Wednesday, October 2, 2013

LifeShape Prayer & Discipleship Module 4 – The Future - Block 1:Introduction to Revelation


By this time in your spiritual walk you should know that you are Born Again, that you are right with God, that you have a responsibility to serve Him and that you will live forever. Forever is a really long time … we are immortal and we will live for eternity – a life that will never, never, ever end.

The next 12 LifeShape lessons will teach us truths concerning the future and what we can expect to happen both in our lifetime on planet earth and in times beyond that time. The topics we will discuss include: Heaven; Hell; Death; the Rapture; the Tribulation; the Millennial Reign of Christ; Armageddon; the Great White Throne Judgment; and a New Heaven and New Earth, to name a few. You see:  

·       God has planned a future for you on planet earth before you die.
·       God has planned a future for you beyond earth after you die.
·       God has also planned a future for you after earth, as we know it, has vanished away.

Let’s begin to discover our future together by first taking a serious look at John’s introduction to the last book in the Bible – The Book of Revelation.

By the way, the Greek Word translated “Revelation” is where we get our common English word “Apocalypse” = The Coming; The Appearing; The Making Naked; The Laying Bare; The Disclosure; The Manifestation; The Revelation.

Key Scripture Revelation 1:1  This is a revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants the events that must soon take place. He sent an angel to present this revelation to his servant John,

Let’s pause here for just a moment to review doctrine. Although not every scholar might agree, many understand this as do I to make a clear distinction between God the Father and Jesus Christ His Son. Study of this scripture will reveal that it means just what it says at face value. Let’s look at it again with these chosen words in mind. Follow along:

“This is the revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave Him …”

What follows in the Book of Revelation is a disclosure of future events which God has made manifest, or revealed, to Jesus His Son, with a purpose in mind. The revelation is not John’s revelation but rather it is Jesus’ revelation. The Revelation is not a Revelation of Jesus but rather a Revelation to Jesus. Jesus is going to share the revelation He has been shown by His Father God with His friend and Apostle, John.

It is important to realize that in John’s time, God the Father and Jesus the Son are two separate entities, two separate beings, One in the sense of unity and purpose but two in the sense of being separated as a Father and Son. As a Son, Jesus had already revealed to His followers that He was did not know everything but was limited in knowledge according to what His Father had given Him to know. For example: When asked about his second coming Jesus replied:

Mark 13:32  "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

It is certain that at one point Jesus did not know everything the Father knew. We can easily understand this from reading the prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. However, to assume that Jesus does not now know things pertinent to His coming or does not know everything the Father knows would perhaps be a poor assumption.

Revelation 1
1 This is a revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants the events that must soon take place. He sent an angel to present this revelation to his servant John,
2  who faithfully reported everything he saw. This is his report of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Jesus sent an angel, a heavenly messenger, to present this revelation to John. The Book of Revelation is the Word of God and the Testimony of Jesus Christ.

3  God blesses the one who reads the words of this prophecy to the church, and he blesses all who listen to its message and obey what it says, for the time is near.

It is important that we understand how meticulously God has planned the future. The Book of Revelation stands to represent just how forethoughtful and just how detailed God is concerning His plans for the future. God the Father has laid out each step and has a specific timetable already set in motion for each step to be taken. The unfolding of the future is in no way a surprise to God. Not only has God already seen it, He planned it and is orchestrating each day and every event to complete His calculated outcome.

No other book gives us such comfort and blesses us so much to know God is in ultimate control of world events and even the whole interaction of every atom in the universe than does the book of Revelation. I do not claim to understand the as yet hidden mysteries of this apocalypse but I do understand its implication. God, not mere coincidence or happenstance or demonic powers or world governments … but God and God alone is in control! And He knows the future …

Verse 3 gives an added blessing to those who read and listen and follow the disclosures written in this apocalyptic book. Let’s read on with limited commentary:

4  This letter is from John to the seven churches in the province of Asia. Grace and peace to you from the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come; from the sevenfold Spirit before his throne;
5  and from Jesus Christ. He is the faithful witness to these things, the first to rise from the dead, and the ruler of all the kings of the world. All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us.
6  He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.
7  Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven.  And everyone will see him—     even those who pierced him. And all the nations of the world     will mourn for him. Yes! Amen!
8  “I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.”
10  It was the Lord’s Day, and I was worshiping in the Spirit. Suddenly, I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet blast.
11  It said, “Write in a book everything you see, and send it to the seven churches in the cities of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.”

John describes seeing Jesus wearing a long robe with eyes like flames of fire and hair white as snow. Jesus holds the Churches and the strength of their purpose firmly in His hands. I am fully convinced that the fate of the Church is completely determined by the will of God. And, God is so good as to speak directly to each need of every Church with encouraging words and a hope for the future. In every situation the Holy Spirit gives promises and speaks victory to those who overcome. John continued:

17  When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead. But he laid his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last.
18  I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.

I love the personal touch of Jesus … he laid His right hand on me. Though He is busy with so many important things, like holding up those seven stars with His right hand – He also takes time for one – each one – everyone …

Important Points
1.   God is both the beginning and the end of all creation.
2.   God has a meticulous plan for our future and every world event is subject to His timetable.
3.   John received a special message from heaven while he was worshipping on Sunday.
4.   Do not be afraid of the future – Jesus is Lord over death and the grave.

5.   Jesus has time for everyone … including you and your future.