Assurance Of Inspiration: The Gospel
While Paul may say this much explicitly , Jesus and the Gospel writers indicate the same but by his constant refrain that the Scriptures have been fulfilled in his person and work . The covenant promises of God in the Scriptures have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ, and that is the greatest testimony to their divine origin. Should one seek assurance that the Scripture is nothing less than divine revelation one need look no further than the gospel itself. God has come through on his word.
Vision Of Heavenly Worship
1 After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. 3 And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. 4 And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment and they had on their heads crowns of gold. 5 And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. 6 And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal:and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes before and behind. 7 And the first living creature was like a lion, and the second living creature like a calf, and the third living creature had a face as a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. 8 And the four living creatures had each of them six wings about him and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying,
Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
Revelation Shows Us Reality
We live in a noisy, distracting world which incessantly screams for our attention. But in Revelation, Jesus yells back and reminds His church that He is Lord, that He is coming, and that we need to stay awake to this truth .
Yes, he uses imagery and symbolism that can seem bizarre and strange at first glance, but Hes not out to confuse us. Hes out to encourage us.
Remember, Revelation was originally written to seven struggling churches to help them endure in the faith. Therefore, Revelation is in our Bibles today to help us press on in our walk with Christ.
In 22 action-packed chapters, Jesus pulls back the curtains of this world and lets us peek behind the scenes. We see whats actually going on in the chaos of our day, and we see whats surely coming in our future. We see reality.
Here are just seven of the realities revealed in the book of Revelation for the encouragement of the church:
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Read Revelation With Humility
We should resist Revelation-made-easy approaches. Revelation is not easy! If youre unwilling to live with any uncertainty, youre more likely to read into Revelation things that are not there. Beware of interpreters who appear to have all the answers to even the small questions. Experts who claim absolute knowledge about every detail of Revelation should immediately raise suspicion.
Read Revelation with an open mind: be willing to admit that your interpretation could be wrong and be prepared to change your view if the biblical evidence points in a different direction.
The Dragon And The Future Beast
In the book of Revelation we find that the beasts agenda corresponds to that of the dragon. The dragon is Satan the devil, the deceiver of the whole world , and the beast in Revelation 13:1-7 carries out this deception.
John implies that the healing of the beasts mortal wound is itself a deception, producing amazement by the whole world and leading people on earth to worship both the dragon and the beast .
The future beasts authority prevails on earth for 42 months, and by the end of that time all the inhabitants of the earth will worship it .
It is clear that the prophecies regarding the beast also apply to a future personality who will have great civil, financial and religious power at the time of the end.
The dragons goal of persecuting Christians is also evident. The beast opens his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven .
The actual persecution of Christians is mentioned explicitly in verse 7, but persecution is also clearly implied by the prophetic appeal to Johns readers in verse 10, which speaks of saints being led into captivity and being killed with the sword. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of Christians.
The book of Revelation is most emphatically not a call to arms, but a call for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of Gods people.
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Spiritual Babylon And The Two Beasts Of Revelation 13
An end-time alliance between a religious power called Babylon the Great and this civil power identified as the beast will control the worlds economy.
The religious power, a great false church pictured as a second beast in Revelation 13:11-15, causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast . This second beast is also referred to as the false prophet .
Try To Discover The Message To The Original Readers
Discovering the message to the original audience is the top priority with any book of the Bible, but especially with this one. The first Christians were blessed for obeying Revelation and the book is described as an unsealed book, even for people living in Johns day . When it comes to reading Revelation, the tendency is to ignore the first Christians and jump directly to Gods message for us.
Some people use todays newspapers as the key to interpreting Revelation. But, as Craig Keener notes in his commentary, this approach doesnt fit well with a high view of Scripture. The newspaper approach assumes that we must be living in the last Christian generation. It also implies that in Revelation God wasnt really speaking to the very first Christians. Isnt that arrogant on our part as contemporary interpreters? What if Christ doesnt return until AD 4000? Would Revelation still have a message for us since we wouldnt be the last generation?
If our interpretation doesnt make sense for the original readers, weve probably missed the meaning of the passage. Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart remind us of how important it is to discover the message to the original audience: As with the Epistles, the primary meaning of the Revelation is what John intended it to mean, which in turn must also have been something his readers could have understood it to mean.
We must understand what Revelation meant in Johns day in order to understand what it means today.
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Satan Is Bound For A Thousand Years
Interpretation: This thousand year period is known as the “millennium,”and it has been interpreted many different ways. One common interpretation is that the millennium is the present age – the binding of Satan has already been accomplished by Christ, and His work is carried on by the faithful within the Church. There are also two other common interpretations:
- Postmillennialism views the millennium as a future period during which the gospel message will eliminate evil from the world and Christ will rule spiritually for a thousand years before the Second Coming.
- Premillennialism views the millennium as a thousand year period between the Second Coming and the final judgment.
God Finishes What He Begins He Wastes Nothing
I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book .
The bowl judgments that follow are hideous and swift . Those still alive refuse to repent of their deeds, and as the 7th angel pours out his bowl on the air, a loud voice comes from the temple in heaven, It is done. And a final 5th great earthquake, like no other, shakes the whole earth. Islands vanish and mountains disappear. Hailstones weighing one hundred pounds each fall from heaven, but men still blasphemed God.
In Revelation 19:11-16 heaven opens and King Jesus accompanied by His armies of angels and the armies clothed in fine linen following our King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The battle is brief as He strikes the nations with the sword from His mouth.
The earth is transformed into a broad plain with Jerusalem as its center. There is no sea, but a clear river flows from the temple where Jesus will rule and reign for 1,000 years to fulfill Gods covenant with Abraham and his descendants.
The last words of this Apocalypse are found in Revelation 21 and 22, words I pray will bring you hope, confidence, strength, and joy. Our God is Sovereign over the universe. His Word is Truth.
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Title Authorship And Date
The name Revelation comes from the first word of the book in Koine Greek: , which means “unveiling” or “revelation”. The author names himself as “John”, but modern scholars consider it unlikely that the author of Revelation also wrote the Gospel of John. He was a Jewish Christian prophet, probably belonging to a group of such prophets, and was accepted by the congregations to whom he addresses his letter.
The book is commonly dated to about AD 95, as suggested by clues in the visions pointing to the reign of the emperorDomitian. The beast with seven heads and the number 666 seem to allude directly to the emperor Nero , but this does not require that Revelation was written in the 60s, as there was a widespread belief in later decades that Nero would return.
The Harvest Of The Earth
14 And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.15 And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap for the harvest of the earth is ripe. 16 And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth and the earth was reaped. 17 And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. 18 And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth for her grapes are fully ripe. 19 And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20 And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.
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Theme Verse Of Revelation
Therefore write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things.
Revelation Claims To Be Divine
Now, from here on then, in our course, we are going to be talking about special revelation. Let us turn over to page 2 and note that the product of special revelation that relates to salvation is the Bible. We want to note first of all that the Bible claims to be a divine revelation. Turn in your Bible to Genesis 15. Notice the striking words in verse 1. We read,
After these things the Word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision saying
Now, that is a very striking phrase: the Word of the Lord came to Abram. There are about 3,800 occurrences of a phrase like this in the Bible. So, the first reason for saying that the Bible claims to be a revelation is that on 3,800 occasions there is a phrase that says, God said or Thus saith the Lord or the Word of the Lord came. The verse that I have read to you, Genesis 15:1, is the first of those 3,800 instances in the Bible. Now, you know what I am talking about. As you have read through the Bible you have seen that phrase time after time after time. God said the Word of the Lord came thus saith the Lord. The prophet stood before the people and as he stood he said, This is a Word from God. There is a claim to revelation. Do you see that? Every time a writer would write that, every time a prophet would speak that he is saying here is a claim of revelation. God has revealed this to me. So, the first evidence of the Bibles claim is this reoccurring phrase that is found many times in the Bible.
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The Woman Clothed With The Sun
1 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: 2 And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. 4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
5 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
What Changes Does The Apocalypse Bring To Earth
Then I looked, and I heard an eagle flying in midheaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound .
With the breaking of the sixth seal the sun turns black and the moon becomes like blood. Stars fall from the sky and we see the first great earthquake. All men great and small know the wrath of God and the wrath of the Lamb have come. They ask the mountains to fall on and hide them. The angel of Revelation 8:5 throws a censer of fire to earth and we have a second earthquake. A third of the earth is burned up, a third of the sea becomes blood, a third of the sea creatures die, and a third of the ships are destroyed. A third of the rivers and springs become bitter, and a third of the sun, moon, and stars are darkened. The 5th trumpet and first woe bring on five months of locust who sting like scorpions. Men beg to die but cant.
The 6th trumpet releases the four angels whove been bound at the Euphrates River. An army of two hundred million horsemen kill a third of mankind. And Revelation 9:20-21 tells us the rest of mankind not killed by these plagues did not repent. Stop and thinktwo great earthquakes, a third of the earth burned up, a third of the sea, rivers, and springs ruined, and then the locust and the army of two hundred million. The earth borders catastrophe and the bowl judgments are still to come.
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Approaches To Interpreting Revelation
Like all books of the Bible, Revelation was written in a particular time and place to particular people. But its also saturated with symbolism and prophecy, which has led to a variety of methods of interpretation. Traditionally, interpreters have approached Revelation in four primary ways. Lets explore all four, and then introduce a fifth.
Who Is Like The Beast
The revived Roman Empire will seem to be an unbeatable monster, with its worldwide political, military and economic power. Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him? people will say . But the inhabitants of the world wont just fear the empire they will also love and worship it.
In the book of Revelation, the world is shown to willingly accept the beasts authority, and to give no regard to God. All who dwell on the earth will worship him . The beast captures the hearts and souls of men and women everywhere, but it must not capture the hearts of Christians!
Revelation 13 shows this beast to be the earthly enemy of the true Church. We are told that the beast was given power to make war with the saints and to overcome them . Satan uses the political power of the beast as his agent in an attempt to stamp out and destroy Gods people.
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