Posts Tagged ‘Christianity’

Revelation 5

Revelation 5 has John writing about the Lion, the Lamb and the Scroll.  “Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals”. John begins with reference to the throne which was the focus of the last chapter, but now he shifts his attention to the scroll held by the enthroned Lord.  There is a problem in that no one was able to open and look at the scroll.  “No one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it”.

John could not have said it any stronger. It was as if the strong angel looked through the entire universe to find someone worthy, and did not find anyone worthy to even look at the scroll.  But then, an answer to the dilemma was found.  “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals”. Because of the elder’s announcement, John expected to see a Lion, but saw a Lamb instead.  Jesus was not only Lion, He was also the sacrificial Lamb who was slain to take away the sin of the world.

And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain”. The Lamb looks as though it had been slain. It’s hard to describe what John saw, but this Lamb had the marks of sacrifice on it.  Jesus was the sacrificial offering who poured out His blood to deal with the sin of mankind.  But as He takes the scroll, those who are there say “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth”. The true Ruler of the world is honored.

Guzik gives us a true picture of the song that was sang to the Lamb:

  • The song honors the price of redemption: for You were slain
  • The song honors the worker of redemption: have ransomed people
  • The song honors the destination of redemption: have ransomed people for God
  • The song honors the payment of redemption: by Your blood
  • The song honors the scope of redemption: every tribe and language and people and nation
  • The song honors the length of redemption: have made them a kingdom and priests to our God
  • The song honors the result of redemption: and shall reign on the earth

The reality is that Christ is worthy of our praise.  “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing”! The Lord God lives forever and ever and is ever worthy of our praise.

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Revelation 4

Revelation 4 gives us a glimpse of heaven looking down on earth. “After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, Come up here, and  I will show you what must take place after this”. In the description of heavenly things, John uses symbols. However, not everything is symbolic. As in the parables of Jesus, many of the details are merely descriptive and they are not necessarily intended to carry a special significance of their own. Revelation four introduces us to the place judgment comes from: God’s throne in heaven.

Behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne”.  This throne was what first impressed John, and it is the centerpiece of his vision.  The throne is not empty. There is some One who sits on this great heavenly throne. The throne is a powerful declaration of not merely God’s presence, but of His sovereign, rightful reign, and His role as eternal judge.  We can’t think about much of anything until we reconcile in our mind that there is an occupied throne in heaven, and the God of the Bible rules from the throne.  He alone is in control.  He alone will judge each of us as we stand before Him.

Around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald”. Around this setting of all sovereignty, power, authority and glory – this setting of the throne of God – God has a reminder of His promise to never destroy the earth again with water, a promise that directs His sovereignty.  He is faithful to His Word, and the rainbow reinforces that truth.  John goes on to describe what he saw around the throne of God.  There are many different interpretations of what John saw, some of which may be prophetic or symbolic, and some of which is likely just details of what is.

But the key learning here in this vision is what happens around God’s throne.  Those who are there recognize who God is and place Him in the spot He belongs.  “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come”.  God is not only worthy of our praise, but also is eternal.  He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  His glory is coming.  “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created”.  Here is the reality of what is.  John ends this chapter reminding us that God is the Creator and worthy of our praise!

Revelation 3

Revelation 3 has John continuing his analysis of the final three of the seven churches that are addressed.  He writes about Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.  He begins with the church at Sardis where he writes “I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead”.  This church had the external appearance of life, but under the covers they were really dead.  A good reputation is no guarantee of true spiritual character.  God’s message is that they need to “Wake up, and strengthen what remains….remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you”.

Appearances mean nothing to God.  He knows the state of our heart.  He knows whether we are truly alive or are secretly dead.  And if we have fallen away and are dead, there is one solution – to repent and return to what we know as truth.  Philadelphia had been built with the deliberate intention that it might become a missionary city. The church at Philadelphia had a different problem.  While the Sardis church had the outward signs of life, they were dead.  Philadelphia had impostors in its ranks that were pretending to be part, but really were not.

Jesus was completely pleased with this church. He had nothing negative to say to the church at Philadelphia. The church of Philadelphia is commended for keeping the Word of the Lord and not denying His Name.  The church at Sardis doesn’t have the same review.  “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot.  Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth”.  In this spiritual sense, lukewarmness is a picture of indifference and compromise. It tries to play the middle, too hot to be cold and too cold to be hot. In trying to be both things, an individual ends up being nothing.

God is committed to helping us become more like Christ.  That is His plan for us as Christ Followers.  “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent”.  God is in the business of growing us up and maturing us into Christlikeness.  He will move us toward that if we don’t make those choices on our own.  He won’t allow us to continue on a bad path, or to live a lukewarm life.  He is continually pursuing us.  “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me”.  We have a willing Savior who is ready and able to take action in our life.  He doesn’t force His way in.  He patiently waits for us to open the door and allow Him to move in our life!

Revelation 2

Revelation 2 begins the letters to the seven churches which all share a similar structure. In this chapter four of the churches are addressed. In each letter John gives:

  • An address to a particular congregation
  • An introduction of Jesus
  • A statement regarding the condition of the church
  • A verdict from Jesus regarding the condition of the church
  • A command from Jesus to the church
  • A general exhortation to all Christians
  • A promise of reward

We can see the condition of each of these seven churches and then apply those learnings to our own walk with Jesus by examining what Jesus has to say to each church.

The good each church has or is doing is called out.  The church at Ephesus gets this review.  “I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary”.  Some glowing and positive comments.  These kinds of statements are made about each church.  But then comes the reality on the condition of the churches.

Again, for the church at Ephesus John writes “you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first”.  John’s charge is for the church to return to their first love – a passion to walk closely with Christ.  He tells them to:

  • Remember how you used to spend time in His Word?
  • Remember how you used to pray?
  • Remember the joy in getting together with other Christians?
  • Remember how excited you were about telling others about Jesus?

Each of the four churches in this chapter, have similar areas they need to change.  In some, there is sin that needs confessed and repented of.  But in all, there are areas where the church has fallen away and in order to get things back on track some repentance is needed.  John tells us to “hold fast” to the Truth of God’s Word and walk in obedience to His commandments.

Lest we think this doesn’t apply to us, John ends with these words.  “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”.  The lessons we can learn here in how these four churches (and the other three in the next chapter) are confronted is important.  This letter applies to each of us as Christ Followers.  The struggles these churches faced are similar to ours.  We’re all human after all, and sin is a very real threat to our faithfulness in walking with Jesus.  We all need to confess, repent and return to our first love for Christ.  He lives in us and wants to live through us, but we must clean up our lives and allow Him to have control.

Revelation 1

Revelation 1 is given to John to share with those who are Christ Followers.  “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw”.  God gave John the priviledge of seeing the future so he could enlighten all those who follow Jesus.  God chose to send an angel to John to give him a vision of what was to come.  And he recorded it so we’d know it today.

Revelation is a prophecy. Not all prophecy predicts the future, but clearly this one does. “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near”.  John refers to the time being near.  It may not seem like almost 2000 years is near, but time is in God’s hands and a thousand years to Him is like a minute.  The key is to remember this is not about us as people, but about the final act in God’s story – His story – and is focused on “who is and who was and who is to come”. The subject is not your or me, it is God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit – the Trinity and their victory at the end of the story.

This book tells us the final chapter ending.  “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him”.  Jesus is already victorious.  He conquered death.  He defeated Satan.  He has created our future and eternity.  That’s the great news of Revelation – we know how it all ends.  The only question is which side will we choose to be part of.  Just because Jesus has already won doesn’t automatically mean we have received His gift of grace.  We have to make an intentional choice to receive Him as Savior and Lord.  That’s the only way we will be spending eternity with God.

So John is instructed to “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches”.  He is the messenger of what is to come.  He will share the truth of the last days.  It was a scary job he was assigned.  “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me….I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades”.  John was privileged to experience the view of the events of the final days.  He describes them for us in Revelation.  It’s exciting stuff for those of us who follow Christ.  I don’t claim to be able to interpret all that is contained.  I’ll merely share some scripture and thoughts by men far more knowledgeable that me!

Jude

Jude writes to warn the church of some bad people that are leading folks astray.  “Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our  common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints”.  His intention was to write about salvation, but the church was struggling and he wants to address it head on.  “But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively….they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain”.

Scripture is filled with prophecy warning about those who would come and work to tear down the church.  The enemy has been trying to do that since God banished him in the Garden.  “These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters,  showing favoritism to gain advantage”.  The common thread for those who destroy the church is a focus on self and what they can gain, rather than serving and focusing on others.  Being a Christ Followers is not about what we get for ourselves, but how we can love one another.

Jude warns “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions. It is these who cause divisions, worldly people,  devoid of the Spirit”.  Those who are set on causing destruction and division are not filled with the Spirit, but are focused on our own world view of self.  “But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life”.  The secret of a successful life as a Christ Follower is being connected to God and His love through Christ.  It’s not about us.  It’s about being plugged into Him.

Jude reminds us what the mission is – “have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy  with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh”.  We are to snatch those who are struggling from the fire and restore them to their faith.  We can’t do it on our own, but we can be His instrument that brings them back.  “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless”.  Jesus can keep us on the path and will present us blameless when we stand before God.  But we need to follow Him, and to receive His free gift of grace.  He is our salvation and truth.

3 John

John 3 has our writer talking about following good examples in life.  He focuses on those who are walking as Christ Followers should.  “I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth”.  Nothing pleased John more than to know that his children walk in truth.  How we live matters, not only to us, but to all those around us.  “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth”. To walk in truth means to walk consistent with the truth you believe. If you believe that you are fallen, then walk in awareness of your sinfulness. If you believe you are a child of God, then walk like a child of His. If you believe you are forgiven, the walk like a person who stands pure before God Himself.

But Gaius, the recipient of this letter, was doing more than walking in truth. Gaius practices the command to love one another. “Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God”. John praised Gaius for his hospitality. This may seem somewhat trivial to us, but it is not to God. This is a practical way to live out the command to love one another; it is love in action.  Love is not a feeling.  It is action.

John challenges Gaius to also be a sender.  He’s not only praised for receiving those who came to worship in truth, but is to send people out to carry and share the good news, not merely with a farewell, but with support so they can carry on the mission of Jesus Christ.  “We ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth”.  John prays for the prosperity of Gaius because he used his resources in a godly way, being a blessing to others. If God blessed him with more, others would be blessed more also.

John warns of some bad eggs in the church.  It’s never easy to be a Christ Follower, as the enemy is always stirring things and trying to disrupt the world we live in. John warns us to walk in the truth, just as he started with praise in the first part of this letter for Gaius. “Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God”.  John winds down his letter with a stern warning to do what is good – it should be an outcome of our faith.  How we live doesn’t save us, but it does indicate our heart and where we are in relationship with God.

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