Summary: In today's lesson, the prologue of Christ's revelation shows just hat the Book of Revelation was revealed for witness, which results in blessing.
Today, I am starting a new series of messages. It is called, “Christ’s Message to the Seven Churches,” and it is based on the first three chapters of the Book of Revelation.
These chapters deal with Christ’s message to seven churches that were located in Asia (in modern western Turkey). These churches existed in a time of growing cultural opposition, religious intolerance, and doctrinal error. And each church received a message from Christ to remain steadfast and faithful.
The reason I am preaching this series is twofold. First, for many years I have wanted to study and teach Christ’s message to the seven churches of Asia.
And second, by studying Revelation 1-3 we shall see what Christ’s priorities are for his church today. Noted commentator, John Stott, writes, “Although these letters were written by John, it is claimed that they were given him directly by the ascended and glorified Christ. Although their message is related to the specific situations of those churches, it expresses concerns which apply to all churches. By praise and censure, by warning and exhortation, Christ reveals what he wants his church to be like in all places and at all times.”
Let’s read the prologue of Christ’s revelation in Revelation 1:1-3:
1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. 3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. (Revelation 1:1-3)
Imagine yourself sitting in a theatre. You are chatting quietly with your companion, and there is a low buzz of voices throughout the theatre. Everyone is sitting in expectation. Then the lights dim, and the chatter quiets down. The theatre lights are extinguished, and the music begins playing, softly at first, but building and swelling. As the music reaches a crescendo, the curtains are rapidly drawn aside. You and everyone gasp at the brightly-lit stage. There is an extremely impressive figure standing in the very center of the stage. He begins to speak in a clear and authoritative voice, telling the audience what is about to happen.
The Book of Revelation is the last book in the Bible, and it is a difficult book to understand. John Stott writes:
Many Christians fight shy of the Book of Revelation. It seems to them well-nigh incomprehensible. They are perhaps skeptical of some fanciful interpretations they have heard, and cannot easily accustom themselves to the book’s bizarre imagery. . . . The whole book appears at first sight to contain a chaotic profusion of weird and mysterious visions.
However, the fact is that the Book of Revelation is God’s word to his people. The opening of the book is like the opening of a play. Jesus is the ascended and glorified Christ who speaks to his servant John and tells him – and us – what he wants us to know about how to live and worship and serve in a hostile world.
In today’s lesson, the prologue of Christ’s revelation shows us that the Book of Revelation was revealed for witness, which results in blessing.
Let’s use the following outline:
1. The Nature of the Book (1:1a)
2. The Subject of the Book (1:1b)
3. The Purpose of the Book (1:1c)
4. The Writer of the Book (1:1d)
5. The Witness of the Book (1:2)
6. The Blessing of the Book (1:3)
I. The Nature of the Book (1:1a)
First, let’s look at the nature of the book.
The Book of Revelation opens with these words, “The revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:1a). The first word in the book is “revelation” (apocalypse), and a transliteration of the Greek word is “apocalypse.” The word “apocalyptic” has come to refer to violent and catastrophic events, such as natural disasters (earthquakes, floods, volcanoes) or major horrible human actions (genocide, war, holocaust). One commentator said, “In the author’s day [revelation] simply meant the removal of a cover from something hidden, and so an unveiling of that which is concealed, as when a portrait is unveiled by pulling back a curtain (or even doing the same to reveal a stage on which a drama is about to be played).”
So, the Book of Revelation is an apocalyptic book. That is, it is a book that reveals or unveils God’s truth to his people.
The Book of Revelation is also a prophetic book. Revelation 1:3a says, “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy.” It is not so much a book about fore-telling the future, although that certainly does take place in the book. It is, rather a book about forth-telling. That is, it is God’s word for his people in their own day.