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Revelation Lesson 01 - The Ol' Time Revelation

Revelation Lesson 01 - The Ol' Time Revelation

Series: Revelation
Ref: Revelation 1:1–3

In this message Stephen reminds us that our hope and expectation far exceed any earthly pressure. We are awaiting the promised return of Christ who will one day receive us in the clouds and take us home to heaven with Him. This is an old-time revelation . . . but it is one that never gets old!

Transcript

The Ole’ Time Revelation

Revelation 1:1-3

Rhonda Byrne is the author of the wildly popular book entitled The Secret.  It uncovers what she says she stumbled onto at the end of 2004.  At the time, everything in Rhonda's life had fallen apart—physically, emotionally and financially—and she was in “total despair.”  Her father had died suddenly and she was worried about her grief-stricken mother.  She said, “I wept and wept and wept.”

That's when Rhonda's daughter gave her a copy of The Science of Getting Rich, a book written in 1910 by Wallace D. Wattles. “Something inside of me had me turn the pages one by one, and I can still remember my tears hitting the pages as I was reading it,” Rhonda says. “It gave me a glimpse of The Secret. It was like a flame inside of my heart. And with every day since, it's just become a raging fire of wanting to share all of this with the world.”

She claims to have spent hours tracing the concept of The Secret through history—all the way from 3500 B.C. to the present day.  She says, “Since I discovered The Secret, every single moment of my entire life has changed, and I am living my life for the first time.”

So, what’s the secret?  The Secret is the law of attraction, which is the principle that “like attracts like.”  She calls it “the most powerful law in the universe that never stops working.  She goes on to explain, “What we do is we attract into our lives the things we want, and that is based on what we're thinking and feeling . . . this principle explains that we create our own circumstances our own thoughts—which means our thoughts are the most powerful things we have here on earth.”

The truth about the secret is that you do not choose to follow God; you choose to recognize that you are God.  You are divine.  You are sovereign.

“Eve, I have a secret . . . eat this fruit and you shall be as God.”

IT doesn’t really surprise me that this kind of thinking has the world deceived.  What surprises me is that this is the same corrupt, self-deceived concept within the prosperity movement of the church whose false teachers have repackaged this age old lie into supposed revelation from God.

These false teachers are leading people into a mis-guided, self-centered belief system that corresponds to the lie of the enemy that people are really gods and whatever they say has the power to create reality.  That’s the secret you need to learn – you’re really a god and you can create with you words and thoughts – whatever you want.

Let me quote a couple of leading spokesman:

Creflo Dollar said this recently, “Everything produces after its own kind.  Horses get horses and dogs get dogs and Gods produced gods!  Ya'll didn't hear that.  Horses produce horses and dogs produce dogs and Gods produced gods!  And then God produced more gods with flesh and then gods with flesh produced more gods with flesh.  And then gods with flesh produced more gods with flesh until THE God of gods with flesh showed up one day with flesh and dwelt among the other gods with flesh to demonstrate to the other gods how to have authority over the flesh . . . this is the history the religious church wants to hide away from you so you don't know who you really are!"

Posted on Forgotten Ministries, Creflo Dollar, "The Creative Ability of Words," Tape from his ministry, Product Number: 8432091

In other words, this is the secret the church has kept away from you – you are a little god in the flesh, created by The God and you have the same power He has to create your own destiny and reality.

Another false teacher by the name of Kenneth Copeland has taught for years this same concept.  He said some time ago, “You can have whatever you say!  In fact, what you are saying is exactly what you are getting now.  If you are living in poverty, change what you are saying.  It will change what you have . . . discipline everything you do, everything you say . . . God will be obligated to meet your needs.”

D. R. McConnell, A Different Gospel, page 172.  Ken Copeland, "The Laws of Prosperity," page 98, 101

Speak it into existence.  You have the power of God to create your own reality.

I was frankly amazed as literally millions of people purchased the Prayer of Jabez.  Now you think l’ve gone to meddling!  I don’t think the author of that little book is a false teacher, by the way – he can’t be, he graduated from the same seminary I did.

But whether he intended it or not, people were swept up in that natural instinct to find some secret.  This became some special set of words that are guaranteed to work; the subtle implication that praying that prayer – speaking those same words – would bring us what we want.

Ladies and Gentlemen, there is no incantation . . . there is no special prayer that guarantees what you will . . . there is no secret that will heal your diseases, bring global peace, put money in your bank account and a new car in your garage . . . or maybe at least 1 car that works.

What’s tragic to me is that the church often softens the soil in people’s hearts to receive false doctrine.

False doctrine like “A Course in Miracles” – a book that is continuing to gain more and more of a following. 

A Course in Miracles is a book written by Helen Shucman, a professor at Columbia University who claimed that an inner voice began telling her that she was going to receive a course in miracles and to write it down.  The voice claimed to be Jesus.  For 7 years she wrote down what she heard.

And what is the key concept of this miracle teaching?  Everyone is divine – and by the way, there is no sin and no devil either.

Shucman’s book went relatively unnoticed until Marianne Williamson wrote a book called, “A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of a Course in Miracles.” 

When Marianne Williamson appeared on Oprah Winfrey show, Winfrey praised her book and told her viewers that she had already purchased 1,000 copies to give to all her friends and staff.  The book took off and remained at the top of the New York Times bestseller list for months.  The new gospel was now mainstream.  Jesus is now being quoted in this best selling material.

Here are some quotes from Jesus:

“A slain Christ has no meaning.”

“The journey to the cross is a useless journey.”

“The name of Jesus Christ is a symbol used for the many names of all the gods to which you pray”

“the recognition of God is the recognition of yourself.”

Quotes from the Course in Miracles Workbook, by Warren Smith: reinventingjesuschrist.com,

Sounds like the tempter all over again doesn’t it?  All these false teachers hold out the same lie – ultimately you are divine – you can act like God because you are God – you can control your body and your bank account with your own wishes – you can speak your destiny.

Eat this Eve . . . and you shall be as wise as God.

Now, according to what I read this past week, beginning January 1st, 2008, Oprah begin offering on her XM Satellite Radio program the New Age teaching called, “A Course in Miracles.”  One lesson a day throughout the year will be taught by Marianne Williamson and completely cover the 365 lessons from the Course in Miracles workbook. 

For those who tune into Winfrey’s program, lesson number 29 will have you affirming “God is in everything I see.”  Lesson #61 will have you repeat, “I am the light of the world.” And Lesson #70 will take you even further by having you affirm, “My salvation comes from me.”

Warren Smith in his expose of this false teaching in his book, “Reinventing Jesus Christ”, mentioned how so many authors and religious leaders and public figures are embracing The Course in Miracles, believing that its principles will bring in a period of global unity. 

Above quotes regarding Course in Miracles adapted from Warren Smith, Reinventing Jesus Christ: The New Gospel (Conscience Press, 2002) & Warren’s website, reinventingjesuschrist.com

What I found interesting is that along with this new era of supposed world peace brought about by the recognition that everybody is basically god, the God of the Bible is done away with . . . Jesus, in his revelation to Helen Shucman basically did  away with Jesus Christ in the Bible.

And that is the Devil’s point – that is the highest aim of deception – to rid mankind of Christ; to rob Christ of worship.

This goal is clearly revealed in the writing of another proponent of the Course in Miracles by the name of Neale Walsch.  He wrote a book several years ago entitled, The New Revelations.  Note that – The New Revelations.  In this book he wrote these words, ‘The era of the Single Savior is over.”

Neale Donald Walsch, The New Revelations: A Conversation with God (Atria Books, 2002), p. 157

This is not new revelation?  This is an old lie!

Ladies and Gentlemen, you are not God.  I hate to pop your bubble.  You and I are sinners in need of our Single Savior!

What a time – what a time in our world for us a church family to begin learning together – not new revelation, but the old revelation.

I don’t wanna discover the power of my words, I wanna know the power of His words.

You don’t need a revelation from Stephen Davey – your car might not even start tomorrow morning. 

You and I need a revelation of and through and by and about Jesus Christ – who was and is and always shall be the singular Savior.

We need to return to the old revelation of God’s word. 

So would you take your Bibles – you never thought you’d ever hear me say this – turn to the Book of Revelation.

Revelation chapter 1 and the very first five words say, read them aloud with me, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, don’t ever forget . . . as you scramble through these pages looking at signs and bowls and trumpets and resurrections and judgments and wars and visions –

  • This Book is at its highest point a revelation of Christ. 
  • It has as its grandest theme – the person Jesus Christ. 
  • It uncovers as its greatest treasure – the supremacy of Jesus Christ. 
  • It builds upon its most profound thesis – the sovereignty of Jesus Christ.

Above everything, this is the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Is this phrase to be interpreted as a subjective or objective genitive?  Subjective – meaning this is revelation that comes from Jesus Christ – that He is the one revealing; or Objective – that Christ is the One being revealed; that this revelation is about Jesus Christ.

It can be interpreted either way – for they are both true.  Jesus Christ is both the source of revelation and the grand subject revealed.

Adapted from Robert L. Thomas, Revelation1-7 (Moody Press, 2002), p. 51.

 

This revelation is from and about our sovereign Lord.

With this in mind I have generally outlined this Book with Christ in every major point of reference.

Four major headings to our study through the Book of Revelation which will take several weeks, I’m sure. 

Now, January of last year I told you that I would teach through the Book of Job in one year.  That promise came true didn’t it.  I make no promise concerning this study.

In fact, we might not even finish it before the rapture takes place.  For those of you who don’t believe in the rapture, you can finish it up on your own.

First – the sovereignty of Christ in His Church.

Second – the severity of Christ in His Chastisement.

Third – the superiority of Christ in His Coming.

And Fourth – the supremacy of Christ in His New Creation

 

As this Revelation opens – now 2,000 years old, it answers without pulling any punches, 6 basic questions.

  1. What is true revelation?

The answer if found in the meaning of the word.  Revelation is the transliteration of the Greek word, apokalupsis – which means to unveil; to uncover that which was previously hidden.

Fritz Rienecker/Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament (Regency, 1980), p. 811 &

Isn’t it ironic that the Book of the Bible that means revealed and open is considered by many Christians to be the most mysterious and closed books of all.

But this book isn’t called, “The Mystery of Jesus Christ”, or “The Puzzle of Jesus Christ,” but literally the “Unveiling of Jesus Christ . . . The Open Book of Jesus Christ.” 

Adapted from Donald Grey Barnhouse, Revelation: God’s Last Word (Zondervan, 1971), p. 15

Yet many fear to open it up and read.

Without a doubt, the greatest obstacle in understanding the Book of Revelation is the approach one takes.

There are four primary approaches to this revelation – and a number of off-shoots I won’t even mention.

First, there is the Preterist approach. 

This approach says that Revelation is simply a history book.  This view believes that, with few exceptions, the events in the Book of Revelation have already taken place.  As a result they have to spiritualize the fall of Temple in A.D. 70 as the time when Christ returned.  Trouble is Christ didn’t even appear.   In addition, they leave no room to interpret a literal fulfillment of the seals and trumpets and bowl judgments.  It’s interesting that they seem to overlook the clear declaration of the first verses and the last verses of Revelation which clearly state that this is a book of prophecy – not history. 

One author said that the preterist builds a firm pedestal but has no sculpture to place upon it when he’s finished.

The second approach to interpreting Revelation is the Historicist approach. 

They believe that all the prophecies have been fulfilled sometime during the past 2,000 years.  This approach is interesting for sure, since they have to find historical connections to things and events which requires a very good imagination.  They see the locusts referring to monks and friars.  They see Muhammad as the fallen star and Alaric the Goth as the first trumpet; Elizabeth I as the first bowl, Marin Luther as the angel of Sardis, Adolf Hitler as the red horse.  Etc. etc.

Edward Hindson, Revelation: Unlocking the Future (AMG Publishers, 2002), p. 14

The third approach is the Idealist Approach which basically says that Revelation is a set of ideal principles related to the struggle between good and evil.  It allegorizes the entire book as a spiritual conflict and says that none of it relates to literal events in history or in the future.  The tribulation is simply one’s internal conflict with sin and pain; the return of Christ takes place in one’s own heart and mind.

Ibid

The fourth approach is one that takes the Book of Revelation at face value.  It’s called the Futurist approach.  

This view understands Revelation as a prophetic account of actual future events, specifically focused on the end of this age.

One author commented that this is simply the natural result of a straightforward reading of the book while the other three approaches are often forced to resort to allegorizing or spiritualizing the text to sustain their interpretations.

John MacArthur, Because the Time is Near (Moody, 2007), p. 14

We interpret the prophets literally – we take them at face value.  It should be no surprise then to do the same with the Book of Revelation.  Half of the book of Revelation is actually references to the Old Testament. 

What has been concealed is now revealed!  Several commentators mentioned that 278 of the 404 verses in Revelation are a reference to something already referenced in the Old Testament.

Wilmington’s survey of Revelation cataloged them all.  I wouldn’t want his job, but I’m glad he did it. 

In his work he catalogued:

13 references to Genesis texts in the Book of Revelation

27 references to truth first revealed in Exodus

4 from Leviticus

3 from Numbers

10 from Deuteronomy

1 apiece from Joshua, Judges and 2 Samuel

6 from I Kings

1 from both I Chronicles and Nehemiah

43 from Psalms

2 from Proverbs

79 from Isaiah

22 from Jeremiah

43 from Ezekiel

53 from Daniel

2 from Hosea

8 from Joel 

9 from Amos

1 from Habakkuk

2 from Zephaniah

15 from Zechariah and

1 from Malachi

Harold Willmington, Willmington’s Guide to the Bible (Tyndale, 1988), p. 538

Half the problem for the interpreter is solved if he will interpret the Old Testament literally – taking it at face value.

The first question is, “What is the Book of Revelation?”

It is the last word of prophecy.  It is the capstone of prophetic revelation.

  1. The second question is what’s it about?

John writes in the first few words, Jesus Christ.

It is the revelation by Him, but most importantly of Him.

We will discover in this Book who He is and what He says and what He does.

This is the old Revelation to which we must return.

  • He is Jesus Christ (1:1)
  • He is the ruler of the kings of the earth (1:5)
  • He is the First and the Last (2:8)

This is Isaiah’s title for

Jehovah, the King of Israel

  • now applied to Jesus Christ
  • He is the Son of God (2:18)
  • He is the one who searches the minds and hearts (2:23)
  • He is the One who has the keys of David (3:7)
  • He is the One who opens the door that no one can shut (3:7)
  • He is the Amen (3:14)
  • He is the faithful and true Witness (3:14)
  • He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah in chapter (5:5)
  • He is the Root of David (5:5)
  • He is the true One (6:10)
  • He is the Holy One (6:10)
  • He is the Lord (11:8)
  • He is the Christ (11:15)
  • He is the Lamb (12:11)
  • He is the King (15:3)
  • He is the Lord of Lords and King of Kings (19:16)
  • He is the Word of God (19:13)
  • He is the Alpha and the Omega (21:6)
  • He is the Beginning and the end (22:13)
  • He is the Bright and morning Star (22:16)
  • He is the Lord Jesus (22:20)

 

Each title is a revelation of redemptive truth.

  • Christ is called the Alpha and Omega.  These are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet and carry with them the suggestion of literature – signifying perhaps that the literature of revelation, the Bible, of which Christ is the substance – he is the truth, from the very first letter of the Bible to the last letter.
  • He is also called the First and the Last – a title which seems to carry the idea of history, and thus would mean that Christ was the crown of all of history.
  • He is also called the beginning and the end, which appears to have reference to creation and time, so that He is at both ends of time as it were and is the cause and maintainer of creation.
  • He is called the first begotten in chapter 1 – a reference to His resurrection.
  • He is called the Lamb in chapter 5 and 26 other times in the book – a title which speaks of redemption.  He is the Single Savior.
  • He is called the Lion of the tribe of Judah which refers to His royalty.
  • He is called the root and offspring of David – meaning He was before David and after David.
  • He is the Morning Star in chapter 22 which tells us He will usher in that eternal day.

This entire book gathers around to exalt Him.

Above titles collected from W. Graham Scroggie, The Great Unveiling (Zondervan, 1979), p. 43

This is the old revelation . . . this is the truth from God.  The carpenter of Nazareth is the King of the world . . . the crucified Jew is both Lamb and Lord of the universe!

Adapted from Hindson, p. 52

  1. Who’s the audience for this revelation?

John goes on to write, this revelation from God is to be shown to His bondservants.

To further exalt and glorify His Son, the Father granted to a special group of people the privilege of understanding this book.

John describes those people with this word translated “bond-servants” from the Greek word that literally means slave.

MacArthur, p. 20

I agree with one author that the word slave shouldn’t be watered down or weakened to suit our tastes.  It was common in John’s day for a person to sell himself into slavery in a pagan temple to serve the idol. 

Stewart Custer, From Patmos to Paradise (BJU Press, 2004), p. 3

In Old Testament days, during the celebration of Jubilee when all the indentured servants in Israel were liberated and their debts were cleared away, if a slave so loved his master that he wanted to remain in his service for the rest of his life, he would be taken to the door of the Tabernacle and his ear pierced and ringed, thus signifying that he was a servant who had chosen his master out of love and loyalty. 

This was in the mind of Paul when he referred to himself as the slave of Jesus Christ.

The revelation of Christ is revealed to His loyal and loving slaves.

Those who refuse to acknowledge the mastery of Christ cannot accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to them; he cannot understand them for they are spiritually discerned. (I Corinthians 2:14)

The unbelieving skeptic will consider Revelation a compilation of nonsense.  But for the believer, willingly enslaved out of love and loyalty to Christ will understand and believe the prophetic truths about the future of the world.

  1. Let’s answer a fourth question: How is the revelation communicated?  

Notice the last part of verse 1; And He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John.

Isn’t that dangerous?  Isn’t that risky?  Haven’t we been warned of gospels delivered by angels.   Spirit beings delivered the religions of Islam and Mormonism and the Course in Miracles which promises to usher in global peace.

There are angels everywhere in this Book.  They are referred to 71 times!  Someone made the comment that 1 out of every 4 references to angels are in the Book of Revelation.

  1. So, the fifth question that needs asking and answering is “how is this revelation authenticated?  Verse 2 tells us, by the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that John saw.

Notice the three-fold testimonyBy the word of God.  In other words, this revelation is consistent with the rest of scripture.  So compare scripture with scripture.  Let scripture define and explain scripture.

Furthermore, you have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Listen, the Apostle Paul didn’t warn people of hearing truth from angels.  In fact, he didn’t say that an angel couldn’t deliver the gospel.  What he did say in Galatians 1:8 was that if an angel delivered a different gospel . . . let him angel be accursed.

What does the angel say about Christ?  All these religions say tht Christ is someone other than God alone.  They are saying, “You are god . . . you are the spirit of Jesus.”

We authenticate the testimony of John by the testimony of scripture and of Christ.

There is a third verification – the text tells us it is the eyewitness of John himself.

If this Revelation were being tried in court as true or not, the defense attorney would present the written testimony of God the Father; refer to spoken testimony of God the Son and show how they corresponded perfectly with one another then call to the stand an eyewitness.

And you will hear John the Apostle say, This is what I saw!

Look down at verse 12.  Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me.  And having turned I saw seven golden lamp stands; and in the middle of the lamp stands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet . . . verse 17. When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man.”

Chapter 5:1 I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a book written inside and on the back.

Chapter 21:1 – Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth.

44 times, John will say effectively, “I saw!”  I can verify the testimony of this Revelation with my own eyes.”

Posted by Thomas Constable’s 2007 Edition of Notes on Revelation, p. 7; soniclight.com

There are people who’ve flat lined on a hospital bed or at some accident scene and they were revived after some time only to tell incredible accounts of what they saw in heaven and some even in hell.

Their books fly off the shelves – why?  Because their testimony is not, “This is what I read” or “This is what I heard” . . . no, their testimony, right or wrong, is all the more compelling because they are saying, “This is what I saw.”

Here is the most descriptive, tell-all eyewitness account of heaven anywhere with an eyewitness who with passion and urgency says, “You need to know what I saw.”

Let me answer another question.  We’ve answered,

  • What is revelation?
  • Who is it about?
  • To whom was it given?
  • Who communicated it to John?
  • How was it verified?

Now, 6th, Why should I study it?  John goes on in verse 3.  Blessed to those who read and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it.

This is the only Book in the Bible that promises special blessing for those who do three things.

Blessed are those who read it.  This was probably an encouragement to the lector – the one responsible to read publicly in the synagogue or church the writings of scripture.

Lehman Strauss, Revelation (Loizeaux Brothers, 1964), p. 23

In the early days of the church, a limited number of copies of scripture demanded that they be read publicly.

Unlike today, where completed scriptures are so commonplace.

I have in my study at home, on one of my bookshelves a framed sheet of notebook paper with handwritten Chinese characters written across it in neat lines.  It was given to me by missionaries from China – that sheet of paper is a page out of someone’s handwritten Bible.  It is so special to me.  For one thing it convicts me as I sit, surrounded by Bibles and commentaries.  I have 80 commentaries on this one Book of Revelation – each containing the text of scripture.  I read from 60 of them in preparation for this introduction.  That believer probably doesn’t have one complete copy of scripture and what he has was written down as fast as he could while he borrowed a copy from someone else.

The Apostle John knew that this revelation was critical.  And he added the incentive of God’s blessing upon all who would read it aloud to others.

The blessing extended not only to the reader but the hearer.  And not just the hearer but the doer – notice, to those also who heed them – obey them.  Echoing the writings of James who declared as blessed that believer who not only heard the word, but did what it commanded. (James 1:25).

One more question:

  1. Beyond a personal blessing, why does this revelation matter? 

The last part of verse 3, adds this urgent point, “Because the time is near.”

The word translated “time” here doesn’t refer to a clock or a calendar.  The word here is kairos which refers to epochs or seasons.

John is saying, “The epoch is near.”  It’s at hand.  The next great era of God’s redemptive history is close at hand.  The return of Christ is imminent.

The urgency of Revelation points to the return of Christ.  The risen Savior who appeared to John is the Sovereign who will return with his triumphant church at the end of the book. 

Everything points to His literal return.

The era of the single Savior is not over – it is just about to begin with greater majesty and might than you could ever imagine.

  • Jesus Christ says, I am coming quickly. (3:11)
  • And behold, I am coming quickly; Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book. (22:7)
  • Behold, I am coming quickly, and my reward is with Me. (22:12)
  • Yes, I am coming quickly (22:20).

And John shouts as the book ends, “Amen . . . come!”

Come on then . . . we’re waiting . . . we’re watching this time!

Ladies and Gentlemen, don’t ever forget that there were over 100 prophecies about the first coming of Christ and everybody missed it!  The people missed it! 

There are over 200 prophecies about what’s gonna happen next . . . . you don’t want to miss it. Don’t miss Him because of unbelief.

How do you find Him?  There’s this old revelation which reveals Him.  This is the answer – the guidebook – the mystery revealed.

Give me this ole’ time revelation – it’s the revelation that exalts and magnifies a single Savior – and you’re not it! And neither am I. It is Jesus Christ – who is coming again.

Mrs. Phoebe Knapp was a personal friend of Fanny Crosby, the famous hymn writer.  Pheobe was a hymn writer herself but often provided the melodies that Crosby used with her hymn texts.

One of the most famous of Phoebe Knapps hymn melodies was the one composed for Fannie Crosby’s hymn text, “Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine.”

What makes it even more interesting to me is that Phoebe Knapp was the wife of Joseph Knapp, the founder and president of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.

Phoebe would later say, “It’s a wonderful thing to have insurance for life, but a far better thing to have assurance for life here-after.”

That blessed assurance is only found when you return to the ole’ time revelation that exalts and magnifies our wonderful Savior.

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