Revelation

Watch for pitfalls

Jesus had high praise for the church at Pergamos, but unlike their counterparts in Smyrna, there was an issue. Pergamos had those that held to the doctrine of Balaam. What does that mean?

To understand that, we need to go back and read the story of Balaam from Numbers. Balaam was willing to work with Balak to sabotage or pronounce a curse on Israel, that is, until God told him to only speak the words the Spirit gave Him. Upon heeding those instructions, Balaam proclaimed a blessing on Israel.

What happened next, however, is kind of subtle. With Balaam’s direction, the people of Israel began to worship idols and commit sexual immorality. The result was God’s punishment upon the people.

It is easy to get distracted from our relationship and faith in God by enticing sins and temptations which present themselves. Such was the case at Pergamos. They were faithful to the Lord and endured affliction, but at the same time, they had fallen into temptation.

You can be a faithful Christian, and have issues. You can believe in the Lord and be saved, and yet, struggle with sin. The Lord takes issue with that, therefore when we identify that sin, we should repent of that sin and get it out of our lives.

Or as Hebrews 12:1 says, “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”

Jesus knows your pain

In his letter to the church at Smyrna, Jesus said, “I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. (Revelation 2:9)”

Smyrna was in a difficult situation. They were being persecuted, they were facing hardships, and they were poor. Jesus said He knew this. Jesus knowledge of the plight of the Smyrnan church went beyond an awareness of their suffering, He understood it, because He experienced it during His earthly ministry.

Jesus gave them hope. He told them that their suffering would not be long, and that it would be rewarded.

For us, the Lord not only knows what we are going through, but He experienced it Himself. Therefore, He is sympathetic (Hebrews 4:15). He will hear your prayer and respond.

In the meantime, the trials and tribulations through which you suffer are not pointless. God uses them to transform you, and He will reward you. Keep looking up, and have faith in the Lord.

When the church forgets its first love…

In Revelation 2-3, Jesus dictates letters to the seven churches of Asia. These are actual letters written to actual churches who were dealing with actual issues. Our Lord’s words are not to be taken as allegory, but rather teaching in response to certain situations that had arisen in His churches. We are to take the lessons He taught them, and apply them to our lives.

In the first letter, addressed to the church at Ephesus, Jesus praises their ministry and faithfulness, but He takes issue with one thing… they lost their first love. This problem is so serious, it threatened the very existence of that church. So, what was the first love they left? That question has fueled much debate. In this video lesson, we decode the letter to the Ephesians and learn what the spurned first love was.

Decoding one of the most difficult books of the Bible…

Revelation is one of the most argued over, misinterpreted books of the Bible. Because of the massive amounts of imagery, many think that the book cannot be fully understood until the end times. That’s a faulty assumption.

The fact is, the book of Revelation is not an ancient book of secrets. On the contrary, it was a letter written to seven churches in Asia concerning the end times and the return of Christ. If we approach the book the way those churches would have approached the book, and apply basic rules of Bible interpretation to it, there’s actually a lot we can understand, and a lot we can learn.

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.

Inside the Throne Room of Christ (Revelation 4-5)

If one is rushing through the book of Revelation to get to the “good stuff,” one might miss the amazing thing that happens in Revelation 4. The Apostle John, imprisoned on the Isle of Patmos for spreading the word of God, has been invited into Heaven. Not only has he been invited into Heaven, but He has been invited into the nerve-center of Heaven, the throne room of Christ.

As John is conveying to us everything he saw as he entered into the throne room of Christ, it can be easy for us to get lost in all the precious stones, gems, and spectacular sights of that place. For example, how does one interpret verse 3, which says, “And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald?”

What’s interesting is that the things John sees are not only brilliant and spectacular, but are symbolic as well. As John looks upon the One sitting upon the throne, he sees a being that looks like jasper and sardine stone. While this speaks to the glory of Christ, there is also a deeper meaning. Jasper and sardine stone are both red. Isaiah 1:18 tells us that the color of sin is red. The color of the blood of Christ is red. When you look through a red lense, that is, these precious stones and the blood of Christ, the redness of sin is cancelled out.

Thus, as the Bible says in Isaiah 1:18, “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

Surrounding the throne is a rainbow, which you might remember is the symbol of the covenant God made with Noah to never destroy the world with a flood again. Right there in front of Christ is a reminder of His grace and mercy.

In the secular world, in the business world, we tend to decorate our offices (our throne rooms, if you will,) with the things that we are most proud of… the things which are the most important to us.

When you look into the throne room of Christ, you see symbol after symbol of our redemption and salvation. What does that tell you about the Lord’s passion for you?

Life is More (Revelation 3)

As we continue our study in Revelation on The Point, it is important to remember that the book is really a letter being addressed to seven individual churches in Asia minor. The Lord Jesus Christ appeared to the Apostle John on the Isle of Patmos, where John was incarcerated for his ministry in Ephesus, to give him the word to deliver to those seven churches.

The Lord’s purpose in appearing to John and giving us the Book of Revelation was three-fold. (1) He appeared to remind us that He is returning. (2) He appeared to give us hope by reminding us of His return. (3) He appeared to warn us to correct the sin in our lives in preparation for His return.

It’s important to keep this context in mind, as many theologians make the mistake of treating Revelation like some artifact found by Indiana Jones. Instead of considering it as direct communication between Jesus and seven individual churches, they look for mysterious codes hidden within the text that will unlock some deep truth that will give them a special insight into the future of the human race. This is how cults get started.

With the understanding that Revelation is merely a letter dictated by the Lord (or His messengers) to seven individual churches, we can reject the notion that the letters to the seven churches in chapters 2 and 3 somehow symbolize seven ages, or seven different classifications of churches. Instead, we can simply look at what the Lord has to say to those seven churches, and learn from it.

So, in Chapter 3, we see three letters written. One was written to Sardis, one to Philadelphia, and one to Laodicea.

Sardis had all the appearances of a church that thrived. They were reaching many. The church was growing. In modern times, their programs would have been working. Jesus told Sardis that they had a reputation that they lived, but were dead (Rev. 3:1). He added that their works were not perfect before Him (Rev. 3:2), which could mean that they did things with impure hearts, or that they had wandered from truth. Either way, they were warned to “strengthen the things which remain (Rev. 3:2)” and “Hold fast and repent (Rev. 3:3)” so that they would be prepared for the Lord’s return.

This teaches us that life is more than our reputations. It doesn’t matter what people think of us as much as it matters what God thinks of us. Therefore, we are to do all things according to His truth, and obey His calling on our lives, regardless of what others think.

Philadelphia was a good, faithful church. Notice that the Lord offers no correction to Philadelphia, as none is needed. Instead, He praises their faithfulness and promises that their suffering will not be in vain. He then encourages them to stay the course.

This teaches us that life is more than the pain we feel right now, and that the Lord sees our suffering, and will reward our faithfulness. Continue in your faith. You will not be disappointed.

The final church mentioned in Revelation 3 is the church at Laodicea. Many preachers have preached that the church of Laodicea is symbolic of the modern church age, where we have become so prosperous and lazy that we are no longer making an impact for the Lord. While some may point to the modern, American contemporary church as the fulfillment of this text, the Christian in Southeast Asia who is being tortured for his faith is nowhere close to being an example of a Laodicean Christian.

Those who say that the modern church is a fulfillment of the Laodicean church age have an American-centric view of Christianity, and have disregarded the plight of the majority of Christians around the world, who have been sentenced to poverty, imprisonment, slavery, and torture as a result of their faith.

That being said, the words Christ spoke to the Laodiceans should be observed by the American church, and any church that has grown lackadaisical. The Lord wants to be an active part of our lives, and He wants us to stand for something.

This teaches us that life is more than our material wealth. Life is about what we do for Christ. What are you doing for Christ?

The overall lesson from Revelation 3 is that we need to prepare for the return of the Lord by recommitting ourselves to Christ and to let our faith in Him propel us through our day to day lives. As we move forward into the book of Revelation, “things get real.” Are you prepared to meet Christ?

 

The 7 Churches (Revelation 2)

The church is dead.

The church is judgmental.

The church is full of hypocrites.

Those common complaints against modern American churches are nothing new. For years, people have complained that the church experience can be cold, uncaring, and full of betrayal at the hands of those who pretend to be Christian, but are not.

Often, those complaints against the church are used as justification for rejecting church membership altogether, electing rather to worship God alone. After all, if Christ knew just how awful the church really is, wouldn’t He support a mass exodus from the church?

It might surprise you to know that the issues with the modern American church are nothing new. In fact, these issues permeated the first century churches. Thus, in Revelation 2, Christ begins the process of addressing each church individually, assessing the condition of each church and instructing them to repent of their sins and shortcomings.

Revelation was written to the seven churches of Asia (now known as Asia minor, or Turkey) to prepare them to meet the Lord. Speaking through the Apostle John, Jesus foretold the events that would precede His return, the events that would mark His judgment, and the promises to every believer.

The book of Revelation was written specifically to those seven churches to prepare them to meet the Lord, but the truth that is taught in this book will prepare us, also, to meet the Lord. Those churches of Asia met the Lord when they passed away. We will meet the Lord when we pass away, or when He returns, whichever comes first. Therefore, we should take the lessons of the book of Revelation and prepare for that day.

One of the most common errors in studying Revelation 2 is that many theologians believe that the letters to the seven churches are actually metaphors for seven different time periods during the church age. This approach to Revelation 2-3 is problematic for many reasons.

First, if Christ had dictated the letters to the seven churches as an allegory for the seven periods of the church age, then the message would have made absolutely no sense to those churches to whom the letters were written.

Secondly, as you read the letters to the seven churches, you will notice that Christ addresses specific issues, and specific individuals within the churches. While many try to parallel those specific individuals and issues with historic events during the church age, the fact of the matter is that there were specific issues and individuals addressed by Christ in those churches.

In other words, when these letters were read to the seven churches of Asia, no one had to ask, “I wonder what the Lord meant by that?” They knew exactly what Christ was talking about, whom He was talking about, and what He was commanding. There was no mystery to those first-century churches.

So, if these letters were addressed to the first century churches, and addressed specific issues within seven specific churches in Asia, then what’s the point of studying them today? Simple.

In the often forgotten Pauly Shore comedy, In The Army Now, Pauly Shore told the drill instructor that “welcomed” him to boot camp that she didn’t have to yell. The drill instructor replied, “IN THE U.S. ARMY, WE DO NOT YELL. WE MERELY SPEAK LOUDLY SO THAT ALL CAN LEARN FROM OUR MISTAKES!”

While it may seem sacrilege to reference a Pauly Shore movie during a Bible study, the fact is that we can learn from the mistakes of the seven churches of Asia, and we can take the lessons the Lord teaches them and apply them to our own lives.

In the letters to the churches in Revelation 2, we learn that Christ sees everything. He sees our love and works, or the lack thereof. He sees the motivation for our works. He sees our struggles and problems. He sees our errors. Then, He calls us to repent.

The above posted episode of The Point expounds those truths. If you listen, I predict you will be blessed by it.