Category Archives: Revelation (Book of)

What Did John See?

Revelation 1:1-20. The Book of Revelation shows us that Jesus is at the center of everything. We can’t have a proper view of the world, or of the church, until we have a clear view of Him (Rev 1:1, 4, 11). When we finally do see Him clearly, the pressure to conform to the ever-fluctuating standards of this world will be released.

I. JESUS REVEALED: PURPOSE

A. To brace the church against persecution (Rev 2:10)
B. To warn the church of false teaching (Rev 2:14–16)
C. To threaten the impenitent with rejection (Rev 2:20–21)

II. JESUS REVEALED: POWER

A. Faithful Witness (Rev 1:5; John 18:37; 1 Tim 6:13)
B. Firstborn of the dead (Rev 1:5, 18; Matt 27; Heb 7:15-16)
C. Ruler of the kings of the earth (Rev 1:5; 19:11–16; Matt 28:18)
D. Awe and Fear inspiring (Rev 1:12-16)

III. JESUS REVEALED: APPLICATION

A. Appreciate what HE has done (Rev 1:5-6)
B. Appreciate what HE will do (Rev 1:7–8)
C. Appreciate what HE wants to do (Rev 1:17; Matt 11:28-30)

This image of the Lord should make us consider how we are living.
He comforts us, but He evaluate us too (Rev 20).
Are you in His Kingdom?

Church Reviews

Do you want to try a new barber, mechanic, or dry cleaner?  How about a florist, dentist, or sandwich shop?  Whatever you’re looking for – you can find user reviews for it online.  In years past critical reviews were the work of journalists who spoke mostly about movies and upscale restaurants.  Nowadays online user reviews are what most people turn to for a wide sampling of opinions on just about any sort of business there is.  Such is life in a networked, consumer society. Everyone is always comparison shopping in their quest to be pleased.  In such a climate it was only inevitable that people would start giving online reviews of churches.  Not only can you read church reviews now on places like Google and Yelp, there is even a website just for reviewing churches called churchrater.com.  In giving these reviews church shoppers reveal just what is important to them in a church.

Here are some examples:

  • “I am quite impressed that this church lacks all the pressure and preaching tactics of traditional churches. Very relaxed atmosphere. Car show on father’s day.”
  • “It’s such a cool place to be a part of, they allow you to be anonymous as long as you wish. Valet parking!”
  • “They wear jeans. The pastor tells funny stories. I like the edgy praise music. Great coffee.”
  • “The most appealing to us is the childcare.”
  • “It’s like watching a concert with neat lighting effects.”
  • “After visiting we received a letter in the mail from the pastor with a $5 gas gift card for us to come back to visit them again.”

What a sad commentary these reviews make on the consumer mentality that dominates many modern day church goers. However, the act of reviewing churches isn’t a false [or new] practice.  It is indeed quite important to review, or, to use a better term, evaluate a church.  At issue are the standards of judgment.  At issue is the disposition of the reviewer.

To learn how to soundly assess a church we need to turn to the book of Revelation where Jesus evaluates seven churches.  In Jesus’ “reviews” he shows us what is truly important.  His review of the church in Ephesus emphasizes love, works, and endurance. He also expresses the necessity for the church to correctly discern sound teaching from false and to reject false teachers (Rev 2:1-6).  In his review of the church in Pergamum Jesus speaks of the importance of faithfulness to the Lord’s name, which requires faithfulness to his gospel (Rev 2:13).  Jesus also speaks again of the importance of discerning true teaching from false (Rev 2:14).  When looking at the church in Thyatira Jesus speaks of faith, love, works, and service.  At the same time he condemns those who tolerated false teaching (Rev 2:18-23).  The church at Sardis seems to be a church that received a lot of positive comments from people as Jesus notes its good reputation.  However, Jesus finds the church lacking because of their incomplete works (Rev 3:1-3).  As for the church in Philadelphia, Jesus gives them a glowing review because they had been faithful to keep his word (Rev 3:8).

What we find in Jesus’ evaluations of the churches is a focus on truth, faithfulness, love, and works.  What we don’t find is any mention of childcare, gift cards, lighting effects or a casual atmosphere.  Perhaps however, it’s all too easy for us to point out the sorts of things that unstudied people outside the Lord’s body consider important when visiting denominational churches.  Could it be that sometimes we are also tempted to think like fussy shoppers and place a too much emphasis on matters of preference and convenience?  Granted, things such as good parking and comfortable pews have some importance, but their importance is secondary.  Do we ever get so caught up in being pleased by such secondary matters that we fail to give proper attention to what truly matters to the Lord?  Furthermore, are we ever tempted to try to appeal to visitors on the basis of things that are of no meaning to God?  How easy it is for us to slip into the mindset of our society!

Most online reviews these days use the star system where reviewers give a business or a church between one and five stars.  Jesus also uses stars in his reviews, but it’s only one star, the morning star (Rev 2:28).  This is the only star that matters.  If we would seek this star rather than the stars of the world we must keep our focus on what the Lord addresses in his evaluation of the churches.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches (Rev 2:29).

By Derek Chambers

“There Is No Longer Any Sea” (Revelation 21:1-8)

The ushering in of the new heaven & the new earth does not come with a sea as we are accustomed to seeing in the present time.  What does that disappearing sea depict?

I.    Sea of Separation
A.    Seas separate land & people (Rev 1:9)
B.    Symbolic seas: governments, misunderstandings, bitterness, jealousy & suspicion
1.    Removed by the gospel (Gal 3:27-28)
2.    Recreated by sin  (James 4:1-4)
3.    Unseen in Heaven (Rev 3:12; 21:3)

II.    Sea of Mystery
A.    Seas present unanswered questions (Deut 29:29).
B.    Symbolic seas: science, knowledge, future of nations & families
1.    God’s purpose revealed (Eph 3:1-6)
2.    God’s people revealed (1 John 3:2; Rev 22:3-4)

III.    Sea of Unrest
A.    Seas are in constant motion (Psa 107:25, 29; Jude 1:13)
B.    Symbolic seas: instability of the human race
1.    Cause by the wicked (Isa 57:20-21)
2.    Affected the church (Rev 13:1)
3.    Unknown in Heaven (Heb 13:12-14; 4:9-10; Rev 14:13; Job 3:17)

IV.    Sea of Danger & Death
A.    Seas were feared & dreaded by ancient people (Mark 4:35-41; Acts 27:14-20)
B.    Symbolic seas: sickness, disease, death, sin
1.    At the Judgment (Rev 20:12-15)
2.    By living in sin  (Eph 2:1-2)
3.    By returning to sin (Heb 10:39; 2 Pet 2:22)
4.    By shipwrecking faith (1 Tim 1:18-20)
5.    No more in Heaven (Rev 21:4)

In Christ, you may look forward to the day when there is no more sea.