From the recording Revelation
A bible teaching message recorded as part of our systematic series of studies in John's Revelation; chapter 1 verse 1:
The book of Revelation; a book which deals with the most profound and sobering moments of human destiny; the conclusion of all things.
This is a book which records the last days of civilisation and the collapse of our world under the pressing judgments of Christ.
A book which records the implosion of:
• World economy
• World ecosystems
• Political order
• Religious systems
This is a book which anticipates:
On a global scale
It does become us in considering the book of Revelation to reflect on it very carefully, grapple with the issues personally, apply the lessons practically (yes practically) and where at all possible to have some kind of an answer for some of the very difficult questions which this letter raises.
It is tempting with an epistle like Revelation to turn to the ideas of others, the outlines and discoveries of others, and that can be helpful, but to interact only at that level; ie to understand or engage with someone who has engaged with the letter rather than to engage ourselves with the letter!
That is eminently understandable but the blessing does not lie in understanding someone who may understand and have read the letter. The blessing comes when we:
“those things which are written herein” (1:3)
That is interesting and challenging because there is much in this letter which we may not understand but there will be sufficient understanding brought by the Spirit of God to bring blessing to us at the point where grace meets us in our Christian life.
It is not sufficient to fail to fully engage with the text and truth of Revelation by recycling the ideas of others. The scholarship of others will be a great help but we cannot allow it to become a substitute for the scriptures.
It is only when we personally and actually engage with the scriptures that our life and then our testimony and then our ministry becomes authentic.
“the Revelation of Jesus Christ”
Is this the book about Jesus Christ?
It certainly is; Christ as the:
• Lord in the midst of His people
• Lamb on the throne
• Lion over the world
• Lover of the Church
• Light of eternity
This is indeed a book all about Jesus Christ; charting His life from:
• Grave (1:5) to the Glory (Rev 22)
• Cross (1:5) to the Crown (Rev 19:12, 16)
Yet all of the Bible is about Jesus Christ!
In the OT:
In the Gospels – biography – Person of Christ
In the epistles – doctrine
This is the ‘Revelation of Jesus Christ’ – the unveiling!
This is a unique glimpse behind the fabric of space and time, behind and beyond what we can see, to what we can’t see.
This book reveals that righteousness is not random.
Here is what lies behind the veil of reality, what is behind the scenes!
Not only do we see that righteousness is not random, but we also perceive that evil is not random:
• Christ and the Church
• Satan and Babylon
As He is progressively unveiled; we perceive Christ and:
• His Plan of Salvation (chapter 1)
• His Presence in the midst of the Church (chapters 1 to 3)
• His Power from the throne, in judgement (chapter 4 to 19)
• His Purpose for the universe (chapters 20 to 22)
• His Person supreme and glorified over all and in all
We peel away the layers of what we refer to as reality and behind the appearance of what we perceive to be transpiring we see that hand of Christ!
We gain a glimpse into the deep mysteries of this universe, beyond the dimensions of space and time.
The Bible is full of mysteries, 14 specific NT mysteries of which we find 3 in the book of Revelation itself:
The NT mysteries:
1. Mysteries of the Kingdom – Matthew 13:11; Mark 4:11; and Luke 8:10
2. Mystery of blindness on Israel (Romans 11:25)
3. Mystery of the Gospel to all peoples (Romans 16:25ff)
4. Mystery of the Cross (1 Corinthians 1+2:7ff)
5. Mystery of the Rapture (1Corinthians 15:51)
6. Mystery of His will, of all things in Christ (Ephesians 1:9)
7. Mystery of Jew and Gentile in 1 body (Ephesians 3:3ff)
8. Mystery of Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:32)
9. Mystery of Christ in you (Colossians 1:25ff)
10. Mystery of Iniquity (2 Thessalonians 2:7)
11. Mystery of Godliness (1 Timothy 3:16)
12. Mystery of the 7 churches (Revelation 1:20)
13. Mystery of Gods judgement (Revelation 10:7)
14. Mystery of Babylon the Great (Revelation 17:5-7)
What is a mystery?
Perhaps we have often heard the memorable phrase:
'Truth once concealed and now revealed'
With the thought of 'mystery' often attribute to previous concealment, ie that they once were a mystery.
Certainly this highlights one important aspect of the NT mysteries – that they are NT mysteries and that if anything can be discerned of them in the OT can only really be discerned in retrospect!
But as definitions go its not the best:
1. It's not very precise, that definition would apply to any NT revelation or doctrine not clearly revealed in the OT for example; the incarnation, life and ministry of Christ, justification by faith etc. It is not very informative.
2. It tells us nothing about the subject or content of the mysteries, it’s a rather cryptic definition of mystery! Having heard the definition of the mysteries of scripture, if I were to then ask; 'what is a mystery?' we would really be none the wiser.
3. It's not entirely accurate – there are some mysteries which are not yet revealed (eg 2 Thessalonians chapters 2 and 3 mysteries in Revelation).
4. It demystifies mysteries! Mysteries seem to maintain the character of mysteries in the NT rather than surrendering that character now that they are 'revealed' eg 1 Tim 3:9. This definition almost dismisses / denies the mystery aspect of these truths.
What are the New Testament mysteries?
''μυστήριον'' : from 'mustes' – a person initiated into the sacred mysteries, from 'mueo' to initiate, learn a secret or esoteric knowledge.
Linked to the sacred mysteries.
At the heart of many of the ancient religions lay a secret, an answer, a hidden insight into the nature of reality, the meaning of life, the destiny of existence, the mysteries!
This is still seen in some today: Mormonism, Free Masonry etc.
There is a reason we come to a place of worship, to a gathering, a reason we read the Bible!
One of those reasons is our search for answers, for meaning, for purpose.
We seek answers to why we are here, where we are going, the meaning of life, the answers to the big questions of life.
There are answers in the Bible.
The Bible is exceedingly interesting!
The Word of God contains God's answers to the reason why, who, what and how!
God's answers to:
• Why I am here
• What in the world is happening
• How I can find God
• Who God is
These are the New Testament mysteries!
These are Gods answers to the question why?
Gods hidden agenda.
They are justification for the conspiracy theorists paranoia that there is an agenda behind the scenes.
Gods hidden agenda, revealed not by time, not by a time delay switch but revealed to those that have ears to hear, those who have the Spirit of God!
'he that hath ears to hear let him hear' (Matt11:15; Luke8:8) and also Matt 13:11; Luke 8:10.
Not so much:
• Concealed in the past and revealed in the present but
• Concealed to the unregenerate and revealed by the Spirit of God
The distinction between:
• concealment and revelation
• mystery and understanding
lies not so much in time but in aptitude and ability.
The mystery is unlocked not by time but with a key; and that key is Christ.
Not so much a distinction between:
• without the Spirit
• with the Spirit
It is not time that is the key but Christ who is the key (Matt 16:19; Revelation 1:18; Rev 3:7)
God's agenda in human history has not been hidden.
God's desire is for a world saturated with the knowledge of God:
Habakkuk 2:14: 'filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord'
Isaiah 11:9: 'They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of -- the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.'
It is the insight into what is happening behind the scenes that is specific to Revelation.
• History is not chaotic
• Evil is not sporadic
• Righteousness is not random
Revelation gives us a glimpse behind the scenes of this universe, into dimensions not apparent.
It is interesting that science is perhaps catching up here!
• String theory – multiple dimensions beyond this world – possibly 11
• M-Theory – membrane / mystery / magic theory!
• Problem of the low value of gravity – cf. magnetic forces
• An attempt to identify the graviton via the SERN collider
• A hope to understand why the force of gravity is so low and the possibility of leakage into another dimension?
Much is speculative of course but one thing is clear, that mainstream science and physicists are seriously entertaining the idea that there is more to this universe than appears on the surface, there are more dimensions to this universe than we have before appreciated!
This is the “revelation of Jesus Christ”
Not only is it all about Jesus Christ – which of course the rest of the Bible is too:
• Prophetically in OT
• Pictorially in the OT
• Parable in the OT
• Person in the Gospels
• Doctrinally in the epistles
Here we see Christ hidden, cryptically, in secret and now unveiled:
• His Plan of Salvation (chapter 1)
• His Presence in the Church (chapters 1 to 3)
• His Power from the Throne (chapters 4 to 19)
• His Purpose for the World (chapter 19 to 20)
• His Pre-eminence Eternally (chapter 20 and 21)
Babylon, Satan, the Beast and false prophet are very much to the fore up until chapter 19; wickedness, death, destruction and chaos ensues, until reality is unveiled in chapter 20 and behind the scenes of the chaos of the apparent in the reality of one working all things according to the counsel of His own will; working all things for His Glory. Christ pulls the trigger on these judgements, from the very first seal which is opened till the final destiny is reached. He has been behind the whole of human history from the very beginning until the end.
• His Person sovereign supreme
Righteousness is not Random
Evil is not chaotic
There is order, and organisation.
Consider the coordinated and pan European attack on the Jews in WW2 and consider the ‘spontaneous’ almost world wide rise in woke culture, identity politics and the promotion of homosexuality and transgenderism. None of this is coincidental nor disco-ordinated.
A free to download audio sermon from our systematic series of bible teaching studies in the book of Revelation, the Apocalypse of John
Yours by God's Grace in Christ
Dr J Stewart Gillespie