Revelation 1:1-3 ESV
“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. 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.”
The book of Revelation, the last book in our Bible (Genesis to Revelation) is written to the church, the saints of God, the body of Christ, the Lord’s bride. Jesus Christ freed us from our sins by his blood, and he made us kingdom priests to the glory of God. And one day he is coming again for us.
The Revelation was given to the Apostle John to write down for us. It was specifically designated for the seven churches in Asia, of that time, but truly it is written for the church of all ages, for it was written about what was to take place in the future, much of which I believe we are seeing today.
It begins with seven letters to the seven churches in Asia, and the number seven is a number symbolic with completeness. So, these letters are to the church, as a whole, of all ages, and they are to be applied where they fit, for not every letter is going to apply to every congregation.
I believe that the Lord Jesus is leading me this morning to do a summary of these letters so that we can get a picture, as a whole, of the entirety of the messages contained in these seven letters. And realize with me here that these letters are what preceded the proclamations of judgments.
The interesting thing about this, which many people miss, is that the letters (at least five of the seven) give warnings of divine judgment to the churches if they do not repent of their waywardness and their wicked ways. And right after these warnings, then comes the declarations of judgment.
Four of the five letters, which had warnings of divine judgment if they did not repent, had both positive and negative things said about them. Only one had all negative, and that letter was written to the church in Laodicea. Many people believe that church represents the church at the end of the age, but I believe all seven letters have application to the end of the age, too.
We can have many things right but still be missing what is most important. We can go through the motions of doing a lot of the right things, but it be in our own strength and not in the strength of the Lord. We can do them because we know they are the right things to do while we are not depending on the Lord Jesus for every breath that we breathe.
For, following our Lord Jesus is not having a check list of things to do that we can check off and then go about the rest of the time doing what we want to do. Jesus isn’t just a part of our life. He is to be our life. We are to be crucified with him in death to sin so that “I” (the flesh) no longer lives, but Christ is living his life through us as we yield control over to him.
We can be doing a lot of the right things in practice, by rote, while lacking zeal for the Lord and love for God and for our fellow humans. Jesus doesn’t want just a corner of our lives. He wants it all! He wants us fully surrendered to him, with him in the driver’s seat, and with us following his lead. For Jesus died that we might be God’s possession and honor him with our lives.
Then there are those who feel that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for their sins gives them freedom now to continue in sin, only now without guilt and without punishment. For they see his sacrifice only in terms of forgiving them their sins and promising them heaven when they die. But Jesus died that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness.
Those who are teaching this “cheap grace gospel,” which is an adulterated gospel, are therefore leading the people into sin, including into sexual immorality. They are convincing them that their freedom in Christ makes no requirements of them for repentance, obedience, or submission to Christ, so they feel they can keep living in sin and still go to heaven when they die.
Those who are accepting the “cheap grace gospel,” in place of the full gospel message (the whole counsel of God), are tolerating these false teachers with their false gospel which tickles itching ears. They are putting up with them easily enough because their messages make them feel good about themselves even while they are engorging themselves on sin.
They have a reputation of being alive spiritually, but they are dead, because they are not dying with Christ to sin or living with Christ to righteousness, but they are ignoring the Lord and his commands while they engage themselves in all manner of evil. They may be providing entertainment and fun, which is exciting to the flesh, but spiritually they are mostly dead.
Honestly, if we are just going through the motions of Christianity, but we aren’t following Jesus with our lives, then we classify as being lukewarm Christians who are neither on fire for the Lord nor totally opposed to him. So, we serve no useful purpose, but rather we give a bad name to Christianity, for we are no different from the people without Christ.
But not everyone who professes faith in Jesus Christ is living a nominal Christian life, and not every church congregation has gone the way of the world and has adopted the “cheap grace gospel” in place of the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Though they may be in the minority, there are still faithful servants of the Lord following him in obedience to his ways today.
And they are being persecuted for righteousness’ sake, even by worldly Christians and false shepherds of the people who are wolves in sheep’s clothing. They are being accused of being self-righteous and hyper-religious, and legalistic and crazy and of teaching works-based salvation because they believe in repentance, obedience, and submission to Christ as Lord.
In every case where the Lord found something that was wrong with these church congregations he warned them that they were to repent or that he was going to judge them in some manner or another. And then what follow are proclamations of judgments. So, please understand here that the Scriptures do not teach the church will be removed during the Tribulation.
The purpose for the judgments against these wayward churches is to bring them to repentance. In the book of Revelation, we read that the saints of God (the church collectively) are making themselves ready to meet their Lord. God is purifying them through these judgments. And many people are being saved from their sins during the Tribulation, too.
Also, understand that the Scriptures teach that we will be tried by fire, and that we will be persecuted for righteousness’ sake, and that some of us will be accused falsely, imprisoned under false pretenses, and some of us will even be martyred for our walks of faith in Jesus Christ. We are not promised an easy road to travel, but a hard one, but with Jesus as our helper.
Also, please know that a profession of faith in Jesus Christ alone is not enough to save you from your sins or to secure heaven for you as your eternal destiny. We must die with Christ to sin and live to him and to his righteousness or we will die in our sins and not have eternal life with God. So, please take this to heart, and please make your heart right with God.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10, 19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 3:4-10]
Jesus, Rescue Me
An Original Work / September 18, 2011
Based off of Romans 7:7-8:39
Jesus, rescue me today.
Listen while I bow and pray.
I need Your help to obey You;
Live for You always.
Meet me in my hour of need, Lord,
As I pray to You.
Help me walk in fellowship, Lord,
Living in Your truth.
Jesus, how I long for You to
Change my heart anew.
Father, God, my heart’s desire
Is to live for You this hour
In Your Holy Spirit’s power
Living in me now.
Teach me to walk in Your love, Lord,
Guiding me each day.
Help me to show love and kindness
To the lost, I pray.
Father, teach me to love others
As You love always.
Holy Spirit come in pow’r.
Revive our hearts in this hour.
Change our hearts to be like You, Lord;
Live for You each day.
Help us to forsake our sins, Lord,
As we humbly pray.
Teach us how to live for You, Lord,
Obey You always.
Holy Spirit come in power,
Revive us today.