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Back To The Future

Sermon #2


Revelation 1:4-8


Intro: The book of Revelation is an amazing book.  It is also a very complex book.  There are many twists, turns and rapid plot developments in its pages.  This book contains all the elements of a great thriller.  In its pages you will find action, suspense, mystery, wonder, fear, drama, horror, and much excitement.  While it takes a full 22 chapters for all the action to completely develop; John gives us A Sneak Preview Of Coming Attractions here at the very beginning.  He whets our appetites for that which is coming our way in the remainder of the book.

      The verses we have read today are an introduction into the material that will be developed as we move through the verses of Revelation.  With that in mind, let’s take a look at this Sneak Preview Of Coming Attractions.



A.  The Destination Of The Letter – “to the seven churches which are in Asia” – This letter was to be sent to seven specific churches in Asia Minor.  These churches are mentioned by name in verse 11 and they are dealt with in detail in chapters two and three.  We will consider each of these congregations when we get to those verses.

            For the time being, what we need to remember about these churches is this:

·        First, they were real, literal congregations that existed at the time John penned this book.  Jesus spoke to them about real saints, real sinners, real situations and real solutions.

·        Second, these churches are representative of every Christian church that has ever existed.  Every church contains some of the characteristics that marked these early churches.  So, while this letter was not addressed to Calvary Baptist Church; this book has as much to say to us as if it was addressed to us.


(Ill. This letter was sent to “the seven churches”.  This is the first use of the number seven in Revelation.  This is a number that will show up time and time again as we study the book.  Seven is a number that suggests “perfect, completion, and fullness”. So, when the Bible mentions seven churches, it is referring to the church in its fullness.  That is why I said that even though this book was not specifically written to us, it still speaks to us as though it were.

      Seven is a prominent number in our world. There are seven colors that make up the light spectrum.  There are seven notes in the musical scale.  There are seven days in one week.

      Seven appears frequently in the Bible.  God commanded seven feats in the Law.  There are seven secret, or mysteries, in the Christ’s parables of the kingdom.  There were seven sayings of Jesus on the cross.  At Jericho seven priests carrying seven trumpets marched around the city for seven days.  On the seventh day they marched around the city seven times.

      In this book, the number seven is used forty-nine times, which is seven times seven.  Here are some of the sevens in Revelation:

·        Seven Churches – 1:4

·        Seven Spirits – 1:4

·        Seven Stars – 1:16

·        Seven Seals – 4:5

·        Seven Horns – 5:6

·        Seven Eyes – 6:6

·        Seven Trumpets – 8:2

·        Seven Angels – 8:2

·        Seven Thunders – 10:3

·        Seven Heads – 12:3

·        Seven Crowns – 12:3

·        Seven Plagues – 15:1

·        Seven Vials – 17:1

·        Seven Mountains – 17:9

·        Seven Kings – 17:10

      There are many others sevens in this book, these are just a small sample of the many we will see.)


B.  The Desire Of The Letter – “grace unto you and peace” – This is the classic New Testament dedication. John greets them with the prayer that they will continue to enjoy the all-sufficient grace of God and the peace of God which passes understanding.  While the book of Revelation is a difficult book filled with scenes of judgment and condemnation; it is a book of joy.  It reveals God’s grace in the lives of His people and it points to a coming world where grace and peace will reign forever.  This is a fitting way to introduce the book.

C.  The Deity Of The Letter – This great promise of grace and peace comes to us from the Holy Trinity.  Notice the word “from” in verses 4-5.  This word is used three times.  Each time it appears, it introduces another member of the Godhead.  God is the source of all grace and peace. 

            These two verses remind us that this book was not the creation of a man.  It is the Words of God to man!  Therefore, it carries with it awesome power and ultimate divine authority.  Let’s examine the Deity behind this letter.

1.  The Sovereign Father – This identifies the God Who is “the self-existent One”.  The God Who called Himself “I AM” in Ex. 3:14.  The God Who has always existed in the source of grace and peace.  The God Who is the eternal One; Who lives in three-dimensions, past, present and future, all at the same time.  He is the source of grade and peace.  This God, the One Who has always existed; Who exists; and Who will always exist, is the source of this grace and peace.  This God Who never changes, Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8; James 1:17; He is our source!

2.  The Sufficient Spirit – The phrase “the seven spirits which are before His throne” speaks of the “fullness, the perfection, the completeness” of the Spirit of God.  It refers to His ministry in our lives.  He is able to give us His grace and peace because He is so perfect and so complete.  He is all we need as we pass through this life.  He is sufficient!  This phrase may also have reference to Isa. 11:2, where the Bible says, “And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD”.

3.  The Splendid Son – Now, John tells us that there is a third source of grace and peace.  He tells us that these things come from “Jesus Christ”.  When John mentioned the Father and the Spirit, he spoke of them in symbolic language.  When he speaks of Jesus, he uses straightforward language and sets Jesus on center stage.  Why?  Well, the purpose of this book is to reveal, to unveil Jesus.

            So, right here in the beginning, John tells us exactly Who Jesus is.  He does not want there to be any confusion about Jesus, Who He is, or what He is about.  John knows that believing right about Jesus absolutely critical to getting everything else right.  If you get your beliefs about Jesus messed up, you are going to be off base in everything you believe.  John gives us a three-fold description of the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

a.  His Revelation – Jesus is called “the faithful witness”.  This little phrase calls to mind His coming to the world the first time.  Jesus came to reveal the Father, John 14:7-9; John 12:45; Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3.  Jesus is the only Person in history Who has the right to bear the title of “Jehovah’s Witness”!

            You see, in the Old Testament, Israel was God’s witness to the world, Isa. 43:10.  In this age, the church is His witness to the world, Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 1:8.  However, neither the church nor Israel is a faithful witness.  In fact, the best we can be is a mere reflection of God and His grace.  Jesus Christ was and is God in human flesh.  He is more than a reflection, He is God!  Therefore, He was able to give a “faithful witness” to the Person and work of the Father, John 18:37; 1 Tim. 6:13.

b.  His Resurrection – Jesus is called “the first begotten of the dead”.  Now, Jesus was not the first one to get up from the dead.  There were some in the Old Testament and several in the Gospels.  But, Jesus was the first one to get up and stay up.  The rest died again!

      The word translated “first begotten” comes from the word that gives us the word “prototype”.  Jesus sets the standard that the rest will eventually follow.  When the Bible says that Jesus is the “first begotten of the dead”, it does not mean that He is the first One to get up.  It means that He is first in preeminence. In other words, He set the standard!  He is the prototype.  He is the example of what will happen to all those who believe in Him.  Just as He got up to stay up from the grave forever, so those who trust in Him will also experience a resurrection one day.  Because He lives, those who have their faith in Him have “passed from death unto life”, John 5:24, and they “will never die”, John 11:25-26.

c.  His Royalty – The third title given to Jesus in this verse is “the prince of the kings of the earth”.  This establishes Jesus to be the “King of Kings and Lord of Lords”.  This phrase pictures Him as the One Who is in absolute control.  We will see Satan sent his king, the Antichrist, into the world.  He will rampage and exalt himself above “all that is called God.”  But, even he will have a Master, and His name is Jesus.  One day, every ruler, every tyrant, every dictator, every king, potentate, etc who has ever lived will bow before the nail-pierced feet of the Lord Jesus Christ and will call Him “Lord, to the glory of God the Father”, Phil. 2:9-10.  He is the ultimate Ruler!



(Ill. Having told us about the Godhead, the source of grace and peace, John gets so caught up in Who Jesus is that he offers us a hymn of praise to the Lamb of God.  Let’s take a minute to listen to John’s song of praise.)

A.  He Is Praised For His Loving Ministry – “Unto Him Who loved us” – Don’t let that past tense verb throw you.  John is merely reminding us that Jesus loved us in spite of what we were and still are.  His love is unceasing, unfailing and unconditional.  He loves us and that is cause enough for loud and long praise to be offered to Him.  It was His love for us that brought Him to the world, John 3:16.  It was His love for us that bound Him to the cross, Rom 5:8.  His love for us is a guarantee that can never fail, Rom. 8:38-39.

B.  He Is Praised For His Loosing Ministry – “and washed us from our sins in His Own blood” – The word translated “wash” means to “cleanse!  Jesus shed His blood on the cross and when we trust Him; His blood washes us whiter than snow and cleanses us from every stain of sin, 1 John 1:7.

            By the way, did you know what each of us brings to this thing called salvation?  The text says, “our sins” and “His Own blood”.  All we had to contribute to our salvation was sin.  He contributed His blood. And, His blood washes away all of our sins, Eph. 1:7!

C.  He Is Praised For His Lifting Ministry – “And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father” – This phrase tells us that Jesus is to be praised because He refused to leave us like He found us.  He found us in sin; He love us; He washed us in His blood and saved us; then He lifts us out of that condition and changes us for the glory of God, 2 Cor. 5:17.  He takes old hell-bound sinners and makes them “kings and priests”.

            As kings, the saints will reign with Jesus one day, 2 Tim. 2:12.  As priests, we are given direct access to the throne of God, Heb. 4:16; 10:19.  He deserves to be praised for caring for us; cleansing us and changing us for His glory!


      (Ill. “Hath made us” – The Prodigal son left home saying “give me”.  He returned home, broken, dirty and defeated crying “make me”.  When the Lord touches your heart just right, you will get in a position where you are willing to let God make of you just what He pleases.  And, friend, He never wants to make anything out of you that is bad.  He wants to make you a king and a priest. He wants to make somebody out of you!)


(Ill. John tells us all this about Jesus and then he breaks out in praise.  He says, “to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”  This is the first doxology, or song of praise, in the book of Revelation.  But, it will not be last.  As the book progresses, the doxologies get longer and more detailed.  Each time, Jesus is exalted more and more.  The more He is revealed in this book, the more He is praised in this book.

      By the way, that’s the way it ought to be!  The closer we get to Him the more we should praise Him.  The more we learn about Him, the more our hearts should be stirred to give Him praise, honor and glory.)



(Ill. These last two verses give us a little glimpse of what we can expect as this book unfolds.  They offer a bit of a promise to us that some exciting things are going to be happening in this book.  Let’s examine the promise of the revelation.)

A.  v. 7  The Promise Of A Coming One – The world has waited in anticipation for 6,000 years for the Redeemer to come.  He came the first time, was born of a virgin and died on the cross to purchase the redemption.  He is returning in the clouds above this earth to catch away His Bride in the Rapture.  Then, one day, Jesus will return to this earth in power and glory.  He will defeat the enemies of God and He will establish His kingdom here and He will reign here for 1,000 years.  This verse is about that event.  This does not speak about the Rapture, but of His Revelation.

1.  The Method Of His Coming – “He cometh with clouds” – This is not the first time that Jesus clothed Himself with clouds.  He led Israel through the wilderness in a pillar of cloud, Ex. 13:21-22.  He ascended back into Heaven riding a chariot of clouds, Acts 1:9.  When He comes back, He will again surround Himself with clouds and will appear in glory and power.  He is coming!

2.  The Manifestation Of His Coming – “every eye shall see Him” – The thought of everyone being able to see the same thing and the same time all over the world was considered impossible just a few decades ago.  But, with the advent of satellite technology, people around the world witness the same event simultaneously. But, when Jesus comes, He will not need Fox News or CNN to broadcast His coming.  He will appear in the clouds and the while world will be able to see Him at the same time.  This tells us that His presence and glory will be undeniable in that day.

3.  The Misery Of His Coming – The Bible makes it clear that the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus will not be a pleasant event for the people of the world. Jew and Gentile alike will wail when they see Him coming.  The Jews will weep because their fathers rejected Him and their people paid a high price for their rebellion.  The Gentiles will wail because He comes to judge sin and sinner alike.  When Jesus comes there will be horrible judgment as He treads the “winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God”.


      (Ill. John hears this and says, “Amen!”  that is, “So be it; or may it come to pass,”  This is a prayer that every saint should echo.  Let us pray that whatever the cost, Jesus will come and set this world as it ought to be.)


B.  v. 8  The Promise Of A Concluding One – Yes, Jesus is coming and it will signal awful judgment for this wicked world.  But, it will also signal the culmination of all things.  What the Lord began in the Genesis, He will conclude in the Revelation.

1.  The Lord’s Announcement – “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord”.  As “Alpha and Omega” Jesus is the One Who knows all things.  Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet and Omega is the last.  Those letters and the others in between can be used to express all the idea and knowledge of mankind.  Jesus lets us know that He is the Omniscient One.  He sees all and He knows all.

            The phrase “beginning and ending” reminds us that He is the One Who started this universe on its present course and He is the One Who pilots it to its proper conclusion.  In other words, He declares Himself to be the One Who is on control!  He is the “Lord”!

2.  The Lord’s Authority – Jesus also calls Himself “which is, and which was, and which is to come”.  With this phrase, He proclaims His deity!  After all, this is the title used to describe the Father in verse 4.  As God, Jesus is the all-present, all-knowing, all-powerful Being Who transcends time and space.  He has the authority to do all the things He says will come to pass in this book.  In other words, He will see to it that all things go as He has planned them and that everything foretold in this book will come to pass just as He has said!  So, don’t worry saint of God, our Savior is in control!  But, if you are not saved, you need to be!  After all, just as surely as there is a Heaven for the redeemed ones, there is a Hell for the lost ones.

3.  The Lord’s Ability – Jesus declares Himself to be “the Almighty”.  This word means, “the one who holds sway over all things”.  It proclaims Him to be the sovereign Lord of the universe.  He is the One Who is able to bring everything He has planned and promised to pass.  He will do it and no one will be able to stop it!


(Ill. John Phillips tells the following story, “One of the most stirring pages in English history tells of the conquests and crusades of Richard I, the Lionhearted. While Richard was away trouncing Saladin, his kingdom fell on bad times. His sly and graceless brother, John, usurped all the prerogatives of the king and misruled the realm. The people of England suffered, longing for the return of the king, and praying that it might be soon. Then one day Richard came. He landed in England and marched straight for his throne. Around that glittering coming, many tales are told, woven into the legends of England. (One of them is the story of Robin Hood.) John’s castles tumbled like ninepins. Great Richard laid claim to his throne, and none dared stand in his path. The people shouted their delight. They rang peal after peal on the bells. The Lion was back! Long live the king!

      One day a King greater than Richard will lay claim to a realm greater than England. Those who have abused the earth in His absence, seized His domains, and mismanaged His world will all be swept aside.[1])


Conc:  That, my friends, is a lot to look forward to!  And, every bit of it is going to happen, just as He has promised it will.  So, what are we to do with this information?  What are we to do in light if His coming again?  Allow me to offer a few thoughts about what we should do with a message like this.

·        We should be sure that we are ready to meet Him when He comes – Matt. 24:44.

·        We should be in prayer for those who are not ready; and we should get busy and tell them how to be ready – Mark 16:15.

·        We should realize that our time is short in this life and we should commit ourselves to doing all we can for Him while there is still time – John 9:4.


      Is there something He would have you to do today?

[1] Exploring Revelation, rev. ed. [Chicago: Moody, 1987; reprint, Neptune, N.J.: Loizeaux, 1991], 22–23

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