AGCC Sun. a.m. 2/4/2001
#5 (Book of Revelation Series)
TEXT: Rev. 6:1-17
INTRO: Jesus Christ's sacrifice on Calvary paid the price of redemption for sinful man, but it also did something else for sinful man, it secured judgment! Judgment and wrath is just as much a part of Christ's sacrifice as is His grace and love … it matters which side of eternity you stand on however as to which one you will experience!
Many preachers today are happy to preach on Christ's grace and love, but the message of judgment must be preached also!
Why does God reveal such horrendous portraits of judgment in the book of Revelation? It isn't just to satisfy a morbid curiosity about the future on our part, there is a purpose to these horrible details being revealed NOW. God reveals these things NOW as a warning shot about the reality of future judgment, not to satisfy our curiosity about the future events. God's love saves from wrath those who repent, and God's love warns about wrath to come for the hardened heart. These revelations of the future serve as God's warning shots for the living NOW.
ILLUS:A very skillful bowman went to the mountains in search of game. All the beasts of the forest fled at his approach. The lion alone challenged him to combat. The bowman immediately let fly an arrow and said to the lion, "I send you my messenger, that from him you might learn what I myself will be when I assail you." The lion thus wounded rushed away in great fear, and when a fox exhorted him to be of good courage and not to run away at the first attack, he said, "You counsel me in vain, for if he sends so fearful a messenger, how shall I abide the attack of the man himself?"
If the warning admonitions of God's ministers fill the conscience with terror, what must it be to face the Lord himself? If one bolt of judgment brings a man into a cold sweat, what will it be to stand before an angry God in the last great day? -- Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Quotable Spurgeon, (Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, Inc, 1990)
Frightening, YES! Completely avoidable, YES! … the point of this revelation is to warn us to avoid coming judgment, there is NOW something we can do to avoid experiencing those events, if we know Christ we will not experience His wrath, only His grace!
PROP. SENT: The reality of God's judgment is as much a part of the plan of salvation as is God's grace, it all depends where we choose to stand that determines which one of those two elements will be our experience, choose grace!
I. PROBLEM OF SIN 6:1-14
A. Seals 6:1-14
1. Have you ever heard from your parents the expression, "I'm warning you, if you don't listen here is what is going to happen." ?
a. This is similar to what we have here in this chapter, John is shown the future calamities, they serve as warnings of what will come should we neglect so great a salvation.
b. Man will not stand before God and be able to say, "Well, I didn't know that this was going to happen."
c. Love warns the disobedient, it does not avoid detailing terrible consequences simply because a culture says it is uncouth or not politically correct to speak about God's wrath!
d. In fact, we would have to question God's love if there was NO judgment on sin … this would not be a just God, so how could He be a loving God if He avoided punishing the wicked.
e. Parents who love their children are gracious when they obey, and discipline them when they are bad … that is real love!
2. Christ is the one who begins to open the seals, remember He alone is worthy to open the sealed scroll.
3. How is it that such drastic actions have to be taken at the end of time?
a. Sin continues to plague humanity, and unless it is settled by our coming to the cross of Calvary it will continue to yield its horrible fruit on the human race!
b. These conditions are the natural results of sin left unchecked and unrepented of.
c. Outside of Christ sin is a ticking time bomb on the human race!
ILLUS:In a 1994 article, "Wars' Lethal Leftovers Threaten Europeans," Associated Press reporter Christopher Burns writes: "The bombs of World War II are still killing in Europe. They turn up--and sometimes blow up--at construction sites, in fishing nets, or on beaches fifty years after the guns fell silent.
"Hundreds of tons of explosives are recovered every year in France alone. Thirteen old bombs exploded in France last year, killing twelve people and wounding eleven, the Interior Ministry said.
"'I've lost two of my colleagues,' said Yvon Bouvet, who heads a government team in the Champagne-Ardennes region that defuses explosives from both World War I and II. ...
"Unexploded bombs become more dangerous with time, Bouvet said. 'With the corrosion inside, the weapon becomes more unstable, the detonator can be exposed.'" What is true of lingering bombs is also true of lingering anger. Buried anger will explode when we least expect it. -- Barry McGee, Anderson, California. Leadership, Vol. 16, no. 3.
d. These harsh judgments are not unwarranted, God is not unfair, they are the result of deadly sin continuing its influence until it would nearly destroy the human race -- only God's intervention will prevent this.
4. The "6 Seals"
a. The first seal shows a white horse with a rider who was given a crown and holds a bow … he is allowed to go forth and conquer the earth.
(1. This is not a reference to Christ, He is the one who opens the seal, it is a reference to allowing AntiChrist to conquer the Earth during the tribulation period.
(2. Sin will finally have its master present in the person of AntiChrist!
b. The second seal shows a judgment of painful conquest, a red horse and the rider has power to take peace from the Earth … such is the master of evil and the pricetag for following him.
c. The third seal is opened and a black horse with a rider holding scales comes forward, with power to produce famine on the Earth.
d. The fourth seal was a pale horse and a rider with the power to kill 1/4 of the population of the world.
(1. The tragic results of sin is death and destruction!
(2. This is the plight of sin unchecked and unchallenged.
e. The fifth seal is a bright moment in the midst of darkness, and is covered in my next subpoint … see B: "SAVED"
f. The sixth seal has impact on all of creation … sin's effects are far-reaching! The universe will be decimated by sin and the resulting judgment on it, it will shake the starry heavens and the Earth below.
g. As a note: The seventh seal is found later in another chapter, so I won't deal with it here.
5. What a picture!
a. It all seems so horrible, why is a loving God revealing such horrible things? Why this terrible description of the future?
b. God is trying to use an "early warning" system here, showing us the ugly picture of judgment tomorrow and hoping we take heed TODAY!
ILLUS:Many electronic fire alarms have an internal switch triggered by a beam of light. As long as light is received unbroken by the photo-sensitive receiver, the detector is quiet. But if smoke or moisture or an insect obstructs the beam for even a split second, the alarm sounds. Our conscience resembles such an alarm. When sin obstructs our connection with the light of God's Spirit, the conscience signals us that there's life-threatening danger. -- A.D. Sterner, Akron, Colorado. Leadership, Vol. 16, no. 4.
6. Such a horrible picture will hopefully make us rethink the desire to let sin rule in our lives, or in anyone's life … and to spur us to evangelism!
a. It is NOT illegitimate to use healthy fear to change bad behavior! Loving parents do this all the time to the children they love deeply!
b. Fear can produce healthy changes, that is why our bodies have "fear" responses built into them that protect us from harm, fear causes us to do things in response to the threat of harm.
B. Saved 6:9-11
1. In the middle of these 6 seals there is a positive one, one that shows people did respond to salvation, even at the cost of their physical lives.
a. In this fifth seal we find souls under the altar in heaven, people who gave their lives in order to serve Christ during this tribulation period.
b. They are crying out wondering how much longer will they have to wait, and Christ tells them only a little while longer, until all those who will belong are joined with them.
c. This is a reference to others who will yet come to Christ during this horrible time, God is in control, in the midst of evil His light shines!
2. The only question in the midst of these seals is whether you live for Christ or for AntiChrist!
ILLUS:In the day when all men will stand before God, the significant question for each of us will no longer be what we think of Christ, but what he thinks of us. -- Elva J. Hoover - Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 4718.
3. Even in the midst of full judgment on sin God's grace is still at work, that is the powerful love of God being shown here.
4. There is a way out, His name is Jesus!
II. PAIN OF SIN 6:15-17
A. Separation 6:15
1. Now we confront the terrible pricetag of sin, the separation that it produces between man and God.
a. Notice that everyone who is a sinner from kings to commoner try hiding in caves and among the rocks of the mountains to escape God, to hide from Him.
b. Rather than worship the Lord and escape all this they choose to escape God and worship the enemy!
2. This is the tragic picture of unrepentant sin, separation from God!
3. Fear did not drive them to God, instead they run away from God!
a. If we harden our hearts against God then neither good nor bad things will drive us toward Him.
b. We can create such a hard heart that we only get worse whenever God attempts to warn us … sinful impulses rule our behavior and make matters worse rather than better!
ILLUS:Jim Taylor in Currents tells the following story about his friend, Ralph Milton:
One morning Ralph woke up at five o'clock to a noise that sounded like someone repairing boilers on his roof. Still in his pajamas, he went into the back yard to investigate. He found a woodpecker on the TV antenna, "pounding its little brains out on the metal pole." Angry at the little creature who ruined his sleep, Ralph picked up a rock and threw it. The rock sailed over the house, and he heard a distant crash as it hit the car. In utter disgust, Ralph took a vicious kick at a clod of dirt, only to remember--too late--that he was still in his bare feet. Uncontrolled anger, as Ralph learned, can sometimes be its own reward. -- Brian Weatherdon, New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. Leadership, Vol. 8, no. 1.
4. God is revealing this tragic future to help us steer clear of it, it is NOT JUST about tomorrow, it is very much about today!
ILLUS:In the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew's devastation, as my grandson, Stephan-Nelson, was working night and day helping the survivors to get water and food, he noticed a sign on the roof of one house which read: "Okay, God. You've got our attention. Now what?" I see storms of apocalyptic proportions on the horizon. God is beginning to get our attention. Now what? -- Billy Graham in Storm Warning. Christianity Today, Vol. 37, no. 5.
5. This is God's point in revealing all this, to get our attention and make us say "NOW WHAT?"
a. And the answer to this is always the same: "repent and be saved"
b. These warnings are a loving God trying to say to us, "I love you, you can avoid all this pain, there is a better way."
6. It is a horrible picture of stubborn sinful man that causes him to flee from God's presence, and to choose to hide among the caves rather than come to the resurrection cave of Jesus Christ.
B. Sentence! 6:16-17
1. Though we try to avoid angering people today about the reality of damnation, it does exist!
a. The final picture in this chapter shows wicked man calling for the rocks to fall on them, to crush them so they don't have to face God!
b. This is the sentence of the lost … they will not be able to stand against God's righteous judgments, only those who have their sins forgiven.
2. Why do preachers fail to preach this side of God's nature?
a. For fear of rejection by man.
b. It isn't politically correct to speak about God's judgment anymore.
c. It makes people uncomfortable, they might not like you!
d. People like "love" more.
3. Why should we preach this side of God's nature?
a. Because it IS a part of the Gospel!
b. Because people will be lost who don't hear it and turn from sin.
c. Because God will judge the wicked.
d. Because the wicked will face condemnation and everlasting punishment, this is the sentence of sin!
4. The other reason we study this chapter and look at these horrible events is so we think about how we live in the present!
a. How we live today can dramatically impact our tomorrows!
ILLUS:Is it not foolish to be living in this world without a thought of what you will do at the end of it? A man goes into an inn, and as soon as he sits down he begins to order his wine, his dinner, his bed; there is no delicacy in season that he forgets to order. He stays at the inn for some time. By and by, the bill comes due, and it takes him by surprise. "I never thought of that--I never thought of that!"
"Why," says the landlord, "here is a man who is either a born fool or else a knave. What! Never thought of reckoning--never thought of settling with me!"
After this fashion too many live. They eat, and drink, and sin, but they forget the inevitable hereafter, when for all the deeds done in the body, the Lord will bring us into judgment. -- Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Quotable Spurgeon, (Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, Inc, 1990)
b. We would be foolish to ignore this side of the Gospel message.
c. Jesus warned of judgement to come, so should we!
d. It is not just scare tactics, but about turning from sin and toward God!
5. Christ is calling today … are you considering the pricetag of what you are doing today, what price will you pay for how you live now?
a. Today is the day of grace, all this horrible judgment can be avoided, Christ took our judgment on the cross of Calvary.
b. If you accept Christ today there remains no more judgment against us, we are then found in Christ, and in Heaven rejoicing with all the other angels and elders and saints!
c. Why choose the painful side of the future when you can have the best, both now and then!
d. While God's wrath awaits all those who reject Him, Heaven awaits all those who turn toward Him.
CONCLUSION: Christ's work on Calvary has "good news - bad news" elements. Good News: The pricetag for sinners has been made, there is salvation for those who accept the sacrifice. Bad News: For those who reject Christ's sacrifice there is only certain judgment awaiting, with permanent separation from God resulting. Why the dreadful vision here of calamities? So we can avoid experiencing them, there still is time -- NOW! Turn to Him now to find a brighter tomorrow!