Doctrine

Why the letters to the churches in Revelation are important (It’s about context)

As mentioned several times in this study, the common temptation in Revelation is to disregard the first three chapters. Either (a) the student will assign a deeper theological symbolism to the letters to the churches, or (b) skip them altogether. However, it is the letters to the churches that reveal to us the context of Revelation, and the Lord’s motivation for inspiring the book to be written.

To be honest, the word, “book,” is sort of a misnomer regarding Revelation. Like most of the New Testament, Revelation is a letter. It’s a letter dictated by Jesus, with observations by John, all under the inspiration of the Spirit, addressed to seven churches in Asia, (or, modern-day Turkey.)

With this being a letter from Jesus to seven specific churches, then we have a defined messenger, a defined message, and defined recipients. This means that Revelation is not a coded book of secrets about the future, but rather a direct message to churches about the coming of the Lord, and the preparations that need to be made in the interim.

With that in mind, we can interpret the book of Revelation by reading it as one of the members of those churches would have read it. They didn’t have hundreds of books on Bible symbolism and linguistic training. They took the words of Christ at face value, as we should also.

While there is some symbolic interpretation, the message Christ wants us to take is not one of prophetic knowledge, but one of repentance and faith. Therefore, the letters to the churches should be read, understood, and applied. They are one of the most easily understood and most important passages in Revelation.

With the message of Revelation being repentance and faith leading up to the return of Christ, the letters to the churches demonstrate sins that need to be set aside and repented from, and faith that needs to be applied. If we learn  or understand nothing else from Revelation, let it be the things the Lord wants us to do in light of these letters.

Jesus is coming quickly. Let’s be prepared.

Where is Jesus?

In Revelation 1, John is in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day (Sunday), worshiping in spite of the fact that he is confined to a prison island. As he worships, he hears the voice of the Lord behind him.

When he turns to see the Lord, he describes an indescribable sight of the Lord Jesus in His glorified form, standing among seven golden lamp-stands, and holding seven stars His right hand. Jesus tells John that the seven stars are the seven angels to the churches of Asia, and the seven candlesticks, or lamp-stands, are the seven churches.

“Angels” is translated from the Greek word, “angeloss,” which was a word that simply denoted a messenger. The seven angels (messengers) of the churches were those responsible for delivering God’s message to the churches, namely, the pastors.

It is significant that Jesus held them in His right hand, as He holds all of us in His hands who are His people, and who carry His message forth to the world.

It is also significant that Jesus was standing among the seven candlesticks.

The message to John was bright, if not clear. “John, though you are on this island, I am still holding you in my hand. And though the churches be in disarray and persecuted, I am still among them.”

No matter how bad things get, remember that the Lord still loves us, still holds us, and is still with us.

 

Stuck? Praise the Lord!

The Apostle John did everything right. He loved Jesus, he preached the Gospel, he ministered to thousands, and spend his entire life dedicated to the Lord.

Yet, he found himself imprisoned on the Isle of Patmos “For the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ,” meaning he was actually imprisoned for doing what is right.

Yet, when we first see John in the book of Revelation, he is in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, meaning that we can be joyful, hopeful, and have faith in any circumstance, and circumstances don’t affect our worship. Check out the above-posted video for part-two of our YouTube series from the book of Revelation.

Every Step Toward God’s Kingdom

No doubt, Patmos was a horrible place. A wretched, rocky prison island, upon which the Apostle John found himself as a result of a sentence handed down by a Roman judge for the crime of preaching the Gospel.

John was the disciple whom Jesus loved, the disciple who was closest to Jesus, who spent his life preaching the Gospel of Jesus. Yet, he found himself upon this wretched island, persecuted and forsaken.

Yet, on the Lord’s day, John was in the Spirit, and worshiping. It was at that moment that the Lord appeared to John… an overwhelming, yet welcome sight. The Lord’s appearance set off a divine Revelation to John that, despite the troubling things shown in the future, left John feeling at peace and thankful, resulting in the final words of the book, “Even So, Come, Lord Jesus.”

Oh, to be able to look through the pain of today toward the glory of God. Welcome, to our new YouTube series.

Hope (Daniel 9:24)

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Daniel was a man who had done everything right, yet, time after time, adversity and tribulation troubled him. Captured from his homeland of Israel during his younger years, he was one of several elite captives taken from Israel and enslaved in Babylon.

Though Daniel’s assignment wasn’t the worst, he worked personally for the Babylonian king, he still faced troubles, from impure foods being offered, to being thrown in the lions’ den, to seeing his friends thrown in the fiery furnace. (Daniel and his friends were delivered from all of those, by the way).

By the time we get to Daniel 9, the Babylonian empire has been conquered by the Medo-Persian empire, and Daniel is now working for another king. Having lived through the entire Babylonian captivity, Daniel now sees the light at the end of the tunnel,  and the captivity is coming to a close.

Daniel sees God’s deliverance coming, and it is at this time that God begins to show Daniel how He will redeem His people and restore the nation of Israel. In Daniel 9:24, the Lord gives us his plan:

Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

God would redeem His people, and restore His nation, by ending man’s rebellion, cleansing man from sin, and establishing His Kingdom on earth. Listen to Pastor Leland Acker discuss this message of hope below:

The House of Prayer

 

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What is the purpose of going to church?

In today’s time, the importance of church participation has been diminished. Some have quit going because they’ve had bad experiences. Others, quote such sayings as “Standing in a garage doesn’t make you a car, going to church doesn’t make you a Christian.”

Yet, the church continues to move forward, and people remain involved in church. Why? What is the point? And should I be involved in my local church?

First, we must remember that the church is not the building, but rather the people who join together in the building. The church is not about going to a place and participating in a weekly ritual. The church is about what happens when the people gather together.

When the church gathers, things happen. The Word of God is preached, the people pray, lives are changed, and the members come away with a deeper understanding of the Lord and His Word.

If you need prayer, the church is there. If you need comfort, the church is there. If you need to connect with others, the church is there. And most importantly, if you need to connect with God, the church is there.

In Mark 11:17, Jesus said, “My house shall be called of all nations a house of prayer.” In referring to the Temple, Jesus noted that His house should be the place where people go to connect with God, whether that is repenting of sin and expressing faith through the sacrifices, or whether that means lifting up requests to God, the way Hannah did in 1 Samuel 1. In Jesus’ day, to connect with God, you went to the Temple.

Today, the church serves that role. The church has been commanded to help people connect with God, to pray with people, to minister to and teach people, and to bring people into God’s presence.

If you are a Christian, God wants you to participate in this process. If you are not a Christian, but want to know God, then you should gather with the church.

It is difficult to connect with God while remaining isolated. Being connected with God’s people and His church is a prime way to be connected with God Himself.

So, if you are without a church home, begin visiting churches in your area. If you live near Brownwood or Early, Texas, we’d love to have you visit with us.

Life Point Baptist Church, 599 Sunrise, Early, TX. Sunday School 10 a.m., Sunday Worship 11 a.m.

For more on the concept of the church being the house of prayer, check out Pastor Leland Acker’s sermon below.

Have You Met Grace?

Grace

Amazing Grace. Grace Greater Than Our Sin.

We are saved by grace through faith. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.

Grace.

This word is spoken often in Christian circles, and is a key component of salvation. It’s the subject of hundreds of Christian hymns and praise songs.

But what does it mean?

If your only exposure to the word “grace” is from watching television, then no doubt you probably think it has something to do with the way Sasha Cohen provides a visual interpretation of the music she skates to during the world figure skating championships.

Or, if you were a Seinfeld fan, you probably remember that Elaine was denied a job because she lacked the “grace” of her predecessor, who happened to be Jackie Onassis.

Such is life, and such is the progression of languages. A word that meant one thing years ago no longer has the same meaning at all.

When the scripture was written, grace was more of an attitude than an action. It was a motivational factor, not the factor itself.

Grace, in Biblical terms, is defined as an “unmerited favor,” or an “unconditional love.”

Those who grant grace to others bestow upon them a love, a gift, or a pardon that is not deserved based on the actions or merits of the recipient. In terms of Biblical grace, the One who was the greatest benefactor is God.

God’s grace toward mankind, and toward us individually, is an undeserved love and an unmerited favor. We sinned against Him. We rebel against Him. We try to redefine language in the Bible to suit our tastes.

We’re selfish. We take advantage of others. We sin. From God, we deserve nothing but punishment and accountability.

Yet, God in His grace forbears. He allows us to continue, utilizing the effects of our wrong choices to teach us and correct us. He then forgives, redeems, and blesses. That’s grace.

Ultimately, the grace of God was expressed in that He sent Jesus Christ into the world to redeem us from sin by dying on the cross. That grace is expanded through His forgiveness of our sins and His willingness to give us time to learn and repent. To top it off, He blesses us as well.

We access God’s grace through our faith, our trust that He will forgive us based on the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Upon accessing God’s grace, we learn just how much we have been forgiven, and thus learn to forgive ourselves, and others.

The attitude the Christian should take toward others is the attitude God takes toward them. Our desire is to see them redeemed and restored, not condemned and destroyed.

Those who have come to an understanding of God’s grace in their lives understand this concept. Those who have not walk in anger. For those, we forbear as God does, and we pray for their understanding and we minister to them, too.

Have you comprehended the grace of God?

  • Do you know and understand that God loves you?
  • Do you know that forgiveness of sin is available through the death, burial and resurrection of Christ?
  • Do you forgive others?
  • Have your forgiven yourself?

May God bless you as you learn more of His love and grace.

Did Dr. King Know What Was Coming?

More than 51 years later, it is still chilling to hear the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., conclude his iconic “Mountaintop” speech with the following words:

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!

In concluding this speech, Dr. King asserted that he did not fear death, because he knew God would bring about the racial equality and justice for which he advocated. He compared his plight to that of Moses, who did not get to enter Canaan with the Israelites, but was allowed to go to the mountaintop, and look over into the promised land. Moses died on that mountain.

Did Dr. King know he was in his final hours? Less than 20 hours after giving that speech, his life would be claimed by the assassin’s bullet. Yet, Dr. King was not deterred by the threat of death. His commitment: “I just want to do God’s will.”

What makes the Mountaintop Speech so chilling is that you get the idea that Dr. King had been given a full view of God’s will, the future of humanity, and the glories of His kingdom. Having been to the “mountaintop,” Dr. King’s commitment to doing God’s will has elevated, and he no longer (if ever) feared what would happen in his life, or to his life.

A similar occurrence happened in the Bible. The Apostle Paul said in Acts 20:22-24:

And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there:Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

Notice the similarities.

Dr. King said, “Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop.”

The Apostle Paul said, “I go bound in the Spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing what things shall befall me there.”

Dr. King said, “Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will.”

Paul said, “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”

Both men were keenly aware of where they stood in life. Both men were committed to their causes to the point of death. Both men were driven to advance their message.

Both men were driven by their faith, which was so strong that it had become real to them. We don’t know if Dr. King literally had a mountaintop experience like Moses, but we know that his faith was so strong that it in itself became the mountaintop. Likewise, Paul was so driven by his faith that God’s Kingdom was tangible to him as well.

Such is the nature of faith. The stronger it gets, the more tangible the things of God become. Which is why Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith makes God tangible!

Maybe that’s why we don’t see God move this powerfully in our own lives. Maybe our faith is not strong enough. Maybe we don’t really believe in anything.

Seriously, what do we stand for? What drives us? What gets us out of bed in the morning? What motivates us to speak, or post on social media? What did your preacher preach about last Sunday? And what did yall study in Sunday School?

We, as Christians, need to figure out our “why.” Why go to church? Why give an offering? Why pray? Why read scripture? Why work? What is our motivation?

We cannot invent our “why.” Our “why” is inherent in who we are. So, to find our “why,” we have to find ourselves. While finding yourself sounds like a man buying a motorcycle for a cross-country road trip in the middle of a mid-life crisis, it’s not. It’s simply going back to your roots, and who you are.

And, if you are a Christian, here’s who you are. Here’s who we are.

We are sinners, who, like the rest of the world, were condemned by God for our sin. We’ve all broken God’s law. None of us are righteous. No, not one. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

But God loved us so much, that He sent His only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, born of a virgin, to Earth to live our experience, then give Himself on the cross for our sins. (John 3:16, Romans 5:8).

While on that cross, Jesus took the wrath of God for the sins of the world, more specifically, He suffered God’s wrath for every individual’s sin. Our sin was paid for on that cross (1 John 2:1-2).

Realizing our sin, and our sinful condition, we surrender to the Lord, and trust Him to save us by virtue of His payment on the cross. In doing so, we confess our sin, and confess our inability to save ourselves. (John 3:16, Romans 5:1, Romans 4).

We symbolize our faith and salvation through baptism (Romans 6:1-10).

With this renewed understanding of life, and with the Spirit dwelling within us, we become new people (Romans 8, 2 Corinthians 5:17).

The question is, “Do you believe that?” and if so, do you believe it strongly enough for it to motivate you? Is God’s salvation in your life your “why?” And if not, why not?

When you pray, what are you really asking for?

Every Sunday, members and visitors to Life Point Baptist Church request prayer for a variety of circumstances. (We take prayer requests during Sunday School and morning worship, and each request is prayed for specifically). These requests range from healing, to financial provision, to reconciliation within the family, to a revival in our nation, to comfort from grief.

Each and every one of these requests is borne of a fear, a concern, a pain, or other turbulence in life. At the root of each of these requests is a desire to be delivered from the torment of the situation. In essence, each prayer request is a request for peace in the congregant’s life. This is a request we pray for, and a request we sincerely hope God grants.

If it is peace you seek in life, scripture says that God freely offers that peace. Romans 5:1 says “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

To be justified means to be declared not guilty because the punishment has already been paid. Scripture teaches that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Each of us has broken God’s law, the 10 commandments which instruct us not to put anything before God, not to take God’s name in vain, to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy, to honor our parents, not to kill, lie, steal, commit adultery or covet.

Scripture also says the consequence of sin is death and eternal damnation under God’s judgment (Romans 6:23). Yet, 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ went to the cross where He suffered God’s wrath for our sin on our behalf. He paid the penalty for our sin. Therefore, all who believe that He died for their sin, and trust Him to receive them into Heaven are saved from God’s wrath, and have a future in Heaven with the Lord.

Since this salvation comes by believing in the Lord, the Bible tells us we are “justified by faith.”

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“Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Romans 5:1

This peace that the Bible references is two-fold. First, we have peace with God in that we are no longer enemies to God, but rather have been made friends with God, and are adopted as children into His family. Secondly, having been justified by faith, we experience a peace with God that surpasses understanding, that allows us to be in good spirits even when life around us is crashing.

This peace allows us to rejoice and praise the Lord when times are good, and enables us to rejoice and praise the Lord when times are bad. That peace cultivates a hope that, as we endure what life throws at us, we continue to look forward to that day that the Lord rescues us from this world and welcomes us into His eternal peace.

It is our prayer that you find that peace. Should you have any prayer requests, you can submit them below: