Monday, June 27, 2011

Revelation 2 "The things which are"

The key to understanding the book of Revelation was given to us in chapter one. John was told by Christ to write the things which he had seen while on the isle of Patmos. This includes the vision of the glorified Christ and the vision of the seven golden candlesticks. He was then told to write the things which are. This section is found in chapters 2 and 3. Later he will write the things which will be “hereafter.” We will discuss this soon.

In chapters 2 and 3 we are introduced to seven churches. Chapters 2 and 3 contain seven literal letters written to seven real churches. While the things said about each church speak of the characteristic of that church, the same things are characteristic of many churches in our day today.

It is worthy to note that these two chapters are placed in between two visions. In chapter one, we have the vision of the glorified Christ, and in chapter four, we have the vision of the four and twenty elders gathered around the throne in heaven. The vision of chapter four is a vision of the glorified church with the Lord after it has been “caught out” or “raptured” out of this world.

This tells us that the things contained in chapters two and three must be the second division of the book containing the things, which are. This must be some sort of prophetic history of the church from the time of Christ to the time of the end. If this were not true then we are left with no prophetic view of the church during that period. We will watch as the church disappears from the earth at the end of chapter three and does not reappear until chapter nineteen. At this time the Lord returns to the earth with His saints on white horses.

I have mentioned these churches are mentioned in a particular order for a reason. They will represent seven church ages, up to the coming of Christ. These were not the only churches in Asia, or even in Asia Minor. These churches were chosen and placed in a particular order by the Lord for a reason.

Let me lastly say that just because one church period ends that does not mean that all the characteristics of that church go away. Many of these characteristics will be seen until the coming of Christ.


The Church of Ephesus is the first church mentioned by our Lord. The Ephesus church period extends from 33 A. D until 100 A. D.

This was a church that started out right. Here the Lord begins to warn this church. This church began as a pure church as we can see in the book of Acts. I believe that had Paul decided to pastor, he would have stayed at Ephesus. The writer John was the current pastor of this church.

Remember that Paul warned this church about those who would enter into the church as ravening wolves upon their last meeting.

"For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of you own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them."  Acts 20:29-30

We see that this church did an outstanding job fighting off these wolves at first, but little by little this faded away as they began to lose their first love. This is even seen in their name. The word Ephesus means to “let go” or to “relax.”

I believe that one of the reasons that this church fell as they did was because they were too busy serving and had no time to spend in fellowship with the Lord.

It is possible for you to become too busy doing things for the Lord. You will remember when Martha was upset with her sister Mary for not serving. Jesus told her that Mary had chosen the good part. She was spending time in fellowship with Christ.

This is true of many today. When they were first saved they loved Christ with all of their heart. They wanted to have sweet fellowship and spend as much time with Him as possible. But somewhere along the way they lost their first love. Because of this they are called on to repent.


This church age probably extends from 100 A. D. to 312 A. D.  More than likely this church suffered more persecution than any other church in history. This church took a stand for the Lord and as a result they suffered persecution. The name Smyrna means “bitterness.” Smyrna gets its name from the root word “Myrrh” with was an ointment associated with death. A result of this persecution was poverty. We are told however that although this church was suffering from persecution they were rich in the Lord.

History teaches us that the Smyrna church was so dedicated to the Lord that they brought the gospel to the entire Roman Empire. As a result the Roman persecuted these people for the stand they took. One of the so called sporting events that were so popular in the Roman Empire was to make prisoners fight for their life in arenas. They would fight each other as well as wild animals. It seems hard to believe but in the second and third centuries they feed the members of the church to lions at Rome while multitudes cheered. It is estimated that over five million were killed during this time.

One of the biggest problems this church faced was from those inside the church that proclaimed to know Christ, but in reality was of the synagogue of Satan. Because of these false brethren this church suffered persecution from without and within. Today we do not suffer much on the outside but we are suffering within. We have to contend with those that say they are Christian but are not. Those like the JW's, the Mormon’s, the Muslims and the like. There are many today hurting the case of Christ from within.


The Pergamos church age extended from A. D. 312 until A. D. 606. This age was one of materialism. They were very concerned about satisfying their own lusts. Because of this self-serving attitude the Pergamos church period was one of the most wicked times in history.

The root word for the name Pergamos is the same word from where we get the words "Bigamy and Polygamy."  Pergamos signifies a mixed marriage between the church and the world. This happed because the Babylonian religion established its religion in Pergamos.
History tells us that when Attalus III, the priest king of the Chaldeans fled before the Persians to Pergamos and it was at this point that Satan moved his seat from Babylon to Pergamos.  At first he persecuted the Christians, which is why Antipas was killed. Soon however he began to exalt the church and eventually united the church and state. This allowed worldly people to come into the church. As a result this was the place where Satan's seat was or literally Satan's throne. They were on the doorstep of Satan's headquarters. They became part of Satan’s ways.

They became accepting to false doctrine, namely the doctrine of Balaam. The doctrine of Balaam was to eat things sacrificed to idols and commit fornication. Balaam was hired by Balak to curse the children of Israel.


Up to this point all churches have received praise for their works. Thyatira however was loaded with good works. Christ names many things that this church had done. In fact Christ mentions this churches works twice saying the last works were greater than the first works. This means that this church really outdid itself. In the midst of all the good this church had done there were still some problems that needed to be addressed.

Thyatira covered the space of history between A. D. 606 until A. D. 1520. Many believe that this church is still in the world today and will continue to be until the day the Lord destroys it in Revelation 17.

God gave this church ample opportunity to repent, but it would not. This is not uncommon today. Many times people or churches will get caught up in sin. God will give them the opportunity to repent but they refuse.

This system is clearly seen in the papal church during the times before and leading up to the reformation. This church can still be seen in our world today.

In Revelation 17 we are told that the church that sits upon seven hills will be destroyed. This church is the revived Roman church which will hold these papal values. We will talk more about this later. We should learn the lesson however that God hates sin and sin will be judged.

In my next blog we will pick up with chapter three and see the last three churches mentioned.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Revelation of Jesus Christ

This past week I began teaching through the book of Revelation again. The study of Revelation is one of my favorite studies, but one of the most difficult as well. I enjoy this book so much that I used the study of Revelation when writing my thesis when receiving my doctorate. Most people are intrigued with the event relating to the future, but at the same time they do not understand much of what they read in the books of Revelation and Daniel.

I may try to blog through this book the best I can over the next several months. Beginning this coming Sunday you will also have the ability to watch to these lessons by clicking on . 

In this blog I would like to give you a few tips to remember when studying this book as well as a brief run down of the chapter.

In Mark 13 the disciples came to Jesus and asked Him when the things that He prophesied against Israel would come to pass. In verse 32 Jesus answered the disciples and said, “but of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in Heaven, neither the Son, but the Father only.” It seems that when Jesus came to this earth as a man He forfeited certain information. Some have a hard time believing this, but when you consider the verse mentioned along with verses like Luke 2:40 you will have to agree this is true.

Knowledge about these end time events must have been some of the information He did not have. After His resurrection Jesus received from His Father the information that the disciples asked Him for. Before the close of the first century, while at least one of the disciples were still living, Jesus appears to John and reveals to him the information asked for many years before. This information is recorded in the book of the Revelation.

Points to consider

This is a prophetic book, not a historical book. This book does not record the past, but the future. This book is the summary and fulfillment of all prophecy left unfulfilled. There has been no new revelation since this one. Any person who claims to have a “new revelation” is in danger of the plagues promised in chapter 22.

This is the only book in the Bible to begin with a blessing and end with a curse. God promises a blessing to anyone who reads or hears the writings of this book. God also promises a curse to anyone who dares take away from, or add to the writings of this book.

This is a symbolic book. In the first verse we are told that an angel signified these things to John. The main word of signified is “sign”. This is a book of signs and symbols.

This book is not only symbolic but it is literal as well. This is where most get confused when reading or studying Revelation. This book should be taken literally whenever possible. Most things in this book are self-explanatory.

This book is given in consecutive order. The main events are as follows, seven seal judgments, seven trumpet judgments and seven vial judgments. Some claim that these three groups of seven are the same judgments repeated from three different viewpoints. This is not true. These are seven unique judgments that God will release upon the earth.

Tips for study

Do not seek to find hidden meaning to the words of the scripture. Be satisfied with the explanation that God gives to us and do not try to add something to it. For example all of us have read the emails that take a person’s name and transform the letters in their name to come up with the number “666”. I can’t tell you how many emails I have gotten trying to convince me that Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, George Bush and now Barak Obama is the antichrist.

Next you need to forget the idea that prophecy can only be understood after it is fulfilled. If this is true then prophecy has failed at its job. Why tell someone in advance what is going to happen if they are going to be unable to understand? That makes no sense. All true prophecy is clear in itself.

Lastly do not interpret God’s own interpretation of any symbol or prophecy, or change God’s meaning from what is plainly clear. If God clearly tells you what something is, looks like, or does, do not try to change it to mean something else.

Chapter One

In this chapter we are introduced to the main character of the book. The main character is Jesus Christ. It has always bugged me that most bibles will place a chapter heading over this chapter that reads “the revelation of saint John the divine.” This is not the revelation of John, but the revelation of Jesus Christ according to verse one.

Let me also say that this is not the book of “Revelations” as so many refer to it as. This is the book of the “Revelation”. This is a singular word. This book is not filled with many revelations, but it is one revelation. The word “revelation” means to unveil. It is like an artist removing a cloth that covers a statue so to unveil it.

In chapter one Jesus is seen by John in His glorified state. Jesus no longer is the humble carpenter walking along the Sea of Galilee. He is the risen, soon coming, and king of glory. When John sees the resurrected Christ he is so shocked and humbled that he falls at His feet like a dead man. Understand that John is a man that walked and talked with Christ while upon this earth. John had ate with Him, saw Him do miracles, watched as he was transformed, even laid his head upon Him.

As he does this the Lord tells him to fear not. This is the same message that Christ is sending today. I do not believe that Christ wants us to live in fear. What are we to fear? If Christ be for us who can be against us? Why be fearful of death? Why be fearful of hell? Christ holds the keys for both. Christ controls death and controls hell, so why fear, why not simply rest in Him?

Lastly we are given the key, or order to this wonderful book.

The things which thou HAST SEEN – This is described in chapter one. This is the revelation and appearance of the glorified Christ.

The things which ARE – These are the things wrote to the seven churches in chapters 2 and 3.

The things which SHALL BE HEREAFTER – These are the things that shall take place once the dispensation of the seven churches is finished. This is the future of the world described in chapters 6 and following.

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

A parents lesson

This week was a pretty big one for our family. Our oldest daughter turned eleven Wednesday. It seems so hard to believe that it was eleven years ago that God blessed us with a healthy baby girl. Those eleven years have flown by. I was looking over these past eleven years in my mind while driving to work. Over these years I’ve learned a lot about myself and about God.

(Picture of my girls holding hands in Wal-Mart)

You may ask, “How have you learned about God by becoming a dad?” I personally believe that we can learn more about God by everything in life. Having a child teaches you a lot however, about the love that God shows us as our Heavenly Father. I thought I’d share some of these things with you.

I have learned that the love of a parent is not affected by circumstances. Raising two children hasn’t been the easiest thing my wife and I have done. (I’m afraid that it could get harder considering the teenage years are coming.) My children have not gotten into a lot of trouble, but they for sure have done things that I wish they would not have done. They have done things that I have told them not to do. In spite of this I have not stopped loving them. I’m sure that they could do things that would break my heart, but I don’t think they could do anything to make me stop loving them.

This reminds me of the love of Christ. I would love to say that I have never done anything to disappoint God, but I would be lying. In fact I’ve done things that I know I should not have done. Does this change the fact that God loves me? Absolutely not! Paul assures us in Romans 8 that nothing is able to separate us from the love of God. God’s love is the love of a parent who cares at all times and in all circumstances.

I have learned that being a parent requires a lot of patience. (Read the paragraphs above.) Sometimes it takes more patience than I have. Thinking of this makes me glad that God is a patient God. Wow, I’m sure glad that God does not “fly off the handle”, as we like to say here in the south, but rather is long suffering toward us. God is even long suffering to those that are not his children. God displays his mercy and kindness to those who reject Him. Jesus died for the entire world, but knew that the entire world not accept Him.

I have learned that parents know more than the kids think they do. Remember when you were younger and how you thought you had all of the answers. So many times we wouldn’t understand why our parents would give us certain rules, or make us do certain things. What we learned as we grew up is that our parents did this because they knew better than we did what was best for us.

God does this for us all the time. We don’t understand why God won’t give us something we have been asking for. Maybe God knows that it will be harmful for us. We don’t understand when God brings certain circumstances in our life, but God knows that through the trial we will be strengthened and become a better Christians.

The last thing I will mention is that I have learned responsibility. I have always found the story of Enoch an interesting one. We all know that Enoch walked with God and that he did not see death because God simply took him. What most don’t realize is that the birth of Enoch’s first child was instrumental in this walk. The book of Genesis tells us that Enoch walked with God after he “begot Methuselah”. I can see Enoch looking down into the eyes of his new baby and realizing that he needed God in his life.

I believe if being a parent doesn’t teach us anything else, it should teach us our need for God. We that are parents or grandparents must walk in the footsteps of God, because we have little feet following us.

Next time you look at your children remember that God sees you as one of His children.