jump to navigation

Easter Sermon 2010 April 21, 2010

Posted by roberttalley in Easter, Religion, Resurrection, Revelation of Jesus Christ, Sermons, Seven Churches of Revelation.
1 comment so far

Revelation 2:8-11

Sometimes we know part of the story, but not all of it. FamilyLife magazine, February, 1995 tells “…the story of a grandfather who wanted to know how much his four-year-old granddaughter knew about the Easter story. When he saw little Julie playing in the backyard with her friends, he asked them, “Who knows why we celebrate Easter every year?” One of Julie’s friends chirped up first: “Oh, that’s when you go to the mall and sit on the big bunny rabbit’s lap and tell him what you want in your Easter basket.” Her second friend’s answer was no better: “No, no, no! It’s when you get a tree and hang eggs on it—and you wake up on Sunday and there are presents underneath it.”
At that point Grandpa interrupted and gently said, “That’s a good guess, but it’s not quite right. Julie, do you know why we celebrate Easter?” Julie nodded her head. “It’s when Jesus was crucified. He died, and His disciples put his body in the grave. They rolled a big stone in front of the opening. And the guards went to sleep. On the third day, there was a big earthquake and the stone rolled away.”
Hearing all that, Grandpa was really encouraged that Julie knew so much of the Easter story. Then she continued, “When the earthquake happened, the entire town came out by the grave. And if Jesus came out and saw his shadow, they knew there would be six more weeks of winter!”
Young Julie knew a lot about Easter but she had misunderstood a key element. Because she had misunderstood, Easter’s meaning was changed. I believe most of us understand the key element of Easter. He who was dead came to life. It is the message of the resurrected Christ. That message changed everything. When Christ rose from the dead, He changed our view of death, He changed our view of this life, and He changed our view of the life to come.

These changes, however, are not just changes of understanding but are practical changes that affect the way that live. Jesus to the church of Smyrna applies His resurrection to the lives of the believers there in this passage.
I. The resurrected Christ has changed our view of death (vs. 8). Now there were resurrections before in the Old Testament as well as during the life of Christ but the resurrection of Christ is different. He never died again. He lives today after two thousand years. Because of His resurrection, we view death differently.

a. We view death from the outside (vs. 8a). It is hard for us to comprehend death. Milton Mayer once wrote in an essay “On Death”, “Death is the one idea that has no history. We do not know what to say about death because we do not know what to think about it, and we do not know what to think about it because we do not know what it is.”

The very name Smyrna reminds us that we do not know how to deal with death. The city was named for a substance, myrrh, used as a perfume as well as for anointing a dead body before burial. Burial practices around the world reflect this difficulty of dealing with death. Boettner writes in his book, “Immortality”, that in Greenland a deceased child was provided at burial with a dog to act as its guide in the hereafter. Religion seeks a purpose in death. Some promise a rebirth, others a happy future. Modern man has given up and concluded that death is simply the end and has no purpose.

b. Jesus, however, reveals to us a view of death from eternity (vs. 8b). He is the First and the Last. This title comes from the book of Isaiah where Yahweh tells His people that He is God and there is no one like Him. Isaiah 44:6b-7 says,
“I am the First and I am the Last;
Besides Me there is no God.
And who can proclaim as I do?
Then let him declare it and set it in order for Me,
Since I appointed the ancient people.
And the things that are coming and shall come,
Let them show these to them.
Do not fear, nor be afraid;
Have I not told you from that time, and declared it?”
You see, He existed before death and will exist after death has ceased. He is the one who allows death to exist and He allows death to exist because it fits into His eternal purpose. To adapt a saying from St. Augustine, “God judges it better to bring life out of death than to suffer no death to exist.”

That does not mean that we always understand His purpose. That is the point Isaiah is making. No one, no god, devil, man, or angel can set in order for the First and the Last the events of time or eternity and we certainly cannot discover the purpose of death. That had to be revealed to us through Jesus Christ, the First and Last.

c. Jesus Christ, the First and Last, however, is not a puppeteer playing with us, pulling our strings, very much in control but outside the play. No, He views death from the inside (vs. 8c). All men, Christians included must stop at the gate of death and say, “I do not know…” We can define and describe love, hate, exhilaration, and despair but we do not know from personal experience what it means to die. Jesus Christ, however, knows what it means to die. He knows what it means to suffer our fate. He knows what it means because He experienced it. He plays by the rules that He set for us. He took the medicine that each of us is scheduled to take.

“Joseph Damien was a missionary in the nineteenth century who ministered to people with leprosy on the island of Molokai, Hawaii…One morning before he was to lead them in their daily worship, he was pouring some hot water into a cup when the water swirled out and fell onto his bare foot. It took him a moment to realize that he had not felt any sensation. Gripped by the sudden fear of what this could mean, he poured more boiling water on the same spot. No feeling whatsoever. Damien immediately knew what had happened. As he walked tearfully to deliver his sermon, no one at first noticed the difference in his opening line. He normally began every sermon with, ‘My fellow believers,’ But this morning he began with, ‘My fellow lepers.’”

Without the death of Christ, I could not know the love of God for me. So now I have a different view of death. I still do not know it by experience but I understand now its purpose in revealing God’s love to me.

II. The resurrected Christ has changed our view of life on earth (vs. 9-10).

a. For us life is about this world (vs. 9). It does not matter whether you are wealthy or poor, healthy or sick, selfish or giving, surrounded by friends or isolated in loneliness, our life is about this world. These people were no different. Jesus said, I know your works, I know how you go about your daily life, I know your tribulations, I know the things that you are facing in the world, I know your poverty, how that you have lost jobs and family because of your faith in me, I know your present circumstances. I know about your enemies, people who claim to believe in me but are children of the devil. I know what they have planned for you, I know how long your trials are going to last, I know your future. But do not fear. Jesus addressed their present circumstances and their future danger. He did not call them to put on heavenly sunglasses and forget about the glare of this world.

b. What He did do is put this life in perspective for them. This life is about winning eternal life through lasting faith in Christ (vs. 10). That is why He was able to say, “Do not fear!” Jesus did not say, “I am going to deliver you out of your trouble.” Sometimes he does deliver us but often He does not because life is not about living without troubles and trials, without sorrow and pain. Life for the believer is about a constant faith, an enduring faith in Christ. That is why the Bible warns against a faith that does not last. The faith that does not last is not a real faith and will result in destruction. So my life is not about church or family or country or career or hobbies or friends or health or about myself. My life is to be about a constant display of my faith in Christ. Because He lives, I can live with a purpose, I can live the life of faith in Him, confident that when I die, I will receive the victor’s crown of eternal life.

III. That is what I mean when I say that the resurrected Christ has changed our view of life after death (vs. 10-11). In Christ, I have a new life, a resurrected life.

a. The resurrected life is victorious (vs. 10). One of the characters in Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress” Mr. Valiant-for-Truth was summoned home to the Celestial City. “He called his friends and told them of it. Then, said he, ‘I am going to my Father’s; and though with great difficulty I am got hither, yet now I do not repent me of all the trouble I have been at to arrive where I am…My marks and scars I carry with me, to be a witness for me, that I have fought His battles who now will be my rewarder.’…many accompanied him to the river side into which as he went he said, ‘Death, where is thy sting?’ And as he went down deeper, he said, ‘Grave, where is thy victory?’ So he passed over, and all the trumpets sounded for him on the other side.”

“…thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

b. Resurrected life is protected from the second death (vs. 11). Our text says, shall not be hurt. This word is found in the New Testament, primarily in the book of Revelation. The second death is described for us in Revelation 20. It is the lake of fire, the place of damnation. But the believer in Christ is protected. Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life, he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.”

I may die physically but the resurrected Christ, the one who was dead and came to life promises to protect me from the second death. I may suffer now in some way or another but my hope for the future is the healing leaves of the tree of life, not the eternal hurt inflicted by the second death.
What is your view of death? Do you see in it God’s love for you in that He died for you?
What is your view of life? Do you see in it the opportunity to exercise constant faith in Christ?
What is your view of the life to come? Do you see victory and rest from your labors here?
If not, you can. You can begin today your walk of faith in Christ. You can begin today to experience God’s love. You can begin today to live for eternity. The resurrected Christ has made this possible. Trust Him today!

Just a couple of more weeks in Revelation October 16, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Antichrist, Babylon, Eschatology, Judgment, Materialism, Religion, Revelation of Jesus Christ, Seven Churches of Revelation.
add a comment

    Answers from Revelation 18 and part of 19

  • Who might be the messenger in 18:1?
  • Although it is not clearly said, some feel this could be Jesus Christ.

  • What is the message to the churches in verses 2-9? How does this message apply to us today? How will it apply during the end time events?
  • Do not take part in the sins of “Babylon”. The sins listed in this chapter are tied in to materialism which is probably, for Americans at least, the most dangerous sin that we face today. During the endtimes there will be the added danger of aligning one’s self with the Beast (Antichrist).

  • Why is Babylon beloved by the nations of the earth according to verses 10-19?
  • She brings prosperity to the world.

  • Why specifically is Babylon being judged (18:20-19:4)?
  • Her persecution of God’s people.

  • What is the next event after the destruction of Babylon (19:5-10)? Who is the central figure of the marriage supper (verses 9-10)?
  • The marriage supper of the Lamb (the coming of Christ for His people) is the next event after Armageddon. One could say it actually occurs in conjunction with Armageddon. Christ is the central figure of the marriage supper.

  • What is the significance of the white horses (verses 11, 14)?
  • White horses are a symbol of victory in war.

  • What do we learn about Jesus Christ in verses 11-16?
  • He is the judge of the earth. He is above all in holiness and authority.

    Back from hiatus with Revelation 9: trumpets, locusts, and 200,000,000 horses August 27, 2007

    Posted by roberttalley in Bottomless Pit, Day of the Lord, Demons, Joel, Judgment, Religion, Revelation of Jesus Christ, Seven Churches of Revelation, Seven Trumpets of Revelation.
    1 comment so far

    Since we have been on hiatus, we need to remind ourselves to whom this chapter was written. It was written to seven churches (not individuals). This chapter as well as the whole book was written to encourage the faithful, warn the unsaved deceived, and call the believers with significant spiritual problems to repentance.

    What is the primary difference between the first four trumpet judgments in Revelation 8 and the second two here in Revelation 9?

    The first four can definitely be taken literally. The second two have obvious symbolic elements.

    Who will not be hurt by this judgment (compare with Revelation 7:3)?

    The 144,000

    What similarities does this army of locust have with the army described in Joel 2:1-11 (See also Joel 1:1-7 for the context of Joel 2)? Could they be the same? Why or why not?

    The sky is darkened in connection with this plague. They are described as locusts with the appearance of horses. They cause people to experience great pain but not necessarily death. They are likely the same event when Revelation 6:17 is compared to Joel 2:1.

    Which is more likely (keep in mind the nature of apocalyptic literature): these are literal locusts, this is a symbolic vision of a terrible plague, this is a description of something literal that John could not adequately describe? What challenges are presented by each view?

    1. If they are literal locusts, they are still unlike anything that has ever been seen and some elements seem to be using the qualities of either the locusts or the army descriptively.
    2. If this was totally symbolic, there is little way to know where the symbol begins and ends.
    3. If this is a description of something literal that John could not adequately describe, how do we interpret the plague.

    Why is it generally believed that the army out of the bottomless pit is demonic (Luke 8:31, Revelation 11:7, 17:8)?

    These verses seem to indicate that the bottomless pit is a special place where demons and their cohorts might be imprisoned.

    What era is being ushered in by the three woes (Revelation 8:13, 9:12, 11:14, 15:1; see also 6:17)?

    The day of the Lord.

    What is the significance of the altar in the book of Revelation (6:9, 8:3-6, 9:13, 14:18, 16:17)?

    Judgment is often connected with the altar.

    What seems to be the basis of the reoccurrence of the number four in the book of Revelation (four living creatures, four horsemen found in both Revelation and Zechariah, four prepared angels in both 7:1 and 9:14)?

    World wide events.

    What does this sixth trumpet judgment have in common with the first four?

    Only a third of human kind is affected.

    In what ways are the locusts and the horses in this chapter similar? How are they different?

    • Their appearance is described in either a symbolical way or in a literal fantastic way.
    • The locust did not kill, the horses only kill.

    How do you think the church at Thyratira should have understood verses 20-21?

    They were in danger of facing this judgment or something equally as horrible.

    Another Revelation Hiatus Post August 14, 2007

    Posted by roberttalley in Ephesus, Revelation of Jesus Christ, Seven Churches of Revelation.
    add a comment

    Next week we will start again with the Revelation Q and A post. This will give you a chance to prepare for the discussion on Sunday night by looking at the text in light of the questions asked. The answers are then posted a day or two after the discussion. The study has really been enjoyable. In the meantime, here is a series of posts on Ephesus, the first of the seven churches mentioned in the book of Revelation.


    While our Revelation Study is on hiatus August 7, 2007

    Posted by roberttalley in Acts, Archaeology, Church History, Ephesus, First Peter, Gladiator, Religion, Seven Churches of Revelation, Turkey.

    See last weeks post on Hierapolis to see something about the area of Laodicea. Below are two more links from an architectural student living in Istanbul. I was not aware of the finding of the gladiator cemetery last year.


    Don’t feel like reading a post? At least look at this picture from a different area of Turkey. It has nothing to do with the seven churches of Revelation but could you imagine Paul traveling through this area on his way to preach the gospel in one of the cities of the region?


    Look at Hierapolis now August 4, 2007

    Posted by roberttalley in Archaeology, Colossians, Laodicea, Seven Churches of Revelation, Turkey.
    add a comment

    This city is mentioned in the book of Colossians which we are now studying in Sunday School. It was near Colossee and Laodicea. This was written by an architectural student in Istanbul.


    Church at Laodicea with Q and A June 25, 2007

    Posted by roberttalley in Judgment, Revelation of Jesus Christ, Seven Churches of Revelation.
    add a comment

    Sorry about the earlier formatting problem. Hope this is somewhat more readable. 


    Revelation 3:14-22 

    1.     What is the significance of Jesus as the Faithful Witness (Revelation 1:5; 19:11; 22:6)?

    What He says is going to happen, will happen. This is also emphasized with the name, “the Amen”.

    2.     What is the difference between Jesus being the “Beginning of the creation of God” and being the “firstborn” of creation? Why is this name important within this message (verse 21)?

    The word “Beginning” probably refers to the fact that Christ is the source of all creation; see Colossians 1:18. It appears that Jesus is emphasizing and identifying Himself as the God/man in order to emphasize His relationship both with God and with believers.

    3.     How does John/Jesus explain what is meant in verses 15 & 16a by “lukewarm”?  

    Verse 17 explains the concept. This church seems to be much like the church in Sardis in many ways. Their lives did not match up to God’s expectation. While we do not know why Sardis was dead, we do know why Laodicea was lukewarm. Compare verse 17 with the church at Smyrna and verse 18 with the church at Sardis.

    4.     What indications if any are there that there are believers within the church in Laodicea (verse 19)?

    He loves and chastens them.

    5.     How does the call(s) to repentance in this message vary from some of the previous messages?

    There seems to be great compassion in the invitation to repent.

    The Church at Laodicea (questions) June 20, 2007

    Posted by roberttalley in Judgment, Revelation of Jesus Christ, Seven Churches of Revelation.
    add a comment


    Revelation 3:14-22 

    1.     What is the significance of Jesus as the Faithful Witness (Revelation 1:5; 19:11; 22:6)?

    2.     What is the difference between Jesus being the “Beginning of the creation of God” and being the “firstborn” of creation? Why is this name important within this message (verse 21)?

    3.     How does John/Jesus explain what is meant in verses 15 & 16a by “lukewarm”?

    4.     What indications if any are there that there are believers within the church in Laodicea (verse 19)?

    5.     How does the call(s) to repentance in this message vary from some of the previous messages?

    More on Imminency in the first three chapters of Revelation June 18, 2007

    Posted by roberttalley in Eschatology, Imminency, Revelation of Jesus Christ, Seven Churches of Revelation.
    add a comment

    Because of computer problems, I have updated the posts on the churches at Sardis and Philadelphia with my answers rather than posting a new post. Saved me a bit of typing to do it that way.



    We also talked more about imminency on which I posted back in May when I first began this blog. https://roberttalley.wordpress.com/2007/05/09/follow-up-on-last-sunday-evenings-discussion-of-imminency/

    There are two verses in the messages to the seven churches that may be referring to the Tribulation period:  2:22 and 3:10. Revelation 2:22 (compared with 7:14) and Revelation 17-19 seem to describe the same or a similar event. Revelation 3:10 seems to describe the ebvents in 14-19. How do we understand the warning to Thyratira and the promise to Philadelphia? If they apply just to the churches, when is the time that the wrath of God was over the nations of the whole earth? If they apply just to the future what purpose did it serve to tell the churches what was to come on them? Understanding imminency correctly helps us to understand the passages as the churches understood them and as they will ultimately be fulfilled.

    Remember, imminency refers to all the end time events surrounding Christ’s coming and not just to the Rapture or the Second Coming of Christ described in Revelation 19.

    Questions Concerning the Church at Philadelphia June 13, 2007

    Posted by roberttalley in Revelation of Jesus Christ, Seven Churches of Revelation.
    1 comment so far

    The questions (updated with answers) concerning Sardis are already posted. See under category: Seven Church of Revelation or Revelation of Jesus Christ.


    REVELATION 3:7-13

    1. Compare verse 1 with 6:10. What is the significance of the title of Christ as the holy and true one? How does this fit in with the quote from Isaiah 22:22 which indicates Christ’s sovereignty and power? The Lord is the avenger for his believers who are persecuted. He controls the situation in which the believers as well as their enemies find themselves.

    2. What is the negative and two positive characteristics of this church? Negatively – they did not have a lot of ability and power. Positively – they were faithful to Christ in spite of this fact in that they kept Christ’s word and did not deny His name.

    3. Contrast the church at Sardis in verse 3 with the church at Philadelphia in verses 8 & 10? The church in Sardis was commanded to be watchful and to repent. The church at Philadelphia was commended because they were watchful.

    4. How is the concept in verse 9 similar to that of 2:26?  In both cases the believers will be exalted over those who reject Jesus Christ.

    5. Has there yet been a time when the whole world was tested (Compare with Revelation 3:10)? Who is kept (guarded) from this time of testing? Not yet but the believers in Philadelphia will be guarded from that time.

    6. What are the two blessings in verses 11-12?  A victory crown and the eternal presence of God.