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Summary: THE CHURCH IS SUPPOSED TO BE A LIGHT TO THE WORLD. THIS MESSAGE EXAMINE HOW BRIGHT WE SHINE AS THE CHURCH

THE CHURCH: GOD’S LAMPSTAND

REVELATION 1:12-20

FEBRUARY 24, 2019

I MUST TELL YOU THAT THIS IS A VERY EXCITING DAY FOR ME. I’M GETTING TO PREACH ON THE CHURCH WHICH IS BECOMING VERY SPECIAL VERY SPECIAL TO ME, AND I GET TO SPEAK FROM A BOOK THAT IS ONE OF MY FAVORITES IN SCRIPTURE, REVELATION. YOU DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THE COMPLEXITY OF REVELATION AS THE FIRST THREE CHAPTERS ARE LESSONS JESUS GAVE TO JOHN THAT DEAL WITH THE CHURCH DURING OUR TIME. WHILE IT DOES NOT STATE THIS, MOST THEOLOGIANS AGREE THAT THE RAPTURE TAKES PLACE AT THE END OF CHAPTER THREE AND BEFORE CHAPTER FOUR BEGINS.

WE ARE NOT DEALING WITH ANYTHING POST-RAPTURE TODAY. CHAPTERS TWO AND THREE DEAL WITH SPECIFIC ISSUES THAT CAN BE FOUND IN CHURCHS TODAY, BUT WE ARE GOING TO FOCUS ON WHAT I FEEL IS THE CENTRAL ISSUE OF THE FIRST THREE CHAPTERS.

CHAPTER ONE IDENTIFIES THE CHURCH WITH THE LAMPSTANDS AND THAT BECOMES OUR CENTRAL FOCUS AS A CHURCH. JESUS SAID IT TO JOHN, AND JOHN SAID IT TO US, THAT WE ARE TO BE A LIGHT TO THE WORLD, A LIGHT THAT LEADS PEOPLE TO JESUS. WE ARE TO BE A LIGHT THAT LEADS PEOPLE TO SALVATION, THAT LEADS PEOPLE TO HEALING, A LIGHT THAT CAN HEAL BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS AND TO A LIGHT THAT WILL SAFELY LEAD US HOME INTO HIS ETERNAL PRESENCE.

LIGHT CAN BE VERY IMPORTANT IN OUR DAILY LIVES . A LITTLE 5-YEAR OLD GIRL WAS “HELPING” HER MOTHER FIX DINNER ONE EVENING WHEN THE MOTHER ASKED HER TO GO INTO THE PANTRY AND GET HER A CAN OF TOMATOS. THE LITTLE GIRL WAS AFRAID TO GO IN THERE BECAUSE IT WAS DARK.

THE MOTHER TOLD HER IT WAS OKAY TO GO INTO THE PANTRY AS NOTHING WAS GOING TO HURT HER BECAUSE JESUS WAS IN THERE TO PROTECT HER. THE LITTLE GIRL THEN WENT TO THE PANTRY, OPENED THE DOOR, AND SAID, “JESUS, IF YOU ARE IN THERE, HAND ME A CAN OF TOMATOS, OKAY?”

THE LIGHT HAS OFTEN BEEN USED SYMBOLICALLY IN SCRIPTURE. GRENESIS RECORDS THAT THE FIRST THING TO BE CREATED WERE THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH, AND THE NEXT THING TO BE CREATED WAS LIGHT, AND FROM THAT POINT ON LIGHT HAS ALWAYS BEEN SEPARATED FROM DARKNESS.

GENESIS: 1:3: AND GOD SAID, “LET THERE BE LIGHT,” AND THERE WAS LIGHT. 4 GOD SAW THAT THE LIGHT WAS GOOD, AND HE SEPARATED THE LIGHT FROM THE DARKNESS. 5 GOD CALLED THE LIGHT “DAY,” AND THE DARKNESS HE CALLED “NIGHT.” AND THERE WAS EVENING, AND THERE WAS MORNING—THE FIRST DAY.

LIGHT HAS ALWAYS BEEN USED IN SCRIPTURE AS BEING SYMBOLIC OF GOODNESS. JOHN RECORDS THAT JESUS IS THE LIGHT IN CHAPTER ONE:

JOHN 1:4-9:

IN HIM WAS LIFE, AND THAT LIFE WAS THE LIGHT OF ALL MANKIND. 5 THE LIGHT SHINES IN THE DARKNESS, AND THE DARKNESS HAS NOT OVERCOME IT. 6 THERE WAS A MAN SENT FROM GOD WHOSE NAME WAS JOHN. 7 HE CAME AS A WITNESS TO TESTIFY CONCERNING THAT LIGHT, SO THAT THROUGH HIM ALL MIGHT BELIEVE. 8 HE HIMSELF WAS NOT THE LIGHT; HE CAME ONLY AS A WITNESS TO THE LIGHT. 9 THE TRUE LIGHT THAT GIVES LIGHT TO EVERYONE WAS COMING INTO THE WORLD.

THIS PASSAGE IN REVELATION CHAPTER ONE GIVES US A CHANCE TO SEE A PICTURE OF THE VICTORIOUS GLORIFIED CHRIST, BUT IT ALSO INFORMS US OF OUR ROLE AND MISSION AS A CHURCH AND INDIVIDUALLY AS CHRISTIANS. FIRST A BIT OF HISTORY CONCERNING JOHN AND THE WRITING OF REVELATION.

CONTEXT:

WE KNOW THAT THE BOOK WAS WRITTEN BY A MAN NAMED JOHN. IT IS REASONABLE TO ASSUME THAT THIS IS THE BELOVED ONE, THE APOSTLE JOHN, BUT IN FACT THERE IS NO DIRECTEVIDENCE OF THIS, BUT I FEEL A GREAT DEAL OF INDIRECT BIBLICAL EVIDENCE OF THIS.

WE KNOW THAT ALL OF THE APOSTLES SAVE JOHN WERE EXECUTED. JOHN WAS EXILED TO THE ISLAND OF PATMOS, A SMALL ISLAND THAT WAS USED TO KEEP CRIMINALS. THEY WOULD PERFORM HARD LABOR THERE, AND IT WAS PROBABLY FELT THAT JOHN, ROUGHLY AROUND THE AGE OF 90 WOULD SOON MEET HIS DEATH AT THEIR HANDS, RATHER THAN ROMAN OFFICIALS.

SIR WILLIAM RAMSEY DESCRIBED JOHN’S IMPRISONMENT THIS WAY:

“JOHN’S BANISHMENT WAS PRECEDED BY SCOURGING, MARKED BY PERPETUAL FETTERS, SCANTY CLOTHING, INSUFFICIENT FOOD, SLEEP ON THE BAR GROUND, A DARK PRISON AND WORK UNDER THE LASH OF THE MILITARY OVERSEER.”

CHRISTIANS AT THIS TIME WERE FACING GREAT PERSECUTION BY THE ROMANS. THE MAIN ISSUE WAS THEIR REFUSAL TO WORSHIP THE EMPEROR AS THEIR GOD. IN A LETTER WRITTEN TO THE EMPEROR BY PLINY THE YOUNGER HE DESCRIBED THIS ACTION:

“I INTERROGATED THESE AS TO WHETHER THEY WERE CHRISTIANS; THOSE WHO CONFESSED I INTERROGATED A SECOND AND A THIRD TIME, THREATENING THEM WITH PUNISHMENT; THOSE WHO PERSISTED I ORDERED EXECUTED. FOR I HAD NO DOUBT THAT, WHATEVER THE NATURE OF THEIR CREED, STUBBORNNESS AND INFLEXIBLE OBSTINACY SURELY DESERVE TO BE PUNISHED.”

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