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No Greater Love (Reading Revelation- 3)

Shawn Boonstra

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Today Shawn continues his series on reading through the book of Revelation. So grab your Bible and follow along as he shows us how God's love is the greatest of all.

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Shawn Boonstra

Speaker/Director for the Voice of Prophecy media ministry.

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  • February 7, 2015
    11:00 AM
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Today on The Voice of prophecy greater love than anything you'll ever see on the Hallmark Channel. Welcome to the voice of prophecy. Coming to you from the beautiful city of Loveland Colorado nestled up against the Rocky Mountains. I'm your host Shawn Boone struck and today I'm going to be continuing with a project that's just a few weeks old. I'm actually reading my way through the Book of Revelation and I'm taking enough time to really digest what the author is saying. So I'm kind of going at a snail's pace we're moving very slowly because there's so much depth to the Book of Revelation that you really need to slow down and pay attention to details because this is one of those books of the Bible where the details are absolutely critical. Now I don't think we're going to study Revelation every single week because there's so much more to the Bible and there's so much more happening in the world that I really want to pay attention to. But from time to time I'll keep coming back to the Book of Revelation and what I'm hoping is that over time I will cover all or at least most of what the Book of Revelation says we are after all the voice of prophecy and by the time I'm finished I want you to be able to download all the podcasts and kind of have this blow by blow detailed study of the whole book. Now that's my goal and it's kind of a lofty goal and I'm not sure how long it's going to take but this is what I'm going to work on today. So you might want to go and grab a Bible and follow along I want you to look at the texts as we read them because studying the book of Revelation is kind of like having God pull back the curtains of the universe and show you these things that well they defy the imagination. And here's what I want to. Promise you this is a book that you can actually understand what once you put aside all the sensationalistic books and movies and you go back and look at the original first century context and once you take revelation and place it in the broader Biblical context this book is actually fairly easy to grasp. Of course there's so much depth to it that you might be studying this the rest of your life. But the essential concepts the basic stuff it's actually pretty easy to understand. Now do I understand everything in the Book of Revelation. No absolutely not but I do understand the big broad themes and I want to give you a chance to understand them as well. This book is understandable. It's just that over the last two hundred years or so the Christian world has kind of abandoned its historic understanding of how we ought to study this for eighteen hundred years. There was widespread agreement almost universal agreement on the basic approach to Revelation but since the early one thousand nine hundred we've really seen this tectonic shift that frankly has produced an awful lot of confusion. So what we're going to do with this study is go back to the basics. We're going to go back to the way people used to read this book and I think you're going to see that this approach still makes sense even in the twenty first century. In fact it might actually make more sense because some of the stuff described in this book especially the middle part chapters twelve thirteen and fourteen that stuff's actually playing out right now but we'll get to all of that in time. Now if you're just coming in on the study for the first time today you might want to go to our website V.O.P. dot com or go to i Tunes and look for the voice of prophecy and grab the first few studies so you can catch up and then you won't have missed a thing. Now today we're partway through chapter one in fact we're halfway through a verse chapter one in verse five in our last study we looked at these three tie. All John gives Jesus in the first part of verse five he calls him the faithful witness the firstborn from the dead and ruler over the kings of the earth. And then we ran out of time last time and I left off right there in the middle of the verse. What we saw was this amazing salutation from the real author of Revelation to the seven churches. It was a greeting from God to believers and now John pauses to pay respect to God to give tribute to the author and underline how important this message really is. So I want to pick up now half way through Revelation one verse five. Here's what it says to him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood and has made us kings and priests to his God and Father to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever amen. Now that brings the salutation to a close. When you and I write a letter or at least in the old days when we used to write real letters we were far more succinct. I mean we used to say Dear My Gore dear mom or your grandma. And that was it. You started in on the letter but this message is far too important for a quick greeting. The content of this letter is really directed at all believers of all time and the content is so important so critical that John goes out of his way to make sure we all understand exactly who wrote this book the author is the one who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood. Now if you have a Bible with marginal notes say you have a study bible. You might notice that the people who translated this particular verse into English have suggested that the word beloved might not be the only or even the best translation. To put it in the present tense it might be more accurate to speak of Jesus as the one who. Most of us are not who loved us. Now of course they probably translated this in the past tense because it's talking about across that specific moment when Jesus actually shed his blood to save the human race. But the reality is that Christ's love for you did not stop that day. And what Jesus does for you is much bigger than a single moment in time even though Jesus has already paid the entire cost of your salvation. Even though his gift on the cross covers your sins in full and there's nothing you can do to help pay for the debt the cross is really only part of the picture. Now naturally it's a huge part of the picture. If it wasn't for the cross you would not be on your way to the kingdom. But that is not everything that Jesus does. It's not as if he rose from the dead went back to heaven and now he's taking a well earned vacation. Jesus is still working for you. He's still doing something to make sure you make it into his kingdom. And what exactly is that. What is Jesus doing now. Well you want to keep your finger here in Revelation Chapter one because we will come back. But for a moment go back to Hebrews Chapter nine where the Bible explains exactly what Jesus has been doing for the last two thousand years. Listen to this now in Hebrews nine verse twenty four. It says for Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands. That's a reference to the earthly temple which no longer exists. Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands which are copies of the true. In other words the earthly temple in Jerusalem was actually a copy of something else something bigger something better. Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands which are copies of the True but into heaven itself now to appear in the presence of God for us. Now that statement right there might just be one of the biggest keys to under. Stand in the Book of Revelation what it's telling us is that the earthly temple the earthly sanctuary was actually pointing forward to the work of Christ in our behalf. The temple was an object lesson a teaching tool designed to show the plan of salvation well in advance of the day that Jesus would actually come and walk the face of this earth. The little lamps that the Israelites sacrificed they all pointed forward to the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world and the priests who carried the blood of sacrificial animals into the temple also pointed forward to Jesus who is now serving as our Great High Priest in front of the throne of the Father. So Jesus is the Lamb. He's the sacrificial victim and he's the priest who offers the sacrifice. Now I'm up against a break that I'm going to have to take so I'm going to let you mull that thought over for a moment. Jesus is the lamb the sacrificial victim and he's the priest who offers the sacrifice. I want you to think about that and then I'll come back to unpack it just a little bit more so don't go away. We're about to look at one of the biggest keys to understanding the Book of Revelation. Hello I'm James. Do you feel as if you have more questions than answers in your life. Are you searching for answers to some of life's biggest questions. Well the Discover. If I have a guide can help you find the answers you are looking for is a death Bible studies dot com or call us at eight eight eight four five six seven nine three three free or free. Discover Bible guy that Bible study stuck on and begin your journey to day to discover answers to life's deepest questions and welcome back. You are listening to the voice of prophecy. My name is Sean Boudreau and today we are reading our way through the Book of Revelation. Now just before we took a break I was looking at Jesus as both the sacrificial victim for Syria we were looking at the way. If it sacrificial lambs in the Old Testament were pointing forward to Jesus and we were looking at Jesus as the priest who actually offers the sacrifice. In other words nobody took Jesus' life from him. He willingly gave it he willingly died to save you. Now that doesn't exactly indemnify us you and I are still guilty of murdering God's son. But the Bible teaches that nobody forced Jesus into the situation. The Book of Revelation actually calls Jesus the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world which means that God decided on a plan to save us even before He created us. If we were to sin in that was a really big gift because we didn't have to do it if we sin there was a plan to save us. Nobody took the life of Jesus. This was something he decided to give us himself. That's why Jesus as in John Chapter ten in verse seventeen. No one takes my life for me but I lay it down of myself. In John Chapter fifteen Jesus says Greater love has no one than this than to lay down one's life for his friends. Jesus didn't have his life taken from him. Jesus gave it the cross of Christ is the ultimate act of love. There's just no way that God somehow owes us salvation. I mean the when we walked out of Eden when we turned our backs on God we made a well informed decision. We were told that sin would lead to death. We might have doubted the consequences we might have doubted what God said But God was perfectly clear. So did God allow us the cross. Absolutely not. But did God want to do it. Did God want to save us. Well the answer is yes. The Bible says For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son. It was an act of love an act of compassion and. Act of God a God who doesn't think his universe would ever be complete if you were missing. But in Revelation if the translators notes are accurate the love of Christ didn't stop at the cross that's not all he did as all important as the death and resurrection of Jesus are to yourselves ation this is not all that God does for you. The book of Hebrews says that after Jesus returned to heaven he became the great high priest in heaven sanctuary. It turns out the earthly temple was just a shadow of something in heaven. And this is a point that the book of Hebrews makes again and again and again it makes it abundantly clear if you just read the whole thing particularly chapters eight and nine. Ever since the cross Jesus has been appearing in the presence of God for you. Because even though the price has been paid at the cross you still have the ability to choose. God doesn't force people into the kingdom of heaven. God believes in free moral agency. He believes in freedom of conscience. He doesn't want people to just to live in His Kingdom because they have no other choice. He wants you to be there just the way you want your spouse to be with you because he or she wants to be there. Now because they have no other choice. So you want to have to want the gift of Christ. We have to confess our sins we have to ask God to forgive us. And after that we've got to turn the keys over to God and let him start reshaping our personal agenda. You have to let God drive because salvation is not just a legal transaction. Salvation is a long term relationship and a complete process of restoration. Day by day God continues to work on your heart. Day by day he chooses away the rough edges of your character. He helps you become more and more like Jesus. He teaches you to love the things you used to hate and hate the things you used to love. And he holds us. And preserves us and cares for us until the day that Jesus comes back to get us. And that's why the present tense is so appropriate in Revelation one verse five. This is not just a tribute to the one who loved us in the past. It's a tribute to the one who continues to love us. It's a tribute to the one who will never leave us or forsake us unto Him who loved us or loves us and washed us from our sins in His own blood. Now right there in the last half of that statement you find the most profound concept in the Bible and this is something so big that you could spend the rest of your life studying this and never get to the end of it. In fact believers and Bible scholars have been studying this concept of salvation through the blood of Christ for two thousand years and they've never run out of stuff to examine. It's a little bit like the whole universe. The more you study through a telescope or a microscope the more you see the bigger it gets the more profound it becomes. It is so big in fact the idea of Jesus saving us at the cross is so big that I'm convinced that you and I will continue to study that subject well past the day that we actually arrive in the kingdom and the question is this What exactly did Jesus accomplish at the cross. The simple answer is one that children know they've learned it for generations Jesus paid for my sins and it's true he did. But how did Jesus pay for my sins. Why does the cross solve my problem. Why did Jesus have to go that route. Now I'm not going to pretend that I can answer that question with the time that I've got left but I do want to say this. I've heard about a dozen different theories about what actually happened at the cross. Some Bible scholars will say that Jesus took care of our legal problem. When I are sinners who cannot have access to the kingdom of God and we are living under the legal consequences of sin and that's a death sentence. So the cross of Christ is a legal solution. It solves the problem of how God can lead us back without violating the just penalty for what we've done. But another Bible scholar will tell you that the cross is an outlet for God's anger wrath over sin and then another Bible scholar will tell you that the cross is just a display of God's Love that if you look at the cross carefully you begin to understand the true selfless nature of God's character in the sheer magnitude of this love and that begins to change who you are. And then there are other Bible scholars with even more opinions. But what's interesting about all of these different options all of these different concepts is the way that some people seem to insist that only one of them can be true. Either Jesus paid for your sins or he displayed his loving character. They say either Jesus is your legal penal substitute or he's an example of love a pattern of love that you should follow. But honestly as I read through the Bible I think we're making a huge mistake when we try to boil the cross down to a single idea. When we try and pigeonhole it into one human theory what Jesus accomplished at the cross is so big so profound that it really encompasses a lot of different things. Jesus did pay your penalty the Bible's clear and he showed us what real love looks like that is also clear. Jesus did offer himself as your substitute and his life is an example for you to follow. You just can't treat the cross like it's an exercise in taxonomy because it just doesn't fit into a single exclusive category that we invent when different Bible scholars see different aspects to the cross of Christ. Almost all of them are getting their material from the Bible they can back up what they're saying with Scripture. And I say almost all of them because there are a few wack a doodle ideas out there that just don't fit what Scripture teaches at all and those are the dangerous ideas because those are the ones that have the potential to confuse people and actually keep them from understanding how salvation works. But but for the most part aside from the Crackerjacks aside from the weirdos you should be very careful when people start to say that the cross of Christ is only this and not that because the cross is too big for one category so to suggest that Jesus displayed his love on the cross but he didn't die is your substitute. That's dangerous thinking because somebody is going to say Oh well God is really loving so I don't have to do anything he'll just handle this for me. And then they never repent of their sins they just keep on living like nothing is wrong and they never understand that Jesus took their penalty for them. Now on the other side of the coin if you do understand that Jesus is your substitute that his blood covers your sins but you don't come to grips with the fact that he expects you to emulate his loving self sacrificial character that he wants you to imitate him. Well then you might never grow in your faith. You fail to understand that Jesus is still working in your behalf. In heaven sanctuary. So it's really important that we don't try to force the cross into these tidy little theological pigeon holes that are much smaller than the truth. Now for our study today. If there's one thing that John makes abundantly clear it's that the blood of Christ washes us from our sins. He makes it clear that without the sacrificial death of Christ you and I have no hope there was no other way. Jesus had to die because God makes it perfectly clear in Hebrews nine that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. Now I know that in the twenty first century Western world that's an uncomfortable concept. You and I don't want to believe that the consequences of sin are that severe. You and I are used to have. In a court appointed psychiatrist explained why someone has no choice but to commit a heinous crime. You when I try to explain wicked behavior to the point where it's practically justified but is that the case. Well I'm up against another break but hang in there and wait for me because this concept is just too important to miss. I'll be right back. Hello I'm Chamberlain do you feel it if you have more questions than answers in your life. Are you searching for answers to some of life's biggest questions. Well the Discover Bible guides can help you find the answers you are looking for is a death at Bible study dot com or call us at eight hundred eight four five six seven nine three three for your free discover Bible God Bible Study dot com and begin your journey today to discover answers to life's deepest questions and we are back and just before the break I was saying that you and I have this tendency to downplay the consequences of sin by trying to find reasons we have no choice. Honestly though you can't really explains We can't really find a good reason that you had to do something contrary to the will of God because if you can explain and you've justified it and there is no justification one Christian writer back in the nineteenth century put it like this she wrote Sin is an intruder for whose presence no reason can be given. It is mysterious unaccountable to excuse it is to defend. Good excuse for it to be found or cause to be shown for its existence. It would cease to be said. Unquote. I think that's absolutely accurate. The fact is there is no good reason to sin against God You can't excuse and it's become such a part of who we are that we actually fail to realize just how serious our sins are. What a threat our sins are to God's once perfect universe. When God says the wages of sin is death when he. Says it's that serious. You and I should probably listen. And I know it hurts our pride to think that the only way God can take us back is for someone to pay the price for my sin and I know that we have this tendency to take that information and twist it and start talking about God as if he's just like the bloodthirsty gods of pagan mythology the ones who demanded death to keep them appeased. But a careful study of the cross makes it really obvious that God is not some kind of cruel dictator who demands violence. It's a silly concept because God gave His only son. God suffered unimaginably to keep us from having to pay the price for our own rebellion so banish the thought that God is bloodthirsty or cruel. It's just not true and it doesn't match the biblical data. But at the same time be very careful not to downplay just how serious it is. There is a reason sin is in death because it poses far too much of a threat to the long term peace and happiness of God's entire universe. You can't live in opposition to the moral principles of God's universe and expect good results. You can't demand to run your own life and expect that God's universe has to bow to your whims. Now for right now God is allowing us to go our own way because he's still holding out hope that will come home. He's still hoping that you will be a part of his long term plan but never forget. Sin is a willful act on our part to separate ourselves from the source of all life. God didn't make this mess we did and we can expect to go on living if we don't want the source of life in our lives and a loving God isn't going to allow the incredible suffering we've created to go on forever. So the wages of sin is death. It is the only just conclusion for this whole mess. Now that's also a bigger concept than I have time for today. But for right now it's important to understand that the blood of Christ is your only hope. Our problem is too big to fix ourselves and our loving just God cannot just abandon his moral law because we think he should. His law is a reflection a picture of who he is and God's not going to change himself just because we think we know better that the truth is you and I have broken the moral law of God and the only just conclusion for that act. The only just conclusion for you and me beings who have tried to alter the moral fabric of the universe. The only just conclusion is to simply be put out of existence. There is a legal consequence to sin and honestly if God simply wiped us out the day we did it the day we rebelled he probably would have been perfectly justified. But the amazing thing is I mean the thing that is so beautiful so hard to grasp. The thing I'm convinced you'll be studying for all eternity is that God himself became one of us and he came to this world and he lived without sinning and then he went to the cross in my place in your place. You and I are so loved by God that he washed us with His blood. And again if you have a Bible Study Bible with marginal notes you'll see that that word washed could also be translated to say that Jesus set us free. We've been liberated by the cross. We were slaves to sin you and I were condemned by what we did. We've been doomed to eternal destruction and we have been slaves to the one who laid claim to this planet to the devil himself and we've been slaves to our own sinful tendencies and we've been slaves to the fear of death. Out of Jesus the Bible teaches sets us free. Now that's the all important context for the whole book of Revelation. If you don't read this whole book with the cross of Christ at the very center you're never going to understand it. Everything that comes after this passage is completely meaningless if you haven't accepted the gift of Christ. What you read in the rest of this chapter and all the way through to the end of Revelation is not going to make a lick of sense until you come to grips with the terms of your real relationship with God until you come to grips with how you are reconciled to God until you come to grips with the terms and conditions of salvation. You can't earn your salvation. You have to accept it as a gift. You can't pay your own way into the kingdom. There's no way you have the resources you have to accept that Jesus paid it for you and you have to let him wash you you have to give him the reins of your life and accept His sacrifice at Calvary. Without that the Book of Revelation. It's just facts. Without that the Book of Revelation is just a conversation piece. You may as well make another sensationalistic T.V. show about it because it's practically meaningless if you don't have the cross with the cross. This book is going to open up horizons you never dreamed possible. Now I'm out of time. We're going to have to pick it up again on another episode so thanks for listening today. I'm Sean Boone and this has been the voice of prophecy. Hello I'm Gene Burns. As we continue our study of Revelation it's like unfolding a story and finding out how all the pieces fit together to use a sacrificial death on the cross was the beginning of a new life for me and for you too. And that isn't the end of the story. Jesus is still our advocate working for each and every one of us and the rest of your story is still to be told if you have questions about the unfolding of your life story. I know where you can begin to find answers. The Discover Bible guides will help you find the answers that you are looking for. There's a death Bible studies dot com or give us a call at our toll free number eight eight eight four five six seven nine three three for your free discover Bible guides the twenty six discover guides cover a whole range of subjects including the ones we've been talking about today. If you'd like to know more about how to have a second chance at life a new start guide number six gives you a biblical Guide to do just that and if you have questions about the Holy Spirit and His role in your day to day life guide number eleven answers those questions to give us a call at eight eight eight four five six seven nine three three or visit us on line to begin your journey to discover answers to life's deepest questions. I am. You're so.

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