A Tale of Seven Churches – Part 1

Hi, friends! This is Cece from Stepping Stones @ Dallas First Church. We’ve taken a little break since we last did a Stepping Stones blog, but, with this month’s gripping new series “A Tale of Seven Churches,” we definitely want to share what we will be learning together in the Stepping Stones class! John’s prophetic letter to the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3 offer us a wealth of insight and relevant life-application lessons which we can assimilate into our daily Christian walk. This last Saturday, I had the opportunity to teach as we dove into Revelation chapter 1 for an introduction to the seven churches. I hope you’ll be blessed by this devotional recap of the study.

Revelation… the Apocalypse… Brings a lot of images to mind, don’t you think? Scary beasts, demonic creatures, bowls of wrathful judgement, deadly plagues, the Antichrist! In fact, I googled “Revelation” just for kicks and this is one of the first images that popped up:

There is so much confusion and fear surrounding this book that we often forget what any of it is really about. It’s not the “Revelation of the Beast,” or the “Revelation of the Antichrist,” or even the “Revelation of the End Times” – it’s the Revelation of Jesus Christ! And, too, we can find ourselves getting so caught up with the “message of warning” and “the prophecies of judgment” that we forget what God’s very first message is to us: “Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits [or “the Sevenfold Spirit” – that is, the Holy Spirit] who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:4-5). That, friends, is what our Heavenly Father wants us to know before we progress any further! Grace to you and peace. And it’s a salutation from the entire Trinity! That means that each Person of the Godhead is completely invested in speaking this grace and peace into our lives. It’s the grace and peace that one can only know when experiencing a personal, intimate relationship with Jesus.

As we progress through verses 4-6, we next read about three astounding attributes of Christ: the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. Notice John then follows by relating these attributes to three actions which represent the three stages of Jesus’ redemptive ministry:

  1. The faithful witness: “who loves us” – He became incarnated as a man, the Faithful Witness to testify of the Father’s love for us!
  2. The firstborn from the dead: “has washed us from our sins in His own blood” – He died for us!
  3. The ruler of kings: “has made us to be a kingdom of priests” – Because of the power of His resurrection, He has used His own royal authority to grant us the right to reign as kings and minister as priests with Him!

These verses essentially give us the Good News in a nutshell! In fact, it is no coincidence that they even line up point by point with the gospel message of John 3:16. In both passages, we see God’s love demonstrated by His sacrifice and mercy towards us:

“For God so loved the world” (John)
“Jesus Christ loved us” (Revelation)
“that He gave His only begotten Son” (John)
“[He] washed us from our sins in His own blood” (Revelation)
“so that whosoever believes should not perish” (John)
“[He] has made us kings and priests unto God” (Revelation)

These introductory set the stage for the rest of the story. Of course, we all know that Revelation contains some pretty heavy stuff. But before we get any further, we have to get our perspective straight. It’s as if God is saying to us: “Before you continue in this book, stop! I want you to know that it’s all about My Son Jesus!” Everything, absolutely everything, comes after and in perspective of the gospel message. We dare not venture further into this study without a full appreciation of the primary and central role of the Cross of Jesus Christ.

Before, we go any further in our study, I want to invite you to take some time to meditate and think on what we have learned so far. Let the Father’s invitation into the grace and peace of Jesus permeate every part of your day today.

And, by the way, remember that first picture I showed you? That picture that supposedly illustrates what the book of Revelation is all about? Well, we need to take that picture, throw it in the trash bin of our minds and hearts, and replace it with this one:

(Artwork: “Light of the World” by Nathan Greene: http://www.nathangreene.com)

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