This morning, the Community Bible Experience takes us through the first three chapters of Revelation. I have to admit that I feel completely inadequate to write about the book of Revelation since I haven't ever studied the book under someone with more knowledge. But with that said, I also have to trust that God will reveal what I need to know through the Holy Spirit as I read through the book this week. What I saw in the first three chapters are a series of warnings, but there are also beautiful promises of blessing for those who patiently endure. In all honesty, in these three chapters, I saw a summary of what the New Testament gave to us.
I am not suggesting that one only needs to read through Revelation in order to understand the New Testament, but I am saying that so many of the warnings and promises that we are given throughout the New Testament are placed right in the first three chapters. The first thing that we see in Revelation is a description of God. We are first told who He is: the one who is, who was, and who is to come (Revelation 1:4,8). God immediately establishes that He is the God of today, yesterday, and for all eternity. We are also introduced to the Holy Spirit, who is described as "the seven spirits," or the "seven-fold spirit" (Revelation 1:4). We are then introduced to Jesus "who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth," (Revelation 1:5).
The warnings and promise follow this in the form of letters to the seven churches in Asia Minor. In these letters we are warned against complacency in our faith (forgetting our first love when we came to Christ - Revelation 2:4). We are warned against following false teaching that will lead us into sin. We are warned against becoming a dead church. Finally we are warned from becoming "lukewarm," or in a sense not really having a passion for anything - especially in God. I think we can all heed these warnings and even consider the culture of our own churches. Are there things in our church culture that fit these warnings or are signs that we are heading in that direction?
But with these warnings there are amazing promises to those who patiently endure and remain faithful to God. The promises are: the right to eat from the tree of life, will not be hurt by "the second death," hidden manna and a new name, authority over all nations, dressed in white, name never blotted out of the book of life, no one will take their crown, God's Name written on them, name of the new Jerusalem, and Jesus's new name, and sit with Jesus. Those are wonderful promises that can help us endure. Once again, it reminds me of how I saw such a sense of urgency throughout the New Testament to keep pressing on in our faith, to have purpose to continue on. If we do not purposefully make the choice each and every day to follow Jesus, then we run the risk of becoming what we are warned against.
Do you hold on to the promises given to those who remain faithful?
This post is linked with Soli Deo Gloria.