sermon 2.0 Rev.1:4-8

Sermon Outline

Rev. 1:4-8

“What’s In a Name?”

· Introduction:

o Opening illustration: Fruitstand

o Names can be confused, misused and abused

§ Abused for the name Christ

§ Abused for the name Christian

o Sometimes pressure from the outside can confuse one’s identity

· Revelation opens with two introductions

o John helps us to how best to hear/see the book that he is writing

§ Introduces his work as an apocalypse –first introduction

§ Providing a filter for us to hear or view the rest of the work

o What is Apocalyptic?*

§ A literary genre that was popular from the 2nd century BC to 2nd Century AD

§ A way of expressing their present struggle with the evil forces, and ultimate triumph of good

§ Specific characteristics:

· Visions

o Important

o Rarely chronological

o Usually animals or beasts represent nations

§ Heads or horns represent rulers

o Numbers:

§ The # 3 represents the spirit world

§ The # 4 represents the created order

§ The # 7 represents that which comes to completion

§ The # 10 represents inclusiveness

§ The # 3.5 represents the length of time that God allows evil to run its course

o Colors:

§ White = victory

§ Red = war, strife

§ Black = lack of something

§ Greenish grey (only in revelation) = death

· Angelic interpreter

o Someone always arrives to tell you what these visions mean

§ This is a book filled with images, art, visions, other worldly beings, poetry and wisdom literature

o Second introduction: Epistolary introduction

§ Name of writer, people addressed, the blessing

o Background of text

§ Ephesus was capital of Asia Minor

· Third or fourth largest city in the Empire

· Port city at that time

§ Romans connected all the major cities with roads

· Helped people travel safety

· Helped to spread Christian faith

§ Persecution at the time:

· Some emperors divines after death, some claimed title while living

· Domitian

o AD 81-96 –known by the tile Lord and God

o Romans had cultic centers

o Sacrifices were offered

o Offer sacrifices to goddess Roma and the emperor

o Not typical for living emperor

· This doesn’t sit well with monotheism

o Those who refused were put into concentration camps

o Economic persecution

§ Took you way from everything

§ Denied access to the market place, no jobs, etc.

§ Some Christians banded together, some people died, some wavered and recanted

o The predominate persecution in the late first century was economic persecution

Our Text: Rev. 1:4-8

· As we begin notice, this letter comes from a man named John, and he is writing to the seven churches of Asia Minor

o Another way of saying the whole church

· Trinitarian opening:

o References to God, as the one who is, who was, and is to come

o From the seven spirits before his throne, or the totality of God’s Spirit or the Holy Spirit

o And from Jesus Christ

· Unlike other apocalyptic works, the author of this work identifies himself as John

o Apparently known among the churches of Asia Minor

o He is one with authority that comes from God (Rev. 1:1)

· John, knows them and known by them

o Knows the power of a good name

o Three names ascribed to Jesus in our text

§ “The faithful witness”

§ “The firstborn from the dead”

§ “The ruler of the kings of the earth” (Rev. 1:5)

o These are new designations for Jesus

§ John is declaring that God, acting through His Son Jesus knows and understands their needs

· Jesus Christ is the Faithful Witness

o God’s Word in the flesh

§ The story of Jesus

o He has stood in their shoes

§ He too had stood before the Roman authorities and suffered under Roman rule

· Jesus Christ is the Firstborn from the dead

o The suffering endured by John’s audience was real

o In order to be a faithful witness, one may even have to give is life

o But even in death, they weren’t alone

§ Jesus had suffered and died

§ Death isn’t the final word

o Jesus defeated/conquered death

§ Those that cling to Jesus in and through persecution are reminded there is life on the other side of the grave

· Jesus Christ is the Ruler of the Kings of the Earth

o A title claimed by the Roman Caesars

§ John’s letter is a line in the sand

· Whose side are you on?

o John is reminding his audience of their primary allegiance

§ It wasn’t to the state or the emperor

§ Christian’s first and only loyalty was to God

· There is more than just new names for Jesus

o John reminds them of his work on their behalf

§ They were loved (1:5)

§ They were freed from their sins by his blood (1:5)

§ They were a kingdom and priests with a mission in this world to serve God (1:6)

· We too live in a time of crisis of suffering

o Jobs lost, economy is sick, bailout packages galore, war against terror

· Revelation still addresses our contemporary situation, through the redemptive work of Jesus

o He is the Faithful and True Witness

§ He too has suffered, was unemployed, homeless and often hungry (Mat. 8:20).

§ He is the Word of God come in the flesh (Jn. 1:14)

§ He is the Messiah, the anointed one of God – pictured as coming on the clouds (Rev. 1:7)

§ When it rains, it pours

· He is our umbrella, deflecting the rain/pain

· He is the continuing presence of God with us through the storms of life

§ As his disciples, we are called to share in his witness

· We have a story to tell

o He is the Firstborn From Among the Dead

§ People have always feared death

§ Death is the final frontier

§ We can lose everything in this life, and yet enter into the grave with his presence and his promise that death isn’t all there is.

§ Jesus is the only bail out we need.

· He has come to seek and to save the lost (Lk. 19:10)

§ There is life in the everlasting tomorrow

§ The one who is, who was, and is to come was there in the beginning and he is there in the end (Rev. 1:8).

o He is the Ruler of the Kings of the Earth

§ American politics won’t save you

§ Our president isn’t the messiah, but we know the one who is!

· The one who was given all power and authority on earth and in heaven (Mat. 28:18)

§ Even though we currently live in a time of uncertainties and economic woes we know the one who sits on the throne

· In Revelation chaps. 4 and 5 of the throne of God and the image of the conquering Lam is the definitive image of the book

· The answer to the question of who is in charge of all this mess is answered with a grand picture of God’s glory

§ He is sovereign and Lord over all creation. His name is Jesus

· So, we come back to our original question, what’s in a name?

o Our identity is tied to the names we associate ourselves too.

o John has pleaded with his audience to consider their associations

§ Would they be known as Christ-followers or Caesar loyalist?

§ Their identities, their names are bound up in the work and plan of God through the coming of Jesus and their adherence to His commands

o So, what name are you known by?

§ Are you defined by what happens to you, a victim of circumstance?

§ Where your name becomes whatever happens to you?

· Unemployed, bankrupt, divorced, dumped, abused, cheated, disliked, unloved?

· Or have you learned to make lemonade out of the lemons in your life, so to speak? Where you wear the proud name of Christ no matter what and wherever.

§ Maybe tonight we need to consider our associations?

· What name(s) do other’s know us by?

· My prayer is that we find the grace of God to be enough and wear the only name that matters, the only name that makes a difference, the only name that lasts—Jesus!

*excerpt from class notes, BIB/MIN 6307 Preaching Biblical Genre: Revelation


About Jason Retherford

The random musings of a youth minister.
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