About a month ago, February 8, an assistant soccer coach at a small Christian college got up to speak in chapel, gave his message and the invitation, and left the chapel. As he left he sent his wife a text: “Latest stinker. I’ll be home soon.” He thought his message totally bombed. It turned out, God started a revival that day in Asbury, Kentucky!
We don’t always know the impact that our messages, or the things we do for the Lord, will have. I do think that the Apostle John here, however, knew that something very special was going on when God gave him this book we call Revelation. John knew that HE Himself wasn’t that special; but that God WAS, and the Jesus he saw definitely was! We’re going to look this morning at the beginning of the message God gave John on the Lord’s Day almost 2000 years ago — and what it means for us today!
I. THE LORD’S SERVANT: persevering in the Kingdom
:9 “I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.”
Here John tells us a little bit about himself. We’re getting well into Revelation 1 now, and the spotlight has definitely NOT been on John; the focus has all been on Jesus — as it rightly should be! But here, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, John tells us just a bit about himself and his situation, and what he says is instructive to us.
First, he gives NO accolades to himself. He doesn’t say, “I am the great Apostle John, verily one of the three who formed the ‘inner circle’ of the Master; who personally reclined with Jesus in the Last Supper …”. No, he doesn’t say anything like that, does he? He just says, “I, John, your BROTHER and FELLOW PARTAKER …”. He is very humble in what he says here about himself.
First, he says I am your “brother.” Not your “lord” or “master” or “teacher,” but “brother.” As we saw last week, there is only ONE celebrity in the church: Jesus Christ. We are all brothers and sisters in Him.
But the very first question you should ask yourself today is, AM I John’s brother or sister in Christ? See, this is what the Bible is all about: God made us to be His children, but we all rebelled against Him in sin and disobedience. We have all done what we should not have. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” But as :5 here says, Jesus “loves us, and released us from our sins by His blood.” He died on the cross to pay for our sins, so that if we would be willing to repent of our sins and make Jesus our King, we could be saved. When you do that, you became a child of God through Jesus Christ. And all of those who have given their lives to Jesus become your brothers and sisters.
Has this happened to YOU? If it hasn’t, it CAN happen today!
If you DO know Jesus as your Lord & Savior, then John says here that he is not only your “brother,” but also: “fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus.” The phrase “fellow partaker” (or however your Bible translates that word) literally means “fellowshipping/together.” John says I am a fellow sharer together with you in some things. What things? He mentions here in :9 three things that he shares with us: “the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus.”
John said he shared in the “Kingdom” of God. After Jesus rose from the dead, He appeared to John and the other disciples, and He gave them the Great Commission to go and share the gospel of how He died on the cross for our sins, and like the others, John did. History tells us that he was a pastor in Ephesus, which is in what we now call the nation of Turkey. So first, John served the Lord in His kingdom work.
But while serving, John experienced a second thing we see here: “tribulation.” Most interpret :9 to mean that he had been exiled to the Island of Patmos because he had been sharing the gospel in Ephesus and the surrounding area. Patmos is an island, 40 miles off the coast of Turkey. The Romans sent prisoners there to mine rocks out the quarries so they could build their great buildings. That is where John was sent for preaching God’s word.
I’ve shared before how Pastor Samuel Rutherford was exiled by the authorities from his church at Anwoth, Scotland in the 1600s, for teaching God’s word. John was evidently in a similar situation: he had been exiled from his church in Ephesus, out to that Isle of Patmos, for doing Kingdom work.
But then John said, I am also a sharer in the “perseverance.” That Bible word “hupomene” literally means “to abide under;” to keep on going even when a burden is laid on you. You don’t let it stop you. You persevere and keep doing God’s work.
So John said he shared in the Kingdom, and the tribulation, and the perseverance in the Lord’s work. But remember: he said in :9 that he was “your BROTHER and FELLOW PARTAKER” in the kingdom, and tribulation, and perseverance. He says, I am fellowshipping with YOU in these things. John was writing to churches and individuals who were experiencing these same things: for example, if you read ahead in Chapter 2 and 3, you will see that Jesus tells the church at Smyrna in 2:9 “I know your tribulation” — so they were suffering for the Lord too. And to Pergamum in 2:13 he says: “You dwell where Satan’s throne is, and you hold fast My name and did not deny My faith.” And so on throughout these letters; in a few weeks we’ll look at them one by one. The Christians of John’s day also shared in the Kingdom work, but also in the tribulation, and the perseverance through sufferings.
And it’s not just those seven first-century churches. ALL Christians of all times are sharers in these things too:
— We are ALL to share in the Kingdom work: we are to lead in worship of Jesus; we are to share the good news of Jesus; we are to teach others the word of Jesus; we are to care for others in Jesus’ name. “Worshiping, reaching, teaching, caring;” that’s the work of His kingdom. We are ALL to be “fellow partakers” in it, like John in some fashion. Are YOU doing it? We’ve got people in our church who can say, I teach children God’s word or serve in the nursery or Children’s Church; we’ve got men who say I witness for the Lord at the Port Ministry; What is your work? What is your ministry? We are ALL to share in the work of the Kingdom in some way.
— And when we serve Jesus in His kingdom work, we WILL end up sharing in the tribulation too. All through this book of Revelation, we read of God’s people who suffered for the Lord. One of the main reasons for this Book was undoubtedly to encourage God’s people in these churches who were facing afflictions because of their commitment to Jesus. He was showing them the end, and saying don’t give up! “The one who endures to the end will be saved.” “Keep My deeds to the end and I’ll give you authority over the nations.” Jesus is Lord; He is coming! There will be a great reward for you if you hang in there and do not give up!
— So we are all to share in the Perseverance: “hupomene” – literally, “abiding under” the pressure or trials. When we experience trials in His work, we are not to quit; we are to continue to persevere.
The first Pilgrims who came to America were people like that. They believed they had come to do God’s Kingdom work; they experienced many tribulations along the way, but they were people of perseverance. ,“Their time in Leiden, they now realized, had been a mere rehearsal for the real adventure. Because of the extraordinary spiritual connection they had developed as exiles, they were prepared for whatever lay ahead. ‘It is not with us as with other men,’ Robinson and Brewster confidently insisted, ‘whom small things can discourage, or small discontentment cause to wish themselves home again.’ Or, as one of their number, a thirty-year-old corduroy worked named William Bradford, later wrote, ‘They knew they were pilgrims.’” (Nathaniel Philbrick, The Mayflower and the Pilgrims’ New World, p. 5.)
That’s how it is with US as God’s people, too. God has put us here on His earth to do His Kingdom’s work, for His glory. And yes, there are many trials and tribulations along the way — for us too! But Revelation reminds us: persevere! “You know you are pilgrims”! This world is not your home. King Jesus is coming, persevere; keep up the good work; like Galatians 6 says, “In due season you will reap if you do not lose heart.” Persevere in the work for the Kingdom, just like the churches in Revelation, and just like your “brother” John, the Lord’s servant!
II. THE LORD’S DAY: worshiping in the Spirit
:10 “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day …”
This verse says a LOT to teach and challenge us:
First of all, it is significant that John says he was “in the Spirit on THE LORD’S DAY. This teaches us that “The Lord’s Day” is the new Christian day of worship. We see that from the Resurrection of Jesus on, God’s people gathered on Sunday to meet together to worship Him:
— Jesus first appeared to His disciples on the Sunday He rose from the dead.
— Then John 20:19 says “So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’
— Then :26 of John 20 says that Jesus appeared to them again and showed Thomas His hands and His feet. Again, this was on Sunday, the first day of the week. It was if Jesus was saying to them: THIS is when I want you to meet with Me, on Sunday, the first day of the week.
We see from the rest of the New Testament that His disciples got the message, and regularly met for worship on Sunday:
— Acts 20:7 “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them …”. The Christians at Troas gathered on the first day of the week to “break bread”/fellowship/Lord’s Supper, and to hear a message. They gathered on Sunday.
— I Corinthians 16:2 “On the first day of every week each of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come.” Why bring the offering on “the first day of the week” (Sunday)? Because that is when they gathered to worship, on the Lord’s Day.
— Then we see John here in Revelation 1, “in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day.”
Isn’t it significant that the Lord gave John this message of the Book of Revelation on “The Lord’s Day”?! This is when He meets with His people; this is when He speaks to His people — on “the Lord’s Day,” “the first day of the week, Sunday. This the day when God’s people are now to gather and worship Jesus.
There are “Seventh Day Adventists” and “seventh day Baptists” and others who believe we should still be worshiping on Saturday, the Sabbath, but it is of note that the Sabbath commandment is the ONLY one of the Ten Commandments which is NOT repeated in the New Testament. There is NO New Testament command to “keep the Sabbath holy.” That is because the sabbath has been superseded for Christians by a NEW day of worship, “The Lord’s Day.” There is no indication that “The Lord’s Day” is a “sabbath,” like the Saturday Sabbath was to the Jews. “The Lord’s Day”, Sunday, was the day that the Lord appeared to His people repeatedly after His resurrection, and Christians from that time began to gather to worship on Sunday.
Now, we should also say that for Christians, EVERY day should be a day of worship for us! There should no NO day that we do not worship God. As we talked about repeatedly in our Simply Prayer class, we should pray to God all the time, sing to Him all the time, thank Him all the time, worship Him all the time. BUT the evidence of the New Testament is that from the time of the Resurrection of Jesus onward, Jesus’ followers would now gather to meet Him in worship together on Sunday, “The Lord’s Day.”
This is one of the most important commitments you can have as a follower of Christ: to gather to worship Him on the Lord’s Day. You need that.
Hebrews 10:24-25 says: “Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good works, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”
It is interesting that already in the early church, by the time that Hebrews was written, there were already believers who were not attending worship as they should. So the problem is not new.
But the writer of Hebrews says: DON’T YOU be like that. He says “Don’t YOU forsake your ‘assembling’ together. That word “assembling” is the word “sunagoge” — the word “synagogue” comes from it. So he’s saying, “Don’t miss ‘synagogue’ — of course, synagogue was the local assembly of the Jews to worship. For Christians this is the local church. He’s saying, don’t get out of the habit of going to church.
And WHY? First he says, when we meet together, we “stimulate one another to love and good works.” Meeting with other Christians encourages you in your walk with the Lord. (When we heard Johnny Mac share the other day about how he and Kyle led someone to the Lord, it encourages US to share with others about the Lord, and so on.) And at the end of :25, he says again: “but ENCOURAGING one another.” He says YOU need the encouraging from people in the church, and other people in the church need encouraging from YOU!
So we need to gather with other believers on the Lord’s Day. But it’s not just all about being “present” in church. There is a lot more to it than just “being there.”
During the Civil War a soldier told his commanding officer, “Sir, I have been right here by your side in every battle of this war.” The officer looked at the soldier and said, “Yes, and so has that donkey over there — but he’s still a donkey!” I guess the message there is, you can be present in church, but still be a “donkey,” if you come with the wrong motive or attitude!
So it’s not enough just to “be present” in church. But John said not only was he “there,” he said “I was IN THE SPIRIT on the Lord’s Day.” That is an important thing, to be “in the Spirit” on the Lord’s Day. There are a lot of people who are “in church” on the Lord’s Day, but they are not “in the Spirit”! There is a big difference!
In Galatians 5 Paul writes about the difference of being “in the flesh” or “in the Spirit.” He says those in the flesh have “impurity, sensuality, idolatry, … strife, jealousy … anger, disputes” and so on. But he says those who have the fruit of the Spirit have “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness” and all the Spirit’s fruit. They are controlled not by self, but by the Spirit of God.
How do YOU come to church: in the flesh, or in the Spirit?
To come “In the Spirit” means you are confessed up on sin
To come “In the Spirit” means you’ve surrendered your life to the Holy Spirit’s control.
To come “In the Spirit” means you are worshiping Jesus as the Spirit in you desires to glorify Him.
To come “in the Spirit” means it’s not the first time you’ve prayed today when you get to church; you’ve already prayed to be full of His Spirit when you come …
To come “in the Spirit” means these aren’t the first songs you’ve sung today; you’ve already “warmed up” singing to the Lord in your worship time at home! Now you’re ready to join in with all the saints! You’ve come “in the Spirit”!
To come “in the Spirit” means you’ve already read the word, but you’ve come hungry for more!
To come “in the Spirit” means you’ve already repented of some sin today, but you’ve come ready to be shown more …
To come “in the Spirit” means to come like Samuel, saying “Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening!”
To come “in the Spirit” means to come like Peter, saying: “I am a sinful man”!
To come “in the Spirit” means to come like Mary, saying, “Whatever He says to you, do it”!
To come “in the Spirit” means to come like Isaiah, saying, “Here am I, send me!”
So this Lord’s Day, did you “just come” to church, or did you come “IN THE SPIRIT”?
Are you here to just “check off a box” and go home, and keep living the way you were before? Or did you come to meet and hear and respond to GOD? Let’s make sure we come “in the Spirit” when we come to worship the Lord on His day!
III. THE LORD’S MESSAGE: glorying in Jesus!
:10 “I heard behind me a loud voice like the voice of a trumpet, saying, ‘Write in a book what you see …’.”
That “book” is this Book of Revelation. And the vision that John was about to see was the most magnificent thing that any human being had ever beheld.
For one thing, I don’t think it is “coincidental” that John received this message from the Lord when he had been “in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day.” If you want to hear from God, get in the Spirit! Spend time in worship and prayer. Confess you sin. Surrender to Him. Get “in the Spirit” — and see what He shows you!
So the Lord showed John this amazing vision on that Lord’s Day. Verses 12-13 say “then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned, I saw seven golden lamp stands, and in the middle of the lamp stands I saw one like a Son of Man …”.
We KNOW who that “Son of Man” is, don’t we, from a couple of weeks ago. Daniel 7 tells us that The Son of Man is the Messiah, Jesus. God shows John here in the second part Revelation 1 the most amazing vision of the glorified Jesus, that would literally put him on his face before His presence.
Alan Jacobs wrote a book called “The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction.” He said, “I was … on one of the enormous ferries that run between the mainland of British Columbia and Vancouver Island. … My eye strayed to a neighboring table. There sat a ten-year-old boy, gazing fixedly upon the face of his father, who was reading in an excited whisper from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. It was July 16, 2005. The book had been released just eight hours earlier, at midnight … he was undergoing something powerful and wonderful: he was lost in a book. As Winifred Gallagher has written, ‘attention enables you to have the kind of Dionysian experience beautifully described by the old-fashioned term, ‘rapt’ — completely absorbed, engrossed, fascinated, perhaps even ‘carried away’ — that underlies life’s deepest pleasures, from the scholar’s study to the carpenter’s craft to the lover’s obsession’ The boy was indeed rapt, lost in the story; the rest of the world, even the morning sun on the sea and the islands dotting the straight was as nothing to him. And only those who have experienced that complete absorption of the self in something else, something beautiful, know also what it means to have misplaced that capacity; only we know the anxiety that arises from the fear we may never have it again.” (p. 86)
Jacobs described the “rapt” attention of that boy that day to Harry Potter. But we need to know that there is a greater glory awaiting us than can be found in any Harry Potter book, or in any experience to be found on earth. It is the presence and glory of the Risen Lord Jesus Christ, that John saw in the second part of this chapter. And you don’t have to be ‘anxious that you may never have it,’ like Alan Jacobs said. You can KNOW that you WILL have it, if you’ll follow in the footsteps of “John Your Brother,” and give your life to Jesus as your Lord & King.
Lord willing, we are going to begin looking at the glorious “Revelation of Jesus Christ” that God showed John here, next Sunday! Be praying for Sunday, and for that message!
May the Good blessed your Ministry and inspire you the more. I am encouraged and lifted the more through your message.
Please add my email in your mailing list, I don’t want to miss any of your messages and also keep me up your prayers.
Your Brother in Christ,