Saturday, June 24, 2023

Overcome The World

Bobservations' Column

Titled - "Overcome the World"
Written by: Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Last week we learned of something that the Lord God hates in His Church, the deeds of the Nicolaitans (Revelation 2:6). Here’s the problem: There is no sect or official group, or record of such a group. So, this is what we know: having been written in the Greek by John the Apostle, we need to break down the Greek word. “Nico” means to conquer, or to rule over, and “Laitan” in the Greek refers to the laity. So, our clearest understanding is that church leaders divided the church into two classes of people: leaders, and those that need to be led.

God says in the Letter to the Ephesus Church that the Church hates it, and so does He. This is the same thing that happened within Judaism that Jesus came to rectify. When He taught anywhere, He did not lord His position over the listeners, and He did not dress up in apparel any different from the average person on the street. The deeds of the Nicolaitans are a construct of human nature, and not “of the Spirit.”

Jesus said in John 15 that He no longer called us servants, but friends. And true friends don’t have to dress up for each other; friends join in fellowship and companionship just as they are.

But what was mere practice in Ephesus with a ruling class within the church has fully blossomed in Pergamum, and Thyatira as church dogma. These messages to each church establish a chronology of timed events that John writes of, covering the entirety of the Church Age. The Holy Spirit is showing him what happened to Judaism over the years, will also will happen in the future church over time because human nature does not change without the conviction of the Holy Spirit. As The Word has told us, a leopard cannot change his own spots (Jer. 13:23), and neither can we change our own sin nature.

Here’s the rub: Jesus calls us to be changed anyway. From death to life, we are to be changed by believing in Him. As the Holy Spirit of God testifies of Jesus (John 16:12-14), we find ourselves comparing ourselves to Jesus, rather than to each other. Set your sights on Jesus, and become more like Him…

In each letter, “To him that overcometh…” is followed by a promise specific to each church.  We can follow the world, or we can be overcomers!

Sunday Morning Audio Message:
Revelation 2:12-29 - "Overcome The World"


Brief Summary - We are continuing our study in the Book of Revelation from chapter 2, verses 12-29. In this morning’s text, we will read the letters to the church in Pergamum, the church that needed to repent (2:12-17), and also the church in Thyatira, the church that had a false prophetess (2:18-29).

The Pergamene believers lived in a difficult place, surrounded by pagan influences, yet held fast to the name of Christ and did not deny Him in their difficulties. However, they had people among them who held to the teaching of Balaam, and the teachings of the Nicolaitans, which were pagan, idolatrous, and contrary to the gospel and teachings of Christ.

The author of this letter, “He which hath the sharp sword with two edges” (vs 12), is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ, issuing a clarion call to repent of their sin.

The believers in Thyatira were commended for their love, faith, service, patience and works, but were guilty of allowing a false prophetess to lead them into idolatry, adultery and sexual immorality. Rather than rebuke her and remove her from the church, they allowed her deception to perpetuate in the church.  The tone of this letter is much more serious, because the church had actually yeilded to the demoralizing influence of false teaching and sin.

Again, it is clear that the author is Jesus, “These things saith the Son of God… “(vs.18), He is pronouncing judgment on this “Jezebel”, and calls the church of Thyatira to repent of their sin, or face judgment.

Jesus encourages those who remain faithful, to hold fast until He comes, and gives a promise to those who overcome.

Background Notes
- Pergamos is less than a hundred miles from Ephesus. Smyrna would be about halfway if you were moving north. The route of these letters follows the route that would be taken to deliver them. Ephesus the starting point, and then on to Smyrna, and then on about 50 miles, 55 miles or so north to the city of Pergamos.

It’s about 20 miles inland from the Aegean Sea. Pergamum was the ancient capital of Asia and considered to be Asia’s greatest city. Pergamum still exists today as the Turkish city of Bergama.  By the time John penned this letter, it had been the capital of the Roman province of Asia Minor for somewhere between 250 and 300 years. The word Pergamos literally means parchment. You know what parchment is? Parchment is a writing material developed from animal skin. And apparently it was first developed in this area and thus the city of Pergamos took its name from that.

It was an important religious center where the pagan cults worshiping Athena; Asklepios; Dionysius, which is another name for Bacchus the god of drunkenness and debauchery; Zeus – all of these things were there. The worship of the Roman Emperor was very big. In fact, this was the first city in the ancient Roman world to build a temple to Caesar. It was built in 29 A.D., right about the time of the flourishing of the ministry of Jesus Christ. The emperor worship had reached the point of cultic form. He was no longer seen as a political or military leader, but he was seen as a god. And in this city they built the first temple to Caesar. Further years indicated that they built further temples, and so the city had perhaps several temples of worship for Caesar. It became then the capital of Caesar worship. That city which was more given over to that than any other city in ancient Roman territory.

Along with Caesar worship, they had developed other pagan forms of worship. And as long as you worshiped Caesar, you could worship somebody else.  This was a dangerous place for Christians who did not worship Caesar, they worshiped Christ and Him alone and refused on the one day a year when you had to burn incense to Caesar.  As a result, they faced persecution, lost their citizenry rights and even their lives.  Being the capital city for Caesar worship, the danger to Christians would have been intensified. 

In the city of Pergamos existed a large university and a library – and this is quite remarkable in ancient times – a library of 200,000 volumes.  In fact, it was such a significant library that it was later sent to Egypt as a gift from Antony to Cleopatra. So, the city had some prominence and some significance.

We don't know how the Church at Pergamos started. We do know, according to Acts chapter 16 that Paul passed through the area. This city, Pergamos, was in a region of Asia Minor called Mysia. And in Acts 16:8 it says Paul passed through there. Whether or not he had ministry there, we don’t know. There’s nothing in the book of Acts to tell us that he founded the church. The best understanding would come from Acts 19:10, because in Acts 19:10 you remember that the Apostle Paul had this wonderful ministry in the city of Ephesus, and it was so powerful and so far-reaching that verse 10 says that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks. So at some point during the time of three years ministering in Ephesus, the word was bouncing out. People were traveling and moving. Christians were going up north through these various cities and taking the gospel, and it was echoing through all of Asia Minor.

During that period of time, no doubt, the church at Pergamos was founded. But it was in a very pagan atmosphere.  The church at Ephesus had been infiltrated by false apostles, losing its "first love" as a result, and the Smyrna church had been infiltrated by Judaizers; so also, Pergamos was affected by compromise with the paganism surrounding it.  Ever since the beginning of the church age, the church has been affected by those insisting on an official priesthood, by legalism, by evolutionary pantheism, or by all of these.

So, in the middle of all this paganism was situated this little church to which Christ addressed the letter. In fact, in verse 13 you will note that He says, “I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is.” Satan’s got his operations all over the world, but he’s got his throne there. That’s quite an amazing statement. Make no mistake, my friend, his throne is not in hell. It’s in this world. This is the field of his operation. Hell is the place of his incarceration. This is the place of his operation. His power was unleashed from this city and some in the Pergamos church had fallen victim to Satan and become thoroughly engulfed, enmeshed, and even married to the world. Frankly, not persecution but this kind of compromise is the fastest way to destroy the church’s life and testimony.

The church in Pergamum had a choice to make, a choice that each church and I believe that each person must make. They could repent and receive all the blessings of eternal life in heaven. Or they could refuse to repent and face the terrifying truth of Jesus Christ declaring war on them. If we want to compromise with the world, then we will face judgment.

We must each individually examine our own lives in light of this letter. You must examine your life to see if you are in any way compromising your faith. Is there sin that you are tolerating in your life? Is there sin that you are justifying in your life? Calling a sin an addiction or a habit is one of the ways we justify sin in our lives. We need to repent of it which remember means to change one’s life, based on a complete change of attitude and thought concerning sin and righteousness. We live in a nation of toleration, anything and everything that makes you feel good is okay, and if we speak of something as sin then we offend someone. God’s Word is very clear on what is sin, and we must not tolerate it in our lives or in our church. Instead, we must stand firmly on the Word of God.  The Word of God is a two-edged sword, it wasn't given to us to make us comfortable, but to teach us, correct us and warn us.  

Background Notes - Thyatira
We do not have any information about the founding of this church. The only other reference that we have of Thyatira is in Acts 16 when Paul was in the city of Philippi and he went out by the river on the Sabbath and there were a group of people assembled there for prayer. In Acts 16:14-15 we read, And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.  And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us." It is possible that Lydia and the members of her household who came to faith in Christ were instrumental in starting the church in Thyatira upon their return. 

The city of Thyatira was a small city and did not have any of the prestige of the first three cities. It was founded by one of Alexander the Great’s successors as a military outpost guarding the north-south road. It was about 40 miles southeast of Pergamum. Pergamum was the northernmost city of the seven to whom the letters were addressed, the other four are south of Pergamum and begin to move inland from the Aegean Sea. The city of Thyatira was in a rich agricultural area and was famous for the manufacture of purple dye. Lydia mentioned earlier was part of that trade being a seller of purple cloth. Thyatira was also known for numerous guilds, similar to our present-day trade unions. Its main industry was wool and dyed-goods, but secular literature also mentions guilds for linen, bakers, slave dealers, and bronze smiths.

Unlike the cities we have already looked at, Thyatira was not an important religious center. The primary god worshipped in Thyatira was Apollo, the Greek sun god. The Jewish population was also very small in Thyatira. The pressure the Christians faced in Thyatira came from the guilds. To hold a job, to operate a business, it was necessary to belong to a guild. Each guild had a god or goddess in whose honor feasts where held, this included making sacrifices to these gods and goddesses and the sexual immorality that was a part of Greek and Roman idolatry. Again, there was no tolerance of Christianity.  They needed to choose to partake in idolatry, or forfeit their jobs and suffer persecution.  

The letter to Thyatira is about a church that had many good points, but also was engaged in compromising with error, compromising with sin, like the church at Pergamos. Only what was beginning to happen in Pergamos had come to full bloom in Thyatira. If the church married the world in Pergamos, in Thyatira they were celebrating anniversaries. If compromise had begun in Pergamos, it had taken over in Thyatira. And this letter shows the depth of sin that compromise ultimately leads to – full-scale idolatry, full-scale immorality, and worst of all, tolerance of both. This is the church that has been infiltrated by the world. This is the church that tolerated sin, the church that absorbed sin, absorbed error and lived happily ever after with it. This is the kind of church that is common today, as it has been through all of the centuries, but completely inconsistent with the demands of the Lord Jesus Christ who is the head of the church.

As we read this letter, we note that it is a very serious letter.  Charles Erdman has a helpful perspective on the place of this letter among the seven. Listen to what he said. “This letter to the church in Thyatira begins the second group of letters to the churches of Asia Minor. In the first group, the church of Ephesus was characterized by a loyalty to Christ which was lacking in love. In the church of Smyrna, loyalty was tested by fire. In the church of Pergamos the loyalty was lacking in moral passion. Yet all three churches were true to the faith and had not yielded to the assaults of evil.” In other words, they were still fighting against them. He goes on. “In the case of the church at Thyatira, as of the churches in Sardis and Laodicea, the situation was far more serious. Here not merely a small minority was indifferent but large numbers had actually yielded to the demoralizing influence of false teaching, and I might add of sin.”

Nicolaitanes - are only mentioned in Revelation 2:6 and 15.  There was no known sect or movement with this name during the apostolic period, so this is probably a descriptive term rather than a proper noun.  These messages were meant ultimately for all churches, and it is certain that the term has meaning for all churches.  In context, it almost certainly is referring to the false apostles of Revelation 2:2.  Practically all churches have been plagued at one time or another by false teachers, false prophets, false apostles and sometimes even by false christs.  The term "Nicolaitanes" means literally "overcomers, or conquerors of the people." That, of course, is precisely what false apostles, teachers, prophets seek to do, desiring to turn the love and allegiance of the people in the church to themselves rather than to Christ.   Christ hates both the deeds and the doctrines of Nicolaitanism, and we should too. 

Jezebel - In verse 20, whether Jezebel is this women's real name or not, what's important is that the Lord Jesus Christ called her Jezebel, and that is for a reason.  Jezebel had been the pagan queen of Israel in the days of Elijah (2 Kings 9:22); she introduced Baal worship into Israel (1 Kings 16:30-33).  Claiming she had the gift of prophecy, she had led the church into gross immorality while simultaneously manifesting love, faith, and good works (2:19).  This church is typical of many churches since then that profess spirituality and "love" while downgrading doctrine and separation.

Those in Thyatira thought that they could participate in the guilds and have their faith in Christ also. But Christ called this adultery, a breaking of the covenant bond with Him. To tolerate sin in our own lives or in our own local body is the same cancer that was destroying the church in Thyatira. They allowed strange doctrine into the church which began leading Christians astray. This should not happen, this is what the church in Ephesus was commended for, they kept pure doctrine, they did not let false teaching into the church. The church in Thyatira had love, but they did not guard the truth. A church needs both. This is why it is so important that we are in God’s Word every day, so that we know what it teaches, a true doctrine of the church is not just in one place in the Bible, it will be a doctrine of the whole Bible. This is why we pray for discernment. Be careful, be discerning of what you listen to, or what you read in books, on the internet, because you never know what people believe who have written in books and especially the internet. We must be very careful not to be led astray or to tolerate sin or apostasy in our lives or in the church. If you want the truth, stick to God’s Word and learn it.

Friday, June 16, 2023

Warnings For Every Church

Bobservations Column

Titled - "Warnings for Every Church"
Written by: Pastor Bob Lawrenz

John begins to write: seven letters, to seven churches. He draws strength from His solid and close relationship with the Lord 
Jesus. He is, after all, “the Apostle whom Jesus loved.” The phrase is repeated five times in John’s Gospel; the first time gives us a glimpse of the seating arrangements at the Last Supper in John 13:23. (John chapter 19:26, 20:2, 21:7, and 21:20 are the other four verses.)

Jesus, knowing what plans he had for John, made sure that John sat next to Him at the Last Supper to be a witness. Jesus has directed John to write letters to the churches which are in Asia: “write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter.” (Rev. 1:11). In a nutshell, that’s past, present, and future. But it’s much more than that: it’s testimony of the past; It’s to be a record of “The things which are;” current observations combined with the Spiritual Gift of discernment. And “the things which shall be hereafter” are clearly prophetic admonishment and encouragement from Jesus Himself to the seven churches.

The Isle of Patmos is little more than a desolate rock island of the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Asia Minor. Seclusion would be an understatement; isolation would be a better description of John’s life on the island. Hardship, for nothing grows on such an island, except for the isolated trees which struggle to gain root. Isolated from family, friends and the churches he loves, the Holy Spirit becomes His constant companion.

John learns to trust even more on the Word of God: “Take no thought for your life; what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body more than raiment...” (Luke 12:22-32). Alone and relying on Jesus, John finds himself in an enviable position, for the Spirit flows through him for this commission to write, and all his needs are supplied.

Likewise, when we find ourselves downtrodden and empty, suffering and without vision, that Jesus comes and fills all the void. Peace for today, and bright hope for tomorrow.

With his brother James, John has received his new name from the pure, Chief Cornerstone of Revelation 2:17, and vindication of sin. “…a new name written.”  
John Boanerges, which means "son of thunder."

Sunday Morning Audio Message:
Revelation 2:1-11 - "Warnings For Every Church"

Summary/Notes:  Coming Soon!

Friday, June 9, 2023

I AM Alpha and Omega

Bobservations' Column

Titled - "I Am Alpha and Omega"
Written by: Pastor Bob Lawrenz

As John continues with his introduction into the Book of Revelation, we come to the “unveiling” of Jesus Christ in His glory. Every eye shall see Him. In Zechariah 12:10 it says “they will look upon me whom they have pierced,” speaking of the Jews. In Isaiah 61:1 we have Israel’s Redeemer with the Spirit of the Lord upon Him, preaching good tidings to the meek; binding up the broken hearted; proclaiming liberty to the captives; and the opening of the prison gates to them that are bound. The eyes of the Jews and everyone will be upon Jesus as He appears to fulfill this prophecy.

The Torah puts this last phrase differently: “…to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the eyes to them that are bound.”

The whole world is going to have their eyes opened to the truth of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Anointed of the Lord God Almighty! As we read of His Revelation to John, this moment will be repeated as Jesus comes to Earth in glory, in the clouds. As the Apostles watch Him go up in a cloud in Acts 1, the angels with them said Jesus would return the same way. And in our first verse of today’s study, Verse 7 of Revelation 1, “Behold, He cometh in clouds…” And the whole earth will see Him. If CNN, MSNBC, and FOX News still exist then, you can bet where their cameras will be aimed! Luke 21 tells us to “Look Up!” when we see all these things coming to pass. Jesus will be coming to save the day, restore the Earth, and bring an end to sin and injustice before mankind destroys itself and the Earth (Mark 13:20, Matthew 24:22).

John then proceeds to tell us of the vision and of its purpose: his mission in writing this book. The Book of Revelation is a prophetic work, but much more than that, it reveals and unveils the Person of Jesus, His thoughts, His attributes, His Power and Glory, and to finalize His plan for salvation.

This Revelation to John continues for 22 chapters, so we can expect an unveiling like no other before. And as the brightness of the Lord become full, mankind will see just how far short we come compared to our glorious Creator.
“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as I am known" -- 1 Corinthians 13:12.

Sunday Morning's Audio Message:
Revelation 1:7-20 - "I AM Alpha and Omega"


In the first chapter of Revelation we read that Jesus appears to the apostle John, who was banished by Rome to the Island of Patmos because of his faith. Jesus tells John to write about what he saw, about the present, and about what will take place in the future. John describes his personal circumstance when Jesus appeared to him and commissioned him to write seven letters to seven churches. He also describes Jesus in His glorified form—these descriptions suggest power, wisdom, and majesty (Revelation 1:9–16). 

The churches are represented in this passage as individual lampstands, among which Jesus is standing (Revelation 1:17–20). 

The following passages will describe Jesus' message to each of these congregations.

Revelation begins and ends with a prediction of the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Beginning in verse 7, "Behold, he cometh with clouds."   What’s the point of that? While it could mean it’s a heavenly origin. He’s coming from the heavens where the clouds are. But I think it’s more than that. In fact, I don’t even think the point here is so much some kind of earthly cloud. I think what this is clouds of glory.

If you go back in the Old Testament, all the way back to Genesis, you read about the Shekinah glory, which was light, light; blazing, shining light, God manifesting Himself in light that could be seen. When Christ returns, the glory won’t be veiled. It says, "every eye shall see him," when He comes, the eyes of His people as well as the eyes of His enemies will see Him.

In verse 8, Jesus speaks to John, "I Am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending," claiming the same honor and power that is ascribed to the Father.  John 1:1 tells us that Christ's existence was before all time. "He was with God and He was God."  John 1:3 proclaims that "all things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made." So here, Jesus is proclaiming who He is. He is the Almighty, the eternal and unchangeable God.

John is instructed to write in a book all that he has seen to the seven churches in Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. These are the churches that John pastored before being banished and imprisoned by Rome on the isle of Patmos, for preaching the Word of God and sharing the testimony of Jesus.

As John turns to see the voice speaking to Him, he sees 7 candlesticks, which represent the seven churches. And Jesus in the midst of them.

John sees a representation of the Lord Jesus Christ in the midst of the golden candlesticks:
  1. His garment: A princely and priestly robe, denoting righteousness and honor.
  2. A golden girdle: The breast-plate of the high priest, on which the names of His people are engraven.
  3. Hair white like wool, white as snow: He was the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:9); His hoary head was a crown of glory.
  4. His eyes a flame of fire: Piercing and penetrating into the hearts of men.
  5. His feet like fine brass: Strong and steadfast, supporting His own interest, subduing His enemies.
  6. His voice like many waters: As the sound of many rivers falling in together.
  7. He had in His right hand seven stars: These are the ministers of the seven churches under His direction.
  8. Out of His mouth came a two-edged sword: His word, which both wounds and heals.
  9. His countenance like the sun: Jesus is the Light of the world - bright, powerful. A light that cannot be subdued with darkness at all.
John is so overwhelmed by His appearance that He "fell at His feet as dead."  

Gazing at Jesus, His power, His majesty, His Purity and Righteousness...none can stand before Him....we are undone.  

The churches are compared to candlesticks because the hold forth the light of the gospel.  Jesus is the light of the world; His gospel is our lamp and the church holds it forth to others.  

Saturday, June 3, 2023

I AM' Revealed

Bobservations' Column

Titled - "I AM' Revealed"
Written by: Pastor Bob Lawrenz

In our first glance at The Book of Revelation: we are immediately confronted with the title, “The Revelation of St. John the Divine.”

First off, this Book does not reveal St. John, but Christ Jesus our Lord, in all His Glory. 

Secondly, St. John is not “the Divine.” He was a man, one of the “sons of thunder” as first described in the Gospel (Matthew 3:17).

The Book is often referred to as the Book of Revelations, or simply “Revelations.” It is not multiple revelations as such, but a singular revelation over time, much like the Bible reveals God from beginning to end.

Languages change over time, so I can’t legitimately argue against words that are already widely accepted. This was translated by men of a different time era, and undoubtedly with minds greater than mine.

But because of minor translation difficulties, and even with the images that are described within this Book, many Pastors shy away from its study, stating that it is too Spiritual a book to try to teach with any authority. I personally think those pastors are incorrect in their opinion, because why would the Holy Spirit supply us with His inspired Word if we were not meant to read it? There is then, I believe, content in this book that is there for every Believer to at least accept and embrace by faith, if not understanding. We are promised a blessing just for reading it!

Jesus said, “In the volume of the book, it is written of me.” (Psalm 40:7). Within the pages and Books of this 66 Book volume, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirt are revealed to every generation, so that we are without excuse (Romans 1:19,20).

The Shema of Judaism is, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart (mind), and with all thy soul (spirit), and with all thy might (body)” - Deuteronomy 6:4-5.
“Let us make man in our image, after our likeness...”Genesis 1:26.

Sunday Morning Audio Message:
Revelation 1:1-20 - "I AM Revealed"


Introduction to The Revelation of Jesus Christ:

Revelation is the final book of the Bible - final in time of writing, final in standard canonical order, and final in terms of both historical record and promised fulfillment. This book is the most exciting of all as it records the restoration of all things to God's created perfection in the beginning, and the consummation of all His purposes in creation.

The apostle John is the author of "Revelation" (Greek - apokalupsis, meaning "unveiling of something hidden"). The translation of this word is the same in ⁠1 Corinthians 1:7⁠, "the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ," ⁠1 Peter 1:7⁠, "the appearing of Jesus Christ," and ⁠2 Thessalonians 1:7⁠, "the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven." Revelation is about the unveiling, the appearing, the coming of Christ Himself in all His glory, the full personhood of Jesus Christ.

This book is a revelation of Jesus Christ - a full revelation of Jesus - Past, Present and Future. He is the all-powerful, all-conquering King. While the book also reveals God's judgment, the horrors of the end, and the Antichrist, our focus is on the Revelation of Jesus to us. (1:1). The book depicts Him as the risen, glorified Son of God ministering among the churches (1:10), as “the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth” (1:5), as “the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End” (1:8), as the one “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (1:8), as the First and the Last (1:11), as the Son of Man (1:13), as the one who was dead, but now is alive forevermore (1:18), as the Son of God (2:18), as the one who is holy and true (3:7), as “the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God” (3:14), as the Lion of the tribe of Judah (5:5), as the Lamb in heaven, with authority to open the title deed to the earth (6:1), as the Lamb on the throne (7:17), as the Messiah who will reign forever (11:15), as the Word of God (19:13), as the majestic King of kings and Lord of lords, returning in glorious splendor to conquer His foes (19:11), and as “the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star” (22:16).

Revelation was given to John by God “to show his servants what must soon take place.” This book is filled with mysteries about things to come. It is the final warning that the world will surely end, and judgment will be certain. There are many in the world, and sadly even in the Church, who are skeptics and doubters of the second coming of Jesus Christ. They believe Revelation is insignificant in the Believer's life, yet it is the only book in the Bible where "blessing" is promised to all who read it, hear it and keep what is written (1:3).

Revelation begins with John, the last surviving apostle and an old man, in exile on the small, barren island of Patmos, located in the Aegean Sea southwest of Ephesus. The Roman authorities had banished him there because of his faithful preaching of the gospel (1:9). While on Patmos, John received a series of visions that laid out the future history of the world. While we place the time of this writing at the time of Caeser Nero, others claim it was during the time of Emperor Domitian. Both were cruel and wicked rulers. Both waged a campaign against Christ and the church. During these years the church faced brutal persecution and millions of Christians were put to death.

At the time of his arrest, John was in Ephesus, ministering to the church there and in the surrounding cities. Seeking to strengthen those congregations, he could no longer minister to them in person and, following the divine command (1:11), John addressed Revelation to them (1:4). The churches had begun to feel the effects of persecution; at least one man—probably a pastor—had already been martyred (2:13), and John himself had been exiled. But the storm of persecution was about to break in full fury upon the 7 churches so dear to the apostle’s heart (2:10). To those churches, Revelation provided a message of hope: God is in sovereign control of all the events of human history, and though evil often seems pervasive and wicked men all powerful, their ultimate doom is certain. Christ will come in glory to judge and rule.

John writes to the seven churches (vs.4) - these were real local churches in Asia, but they represent all churches throughout the ages. Blessings - grace and peace come from the whole trinity. He mentions the seven Spirits which are before His throne. This is the work of the Holy Spirit, joined with the Father and with Christ - Our triune God. This is referenced in Isaiah 11:2 as, "The Spirit of the Lord, The Spirit of Wisdom, The Spirit of Understanding, The Spirit of Counsel, The Spirit of Might, The Spirit of Knowledge, and the Fear of the Lord."

For the bulk of its sixty-six books, the Bible portrays a world deep in the throes of suffering. Human beings have had a problem with sin since the fall in ⁠Genesis 3⁠, and verse after verse has recorded our problem in painstaking detail. The brilliance of Revelation is that it provides a final answer to this problem, a hope that Jesus will once and for all heal the wounds wrought by sin (⁠Revelation 19⁠), reign for a thousand years on earth (⁠Revelation 20⁠), and then re-create the world into a place that represents God’s original design (⁠Revelation 21–22⁠). While there have been many prophecies given in both the Old and New Testaments, the book of Revelation pulls them all together, filling in the gaps and adding the new revelation that would be needed to guide the church from then until the return of Christ.

In this final book, the church is warned about sin and exhorted to holiness. John’s vivid pictures of worship in heaven both exhort and instruct believers. In few other books of the Bible is the ministry of angels so prominent. Revelation’s primary theological contribution is to eschatology, i.e., the doctrine of last things. In it we learn about: the final political setup of the world; the last battle of human history; the career and ultimate defeat of Antichrist; Christ’s 1,000-year earthly kingdom; the glories of heaven and the eternal state; and the final state of the wicked and the righteous. Finally, only Daniel rivals this book in declaring that God providentially rules over the kingdoms of men and will accomplish His sovereign purposes regardless of human or demonic opposition.

WhitestoneCF Media - Web TV

WhitestoneCF Media - Web TV