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May 3, 2009
Back To The Future – Part 2
Pastor Philip De Courcy
Revelation 1:1-3

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This series provides insight into Jesus' master plan for the church today. We cannot afford to ignore what Jesus thinks of the church. You've Got Mail help deepen your understanding of the church and the essential elements necessary to remain healthy, holy, and faithful in today's society.

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Let’s take our Bibles and turn back to the Book of the Revelation. If you’re joining us for the first time this morning, we welcome you. One of the marks of the ministry here at Kindred Community Church is that we work our way through the Bible, often verse by verse, chapter by chapter, book by book. And at the moment we’re in the beginning of a series of studies on the seven churches of the Book of the Revelation. There’s much to learn and there’s much that we will take from this study which I have entitled, You Have Got [inaudible]
And to begin this series, we’re looking at the opening paragraph and the opening prologue of this wonderful book, a neglected book, but a book that unlike any other book in the Bible is given to us with a divine incentive to read it because there is an attendant blessing that follows the reading and the keeping of this book. Revelation chapter one, verse one, “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants things which must shortly take place. And he sent and signified it by his angel to his servant, John, who poor witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it, for the time is at hand.”
Thomas Chalmers was a man and a minister, greatly used of God, in Scotland. He was a man marked by evangelical fervor and godly character. Although that was not always the case. For much of his life he was rather lazy and rather liberal as a minister. In fact, he wrote a booklet once defending the thesis that a minister can get all of his work done in two days, and then he can spend the balance of his week pursuing something else. And that’s exactly what Thomas Chalmers did. He wanted to be a professor of mathematics at the University of Edinburgh, and he set about the goal of doing that on the side. But God laid his hand on Thomas Chalmers, and after his conversion, he was a different man with a different view and perspective on the ministry. He had a God blessed ministry that changed the very complexion and culture of Scotland.
Some years later, a minister who was rather jealous of his success, at a ministerial meeting, waved the pamphlet in Chalmers face and said, “Did you write that?” To which Chalmers replied, “Yes sir, I did. But I wrote it when I was strangely blind. In those days I aspired to be a professor of mathematics at the University of Edinburgh, but what, sir, is mathematics? It is magnitude and the proportion of magnitude, and in those unregenerate days, I had forgotten two magnitudes. I had forgotten the shortness of time and I had forgotten the length of eternity.”
What a message. This is a clear and present danger for the church and for the Christian. The peril of living life without an eye to eternity, or without a heart for heaven, to become lost in our love for this present world which takes us away from Christ and blinds us to these great magnitudes, the shortness of time and the length of eternity. There’s always the danger in my life and your life that we can become so earthly minded that we’re of no heavenly use. We can become blind to the fact that according to Peter in 1st Peter two, verse 11, “You and I are resident aliens on planet earth.” This is not our home. We’re only passing through. Our treasures are lade up somewhere beyond the blue. This temptation to lose sight of these great magnitudes and realities was indeed a temptation that the early church had fallen for. In the letters that Christ addresses to the churches in Asia Minor, modern Turkey, this is an issue he addresses.
Because if you look at his call to repentance and renewal, it’s linked again and again in these letters to the restoration of an eternal perspective, and the implication of that is that they indeed had taken their eye off the ball eternally speaking. In fact, the call to the church to return to him in Revelation two and three is linked to his return for them and the attendant rewards that will come with it. Future grace was the motivation to the church’s health and the church’s holiness. Let me give you a perspective on this. In his letter to the Ephesian church, Jesus says this in chapter two and verse seven, “To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.”
In chapter two and verse 17 to the church at Pergamum, Jesus says, “To him who has an ear let him hear. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden man to eat. I will give him a white stone and on the stone and you name him written which no one except him who receives it will know.” To the church at thy Thyatira, in chapter two and verse 23, Jesus says, “I will give to each one according to his works.” He tells them to hold fast to overcome so that indeed, according to verse 27, they may rule with him as he rules in the future day with a rod of iron. To the church of Sardis in chapter three and verses three through six, indeed the same call comes to live in a way that gives you security that your name is written in the Book of Life.
Chapter three, verse 20 through 22, the Church of Laodicea, is indeed encouraged to overcome so that they may indeed sit with Christ on his throne in a future day. Future grace, the impending, trending second coming of Jesus Christ was the motivation to holiness for the churches of Asia Minor. They had to get back to the future and get back quickly. That’s why we’re taking time just to introduce our series on these churches by just understanding the book of the Revelation itself. And we’re helped here by the opening paragraph and prologue of John. We saw that there are three things here to take from the opening three verses. We started last week with the thought, the personality of this prophecy.
The Book of Revolution is a book of prophecy centered on the person and work of Jesus Christ. It’s a book from him, about him, to us, from an angel, through John. Christ indeed holds the spotlight throughout the book of the Revelation. It’s really not about the antichrist, it’s about the true Christ. It’s not about the false church. In Revelation chapter 17, it’s about the true church under the lordship of Jesus Christ in Revelation two to three. We saw that this book is centered upon the expectant advent of Christ unveiling on a future day.
The word revelation apocalypses, it gives us the idea of an unveiling. The book of the revelation looks forward to and has us look towards the unveiling of the Lord Jesus Christ at his second coming. In the first coming it was all about crucifixion. The second coming is all about coronation. The first coming was all about shame and mockery. The second coming, it’s all about splendor and majesty. That’s what we have in the Book of the Revelation, and it must have been a great encouragement to those who were under the heel of the emperor Domitian, who was setting in motion another wave of persecution. And the church had to remind itself to live out the Lord Lordship of Jesus Christ with an eye to eternity. That’s the personality of this prophecy. [inaudible] where we’re picking up, where we left off, we’ve got the proximity of this prophecy.
Let’s remind ourselves, as we stated last week, the Revelation of Jesus Christ is prophetic in nature. It is the word of God through the living word Jesus Christ, according to verse two. And by nature and character, it is a prophecy according to verse three. That’s repeated in chapter 22, verse 17, 18 and 19. Like no other book in the Bible, the book of the Revelation turns us towards the future. It would have us look up while we live out our commitment to Jesus Christ. As we saw in verse 19 last week, the bulk of the book deals with future events.
John is told to write those things which he saw. Speaking of the risen Christ, seated at the right hand of the majesty on high. He’s told to right those things which are, and he addresses the churches that exist in the area of Asia Minor. And then he’s told to write those things which will happen thereafter, which seems to take us from chapter four right to the end of the book itself, which will include the rapture of the church, the rise and demise of the antichrist, the onset of tribulation, which morphs into a three and a half year period of great tribulation. The gathering of the nations on the fields of Armageddon on the valley of Megiddo. The soon return of Jesus Christ to smash those rebellious and godless nations that have forgot him, the marriage supper of the lamb, the establishment of the kingdom, the judgment of the nations of the great white throne and then the eternal state. It’s all here. And what we have in the book of the Revelation is a sneak peek into coming world attractions.
Now the interesting thing is this, we’re told by John, from Christ, that the the bulk of this book focused on the future and the events that are detailed in it are soon to take place. Okay, look at verse one, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show His servants things which must shortly take place.” We’re told that the time is near. There is a prophetic proximity to this book. Now what does that mean? After all, we’re more than 1900 years since the writing of this book. The best scholarship of conservative evangelicalism pinpoints the writing of this book around about AD 95. We’re 1900 years on since the writing of this book. And so we’ve got to ask ourselves the question, what was prophecy to them? Has it now been fulfilled? And what was prophecy to them is history to us? And there are some that would argue that’s the case.
I still hold to the thought that it’s future, but if it’s future to them and still future to us, and 1900 years have past since John telling us that the time is near and these things are soon to happen, then how near can they actually be. Now, as we look at the proximity of this prophecy, there are two things I want us to see. I want us to see, first of all, the season of Christ’s return and future events, and then we’re going to look at the speed of Christ’s return and future events. I want you to focus in verse three. We’re told to keep the things which are written in this prophecy for the time is at hand. Very important that you circle the word time there. It’s a Greek word, kairos, it’s not the usual word for time, kronos. And you can guess what the word kronos means, chronology, chronicle. It’s the idea of the unfolding of time. 12 o’clock, one o’clock, two o’clock, three o’clock, four o’clock, that’s kronos time,
Kairos time are those turning points in history that affect the direction of kronos time. And that’s why it’s very significant. This idea here carries the idea of a season. The season is near. It speaks of a seminal or a special season. It speaks of turning points in world history. There is time that determines the parameters of our life. That’s kronos time. But there is time that defines the outcome of our life. That’s kairos time. There are certain things we do at certain moments that just affect our lives proportionately. There are some moments that affect the rest of the moments. You understand that, right? And that’s what we have here.
The kairos time is near that’s going to affect the rest of that kronos time. One writer put it like this, “In biblical Greek, there are two words for time. The first is kronos, from which we get English words such as chronometer and chronology. Kronos is clock time, calendar time, one o’clock, two o’clock, three o’clock, January, February, March, all marching right along. The second Greek word, kairos, means special time. Mothers know the difference between kronos and kairos. About nine months or so into a pregnancy in the kronos time, there comes a kairos moment. Right? When you nudge that sleeping [inaudible] beside you and you say, “It’s time.
It’s time. Ah, you said that last week. No, it’s time.” And you head down to the hospital, and by God’s grace, a wonderful moment transpires. It’s a kairos moment. And John says here that there’s going to come a time in the future, a kairos moment, time that will change all time. The book of the Revelation therefore introduces us to the end time, the last pages of world history, the last chapter, the last season. In fact, I don’t have time to unfold this so I’m going to bank on deposited biblical knowledge and messages you’ve already heard on this very theme, but the book of the Revelation, I believe puts us in the end of the fourth quarter with no timeouts.
In fact, I’m going to argue that the bulk of this book deals with the last three and a half years of world history up until the moment that Jesus comes back. Now, if you have got time later on today, go back to a prophecy in Daniel, Daniel chapter nine, verse 24 through 27, and it’s centered upon a prophecy that’s centered upon the idea that from the building of Jerusalem to the coming of the Messiah, you’re going to see a period of 70 weeks and each week comprises of seven years. There’s going to be an expanse of 490 years from the moment Jerusalem begins to be rebuilt to the coming of the Messiah and his work.
And if you read the prophecy, you’ll read that 69 of those weeks are fulfilled and then the Messiah is cut off. And biblical historians have been able to bring us from the time of Nehemiah to the very crucifixion and entry of Jesus Christ into the city of Jerusalem, and tell us that fulfills 483 years. There’s seven years remaining. One week remains. When the Messiah was cut off, the prophetic clock stopped. But there’s coming a prince out from among the people who would destroy the sanctuary in Jerusalem. Who are the people that destroyed the sanctuary in Jerusalem? The Romans. The inference seems to be that that prince, that antichrist, who will make a covenant with Israel and then break it in the middle of the seven week, will rise from amids that revived Roman Empire.
And when those things begin to take place, you’re going to see the clock ticking again, and the 70th week will begin to unfold. And the book of the Revelation picks up that theme. In fact, in Revelation chapter 12 and verse 14 we’re told about a time, times, and half a time. Again, time means one-year, times means two years, half a time means a half a year. Three and a half years. What happens in the middle of the 70th week of Daniel. Read it in Daniel chapter nine. There’s a covenant that is broken by this prince who is to come from the people who destroyed the temple. And that will usher in, what Jesus calls in Matthew 24:21, the time of great tribulation.
The tribulation of the 70th week of Daniel lasts for seven years, but the last three and a half you’ll have the pouring out of all these bowls and the sounding of all these trumpets. That’s where we are. John says that season is near. John talks about the time being near, he’s speaking about this period. Not a period of time in the middle of history. All our [inaudible] friends need to learn that. Not a period of time in the middle of history, but one that ends history and culminates God’s redemptive work in the world.
A period of time when God, historically in Christ, at the second advent, finishes what he began in Genesis. You see the book of the Revelation is a book end when it comes to the sacred library. As someone has said, the book of the Revelation is the grand central station of the Bible. So what time are we talking about? We’re talking about a season, a kairos moment, a time that affects all time. And I believe the book of the Revelation places us into that last week, and begins to take up, especially, the themes of the last three and a half years, the time, times and time and a half.
Now here’s the point, we’ll get back to the whole proximity of this prophecy in a moment, but I think you and I, especially in these days, we need to remind ourselves, listen, as Christians, kronos time does not continue endlessly, and history is not haphazard. But according to the Bible, the last book in the Bible, the sure word of prophecy from John to the churches, history is going to climb and climax in a glorious kairos season and moment when Jesus comes again. Amen. God will once again invade time in Christ, and this time he will turn things right side up. As the current of the river carries the boat downstream, so providence is carrying all the events that you and I are reading about, thinking about. Carries all those events towards their goal. When the last trumpets sound, all prophecy will become history. In fact, that’s what prophecy is. What is prophecy? Prophecy is the remainder of God’s purpose which is yet to be realized in its time.
The book of the Revelation is a bookend. That which God began in Genesis, he finishes in Revelation. God is victorious, truth triumphs, righteousness reigns. It will be worth it all when we see Jesus. In Genesis, we see the creation of the heavens and the earth. In Revelation we see the creation of the new heavens and the new earth. In Genesis, we see the first Adam reigning on earth. In Revelation we see Jesus, the last Adam, reigning in glory. In Genesis we see an earthly bride brought to the first Adam. In revelation we see a heavenly bride brought to the Lord Jesus Christ, the last Adam. In Genesis we see the beginning of death and the curse. In Revelations Jesus brings us to a state where there is no more death and no more curse. In the Book of Genesis, man is driven from God’s face and sin.
In the book of the Revelation we see God’s fierce in glory. In Genesis, Satan appears for the first time. In Revelation, he disappears for the last time. Amen. That which is God begun, he will finish, and this is the backdrop to the book of the Revelation and the letters to the churches. Listen, this is not an abandoned world. And some Christians need to get their act together and live more contently and confidently. Things are on course the book tells us we’re going to see things like we’re seeing. They may be very prophetically significant or they simply may be shadows and gleams of that which is yet to happen.
Steve Brown, in his book, Jumping Hurdles, talks about driving home one day when his eyes spotted the ugliest car in the world. It had a large gash on its side, its doors were half hanging on, wired together. The muffler was loose, the sunroof was all a mess. The paint was faded and peeling. But he says the most striking thing about the car was this. There was a plaque on it which said, “This is not an abandoned car.” I tell you, you look here, you look there, you look at tumbling marriages, we see the rise and specter of homosexuality. We see the culture of the days of Lot and Noah. But this is not an abandoned world. This is not an abandoned world. The time is near. Brings us back to this thought, but in what sense can it be said to be near if 1900 years has passed and we are still looking? Here’s an answer. I think it’s the best answer. It’s the only one you’re going to get from me this morning, that’s for sure.
I think we can get a handle if we take near to mean next. Near must mean next. “Write those things which you saw, the risen Christ, write those things which are the present time and then write those things which will happen thereafter.” After what? After the church age. Maybe as we get into this series, you’re going to see the absence of the church on earth after Revelation chapter four, the church is in heaven. And after the church age we have the rapture, the tribulation, the rise of the antichrist, the purging of Israel, and the return and reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s all next, and in that sense it’s near. In that sense it’s near. We need to remind ourselves again and again that since Calvary, the resurrection, the ascent of the Lord Jesus to the right hand of God, the coming and descent of the gracious Holy Spirit at Pentecost we are living in the last days.
You say to me, “Pastor, are we living in the last days?” We’ve been living in the last days for 1900 years. Now we may be living in the last of the last days, but you and I need to grasp that. Let me give you a couple of verses I think will show you that. Go to Hebrews chapter one. Hebrews chapter one verse one through three. I think you’ve got the grasp the significance of the first coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Hebrews one. “God who at various times and in various ways spoke in time passed to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by his son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the worlds, who being the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down the right hand of the majesty on high.”
One other verse, although there’s more, first John chapter two. First John chapter two and verse 18, “Little children, it is the last hour and you have heard that the antichrist is coming.” Implication, he hasn’t come yet. But he says this, “Even now, many antichrists have come by whom we know that it is the last hour.” All of Old Testament prophecy looked forward to that first coming. The first coming has taken place. Christ is building his church. We don’t know how long he’s going to take to build it, but once it is built, once his reign in hearts have been established among the redeemed from out of every tongue, tribe and nation, once that’s done, then this season will trigger. We are already in the twilight shortly before the sunrise. Paul puts it like this, “The night is far spent but the day is at hand.”
See, what we must bear in mind is that although Christ coming is next and therefore near, it may be delayed to a point where people begin to question its very validity. In fact, Peter picks that very theme up, doesn’t he? In second Peter chapter three, in verse four, “Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation for this day will willfully forget that by the word of God, the heavens of old in the earth standing out of the water and in the water by which the world that then existed perish being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth, which are now preserved by the same word, are preserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of godly man.
Beloved, do not forget this one thing that with the Lord one day as is a thousand years and a thousand years is as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise but has long-suffering towards us, not willing that any should perish.” Peter tells us in verse three that the scoffers will come in the last days. Where’s the promise of is coming? I thought you said it was going to be next and near. Still is. Still is. Which brings us to the speed of Christ’s return and future events. We’ve looked at the season, the time is near, but look at the speed. We’re told in verse one that these things will soon or shortly or quickly take place.
The word here can mean that the events themselves when they happen will happen quickly, in rapid succession. And that’s the view of some. As a thief in the night the Lord will come and act swiftly. So that may be the meaning. It’s not so much that the coming is sudden, the coming may be delayed, but when it comes, the events surrounding it will happen suddenly. Quickly. This is a Greek word [foreign language] from which we get our word tachometer. As a thief the Lord will come and act swiftly. Thieves don’t hang around, right? They’re in and out as quickly as their feet will take them. It’s a thought, but I think it misses the mark.
I think the more natural reading is that Jesus is coming quickly, soon. His return and the events surrounding it will take place soon, because a thief not only acts swiftly, a thief arrives suddenly. That’s the point. And I think you’ll find that’s how it’s used in chapter two and verse 16 as Jesus addresses the church at Pergamum. You’ll find that’s used that way in chapter three verse 11 as Jesus addresses the church at Philadelphia. “Hey, you guys need to shape up because I’m about to ship you out and I’m coming quickly.”
Again, you’ll find that thought through chapter 22. As Jesus declares, “I’m coming quickly.” I think that means, “I’m coming soon.” This is what we call imminence. If something is imminent, it means it could happen soon but not necessarily. It’s like an overhanging reality. That’s the idea here. The coming of the Lord Jesus Christ is imminent. It means that it doesn’t necessarily need to happen the next second but could happen at any second. And that’s the tension you and I are meant to live in. Jesus is coming soon. You say, “The next minute?” No, any moment. And many ours may pass, many days may pass, many years may pass, but that reality is still true. He could come at any moment, maybe the next moment but not necessarily the next moment. That’s the speed of Christ’s return. And since you and I are on the other side of Calvary, since you and I are living in the good of Pentecost, we are living in prophetically charged times. These are the last days. The book of Daniel and Revelation can be quickly and fully fulfilled in our day.
In fact, it’s interesting in Daniel, Daniel’s told to seal up his prophecy until the time. In Revelation 22, John’s told to open the seal of his prophecy. It is the time. These are prophetically pregnant days. Jesus could come at any moment. I hope you believe that, and I hope that belief affects your behavior. I hope the second coming to you is not just a curiosity. You’ve turned it into a sparring match with your friends about prophetic facts and figures. Now Jesus is coming and he’s coming with his reward and you and I need to get back to our first love.
We need to separate ourselves from the world. We need to go through the doors of opportunity that Christ sets before us. He is coming and his coming as imminent. In fact, look at chapter one and verse seven, what do we read? Here’s what we read. “Behold I come quickly.” Or sorry, “Behold he comes with clouds.” The verb to come here is in the present tense. It could be read like this. He is coming. He’s presently coming. In fact, to some degree you could carry the idea, he is in the process of coming.
That’s how near it is. That’s how imminent it is. The sands of time are sinking. God’s hour glass is running out. In fact, just recently I bought myself an hour glass. I’ve got a watch and I’ve got digital clocks, but I bought an hour glass to set it in my study, and every once in a while I remind myself to turn it and I watch the sand sinking. And I think it’s a beautiful picture of my life. Every time I breathe, every day I live, it’s like sand in the hour glass. I’m not sure you get that idea by looking at your watch, but watch the old hour glasses empty themselves out, and how quickly they do. And the hour glass is running out for this earth, and the time for you and I to serve Christ and build his church and support his kingdom.
We’ve got one life to do it in. That’s the urgency of the hour. We need to be looking for him, paying attention, and we’re told here, “Behold he is coming.” It’s really literally look for yourself. We need to focus on the next life more than this life. We need to focus on the coming kingdom than the politics of our day. We need to focus on the rapture, which is without signs rather than the signs which indicate the nearness of the greater Revelation.
Robert Murray M’Cheyne, another Scottish divine theologian, was once talking to a group of ministers over supper one night in his home, and he posed the question, do you think Jesus could come tonight brothers? And as he went round the room, some shook their heads, others danced around the issue. And Murray M’Cheyne then quoted Matthew chapter 24:44, in the words of Jesus Christ, the very verse that brought me to saving knowledge of Christ. “In such an hour as you think not, the Son of Man comes.” In fact, let me spend a few minutes here just reinforcing that. More than any other generation, ours may be seeing the stage set for the soon return of the Lord Jesus Christ. I’m not one to buy into Chicken Little theology, the sky is falling, the sky is falling.
You’ll find if you study my ministry, I tend not to try and connect the dots with personalities and policies in our day with the prophetic scriptures because too many ministers have been left with egg on their face, and I’m not about to mock myself or my ministry. But in saying that, there are signs all around us. Jesus said in Matthew 24, “Now I learned this lesson from the fig tree as soon as his twigs get tender and its leaves come out, the summer is near.” Just talking to [inaudible] about how we missed the spring in Ohio, the turning of the leaves, the budding of the trees. We come out of hibernation. The long cold winters and the spring has arrived and you anticipate sultry summer nights on the porch or at the beach.
And that’s the image here. If you see the signs, how much nearer must it be the coming. I wrote a few of these down there myself. I’m not going to get into these in any great detail, but you know what? You and I in our generation have witnessed what some called a super sign, the rebirth of the nation of Israel. Basically this nation was smashed to smithereens in AD 70. Temple destroyed, its peoples carried away and dispersed. And yet in 1948 they were recognized as a nation again. In fact, some prophetic scholars argue that when Jesus speaks about the fig tree budding, he may indeed, by implication, be speaking about Israel, because Israel is often presented as the fig tree in the Old Testament. In my mind, this is the most important prophetic event of the last century. We’re also seeing the mobilizing of a federation of European states. We’re seeing the emergence of a revived Roman Empire. What did we see earlier in Daniel nine, the prince to come.
The antichrist will arise from among the people who destroyed the sanctuary. Who destroyed the sanctuary? The Romans. Today we’re talking about Euro dollars, a Euro parliament, the establishment of the United States of Europe trading block. Prophetically significant? I think so the world’s attention continues to be focused on a little sliver of land called Israel. How this Lilliputian people garner the attention of the world. I’ll never know other than they are God’s people. His covenant people. And god’s yet got promises to fulfill. And in Zechariah 12 verse two, we’re told that Jerusalem will become, in the last days, a cup of trembling. We’ve got globalization going on. We’ve got computers and communications that are worldwide. In Revelation 13 we’re told that the antichrist will govern the world markets.
That seemed them possible. Not so impossible to us. In fact, if you’ve been listening to all this financial meltdown, you’ll hear heads of states, the British prime Minister included, talking about the need for a global bank. We’ve got the technology now to turn the tap on and turn the tap off in terms of numbers. Most of us are almost cashless. And if you go to swipe your card and it doesn’t work, you’re in trouble. It’s all being set. We’ve got the worldwide preaching of the gospel. Jesus said that must happen in Matthew 24:14. The gospel is being spread. The church is growing in so many areas of the world and yet interestingly, because this is another prophecy, we’re also seeing a great apostacy in the church.
We read about that in Second Thessalonians two, verse three, that the man of sin cannot be revealed until first there’s a great falling away. We’re told in one Timothy about those who, in the last days, will want their ears to be itched and tickled. They will not endure sound doctrine. They won’t sit under 45 minutes of expositional preaching. It’ll be sermonettes for Christianettes. And it’s sad. And even if there is preaching, it’s not doctrinal. It’s how to fix your family. It’s how to fix yourself. It’s how to love yourself. To nurture that inner child. It’s not about union with Christ and the great doctrines of justification, and the explanation of the Trinity, and the incarnation significance, and all those things that have marked the church throughout the ages and sets it apart from other world religions.
We’re also seeing the emergence of ecumenical movements, where Christians are being involved and partnering with those who deny the gospel. I wrote a book about this 1994. To my great surprise, Charles Polson, [inaudible] Packer signed an agreement called Evangelicals and Catholics together, and said that their gospel was our gospel. Was the reformation a mistake? Did the martyrs who died under Bloody Mary get it wrong? That Christ is not present in the wafer. That the confessional box is a mockery of the priesthood of Jesus Christ, and that it’s by faith alone, not faith in works and the sacraments of the church. Look at the evangelical personalities that mark our magazines and Christian television. We’ve got Joel Osteen, Larry King Live telling us Mitt Romney, yeah, why wouldn’t he be a Christian? He believes in Jesus. Don’t we believe in Jesus? Yeah, Mitt Romney does believe in Jesus, the Mormon Jesus, the Jesus who was created, not the Jesus who was the eternal word.
Friends, these are dangerous days. The stage is being set. And we look at our culture. And some of us are very [inaudible] about and rightly so. We’re told in First Timothy three, second Timothy three and verses one through nine that the last days will be terrible times. The word terrible can mean violent or hard. Men will be lovers of themselves, disobedient to their parents. That’s why we’ve got the UN trying to come up with the rights of a child which undermines the authority of a father or a mother. Look at that passage and tell me if it’s not modern America. It’s not that these things haven’t been here, because there’s nothing you under the sun, but the veracity, the velocity is different. And that’s the whole image, isn’t it? And Jesus says that the world will be in travail like a woman. And the ladies know when those pains and contractions come with greater velocity and greater frequency, it’s time to get in the car. And we’re seeing these things happen in such a scale with such velocity.
We maybe understand the little girl who was coming home from school listening to the church clock. She realized that something was obviously wrong with a mechanism because it went 12, 13, 14, 15. And she burst into her home. She says, “Mommy, mommy, it’s never been so late before.” Never has been so yet before. Are we in the terminal generation? To be honest, I don’t know. Maybe. But like those living in the peninsula of Michigan, the finger of Michigan, they’ll tell you that it’s not the end of the world, but they can see it from there. I don’t know if this is the end of the world, but I’ll tell you what, it seems to me you can see it from where we are at.
That’s the proximity of this prophecy. It takes us for five minutes to the profitability of this prophecy. Just a closing thought. Verse three. “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, who hear it, read it and keep it.” There’s a treat in store to those who take time to master this book and be mastered by it. Why not buy yourself a good commentary in the book of the Revelation, and set yourself the goal of over the next month or two studying it, mastering it, and then being mastered by it. If you want some recommendations, fire an email to the office and we’ll get something out to you. I’ve been rebuked.
This is not a burdensome book. This is a blessed book. This is a book to encourage young Christians to read. This is a book to encourage all Christians to read. This is one of seven Beatitudes, and we’re told here that although all scripture is profitable, this book is the only book that comes with an accompanied blessing. Doesn’t mean the other books aren’t profitable, but in some way God is setting this book apart because it holds a particular blessing. Think about it. It’s the last book in the Bible.
It’s God’s last word about the last days. There’s something intriguing about that, isn’t it? The last book of the Bible, God’s last word about the last days. We need to read it. What might we get from it? It’ll help us gain a perspective on history. Will not panic so much. We’ll realize that history is his story. It will give suffering value. If you’re suffering for Christ, then realize that great will be your reward in heaven. Be faithful if need be unto death and you’ll win the crown of life. That’s one of the promises. This book gives suffering value. There is reward for being faithful. It feeds a steadfast hope. We’ve always got something to look forward to. That’s what hope is. It’s something in the future that you’re moving towards. It keeps you moving. It puts one foot in front of the other. And does not the second come in of Jesus Christ give us a hope?
It stokes our evangelism. There is a second death and many of our friends and many of our families are going to experience it if we don’t get the gospel to them, if we don’t share the redeeming work of Jesus Christ and how he is the truth, the life and the way to God. There is the great white throne, when the books will be opened, and those whose name is not in the books of life will be cast into the darkness. It triggers worship. You’ll find songs all over the book of the Revelation. The background music to the book of the Revelation is a worshiping throng in heaven calling upon us to continue to worship God. And it persuades against sin. God is coming in judgment. Sin is no light matter. There is a sense in which the study of prophecy does for us what traveling in this space does for mankind. As we get out beyond our world, we look back and we see weather patterns.
We see location of natural resources. We learn so much more about our world through space travel. And you know what? Prophecy’s like that. Prophecy moves us beyond our moment, and helps us gain a better perspective of where the world is going and why the world is spinning, and how it’s all going to end up. The Bible is God’s early edition on tomorrow’s news. Read it, keep it, hear it because you know what? The church needs to shape up because Jesus is about to ship us out. And that’s the context of Revelation two and three, which we’ll begin to look at next Sunday morning. Let’s pray as our team comes up and leads us in a song that will move us towards the Lord’s table. Oh God, we come this day and we thank you for the call to consider that day. Oh God, we thank you for this book, the book of the Revelation.
The Bible’s early edition on tomorrow’s news. We thank you it shows us where history is headed. It shows us what will determine the destinies of man, and it calls us to a week out of our sleep. It calls us to be faithful to your church. That someday you’re going to snatch away and take us to the judgment seat of Christ and prepare us for the marriage seat of the Lamb. Oh God, if there’s service to be done, we need to do it. If there’s giving to be given, we need to give it. If there’s time to invest, we need to invest it. Oh God, we want to be a city set on a hill here. Help us to make some noise in this community. Help us indeed to build your work here, to be found faithful and ready for that season and that soon return of Jesus at the end of the age.
Oh God, if there are those in our meeting this morning who do not know you, who have never bow the knee of Christ, never confessed him with their mouth and believed on him with their heart, oh God shake them this morning. Help them to know that if anything, they’re living on the tail end of history. They’re living in significant days. They must see that the world is changing, not for the better, but every revolution brings us to that great revolution of Jesus Christ. May they close in with your offer of mercy. And those of us who know you, oh may we come to this table and give thanks to him who loved us and cleansed us from our sins, and made as a kingdom of priest unto God. And everybody said, Amen. Let’s stand.