When people ask you, “Do you want the good news first or the bad news?” which do you pick? Typically the bad, right? We know if we say, “The good news,” it will be crushed by the bad news coming next. But if we say, “The bad news,” then the following good news will sound much better.
In the book of Revelation God flips this logic on its head. John writes in Revelation 1:4-8,
John: To the seven churches in Asia. Grace and peace to you from the One who is, who was, and who is coming; from the seven spirits before His throne; and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and has set us free from our sins by His blood, and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father — the glory and dominion are His forever and ever. Amen. Look! He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, including those who pierced Him. And all the families of the earth will mourn over Him. This is certain. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “the One who is, who was, and who is coming, the Almighty.”
What we see very clearly here is that God is in control of history. We see that Jesus purchased us for God. We see that Jesus will come again. With such news in mind, right at the outset, there is nothing the world can throw at us capable of overpowering that good news. No temptation is too powerful; no torture is too painful. God is in control; God loves us; God will save us. We need to fear nothing.
The passage starts by telling us who wrote it. John wrote it. This is the same John who was close to Jesus during Jesus’ earthly ministry. It is the disciple who Jesus loved. This will be very important in a few weeks.
John is writing to the seven churches in Asia. These were seven literal churches, which will be plain when we get to chapters 2-3, but the fact of the matter is numbers are symbolic in this book. Seven is the number of completion or perfection. When John writes to the seven churches, he is writing to the Church universal. If you think you don’t need to know the book of Revelation, i would ask you if you are part of the Church. If so, it definitely speaks to you. If not, trust Christ today and become part of the Church.
The passage continues with the standard letter greeting we see in the New Testament:
“Grace and peace to you.”
But what is the source of the grace and peace? Short answer: God. Long answer: God the Father, God the Holy Spirit, and God the Son.
- the One who is, who was, and who is coming. (aka the eternal One)
- the seven spirits before His throne. (aka the perfect [holy] spirit)
- Jesus Christ.
The fact verse 8 ends by referring to “the One who is, who was, and who is coming” tells us that everything in between is about God.
God is the gospel. God is the One who empowers us to walk this Christian life. Apart from God, we are lost and floundering in a sea of persecution and temptation. The book of Revelation describes this life as a sea of persecution and temptation, and right off the bat, John wants to show us who holds us firm and will not let us be swept away by these violent waves.
Next, we read the explicit gospel. Christ died to set us free from our sins. But not only did He set us free, but He also made us a kingdom and priests. The church united is a kingdom. He didn’t make a kingdom for us; we are the kingdom. Just like He didn’t make priests for us; we are the priests. Priests in the Old Testament were the people who had access to God. As believers, we all have access to God. This is good news! And it was all made ours by the death and resurrection of Christ. When it says Jesus is the “firstborn from the dead,” it means He was the first to rise from the dead. In context, with persecution mounting, this is a glorious truth: Christ was the first, which means there will be others; those who sacrifice their lives for Christ will be resurrected as well. Believe in Him today!
You need to believe because He is on His way back. Those who fail to believe in Him will mourn at His return because they will realize in that instant they should have placed their faith in Him. They will recognize that those they persecuted had been right all along. This is the truth!
If you already believe, keep believing. Jesus will return. This is gospel truth. We must be looking and longing for Him. He is our only hope!
In this with you.
Soli Deo Gloria
Thanks for reading.
The next entry can be found here.