Revelation, a mystery and a certainty

“Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” (Revelation  11:15)

Revelation is a mysterious book. At times, well most of the time, it is hard to understand. I like to refer to it as the final exam of the Bible because it pulls in imagery from all the books before. In order to understand Revelation, you need a good handle on the rest of the Bible. Reading Revelation in and of itself will be difficult if you have not read and do not have a good grasp on the meta narrative of Scripture. The overarching story of God’s Word that follows a trajectory from Creation to Restoration.

While Revelation may be difficult to understand, there are parts that are clear. Today’s text is one of those texts. We learn that Jesus’ kingdom will reign forever and ever. It will never cease. It will always be. We can count on it because the Creator of the universe promises it. The Creator of the universe we read about in Scripture. The One who has fulfilled countless promises throughout redemptive history.

Do you believe and trust that God will establish His eternal kingdom one day on this earth? Are you convinced that everything will be restored? That sin will be wiped away and we will live in the world in which we all hope? The book of Revelation is difficult in many ways, but it is clear that Jesus will return, His future kingdom will be established, and we will live in the world for which mankind longs, if you are a follower of Jesus.

Why Shouldn’t We Be a People Pleaser?

You might be thinking: “Why shouldn’t I seek to be a people pleaser, especially in this day and age? I could lose my job, my livelihood, my status. I could get canceled and everything I worked so hard for is gone.” So why?

Why Shouldn’t We Be a People Pleaser?

(1) Seeking the approval of man is a never-ending cycle.

You all know that trends, opinions, and ideas change, and they change often. What pleases someone one day isn’t necessarily what’s going to please them the next. Seeking the approval of man traps you in a never-ending cycle of always having to figure out what’s going to please someone and then convince them that you are worthy of their attention, praise, and affection. That never-ending cycle is a grind that will eventually beat you down, leaving you broken and depressed. I believe this is why so many celebrities end up abusing drugs or alcohol, or even committing suicide. The constant pressure of having to maintain a certain status is just too much.

(2) Seeking the approval of man means we’re going to have to continually change our message.

As you all know, times change, culture changes, and along with those things, what man approves of changes. If our only goal is to win man’s approval, our message is going to end up changing along with the times and culture. The liberal church is a good example. If you look back at their history, you would see that as the culture changed, their message has changed along with it. So much so that they are a mirror of the world instead of being a light to it.

God doesn’t call us to be a church with an ever-changing message. He doesn’t want us to be progressive. Instead, He wants us to remain faithful. In order to do that, our desire has to be to please Him instead of our fellow man.

(3) Seeking the approval of man means we will often be forced to act in ways that are contrary to God’s commands and the gospel.

Peter is a prime example. As soon as the circumcision party showed up in Antioch he withdrew from the Gentiles so that they wouldn’t think any less of him. Obviously, that doesn’t coincide with the gospel’s message that there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile. Or with God’s command to love others as ourselves. But Peter wasn’t concerned with that. He wasn’t concerned with following God’s commands or promoting gospel unity. Instead, he was concerned with pleasing the circumcision party.

If our only goal is to please man, then we are going to find ourselves acting like Peter. We are going to have to choose between following God and upholding gospel unity, and doing what will win us favor with others. That’s a problem. A big problem. Because God, His commands, and His gospel should be the only thing we care about promoting. He is our Creator, Sustainer, and Savior. Pleasing Him and doing what brings Him glory should be our only concern. But the only way we are going to do that is if we are Christ pleasers instead of people pleasers.

(4) Seeking the approval of man means we aren’t living in the freedom Jesus provides.

In Christ, we are freed from having to continually seek man’s approval. That’s because in Christ we have the only approval that matters — God’s approval. That approval will never change because it’s not dependent on our work. Instead, it’s dependent on Jesus’ work on our behalf.

When we realize that we are free in Christ, we will be free from the grind of having to please others. We won’t have to deal with the anxiety that’s caused by wondering if we have done enough. Nor will have to deal with the inner turmoil of whether or not we sold out to the culture. Instead, we will be able to live joyful lives, knowing that we have the only acceptance that matters — God’s.

God’s approval is the only approval that should matter. Instead of seeking the ever-changing approval of man, we need to rest in God’s unchanging approval that’s found in Christ alone.

There is no escaping the Lord’s Judgment

“Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” (Rev 6:15-17)

There is a day coming from which no one can hide. One day the fabric of the cosmos as we know it will roll back like a scroll to reveal the Creator and Judge of all the earth (Rev 6:14). A time of judgement will come. A time where the Lord’s wrath will be poured out.

What, when, and how this will take place is hotly disputed, but the most interesting aspect of the Day of the Lord is that no one can escape. Notice the text highlights “everyone” from those who are in power to those who are slaves. Kings and wealthy oligarchs and influencers will face the same wrath as those who are enslaved, used, and abused by those who wield power.

At the judgment seat, as well as at the foot of cross the ground is level. The ground is level because all are sinners. Sinners are not just those who miss the mark from time to time, or those who fall short of God’s commands, even though that is true. Sinners do fall short of God’s commands. We fall short because we are rebels. Not just because we messed up at that moment. No, we are rebels. We want to call the shots. We want to be King. We want to be Creator. We are rebels. As rebels, we all deserve God’s wrath.

Thankfully, there is a Lamb who was slain for our rebellion. The precious blood of Jesus was spilt on our behalf. Those who believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior are united with Him in His life, death, and resurrection. The Father’s wrath passes over Christians, not because we are better or more righteous than another, but because Jesus is better and more righteous.

There is a judgment coming. The only way to prepare for it is to believe in Jesus. We cannot build a bunker or run far enough away. There is no escaping the Lord’s judgment.

Let God not man dictate your value.

After Thanksgiving, everyone typically gets excited about the Black Friday sales. I know some of you are probably out there early taking advantage of those deals. Personally, I’m not one of them. I hate crowds, I don’t like getting up early and rushing out the house, and I’m definitely not looking to get in a fight over that year’s most popular toy for my kids — I just assume get them something else. While Black Friday isn’t my cup of tea, I do like a deal, which is why I look forward to Cyber Monday each year. Not only can you find really good deals on electronics, but I don’t have to battle the crowds to get them.

Now, there is nothing wrong with a deal by any means. I am always in search of a deal. But have you ever thought about why we get excited by deals? Why we are willing to get up early and fight the crowds or log onto our computer at just the right time? Besides the fact that we are saving money, I believe we get excited about these deals because we are seekers.

A seeker is someone who is attempting to find or attain something. That might be a deal. That might be the latest news or information. That is why we scroll endlessly on an app like Facebook. We are seeking out information in realtime. We want to be in the know. It is also why we do crazy challenges on apps like Tik Tok or obsess over our the look and feel of our Instagram feed. We are seekers, who not only seek out deals, the latest news, and information, but we also seek out the approval of others.

Seeking out the approval of man is not something that should drive our life. But if we are all honest, we are all guilty of it from time to time. Just so we are all on the same page, that phrase — the approval of man — can refer to a number of things.

I run a small photography business on the side. In order for that business to be successful, it’s important others approve of my work. If they don’t, no one is going to hire me. My goal, then, is not only to produce pictures I’m proud of but pictures that others approve of and are willing to pay me for. When I talk about seeking the approval of man or pleasing man, I don’t mean for us to completely disregard the approval or opinion of others. If we do that, we might be out of business or out of a job. Instead, what I’m suggesting is that we don’t find our ultimate worth or value in another’s opinion of us or our work. Tim Keller, Pastor, and Author puts it this way:

“It [seeking the approval of man] is a situation in which your desire for their blessing amounts to adoration and worship, and in which you give some form of human approval the rights and power over your heart that only God should have. It means you will be devastated by the loss of this approval as if you felt criticized or condemned by God.” (Galatians for You, 33).

When I talk about seeking the approval of man, that’s what I’m talking about. I’m talking about us elevating the approval of others to an unhealthy place. To a place where we are allowing them to dictate our life, or determine our value and worth. That’s not healthy, nor is it right. God is the only One we should ultimately seek to please. He is the only One who is supposed to dictate our life, our value, our worth.

How are we to build ourselves up in the the faith?

“But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,” Jude 1:20

How are we to build ourselves up in the the faith? We talk a lot about God building us up. The Spirit working monergistically in us and on us. How are we to build ourselves up in the faith?

One way in which I believe Jude, the author of this short letter, has in mind that we build ourselves up is by understanding that their are false teachers whose desire is to destroy our faith. We build ourselves in the faith as we not only understand their teaching and why it is false, but when we grow in our understanding of our own faith. We will never guard against false teaching if we do not know our own faith.

Knowing our own faith is where many Americans, and Christians, struggle. Many are not able to answer simple questions like, “What is the gospel? Who is God? How were Old Testament saints saved?” We must, however, have a simple understanding of the Bible, its doctrine and theology. We must know how to answer our critics and why a particular teacher’s teaching is false. If we don’t, we open ourselves up to deception.

Christian, build yourself up in the faith!

How can we go “on mission” without leaving the community?

“Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.” (3 Jn 1:8)

How is it possible for us to go on mission without leaving our job, home, or family? Besides the fact that we are all called to be missionaries in our own communities by living life “on mission”, we do so through our giving.

When we give to support the work of missionaries around the world, we participate in their mission. Our giving provides them the opportunity to remain on the mission field to do the work of ministry, seeking to reach others for Christ.

It is important we support missionaries.

God has gifted and called each of us to a certain task. We each have a part in furthering the kingdom of God. Those called to domestic and foreign missions are the front line workers whom God has gifted in such a way that they are able to start ministries and reach the people to whom the Lord has given them a heart.

The Lord has also gifted you in certain ways so that you can participate in those ministries. He has not only given you spiritual gifts you are to employee, but he has also provided your current job and finances. In fact, everything we have is a gift of God. We are called to be good stewards of God’s gifts. Investing them in the kingdom. When we serve and give to support kingdom ministry, we are stewarding our resources well.

Be a good steward of the resources the Lord has provided, support your local ministry, as well as international missionaries.