John, The One Who Saw the End
In my message series “Adventure,” I’ve been walking the church through a quick overview of the New Testament. For the last message, we quickly walked through the Book of Revelation. Yeah. I did that. The first three verses of the book stress a critical principle for understanding the whole book. It emphasizes that the book is given to us so that we will be blessed, know how to show obedience, and realize that the end is near. Oftentimes, we focus over the when and how of the end times and Revelation. But, the apocalyptic vision was given to John and to us not so that we would obsess or fear the future tribulation. Rather, this book shows us God intention for the peoples of the earth at the end of all things. We have a record of the end so that we will know how to live in the now. Because of The Revelation, we are increase our urgency about the mission of God and our obedience to the Word of God. Here are four principles that I find to be helpful in understanding The Revelation.
1. The mission of the church is to all peoples.
Revelation 7:9-10 shows us that God will gather people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. He wants everyone in His kingdom. It should affect how we view the work of the church. Anything less than a mission that includes all people is not the mission of God. Any favoritism in your heart means that you do not truly understand the gospel. We must be urgent because the end is near and everyone’s eternity is hanging in the balance.
2. Personal faithfulness is required for a completed mission.
Revelation 2:1-7 is the first of the letters to the seven churches in Asia. In this one, the Lord tells the church in Ephesus that they had done well in discerning the true nature of those who wished to be leaders, keeping pure doctrine, and doing ministry well. But despite all of that, they had fallen far away from him because they had lost their love for Him. Our faith in Christ starts with, is sustained by, and is known to the world through this one characteristic: Love. When we leave our first love, then the Lord must start there. Love is the central discipline of the Christian life. If God has your heart, then He can mold your skills and abilities for His mission.
3. Our mission is critical for others.
Revelation 20:11-15 gives us a tragic scene. It is of the Great White Throne Judgment in heaven. Verse eleven states that God’s presence is so overwhelming that it makes earth and heaven flee from Him. At this time, everyone who does not have their name written in the book of life will be consigned to hell. God’s judgment on sinners is sure and it is severe. It is eternal. We must hear these words and move with urgency to carry the gospel to everyone who does not believe. They need to know that God is holy, we are sinful, and Christ has provided for our salvation. As believers, it is the mission critical work.
4. We will live forever in victory.
Revelation 22:1-5 gives us a great juxtaposition. In 20:11, all of creation flees from the presence of God. But we do not. In this passage, we, the servants of God, will see His face. Rather than fleeing from the power of His presence, we will enjoy it! God will reign forever and we will reign with Him. No longer will you be defined by your job, relationships, shame, painful circumstance, or achievements in this life. As His people, we will have His name on our foreheads to be defined eternally by the God of all things. It is the great fulfillment of Psalm 23: We will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!