Summary: How should the Church live in a world of Pestilence and hostility to the gospel?

Christ’s Church in a Pestilent World (Part 2)

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Pastor Brad Reaves

Grace Community Church

Revelation 1:8-20


We are continuing our series on the 7 Churches of Revelation. Before we get into Jesus’ words to these churches it is vital we cover thoroughly the introductory part of Revelation, meaning Chapter 1. This week we are going to the end of the chapter and then next week I am going to circle back around and address verses 4-8 and the subject of the second coming of Jesus. I believe this pestilence we are experiencing is a wake-up call for the church. We’ve grown comfortable in our buildings and with our programs in a world full of idolatry, immorality, and secularism. While buildings and programs in themselves aren’t wrong, they’ve become the main focus of the church. As I was saying earlier this year, the church has lost its compass.

I. The Revelator John

So Jesus gave a message to his most beloved disciple, John for this call of repentance. Why John? We studied his Gospel starting in 2017 for nearly 2 years. He was known as the disciple that Jesus loved. He was with Christ from the beginning and all through Jesus’s ministry. He witnessed first hand the miracles that John said if we were to collect in books there would not be enough books to contain them all. He was at the crucifixion and the first of the 12 to see the empty tomb.

I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. (Revelation 1:9-10)

John is the last living disciple of the original twelve. The others were systematically martyred in the most barbaric manner. It was rumored that John would outlive all the disciples in John 21:21-24. We can see now that prophetic word is also true.

It is around 95 AD and he sits on a barren island about 5 miles wide and ten miles long in the Aegean Sea about five miles wide and ten miles long. He was the lead pastor of the churches of Asia Minor – which is modern Turkey. John was the pastor of Ephesus and from Ephesus, he started the other six.

I hear Patmos is a fascinating place and it is on my bucket list of top places in the world I want to visit. IT is 40 miles off the coast of Ephesus in the Aegean Sea. From John’s perspective, however, he is in exile on Patmos. This is not a vacation spot. Exile to remote islands was a common Roman punishment and Patmos was one of 50 penal islands used for political prisoners

John was banished there, which would include the loss of all property, possessions, and civil rights (MacArthur). He was banished there under the persecution of Domitian when he was about 90 years old to work in the quarries. Historian Sir William Ramsay says that conditions were marked by constant chains, insufficient food, sleeping on bare rock, in a dark prison cave.

John’s crime was his unshakable loyalty to the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus. They tried to kill John. He just wouldn’t die. He was scourged, boiled in oil, stoned, you name it. Now he is exiled on an island. Things look bleak and hopeless. Was there a future? Was there a future for the church? Was there a future for the gospel? Why would John suffer if he is the most beloved disciple?

You should not be surprised by trials, “as though something strange was happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12). Contrary to some modern ‘prosperity’ teaching, membership of Christ’s kingdom does not shield us from suffering—rather membership of the kingdom was the cause of their suffering (Paul Beasley-Murray) Like John, we should expect difficulty for our faith. Jesus promised that “the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matt. 24:13). Paul adds that “if we endure, we will also reign with him” (2 Tim. 2:12).

It was said that in Napoleon’s army, every French soldier carried a field marshal’s baton in his knapsack. The point was that any soldier could rise from the bottom all the way to the top. We might say the same of Christians, except that every Christian has a crown in his or her possession and every one of them will certainly wear it, but only through patient endurance under the tribulation of this world. John on Patmos showed us how. Despite his imprisonment, poverty, and affliction, he continued to worship and serve Jesus, and to bear witness to his salvation. We are to do the same.

It is here on Patmos that John sees - dare I say experiences - the vision we call The book of Revelation. It is given to John to tell him there is a future. “Jesus Christ is coming with the clouds and every eye will see him, even those who pierced Him, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.” That’s our hope. The lamb wins. Jesus has not been defeated; He will come again. John, in writing this down, understands the comfort that’s coming.

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