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September 6, 2022 11:00 pm
Now you know we have been involved in a series entitled a Bible survey what we been doing is going to the books of the Bible and we been looking at each of them and talking about who wrote them and what they're about and then a so what from each one of them and when we got to the New Testament, we decided to slow down a little bit and take each of the New Testament letters one at a time or two at a time because they really form the nucleus of our faith.
Well were all the way gone into the very end. And today we want to talk about the final book in the Bible, the book of Revelation. So are you ready good. Let's talk about a few basic facts. First about the book of Revelation. Revelation chapter 1 verse nine says I drawn was on the island of Pat Moss because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ know soon as we say the word, John. We are immediately confronted with one of the most well-known people in all the Bible. Let's take a minute if we can just review his life.
John was a fisherman who lived on the north side of the Sea of Galilee.
He was also the youngest of the 12 disciples that the Lord Jesus called and John was also a part of the 3 Inner Cir. disciples were talking about Peter John's brother James and John himself, people who went certain places with Jesus, that the rest of the disciples didn't get to go, what you might not know is that John's mother Salome was actually Mary's sister that is Mary the mother of Jesus, her sister, which made Jesus and John Cozzens and that this may explain why, of all the disciples that from the cross. Jesus asked John to take care of his mother, because they were related. They were blood now church father Ira Naess tells us that after the resurrection and the ascension of the Lord Jesus back in the heaven. John lived in Jerusalem for a while and then he took a Mary the mother of Jesus, and he and Mary moved to Ephesus around 55 A.D. Ira Naess also tells us that John became sort of the bishop if you will of the church in Ephesus and the churches around the city of Ephesus, and in 94 A.D. as part of a widespread persecution of the church throughout the Roman Empire Emperor Denise Sheehan exiled John for two years to the island of Pat Moss. There's a cave there where John lived for his two years on the island and over the entrance of the cave. You can see the Mosaic where John is dictating to progress describe and for describe is writing down the book of the Revelation and then you see a picture of the cave itself on the bottom so this is where John spent two years and the Bible says Revelation chapter 1 verse 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day Sunday and I heard a loud voice like a trumpet which said write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches this voice. Of course, was coming from the risen Christ and the seven churches are commonly referred to as the seven churches of the Revelation they existed in a semi circle around the city of Ephesus and there the cities of Pergamum and fire attire in Sardis and Laodicea and Smyrna and all those letters are in Revelation chapter 2 and chapter 3 finally, we go mission died in 96 A.D. John was allowed to return to Ephesus, where around 100 A.D. John died at the age of 95 so let's summarize who wrote the book of Revelation John right where did he write the book of Revelation on the island of Patmos yelled. When did he write it sometime around 95 A.D. and why did he write it well, to tell us about Revelation 119, the things that will take place later meeting in the future. Now when it comes to interpreting the book of Revelation are there about four major approaches as to how to interpret this book and I want to tell you about them because you will run into people who are using one of these various approaches and I want you to know what they are number one approach number one we call the Pratt arrest or the bygone approach because the word predator's comforter of a Greek word that means bygone or over because it did. This approach says that everything in the book of Revelation is over. It's all bygone. It all simply dealt with the historical events of John's time. The conflict between the Jews and the Roman Empire and it's completely fulfill. Not many people hold to that, but I just thought I'd mention it to you. Number two is that the book is allegorical meaning that the entire book is symbolic only that the good people in the book are Christians and Christianity and the bad people in the book are the Roman Empire and pagan. The third approach is the approach that we call continuously historical. Listen to what what this means. It means that the 1000 year millennium started at the resurrection of Jesus and has been continuously unfolding historically over the last now 2000 years. You say wait a minute. The Bible says is 1000 years yeah well according to this approach that was just symbolic. It doesn't really mean a literal thousand years and that all the events of church history are being told to us in the book of the Revelation.
This was a common view of the reformers where the reformers saw themselves as rescuing Christianity and where they blame the Catholic Church and the papacy and called them the antichrist and if the common view of covenant theology reformed theology and five-point Calvinism. So you may run into people who believe this view now look here. The one thing all three of these first approaches have in common is that all three of them deny that the Lord Jesus Christ is returning to this earth at the end of the age bodily visibly literally and actually set up a 1000 year millennial kingdom and rule over that kingdom here on this earth problem with that is what the angel said to the disciples on the Mount of olives, the day of Jesus ascended back in the heaven. The angel said acts 111 men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky. This same Jesus who is been taken up from you into heaven, will come back say the next four words with me in the same way as you have seen him go into heaven friends. How did Jesus go into heaven. He went into heaven, bodily visibly literally and actually and the angel says this is precisely how he's gonna come back bodily visibly literally and actually and that leads us to approach number four and finally which is the literal approach.
This approach says that the entire book of Revelation is literal that it says what it means and it means what it says that the first three chapters are written to the seven churches surrounding Ephesus. Just like the Bible says and then in beginning in chapter 4 we launch into future events. Chapter 4 verse one after this I John looked in before me was a door standing open in heaven and the first voice I had heard the voice of the risen Lord said, Peter and I will show you what must take place.
What's the next word hereafter, meaning in the future were not talk about the seven churches anymore. Now were talking about down the corridors of time and here at McLean Bible church we take approach number four. We believe that the antichrist of the tribulation. Our literal, we believe the return of Jesus to the earth in Revelation 19 is literal. We believe that the 1000 year millennial kingdom in Revelation chapter 20 is literal. We believe the new heaven and the new earth in Revelation chapter 21 is literal. Now, we don't understand the every event at the book of Revelation is saying is literally coming to be.
In fact, this is 134 years I've never preached a series on the book of Revelation here at this church because I don't understand the book of Revelation. I don't know what the files all I don't know what the trumpets are. I don't know what the seals are. I don't know what the horsemen are so why the world cannot stand up here and pretend like I do know what they are, by the way, nobody else knows what they are, either.
I don't care what they tell you nobody knows what all of that is, but whatever it is we believe it's literally going to happen just the way the Bible says it's going to happen. I remember a great story that Chuck Swindoll told about when he was in seminary down to Dallas theological seminary, and he said that he and a bunch of seminary students is to go play basketball.
One night a week at a local high school gym and they would go in, and of course I had to be a custodian there, you know, while they were in the building and the custodian would always sit on a chair outside the gym with his Bible on his lap. Open reading the Bible and he was so intense in his reading of the Bible that he caught the attention of the seminary students. Finally after a few weeks trucks are curiosity caught up with you and as they were leaving after they finished playing, Chuck went over to him and said what are you reading and the gentleman said the custodian set on reading the book of Revelation and Chuck said really.
He said you understand what you're reading and the man said all yeah well this car talk a little by surprise because he had seminary professors with doctorates who confess they didn't understand what the book Revelation was all about. So Chuck asked him he said will, can you explain to me the meaning and the gentleman said of course he said it means that in the end Jesus where K-you get a better explanation of the book of Revelation than that friends if I were to preach a sermon you on the book of Revelation, it would only have about five words in it. In the end, Jesus wins that I know from the book of Revelation, and that's the best I can tell you once we get to chapter 4. Going forward, but how would great news not in the end Jesus wins praise the Lord. Praise Lord now let me just say if you're here and you never trusted Jesus is your real and personal Savior. This is really important information for you to know because what this means is that every other religion in our world is a false religion that every other religious leader in our world is a false prophet, and that only the Lord Jesus Christ is the right way to God, the true son of God and the true way to heaven, and that means if you want to be on the winning side when all the dust clears an eternity. You have got to be on the side of the Lord Jesus Christ. No other side is still surviving at the end of the book of Revelation but him and if you haven't given your life to Christ, folks, I urge you, I urge you to give up all of those false religions, and all of those false prophets, and even trusting in your own human effort and get on if we could use the term the winning side by following Jesus Christ with all of your heart and all of your life. Something to think about. Well, that's the end of our talk about Revelation, but we have a very important question we need to ask now you know what this is all you guys allowed and all you guys at PW every body at Tysons and on our Internet campus in here Bethesda.
Are we ready are not assessed to be really good today. I don't know why but it does okay. Sorry. Ready here we go want to pray you know over the last I say six months to a year. The Lord has really been dealing with my life using four verses out of the book of Revelation and they come out of chapter 2 out of his letter.
Jesus's letter to the church of Ephesus, and I like to read them.
Here's what they say.
Chapter 2 verse two Jesus said I know your deeds and your labor and your perseverance verse three and that you have labored for my namesake and have not grown weary. Jesus says to the church of Ephesus. Hey you guys have been a good church you been a faithful church you been a hard-working church. I know that nevertheless I have this against you, Jesus said you have left your first love. Never lose their first love that they left with the Lord Jesus himself. Yeah, verse five remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repentance and do the things you did at first. When you were first saved, when you first came to Christ when you were brand-new in the faith of when the wonder of the cross dominated your heart, and wherein the service of the cross was your highest aspiration in life and as I said earlier, the Lord is really been taking me to the woodshed on these verses because I remember in my early Christian life.
When I first came to Christ.
I remember what it was like to have this, love for Jesus. I mean I was passionate for the Lord. I was on fire for the Lord.
I was so in love with the Lord that I told everybody about the Lord. Even though I couldn't answer one theological question if they've asked me one question I know anything. I was a few days old and the Lord but but when the wonder of the cross and and and my sinfulness and God's love all hit me suddenly there was a love for Christ in my life. That said, I don't care what I can answer a question or not. I'm telling people about Jesus.
Anyway, there was a time in my life when I was totally in love with Jesus. There were no rivals whatsoever in my heart for him and his rule in my life and my conscience a time in my life and my conscience was so acutely sensitive to sin that the accounts are kept with the Lord were like instantaneous and short folks.
I started my Christian life talked but then I got busy, I got distracted. I got lost focus and other things. I mean, good things, even began to occupy a place in my heart that only Jesus along the least of these things didn't belong in this place and a slow erosion began to take place in my heart I mean I did go apostate. I didn't deny the faith. I didn't forsake the Lord but that inner fire that all out consuming love for Jesus cool down in my life and you know the really sad thing really sad thing is that I got so used, to being lukewarm that I stopped even noticing it. It became the new normal in my life.
Now I'm wondering, you don't have to raise your hand or say anything, but I'm wondering if any of you guys can relate to what I'm saying.
I mean can you remember a time in your life where you were just so you burn so hot for the Lord. The people around you actually could could feel it and and people around you. Got lit up just because they were around you remember those days in your life. Maybe well my point is that as a church family. We are really serious about reaching Washington for Jesus and we are really serious about seeing God strike this city with the movement of the Holy Spirit, such as I've never seen in my life such as maybe you've never seen in your life were serious about seeing our entire church family at every campus ignite and burn really hot for the Lord Jesus Christ, so that people can walk in the lobby and walked even drive in the parking lot and the presence and the power and the movement of the Holy Spirit is so palpable that they can feel if they don't know what they're feeling, but they know they are feeling something that they don't feel when they go to work in the morning, but friends, none of this can happen unless it happens first. Inside of us and so is their will on if I can relate to what you're saying about burning hot wants not anymore's hot what what should I do will friends what is Jesus say to do. He says repent. He said prepare, make a U-turn take an honest evaluation of where you stand spiritually and if this is true in your heart then friend be willing to admit that Band-Aid treatment is not what you need is not what I need. We need radical surgery by the Holy Spirit to get us back to where we once were, and to be courageous enough to get on our knees and ask God to do that in our life, folks, I gotta tell you, this is what God's been doing with me and it's been hard and it hasn't been fun, but it's been really really good in my life. I started my Christian life.
Hot and I've been asking the Lord now in his mercy to let the end my Christian life. Hot I feel badly that there were years in between where I didn't burn hot, but I can't change those I can change going forward, though, and get hot again so hot that the that the heat I'm putting off for Jesus and my love for Jesus, that the spirit of God is creating inside of me ignites people around me and the fire in me ignites a fire in them.
And folks, this is my prayer for you as members of our church family that God would so reignite you that the heat inside of you begins to heat up of people around you. Your children, your your friends, your boyfriend or girlfriend your coworker just being around you say begin to heat up for the Lord because of the heat that you were put in all and this is what I'm praying for our church family and for other Christ centered churches here in Washington that spiritual revival will strike us in spiritual revival will strike them and spread to all of this city. This is my prayer now working to do some things to help with this. You know, revival burns are basically two logs the log of repentance number one and repentance is something that we don't talk about much in the Church of Christ today that something we don't do much of an is something we don't call people much to do, but we're going to do that because you can have revival without repentance friends can't be.
And so this summer we put together a special series were going to tie the summer together a series entitled recapturing our first love and were going to talk about. First of all, what repentance is how you do it and then about some areas in life where all of us need to take a hard look at our life and say Lord, do I need to repent their do I need to repent. Here in the other law that revival burns on is the log of prayer God is really convicted me just speaking of myself now of my own prayer looseness over the last years not completely but badly and and so I've gotten a prayer partner who meets me at my house 930 every morning and we pray for her hair fell. I did this because it was a great accountability to whether I feel like sleeping in or not what I feel like an extra cup of coffee and whether I want to do email or not, 930 the doorbell's going to bring in somebody's coming over were going to get on our knees and pray together and I urge you if you have a problem with this. Get a prayer partner like that, that's going to hold you accountable and you're going to hold them accountable. But even if your prayer life is great friends as a church family. Our prayer life isn't. We really need an upswing in the prayer life of this church and I take the responsibility for their is my fault that we are prayerless church as badly as we are, but we're going out to take steps to fix that friends yesterday before I went in to preach at 530. I asked the small group of men to meet me early, over the Tysons campus and get on our knees together and pray for this weekend and this is what were going to do at all of our campuses were to begin gathering before services between services. Whatever works at each campus you with your campus pastor or meet with media from here that weekend and where to get on our knees together, and were going to pray for this church were going to pray for the services coming up in order to pray for the needs of this church family and from revival in Washington DC and with my staff. We've taken an hour out of our daily schedule every Thursday and I've said hey all of you who wants not compulsory, but if you want. I'm going to be in the room on my knees in prayer. You come join me in working a faster day a month for the people of our church and our elders the same thing that we are praying you used to be. We go and have a perfunctory word of prayer launching the business no more noble to spend half an hour or more in our knees and we've already got days of fasting set up so I was at the gym the other day and they have this thing come on the TV you know TVs at the gym and and it was it.
It was started by saying I aspire and then they had one person say I aspire to swim in the Olympics and I aspire to be a triathlete and I aspire in our spark and I was watching that I was thinking okay Lord so if I am able to go 10 more years here. 15 more years here. Whatever you give me at the end of my ministry here. What do I aspire, that would be true of McLean Bible church more than anything else, one single thing that would be true of our church family and you know why I had to take some time to think about that and I finally decided I know the answer friends I aspire that at the end of my time at McLean Bible church that we would be a church where everybody in this church would be more in love with Jesus than they've ever been in their life because you know what everything else will work out if were in love with Jesus sharing our faith to work out if were in love with Jesus living up your life work out if were in love with Jesus helping one another and serving one another will work out if were in love with Jesus. It all comes from having Jesus is our first love. That's what I aspire to and that's what I'm going to spend the rest of my ministry here trying to work in partnership with you and the Holy Spirit to achieve so let me just say in closing last night behind stage before I went out to speak. I was praying and I said well Lord, here we go. If I go out here and say this this weekend. Lord, you and I we crossed the Rubicon here, Lord is no going back from this so atoll the Lord asked the Lord. Actually, I'm a little scared to go out here and say this because I'm not really sure that I'm man enough to lead this church through what I'm talking about.
I'm not sure I'm a man of God enough to lead this church through where I'm going to talk about and and so Lord you know I'm I'm really nervous about getting partway into this and then my own carnality just causing me to backslide and making a complete mess out of this whole thing and it's really interesting the Lord. I felt saying to me a long let me tell you what I told Moses when he would sure he could do it and let me tell you what I told Joshua when he wasn't sure he could do it.
Let me tell you what I told Jeremiah when he would sure he can do it. Lord said, I told everyone of them do not fear, for I am with you and I said okay, fair enough.
I'll take that and will will run at it. So let me just say in closing, I really covet your prayers for me. This is an awesome undertaking for all of us and I do have doubts mom so sinful in our backside so easily that I do have doubts about my ability to really be the kind of leader I need to be in lead us through this, but you pray for me please and just pray that I can be that kind of leader and that God will keep me burning hot for the Lord so that we can all burn hot for the Lord. I would really appreciate that and I'm excited about the days ahead for McLean Bible church. I think were sleeping giant friends and that we need the Holy Spirit to wake us up and and empower us to go into the city and do what God called us to do and that's what were going to trust God to do was pray together or Jesus we are humbled before you today by the wonder of the cross that you would take people like us that you would even want people like us and that you would give your life for us. God help us never lose the wonder of the cross because the wonder of the cross is what lies at the heart of our love for Jesus.
We love you because you first loved us and we lose sight of how much you first loved us, Lord, it affects our love for you so restore to us the wonder of the cross, and bring us to the place father over these next weeks and months where one by one the people of our church family will start to ignite Christ help me be the man of God. I need to be to lead us in Lord breakout in a mighty way here in our church family and set people on fire for Christ like they once were made be so palpable that people feel it when you're around us. Only you can do this, Lord, we can prepare the ground with repentance, prayer to help us do our part and they will trust you to do your part, or make us a mighty church for Christ, not for our glory, but for your glory.
We ask these things in Jesus name God's people said palpable