Revelation 1:9-16 Part 2

In an attempt to illustrate the absurdity of constructing competing worldviews to that which is clearly revealed by God, we invested some time last Lord’s Day in the major ideologies of the world order. The case could be made, I suppose, that it was an inordinate amount of time, and that the investment itself was absurd.

But it’s always been my opinion that the better informed we are as Christians, the better able we are to give an answer to questions about The Faith. And, too, the better informed we are, the more able we are to avoid being “taken in” by spurious and deceptive reasoning.

The “isms” are real (as absurd as they are); and millions of people are holding to them……if not intellectually, at least practically. Recall, please, what we said about ideologies. They are, simply, an attempt by philosophers to define what people are thinking and doing. The hopeless attempt to be a law unto themselves belies an underlying struggle of folks to suppress the plain-view-Revelation of God in His creation, in His Word, and in the appearance of the Logos Himself.

Anything but” God’s view of His Own creation…..that’s the real story of man’s condition. And as ugly, and as sinister, and as deplorable as pornography is, the ideological attempts to defy God’s Own worldview can only be described as intellectual pornography. They’re as monstrous as those of the photographic or literary genres, for they distort and deform reality into something hideous and macabre.

However, John’s worldview, received by direct Revelation from God the Father, witnessed by Jesus the Christ, witnessed by the apostle and sent to all the other of Jesus’ servants in the Churches, is reality undistorted by human invention.

“I John, your brother and co-sharer in the affliction and kingdom and steadfastness in Jesus, came to be in the island called Patmos through the Word of God and the witness of Jesus.” (verse nine)

Twice before already, John has referred to himself in the third person; here he uses the first person pronoun “I”. This isn’t an appeal to personal authority. The only authority here is Jesus; John is simply identifying himself as the only one who received this Revelation.

In verse one he refers to himself as a “servant” of Jesus Christ….one among many servants. But here in verse nine he is “brother” to those to whom he’s writing these things.

In referring to the Christ they are all His servants; but with reference to the others he’s their brother. To one another they are brothers. And let me say that this relationship of brotherhood isn’t just coincidental. Christians aren’t brothers simply because they share a similar belief.

It goes all the way back to the revelation of God’s covenant and the two families. One is of Adam; and one is of Christ the second Adam. And when one is removed from his heritage in Adam and adopted into the family of Christ, he actually becomes related to the others in Christ. He becomes a newborn, having been “rebirthed” from his descendancy in Adam, and incorporated into a new family.

And that’s why, as we learned in Matthew chapter eighteen, that a brother in Christ isn’t to “think down” on (or despise) any one of these newborns. One has no right to think of himself as “better” than another, since none of the others belong to you! They belong to the Christ. They are all members of His body; so none are to be viewed as “lesser” than others. They are newborn family members; and they all have one “Head”; and that head is no longer Adam – but Jesus the Christ of God Who suffered and died for them in order that they might be adopted into the new family.

Now, John not only is a servant of Jesus (as are the others in the Churches); and not only is he their brother (a newborn as are the rest of them); but he is a “co-sharer” (verse nine).

John takes “servanthood” and “brotherhood” a step further as he uses a word (sunkoinonia), which I’ve translated co-sharer. The second part of that word suggests “togetherness” or “fellowship”; and the first part means “with”. He is “together with them” in three ways.

There are three nouns right after this word, and John shares the three things “with” his brothers in the Churches as they are all servants of the Lord. They are servants, and brothers, and they co-share all of these things “IN” Jesus. It is “in” Him that they share.

(How’s this for a worldview so far? Is this different from all the others, or what?)

In Jesus, John shares with his fellow servants and brothers these three things that, on the surface, look to be somewhat unrelated. But as we’ll see, they aren’t unrelated at all.

The first thing he shares with them is “the affliction”. The Greek word is thlipsis, and it is sometimes translated “tribulation”. If you’ll check your King James version there, you will find the word tribulation. And it will remain a mystery to me how the apostle John, at this point in his later years, could be a co-sharer with the Churches of Galatia in the tribulation if the tribulation still hasn’t taken place here some two thousand years later! I haven’t taken the time to look up how dispensationalists deal with that issue; but it seems pretty clear to me that, unless the apostle is still living in a cave on Patmos, he’s not going to participate in a yet-to-come “tribulation”!

The same is true of the Churches….. all seven of them. If the apostle John is a co-sharer of “the tribulation”, the elders and deacons and members of those Churches must have found the fountain of youth somewhere in Turkey, because the system called dispensationalism says that the tribulation hasn’t yet taken place! I would guess there are some very old people over there still waiting!

Just as an “aside” here, as we’re preaching and studying through John’s Revelation of Jesus Christ, there is a new, conservative “phenom” in talk radio and TV. His name is Glenn Beck; and he has filled, like Rush Limbaugh and Shawn Hannity, a three-hour slot on talk radio stations; and he has a television show as well.

While Rush is, at best, a deist; and while Shawn Hannity is a theist, Glenn Beck has positioned himself as an avowed evangelical. On a recent show, just before Easter Sunday, Mr. Beck invited one of the authors of the Left Behind series, Tim LaHaye, to be the guest.

As you already know, the book series Left Behind is a fictional story line built around end times themes such as the tribulation, the rapture and the second coming of Christ when He sets up His millennial kingdom.

Glenn Beck introduced the interview with Tim LaHaye by proclaiming that he has never read a series of books that he was so impressed with and for which he held such excitement. And the new one, Kingdom Come, was the book that was on the top of his reading list.

Kingdom Come, according to Mr LaHaye and Mr Beck, obviously has to do with Jesus coming to earth to establish His new kingdom and install Himself as King. And the conversation between the two men was such that they couldn’t contain their amazement that there were folks out there in the world that couldn’t see all of the compelling, prophesied signs of an immediate and inevitable “end times”.

Well, again, I haven’t taken the time to read exactly how dispensationalists deal with verse nine of the text. But John writes to the Churches in Galatia that he is co-sharer in the affliction and the kingdom! He is “together with them” in the kingdom!

If Jesus’ Kingdom has yet to be instituted here two thousand years later, I need to go to Patmos and find John; I need to talk to him! And the Churches MUST still be there waiting for the Kingdom, because they, and John, are co-sharers in it!

And then, thirdly, John’s worldview includes being “steadfast” in the Faith! The word there is the same word that we see translated “perseverance”. It’s steadfastness, or perseverance, in Jesus.

Evangelical or dispensational soteriology doesn’t include the requirement, or expectation, for steadfastness in Jesus. For the most part, present-day evangelicals have forsaken God’s law for a dispensational overview which eliminates God’s Law-word as fit only for a past time. It no longer has any bearing for this “pause”, or “parenthesis” which is called the “church dispensation”. It was given only for Israel and the Jews and the judaistic state. We Christians are not “under” the law.

But John writes to the Churches that he is their brother and co-sharer in the affliction and Kingdom and steadfastness in Jesus. If John and the elders and deacons and members of the Churches of Galatia were co-sharers in steadfastness, or perseverance, in Jesus, then why have evangelical Churches renounced the necessity for obedience and steadfastness in the Christian life?

But before someone accuses me of extreme cynicism, let’s go back and look at each of these things in terms of John’s real worldview – as God has revealed it to him for the Churches. The contrast with the ideologies of the world order is remarkable.

“I, John, your brother and co-sharer in the affliction……” (or tribulation). Of course affliction isn’t the whole story of the Christian life; nor does the Church suffer identically in all times and in all places. As the Gospel takes hold in the world, and as Christians take dominion of all that’s around them, affliction, or tribulation, is lessened. We have been clearly told, though, that those IN HIM will suffer in Him and because of Him. It’s to be expected at different times and in different places. Jesus said that we are to consider it “blessed” when we do suffer in His Name.

So, there is a general Biblical purview, or dimension, to Christian affliction IN the afflictions of the Christ. In other words, if He suffered, why would we think that we’re above suffering? Are we better than He?

But, as you can see, John isn’t necessarily revealing the afflictions common to many Christians who suffer with Jesus in His afflictions. He says “I, John your brother and co-sharer in the affliction, or tribulation. By adding the article “the”, John is identifying a specific affliction… which will take place “in quickness”, for the time is near! As we’ve determined, that’s what Revelation of Jesus Christ is all about! The Churches to which John is writing are about to suffer great tribulation – affliction – the affliction! John is a co-sharer in that affliction. They will suffer together.

Paul, writing to the Thessalonican Church in his first letter said, “for truly, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer to be afflicted; even as it came to pass, and ye know.”

And writing in his second letter to that Church, he said, chapter one:

4) So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and afflictions that ye endure:

5) Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:

6) Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense affliction (tribulation) to them that trouble you;

7) And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,

8) In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:

9) Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;

10) When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.

And in the exact same words as recorded in Matthew chapter twenty four, here is Mark chapter thirteen:

14) But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains:

15) And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house:

16) And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment.

17) But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!

18) And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter.

19) For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.

20) And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect's sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.

The same word “affliction” is used by John here in verse nine. So it is a specific affliction, or tribulation, in which John is co-sharer with all the brothers in the Churches.

John is not only co-sharer with the brothers in affliction; he is also co-sharer in the Kingdom – in Jesus. Once before we took note of Daniel chapter seven, verses thirteen and fourteen. Here it is again:

13) 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.

14) 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.

John’s worldview is grounded in the ascension of Jesus Christ to the throne. Since that event, He has been reigning “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet”. (Ephesians 1:21-22).

John wished his brothers to know that they were all in the great tribulation, and in the Kingdom! Definitively the Kingdom had arrived, and it was a reality. What Jesus the Christ of God had done was to take dominion over all things. Now, brothers, just read what the King of Kings is about to do “in quickness”! You see, the affliction, the tribulation, was upon them precisely because the King had ascended the throne!

And that’s what produces the steadfastness in Jesus. “Those who persevere to the end are the ones being saved.” Steadfastness, or perseverance is an important word in John’s Revelation. He uses it in seven different important places in the letter. All the brothers were to remain steadfast in the Faith – in Jesus. Jesus Christ is on His throne, and mighty things are about to happen – “steadfastness in Jesus”. The tribulation is going to be terrible – “steadfastness in Jesus”. It’s going to look like the end of the world! – “steadfastness in Jesus”.

Affliction – Kingdom – perseverance!

What a radical contrast with the “isms” of the world order – and with the current diluted version of Christianity. As the world order rejects the Kingship of Jesus Christ, so, too, does the contemporary Church! And because His Kingship is rejected, therefore there is no Biblical doctrine of perseverance.

John tells the afflicted but reigning and persevering believers of Galatia that he is their brother and co-sharer in these things, even now in exile on the Island of Patmos (a punishment for his apostolic activity). He does not say that he is banished on the little rock in the sea because of his own testimony about the Christ; but he suffers affliction on account of God’s Word and the witness of Jesus!

Jesus Christ the Faithful Witness has borne testimony against the would-be gods of the age, and the “isms” of the world order. And they have fought back by banishing him from his Churches in Asia. That’s why the affliction and the kingdom and perseverance in which all these brother share are all IN HIM – in Christ Jesus. It is His witness that has determined the course of history.