“Revelation - Victory in Jesus”
Someone once gave me his perspective on life. He said, "Life is hard, then you die." I suppose that is true, but that is certainly a negative way to look at life. I prefer to take a more positive approach, and I hope you do too. With all of the problems and difficulties we face in today's world, is there someone or something that can make a difference? Well, for me that someone is Jesus Christ. He is God's one and only Son who came to this earth to conquer sin and to destroy death; that is exactly what He did. With His death on the cross and resurrection from the grave, He provided a victory for us all. Yes, it is true; Satan is active in our world. We experience his influence on a daily basis. He is the author of sin and temptation and tragedy. It is easy to focus on that negativity, but the book of Revelation invites us to focus on Jesus. In the last book of the New Testament, we find John's visionary account of the ultimate victory we have in the Lord. At times his words sound unusual and odd, they may not make much sense in today's world, and yet the underlying meaning of them revolves around one unmistakable truth, in the end Jesus wins. As we spend time in Revelation I hope we will allow that one theme to dominate our study. It is a powerful message and one that gives us unshakeable hope, even to the end of time. I am excited to share that message and I trust you will want to hear it. Join us now as we study together.
If there is one book in the Bible that receives more attention than all of the rest, it just might be the book called "Revelation." We want to know what will happen at the end of time and some of the events leading up to it. At the same time, if there is one book in the Bible that we want to avoid more than all the rest, it too might be the book called "Revelation." It is difficult to read and understand and yet it is the most interesting and unique book in all of God's Word. As we come to an end of our study of the New Testament, we close today with an overview of Revelation. Written by the apostle John in the mid-90s (AD), he offers a great deal of hope and encouragement to some fellow believers. While the Roman Emperor Domitian was persecuting followers of Jesus Christ, John was taken to an island called Patmos. While he was there he received a revelation from God, and he communicates that vision, that revelation, to these faithful followers. In the midst of all the persecution and all of the dark days going on around them, they were encouraged by this wonderful message. Using symbolic or apocalyptic language, which was familiar to them, John shares some very important messages. He shares what God reveals to him and emphasizes that God has complete control over all of this world, and that a great and final victory will eventually come to God's people. His messages are filled with some great spiritual truths which apply to that original audience, and yet some of these great spiritual truths are still relevant to us today. So with those things in mind we are to be very careful not to make a literal interpretation of everything that is recorded in this book. And so, we might ask the question, "What is the ultimate message of Revelation? What is the point we can take away from it?" I want to offer this one statement at the very beginning and then we will look at various passages which support it for the rest of our time. Even though we do not know for sure how or when it will happen, there is coming a day when Jesus will return to establish a new heaven and a new earth, and on that day the last judgment will take place. The believers will have a new home with God and those who are not believers will be cast out into a lake of fire. Now, for 22 chapters John communicates that message in a variety of ways, and I want us to focus on four. First of all we recognize that Revelation begins by focusing on Almighty God. In chapters 4 and 5, God is pictured as reigning up on His throne. He is ruling over the entire universe and He is actively involved in that process. All of creation bows before the throne and gives praise and honor and glory not only to God but also to His son, Jesus Christ. I want to read a sample of that throne room worship. Notice, if you will, these verses in chapter 4 as we begin with verse 8: "'Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come. You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.'" Skip over to chapter 5 and notice verses 9 and 10, "'You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve God, and they will reign on the earth.'" And then notice verses 12 and 13: "'Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!' And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: 'To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever! Amen.'" Isn't that a beautiful picture? Everything, all of creation on the earth, in the sea, and everything in them, falls down and worships at the throne of God and also at the feet of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. And praise and glory and honor is given to the Lord. John also wants us to know that God's will is being accomplished on earth as it is in heaven, and there is absolutely no one who can stop Him. In fact, His own words are these in chapter 1 verse 8, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, who is, and who was and who is to come, the Almighty." Yes, Almighty God has always been and always will be. He is the First and the Last and there is absolutely no one and no thing that can compare to the Lord God Almighty. Still today, we can see God's mighty hand at work in this world and even in our own individual lives. God takes an active interest in everything going on in the world around us; and He knows what is going on in your life and in my life as well. No doubt that gives us hope, knowing that even though things may not happen as we hoped they would happen, God is still in control. God knows what is best. His will is being accomplished because He is the Lord God Almighty, the Creator and the Sustainer of this world. So first of all, Revelation focuses on the Lord God Almighty. The second focus that John makes is that he presents Jesus in a highly exalted position. Jesus is pictured as having many of the very same qualities as His Father, and He is worthy, also, of praise and honor, as we read there in chapter 5. Jesus is referred to as the "Lamb of God" some 26 times; and through that title He brings salvation to this world. Turn in your Bible, if you will, to chapter 7. I want to notice verses 9 and 10 as we think about people from all over this world receiving the salvation of the Lord and being a part of God's family. We begin in chapter 7 and verse 15, "Therefore, they are before the throne of God and serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tent over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd. He will lead them to the springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." Isn't that a beautiful scene; that God is there to watch over them and to spread His covering of protection over them. And Jesus, himself, will lead and will guide those children. Go back if you will and look at verses 9 and 10 also, of this 7th chapter: "After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, 'Salvation belongs to God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.'" Yes, salvation comes from the Lamb of God, who is the Son of God. And people from every tribe and language and nation will be there around the throne worshiping and honoring God, praising Him for the salvation that comes through Jesus Christ. In other places Jesus is called "The Faithful and True, who rides upon a white horse," chapter 19 verse 11; "He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords," chapter 19 verse 16; "There is no other leader, there is no other ruler on the face of this earth who is His equal;" Jesus is the "Bright Morning Star;" He is the "Lion of Judah;" He is the "Root" of the tribe of David. And all of these titles simply suggest one thing; that Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, is more than able to bring salvation into this world. God the Father has identified His Son as the One who is able to do that and who is able to bring into fellowship with Him all of those who respond to that great message, of Jesus Christ. It is then that we can have that relationship with the Lord. It is then that He covers us with His protection, He guides us and He blesses us in the way that we are to go. As John the Baptist recognized Jesus, very early on in his ministry, he said these words one day when he saw Jesus, in John 1 verse 29: "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." That is one reason why Jesus came to this earth, to take away people's sin, and He did that throughout His ministry. And now, here at the very end of the Bible, we find that He is still doing that, taking away people's sin and welcoming into His fellowship, along with the Father's fellowship, all of those who have received Him. And so the second focus here in Revelation is on the exalted position of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. Another focus of John's message in Revelation is on the followers of Jesus. In chapters 2 and 3, Jesus addresses seven different churches with seven specific messages. He writes these messages to churches that are scattered throughout Asia. He wants them to avoid false teaching and to never forsake their God. He wants them to pay very close attention to God's Word and to keep those commands. Let's look at an example of one of those messages from Jesus, as He speaks these words, in the 3rd chapter, to the Church in Philadelphia; in verses 8 through 11: "I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars, I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come up on the whole world to test those who live on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown." Yes, Jesus encourages these believers to hold fast, to anticipate that time when He will come back and reward them with a crown. John also reassures these followers of Jesus: "There is a time when Jesus will defeat Satan." Many times throughout Revelation he is referred to as the "beast," and Jesus will come and He will defeat the beast and all of those who represent him; that Jesus will ultimately destroy and defeat Satan and he will be no more. Even though hard times and difficult days were coming upon these early believers, they would receive a reward. Through their patient endurance and their faithfulness they would receive a crown of righteousness that would never be taken away; and these Christians needed to have that reassurance. I'm reminded of the passage from the apostle Paul in 2 Timothy chapter 4, toward the end of his life he writes, "I anticipate that time when I will receive a crown of righteousness that is laid up not only for me, but also for all of those who long for his appearing." Yes, Paul received that crown of righteousness because of his faithfulness, and now John encourages these Christians to be faithful and to endure so they, too, can receive that eternal crown. Oh, there may be times in our life when we, too, feel overwhelmed by the enemy. We feel defeated by Satan and we long for the time when he will be no more. We might be persecuted for our faith. We might go through some very uncertain days. We might be tempted to fall in love with the things this world has to offer. We might even be tempted to throw in the towel and to give up and to quit living for the Lord. Those are just some of the reasons why the book of Revelation is so relevant to us today. It reminds us that, yes, we live in a fallen world. We live in a world where things are not right. And yet, through our patient endurance and through our faithfulness as we follow in the footsteps of Jesus, we too can know there is a crown of righteousness waiting for us. And on that day, we will receive it and be able to receive the full fellowship of God, forever. I want us to notice some of the other promises that we find here in Scripture, in the book of Revelation, that are given to those faithful followers of Jesus. Listen to these words in chapter 3 verse 21; again, they come from Jesus himself: "To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on His throne." Chapter 22 verses 12 through 14, "My reward is with me. Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city." Think about that for just a moment, as our robes are washed, white, pure and holy in the sight of God, we have the opportunity to go through the gates of that eternal city and be able to enjoy the fellowship and the glory of God for all eternity. Oh, I cannot think of anything greater than to go through those gates and to be a part of that city, and that fellowship, and forever be in the presence of the Lord. The book of Revelation is filled with many such messages. It is full of encouraging words and comforting thoughts and eternal promises. John leaves no doubt that Jesus will reward all of those who patiently endure and who overcome the evil one. Notice one more passage, in chapter 3 verse 5: "To him who overcomes, he is dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the Book of Life but will acknowledge his name before my Father and His angels." Won't it be wonderful to know that our name is written in that Book of Life and Jesus will acknowledge us before the Father! And so thirdly, John emphasizes the faithful followers of Jesus and the reward that is waiting for them. There is a fourth focus to Revelation and it revolves around Jesus' second coming. Through the vision he received, John reveals several things that will take place when the Lord returns; and again, it revolves around His ultimate defeat of Satan. When Jesus returns, He will defeat and finally destroy the devil, where he is no more. He will bring an end to all persecution and death. There will be no more pain or persecution. The wicked will be forever cast away from the presence of God and the faithful followers of Jesus Christ will reign with Him for all eternity. There will be no more disease or death. There will be no more sorrow or sadness. There will be nothing out of line or amiss in this world, but everything will be made right. Now in various ways, John describes how all of that will take place, and he does so in the middle part of Revelation. Again, using figurative and symbolic languages, he gives some instruction and encouragement to these Christians so they will know, as they understand this literature, how all of these things will come about. Through these messages, he reminds them that in Jesus Christ they have hope, and there is coming a time when their faith will be made "sight." There is coming a time when all of these things will come to full fruition and they will be a reality. As we finish our study of the New Testament and our study of Revelation I want to remind us of one great truth, and perhaps it's the ultimate truth that we learn from Revelation; that is, the victory belongs to the Lord. No matter what is happening in this world, God, through Jesus Christ, overcomes; and the victory belongs to us, as well, as we are the faithful followers of Jesus Christ. I want to close with the reading of a beautiful passage in chapter 21; and for me, it reminds us of that final victory of Jesus and the opportunity we have to be with Him forever. Beginning with verse 1 of chapter 21, we find these words: "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, we will live with them. They will be His people and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." What a beautiful scene. It is a challenge to summarize Revelation's powerful message in just a few minutes, but I believe John would have us to know this: There is coming a time when God will powerfully display His control throughout this world. Jesus will return to establish a new heaven and a new earth. The time of trial and persecution and death will all be over and an eternal reign with the Creator of the Universe will begin. What does all of that mean for us today? It means very simply this; we put our trust in Jesus Christ, we live by faith in Him each and every day and we long for and anticipate that time when He will come back and gather unto Himself all of His faithful believers, to be at home with the Lord forever. That is the beautiful message of the final book of the Bible, the book of Revelation.
The book of Revelation is a great way to end the story of the New Testament. It's focused on Jesus gives us the hope we need to live from day to day. No matter how difficult life seems or how powerfully Satan attacks, our ultimate victory is found in Jesus Christ. Through John's unusual message we find the necessary strength to rise above persecution and temptation and trial. Even though things may look bad now, Revelation offers the assurance there is coming an eternity of peace and justice. Here is one final thought on Revelation I hope you will take with you, in the end, Jesus wins. You must now choose a side, choose wisely. I know you will do that and that you will experience the joy of such a choice.
Thank you for joining us for today's broadcast. The message of Revelation is one of victory and triumph. Isn't it good to know that no matter what happens in this world, Jesus has already won the victory? This message is available on our website. If you would like to hear it again, go to keytothekingdom.com. Many other messages are there, as well, and they can easily be downloaded in a variety of formats. While you are on the website take a few minutes to browse through some of the other things we offer. The short video clips, devotional messages and Bible study are all free and require no commitment or obligation. As we have come to the end of our study of the New Testament, you may even want to go back and review some of the previous lessons. Hopefully they have blessed you and your own personal study of God's Word. If you call the number on the screen and leave your name and address, we will send you the same Bible study by mail. It is a six-part series and you can work through it at your own pace. It, too, should assist you in your walk with the Lord. Each week at this same time we open up the Bible and study from it. I trust the messages are relevant and that you can apply them to your daily life. Our goal is to share lessons, along with other resources, that will assist you in your Bible study and spiritual growth. Thank you for tuning in to today's broadcast. I hope you will take time to watch again next week as we continue to study the Bible on "Key to the Kingdom."