Sun, Jan 09, 2000

The Judge is Coming: Revelation 1:4-8

Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
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THE JUDGE IS COMING!

REVELATION 1:4-8

Years ago, Judge Kaufman presided at the trial of the Rosenberg’s, who were Russian spies. The Rosenberg’s were charged and then convicted of treason against the United States and sentenced to death.

In his summation at the end of the long and bitter trial, the lawyer for the Rosenberg’s said animatedly, "Your Honor, what my clients ask for is justice."

Judged Kaufman replied very calmly, "The court has given you what you ask for -justice! What you really want is mercy. But that is something this court has no right to give."

As we will see, as we study the book of Revelation, is the righteous judgment of God being poured out upon a Christ rejecting world. Yes justice will be given, but before it is, we are going to see God’s grace and mercy being extended to this world. And we will see that come out of our text this morning in Revelation chapter 1, and we are going to begin in verse 4.

Now keep in mind that this is a revelation, an unveiling of Jesus Christ in all of His glory. And this message was given by the Father to Jesus, who gave it to an angel, possibly Gabriel, who gave it to John who will give it to the seven churches located in the Roman province of Asia, which is modern day Turkey. So lets dig in and see what God has for us this morning.

REVELATION 1

VERSE 4a

As we get into chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation we will see these letters that Jesus wrote to these seven churches in the Roman province of Asia. These churches; Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea were actual churches that were in existence when John wrote this book. Now the question that may come up is "Why did Jesus pick these seven churches?" You see, there were more than seven in that Roman province. There was Colosse, Colossians 1:2; Miletus, Acts 20:17; Hierapolis, Colossians 4:13; Troas, Acts 20:5, II Corinthians 2:12; Galatia and others. And some of these churches were very large, and yet they were not included in these letters that Jesus wrote. So what is going on here?

First of all, numbers are very significant in the Scriptures. The number 40 represents judgment. The number 6 represents man and his inability to match up to God’s goodness. The number 8 speaks of new beginnings. And the number 7 speaks of the completeness or fullness of something. We see 7 days in creation. We see 7 primary colors. We see 7 notes on a scale, although I haven’t got a clue to what they are. And I’m sure those around me can attest to that when we sing. But I think you get the idea of what I mean. And just for a added note, the number 7 is found some 54 times in the book of Revelation, the book that completes the Scriptures!

Thus, what we see here in these 7 churches is a complete portrait of the church. In these letters, as we shall see in a few weeks, is everything the church needs to hear to keep it healthy, pure, encouraged, on track, focused and-so-on.

Also, if you look at how these letters are written, the order they are placed in the Scriptures, I believe they give us a picture of church history from its beginning with the apostolic church of the first century, which is represented by the letter to the church in Ephesus, to the end times church of Laodicea, the lukewarm church that Jesus is on the outside knocking to get in. And we will develop these more as we get into Revelation chapters 2 and 3.

VERSES 4b-5a

Isn’t it amazing that a book that is filled with judgment opens up with grace and peace! That is our God! And for most of us, grace is something that is difficult for us to grasp. Grace comes from the Greek word CHARIS, which speaks of "unearned and unmerited favor" and it is what God gives to man, that which he doesn’t deserve.

The hymn doesn’t go "Amazing me, how great I am, since I first began!" No, that is not what John Newton wrote. He sang "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!" You see, the Biblical definition of grace is God’s blessings towards us which we don’t deserve, unmerited favor. The problem comes when we think of God as some kind of cosmic Santa Claus, you know, "He’s making a list, checking it twice, gonna find out who is naughty and nice..." So we do good works to get on God’s good side so He will love us more. And when we don’t, we feel bad, we feel that God loves us less.

Some people like to get beat up, even at church. If they don’t come out bloody and bruised, they think they have been short changed. In some strange way they think that if they get blasted, made to feel guilty, God will look upon them with favor, He will love them more. If that is the mentality you have, you are always going to be battered and bruised.

Listen to what Paul said in Romans chapter 8, beginning in verse 35, as he is showing us the richness of God’s love towards us. He said "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’ Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."Romans 8:35-39.

Do you understand what Paul is saying here? God can’t love you anymore than He already does, nor can He love you any less. His love is unconditional, and undeserving! And if that is how we base our relationship with God, then our actions or response to God will be based on love and not performance! God wants us to do our best, but understand this, it won’t matter in the sense of God’s love towards us.

If your relationship with God is based upon works, you are only going to place yourself in bondage, you won’t find any true joy, only condemnation, which is not of God, because of your failures. You will become frustrated because you are not accomplishing that which you want to do. And you can easily come to the wrong conclusion that God doesn’t love you or He loves you less because of your failures, because you have not attained a certain level of good works before God. May you enjoy the grace that God has given to you and let your response or your actions towards God be based totally on love for Him and not a works relationship.

Once you have received God’s grace into your life, once you have made peace with God through Jesus Christ, then you can experience the peace of God in your life. Peace really is a fruit that is born from grace. That doesn’t mean a absence of difficulties, but God will give you that inner peace as you go through the storms of life. As Jesus said in John 16:33, "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will havetribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." You see, true peace is only found in Jesus Christ, everything else is a false peace, a temporary peace.

John continues on by telling us that this grace and peace is extended to us from the Eternal God, the manifold working of the Holy Spirit, and from Jesus Christ. Now some may like to argue that the word "Trinity" is not found in the Scriptures, and that is very true. But just because that word is not used doesn’t negate the reality that is before us. In this passage it is clearly evident that there is a Holy Trinity; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Let me show you what I mean.

1. GOD THE FATHER

First of all we read "...from Him who is and who was and who is to come..." This speaks of the continual existence or the eternal existence of God. He is the ever existing one, the eternal one. And this is speaking of God the Father. Can I explain the eternal existence of God? No I can’t! I just know the Scriptures teach it, and I believe it. You see, just because I don’t fully understand something with my finite mind, doesn’t mean I don’t believe it.

Think about it this way. You have no problem getting on a jet plane, weighing God knows how much, and you don’t know exactly how, but you believe that the plane will get off the ground, and it will get back on the ground safely. By faith you put your trust in that plane and those that built it and are flying it, even though you don’t know much about the dynamics of how it flies. When God says something in His Word, even though you may not fully understand it, you can believe it by faith because God’s Word is true! He is a all-knowing God, I hope He knows more than I do, and more than you do!

2. GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT

We read next, "...and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne..." Now this is not speaking of seven Holy Spirits, but the complete work of the Holy Spirit. Remember, the number seven speaks of completeness. In Isaiah 11:2 we read of this very thing that John is speaking of here. Isaiah said "The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, [empower Him],the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit ofknowledge and of the fear of the LORD." Thus, what we see here, the point that John is making, is the seven Spirits are referring to the manifold working or the complete working of the Holy Spirit, or the totality of the Spirit’s ministry.

3. GOD THE SON

And lastly, John speaks of the focus of the book, when he says "...and from Jesus Christ..."And in verse 8 of this chapter, we will see Jesus speak of Himself as being eternal, not a created being as the Jehovah Witnesses try to get us to believe. Even in Micah 5:2 we read regarding His birth, "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting." That word "everlasting" speaks of "the days of eternity" or from "beyond the vanishing point." Thus, Jesus is eternal, He has always existed.

Jesus, in John 8:58 made this interesting statement. He said "...‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM." Jesus was saying that He was that voice in the burning bush, and He is telling them that He is eternal, He has always existed. Yes, the word Trinity may not be used in the Scriptures, but it is clearly spoken of and shown to us.

VERSES 5-6

Here we see three titles that are given to Jesus to show us His authority and thus, the reason we should heed His Words.

1. THE FAITHFUL WITNESS

The world had become confused about God and Jesus came to this world of darkness and confusion to bring the light of God and the truth of God to them, to reveal to this world the Father. Thus, if you want to know what the Father looks like, study the life of Jesus. In fact, Jesus said to Philip in John 14:9, "...‘Have I been with you so long, and yet you have notknown Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show usthe Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The wordsthat I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Medoes the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believeMe for the sake of the works themselves." John 14:9-11. Also, in Hebrews 1:3 we read "whobeing the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding allthings by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at theright hand of the Majesty on high."

Jesus’ mission was to declare the Father to us, as we read in John 1:18, "No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him." He is the faithful witness as Colossians 1:15 tells us, "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation." And now He has called us to be faithful witnesses to this dark world. Jesus said in Acts 1:8, "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." When people see us do they see Jesus? They should, for we are to be a faithful witness of Him to this world!

2. FIRSTBORN FROM THE DEAD

The word "firstborn" comes from the Greek word PROTOTOKOS, and it means first in priority, pre-eminent in importance. Now Jesus was not the first to be raised from the dead, Lazarus and others were raised before Jesus, but He was the first to conquer death. And because He did, we can follow!

Listen to the point that Paul makes in I Corinthians chapter 15, beginning in verse 12. We read"Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up-- if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable." I Corinthians 15:12-19.

It seems like a hopeless situation. If this is just a story, if it was all a hoax, if they just made it all up, we are without hope for we are still dead in our sins! We have believed a lie! But Paul does not leave us there, he goes on to say in verse 20, "But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive." I Corinthians 15:20-22.

Because Christ has risen from the dead, we have hope, we can rejoice because sin and death will have no power over us, the sting is removed! Because He rose we will follow!

3. THE RULER OVER THE KINGS OF THE EARTH

For the most part, man thinks he is independent of God. That he can do as he pleases. But man has forgotten that God is in control. In fact, in Daniel chapter 5, as Daniel is rebuking Belshazzar for his total disregard to the true and living God, mocking the Lord, Daniel says in verse 23, "And you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. They have broughtthe vessels of His house before you, and you and your lords, your wives and yourconcubines, have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold,bronze and iron, wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know; and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified."

God is in control, and even though He allows men to do as they want, to have a free will, it doesn’t mean that God is not in control. Man thinks he is doing as he pleases, but God is allowing them to do those things so that His plans and purpose will be completed. Man has a choice. And one day the Lord is coming back to establish His kingdom here on the earth and He will rule and reign with a rod of iron. One day every knee shall bow before His throne. And I believe this thought is portrayed for us in Hebrews 2:8, which says "‘You have put all things in subjection under his feet.’ For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him."

And now we are going to see three things that Jesus has done for us, His plan of redemption. And thus, something that is very important for us to understand.

1. HE LOVES US

Some feel this word should be in the present, "loves" instead of the past, "loved." And I would have to agree, for God’s love for us is a continuous action. It comes from the Greek word AGAPAO which is unconditional love. Paul picks up on this in Romans 5:8 when he says, "ButGod demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ diedfor us." Before we were saved God loved us as His enemy, but now after we are saved He loves us as His children. Why does He love us? I don’t know! We are not worthy of it, but that is what Agape love is all about! God’s love is unconditional! That should be a great comfort for us and one of those truths we hold onto dearly, the LOVE OF GOD!

2. WASHED US FROM OUR SINS IN HIS OWN BLOOD

God has "washed" us, it is a past, completed work that was accomplished on the cross of Calvary. When Jesus cried out "TETELESTAI" it is the Greek word that means "It is finished" or "Paid in full." He was saying to us that all of our sins have been completely paid in full by His atoning death. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Some 28 times in this book alone He is mentioned as "the Lamb."

No longer was a animal sacrifice needed to atone for our sins, but Jesus shed His own blood to atone for our sins. It is as Peter tells us In I Peter 1:18-19, "knowing that you were notredeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb withoutblemish and without spot." We can be cleansed from our sins by appropriating that free gift of God into our lives. As John said in I John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and justto forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Notice the word "all", it means all of our unrighteousness, all of our sins will be cast as far as the east is from the west to be remembered no more!

3. HAS MADE US KINGS AND PRIESTS

Now the responsibility of the priest was really two-fold. First of all he went before God and interceded for the people. He then went before the people to represent God to them. So he represented the people before God and God before the people.

Peter tells us in I Peter 2:9-10, "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now thepeople of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy." God has made us priests in the sense we can go before God with our prayer needs, to intercede for the people, and we can then bring God to the people, speaking forth His truths to them. So now we are functioning, in a sense, as priests, and one day, in the kingdom age, we will rule and reign with Him.

And John closes this section with praise unto God and finally has to say "Amen!" It is a word that means literally "So be it!" There is so much that John has said in these few verses, it is overwhelming and he just wants it to come to pass.

VERSE 7

Remember the opening verse of this book, "The Revelation of Jesus Christ," that is the subject of this book, the unveiling of Christ in all of His glory. And John tells us that He is coming in glory. It is not maybe! Jude also tells us in 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."

And here we see Jesus coming in the clouds, and all will see Him. This is not speaking of the rapture when the Lord comes for His bride, the church, and we are "caught up" to be with the Lord in the air, something that happens in the twinkling of an eye. This is speaking of the Lords return to pour out His judgment upon a Christ rejecting world and to set up His kingdom here on earth. Remember what Acts 1:9-11 tells us, "Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven?This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner asyou saw Him go into heaven."

In His second coming all will see Him, both Jew and gentile. Matthew 24:30 tells us "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."

And those who have pierced Him, I believe is a reference to the Jew’s. Zechariah 12:10 says"And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they have pierced; they willmourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for afirstborn." Also, in Zechariah 13:6 we read "And one will say to him, ‘What are thesewounds between your arms?’ Then he will answer, ‘Those with which I was wounded inthe house of my friends." You see, both the nation of Israel, and all men will mourn, seeing they have rejected the Lord. For those that receive the Lord, we read in Isaiah 25:9 of their response, "And it will be said in that day: ‘Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for Him; we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation."

We await for the glorious day, and so did John. He is so excited he gives another "Amen!" or "Let it be!"

VERSE 8

Back in Revelation 1:4 this was attributed to the Father, but here it is spoken in relation to Jesus. The Alpha and Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. He is the first and the last, He is the beginning and the end, He is the eternal God who is coming again! Jesus is God! The King is coming! Nothing can stop Him!

The judge of this world is coming, don’t ask for His justice, fall upon His grace and mercy. He desires to set you free, He loves you more than you will ever comprehend. In Ezekiel 33:11 we are told "...‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die..." God is calling for you to turn to Him, to receive that free gift of life. If you don’t, you will get His justice, but it is a death sentence for you. Let me leave you this morning with these words of comfort and hope from Jesus that is found in John 3:16-17. Jesus said "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved."

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