THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT

Program Air Date - 10-15-06

LESSON TITLE: THE SEVEN CHURCHES OF ASIA: THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST THROUGH JOHN"

WELCOME

Thank you for choosing to be with us today for the Living Word program. We are excited to have you with us for this time of offering and encouragement, as we participate in the things of God. We are glad that you have joined us for this worship to our God.

Our commitment this morning is to give glory to God through the singing or songs of praise and through the study of His Word. I hope each of us will do our part to make this service acceptable in His sight. Now will you bow with me in prayer.

(Prayer)

Next week is the day! We will meet at 2:00 p.m. at the Kansas Expressway Church of Christ building in Springfield, Missouri to tape song for the use on this television program. I hope many of you have already planned to join us, but maybe today you will be willing to make that commitment. I sure hope to see many of your next Sunday for this time of offering and service to God. At this time we want to sing a comforting song about those who have secured their souls in Christ. Won't you join in with the congregation at this time, as we together sing, "Will Your Anchor Hold."

(SONG # 1)

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS

"Will Your Anchor Hold?" What a question and what a beautiful song about the solid foundation found in Jesus Christ. Now the wonderful thing about all of this is that God is there, and He is going to care for us all, as the faithful, throughout our lives. So why does God bless us! Let's consider these things for a few minutes!

Begin with me at a verse in 3 John which really shows us the great love this apostle had for the one who he wrote the letter to. In fact, in verses 1 and 2, we see that John twice refers to this brother Gaius as beloved! How encouraging this title must have been to Gaius, especially coming from a man of God like John! You might also remember back in the gospel according to John where Jesus referred to Him as the beloved apostle, 13:23.

Now if you go to verse two in 3 John, we read, "Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers." Here we see two different aspects which John addresses to His beloved brother Gaius. First, we see that John said his prayer was that Gaius would prosper in all things and be in health. What a wondrous example we have here of the care that one Christian had for another! His request of God was that his follow laborer would be blest in everything and be healthy in his service before God. The other thing which John addresses in this verse is Gaius's soul. John said his prayer was that Gaius would prosper in all things, as well as in health - just as he had already prospered in his soul. Now I don't know about you, but this is kind of scary to me. What if we prospered in this life and health according to what we are doing spiritually? Where would we be? What would we have?

But the fact is, this is true! God is going to bless us according to our service and obedience in His kingdom. That's why in Matthew 6:33, we are told to seek the kingdom first to have all things! Again in Luke 6:38, we read, "...For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you." As we give to God we will receive from Him.

Now, for John to say this to Gaius in all prayer and confidence that he would receive it - oh, what a great man in God Gaius must have been. We all need to strive to do more for God and justify our souls before Him, so that we will prosper accordingly in relationship to our health and all things!

Today we begin a new series of study from the book of Revelation! Over the next several months we will consider together, "The Seven Churches Of Asia!" This morning, our specific lesson is, "The Revelation Of Jesus Christ Through John!" So, please continue with us this morning, and after our next song together I will return with this study from God's Word. The name of our next song is, "Let Him Have His Way!"

(SONG # 2)

LESSON

Speaker: Ray Sullins

In Acts chapter 20 and verse 28, we read something here that the man, Luke, recorded for us as he speaks of those things that Paul did as he was traveling toward Jerusalem. He stops there in a place we well know as Ephesus. While in Ephesus he spoke with the elders of that city, at least the church of that city, and then as we'll notice there in verse 28 as he encourages the elders to be good shepherds and to oversee the flock, here's the statement that he makes. He says, "To oversee and to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood." Now think about that for just a moment. When we think about the church or the Ecclesia, that which is made up of the "called out," those who have left the world to follow God, we find here an institution that is not like other institutions, that has not been set up by a mere man or that has not been established by just things of the earth. We find an institution that has been bought, paid for and established on the very blood and sacrifice of Jesus Christ Himself. Now who was Jesus? Well we well know that Jesus was the son of God. He was deity in the flesh according to the book there, the gospel of John, and He walked on this earth as God and as a part of God that He might die for us and that He might as we read here "purchase the church." Now that introduces us to our new series that we will begin today about the church and we're going to look at the idea of the church from what we read there in the book of Revelation. There the idea of the seven churches that are addressed in the first three chapters by the apostle John as he speaks there the words of Christ and as he tells the church what they should do and what they should not do, how they should obey and follow God, but yet how they should repent of those things that were contrary to His Will.

I wish you would find your Bible if you don't already have it or pick up your Bible and turn to the book of Revelation. We want to begin to look there in chapter 1 to really introduce this morning this letter to the churches of Asia. If you'll notice there with me in the letter, we find the letter at least the first couple of chapters are fairly simple to understand. They seem to be very clear and straightforth, but yet the majority of the book of Revelation is written in an apocalyptic form. That means an area or a way that needs to be unveiled. In fact, the very idea of Revelation itself comes from the root of "to reveal" which means to uncover or unveil or to somehow make something known or make something clear. So as we begin to read here in just a moment, what we will find is that God desired to reveal and to unveil something, to make something known. To whom? The church. And as we continue to read here, I think we will find here exactly who was writing, who was involved in writing, and how eventually even today we are able to take advantage of this good book and learn and be identified and encouraged to obey those things of God.

Read with me then if you will in chapter 1, the book of Revelation, and verse 1. The Bible says, "The Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave Him to show His servants." Well that's not hard to understand, is it? It says (that) God, God the Father gave the revelation to who? Jesus Christ. And Jesus Christ was revealing it to who? His servants. Well, who are the servants of God? His church, the people, the people of God, the faithful, those who follow God. I want you to notice on with me what he says here in the same verse. He says there, "Things which must shortly take place and He has sent and signified it by His angel and to His servant, John." Well, this depicts something we read back earlier in the gospel of John around chapter 14. In fact, not just chapter 14 but chapter 16, where it talks about how when Jesus was about to leave the earth, He told His disciples, "I'll not orphan you. I'll not leave you. I'm going to send you something better, the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit comes, He is going to guide you in all things. He'll bring to all knowledge that you have. He'll bring to your memory all the things you even learned from Me and He'll even give you all power." Well with that in mind, we read here that it says, "The Father is revealing the Will through the Son..." Certainly that makes good sense. That's what the Bible indicates. But then also through His servant and apostle John. But notice the angel mentioned there. The pattern the Holy Spirit and now the angel that we'll see in just a moment who by vision gave John the revelation so that he might do what? We're actually going to learn later in this passage in verse 19 that he might write it for the churches to read.

Now if you'll go back to the text with me. Who was this John? Verse 2, "A man who (does what?) bore witness to the Word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ to all things that He saw and 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." Here it says a man like God. You know, I love the book of 1 john. 1 John chapter 1 is one of my favorite passages because Paul says, "Look, I'm an eyewitness. I was there. I touched. I tasted it. I heard it. I experienced it. I was with God. I was with Jesus." Here again, we read the same thing, those things that he could testify to as a witness. God revealed His Will through the Son, in the man John who was a witness of Jesus Christ. That what? That we might know the words of prophecy that we need to understand in order to be saved. Well, what an exciting passage. What an exciting passage because it tells us then what the book is all about and so we begin to read here the letter to the churches. We know that it is speaking to us as the church. It is encouraging us to know not only as we notice here what has been, but what is and what will be also according to God.

And that's where we read in verse 4 where he addresses the specific churches. The letter was to those that day, Christians. In fact, it says in verse 4, "John to the seven churches which are in Asia." More specifically in that day, Asia Minor. And these were seven primary churches in larger cities that John now writes to to encourage them in the faith. He goes on in verse 4, "Grace to you..." So he greets them and he speaks with them, those who are as he says there, "The seven spirits from before the throne," and he mentions then whom on behalf is he writing.

Verse 5 continues, "From Jesus Christ..." Who is Jesus? Well this verse says, "He is the faithful, witness, the firstborn of the dead, the ruler over the kings of the earth, and He is the one who loved us..." and there is the verse again that talks about that blood "who washed us with the blood." Now we learn something else. Not only did He purchase the church as we looked at earlier with the blood of Christ, He washes us with the blood of Christ. We are cleansed. No doubt that's why Paul in Acts 22 and verse 16 was told by Ananias to, "Rise and be baptized (why?) to wash away your sins." It is there we meet the blood of Christ. It is there that we die to the old man and it is there we become a new creature. Praise be to God that we have that opportunity and that John here makes it known to them again as those who have done it that they have that privilege through Christ. And now as those who have done that thing, they are being acknowledged and written to by God Himself.

Drop down to verse 8. Who is writing? "I," Jesus says, "am the alpha and the omega. I am the beginning and the end. I am eternal. I was in the beginning with God and was God," John 1:1. "I am the end. I will be around forever." When you come to Heaven, guess who will be there. Jesus Christ with the Father, as well as the Holy Spirit and all the faithful that have gone before. You see, Jesus is God. He goes on to say, "who is and who was and who is to come the judgment," and then He says, "the Almighty."

And then John says, "I, John," verse 9, "Your brother, your companion in tribulation..." What was the tribulation? What was the setting? What was the conditions of the day in Asia Minor? What was the conditions of John? Tribulation. Trial. Persecution. People hated the church. The Jews hated the church because it was presenting a message of Jesus Christ and was stealing away the Judaistic principles that they found in the Old Testament. It was something that was greater than what they had. And so here, John, If you'll notice in the same verse, writing from the Isle of Patmus, writing in exile, exile to an island because of his faith but yet still preaching the gospel of Christ through a vision given by Jesus penning it that the church might read it and be edified.

I want you also to notice what happens. In verse 10, he says, "I was in the Spirit." Notice the Spirit is capitalized there. The Holy Spirit. "On the Lord's Day, the Spirit of God came upon me and the voice of a trumpet..." He says, "I heard something." What did he hear? He heard the same thing as we read earlier there in verse 11. He says, "I am the alpha and the omega, the first and the last, what you see write in a book to the seven churches. John, I reveal to you, I make known to you, I unveil to you things that I want you to tell my people. Write them for my people." And then He specifically says those churches. "And write to the church at Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamus, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and also there, Laodicea." And then he turns as he hears the voice and sees something magnificent because now for the first time in all of scripture, from an earthly standpoint, we have the throne room where God the Father, the Son and really the Holy Spirit, the elders, the angels, all those who love God are right there and they're worshipping and they're praising God. What is it that John sees when he turns? "I saw seven golden lampstands." Very interesting. The seven churches, the seven golden lampstands. "And in the midst of the lampstands," he said, "I saw one like the Son of Man and He was clothed in a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band, and His head and hair were white as wool and as white as snow and His eyes were a flame of fire." And he goes on in verse 15, "His feet were like fine brass and is refined in a furnace and His voice as the sound of many waters, and He had (verse 16) in His right hand the seven stars and out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword and His countenance was like the sun shining in His strength." Jesus. God the Father. The throne room. And then he says there, "His countenance was like the sun." It was blinding no doubt.

I also love the verse there as it says the "two-edged sword." Remember there in Hebrews 4 and 12? The two-edged sword is the Word of God. Notice there also the ideas of those things that depict God, the whiteness, the white as snow concept, the purity idea.

Well certainly all these things again help us to see God in Heaven. He says, "I was there and I saw it and when I saw Him, that is God, (verse 17) I fell at His feet as dead. I prostrated myself. I humbled myself because I knew I wasn't worthy to be there before God." Then he says, "God laid His hand on me and said, 'Do not be afraid.'" Why? Well again, the very same thing. "I am the first, the last. I am He who lives and He who was dead and behold I am He who is alive forevermore, Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and death." He says, "I am Christ. And again, John, write these things" (Verse 19). "Write these things that those who come after and those who are there at the churches of Asia Minor might be able to read them and to understand my Will to them."

The last verse, verse 20, is an important verse as well because in the throne room notice that we have the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, but notice also we have Jesus Christ here being the one who touches John and says, "John, don't be afraid. I'm Jesus. I'm alive. I am God." Then as he acknowledges all of these things there in verse 20, notice where these seven lampstands again are, and then He also refers to them in a few other ways. He says, "The mystery of the seven stars which you saw on the right hand and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches." Now notice what He says here.

Notice what we read as we continue on through. Where were they? In the hand of God. The church. That which He bought with His own blood. In His very hand, these things were held. Oh God loves us. He loves me enough to hold me in His hand. He loves His church. Well sure He loves it or He wouldn't have shed His blood and died the cruel death of Calvary if He hadn't loved the church and bought the church. He holds the church and the angels for those churches in His hand. What's neat about every church as we study it, it says, "And to the angel, I write." Now he is talking in the words of God, of Christ, but to the angel and through the angel I write to the church at Ephesus. Where is that angel? In His hand. Where is that church? He says, "I am holding you in My hand and I love you and I'm going to care for you and I'm going to protect you and all you've got to do is obey." And so then God says, "Here's what you're doing great and here is what you're doing good and praise be to God, but here is what you better repent of." That's our God. He loves His children and He is going to encourage us but He is going to discipline us.

So we're going to learn some great lessons over the next several weeks from these churches of what we should do and of what we shouldn't do, what is pleasing in His sight and what really is not pleasing in the sight of God. Here again in the text as we read it, we need to understand that Jesus speaks to us directly through His servant, John, and the things He speaks through John come directly from the Father as we read in Revelation 1 and verse 1.

Are you willing as one who loves God, as one who serves in His church to open your heart, your mind, and your soul to hear these words and to be challenged, to be challenged to continue on, keep on keeping on in that which is right and in your church family? But at the same time, are you willing to accept the challenge to correct those things that are not right and to get your life right with God? Are you willing if not yet a child of God to be washed in the blood of Christ? He has offered you that. He has given you that privilege and that opportunity. Even today, you can become a child of God and be added to the church. Will you do it? Will you receive the blessings of life and will you have eternal life in Heaven with your God forever?

(SONG # 3 - "Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus!")

CLOSING COMMENTS

Again, let me thank you for choosing to be with us this morning. I hope we all have been encouraged through our time spent together. Please remember, you are invited to join us every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this service of God.

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Thanks be to God for the Revelation we have from John through His Son Jesus Christ. May we hear what the Lord says to His church and may we strive to be found faithful in His sight!

(Program closing)