Monday, February 28, 2011

The Revelation of Jesus Christ 3: The Big Picture - Breakin' the Box!

Most people tackle puzzles with their head and not with their heart. We try to reason our way to the solution: wriggle around the unknowns, analyze the problem, define its perameters and break it down into smaller, more digestible, bite-sized portions.
God doesn't work that way. From the very beginning, He is The Solution and applies His Word His Way to cut to the heart of the issue, not just manage The Problem. We tend to complicate; He simply cuts through it. As Alexander the Great cut through the Gordian Knot with his sword and fulfilled ancient prophecies, so God's Sword of the Spirit pierces our 'grey areas' to reveal His Light through us.

We really run into difficulties when we try to apply this analytical approach with the larger puzzle called Life. We all too easily lose sight of our real purpose and become ensnared by insignificant details. We need The Big Picture: God's overall view and perspective on things, a world-view bigger than ourselves and our own little kingdoms of personal peace and comfort.
Too often we literally cannot see the forest for the trees!
We lose our focus on the essentials and become distracted by temporal non-essentials.

Distraction is the enemy's ploy to get us out of focus and off balance, majoring on minors and minoring on majors, straining at gnats while swallowing camels. When we're distracted, we're like Martha, subject to all sorts of delusions and confusions, prone to blame our brothers and sisters, and even the Lord! Lacking The Big Picture, we unconsciously seek to somehow compensate for our loss of vision! We focus on details, without properly evaluating their relationship to the whole, and this produces an even fuzzier image, farther yet from the truth of what really is!
That which is amazing becomes a maze!
And so we wander, broken and fragmented, from event to event, tree to tree, conference to conference, ever seeking, but never able to relate our experience in the context of a whole picture.

I believe that's what happened in the Garden of Eden: The Big Picture got broken! God gave Adam and Eve His true focus: The Tree of Life at the centre and every tree in the garden for food (Gen 2:9,16-17), except The Tree of Knowedge of Good + Evil. But the serpent distracted Eve from her centre, misdirecting her attention to doubt God, question His truth + motives and focus on 'the other tree' as a rightful substitute (Gen 3:3). The Tree of Knowledge wrongly became her centre. With her perspective and relationship with God off balance, she became confused and easily moved to wrong action.

Paul wrote to the Corinthian church almost two thousand years ago:
'I fear lest somehow as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.' (2Cor11:3)
I fear the same warning holds true today. The Western Church has become distracted from its centre: the Tree of Life - The Revelation of Jesus Christ!
Our focus has rather become self-centred: 'What's in it for me?''What's good for me?'
We have lost sight of The Tree of Life forest, mesmerized with enticing Trees of Knowledge: the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and pride of life.
We need the whole Big Picture restored!
We need The Revelation of Jesus Christ!

Unfortunately, many hear 'The Revelation' and immediately think mystery, 'mark of the beast', '666'. That is so 'Sick, Sick, Sick!'
The same distracting, deceptive tactic our enemy used in the garden against our first parents is now directed against us.
Our focus must be God's focus: It's The Revelation of Jesus Christ!
Not anti-Christ, not end-times, not some supercomputer in Belgium punching out chips for implanting foreheads and wrists, not some speculative, end-time sci-fi scenario!
Sadly, much of the Church has traded a healthy Big Picture of Jesus and His New Covenant kingdom reality for some sick, futuristic fantasy.
An unBiblical horror movie. Lots of special effects, but no substance.
We've exchanged discerning Holy Spirit Son-glasses for a trendy set of fashionable Doom-and-Gloom goggles.
That may sell a lot of books, but it definitely does not line up with The Book.
These give a false, distorted vision of Jesus Christ: a diluted, defeatist, stale, boring, lifeless image of Churchianity.
A poor substitute indeed for the real thing: the Risen, Overcoming Christ who invites us to follow Him in victory, breaking through lies and limitations, plundering the devil's goods, opening new horizons of adventure in His Kingdom!
We've become addicted to consuming repackaged, candy-coated Old Covenant mysteries instead of feasting on New Covenant Revelation. Too much of our diet derives from the Tree of the Lie and not The Tree of Life!
We need to refocus on The Big Picture! We need The Revelation of Jesus Christ!

It's the Revelation of Jesus Christ!
In his 3 1/2 year walk with His disciples, Jesus constantly sought to help them refocus: take their eyes off themselves, their circumstances, their ministries, and redirect them to their true centre: HIMSELF!
He disputed with the Pharisees who misused the Word of God to fashion a comfortable legalism for themselves.
He commended them, 'You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life.'
But, He said, (and I paraphrase) 'You have missed the real point, for the Scriptures testify of ME! (John 5:39) It's all about Jesus!
On Resurrection Sunday, two of His disciples were headed in the wrong direction (running from Jerusalem to Emmaus), at the wrong time, with the wrong motivation (fear), and a wrong attitude (unbelief and discouragement). Jesus Himself joined them.
Why does He care so much about us even when we are oh so all wrong?
Why does He take time to meet us where we're at, even when we're headed in wrong directions with wrong purposes?
On this day, The Day history had anticipated for centuries, The Day I'm sure He must have had many other important concerns,
(Imagine how your priorities will change once you've risen from the dead!)
but Jesus chose to walk with these two... for hours, and listen to their confused, discouraging details misinterpreting the day's events.
Their puzzle pieces did not fit together!
They couldn't make sense out of the details because they'd lost sight of The Big Picture: The Resurrection!
They didn't even recognize Jesus when He Himself showed up!
But 'beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself! (Luke 24:27)
Later on, with all the disciples, 'He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures...
that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning ME.' (Luke 24:44-45)
The message very clearly was JESUS HIMSELF, not some religious idea, theory or how-to instruction manual.
Either Jesus was a very egotistic, misguided man with an over-inflated opinion of himself or, and this is the only alternative,
He truly is who He... and the Father...and the Holy Spirit...and the Bible...and many human witnesses... reveal Him to be:
Have you got your Son-glasses on?
Can you see Him when He shows up, even when He's changed from yesterday's glory to today's glory?
Or does He first have to fit your image of misunderstanding?

It's quite clear. The only true focus for healthy vision must be The Tree of Life: JESUS HIMSELF, not our own vision or creation of Him after our own thoughts. Anything less fashions a false image. We may call it God and worship it, but it is no more than an extension of ourselves, a creation of our own identity... an idol. Ironically, that's the case when we lose our focus on the True Jesus: we end up fabricating an image that is nothing more than our own intellectual (mis)conception of a reasonable god.
We may call it Jesus, but we have merely fashioned a glorified religious box.
So... we must, like instructions to activate an Emergency fire alarm, 'Break the Box!'

The Pharisees tried to put Him in their theological box, but He kept on breaking out of it:
'Tell me, who is the Christ? Is He's David's son? Then why does David in the Spirit call Him Lord?' (Matt 22:41-45)
The Sadducees, religious naturalists, tried to trap Him with questions about the supernatural that didn't fit their reasonings:
'Whose wife will she be in the resurrection, for all seven had her here on earth?'
But He answered, 'You are in deep error, neither knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.' (Matt 22:23-33)
In other words, you are so caught in your own snare, trying to figure out and manipulate details, that you can neither accept nor even recognize the overall truth of God's abundant and eternal life! You've eaten from a forest of Trees of Knowledge and now you are lost in their midst, incapable of knowing either your true identity or destiny. You've substituted a maze of lies for God's amazing revelation and now you are wandering among the details of your own confusion!
Jesus became a Problem to religious people and their solution was The Cross. They plotted to kill Him, put Him away, in a grave... in a box.
But God's answer to man's boxes is also The Cross! Jesus kicked out the walls of the grave at His Resurrection!
Sin and Death could not stand against Him! He destroyed the power of the devil at The Cross. His Resurrection and Ascension to The Throne of All Creation reveal this openly! Jesus broke the powers of hell, the grave and every anti-Christ box!
We are free! From stereotypical world-views and compartmentalizations, that is, parts of mental boxes that we can or cannot understand. God has given us a whole life!
Stop putting Jesus back in the box! He doesn't fit!
He's not a Jack-in-the-box. He's Jesus-out-of-the-box!

Build a box and He'll break out of it; He always has and He always will!

Let me illustrate this another way. Spiritual enigmas and mysteries have natural counterparts: some reveal similarities, others opposites.
Take, for example, an ordinary jigsaw puzzle.
Aren't you glad there's a picture on the box to reveal what the mumble-jumble of pieces inside will look like once you've joined them together? Without that big picture, there would be no reference point, no target, no vision of what you are working towards.
Even moreso for life's big puzzles: we need The Big Picture of Jesus!
Often it seems like we're holding only a box, a form with pieces and we're not even sure that all its pieces actually belong in our puzzle.
The Bible works the same way.
It's not just a collection of pieces: stories, ideas, doctrines, moral lessons, strategies, principles of Law or concepts of Grace.
It has a Big Picture. He's called Jesus! It's all about Jesus, Who He is and What He's done!
He is the express image of The Father, the complete fullness of the godhead bodily.
The simplicity of Christ alone reveals what's in the box of life's mysteries, so... once you've got The Big Picture, the best thing you can do with your box (ie. your assumed expectations, stereotyped presumptions and taped personal prophecies) is...
BREAK IT!!! He's much more alive than any status quo image!
Let Him live, let Him out! You're free to think, feel and live outside the Box!

Life in Christ is so different from the natural puzzles where we first turn all the pieces face up, group the various colours together, find the corners and join the edge pieces.
You can't do this with the puzzle pieces of your life in Christ!
Don't start with the edges.
Don't limit God in you by presuming limits and predetermining boundaries beyond which God cannot move!
Remember: He's bigger than all we can ask or think! Who you are in Him, who He is in you, and what He means to do through you cannot be contained in your little box! Don't try to define the boundaries of God in your life because in Christ there are none!
The first piece to place in your Life puzzle must be the centre-piece: The Revelation of JESUS!
Start with Him right at the centre and then join only pieces that fit with Him, not ones you fit Him into. When you connect pieces with Him, in His time + His place, you will not have to try to force pieces together. They will flow together!

One Christmas I got a jigsaw puzzle: it was BIG!: a blue-and-white sailboat with white sails on a white-capped, blue sea and a blue sky with fluffy white clouds in the background. 2500 pieces, all in the same two colours! And every piece was also virtually the same size and shape: small, with tabs on each of two sides and indentations on the other two.
I rose to the challenge and began to piece together the unpieceable. It took hours! Days!
My Christmas holidays ended, but I came home from university on weekends and pressed on.. literally... I pressed and even pressured pieces into place, especially when my patience wore thin (and that grew to be more and more often). I placed what I'd already completed on a plywood sheet so I could move and store it safely. One weekend when I returned home, however, while opening my bedroom door, I inadvertently surprised the family cat, who had been comfortably sleeping on my bed ...on the puzzle. Startled, she immediately dug her claws into the puzzle, sprang from the bed, and dragging it behind her, left a broken trail of blue and white pieces.
I died.
I had worked so long and been so close to completion. And now, there lay my masterpiece... in pieces, a broken vision strewn from one end of the room to the other. The cat fled through the open door as I stood immobilized. Somehow I recovered enough to begin regathering the scattered pieces of my work. Some sections were still relatively intact; I just had to reconnect them. Others I had to completely reconstruct!
I don't remember how long the process took, but I do remember this: the day finally came to finish the last piece and... wouldn't you know it?
one piece was missing... right in the very centre!

Isn't that the picture of a life without Jesus?!
People try so hard to fit the details of their life picture together: all the colours, shapes and sizes of experience, but it's all in vain without Him first, right in the centre. Edges can define natural perameters and our relationships with other people, but in the Big Picture with God, they actually hinder. Jesus has taken away the veil of mystery and limitation that separated us from God, reality, our true identity and destiny.
He has given us the freedom to be who we truly are and all we can be!
We can look into the mirror of His face and know we are loved and accepted, but the picture's always changing as He transforms us from glory to glory! Natural mirrors expose faults that require our attention; but the mirror of His Spirit reveals an ever-changing Big Picture: Christ in us and us in Him becoming more and more like Him, the expression of His Body and Kingdom filling all the earth! (2Cor 3:18)
It's The Revelation of Jesus Christ... to us and through us!
Not only are we changed from glory to glory, but our lives become a continual revelation of His glory to others through us!
Jesus in you, Jesus in me WANTS OUT!
Take the step: Break the Box!!! There's so much more Revelation in His Big Picture!

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.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Revelation is …. Jesus Christ!

Move over, Hollywood. When it come to script-writing, you've got nothing on the Bible. In this field, the Oscar goes to... pause, drumroll... GOD.! And not only for this year's performance, but every year, His amazing tell-all Scripture continues probing and revealing both the heights and depths of the human heart and its history.
But even God breaks His own records in His last volume, The Revelation. When it comes to high drama, there's nothing like waiting for the seventh trumpet to sound.
You want special effects? How about a 200 million-man army and four thundering horsemen charging across the landscape, leaving war, famine and death in their wake?

Hollywood even selectively borrows from Revelation's abundance of names and symbols to fuel its own blockbusters. For example, check out 'Armageddon' (which had nothing whatsoever to do with the fortress in the Middle East, but everything to do with a meteorite threatening Earth's very existence). But when it comes to the real thing, somehow the movie capital misses the whole issue and The Passion of the Christ is relegated to the celluloid cutting floor and doesn't even make it onto the nominations list. It's amazing how this last book of the Bible, the only one to promise, right at its beginning, a special blessing to those who read and heed, has been so misunderstood that a large segment of the church avoids it like the plagues it describes.
When was the last time you heard your pastor preach from this book? It's become too controversial for many. Its vivid descriptions too graphic; its cataclysms too breathtaking; its interpretations too divisive.
We prefer that kind of stuff for our entertainment, but not for examining our hearts for truth.
Not one to avoid controversy, I therefore feel it necessary to open the discussion by lambasting a few of the common presumptions, prejudices and misconceptions that many hold out there about this book and launch out to proclaim and receive that awesome blessing it promises and delivers. Over the next while, I invite you to join with me as we take a walk (or come on eagles, let's fly and soar even!) in the Spirit and discover new horizons beckoning us into deeper realms of God's kingdom glory. You need not fear: Jesus will never get boring and His well will never run dry: it's rivers of living water for those who are thirsty!
First of all, verse 1 (check it out) holds the key. It is The Revelation of Jesus Christ! Not anti-Christ! It's mind-boggling to hear who people think of first when this book is mentioned. Right away the race is on to Chapter 13 to decipher 666, discover the number of the beast, where its secret computer is in Belgium, what the mark is and whether we've received it yet.
All this and 'anti-Christ' isn't even mentioned in Revelation –not even once!
Besides, why do so many remain ignorant of the first-mentioned mark - the Seal of the Living God - which is given to protect all true believers six chapters beforehand?

Again in the first verse, it's The Revelation --singular, not Revelations plural. Yes, there is a series of startling visions recorded here, but there is such unity in their progression that it is essentially one vision, reiterated again and again, first from one perspective and then another. That is ...The Revelation of Jesus Christ! who He is and what He has done, His Person and His Purpose, His Identity and Destiny openly revealed.

Do you see Him? Not only in this last book, but throughout the entire Bible? Jesus said to the Pharisees: 'You search the Scriptures and in them you think you have eternal life: and they are those which testify of me ...that is, Jesus! (John 5:39) It's all about Him! If we're not seeing Him on every page, we're only skimming the surface, we're not getting the full-meal deal. We're being cut short, robbed. Are you hungry? There's so much more! So take off those cool-looking Pharisee shades and put on Holy Spirit-fitted SON-glasses! You'll find Him everywhere!

Also, many presuppose Revelation is all about events of the end-times, the Lord's Second Coming, something like Arnold Schwarznegger's 'I'll be back!' However, as I read the text in its context, I realize the end-times already started when Jesus said, 'It is finished!' I am steadily being convinced the Holy Spirit desires to reveal a Prophetic Person more than prophesy events. We need to see Jesus more clearly and appreciate what really happened at His First Coming rather than speculate about the Second. Jesus Himself just said, 'Be ready!' to His disciples. He didn't give them the year, day or hour of His Second Coming. His 1st Coming was so vital that He raised up Daniel to pinpoint the very year Messiah came at least 570years beforehand! Rather than guesstimate or presuppose about the future, our world, and the Church especially, would benefit more by focusing on and appropriating the fullness of what God's Word has already prophesied and shown fulfilled in Christ than merely presume what we think might happen.

Furthermore, I am constantly amazed at how people in general, even Christians in particular, fear this book, when its purpose is wholly to dispel fear and let the love of Christ shine. I even found a copy of the recent DVD 'The Apocalypse' filed under the Horror-Sci-Fi section in the video store!
The Revelation has been used and abused over the past generations to:
castigate and even demonize political enemies;
stir up hell-fire and brimstone fears to promote and manipulate through false guilt;
encourage people to purchase fire insurance against hell rather than a life assurance relationship with a loving Saviour;
promote fear-mongering schemes such as the Y2K fiasco;
and increase book sales of spurious and unfounded speculations,
ultimately bringing disrepute and scorn on the Church and even the Word of God.

It's time to redeem the book from such such a maligned and undeserved reputation. It's the Revelation of the only and most beautiful Saviour this world could and will ever have, The Lord Jesus Christ!
Let's see Him and let Him be known for who He truly is! Come and join me! Let me know your thoughts as we begin together; it's a fascinating journey!