Revelation

When you hear about Revelation what do you think of? How does it make you feel?

There are so many depictions out in our current culture of what the end of the world/end times could look like. None of them paint a very happy picture, in fact many are quite scary.

I had a friend who is scared of being “left behind” when Jesus comes back because that would mean that her faith isn’t that strong. This is all based on the books and now movie based on one view of the end times.  I want to assure you that what Left Behind and other apocalyptic depictions of scripture are from flawed interpretation of scripture. Revelation is also a book that we cannot take literally.

When Revelation was written it was during the time when the Roman government was persecuting Christians and early Christians had it very rough. This is why much of Revelation is written with symbols and codes that early Christians of the time would understand. So taking it literally can get quite confusing.

Think about the 💩 emoji. What does this mean? Some say it is chocolate frozen yogurt, or poo. These are two VERY different things! In the context we understand what it means, but think in the years to come people may not understand what it actually means or the nuances of using such an emoji or other emojis.  

Rev. 1-3

Read Rev. 1:9-11

 

Revelation starts off as a letter with John of Patmos writing to his fellow first century Christians who are being persecuted by the Roman government. This was a really rough time for these Christians, and John shared the vision that he’d been given by God with the seven churches.

This explains why much of Revelation is written in code or with references back to the Old Testament that first century Christians would understand.

Read Rev. 2:1-7

Have you ever felt like you were trying really hard to do something right, only to have your efforts ignored, or worse yet, declared not good enough?

How would it feel to be part of the church of Ephesus and hear the words in v. 1-3?

What do verses 4-6 tell us about  some of the new churches in Asia at the time?

What do you make of the tree in v. 7? Does it seem familiar or similar to another biblical story? What might the author be indicating by making this connection?

Revelation 4-5

In these two chapters John is sharing his vision of the throne room. There is a person (God) sitting on a golden throne with his heavenly court surrounding Him. He is hold a scroll in his right hand that has seven seals (pieces of wax). He was saying that there is only one person who can open the seals on the scroll. This person was a slain lamb representing Jesus.

Jesus came and he is making God’s word true and is with us. The scroll also contains a word of God’s justice and comfort for those who are persecuted. Justice will be brought to those who are against God.

Revelation 6-16

In this part of Revelation, the seals are broken and God’s judgment/justice is reigning. People aren’t repenting though God is pouring out his justice through: the 7 seals, 7 trumpets, and 7 bowls/cups.

Each of these 7 seals, trumpets, and bowls were opportunities for the people to repent, which they did not do. Sounds familiar right? This is a nod back the 7 plagues in Exodus.  

 

Revelation 17-18

All of God’s judgement is poured out on Babylon and it falls. This is reassuring for the early Christians because Babylon was code for Rome, and John was saying that Rome will be destroyed.

Revelation 19-20

Here is the scene of an epic final battle between Jesus and all the evil of the world. Guess who wins? Jesus! Jesus conquerors all evil, and the story still continues!

 

Revelation 21-22

Read Rev. 21:1-8

What part of the text stands out to you? Why?

For first century Christians, life was bleak. How might this have made them feel?

How does reading this challenge what you’ve maybe heard about this book and the end times?

What can we take away from revelation?

This is a story of Hope, God will make all right again, and always provides for us.

End point: Jesus Wins! Love Wins!

God is here with us even when we don’t feel like He is.

Letters

We’ve talked about the letters these last couple of weeks, and we around to talk about 4 other letters tonight. The letters may seem like they don’t apply to us, but these were written to early Christians as guidance and empowerment to them in their early faith. I think these letters can still pertain to us when we look at them big picture wise, because especially in confirmation we are young in our faith as we continue to grow it.

1 Timothy 1:3-7

What would love from an impure heart, a bad conscience, or insincere faith look like?

  • Poor intentions. May be a misguided or manipulation love. Could be out of guilt or desperation to gain love or acceptance by God.

What does love from a pure heart, good conscience, and sincere faith look like? Can you think of a time when you saw someone offer or act out of this kind of love?

  • Authentic service or love. Not looking for anything in return

We see love is greater than the law again. Why is this such a big deal?

  • Love neighbor as self or as Christ loved you.

There are things about the Bible that have been said so much, that we start to believe it though it isn’t true. Can you think of other examples?

  • This too, shall pass (Persian poetry) | cleanliness is next to godliness (the Talmud, oral Jewish law) | little drummer boy | God won’t give you more than you can handle (1 Cor. 1:13 Refers to temptation not burdens) | God help’s those who help themselves ( ancient Greek lit)

1 Timothy 4:12-15

What is Paul’s message to Timothy? (early 20’s)

  • Be an example and don’t let people down on you because you are young..

What gifts does Timothy have?

Have you ever felt this way?

  • You may not realize this but…I look young for my age. Being 27 there are many times where people think that I’m way younger than I am, but context is everything too. When people see my wedding ring or me with Henry they believe that I am older. This has been problematic in some roles that I’ve had because of how people look at me when I teach or lead classes. It’s like I’m playing dress up or a token…

Hebrews 10:19-25

What is our Christian walk supposed to look like?

  • The Christian life isn’t one that is meant to be lived alone. This even ties back into us as just humans. We all have a desire to be in a community and be accepted and safe.
  • Acts 2:40-43

James 2:14-17

Faith Changes us and transforms us. There is no way around that. What are some ways that faith has changed you? Works are a fruit of faith.

 

Many of the New Testament letters were written to encourage churches and individuals. If you were to write a letter of encouragement, to whom would you write it and what would you say?

Dear Galatians,

Paul is writing a letter to the people of Galatia reminding them of the true message of the Gospel (Jesus’ story), and not adding to it. Galatians can be broken down into three big themes. These are all things that I think we do from time to time without even realizing it.

Jesus+: What do we add to the Gospel? [ Galatians 1:6-10]

We add: Be a good person, do the right thing, do good for others, respect, actions that bring us closer to God, etc… We’re all adding to the gospel kind of like the Galatians did at times.  The law that the Galatians used did its job, but they missed so much of the bigger picture.

Questions:

  • What are situations where there are so many rules that it is hard to follow?
  • Do you feel like you ever add rules to the Gospel? Do others?

the checklist: Why do we do what we do? [Galatians 2:16]

Why do you come to CREW or to church? To grow closer to God? Because it is something we should or ought to do? There are times for sure where CREW may seem like another item on the checklist, but I hope that your main reason of coming is to grow in faith. The main point of this though is looking at our intentions, and not letting our intentions of faith growth be cluttered by a long to do list of faith moments.

The Galatians had this same problem. The Galatians as we all know were making faith so complicated and added so many steps/rules to knowing God that they lost sight of who God really was. Paul was speaking against the law a lot in Galatians because the Galatians were spinning their wheels trying to get the law right to get to God.  God was speaking through Paul saying forget about the law…Look to me.

With Love: [Matthew 22:36-40 & Galatians 5:6]

Paul’s main point was Love.  Love is the greatest command, look at Matthew 22:36-40. How do you love your neighbor?

The law was miss understood, it wasn’t a benchmark to grade how good a Christian is it is to show how we always fall short of the glory of God. Just like earlier Paul summed up the entire law: For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Through Christ coming for us the old law isn’t going to be necessary, but something just as important is our relationship with others and our relationship with God.  Through faith and love we get to our end goal, but at the same time we are strengthening the entire community of believers and affirming them in their faith.

Growing in faith is our new goal and love is how we get there

Action Steps:

Take 15 minutes at some point over the next week to just sit without distractions to spend time with God. Ask him to help you focus on him and loving others.

Take the masks off: Take your Wed/Sun mask off and be the same person everywhere you are. We can get in habit of just putting on our church mask and then have the school mask.

I don’t think that we intentionally make our faith life harder, but sometimes we make it harder for ourselves. We are made right with God through faith (trusting in Him). We don’t have to work to earn His love, or take all these extra steps. We are called to love one another that is the greatest command. Though freeing, it can seem too simple, and we need to add more to it. I urge you to not do this and just focus on the true message of the Gospels.