The Book of Revelation and Church Leadership, PI

Did you know that the Book of Revelation has more to do with how we lead and manage our churches over what will happen in the End Times? Think not? Then, perhaps you should read it. 

Revelation has often been just recognized as the ominous apocalypse of chaos and catastrophe to come. Woe, doom and glood scary stuff. Then the prideful and false teachers will chime in with their musing theories. And you will not find that stuff in the Book. But, this is not necessarily the point. Look to the book, not what you think it says, read it, really read it and you will see a more wondrous tale. As Revelation opens with an elaborate greeting so we can more firmly connect our relationship with Christ and receive hope and encouragement. 

Let’s take a look and see why.  

Revelation 1: 1-8, starts out with Christ, testifying to John the Apostle what is going to happen to the Church. The Church, we the people of God formed in and from Him, to know Him and build His network Kingdom. The purpose was not just for information or encouragement; rather, it was to the entire Christian community, meant to remind people to be loyal to Christ, then and now. Its purpose is to bless and encourage us so we can stand firm and grow further in our faith.

What has been revealed will happen to us personally and in a future culmination. This book has meaning and application for church leadership to all who read it as well as a glimpse of a hope to come.

This was a letter targeted to seven actual churches in Asia Minor, now Turkey. About the Divine Authority, Sovereignty, and Lordship of Christ as well as the important relevance of Christ in us, so that we can have peace and anticipation in Him.

Thus to know and run a church under His care and purpose, we have to get this fact, what many today overlook, Christ is Lord. This is reality for us, now not just when He comes back. This is for us know and do now, even when all seems lost and hopeless, He is in command and His plan is in commission.

What are we called to do first and foremost in church leadership? We are exhorted to praise and worship Him Who is worthy of our praise because He has freed us from our sins and separation from God by the shedding of His own blood. He has made us a home, a kingdom, and a dwelling for eternity. So, let us manage it correctly for His glory!

Now, we are given a motivation to lead our churches so they point to Christ as Lord, not to the personalities of the leaders or to a trend or new wave of thinking; no, we are to be realigned to the Magnificent. The Incredable glory to come as we are given a glimpse of the coming of our Lord that all will see. It is not about waiting with theories of how and when; rather, the ultimate motivation for right leading by right doing, by right knowing His Word. It will be the ultimate in shock and awe. Christ is proclaimed as the “All in All” of all things, the Beginning and the End, the Almighty One! So, let us lead His Church in that way here and now, till that day comes!

What needs to take place to better connect your relationship with Christ more firmly, so you do leadership more fully for His glory? How would this help the people in your care to receive hope and encouragement?

 

Loyal to Christ?

Thus, this Revelation 17-18 passage is about the marriage of the Lamb to the Church, His dowry being the pain and suffering, His spilt blood that He endured on the cross, something that no one else could pay, so we can be redeemed. Jesus is giving the call to the Bride, His Church, to be pure and faithful and to rejoice in Him.

The theme of a marriage feast shows the joy and celebration we should have in Christ and in His Church. So, Church, your church is to be a celebration of the Majesty, Presence, and Goodness of God.

We respond by solid Biblical teaching, heartfelt worship and discipleship with celebration and devotion.

The themes of the world and things to come are on evil, sin, its judgments, and those who miss it and their mourning; for we who believe, it is about celebration for those who are faithful and loyal while living and practicing the Christian life point to Him. Those of us called to lead and teach must rejoice in God’s faithfulness and their vindication, which points to Him. Sin has been judged and God is glorified; He rewards those who are true to Him.

 

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?

What is a Harlot? Hopefully not you and your church!!

 

Read Revelation 17-18

Harlot? Yes, there are far better ways to make a point than to use the word “harlot’. But this is how God used to get people’s attention; does he have your attention? However we may feel, this is the word God uses, and it may wake us up to our dysfunction and the predicament we have in how we lead and manage churches these days.

If not, if we dare to go to our pulpits, boardrooms, small groups, classes and families with what I want to say and ignore Him, we are in fact being disloyal. If we dare teach what is false, give only half truths and merely feel good messages, like “sermonettes for Christianettes ,” we are in fact being prostituting His Word and Truth.

Let’s look at this upfront, close and personal. Let us be challenged with the Word of God and be humble to see what we may be doing wrong.

First off, do you know what a harlot is? Also called whore, it is not a fun, happy word. You might even be offended by the use of this word. It is from the Greek word, “porne,” from whence comes the English word “pornography.” It means promoting and/or partaking in the grievous sin of fornication that hurts, steals, and destroys relationships and families. But, it means so much more (Lev. 17:7; Is. 1:21; 26:16-18; 57:3; Jer. 3:1-14; Ezek. Chaps 16 & 23; Hos. 4:15).

This is an image used in the Old Testament to mean the abandonment of one’s covenant to God or the unfaithfulness and faithlessness of Israel. Also, this means the seductions of the world and that we have to be on guard as Christians, so they do not corrupt us or the church we are called to steward. This is also about people being lured into sin, yet knowing it is sin and being able to resist even as people seek to disobey God and/or to serve evil–like deliberately teaching what is false when we have God’s Word right in front of us for correction. And, this word applies to how we lead and manage His church. Remember, Revelation is a book to churches first, how to lead, be loyal, handle persecutions and so forth.

In the very early church, when John was penning these words from God, there was trouble, struggle and conflict–just like we have in today’s churches, in your church, in my church, the struggle of loyalty to self and trends or loyalty to Christ as LORD.

This is all about betraying God by committing not only acts of immorality, but disrespecting His Word and ignoring or failing to teach and pass on His precepts-the prime responsibility of a church leader and pastor.

The majority of people in John’s day had no reservations or protests to following an evil empire and being used by them. Their belief was that one has a license to sin; thus, one does not need to be obedient to God, His precepts, civil law, or any moral standards, and many Christians felt as they do today, they do not have a need to bear fruit. God says this is evil as it portrays evil as being good. This can also be practicing and promoting trends that dilute God’s truth, using it as an excuse for extreme immorality and wickedness (Judges 17:6; Jer. 2:31-37; Rom. 6:1-2; 14-15; 13:8, 10; Gal. 5:14; 6:2; Gal. 5:22-25; James 2: 14-26; Jude 4; Rev. 2:20).

The point? This means to choose sin is a deliberate choice, one that God hates passionately. Or use the pulpit for personal gain, false teaching, amusing the goats and not feeding the sheep. Harlot was also a term used by the early church for Rome (Lev. 17:7; Is. 1:21; 26:16-18; 57:3; Jer. 3:1-14; Ezek. Chaps 16& 23; Hos. 4:15).

These people thought they did not need Christ and that they would escape the judgment of God! (Does the deceptive thinking sound familiar?) Such people and thinking is contemptible and self destructive, because nothing can challenge God.

Are you being “harlot” with His Church?

 

Read Revelation 17-18, and forget about the end times nonsense theories and be in prayer and ask God if this is you…. And if you will not then you have a bigger problem, pride….

To see if my premise is correct, let’s take a look at this passage in Revelation–a passage that a lot of misguided Bible teachers use to amuse and shift the meaning away from the truth and point of it.

The theme is this great ‘harlot’ blasphemes God and puts her trust in materialism and immorality and leads others to do so, too. In so doing, she is not ashamed, but rather boisterous and proud of sin.

Our first thought on this, well, that will happen in the last days, I do not need to fret. I certainly do not do that! But, we need to pray and think this through. Perhaps it is so. Read the passage, and seek Christ in humility, is there an application, am I being loyal to Christ or to myself and trends that would ashamed our Lord?

What is going on with the Revelation 17-18 passage?

John is clearly writing to the seven real churches and, consequently, to people in extreme hard times, then being persecuted by Rome. He was dealing with infighting, disloyalty, false teachers, church members being cut off from their families, social circles, and trade guilds so they could not work, this, starving out his people and preventing them from functioning and others forms of persecution. The main enemy from outside of the church was Rome. It was a blood-thirsty, pagan empire that oppressed its people, especially Christians, who were considered criminals and slaves and used for sadistic entertainment. Rome was extremely corrupt and fell because of it.

Yet, the enemy from within, which was even more dangerous, was false teaching and being treacherous to Christ by distorting His precepts and call.

Look at it this way. If you want your church healthy and lined up to God’s call, commands and precepts, you have to be loyal! That means being trustworthy, faithful and devoted to Christ as LORD and His Truth! That means more than just placing Him first or ignoring the relativisms in our society.

It means a defining quality that I am fully engaged to be in Christ, to follow Christ and lead others to Christ.

In contrast, if we are not loyal; then, we are betraying. As a pastor, my first and foremost job is to point people to The Shepherd. So, the point of this message is simple. We have to recover our churches from the desires of what I want, from the false trends, away from betrayal of Christ’s Lordship, to turn back to the true Truth of Scripture that glorifies Christ as LORD!

 

From our research we are seeing that, we got trouble in our churches–a lack of loyalty. A tough question needs to be asked of ourselves, are we being “harlots” with His Church?