The Book of Revelation and Church Leadership, PXIII

Church of Pergamum bThe Church of Pergamum

Read Revelation 2: 12-17

“To the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, not even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives.” Revelation 2: 12-13

What would happen if your church became a place of contention and hurt? Why is it so important that our churches be safe havens of rest and comfort so that people can worship and mature in Christ and be secure in Him and in companionship with others?

John in this passage is reminding them and us who Christ is and what He has done. He is depicted here as the One in authority who can look into ourselves, pierce us, and who knows who we are and what we want. Then, Jesus calls us to Him and away from ourselves and selfishness. Just as a sword is sharp and piercing, so are our wayward ways when we seek to make life and run His church by our own means, apart from His ways and commands. Such thoughts and actions separate us from God and others, just as our judgment for sin, without receiving His grace, will separate us for eternity. God doesn’t want us separated, but He will do this to protect His other children, just as He will separate those who seek to harm us. This is His protection, and it is our choice to draw to Him or draw to our inclinations and sin.

Double-edged sword, refers to a small offensive “Thracian” dagger. For the Romans, this sword was the image of power, control, and used to enforce its laws and for capital punishment. In Scripture, the sword also symbolizes war and refers to God’s ability and right to make war on those who seek to fight against Him. It symbolizes God’s ability and right to perform judgment (Isa 49:2; Heb 4:12; Rev. 2:12; 6:4, 8; 13:10, 14; 19:15, 21). (Rev. 1:16; 2:16; 19:13).

Satan has his throne. This referred to either its pagan practices or the seat of the Roman throne for Asia. Pergamum worshiped the god Asclepius, who was Apollo’s son, the god of medicine. In addition, this city was the official center of emperor worship and Rome’s representation in Asia. They also had a huge100 foot+ altar for Zeus. Perhaps Jesus referred to this as Satan’s throne because they worshipped what was false. All its citizens were expected to worship these false gods, including worshiping the emperor. If they refused, they were persecuted by not being allowed to participate in the city life, festivals, and trade. This escalated to the Christians being executed for disloyalty to the emperor. And, this trend was exported to the other providences. Perhaps it was here in Pergamum that martyrdom started in Asia.

Who was Antipas? He was the first martyr in Asia. According to the Early Church Fathers, he was slowly roasted alive in a bronze kettle during the time of Domitian.

So what does this come down to?

The church at Pergamum was tolerating false doctrines and people who were scheming against others, causing them to follow sin, trends, compromise their faith, and not reverence or trust in Christ.

Even though they were faithful in persecution, their steadfastness was wavering to those who were deceptive. They were being what we now call “politically correct,” that is, tolerating other ideas that were wrong or contrary just to be what they thought was mature and wise. Thus, they were in danger of being judged harshly if they did not repent. We have to see that we can be tolerant to a point, as long as it does not counter our character or the Word.

Reflection

Instead of tolerating false doctrines and people who were scheming we are called to be a Faithful witness.

This is also a name for Jesus, referring that Jesus is reliable. We are to be reliable with His Word and plan. It also refers that Antipas was faithful to Christ in character and disposition, as we are all called to be as we lead others to Him (Psalm 2:7; 89:27; Prov. 14:5, 25; Isa. 8:2; Acts 13:33; Rom. 8:29; 1 Cor. 15:20-23; Col. 1:15-18; 1 Tim. 6:13; Rev. 1:5; 2:10-13; 3:14).

Consider this, Jesus knows us intimately; He knows our situation, our struggles and our opportunities. He wants us to take hold of His grace and love so we can focus upon Him and lean on Him both in our jubilations and also in our struggles. The key in this passage is to stay faithful in our Christian identity and our leadership of others, and to remain loyal to Christ. We are not to allow our doubts, fears, or state of affairs to occupy His place in our hearts and minds.

Jesus knows our situation, our struggles, and our opportunities. He wants us to take hold of His grace and love and succeed in our faith and life. How can this help you to inspire others when times are tough?

 

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The Book of Revelation and Church Leadership, PVII

Revelation 1 17

Read Revelation 1: 17-20

“… When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead…” Revelation 1: 17

Why is it important that when we run our churches, we do so with God’s power and precepts leading us and not our ways or trends?

Read Revelation 1: 17-20. What do you see in this passage that you can apply to your church today? Consider, what should be the essential framework to build your church into a healthier church? And then compare it to what are you doing now and what was done in the past? 

We are shown a plan. Christ, with His full mercy and grace, allows John to stand, gives him comfort, and gives him the important task of recording His precepts. We are shown Who and What our Living Lord is and does. Then we respond by living it out, preaching it out and follow-through it all out. Take a look at verse 19, it is interesting; it may set a tone for the meaning of Revelation, not necessarily literally, but as imageries that have a meaning for a purpose that is for us now and will still be so in its culmination. 

In the Upper Room, John reclined with Jesus for His last Supper and leaned on Him to show his devotion and love (John 13:32). Now, he falls at his feet. Jesus shows John His love by helping him stand. The lesson for us is we must understand the importance of reverence. We come before a holy God. He is not just a pal or friend or guide to dispense feel good sound bites; rather, He is our Savior and our Lord (2 Cor. 5:16). He has the keys in His hand; we have no need to fear our future when He is our Light, Guide, and Lord!

This is Who we bow to, Who we proclaim, Who we teach about and inspire and equip our people too. 

The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire.  

Let’s see what the Word has to say with these key words:

Fell at his feet” is an attitude and posture of great respect and awe. This can also mean the terror that was felt until the Angel touched and relieved them (Gen. 15:12; Deut. 3:2; Josh. 8:1; Jer. 1:8; Ezek. 1:28; 11:13; Dan. 8:18; 10:10; John 6:35; Rev. 4:10; 5:8; 7:11; 19:10; 22:8).

I am the First and the Last” is the same as the Alpha and Omega in verse eight. Christ is eternal and fully God in all areas, attributes, power, character, and sovereignty (Isa. 44:6; 48:12; Rev. 2:8; 22:13).

Living One” refers to the resurrection and the triumphant Christ as the living God who gives us life, and then new life, renewal, and reason, and how He will renew the entire world. This is a contrast to paganism and the “gods” of wood and metal who are lifeless, careless, petty, and meaningless; our God is living and involved (Jos. 3:10; Psalm 42:2; 84:2; Isa. 41:4; 44:6; 48:12; Rev. 2:8; 5:9; 20:4-5; 22:1-2).

Keys of death and Hades” indicates that Christ is in absolute control over all domains and also points to His future role. Hades is the general realm of the dead; thus, Christ’s power is all encompassing. Keys were a symbol of power and influence. The one who held the keys was the authority and the one in control. It is very encouraging to those who are facing death to know that Christ is there and in control, and can open those gates at any time, including at the last days (Psalm 9:13; Isa. 22:21-22; Matt. 16:18; Acts 2:27-31; Rev. 20:14).

What is now and what will take place later” indicates past, present, and future, and refers to what is in Revelation references. It is for the present and future as well as rooted in the past, but not completed as of this writing. This can also refer to Revelation being divided into three parts: past in chapter 1:12-16, present in chapters 2-3, and future in chapters 4-22. However, each section contains content of all three “then, now, and later,” and does not necessarily refer to the entire structure of the Revelation (John 19:35).

The mystery,” this does not mean something not understandable or hidden; rather, it is something known to God that He reveals to us in His good time. We cannot guess what we do not know; however, Christ does know. Here, John plainly tells us the meaning, just as Jesus did with the parable of the sower (1 Cor. 2:7; 2 Thess. 2:7).

Angels,” meaning “messengers,” can mean people used by God to convey His message, such as pastors, or heavenly beings who live and work in Heaven. We are to realize our place and position to be holding on to Christ. The context seems to indicate the latter. Or, it can mean the significance of the churches in Heaven, that they are spiritual entities. This can also mean the prevailing characterization of the theme and “spirit” of each church or a “guardian angel.” In all practicality, it could refer to the seven different messengers John is sending with copies of his Epistle (Dan. 10:10-21; Matt. 18: 10; Luke 7:24; 9:52; Rev. 1:11; 10:1; 22:6). 

So what does this come down to? An indicator to see what is the condition of your church?

Is He properly reverenced and referenced, taught about and honored, or is He just a self-help guide?

Does Jesus control your church or do you or others think they do? How is your light shining before others?

Our Light is Christ and we are called to show Him in our lives and in our Church! How can you do this better?

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 Book of Revelation and Church Leadership, PV

The Lord's Day

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.

 

The Book of Revelation and Church Leadership, PIV

second comming b

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)!

The Book of Revelation and Church Leadership, PIII

Why do you suppose most people see Revelation as an ominous apocalypse of chaos and catastrophe and not what it is really about? How do you see it?

Revelation 1: 4-5,  “To the seven churches in the province of Asia…”

One of the main themes of Revelation is the call for us to stand firm and grow further in our collective faith as the Body of Christ. This is also the best, most effectual church growth plan. Why and how, God wants to grow the church under His stewardship and what God does not want to happen, stagnate with apathy and comfort! Does this surprise you? What did you expect to find from Revelation? It is a letter to churches to in peril to wake up and get it right! It is a Book not about end times, rather how we are to lead and mange His Church. Think not? Perhaps you should actually read it and presume. 

John is proclaiming an important fact we must all agree upon-that God is Sovereign and in control!

Jesus Chris is LORD and He gave us grace that we did not deserve and a precious plan that will unfold. We have hope both now and in the future. So then, this is the fuel and material in which we grow and lead our churches. This is an essential message God gives to us that we must have been transformed and renewed by Christ. Then, we live it out. Then, we proclaim it as our message to our people. Then we build our churches by these means. Not by pride and trends; rather, by being in Him as LORD.

Thus, as a church leader, minister or pastor, what we are doing? Point to the Glory of Christ, His Sovereignty and Lordship.

Let’s see what the Word has to say with these key words:

“Grace and peace” is an ancient greeting, as John sends his blessings. To know that we are blessed and have the duty to then bless others, blessed to be a blessing, not look to ‘me’ and be a ‘meme’ leaders; rather, a heart after Christ that humbles us the leader (Gen. 12:1-3; Rom. 12:1-2)

Seven churches.” The principle theme of the Book of Revelation is that it is a letter to real people, real churches with real issues, tough challenges, limited opportunity’s and vacant problems that God want to be there for it! Most people get Revelation wrong, by seeing this as all about the end times and miss the main point. The seven churches were real, just like our churches with our actual problems. These are not allegories; rather, they are relevant to your church now and symbolize the various ages of the Church in history and also represent how each individual church is, through all times and places, in its operation and faith. In fact, after over 25 years of church consultation and research all over the world, every church I have even encountered was like one of these seven, no exceptions (Phil. 2:15; Matt. 5:14-16; Rev. 1:1-3; 2:1-3:22; 22:7-21)!

“Him who is, and who was, and who is to come.” The Lord’s Supremacy echoes the words of God given to Moses in the burning bush. This is a Divine Name of Christ, meaning Eternal Deity and Authority. Thus we are called and empowered to take this seriously (Ex. 3:14-16).

“Seven spirits.” The word, seven, means its importance is compounded. This is a name for the Holy Spirit, referring to His Fullness, not a split personality. Some believe this is referring to the seven celestial beings (Rev. 8:2). However, context and word meaning attest of the Holy Spirit and His various roles as Counselor, Bearer of Wisdom, Fruit… (Isa. 11:2) etc., just as this passage gives several titles for Christ. It also testifies to the profundity (depth and reality) of the Trinity (Zech. 4:2-6; 2 Cor. 13:14; 1 Pet. 1:1-2; Rev. 4:5; 5:14).

Faithful witness, the firstborn… ruler means reliable.” What is this about? It sets Jesus as Divine and Lord over all the living and the dead.

That means he is LORD over your ministry and church! 

This also refers to the roles of Christ in His Church. As He is faithful to us, we are called to be faithful to Him, too (Psalm 2:7; 89:27; Prov. 14:5, 25; Isa. 8:2; Acts 13:33; Rom. 8:29; 1 Cor. 15:20-23; Col. 1:15-18; 1 Tim. 6:13; Rev. 2:10-13; 3:14).

“Him be glory…To him.” Christ is the quintessential subject and prominent theme of Revelation. This is a doxology of praise, used to wholeheartedly worship and praise Christ as exalted and worthy because of His Sovereignty and the redemption He gives us. Praise is also our frontline weapon against spiritual warfare (Rev. 4:8, 11; 5:9-14; 7:12; 11:15-17; 12:10-12; 15:3-4; 19:1-8).

What does this come down to? Our call is to be blessed so the character qualities we receive from the Holy Spirit come from the inward love we have for our Lord and we will desire to spill them upon others around us as leaders for Christ as we plant, lead, manage His Church (Psalm 1).

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).