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.”

What Is The World Coming To: Revelation 2:1-7 – When A Church Grows Cold

Grace For The Journey

We are moving on to the second division of the book of Revelation.  Remember that verse 19 of chapter one gives us our outline.  Our Lord Jesus instructs John to write about the things that he had seen (ch.1), the things that are (chapters. 2-3) and the things that will happen after this (chapter 4 and following).  We are looking at the things that are, beginning here in chapter 2.  It is here in chapter 2 and 3 that we learn about these seven churches.  We will look at them one at a time, learning how the circumstances of each church apply to us and the churches we belong to.

As a minister, I have frequently heard stories about folks who went to the doctor to have something done, to get something checked out and the doctor will order certain tests, including X-rays, Cat Scans, or MRIs to make sure all is well.  Sometimes when the tests are done the doctors see something in that X-ray or Cat Scan that they did not previously know was there.  The test revealed a problem that they are now able to correct, to treat.

It helps us to think of our Lord Jesus Christ as the Great Physician who looks at the condition of these seven churches with spiritual X-ray vision.  With His penetrating eyes “like a flame of fire” (1:14), Jesus can see right into these seven churches and see what needs correction.  What we read in chapters 2 and 3 are the X-ray reports of these seven churches.  We are seeing what our Lord sees and, seeing in black and white, what looks good and what looks bad.  You will note as we read each of these churches, there is a general pattern here with each of the churches.  Jesus says, “Here is the good you are doing and here is the bad stuff you’re doing.”  It is as though Jesus is going over the results of the X-rays with us and showing us what looks good and what looks bad.  But then, like a good doctor that Jesus is, He does not just diagnose the problem; He also tells us what we need to do to treat the problem, to correct the problem.  And, just as it is with our physical bodies, an early diagnosis leads to a good prognosis.

Let’s note that as we look at the X-ray of the church of Ephesus.  Jesus says there is some good news and then there’s some bad news.   The bad news is the first thing that shows up glaringly on the X-ray and it is found in verse 4, “Nevertheless, I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”  That is Jesus’ way of saying, “You don’t love me like you used to.  You are a church that has grown cold.”  With that in mind I want us to learn from the church of Ephesus, and we will learn the good and the bad, and we will apply it to our personal lives and the life of the church we belong to.  We are going to look at five ways to keep a church from growing cold.

Before we look at these five things, let’s remember that Jesus is doing the talking here.  He is telling John to write down what He is saying and to address what He is saying to the angel of each church, “To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘ These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands.”  What is important to remember about this is where Jesus is.  He is the One “who holds the seven stars in His right hand” and the One “who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands.”  It is a reminder of the protection of Jesus and the presence of Jesus.  He is in control of the churches and He is there in the midst of the churches.

The first church addressed is the church at Ephesus.  It is appropriate that Jesus begins with the church at Ephesus.  Ephesus was an important city in the New Testament days.  It was the super city, the capital city of Asia, more than a quarter of a million people in population, four great trade routes converged at Ephesus.  Those of you who have been attending our Wednesday evening services know we have been studying First Corinthians.  Ephesus reminds me of Corinth.  Like Corinth, Ephesus was a harbor city and, therefore, a party city.  If Corinth was the “The Vanity Fair of Europe,” then Ephesus was “The Vanity Fair of Asia.” 

Ephesus was known for its bizarre religious worship of the fertility goddess “Diana,” or, in the Greek, “Artemis.”  There was a huge temple built and dedicated to the worshipof theses gods.  This temple was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, four times the size of the Parthenon in Athens, 450 feet long, 220 feet wide, with 127 pillars 60 feet high.  You will read about the worship of Diana when you read the book of Acts, chapters 18-20.  You’ll read in Ephesians 19:34 that, in response to the preaching of Paul, that for about two hours the pagan citizens there cried out, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!”  But Paul started a church there and he ministered to the Ephesians for about 2 ½ years.  You can read all of that later on for background.

Let’s read what Jesus says to the church at Ephesus and, as we do, we’ll note these five ways to keep a church from growing cold.  Number one:

1. We Should Have Scriptural Orthodoxy For Christ.

Verse 2 says, “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars.”  In this verse we read about this church’s love for orthodoxy.  The word “orthodoxy,” just means “the truth.”  When we speak of “orthodoxy,” we are talking about things that are Scripturally true.  Christian orthodoxy includes, for example, the truth that there is one God.  Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man.  There is only one way to be saved, et cetera.

As Jesus goes over the X-ray report with the church at Ephesus, He says, “Here’s the good news.  You have a love for the truth.  You are Scripturally sound.  You are orthodox in your beliefs.”  That is what He means when He says, “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil.”  The last part of that first sentence of verse 2 ought to get our attention.  Who are those who are evil, and what does this mean?”  The church at Ephesus was visited by certain teachers who claimed to be apostles who were not.  Rather, they were found to be liars.  Jesus commends the church for having spiritual discernment and a love for Christian truth. They were able to discern that these teachers who visited their church were false teachers teaching a false gospel.

We, too, should labor for Scriptural orthodoxy.  We should likewise have a love for the truth and should protect ourselves from error.  I take very seriously my role as the pastor-teacher of our church family.  I do not invite just anyone to stand behind this pulpit and preach.  I want to be sure that the person who stands to preach God’s Word is someone who will expound the Scriptures with integrity.  We should be equally concerned in our Sunday School classes.  We must be sure that people are teaching the truth and not leading folks astray.

Now the best way to recognize false teaching is to know the truth.  You and I cannot recognize error unless we know the truth.  This means we must be individuals and a church that takes seriously the study of Scripture.  We must be reading it regularly in our individual devotion time as well as expounding the Scriptures in corporate worship.  The pastor’s role is to teach the Bible more than anything else.

Here is a good mark of the church. 

Number two, here’s something else that looks good on the X-ray . . .

2. We Should Have Steadfast Loyalty To Christ.

The church at Ephesus was loyal to Christ.  They were steadfast in their faith.  Look at verse 3, “And you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.”  They have endured through difficult times.  They have not given up.  They stuck with the stuff.  There are a lot of folks who make decisions for Christ, but when the going gets tough, they leave Him.  They turn their backs upon the Lord Jesus Christ.  By turning away from Him, by giving up, they are demonstrating their disloyalty to Christ.

One thing good about the church at Ephesus is their steadfast loyalty to Christ.  They persevered, they endured, during the most difficult times.  They stuck with Christ.  We should learn from their example.  Jesus said in John 16:33, “In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  Jesus guarantees that you and I will have difficult days as we follow Christ, but do not give up.  Remember that He is with us, and He has overcome this world of tribulation.

Those are a couple of good things we see on the X-ray.  Those are a couple things we can apply to our situation here.  We should have Scriptural orthodoxy for Christ and steadfast loyalty to Christ. 

AS we continue our study in verse 4 and five, we read a problem spot on the X-ray.  Jesus says, number three . . .

3. We Should Have Sustained Intimacy With Christ.

Sustained intimacy – That is, we should continually desire with the Lord Jesus Christ.  Our love for Jesus should be constant.  See how Jesus puts it in verse 4, “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”  That is Jesus’ way of saying, “You don’t love me like you used to.”  I find this an amazing indictment, given all the good that the church at Ephesus was doing . . .

  • They were Scripturally orthodox.  They had a love for truth. 
  • They labored hard for the Lord Jesus.  They had a strong determination to stay with the mission in spite of all the opposition!

That should cause us some serious pause and reflection.  You can labor hard for the Lord Jesus Christ, you can be busy serving Him in a church, you can have a love for Biblical truth . . . and not love the Lord Jesus Christ.  Think of it!  I mean Ephesus is a busy church.  Man, they are involved in every program the denomination offers.  They have got classes for everything.  They have got Bible Study; they have got discipleship training; they have got prayer meetings; they have missions training and involvement; and they have a strong music ministry. 

They are even doing FAITH! 

That is all good.  But Jesus says, “As good as all that is, I have something against you.  You have left your first love.”

We should have

Sustained, ongoing,

Intimacy with Christ.

I have known Christians like this.  They claim to love truth.  They claim to love the church.  But their heart, and zeal, for the things of God you is missing.  If they really loved the Lord Jesus, the love of Christ would just spill over.  This is evidence that you have left your first love.  That is the diagnosis. 

Jesus, the Great Physician, gives the cure, verse 5, “Remember therefore from where you have fallen.”  Remember . . . Remember from where you have fallen.  Remember your first love.  Remember when you first came to know Jesus?  Remember when you fell in love with Him?  It is much like a human relationship.  We need to cultivate the love for our spouses.  Our love should grow over the years.  The honeymoon should not be the only time of infatuation. 

Somebody said, “The honeymoon is that period of time between ‘I do’ and ‘You’d better!’”  The honeymoon is a blissful time.  It is a time of incredible intimacy with the one we love.  We need to remember that time.  I heard about a woman whose husband was neglecting her and he just never seemed to be romantic anymore, never seemed to be tender anymore, and a young couple moved-in next door and they were so much in love, still on the honeymoon and she watched this young lady and her husband.  And she was watching one day out the window and she watched the man going off to work and how he hugged her and then kissed her and then off he went.  One morning she watched them and she called her husband over to the window to look and she said, “You see what he’s doing?  Why don’t you do that?”  He said, “Well, I hardly know the woman.”  During the honeymoon time, we are getting to know this one we love.  And the intimacy is exciting, electric, and powerful.  And that love relationship should grow. 

It is the same with Jesus.  Remember when you were first saved?  Remember the time you spent reading the Bible, you could not wait for the church doors to open?  You wanted to be at the church for everything.  But all of that has been missing lately.  Jesus says to some of us, “You’ve left your first love.  You don’t love me like you used to.  Remember therefore from where you have fallen.”  Remember.  Then, He says in the next part of verse 5, “ … repent and do the first works” . . . Repent and Return.  Repent – that means, turn back to the Lord.  Turn back to Jesus and then Return, that is, “Do” the first works.  Return to the things you used to do naturally out of love for Me.  Get back into the word.  Get back into faithful attendance of the worship services and Bible studies.  Do the first works, Repeat the things you used to do, naturally out of love for Jesus  alone.  This involves learning and applying biblical principles to our lives which leads to us naturally wanting to sing because of the presence and goodness of God, telling others of God’s inexhaustible love and power, teaching a Bible Study class and personally sharing the truths we are learning so they can know God as we do, sharing your faith in the workplace, and leading your family in the things of God.

Then, Jesus gives a warning if the church does not do as He asks, “… or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place — unless you repent.”  If the church does not remember, repent, and return, Jesus says, “I will remove you – you will lose you influence, your testimony, and your mission.”  Ephesus failed to fully apply the Lord’s teachings and that is why it is in ruins today.

We should have spiritual orthodoxy for Christ, steadfast loyalty to Christ, sustained intimacy with Christ, and fourthly . . .

4. We Should Have Sanctified Purity Before Christ.

This is another good sign on the X-ray report.  Jesus some more good things about them in verse 6, “But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.”  Nobody really knows exactly who “the Nicolaitans” were.  One thing we do know from the context.  Later in chapter 2, we read of the church at Pergamos.  We read in verses 14-15 that the sins of the Nicolaitans included idolatry and sexual immorality.   

A church should be sanctified and pure before the Lord Jesus Christ.  We should hate anything that is remotely connected with idolatry and sexual immorality.  Idolatry and sexual immorality was rampant in Ephesus.  That great temple I mentioned earlier, the Temple of Diana, contained thousands of priests and priestesses who served in the temple as religious prostitutes.  The idea was that by engaging in sexual relations with these priests and prostitutes that one would be blessed by the false goddess, Diana.

We may not have the same kind of thing going on where we live, but we are just as tempted by idolatry and immorality.  With all of the temptations before our eyes, we must remain sexual pure, being a people of sanctified purity before Christ.

Finally . . .

5. We Should Have Spiritual Victory In Christ.

In verse seven, Jesus says, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”  If you are listening, really listening, Jesus has a word for you.  He says, “Hear what the Spirit says to the church at Ephesus;” is that what He says? No.  Hear what the Spirit says to “the churches,” plural.  Jesus has a word for every member of every church.  Remember we said before that the seven churches are literal, historical churches, but the number seven, being a symbol of completion and wholeness, reminds us that these seven churches are also symbolic of every church throughout history.  That truth is re-affirmed here by the words of Jesus, “Hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

And what does He say?  He speaks of our victory in Christ, “To him who overcomes” –  that is, to the Christian – “I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”  The Christian partakes of the tree of life.  When Adam and Eve sinned, the tree of life was banished from the Garden of Eden.  It is now situated in “the Paradise of God,” a synonym for heaven.  And the Christian partakes of the tree of life through the work of Jesus Christ.  John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  And He is the only way we may have victory, victory over death.  Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes unto the Father, except by Me.”  

This is why we love Jesus.  As John writes elsewhere, in 1 John 4:10, “Here is love.  Not that we loved God, but that He loved us and gave His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

Recently, I read about Henry W. Grady.  He was once the famous editor of the newspaper, the Atlanta Constitution.  After he gave a great speech on “The New South” he was hailed as a national hero.  But Henry Grady knew that deep down something was desperately wrong in his life.  One day he told the members of his staff to look out for the paper for a few days, that he just needed to get away for some rest and reflection.  He started back to his old boyhood home in the mountains.  He arrived there late in the evening.  His mother was sitting on the front porch reading her Bible.  She heard the front gate open, she looked up and said, “Why Henry.  What a surprise!  What brings you home?  I didn’t expect you.”  He said, “Mother, something is desperately wrong.  I have lost something, and I need you to help me find it.”

His mother fixed supper for him that night and they washed the dishes together.  Then they went out on the front porch, and she sat down in the rocker, and he sat at her feet with his head in her lap, just as he did in the days when he was just a boy.  He began to listen to his mother talk about the Lord Jesus Christ and how wonderful it was to be saved, and just talking to him about the things of God, like she did when he was growing up.  He began to feel something in his heart grow warm once again.  Finally, it was time to retire, and he and his mother went up to his bedroom and they knelt, just as they used to kneel by the bed to pray.  His mother even kissed him goodnight and tucked in the covers around him.

Henry Grady did not sleep very much that night.  He spent those hours in recollection, in remembering, in repenting, and in repeating.  The next morning, when he kissed his mother goodbye to go back to his office at the Constitution, his heart was full of joy, a burden had been lifted.  He was a different man and he knew it.  When his mother said to him, “Why, Henry, you look so different than you did yesterday.”  He said, “Mother, thank you for helping me find what I lost.  I am ready to go back to work now, mother, for I have fallen in love with Jesus all over again.” 

If you are a Christian . . .

I want to tell you,

Whatever our problem,

That is the answer:

To fall in love with

Jesus all over again.

Has your Christian walk become a dead routine, work, work, work for the church but no warmth of the fire, no joy, and no enthusiasm for the Lord?  Fall in love with Jesus all over again.  Do you feel as though your church life is disconnected from your work and social life?  Fall in love with Jesus all over again.

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 1:9-20 – Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

Grace For The Journey

  This passage is known as John’s “Inaugural Vision.”  It is his first vision that gets us started in the Book of Revelation.  One of my favorite hymns is “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.”  It is a hymn that reminds us that when we focus on the Lord Jesus Christ everything else works out.  The chorus contains these phrases . . .Turn your eyes upon Jesus,Look full in His wonderful face,And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,In the light of His glory and grace.As we “turn our eyes upon Jesus” how do we see Him?  We really do not know exactly what Jesus looked like.  I have never been too pleased with many of the artist’s renderings of Jesus.  I do not like the idea of an effeminate Jesus, and that is usually how He is portrayed.  He is always portrayed as a skinny, womanly kind of figure, kind of wimpy looking.  Jesus was a man, and a man’s man at that.  He was a carpenter.  He knew how to drive nails and cut wood.  He could haul big nets of fish in a boat and overturned a table or two.However Jesus looked in His earthly ministry, John catches a glimpse of Jesus as He is today.  He has a vision of the glorified Christ in heaven.  In today’s Bible Study, we will turn our eyes upon Jesus and see Him just as He is.Remember, John is on the island of Patmos.  Verse 9 says, “I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.”  This verse tells us that John has been banished to the island of Patmos for preaching the Word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.  He has been banished there because of his stand for the Lord Jesus Christ and his refusal to compromise God’s Word.  Eusebius (4th Century Historian) claimed that John’s banishment to Patmos occurred in the 14th year of Domitian’s Reign (AD 95).  Domitian liked to refer to himself as “Lord and God.”  Literally, that is the way he loved to be addressed.  John did not address him that way.  And so, Christians like John were often charged with treason and exiled to places like Patmos.John identifies himself with the churches as a “brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ.”  That word “patience” is better translated as “perseverance” or “endurance.”  It is a reference to the Christian’s perseverance under fire.  John is able to say, “I am a brother with you in this time of tribulation.  I am with you in this.”  John closely identifies with the plight of the wider Christian Church.  The terms “brother” and “companion” speak of a deep fellowship and partnership.  The basis of all Christian partnership: we are “in Jesus”

 Just as John identified with the afflictions of the wider Church, so should we be aware of how our brethren around the world are being persecuted and lift them up both prayerfully and practically.   We should also be prepared to face persecution here in North America.

Then John gives us specifically the account of his vision.  As we turn our eyes upon Jesus, first we . . . 1. Hear The Sound Of His Authority – Verses 9-11.John first describes for us what he heard in his vision.  He heard the sound of Christ’s authority.  Verse10 tells us, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet.”  Even though John was a prisoner of Rome he worshipped the Lord on a regular basis.  In the early Church, Christians had a designated day for corporate worship which they called “the Lord’s Day” – the day of Christ’s resurrection (cf. John 20:19; Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2).  The phrase “in the Spirit” indicates God’s special preparation of John to receive this revelatory vision.  Peter and Paul both had similar experiences in which God revealed truth through a vision – Acts 10:10-11, Acts 22:17, 2 Cor 12:2-4.  John heard a loud voice behind him, “as of a trumpet.”  Note when this vision took place.  John says, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day.”  The “Lord’s Day” is a reference to the first day of the week, Sunday.  This vision took place on the Lord’s Day when John was “in the Spirit.”  The text does not suggest John drummed this up himself.  Rather, he was seized by the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit seized him and our Lord Jesus appeared to him.  John hears the sound of Christ’s authority.  He hears behind him a loud voice, as of a trumpet.  The trumpet is the loudest instrument of a band.  When it is played this instrument will be heard.  The instrument carried a kind of authority all its own.   It is appropriate, then, that John describes the voice of our Lord as of a trumpet.  The voice of the glorified, risen Christ is a strong, loud voice of authority.   No mealy-mouthed mumbling of the Lord Jesus Christ, but “a loud voice, as of a trumpet.”Look what Jesus says to John in verse 11, “… What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.”  Christ speaks with authority.  He tells John to “write.”  The verb is an imperative.  Jesus is not asking John to write, nor suggesting that he write, He is commanding him to write.  John is told to write this all down.  He is to write in a Book what he see and then “send” (another imperative) it to the seven churches which are in Asia.”Jesus specifies the seven churches.  I have mentioned these churches before.  There are seven of them and they are listed in the order that a letter carrier would deliver them if he were delivering mail.  If you look at a map, you will see a circular route a letter carrier might take as he went from Ephesus to Smyrna to Pergamos to Thyatira to Sardis to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.  The number seven signifies, or as one person says, “sign-i-fies” perfection and completion.  These seven churches are real churches that also represent churches of all ages and locations.  We will note, especially in the coming weeks as we study these churches, how their problems do mirror problems in the churches today.Keep in mind that John is writing as pastor of the seven churches under his care; as a pastor of people who are being tortured, persecuted, and killed. That is why he identifies himself as their brother and companion in difficulty. This identification suggests that John views himself as one who participates (i.e., as companion) with his Christian audience (i.e., as brother) in their various experiences of suffering, to which they respond with patient endurance, because they share equally in the same kingdom as priests (1:6).  We still live in a mostly Christian-friendly environment in this country, although it is becoming more hostile.  As we get closer to the Second Coming of Christ, we should look at this Book and its application from the standpoint of a government who is in opposition to the church.  Jesus is showing John “a new hope” which Jesus intends to use to help His people succeed.  John shows us a trio of opportunities: Tribulation, kingdom, and endurance – All found in Jesus Christ.John was exiled on the island of Patmos because of God’s Word and his testimony about Jesus Christ.  This is the same weapons used against Satan and the Antichrist (Revelation 12:10-11).  This means that being a Christian and sharing the message of Jesus in a godless culture will get you persecuted and even imprisoned.John was brought into a spiritual vision by the Holy Spirit.  He heard a voice, and the voice told him to write what he saw to the seven churches (Revelation 1:10-11).  John turned to see who spoke to him.  He saw seven gold lampstands, and then a person like the “Son of Man.”  In this vision, John sees Jesus in a certain way.  He sees Jesus differently than he has ever seen Him before.John heard a voice from behind.  It as a like a trumpet, which is similar to the description of God’s voice in Exodus 20 when He gives out the Ten Commandments from the mountain (Exodus 20:18).  This voice reminds us of the power and majesty of God.  Just as the Ten Commandments were given to help the people live as they entered the Promised Land, this vision and what follows is given to help encourage the Christians to live today.What is most significant is that Jesus appears among the lampstands (1:12–13; 2:1), which represent the seven churches (1:20; cf. John 20:19).  Because priests needed light to function in the sanctuary concealed from the light of the external world, the temple included a golden lampstand (Exodus 25:31–35; 37:18–21; 2 Chronicles 4:7, 20), which was never extinguished by night or day.John hears the voice of Jesus.  All of this happens before John turns around.  Do you see that in verse 12?  He says, “Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me.”  All what we read in verses 10-11 happened before John actually faced Jesus.  He hears the sound of Christ’s authority.John will later write in verse 15 that Christ’s voice is “as the sound of many waters.”  If you have ever been next to a waterfall, you know what he is talking about.  I remember our trip to Niagara Falls.  Standing nearby the Falls causes one to have to shout to be heard.  You can take a boat up close to the Falls.  It is loud and echoes everywhere.   The roar of the waters is practically deafening.  This speaks especially to us in our day.  In the midst of all the voices telling us who we are and what we are to be doing we need to drown those voices out with the authority of His Word.As we turn our eyes upon Jesus, we hear the sound of His authority.  Secondly, as you turn your eyes upon Jesus . . .2. Look At The Splendor Of His Majesty – Verses 12-16.John will present seven descriptions of Christ in these verses.  But first, note in verses 12 to 13 where John sees Christ, “Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man.”  John saw Jesus in the midst of “seven golden lampstands.”  The imagery of lampstands is rooted in the Old Testament Temple (Exodus 25).   The light symbolized God’s presence in the Temple.  Zechariah’s vision of a Golden Lampstand (Zechariah 4:1-14) symbolized the Spirit’s presence and power for the rebuilding of the Temple during the post-exilic period.   Jesus describes the Church as the “light of the world” and a “city on a hill.”  God’s people are to shine the light of God’s truth and presence into all of the world.  There are times in the book of Revelation where we have to interpret the signs and symbols.  Then there are other times when John just tells us exactly what the signs and symbols “sign-i-fy.”  In verse 20 he tells us that the seven golden lampstands represent the seven churches.  Then John says that “in the midst of the seven lampstands” he sees “One like the Son of Man.”  Of course, this is a reference to the Lord Jesus Christ.  Remember that the term “Son of Man” is Christ’s favorite designation of Himself.  He referred to Himself over 80 times in the Gospels with the self-designated title “Son of Man.”  That phrase draws upon the Old Testament prophetic literature.  The imagery of the ‘Son of Man’ is from Daniel 7 and 10 – a Messianic figure in Daniel’s visions who will have dominion over all earthly kingdoms.  The Bible says in Daniel chapter 7, verses 13-14, “I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven!  He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him.  Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed.”  Daniel is prophesying about the coming Messiah, a prophecy specifically about the Lord’s Second Coming.  He refers to the Messiah as “One like the Son of Man.”  John is using this same language as he describes His vision of the glorified Lord Jesus Christ as He was then, as He is today, and as He will be when He comes again.1. His clothing.John describes Jesus in verse 13 as, “Clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.”  This is a description of a robe.  Christ’s wearing of a robe pictures His priestly office.  Jesus Christ is our High Priest.  He is our go-between.  The New Testament nowhere teaches that man is to go to an earthly priest to get forgiveness from God.  Jesus is our High Priest.  The Bible says in Hebrews 7:25 that Christ, “ever lives to make intercession for us.”  He is always there as our go-between.  He is our bridge to the Heavenly Father.  He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6).The garment described here is the apparel of a Priest or King (cf. Exodus 28:4).  It speaks of Jesus power and authority over all the kingdoms of the world and of the priestly ministry of Jesus as He tends the lamps; and inhabits and builds His Temple (His Church).This picture of Jesus Christ is a picture of authority and power.  This language is a powerful mythic hero language. This language’s purpose is to display the power of Jesus Christ. The language shows Jesus in His glory.  Daniel saw Jesus in the same way in Daniel 10:5-6. “I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a certain man clothed in linen, whose waist was girded with gold of Uphaz!  His body was like the appearance of lightening, his eyes like torches of fire, his arms and feet like burnished bronze in color, and the sound of his words like the voice of a multitude.”The picture of Jesus here in Daniel is in relationship to Israel.  When we look at Daniel 10:1-9, we see that a man (not an angel) is dressed in a powerful fashion.  These visions are all about the authority and power of Jesus.  John saw this before.  When Peter, James, and John were with Jesus on a high mountain, Matthew 17:2 describes how they saw Jesus, “And He was transfigured before them.  His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.”John’s vision is clearly meant to portray Christ as the Divine Priestly Warrior, and the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy of the “Son of Man.”  The vision displays Christ’s presence with and His concern for His Church on earth.  Just as the Priests tended the Lamps in the Temple, so Christ tends His Church and builds His true Temple on earth.2. His head.Verse 14 says, “His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire.  This is the imagery from Daniel’s prophecy in Daniel 7:9 of the “Ancient of Days.”  It is a symbol of wisdom.  John’s vision attributes the attributes of God (Ancient of Days) to Jesus (Son of Man). Jesus is divine!  The picture of His hair being white as snow reminds us of the pure clean nature of Jesus.  It also reminds us of His power to forgive sins.  The prophet Isaiah declares a powerful truth from the Lord in chapter 1 and verse 18, “Come, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are as red as crimson, they will be like wool.”  Verse 14 goes on to say, “… And His eyes like a flame of fire.”  His “eyes of fire” remind us of His piercing nature into our souls.  It is the imagery from Daniel’s vision in Daniel 10:6 – It is a symbol of Judgment – John refers to Christ’s eyes like the work of a penetrating fire.  This is a reference to the judgment of Christ Jesus.  Christ sees exactly what is happening here on earth and will judge accordingly.  He looks at us with eyes that penetrate our hearts.  He looks right into our soul.  I think Peter saw something of this in the earthly Jesus when he looked up at Jesus and felt the penetrating gaze of Christ and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”  He saw something of this again later when he denied Christ in the courtyard and the Bible says in Luke 22:61 that when the rooster crowed, Jesus “looked at him” and Peter wept. 3. His feet.Verse 15 goes on to say, “His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace …”  This is imagery from Daniel’s vision in chapter 10, verse 6.  It is a symbol of purity, holiness, strength, and stability of Jesus Christ.  He is pure and holy, and His strength is permanent.  4. His voice.John continues to describe the Lord Jesus in the latter part of verse 15, “… And His voice as the sound of many waters.”   It is the imagery from Ezekiel 1:24, 43:2.   5. His right hand.Verse 15 declares, “He had seven stars in His right hand; a sharp double-edged sword came from His mouth, and His face was shining like the sun at midday.” (Revelation 1:16, HCSB).  The seven stars are identified in verse 20 as the ‘angels of the seven churches’  What are the seven stars?  John is given the answer in verse 20, “The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches.”  The word “angels” literally means “messengers”. Although it can mean angel and does throughout the book (The word “angel” occurs over 60 times in the book of Revelation), it cannot refer to angels here because angels are never leaders in the church.  Most likely, these messengers are the seven key pastors representing each of those churches.  Whoever they are, they spread the Light.  Jesus is the source of this Light. He is holding and protecting these stars in His right hand.  If these are ministers of God, they have no power in themselves. The Light that they give out comes from Him.This is one of the reasons that I believe preachers should be moved upon by the Holy Spirit of God, and receive their message for the church through the Spirit from God.  I do not believe that ministers should buy, or be sent, messages from other people to be used to give to the church.  Jesus’ Spirit is in each church, if we are His.  He knows the problem of each specific church on a given day, and He alone knows what message needs to be brought. These seven candlesticks, we are told here, are the seven churches symbolic of all churches for then until now.  A candlestick is not a light. vIt is the holder for the Light. These candlesticks lift the Light up for all to see. That is the exact purpose of the church,To elevate and lift up the Light, Jesus Christ.These candlesticks have to be cared for and fueled to be able to burn.The minister and the church are difficult to separate.  We know this is speaking of the church and the ministry of the church.  I believe that the stars are ministers held in Jesus’ hand.  I believe these letters were written to these particular churches describing conditions that were going on then.  But a more important message for us to see, is the message in each of them dealing with the problems in our churches right now.6. His mouth.The imagery is from Isaiah 11:4, 49:2.  A symbol of Christ’s authority to proclaim judgment: ·         It speaks of judgment against apostate Churches – cf. Revelation 2:16-17·         It speaks of judgment against wicked nations – cf. Revelation 19:15.Verse 16 continues, “… Out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword …”  Here again is a reference to the judgment of Christ.  His judgment is like a double-edged sword.  When He renders judgments, the King of the Universe speaks like a double-edged sword.  The writer of Hebrews speaks of the Word of God this way in Hebrews 4:12, “The word of God is quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing, even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”7. His Countenance. Verse 16 concludes with, “…  and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.”   Again, a reference to the unveiled splendor of Christ’s glory, the glory that was veiled in earth and is now unveiled for eternity.  His face shines like the sun shining in its strength.The vision shocked John to death. But Jesus laid His hand on John and spoke to him the same words He had spoken before, “Do not be afraid!”  This is the message that Jesus says to us when we encounter difficulties. Jesus has overcome death (Revelation 1:18) and He will help you overcome whatever you are going through right now. He holds the keys of death.  The phrase “do not be afraid” appears over 350 times in the Bible!  While Christ’s enemies certainly do have something to fear, Christ’s redeemed people have nothing to fear from the Lord!Turn your eyes upon Jesus and hear the sound of His authority . . . see the splendor of His majesty and . . .3. Rest in the Strength of His Sovereignty (17-20)We have examined . . .What John heard And What John saw, Now watch What John does.Verse 17 tells us, “And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead.”  It is remarkable that even the Apostle John who knew the Lord as a friend fell down before Him in fear and trembling.  In the Bible falling forward in fear and awe is often the response to an encounter with the Lord – cf. Joshua 5:14, Isaiah 6:5, Ezekiel 1:28, Daniel 8:17-18, Exodus 33:20.  Someone said, “Better to be dead at the feet of Jesus than alive anywhere else!”   But of course, John did not die, but fell at Christ’s feet “as dead.”  This reaction is a reminder of what happens when we encounter the holiness of God.  Like Isaiah in Isaiah 6.  He encountered the holiness of God and he said, “Woe is me.  For I am undone.”  Job, argued with God for 37 chapters.  God responds in chapter 38, “Who is this who darkens my counsel?  Brace yourself like a man, Job, because I’m going to ask you some questions now.  Where were you, Job, when I laid the earth’s foundation?  Where were you when I flung the stars in space?”  From chapters 38-41, God asks no less than 71 questions.  Job finally responds in chapter 42: “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand.  I repent in dust and ashes!”  John “fell at Christ’s feet as though dead.”   The rest of verse 17 shows us the response of Jesus to John’s feelings, “But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.”  We see the strength of Christ’s sovereignty here.  He rests His right hand upon John, the right hand is a symbol of authority.  He rests it there to convey rest to John.  Then He tells John to stop being afraid, because He is, “the First and the Last.”  Those words convey sovereign rule and reign.  We saw this last time from verse 16 where we are told Christ is “the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.”  Christ alone is God.  He is the Lord over everything.  He is before all things and He outlasts all things.  He starts and He finishes.In verse 18, Jesus states, “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore.  Amen.”  The sense of the last part of the first declaration is, “became dead.”  The Son of God “became dead.”  He says in John 10:17, “No man takes My life from Me.  I willingly lay down of My own accord.”  He “became dead” for us.  He died for us.  Then He says, “I am alive forevermore.”  The crucifix does not tell the end of the story.  The grave is the rest of His story!  He “became dead” and is “alive forevermore.”Verse 18 concludes with, “And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.”  Jesus holds the keys to Hades and Death.  “Hades” is a term that refers to the grave.  It refers to the place of all dead, “Sheol” in the Old Testament.  It is like our saying of one who dies, “He has passed on.”  We are not saying where that person has gone.  We are saying he is no longer here.  He has passed on to another realm, could be heaven, could be hell.Death claims the body.  Hades claims the soul.  And Christ has the keys Of Hades and death.  He is the One who holds Our fate in His hands!If we have been saved, He unlocks Hades and death, and we enter into the presence of heaven.  If we are not saved, death claims our body and hell claims our soul.  He is the only way in.  He holds the keys in His hand.  He is the sovereign One.In verse 19 Jesus commands John to, “Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.”  Here again is our outline for understanding the book.  Then in verse 20 Jesus states, “The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.”The seven lampstands are the seven churches and the seven stars messengers to the churches.  And where is Christ?  He is in the midst of the seven lampstands (verse13) and He holds the seven angels in His “right hand.”  This speaks of the presence and the protection of Christ.  He is with us.  You need fear nothing.  Rest in the strength of His sovereignty.In verse 19, Jesus then tells John, “Write the things which you have seen, the things which care, and the things which will take place after this.”  Jesus tells John to write the visions he “has seen” (which are in chapters 1), “what is” (which are the letters to the seven churches in chapters two and three), and then “what will take place” which covers chapters 4 through 22.Then in verse 20, Jesus interprets the vision for John. In the book of Revelation, every vision is interpreted.  In this case, Jesus says that this vision was about the churches John would write to.  In this verse, Jesus tells John what the lampstands represents. These lampstands are reminiscent of the vision given to Zechariah.  In Zechariah 4:2, the Bible tells us, “And he said to me, ‘What do you see?’  So I said, ‘I am looking, and there is a lampstand of solid gold with a bowl on top of it, and on the stand seven lampstands with seven pipes to the seven lamps.”  In Zechariah 4:10, the angel wraps his conversation with Zechariah with these words, “For who has despised the day of small things?  For these seven rejoice to see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubabel.  That are the eyes of the LORD, which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth.”  The “seven lampstands” represent the church.  In Zechariah 4:2–6 the lampstand with its seven lamps is a figurative of speech by which part of the temple furniture stands for the whole temple. This by extension also represents faithful Israel (cf. Zechariah 4:6–9), which is required to live “not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit’ says the Lord” (Zechariah 4:6). Who are the messengers to the churches? Are they pastors, or angels?Revelation 1:20 informs us that the seven messengers, which is used in Luke 7:24 to speak of John’s followers, of the seven churches. God holds His servants and places them where He wants them to “shine” for Him.  In Daniel 12:3, wise soul winners are compared to shining stars.  These messengers also are designed to encourage the church.  Jesus had told John to write the vision on the scroll to seven specific churches. This section reminds us that Jesus has a word of exhortation and encouragement for His church!Through death into life everlastingHe passed, and we follow Him there;Over us sin no more hath dominion—For more than conquerors we are! Turn your eyes upon Jesus,Look full in His wonderful face,And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,In the light of His glory and grace. 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 1:4-8 – Behold, He is Coming!

Grace For The Journey

I read about a little boy who was looking at a bunch of puppies.  His father was with him and he was going to buy him a puppy.  The father asked the little boy which puppy he liked the best.  The boy looked at all the puppies and he saw one puppy whose tail was wagging excitedly back and forth.  The little boy pointed at that puppy and said, “I want that one, the one with the happy ending!”  The Book of Revelation is the Book with the happy ending.  It is the happy ending of the Bible, and the happy ending of God’s plan and program for mankind.

Several weeks ago we began a series of studies through this last book of the Bible, a series entitled, “What Is The World Coming To.”  God wants us to understand this book.  You remember that the word translated “revelation” in verse one is a word that means “unveiling.”  The Book of Revelation is an unveiling of Jesus Christ.  This morning we will look at verses 4 to 8 of chapter one.

The book of Revelation is the only book in the Bible that explicitly promises to bless all who read it or hear it.  Verse 3 says, “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy.”  We are in for a blessing as we study this Book; and we pick up this morning with some blessings that come right out of this passage before us.  From verses 4-8, we are going to examine a few of God’s truths that bless Christians.

1. We Are Blessed By His Strengthening Comfort – Verses 4-5.

Remember that the Book of Revelation is written primarily for the purpose of encouraging Christians who were undergoing suffering for their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Under the Roman Emperor Domitian, Christians were pressured to worship the emperor and to acknowledge his supreme lordship.  It was not easy being a Christian in those days and many died as martyrs for their faith.  God uses John to write a letter to strengthen and comfort these Christians by reminding them that H is in control and that they can persevere in their faith as they look toward the future.

Verse 4 begins by saying, “John, to the seven churches which are in Asia …”  The seven churches in Asia are seven churches all in the vicinity of Ephesus, the area now known as modern Turkey.  There were more churches in John’s day than these seven. We read of the churches of Colossae and Troas, for example.  So why does John single out these seven?  You will remember from last time that the Book of Revelation is presented to us in signs and symbols.  It is a “divine picture book.”  One of John’s favorite numbers is the number seven.  He uses the number seven 54 times in throughout the Book.  The number seven emphasizes perfection, completion, and wholeness.  It is very likely that John intends the Book of Revelation to encourage not just the seven local churches in Asia Minor, but also to encourage the full and complete Body of Christ, Christians in all locations and all time. 

Verse 4, and the first part of verse 5, begin to tell us about the strengthening comfort God provides, “Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ …” This is a beautiful blessing – Christians receive and enjoy “grace and peace” from our relationship with Christ.  Nearly 20 of the books of the New Testament begin this way – “Grace to you and peace.”  A pastor friend went on a mission trip to Brazil a couple of years ago.  He said that the Brazilian Christians greet one another in this way.  When we meet someone, you and I say, “Hello, how are you doing?”  When we leave, we say, “Goodbye.”  Coming or going, they said, “Grace and Peace.”  The order is important . . .

You cannot have real peace

In life without God’s grace. 

God gives us the gift of His grace,

Which makes possible perfect peace.

Some of us desire peace – peace in our homes, peace in our marriages, peace in our finances, and peace in our relationships at work.  The Bible teaches that peace, the kind of settled peace that flows from a joyful heart, that peace is possible only by a right relationship with God.  I

f you want to receive

The blessing of

God’s strengthening comfort,

You must receive God’s grace. 

You must turn to God

And open your heart

To Him and follow Him.

Look at verses 4 and 5 and you will see the preposition “from” following “grace to you and peace.”  Note that it occurs three times.  You may wish to circle the three times it occurs because it occurs three times for a reason – You have here a reference to the Trinity. 

1) Grace to you and peace from, here’s the first “from,” “From Him who is and who was and who is to come.”  That is a reference to God the Father, the eternal Father. 

2) Then, the second, “from,” from “the seven Spirits who are before His throne.”  Here is a reference to the Holy Spirit.  Remember that John loves the number seven.  Seven emphasizes perfection, completion, and wholeness.  John is also very likely alluding to Isaiah, chapter 11.  Isaiah 11 is what is called a Messianic chapter, or a chapter that speaks of the future messiah, the anointed one, the Lord Jesus Christ.  In Isaiah 11:2, the Bible says that “the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.”  Isaiah is prophesying about the ministries of the Spirit that rest upon the messiah and, in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, there are a total of seven of these ministries of the Spirit. 

1) Then you have the third “from” in verse 5, from “Jesus Christ.”  Normally the order of the Trinity is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but John places the order as Father, Spirit, and Son.  Remember the Book of Revelation is an “unveiling” of Jesus Christ.  It is a “Him-book.”  It is about Him, about the Lord Jesus.  John is emphasizing the glory and splendor of the risen Lord Jesus Christ and saving his best thoughts for last as He writes of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Saving One sent from God.  We have here a reference to the Trinity, the first blessing God gives us: “Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ.”

That brings us to the next blessing.  We are blessed by God’s strengthening comfort.  Secondly:

2. We Are Blessed By His Saving Christ – Verses 5-6.

The word “Christ” is not Jesus’ last name.  The word “Christ” is a title.  It is a word that means “Messiah” or, “Anointed One.”  Jesus of Nazareth is “the Christ,” God’s promised Messiah, or the One specially anointed by God.  His name, “Jesus,” means “Savior.”   

When John gets to verse 5

And starts talking about Jesus,

He gets carried away!

First, John gives us three titles about the saving Lord Jesus Christ.  Verse 5 says, “And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness …”  Jesus He is the faithful witness.  Jesus bears witness to the Father.  He “declared” the Father to man.  Because He is one with the Father (John 10:30), Jesus could say to Philip in John 14:9, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.”  He is the faithful witness.

Verse 5 continues with, “… The firstborn from the dead …”  The word “firstborn” means, “first in rank” or “first in importance,” first “in a long line of others.”  Jesus is the firstborn from the dead.  This is a reference to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Jesus was not the first person to come back from the dead.  We read in the Old Testament of the miracles of Elijah and Elisha.  We read in the New Testament of the son of the widow of Nain, and Lazarus, who came back to life. 

So, what does this word “firstborn” mean?  When Lazarus came back to life, for example, what eventually happened to Lazarus later?  He died.  As soon as he came back to life, he began to slowly die again.  We do not know how many more years he lived, but eventually Lazarus died again.  But when Jesus came back to life, He came back as the “firstborn” from the dead, first to come back in a glorified body, a body that the Bible talks about in 1 Corinthians 15 as an “incorruptible” body, a glorious body that will last forever.  And every Christian who has died and whose soul has gone on to be with the Lord will one day receive a glorified body like unto the Lord Jesus’ body.  That is the promise of the resurrected body.  Jesus got His first.  He is the firstborn from the dead.

Verse 5 goes on to say, “… And the ruler over the kings of the earth.”  I think John is reminding Christians of all ages that Jesus is ultimately the One in charge.  For the Christians in John’s day, he is saying, “The Roman Emperor may be the king of the earth, but Jesus is the ruler over the kings of the earth.”  And he says the same to us today.  Jesus Christ is the ruler over every leader of the earth.

Then you have three wonderful ministries of our Saving Christ.  You see them there at the end of verse 5 and the beginning of verse 6, “… To Him who loved us.”  The word “loved” is a participle that is actually in the present tense.  It should really be translated, “To Him, the One Who continually loves us.”  The Lord Jesus Christ continually loves us.  Oh, think about that . . . He continually loves us.  He loves us more than any earthly person can love us.  Most of us love one another conditionally.  We love until we get hurt or we love if expectations are met.  But He continually loves us completely, with no conditions attached.  Jesus Christ loves us continually.

  • No matter what you have done, Jesus loves you continually. 
  • No matter what you are doing, Jesus loves you continually. 
  • No matter what you will do, Jesus loves you continually. 

Some of you are thinking, “I have sinned a terrible sin.  Surely Jesus cannot love me.”  You need to be reminded . . . Jesus loves you with unconditional love.  He is ever-loving.

Verse 6 continues, “… and washed us from our sins in His own blood …”  What a powerful and wonderful truth!  Jesus Christ has washed us from our sins in His own blood.  The Bible says in 1 John 1:7 that, “the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin.”  Some translations have that Jesus Christ “freed us” or “loosed us” from our sins.  The Greek words translated “washed” and “loosed” both sound exactly alike and that is probably why translations differ.  Both ideas are accurate descriptions of what Jesus has done for every believer.

When I received Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior, He “cleansed me” from sin pollution, and “set me free” from sin’s penalty.  As I stand before God in Christ, my sinful soul has been “cleansed” or “made whiter than snow” by the shed blood of Jesus Christ.  As I live from day to day, Jesus “looses me” or “sets me free” from sin’s power.  One day, when I get to heaven, Jesus will forever “set me free” from sin’s presence.

Verse 6 continues, “… and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father.”  Jesus Christ has made Christians “kings” and “priests.”  We reign with Him as “kings!”  In some sense, we already reign with Him now as we have entered into His kingdom by salvation, but in a greater sense we will reign with Him on earth during His millennial reign, the one thousand year reign of Christ mentioned in Revelation 20. 

Christ has also made us “priests.”  Nowhere does the New Testament teach that we have to go to any man in order to go to God.  We do not need to go to a priest in order to go to God.  Christ has made us priests ourselves.  By faith in Christ Jesus, because we are saved and positionally righteous in Him, we may boldly approach the very throne of God and talk to Him anytime we wish, because Christ has made us priests to His God and Father (Hebrews 4:16).  That just causes John to get a little happy and he shouts a doxology there at the end of verse 6, “… To Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 

We are talking about God’s truths that bless Christians.  We are blessed by His strengthening comfort, by His saving Christ.  Thirdly . . .

3. We Are Blessed By His Second Coming – Verse 7.

Verse 7 says, “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.”  The word “Behold,” is an attention-getter.  It occurs 25 times in the Book of Revelation.  It means, “Pay attention!  Check it out!  Do not miss this!”  John seems to be making the first of several allusions to the Old Testament Book of Daniel, chapter 7.  In his vision of “the Ancient of Days,” his vision of the coming messiah, Daniel says in Daniel :13, “And behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven!”

Jesus said He would come back with clouds in Matthew 24:30.  The angels said He would come back with clouds just as He had ascended into heaven in a cloud in Acts 1:11, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven?  This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”  His return will be visible.  That truth is reinforced by the next statement, “… And every eye will see Him …  Every single person will see the Lord Jesus Christ when He returns, everyone.  How is that possible?  Certainly the technological advances that we enjoy today will help.  But do not forget, it is a supernatural return of the Lord.  In a way physics cannot explain, every single eye will look up and will see Him when He returns.  Everyone – not just those living, but those who have died will see Him, too.  Remember what Jesus said to Caiaphas, the High Priest, in Matthew 26:64,  “Hereafter, you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”  This affirms what John is led to say here, “… even they who pierced Him.”  This seems to be primarily a reference to the Jewish nation.  John alludes to Zechariah 12:10, “They will look upon Him who was pierced and mourn.”  Taken with other passages in the Bible, many of the Jews will recognize the Lord Jesus was indeed the Messiah and they will mourn with a view toward repentance.   But note that John adds, “… And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.”  Jew and Gentile alike will realize that we are all guilty of the death of Christ Jesus.  It was our sin that crucified Him.  All who died without Christ, all who are in the depths of hell, even there they will see Him return, but it will be too late for them.  They will bow the knee, but not as God’s children.  All the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him.

But for the believer, Christ’s return is good news.  The Lord Jesus Christ is coming, and He is coming to reign on earth.  He is coming to set in order this fallen world.  Be blessed by His second coming.  Then, finally . . .

4. We Are Blessed By His Sovereign Control – Verse 8.

In verse 8 you have a reference to the sovereign control of God, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”  He is “the Alpha and the Omega.”  The alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet.  This is God’s way of saying, “I am before all things” and “I outlast all things.”  So, fear not.  I am in control of everything in your life.

That is always a good reason to be encouraged in our lives.  God is in control of everything.  He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.  He is before all things and He outlasts all things.  You need not worry about that problem you brought with you to our study time today.  Trust God and be blessed by His sovereign control.

Then God is identified as the one “who is and who was and who is to come.”  This phrase occurs nine times in the book of Revelation.  Again, it speaks of God’s sovereign control over everything.  He has been – always; He is – always; He will be – always.  And He is “Almighty.”  He can do anything and He will do whatever He said.

This concluding statement is God’s way of saying, “What I have been telling you is absolutely true:  Behold, HE IS COMING!”

The contemporary Christian group Newsong has a song about the Second Coming called “Fingertips and Noses.”  If you have not heard the song, you would naturally conclude that it sounds like a pretty odd name for a song about the Lord’s Second Coming.  But the song is about a teacher in Kentucky who was teaching children in a special needs class.  She was teaching them about Jesus Christ who is coming again.  Here are some of the lyrics . . .

Up in the hills somewhere in Kentucky

In a little old school way back in the nothing

Where special kids born with special needs

Are sent to learn life’s ABCs

Their teacher, Mrs. Jones, tells them all about Jesus

How in the twinkling of an eye He’s coming back to get us

About streets of gold and pearly gates

How they want to go, they just can’t wait

And she can’t keep them in their seats

They’re all at the windows straining to see

And it’s . . .

Fingertips and noses pressed to the windowpanes

Longing eyes, expectant hearts for Him to come again

All they know is that they love Him so

And if He said He’d come, He’s coming

And they can’t keep their windows clean

For fingertips and noses

When you think about the Lord’s Second Coming, what is the attitude of your heart?  Are you looking with anticipation for the return of the Lord Jesus?  Is your heart like these little children, faces and hands pressed against the glass of the windows, looking up, longing for the return of 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 To: Revelation 1:1-3 – “First Thoughts about Last Things”

Revelation is an easy book to find.  Just go to the very end of the Bible and you will find it.  It is appropriate that Revelation is found at the end of the Bible because it is a book about the end, about end times, and about last things.  The big fancy theological word for the study of the end times or last things is the word “eschatology,” which means “the study of the eschaton, or the end of the age.  Today we are beginning a new study of messages entitled, “What Is The World Coming To?”  Lord willing, we will make our way, verse-by-verse through the 22 chapters of this great book.  Most Christians that I know and talk to would really like to understand the book of Revelation and I believe God wants us to understand this book.

There has been a lot of interesting conjecture concerning the contents of Revelation over the years, especially since the popular book by Hal Lindsey came out over 50 years ago.  The book is entitled, The Late Great Planet Earth.  In many ways, the publishing of that book ushered in a new group of popular American Christian literature and movies on the end times.  When one reads the first edition of Lindsey’s book (written in 1970), you cannot help but conclude that Lindsey believed the Lord will return before the end of the 1980s.  Lindsey dated a generation as 40 years and believed that 40 years after the Jews returned to Israel in 1948, the Lord would come again.  Of course, that did not happen.  A lot of the success of end-times discussions during the 1980s was aided by the ongoing cold war and the threat of nuclear disaster.

In 1988, Edgar Whisenant, a former NASA engineer, published a book entitled, 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be In 1988.   Most readers of that book can readily conclude that he, too, was wrong.  I remember in the 1980s some were even saying that Ronald Reagan was the antichrist because his full name, Ronald Wilson Reagan, contains six letters each, hence: 666, the number of the beast.  There was a lot of this conjecturing over numbers and numbering systems, and so forth.

It reminds me of the three old men who had gone to the doctor for a memory test.  The doctor asked the first old man, “What is one plus one?”  He said, “Two hundred seventy-four.”  The doctor said to the second man, “It’s your turn. What is one plus one?”  He said, “Tuesday.”  The doctor then turned to the third man, “Okay, your turn. What’s one plus one?”  He said, “Two.”  The doctor said, “That’s great!”  He then asked the man, “How did you get that?”  The third man said, “Simple.  I just subtracted 274 from Tuesday!” 

My prayer is that we will avoid that kind of reasoning as we study this book together.  It is my belief that God wants us to understand this book.  In the words of the hymn-writer William Cowper, “God is His own interpreter, and He will make it plain.”  Our study today is entitled, “First Thoughts about Last Things.”  This first study will be an introductory overview of the book.

Before we talk about the main points that come out of these verses, let me make a few general remarks about the book. 

1) It is the Book of Revelation.

It is not the Book of Revelations. “Revelation” (the Greek word is “apokalupsis”) means “an uncovering,” “an unveiling,” or “a disclosure.”  In the New Testament, this word describes the unveiling of spiritual truth (Romans 1625; Galatians 1:12; Ephesians 1:17; 3:3), the revealing of the sons of God (Romans 8:19), Christ’s incarnation (Luke 2:32), and His glorious appearing at His second coming (2 Thessalonians 1:7; 1 Peter 1:7).  In all its uses, “revelation” refers to something or someone, once hidden, becoming visible.

What this Book reveals

Or unveils is

Jesus Christ in glory.

Truths about Him and His final victory, that the rest of Scripture merely allude to, become clearly visible through revelation about Jesus Christ.  This revelation was given to Him by God the Father, and it was communicated to the Apostle John by an angel (1:1).

2) The author of the book of Revelation is identified for us as John. 

You see it there in verse one: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place.  And He sent and signified it by His angel to whom?  To His servant John.”

This John is the same John who wrote the Gospel of John, and the letters of first, second, and third John.  The book tells us later that John is writing from the island of Patmos, an island in the Aegean Sea, about 70 miles Southwest of Ephesus.  John is being held there as an exile.  He was exiled to Patmos during the latter part of the reign of the evil Roman Emperor Domitian, who ruled from AD 81-96.  This places the date of the book of Revelation somewhere between AD 90-96.

Christians in John’s day were facing fierce persecution.  The Christian church began to feel weak and vulnerable.  Some even began to compromise their convictions. 

The purpose of the book of Revelation

Is primarily to encourage these Christians

And to remind them that Jesus Christ is

The Victorious King who is, indeed,

Coming again to right all wrongs

And to reign on earth.

While the primary audience was the early Christians of Asia Minor, the audience includes Christians of all time periods.

There are three main sections of the book identified from verse 19 of chapter one.  You see there in 1:19 . . .

Past (chapter 1), “Things which you have seen;”

Present (chapters 2-3), “things which are;”

Future (chapters 4-22), “things which shall be.” 

Now, later, chapters 6-19 deal with a time known as “the tribulation.”  Basically you have in chapters 6-19 three series of judgments.  They are three series of seven judgments: seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven bowls.

As we study, I am going to be presenting what is known as the futurist view and, more specifically, “the premillennial view.”  The premillennial view asserts that the Lord Jesus Christ is going to return before a time period known as the millennium.  Jesus Christ will return prior to the 1,000 year reign described in chapter 20.  We will learn more about the later. 

I have already said that I believe God wants us to understand the book of Revelation.  He wants us to really know what He is teaching here in this book.  He does not want us to get lost in the details.  The story is told about a man who drove into a large city looking for Main Street.  Having difficulty finding it, and realizing he was lost, he noticed a boy standing on the street and called out to him: “Young man, do you know where Main Street is?”  The little boy shook his head and said, “No.”  The man asked, “Well, do you know where First Street is?”  Again, the little boy nonchalantly shook his head and said, “No.”  Getting a little frustrated, the man asked, “Well, do you know where this road leads?”  And again, the little boy shrugged his shoulders and said, “No.”  Exasperated, the man shouted, “Young man, do you know anything!?”  The little boy said, “I know I am not lost.”

God does not want us to get lost in the details of this book.  He wants us to really know, to really understand this book.  After I finished getting my outline together in my study time, I noticed that two of my favorite preachers, Adrian Rogers and Jerry Vines, had very similar outlines.  That encouraged me not so much because it put me in the same camp as those guys, but because it shows how plain these points are in these first three verses; that anyone could find them.

**What God Wants Us to Know About Revelation:

I.  The Principal Person Of The Book.

Verse one begins by saying, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.”  That says it all – “The revelation of Jesus Christ!” 

Jesus is the principal person of the book.

This Book is not a revelation of John about Jesus Christ, it is a revelation of Jesus Christ.  The word “revelation” is the Greek word “apocalypse.”  While that word typically brings to mind synonyms such as disaster, destruction, day of reckoning, and so forth, the Greek word literally means, “uncovering” or “unveiling.”  So, it is helpful here to read the first verse, “The unveiling of Jesus Christ.”  The revelation of Jesus Christ is the unveiling of Christ that the world may see His glory and splendor.

When Jesus came the first time, much of His glory was veiled.  He came as a humble carpenter from the obscure town of Nazareth.  Many people in his hometown rejected Him because he was just a “local boy,” nothing special about Him.  His family rejected Him.  The Jews, at large, rejected Him.  His glory is veiled.  You see that as you read through the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  And then little, by little, it becomes increasingly apparent to His disciples that this Jesus of Nazareth is more than a man.  When you get to that incredible event on the Mount of Transfiguration, for just a few moments Peter, James, and John see the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ unveiled as brilliant white light shines right through the body of Jesus Christ. 

But in large part, the glory of Jesus was veiled during His first coming.  When He comes again, things will be very different. 

He came the first time in humiliation. 

He will come the second time in exaltation. 

He came the first time

In a humble stable in Bethlehem. 

He will come the second time in

unveiled glory from heaven,

Coming with His mighty angels.

The principal person in the book is Jesus Christ.  Let me remind you again that . . .

Jesus Christ is the principal person

Of every book of the Bible. 

The Bible is a “Him” book. 

The Bible is about Him.

The Old Testament saints were saved the same way you and I are saved.  Not by our works, but by grace through faith.  We look back 2,000 years to the cross and see God’s Son.  The Old Testament saints, such as David and Solomon looked ahead 2,000 years to the cross. 

In faith, they believed

God would send His Messiah

And by faith looked ahead

To that promise. 

And in faith, you and I believe

God sent His Messiah and

Look back to Calvary.

Salvation is the same in both Testaments, Old and New.  Our salvation is accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ.  He is the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except by Him.

And this Book is about Him. 

He is the principal person of the book.

The Greek construction of the phrase, “the Revelation of Jesus Christ,” can mean both an unveiling “about” Jesus Christ and an unveiling “from” Jesus Christ. 

Jesus is at once the One unveiled

And the One doing the unveiling.

This brings us to the second point in our study today.  Not only does God want us to know the principal person of the book, but secondly, God wants us to know

II.  The Prophetic Purpose Of The Book.

Verses 1 and 2 tell us, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants — things which must shortly take place.  And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw.”

What is it that God is going to show His servants?  “Things which must shortly take place.”  The Book of Revelation is a prophecy.  It unveils the glory of Jesus Christ by telling about God’s program through future events.  Remember the structure from verse 19.  The Lord Jesus says to John, “write the things which you have seen” (Past; Chapter one), “and the things which are” (Present; Chapters two and three), “and the things which will take place after this” (Future; Chapters four through twenty-two).

The book of Revelation is about “things which must shortly take place.”  First notice, they “must” take place.  They must.  God is guiding the events of history.  Nothing happens by mere chance.  Nothing will hinder God’s purposes.  These things absolutely must take place and God will see to it that they do.  Notice secondly, that these things must “shortly” take place.  That is, they will take place soon.  The faithful early Christians looked for the Lord’s return to happen soon.  They prepared for His Coming.

We are to live the same way today.  We must always live our lives in such a way that we are ready for the Lord’s return.  Some will say, “Well, a lot of time has past since the Lord’s first coming.  He does not seem to be in any hurry.”  Well, He is not in any hurry.  He knows the exact time.  Remember these things “must” take place.  Someone else may ask, “Why has He not yet come?”  That’s the same question Peter addresses in 2 Peter 3:8-9, “Beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.  The Lord is not slack (slow) concerning His promise, as some count slackness (understand slowness), but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

God has planned the exact moment that our Lord Jesus Christ will return, and His return will happen at a time we do not expect.  Peter says to the Lord a thousand years to us is just a day to God.  He is not bound by our time-table.  He is operating on His own.  So Peter says God is not slow in fulfilling His promise.  If it seems to you that much time has passed as we await our Lord’s return . . .

The Bible says understand that this delay

Is because of the loving grace of God

Who is allowing the delay that more people

Should come to repentance and be saved.

Do not toy with the time God is giving you.  Be about the business of preparing to meet our Lord.  Make sure you are ready and make sure your family, friends, and acquaintances are ready.

The Bible goes on and  says about this revelation in verse one that Jesus “sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John.”  It is best to read that word “signified” as “sign-ified.”  Did you catch that?  “Sign-ified.’ 

The revelation or unveiling of Jesus Christ

Through prophetic future events is given

By way of symbols and signs.

That may be for two reasons:

1) It may be that because of the fierce persecution of John’s day that biblical truth was given in symbols so that those doing the persecution would not understand what it was about.  After all, the revelation is given to Christ’s “servants,” not to just anyone.

But . . .

2) It may also be that the contents of the book of Revelation, the unveiling of Jesus Christ through future events, was given in symbols and signs because it was the best means to convey spiritual truth.  The unveiling of future events may be difficult to convey in just words.  Have you ever caught a glimpse of something you just could not describe?  You end up saying, “Well, you just had to be there.”  That may be what John encountered as he was presented the unveiling of future events.  So, with God’s help we will be interpreting these symbols and signs in the weeks ahead.

God wants us to know the principal Person of the book.  God wants us to know the prophetic purpose of the book.  And thirdly, God wants us to know . . .

III.  The Precious Promise Of The Book.

The book of Revelation is the only book of the Bible with this precious promise.  Look at it again there in verse 3, “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.”  This verse shows that the early Christians assembled on the Lord’s day for the public reading and teaching of the Scripture.  The preacher would come before the people with the Bible and would read the Bible and give the sense of the passage read.  So, blessed is he who reads (the pastor) and those who hear the words (the congregation).  I am blessed as I read and you are blessed as you hear the words of this prophecy.

This book is a blessing to read.  Is not it ironic, then, that it is the one Book of the Bible that is so often not read?  I got to thinking about that this week, and I thought about some of the reasons we do not read this Book.  One reason may be, quite frankly, that we do not read it because we do not fully understand it.  One of the reasons we do not understand it is because we really do not know our Bibles well, especially the Old Testament.  It is interesting: John never quotes the Old Testament insofar as chapter and verse is concerned, but as he writes and shares the revelation, he alludes to and makes reference to the Old Testament around 300 times.  Some scholars even estimate that as much as 75% of the book of Revelation is to be understood by knowing the Old Testament.

I also think that one of the reasons we do not read Revelation is perhaps owing to spiritual warfare.  The devil does not want us reading this Book.  He does not want us to be blessed.  This book prophesies his doom.  Revelation is the final Book that records the final days of Satan.

The book of Genesis is a Book of beginnings. 

The book of Revelation is a Book of endings. 

In Genesis we have the entrance of sin. 

In Revelation we have the ending of sin. 

In Genesis the devil enters as one destroying. 

In Revelation he exits as one destroyed.

Satan does not want you reading this Book.  He does not want you to be blessed.  He will do what he can to keep you from reading it and studying it. 

But if you and I go through this Book a blessing will follow – “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy” – but not just reading and hearing!  The Bible says “and keep those things which are written in it.”  In other words, we must obey what we read here in the Book of Revelation.

God wants us to know the precious promise of this book.  I am praying for a great blessing to follow our studying through this Book.  I am praying for a spiritual harvest of committed believers to the Lord Jesus Christ as a result of our studying this book together.  Let’s get ready to receive the precious promise of this book; a great spiritual blessing as we read and hear the words of this prophecy because, as verse three ends, “the time is near.”

That statement is meant to encourage Christians – “the time is near.”  Hang in there.  Jesus Christ is coming again.  You are going to make it.  Stay the course.  But the phrase also applies as a warning – “the time is near.”  Be ready.  Make sure you are spiritually prepared for the events in this Book that will unfold before your very eyes.  Be ready when our Lord returns.

As I was driving around the other day, God impressed upon my mind the need to be spiritually prepared at all times.  The Lord may not return again for several years, perhaps even decades.  The odds are that most of us will die before He returns.  When we die we will face an immediate judgment whereby our souls will go immediately either to heaven or to hell.  Immediately.  There is no “soul sleep” or purgatory.  The Bible teaches that our souls go immediately to one of two locations.

Are you ready to meet the Lord, whether He returns first, or whether you die first?  Can I say that there is no more important question than that?  The Bible says in James 4:14 that you and I do not even know what tomorrow brings.  James says your life is like a vapor.  Your life is like the upward steam from a hot cup of coffee.  You see it for a moment and then it is gone.  Your life is like that.  You see it for a moment and then it is gone.  That is why Paul says in 2 Corinthians 6:2, “Now is the time.  Today is the day of salvation.”   We are going to study about Jesus’ return . . . the question is, “Are you ready?”  Some of you do not have peace with God and if you continue that way you are taking the chance that you will live another day.  You might even be thinking, “I will make peace with God another day.”  Do not wait . . . Do not delay!  Your life is a vapor.  It will be over very soon.  Now is the time.  Today is the day of salvation.  Come and accept what Christ has done for you and be saved, for the time is near.

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.”