My Life Group lesson for March 5, 2017, using Lifeway’s “Bible Studies for Life” curriculum, as well as help from Bible Gateway, Ken Jones (pastor of Worsham Baptist Church in Farmville, Virginia), John MacArthur and Adrian Rogers.
Is there anyone who likes to check out the ending of a book or a movie before you even start?
Some would say that knowing the ending makes the experience more enjoyable.
If you know your heroes survive, when you see the villain doing a dastardly deed you can chuckle and know that he’s foolish and doomed.
In today’s lesson we’ll discuss our future where Christ is shown as victorious in every way and Satan is foolish and doomed.
History flows to that moment when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
We know how the story ends. Therefore, we can live our lives in a much deeper and fuller way. We can live with confidence.
UNDERSTAND THE CONTEXT
*** This spring we will be using Lifeway’s Bible Studies for Life curriculum, which is different than the other adults here at FBC. We aren’t going through a specific book of the Bible. It instead focuses on topics to discuss using verses all over Scripture.
*** Today we’re discussing verses from Revelation chapter 1.
*** Late in the first century the apostle John was exiled to the island of Patmos. While there, John received a revelation from Jesus, and he was given a vision of events at the end of the age, of Christ’s triumphant return, and of the new heaven and new earth.
A STUNNING APPEARANCE (REVELATION 1:12-16)
12 I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me. When I turned I saw seven gold lampstands, 13 and among the lampstands was One like the Son of Man, dressed in a long robe and with a gold sash wrapped around His chest. 14 His head and hair were white like wool—white as snow—and His eyes like a fiery flame. 15 His feet were like fine bronze as it is fired in a furnace, and His voice like the sound of cascading waters. 16 He had seven stars in His right hand; a sharp double-edged sword came from His mouth, and His face was shining like the sun at midday.
*** Dress to impress.
--- When you're job-hunting, experts say to dress for the job you want.
--- John’s vision of Jesus is certainly unlike the happy buddy Jesus that we normally see in pop culture.
--- Jesus appears in stunning and overwhelming glory.
--- Jesus was dressed for His role to win an eternal battle.
--- Certainly there’s nothing wrong with regarding Jesus as our friend, but He is much more than that.
--- He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, and as such He is worthy of our worship and obedience.
*** Amazing imagery.
--- Let’s break down the images in these verses and see what it all means:
--- Jesus would later explain that the seven lampstands represented the seven churches in the province of Asia that are mentioned earlier in chapter 1.
--- John saw “One like the Son of Man” similar to Daniel’s vision in Daniel 7:13:
“I continued watching in the night visions,
and I saw One like a son of man
coming with the clouds of heaven.
He approached the Ancient of Days
and was escorted before Him.”
--- Jesus often referred to Himself as “the Son of Man”, the subject of Daniel’s prophecy.
--- Dressed in a robe with a golden sash possibly refers to the Jewish high priest’s garments.
--- His hair was like wool, which suggests wisdom and purity.
--- His eyes were like a flame of fire, which reminds us that He sees all and knows all.
--- Jesus’ feet were like “fine brass”. That is, it was pure and strong bronze, and symbolized His invincibility. Feet often symbolized conquest and judgment (Psalm 110:1; Revelation 19:15).
--- His voice was “as the sound of many waters.” John was on the island of Patmos when he wrote this, and was likely used to the sound of water, which is loud and powerful.
--- He had seven stars in His right hand to represent seven angels of the seven churches.
--- He had a “sharp two-edged sword” in His mouth, which indicates the power of His words.
--- Finally, Jesus’ face was glowing, which recalls Jesus at His transfiguration (Matt 17:2) and Moses’ shining face after his encounter with God on Mount Sinai (Ex. 34:35).
*** Question - What part of John’s description of Jesus grabs your attention?
A STIRRING ANNOUNCEMENT (REVELATION 1:17-20)
17 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. He laid His right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last, 18 and the Living One. I was dead, but look—I am alive forever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and Hades. 19 Therefore write what you have seen, what is, and what will take place after this. 20 The secret of the seven stars you saw in My right hand and of the seven gold lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
*** False human saviors.
--- Adrian Rogers wrote of going to see Lenini’s tomb in Moscow. Lenin’s body is still on display in Red Square since he died in 1924. On the tomb these words are written: “He was the greatest leader of all peoples of all countries of all times. He was the lord of the new humanity. He was the savior of the world.”
Rogers writes, “Do you notice it’s all past tense? He was. Jesus is alive. He is the great I AM. It is an encounter with the living Christ that makes the difference in our lives. We serve a Savior who is alive and listening to our every prayer. He is bottling every tear and rejoicing with every victory.”
*** Holy moly.
--- Jesus tells John not to be afraid, which suggests that John fell at the feet of Jesus in terror.
--- This is a typical reaction in the Bible to an encounter with God or an angelic messenger, and as always, the person is told “do not be afraid.”
--- People mock Jesus today, but someday the mockery will cease.
--- The apostle Paul said every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord (Philippians 2:11-12).
--- John said “all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him” (Revelation 1:7).
*** Jesus gave John some reassurances.
--- He has power over time.
--- He has power over life.
--- He has power over death.
--- Holding the “keys of death and Hades” lets us know that Jesus has power over evil and death.
--- These keys unlock the “gates of death” (Pss. 9:13; 107:18) and “the gates of Sheol” (Isa. 38:10) or “the gates of Hades” (Matt. 16:18).
--- Because Jesus holds the keys of death and Hades, He alone can free those held captive by them.
*** Jesus’ instructions to John.
--- He told him to write down what he had seen.
--- This not only included Jesus’ revelation of the future, but also “the things which are.”
--- John was also to take down individual messages for each of the seven churches.
--- Jesus explained the mystery of the seven stars.
--- They represented “the angels of the seven churches.”
--- The word translated “angels” can also mean “messengers,” so Jesus may have been referring to the pastors of the churches, or to angels.
--- Others believe He was referring to actual guardian angels.
--- The seven candlesticks represented the churches themselves. It is noteworthy that Jesus stood “in the midst” of them.
*** Question - What kinds of things make you question that God is in control? What things reassure you that God is in control?
REVIEW AND TAKE-AWAY POINTS
We’re only human. We have doubts and especially fears.
A recent survey by the National Institutes of Mental Health shows that “fear of public speaking” is number one. Even above death!
Here are the top 5 fears:
Fear of public speaking – 74%
Fear of death – 68%
Fear of spiders – 30.5%
Fear of darkness – 11%
Fear of heights – 10%
Jesus has gained the victory for us over our fears. Salvation gained is something that can never be lost. The work was completed by Jesus through His death and resurrection. It’s a done deal. But the personal day to day victory can still be lost if we don’t fight to do what’s necessary to think like Jesus and act in faith.
What will be remembered about you? Jesus has won the victory. Your salvation is secure. You obtained it through faith. Don’t lose the daily battle through a life of self-reliance and bravado.
*** Trust. Examine your life for areas where you retain control. Trust Christ to lead you in those areas. Trust Him as Lord.
*** Encourage. If you have friends who are discouraged because of circumstances, pray for them. Share what you've gained from this study and help them see that jesus is present and has authority over all things.
*** Stand. Be bold and confident in those places where your faith in Christ is challenged or ridiculed. Choose to take a stand for His victory at home, at work, and in your neighborhood.