Revelation 1:4 Part 1

 Who and Where Are The Seven Churches? What Is Grace And Peace? What Does ‘Is, Was, And Is To Come,’ Mean?

Introduction

Rev 1:4  John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;

This verse involves 1) the seven churches in Asia, 2) grace and peace, 3) Him which is, was, and is to come, 4) and the seven Spirits which are before Christ’s throne. We will comment on each of these in order.

1) Who and where are these seven churches in Asia?

Many Christian scholars who do not know that “the holy spirit teaches comparing spiritual things with spiritual,” actually believe that there will be seven Christian churches in the old Roman province of Asia, with the same names given in Revelation 2 and 3. That area is in the western part of  the modern day country of Turkey. It is presently very much a Moslem country. But the holy spirit really does “teach comparing spiritual things with spiritual,” and these seven churches are spiritual, and they are within all “who have ears to hear.”

‘Asia’ represents each of us in the state in which the church is described in the next two chapters. It can be said that Asia symbolizes that which is turned away from Christ.

So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought;  but also that the temple of the great  goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth. (Act  19:27)

Act 21:27 And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him,
Act 21:28 Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the  man, that teacheth all men  every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further  brought Greeks also into the temple, and  hath polluted this holy place.

2Ti 1:15 This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me;  of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.

‘John to the seven churches which are in Asia’ is preparing us to deal with all that is within us that is turned away from Christ. The seven churches of Asia, are “that great city wherein our Lord was crucified.” The seven churches of Asia are nothing less than “Babylon the great the mother of harlot and of abominations of the earth.” It is what is in these seven churches that we must yet ‘come out of.’

We will  see in this study that the “seven churches” and “those Jews which believed on Christ, yet wanted to kill Him” are spiritually one and the same. Who are these seven churches? They are the bondwoman mother part of the revelation of Jesus Christ in each of us. “Those who have ears to hear,” must hear that it is they who spend many years as a babes in Christ,” and as such”differ nothing from a bondservant… until the time appointed of the Father.”

Gal 4:1  Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;
Gal 4:2  But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.
Gal 4:3  Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:

So where are these seven churches? They are, in their appointed time, within us all. At the appointed time, these seven churches, with all their strengths and weaknesses are within both the called and the chosen. All men of all time will, at their appointed time, be in “the seven churches of Asia.” These churches are part of the words of Christ which “will never pass away.”

Mat 4:4  But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

Mat 24:34  Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
Mat 24:35  Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

“All these things” are “every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” Those words are Christ, “the Word,” and “this generations” which “reads and understands” will keep and live by these “is, was, and will be,” words which are “written therein.”

Rev 1:4  John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;

2) What is grace and peace?

There are a few very basic things which, if we do not see and know, will keep us from ever understanding the revelation of Jesus Christ. One of the greatest obstacles to knowing Christ and His Father is a misunderstanding of what God’s “grace and peace” is. It is through only God’s grace that we are able to see Him, and yet the entire orthodox church is unaware of what grace is. That deception, as always, is perpetrated by misapplying the Word of God, and in the process “turning grace into a license to do evil.”

Eph 2:8 is constantly quoted, by the orthodox Christian churches as if grace were nothing more than a dead, inoperable noun. The Greek word for ‘grace’ is ‘charis’, and the root of this word means ‘favor’. Armed with this little bit of knowledge, most Christians take Paul’s statements contrasting the proper understanding of the function of grace, with the mistaken concept that our works somehow earn us God’s favor, and draw the erroneous conclusion that grace has no function in the daily life of the believer, except to simply believe that God forgives and forgets sin whether we continue in sin or not. Nothing could be further from the truth of God’s Word. Here is what grace does in the life of the believer. Here is what brings peace in the life of the believer:

Tit 2:11  For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
Tit 2:12  Teaching [Greek: paidueo – chastening] us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
Tit 2:13  Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
Tit 2:14  Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
Tit 2:15  These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.

So grace is indeed ‘favor with God.” But what is missing in the minds of the orthodox scholars is the ability to see:

Heb 12:6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

Who does He chasten and scourge? “Every son whom He receiveth.” Why does He do this? “To deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and to live soberly, righteously and godly, in this present world.

The very definition of loving God is obeying God.

1Jn 5:3  For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

Yes indeed, the Greek word translated ‘keep’ is that pesky word ‘tereo‘ again. Apparently Christ actually expects us to do what He commands us.

Luk 6:46  And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

Mat 7:21  Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

So what happens when we do not the things which I say? Here is what God does to those He loves:

Heb 12:6  For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
Heb 12:7  If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
Heb 12:8  But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

There it is.  “Grace and peace” come through “chastening and scourging.” You might say, ‘Well I will just obey God, and He will not need to chasten and scourge me.” Those are the very words of many babes in Christ. It has not yet been given to them to see the words “every son whom He receiveth… Whereof all are partakers.”

By the way, that word ‘chastens’ here in Heb 12:6, is that same Greek word ‘paideuo‘ which was translated “teaching” earlier in Tit 2:12. It is only through God’s chastening and scourging of “every son” that we have the “grace and the peace… that passeth all understanding.” There is no way to separate grace from chastening us to obey God, and there is no way to separate peace or love from obedience to God:

Psa 119:165  Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.

So it is made clear that both ‘grace and peace,’ are ours only if we are recipients of God’s chastening and scourging which He gives to “every son He receives,” and thus we are learning to  “obey His commandments.”

3) What is the spiritual significance of “is, was, and is to come?”

Twelve times in the book of Revelation alone, we are reminded that Christ is the beginning and the end; that He is, was, and is to come. That is an incredible number of times to say the same thing. Nothing is more oft repeated in the revelation of Jesus Christ.

1) Rev 1:4 John to the seven churches which are in Asia:  Grace be unto you, and peace,  from him which is, and which was, and  which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his  throne;

2) Rev 1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the  beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is,  and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

3) Rev 1:11 Saying, I am Alpha and  Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and  send it unto the seven churches  which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto  Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.

4) Rev 1:17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his  right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:

5) Rev 1:18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for  evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

6) Rev 1:19 Write the things which thou  hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;

7) Rev 2:8 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;

8) Rev 4:8 And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night,  saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.

9) Rev 11:17 Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come;  because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.

10) Rev 16:5 And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O  Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be,  because thou hast judged thus.

11) Rev 21:6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto  him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

12) Rev 22:13 I am Alpha and Omega, the  beginning and the end, the first and the last.

Why is this such an important point in the mind of Christ , that He twelve times reminds us that He is the beginning and the end; that He is, was, and will be? Here is why this is such and important point in the mind of our Lord and His Father:

Mat 24:34  Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
Mat 24:35  Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

Christ’s words are “all these things,” and “this generation shall not pass till” Christ’s words have all been lived in each and every man who has ever been born.

Mat 4:4  But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

The Old Testament prophets knew that the Messiah was to be “the son of David.”

Mat 1:1  The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Hebrews tells us :

Heb 2:14  Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
Heb 2:15  And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
Heb 2:16  For verily he took not on [ him the nature of] angels; but he took on [ him] the seed of Abraham.
Heb 2:17  Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto [ his] brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things [ pertaining] to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
Heb 2:18  For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.

Flesh and blood are indeed corruptible and flesh and blood is temporary. Nevertheless, the part played by “flesh and blood” are as integral to knowing Christ and His Father, as is the spirit itself. Here is the Biblical reason this is so true:

1Co 15:12  Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?
1Co 15:13  But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:
1Co 15:14  And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
1Co 15:15  Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
1Co 15:16  For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
1Co 15:17  And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your s ins.
1Co 15:18  Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.

I am the first to tell you that there is a spiritual application to every word in these verses, but I am also the last to deny the truth of this verse in this same chapter:

1Co 15:22  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

1Co 15:44  It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
1Co 15:45  And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam [was made] a quickening spirit.
1Co 15:46  Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
1Co 15:47  The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.

Again I ask the question, Why are we told so many times that Christ is both the beginning and the end? The answer is that God is calling light out of darkness. Not vice versa, as the gnostics would have you believe. The answer is that Christ “emptied himself” and came in the flesh so he could truthfully be “the beginning Adam and the end Adam.” He came in the flesh so He could be the first Adam and the last Adam. If He were not a literal man born of the seed of David and Abraham and of the first Adam, then He could not possibly identify with us as such. But that is exactly what He is, was, and will be.

Heb 2:18  For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.

Any doctrine which denies either that Christ came in the flesh, or that He is come in our flesh, is antichrist.

1Jn 4:1  Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
1Jn 4:2  Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
1Jn 4:3  And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
2Jn 1:7  For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.

We will not get to “the seven spirits before His throne” this week, but we have seen that the seven churches are suffering the the exact same symptoms as the Great Harlot of Revelation 17 and 18.

Both think they are in very good spiritual condition:

Rev 3:17  a) Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing…

Rev. 18:7 b) … for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.

But in reality both are spiritually bankrupt:

Rev. 3:17 b) … and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
Rev 18:7  a) How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her:

We have seen that this is each of us at our appointed time, and it is all men at their appointed time, because we will all “keep the things that are written therein” and “live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”

We have seen that the revelation of Jesus Christ comes only by God’s chastening grace, which when needed scourges us to forsake ungoldliness and worldly lusts and to obey God’s sayings and commandments, and we have seen that God’s chastening grace brings peace of mind even in the midst of that chastening grace.

Mat 11:30  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Finally we have seen that the reason Christ repeats 12 times that He is the beginning and the end, and that He is, was, and will be, is because we are just naturally blinded the the fact that He is not only the last Adam, but He is prefigured by the first, and that Christ cannot be attained without experiencing the natural first.

1Co 15:46  Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.

Without fail, someone will always point out that Christ was a spirit before becoming a man. That is true, and it is for this very reason that we are told that “He emptied himself” and “took on Him the seed of Abraham.

Php 2:5  For, let this mind be in you that is also in Christ Jesus,
Php 2:6  who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal to God,
Php 2:7  but did empty himself, the form of a servant having taken, in the likeness of men having been made,
Php 2:8  and in fashion having been found as a man, he humbled himself, having become obedient unto death– death even of a cross,
Php 2:9  wherefore, also, God did highly exalt him, and gave to him a name that is above every name,
Php 2:10  that in the name of Jesus every knee may bow– of heavenlies, and earthlies, and what are under the earth–
Php 2:11  and every tongue may confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Heb 2:16  For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.

The revelation of Jesus Christ reveals that he truly is the beginning and the end, the first and the last; a point which the holy spirit sees fit to repeat to us a dozen times in this book alone.

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