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What a Sunday!

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
January 4, 2024 12:00 am

What a Sunday!

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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January 4, 2024 12:00 am

Access this series called Special Delivery here: https://wfth.me/special. The Apostle John had every right to be prideful: he was the author of five books of the Bible, he was the beloved apostle of Jesus, and he was given personal custody of Mary, our Lord's mother. Yet he didn't let it get to his head. Why? Because, as Stephen shows us in this message, when you are captivated by Christ, who you are is not nearly as important as who He is.

 

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John, by the way, had every reason to lay out his resume to get everybody's attention. I, John, the author of the gospel of our Lord's life, the writer of three epistles, among the three closest of the apostles to Christ, the one who sat next to him in the upper room, the only one to arrive and follow him all the way to the cross, the one given personal custody of Mary. Now the point I want to make, ladies and gentlemen, is that when you are captivated by the person of Christ, who we are is not nearly as important as who he is. In Revelation chapter 1, the apostle John gives us a few biographical snapshots about himself. John had every right to be prideful.

He wrote five books of the Bible, he was the beloved apostle of Jesus, and he was given personal custody of Jesus' mother, Mary, at the crucifixion. But John very quickly moves on to describe the magnificence and glory of Jesus Christ. You see, when you're captivated by Christ, who you are is not nearly as important as who Jesus is. You're going to learn more about this today.

Stephen Davey has a lesson for you called, What a Sunday. Author Eugene Peterson wrote these thought-provoking words a few years ago. He wrote, God's revelation of himself is rejected far more than it is accepted. His revelation is dismissed by far more people than embrace it. It has either been attacked or ignored by every major civilization in which it has given its witness.

Magnificent Egypt, fierce Assyria, beautiful Babylon, artistic Greece, political Rome, enlightened France, Nazi Germany, Renaissance Italy, Marxist Russia, Maoist China, in pursuit of happiness, America. The community of God's people has survived in all of these cultures and civilizations, but always as a minority, always marginal to the mainstream, and never statistically significant. The apostle Paul made this very clear to the early church when this new revelation of the gospel was revealed through Christ. Paul said that it would provoke spiritual warfare like you can't imagine, and you'd better suit up for the battle with the right armor, the right weaponry, the right attitude.

He said that the gospel would be offensive to the unbeliever, 1 Corinthians 1.18. I mean, you can believe that after people die, they come back reincarnated as bugs and cows, and that will be all right. But if you believe that after death, man will stand before the creator of bugs and cows, then you are a problem. And all around the world today, we tend to forget it in the American church. The blood of martyrs is flowing from those who will not deny the singularity of salvation through Jesus Christ alone. And because of the satanic underpinnings of false religion, the religions of this world can tolerate anything and everything but true gospel-believing, Christ-exalting Christianity.

Why? Because the cross of Christ strikes at the root of mankind's guilty conscience. The gospel reveals the utter futility of self-made religion. It exposes mankind's intuitive, God-created knowledge of sin. It condemns self-confidence and self-help. It requires humility.

It demands that self abdicate the throne room of the heart and offer it willingly to a crucified carpenter who is none other, we believe, than the ascended, one-day-returning, true-and-living, deity-embodied Lord. And the world desperately wants to believe anything but that. By the time John writes the revelation of Jesus Christ, persecution has begun with great earnest and demonically inspired hatred. Pliny, the Roman governor living around the close of the first century wrote, and I quote him, Christians are a depraved and extravagant superstition. Their contagious superstitions have spread not only in the cities but in the villages as well.

They're a disease. We've got to stamp it out. The other apostles have already been martyred by the time revelation is written. According to traditions passed down, Matthew has already been killed by the sword in Ethiopia. Nathaniel has been flayed to death by a whip in Armenia. Andrew was crucified on an X-shaped cross hanging for two days before dying. Thomas stabbed to death with a spear in India during one of his missionary journeys there.

I have stood on the spot in India where supposedly he died. Matthias, the apostle chosen to replace Judas Iscariot was stoned and then beheaded. Paul is already beheaded by Nero.

Tradition also claims that Peter was also executed by Nero a year earlier by being crucified, hanging upside down at his own request. James, the brother of Jesus, not one of the 12, but the leading elder in the church Jerusalem had been thrown off a temple wall and having survived the hundred foot fall, his enemies beat him to death with a club. And now you have the apostle John, the last living of the 12. He's old.

He's in his 90s. He's exiled to this island where criminals and political prisoners are exiled to work in the mines. But can you imagine what this book meant to the church? The prospects of the infant church look bleak. Where is the risen Lord?

Does he really care? Is this the end? Ladies and gentlemen, those questions would immediately begin to evaporate with just the opening paragraphs of this revelation where Jesus Christ says, I am the Alpha and the Omega. I am the one who was, who is, who is to come. I have not abandoned you.

In fact, I know everything about you. I am in the midst of you. Now, if we pick up our study where we left off with verse one of chapter one in this book of the revelation of Christ, verse nine, he writes, and we'll call this biographical snapshots of the apostle John.

The first one is humility. It'll be wonderfully encouraging to the believers. He calls himself in verse nine, look, I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in this tribulation, the kingdom, I'm with you. He says, I am persevering in Jesus. John, by the way, had every reason to lay out his resume to get everybody's attention. I, John, the author of the gospel of our Lord's life, the writer of three epistles, among the three closest of the apostles to Christ, the one who sat next to him in the upper room and the only one to arrive and follow him all the way to the cross, the one given personal custody of Mary, his mother.

All that's remarkably true. I, John, your brother, fellow partaker in the struggles of life in Christ. John had every right to say, listen up, it is I, the beloved apostle of Jesus Christ. Now, the point I want to make, ladies and gentlemen, is that when you are captivated by the person of Christ, when you and I are anticipating the coming of Christ, who we are is not nearly as important as who he is. The fact that he is coming overshadows the fact that we have arrived and more than likely John here is referring in verse nine to the present tribulation of the first century, but he's mindful of the coming kingdom of our Lord.

He provides another snapshot. We see a picture not just of his humility, but his tenacity. He writes in verse nine, the middle part, that he's on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.

He makes it very clear he is suffering because of the faithful, uncompromising, tenacious, courageous preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He writes further in verse 10, and I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day. This is a reference, I believe, to Sunday, not the day of the Lord.

There's a different Greek construction to refer to that future and terrible day of the Lord, which is still future. Here John refers to the Lord's day, a term only used here in the New Testament in this manner, but further used in the church as a reference to the day in which the church specially worshipped. It was the Lord's day, for it was on that day he rose.

It was in a special sense than his day of triumph. By Acts chapter 20, the church had developed further, and as they began to separate from the synagogue, they chose the Lord's day as their day of special worship. Now you can legitimately worship God on any day, Romans 14, verses five and six. However, the church was choosing to assemble on this special day, Sunday, in commemoration of the Lord's resurrection, named after a pagan Roman god. But to them it was the day that their true and living God, who was brighter than the sun, rose. So they chose to worship on this day. In fact, Ignatius, church leader writing just 15 years after John wrote this revelation, said, and I quote, the Christians ceased to keep the Jewish Sabbath and lived by the Lord's day on which their lives shine, thanks to him. Justin Martyr, a church leader wrote 45 years later, we all hold this common gathering on Sunday, since it is the day when Jesus Christ, our Savior, rose from the dead.

So get in your mind here. Here's Sunday, here's John all alone, but he's having his own little worship service. On the Lord's day, I was in the Spirit. By the way, that in the Spirit is simply telling us that John received his first vision on the Lord's day, Sunday, and the Spirit of God was the managing agent of these visions. Now, before we get into this amazing vision, and believe it or not, we're going to get all the way down to verse 20. We're going to finish chapter 1, and that's an amazing miracle to you, I'm sure, isn't it? Before we do it, let's stop and take a good look at what some of this will tell us, not just about John, but you and me. He is now serving what he believes to be his final round of persecution on this island. As far as John is concerned, his best days of ministry are behind him, right? Think about that. God must be finished with his labor and love for the church, for Christ, the chief shepherd of the church, and this is it.

This is where it's going to end. But imagine his most significant ministry lay before him, not behind him. God wasn't finished speaking through John. In fact, he is about to give John the future of human history, a view of the coming judgments, a tour of heaven. One author wrote these perceptive words, sometimes it is out of suffering that God's people have some of their greatest triumphs. At times when circumstances look their darkest, it is in moments of such loneliness and despair that God can shine the brightest. There in the bleakness and the loneliness and the barrenness of Patmos, John's worshiping, faithfully trusting, and God comes to him and reveals his greatest mysteries. Now, it begins with a vision of none other than the chief shepherd of the church. Notice verse 10, the latter part.

I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet. Verse 11, saying, write in a book what you see. Send it to the seven churches.

Send it to Ephesus and Smyrna and Pergamum and Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea. These are literal churches that represent perhaps all churches in any generation. You can see characteristics of any possibility just about in these churches. But these are literal churches with literal problems and real needs, real struggles, and a need to literally repent, some of them, and follow more closely after Christ. However, you notice the churches are spoken of figuratively as lampstands. Look at verse 12, John turns to see the voice that was speaking with me and having turned, I saw seven golden lampstands. By the way, this metaphor of the church's testimony is not new, shining out to the world. It's clearly explained, by the way, in chapter two, where the church is warned that unless they follow after Jesus Christ, he's going to take their lampstand away. That is, he's going to take their effective ministry and testimony away. It's one of the things we pray as leaders that the Lord would never take that away, but allow us to continue to shine brightly as we follow after Christ.

We'll look at that more closely next Lord's Day. But look at verse 13, and in the middle of the lampstands, I saw one like the Son of Man. This is the unmistakable messianic title of Jesus Christ. And what great news, he has not forgotten the church. He is in the middle of them.

He is walking among them. I found it interesting to discover that this title, the Son of Man, was often used when the suffering of believers was in view. In other words, Jesus Christ, who understands what it means to suffer, and promised that those who followed him will suffer, Matthew 10 31. In fact, Paul said, all who will live godly in Jesus Christ will suffer persecution, 2 Timothy 3 12, in some form or fashion. But here's the message.

Take heart. Jesus Christ is moving among the candlesticks. He is in the midst of his beloved bride as they shine forth his glory. Now let's move to the specific things that he saw. This is the brilliant showcase of the Son of Man. John's vision implies at least eight characteristics of Christ.

Let's go through them quickly. First, you notice there is a robe and a sash, the latter part of verse 13, a robe that reached to the ground. This was the robe worn by royalty. So the apparel of Christ clearly speaks of his advocacy and his superiority in gaining us access into the court of heaven. Secondly, John says in verse 14 that his head and his hair were white, like white wool, like snow.

This is a clear reference to the throne of God. In fact, the image Daniel saw of the Ancient of Days is culled with his white hair, suggesting the glory and wisdom of longevity. The same description is now attributed here in Revelation to Christ, who would then be equal with the Father, the Ancient of Days in Daniel's vision.

The color white translates the word Lucas, which actually has just simply the connotation of bright, brilliant. It symbolizes most believe his glorious, holy, pure, eternal existence as God the Son. So John sees Christ here physically manifesting the sense of age, one who was indeed eternally past, present, and future. Third, John mentions next in the middle of verse 14, the eyes, which are like flames of fire.

Gabriel is also pictured similarly. This is the spiritual savvy perceptibility of that supernatural world. Christ can cut through your very being with his eyes. He can literally see, as it were, behind the mask and the facade. Christ is going to be pictured with flaming eyes in Revelation 2 verse 18 and Revelation 9 verse 12. This is a striking picture of his perceptibility.

He doesn't miss anything. Matthew Henry said it this way, God not only sees men, he sees through men. Seeing our hearts, even now seeing and sensing our spirit, knowing our plans, knowing our motives, as he takes perfect review of his church. There's a reason when John sees this he's going to fall down like a dead man. There's more to the vision. Number four, he refers to the Lord's feet, verse 15.

They're like burnished bronze when it has been made to glow in a furnace. This speaks of Christ's mastery, his divine right to judge the church. In ancient times, kings sat on elevated thrones. They did that so that those they were judging were always beneath their feet.

The feet of the kings then came to refer to authority. And here you have the red hot glowing feet of Christ who moves through the church. The judge, as it were, reviewing perfectly, purely where the church stands. What are its works? What's its spirit? What's the heart of the church? Is it fulfilling its mission?

Is it following me? See, don't ever forget that the book opens with Jesus Christ evaluating us, the church. Fifth, John mentions in verse 15 the voice of Christ, which implies his divine authority. His voice was like the sound of many waters. There seems to be some kind of handicap to deliver correctly the sound of this, what it must be like, the sound of many waters. One day when Christ speaks, all the world will listen, even though they now mute his gospel and mock his words. But imagine trying to argue with Niagara Falls. Try drowning out the sound with your puny little voice in mind. Get on one of those made of the myths and go right to the base of where those tons of water continually cascade down, creating that thunder.

You can yell and scream and stomp your feet and it just didn't go to effect Niagara. His voice will drown out the puny voices of man. In fact, in his presence at the final judgment, Paul tells us in Romans 3 19, the world will be struck silent as they recognize in utter terror that they are before him eternally accountable.

No wonder people would rather invent a religion and believe this one. Number six, John refers to Christ's sovereignty as he speaks of his right hand in verse 16, in which he holds seven stars. Stars is a reference to the leadership of the churches, which he controls by his sovereign hand.

Look down at verse 20, where Christ explains these metaphors. As for the mystery of the seven stars, which you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angel, the angle or literally the messengers. That is those messengers representing the seven churches. In other words, these messengers, which were responsible to deliver the message of Christ to the church, represent them the leading authority in the church, a reference, I believe, to the office holder of the church, the presbuteroi, the elder of the church, even more specifically the leading elder in each church, as we'll see, beginning in chapter two.

Let's move back to this vision, however. Number seven, John refers next to the mouth of Christ. Look back up to the middle of verse 16, and out of his mouth came a sharp two edged sword.

Obviously the word of God. This also refers to the defense of the church by Christ, who defeats all threats against his bride, threats outside the church and threats inside the church, as we'll see in the letters that follow this vision. One author, John MacArthur, wrote on this vision, those who attack Christ's church, those who sow lies, who create discord, who harm his people, will be personally dealt with by the Lord of the church.

His word is potent. Isaiah prophesied that one day our Lord will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth. Isaiah 49 2. Paul said that the antichrist will be defeated one day by the breath of his mouth.

2 Thessalonians 2 verse 8. This is what I'll call the indestructibility of the word of our Lord. And imagine what this meant to the Christians under the sway of Domitian. His word could take everything from them. Rome was in control, not the church.

Oh, but they need not fear. Their lives are under Christ's protection, and he is sovereign. Christ is revealed to them and to us first in his superiority, secondly in his eternality, third in his perceptibility, fourth in his mastery, sixth in his sovereignty, seventh in his indestructibility, and finally, number eight, in his majesty. Look at verse 16, in his face was like the sun shining in its strength, like our sun. What did John know? Oh, he knew the brightness and the radiance, so we know much more. We know that it is so powerful.

It's losing four, I have read 0.2 million tons of weight by radiation every single second, sending that heat outward. The brilliant showcase of the risen Lord was so glorious and so terrifying and so majestic, verse 17, that I fell at his feet like a dead man. I mean, how do you approach that? Splendor. But there on the ground, he lies perhaps with his head buried in his arms. He hears, don't be afraid. John had heard those words before. He had been in the middle of a storm on the sea and he was terrified with the other disciples as the Lord walked out on the water to them and the Lord said, it is I, don't be afraid.

John, don't be afraid. I'm the first and the last, verse 18, the living one, I was dead. Behold, I'm alive forevermore and I have the keys of death and Hades. I've got the keys.

Let me just say it simply. Jesus Christ has the keys. You can't get locked out of heaven.

You can't get locked in to death. Now quickly, two points of application. Even when life is interrupted, your Lord is interceding. You're in a barren place, unsure, unsettled. Your high priest is moving in the middle of it all right now. Whispering to the Father as it were, your needs, holding every aspect of our lives in the grip of his gracious hands and for those who suffer uncertainty and injustice, tribulation, you were never alone. When Jim Dennison was in college, he took a summer mission trip to East Malaysia and while there he worked in a small church. At one of the church's worship services, a baptism had been planned.

It was planned for one of the teenage girls who attended. She had announced to the pastor and the church in their custom that she had decided to commit her life to Jesus Christ and she was now ready to be baptized publicly to identify with her Savior and her faith in Christ. During the service, Jim noticed some worn out luggage leaning against the back wall of the church building. After the service, he asked the pastor about it and the pastor pointed to this teenage girl and he said, listen, her father told her that if she was ever baptized as a Christian, she could never come home again.

So she came with her luggage. Even when life is interrupted and uncertain, our Lord is interceding, especially for those around our world who suffer so greatly, but even you and me and whatever the tribulation may be, he is interceding as your high priest today. Number two, even when life is darkest, you can continue to follow him with confidence. What a Sunday, what a Sunday this was for John.

As far as he's concerned, he will never go home again. But at this time then for John and now for us, when Christians face these great difficult days, God reminds him and reminds us of his supremacy. He revealed it to John and he reveals it to all of us on this Lord's day, thousands of years later. So, beloved friend, Christian, I recommend that we together turn our eyes upon Jesus. Look full in his wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace. The next time you sing the tune, turn your eyes upon Jesus.

I hope it'll take on new significance. One of the things of earth that should grow dim includes your own perception of yourself. That happens as you marvel at the glory of God. You're listening to Wisdom for the Heart with your Bible teacher, Stephen Davey. We'd enjoy hearing from you and learning how God's using these lessons to encourage you. Write to info at wisdomonline.org. Then join us next time for more Wisdom for the Hearts.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-04 00:31:20 / 2024-01-04 00:41:06 / 10

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