The Book of Revelation and Church Leadership, PVI

see ChristHow we are to see Christ 

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?

 

The Pastors Role is to point people to Christ!

John 21:16; Acts 20:28; Ephesians 4:11-12; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Tim. 3:1-7; 4:15-16; 5:17; 2 Tim. 2:15; 4:1-5; 1 Pet. 5:1-2

Preach, teach, and point your flock to the LORD Jesus Christ and not to yourselves!

“You must not lose confidence in God because you lost confidence in your pastor. If our confidence in God had to depend upon our confidence in any human person, we would be on shifting sand.”  Francis A. Schaeffer

 We are not to point to trends or to ourselves, we are not to be sloppy in our studies or devotions, we are not to have dinner conversations in the pulpit, we are to preach!

Feed your sheep!  16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” John 21:16

Shepherd your sheep! 28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. Acts 20:28

Equip your people! 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up Ephesians 4:11-12

Be right with God! 6 An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. 7 Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. 8 Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. Titus 1:5-9

Have Character and Fruit of the Spirit! 3 Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. 1 Timothy 3:1-7

Do your best due diligence! 15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. 1 Timothy 4:15-16

Be worthy! 17 The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. 1 Timothy 5:17

Teach true Truth! 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

Preach and teach correctly! 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:1-5

Point to Christ as LORD! 5 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve;… 1 Peter 5:1-2

Pastors, you must teach the Bible in full clarity with power, conviction and in the full true Truth. If not, then quit…and go sell insurance….run do not walk to the nearest exit, leave, vamoose, hit the road, and give your pulpit to someone, who knows the Word, loves the Lord and who will preach Truth, teach and disciple! Why? For the reason, you are not a ‘real’ pastor, in the biblical sense, who is called to equip, inspire and train; rather, you are just a noise of 1 Cor. 13:1….

The Call for the Church from Colossians PII

…if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel… Colossians 1:15-23

Christ is Supreme! That means He is also the Head of the Church! We tend to run our churches as if we were in control, basing our decisions on gathering needs and developing programs to fill those needs. Yet, as good as this may sound, the main thing in church leadership is left out. Where is Christ and where is His purpose and direction? We close the door to our Lord! He is the head; that means we must line ourselves up to Him and His Lordship, not our ideas, trivialities, and agendas. We are to seek Him as Lord over all—over our lives as well as our churches!

Remember the Dead Sea; if all we do is allow Him to flow into us and not out, we will stagnate. If we just try to go it alone without our Lord, we will fail. We cannot flow out if nothing flows in.

The responsibility is clear; we are to allow His Spirit to flow in and out, as we are His tools, His children, and His love. When our faith becomes strong, we will not be moved from it, and that means we will not be moved away from Christ. This is what steadfastness is all about: not being shaken from our beliefs and faith in our Lord. When we stray off our path, we tend to substitute steadfastness with stubbornness that takes us far from the purpose and responsibility of the Lord’s church. Being firmly rooted in Christ means keeping to the integrity of Scripture and His teachings, for when we stray from that path, our church will stray away from His opportunities and call. Christ gives us the hope and opportunities to grow, learn, and abide in Him; we are to respond to the call and opportunities He gives with hope and joy.

We must do this in all things—worship, relationships, our thought processes, how we make decisions, and how we institute and instigate the work of the church.

It all must flow and come from Christ our Lord, our Leader and God, and from nowhere else. When we stop experiencing Jesus as our Lord, and He becomes only a figure in the sanctuary, then we will not be a purposeful or called Church for Him. When we are singing praise choruses and hymns that point to His Holiness and Greatness and as Head of our lives and church, do we mean it? Or, is it merely rhetoric and repetition that has no meaning behind it?

The church exists as a response to the grace of our Lord. Because of what He did, we are to glorify, magnify, praise His name, and then respond further from our worship of Him to our works for Him. Remember that works have no saving construct; they are only the appreciation and response we are give to His majesty and redemption. Grace working in us will produce the work and will of our devotion and holiness to set us apart for His plan. Our response is to accept His teachings and love with joyful excitement, and replicate it in our lives, thoughts, and actions, and to grow and perfect the relationship and work He gives us.

The Call for the Church from Colossians PI

…He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy…. Colossians 1:15-23

The chief characteristic of who we are in Christ is the fact He is the living Supreme God who has existed for all time, who transcends space, time and thought, who knows us intimately, and who loves us. Christ is Lord; Christ is Supreme! Christ is the tangible aspect of God who is beyond sight and comprehension. He is the God who created the universe, who made all things. He made all that we see, and all that we do not see! He is the God who created the molecules of substance, formed the ground on which we stand and the wood on which He was crucified. In all of life, in whatever we will face and know, He has gone and still goes before and with us. This world was created by Christ and for Christ; He is indeed supreme. We need to learn to live our lives in Him for His glory. In so doing, we will be much better as stewards of His Church.

Church life is not about our ideas, presumptions, or expectations—it is about Him as LORD!

When we finally achieve this mindset, we begin our journey of growing in faith, maturity, character, and becoming more content in life and of better use to Christ and others around us. This is realized when we see the hope we have in Him, and allow that hope to be a foundation; He will carry is through all things.

What does this passage have to do with the responsibility of the church?

A lot! This passage is about reconciliation, and the church’s responsibility is to mirror the character of God who reconciled us to Him! Christ has and is revealing the invisible God to us, and we cannot and must not look for God anywhere else. If we look for God in ourselves or anywhere else in the world, we will fail as a church and as believers. This is because the church is the body of Christ, and as believers we are to believe. We are to follow and lead as examples, surrendering to His Lordship and not our own.

One of the big issues and problems is that most Christians just do not get this passage. Our Lord is the head of His Church, including our church, yet our churches are run as if we were in total control and we reign supreme.

As far as the responsibility of the church goes, what more can we say, other than Christ is the head and our lead, thus the vision and call can only come from Him and not of ourselves and our effort. If Christ is our “all in all” then we must respond to His teachings as marching orders and not a list of suggestions or ideas. We are to see and know Him as our Creator and Lord, as our Redeemer and Savior, as our God. Then we can respond as the church that our Lord died for.

 

Is Christ LORD, Lord, or lord over you?

 

Jesus is Lord over creation, but you have to exercise your will to move it out of the way so He can be Lord over your life.

 

To help our faith and relationship with Christ and others to grow, and for Him to work in our lives, especially to touch others, we also have to be willing to trust and obey Christ as Lord over all things–including our lives. 

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5: 20

 

If you have nothing relevant or appropriate to offer your people and you are not hospitable to them, you are producing a failing church.

Even if you have numbers, if you are not centered on Christ, you are in trouble and you are not succeeding for Him. We can change our worship format, make our parking lots bigger, and make our programs more relevant, trying to be a better WHO. Our “who” is that we are in Him—who we are in Christ; we are Christians by His love. But, what about changing it to HOW—to change how we are, how we behave, how we treat one another, how we are loving, how we care, how we learn, and how we grow in Christ.

The big how is that we know and then model Christ as a reality, that Jesus Christ really is in our lives. We are learning, experiencing, and living in and for Him! By really and truly being His ambassadors and allowing His Spirit to sustain and use us, we can be used to turn others toward Christ.  

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5: 21 

Remember: real church growth is in the spiritual, not just numerical!  

            The key to unlock the growth barriers is opened yourself to the Lordship of Christ, to flow into contentment in your worship and prayer time. Sometimes that is all we can do, but it is not a last resort it is our front line and most important defense. Jesus is to be our preparation for the weathering of a storm to building a church. He will help you build your relationship with Himself so your faith, confidence and courage grow and be the inspire to those you lead. Then you will be prepared in those storms and crises of life and church life as well as your growth challenges, these will make you stronger and help you help others through them too. When we fully learn to trust, then we can obey and it will build our confidence so we will sail across those storm tossed seas of church life in confidence as Jesus Christ is there beside us manning the helm!

Is Christ LORD, Lord, or lord over your church?

Out of learning why churches fail, we also learned why they succeeded!

The churches that were healthy, growing spiritually, and socially vibrant have significant aspects that set them apart from the failing churches. These factors are displayed in order of relevance and importance. Each one of these factors creates a harmony, contentment, and atmosphere for a churchgoer to come to church services and fellowship, and then to invite others. When they feel this church is “home,” they will learn and grow, then desire to become a member, become active, experience and give love and Fruit, and be able to serve our Lord there. Each of these themes is significant as they motivate, inspire, and spur people on to feel part of something greater than themselves. They become a conduit for the work of the Gospel, the moving of the Spirit, and the glorification of our Lord. These churches are places to know Christ, to be effective, and to grow spiritually—“true spirituality” as Schaeffer challenged us with.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5: 17

The main, significant factor over all else of why churches succeed is this one point: they were centered upon Christ as LORD! They were not centered on a personality, a vision, a denomination, an emerging paradigm, or a set of trends. They were “souled out” to Christ as central and sovereign. Each of these points relate to the Lordship of Christ.

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