Stephen Caswell ©2004
Why Should He Change?
Three preachers were discussing the question, If Jesus Christ came back to earth what church would he go to? The Episcopalian said, He would go to the Episcopal Church because of our line of Apostolic Succession. The Holiness said, He would go to the Holiness Church because of our enthusiasm. The Baptist said, Of course, He would go to the Baptist church. Why should he change after all these years?
This morning we will commence a series of sermons from the Book of Revelation. The word revelation ἀποκάλυψις simply means an unveiling, to uncover, to reveal. The Apostle John was commanded by Christ to write down the things He saw in a book and send it to the seven Churches in Asia. The word signified σημαίνω means to show by a sign. As you study Revelation, expect to encounter a great deal of symbolism, much of it related to the Old Testament. The original audience understood it. With God’s help, most of this book can be understood; although there are some mysteries. Yet, this book is very relevant today because Christ’s return is near. 3 points, Christ’s Revelation, Christ’s Redemption, Christ’s Return.
Firstly, Christ’s Revelation
a. Prophecy Is Certain
Revelation 1:1: The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants — things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John,
Prophecy is certain because it originates with God. Since God has spoken these words they are powerful. The Book of Revelation like all of the Bible is inspired by God. It will come to pass. 2 Peter 1:19-21: And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
Prophecy is certain because God is powerful. In the beginning God spoke and creation began. Hebrews 11:3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. Therefore, it shouldn’t surprise us that the word of God will determine the end of time. God has determined how the world will end. The Revelation of Jesus Christ is the consummation of all things. It is the counterpart to the Book of Genesis. God is in control of everything that happens. He is reigning from His throne. It’s mentioned over 40 times.
Prophecy is certain because God knows everything. The past, present and the future are all the same to the Lord. He knows everything. Isaiah 46:10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure. The Lord wants us to know what will happen. He has showed His plans to us. We are in the privileged position of knowing how it all ends. God wins! Good triumphs over evil. The Lord has revealed the future to us to give us hope and patience. He hasn’t left us in the dark.
Prophecy is certain because God guided the human authors. Christ passed the message He received from the Father to the apostle John. It is so important that God sent his angel to reveal it to John help him interpret the vision that he saw. John is commanded to write the vision in a book and send it to the seven Churches. In verse 1 God says that these things will happen soon. In verse 3 we read the time is near. Revelation 22:10 says: And he said to me, Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand.
God’s Word Is Sure
Dr. Charles C. Ryrie has pointed out that, by the law of chance, it would require two hundred billion earths, populated with four billion people each, to come up with one person who could achieve one hundred accurate prophecies without any errors in sequence. But the Bible records not one hundred but over three hundred prophecies fulfilled in Christ’s first coming.
b. Prophecy Is Christ Centered
Revelation 1:1-2: The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants — things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it 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.
This Book truly is the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Various aspects of Christ’s work are seen in this book. He is Prophet Priest and King. As we study this book let’s remember that the things that happen prepare for the Revelation of Jesus Christ. John said that He bore witness to the Word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ. This book, like all the Scriptures centers round Christ. Revelation 19:10b: says the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. This means that the true purpose of prophecy is to bear testimony to the Person and work of Jesus. Prophecy, is designed to unfold the loveliness of Jesus.
In chapters 1-3 He’s our Great High Priest walking amongst the seven Churches. Watching over them beholding their service and conduct. In chapters 5-6 He is the Lamb of God slain for our salvation. He is risen and has inherited all things from His Father. In chapter 7 He is the Lamb who Shepherds His sheep. In chapter 10 He is the Angel of the Covenant who announces the coming of God’s Kingdom. In chapter 12 He is the Child, the Seed of the Woman who crushed the serpent. He came to save us and then ascended to back heaven waiting to receive His kingdom. In chapter 14 Christ is pictured as Son Of Man who gathers the harvest.
In chapter 19 He is the Heavenly Bridegroom marrying His Bride, the Church. Then a little further on in chapter 19 He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords coming back to reign. He leads the armies of heaven as Captain of the Lord’s Hosts and defeats Satan, the Antichrist and the False Prophet. In chapter 20 He is seen as the Righteous Judge of All. In chapter 21 He is seen as the Light of the world for the new creation. The scriptures center round Jesus Christ. He is the message of the Bible. Many people read the book of Revelation and see only the plagues and blood shed that happens on the earth. They see the rise of antichrist and the accompanying chaos and miss Jesus Christ. The only future this world has is the return of Jesus Christ. He is revealed in nearly every chapter. I trust that we will see our Savior in a deeper more beautiful way and worship Him in awe and wonder.
c. Prophecy Requires Obedience
Revelation 1:3-4a: Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near. John, to the seven churches which are in Asia:
Blessed are those who read ἀναγινώσκω the words of this prophecy. According to C. H. Spurgeon, A Bible which is falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t! The key to victory is It is written. Who here has read the Book of Revelation? I have never ever heard a minister preach through it. Praise God that some do. This is one of the most neglected books in the Bible. This book is addressed to the seven Churches. We ought to read it in Church. God wants us to read and learn about His plans for the future. When it comes to Bible prophecy, ignorance is not bliss. Daniel was told to seal up the book for it dealt with things a long way off. Daniel 12:4 It was recorded for later generations. However, John was told to write to the Churches and share the vision for the time is near. We need to learn what will shortly take place.
Blessed are those who hear ἀκούω the words of the prophecy of this book. Isn’t this the same as reading the Book of Revelation? Not exactly. It was obviously God’s intention that this Book should be read in church because He promised a special blessing to the one who reads it aloud and to all those in the assembly who hear it and take it to heart. In the early Church not everyone had a copy of the Bible themselves. Churches shared the sacred Scriptures in the public meetings. It was important to hear God’s Word read in Church and it still is today.
Blessed are those who keep τηρέω the things written in this book. The word keep means, hold, preserve, fulfill, observe, to pay attention to. Reading the Bible is important and so is hearing it read. But it’s not enough. We must also obey God’s Word. Israel heard the prophets and saw the things that they wrote. But they didn’t obey God’s commands and He had to punish them time and again. James 1:22, 25: But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. He who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
In the Book of Revelation God has revealed His plans for the future to us. If we are wise we will pay attention to God. We will submit our plans to His plans. We will live in expectation of Christ’s return. We will fix our hope on heaven and labor for the Kingdom of God. Christ’s coming is soon. Let us not be consumed with things that will soon be gone. Let’s live in light of the kingdom of God.
Are you confident in God’s Word? You can be. God knows everything and He has the power to fulfill His plans. Bible prophecy centers round the Lord Jesus Christ; His first and second advent. Do you know God’s plans for you? Are you excited about what Christ has done for you? The only future this world has is the return of Jesus Christ. Are you reading God’s Word including prophetic Scripture? Have you read the Book of Revelation? Are you heeding its message? The doers of the Word are blessed, not the hearers.
Secondly, Christ’s Redemption
Revelation 1:4-5a: 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, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness,
John begins with a greeting of grace and peace from God the Father and Holy Spirit. God is eternal as stated here. The Holy Spirit has a 7 fold nature as recorded in Isaiah 11:2. The number seven speaks of completion, perfection. You will find the number seven come up again and again in the Book of Revelation. There are 7 Churches, 7 angels appointed to these Churches. God’s judgments upon the wicked involves a series of 7 seals, 7 trumpets and 7 bowls. 7 years of tribulation bring to completion man’s history. Now John testifies of Christ’s work!
a. Faithful Witness – The Truth
Jesus Christ is the Truth. In verse 5 Jesus Christ is called the faithful witness. A faithful witness tells the truth. Christ told Pilate that He came to bear witness to the truth. The word witness μάρτυς means, a testifier, one who testifies in legal matters, one who witnesses at cost of life, a martyr. However Jesus Christ was not a martyr. A martyr has his life taken from him. Jesus freely gave His life. He laid it down. It was not taken from Him. The truth is that Jesus Christ came to save us from sin. He came to brings us life through a new birth. He testified on earth how we, sinners, can be saved through faith in Him. Jesus Christ is the Truth and He said so.
Voltaire And The Bible
In the midst of the enlightenment, when deism was spreading rapidly, Voltaire proclaimed that within twenty-five years the Bible would be forgotten and Christianity would be a thing of the past. Forty years after his death in 1778, the Bible and other Christian literature were being printed in what had once been Voltaire’s very own home! Voltaire is forgotten, not God’s Word!
b. Firstborn From The Dead – The Life
Revelation 1:5b-6: the firstborn 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.
Jesus Christ is the Firstborn from the Dead. Jesus said, I am the resurrection and the life; John 11:25 He said that He had power over death. John 10:11, 17: I am the good Shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. Christ was the first person to rise from the dead and remain alive. Nobody has escaped from death. But Christ conquered death by dying and rising again. In fact in verse 19 Christ says that He has the keys to Death and Hades. Christ has conquered sin, death and hell for us. All who believe in Him receive His resurrection life. He said that He would rise and He did. Therefore you can trust every word that Jesus ever said. Jesus is the life. Have you received eternal life?
c. Ruler Over All Kings – The Lord
Jesus Christ is also the Firstborn of the Kings of the Earth. He is Lord of All. In relation to Jesus Christ, the word firstborn πρωτότοκος relates to His position not to His birth. The firstborn was the heir of all that belonged to the Father. Jesus Christ has been given the place of preeminence over all creation by His Father. The wise men knew that Jesus was born King of the Jews. Christ’s authority extends over all kings and all of mankind and all of the angelic hosts as well; both evil and elect.
Colossians 1:15-18: He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. When Christ returns he bears the name KING OF KINGS and LORD OF LORDS. He will rule over all.
d. Cleanses From Sin – The Savior
Jesus Christ is also the Savior. Only He can cleanse us from sin. Jesus Christ loves sinners and proved it by dying for us on the cross. He shed His blood, He poured out His life for us. What is the significance of Christ’s blood? Leviticus 17:11: For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul. The Bible says the soul that sins shall die. God cannot ignore our sin. Justice must be served on sin. This is what Christ has done for us. He received God’s punishment for sin. He died in our place.
On the day of atonement the High Priest took the blood of a goat and a bull and sprinkled it on the mercy seat. God dwelt above the mercy seat. Under the mercy seat was the Ten Commandments. The blood of a substitute came between a Holy God and the Law that the people had broken. God was satisfied that justice had been served. The people’s sin was atoned for by the death of another.
e. Calls Men To Service – The Head Of The Church
Kings and Priests echoes the description of Israel in Exodus 19:6. This description is also applied to the church by the title royal priesthood in 1 Peter 2:9. Christ’s sacrifice of Himself has set apart believers as royal priests to offer spiritual sacrifices to God. Instead of being God’s enemies we are now His servants. Jesus Christ has brought us into the privileged position of serving God. He is the Head of the Church and places believers into positions of service. We are granted the honor of serving God as Kings and Priests. Because God has given us so much through Christ’s sacrifice He deserves all the glory and dominion forever. Verse 6
John reminds us of Christ’s great sacrifice for us. He is the Truth, the Life, the Lord, the Savior, the Head of the Church. He is worthy of glory and dominion. Do you love Him? Know Him?
Thirdly, Christ’s Return
Both the Old and New Testaments are filled with promises of the Second Coming of Christ. There are 1,845 references to it in the Old Testament, and a total of seventeen Old Testament books give it prominence. Of the 260 chapters in the entire New Testament, there are 318 references to the Second Coming, or one out of 30 verses. Twenty-three of the 27 New Testament books refer to this great event. For every prophecy on the First Coming of Christ, there are 8 on Christ’s Second Coming.
a. His Return Will Be Glorious - King
Revelation 1:7: Behold, He is 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.
What is the significance of Christ’s coming with clouds? These aren’t rain clouds, but these clouds are associated with the Shekinah glory of God. God the Father spoke to His Son out a bright cloud on the mount of Transfiguration. These clouds will simply be the reflection of His glory. Psalm 104:3 says that He makes the clouds His chariot. Clouds often reflect splendor and majesty when the sun shines on them. They reflect the most beautiful colors of red, pink, yellow, gold and silver. Clouds can also carry immense power when a storm is inside them. How much more glorious will the clouds reflecting the glory and power of God be?
Matthew 24:30: Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. Matthew 26:64: Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.
b. His Return Will Be Universal - Second Coming
This event is known as the second coming of Christ. At this time Jesus Christ will come back to the earth with His saints. The Church having been caught out of the world at the rapture 7 years earlier will now return to earth with Christ. Every eye will see Him come. Christ’s return will be witnessed all around the world. Only God is everywhere and could do such a thing. Every eye will see Him. The Jewish nation who pierced Christ will see Him come. Zechariah 12:10-14 tells us that many of the Jews will repent. Christ’s enemies will behold Him come and mourn. The fallen angels will also see Christ come in power. Revelation 19:11-16: describes this event.
Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
c. His Return Will Be Holy - Judge
All the tribes of the earth will mourn. Why? Because God is holy. They have seen Him coming with great power and glory. They know that He is coming to judge them for their sin and they have no where to hide. Revelation 6:15-17: And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?
Jesus Christ will punish all of the wicked including the kings of the earth and everyone in authority. He will also punish the fallen angels who have served Satan for thousands of years. Isaiah 24:19-23: The earth is violently broken, The earth is split open, The earth is shaken exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, And shall totter like a hut; Its transgression shall be heavy upon it, And it will fall, and not rise again. It shall come to pass in that day That the Lord will punish on high the host of exalted ones, And on the earth the kings of the earth. They will be gathered together, As prisoners are gathered in the pit, And will be shut up in the prison; After many days they will be punished. Then the moon will be disgraced And the sun ashamed; For the Lord of hosts will reign On Mount Zion and in Jerusalem And before His elders, gloriously.
Enoch prophesied about Christ’s return to judge the world about 3000 BC. His is the earliest prophecy of Christ’s second advent. Jude 14-15: Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.
d. His Return Will Fulfill God’s Plan - Almighty
Revelation 1:8: 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.
Only God is all powerful. The Lord Jesus Christ is the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end. He is the A to Z of everything. He is the eternal God, the Almighty. He holds sway over everything, He is ruler of all. Because of this Jesus Christ is able to fulfill God’s plans. Nothing He does will fail. We are completely secure in His care.
Is your hope centered round the return of Jesus Christ? He is the Rightful King, the Righteous Judge and our Loving Savior. He will return one day with great power and glory. Are you ready to meet Him? Has He saved you from your sin? Will He be your Savior or your judge?
Revelation 22:20: He who testifies to these things says, Surely, I am coming quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!