  And then the tears came.  I began to weep.  Sobs so deep that the hurt started in my stomach and shook through me.  I fell on my knees and cried.  I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all.  The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes.  No one must ever, ever know of this room.  I must lock it up and hide the key.

But then as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him.  No, please not Him.  Not here.  Oh, anyone but Jesus.  I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards.  I couldn’t bear to watch His response.  And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own, deeper than I had ever seen on any face.  He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes.  Why did He have to read every one?  Why did He have to know?  Finally, He turned and looked at me from across the room.  He looked at me with pity in His eyes.  But this was a pity that didn’t anger me.  I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands and began to cry again. He walked over and put His arm around me.  He could have said so many things.  But He didn’t say a word.  He just held me, flooding my soul with a love-words could never capture.

Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files.  Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card.  I noticed that each signature was in red.   “No!”  I shouted rushing to Him.  All I could find to say was “No, no,” as I tried to pull the card from Him.  His name shouldn’t be on these cards.   But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive.  The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written with His blood.

He gently took the card back.  He smiled a gentle smile and began to sign the cards.  I don’t think I’ll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side.  He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, “It is finished.”  Suddenly I felt clean, clean on the inside in a way I had never known.  As I looked at myself, I saw that miraculously my clothing was now a glorious white robe, brighter than any material I had ever seen.  Then I remembered what God’s Word, The Bible, says in Reverlation 7:14, “they washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” God indeed “will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

In Mark 8:36, Jesus asks, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?”  The answer is: it profits that man nothing.  In all of your planning for the future, have you given serious thought to what happens when you die?

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

What Is The World Coming To: Revelation 6:12-17 – The Great Day Of God’s Wr


We are continuing our series of studies through the Book of Revelation.  We are going verse-by-verse and we are now in what could accurately be called the last third of the Book.  Back in Chapter one, verse 16, John was given threefold instruction about recording this revelation, this unveiling of the Lord Jesus Christ and God’s plan and program through Jesus Christ.  John was told to write down three things: “The things which he had seen” (the contents of chapter one) … “The things which are” (this had to do with the current status of the seven churches in Asia Minor, we covered that in chapters two and three) … Then John is told to write down the things “which will take place after this,” (future events).  In chapters 4 and 5 John is called up into heaven and he tells us what he sees there as he gazes upon the glory and splendor of the Lord on His throne.  Now, from this point forward, John tells us of things to happen in the future.

In chapter 5, we were introduced to a scroll that is sealed seven times.  It has seven seals on it.  These seals signify the judgment of God.  Now, in chapter 6, when each seal is opened in heaven, John gets a glimpse of future judgment to come upon the earth.  We will learn this today what is going to happen as the Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, opens each of these seals.

Not long ago, ABC News will broadcast a special 2-hour edition of “20/20” entitled, “Last Days on Earth.”  The program featured some of the world’s top scientists who conjectured about the different ways the earth could end.  They sought to answer questions such as how likely each scenario is to occur, and what would actually happen if these catastrophic events actually happened, could the human race survive, and so forth.  For centuries upon centuries, the Bible has addressed the topic of the last days on earth.  We read in the Bible the things that will happen on what is often called “the day of judgment” or “the day of the Lord,” or sometimes just, “the Day,” and in the last verse of today’s text it is described as, “The Great Day of God’s Wrath.”  But rather than conjecture, the Bible gives us concrete truths about what the time will be like.

The concept of the day of wrath or the day of judgment is deeply rooted in the Old Testament.  For example:

Isaiah 13:9-10, “Behold, the day of the LORD comes, Cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, To lay the land desolate; And He will destroy its sinners from it.  For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not give their light; The sun will be darkened in its going forth, And the moon will not cause its light to shine.”

Joel 2:10-11, “The earthquakes before them, the heavens tremble; the sun and moon grow dark, and the stars diminish their brightness.  The LORD gives voice before His army, for His camp is very great; for strong is the One who executes His word.  For the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; Who can endure it?”

In the Gospels, Jesus teaches about the future coming of the day of judgment:

Matthew 24:29-30, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”

Our text this morning in Revelation, chapter 6, addresses future events that will transpire just prior to the Lord’s return.  The time of these events coincides with what is often referred to as “The Tribulation” period, or Daniel’s 70th week.  That is what the opening of these six seals reveals to us, the time of tribulation upon the earth, the unveiling of the time period preceding the great day of God’s wrath.  The first eight verses we will be studying today seem to happen during the first part of the tribulation, the first 3 ½ years prior to the “great Day.” 

Let’s learn some lessons about this great day of God’s wrath day . . .

I.  It Comes As The Result Of The Condition Of Sin: Verses 1-8.

What I mean by this is that the day of God’s wrath ultimately follows as the natural result of our sinful nature, our human depravity.  Many of the events of the tribulation period are just the natural outworking of our own sin.  Apart from God’s grace, as God just leaves us to our own devices, we bring tribulation upon ourselves.

We are going to see that in the opening of the first four seals.  Now this is important.   Our hearts desire should be to understand the Book of Revelation.  I really want each of us to understand this Book.  God promises a blessing if we learn from it.  However, if you want a lot of fanciful interpretations about the book of Revelation, you are going to be disappointed.  We do not want to read into the text things that are not there.  I heard it said from someone, “If the plain sense makes sense, seek no other sense.”

When we read about these first four seals, often called “the four horsemen of the Apocalypse,” we are not going to try to read into these four horsemen things that are not there, silly things such as mass murderer Charles Manson’s speculation that the four horsemen are the Beatles, and this kind of thing.

What many commentators and preachers often overlook in the opening of the first four seals is that we simply have man left to his own devices.  Each horse represents an aspect of man’s depravity.  Let me show you what I mean …

Verses 1 and 2 tells us, “Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures (remember from previous studies that the four living creatures are celestial beings, angelic beings near the throne of God in heaven) saying with a voice like thunder, ‘Come and see.’  And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.”  In this vision John sees a white horse.  The one who sat on the horse had a bow and a crown “was given to him” and he went out to conquer.  We have here a man on a horse going out to conquer.  This first seal represents man’s desire, or lust for conquest.  Left to his own devices, man desires to conquer.

The key phrase there is the phrase “was given.”  Grammatically we refer to this phrase as a “Divine passive.”  The man on the horse was given a crown, a crown representing victory of conquest.  The point is that God does not actively kill people through the rider of this horse.  God does not command evil.  The man on the horse will do that himself.   God simply allows the man to have a crown, a crown was given to him and then, “he went out conquering and to conquer.”

You see this divine passive twice again in the opening of the second seal in verses 3-4, “When He opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, ‘Come and see.’  Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword.’  Again, man is left to his own devices.  Man is given the power to “take peace from the earth” and that is exactly what he does.  The result is civil war as “people kill one another.”  The white horse represents man’s lust for conquest and the red horse represents the conquest itself, war, killing of people with the sword.   John’s vision tells us that these things will take place in the future.

It is interesting to note the Old Testament background for these four horseman.  You can jot down a couple of references: Zechariah 1:8-15 and Ezekiel 14:12-23.  More significantly, however, we know that our Lord Jesus taught this as well during His earthly ministry.  In Mark 13:7-8, for example where He said to His disciples, “But when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet.  For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles. These are the beginnings of sorrows.”

These things must happen.  They are the “beginnings of sorrows.”  They have, to a great degree, already been happening.  There seems to be an intensification of these things just prior to the Lord’s return.  We have wars and civil wars.  Jesus also mentions “famines.”  You have that signified next in verses 5 and 6, “When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, ‘Come and see.’  So I looked, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand.  And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, ‘A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine.’”  The black horse represents famine.  The voice that John hears says, “a quart of wheat for a denarius and three quarts of barley for a denarius.”  A quart of wheat and three quarts of barley was the daily food required for the average man.  A denarius was what the average man earned for a day of work.  The coming famine is so severe that a man will work all day just to feed himself, not to mention his family.  The phrase “and do not harm the oil and the wine” is probably an indication that God is limiting the famine in some way.  We have the white horse representing man’s lust for conquest, the red horse representing war, and the black horse representing famine.

Verses 7 and 8 tells us, “When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, ‘Come and see.’  So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.”  The opening of the fourth seal represents the fourth horse, a pale horse.  The Greek word there is the word “chloros,” from which we get “chlorophyll.”  Here it is a pale-green color, the color of a corpse, the color of death.  The word translated “death” here is a word commonly used to refer to a pestilence. We have a pestilence with Hades following it.  Hades is the term for the place of the dead.

Note the divine passive again: power “was given” to Death and Hades, power over a fourth of the earth.  The result of Death and Hades encompasses the effects of the previous three horsemen – killing with the sword, with hunger, with death – and then we read the phrase “by the beasts of the earth.”  This seems to suggest that weak, famine and pestilence-plagued people will be the prey of wild animals.

Again . . .

All of these effects are the result

Of man’s natural depravity. 

God does not command the evil;

He merely permits it. 

He allows man to

Have his own way.

Someone said, “When man gets what he wants, he will not want what he gets.”  The Great Day of our Lord’s wrath comes as the result of the condition of sin. 

These first four seals represent the first three-and-a-half years of the Tribulation period.  What happens beginning in verse 12 will reveals the events that take place during the last three-and-a-half years period know as “The Great Tribulation.”  The Bible tells us in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-8, “Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken I mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us as though the day of Christ had come.  Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.  Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?  And now you know what is retraining, that he may be revealed I his own time.  For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He wo now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.  And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.”

Secondly, when the great day of God’s wrath comes . . .

II.  In Response To The Cry Of The Saints: Verses 9-11.

Verse 9 says, “When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held.”  These are Christians, the saints of God, who have died for their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  They are Christians who have died a martyr’s death.  John sees their souls “under the altar” which refers to their dying a sacrificial death.  When a Jew sacrificed a lamb at the altar, the blood of the animal as poured underneath the altar.  John sees under the altar, the souls of those who died for their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  He hears them cry out in verse 10, “And they cried with a loud voice, saying, ‘How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’”

The souls of the saints cry out a question: “How long, O Lord . . . until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”  The phrase “those who dwell on the earth” is a phrase that occurs 13 times in the Book of Revelation with reference to unbelievers.  Here it specifically refers to the unbelievers who killed these Christians.   

They cry out not

For personal revenge,

But for public justice. 

It is not a question

Of “whether” God will

Avenge their death,

But “when.”

The answer follows in verse 11, “Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.”  The “white robe” signifies “victory and overcoming,” was given to each of them.  Then it was said to them that they should “rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.”  In His sovereignty, God knows the exact number of those who will die a martyr’s death.  He tells them to rest a little while longer.  Be patient.  Justice will come.

There is an application there for you when you undergo persecution.  God does allow persecution and He sometimes calls for Christians to die for their faith.  John the Baptist died for His faith; Stephen died; James died; Paul died; Peter died; and there have been martyrs throughout history, even this very day, dying for their faith in Christ.  It may be that you are persecuted in other ways.  When you are persecuted for your faith in Christ, whether it is someone making fun of you at school, or the denial of a promotion at work, or ridicule from unbelieving family members, be patient.  Justice will come.  Be like Jesus, in 1 Peter 2:23, where it says, “Who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself To Him who judges righteously.”  Let God avenge you.  He will.  It is not a question of “whether” He will, but “when” He will.

When the Great Day of God’s wrath comes, it will come as the result of the condition of sin and it will come as the response to the cry of the saints.  Thirdly, when the Great Day of God’s wrath comes . . .

III.  It Comes With The Reality Of Cataclysmic Signs: Verses 12-17.

In the 5th and 6th seal we move into the second 3½years of the tribulation period and we get a glimpse of how much a horrible this time will be.  Notice . . .

In the first four seals the things going on were taking place on earth. As the fifth seal is opened, the things taken place are back in Heaven, as we read about “the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held …”  They appeal to God on the basis that He is “holy and true.”  Their prayer is a desire for God’s name that was despised and hated, as revealed in their death, to be vindicated.  They were martyred, not because they were despicable or terrible people.  They were slain because of Who they knew and were associated with – the Lord!  These prayers are the expression of their heart to see His name glorified and vindicated on the earth.

When the 6th seal is opened, we come back to the earth.  This is the time when God wrath begins to be poured out on those who have rejected, mocked, and blasphemed Him on earth.  Once again, we hear people praying.  But . . .

Instead of praying to the Redeemer,

We see them praying to the rocks.

Instead of turning to God,

We see them running from God.

What happens when the 6th seal is opened is summarized in verse 17, “For the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?”  For a world that is destined for God’s judgment, that hour has now arrived. It is the “great Day” of His wrath.  There is no longer mercy, but wrath and judgment.  We have now moved into the second 3 ½ years.

Verses 12 to 14 say, “And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casts her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.  And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.”

Here we see . . .

The Horrifying Effects God’s Wrath Brings.

Verse 15 tells us, “And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains.”  Here we read of the opening of the sixth seal.  The events that unfold here are the events immediately after the revealing of the antichrist.  Remember, the antichrist will proclaim his power and position as God over mankind and the earth.  These events reveal that the antichrist is not who he says he is and that apart from the real Christ, man is doomed to severe judgment.

 Verse 12 says, “I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood.”  Cataclysmic signs in heaven and on earth will occur – An earthquake, the sun becoming as black as the sackcloth people used in their day, and the moon became like blood.

Verse 13 goes on to tell us, “And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind.”  The word “stars” translates a word to refer to any heavenly body in the sky.  It could be, for example, that an asteroid or meteor shower is in view.

Verse 14 states, “Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place.”  The people of John’s day were familiar with what a scroll looked like when you cut it in half.  Maybe you have done this before with a rolled-up piece of paper.  You cut it in the middle and the two halves roll up violently. 

Verse 15 tells us the unbelieving world responds to these cataclysmic signs immediately preceding the Lord’s return, “And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains.”  Vance Havner said that, “This will be the period of time when the most expensive piece of real estate will be a hole in the ground.”  Caves and holes in the ground have long been the hiding place of man, even today in the middle east.  Saddam Hussein was found hiding in a hole.  Osama Bin Laden was believed to be hiding in a cave.  In the great day of God’s wrath, all the unbelievers – regardless of rank and social condition – will hide themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains. 

And what will they cry out?  Verse 16 tells us, “And said to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!’”  It is really remarkable, isn’t it?  They pray, they cry out to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!”  They want to be protected from the wrath of the Lord Jesus Christ! 

Many have noted they are

Crying out to the rocks of nature,

But not to the rock of Ages,

The rock of Christ. 

They place their faith

In the inanimate objects,

Instead of in the One

Who can save them.

Verse 17 states, “For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”  Answer: no one.  No one is able to stand.  You see here the humbling effects of the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.  No man can stand.  A man and his wife were hiking around a mountain called Brasstown Bald in North Georgia.  Unbeknownst to them there was an airfield nearby where the military practiced flying big jets.  They were out there in nature just enjoying everything and then all of the sudden, there was a loud bang out of nowhere as these jets just appeared and flew over their heads.  When they heard that sudden sound they fell to their knees.  It is a natural reaction when you encounter a force far greater than yourself.  It has a way of immediately humbling you.

I think that effect is a bit of a foretaste for the unbeliever when the Lord comes again.  He will be going about his business, expecting nothing really.  And suddenly, bang!  The great day of God’s wrath will come, “and who is able to stand?”

Due to our sin, we are objects of God’s wrath.  God’s anger is not directed at us.  It is directed at our sin.  We have a choice.  Jesus died to satisfy the wrath of God.  We have a choice.  We can remain objects of God’s wrath, or we can live for the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Bible says in John 3:36, “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”  Accept Jesus as Savior and Lord now so that you can escape this dreadful time.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

WHAT IS THE WORLD COMING TO: Revelation 5:1-14 – Worthy Is The Lamb

Grace For The Journey

We are continuing our series of studies on the Book of Revelation.  We are making our way verse by verse through this last Book of the Bible and God is going to be teaching us about the things that take place in the future.  In chapter 5 we are back at the scene of heaven.  Chapters 4 and 5 really go together.  John has been called up into the throne room of heaven.  He is called up in a vision.  He sees things that are beautifully symbolic of God and His creation. 

In chapter 4 we see God in His glorious splendor. 

The vision continues in chapter 5 as we read now

About John’s seeing the Lord Jesus Christ, described

In our text as the “lion of the tribe of Judah”

And as “a lamb who had been slain.”

John tells us that he sees God sitting on the throne.  And God has something in His right hand.  It is a scroll. 

Have you ever been so focused on the details of something that you completely miss something right under your nose?  Often, I will get my mind on something, or I will be thinking about what I have got to do.  I will be on my way to go see someone at the hospital or something and I will be thinking about things I have got to do and I will walk right by someone I know without even realizing it.  Have you ever done that?  What is really bad is when the person you walked right by is the person you were going to see!

In John’s vision in chapter 4, he tells us some of the things he sees as he is right there in the presence of God on His throne.  He tells us about seeing beautiful stones like jasper and sardius stones.  He sees a rainbow around the throne like an emerald.  Before the throne John sees a sea of glass like crystal.  He tells us about seeing four living creatures and 24 elders around the throne of God.  And yet, he has apparently missed something.  We find out what John missed in chapter 5.  The Bible says that in the midst of the throne and the four living creatures and the 24 elders stands the Lord Jesus Christ, described as “a lamb who had been slain.”

Wonder how John missed Jesus?!  He had seen precious stones in heaven, heard thunder, saw lightening, and gazed at a rainbow like an emerald and a sea of glass like crystal, but he missed Jesus.  I was listening to Adrian Rogers the other day and he said that one of the dangers of studying prophecy is that we can get so focused on the details of prophetic events that we can completely miss Jesus.

We must remember that . . .

The main point of prophecy is the Lord Jesus Christ. 

The main person of the Bible is the Lord Jesus Christ.

I have said many times that the Bible is a “Him book,” it is about Him.  Jesus Christ is the focus of all creation.  John reminds us of this in chapter 5.  We see some wonderful truths to grasp because of the Lord Jesus Christ.  First, because of Christ . . .

I.  We Can Know God’s Plan – Verses 1-5.

Verse 1 says, “And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals.”  In John’s day they did not have books like you and I have, they had scrolls.  They had long pages – sheets from the papyrus plant – and these sheets would be written on, glued together from end to end and then rolled up into scrolls.  The scrolls were then sealed with a big dab of hot wax to keep the scroll from unwinding and to keep the scroll from being read until the proper time.  The scroll John describes has a lot of writing on it, front and back.  And it is sealed with seven seals.  It is a very important scroll.  Remember that John has been called up to heaven, in order to see the things that are to take place in the future and so this scroll represents the details of future events.  With the breaking of each seal, we learn of future things that will happen according to God’s plan, God’s perfect plan centered completely around the Lord Jesus Christ.  The seven seals teach us that it is God’s perfect and complete plan.  John sees this scroll in the right hand of God. 

Verse 2 continues, “Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?’”  We see again the importance of this scroll.  The contents reveal the perfect plan of God.  Not just anyone may open it.  God has a perfect plan for all of mankind as revealed through the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Who is worthy to open the scroll and loose the seals?

Verse 3 tells us, “And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it.”  No one in all of creation is worthy.  No angelic being is worthy.  No human being is worthy.  No great leader liker like Napoleon or Alexander the Great.  Not even a biblical leader like Moses, Elijah, Elisha, or the Apostle Paul is worthy.

Verse 4 shows us John’s response, “So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it.”  It seems for a moment that God’s perfect plan may not be realized.  If no one is worthy to open the scroll, then the events may not be detailed.  This is why John weeps.  He is concerned that God’s perfect plan, including the ultimate righting of all wrongs, and the ushering in of a time of universal peace, may not be realized.  He weeps.

Verse 5 tells us, “But one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.’”  The Lord Jesus Christ is described here as “the Lion of the tribe of Judah.”  In In Genesis 49:8-10, Jacob gives to his son, Judah a prophecy.  Jacob tells Judah that the Messiah, described there as a lion, will come from his line.  The Messiah is “the Lion of the tribe of Judah.”  Another specific detail in disclosing Who the Messiah would be.

Jesus is also described as “the Root of David.”  Jesus comes from the line of David, too.  This is a fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 11:1.  It pictures the royalty of the Messiah.  He is the one who comes from the royal lineage of the great King David.  He is worthy because he “has prevailed.”  He has conquered Satan and won.  He has died for our sins and rose from the grave.  That is what it means when it says he “has prevailed.”  He is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals. 

Because of Christ,

We can

Know God’s plan.

Remember that God has a perfect plan for all of His creation.  This world is not just rolling along with no rhyme or reason.  God is working out a perfect plan.  You may feel like John at times.  You feel like weeping.  You wonder if it is all going to work out, if God’s perfect plan is going to be realized and actualized.  You wonder if there will be any justice in your particular situation at work or home.  You may recoil at the events that are happening in the world and you may wonder if God really is on His throne.  But . . .

You must remember that

He is and He is in control. 

Because of Christ,

God’s perfect plan

Is being worked

Out and actualized. 

In the midst of

Uncertainty, God is there.

Because of Christ we can know God’s plan. 

Secondly, because of Christ . . .

II.  We Can See God’s Power – Verses 6-7.

John tells us in verse 6, “And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth.”

It is a fascinating thing.  The mighty angel says, “Behold the lion of the tribe of Judah.”   John hears about a lion and he turns to see a lamb!  He sees “a lamb as though it had been slain.”  The mixed metaphor is intentional.  The point is that this strong powerful mighty lion conquers as a lamb. 

God defeats

The power of sin


The power of sacrifice.

The Greek word for “lamb” there is hardly used elsewhere in the New Testament.  It is used 28 times in the book of Revelation to describe Jesus.  It is the word for a “little lamb,” like a “pet lamb,” a lamb that was kept four days in the Jewish home before the family partook of the Passover.  During the Passover that little lamb was sacrificed as a reminder that our sins needed to be paid for.

This is why Isaiah, prophesying 700 years before Christ, described the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ in Isaiah 53:7 as, “a lamb being led to the slaughter.”  And when He was killed, Isaiah says in Isaiah 53:6, “the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”

That is why we read of John’s seeing a lamb “as though it had been slain.”  The Lamb had been slain, but He arose.  He died for our sins, but He was raised from the grave.  That is how the mighty lion conquers.  He conquers as a lamb.  Because of Christ, we can see God’s power.

You can also see His power in the way John describes what he saw in his vision.   Remember that this is a vision.  These things are not literal representations of Christ.   John sees the Lamb as having “seven horns” and “seven eyes.”  The horn represents strength and might.  Seven is the number for perfection and completion.  We see Christ has perfect might and perfect sight.  He sees everything.  He knows everything.

I heard about a bunch of children lined up in the cafeteria of a religious school for lunch.  At the head of the table was a large pile of apples. The teacher made a note: “Take only one, God is watching.” At the other end of the table was a large pile of chocolate chip cookies. A boy wrote a note: “Take all you want, God is watching the apples.”  God is watching everything and everyone.  That is convicting and encouraging.  He knows what you need.  He sees you.  He will provide.  You can trust Him.

The “seven eyes” is John’s way of describing the Lord Jesus Christ Who sees everything and is everywhere present.  The “seven spirits” of God is a reference to the perfect, complete Holy Spirit.  God is everywhere present in perfect might and sight.   Because of Christ, we can see the power of God.

Verse 7 states, “Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.”  This action represents power and authority.  The right hand is the hand of authority and power.  Only the one who is worthy can come and take the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sits on the throne.  Because of Christ we can know God’s plan and see God’s power.

God’s power is revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ.  He is the One who, as a lion, conquers as a lamb.  He has won the battle at Calvary, at the cross 2,000 years ago.   All of history is to be interpreted by the cross.  That is why we need not fear the future battle of Armageddon, because the battle of Calvary has been won.  The war is over.  The Battle of Armageddon is just Satan’s last visible loss.  He is already defeated.  We need not worry about the future.  Because of Christ, we can know God’s plan and see God’s power. 

Thirdly, because of Christ . . .

III.  We Can Give Our Praise – Verses 8-14.

1) He Receives Praise For The Work Of Redemption – Verses 8-10.

Verses 8-10 tell us, “Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.  And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.’”

The four living creatures and the 24 elders praise the Lamb because of His work of redemption.  The harp is an instrument of praise and the bowls of incense were used during times of prayer.  The Lord Jesus Christ is worthy of our prayers and praise.  Why?  Because of His work of redemption.

They teach us what to say: “You are worthy . . . for you have redeemed us to God by Your blood.”  Redemption describes the purchasing of a prisoner of war, freeing him from bondage.  The death of Christ is Christ’s “ransom payment,” a death that makes possible the purchasing of souls who are prisoners of sin, thus freeing them from the bondage of sin, including its penalty, power, and presence.  Christ has purchased us not with gold, or silver, or money, but He has purchased us by His blood.  We were bound to sin, destined to die for sin, destined to be separated from God forever.  But Christ freed us from the slave market of sin by shedding His blood for us, by dying for us, and by dying for our sins. That is why the four living creatures and the 24 elders say, “You have redeemed us by Your blood.”  You have redeemed us and “made us kings” (we will reign with Christ) and “priests” (we will serve) and we will “reign on the earth” (during the millennial reign).

Have you been redeemed?  Have you been saved from the penalty of sin by looking to Jesus, accepting His sacrifice for you, and asking Him to be your personal Lord and Savior?  If you have been redeemed, then you will love to proclaim it.  In the words of the hymn-writer, Fanny Crosby:

Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it!

Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;

Redeemed through His infinite mercy,

His child and forever I am.

Christ receives praise for the work of redemption and:

2) He Receives Praise From The Whole of Creation – Verses 11-14.

Verses 11-14 tells us how all creation praises Him, “Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands (the Greek word is “myriad,” literally, “without number), saying with a loud voice: ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!’  And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: ‘Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!’  Then the four living creatures said, ‘Amen!’  And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever.”  Notice that Jesus Christ receives worship, yet worship is meant only for God.  At the very end of the Book of Revelation we read that John is so carried away by what he has seen that he falls down at the feet of an angel.  The angel says, “Don’t do that!  Get up.  Don’t worship me.  Worship God.”  That Jesus Christ receives the worship of the whole of creation illustrates His deity.  He is worthy of worship, worthy of praise.

Worship literally means to recognize Christ’s “worth.”  That is what the Old English word means, “to describe worth.”  Jesus Christ is worthy.  Worthy is the Lamb.  When we worship Christ, we are ascribing worth to Him.

Do you really believe He is worthy?  Do you?  Is He worthy of your life?  Worthy of your time?  Is He worthy of your talents?  Is He worthy of your treasures?  Is He worthy of your faithful attendance to the worship services of your church?  Is He worthy of your witness?  In light of what Christ has done for you, what are you doing for Him?  When we remember what Christ has done for us, everything we do will flow from gratitude to Him.

I read about a tourist in a foreign country who was looking at unusual sights in the rural town he was visiting.  In this rural town he was attracted by a beautiful building there and as he was looking at that building he noticed something unusual.  Looking up to see it better he noticed about two thirds of the way up the building, on the outside of the building, there was a little stone lamb.  The man stopped a nearby citizen and asked him why this figure of a lamb was there on the side of the building.  A citizen then told the man that the lamb was there to mark a place from which a mason had lost his balance while working on the building and fell down to the earth below.  The tourist asked, “Was he killed?”  The citizen said, “No, it was a miracle.  When the mason’s fellow workers hurried down expecting to find his body crushed on the pavement, they found their co-worker shaken and badly bruised, but otherwise completely fine.”  The citizen then relayed how, at the exact same moment the mason had fallen, another man was leading several lambs off to be slaughtered.  As the mason fell he landed on the back of one of those lambs.  The lamb was killed but he had broken the mason’s fall and saved his life.  That worker was so impressed and so grateful that he had that stone lamb placed on the outside of the building as a lasting memorial to the sacrificial death of that lamb – he did not want anyone to forget how the lamb had died for him.

The Bible teaches that we all have this problem called sin.  We do things we are not supposed to do.  Our problem goes all the way back to what is called “the Fall.”  When Adam and Even sinned, they brought sin into the world.  Because of their sin, we sin.  Because of their fall, we fall.  The best news of the Bible is that God visits us in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, the one John the Baptist describes as, “the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”  While I rightly deserve the punishment of death for my sin, Jesus Christ dies for me.  He dies for my sins.  He takes my sins upon Himself.  He takes my place.  Like that little lamb upon which the mason fell, Jesus Christ takes my fall.  He dies but His death saves my life.  The Lamb of God dies for me.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

What Is The World Coming To: Revelation 4:1-11 – God In His Glorious Splendor

Grace For The Journey

We continue our study this morning of the Book of Revelation.  We are making our way, verse-by-verse, through the Book, and this morning we are looking at chapter 4.  You will recall that chapter 1, verse 19, gives us our outline of study for the Book.  Jesus instructs John to write down three things: (1) The things he has seen; (2) The things that are; and (3) The things that must take place in the future.  We have examined the things that he had seen (chapter 1), we have looked at the things as they were in John’s day (chapters 2-3, as we looked at the seven churches in Asia Minor), and now we turn our attention to things that are to come – chapters 4 and following, and specifically the events of the time of Great Tribulation that begins in chapter 6.

John is invited to come up into heaven and see the things that will take place in the future.  Chapters 4 and 5 give us . . .

A glimpse of heaven

And exalt the grandeur

And glory of God.

In chapter 4 the focus is on the Father.  In chapter 5 the focus is on the Son.

Most of us have awaken from a dream that defied our ability to explain it to others.  Maybe you woke up and you tried to tell your husband or your wife, or your mother or father, about your dream but you just could not adequately describe it.  You grasped for words, but you just could not convey exactly what happened in your dream.  What is even funnier about that is that while you were having the dream, everything seemed to make perfectly good sense to you.  What you saw and experienced made sense at the time.  It was only when you awoke later and tried to explain the events that you found yourself coming way short of your ability to express yourself.

There is a sense in which John must have felt the same way as he tries to explain to us his vision of heaven.  Of course, his vision is different from our dreams in that this really happened to him.  We may dream in our beds at night, but when John had this vision, his very spirit was called into the presence of God. 

He enters a place we have not yet been,

And he sees things we have not yet seen.

We are going to take a journey with John as we see God in His glorious splendor.  In doing so, we . . .

I. Enter Into The Holy Place Of God – Verse 1.

Of course, the holy place of God is heaven, mentioned 50 times in Revelation. This morning we enter into the very place where God dwells on His throne.

The first part of verse 1 says, “After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven …”  John enters into the holy place of God.  He enters into heaven.  We will follow him there this morning and see what he saw.

In verse 1, John goes on to say, “And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me …”  This is the Lord Jesus Christ as we learned back in chapter one.  The Lord Jesus in His exalted state, speaks to John in an authoritative voice like a trumpet.  He says to John, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.”  Jesus will now show John “things which must take place after this.”  These things are future events, things that must come to pass.  After the visions of the throne room in heaven, chapters 4 and 5, we are going to be looking at things that have not yet happened, things “which must take place after this,” future things, God’s judgments upon the earth, judgments known in the seals, the trumpets, and the bowls.  We will be studying these future events.  They must take place.

John is brought up into the holy place of God, into heaven itself.  Heaven is the place God dwells and the place from which God operates.  It is interesting to me that John is brought up into heaven to see how God will work out His future plans. 

This is a reminder to us that, from

The standpoint of heaven, God’s

Plan for mankind is crystal clear. 

Things may not always seem clear to us this side of heaven, but things are very clear from heaven’s side.

We are visiting heaven this morning by following John there in his vision.  But heaven is a place we are all invited to enter by faith in Jesus Christ.  Our church did FAITH Evangelism Training, and what is known as the “key question” to turn the casual conversation to spiritual things is, “In your personal opinion what do you understand it takes for a person to go to heaven?”  The most popular answer is something like, “Well, you’ve got to be a good person,” or, “You’ve got to do good things so that the good outweighs the bad.”  The biblical answer, the right answer is, “I can’t be good enough, or do enough good things, to go to heaven.”  No matter how good I am, I still have this annoying problem called sin.  The only way to get my sin taken care of so that I can enter into the presence of a holy God is by going the way of Jesus Christ.  He is the One who paid the penalty for my sin, who took God’s judgment of my sin upon Himself, who died in my place.  By faith in Him I enter into heaven.  That is just what the Bible says in 1 Timothy 2:5, “There is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,” and in Acts 4:12, “There is salvation in no one else.  For there is no other name under heaven whereby we are saved.”  Only by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will we enter into that holy place of God, the place of heaven.

II. Enter Into The Holy Presence Of God: Verses 2-8a.

In verse 2, John states, “Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne.”  John enters into the holy presence of God.  The “one who sat on the throne” is God the Father.  Chapter four could be called “the throne chapter.”  The word “throne” occurs 13 times in these verses, 11 of which refer to God’s throne.  We are in the very presence of God.

Verse 3 says, “And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald.”  John is trying to describe what he saw.  He says that God was “like” a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance.  The jasper and sardius stones are translucent stones which seem to represent the glorious splendor of God.  John says there was also “a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald.”  The emerald is a transparent rock crystal that is working like a prism, reflecting the colors of the rainbow.  This rainbow encircles God and His throne and pictures for us the glory and majesty of God.  What a mighty and awesome God is this!  What it must have been like to be in the holy presence of God!  Note the prepositions.  We have seen Who is “on” the throne. 

Revelation 4:4 declares, “Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads.” The book of Revelation nowhere specifically identifies who the twenty-four elders are. However,

 In verse 4 we see, “Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads.”  John mentions twenty-four elders who sit upon twenty-four thrones before the Lord. Who are these twenty-four elders?

The Bible does not specifically provide the identity of these elders. However, some information is provided that allows us to rule out some possibilities and consider a few options . . .

1) These twenty-four elders are described as human, male elders. They are not angels, creatures, or females, but specifically use male terms to describe these beings. They are also distinct from angels in other places in Revelation (7:11).

2) The fact that they sit on thrones indicates that they reign with Christ. Nowhere in Scripture do angels ever rule or sit on thrones. The Church, however, is repeatedly said to rule and reign with Christ (Revelation 2:26-27; 5:10; 20:4; Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:30).

3) The Greek word translated here as “elders” is never used to refer to angels, only to men, particularly to men of a certain age who are mature and able to minister in the Church.   The word elder would be inappropriate to refer to angels, who do not age.  

4) Their mode of dress would also indicate these are men.  While angels do appear in white; white garments are more commonly found on believers, symbolizing Christ’s righteousness imputed to us at salvation (Revelation 3:5,18; 19:8).

5) The golden crowns worn by the elders also indicate these are men, not angels.  Crowns are never promised to angels, nor are angels ever seen wearing them.  The word translated “crown” here refers to the victor’s crown, worn by those who have successfully competed and won the victory, as Christ promised (Revelation 2:10; 2 Timothy 4:8; James 1:12).

6) They are clearly believers in the Lord.  They are in heaven and wear white garments, something that symbolizes God’s righteousness. (Revelation 3:5, 18; 19:8).  They also wear crowns (Revelation 4:4), something not said of angels in Scripture and which believers are said to receive (1 Corinthians 9:24-25; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 2 Timothy 4:8; 1 Peter 5:4; Revelation 2:10;).  Further, the elders also worship the Lord (Revelation 4:11).

Based on these descriptions, these twenty-four elders represent those who worship the Lord.  More specifically, they may either represent: 1) the church, 2) representatives of Israel, or 3) the twelve patriarchs and twelve apostles (Matthew 19:28).  One variation of these views is that the use of twenty-four elders may come from 1 Chronicles 24:1-5 in which the priests were organized into twenty-four groups.  If so, this represents the church that dwells in heaven with the Lord during the tribulation period.
Some people believe these twenty-four elders represent Israel, but at the time of this vision, Israel as a whole nation had not yet been redeemed. The elders cannot represent tribulation saints for the same reason—not all had yet been converted at the time of John’s vision. The most likely option is that the elders represent the raptured Church which sings songs of redemption (Revelation 5:8-10). They wear the crowns of victory and have gone to the place prepared for them by their Redeemer (John 14:1-4).  This would also help alleviate the concern of Israel being represented in heaven during the Great Tribulation period when Israel had not yet believed in the Lord on a large scale.  Furthermore, it would remove the problem of these elders representing the apostles since John himself, an apostle, was the one having the vision (Would he have seen himself as one of the twenty-four elders and not mentioned it?).

While not specifically explained, the information in Scripture most likely identifies these twenty-four elders as representatives of the church, those who will dwell with the Lord during the tribulation period while God’s judgments take place on the earth. Further, this fits the historic view of elders representing leadership of local churches (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9), offering a picture of God’s people worshiping God after escaping the tribulation as a result of the rapture (John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:51-58).

We have seen Who is “on” the throne and “around” the throne; in verse 5 we see, “And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.”  As we have entered into the holy presence of God we are met with His power.  Lightnings, thunderings, and voices all speak to the power of God, particularly as God prepares to execute His judgment upon the earth.  This is a foretaste of God’s judgment.  They signify that a “storm” is coming.  We will see these sounds again in the breaking of the seventh seal, the blowing of the seventh trumpet, and the pouring out of the seventh bowl.  They mean that judgment is coming.

The “seven lamps of fire” burning before the throne, John says, “are the seven Spirits of God.”  Remember that John’s favorite number is seven, a number which refers to completion or perfection.  Taken together with the lightnings, thunderings, and voices, we see that God’s “perfect Holy Spirit” will convict the world in judgment. 

We have seen Who is “on” the throne, who are “around” the throne, “what comes “from” the throne, and in verse 6 we see what is “before” the throne, “Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal.”  The sea of glass is a symbol of God in His glorious splendor – The glory and transcendence of God which separates Him from all other things.  He alone is perfectly holy and pure and righteous.

Verses 7 and 8 continue by saying, “And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back.  The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle.  The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within …”  John is drawing upon Old Testament imagery found in Isaiah, chapter 6, and Ezekiel, chapters 1 and 10.  I encourage you to write those references down and read them later.

These four living creatures are angelic beings of worship that apparently, in a general sense, represent the whole of God’s animate creation – the lion, the calf, man, eagle.  These living creatures are pictured as the cherubim and seraphim you will read about in Isaiah, and Ezekiel.  They have eyes all around them which tell us that they are unceasingly vigilant as they reside there in the presence of God.  They are nearest to God on His throne and so they seem to be the leaders of the heavenly court.  They represent the highest order of celestial beings and lead in worship.  Adrian Rogers calls these four living creatures, “God’s Cheerleaders!”

We must remember


God is center stage.

We have looked at things “around” the throne, “from” the throne, and “before” the throne, but we must remember Who is “ON” the throne! 

Far more important than who

The four living creatures are

Is what the four living creatures do.

They lead in worship and praise of the One who is “on” the throne.

We have entered into the holy place of God and the holy presence of God.  Thirdly, we . . .

III. Enter Into The Holy Praise Of God: Verses 8b-11.

Verse 8 declares, “The four living creatures … do not rest day or night, saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!’”  Here is a slight modification of Isaiah 6.  What happens when the four living creatures worship God on His throne?  Verses 9 through 11 tell us, “Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, (the 24 elders want to get-in on this praise, too!) the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: ‘You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.’”  The four living creatures praise God, which inspires the 24 elders to praise God, which inspires us to praise God.  The four living creatures and the 24 elders teach us to enter into the holy praise of God, too. 

There are several reasons why we should praise God . . .

1) For His Purity.

In verse 11, the Bible says those gathered around the throne were saying, “Holy, holy, holy.”  God is absolutely pure and holy.  There is no sin in God.  There is no sin in heaven.  He is holy.  He is pure.  Here again is a reminder of why we cannot enter into heaven.  We are not holy.  We are sinful.  In order to enter into heaven, we must have our sins taken care of.  We get our sins taken care of by trusting Jesus Christ to do the job for us.  Christ is Holy.  Christ is pure.  Our getting into heaven is not automatic.  We must personally receive Jesus Christ into our lives.  Praise God for His purity. 

We enter into the holy praise of God by praising God . . .

2) For His Authority.

Verse 8 tells us that the four living creatures are worshiping the, “Lord God, Almighty.”  God is the One Who is “almighty.”  He is all-powerful.  He can meet your needs.  He can provide you with that job.  He can get you through school.  He can save your marriage.   Those are small things to a God who spoke the entire universe into existence, a God who is “almighty.” 

We can enter into the holy praise of God by praising Him for His purity, for His authority, and . . .

For His Eternality.

In verse 8, the four living creatures declare that God is the One, “Who was and is and is to come.”  God is eternal.  He has always been, He always is, and He always will be.  That means you can count on Him.  He will be there for you.  He will be faithful to you. 

The One

Who controls the

Details of the future

Is the One

Who controls the

Difficulties of the present.

Finally, we praise God .  . .

4) For His Sovereignty.

Verse The four and twenty elders proclaim, “You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.”  The word “will” can also be translated “pleasure.”  God not only determined to create all things, but by creating everything, God demonstrated His pleasure in doing it.  He created you for that reason, for His pleasure.  He willed you into existence and you exist for Him.  That means two things:

1)   The things happening to you are in perfect harmony with God’s purposes for

      your life. 

God is not just playing around, capriciously creating things with no rhyme or reason.  God is a God of order.  God is a God of plans.  That God created all things according to His perfect will suggests that God has a perfect plan for your life.  You continue to exist because God wills it.  He preserves you and sustains you, even through difficult times.  As God said to His people in Jeremiah 29:11, “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

2)  God is sovereign over you. 

He created you, so He is the One Who reigns over you.  What is the meaning of life?  For you to have a relationship with this Supreme God of the universe.  How does it happen?  Only through the Lord Jesus Christ.

We have seen God in His glorious splendor and we have seen, then, how we must praise Him.  Worship is a lifestyle, not just a scheduled service relegated to Sunday mornings.  We enter into the Holy Praise of God moment by moment.  We regularly thank God throughout the day and depend upon Him minute by minute.  We continually praise God.  Like the four living creatures, “we do not rest day or night.”  We continually praise God for His purity, authority, eternality, and sovereignty.  The 24 elders held nothing back.  They fell down before Him and they cast their golden crowns before Him.  They held nothing back.  We too must hold nothing back (tithes, time, trust).  Because of Who God is we must surrender all.

We have entered into the Holy Place of God, the Holy Presence of God, and the Holy Praise of God.  We could add a fourth point: Enter into the Holy Plan of God.  Verse 11 ends with these words, “For You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.”  Have you entered into God’s holy plan for your life? 

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

What Is The World Coming To: Revelation 3:14-22 – The Danger Of A Lukewarm Church

We are studying verse-by-verse through the Book of Revelation and this morning we will finish chapter 3 as we examine the last of the seven churches of Asia Minor.  Unfortunately, this last church is the worst of the seven.  It has often been called “the lukewarm church,” the church that makes Christ sick.

Perhaps the most helpful thing for us to know about the city of Laodicea 2000 years ago is to know something of its poor water supply.  In fact, it really had no water supply at all.  The irony is that it was geographically situated between two cities known for their water.  To the north lay the city of Hieropolis, known for its hot, bubbling waters that were sought out for medicinal purposes.  To the south, lay the city of Colossae, known for its nice, cold drinking water.  Then, in the middle was located Laodicea, a city with no water supply at all.  Laodicea had to pipe-in water from some hot springs located six miles away.  The problem was, when the water finally traveled through the six-mile long aqueduct, it did not have enough time to cool.  To this day, people living in the area store water in jars so there is time enough for it to cool.  When water does not have time to cool, it is lukewarm and nearly impossible to drink.  Add to this the fact the water is heavy in minerals, you have a situation that makes for some very unpleasant drinking water.  If you are expecting nice, cold water and you got a big gulp of lukewarm water your first reaction is to spit it out of your mouth.

The Lord Jesus Christ says that is the way He regards the church that was situated there in Laodicea.  He says the church is living up to the infamy of its poor water supply.  It had become a church that would make one sick.  That is a pretty harsh indictment, isn’t it?  We will learn this morning from Christ’s words to this lukewarm church. 

There are three main lessons . . .

I.  We Must Acknowledge Our Steadfast Creator – Verse 14.

We have been saying that our Lord Jesus Christ is going over His X-ray report with each church.  He can see right through the superficiality of the church and can see what is wrong on the inside.  As He begins each report, He identifies Himself in a way that helps us understand Him a little better.  He identifies Himself in verse 14 with three designations, “the Amen,” “the Faithful and True Witness,” and “the Beginning of the creation of God.”

He is our Steadfast Creator.  He is the “amen,” which means truth.  And He is the “faithful” and “true” witness.  That is, He is reliable, dependable, steadfast.  Then, He says He is “the Beginning of the creation of God.”  The word “beginning” there is the Greek word, “arche,” a word that means “beginning” or “source.”  Jesus Christ is the source of God’s creation.  This reminds us of John 1:1-3, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.”  We also think of what the Bible says in Colossians 1:16-17, “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.  And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.”

It is important that we get this correct so as not to commit the error of Mormonism or the error of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  God did not “create Christ.”  The Bible teaches that God is One.  God is One in essence, three in persons.  He is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  The Son of God has always been.  He was in the beginning with God the Father.   There was never a time the Son was not.  He is eternal.  Our Lord Jesus reminds us of that truth right here.  He is “the beginning of the creation of God,” the “source of God’s creation.”  All things were created through Him and for Him.

II.  We Must Analyze Our Spiritual Condition – Verses 15-17.

I hope this morning we will all do this.  We do not want to be like the guy who always came out of the service telling the preacher, “You really gave it to ‘em, today!”  Every time the guy came through the line that is what he would say.  One Sunday there was a terrible snowstorm so the only two people in the church were the preacher and this man.  The preacher preached as hard as ever.  At the end the man came out of the sanctuary and said, “Preacher that was a tremendous sermon . . . and if only they had been here you would have really given it to ‘em!”

Jesus identifies the “works” of the church in Laodicea as “neither cold nor hot.”  The city was not known for hot water like the hot healing springs to the north, nor was the city known for its cold water like Colossae to the south.  The city’s water was lukewarm and Jesus says that was indicative of the church in the city, as well.  He says, in essence, “Your empty works make me sick.  Like taking a drink of lukewarm water I will vomit you out of My mouth.”

He then describes what is wrong with their spiritual condition in verse 17, “Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ — and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.”  The Christians at Laodicea believed they were rich and wealthy and in need of nothing.  The city certainly felt that way.  Laodicea was a very prosperous city.  Coins minted from Laodicea had the image of the cornucopia on them, the symbol of wealth and affluence.  Laodicea was so prosperous that when the city was leveled by an earthquake in AD 60, rather than turning to the Roman government for help, the entire city was re-built by its own citizens.  The people were smugly self-sufficient and self-satisfied.

The problem is that this smug self-sufficiency and self-satisfaction found its way into the church.  The church members viewed themselves as rich, wealthy, and in need of nothing, and Jesus says, “In point of fact, you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.”

Let’s analyze our own spiritual condition.  One of the benefits of a storm such as the one that hit our town Friday evening is that it reminds us of just how dependent we are upon God.  When things are going well, we may feel “rich, wealthy, and in need of nothing.”  All it takes is a good storm to show us just how poor we really are.  We depend upon God and His grace for everything.  Our dependence upon God for physical needs reminds us of our dependence upon God for spiritual needs.  Without God we are hopelessly lost.  Our sin makes us “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” in God’s sight.  We must turn to Him for Help.

We must realize that we are spiritually poor, spiritually blind, and spiritually naked in the sight of God before we can be saved from our sin.  So long as we think “we are okay” in His sight, we are not going to experience His forgiveness of sin, because we do not think there’s any need for it.  The fact that we may enjoy nice homes, nice clothes, and nice automobiles does not mean that we are spiritually okay in the sight of God.  We must regularly get honest before God, analyzing our spiritual condition and seeking His grace.

III.  We Must Apply Our Savior’s Counsel – Verses 18-22.

Jesus counsels us as to what we need to do to fix our situation.  In verse 18 He says, “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.”  In essence, Jesus is saying, “You need to start shopping at a different store.  Buy gold that lasts, buy clothing that lasts, the righteousness of Christ – that is what you ought to be wearing, and “anoint your eyes with My eye salve, so that you may really see.”  Laodicea had gained some notoriety for an eye salve called, “Phrygian Powder.”  People bought it and anointed their eyes with it, believing it would help them see better.  Jesus says, “You are spending too much time shopping at the wrong store.  Come buy from Me the things that last.  You are so worried about your physical sight that you have totally neglected your spiritual sight.”

So many of us understand this truth and that is why we can sing with feeling the words of John Newton, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.  I once was lost but now am found, was blind, but now I see.”

Jesus says in verse 19, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.”  God says, “I love you, church.  That’s why I am rebuking you and punishing you.  It’s so that you will be zealous and repent.”  God does that to us in His love.  He often allows some pain and suffering our way so that we will turn back to Him.  We must regularly turn back to Him.  He seeks fellowship with us.  You see that in the image painted in verse 20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

This is an interesting picture, isn’t it?  Jesus Christ is outside of the church building trying to get in!  It reminds me of that story about the janitor of a big fancy church who was seeking membership in the church.  He was already a Christian and he felt led to talk to the pastor one day about joining the church.  The pastor sort of looked down upon the janitor and said something like, “Well, why don’t you take some time to pray about it.”  The janitor said he would.  Several months passed and the pastor one day saw the janitor and wondered why he had not asked him about membership again.  The pastor said, “Did you pray about joining the church?”  The janitor said, “Oh, yes.  I talked to the Lord about trying to get into this church and the Lord said, ‘Don’t worry about it.  I, too, have been trying to get into that church for years!’”

The words of Jesus are directed at the church, but His words apply to both the Christian and the unbeliever: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”  In the Ancient Near East, to speak of “dining” with someone was to speak of sharing intimate fellowship with a person.  Time was spent talking, encouraging, and fellowshipping. To share a meal was to share a life.

If we will apply the counsel of our Savior we will enjoy fellowship with Christ and reconciliation with God the Father.

Jesus says in verse 21, “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”  The New Testament speaks often of the Christian’s future reign with Christ.  The time will come when we will reign and rule alongside Jesus Christ.  The point again is eternal fellowship with our Lord and Savior.  Christians will share in the glory of Christ for eternity.  Eternity is at stake.  That is why Jesus concludes with the familiar phrase in verse 22, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”  This phrase has now occurred seven (7) times in chapters 2 and 3.  The implication is that it is possible for Christ to be speaking and yet we do not hear.

Dr. Vance Havner used to say, “The big question today is not, ‘Is God speaking?’  The really big question is, ‘Are you listening?’”

May God deliver us from ever being a lukewarm church, lukewarm about Christ, lukewarm about the cross, lukewarm about our condition, and lukewarm about the condition of others.  You know, if there’s one major lesson we’ve learned this week in the face of the tragic death of a much beloved teenager in our community, it is that time is short.  None of us is promised the next moment.  For that reason, we want to be busy telling others about the Lord Jesus Christ.

Our study of the seven churches ends with the phrase that has occurred seven times, “He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”  Again, the implication is that it is possible for Christ to be speaking or the gospel to be shared and yet we are not listening.  While the phrase is directed to Christians, the same is true with respect to our evangelistic efforts.  We even speak of our efforts “falling on deaf ears.”

The older we get, the harder of hearing we become.  Now that’s not just true for senior adults.  Actually the process of “presbyacusis,” or “hearing loss” begins at an early age.  I came across a fascinating story about a new ring tone being used by teenagers on their cell phones.  It is usually called either “Teen Buzz” or “Mosquito Ring tone.”  It is popular with the teens because most adults cannot hear it.  They will put it on their cell phones and then text message each other in school.  The tone is 14 kilohertz and is a high-pitched tone that most folks find difficult to hear with advancing hearing loss beginning somewhere around their 20s.  The older we get, the more difficult it becomes to hear.  The same is true in the spiritual realm.  We do not always have “ears to hear.” 

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

What Is The World Coming To: Revelation 3:7-13 – Being Faithful In The Midst of Trials!

If god brings you to it he will see you through it  We are continuing our series of studies, verse-by-verse, through the Book of Revelation.  We have been focusing upon the seven churches of Asia Minor and this week we are looking at the church in Philadelphia, what most scholars refer to as “The Faithful Church.”  Remember, that our Lord Jesus Christ is doing the talking here.  He is instructing the angel of each church to write down some things He has to say to each church.  One of the things that I have been emphasizing is that we must learn from these churches as the Spirit of God speaks to us through these messages, too.

Two words sum up much of the Christian life: “Keep Moving.”  When things get difficult and you think you’re ready to throw up your arms and quit, ready to say, “Maybe I will just sit this thing out, maybe I will take it easy now,” the answer often comes from that helpful little sign, “Keep Moving.”  Just keep moving.  Keep going.  Persevere.  Stay faithful.  Keep on keepin’ on.

The church at Philadelphia is a church that just kept moving.  All indicators suggest that the church was small, yet strong.  They could easily have thrown-in the towel.  They could have given up.  But they just kept moving.

As we have read about these seven churches we have noted that most of them have some things wrong with them that Jesus addresses.  There are only two exceptions to this pattern: the church at Smyrna and the church at Philadelphia.  There is no rebuke from our Lord Jesus Christ, only words of encouragement.

As we study this church, we learn three actions to take concerning our response to the Lord Jesus Christ . . .

I.  We Must Consider The Final Power of Christ – Verse 7.

In verse 7, we read of the absolute authority of Jesus Christ.  He is the final power.   There is none higher than He.  That is what we read in verse 7, “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens.’”  Jesus is described as the one “who has the key of David,” a key with which “He opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens.”  In the Bible, keys represent authority and power.  This statement of our Lord’s is an allusion to Isaiah 22:22.  In this verse, King Hezekiah appoints Eliakim as the chief steward of Hezekiah’s household.  Eliakim had access to the king and his palace.  If you wanted to get into the king’s household, then you had to go through Eliakim.  He held the keys.  He opened and shut the door.  He was the only way in.  He was the final authority and power.

In the same sense, Jesus Christ is described as the one “who has the key” to the house and kingdom of David.  Jesus Christ is the Davidic Messiah, the one who controls entrance into God’s kingdom.  He alone “opens and shuts” the door.  He is the only way in.  No one else has this authority and power.  This was probably very encouraging to the faithful Christians at the small church in Philadelphia.  They were no doubt persecuted time and again and were very likely excommunicated from the local synagogue of Jews.  They may have been shut-out of the synagogue, but Jesus Christ will never shut them out of the kingdom.  He is the sole “key-carrier” to the kingdom.

There is no authority higher than the Lord Jesus Christ.  He alone controls the keys to the kingdom.  He alone opens and shuts the door.  Mohammed does not open and shut the door.  Buddha does not open and shut the door.  No priest can open and shut the door.  No New Age Guru can open and shut the door.  Only the Lord Jesus Christ can open and shut the door to the kingdom.

The Bible says in 1 Timothy 2:5, “There is one God and one Mediator between God and men; the Man Christ Jesus.”  In John 10:9, Jesus says, “I am the door.  If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.”  And just in case you have not heard it in awhile, Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes unto the Father except by Me.”

I read recently about Charles Weigle, an itinerant evangelist and gospel songwriter.  He returned home one day from an evangelistic crusade and found a note left by his wife of many years.  The note said that she had had enough of being the wife of an evangelist.   She was leaving him.  That event sent Weigle into the depths of despair and darkness. There were even times when he had contemplated suicide.  But, over time, his faith grew and he once again became active in Christian ministry.  It was the hard experiences such as his wife’s leaving him that shaped his thoughts to pen these words to a popular hymn:

I would love to tell you what I think of Jesus,

Since I found in Him a friend so strong and true;

I would tell you how He changed my life completely,

He did something that no other friend could do.

No one ever cared for me like Jesus,

There’s no other friend so kind as He;

No one else could take the sin and darkness from me,

O how much He cared for me.

There is no one like Jesus.

 He is holy.  He is true.  He alone holds the keys to the kingdom of God.  He alone can take the sin and darkness from our lives.  He alone is Master.  We must yield to Him and bow before Him.  We must consider the Final Power of Christ. 

Secondly . . .

II.  We Must Commit To Faithful Perseverance For Christ: Verses 8-10.

The church at Philadelphia teaches us about the faithful perseverance for Christ.  Verse 8 tells us, “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it (again, a reference to Christ’s control of the kingdom of God); for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.”  Jesus says to this church, “You have a little strength.”  This statement is not to be understood as a weakness.  This should be translated as, “You have but just a little power, just a little strength.”  It refers to a church that is a small church, a struggling church, a church that was not very impressive on the outside, just a little power, just a little influence, just a little strength; a church persecuted and yet, faithful.   Jesus is commending the church for her faithfulness even in light of the fact that she is relatively small and has little power and influence.  The church had committed to faithful perseverance despite her little strength.

Jesus goes on to say, “You have kept My word, and not denied My name.”  That is, “You are faithful.”  Jesus never calls us to be successful.  He calls us to be faithful – Just keep moving; Keep going; Keep on keepin’ on.  Commit to faithful perseverance for Christ.

Verse 9 says, “Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie – indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.”  Those “who say they are Jews and are not, but lie” refers to those who reject Jesus as the Divine Messiah.  These are the Jews who live in Philadelphia who have excluded the Christians from worship at the synagogue.  They have excommunicated the Jewish Christians.  Jesus calls them “the synagogue of Satan.”  That does not sound very good, does it?

Jesus promises to bring vindication to the Christians.  He promises to vindicate them.  He promises to “prove them right.”  He says, “I will make them come and worship (better, bow down) before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.”  In this, Jesus promised that He would vindicate His people and make sure that their persecutors recognized they were wrong, and that Jesus and His followers were right. The idea is of vindication before self-righteous “spiritual” persecutors. God promised that the church in Philadelphia would be vindicated before their persecutors.

God promised Israel that Gentiles would honor them and acknowledge their God (Isaiah 45:14).   Now the tables were somewhat turned, and these Jewish people will play the role of the heathen and acknowledge that the church is the Israel of God.  1 Corinthians 14:24-25 speaks of unbelievers falling down in the midst of Christians to worship God. This establishes that it was not Christians who were being worshipped, but God was worshipped in the presence of Christians. 

This is a picture of submission, not worship.  The Jews who had excluded the Christians would one day come and bow down before the Christians in submission to the truth that Jesus Christ really is the Divine Messiah.  The Christians will be vindicated.  Jesus will “prove them right.”

The same is true for you.  You keep being faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ.  One day our Lord Jesus will “prove you right.”  Allow God to take up your case.  You will be proven right in the end.  The Bible reminds us in Philippians 2:10-11that the day will come when, “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow . . . and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  In the meantime, we must commit to faithful perseverance for Christ.

Jesus goes on to conclude, “And to know that I have loved you.”  As those who were once their enemies worshipped alongside them, they now knew that Jesus had loved these people they once persecuted.  The best way to destroy the enemies of the Gospel is to pray that God would change them into friends.

Persecuted people often long for justice against their persecutors (Revelation 6:10).  A passage from a second century Tertullian, a Christian historian shows this, “What sight shall wake my wonder, what my laughter, my joy and exultation?  As I see all those kings, those great kings… groaning in the depths of darkness!  And the magistrates who persecuted in the name of Jesus, liquefying in fiercer flames than they kindled in their rage against the Christians!”

In verse 10, Jesus says, “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Jesus also promised them protection from the hour of trial coming on the whole world.

Most Bible scholars see this hour of trial as a prophetic reference to the Messianic woes, the Great Tribulation, which precede Jesus’ earthly kingdom. Jesus promised to keep these Christians from that hour of trial.  The phrase, “To test those who dwell on the earth: The test is directed against those who dwell on the earth” is used nine times in the Book of Revelation, and it speaks of those who are not saved in Jesus.  Revelation 17:8 makes the term synonymous with the lost, “And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world.”  This test is for unbelievers, not Christians.

The phrase, “Those who dwell on the earth” refers not to believers but to unbelievers who are objects of God’s wrath” throughout Revelation.  Christians are different.  Though we walk on this earth, our dwelling place is in heaven. We have been seated in heavenly places in Jesus (Ephesians 2:6).  We do not “dwell on the earth,” our life is hidden in Jesus (Colossians 3:3).

Some have questioned if the phrase “keep you from the hour of trial” means an escape before the Great Tribulation, or a promise protection in it?  Each side believes this passage easily supports their position.  Those who believe the church will be here on earth during this time of Great Tribulation focus on Jesus’ command to persevere, and say the context demands seeing this as protection that enables the faithful to persevere in the period.  Those who believe that Jesus will come for His church before this time of Great Tribulation note that protection is promised from the very hour of trial, not just the trial itself.  They also point to the worldwide, inescapable cataclysm predicted in the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21 and Revelation chapters 6, 8-9, 16).

The word “persevere” is in the past tense, showing it is something that the Christians had already done before the hour of trial, which has not yet come upon the world.  

The promise is a reward

For past perseverance,

Not the equipping to

Persevere in the future.

As far as the Philadelphian church was concerned, the rapture of the church was presented to them as an imminent hope.

In addition, the ones tested by this “hour of trial” are not primarily believers, but “those who dwell on the earth” – whose home is this earth, who are not citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20).

The sense of these words is much like in the Gospel of John where Jesus prays for His disciples.  In John 17:15, Jesus says, “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.”  God will always protect His people and “keep them from the evil one.”  You remember reading how God did that during the 10 plagues of Israel.  The Egyptians suffered the wrath of God, but God’s people were protected.

God does not have to take His people out of the world in order to protect them.  Again, Jesus prays in John 17:15.  That is the sense here in Revelation 3:10.  Jesus says, “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”  We must commit to faithful perseverance for Christ.

Jesus has words of high praise for Christians who keep on keepin’ on in the midst of trials and difficulties.  Remember, God has not called you to be successful.  He has called you to be faithful. Commit to faithful perseverance for Christ.  Someone said it was by faithful perseverance that the snail made it to Noah’s ark.  He just kept on keepin’ on!  If you are faithful then you will benefit from the third actions.  Remember, we must consider the final power of Christ.  We must commit to faithful perseverance for Christ. 

Verse 11 shows us what Jesus wants the church of Philadelphia to do, “Behold, I am coming quickly!  Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.” 

1) They are to be looking for His soon appearance.  The phrase, “Behold, I am coming quickly” speaks of these believers remembering the imminent return of Jesus, and that they must prepare for His coming.   The expression “quickly” is to be understood as something which is sudden and unexpected. 

2) The phrase, “hold fast what you have” means that the church at Philadelphia must not depart from its solid foundation, as described in Revelation 3:8 . . .

· Evangelistic opportunity – “I have set before you an open door.”

· Reliance on God – “You have a little strength.”

· Faithfulness to Jesus – “Have kept My word, and have not denied My name.”  These things can and must continue among the believers in Philadelphia, but it will only happen as they hold fast what they have.

Number three . . .

III.  We Must Claim the Future Promises in Christ – Verses 11-13.

Jesus states in verse 11, “Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.”  In the phrase, “that no one may take your crown” Jesus is not talking about the possibility of losing our salvation.  The idea is . . .

Do not get your eyes off the goal. 

Stay focused and you will receive

The reward of a crown of blessing.

This was not a crown of royalty, given because of royal birth.  This was a crown of victory.  Jesus encouraged His saints to finish their course with victory, to “play the second half” just as strongly as they “played the first half.”  The Bible says in Proverbs 4:23, “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.”

God will reward your faithfulness.  Do not get tripped up by the attraction of the world around you.  The Christians at Philadelphia kept on in the mist of much difficulty – Some lost their jobs; some lost relationships, but they continued to persevere.

Following Jesus Christ is not always easy.  Sometimes it can get pretty tough.  Sometimes just living in this world can take its toll on us.  We get in a bind financially, we face difficulties at the workplace, we get sick, someone hurts us, we face worries and temptations all the time.  Jesus says, “Remember your future.  I am coming quickly!  Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.”

Jesus goes on and says in verse 12, “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more.”  That promise was particularly meaningful for the Christians at Philadelphia.  The city of Philadelphia frequently suffered earthquakes.  When a building collapsed in an earthquake often all that remained standing were the huge pillars.  Philadelphia had suffered a particularly bad one in AD 17 which totally devastated the city.   The only things left standing in the city were the “huge stone temple columns,” the pillars of the temples.  Jesus offers us this same strength, to remain standing in Him when everything around us crumbles.

Also, because of the earthquakes, the citizens in Philadelphia were often forced to move outside the city limits and start over.  Jesus is speaking of the stability and permanence that is found only in Him.  “He who overcomes,” that is, “the true believer, the one who perseveres to the end,” Jesus says, “I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more.”  We are secure, we are stable, in Him.  The overcomer would have a place of permanence and stability with God, in contrast to an uncertain place in this world.

Remember that when you are shaken.  We will face difficulties in this world.  We will be shaken around a lot.  Some of you may have experienced some “shaking” in your home life, or you have moved a lot, having to “start over” again and again.  Just remember that the day will come when you will be shaken no more.  We will move into a permanent home, a place that remains secure forever.  It will all be worth it then.

In verse 13 Jesus about names that He will write upon the Christian, “And I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.

The overcomer will also receive many names.  These names are marks of identification because they show who we belong to.  They are marks of intimacy, because they show we are privileged to know Him in ways others are not.  This works together well with the image of “a pillar.”  In the ancient world, sometimes they would add a special inscription added to one of the temples to honor a faithful city servant or distinguished priest.  Someone has said, “Philadelphia honored its illustrious sons by putting their names on the pillars of its temples, so that all who came to worship might see and remember.”

Verse 13 ends with this statement, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”  A general exhortation to all who will hear.  We all want to hear the praise and encouragement Jesus gave to the church at Philadelphia.  If we will be like this church, we must stay on their foundation, which was Jesus’ name and Jesus’ word.  We must also depend on their source of strength which was Jesus, not themselves.

Unlike the majority of the membership at the church in Sardis who were ashamed of Christ, the Christians at Philadelphia were unashamed of Jesus.  Because they were proud to be identified with Christ, Christ is proud to be identified with them. 

We may speculate on exactly what all these names are in the literal sense, but doing so may cause us to miss the point . . .

The point is that Christians

Belong to Jesus. 

The point is that

He knows us and has a home for us.

All we are asked to do is to be faithful.  When the going gets tough, the true Christian keeps going.  So, as they hymnwriter says . . .

“Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war; with the cross of Jesus going on before.  Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe; forward into battle see his banners go.  Onward to the prize before us!  Soon His beauty we’ll behold; soon the pearly gates will open; and we shall walk the streets of gold.  When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be!  When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory.”

This is God’s Word

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

What Is The World Coming To: Revelation 3:1-6 – When Churches Die

Grace For The Journey

We are early into our series of studies through the book of Revelation.  We are going verse-by-verse through this Book, and we are currently looking at the seven churches of Asia Minor.  Thus far, we have studied the church at Ephesus, Symryna, Pergamum, and Thyatira.  This week we are looking at the church at Sardis.  Most commentators refer to the church at Sardis as “The Dead Church” or “The Dying Church.”

I had to be careful in assigning a title to this study.  I always try to think of how that title will appear on the church marquis out front or in Saturday’s newspaper ad.  You know my sermon titles are always listed there each week.  So I didn’t think it would look too good to see, “First Baptist Church: ‘The Dead Church!’”  I happen to think our church is alive, but even if I believed otherwise I wouldn’t want to advertise it.

Going to an airport these days can be an adventure.  I remember one time I was returning home from visiting my sister and day.  I was making our way through the check-in line just outside the gate.  Those of you who travel know the drill – You have to place your carry-on items on the conveyer belt so that it can go through an X-Ray machine that allows airport security workers to see inside your stuff so they can make sure nobody boards the plane with guns and other weapons.  I placed my shoes, billfold, briefcase, keys, pocket change, and cell phone on the belt.  You have to take your laptop out of your carry-on bag, and your pocket change, and cell phone, and so forth.  You have to take off your shoes, too.  As my briefcase went through the X-Ray machine I saw the workers become tense and raise their eye brows as they’re trying to figure out what was inside that briefcase.  I could not figure out what the problem was – the brief case contained some books, papers, and other work and study items.  They took my briefcase aside and asked my for the combination to open it so they could search it.  They tell me to step aside while they search the bag.  Now I am trying to figure out what is inside that bag.    I learned from the airport security that there is a pocket knife in the suitcase and they will not allow me to board with it.  I had forgotten that I put my pocket knife in it, it was suppose to be in the checked-in luggage.  I could just picture these guys arresting me, throwing the cuffs on me and taking me away.  Fortunately, they believed the truth, which was that I had just plain forgot all about that little knife.  Fortunately also, that my sister who had dropped me off had not left the airport,  I called here and she back in and met me so I could give the knife to her for safe keeping until she could get it sent to me. I went through security again, this time all was clear and I was allowed to board the plane.

Our Lord Jesus Christ speaks to these seven churches in Asia Minor – It is He who is speaking to each of these churches.  What Jesus is sharing with each church is the results of what He has seen with His all-seeing eyes.  Jesus has X-Rayed each church and He sees things that either the church has covered-up or the things the church has forgotten were there.  Then He says at the end of each X-Ray report, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”  That is our invitation to perk-up our ears and to listen with attentive hearts, asking God to speak to us where we are.  I want to share with you some things we can learn if we will listen this morning to the Spirit who teaches us.  Three things . . . What we can Hear the Spirit Saying to the Church . . . Number one, we can hear . . .

I.  How The Church’s Faithless Are Rebuked: Verse 1.

The church at Sardis was a church that was dying on the inside.  Like diseased cells in a physical body, these bad cells were attacking the good cells and the body was becoming affected to the point that Jesus actually calls the church “dead.”  He is using that word to describes the general condition of the church at Sardis.  It does not mean the church is full of unbelievers, though we can be sure there were a number of folks on the church roll who were not really saved.  They were what we will call the faithless.   They were the bad cells.  Every church is comprised of good cells and bad cells.  There are the faithful and the faithless.  The problem at the church at Sardis is that there were many more faithless than there were faithful.  We read how the church’s faithless are rebuked in verse 1, “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, ‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: ‘I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.’”  Do you see the rebuke?  Jesus states that, “You have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.”  You have the reputation in your city of being a good church, but inside you are a spiritually diseased people.  You are dead.

Remember that Jesus is the one doing the speaking.  He refers to Himself as “He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars.”  We have said before that the seven Spirits of God is a reference to the work of the Holy Spirit.  Seven symbolizes fullness and perfection.  There may also be an allusion to the Isaiah 11:2, where God lists the seven workings of the Holy Spirit.  Our Lord Jesus also has “the seven stars.”   Remember that the “star” in these passages refers to the angel of each church.  The star is the representative of each church.  It reminds us that Jesus possesses each church.  Jesus is the Lord of each church.  He holds each church in His possession and He Himself has what this dead church at Sardis so desperately needs:

The presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

Now the normal formula we have been observing in the way Jesus speaks to these churches of Asia Minor is that Jesus says, “Here are some good things you are doing and then here’s the bad stuff you’re doing.”  But Jesus does not begin that way here with the church at Sardis.  He does not begin with any good things this church is doing because the church as a whole had stopped doing good things.  They were dying.   He says, “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.”  They had a “name” that they were alive.  They had a reputation from a bygone era of glory days.  They were once a living, thriving church, but no longer.  They were now dying.

The city of Sardis had a well-known necropolis, or cemetery just outside the city gates and the church at Sardis was becoming an awful lot like that cemetery.  You could not see it on the outside.  It looked okay on the outside, but on the inside it was dead.  Vance Havner said, “[The church] had it all in the show window, but nothing in stock.”  This church was like a cemetery with a steeple in the middle.

Given the context of what was problematic with many of these churches in Asia Minor, the Christians at Sardis were very likely giving-in to the temptations of the world around them.  They compromised their beliefs for the praises of man.  They so wanted to be esteemed by the non-Christian community that they tip-toed around them doing their best to offend no one.  They had compromised their doctrine to the point they could not even remember exactly what they used to believe.  That is why we read nothing here of persecution.  This church at Sardis was not persecuted as was the churches of Ephesus, Smyrna, and Pergamum because they lived no differently than the culture around them.

Chuck Swindoll gives us five (5) main reasons churches die:

  • Worship of the past (“the way we were”).
  • Greater concern with cosmetics than with character.
  • Love of tradition over love for Christ.
  • Inflexibility and resistance to change.
  • Losing evangelistic and missionary fervor.

As a church we must continually examine ourselves and inspire faithfulness among the membership or we, too, may hear the rebuke of the Lord.  What can we hear the Spirit saying to the churches?  We can hear how the church’s faithless are rebuked. 

Secondly, we can hear . . .

II. How The Church’s Fellowship is Restored: Verses 2-3.

There are five verbs in verses 2 and 3 that will tell us how the church’s fellowship with the Lord is restored.  Remember as you study your Bibles that verbs, in particular, are helpful at getting at what God is saying to us.

In verse 2 Jesus says, “Be watchful . . .”  That is a poignant Greek word.  It is a word that refers to the idea of “keeping watch, as a person guarding a city.  Stay awake.  Be vigilant.”  This word is particularly helpful to the Christians at Sardis because they knew their city’s history.  The people of Sardis were proud of their citadel, located high atop the slope of Mt. Tmolus.  There was a fifteen-hundred-foot precipice on three sides and a steep approach to the South.  It was a fortress that was virtually unassailable and unconquerable.  But twice in the city’s history a man climbed to the city and went through the gates while the watchman was not looking.  So Jesus says, “Be watchful, church!”  Stay awake, never stop being alert.  Never forget, Christian, the tendency to become sleepy and lazy with regard to spiritual things.

This is one of the points that we raise regarding the importance of having a daily quiet time.  We must beware of hindrances to spiritual growth.  We can get distracted from having a regular time of Bible reading and prayer.  We can begin to think that we are okay; that we are stronger than we really are.  Like the citadel in Sardis, you may feel secure and unconquerable in your Christian faith, but Jesus says, “Be watchful.”

Jesus also says in verse 2, “… And strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.”  There are some things that have not entirely died.  Jesus says “strengthen them” for I have not found your works “perfect” before God.  The word “perfect” there is better translated “complete” or “completed,” so that the text reads, “strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works complete before God.”

These works are likely works such as mentioned in previous churches, like the church in Thyatira, chapter 2, verse 19, works of love, service, faith, and endurance.  These are works that were started, but remained unfinished.  Interestingly, the city of Sardis had a temple that was built in honor of the goddess Artemis.  But it was an unfinished temple.   I imagine whenever people passed by that temple, they would shake their heads and wonder just when in the world that temple was going to be completed.  Well, it never was.  That half-built, unfinished temple was emblematic of the church at Sardis.  So, Jesus says, “Get busy with these works of love, faith, and service.”

Then in verse 3 Jesus says, “Remember therefore how you have received and heard …”  Here the Lord tells the church to remember its teaching and doctrine.  Remember the truths you heard and received.  Remember the teachings of the apostles.  Do not forget your Christian doctrine.  The word is in the present tense.  It means, “continue to remember.”  Continue to remember the things you have learned.  This speaks to the importance of regular attendance to the worship service and Bible studies.  By doing so God’s people continue to remember what we have learned.

Next, Jesus says “… Hold fast …”  That is, “keep,” “hold tightly too,” or “guard” the truth as a precious treasure.  Do you love the things of God?  Do you have a Bible and read it regularly?  That is the idea here – Hold fast the truth in your hand and in your heart.  Do not let it go.  Regard it as the precious treasure that it is.

Then Jesus says, “… And repent … “  The word “repent” covers the previous four verbs in verses 2 and 3.  The word speaks of “turning back to God, change the way you think about God and spiritual things, and change your behavior.”  Get back to doing the things you know you should be doing.  Do not become apathetic or fall asleep spiritually; be watchful and wake up. 

An important question to ask right now is, “What happens if I don’t?”  Jesus says, “Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.”  This is not a reference to the Second Coming, but rather a soon coming of judgment upon the person who does not wake-up spiritually.  If you and I persist in just going to church and just going through the forms of worship without the fire burning in our hearts, then we are ripe for judgment.

What can we hear the Spirit saying to the churches?  We can hear how the church’s faithless are rebuked; we can hear how the church’s fellowship is restored and; number three, we can hear . . .

III.  How The Church’s Faithful Are Rewarded: Verses 4-6.

Verse 4 says, “You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.”  There are a few in the church who are not dying.  There were not many, but there were a few.  They are the church’s faithful.  They have “not defiled their garments.”  Their garments are “white” and so they will “walk with the Lord in white, for they are worthy.”

The faithless had soiled their garments by giving-in to the culture around them, by contaminating themselves with the worldly behavior of the non-Christians in their city, acting just like they were acting, going to the same places, thinking the same way, talking the same way, participating in the same things.  By accommodating themselves to the environment around them they had “defiled their garments.”

Then there were the faithful few.  They had not defiled their garments.  They stayed faithful to the Lord, and you could tell it.  Like gloriously white clothing, they really stood-out as being different than the non-Christians around them.  Their behavior was attractive.  They really stood-out in a positive way.  They are rewarded with the promise of “walking with the Lord,” enjoying the unceasing fellowship of Christ for eternity.

Jesus goes on to say in verse 5, “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments …”  The faithful to Christ will be forever clothed in white garments.  This phrase reminds us of our need for forgiveness.  If I am not a Christian, God looks at me and sees my sin.  But if I trust Christ as my Lord and Savior, God looks at me and sees me clothed in Christ’s righteousness.  It is as though I am clothed in white garments, wearing the righteousness of Christ.

Jesus goes on to say, “… And I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life.”  This is not to be taken as a warning, but as a promise.  When we receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, our Lord writes down our name into the registry of heaven.  Our Lord has a registration book called the “Book of Life” and in that book are recorded all the names of the faithful Christians.  Is your name written down in that book?

Verse 5 ends with these words, “… But I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”  Jesus alludes to what He had said to His disciples in the Gospels, such as in Matthew 10:32-33, where He says, “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.  But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.”

If we have truly been saved, truly born-again, we will let others know about it.  We will not be ashamed.  We will be as Paul who said in Romans 1:16-17, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes.”  Do others know about your Christian faith?  Do you regularly confess Christ before your family, friends, and co-workers?  If so, the Lord Jesus will confess you before His Father and before His angels.  You will die and stand before the God of judgment.  Jesus will say to the Father, “He is mine.”  And Jesus will say to the angels, “He is mine.”  And Jesus will say to everyone, “He is mine.”   I am so grateful that I know I belong to Jesus.   I belong to Jesus.  He is mine and I am His.

Verse 6 says, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ‘

Do you hear the Spirit this morning?  Do you belong to the Lord Jesus Christ?  Do you confess Him regularly and unashamedly before others?  The church at Sardis “had a name that they were alive, but were dead.”  What they were on the outside did not accurately reflect what was on the inside.  On the outside, they looked okay to everyone else.  But like a security worker at the airport, Jesus can see right through the superficial and look inside of our hearts.  He sees your sin and He sees my sin.

If we remain in sin, we remain separated from God.  If we die in sin, we spend eternity separated from God in a place called hell, a place where judgment of sin takes place forever and ever.  The good news is that Jesus Christ is in the resurrection business.  Just as the church in Sardis could be resurrected from the dead, so can you.  The Bible says in Ephesians 2:1 that while we are dead in sins, Jesus Christ makes us alive.  You say . . .

  • “What do I do?”  You must know that you need your sins forgiven. 
  • “And then what?”  Then you come to Jesus. 
  • “How?”  If you are coming to Jesus in this morning, all you need say is, “I want to go God’s way.” 

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”


Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

What Is The World Coming To: Revelation 2:18-29 – Keeping Christians from Corruption

Grace For The Journey

We continue our study through the Book of Revelation, going verse-by-verse through this final book of the Bible in which God brings to completion His great plan and program for mankind.  You will remember the three-fold outline derived from chapter 1, verse 19.  Jesus gives to John a three-point outline of the book.  He says, “Write down the things which you have seen (chapter 1), the things which are (chapters 2 and 3), and the things which will take place after this (chapters 4 and following).  So in chapter 2 we continue to look at “the things which are.”  We are looking at the seven churches in Asia Minor during John’s day.  Thus far we have looked at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Pergamum.  This morning, we look at the church at Thyatira.  And as we read about the church at Thyatira, we see once again that Jesus also has a word for the church that we are a member of.

Jesus is doing the speaking here.  He is going over the X-Ray report of the health of the church.  He sees beyond the superficial.  He sees directly inside the church and reports about the church’s health and gives the church’s prognosis.  Remember the pattern as we study . . .

  • Jesus identifies Himself in a way that speaks to the particular need of each individual church;
  • Then He provides a word of commendation – something good the church is doing;
  • This is followed by a word of condemnation – something bad the church is doing. 
  • This is followed by a word of correction and exhortation – something for the church to do that will lead to reward.

Recently I was reminded of some famous words spoken by former tennis pro John McEnroe.  They are the words, “You cannot be serious.”  John McEnroe was known for saying that phrase an awful lot on the tennis court, so much so that he even titled his recent memoir, You Cannot Be Serious.  McEnroe would hit a ball he thought was inside the court and the judge would call it out, or his opponent would hit a ball back to him that McEnroe thought was outside and the judge would call it in.  And McEnroe would frequently take issue with the judge by saying, “You Cannot Be Serious!”

As I read the X-Ray reports of the health of these churches, I wonder whether our Lord Jesus may have just as easily said a time or two, “You cannot be serious.”  The most helpful exercise for us as a church body is to consider what our Lord Jesus would say to us if He were going over our own X-Ray report.  What we learn as we read about the church in Thyatira is that there are some things we should be taking very seriously.  I want you to see them with me . . .

I.  We Must Take Seriously The Christian’s Maturity: Verses 18-19.

Verse 18 states, “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write, ‘These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass.”  Jesus is described as the One who has “eyes like a flame of fire” and “feet like fine brass.”  These two descriptions refer to the omniscience and omnipotence of Jesus Christ.  The phrase, “Feet like fine brass” refers to our exalted Lord’s strength and power.  He is all-powerful: omnipotent.  The phrase “Eyes like a flame of fire” refers to our Lord’s burning, piercing, and penetrating eyes of judgment.  He is all-knowing: omniscient.  His eyes can see right through our superficial selves; He can hear the thoughts and see intents of our hearts.  Someone has said, “There is the person you think you are; there is the person others think you are; but then there is the person the Lord knows you are.”  You and I may cover up who we really are when we are around others, but the Lord knows.  He knows all things.  He has “eyes like a flame of fire.”

In verse 19 Jesus says, “I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first.”  These are good works: love, service, faith, and patience (actually the correct order in the Greek text is love and faith, service, and patience (or endurance).  The phrase I want you to underline there is where Jesus says, “as for your works, the last are more than the first.”  That is Jesus’ way of saying, “You are growing spiritually; you are maturing in spiritual faith.”  We must take seriously the Christian’s maturity.  Jesus expects Christians to grow in the faith.  He expects us to “grow up” in our faith.

It is a shame that some Christians seem to never grow up, they just grow older in their faith. 

Physical maturity

Does not

Necessarily indicate

Spiritual maturity.

A person can be in his 80s, a member of a church all his or her life, and still be a “babe in Christ.”  When we receive Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ expects us to grow spiritually.  We should be reading our Bibles regularly, learning more and more and more about Jesus.  As an old song tells us, “More about Jesus would I know; More of His grace to others show.”  The church in Thyatira took this seriously.  They were known as a church that was growing spiritually.

Jesus says, “Nevertheless, I have a few things against you.”  Or we could say, “these good works notwithstanding.”  I like that word, “notwithstanding.”  I read about a little boy who was told to use the word “notwithstanding” in a sentence.  He said, “I wore-out the seat of my trousers, but notwithstanding!”  Well . . . nevertheless . . . notwithstanding these good works, Jesus says, “I have few things against you.”  This statement takes us to our next action point. 

Secondly . . .

II.  We Must Take Seriously the Christian’s Theology: Verses 20-25.

Christian theology is studying what the Bible teaches about the things of God.  We learn about these things so that we may live-out these things where God has placed us. 

Theology helps us live

According to God’s Word

As we live in this world.

The Christians in Thyatira lived in a city well-known for its trade guilds or labor unions.  Thyatira was a bustling business city of commerce.  People who lived in Thyatira were members of special guilds in accordance to their trades.  For example, there were bakers, potters, shoemakers, bronze smiths, leatherworkers, and makers of wool, linen, and those who dyed garments.  There were a number of people who were employed in the work of purple dye.  You remember reading in Acts 16 about Lydia of Thyatira.  Lydia is described there as “a seller of purple.”  This dye was very costly.  The dye was obtained by catching a shellfish and slitting its throat.  The drops of purple from that shellfish were used to dye garments.  It was very expensive – a pound of purple dye costing somewhere around 3-year’s wages of the average working man. 

Each of these trades had a particular guild, a special kind of labor union, in accordance to each trade.  If you were going to be successful in Thyatira, you belonged to one of these guilds.  These guilds were the center of social life as well as business life.  That may not sound too bad, but . . .

What made belonging to these guilds bad

Was what its members were expected to do.

Remember that the Greek and Roman culture in John’s day was a culture saturated with the worship of false gods and goddesses.  History tells us that each of these labor guilds had its own particular god or goddess.  Members of the guilds would frequently participate in certain feasts and festivals wherein the gods and goddesses were worshiped as part of the feasts.  If you did not participate in these feasts it was bad for business.  How would you like to try to earn a living as a Christian in Thyatira?

If you were going to “make it” in the business world in Thyatira, you were under a lot of pressure to compromise some of your beliefs.  There arose within the church a teacher who began to teach that it was okay to do this.  She taught that participating in these worship feasts of false gods and goddesses was really no big deal.  The church sinned by allowing her to teach this false doctrine.  Jesus identifies this false teacher by the symbolic name, Jezebel:

Verse 20 says, “Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.”  Jezebel is a symbolic name, symbolic of the Jezebel of the Old Testament.  You can read of her in 1 Kings 16 and 2 Kings 9.  Jezebel is the wicked Phoenician wife of Ahab who led the Northern Kingdom of Israel into idolatry and immorality.  Jesus refers here to a woman in the church who “calls herself a prophetess.”  In other words, “I have not called her into the ministry.  She has called herself.  She is a false teacher, teaching a false theology.  She is seducing My servants to commit sexual immorality and things sacrificed to idols.

Members of these guilds participated in feasts that centered upon the worship of false gods or goddesses.  The false teaching of “Jezebel” was a teaching that approved of this practice.  In essence, Jezebel said, “Hey, it is okay to participate in these feasts.  Remember, it is good for business.  So just do it.  God knows your heart.  It is okay.  God will understand.”  Well, it is not okay.

Jesus states in verse 21, “And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent.”  God’s judgment is not immediate.  As the Bible says in 2 Peter 3:9, “God is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”  But this false teacher did not repent.

Jesus then declares in verse 22, “Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds.  God says, “I will punish this false teacher by casting her into a sickbed.”  That is, “I will send an illness to her and to those who follow her teaching.”  They will suffer “great tribulation.”  This is not THE “Great Tribulation” of Revelation chapters 6-16, but rather a general, but serious time of affliction.  God sends affliction to His people in order to bring about repentance.  The Bible asks in Hebrews 12:8, “What son is there whom a father does not discipline?”  God disciplines us because He loves us.

Jesus goes on to say in verse 23, “I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.”  This is a strong Hebraism.  God says, “I will strike her children dead.”  There is a sin unto physical death for the unrepentant Christian.  We are reminded of 1 Corinthians 11 that the Bible says that God brought about an early death to those who were flippantly participating in the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:27-29).  God takes seriously the false teacher and so should we.

False teachers and teachings have plagued the Christian church for over 2,000 years.  Like Jezebel in Thyatira, other false teachers have been women.  Ellen White “called herself a prophetess” and perverted Christianity in forming the Seventh Day Adventists.  Mary Baker Eddy “called herself a prophetess” and perverted Christianity by forming the Church of Christian Science.  But men have also “called themselves prophets” and perverted Christianity such as, Joseph Smith of Mormonism, and Charles Russell of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The church at Thyatira sinned by allowing this false teacher to teach.  Our Lord Jesus Christ will be just as angry with us if we allow just anyone to teach here at our church family at First Baptist.  We must take seriously the Christian’s theology.  Paul did.  That is why he said in Galatians 1:8, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.”

I’m glad that our Minister of Bible Study, Discipleship, and Missions, has renewed our teacher’s covenant, asking each Sunday School teacher to take seriously the sacred task of teaching Christian theology through our Bible Study Ministry and agree to teach in agreement with our church’s doctrinal statement.  Our Bible Study teachers are expected to teach in accordance to the Baptist Faith and Message and they are expected to live godly lives of superior moral conduct.  We must take seriously the Christian’s theology.

Christians today are equally tempted to set aside their convictions in the interest of business.  It is tempting to seek the approval and acclaim of the secular world.  We are tempted to engage in behavior that we are told is “good for business.”  An employer invites employees to participate in certain “office parties” where highly questionable conduct is on the agenda.  Whether you really follow the Lord Jesus Christ or whether you just use the language of Christianity will be determined by whether, or how, you conduct yourself at those functions.

The people of Thyatira were members of special guilds and worshiped the false gods in their feasts.  You and I are members of a special guild called “the Body of Christ.”  We are instructed in Scripture to partake of the Lord’s Supper wherein we will worship and declare our gratitude and allegiance to the One True Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

III.  We Must Take Seriously the Christian’s Eternity – Verses 26-29.

Jesus says in verses 24 and 25, “Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden.  But hold fast what you have till I come.”  They were to stick with it . . . Keep on keepin’ on.  I do not know who said it first, but it is a good statement: “The faith that finally fizzles at the finish was faulty from the first.”  Hold fast what you have.

Jesus declares in verses 26 and 27, “And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations – He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels – as I also have received from My Father.”  Christians will rule with the Lord Jesus Christ during the spectacular time of the Millennium (Revelation 20:1-6).

Then Jesus says in verse 28, “And I will give him the morning star.”  What is the “morning star?”  The better question is, “Who is the Morning Star?”  In Revelation 22:16, our Lord Jesus identifies Himself as, “The Root and Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.”

In Revelation 22:16, we have one of the most interesting names as Jesus calls Himself, “the bight “and morning star.”  This was to fulfil a prophecy, given all the way back in the Old Testament by the prophet Balaam, who said in Numbers 24:17, “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; A star will come out of Jacob; a sceptre will rise out of Israel.”  Jesus does  not refer to Himself as a “star.”  He is not just a star among many stars …He is unique and there is no one else like Him!  Instead, He called Himself, “The Bright Morning Star!”  The wise men used a star as a point of reference.  They were trying to find a certain place and a certain person!  For thousands of years, mariners and travelers have used the stars as a guide and as a point of reference.  By using this title, Jesus wanted us to understand that He is our point of reference and sure guide!  

In Biblical times and in early astronomy the “Morning Star” was the brightest star a person saw in the sky – just before daylight . . . but today we know that this “bright morning star” is actually not a star at all.  Instead, it is the planet Venus as it appears before sunrise in the western sky.  Many still refer to it as “the morning star!”  We have already said that the morning star is unique in that it is not a star at all but the planet Venus.  Some say that Venus is unique among the planets of our solar system.  It is not the closest planet to our sun, yet it is the hottest.  But there is something even more unique about this planet!  If we could somehow look down on all of the planets in our solar system from above, they would all be turning in a counter-clockwise direction . . . that is all of them except Venus which turns in a clock wise position.  

Jesus is unique!  There is no one else like Him.  He is the only one who can be our true point of reference.  What does the “morning star” do day after day?  We know that as Venus arises in the western sky around 4:00 am . . .

  • Soon the birds will begin to sing.  
  • Shortly after that, in the eastern sky, the sun will begin to rise.

The bright morning star

Represents the promise

Of a new day and it

Indicates that something

Better is coming!

Today as we live in a dangerous, dark world, and many have lost hope, but, on the horizon we see “the bright morning star.”  It tells us that something better is coming; that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ will come again!

We must take seriously the Christian’s eternity.  We live not for this life only, but for eternity.

Verse 29 concludes this letter to Thyatira with, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Adrian Rogers tells about a wealthy Roman man who had a lavish estate and he had a servant named Marcellus.  The Roman man also had a son, but for some reason or other he had come into disagreement with his son.  When the wealthy Roman wrote his will, he wrote in his will that he would leave everything to his slave, Marcellus.  When the time came that the wealthy Roman man died, his will was read.  And they read where the Roman man said, “I leave my entire estate—everything I own—I leave to my slave, Marcellus.  To my son, I leave him only one thing.  He can choose any one thing he wants from my estate, but just one thing.”  The son said, “Very well.  I choose Marcellus.”

The Bible says in John 1:12, “As many as received Jesus (as many as choose Him), to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”  When you choose Jesus, you receive all the blessings the Father gives in Him and through Him.  When the end comes, you will meet Jesus face-to-face and it will be a glorious meeting when you are greeted by the “Bright and Morning Star.”

Will you think of that this morning?  Ask God to open your spiritual eyes and ears to hear and receive God’s gift of abundant life and eternal life that comes through Jesus.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

What Is The World Coming: Revelation 2:12-17 – Commitment Or Compromise?

Grace For The Journey

As we continue our series of studies verse-by-verse through the book of Revelation, we are dealing with the seven churches in Asia Minor.  Today we are looking at the third of the seven churches.   We have looked at the church of Ephesus and the church of Smyrna.  As we go through the text, we will hear Christ’s pattern as He addresses each church . . . There is a commendation, a condemnation, and a correction.

I remember a T-shirt I saw not long ago.  It was a picture of fish swimming in one direction with a sign of the Christian fish swimming in the opposite direction.  Underneath was the phrase: “Go against the flow.”  That shirt was a reminder to me that Christians were expected to act differently than non-Christians.  There is something about us that is to be different.  Not mean, ugly, arrogant, and prideful.  We have a are to have a sweet-spirit and we are different.  We “go against the flow.”  People should look at the church and see something different; people who act differently, etc.  They should be attracted to the difference.  When Christians go in the same direction as non-Christians they are just “going with the flow” instead of against the flow.  If we are going with the flow rather than against the flow, we have likely compromised something.  The question for us from what Jesus teaches about the church at Pergamum is, “Commitment or Compromise?”

I.  We Must Always Remain Committed.

Sharp two-edged sword.  The sword is a symbol of justice.  The Roman proconsul resided in the city of Pergamum.  The sword was a reminder of who was in control.  The Romans were in control.  Had power to execute.  Jesus says, “I am the True Power.”  I am the one with the double-edged sword.  Seen before in 1:16.  Hebrews 4:12.  Jesus is the true power, the true sovereign.

He says in verse 13, “I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.”  Jesus knows.  He knows what we are thinking and feeling . . . He knows what is going on in our lives . . . He knows all about us.  Isn’t that encouraging?  He knows!

Christians at Pergamum dwelt, “where Satan’s throne is.”  Pergamum was the official center in the province of Asia for worship of the emperor.  Once a year every citizen was required to take a pinch of incense and confess, “Caesar is Lord.”  This is why Jesus refers to Pergamum as the place “where Satan’s throne is” and where “Satan dwells.” 

The church is commended for standing firm in Christ.

“… and you hold fast to My name.”  That is, they kept true to Jesus even though they lived in a devilish place.  The church is also commended for staying faithful to Christ.  “and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr (better, ‘witness’), who was killed among you.”

This church was commended for staying faithful to Christ even in the midst of severe persecution.  Antipas – some speculate he was one of the church’s early pastors.   Christian tradition has it that Antipas was locked inside of a brass bull which was heated with flames of fire so that Antipas was literally roasted to death.  Christ referred to Antipas as His “faithful witness.”  Same words applied to Jesus in 1:5.

Jesus says they stood firm and they stayed faithful.  So must we.  Jesus knows where we dwell and what is going on in our lives.  Some work in hellish, difficult, and trying places.  Stand firm in Christ.  Stay faithful to Christ.

II.  We Must Always Reject Compromise.

Verses 14 and 15 go together.  They deal with a condemnation from the Lord, “But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.  Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.”  It seems “the doctrine of the Nicolaitans” is tied closely to the “doctrine of Balaam,” so that to “hold to” the doctrine of one is to “hold to” the doctrine of the other.

The doctrine of Balaam is found in the Old Testament (Study Numbers 25 and 31).  These chapters tell the story of Balak, King of Moab.  He wanted to hire Balaam to curse the Israelites.  Every time Balaam opened his mouth, only blessing came out.   Balak wanted Balaam to curse them, but he could only speak what God told him to speak, so only blessing came out.  It seems, however, that Balaam really wanted to collect the money Balak offered him for cursing the Israelites.  So apparently Balaam “taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel,” specifically, by “sacrificing to idols, and committing sexual immorality.”  

This is what Jesus means by referring to the doctrine of Balaam.  Since Balaam could not curse the Israelites, he apparently told Balak that the best way to get to the Israelites was by getting the Moabite women to go after the Israelite men.  Thus, by intermingling with the women, the Israelites would become fragmented and weak.  They were drawn away to false gods – idolatry.  They were drawn away to sexual immorality – by committing fornication and adultery.  These two sins of idolatry and sexual immorality are apparently the chief sins of the Nicolaitans. 

Jesus condemns the church at Pergamum because there are some within the church who have been led away to follow the teaching of the Nicolaitans, namely idolatry and sexual immorality.

Point of application: 

Never Compromise

Your Loyalty


Never Compromise

Your Integrity.

“Pergamos” means “thoroughly married.”  Fitting since this church has become “married to the world.”  Pergamum was proud of . . .

  • Its library, 200,000 volumes (before printing press, photocopiers, internet!). 
  • Of its temples dedicated to different gods, including Asclepius (the god of healing (you see the symbol of Asclepius in much of modern medicine; the symbol of a serpent entwined around a staff). 
  • Its three temples which were dedicated to Roman emperors.

Apparently some within the church were teaching that it was okay to compromise their Christian beliefs in the face of emperor worship.  “What harm is there in taking a little pinch of incense and saying ‘Caesar is Lord?  Or be involved with the temple feasts in honor of Caesar.”

The issue is loyalty.  Idols have many faces.  They may be a mixing of our faith with elements of other faiths.   The problem with this compromise was that it clouded the truth that Jesus is the only way and confused the teaching of the Word of God, the Bible.

Adrian Rogers, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennesee served on the Peace Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention during the time of “The Battle For The Bible.”  He told about an intense incident during a Committee Meeting, “One man said to me in that Peace Committee, he said, ‘Adrian, if you don’t compromise we’ll never get together.’  I said to that dear friend, ‘We don’t have to get together.  The Southern Baptist Convention doesn’t have to survive.  I don’t have to be the pastor of Bellevue.  I don’t have to live.  But I am not going to compromise the Word of God.’”

Compromise causes us

To live too much in the world


Look too much like the world.

The issue is also about integrity.  This church is condemned by our Lord for the behavior of some within; not all.  There are some within who have done ungodly things.  Compromising the moral commands of Scripture to be chaste and pure.  They have gone the way of the doctrine of Balaam, committing sexual immorality with others.  What will happen to these folks? 

Verse 16 tells us, “Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.”  Who is Jesus speaking to?  The church in Pergamos.  Jesus tells them they needed to repent or else He would come to them quickly and will fight against whom?  Those sinning in the church!  Think of it!  Some of you who are in trouble this morning; fighting with the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

Never compromise your loyalty and integrity.  Some are tempted to compromise at work, in social life, and personal life.

III.  We Must Always Receive Correction.

 Correction Begins With Repentance.  The word mean “turn; change of mind; change of heart; change of behavior.”  Not just being sorry.

Correction Ends With Reward

Verse 17 says, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.”  Feasts would be observed in the name of the emperor.  Jesus says do not partake of that.  Remain committed to Christ.  Refuse to compromise Christ.

Jesus uses two symbols that speak against the pagan feasts of the city of Pergamum. 

1) Hidden manna refers to the manna Moses told the people to place in a jar and placed inside the ark of the covenant.  Spiritually, God feeds His people in ways the world does not know. 

2) White stone.  Alludes to practice of giving a stone to special people such as victors of the Roman games or elite members of certain guilds.  They would receive a stone that was used as a ticket to feasts held in the city of Pergamum.  New name no one knows.  This should be taken with Revelation 19:12 where it speaks of the Second Coming of our Lord, who will come having “a name written no one knew except Himself.”  Whatever this new name means, it is to be connected with Jesus.  He knows us.  He possesses us.   As the hymn goes, “Now I belong to Jesus.  Jesus belongs to me.  Not for the years of time alone, but for eternity.”

Compromise or commitment?  Going against the flow?  Vance Havner said, “What we live is what we really believe.  Everything else is just religious talk.”

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

What Is The World Coming To: Revelation 2:8-11 – Faithful Under Fire

Grace For The Journey

We are continuing our study through the book of Revelation, verse-by-verse, and we find ourselves this today in chapter 2, verses 8-11.  We are studying the second church of the seven churches in Asia Minor.  This is the church in Smyrna.  Our exalted Lord Jesus Christ has appeared to John in a vision, and He is commanding John to write down this message for the church, but not just for the church of Smyrna.  This message is for every church throughout history, including the ones you and I are a part of.

As a minister of the Gospel, one truth I find necessary to stress again and again is that . . .

Becoming a Christian does not necessarily ensure

That one will always be healthy or wealthy or

Become a huge success by the set standards of society.

There are ministers who preach that.  It is called the “prosperity gospel,” or the “health and wealth prosperity movement,” or by some other name.  They teach that if you just trust God, He will bless you with good health and financial success.  They give you the idea that if you send in your money to their ministry, often called “a seed of faith” that God will bless you in return with more money.  They also teach that it is not God’s will for you to be sick.  Becoming sick is a sign of lack of faith in God.  When you listen to their teaching on television and you see their smiling faces and listen to them carry on you may get the idea that God wants all of His children to always have a smile on their faces and to just “be happy” and be blessed with lots of money and no problems.

Then we come to what the Bible teaches.  Financial success, good health, happiness – all these things come from God, but they are not necessarily the automatic by-products of becoming a follower of Jesus Christ.  There are biblical principles we may follow, for example, that will keep us out of financial debt, we can avoid certain health risks by having a good diet; but to teach that it is God’s will for everyone to be wealthy, healthy, and happy – without suffering problems or persecutions – is to teach a false gospel.

Here was a church that probably would look like a failure if measured by the standards of the “health, wealth, prosperity” teachers.  In fact, this church in Smyrna would probably have been considered a failure if measured the way many Christian measure churches.  We tend to think that churches are only successful if they have huge budgets, building programs, and burgeoning church rolls with additions every single week.  Here was a church with probably no budget at all.  They were not involved in a building program and if you united with this church the likelihood of your becoming a popular and successful businessman in the city of Smyrna was nil.  If anything . . .

Becoming a Christian in the city of Smyrna

Ensured you would face unending days

Of persecution, trials, tribulation, arrest,

Imprisonment, and ultimately death.

We know little of this kind of persecution in America today.  The hard times we face seem pretty small when set against the backdrop of what was going on in the Smyrna church 2,000 years ago.  Nevertheless, this kind of persecution could one day face every single one of us here in America and therefore we should be ready for it at all times.

But . . .

We can also learn

How to live through

Whatever difficulties and trials

We face from the principles

We read here in the text.

The church in Smyrna is commended by our Lord Jesus Christ.  It is one of only two of the seven churches that contain no “bad news” from the X-ray report of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The church is commended for being a “successful” church in His sight.  God defines “successful” as “faithful.”  He never calls us to be successful.  He never calls us to be powerful.  He calls us to be faithful.

This passage can teach us how to get through the hard times and that is what I want to see as we study the church in Smyrna, getting through hard times, staying faithful under fire.  There are three main things to remember when you go through hard times. 

Number one . . .

I. Remember The Power of our Lord.

Verse 8 says, “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, ‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life.”  Remember that these words are the words of the exalted Lord Jesus Christ.  Look how He is identified here, “These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life.”  That statement stresses the powerful sovereignty of the Lord Jesus.  He is sovereign.  He is in control.   He is in control of two things: 1) He is in control of history.  We see that in the phrase, “These things says the First and the Last.”  That is, Jesus Christ is before all things and He outlasts all things.  He is in control all time.  He is in control of history.  This no doubt was an encouragement to the church in Smyrna.  They were undergoing fierce persecution, and this was our Lord’s way of reminding them of His power, that nothing escaped His notice.  He is in control of all the events that they will face in this world.  And, 2) He is also in control of eternity.  Specifically, what happens after this world, what happens after death.  Jesus is identified as the One “Who was dead, and came to life.”  Jesus reminds the faithful Christians in Smyrna that He does indeed “hold the keys to Hades and Death” just as He had said previously in 1:18.

Interestingly the word “Smyrna” is the Greek word for “myrrh.”  Myrrh was a sweet perfume used in the days of Christ.  It came from a shrubby tree whose leaves were crushed and when they were crushed they gave off this sweet perfume. 

  • You will remember that when the wise men from the east came to worship the newborn baby Jesus that they brought Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, perhaps a prophetic sign of His death. 
  • A mixture of vinegar and myrrh was offered to Jesus on the cross. 
  • Myrrh was also used in the embalming of dead bodies.  We read in the Gospel of John that when Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus wrapped the body of Jesus they used myrrh in His burial. 
  • Myrrh had a connection with the suffering and tribulation of Jesus and now this church is going through similar suffering and tribulation and it is in this context that Jesus reminds them of His power, His power over history, and his power over eternity.

We must remember this today.  Whatever afflictions we face as Christians, whatever persecutions, whatever difficulties we encounter, we must remember the power of the Lord Jesus Christ.  He is the first and the last, who was dead and came to life.  He is in complete sovereign control of our lives, exerting power over history and eternity.  When you go through hard times remember the power of our Lord. 

Secondly, when you go through hard times . . .

II. Remember The Peace Of Our Lord.

When you go through hard times, the Lord Jesus Christ offers His peace.  Look at verse 9, where Jesus says, “I know your works.”  That is, “I know the hard times you’re going through.”  What a great reality!  Jesus sees us in our trials.  He knows what we are going through.  There are three kinds of trials these Smyrna Christians were going through.  They are identified in verse three as “tribulation, poverty, and blasphemy.”

“Tribulation” is a picturesque word describing the pressure of a thing bearing down upon another.  We often describe our afflictions this way, we talk of pressure, of things “coming down on us,” and so forth.  Jesus knows what we’re going through.  He sees us.

Then he says in verse 9, I know your “poverty.”  We spoke earlier of the “Prosperity Movement.”  How many folks do you think I could get to sign up if I started a “Poverty Movement?”  Truth is, some Christians do not have much money, much stuff.  Poverty does not make one less spiritual any more than riches make a person more spiritual.   Money is no indicator of spiritual maturity.   

The church in Smyrna did not have much material blessing.  They were poor.  And their poverty must have looked pretty funny to the average citizen of Smyrna.  Smyrna was a very prosperous and proud city.  Like Ephesus, Smyrna was a harbor city with a thriving export business.  Its coins were inscribed with the words, “First in Asia.”  They were first in beauty and first in size.  Smyrna was a prosperous, growing city.  That may be why the city continues to thrive even 2,000 years later.  The city is still with us today, known today as the city of Izmir in modern Turkey.

The city of Smyrna was rich, but the church of Smyrna was poor.  They had no big budget, padded pews, beautiful organ, piano, heating, or air conditioning.  They had none of those things.  Persecution has a way of stripping away the non-essentials and making us more grateful for what it means to know the Lord Jesus Christ.  Yes, the church in Smyrna was poor.  Jesus says “I know your poverty.”  But then, did you notice what the Lord Jesus added right after that?  Did you notice the small parenthetical statement that follows?  He adds, “But you are rich.”  Yes, poor by the world’s standards, rich by the Lord’s standards.  Poor in the sight of man, rich in the sight of the Master.  Poor with respect to material things, rich with respect to spiritual things.  You are rich.  It is the Greek word “plutocrat,” which means “a wealthy person.”  Christian, regardless of your money and material goods, you are rich.  You know the Lord Jesus Christ and you have eternal rewards awaiting you in the next life.  You are rich.  Do no’t you forget it.

But Jesus does not stop at their experience of tribulation and poverty.  He goes on to say, I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.”  The “blasphemy” Jesus is talking about are the slanderous words that some of the Jews in Smyrna were saying about them.  These Jews in Smyrna did not share the church’s Christian beliefs and they were blaspheming God by spreading slanderous things about the Christians, attacking their character, and so forth.

These people doing the slandering are identified as “those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.”  That is, these are people who “say” they follow the One True God, but actually they are the devil’s crowd.  The same can be said of many today who profess to be Christians.  There are some today who “say” they are Christians but are not.  1 John 2:4 states, “He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”  Our merely saying a thing does not make it true.  It is what we believe and how we live that determines whether it is true.

When you go through hard times, remember the peace of our Lord.  He sees us in our trials and He strengthens us in our trials.  This strengthening is underscored by what Jesus says in verse 10, “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days.”  Jesus says, “Do not fear.”  That is, be encouraged, be strengthened in the midst of your afflictions.  Stop being afraid.  Do not worry or fret.  Jesus sees us in our struggles, He strengthens us in our trials, and He sustains us through those times.

Here again we see that we can anticipate suffering as a Christian.  Suffering is not necessarily the result of our failure to follow Christ faithfully.  This church is following Christ faithfully and yet, they are suffering.  Jesus says they are not to fear any of those things “which you are about to suffer.”  There is more suffering and persecution coming.   But specifically, says Jesus, “the devil is about to throw some of you into prison.”  Jesus allows that.  Remember, He is in control.  He sees what is happening.  They will be thrown into prison and have tribulation for a period of ten days.  The 10 days is probably a way of indicating that the time period of this church’s terrible persecution will be brief.  There will be a definite limit to it.  The Christians in the Smyrna church will suffer an intense time of persecution that will not last a long time, but a brief time, something on the order of ten days rather than ten thousand days.  In and through it all, they will experience the peace and presence of our Lord.  He sees us in our trials and He strengthens us in our trials. 

What is the purpose of this tribulation that the Lord Jesus Christ permits?  Jesus allows the devil to work through people that the Smyrna Christians would go through some really tough times.  For what purpose?  Did you notice it there in verse 10?  Jesus says this is going to happen to you, “that you may be tested.”  The word “tested” refers to a “refining” process.  As a precious metal is refined, it is made stronger and purer through fire; so the Christian is made stronger through the refining fire of persecution.  That is why we are drawn to those Christians who have really been through hard times but have remained faithful and true to the Lord Jesus Christ.

And that is the key to it all.  Jesus says in the latter part of verse 10, “Be faithful until death.”  When you go through hard times, be faithful.  Stick with it.  Persevere. 

Remember the power of our Lord, remember the peace of our Lord.  

Thirdly . . .

III. Remember The Promises Of Our Lord.

Do not miss what our Lord is saying in verses 10b-11, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”  Jesus gives them two promises in these verses:  (1) The Lord rewards our suffering in the end.  He says, “You be faithful until death,” that is, “stick with it, keep on keepin’ on, and I will reward your suffering in the end.  I will give you the crown of life.”  The crown of life is a symbol of the Christian’s rewards in the afterlife for his faithfulness in this life.  The Bible says in James 1:12, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”  Jesus says in Matthew 6:19, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures in this life . . . but treasures in heaven.”  You be faithful, Christian, and one day you will receive your eternal rewards in heaven. 

God blesses us there


Our faithfulness here.

Think how grateful you will be for having been faithful under fire, for sticking with the stuff, for continuing to follow the Lord Jesus Christ.  Remember the promise of our Lord. 

(2) Our preserves our soul in the end.  Verse 11 says, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.”  The second death refers to what the unbeliever faces in Revelation, chapter 20.  There we read that the unbeliever, the non-Christian, will die not once, but twice.  Because his sins are unforgiven in Christ, his name is not written in the Book of Life and his soul will be cast into the burning lake of fire.  That is the second death.  See if we die before the Lord Jesus Christ comes again, we all will face the first death.  Every one of us will face the first death.  But not every one of us will face the second death.  Those of us who have trusted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior will only die once, because we have been born twice.  That is what Jesus meant when He said to Nicodemus in John, chapter 3, “You must be born again.”  You must be born twice.  As someone has well said, “If you are born twice, you just die once.  But if you are just born once, you will die twice.”  Your soul will face the second death in the end.  You will be cast into a burning lake of fire that burns and burns for eternity.  Jesus says to you and me, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” – the word there is in the plural, churches – “He who overcomes,” that is, He who truly believes in Christ Jesus, “shall not be hurt by the second death.”

If I did not know Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior, if I were not saved, I would be sure and get saved as soon as possible before I did anything else!  Adrian Rogers said, “It’d be a wonderful thing if in America we had people who feared the second death as much as they feared the first death.”  There is nothing more important.  I thank God that I need not fear death, because I know I am dying just one time.  Jesus Christ is preserving my soul in the end.  I will not be hurt by the second death, not because of my goodness, but because of Christ’s goodness on my behalf.  I am not saved by living a good life.  I am saved by living for the One who was good for me.  We are saved by grace through faith.  Not of works.

 There are no promises of the “easy life” in Scripture.  Becoming a Christian is no guarantee that we will never suffer persecution, hard times, or difficulties.  Leaonard Ravenhill said, “When God opens the windows of heaven to bless you, the devil will open the doors of hell to blast you.”  What we do know, however, is that when the devil opens the doors of hell to blast the Christian, our Lord is with us.  Remember the power of our Lord, the peace of our Lord, and the promise of our Lord.

Many of these Smyrna Christians died for their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  During these days, all people during the Roman Empire were forced to say, “Caesar is Lord.”  That is what they had to profess publicly at least one day of the year in a very ritualistic way.  They were to say, “Caesar is Lord.”  If they refused, they were arrested and forced to utter those words or else face a terrible death.

From the second century comes a writing entitled, “The Martyrdom of Polycarp.”  It is the oldest account of a Christian dying for Jesus outside of the New Testament.  Polycarp was a disciple of John.  Polycarp was one of the first pastors of the church in Smyrna.  This account, this writing of “The Martyrdom of Polycarp” is, no doubt, a bit embellished due to the love of the early followers of Christ and their love for this great man who died as an elderly man, a man in his late 80s, he died as a faithful follower of Jesus Christ.  I want to read this account of his death which occurred in AD 155 when the Roman authorities came to arrest him.

“Now the most admirable Polycarp, when he first heard the news, was not disturbed. In fact, he wanted to remain in town, but the majority persuaded him to withdraw. So he withdrew to a farm not far distant from the city.  And as those who were searching for him persisted, he moved to another farm.  Mounted police and horsemen, closing in on him late in the evening, found him in bed in an upstairs room in a small cottage; and though he still could have escaped from there to another place, he refused, saying, ‘May God’s will be done.’ After transferring him to their carriage and sitting down at his side, they tried to persuade him, saying, ‘Why, what harm is there in saying, ‘Caesar is Lord,’ and offering incense’ (and other words to this effect) ‘and thereby saving yourself?’  Now at first he gave them no answer.  But when they persisted, he said, ‘I am not about to do what you are suggesting to me.’  He was led to the stadium.  There was such a tumult in the stadium that no one could even be heard.  But as Polycarp entered the stadium, there came a voice from heaven: ‘Be strong, Polycarp, and act like a man.’  And no one saw the speaker, but those of our people who were present heard the voice.  The proconsul tried to persuade him to recant, saying, ‘Have respect for your age,” and other such things as they are accustomed to say.  When the magistrate persisted and said, ‘Swear the oath, and I will release you; revile Christ,’ Polycarp replied, ‘For eighty-six years I have been his servant, and he has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?’  So the proconsul said: ‘I have wild beasts; I will throw you to them, unless you change your mind.’ But he said: ‘Call for them!” Then he said to him again: ‘I will have you consumed by fire, since you despise the wild beasts, unless you change your mind.’ But Polycarp said: ‘You threaten with a fire that burns only briefly and after just a little while is extinguished, for you are ignorant of the fire of the coming judgment and eternal punishment, which is reserved for the ungodly. But why do you delay? Come, do what you wish.’”

The proconsul was astonished, and sent his own herald into the midst of the stadium to proclaim three times: ‘Polycarp has confessed that he is a Christian.’  When this was proclaimed by the herald, the entire crowd, Gentiles as well as Jews living in Smyrna, cried out with uncontrollable anger and with a loud shout: ‘This is the teacher of Asia, the father of the Christians, the destroyer of our gods, who teaches many not to sacrifice or worship.’  The crowd swiftly collected wood and kindling from the workshops and baths, the Jews being especially eager to assist in this, as is their custom.  Then the materials prepared for the pyre were placed around him; and as they were also about to nail him, he said: ‘Leave me as I am; for he who enables me to endure the fire will also enable me to remain on the pyre without moving, even without the sense of security which you get from the nails.’  So they did not nail him, but tied him instead. Then he, having placed his hands behind him and having been bound, looked up to heaven and said: ‘O Lord God Almighty, Father of your beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, through whom we have received knowledge of you, the God of angels and powers and of all creation, and of the whole race of the righteous who live in your presence, I bless you because you have considered me worthy of this day and hour, that I might receive a place among the number of the martyrs in the cup of your Christ, to the resurrection to eternal life, both of soul and of body, in the incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit.  May I be received among them in your presence today, as a rich and acceptable sacrifice, as you have prepared and revealed beforehand, and have now accomplished, you who are the undeceiving and true God.  For this reason, indeed for all things, I praise you, I bless you, I glorify you, through the eternal and heavenly High Priest, Jesus Christ, your beloved Son, through whom to you with him and the Holy Spirit be glory both now and for the ages to come.  Amen.’  When he had offered up the ‘Amen’ and finished his prayer, the men in charge of the fire lit the fire.”

Some accounts say that when the flames burned the body of Polycarp, that you could hear him singing praises to the Lord God.  Polycarp was a man who was literally faithful under fire.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”