Essential 100 - Week 16

August 5, 2016

Essential 100 - Week 16

Hello New Life Fellowship!

Well, it's happened.  We have finished the "Essential 100" passages of Scripture over the last 100 days!  I have talked to many of you who have experienced a profound sense of accomplishment because you never thought you could muster the discipline to do this every day for 100 days BUT YOU DID!  Well done.  We have all learned a lot.

Here are some things to notice about Revelation. 

1.  God has always desired a people for Himself, and God has invested in His Church GREATLY to this end.  Revelation 21:7 says this "Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children."  From the beginning of human history when God created man and woman in His image, and throughout the Bible it can be seen over and over again; God has always wanted a people for Himself.  But the people were not faithful, so even when things began to look good, sin would hit, and people would turn away from God.  In Revelation, we see God's desire for a faithful people reiterated again and finally fulfilled in the consummation of all things.  We see God has leveraged all of the resources of heaven to bring His plan into fulfillment - and IT IS FINISHED.  Revelation 1:5-6  "To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever!"

2.  God actually cares about individual Churches by name.  He knows what they do well, and what they are not doing so well at, and he offers exhortation to encourage them towards the good and dissuade them from the bad.  In Revelation 2-3, we read a series of letters to earthly Churches which contain many encouragements and judgments which we could generalize and use to examine our own Church.  In fact, this is what I have done.  If God were to write a letter to the Church of Saratoga called "New Life Fellowship", what would He write?  What would he encourage us in, and what would He say were things that need to change?  Revelation 2:17  "17 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it."

God really cares about individual Churches.  He has invested in them His very life, and He both sees and cares about what they are doing in specific detail. . .because He loves us.  Revelation 3:19 "19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me."

3.  Revelation is a book that people say is hard to understand, but when I read it, though there is mysterious language, it's message and application is clear as a bell to me.  This is not something too mysterious for the average person to understand.  Put very simply, human history will come to an end, and God will bring His Kingdom to its fulfillment.  It therefore matters greatly how we live our lives as individuals and as Churches; not as unwise, but as wise.  And what we are supposed to be doing and how we are supposed to be doing it has been clearly defined for us - even here is Revelation

Revelation 20:15 says plainly, "15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire."  That is pretty cut and dry.  Those who do not know Jesus as Savior are not saved from judgment.  In fact, being saved from the future judgment is what we mean when we say someone is "saved".  He goes on to describe in detail what this judgment looks like in Revelation 21:6-8 "He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

We must both believe in Jesus Christ for salvation (have our names written in the Lambs book of life through faith in Jesus' sufficient sacrifice), and we must flee from those common day-to-day sins that we seem to entertain and enjoy without taking them too seriously.  Listen to those words in verse 8"...the cowardly [who deny their faith in certain situations], the unbelieving [who do not really believe in the sufficiency of Jesus' sacrifice for their salvation] the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and the liars - they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur.  This is the second death."  Perhaps our generation even more than others before us needs to hear these words.  The sexually immoral, the liars, the vile...these things are commonplace, and we accept them to lesser and greater extents everyday...But we need to repent of these things as well that we might not lose out on salvation and the deeper life with The Holy Spirit.      

I find the ending to Revelation to be sobering and even chilling.  A welcome dose of reality to the sincere seeker.  Revelation 22:1-12

"10 Then he told me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this scroll, because the time is near. 11 Let the one who does wrong continue to do wrong; let the vile person continue to be vile; let the one who does right continue to do right; and let the holy person continue to be holy.”

12 “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End."

God is letting time go on.  And God says, "let the one who is doing wrong continue to do wrong, and let the one who is doing right continue to do right...then at a time no one expects, either from their personal death or at my coming - at this unexpected time I will come and give each person their due".  So, the encouragement is BE HOLY as God is Holy, even if you feel no reward for this. . .Even if you are persecuted for it!  God sees.  God will reward you.  Turn from your pet sins.  It seems like we are getting away with a lot, but God sees and God is allowing time to pass...then one day in a flash...

Persevere.  Keep the faith.  Pursue righteousness.  Behold, He comes.

“Look, he is coming with the clouds,”
    and “every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him”;
    and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.”
So shall it be! Amen.
      -Revelation 1:7