THE BOOK OF REVELATION
THE CHURCH'S TRIUMPH THROUGH CHRIST
Sermon #1 - A Blessing From the Book of Revelation - Revelation 1:1-3
INTRODUCTION - The book of Revelation is an exciting book filled with the victory and triumph of the Church through the work and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the introduction we are given an extremely important admonition which should prepare us for the time we spend studying Revelation. "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it." There is a blessing attached to the studying and application of the book of Revelation. Yet it seems that in today's Christianity, the book of Revelation has often been seen as unprofitable, or has been treated in such a way that no one seems to understand what the book is saying. Either wild interpretations or absolute ignorance abound where the book of Revelation is discussed. Yet the Spirit of God warns us about neglecting this book, for there are spiritual blessings in store for those who read and keep it.
1) WHY HAS THE BOOK OF REVELATION BECOME SUCH A NEGLECTED OR MISUSED BOOK IN OUR DAY?
A) BECAUSE OF THE STRANGE AND MYSTERIOUS PICTURES WHICH ARE OFTEN PRESENTED TO US - There are so many fantastic and strange pictures presented to us in this book (Revelation 13:1-3), that some have laid it aside, seeing it as too difficult to interpret and understand. Yet this just shows us how far removed we are from the first century church. They would have grasped and understood these pictures much better than us. They were people of the Old Testament, a book which abounds in such imagery. This type of literature would not have been strange to the early Christian. Therefore, we need to listen with Old Testament ears and first century understanding if we are going to grasp the meaning of book.
B) BECAUSE THERE ARE SO MANY DIFFERENT WAYS THIS BOOK HAS BEEN INTERPRETED - Christian bookstores abound in commentaries on Revelation. Everyone seems to regularly come out with a new idea or interpretation. This can be extremely intimidating for the Christian. He may assume that no one can really understand the book, and so he goes elsewhere to read, thus losing the blessing promised.
C) BECAUSE OF A TOO SPECIFIC APPLICATION WHICH MEN HAVE MADE OVER THE CENTURIES TO THE BOOK OF REVELATION - All sorts of strange and bizarre applications have been drawn from Revelation throughout history. Men can take everyday events in the newspaper, along with world leaders and powers, and find them discussed in this book. Sensationalism abounds wherever this book is mentioned. Yet we should realize that this is not the way the book is to be interpreted. All of this sensationalism has often been the reason that Christians have given up on a true understanding of the book, thus, they have lost the blessing attached to it.
D) BECAUSE PEOPLE THINK YOU MUST BECOME AN EXPERT IN PROPHECY FIRST BEFORE YOU CAN UNDERSTAND THIS BOOK - Here is another intimidating problem often attached to this book. Yes, Revelation will require time and effort to study, but no more than any other book of the Bible. One does not need to be an expert in the field of prophecy. First century Christians understood this book quite well without all the maps, charts and diagrams that have so bogged down our present day.
In approaching this book, let us pray for wisdom, humility and patience as we endeavor to understand it. Then, let us look for the great blessings which are attached to the application of such a glorious book!
2) HOW WILL REVELATION BE OF PRACTICAL VALUE TO US? - The first three verses show us some of the practicality and blessing found within its pages.
A) JOHN IS WRITING ABOUT THINGS WHICH WILL SOON COME TO PASS - Therefore, this is not just a book for a future generation of Christians. John writes to first century Christians, thus, the time is close for them as well as us. They could well understand what John was saying and could make application to their own day with this book. Yet the uniqueness of Revelation, along with the rest of Scripture, is that its application extends to every generation of the church. Each successive generation of the church could take this book and use it for their own time. The church to which John is writing is small and persecuted. They needed to see that the things which were happening to them were still under the control and rule of Christ. Revelation became one of the most needed books in their day. It described what the church would go through, its terrible enemies, and then its ultimate triumph in Christ. The message is the same for each succeeding generation of believers.
B) JOHN IS PRESENTING TO US THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST - The Apostle is giving us a revelation, an uncovering of things which we could not know by ourselves. It is not a book of human wisdom. Instead, John tells us it came from God, who gave it to Christ, who gave it to an angel, who presented it to John, who gives it to us. In our hands we therefore hold the sacred revelation of the mind and plans of God. Such an announcement is of great blessing to the church of Jesus Christ!
C) JOHN PICTURES FOR US THE PERSON OF JESUS CHRIST AS HE IS TODAY IN GLORY - The bulk of our knowledge about the ascended Christ comes from the book of Revelation. Read this book and you will not only see the Christ of the future, but the Christ of today as He lives and reigns in glory (Revelation 1:12-16). Here we see Him in the midst of His church, guiding and protecting, overthrowing wickedness and bringing in His kingdom. Revelation gives us glorious pictures of our Lord and Savior which are a tremendous blessing to the church.
D) JOHN WRITES TO ENCOURAGE THE CHURCH IN EVERY GENERATION TO PRESS TOWARDS HER FINAL TRIUMPH - This is the theme of the book. Here we see the glory of the church to come in the New Jerusalem. Here we are shown her final glory as she is wedded forever to her Lord and Savior. In this world, the church goes through her persecutions and trials. Church history shows us the great evils and heresies which have come upon the church. Every generation of God's people have experienced these things. Yet Revelation assures us of eventual triumph. John keeps pointing us to the final consummation and encourages the church to press on.
Here are some of the great blessings we will find in this book. Yet, will you read it? Will you hear it preached? Most importantly, will you keep this book? Will you follow its glory and triumph in Christ Jesus? If you do, then the book promises to be a great blessing!