· Churches that are healthy allow its people to know and exercise their spiritual gifts, and the strongest churches mentor their people further in them.
· Unhealthy churches tend to ignore its people’s gifting and talents.
Revelation 1: 12-16
The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire.
How would you react if Christ appeared to you as He did with John in this passage? How would this affect the way you lead and manage your church? What can this attitude do to help you be more reverent to Christ in your daily life?
The image of Christ in this passage is breathtaking. It is not that of the humble servant, Son of man; now it is the immeasurable Sovereign of the universe standing in the heavens, holding the stars. If you have a basic understanding of modern astronomy, you can begin to see this wonder. He was blazing as radiantly as the sun with a voice that thundered as He held the Churches in His grip. John’s only response was to fall face down as dead in total reverence and humility to Christ’s Lordship. Just as we must do when we see Who we serve and Who we give glory to.
A testimony to how we are to see Christ, as LORD, over all, our lives belong to Him, we serve in His church!
Let’s see what the Word has to say with these key words:
“Lampstands.” The image that God is Light refers to the Church as the body of believers and whose duty it is to be a light as a witness for Christ. His character is the Light we follow and proclaim. Christ is the Priest, Head, Lord, and Prime Shepherd of the Church. He is the Object and Reason why we meet and function.
This is what we must get, Who we serve, why we serve, and how we are to serve!
This refers to the O.T. account of how God’s Glory descended into the Tabernacle. How He loved and gives His presence to His Church. Now, our purpose is to point to His glory, as the Church is the light of the world. Christ is the destiny and pattern we follow and emulate. Proclaiming the Church as a lamp stand is saying the Church is significant as the true place of reverence to God, and Christianity is the true practice of Judaism (Gen. 1:3; Ex. 25:31-40; 1 Kings 7:49; Zech. 4:2; Matt. 5:14-16; 18:20; 28:20; John 1:4-5; 8:12; 14:18; Acts 26:13; Eph. 1:10; 5:8-13; Phil. 2:15; 1 John 1:4-5; Rev. 2:9; 3:9).
“Like a son of man,” refers to His supremacy, distinction wisdom, honor, respect, dignity and role as Lord Ruler and Love for the believer. Christ appears in overwhelming brilliance and glory that was extremely difficult to put into words, as the world cannot contain His essence. The high priest was dressed in expensive, decorative, full-length girdles and robes. This alludes to Ezekiel and Daniel and portrays Christ as Judge and Ruler over all, especially the Church in which we think we rule. These key words refer to His Glory, Deity, and the victory and conquest over sin, and His guarantee of the final victory in the last days. It also refers to Christ being our High Priest. In context, this is also powerful Trinitarian imagery (Ex. 28:4; 29:5, 29; Lev. 19:32; Ezek. 1:13, 25-28; Prov. 16:31; Isa. 1:18Dan. 7:9-13; 10:5-6; Ezek. 1:25-28; Mark 8:31; Col. 1:16-17; Rev. 1:17-18; 2:27; 3:21;15:6; 17:14; 19:11-16).
“Blazing fire” means God’s penetrating insight and strength, His Sovereignty as Warrior, and His role as victor in the final battle to come. It also refers to the great victories of battle in the O.T. This points to the Transfiguration (Ex. 15:3; Duet. 32: 41-42; Judges 5:31; Isa. 59:17-18; Zech. 14:3; Dan. 10:6; Matt. 13:43; 17:2; Rev. 4:6; 19:11-21).
“Bronze… feet” means bearers of God’s throne, and that God is irresistible and firm (Ezek. 1:7; Dan. 10:6)
“Seven stars.” Jewish texts often display angels as stars. In contrast, pagans saw stars as the rulers of their destiny when, in fact, God, who is LORD is that ruler.
“Double-edged sword” refers to the Roman “Thracian” sword that a small double edge dagger used as an offensive weapon, it is referring to the power of His Word and the testimony of our Lord. It symbolizes His divine judgment and decisive action (Isa. 4:12; 11:4; 49:2; Eph. 6:17; Heb. 4:12; Rev. 2:12, 16; 6:8; 19:15, 21)
“Sun.” Angels are sometimes described as shining like the sun (Isa. 60:1-3, 19-20; Dan. 10:6; Rev. 21:22).
Obviously, this is a figurative, not a literal description of our Lord! Christ is shown as Supreme, and Head over the Church. He controls the Church. Does He control yours, or do you think you do (2 Cor. 3:18; Eph. 4:13-15; 5:23; Col. 1:15-20; 1 Tim. 3:1-7; Tit. 1:5-9)?
This passage displays God’s splendor in the best symbolic words and imagery available following Daniel chapter seven, where mere words are insufficient to convey who He is.
Look carefully at these key words. Let them remind us of Who we are to worship, and motivate us in the day to day activities as we give direction and leadership the sheep of His Church. (Rev. 5:6; 14:14; 19:11-13).
What does it mean to you and your faith that Jesus is the ultimate Priest, Judge, King, and Ruler of the Church?
How and why is it important for a leader to lead by example by going first to the destination to which they are leading others? Can someone lead effectively if they have never been there before, such as teaching of character yet not having it?
What is the image of Christ to you in this passage? How does this give you more information so you can have a better, healthier concept of who God is? How can this translate into your daily life?
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· Churches that are healthy are pursuing the purpose for which God has created and called them to.
· Unhealthy churches tend to pursue the purpose the leaders want, personal agendas that are usually contrary to God’s will and precepts or are unrealistic or ineffective.
The first vision! Revelation 1: 9-11,
… John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus…
What does it mean to you to shine before God? How does holding His true Truth help you shine and make Him known in a dark world?
Jesus is proclaimed as the Priest, Judge, King, and Ruler of the Church. This is not theory, rather, reality with which we must connect. This is also our template how we view, understand and undertake the management of His Church. That He IS, and what we do is for Him.
The context is that John is getting his people ready for his visions. To do so, John is demonstrating humility, making a connection to his people so they can have hope and endurance by the sharing of his sufferings and experiences and they will know he is still with them in spirit and in understanding. This is what we are doing as we disciple and proclaim the glory of our Lord.
John was not living the good life while his people were being persecuted; he was in the frontlines of it all. He was a leader who led by example by going first to the destination to which he was leading others. Now that he has set a tone, he tells them of his incredible vision of Christ and His call to the leadership of the Seven Churches. Jesus is speaking to him in vivid imagery, commanding him to write it all down so it can be shared and used to further the Kingdom.
This means we lead from the front. Not in the rears barking orders or giving suggestions that we have no experience or intention of doing.
John is addressing all Christians, not just the seven churches, because the seven means “completeness” and represents us all. John is making it personal and caring, yet forceful in function. He gives a call to remain faithful and keep our trust in Christ no matter what comes our way in sufferings or temptations. In so doing, we are to focus on His Way, even in persecution and stress (Rev. 2:2-3, 13, 19; 3:10; 6:11; 13:10; 14:12; 16:15; 18:4; 20:4; 22:7, 11, 14).
Let’s see what the Word has to say with these key words:
“The Lord’s Day” was a covert term to mean when the Early Church met for worship. It refers to the day of worship, Sunday, where Christ’s resurrection, victory, and Last Supper were celebrated. Many Christians were Jews and still participated in the Sabbath observances, too (John 20:19; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2; Rev. 19:1-10).
“In the Spirit” means “spiritual exaltation,” possibly as in charismatic worship. However, John did not solicit this vision; God gave it to him. The Holy Spirit provided John the visions and took him to places he could actually see. Thus, he is recording authentic images he saw in reality; this was no dream (1 Chron. 25:1-6; Ezek. 2:2; 3:12-14, 24; 8:3; 11:1, 24; Acts 10:10; Rev. 4:2; 17:3; 21:10).
“Loud voice” refers to the power of Christ and our duty to reverence Him (Job 37:5-6; Ezek. 1:24; 43:2; Dan. 10:6).
“Trumpet” means God is preparing to give a command or the pronouncement of His Word (Ex. 19:16).
“Seven churches.” These are not allegories, but rather real, actual churches in Asia Minor (Modern Turkey) whose tangible problems are the representation of the ones we still have with us today. There were many more churches in Asia Minor at that time, as seven is symbolic for completeness, and thus applies to all churches in all.
In the Old Testament Tabernacle that Moses built and where the Jews first worshiped God, there was one lampstand with seven branches (in practice some Jews use six to nine branches, so not to duplicate anything that was in the Temple). This is now called the “menorah,” a prime symbol of Judaism today and used in “Chanukah.” This Menorah had seven branches that symbolized the assembly of believers and how God’s light shines to us and how we are to be the ‘shine’ in others’ lives (Ex. 25:31-40; Isaiah 42:6; Zech. 4:1-6; Matt. 5:16; Phil. 2:14-16).
The Bottom-line of how we are to lead and manage the church from the precepts of Revelation, is that it also points us that it is God’s power that leads, not our ways or trends.
The essential framework to build a healthy church is to understand that its prime purpose is to glorify Christ, not to please our comforts or ideas. Or bow to a personality, giving a dog and pony show. We are to shine before Christ by holding His truth, and shine for the Lord, making Him known in a dark world!
Who is Christ in your life? How is He reverenced in your church? (Not so much in worship, but in the attitude of veneration in the leadership.) This would mean, how Jesus is adored in the reality of relationships, attitudes, and daily functioning of how we are conducting our lives and church. This can be the indicator if you are on the right track or lost in pride.
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· Churches that are healthy have a strong sense of biblical value for faith in the practice of church and personal life. The Bible is real and relevant in the life of the leaders, so it is taught as well as caught from one another.
· Unhealthy churches tend to have a weak sense of biblical worth and see faith as just personal, not practiced in the life of the church. The Bible is seen as unrelated to church leadership and thus they seek substitutes from non-biblical or psychological/cultural sources.
Revelation 1: 5-8
“Look, he is coming with the clouds…”
We are called a kingdom and priests! What does this mean? In the O.T. meant that all God’s people were holy, set part for purpose, loved and protected by Him.
John begins His Book by reminding his readers of whom and what Christ is, His supremacy, and His role of Redeemer and Judge. What we must be reminded of as we lead and mange His Church. He then gives us a glimpse of end-time events, what we can look forward to. What does this do for us at the board meetings and in the pulpits? We must never forget who we are in Christ. If we do, we will quickly fall into pride and apostasy, buying the lies and living in our depravity. Thus, mismanaging His Church.
Revelation gives us a pointer, shows us that God is beyond time and space, and beyond our comprehension other that what He has clearly revealed to us. He has a plan; let’s face Him, not our fears or our doubts or other’s misgivings. Let us swim in His living waters, and lead our churches as well (Jer. 2:13; 17:13; John 4:10-11; 7:38; Rev. 7:17).
Before Christ, under law, there were specific roles in the priesthood that people were called and ordained to fill. Priests were to be bridges from God to man. Now, through Christ, we have direct, intimate access to Him, and in the future, each of us will reign with Him. Each of us is a royal priest as a representative of Christ (doctrine of the priesthood of all believers) on earth, and as ministers, we model His character. And the bigger point that is often missed, is our call here, to be Christ’s representative, not come up with spurious ideas on His Second Coming (Ex. 19:1-6; 20:6; Lev. 10:10-11; Isa. 66:20; Matt. 21:43; 28:19-20; Rom. 15:16; 2 Cor. 5:20; Eph. 2:1-10; Heb. 7; 10:19-22; 1 Pet. 2:1-10; Rev. 2:26-27; 3:21; 5:9-10; 20:4-6).
Now, see what this does for church leadership, here is the Hope, “He is coming,” this is one of the main themes of this Epistle, the announcement that Christ is coming back. It is a pronouncement of not just hope, but a pointer to Who and What we are as a church to be about.
Get ready…. “the clouds,” which means a spectacular event, such as numbers of angels testifying to God’s glory. It could also mean an extraordinary storm of clouds. But what does this really mean? This means judgment for the wicked. Not so much with what the popular false teachers proclaim who miss the point (Ezek. 30:3; Dan. 7:13; Zech. 12:10; Matt. 16:28; 24:30, 34; 26:64). This is also comforting for the suffering Christians and chastisement for those who are evil and reject Him (Deut. 33:2; Isa. 19:1; Zech. 1:16; Mal. 3:1-2; Matt. 10:23; Rev. 2:5; 3:20).
Now comes The Voice, God’s Voice, “I am” refers to God the Father testifies that the Son, Christ, is God. This means Jesus loves us and has washed our sins away from God’s presence. Not just the Israelites, but also all people in Him are those elected ones and have courage, comfort, and faith in Christ. He rules over all (Prov. 21:1; Dan. 2:21; 4:17; Zech. 12:12; Matt. 3:17; Heb. 13:8).
What is going to happen? The realization will come that our will is not in control and our desires and sin have gotten us a raw deal. A reminder when we lead, instruct, even in the dreariest of meetings, we are in His Hands. What a great comfort to those in persecution at the hands of such people to know that they will get what is coming (Zech. 12:10)!
Who and What it is all about, our faith and our leadership all must be from and point to: “Alpha and the Omega!” This means God is eternal and rules over all places and time. He is omnipotent, all-powerful. Referring to the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet meaning His Sovereignty, Christ is all in all; He is LORD of all that is past, present, and is to come. His will and purpose will come true, and ours will not; so, to grow, we must surrender to Him (Isa. 41:4; 44:6; Rom. 8:18-25; Gal. 2:20-21; Rev. 22:12-16).
Do not worry, Christ is coming and all will consummate His will and purpose. Justice and His Kingdom will be fulfilled, and every knee will bow. God may seem to be slow, taking His time, but He does this for good reason. Life is about learning and growing, about becoming faithful, infused with His Spirit, spiritually responsible and character-driven. It is not about how we feel or what we want (Isa. 45:23; Rom. 14:11; Phil. 2:10; Rev. 21:1-22:5)!
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