Before we get into the messages to the seven churches (Rev 2:1-3:22), John begins by capturing our attention with a big view of Jesus (Rev 1:9-20). The assumption seems to be, if we are to have any ability to carry out the call to the churches in 2:1-3:22, we need to be captivated by a big view of Jesus as found in 1:9-20.
Or to reverse this logic, when we fail to “patiently endure,” as John and the book of Revelation call us to, it’s because our view of Jesus is too small. Do we go after false teaching? Our view of Jesus is too small. We do not view him as sufficient and true. Do we crumble under the pressure of opposition? Our view of Jesus is too small. We don’t trust he is faithful or consider him worth the cost. Are we tempted with materialism and affluence? Our view of Jesus is too small, as we fail to find our satisfaction in him. Are we putting our hopes in things like politics and the state of society? Our view of Jesus is too small, because we are not finding our confidence and hope solely in him.
Happy Reformation Day!
On this day in 1517, Martin Luther sparked a gospel-protest (“protest-ant”), posting 95 theological assertions for debate (his “95 theses”) to the church door in Wittenberg. His goal was to reform the church. Thus, this movement would later become known as the Protestant Reformation (the protestors’ reform).
Today, known as “Reformation Day,” we remember this movement of recovering clarity on the Biblical gospel. And we praise God that the preservation and advancement of that gospel will never–can never–be thwarted.
This very point then is also a fitting reminder and lesson for us today amidst our political season, believe it or not. If ever there was a time when it felt like the true, Biblical gospel could be muffled and lost, it was probably the time of the Reformation. The Roman religious institution was dominant, not only religiously but politically; and the Biblical witness was outlawed. Could the true church survive? Would the Biblical gospel be preserved amidst such powerful opposition and persecution? Many feel similarly today, with the perceived threat of potential political outcomes.
But don’t doubt God. As Jesus said in Mt 16:18, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against her.” Against all human odds, the gospel prevailed and advanced during the Reformation. So today and forever, the church will survive throughout all ages, and God will always maintain a faithful witness to his gospel.
Today in our sensationalized political climate, many are be tempted to speak (argue) as if the church’s very existence hangs in the balance and hinges on certain political outcomes. If this is so, we become desperate to do whatever it takes politically to gain certain wins. But, frankly, God doesn’t need our compromised politics in order for his church to survive, and we would do well to remember that. An unfortunate irony today would be that the same folks who celebrate this truth in the Reformation might immediately turn and forget it in our politics.
Whatever comes November 3, may “the eyes of our hearts” be locked squarely on the sovereignty of God. Christ is king. And nothing can change that.
“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” – Psalm 20