Welcome to God First with Brian C. Thomas, a program committed to encouraging you to put God first while viewing life through the window of the Bible.
Now, in honor of the one and only true God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, let's join Brian C. Thomas for today's message. Well, this week we are going to kick off a new series in the book of Revelation. And when it comes to this book, I think back to my childhood days growing up and I would hear people when the topic of Revelation come up, people would say, don't read that book. It would drive you crazy.
It would make you lose your mind. And that was the all too often response that I would hear when the topic of the book of Revelation was mentioned. I even once heard a conversation between two preachers where one told the other to stay away from Revelation and the other preacher responded and Daniel. And, you know, I did not believe that narrative then, nor do I believe it now. But when I grew into adulthood and I answered God's call to teach his prophetic word, I have often reflected on those statements that many who profess to be Christians, by the way, would make in dismissing the last book of the Bible.
But let's try to rationalize that thinking for a moment. God loves us so much that he stepped out of a perfect heaven and became one of us. And he did so because the only way that mankind could be redeemed from sin was through the sacrifice of a perfect man, because no man was perfect and no man was able to fulfill the requirement. So that meant that every person to ever be born would be destined to the eternal lake of fire. So God chose the only option for redemption, which was to become a man by way of a virgin, allow himself to be wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities and suffer an excruciating death on the cross as the only perfect sacrificial lamb. Now, if he would do all of that because of how much he loves us, why would he then turn around and say, now I will conclude my redemptive plan with a book that will cause them to lose their minds? It just doesn't make sense because it is a deception from the great deceiver, which is Satan. The truth of the matter is there is a blessing for the one who reads and who hears the words of the Book of Revelation.
But Satan does not want us to receive that blessing, so he influences people to stay away. I think back to when I was about 10 years old and I was out one day riding bicycles with a couple of my cousins who were about seven and eight years old, respectively. And we were out riding and playing and just doing what little boys do.
And on this one particular hot summer day, we stopped for a break to catch our breaths and and get some relief from the heat in the shade. And I began to speak to them about the future seven year tribulation. And by the time I was done speaking, they were just standing there straddling their bicycles with that that deer in the headlights kind of look.
They were probably thinking, man, this guy has really lost it. But the Holy Spirit planted that in my heart from my early childhood days to proclaim the coming of Jesus Christ and the impending judgment upon all who reject him. And so that leads me to another argument that I often hear Christians state that the Book of Revelation is too difficult to understand.
So why bother trying? They feel that only those with a seminary Ph.D. can make sense of it. My desire in going through this series of revelation is to demonstrate that anyone can understand it. And it certainly will not cause you to lose your mind. But, you know, we can sometimes get overwhelmed when attempting to consume too much at one time.
As the saying goes, we do not swallow an entire pizza at once, but we eat it slice by slice, one bite at a time. So when we look at this series, we're going to break it down verse by verse into bite sized pieces for our consumption. And by the conclusion, you will be well versed in of God's great redemptive plan that we know as the revelation of Jesus Christ. And so if the Holy Spirit can give a 10 year old boy the mind to understand the prophetic books, the same Holy Spirit can give you the ability to understand it, too, regardless of your age. So I want you to turn your Bibles with me to Revelation Chapter one.
We're going to cover today verses one through eight. Revelation Chapter one, verses one through eight. Heavenly Father, we thank you, Lord, for your great and divine holy word. It is my prayer, Lord, that all things that are spoken, that it be nothing but sound doctrine. And may you be honored and glorified in all things in your name, Jesus.
Amen. We're going to look today at Revelation, the introduction and the greetings to the seven churches. The first verse reads as follows, verses one and two, the revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants things which must shortly take place.
And his sin is signified by his angel to his servant, John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. The word revelation is a translation of the Greek word apocalypsis, which means an unveiling. The word revelation is found 18 times in the New Testament. One example of that is in Galatians Chapter one, verse 12. And the word means to show or expose to view as the unveiling of a painting is a revelation.
The book of Revelation is the unveiling of Jesus Christ, the revelation of Jesus Christ, not the revelation of John. We see in our text these things which must shortly take place. That is an emphasis on future events in the New King James Version uses the word signify in this opening verse. But, you know, unfortunately, the word has been abused by many, suggesting that it means to satisfy or to write in signs. Now, there are indeed symbols throughout the book, but it is incorrect to categorize the entire book as symbols and that it cannot be taken literally.
And what we will actually find is that there is more literal language than there is spiritualized language. To his servant, John, the apostle John was the author of Revelation. He was a Christian leader throughout Asia Minor, especially Ephesus. He had been a pastor there for most of the last half of the first century, and he was the author of the Gospel of John, which was written around 85 AD. He's the most well known for being one of the 12 apostles who walked with Jesus Christ throughout his earthly ministry. And John received this revelation while banished on the Isle of Patmos off the coast of Greece during the rule of Roman Emperor Dimension, who ruled between 91 and 96 AD.
Patmos and the surrounding islands were used to incarcerate enemies of the state, sort of an ancient day Alcatraz. Now, it is accepted among many that the apostle John wrote Revelation around 95 AD, and Revelation is a fitting closure to the 66 books of God's great redemptive plan for mankind. It is important in studying this last of the 66 books that we're careful to not allegorize and spiritualize everything because doing so has brought about much harm to interpretation. That is how we get Preteras, which believe that everything has already been fulfilled. And so when we exercise this practice, though, we can make the Bible say whatever we want.
But as a seasoned friend in the ministry coined the phrase, he said, when the plain sense makes sense, look for no other sense or else you end up with nonsense. And that is what we must do when we are interpreting the prophetic scriptures, especially when it comes to Revelation. And so when we look at this text, the source of the book came in the sequence of God, the father to Jesus Christ, to the angel and then to Apostle John. So as we continue looking at verse three, blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy and keep those things which are written in it for the time is near. One of the sad realities of the current state of sermons today is the prosperity gospel. The message coming out of the pulpits of a large number of churches on any given Sunday is often centered around how much God is going to bless you.
Now, don't get me wrong. It is biblical that God will bless those who faithfully follow him. But the true gospel is balanced in stating that we must turn from sin. And I find it interesting that I've never heard of a prosperity gospel preacher tell the congregants to read the book of Revelation. And I point this out because Revelation states right in the opening verses here that there is a blessing for reading and hearing and keeping the words of this book. And as a matter of fact, this is the only book of the Bible that promises such a blessing.
You may find it interesting that Sir Isaac Newton is well known mostly for his work on things like gravity, the three laws of motion which form basic principles for physics and calculus. Besides, Sir Isaac Newton loved the book of Revelation and he actually wrote commentary on it. So do not listen to those who say this book will drive you crazy or you cannot understand it. And they say is a simply being influenced by Satan to keep you from receiving the joy and the blessings that flow out of the words of this prophecy.
And it is my heart's desire that more pastors would preach from this final book of the Bible. Instead, many though brush it off, they are stating that it's not relevant. But what could be more relevant than our Messiah returning to the earth, which will bring an immediate end to all of our problems, an immediate end to health struggles, an immediate end to marital problems, an immediate end to financial and employment struggles.
What could be more relevant than that? But that is for those who have put their faith and trust in him as Lord and Savior. So if you haven't done that, you need to trust Jesus Christ as your savior on today. You know, a friend of mine in the ministry says that when Satan reminds him of his sinful past, he reminds Satan of his future, which is recorded in Revelation. He does not want Satan, that is, does not want mankind to know that Christ wins in the end and as his followers, Christians in turn win as well. So he deceives even Christians to stay away from this book.
So maybe all of your hopes and dreams have not come to pass in this life. You may have suffered tremendously in this life because of your faith in Christ. And that could have you asking, where's the blessing in reading Revelation? But we must remember that Jesus stated his followers would be reviled.
They would be persecuted and falsely accused for his sake in Matthew 5 11. But that was not the end of his message as he went on to state, rejoice and be exceedingly glad for great is your reward in heaven. Revelation reveals the great reward. Thus it is a blessing to read and to hear and to keep the words that are found in it.
We have to always remember that we are created to be eternal beings. So even if your life is filled with suffering and disappointment, rejoice in the blessing that we will be in eternity, living in the presence of our great Lord Jesus Christ. Verse four, Revelation Chapter 12, John, to the seven churches which are in Asia, grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come and from the seven spirits who are before his throne. Grace is the Greek method of greeting. Peace is the Hebrew form of greeting. So Apostle John begins this letter, which is addressed to seven actual churches that existed in modern day Turkey with the Gentile and Jewish form of greeting.
And it is our relationship with God that determines whether we have grace and peace. The text says who is and who was and who is to come. If it were possible for us to get into a time capsule and travel limits limitlessly back in time, we would find that God has always existed. He existed one hundred thousand years ago, one million years ago, one trillion years ago, and so on and so forth. And he is this today and will always exist in eternity future.
Just to name a few, you can also sign up for our monthly newsletter and visit our Web store. So please visit us at God first. Now, let's return to the conclusion of today's message. But as finite creatures, it is hard for us to wrap our minds around this, but we must understand that the concept of a beginning did not exist until God created it. And the concept of time did not exist until God created it. And the concept of an end did not exist until God created it. So he has always been here and always will be.
And that is the truly amazing thing about our infinite God. And so when we come to the term here, seven spirits know the spirits is capitalized in the New King James translation. The seven spirits is a reference to the sevenfold work of the Holy Spirit, as revealed in Isaiah Chapter 11, verse two. Turn your Bibles there with me to Isaiah Chapter 11, verse two. The text reads and the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him.
The spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. What's interesting is that even the secular world recognizes that there is something special about the number seven, because how often do you hear people state the lucky number seven? Seven means perfection. It means completeness. Thus it is the number of God.
But there is nothing lucky about God. Instead, he is the perfect. He is the complete. He is the holy supreme being that even nonbelievers realize deep inside his true nature. And so the seven spirits does not mean seven holy spirits, but is the seven ministries of the one Holy Spirit. Verses five and six, a revelation chapter one from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the first born from the dead and the ruler over the kings of the earth, to him who loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood and has made us kings and priests to his God and father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever.
Amen. So now tying verse five back to verse four, we see acknowledgment of the Holy Trinity, the triune God. It is important when reading scripture that we do not assume that God always refers to God. The father is it could be a reference to God, the son or God, the Holy Spirit.
So this is a statement that is all encompassing. Jesus Christ was despised and rejected at his first coming. Isaiah 53, verse three tells us that it says he is despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from him.
He was despised and we esteemed him not. But at his second coming, he will be adored and worshiped as he comes with power and great glory. He came the first time as a suffering lamb, but he will come the second time as a conquering lion. And what we find in our text here is that we see the past, present and future work of Christ described here, because when Jesus rose from the grave on the third day, he became the first born from the dead, meaning the first fruits of those who are raised from the dead. First Corinthians Chapter 15, verses 20 through 23 tells us. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man, for as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn, Christ, the first fruits, then when he comes, those who belong to him. Jesus Christ raised others from the dead before him, but they later died of natural causes as they were still imperishable bodies. So Christ was the first raised in a glorified body.
And praise be to our Lord that all who die as followers of Christ will also be raised from the dead and receive glorified bodies someday. It is our Lord Jesus who rules the leaders of the world today. He gives humans leeway, but he's never allowed anyone to control the entire world since his first coming. But there have been men like Hitler and Napoleon who have made vain attempts to do so. But when he comes, Christ will rule the entire world as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
And this will be what's known as a theocracy. We find in our text him who loved us was a demonstration by dying on the cross. And he continues as he has an ongoing love for us. All who accept Christ as Lord have been washed from sins by his blood. We find in First John Chapter one, verse seven and the blood of Jesus, his son purifies us from all sin. And this comes by confessing sins. So the question is, have you done that today? Have you confessed and have you received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior?
If you have not, I encourage you to do so while you have breath in your body. Spiritually, we are already kings and priests of our Lord. But when he returns, he will make us literal rulers in his kingdom where he will have dominion forever. Our Lord Jesus rightly deserves the title of the faithful witness that we find here in our text. Verses seven and eight. Behold, he was coming with clouds and every eye will see him, even they who pierced him and all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of him, even so.
Amen. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, says the Lord who is and who was and who is to come. The almighty. Jesus Christ will literally return to earth someday. He will be visible to all in the book of Acts Chapter one, verse 11. The text tells us men of Galilee, they said.
Why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven. This will take place at the end of the tribulation when he comes to set up the millennial kingdom. He ascended in a cloud and when and when he returns with the clouds as acts chapter one, verse nine says after he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes and a cloud hid him from their sight. So at the end of the tribulation, when he sets up his kingdom, just as he ascended in a cloud, he will also return with the clouds. He prophesied that he is coming back in the clouds in Matthew Chapter 24, verse 30. Then will appear the sign of the son of man in heaven, and then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. So not just the people alive on the earth will see him coming, but every person who has ever lived. Jesus told the high priest Caiaphas in Matthew 26 64, but I say to you all from now on, you will see the son of man sitting at the right hand of the mighty one and coming on the clouds of heaven. Caiaphas is deceased, but he will see Christ coming in the clouds. Those who pierce him are those who participated in the crucifixion, the ones that mocked him and beat him will see him coming on the clouds in power and great glory.
Jesus prophesied of this while being falsely accused in Matthew 26 64. It is as you said, nevertheless, I say to you hereafter, you will see the son of man sitting at the right hand of the at the right hand of the power and coming on the clouds of heaven. What a scene this is going to be when our Lord Jesus comes back to claim his earthly kingdom, when our Lord Jesus comes back to avenge those who have been rejecters of him. What a scene when our Lord comes back to rule and reign on the earth.
But the text tells us that the people of the earth will mourn because they have rejected Christ and they will be eternally lost. Christ, again, he's always existed. He currently exists and he will exist forever, which is indicated by his declaration. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.
Alpha is the first letter in the Greek alphabet, and Omega is the last. His declaration of being the one who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty points to the work of Christ, past, present and future. So, folks, as we begin this journey on the Book of Revelation, we must keep in mind that the entirety of the Bible is the redemptive plan of God. It is about the creation in which God created everything and then man failed to sin when Adam decided to disobey God.
He and Eve, when they decided to disobey God, then sin entered the world. But thanks be to our God, he had a plan for us so that we could be reconciled to him, because if it had not been for that plan, then we would all be headed for eternal damnation. And so what we find in the conclusion of the Bible in Revelation is showing the climactic end of God's redemptive plan for man.
And in between is everything that is building up to this great day of when our Lord Jesus will come back to ruling reign. And so we give thanks to our Lord God for dying on the cross. We give thanks to him for standing in our place, for shedding his blood, for suffering and dying what we deserve, because, folks, all of us deserve eternal damnation.
We all deserve punishment. We all deserve judgment for our disobedience to God, because we serve a righteous God. We serve a holy God who is so righteous and holy that sin must be atoned for. And the only way that that could be done was through a perfect sacrifice. And the only perfect sacrifice of a human was God himself becoming one of us and taking on the suffering and dying at Calvary so that we can be reconciled to the Father. And the beautiful thing about it is our Lord, yes, he died and he went into the grave, but he didn't stay there because the Bible tells us that he rose on the third day with all power, with power over sin, with power over death. And, folks, you too can have that same power by way of the Holy Spirit if you receive him as Lord and Savior, because the Bible says, oh, death, where is that victory?
Oh, Hades, where is thy sting? And so that is, we as believers, we have the victory in Christ over death, over sin. But again, it's only by accepting him as Lord and Savior. So if you've never put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ, come to him today and receive our great Lord.
He is coming back again. And I look forward to that day when we will see him face to face and give praise and adoration to our great Lord. Lord Jesus, as we conclude today, we come giving you thanks, Lord, again, for your great and wonderful sacrifice. And Lord Jesus, we just honor you. We give you glory. We give you honor. We give you praise. And Lord, it is our prayer that as we go through the prophetic scriptures that we have a mind, Lord, to receive what it is that you have for us, that we're not coming here for head knowledge, but we're coming here for heart knowledge.
Because if we have head knowledge, but yet if hearts are not changed to repent of sin and to come to you and to share your word, then the head knowledge does us no benefit. And so, Lord, we come to you today asking that you open our hearts and minds to receive from this book of Revelation what it is that you have for us to know. And, Lord, we just honor you today. We give you glory. We give you praise for the great and wonderful Lord that you are.
And, Lord, I pray today for those out there who are suffering bereavement, as there are many who are suffering through the loss of a loved one. But, Lord, I encourage you to strengthen them and to give them that peace, Lord, that surpasses all understanding, that peace that only you can bring. And, Lord, we are careful to give you the glory, Lord, to give you the honor, to give you the praise, even in the midst of all of these things that may be trials and tribulations.
But you said in the end that you will wipe away every tear from our eyes. And so, Lord, we look forward to that day. And as we depart from here, we remember to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, blessings over the great nation of Israel. And unto you, the only wise God, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen. Bless God's great nation of Israel and seek first the kingdom of God.
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