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The Holy Spirit

The Heart of Revelation  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  31:46
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Intro

As we look at the book of Revelation it is evident that God is at work.
We see the Father, Who is, and Who was, and Who is to come, on His throne in Heaven, receiving glory from all creation.
We see Jesus, the mighty Son of Man, the Lamb Who was Slain, the White Horseman, harvesting souls, and redeeming His bride.
It is easy, if we aren’t careful, to miss the Holy Spirit.
When I lived in San Angelo we use to play a game called Murder in the Dark.
I know that is such an ominous title but the game was fun!
Basically a person tries to tag everyone else and it’s all done in the dark.
One time when were playing my wife Micah was the “Murder” and I was one of the ones trying to escape.
I had found a very dark spot in a storage space behind the stage and I waited.
My eyes started to adjust to the dark.
Micah was coming from the Sanctuary where there was still some light and her eyes hadn’t adjusted yet.
I was squatting down trying not to breath and Micah was running her hand along the wall trying to find someone.
She literally ran her hand less than a foot over my head!
She couldn’t see me even though I was right in front of her.
My eyes had adjusted so I could see everything as plain as day.
She was looking right at me, but she couldn’t see me.
Looking isn’t always seeing.
So it is as we look at the book of Revelation.
We can pay so much attention to all the fantastical things on display,
we can become blinded that we miss what John is trying to tell us.
As we look at Revelation, we must pay attention to see that the Holy Spirit is active throughout the whole book.

Teaching

As we start today, I want to remind us all again the reason Revelation exists.
Revelation 1:1–3 ESV
1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. 3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.
This book is a revelation about Jesus given by God to show what is going to happen. God sends this revelation to John and sends an angel to help guide Him through all the prophecies John is about to see.
John is writing about this prophecy to seven churches that are in Asia.
Today we are going to look at the Holy Spirit’s role throughout this book.
The references to the Holy Spirit take two basic forms:
those referring Seven Spirits of God
those referring to the Spirit
We’ll look at these in turn though there is overlap in chapters 2 and 3.
There are 4 references to the “seven Spirits”.
The first reference is in Rev 1:4-5 as John greets the 7 churches in his letter:
Revelation 1:4–5 ESV
4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood
This reference is significant because we see the Three Persons of the Trinity listed together.
SHOW GRUDEM SLIDE
Wayne Grudem in his helpful Systematic Theology gives us this definition for the Trinity:
God eternally exists as three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and each person is fully God, and there is one God.
John does more than give us a peek into the Trinity he tells us

1. Grace and Peace come from our Triune God.

We can see the same truth from the Apostle Peter
1 Peter 1:2 ESV
2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
And again from the Apostle Paul
2 Corinthians 13:11–14 ESV
11 Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All the saints greet you. 14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
We see grace and peace coming from the Trinity.
So why “seven Spirits”?
There aren’t seven holy spirits.
There are two OT passages from which it seems John is getting the idea.
For time sake I’m just going to read the two passages but I want to encourage you two write these two passages down and go read them in their entirety.
The first passage comes from Isaiah 11:1-5. Lets look at verse 2:
Isaiah 11:2 ESV
2 And 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 the fear of the Lord.
You see the Spirit:
of the Lord
of wisdom
of understanding
of counsel
of might
of knowledge
of the fear of the Lord
A second OT passage you should read later is Zechariah 4:1-14.
We are only going to look at verses 2 and 10:
Zechariah 4:2 ESV
2 And he said to me, “What do you see?” I said, “I see, and behold, a lampstand all of gold, with a bowl on the top of it, and seven lamps on it, with seven lips on each of the lamps that are on the top of it.
Zechariah 4:10 ESV
10 For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. “These seven are the eyes of the Lord, which range through the whole earth.”
One important theme John will echo in all of Revelation is Zech 4:6:
Zechariah 4:6 ESV
6 Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.
As it seems the whole world is rising up against Christians it will essential we remember than the might of the dragon, antichrist, and false prophet will not prevail.
Only God’s Spirit will prevail.
Grant Osborn says it this way:
“It is likely that his seven-fold nature symbolizes his perfect carrying out of the work of God in this world.”
(Osborne, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, 2002, 36.)
The second place we see the “seven Spirits of God” is in Rev 3:1.
Revelation 3:1 ESV
1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “ ‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.
We see in Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22 the same refrain to all the churches:
Revelation 3:6 ESV
6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’
I quote “All the messages to the churches are introduced as words of the risen Jesus, yet in the end it is the Spirit that speaks.” (Koester Anchor Bible: Revelation, 2014, 264)
F.F. Bruce says “It is not that the Spirit is identical with the exalted Lord, but that the exalted Lord speaks to the churches by the Spirit.” (Bruce 1973, The Spirit in the Apocalypse, 340.)
In all the letters to the churches Jesus speaks through the Spirit

2. The Spirit brings warning and comfort to the Church.

Let’s read what Jesus says to the church at Sardis as an example in Rev 3:1-6.
Revelation 3:1–6 ESV
1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “ ‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. 4 Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. 5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’
The Spirit doesn’t just bring grace and peace as a member of the Trinity.
Nor does He only warn and comfort the church.

3. The Spirit connects us to God’s throne and forgiveness in Christ.

Here we see the last two references to the “seven Spirits of God.”
Let’s look at them one at a time:
Revelation 4:5–6 ESV
5 From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, 6 and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind:
It may be difficult to see, but here we find the peace John told us about in Rev 1:4.
The seven torches of fire remind us of the Golden Lampstands in the Tabernacle and temple.
These lampstands contained continually burning lamps that “were a symbol of Yahweh’s presence with His people.” (Jauhiainen, The Use of Zechariah in Revelation, WUNT, 2.199, 2005, 46-47.
God’s presence brings us peace.
We saw this truth several weeks ago in Phil 4:4-7.
Philippians 4:4–7 ESV
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
The Lord is at hand, He’s near. His nearness is for our good, we do not need to be anxious but pray and trust.
Look at verse 7: the peace of God, which is better than understanding, will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
That’s good news!
But there’s more, the Spirit also connects us to the forgiveness of Jesus.

3. The Spirit connects us to God’s throne and forgiveness in Christ.

Look at Rev 5:6
Revelation 5:6 ESV
6 And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.
The throne scene in chapters 4 and 5 of Revelation is where some of you took the open door in heaven as your cue to exit the book entirely.
I get it, you have these four crazy living creatures, 24 elders on thrones that keep throwing their crowns at God, and now you have a formerly dead Lamb with 7 horns and 7 eyes.
Check Please!
Hold on!
Richard Bauckham in his handy Theology on the book of Revelation will help us wade through these images. (All discussion of seven Spirits identification with the Lamb in 5:6 from Bauckham, The Theology of the Book of Revelation, 1993, 112-113.)
Remember Revelation is apocalyptic literature, John uses symbolic imagery to convey the realities he is seeing.
The eyes of Yahweh in the OT indicate not only His ability to see what is going on, but also his ability to act powerfully wherever He chooses.
Horns are symbols of strength and so John is combining God’s all-seeing eyes with his power and strength.
The seven Spirits are sent out into all the earth to make the victory of Christ on the Cross effective throughout the world.
SHOW BAUCKHAM SLIDE
“The seven Spirits are the presence and power of God in earth, bringing about God’s kingdom by implementing the Lamb’s victory throughout the world.”
Now someone has got to shout about that!!
Now we have seen the awesome work of the seven Spirits of God.
The Holy Spirit is bringing grace and peace, he is warning and comforting the church, and He is connecting us to God’s throne and the forgiveness of Christ.

4. The Spirit testifies about Jesus and inspires prophecy.

In Rev 19:10 we have a curious sentence that needs some explaining.
Revelation 19:9–10 ESV
9 And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” 10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
Look at that last line: The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
The word for Spirit is the same word we have been tracing through the seven Spirits and the Spirit speaking to the churches.
John is saying Spirit-inspired prophecy focuses on the testimony given by and about Jesus Christ. (Schreiner, ESV Expository Commentary: Revelation, 2018, 717.)
As in the OT, Revelation contrast true prophets like John who speak by the Holy Spirit with false prophets who speak by unclean, demonic spirits. (Tabb, NSBT: All Things New, 2019, 78.)
The angel commands John to worship God alone, the ultimate source of this revelation. (Tabb, 79.)
SHOW KOESTER SLIDE
Listen to these words from one commentator:
“The principal criterion for distinguishing true from false prophecy in Revelation is whether a prophet moves people to worship God or lures people away from God.”
(Koester, 740)
This principle applies to any one whom you might listen.
If they are moving you to worship our Triune God, then the are speaking truth.
If they are moving you to worship anything else, even yourself then they are speaking falsely. We seek to bring glory to God in all that we do.
The Spirit doesn’t only inspire prophecy generally throughout Scripture, He has inspired John throughout his writing of this prophecy.
Four times John is “in the Spirit” and receives a vision.
Before we look at each of these, what does it mean that John was “in the Spirit”?
The phrase certainly designates the Spirit as the source of each vision.
Likely what John is saying that he is a true prophet who receives visions form the Divine Spirit.
As the OT prophets were animated by the Spirit, so now John was to receive revelation from God.
We see similar uses as the Holy Spirit inspiring an OT author:
Matthew 22:43 ESV
43 He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying,
or the Spirit inspiring a prophetic utterance with Simeon:
Luke 2:27 ESV
27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law,
1 Corinthians 12:3 ESV
3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.
It is also seen with spiritual guidance:
Acts 19:21 ESV
21 Now after these events Paul resolved in the Spirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome.”
John is indicating a Spirit-sent visionary experience intended to tell his readers that God is rolling the mat up on the cosmos.
Let’s look at each of them briefly:
Revelation 1:10 ESV
10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet
John is about to hear Jesus’s words through the Spirit to the churches of Asia Minor.
Revelation 4:2 ESV
2 At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne.
The Spirit is going to disclose the reality of God’s reign from His throne, Jesus’s worthiness to open salvation history, and a series of judgments coming during the end of the world.
Revelation 17:3 ESV
3 And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns.
The Spirit shows John the fate of Great Prostitute, the Dragon, the Antichrist, and the False Prophet.
Revelation 21:10 ESV
10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God,
The Spirit also shows John the blessed Bride of the Lamb, the church Jesus has redeemed.
Grace and Peace, Warning and Comfort, Connecting us to God’s Throne and Christ’s forgiveness, the Spirit testifies about Jesus and inspired the prophets from beginning to end.
Now we see:

5. The Spirit gives us rest and hope.

As we look at two places where the Spirit speaks to us, we find great comfort.
The Spirit has inspired John to write this prophecy for us today as well.
The Spirit is calling to us!
Revelation 14:12–13 ESV
12 Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. 13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”
We are to keep the commands of God and keep our faith in Jesus.
The Spirit calls those blessed, who die in the Lord, hidden in Christ!
The Apostle Paul fleshes this idea out more for us in Col 3:1-4.
Colossians 3:1–4 ESV
1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
These realities are what people call the Already/Not Yet. We are hidden in Christ, raised to new life, but we live out the realities in this fallen world.
But we must not lose heart!
We must cry out to Christ!
Look at Rev 22:16-17
Revelation 22:16–17 ESV
16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” 17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
We are the Bride of Christ.
We join with the Spirit as we cry out for the return of Christ.
He is coming again!
Our thirst will be quenched by the water of life.
We cry out Come!
Revelation 22:20 ESV
20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
προσευχωμεθα

Communion

In Luke 22, Jesus tells his apostles that he will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God, He will not drink of the cup until the kingdom of God comes.
As we just read in Rev 22:20 Jesus is surely coming back.
Until He returns:
we remember Jesus’s body in the bread, given for us.
We remember the new covenant in his blood, poured out for us.
This meal is for those who have received Jesus’s forgiveness through His broken body and shed blood.
It is a sacred reminder of His sacrifice, so please only take it if you can rejoice in Christ’s once-for-all cleansing of your sins.
Today let’s take the bread, as it points to the future realization of God’s kingdom in all its fulness.
Let’s drink the cup, as it points to the say when there will be no more sorrow or sighing.
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