God is alive and he speaks.
Unfortunately, our default mode as humans is to miss what God is saying. Since we’re born with a sinful nature and separate from God (Rom. 3:23; Eph. 2:12), we cannot know who God really is without his help. Given this reality, we try to explain God in a number of ways that are contrary to his eternal truths. These take the form of human reason, false religions, and vague spirituality.
Thankfully, God didn’t leave us to the limits of our own inventions. He cleared the fog created by sin and revealed himself to us through nature, through his word, and most importantly, through Jesus.
Whereas speculation, false religion, and vague spirituality are human attempts to comprehend God, God’s revelation communicates to us with clarity what is otherwise impossible for us to understand.
Revelation in Nature
In general, God reveals himself to humanity through creation. We read in Romans 1:19–20:
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.
Commenting upon God’s general revelation, John Calvin said in Institutes :
God not only has sowed in our minds that seed of religion but revealed himself and daily discloses himself in the whole creation and preservation of the universe. As a result, humans can not open their eyes without being compelled to see God.
Though God reveals himself through creation, it is only in part and not the whole. Through nature, you can observe and understand that a big and powerful God exists, but regardless of how long you look at a tree or stare at the stars, you’ll never know all that you can know about God, especially Jesus.
Revelation in Scripture and Jesus
Having a saving knowledge of God requires that, in addition to God’s general revelation through nature, you also receive and believe in his special revelation through the Scriptures. Observing God in nature is not sufficient for you to know that God became the man Jesus and died on the cross in your place for your sins. Through Scripture we learn that God makes himself known in fullness through Jesus, paving the way for us to enter into a personal relationship with him and know him fully (John 14:9).
The whole Bible is about Jesus, and as God’s revelation of himself to us, when we study the Scriptures faithfully, we know Jesus more and more and understand who God is and how much he hates sin and loves us.
What was written many years ago in the Scriptures is just as relevant and applicable to our lives and the church today as it was in the days when Jesus walked the earth. This is what brings me to preach about Jesus’ message to the seven churches in the book of Revelation in our upcoming series, the Seven.
The Book of Revelation
The Apostle John, who wrote the Gospel of John and 1, 2, and 3 John, wrote the book of Revelation during his exile on the island of Patmos (Rev. 1:1, 4, 9). During his stay on this desolate place, John received a message directly from Jesus, “the revelation of Jesus Christ,” to be shared with seven churches: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea (Rev. 1:10–11).
Within his message to John, Jesus reveals himself in majesty and power as the one true and living God. As Simon Kistemaker points out, the message that Jesus wanted John to send to these seven churches addresses their reaction to his rule and authority.
What’s Your Reaction?
The reaction of these churches to Jesus is similar to the reaction of the church today, as well as us who individually make up the church.
As God’s revelation to us, the message Jesus gave to John wasn’t only meant for the seven churches but is also relevant for us today. Though these words were directed at these specific churches, John later says, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches . . .” (Rev. 2:7). Jesus’ message to these seven churches is just as timely and relevant today as they were yesterday.
Regardless if it’s a positive or negative one, everyone has a reaction to Jesus.
As we study the reactions of these seven churches to Jesus over the next nine weeks, I challenge you to earnestly study the Scriptures to know more of Jesus and to soberly ask yourself, what’s my reaction to Jesus?