As our congregation approaches the end of a sermon series through Revelation (yes, you may pray for their endurance), I’ve lately been considering more the purposes of God for including this apocalyptic book into our Scriptures. Asking the question has forced me to the conclusion that John’s Revelation is absolutely vital to the health and success of Christ’s church.
I believe Revelation is given to the church of this age (this age between Jesus’ ascension and return) in order to strengthen the church for her great goal of persevering in the faith. Throughout this age, Revelation shows us, the church will face the same two problems over and over again, persecution and temptation. Both persecution and temptation are the great tools of the enemy designed to draw us away from Christ.
How do we fight? How do we persevere through the twin terrors of persecution and temptation? Revelation goes far beyond functioning as the warning siren and itself answers the question: we persevere by trusting in Christ. More specifically, we persevere by keeping our eyes so firmly fixed on Jesus Christ and His glory and love and majesty that the lies and threats of this world fade easily.
And here’s why Revelation is so wonderful: it doesn’t just say “trust in Christ, he’s pretty great.” Rather, it shows us Jesus. And it shows us Jesus like almost no other book in the Bible is able to do. Instead of just saying, “Jesus is omniscient,” John sees Jesus whose eyes are flaming like fire. Instead of just saying, “Jesus will win,” John shows us a Savior conquering by the sword coming out of his mouth, the Word being preached and lived by the church.
More clearly than any other book, Revelation shows us the divine Christ (why don’t we use Revelation more in discussions about Christ’s divinity?). Revelation shows the power of His death to bring victory for himself and for us. Through its many and wonderful pictures, Revelation convinces our hearts that Christ is glorious and that his glory and friendship is worth anything we are called to suffer in this age.
So what’s the point? You should read Revelation more than you do. Not to learn some trivia that might be useful in argument. Not to be confused. But to see your risen Savior as glorious as he truly is. Because our perseverance in the faith will absolutely depend on whether we have a strong enough and clear enough vision of Christ’s glory to sustain us to the end.