Summary: Isn’t Christ’s church good enough? Do we need to dress him up to get people through the door? Perhaps we should get back to what the church should be rather than trying to figure out new ways to make it work.
Emerging or Returning Church?
Revelation 1:12 – 3:22
May 24, 2009
We talk a lot about Jesus birth, his death, his resurrection, but we tend to pay little attention to his ascension to the throne in heaven. So I began to wonder, what if Jesus had just been resurrected and not ascended off the earth? What would that have done to the Christian faith, the church, the world?
If we go back to the Old Testament we see that God never wanted evil in the world. Only through human sin or blatant disobedience did evil come, then it got so evil that he wiped out just about everyone with the flood, finally he brings his people to the promised land, and what does he ask them to do? Wipe out everyone, completely annihilate every human being that does not follow God and does evil (which by the way, literally translated means hurtful, or worthless).
They disobeyed again, and when we think about it who could blame them. Who would want to wipe out every living person in a whole land? It seems like each time he demanded something more and more difficult to obey, ultimately asking his son to die. But through all of these events God is asking his chosen people whom he created, to make the choice, and do the work.
So then because we had done such a pitiful job, he sends Jesus to show us how to live, but Jesus doesn’t come to destroy, but to save. Psalm 110 verse one is the most quoted Old Testament verse in the New Testament, where David says “the Lord (God) says to my Lord (Jesus, but remember David has no idea who Jesus will be, so this is clearly prophecy) Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies (meaning anyone who doesn’t trust and obey him) your footstool.”
So I ask, how is God going to make Jesus’ enemies his footstool? Clearly, once again he is relying on us to do it. Now does this mean we go into the world and annihilate all unbelievers as he commanded the Israelites to do in Canaan? Obviously not. God is not relying on us to eradicate evil, but to become righteous ourselves through being like Jesus and believing in Him, and help those who do not believe so that none of His creation needs to be destroyed when he finally does bring inevitable judgment.
So do we have it? God is going to make Jesus’ enemies his footstool, and we know he can do it. But he wants us to get rid of evil, by not being evil (or disobeying), and teaching others not to be evil, why? Because he does not want even one to perish on the day of judgment. So before he ascended he gave us the Great Commission to make disciples of all people everywhere. He gave us the great Commandment to love him and love others as ourselves. Most of us know this very well.
But today I want to focus on what Jesus said to the Church after he ascended to heaven, and the only place to find this is in the book of Revelation. We are going to take his ascension as fact today, and there are many scriptures that attest to this. So then we’re going to look at three things he told the churches in the first three chapters of Revelation and apply those to our church today.
I. The Properties of the Head (meaning Jesus Christ, the head of the church)
A. He is Tremendous (1:12 – 3:7)
Let me read our scripture verses for today again. Read 1:12-20. Seven being a complete number in the Bible, representing all the Church. Another clue that these letters refer to the capital C church is that they are all in an area in Asia where “east meets west”, and were all significant cities at the time. But for our understanding he breaks it down so the readers of the time could understand.
Some say each church represents each era of the church from the first century church of Ephesus to the “apostate” church in Laodicea called the “church of compromise” who had rejected the deity of Christ and was very focused on science, representing the church today. They were a meandering church and interestingly, the city was located on the Maeander river.
Much like the prayer we talked about last week, Jesus begins each speech to the churches by letting them who he is.
My words are the sharp double edged sword. (2:12)
I am the son of God whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. (2:18)
I hold the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. (3:1)
I am holy and true, and hold the key of David. What I open no one can shut, and what I shut no one can open. (3:7)