Tag Archives: Revelation

The Beginning and the End

And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. (Revelation 21.5-6)

This passage reminds me of other biblical texts. Isaiah heard God say, “Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new…” (Isaiah 43.18-19).

Centuries later Paul wrote, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5.17).

God can take people and re-create them, and will someday create “a new heaven and earth” for the saints whose lives He has renewed.

“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.”

We have heard this claim before; it was made by the risen Christ back in chapter one, verse eight.

Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet and omega the last. The text goes on to amplify that statement. God is the beginning and the end. The word for beginning is archē; it means more than just the first in time but also first in the source of all things.

The word for end is telos, and means not only the end in point of time but also the goal.

The great truth of the statement is this: All life begins in God and ends in God. Paul expressed this same concept, “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things” (Romans 11.36).

grace to you all, peaceBill

 

The Revelation of Christ: Who He Is, What He Does for Us

 

November 27, 2016 – Bill Bryan

Revelation 1:4-6

John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood – and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father -to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

The Faithful Witness

The Firstborn from the Dead – Romans 1:4; 1 Corinthians 15:20-23

The Ruler of kings on earth – Philippians 2:9-11

Who:

Loved us

Loosed us

Made us a kingdom, priests – Colossians 1:13-14; Philippians 3:20

 

 

Christ – the One and Only

January 31, 2016 – Bill Bryan

Notes and Scriptures
  • Ecclesiastes 12:14 – God will bring every act to judgment….
  • 2 Corinthians 5:10 – For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ…
Previous Lessons:
  1. God as Creator
  2. God as Revealer
  3. God as Initiator
  • John 3:16 – For God so loved the world – Universal and Conditional
  • John 6:35 – “I am the bread of life…”
  • John 8:12 – “I am the light of the world….”
  • John 11:21-25 – “I am the resurrection and the life.”
  • John 14:1-6 – “I am the way, the truth and the life.”
  • Revelation 1:8, 17-18 – “I am the Alpha and the Omega…the First and the Last…the Living One…I hold the keys.”

Ancient Models for Contemporary Church Growth

The Churches of Asia

The churches of Asia addressed in the second and third chapters of Revelation were real churches facing real problems. They are also representations of the Lord’s church and the challenges it faces at any time in any circumstance. The guidance given by the Spirit through the apostle to these churches provides us with divine models for church growth and development. Briefly, here are three case studies:

1. The church in Ephesus was strong.

They worked hard and had endured much without becoming weary. They were doctrinally sound and did not tolerate evil men. Yet they were in serious trouble. They were charged with having “left their first love.” In their fervor to be right they had lost sight of Him from whom their righteousness derived.

As we work together, our first priority must be to love the Lord, allowing Him to remake us all in His image. Let our allegiance be solely to Him, relying on His word to guide us. Let us confidently and compassionately speak the truth in love, that we may grow up in all things into Him who is our head, even Christ (Ephesians 4.15).

2. The church in Philadelphia was about to face severe persecution.

However, the Lord revealed He had placed before them an open door that no one could shut. As those faithful saints responded with selfless resolve to the challenges confronting them, God not only promised to stand by them in their hour of testing, but to also provide opportunities for greater service.

We must learn this lesson well. God protects and provides for those who are ready to serve. Like our brethren in Philadelphia centuries ago, a door stands open before us. We have the wonderful opportunity to practice simple New Testament Christianity before a watching and largely skeptical world.

 3. The church in Laodicea was complacent.

They were wealthy, self-sufficient, and had need of nothing. Apparently they were not doing anything, either – content with themselves.

God will not tolerate complacency and indifference. Our pilgrimage here is brief; there is much to do. Our churches, though small, have been abundantly blessed with a variety of resources. It’s time to dream, to imagine what God can accomplish through us. We cannot afford to be satisfied, content with where we are.

Learning from the Churches in Asia

Studying these lessons from the past will help us grow and mature now. A healthy church is one that is always to learn from the experiences of others. These examples of Ephesus, Philadelphia, and Laodicea demonstrate that:

  • We must be churches whose sole loyalty is to Christ, committed to fulfilling His purpose for us.
  • We must be churches of steadfast service, doing our best to make full use of the opportunities God provides us to help others.
  • We must be churches “on fire,” ever active and vigilant, using to our full potential the resources God has given us.

 Bill

 

Pictures of Salvation

For who among men knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of the man, which is in him? even so the things of God none knoweth, save the Spirit of God. But we received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God; that we might know the things that were freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth; combining spiritual things with spiritual words. (1 Corinthians 2.11-13)

There is a problem understanding spiritual things with a mind orientated to thinking in physical terms. After all, we live in a world of matter, time, and decay. How do we describe the beauty of heaven, the horror of hell, or the wonder of salvation in physical terms? It seems an almost insurmountable task. Yet God, who fully understands our limitations, draws on human experiences and physical reality to describe spiritual things.

The Bible is filled with “spiritual pictures” drawn in language and terms we can understand. By looking at these pictures our spiritual awareness is quickened and our spiritual nature is aroused. In this way our faith grows and matures: So faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ (Romans 10.17).

Think about the picture of the prodigal son, the pearl of great price, the tree of life and the golden city of God. Each picture reveals another facet of great spiritual truth. No single picture reveals it all, but each contributes to the whole revelation until we eventually stand awed by the complete painting.

Word Pictures in the New Testament

Some words and concepts in the New Testament are word pictures themselves – words like atonement, forgiveness, justification, redemption, reconciliation, regeneration, and sanctification. Each word draws on either an example from the Old Testament or human experience to shed more light on the wonder of salvation.

The Book of Revelation is a classic example. In Revelation numbers, symbols, colors, and even grotesque images are used to represent various pictures or scenes in God’s relationship with humankind. Each scene sheds more light, more facts, more depth to the panoramic canvas of human understanding until we eventually see the whole picture clearly.

The Ultimate Revelation

Jesus Himself is the ultimate revelation of God: No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him (John 1.18). God exists fully in spirit. To reveal Himself to us He entered the physical realm through Jesus Christ. He did so visibly, powerfully, and dramatically. In Jesus, God says, “I’ll draw a picture for you so you can see what I’m like.”

Our duty is to search out and examine the many beautiful and descriptive pictures God has drawn. Beginning in Genesis, the “book of beginnings,” in the Garden of Eden and ending in Revelation with the description of the city containing the tree of life, the Bible paints a wondrous mosaic of the rich and rewarding experience to be found in faith. Each portrait in itself is captivating, but only when pieced together and viewed as a whole are we able to see and appreciate its complete beauty.

The picture of salvation, as drawn in the Word of God, is mixed in the paint of human understanding, experience, and feeling. It’s painted on the canvas of time and it reveals the glory of God’s grace and love to a human race in search of its meaning and purpose.

…but God, being rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace have ye been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus: for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man should glory. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them.    (Ephesians 2.4-10)

Nirene

Nirene Kitt died late Tuesday morning at her home here in Imperial. I have known her for 45 years (that’s half her lifetime). She let me marry her daughter, Cheryl. Without Nirene, I would not have the family I have now, those whom I love and cherish above all else. Nirene is exceedingly precious to me.

Last Thursday, a week ago, she and I had a face-to-face, heart-to-heart talk about death and life. She realized she was not going to get well. I ask her how she felt about that. She said, “Well, I’m not real happy about it…I’d like to live, but I’m 90 and my body is wearing out.” As we held hands, I asked her if she was afraid to die. She looked straight back at me and thought for a moment before answering, “No, I don’t think so…well, yes, kind of…I mean I don’t know what to expect and that’s a little frightening.”

Death is a common yet unknown experience. Life is the known experience. It is only natural to face the unknown with some “uneasiness” or apprehension. Here is where faith matters.

We didn’t talk any more about death and dying, but of faith and living. Faith doesn’t ignore doubt and apprehension but faces them head on. Faith acknowledges the bazillion questions we can’t answer and says, “so what?” Faith takes us by the hand in the face of doubt and death and assures us there is sufficient evidence and truth to confirm that our trust in God is not misplaced.

Nirene is a Christian. That is all that matters now. She was not famous. The world did not gasp at the news of her death as it did when a popular recording star died about the same time as she. Fame and fortune, power and privilege, ambition and success are important only to those living. In death the only thing that matters is Faith.

I refuse to think of her in the past tense. True, she has completed her pilgrimage here, but she still is. She is a part of the “innumerable multitude” (Revelation 7.9-10), the Church Triumphant, and therefore we may confidently say, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on! Yes, says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them” (Revelation 14.13).

– Bill

 

“Behold, I Am Making All Things New”

And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.  Revelation 21.5-6

As the apocalyptic vision of trial and triumph draws to its victorious end, the embattled saints hear anew the promises of heaven and of life renewed.

This passage reminds us of other biblical texts. Isaiah heard God say, “Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new…” (Isaiah 43.18-19). Centuries later Paul wrote,“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5.17). God can take people and re-create them, and will someday create “a new heaven and earth” for the saints whose lives He has renewed.

“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.” We have heard this claim before; it was made by the risen Christ back in chapter one, verse eight. That claim is also reflective of the earlier prophets, “I am the first and the last, and there is no God besides Me” (Isaiah 44.6).

Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet, and Omega the last. The text goes on to amplify that statement. God is the beginning and the end. The word for beginning is archē. It means not simply the first in point of time but also first in the sense of the source of all things. The word for end is telos and means not only the end in point of time but also as the goal.

The great truth of the statement is this: All life begins in God and ends in God. Paul expressed this same concept a bit more  philosophically when he wrote, “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things” (Romans 11.36).

It is impossible to say anything more magnificent about God. At first thought, it might seem to remove God to such a distance that we are no more to Him than a speck on a pane of glass. But hear what comes next! “I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.” All God’s greatness is at our disposal…”God so loved that He gave….”

Bill

 

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Apocalyptic Sevens in Revelation


  1. Seven Seals (4.1 – 6.17) – assurances that God would protect His church during the period of the Roman persecutions. Their primary message was that God is in control of history and He will not allow His people to be destroyed.
  2. Seven Trumpets (8.1 – 11.19) revealed partial judgments (by thirds) against Rome, with provisions for repentance and salvation. Their primary message was that God’s holiness is tempered with mercy and His punishments directed against Rome were designed to encourage her to repent.
  3. Seven Bowls of Divine Wrath (15.1 – 16.21), to be poured out on Rome. These have nothing to do with repentance. The church has been secured against destruction, and Rome has been given every opportunity to repent. The mighty empire is so arrogant and proud that it refuses to repent, neither will she cease her persecutions against the church. Therefore, she has left God no choice but to release the full fury of His wrath against her. With the pouring out of these bowls we learn of God’s attitude toward all deliberate sin.

 

Revelation: The Language of Imagination

Without question, the Book of Revelation is difficult. It is a challenge to read. It is a challenge to study. And it is a challenge to teach! “Why,” the question was recently asked in class, “couldn’t it have been written in plain simple language we could understand? Why so hard?”

Revelation addresses a unique problem – unthinkable, horrific persecution. Its unique literary style describes in vivid imagery that persecution, and the wrath of God reserved for the persecutors, and then the eternal, heavenly vindication and reward for those who remained faithful in the face of the persecution.

There is nothing in Revelation that instructs us on how to become a Christian, or what a Christian should believe, or how a Christian should live. Those vital truths so crucial to our salvation are revealed and written in plain simple language that everyone can understand.

Revelation is different. It demands we read it slowly and carefully. It advises us to be cautious in our interpretation and application of its images and symbols. It urges us to close our eyes and allow our imagination to give animation to the panorama of visions it presents. It takes our breath away; it bewilders us with mystery and wonder; it fills us with awe.

Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near. (Revelation 1.3)

Bill

 

The Crown of Life

Thank God for the Book of Revelation! He knew that Christians in the churches of Asia needed a vision of victory as they faced imminent persecution. He also knew Christians in the twenty-first century need the same vision of victory to lift us above the mundane, to invigorate our faith, and to awaken our courage with remembrances of our faithful brethren in times past.

We may never have our faith tested by vicious persecution like our early brethren. But the secular forces at work today that test the mettle of our faithfulness are no less lethal than the fiery trials unleashed by Nero and Domitian. Soul-emptying materialism, heart-withering individualism, and character-numbing relativism, these are the beasts, the whores, and the dragons of the God-denying secular culture in which we live.

Revelation lifts our spirits. It gives us an awareness of the conflict in the heavenly places – the battle being waged over the possession of our souls. It calls us to focus our eyes on the unseen realm where the risen Christ, the Lord of lords and the King of kings, leads us to everlasting victory over the forces of darkness, despair, and doubt. “Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life” is the banner under which we fight and the confident expectation by which we live.

Revelation challenges our courage. It asks each of us: Do we have a faith worth dying for? A faith worth sacrificing everything for? Our early brethren in the churches of Asia believed their faith was worth that price. We follow in their footsteps, we live in their shadow –

Lord, give us such a faith as this;
And then, what-ere may come,
We’ll taste e’en here the hallowed bliss
Of an eternal home.

Maranatha! – Bill