The Book of Revelation and Church Leadership, PII

How would a glimpse of your future help you lead better? What if it is a hope to come into your life? How would that change your attitudes and plans? (Keep in mind that Christ is our hope!) 

Revelation reminds us of the privilege and necessity of reading and hearing His Word, to know and receive the authority, Christ Himself.

I bet the word, Revelation, may be scary to you and still not convinced it has to do with church leadership? Look at the Greek title word, “apokalypsis.” This means “disclosure of events,” as opposed to being something secret or hidden. Even though Revelation is symbolic in places, it is not hidden to us when we take an honest look and compare it to other Scriptures rather than trends or newspapers. Because it is uncovering, an unveiling or, as we have it in the English, a Revelation of God’s Word and call with hope and encouragement. So, “The Apocalypse,” is not about the end of the world; rather, a disclosure of God’s exhortations. Giving us hope in the midst of the reality of life and suffering for being and doing church. As, being in Christ is eternal security (Judges 6:11-23; Dan. 7:16; 10:5-21; Rev. 12:11).

Soon/swift/shortly means quickness and speed. The events that will happen suddenly and unexpectedly (Matt 24:32; 2 Pet. 3:8-18) refer to God’s divine providence and the final phase.

At this time the Church was undergoing the beginnings of more severe persecution than what they initially went through in James’ and Peter’s time when the Roman Emperor Nero was blaming the Christians for the burning of Rome (which he had caused), making them the scapegoat (54-68 AD). And/or (depending on date; see background article at http://www.churchleadership.org/pages.asp?pageid=67280) at this time, the Emperor Domitian (81-96 AD) had stepped up the persecutions. They were harsh, perhaps the worst ever endured in church history (Rev. 1:9; 2:9-13; 13:7-10).

What is this about? It may be tough out there, but the time of waiting is over, for Christ is here. The time is near for God who lives outside of space and time, but not necessarily near for us in His coming back, but here in His call and empowerment. So, we can understand God’s perspective, not our desires. (2 Pet. 3:3).

The backdrop, then and in many places now, Christians who were being harassed, betrayed and prosecuted in courts by false witnesses and fake evidences, nothing is fake in Christ. He is our hope and light. We will have  spiritual warfare. our battle with Satan is real and will engage us in conflict and strife with one another until the end of the age (Isa. 43:8-12; 44:8-9; Acts 2:16-17; 1 John 2:18; Rev. 22:6-12, 20).

And what does this all mean for us in leadership? Jesus is the principle and prime Witness we look to so we can have the strength of faith and perseverance.   

The Church is and is to be Blessed. Those who are faithful in Christ will receive the good will of God as blessings from Christ; those who reject Him will be judged. Being blessed also refers to the emotional states of satisfaction, well-being, and contentment that results from being approved by God and by the fulfilling of our duty. It is enjoying God’s special favor and His Grace working in us. It is like being told by parents that they are proud of us (Matt. 5:1-12; Rev. 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7-14).

Again, the point is to strengthen our spiritual formation, not to seek melodramatic theories or sensationalistic ideas.

God ushers in the last days, the last period of redemptive history, and revealing to us His previously hidden agenda and plans. The concern is not just for future events, but also how we conduct ourselves in them in and with His Church. Whatever unfolds is irrelevant if we do not have the strength of faith to endure and learn from it (Heb. 1:1-2; Rev. 22:10).

 

Being Loyal to Christ and His Bride

Read Revelation 17-18

What is the Bride?

As we know, the “Bride” is the Church. This is Christ’s identification with His people and an image of our Redeemer’s intimacy and the community between God and His children.

This is beyond a mere metaphor as it is about the life, love, and joy that a first century marriage celebration represented that Christ shares with us and calls us to share with one another in our covenant of Grace.

And in Revelation, this is also a contrast to the divorce of the harlot and a stern warning to John’s people in his church, to not to cheat on our Lord by way of our pride, false worship, false teaching, or our apathy or arrogance, or anything that gets in the way of us pointing His Bride to the Redeemer (Ex. 22:16; Is. 54:5-7; Hos. 2:19-20; Matt. 9:15; 22:2; John 2:1-3; 3:29; 22:2-14; 2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:25-32; Heb. 2:5; 6:5; 1 John 1:3-10; Rev. 19:7; 21:1-8 ).

The passage goes on to say that evil is judged and condemned while true spirituality in Christ is eternally rewarded and beneficial. This is also about our own vindication, and all the benefits we have when we are in Christ. We are a part of His Kingdom that is being showcased in this passage, so we who are in Christ can sing a loud and clear Hallelujah!

The imagery of Rome in this passage is “Babylon” and may be referring to the persecution and martyrdom the early Christians faced in life under Rome, perhaps as illustration for some of us and reality to many others today and the principle point to his churches. In addition, this is a template for how evil and its power operates in the past, present, as well as in the future. This is about how pastors and church leaders go wrong by chasing themselves and not Christ. This is about how evil does not always know it is evil, because it is blinded by pride and self will, in the church and in society. This is also leading to its future–its self-destruction.

Here is a simple test to see if you or the pastor is loyal is this. Does the teaching and character point to Christ or point to themselves or something else? Does the first response and vision showcase the Lordship of Christ or the way I want things? What does Christ call us to do and what betrays Him?

Rome gave away food to appease its citizens while they enticed them with sins and heinous amusements of people being slaughtered in arenas. Placating to Rome gave one privileges; standing up to it gave one death or the loss of land and rights. The issue before the Church was compromise and loyalty–would their allegiance be to a prostitute Rome, to Christ, or to what?

Some theologians have suggested that “Babylon” referred to apostate Jerusalem, but there is little Jewish evidence for that. Jerusalem has already fallen. Also, the principle arguments against Jerusalem as the subject matter of this passage is that it does not sit on many waters nor did it reign over other nations at this time!

The bottom line for us in church leadership is, how is evil affecting and effecting your ministry, your vision, you perceptions and your church?