Sermon #1454                                        Miscellaneous Sermons


     Title:            "In The Spirit On The Lord's Day"

     Text:            Revelation 1:9-11

     Subject:       John's Description of Himself on Patmos

     Date:            Sunday Morning -- February 11, 2000

     Tape #         W-25b

     Reading:      Revelation 1:1-20



     Some years ago, a group of men met at a local high school every Saturday night to play basketball. While they played, the school janitor usually sat off in a corner reading his Bible, trying to prepare for the worship of God the next day. Normally, he read until they were done. Then he would lock up and go home. One night, one of the men asked, "What are you reading?" The old man replied, "The Book of Revelation." The younger man asked, with a bit of a snicker, "Do you understand it?" The old man said, "I sure do. -- It says, 'Jesus is gonna win.'"


     That is just about as good an explanation of the Book of Revelation as I ever read, or heard. When you read this Book, try to remember that the message of this Book is just that. -- The Lord Jesus Christ is going to win!


     That message is delightful and comforting to us today; but it was especially so in that horrible day of persecution in which the apostle John was inspired of God the Holy Spirit to write these twenty-two chapters, describing sure the triumph of Christ over all things.


     The Book of Revelation was written about 95 or 95 AD. By that time the church of God was the object of severe persecution throughout the Roman world. The fact is, the seed of the serpent has always hated the seed of the woman and sought to destroy it. As Cain slew Abel, as Ishmael persecuted Isaac, so the world has always set itself in opposition to Christ and his church. That is the way it was in our Lord's day. That is the way it was in John's day. And that is the way it is today.


     The world is not opposed to religion. The world loves religion. But the world is opposed to Christ and to the gospel of his grace. The offense of the cross has not diminished. God providentially restrains the world from exercising the violent persecutions of days gone by; but we must never imagine that the persecutor's heart has changed. It has not.


     Still, by the time the first century was drawing to its close, persecution against the church and kingdom of God was rampant and severe. Believers were looked upon with utter contempt and accused of the most vile things imaginable.


·        Politically, the Romans viewed the followers of Christ as being disloyal to Rome because they refused to acknowledge Caesar as the supreme authority.

·        Religiously, believers were despised as atheists and divisive sectarians, because they refused to acknowledge the gods of their pagan neighbors.

·        Socially, God's elect were despised by the Roman elite. -- The declaration of Holy Scripture that all believers are one in Christ (Gal. 3:28; Col. 3:11) destroys racial prejudice. -- The assertion that all are sinners and must come to God and find acceptance with him upon the grounds of grace alone, through the merits of Christ's blood and righteousness alone, destroys man's proud sense of self worth and self-righteousness. -- And the fact that God's elect are usually common people (1 Cor. 1:26-31), makes social distinction meaningless.

·        Economically, God's people were considered a threat to everyone. The priests, craftsmen, and idol makers, those who made their living in religious tom-foolery, looked upon the message of Christ as a threat. -- You will recall that this fear was used to stir up a riot in Ephesus (Acts 19). -- In fact, things got so bad in that superstitious age of religious ignorance that almost all natural disasters were looked upon by the brilliant, highly educated Romans as retaliations from their pagan gods Christianity.


Tertullian, who was a truly brilliant scholar and theologian of the third century described this notion (still common in his day) very sarcastically, writing on one occasion, "If the Tiber reaches the walls, if the Nile does not rise to the fields, if the sky does not move, or if the earth does, if there is famine, if there is plague, the immediate cry is, 'Christians to the lion!'"


These were the everyday experiences of God's saints in this hostile world at the end of the first century. It is against this backdrop that John wrote the Book of Revelation, asserting, without the least hesitancy, the sure triumph of Christ and his church.


Open your Bible to Revelation 1:9-11. The apostle John told us in verse 7 that the Lord Jesus is coming back to this earth. He is about to give us a marvelously detailed description of what the Lord Jesus Christ is now like in his exaltation and glory as the risen and ascended Lord and King. But, first, he introduces himself in verse 9, tells us what (in verse 10) frame he was in when he received "the Revelation of Jesus Christ," and then declares the message the Lord gave him in verse 11.


[Revelation 1:9-11]  "I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. [10] I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, [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."


Proposition: He who is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the Ending of all things shall be triumphant over all things and in all things.


Divisions: Let's look at these three verses and see what the Holy Spirit here reveals about these three things:

1.     The Lord's Servant.

2.     The Lord's Day.

3.     The Lord's Message.


I.       The Lord's Servant (v. 9)


[Revelation 1:9]  "I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ."


     John who was the only surviving apostle, and he one of the inner circle of the apostles, now almost one hundred years old, describes himself as one who is our brother, our companion, and an exile for the gospel's sake. Truly, this man is held before us here by the Holy Spirit as an exemplary servant of our Lord.


A.   First,. John describes himself as our brother.


     So averse are God's servants to taking titles, seeking recognition, or promoting their own honor, that they genuinely count it an honor to be counted among God's elect as one of the brethren. God's servants are not men who are impressed with themselves. They are men who are impressed with God! First and foremost, those who are God's servants, those men who are sent forth to preach the gospel of Christ, are brethren in Christ. Brethren care for one another. Brethren have common interests. Brethren look out for each other. If we are Christ's we are brethren.


1.     We belong to that family named after Christ (Eph. 3:15).

2.     We are members of the household of God and of the household of faith.

3.     We have been adopted by the same Father.

4.     We have the same Elder Brother.

5.     We are all born of the same Spirit.


My brethren, let us ever live together in this world as brethren! As John himself put it, "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God" (1 John 4:7).


[Ephesians 4:1-7]  "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, [2] With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; [3] Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. [4] There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; [5] One Lord, one faith, one baptism, [6] One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. [7] But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ."


[Ephesians 4:32]  "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."


[Ephesians 5:1-2]  "Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; [2] And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour."


B.    Second, John describes himself as our companion.


     Brethren are companions, companions in joy and in sorrow, in laughter and in weeping, "in tribulation, and in the kingdom, and in the patience of Jesus Christ."


1.     We are companions in tribulation.


We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God; and those who know what tribulation is find great comfort in having a companion in tribulation.


[John 16:33]  "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."


[Romans 5:1-5]  "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: [2] By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. [3] And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; [4] And patience, experience; and experience, hope: [5] And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us."


[2 Corinthians 1:2-5]  "Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. [3] Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; [4] Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. [5] For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ."


2.     We who believe are also companions in the kingdom of Christ.


     You will notice that the Kingdom of Christ is not here spoken of as something future, but as something present. The kingdom of Christ and the church of Christ are the same thing. We are born into this kingdom, when we are born again by the grace and power of God, "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son."


·        Christ is our King. -- He has set his throne in our hearts.

·        His Word is our Law. -- Our only Rule of Faith and Practice.

·        His will is our Rule.


     That kingdom of which we are made citizens is the sphere of God's grace. It is the community of the redeemed over which Christ reigns as King.


3.     All true believers are also companions in the patience, or perseverance of faith.


     The word here translated "patience" would be better translated "perseverance." It means ""to remain under." This was precisely the point John was making. We must patiently persevere in Christ and in faith, especially amidst the onslaught of persecution and tribulation heaped upon us by a world set against us. We must remain faithful under the pressure of great opposition (Matt. 10:16-22).


[Matthew 10:16-22]  "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. [17] But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; [18] And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. [19] But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. [20] For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. [21] And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. [22] And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved."


C.   Third, John describes the circumstances and conditions surrounding him.


     John could have said much about his banishment for the gospel's sake. I am sure I would have said much, much more than he did. But John, writing by inspiration of God the Holy Spirit, was not seeking the pity or the applause of his brethren. He sought to encourage them. Therefore, he writes about his circumstances in the lightest terms imaginable.


[Revelation 1:9]  "I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ."


He was not on some exotic island on vacation. John was doing hard time at a Roman exile post, when he was more than 90 years old! Patmos is a tiny rock pile of an island off the coast of Greece. It served as an ancient Alcatraz. Surrounded by water, Patmos is a barren, desolate place of exile, a penal colony from which there was no escape. It is narrow, only four miles wide by eight miles long. It was covered with volcanic rocks and very little vegetation. Going there was like being shipped to Siberia. Most who were exiled to Patmos were never heard from again.


John does not tell us how he came to Patmos; but it is certain that he was sent there as a criminal to be punished. Ignatius said he banished to Patmos by Dominitian, the Roman emperor. This is confirmed by both Irenaeus and Tertullian.


John was sent to Patmos by Domitian, who came to power after Nero died. You will remember Nero as that nice guy Caesar who used to dip God's saints in pitch and then set them on fire to light up his Roman gardens. After Nero died, there was a brief lull in persecution; but when Domitian became emperor, he launched an unprecedented, all-out, empire-wide attack against all Christianity.


He enforced emperor worship rigidly, insisting that all men acknowledge him as god. He did not insist that men acknowledge him as the only god, but as one god among many. Many were slaughtered by the little tyrant. John was banished to Patmos because of his faithfulness to "the Word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ."


That was his crime. For this he was sentenced to hard labor on Patmos, busting rocks under the watchful eye and ready whip of a Roman guard. John had been the faithful pastor of the church at Ephesus for a long, long time. He was a meek, unassuming, quiet man. But, when confronted by the emperor's thugs, he would not deny his Lord. His perseverance in the faith was unwavering. So here he is, an old man, doing hard time, separated from all other believers, and forgotten by everyone but God.


Yet, all he says about it is that he was "in the isle that is called Patmos." He speaks of it almost incidentally, as though it were no big deal, because in the overall scheme of things, he really was no big deal. Do not misunderstand me. John is to be highly esteemed. He was faithful under great pressure. But Christ was still on his throne. That is what John is teaching us here. The cause of Christ was not hindered. He is urging us to follow his example of patient perseverance "for the Word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ."


1.     John was banished to Patmos "for (or because of) the Word of God."


     He was not banished because he said the Bible is the Word of God. The Bible had not yet been compiled. It had not all been written. He was banished because of his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the eternal, living Word of God.

·        For Asserting that Christ is the Eternal God.

·        For Declaring that Christ is the Revelation of God.

·        For Preaching that Christ Alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.


2.     This faithful old man was banished to Patmos "for (because of) the testimony of Jesus Christ."


     He was imprisoned for preaching the gospel, for his faithful, unequivocal, uncompromising proclamation of God's free and sovereign grace in Christ, the sinners' Substitute.


[Revelation 1:2]  "Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw."


[1 John 1:1-3]  "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; [2] (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) [3] That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ."


·        Eternal Sonship!

·        Effectual Substitution!

·        Exalted Supremacy -- Sovereignty!

·        Everlasting Salvation!


II.    The Lord's Day (v. 10)


     John declares in verse 10 -- "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet." Obviously, I cannot here say a great deal about any of these things, but there are three things in this verse which must not be overlooked: (1.) John was in the Spirit. (2.) It was on the Lord's day. And (3.) he heard a voice. What do these things mean?


A.   John asserts, "I was in the Spirit."


     I am certain that he is here describing an experience beyond the bounds of normal human experience and understanding. He is describing a condition in which he was utterly under the control of God the Holy Spirit, in a state in which he was given supernatural revelation by God. This was not a worked up state of religious, or spiritual frenzy. John was seized by God and caught up in the Spirit.


·        This is what Ezekiel experienced (Ezek. 2:2; 3:12-14).

·        This is what Peter experienced (Acts 10).

·        This is what Paul experienced (2 Cor. 12).


     Yet, there is a sense in which John's experience here was not unusual at all, at least not for God's people. You see, believers are men and women who live and walk in the Spirit. Living under the dominion of Christ our King in the Kingdom of God, we no longer live after the flesh to fulfill its lusts. We live in the Spirit. We live in the realm of the Spirit, under the control of the Spirit, walking by faith in Christ, consecrated to Christ, worshipping and serving Christ (Rom. 8:1-9).


[Romans 8:1-9]  "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. [2] For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. [3] For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: [4] That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. [5] For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. [6] For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. [7] Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. [8] So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. [9] But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his."


B.    John declares that he was in the Spirit "on the Lord's day."


     This is a very unusual expression, so unusual that this is the only place in the New Testament where it is used. Yet, John uses it as though it were a common expression. The fact is, it was a common expression. There is nothing mysterious about iit. There is no hidden prophetic meaning to it. And certainly, he did not mean to say, "I was in the Spirit on the sabbath day."


     "The Lord's day," is Sunday. The early believers commonly called it the Lord's day, and set aside that day as the specific day in which they would gather for worship (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:1). There was nothing legal about it. It had no connection with sabbath keeping. This simply became the customary way in which believers referred to Sunday, because this was the day in which our Lord Jesus arose from the dead and upon which he appeared to his disciples after the resurrection ((Mark 16:9; John 20:19, 26).


     Though John was banished from the house of God and the people of God, he was not banished from God, or from his worship. When the sun arose on Sunday morning and he was compelled to go out to his pile of rocks with his sledge hammer, this faithful old man was in the Spirit, worshipping God, gathered with the general assembly and church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven (Heb. 12:18-24). If we worship God at all, this is how we worship him.


[Hebrews 12:18-24]  "For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, [19] And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: [20] (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: [21] And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:) [22] But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, [23] To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, [24] And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel."


C.   On this particular Lord's day, John heard a voice behind him, "a great voice as of a trumpet."


     It had been more than sixty years since he had heard that voice, but was a familiar to him as it was in his youth. It was the voice of his beloved which came leaping and skipping across the mountains to him! While he was in the Spirit, on the Lord's day, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God appeared to John and spoke to him. Oh, how I pray that he will do that for us as we gather here in his name!


·        Somebody, reach out and touch him.

·        Somebody, call upon him as he passes by!


Now, look at verse 11 and hear…


III. The Lord's Message.


     For now, let's focus upon just the first line of this eleventh verse. Here the Lord Jesus declares to John and to us, that all is well.


[Revelation 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."


     When the Lord Jesus Christ declares, "I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last," He is assuring us that…


A.   He is the eternal, self-existent God (Isa. 41:4; 44:6; 48:12).


B.    He is the fulness of all things.

·        The Purpose of God.

·        The Revelation of God.

·        The Grace of God. -- God's Salvation!


C.   He is pre-eminent, the exalted Lord and King of the universe, in total control of all things.


     But why did the Lord Jesus tell John to send his message to the churches? Why not send it to the Roman Empire? Why not send it to Domitian, the emperor? What good does it do to communicate this message a bunch of churches? The answer should be obvious. God Almighty does his work in this world by his church. His purpose is to assure us that our labor is not in vain in the Lord. The gospel will prevail. The gates of hell will fall before us. The Lion of the tribe of Judah has prevailed, is prevailing, and shall prevail! The old janitor was right on the money. -- :Jesus is gonna win!"