New Sermon Series Starting

Posted by on Dec 31, 2012 in Featured

Starting in January 2013, join us for a sermon series on the Book of Revelation during Sunday morning worship at 10:30 a.m.

 

 

 

 

 

“Though St. John the Evangelist saw many strange monsters in his vision, he saw no creature so wild as one of his own commentators.”

– G.K. Chesterton

   In December we wrapped up a mini-sermon series on the letters to the seven churches found in Revelation chapters 2 & 3.  After some soul-searching, I have decided to take us deeper into Revelation.  To be honest, when I have sat down over the years to plan what books to tackle in preaching, I have avoided this one.  Could I realistically hope to untangle this book in the time I have to prepare?  Can anything definitive be said about it with so many interpretive approaches?  Can we add anything valuable to our spiritual lives by examining the “many strange monsters” in John’s vision?

Revelation, in the opening verse, claims that its contents are the revelation of Jesus Christ to his servants to show them what must soon take place.  If you and I are servants of Jesus Christ, then we are part of those to whom the book is addressed.  There are indeed many worthy things to learn here.  But even in this opening verse, problems of interpretation start to mount:  what does the word “soon” mean?  How soon will the events of Revelation unfold?  Did they take place, as some have argued, before the fall of the temple in the year 70 A.D.?  Or, are they to take place in the future?  Or could it be that they have always been taking place and will continue to take place until Christ returns?

The question of Revelation’s timing is a critical one to address.  In Christian circles these days, especially after the popular Left Behind book-series, the default understanding of the book’s timing is futurist—that is to say, most of the events described in Revelation occur ahead of us in time—in the seven years before Christ returns.  Commentator Steve Gregg points out that the futurist view has a strong psychological appeal—we like to hold in our hands the blueprints for the future, to feel that we have the secret to unlocking the events that will come to pass.  But if the futurist view is correct, then one must answer how this book helped the seven churches to whom it was originally addressed.  Most of the material becomes irrelevant for the generations of Christians living before the events predicted unfold.

The point of view that best addresses the timing and relevance of Revelation is what some call the “idealist” view.  I will admit it’s probably not a view you’re likely to hear much in popular Christian media, but it’s one that best grasps the scope of the book.  The idealist view sees the events of Revelation as mostly on-going in time.  The book cycles through series of disasters and wars and devastations that depict human life in every generation.  But behind the catastrophes stands the Lord God Almighty, who is depicted in chapters 4 & 5 as reigning with Christ over the whole world, remaining worthy of our worship and highest allegiances. The idealist view interprets the book as setting out the great theme of God’s victory over Satan, a victory secured for Christians in all times.

As we saw in the letters to the seven churches in the opening chapters, the church faces persecution and suffering in every generation and needs reassurance that God has won the victory. What Revelation tries to show, through its apocalyptic imagery, is not a timetable of events to check off our list as we await Christ’s return.  Instead, it tries to pull back the curtain on life a bit by showing us the true spiritual reality behind life’s hardships—namely that there is a God who reigns, and if we are faithful, we too will reign with him in eternity.  Much more will be said as we go through the book.  Looking forward to tackling it with you!