April 27, 2006
Revelation 1:1, "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants- things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John."
Blessed be the God of eternity, who gives revelation to His servants, that the work of truth may be strengthened on earth, that the light may overcome the darkness, and that the glory and praise rightfully His, be laid at His feet!
By His grace, and by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we enter in to the great temple of Sovereign mysteries, that is the book of Revelation.
All that God would reveal by His Holy Spirit, the truth we must possess for our growth and maturity, in faith, in hope, in love and in knowledge, concerning the book of Revelation, is for His glory and honor.
Throughout the passage of time, this book has come to be known as the Revelation of John, however just be reading the first verse of this sacred book we see that indeed this was the Revelation of none other than Jesus Christ.
Although a revelation given to a faithful servant is not without its significance, the revelation God gave to His beloved son Jesus Christ is of greater significance still.
As we are told in Hebrews 1:1-4, "God, who at various times and in different ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sad down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they."
Indeed it is the revelation, or the revealing of Jesus Christ, as one who has conquered death, the world, and the devil himself. It is also the revelation of His glory, as King, as well as the revelation of God's judgments, the revelation of end time events, and last but not least the revelation of the final judgment and the revelation of His reward, awaiting all who remain faithful until the end.
Before we continue you may have noticed I use the term servants, rather than children of God when speaking of Revelation, and lest you think I am attempting to split hairs, let us reexamine the first verse again. There is deep truth here, that we must understand before we can proceed.
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants.
Knowing that nothing is accidental in God's word, one must wonder why this particular word was chosen, rather than children, or followers of Christ?
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, was given only for His servants, and these being few in number, it is few who truly understand it. The spiritual maturity of a servant of God is greater than the maturity of a child of God. A child, depending on his age, cannot always be sent forth to labor, but a servant is always ready to do His master's bidding, always ready to put forth the effort, always ready to labor. A child has rights in His father's house, he has expectations, but the servant has no expectations to speak of. He is ready to serve, and obey that which the Master commands.
The book of revelation was given to understanding, only for those who are ready to obey God's commands, namely His servants. If some things are hid from us, if we do not have understanding of certain scripture, we must look deep within our hearts and ask ourselves if we are truly ready to obey and fulfill without question or objection all that God would ask of us.
As servants of God, may we always stand in His grace, willing to obey, for only then will we receive the revelation of the things of God.
One other aspect of this first verse we must take note of, is that God remained consistent in the way in which He revealed these things. Throughout scripture, in most cases, whenever God wanted to reveal His word to His people, He employed the use of an angel. The angel, then came down and related the message God had for the people. Angels are ministering spirits, subject to the will and command of God.
It is tragic that in this day and age we've stopped believing that God still relates His messages by the same means He did in the past.
Hebrews 2:2-3, "For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at first began to be spoken by the Lord and was confirmed to us by those who heart Him?
God's word, as His messages to us prove their steadfastness, whether we choose to believe or not. However, if we choose not to believe, the Bible warns us that every transgression and disobedience receives their just reward. For too long we have taken the gospel lightly, have picked the verses that only appeal to us, and swept aside all the scripture that would challenge us, or compel us to change.
Though we may choose ignorance, God is not mocked. Though we may choose disobedience, there is a price to be paid for it.
Revelation 1:2, "(And he sent it and signified it by His angel to His servant John), who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ and to all things that He saw."
At this point some may be anxious for me to get to the good stuff, the seven seals, the seven churches, the beast and the Antichrist, but in truth there is not one verse in the entire Bible without relevance, not one verse that is absent of teaching upon deep contemplation.
In verse two, although for some it may seem insignificant, we see the entire body of work, which a servant of Jesus Christ must fulfill:
To bear witness to the word of God.
To bear witness to the testimony of Jesus Christ.
To bear witness to all things that we see.
Jesus Christ while on earth first and foremost fulfilled these three parts of God's work and He has left us explicit instruction that we must do the same.
A true witness of God's word, is that which Paul spoke of at length, but most poignantly in 2 Corinthians 4:2, "But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God."
Another aspect of a true witness of God's word, is to live the Word: Philippians 2:16, "We must at all cost hold fast to the word of life, that we may rejoice in the day of Christ, not having run, or labored in vain."
Only when we live the word of God, does it become truth on our lips, and in order to live it practically first and foremost we must know it. If we ignore the basic principles of the gospel, we ignore Christ Himself. It is the epidemic that is sweeping the world, one that we will be talking about later, but it seems more and more we have removed Christ from Christianity, and replaced the Bible with our own greed induced teachings of excess and opulence.
The second part of our duty as servants of God is to bear witness to the testimony of Jesus Christ.
What is the testimony of Jesus Christ?
No other scripture encapsulates the testimony of Christ so eloquently as 1 John chapter five, and by its definition we see that many churches today, shy away from bearing witness of His testimony, because it is controversial, because it stirs contempt in others, and because we may be looked upon as odd or even zealous.
1 John 5:10-12, "He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His son. And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life."
To bear witness to the testimony of Christ is to live as He lived.
1 John 2:6, "He who says he abides in Him ought himself also walk just as He walked."
The testimony of our life, the testimony of our walk, is the most powerful of all testimonies. I once read a story of a missionary who had gone to central Africa to preach the gospel, and to convert the indigenous peoples there. He was not very successful due to the fact that it was very hard for him to get his point across, and the people did not understand either the theory of salvation, or what Jesus had taught. The seed of God's word could not take root in their heart, because they did not comprehend it. Once, while the missionary was caring for a man who was deathly ill, he asked if the man would receive Jesus, by faith, to be his Lord and Savior. "I understand nothing of what you have told me about this Jesus," the man replied, "what sort of man was he?"
"Similar to me," the missionary answered.
"If he was similar to you, then I want to serve Him," the man answered, having seen the love, and dedication of the missionary.
The message and the standard set forth by Jesus must be the selfsame message and standard that His followers must fearlessly stand upon. There can be no variation in our message to the lost, because there was no variation in Christ's message to those who heard Him. He, who does not have the Son of God, does not have life.
The third and final part of our duty as servants of God is to bear witness to the things we see. Be it either the miracles of God, the revelation of God in our life, the personal experience of transformation, or the things we see in faith beyond the material, we cannot shy away from sharing that which He has done in our lives. Only faith can see the mysteries of God. Apostle Paul was taken up to the third heaven, and saw great and wonderful things, but this translation was of a spiritual nature.
The faithful is sanctified in and by faith, and is thereby able to see things which flesh can never see.
John was a vessel whose only duty was to speak what he saw, and in this he was faithful. Nothing was taken away, nothing was added to his testimony, and so it remains true and relevant to this day. Only by conveying the truth without our own opinion, without diluting it, can the fruit of blessing, the salvation of men, and the glory of God be made manifest.
We see much heresy preached from today's pulpits, much deception perpetrated upon the children of God, and though these ministries may grow in number, God is not in them. Though they may prosper, and live in opulence, they are far removed from the will of God.
Revelation 1:3, "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it for the time is near."
Revelation is the only book in the entire Bible that speaks a blessing upon those who read it. However, because it is a part of God's written word, I can say without error, that every place in Scripture, every verse, if read with contemplation, and a spirit of obedience, carries a blessing in and of itself.
Yes the book of Revelation must be read, contemplated, and obeyed like every other book of the Holy Bible, because in its entirety it is Holy. If we pick and choose only select scriptures that fit our understanding, or doctrinal beliefs we run the risk of missing out of God's blessings, and worse still being called sons of disobedience.
We must not be afraid of Revelation! Does it not by its very definition mean to unveil? Jesus urges us to read it, but for more than merely to quench the curiosity of the flesh, and to know what the future holds.
The blessing offered to us in the beginning of this verse, is not exclusive to those who read it, but those who also those who hear, and keep those things which are written.
Why Revelation, why now? Because the time is near. This is the warning for all who would hear, the time is near. Jesus spoke these words from His exalted place in heaven, at the right hand of God, and although some may scoff and say the time has been near for centuries, we must also keep in mind that God does not measure time as man measures time. In the realm of the infinite and eternal, a day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years, as a day.
2 Peter, 3:8, "But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."
He spoke the words; the time is near, knowing all that was to come. Already many of the events that were to herald the nearing of the time have come to pass. The preparation of the church, the gathering of Israel back to their own land, the advent of false Christs, the love of many growing cold, and the list goes on. If we open our eyes of faith, surely we will see the time is no longer near the time is at hand.
Revelation 1:4, "John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne."
Historically speaking, the seven churches spoken of in the book of Revelation did exist. John also knew them well enough not to go into detail of who he was, or what ministry duties he had performed, he simply introduced himself as John, knowing that they would recognize him for who he was.
However I must be quick to point out that there weren't only seven churches in Asia, but many more. It was not only for these seven local churches that John received the mandate to write the book of Revelation, but for the entire church, the whole Body of Christ, from that time to this present day.
Within these seven letters, one readily finds the spiritual condition of every church that has ever been, and every church that is. Although each of these seven churches receives a personal letter, the apostle sent the entire book to each of the seven churches in Asia.
As we well know, the number seven in God's plan is a symbolic number, signifying the number of completion, or fullness. In the book of Revelation, one comes across this number quite readily. However these seven church are representative of every church that has ever been, and that will be until the day of the Lord's return. The message is as much for us today, as it was for the churches of Asia some two thousand years ago.
Just as Paul always began his letters with a greeting, John begins his letter with a greeting as well: "Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come." The perfect greeting, seeing that as believers, we can never have too much grace or peace, from the Eternal One, the one who is, and was and is to come. Though you may have heard the idea that God is ever changing, the essence, and very name of God, contradicts this point of view. He is the same, yesterday, today and forever, and though soon the world will be shaken from its foundations, God will never change, and because grace and peace come from Him, they never change either.
Now we get to the idea of the seven Spirits, which John mentions, and throughout Christendom there has been allot of debate over this particular phrase. Just as this verse speaks of seven churches, but in reality it is one church, it speaks of seven Spirits, but in reality it is One Holy Spirit. Here however, He is not described as one Spirit, contending with one body, but as 'seven Spirits' the fullness and sanctification of His work, for the fulfillment of God's limitless will.
Ephesians 4:4-6, "There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and father of all who is above all and through all and in you all."
Throughout this entire study, we must keep in mind that the book of Revelation, uses symbolic language, one that must be understood, not simply received as dogma, lest we run the risk of being deceived.
Revelation 1:5, "And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood."
The greeting and the blessing for the seven churches, which in reality is a greeting for all of Ecclesia (the church), also comes from Christ Jesus, show here as the faithful witness. This new title speaks to us of the work that He accomplished on earth.
We would never truly understand the testimony, if we did not see it in Him, without error and without stain. Our Savior's witness, concerning all that God is in his infinite grace toward man, as well as what man must do to be pleasing in the sight of God, was complete. He was the faithful witness, from the beginning of His journey here on earth, to the final breath he took upon the cross, in the face of ridicule, and even death.
John 18:37, "Pilate therefore said to Him, "Are You a king then?" Jesus answered, 'you say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth My voice."
The true witnesses of Christ, the true witnesses of absolute truth on this earth are those, who in the face of death lift high with courage and clarity His testimony. Light testifies continually of what it is, and of its nature. Every true Christian as well, must testify of Christ, and be a witness thereof.
Another aspect of this verse, worthy of mention, is that Christ is introduced as the firstborn from the dead and the ruler over the kings of the earth. No longer is He revealed to us, as simply the Savior, or the sacrificial lamb of God, but we see Him in light of the power and authority rightly His. Jesus is the only one who bears the distinction of firstborn from the dead, having power over it, and by His obedience to the Father having obtained dominion over all the kings of the earth. We see Him not as some say, merely a prophet, or the son of a lowly carpenter, but in the fullness of His majesty and glory, as the one who has preeminence over all things.
Colossians 1:15-18, "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and the earth, visible and invisible whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church who is the beginning the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have preeminence."
Truly He is the firstborn from the dead, beyond the sphere of mortality, and all that is tethered to this earth. All other resurrections, be it Lazarus, the son of the widow woman in Nain, or the daughter of Jairus, were only temporary risings, to demonstrate God's sovereign power over death. His resurrection however, is the only one that was not followed by death again. All these eventually passed, and went into the earth once more, whether Lazarus, or the two children Christ raised from the dead. He was the firstborn from the dead, risen, over whom did death not only have any power, but who also became the genesis of resurrection for a long line of born again believers.
Ephesians 2:4-7, "But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."
The beauty of being children of God, of being redeemed by the blood of the lamb, is that even while here on earth, even in this temporal state, we know Jesus to be Master and King of all, and recognize His authority even though the world may reject Him. He will soon return, in the power and majesty rightly His.
Revelation 11:15, "Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, 'The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!"
Until that day comes, spiritually speaking He is the Master, the Lord, of all that He has made inheritors of His Kingdom, all who have freed themselves from the shackles of this earth, the bonds of sin, the ruination of death, and by grace reign in this life through righteousness in Him.
Romans 5:17, "For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ."
We are what we are due to the love, and grace of God, and the price of redemption that Jesus Christ paid in full on our behalf, on the cross. We are the fruit of His sacrifice, the most beloved in His eyes. We are made clean and pure by His shed blood, new creations, that we may forever praise His name.
Revelation 1:6, "And has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be the glory and dominion forever and ever Amen."
That which Christ has made us, He will not undo. He does not regret the gifts He has bestowed upon us, nor does he begin a work and then abandon it. He is faithful, and if man finds himself absent of the light of God, if he finds himself distant from the grace that is abundant in Him, it is not God who is at fault, but man, who by willful disobedience and sin, has distanced himself from the truth. Knowing that He has all power in heaven and on earth, we know that God has the means by which to carry us through the deepest of valleys, and the darkest of nights. One thing that He cannot do, is overrule our free will. He cannot force us to choose good, He cannot force us to choose righteousness, He cannot force us to choose life. Yes He can call to us, He can show us the way, He can reveal to us the beauty that is the knowledge of Him, but He cannot push, or pull us through that open door that leads into the kingdom of God. When we stand before Him one day, there will be no justification for our unwillingness to run to Him, for He was always there, with arms wide open, ready to receive us, renew us, and make us one of His own.
Jesus Christ has made us kings and priests unto God. When these words were written, they did not include the world as a whole, but were reserved for the Church, those who by faith in His sacrifice, were born again, and make up the Body of Christ, the holy nation, the royal priesthood.
1 Peter2: 4-5, "Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God, and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."
1 Peter 2:9-10, "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy."
Titus 2:11-14, "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts we should live soberly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works."
Though the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, we must choose to adhere to the teachings of this grace, and thereby deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, live soberly righteously and godly in this present age. This great gift is there, always ready to be received, and once received it compels us to see beyond this present life, see beyond this present world, and look for the blessed hope, and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.
Although working the works of righteousness, and resisting to bloodshed striving against sin, are separate teachings than the study of Revelation, I felt I needed to touch on this aspect of our faith and salvation in light of the fact that modern teaching presupposes that merely raising a hand in church is enough to seal your salvation for all eternity.
In order to manifest the work of Christ in our lives, we must bear the fruit of Christ, and strive for godliness in this ungodly age.
As true believers, we are clothed in Christ, the King, and great High Priest, and by being in Him, we too are made kings and priests. (Not High Priests but merely priests. A very lengthy and different teaching.)
As kings, the faithful present their Lord Jesus to this world. As priests, they present men before God, by interceding on their behalf. As kings, faithful believers must rule over their own rebellious hearts, and submit them to God. Only then can they overcome the world by faith in Christ.
1 John 5:4-5, "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world &emdash; our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?"
It is also by our faith that we overcome the wicked one, the ruler of this age.
1 John 2:13, "I write to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the wicked one. I write to you, little children because you have known the Father."
Although we overcome by our faith, we will only inherit the kingdom when we are proven faithful, when we have run the race faithfully, and having done all to stand in this life, we receive our crows in the life to come.
2 Timothy 2:12, "If we endure, we shall also reign with Him."
As we already know, Jesus is the great High Priest, and we, as believers, being in Him, are priests for God. In the Old Covenant, the priest from the lineage of Aaron, were not priests for Aaron, the high priest of his time, but priests for God. It is the same with the New Covenant. We are not priests for our High Priest, but for God, the Father, interceding on behalf of men in the name of Jesus Christ.
Revelation 5:10, "And have made us kings and priests to our God;"
In the Old Covenant, priests brought sacrifices; In the New Covenant, we too are expected to bring sacrifices:
Romans 12:1, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God which is your reasonable service."
Hebrews 13:15, "Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name."
Hebrews 13:16, "But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased."
At the same time, as priests for God, we are expected to be spiritually separated from the world of sin, and proclaim the power of our God, His truth, His justice, and His love. (1 Peter 2:9)
For all that He has done for us, the verse rightfully ends with beautiful words of recognition and praise, namely to Him be the glory and dominion forever and ever, Amen.
When the fullness of grace is poured into a faithful heart, it cannot help but erupt with praise and thankfulness toward God and His eternal faithfulness. Praise, and thankfulness are sacrifices that should never be absent from the hearts and lips of believers. This is the natural environment in which a member of the body of Christ must reside in perpetuity. Knowing all that He has done for us, knowing that we have been adopted into the family of God, and not only that, but having been made kings and priests, He is worthy of our unceasing praise.
Not only should glory and dominion be His forever, but His glory and dominion must be clearly visible in me, and my life, on a daily basis. In order for this to be a reality, I must be diligent in daily keeping my old self, the flesh, nailed to the cross. I must see all that surrounds me, with spiritual eyes, and have spiritual understanding, for to be spiritually minded, is life and peace.
Romans 8:5-9, "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the spirit of Christ, he is not His."
Galatians 5:24-25, "And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit."
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.