Summary: Revelation 1:4-8, part 1
The Seven, part 2
Setting the Tone of Victory: The Source of our Perseverance
Revelation 1:4-8, part 1
May 26, 2013
Review: Last week I said that although Revelation poses unique interpretative challenges it is understandable by the ordinary person. It appeals to the imagination, is similar to a fantasy novel like CS Lewis', The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. It has three literary genre's - apocalyptic, prophecy, and epistle all at the same time! As apocalyptic literature it uses symbolism to describe what takes place at the consummation of all things. It's symbolism is fantastic and not meant to be taken literally. As prophetic literature, it foretells the future and foretells, calling God's people back to covenantal faithfulness. Last, as an epistle, it was a letter that circulated among several churches to address the specific historical situations and needs of seven local churches at the end of the first century. That means we will never understand what it means for us until we understand what it meant to them. Last week I said that it reveals Jesus Christ to us, the conquering king, and that it is written for obedience and not speculation.
John sets the tone of victory in verses four through eight. The church is under attack from Satan, our enemy, in three ways: First, the church is under attack through physical persecution. John is exiled because of his faithful witness, others are jailed and martyred. The whole New Testament is blunt on suffering for those who desire to be faithful to Christ. The church is also under attack through spiritual compromise. Spiritual adultery had a foothold on the church. Roman Ceasers were expected to be worshiped as Gods; to confess Jesus Christ as Lord meant defiance and the sentence of death. The result was that compromise became an fashionable, even justifiable. Last, the church is under attack through material seduction. They were compromising their allegiance and devotion to Jesus Christ with the lust for prosperity. The church in every age is always under attack – the quest for acceptance, entertainment, tolerating apathy, material comfort, accommodating to the culture, and even tolerating heresy. Our church is under attack. So John infuses us with a perspective on reality that is cosmic, transcendent, and with a promised victory from the throne. The term is key to Revelation, occurring thirty four times. At the center of everything in heaven is the throne, expressing God's absolute sovereignty and showing that things are not always as they seem. So lets look at two points in the rest of the time we have: The supernatural resources for perseverance and the supernatural source of these resources.
The Supernatural Resources for Perseverance
“John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace.” Revelation was written by the apostle John who also wrote the gospel and the three epistles. He wrote to seven churches in Asia minor, which is modern day Turkey. Seven is symbolic of completeness, representing all churches of all time. Grace and peace is the normal greeting for New Testament letters and points again to the fact that this is a letter written to churches, to those who are part of a local body that meets weekly. Contrary to popular belief in western Christianity you cannot be a follower of Christ and not part of a local church. There is a need for grace because the church is under attack and we need the supernatural resources of grace to persevere, to be faithful to Jesus Christ even when it costs us. There are all kinds of problems in these seven churches but Johns concern is their need for grace and peace to persevere. Why is this so important? It is only those who conquer, persevere in faithful allegiance to the gospel, who inherit the reward of eternal life. We persevere because God faithfully supplies us with grace for strength of heart; peace for tranquility in the midst of suffering and attack. The prize for Christ followers is not for those who enter the race but only for those who finish the race! Perseverance means to live faithfully as a Christ follower, not perfect, but faithful. God also supplies supernatural resource of his peace. But you will never have peace unless you have first experienced grace. Grace precedes peace. Peace has two aspects to it. There is objective peace that comes from being reconciled to God. But there is also subjective peace in midst of attack if you trust him. The provision for victory, persevering, is supernatural grace and peace. Let's look at the supernatural source of these resources.