Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Revelation of Jesus Christ! 2

Where do you start on such a complex, controversial, complicated book?
This is a life journey! What's the first step? How and where do we even begin?

Questions, questions... we want answers!

How about at the same place someone pointed me to on the day I came to know Jesus? ... 'In the beginning'.
Begin with the SIMPLICITY OF CHRIST (2Cor 11:3)! Who said it's so complicated? Surely God didn't! We made it that way!
I'm more convinced with each new day: if it's complicated, it's not God!
For years, I tried to understand all the so-called Revelation charts... with their dates, coloured arrows highlighting what God will do, where the Church will go, when Jesus would come again, but I must confess: I soon didn't know if I was coming or going
....and I believe that's a big part of the problem!
Revelation is not meant to be a problem, but a solution. Focusing on the problems only serves to magnify them.
We need to look beyond our questions and focus on the solution. It's The Revelation of Jesus Christ!
This book was given by God to bring clarity, not the dust and confusion that so many stir up.
God didn't give us such a profound book to prove we are incapable of grasping it.
Nor does He expect us to superspiritually unravel it like some Christian Gordian Knot. In fact, if we take Alexander the Great as our natural example, then let's take God's Sword of the Spirit, cut right through all the confusion, get right to our hearts, and bring His revelation to light!
This book is not our test to see if we can figure God out and some day successfully arrive at our revelation-destination.
Perhaps that's why some people (even believers!) don't even read the book: they're intimidated by its bad press!
If that's your thinking: let's break it right now.
Let's start at the beginning, where the key is... simply... The Revelation of Jesus Christ!

In order to discover what something really is, it's sometimes helpful to determine what it is not!
So let's examine what Revelation is not:

It's not A Revelation. That is, this Book of Revelation is not just one of many Revelations out there, so we have to try and discover how much this book is the true revelation compared with whatever other options might be out there... another Revelation of Jesus Christ?
No, this is THE REVELATION... THE true, God-sanctioned Revelation. That is... the Book, not this article!
Yes, I know Greek doesn't use articles (that's a point of grammar, in case that's important to you); and you do need to search out the historical setting: who wrote it, when and where, and whether it's really God and belongs in the canon of Scripture.
But beyond these considerations, we need to understand our Bible text is The Revelation, not just one of many available possibilities. Do the homework and you'll find that this final book of the Bible has, like the rest of the book, come through the tests of time and weathered them all. Like an anvil, it's outlasted every spiritual or human hammer that has attempted to destroy its credibility and authority. Instead of breaking, it has rather withstood and broken those same attacks, misunderstandings and misinterpretations of these last 20 centuries. It has stood and its adversaries instead lie defeated. Even unbelievers maintain a healthy, but arms-length respect, for this book. Perhaps they know they cannot criticize what they cannot begin to understand. The Gospels reveal Jesus' earthly ministry, Acts shows how the Early Church responded, and the Epistles give understanding of Christ's impact on believers, the church and our world at large. But The Revelation comes at the end of the Bible to both seal and release the vision of the book in all its unique and remarkable fullness!
Most of the Bible is audio...we hear His Word;
other parts, especially Daniel, Ezekiel, Zechariah and Revelation, are visual...
and now we see Him for all He really is. Truly, a picture is worth a thousand words!
And to see Jesus for all He is will leave a man breathless, let alone speechless!

Neither is it the Book of Revelations ...plural. This is one Revelation...singular... ein, une, uno...not one of many,
but a single, consistent view with one theme, object and person: It's The Revelation of Jesus Christ!
It's not about philosophical ideas, historical events, or mathematical subtleties.
It's about seeing a Person, a most remarkable Person, the most enigmatic, yet enlightening Person this world has ever known! He was in the world, but not of it. Light came and darkness could not comprehend it. Without getting into big doctrinal, theological disputes, The Revelation of Jesus Christ simply presents The Person who fully knew His Identity and fulfilled His Destiny.
It's all about you, Jesus; it's not about me or even us!
He's the One we need to see here and focus on without distraction.
He is One with The Father; He is One with the Holy Spirit.
In Him dwells all the fullness of the godhead bodily and we are complete in Him! (Col 2:9)
It's all about seeing One Person; not events, experiences, or end-time speculations.
He alone is the Alpha and Omega, the express image of The Father, and Scripture exhorts us to look unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, and have eyes for none other.
His disciples asked Him to show them the Father and He replied,
"Have I been with you so long and still you don't know? He who has seen Me has seen the Father." (Jn 14:8)
We can and must see Him for who He is and what He's done, not just what people have thought about Him.
Look really close and you'll see Him everywhere. Nebuchadnezzar did after he had the 3 Hebrews thrown into the fiery furnace. "Didn't we just throw 3 into the flames? But I see a 4th? ...and He looks like whatever the Son of God would look like!'
Jesus Himself admonished the Pharisees,
"You search the Scriptures for in them you think you have eternal life; and they testify of Me." (Jn 5:39)
The Bible is not about how to get saved; it's about Jesus! Know Him and you'll know life and get saved!
When it comes to a relationship with God, religion cannot cut it. Only the revelation of Jesus can focus our vision to see Him as He truly is and train us to see things the same way He does. That's all it really takes: one good clear revelation-introduction to Him as He is and you're hooked. Just ask Moses, or Peter or Paul.
Saviour, Redeemer, Prince of Peace, Lily of the Valley, Bright and Morning Star, King of Kings, Lord of lords, Lion of the Tribe of Judah, Lamb of God, Son of Mary, Son of Man, Son of God, Sun of Righteousness risen with healing in His wings! The Branch, The Bread of Life, The Light of the world, The Way, The Truth & The Life, The Good Shepherd, The Door of the Sheep, The True Vine, The Resurrection and The Life, Our Healer, and the list goes on... you can never exhaust The Revelation of Jesus Christ!
His fountain continually springs up with new life. No other can satisfy mankind's various and numerous needs; no one else even comes close!
As in all of life: it's not what you know, but who you know!
We can have revelations on certain subjects, but only one revelation gives life and that one is: The Revelation of Jesus Christ!

Nor is it The Book of Reflections of Personal Prejudices.
Unfortunately, this book has become known more for fearful images of God's future judgments and wrath poured out in earth's 'last days' than its true message. Well-meaning Christians (more mean than well) who should be His most faithful representatives have instead given God bad press. Rather than witnessing the Father's love and faith for a lost creation, many interpreters of Revelation have twisted its message into a final fearful future for all who don't measure up. Presumption, supposition, negativism and religious fear-mongering have distorted and misrepresented The Father's heart to believers and the general public. What is meant for blessing has somehow morphed into the ultimate curse. How could we go so wrong?
In the beginning, God made man in His own image and man has been unfortunately returning the favour ever since.
Religion does nothing less than attempt to create God in man's own image... and that is a fallen image. God is not impressed.
So He sent Jesus, not to just argue His case and condemn the world in its guilt, but to give a clear presentation of His Heart to a fallen world, 'that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.'(Jn 3:16)
Jesus is God's way of separating wheat from chaff: those who truly are from those who only appear or think themselves to be.
Jesus is God's way to cut through all of this world's vanity, hypocrisy and hype, especially when it dresses up in 'Christian' clothes. How we respond to the King on The Cross reveals how we truly worship the Lamb on the Throne.
The Father is seeking those who will worship Him in spirit and truth and Jesus is that Way!
That's the wisdom of God: He doesn't need us to come up with a formula of 101 ways to glorify Him.
He simply sets the Truth before us and looks to see how we respond or react...
His Reflection in us, not ours on Him. When we react in fear, we reflect our own insecurities, not His true image.
The New Covenant cuts through all the self-preserving religious subterfuge.
Jesus tore the veil separating man from God from top to bottom. He appeared, the revealed glory of God the Father in the Son, entered the holy place, and by His blood opened a new and living way for us! Not a system of do's and don'ts, but a better way of faith which alone pleases God.
Religion sewed the temple veil up again, carried on its abomination for another 40 years while persecuting the Way, but its temple and city were ultimately destroyed.
And religion is trying to sew it up again, substituting lifeless forms of tradition for the liberating freedom of Jesus.
These are nothing but dead bait, enticing traps for the undiscerning who can only be spared by a true revelation of Jesus!
Don't accept anything less than what the Word of God fully reveals. Too many Christians live beneath their call.
Embrace the liberty by which Christ has set us free and don't be entangled again in yokes of bondage!
The veil has been torn away once for all. It's been done away in Christ! The way to the Holy of Holies is open. The Father's heart is open to us through Jesus Christ. Be bold... enter in.
Moses had to put a veil on his face when he came down from the mountain because the people could not bear the glory of God. It was too personal, too intimate, too powerful, even in its Old Covenant form. Man could not comprehend how a Holy God could meet them and they would yet live! So Moses covered his face, and that veil remains today on hearts which only know type, form, and tradition. Now how much more does Christ's New Covenant bring us into God's Presence, His abundant and eternal life! And as we look on His face, He fills and changes us from Old to New, an ongoing transformation into His same image from glory to glory, radiating, releasing His glory into the nations,and ultimately filling the whole earth!
If it be at all a book of Reflections, let it be us reflecting His image, light and glory into earth, not us reflecting our old, negative prejudices and fearful mind-sets onto His book.

Nor is it The Mystery of Jesus Christ. 'Mystery' connotes mystical, obscure, enigmatic, puzzling, undisclosed, impossible to understand, secret ritual truths, unknowable to but a few initiates. Religion feeds on mystery. Someone (the leader/elite) knows something about God that the rest (the followers/auditors) don't know and if you trust/submit to us (and bring your money) we'll break off the curses and let you in on our blessing. We really do know what's best for you and we'll take good care of you. Only fit into this box/form/program. Don't ask any unnecessary questions. Trust us. We have everything under control.
Mystery religions in Jesus' day (Mithraism, Greek & Roman mythology) promised that, but He broke their boxes with His Revelation.
The Apocalypse (Greek: 'apokalysis') is the 'unveiling of what was once hidden'. What was once in darkness and shadows has now been brought out into the light. The gospel is good news,
'the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made
manifest and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations' (Rom 16:25-26)
In other words, the secret has become open knowledge and we all have a part in it!
Receive the truth, embrace His love, proclaim God's fullness! Don't hold back!

The New is in the Old concealed.
The Old is in the New revealed! NOW!

You'd think we would understand this from the Gospels, Acts and Epistles of the New Testament, but God knows how difficult it is for us to see and keep The Big Picture. Sometimes we can't see the forest for the trees! We lose sight of the overall picture and get lost in the details. We try to figure out the mark of the beast in Chapter 13 and don't even recognize the seal of the Living God throughout the entire book! We forget the picture on the front of the puzzle box and are left with 1000s of scattered pieces called life, unsure of how they relate, sometimes questioning whether these pieces even belong in our puzzle.
The Big Picture is Jesus and we need to see Him!
He is neither elusive nor hidden. He is right here now, front and centre, definitely out of the box!
And the Holy Spirit desires to help us fit the pieces together in our life context.
In His wisdom, as He moved on John to receive, record and relay The Revelation, so now He moves on us to bring that picture into reality: The Big Picture of Jesus in us! The 4 Gospels gave us 4 different perspectives of Jesus' life + ministry, but they were not enough.
We needed clarity, completion and closure.
We needed revelation.
We needed the light to come on in our hearts and minds.
Revelation clarifies and confirms the previous Bible books with at least 7 more visions, replete with symbols overflowing with all the fullness of who Jesus is and what He has done! None of us can grasp this with our natural minds. John said if all Jesus' deeds were written one by one, the world itself could not contain the books which would be written! (Jn 21:25)
There is so much MORE!!!
And so the Holy Spirit is here to bring His word alive in us.
'And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts' (2Pet 1:19)
We need to see Jesus fully, for who He is, not just who we think He is, but the way the Bible presents Him.
Let Him turn our lights on and in turn make us lights to shine in this dark and needy world.
Christ to us, Christ in us, Christ through us.
When we see Him as He truly is, we will also see ourselves in Him for who we truly are:
no longer sin-sick, but healed,
whole by His love and truth,
renenewed ambassadors of His kingdom with a mandate to fill the earth with His glory!

I remember the first time I read The Revelation. My friend and I were traveling in Europe. We saw ourselves as travelers in life, not tourists, seeking truth and the answers to the eternal questions. While in Boston, I'd bought an 1844 New Testament edition, a real bargain price for an interesting old book. A few weeks later in Munich at Oktoberfest, while downing beer with a Hofbrauhaus full of other party animals, I found I was thirsty still. I reached into my pocket, pulled out that old New Testament. It opened right at the Book of Revelation and I started to read. I didn't stop until I had finished it, all at one sitting.
I don't know if it was the beer or the book, but by the end of my reading, my head was swimming.
Many lights swirled; in time one prevailed.
Take the challenge: Drink in the vision... all at one time. Let it work in you.
Lord Jesus, we thank you for The Big Picture.
Reveal Yourself to each hungry heart and thirsty spirit.
Thank you for our Identity in You; release us into Your Destiny for us to know and follow you always!
Thank you for your Love and Presence with us.
We have a long journey ahead.

1 comment:

  1. Boy do I miss you Henry! Thank you. Your words have stirred me up and I pray that things will not resettle in me as they were before.