Introduction to Revelation

Bible Book: Revelation 
Subject: Revelation, Introduction to the Book of
Series: Revelation

I know the caption at the beginning of the Book of Revelation often reads, The Revelation of St. John the Divine, but if you read the first verses you must see that it really is the Revelation of Jesus Christ, by Jesus Christ:

"The revelation of Jesus Christ that God gave Him to show His slaves what must quickly take place. He sent it and signified it through His angel to His slave John, who testified to God’s word and to the testimony about Jesus Christ, in all he saw. Blessed is the one who reads and blessed are those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep what is written in it, because the time is near!" (Rev 1:1-3, HCSB, emphasis added).

1) Revelation is history in that the seven churches to which letters were addressed in chapters two and three were real churches at a real place, at a real time.

2) Revelation deals with the present in some very real ways. First, there are lessons, commendations, and complaints in those letters that have an application to any church today.

3) Revelation deals with the future. I have strong convictions about this book of prophecy, and one of those convictions is that if we make it a theological battlefield and generate divisions, create strife, break fellowship, and form attitudes towards those with whom we disagree that are not Christ-like, we are sinning. We should go back to another verse written by John and confess our sin (1 John 1:9).

4) We do not have to sacrifice the present for the future, or the future for the present. The revelation of future event is given to help the church and the individual believer in the present. The revelation that God is in charge of the future encourages me in the present. The conviction that I can trust Him with the future affirms my faith that I can trust Him to provide for and protect His children today.

5) Never take your eyes of Jesus! The Light of the World is the Light of Heaven. The Water of Life on earth is the Water (River) of Life in Heaven. The Bread of Life on earth, is the Bread of Heaven.

Jesus, the Alpha and Omega of Heaven is the Alpha and Omega of the earth. The Agent of Creation (John 1:1) is the One who is preparing a place for us in Heaven. The Alpha and Omega of Heaven is the Alpha and Omega of earth (He created it and He sustains it). He is the Beginning and the End of the earth just as he is the Beginning and End of Heaven.

A man stopped by to visit with me many years ago, ostensibly to get acquainted, but more obviously to tell me what he didn’t like about the former pastor (he didn’t like his wife either!). While he was there, he announced, "I don’t know much about the rest of the Bible, but I can explain Revelation."

If you do not understand John I have serious doubts about your interpretation of Revelation.

For as long as I can remember I have been hearing statements like, "He is coming soon!" (I can’t argue with that). Or, "The signs are being fulfilled" (nor will I argue with that - but somehow, most of them never tell you what signs or how they are being fulfilled). Maybe someone will say, "I believe I will see Him when He returns" (That would be wonderful! - Even so, come, Lord Jesus).

I make the statement somewhere in this series that I believe the Lord would have us to adopt a "Continuous Anticipitory" tense as we look at end-time events. I am watching and praying. Instead of looking for signs, I am listening for the shout!

Jesus, crucified and resurrected on earth, is the Lamb of God, the One who is standing at the right hand of God as one who had been slain, but is alive forever. Jesus, judged, tortured, and crucified by man, is the Judge of all men.

In Revelation, Jesus is the Lamb of God. He is faithful and true. He is the one with the sharp two-edged sword. He is the One who commands the angels. He is the one who defeats all enemies and brings them under his foot. Jesus concludes the Revelation:

"Look! I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me to repay each person according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. "Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs, the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.

"I, Jesus, have sent My angel to attest these things to you for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright Morning Star." Both the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" Anyone who hears should say, "Come!" And the one who is thirsty should come. Whoever desires should take the living water as a gift" (Rev 22:12-17, HCSB).


Jesus promises, "Blessed is the one who reads and blessed are those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep what is written in it, because the time is near!" There is one promise (a blessing) and two conditions (we must read the Revelation, and keep what is written it).

From beginning to end, I remind our people that I cannot answer all their questions - I cannot answer all of my questions. I do not promise to answer all mysteries, but this much I do: I skim the surface, looking for the blessing!

Here is what I am determined not to do: I will not let image, any metaphor, any vision, or any announced judgment distract me from the One who is revealed in the Apocalypse. At the end of this series, I pray that our people will have a deeper understanding of end-time events. However, if I had to chose, I would prefer that they have a deeper faith and understanding of Jesus. Thankfully, one does not preclude the other.


Though all of my teachers in college and seminary were Amillennialists, the more I studied the Word for myself, the more convinced I became that my position was that of a pre-tribulation Premillennialist. Though I may be dogmatic about that, I try not to be bull-dogmatic! Any time I form the wrong attitude toward those who disagree with me, I am sinning, no matter how dogmatically I defend my position. If I cannot love and respect those who adopt a different position, I need to repent because I am sinning. I do not have to compromise my position, but I do have to look the Holy Spirit to guard my attitude toward the Book of the Bible that has often been a theological battle field.

I once told a friend that I am a Premillennialist, but some of the biggest nuts I have ever seen have been Premillennialists! He agreed. I will not answer all questions about the images and signs in Revelation. I will trust the Lord to answer some of the questions for us. We will focus on the Lamb of God and trust Him for the blessing.

THE SERMON NOTEBOOK is just what the name implies: my sermon notebook. Between my second and third years in New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, I had the very special privilege of working as the youth minister at First Baptist Church, Rayville, Louisiana, under a remarkable pastor, Dr. H. R. Herrington. Dr. Herrington was also an outstanding preacher and student of the Word. On a number of occasions, I would ask him if he had ever heard some well known preacher preach. He would pause and say in his very articulate way, "Yes, I heard him preach at a convention in St. Louis about ten years ago. He took as his text John 10:28-30, and he developed his message in an unusual way." Then, he would proceed to give me the main points.

One day, I told Dr. Herrington that I was committed to a study of the Word of God that included making notes and filing them according to the books of the Bible. A few days later, he came in and gave me a box of file folders and encouraged me to begin filing those notes immediately. After graduation, I had an opportunity to work with Dr. Herrington again for some time. I had no idea where I might go with those notes, but I kept expanding them, and filing them for future use. I am still doing that. After graduating from seminary, I began outlining various books of the Bible and making notes. I would expand that when I began a teaching ministry in which I often taught the selected book for The January Bible Study, or Winter Bible Conference, four to six times in various churches.

Then came my first computer, a gift from a friend, who encouraged me to use it in my Bible studies. In time, I began looking around for a title for the collection of studies in the various books of the Bible. After writing some 20 - 30 informal commentaries, or verse by verse studies of various books, I decided to call the collection, THE BIBLE NOTEBOOK. Several years later, I decided on the title, THE SERMON NOTEBOOK for the umbrella term for the sermon manuscripts I had written.

While preparing the sermons from Revelation, Chapter Two, I made the decision to write all the sermons from the series in the Revelation - not just outline them. After writing more than 40 sermons in this series, I looked back and could not find sermons on the first chapter. I stopped and wrote two sermons on the first chapter, based on what I remembered from them.


I have kept certain goals and commitments before me as I have written and preached these sermons.

1) Let me return to the first point. This is the Revelation of Jesus Christ. I know you know that, but let me stress once again - THIS IS THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST. It is also the Revelation by Jesus Christ.

2) He reveals things that will "quickly" come to pass, or things that will "soon" come to pass. He pulls back the veil and reveals many end-time.

3) He reveals something about those historical churches that have an application to any church today. We should study the letters to the seven churches carefully to see what Jesus commends as well as what He condemns.

4) We should approach the Book of Revelation as those who came saying, "We would see Jesus."