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The New Testament (Part Two)–1 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
March 11, 2024 2:00 am

The New Testament (Part Two)–1 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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March 11, 2024 2:00 am

The book of Revelation portrays our Christian hope. We long for the glorious return of Jesus, the resurrection of the dead, the judgments, the Millennial reign, and the eternity which follows. In this message, Pastor Lutzer helps us navigate the three sections of Revelation’s prophecy and rich symbolism. What will our ultimate destination be?

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Running to Win
Erwin Lutzer

Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Written in apocalyptic language rich in symbolism, the book of Revelation portrays the future yet to be, the glorious return of Jesus, the resurrection of the dead, the judgments, the millennial reign, and then the eternity which follows.

Stay with us. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, Revelation is a mysterious book in many ways. Some see its prophecies as having already been fulfilled. Others see them as foretelling entirely future events.

Where do you come down on this? You know, Dave, you're absolutely right when you say that the book of Revelation is rich in symbolism. It is. But you know, when you get to the end of chapter 3 and you begin chapter 4 where there is a door open to heaven, I believe that all of the events that follow that are still future. So even though we have difficulty in interpreting it, there are some things in it that appear to be absolutely literal. And what we have to do is to try to work through the book with integrity. While I'm holding a book entitled The Vanishing Power of Death, the subtitle is Conquering Your Greatest Fear. At the end of this message, I'm going to be giving you information as to how this book can be yours.

And if you order it now, you can even have it in time for Easter. But for now, let's go to the pulpit of Moody Church. Thank you so much for being here today and joining with me on a journey. At this time, I want you to make sure that your tray tables and your seat backs are in the upright position. I want you to put on your seat belts because we are going to take a flight that will last no more than 30 or 35 minutes. And in that flight, we are going to see the entire book of Revelation. We will cover all 22 chapters.

The good thing about this flight is that all of you have a window seat and you will be able to look out of the window and you'll be able to see the landscape throughout the whole time. I don't have any notes with me today that wasn't intentional. I couldn't find them this morning, but God will that I not need them. And so what we're going to do is to look at the book of Revelation. I want you to turn to it and just in case you didn't bring your Bible because you forgot it. All members and those who attend Moody Church regularly bring their Bibles, but I can imagine that there's someone here who didn't.

I think it's going to be on page 1028 of the pew Bibles. You really do need a Bible for this particular trip across the landscape. Notice why I want to preach this message because it says in verse three of chapter one, blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy and blessed are those who hear and those who keep what is written in it for the time is near.

This is one of seven different blessings in the book and this one says, blessed are you if you read it out loud. Of course, in churches in those days, people couldn't read for the most part, so there would be a reader who would be brought in and he would read it and then blessed are those who hear and you are going to hear and we're going to read parts of it and I will quote parts of it and when I do, by the way, I'm quoting from the King James, which is the translation that I learned many years as a teenager and also in Bible college and so we're going to hear and we are going to keep this word of God. You see, there are many people who have a mental block against the scriptures. They have that mental block because especially the book of Revelation seems to be so complicated and they've looked at charts and they want to know where it all fits in. The early church didn't have charts.

They didn't know where it all fits in. They didn't see the scheme obviously about which there is disagreement and yet the Bible says a special blessing upon you to hear the word of God and this book, this book especially and to keep it. You can benefit from the book of Revelation even if we don't understand all the details. I want you to leave here today excited about this book. I want you to become someone who says that it is my most favorite book in all of the Bible. Blessed are those who listen and who hear.

Parts of this book are going to take our breath away, but we're going to begin in just a moment. Notice in verse nine, John says that he was a brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and patient endurance. He says I was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. He was there as a prisoner probably. He was working in the mines that is believed because he was a believer. He was being persecuted and it is there that he received this marvelous revelation.

The island of Patmos is a beautiful, beautiful island. Rebecca and I had the chance to be there this past summer and as you approach the island, you can see its beauty and then once you're on an island, you can see there a sign that says to the cave of the apocalypse. So of course we took that sign and we went to the cave. When you get to the entrance, you become somewhat discouraged because I am of course skeptical as to whether or not this is the cave in which John received his revelation. But when you go inside, there is something that impresses you on the ceiling.

There is a crack. Now this cave is naturally out of rock and there is a crack on the rock and tradition says that when the voice of Jesus came to John, it says the voice like that of a trumpet, it split the rock. And so when we were there in the cave, we got an idea of what it might be like for John to be there, if indeed it is authentic and it might be.

And then when you leave the cave, you can see the landscape probably much like it was even during the time of John. Now, the text tells us the outline of the book in verse 19. God is speaking, Christ is speaking right therefore the things that you have seen, that's the vision of chapter one, the glorious vision of Jesus, the things that you have seen, those that are, that's the chapters two and three, the seven churches and those things that are to take place after this. And it's the after this that is going to attract our attention.

Turn to chapter four. You'll notice that after the letters are written to the seven churches, chapter four, after this I looked and behold a door standing open in heaven and the first voice which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, come up here and I will show you what must take place after this. And John is transported to heaven. Now, it is often believed and it's the position of Moody Church and Moody Bible Institute that the coming of Jesus is really in two phases. First of all, you have the rapture of the church, first Thessalonians four, where we as believers are caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.

And then sometime after that, at least seven years after that, it may be longer, you have the glorious appearing of Jesus Christ with his saints. And here, if you believe in the pre-tribulational rapture as we do, it is here that you will put the rapture. Isn't it interesting that in the rest of the book of Revelation, nowhere else in the rest of the book does it refer to the church? A hint that the church is no longer on earth. The body of Christ has been snatched up.

Now, of course, because this is controversial, we here at the church also accept other views. But if you have seen the charts with the rapture, this is where it would be. And John in chapters four and five sees heaven as no one has ever seen it. But here we're introduced to what is called apocalyptic literature. And notice how John writes. I'm picking it up in verse six. He's trying to describe what he sees, but he doesn't have the words.

He doesn't have the categories. You'll notice it says before the throne, there was as it were a sea of glass like crystal. We continue to read around the throne and on each side of the throne are four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind. The first living creature is like a lion. The second living creature is like an ox. It isn't an ox.

It isn't a lion. But John is seeing this marvelous vision and all that he can do is use analogies all the way through. The other day I was reading chapter eight about some of the judgments and there are 13 times at least the word like is used. It was like locusts and it was like fire and the face of someone like a man on and on and it goes because he's seeing things that can't really be described. And the best he can do is to use analogies to help us to at least begin to think about what it is that he is seeing.

You remember when the Apostle Paul was called into heaven, he says that he heard things that were not lawful for any man to utter. There's another translation, an equally good translation that would indicate I saw things that I cannot utter. I can't describe it. It's like trying to, someone has suggested, describe electricity to a primitive tribe and how are you going to do that?

All that you can do is use analogies. Well, electricity is something like an unseen spirit that runs along things that look like vines and on and on and on and apocalyptic literature has to be that way because we can't get our minds around it. Chapter five, a dramatic event occurs. You'll notice that in the midst of the throne he sees at the right hand of him who is seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back sealed with seven seals. I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice who is worthy to open the scroll and to break its seals and no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it.

Why is John crying? This scroll contains the title deed of the universe. It'll have the answer to the question, what about all the martyrs? Did they die in vain?

Is there no justice for them? What about Christians throughout the centuries who believed in heaven? Is there no heaven, no permanent abode?

At stake is nothing less than this question. Are the promises of God worthy to be believed or are they not? Is the purpose of God going to be fulfilled or will the purposes of God as he wraps up history, will they be aborted? That's the question and well might John weep but oh then and when he weeps the angel says the elder rather weep no more behold of the lion of the tribe of Judah the root of David is conquered so that he can open the scroll in its seven seals and again we're introduced to apocalyptic literature where you have metaphors that are the mixing of metaphors. It is the lion that is going to open the book but no lion appears. In addition to that instead of a lion we have in verse six a lamb. I saw a lamb standing as though it had been slain having seven horns and seven eyes. Have you ever seen a lamb with seven horns and seven eyes? No but the lamb of course is Jesus.

The lion is Jesus. The seven horns indicate authority and kingship and then the seven eyes his omniscience seeing everything in the world and beyond and you'll notice that these are the seven spirits of God that permeate the earth. Does that mean that we now give up on the trinity because there are seven spirits of God?

Of course not. Just like the eyes are symbolic of his ability to see all things the seven spirits indicate the fullness of the holy spirit as it permeates the entire universe and on it goes and now we come to the seals. Remember this that this scroll was wrapped up and then you'd unwrap it a piece for chapter one and then there was another seal and that would be broken and that would be chapter two chapter three and all the way along the line.

Have you ever been at a party usually it happens at a party where you want to give someone a gift and you give them a real big box and then within that box there's another box there's another box and another box and then you get to box number seven and box number seven has seven boxes and then you get to the seventh of that series and that one also has seven boxes. That's the way the judgments are in the book of Revelation and that's why this time it is so critical for you to look at the chart which was in your bulletin today. Please turn to it now your chart has two different sides to it. One says end of time prophecy that's not the one you want to be looking at right now. Look at the one that says the outline of Revelation and notice the judgments. Do you see that the seal judgments are chapter six and then we have the trumpet judgments eight and nine and then the seven bowls or saucers with their judgments is chapter 16. So if you wanted to just read all the judgments of the book of Revelation you could read chapter six eight and nine and 16 and you'd have them all and it is best to see one as the continuation of the other even though there are some reasons that I won't go into where it appears at first that it doesn't fit but the point is these are the judgments that God is going to heap upon the earth.

These are different than all the persecutions that the church has ever endured because throughout Revelation it will say this is the wrath of God on godless sinful humanity. Now let's look at the first seals of chapter six very briefly. He opens them and the first one is nothing less than false peace. There's someone riding on a right white horse and he has he has the ability to conquer. The second one clearly is war. You'll notice it says he's permitted to take peace from the earth. The third one verse five I heard the living creatures say come and it's a black horse it's famine and then you have death in verse seven and this happens to be the fourth seal but I want you to notice the next seal the fifth seal number nine that is verse nine when he opened the fifth seal I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had born they cried out with a loud voice oh sovereign lord holy and true how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth and they were each given a white robe and to rest a little longer until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete who were to be killed as they themselves had been parenthesis have you ever wondered what the people in heaven today are like they don't have their resurrection bodies yet my father who died at 106 what is he doing what does he look like can he communicate with others well obviously the answer is yes these folks don't have their resurrection bodies they're waiting for justice and for their bodies but notice that the soul takes on the characteristics of the body and so the fifth seal isn't a judgment per se it's a little vignette into heaven and on and on the seals go you say well okay if the seals are chapter six and the trumpet judgments begin they're eight and nine what's all the intervening chapters the intervening chapters are sidebars they are sidebars and we know for sure that they are not chronological and the reason is because every once in a while you have this vision of the return of Jesus and then you go down to earth again and this is why the book becomes confusing and why it elicits some disagreement is people disagree regarding the schedule the chronology and that's why I haven't included any chronology in the chart as such except the general chronology that is very clear because I don't want you to get hung up on the chronology as much as on the events themselves remember even if we don't understand exactly where they all fit we can benefit from the book and blessed is the person who hears who reads and who does the words of this prophecy and by the way the reason prophecies complicated is you add to this the book of Daniel which has many prophecies you add Ezekiel where Ezekiel talks about Russia and then he names a lot of countries most of which are mid-eastern mid-eastern countries particularly the Islamic nations going up against Jerusalem and God destroying them how do you fit it all in that's why prophecy is complicated but today we're going to keep it simple even though I'm well aware that this message is going to stir up a lot more rabbits than I'm able to shoot all right now you're with me chapter 7 tells us that people are going to be saved during the tribulation it tells us that God is going to seal 144,000 Jews 12,000 from each tribe and they are going to be sealed and believe it or not they're going to go all the way through the tribulation and not one of them is going to die we know that later from chapter 14 and it could be that they are the ones who are sealed and God sovereignly saves them and through their witness in the tribulation you have a great multitude that no man can number in chapter in chapter 7 here beginning at verse 9 and then new John already sees them as it being in heaven and I have to I have to give you these verses 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 shelter them with his presence they shall hunger no more neither thirst anymore the sun shall not strike them nor any scorching heat for the lamb is in the midst of the throne he will be their shepherd and he will guide them to springs of living water and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes wow chapter 8 and 9 we now come to the trumpet judgments the trumpet judgments are so severe you can read them on your own but there are hailstones fish of the sea a third of them are dying when you get to chapter 10 it is an encouragement for John and chapter 11 tells us about two witnesses and many people think that they are Moses and Elijah and they witness all during the tribulation period they do miracles but they are a threat they are a threat to the Antichrist and when they are put to death everybody rejoices it's a premature Christmas they send one another gifts and then at the end they are raised and they're taken to heaven and that's why people think that it may be Moses and Elijah but they're not identified when you get to the seventh trumpet it is the return of Christ in verse 15 but here is the point I want to make when you think of the judgment still to come the bowls or the vials as they are called they end up also with the return of Christ and that's why we say that inherent within the trumpets themselves and this seventh trumpet also is the other judgments that indicates that they are indeed connected well my friend even as we think about the book of Revelation and the judgments that are still to come can we keep in mind that all of us someday are going to die from my heart to yours I want to remind you that you and I were born with an expiration date God knows when that date is it is absolutely inevitable unless of course we live until the return of Christ I've written a book entitled the vanishing power of death and the subtitle is conquering your greatest fear one of the chapters in the book emphasizes the way in which Jesus died how did he approach death what do we have to learn from him at the end of course when he breathed his last he said father into thy hands I commit my spirit he is indeed our example well for a gift of any amount this book can be yours and the good news is this that if you order it now you can have it before easter conquering the fear of death hope that you have a pen or pencil so that you can write this down go to that's or pick up the phone right now and call us at 1-888-218-9337 the title of the book the vanishing power of death go to of course rtwoffer is all one word go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337 you can write to us at running to win 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard Chicago Illinois 60614 running to win is all about helping you understand God's roadmap for your race of life the drama of redemption began in Eden and ends with new heavens and a new earth here the redeemed find themselves on streets of gold in the new Jerusalem on our next running to win the grand finale to the marvelous plan God set in motion before the world began the plan to redeem lost sinners thanks for listening for Dr Erwin Lutzer this is Dave McAllister running to win is sponsored by the Moody Church
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-11 05:35:32 / 2024-03-11 05:44:06 / 9

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