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Greetings from God! (Revelation 1:4-6)

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God greets His Church with grace and peace

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Greetings from God! (1:4-6)

(Temple 01/27/2019) Turn in or turn on your Bibles to Revelation chapter one. Last Sunday night we began our Winter Bible Study in the first three chapters of Revelation. We got through three verses. Our passage this morning is three verses. At this pace, it may be the winter of 2020 when we finish! God has so much to say to us in these three chapters. Let’s get right into chapter one beginning at verse four.
John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; 5And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
This passage is a greeting from God written through the Apostle John. The points to this sermon focus on this passage as a greeting. First, let’s look at whom this letter is written.

Greetings to the Churches (1:4)

The greeting in verse four is a familiar epistle format. We have who wrote it, to whom it is written, and a pronouncement of grace and peace. Compare to Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother, To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (By the way, Colosse was a church in this region of Asia not mentioned among the seven.)
The number seven can be taken literally such as the seven named churches in this book. We have previously noted the literal seven beatitudes in this book.
However, seven also has a symbolic meaning in this type of writing. The number seven indicates completeness. The seven literal days of complete Creation included the seventh day of rest and indicated completeness. Joshua literally marched around the city of Jericho seven times with seven literal priests blowing seven literal trumpets, but these actions signify complete obedience to God and God’s complete victory over the city. Jesus instructed His disciples to forgive 70 times seven, figuratively, meaning always and completely.
The seven literal churches symbolize the complete Church of Jesus Christ. Seven of the church assemblies in Asia Minor are specifically mentioned, Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. Asia Minor had more than seven churches, so seven is used symbolically to represent the complete Church. This letter is written to all congregations of believers, including us today.
The seven blessings in this book do not apply solely to the seven named churches in this book; they apply to churches on the hills, churches in the cities, little brown churches in the wildwood, churches in the deserts—the Church of past, present, and future believers in Christ. The book promises blessings to all who read, hear, and keep the things written here. The blessings apply to all believers who die in the Lord, all believers who diligently watch for the coming of the Lord and are found faithful, and all believers who are in the first resurrection and have a place at the marriage supper of the Lamb. Seven churches are named but seven symbolizes the complete Church.
Grace is a Greek greeting and peace is a Hebrew greeting. When we are saved, God greets us with both grace and peace. His character is grace and peace. We should see this book as a letter of grace and peace to the Church. We often only see war and confusing symbols when we ought to see that this book begins and ends with grace and peace from God. By the end of the book we see no more war, no more death, no more sorrow. The book closes with grace in the invitation to come and receive Christ by faith. It begins with His acknowledgment of grace and peace and ends with His accomplishment of grace and peace in heaven and on earth. What does that say about us if we are disturbed and confused by this book when God greets us with grace and peace? It says we are looking at this book in all the wrong ways. We are distracted by the minors instead of focused on the major message. Unless we come away from this book with a sense of God’s grace and peace, we’ve missed a major intent of the book.
The letter is written to the Church, including us. Now let’s look at the Author.

Greetings from the Father (1:4)

In this context, He who is and was and is to come refers to God the Father. The present tense is mentioned first. At the burning bush, the Lord said His Name was I Am, present tense. This book reminds us that God the Father is real now. He is active now. He is with His people now.
He is not only present tense, but He is past perfect, and future perfect, also. He has always been and He will always be. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God. From eternity past throughout eternity future, God is and was and will be. God the Father greets us with grace and peace.

Greetings from the Spirit (1:4)

The greeting of grace and peace also comes from the seven Spirits around the throne of heaven. Just as seven churches symbolize the complete Church, seven Spirits symbolize the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
What does the number 13 mean to you? I worked for Dover Elevator Corporation in Horn Lake back in the day when a two-lane Goodman Road had cotton fields on each side. I discovered that elevator plans commonly avoided the number thirteen as a hotel floor. Apparently, enough guests had an adverse reaction to being booked on the thirteenth floor so that hotels call the 13th floor the 14th floor and the elevator floor buttons skipped the number 13. If a hotel books your room on the 14th floor, you may actually be on the 13th. Does that alarm you? Likewise, people have had a sense of foreboding about Friday the Thirteenth long before the horror movies came out. (And I don’t recommend watching such violence.)
Now, if you can understand that foreboding of the number 13, apply a sense of completeness to the number seven. If you can associate the number seven with fullness or completeness, you can understand the meaning of seven Spirits. Matthew Henry points out that seven refers to nature (a complete nature I would add), not a number. Our Western minds want numbers to mean literal numbers, not symbols. We want words to mean words not necessarily feelings. We imagine seven literal Spirits instead of the fullness of the Spirit. The fullness of the Holy Spirit is described in And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: 2And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. Isaiah describes one Spirit, the Spirit of the Lord, who is also the Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and fear of the Lord. The prophecy says that the Messiah would have the fullness of the Spirit upon Him. Do you see that? Now read And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars… He that hath the seven Spirits of God… “Seven Spirits” definitely indicates the fullness of God and the Spirit of God in Christ. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell; For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. Just as “seven churches” symbolizes the complete Church, “seven Spirits” symbolizes the fullness of God in Christ.
Some interpreters say the seven Spirits are archangels or angels who blow the trumpets later in Revelation. In the NAC Paige Patterson mentions at least one source who uses 1 Enoch 20:1–8 which names archangels as Uriel, Raphael, Raguel, Michael, Gabriel, Remiel, and Saraqael.”[1] Patterson also points out the claim of others who ascribe the seven Spirits in light of And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep, 2And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof: 3And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof. 4So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord? 5Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. 6Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts. I see similar apocryphal visions between the two passages, but I am not convinced that Zechariah applies to Revelation here. has a closer resemblance.
G. K. Beale adds that others ascribe the seven Spirits to the seven angels who pour out the bowls or blow the trumpets. He is open to the possibility that the seven Spirits refers to the work of the Holy Spirit in the seven churches.[2] Looking at seven as a symbol for fullness, the fullness of the Spirit is in the Body of Christ by whom we have the filling of the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit.

Greetings from Jesus (1:4-6)

Third, this greeting of grace and peace comes from Jesus. This passage presents God in the order of Genesis. God created. The Spirit moved. God said (the Word). The purpose for listing Jesus third is not to allude to Genesis but to emphasize Him in this context.
Jesus is the faithful Witness. John also described Jesus as a faithful Witness, along with the Father and the Spirit, in For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. 8And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. 9If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. The Father and Spirit testify of the Son and the Son is the faithful Witness of the Father and the Spirit. Jesus is the object of the Father’s testimony and He is the Witness of the Father. John also recorded Jesus as the faithful Witness in Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying. His Word is sure. He is the faithful Witness.
Jesus is the first Begotten of the dead. The Apostle Paul, writing also of the coming of Christ, likewise used a similar title for Jesus—the Firstborn from the dead. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. Both verses emphasize the unique glorious resurrection of Christ.
Paul also used the title Firstfruits of the dead in But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. The title indicates that Jesus is the first to rise from the dead in a glorified and eternal body.
Combining the titles faithful Witness and first Begotten of the dead alludes to in which Jesus describes Himself as the way (Witness), the truth (faithful), and the life (Begotten of the dead, first Begotten also points to the way, the way to life eternal.)
Jesus is the Prince of the kings of the earth. Psalms declares Him as the King of glory (). I Corinthians declares Him as the Lord of glory (). Daniel declares His majesty in I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
Ephesians declares His authority in Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords of and 19:16 and ! Amen?
The grace and peace of verse four will last forever because Jesus will reign forever! Gone will be religious philosophies of the world! The one true God reigns over the nations! Gone will be the political philosophies of the world! Jesus will be King of all kings! His kingdom is the perfect form of government because He is perfect! Gone will be the financial philosophies of the world! He whose great city is paved with gold and whose parables warned against trust in riches instead of in God will show the futility of materialism, consumerism, socialism, communism, and every other ism! If your faith is in a worldly ism, now is the time to repent and trust in the coming Christ, who is the real and final Solution to the problems of this world.
While that would be a good place to stop, verses five and six go on to list three divine accomplishments for followers of Christ. Hold on to your seat because we are about to step on shouting ground!
Jesus is He who loved us. Did you know that Jesus loves you? God is love and Jesus is God. Jesus loved you when you were lost. He came to seek and to save the lost, even though He knew that meant He would bear the punishment of death that we deserved. When we were His enemies, Christ died for us. Jesus loves me, this I know, this verse of the Bible tells me so.
Jesus is He who washed us from our sins in His own blood. God also wrote through John in His first epistle that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all unrighteousness. The blood of animal sacrifices for sin was a foreshadowing of the blood of Christ that can wash us from our sins.
Through His blood we are justified by His blood in the sight of God. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. Jesus did what we couldn’t do for ourselves; He washed us from our sin in His own blood by grace through faith in Him.
Jesus is He who made us kings and priests unto God and His Father. At the Judgment Seat of Christ, believers will be rewarded according to our faithfulness to His Word. Followers who have been careful to obey His Word in thought and deed will be rewarded greatly, while others, perhaps through ignorance, will have less reward. The danger for some church members is their thinking that they can side with the world on issues and still be allowed into heaven. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. (Also Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.) He will reward His faithful. Are you faithful?
Jesus loved us. His love portrays the Good Shepherd of who loves the sheep and lays down His life for the sheep. Jesus is He who washed us from our sins in His own blood. Through the blood of the Great Shepherd of we enter into the everlasting covenant. Jesus is He who made us kings and priests unto God and His Father. This description reminds us of the Chief Shepherd of who shall appear, and faithful believers shall receive a crown of glory that fades not away. Followers of Christ have a spectacularly indescribable glorious eternal future with the Shepherd, the Prince of peace, the Mighty God!
The most important question of your life and your eternity is whether Jesus is your Good Shepherd, your Great Shepherd, and your Chief Shepherd. Is He? He can be if you will humble yourself in repentance of your sin and trust Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. Trusting Him as Savior includes trusting His blood to wash away your sins and knowing that you cannot save yourself. Trusting Him as Lord includes following His ways, His worldview, and submitting yourself to His mastery over your life.
I’ve referred to the book of Colossians twice here. I would like to close with a passage that parallels so much of what we have heard about the Lord Jesus Christ in these verses of the Revelation. That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; 12Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: 15Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. 19For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; 20And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. 21And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 22In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight. The themes of Colossians has more similarities to the themes of Revelation that you can discover by reading the rest of the epistle. I make these comparisons hoping that we will see the book of the Revelation as a revelation of who Jesus is, just as we see the revelation of Jesus in the book of Colossians.
[1] Paige Patterson, Revelation, ed. E. Ray Clendenen, vol. 39, The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: B&H, 2012).
[2] G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1999), 189.
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