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Living Community (Part 1 of 3)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
May 9, 2022 4:00 am

Living Community (Part 1 of 3)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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May 9, 2022 4:00 am

When you receive a letter from a friend, you probably don’t immediately look for what it says about you. That’s not the best way to read the Bible either. Join us as we begin a study titled Letters from the Risen Christ on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


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Letter from a friend. You probably don't start looking immediately for what the letter says about you. The truth is, that's not the best way for us to read the Bible either today on Truth for Life will be getting a study in the book of Revelation title letters from the risen Christ.

In this study. Alister bag helps us avoid common distractions that can derail our Bible study. Let's read the Bible, Revelation chapter 3 and the first six verses and then from verse 14 to the angel of the church in Sardis write.

These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars I know your deeds, you have a reputation of being alive, but your dad wake up strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of my God. Remember therefore what you have received and Herod obey it and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. You have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes, they will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will like them to be dressed in white. I will never erase his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my father and his angels.

He who is an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches in verse 14 to the angel of the church in Laodicea write these in the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold. I'm about to spit you out of my mouth. You see, I am rich, I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing but you do not realize that you are wretched and pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire so you can become rich in white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness and salve to put on your eyes so you can see those whom I love I rebuke and discipline.

So be earnest, and repent. Here I am, I stand at the door and know if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. 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. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches process once again and in a simple chorus from the old CSS and days as God's blessing and make the book live to me oh Lord, show me yourself within your word. Show me myself and show me my Savior and make the book live to me.

Amen in the material that was sent to me and to the other speakers but the passage that relates directly to my task. I was directed as follows. The Bible reader will expound the text, but will also focus on Christ as revealed in the text. The Bible reader will expound the text and focus on Christ as he is revealed in the text. What an immense privilege to have the opportunity to take the Bible to study it and then to be able to share it with others, and in all of that to have our gaze turned again and again to the Lord Jesus, I love to tell the story of unseen things above Jesus and his glory of Jesus and his love.

Therefore, it is an immense privilege for us of all the places we could be on this morning, all the circumstances that we might face in the providence of God, he is ordered our steps. None of us is hereby chance in order that we might hear from the risen Lord Jesus Christ himself. Now I use that little chorus purposefully in prayer asking that God would show himself to us in the reading of the word. There is an inherent danger in if you know it's or if you listen carefully, as I said it says I make the book live to me, and the great inherent danger in the study of the Bible is that we want to move immediately from our reading of the text to personal application.

So from time to time, especially in a small group context after you've read a portion of Scripture like this is not long before somebody in the group will say let me tell you what this means to me which of course is of interest, but is of secondary importance because what the individual may be about to say may actually be true to the text maybe actually helpful to the rest of the group an actual finder may be completely bizarre and the only antidote that is to come to the text of Scripture not saying let me tell you what this means to me initially but coming to the Scripture saying let me find out what this means, once I understand what it means in the context in which it is been delivered then and only then may I begin to make points of personal application so it's important for us this morning to recognize or dealing with here is history and geography when dealing with real churches in real places, real men and women real families living in a certain point in time, and from the passages, we know that Jesus understands their condition.

He understands their circumstances, and he writes to them, expressly in the awareness of the context in which their living.

So, for example, all the way through.

You will find in each of the letters Jesus is saying. I know this in chapter 2, he says I know your deeds. I know your hard work. I know your perseverance and again in verse 13 of chapter 2, he says I am no where you live, the churches to whom these messages are addressed are first of all, listed in verse four of chapter 1 and their affair to their there listed in Chapter 11, I should say in the way in which there listed would appear to be simply on the basis of the way in which a messenger would visit each of the churches if they made the journey from where Paul where John was writing on Patmos.

It would be about 60 miles across to Ephesus which would be the closest point. Therefore, the natural starting point and if the person taking the messages went on food in a northerly direction to Smyrna and then to Pergamum that it would be only natural for them to come back in a southerly direction.

Indeed, it would have to and visit the rest of the churches in what way could it possibly be that here, as we said in the 21st century. These messages written to churches in the first century could be relevant to us this morning.

After all, we come from such a variety of places.

Local churches scattered throughout the British Isles and beyond what will be quickly apparent to us. I hope as we read this and as we read for our homework it in the rest of the days that the specific issues which are addressed by the Lord Jesus, via his messenger in these churches the things that he's talking to these first century congregations about our timeless men and women picked up with a sense of triumphant expectation men and women dealing with failures in the expedience of their Christian program. People who have begun very well sliding into laziness. Congregations that were once known for their vibrancy under genuine commitment to Christ and his people southerly becoming dreadfully complacent and the risen doldrums effect among them, and they need someone to come and speak directly to them and call them again to account all of those things which are specific says you will see and we will find in these studies. All of those things are not unknown to us this morning. And indeed, some of it are painfully aware of the issues that we've left behind so the mail comes first to these first century congregations and then to us. There is an interface between my wife and myself and I we had a significant discussion just last week when I had gone in inadvertently deleted all of her personal mail and she informed me that it was in my mail.

It was were male and that, please do not press the delete key and I claim to my computer, incompetency, and so on. But it wasn't enough to suffice and she told me said press the think keep as new. You see that there keep as new.

Would you do that okay I said I would and so far I haven't touched it since then. I'm so afraid to but anyway I do know that when I going I will go not delete but keep as new so that she can bring out as many times like you read it, and she's 100 years old. As far as I'm concerned you got the book of Revelation, and frankly you go around in certain people have deleted the book of Revelation. They press the delete key. A long time ago. Whatever this book is I don't know whoever was written to. I don't know what it is about. I haven't got a clue hit the delete key. Put it somewhere drag it over to that big waste bucket and put it in there for now, there's a lot of the Bible would go to deal with. Don't do that. Keep as new coming to asking God as we do now to speak to is in the immediacy of our circumstances from the historical context of these ancient letters noted at this point that I want introduce a nursery rhyme because it is important going forward because as follows pussycat prison, where have you been I've been to London to visit the Queen and pussycat prison guard. What did you there. And this is that I can remember things to my assistance I frightened a little mouse under the chair reasonable. Thanks very much for that of our bargain, or possibly be relevant to studies in the book of Revelation was simply for this reason that it is a great message in this nursery rhyme is you know you missed all these years you been seeing it in you missed the fact of the matter is that the Gauze in order that it may made visitation up on the Majesty and gets distracted in the process chasing mice under chairs and here's the thing, especially about the book of Revelation are grown up in Scotland. As you know, I've had more sermons on the first on the letters to the seven churches in Revelation than I've had spaghetti Bolognese in my lifetime I give you a long time, giving you all the amazing stories that have been given to me in these letters and I am forced to conclude that a lot of it was chasing mice under chairs because it left me empty of understanding that would satisfy my mind and it left me devoid of a vision of the risen Christ alive and ready to meet his people where they are. It is imperative therefore that is we study in these mornings that we keep our eyes on Jesus.

Failure to do so will find this chasing speculative figurative mice under chairs and all over the place. The book of Revelation. As with the rest of the Bible is not being given to us to satisfy our curiosity, but it is been given to us in order that our lives may be changed by let me give you one final picture I'm going to move on in the ice skating in the Olympics when those ice skaters spin as they do, it's remarkable, isn't using it yourself you know if I tried doing that.

Just a couple of times I would on the front glass and fall on my rear end immediately and my rifle pointed out, not very good at spinning on so worldly and you can watch them.

You know you can try to stay with while I checked in. Apparently the key is this that before they go into the spin. They focus on a certain point and then as the spin commences and as increases in velocity the training themselves on each revolution to try and at least catch a glimpse of the fixed point again and again. Failure to do so, and they would goes skating right out very very quickly now. Your sensible group of people you can make the application.

If you fail if we fail constantly to keep our focus on the Lord Jesus Christ. Then in the study of the Scriptures, and particularly perhaps in the study of Revelation we will begin to spin helplessly and hopelessly out of control.

The key is focus looking unto Jesus, I think, is Oliver TA and his wonderful book called look to the rock.

He says that the Bible is a book about Jesus that in the Old Testament. He is predicted that in the Gospels, he has revealed in the acts he is preached in the epistles he's explained. And in the Revelation. He is expected so the word that is been given to me to make sure that in the exposition of the text. I turned the gaze of my own heart.

First, the price and then the hearts of the listeners. I want to be careful attention to, and then we will discover the amazing relevance of this to each of us when our churches are crushed when we feel ourselves depleted and disappointed that it will be a glorious vision of the Lord Jesus Christ that will help if we come from church congregations where we been thinking a little too much of ourselves. Perhaps talking about ourselves more than we should probably and foolishly drawing attention to ourselves then it is by this vision of the risen Lord Jesus Christ, that we will be necessarily humbled by reminding ourselves that we as local congregations may be lampstand but all of the light is Christ himself and we exist in order that he might shine through us. I've taken time on that purpose. We have nothing to do that every morning you be relieved to know, but it is important to establish the ground rules the main things are the plain things and the plain things are the main things resist every temptation to go crawling under chairs right now. Immediately, having said that, you turn to the thing and you realize that as you look at the text the number seven comes again and again these are the words of him.

Verse one of chapter 3. Who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars, and as Leon Morris says for one so fond of symbolism. These things can hardly be without significant, well when we come to this first verse we discover that Mr. Smith who was present at our local Bible study immediately wants a luncheon with a word of personal testimony about what the number seven has meant to him in his life and also he very quickly going to tell you that he knows the identity of the angel of the church in Sardis. What is the leader to do well first the leaders to do their homework so that we have studied the text of Scripture. We have studied those who have said helpful things about it so that we are prepared to recognize that there is a clarity to this. There is a brevity to it and it is all purposeful and so you pick up one Gandhiji and it says that the angel is the messenger you pick up another, Janet says that the angel is the pastor or the bishop or the leader of the church, but as one of the explanations. Then one other explanation is that the angel means angel. There's an intriguing idea that angel means angel. One of the chairs or that angel is expressive of the spirit of these congregations so that he is addressing he is personalizing as it were the church the entity the body itself.

The angel of the church than simply as an expression of its prevailing spirit. Note for myself.

I think three or four is probably where we ought to be, but we don't need to tie herself up in knots about what is uncertain and thereby get confused about what is clear, because the message that is given to this angel whose identity is obviously cloudy is a message that is clearly meant for the church and so we say well we can say with absolute certainty.

Just who or what this angel is. But we do know that the Lord Jesus has spoken very very clearly and he's identified himself here, the words coming from him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven star's now. Each time Jesus is designated and these messages follow a pattern throughout this government ties back in to the vision of Christ that is given for us by John from the ninth Verizon in chapter 1 and here is no exception. Jesus is identified in terms of his majesty and his authority, but who are then these seven spirits of God are what are the seven spirits of God mounds in this country says the seven spirits of God are enigmatic at best. Which means I don't know but when you're clever, you can do it in a sentence like that. The seven spirits of God are enigmatic at best, which sounds better than saying I haven't a clue who the seven spirits of God, but he hasn't got much of a clue. It may be a symbolic expression of the full range of the exercises of the divine power in the seven churches. It may be expressive of the heavenly entourage the third two in verse four of chapter 1, or it may be, as the footnote in the NIV seems to suggest a reference to the seven fold operation of the spirit of God that is referred to back in Isaiah chapter 11 in verse two.

Make a note of that and just put it on for homework. Isaiah 11 to? Visit the Revelation 31. Again, meaning stumble over what is easy, because Lord Jesus is very quickly. I am the majestic one. I am the authoritative one.

I am the one who holds all of the deeds and the responsibilities of these churches I move among them, and I want you to know that I know your deeds.

I know your deeds, it is important for us essential for us as we read and interpret Scripture to keep our focus on Jesus, the details may be intriguing, but we never want them to distract from the main message that salvation is in the Lord Jesus listing the Truth for Life with Alister Bragg. Question for you. Have you downloaded the Truth for Life app to your phone or tablet yet.

If not, keep in mind this is a great way for you to access Truth for Life wherever you are. Whenever you choose. The app provides a convenient way for you to listen to the daily program, which are also able to read the daily devotional blog articles. There's access to Alister's complete sermon library along with the entire ESV Bible. There's a lot of great Bible study material at your fingertips. Download the app it's free search for Truth for Life in your app store, your Truth for Life were always looking for new ways to make Alister's teaching available to listeners around the world right now you can hear Alister on the radio or on our website on YouTube through the mobile app through various streaming devices and were grateful for how God is using all of these ways to proclaim the truth of the Bible to a growing worldwide audience. But honestly, none of this would be possible if it weren't for a vital group of listeners we call truth partners truth partners are regular listeners who commit to praying for this ministry. They give monthly to help cover the cost of distributing Alister's teaching through all of these different channels so if you're someone who is benefited from the Ministry of Truth for Life encourage you to call us today at 888-588-7884 and become part of the truth partner team that makes Truth for Life possible. You can also sign up partner in one of the ways we say thank you to our tree partners is by inviting you to request two books each month that we recommend.

This is a great way to build personal library while you help make solid Bible teaching available throughout the world today will recommending a book titled women and God hard questions. Beautiful truth. This is a book that looks closely at a number of women in the Bible as you read this book you will explore what God's word tells us about his purpose and care for women Western copy of women and God day you sign up to become a truth can also request a book with a one time donation. Simply click on the image of the mobile app or visit us the p.m. thanks for listening. Tomorrow will discover how popular church programs, strong attendance and energetic singing can sometimes be a cover-up for more leniency. The Bible teaching of Alister Bragg is furnished by Truth for Life learning is prolific

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