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How it all ends, God wants us to know. He, through the ministry of Christ, told us that after this manner, we’re supposed to be praying. Prayer is the only thing in the spiritual world we’re supposed to endlessly do. All the other things, you only eat meals at certain times so you just can’t read the Bible all the time and you share the Gospel as the Lord opens the doors. The one thing that is like breathing, it’s on the brain telling us just to do it all the time whether we’re thinking it or not, is to pray without ceasing. The component that’s fascinating in that prayer is to constantly be asking for God’s kingdom to come. We can even pray that with the Ukraine. Did you know, God is orchestrating what’s going on with Russia and the Ukraine and everything else, the mess, to bring His kingdom. We’re praying that.

Then, Jesus explains to us what’s coming. That it’s going to be a bunch of normal things that are going to go from being normal, to being abnormally arresting the attention of the world, those birth pangs. Then, it’s illustrated in the book of Revelation. We’ve come to our last one, God’s kingdom that we’re praying for to come, we’re supposed to be living in it, that God is reigning in our lives today. We’re supposed to be the people in the world that aren’t falling apart. If you find someone whose Bible is falling apart, most likely they’re not because they are tuned into what God’s doing. God wants us tuned into what He’s doing so that our lives are anchored by His word.

What we saw is, the whole book of Revelation builds this out. God wants to see Jesus clearly each day as our Creator, why? Because we’re going through the most difficult time in history. As we get closer and closer to the final time, Satan’s power it’s almost like the Lord’s plan is to pull back the control rods, that’s part of what the Rapture is. We had an atomic plant engineer here. I remember talking to him, I don’t know where he’s sitting but he worked in atomic power around Chicago. When you pull those graphite rods or whatever they’re made of these days out, the neutrons or whatever, I’m not an atomic engineer, but when you pull it out it really starts acting up. It starts producing more and more energy. God is going to pull out the control rods of the Church so that Satan dominates, everyone wants to worship him. It’s unbelievable. For us, seeing that coming, it can be a little unsettling. Our creator, who He reveals Himself with all these names and I Am’s and everything we’ve been talking about, wants us to feel comforted. God doesn’t think, just pull in all of your strength and go through this. No, I want to comfort you, I want to walk through it, I want to carry you, I want to help you. We started there.

Then we saw, God wants us to see Jesus with us all our days on Earth. It’s not just the, oh great He’s with me. He’s my Redeemer. He bought and paid for me. I am not my own anymore. I was bought at a price. Therefore, I have to glorify Him and He’s the coach. That means He can pull me out of the game, put me in the game. He can stand up and say stop that. We have to see Jesus as a lot more actively involved in the events of our life and especially the part we’re going to look at today will illustrate that.

Finally Revelation, the ending of it- 4 to 22 is, God wants to see Christ’s kingdom in the context of what the impact is on us. He is our Judge. He is the one that’s going to reward us for how we fulfill our part on the team that He has designed us to do, that He has empowered us to do. Remember, I talked about Burger King, about message one or two? About how they put the patties and they go across the flame on that little conveyor belt. At the other end, they make your Whopper the way you want it. The real thing, if you ever see Burger Kings flame cooking, think about your life going across there and whatever makes it through the fire (1 Corinthians 3:13-15) that burns away anything we did that was not done for the glory of God. Jesus already said, if you blow the trumpet when you give, you’ve lost the reward. That one burned up. He said that if you do it for anything other than His glory, it gets burned up. Everything we do in life only to be seen by God and done in the power of the Holy Spirit makes it through the fire. No sin is on there, remember it’s already gone and erased. There’s no record that we’ve sinned. That’s why we’re saints. Everything we do is either good for eternity or good for nothing, and it burns up. That’s what He wants us to think about, especially as we see the whole world burning up.

Where we ended last where we’re going to begin and finish. God has a wonderful plan to conquer parts of this world for His glory. Even a 19 year old, that’s going to go back into the fray. What’s really awful, I didn’t know when I read that, that it was a young lady. I was thinking of a young man. Our American news is so sanitized. They hardly tell what’s going on. If you read the London news, it says those Russian soldiers that have been hanging around now for 12 days are getting a little antsy. They’ve started going to village after village, driving their tank in, and rounding up a few ladies. They’re starting to do massive raping across Ukraine. It’s not anywhere you’d want your daughter staying behind. That’s even another way to think of the price people pay that are in this occupied country.

In a very similarly, grossly immoral place Christ planted the greatest church right there in the shadow of Satan’s temple, that temple of Diana. To have even a little church, there was really a miracle. It’d be like planting a church during Mardi Gras or the Carnival down in Brazil or in the worst part of Los Angeles. Maybe in Provincetown where the original gay community was in Massachusetts. Think of planting, not just the church, but the most powerful, greatest achieving church.

What we saw was, Jesus said I have something against you. You no longer give Me first place in your life. Your heart no longer belongs solely to Him. Their spiritual arteries were clogged with other things, and they were getting in danger of a spiritual heart attack. What does He say?

Chapter 2 in your Bible, I want to show you what He says to do instead of telling you about it. Let’s all look at it together. Chapter 2 and verse 5. “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I’ll come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place – unless you repent.” He whammos them two times saying repent, not just once, twice. Jesus maps the way back. That’s what’s so neat. Jesus doesn’t say you shouldn’t do that. Jesus is the coach. He’s not up there telling us that, He’s standing beside us saying there’s a way out of this. Repent, do again. Jesus always asks us to go back to the original settings because we all got saved the same way. The supernatural transformation regeneration. The seven parts when I teach soteriology. The seven parts of salvation, that we are redeemed and justified and sanctified and adopted and the entire work of salvation. Jesus says hey, just remember everything I’ve done. Repent. Have a change of mind that you no longer want to go your own way. You want to go back to My way and then just start doing the basics. There’s no mystery in the Christian life, we all know all of it. All or more than most people in the world. You have so many resources. You’ve had so much freedom to listen and go to church. We have so much. To much is given, what? Much will be required.

What do we do? Jesus already asked all of us to seek him first. That’s Matthew 6:33. Seek first His rule, His kingdom, His righteousness. Then we’re supposed to, Matthew 4:4. “Man shall not live by bread alone.” We don’t live but from meal to meal, we live by every word of God. Every word of God. I hope that all of you will consider beginning, for the rest of your life, a pursuit of getting to know personally every chapter in the Bible, there are only 1,189. You can do one every day. That means you can get done in less than four years. You can personally, have titled yourself, you can just consider yourself a Bible Institute scholar. You probably, all of you that are grads, have already had to do this. You ought to then dust it off and read it. Remind yourself of every word of God, that it says in Matthew 4:4, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word […] of God.” That’s what the Lord uses.

He uses every part of the Bible in different ways. When we study it, it gets put into this incredible computer He designed at the top of our bodies. He can spontaneously remind us of stuff we’ve previously learned. You go, I can’t believe I remembered that. It’s not that you’re going to remember every key passage, every login, and everything. It’s a spiritual gift for spiritual truth that the Lord brings at the appropriate moment so you can use it for Him. We’re supposed to, Colossians 3, set our affections on things above. What I wrote is, now, Jesus asks us to reset.

How many of you have ever seen one of those cable television dishes that people connect to their homes? Have you ever seen those? Dish antennas? If you travel internationally, every international apartment has one of those only they’re called Skynet or whatever. Have you ever seen those? You know what I mean, dish antennas. Watch, this is my dish. This is my parabolic dish. They look for these geosynchronous satellites that are at 22,000 miles out. There are three big ones or maybe they’re doing Elon Musk’s, those micro satellites that are up close. Wherever they are, they have computed in this location that’s the best place that you can get the signal. Usually someone comes and does all kinds of calculations. They put the post up and they crank that dish. They very carefully calibrate it and get it. They check the signal till it’s the strongest and it’s pointing this way.

Now watch, this is my dish antenna. If you’re driving down the road and you see a dish antenna like this, pointing up toward the sky, what can you figure? That someone is connected and they’re using that. If you’re driving by and you see the dish antenna like this (pointing down), what’s going on? A prankster, maybe knocked it down. Nothing. No signal is coming in. Why would it be pointed down? Maybe there was a storm. Maybe they didn’t tighten it enough. Instantly if you saw the dish antenna pointing at the ground, you would know it needs to be, look at this, reset. Reset your dish antenna to stay pointed at Him. The spiritual discipline or works we need to do again are always the same. Get back focused. Tighten it down. Open the lines. Start receiving the message. Start responding to it.

You know, what’s amazing? If you could put on spiritual glasses and see where people’s hearts are pointing. Many of them, let’s look at what it says. I’ll read it to you. Look at Colossians 3:1. It says, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.” Verse 2, “Set your mind on things above.” Point your dish antenna on things above. What does verse 2 say, “not on things.” You can tell immediately where someone’s dish is pointed. If their entire life is consumed with this world, protecting what they have in this world, getting more of this world, enjoying more, they’re just desperately trying to get it all in, this is where their dish is.

Do you know what the most confessed thing as a pastor of three decades that I experienced was people that said to me, I just don’t have time for the word, for that long prayer, I don’t have time for memorizing verses. I don’t have enough time for that. That instantly tells me where their antenna is pointed.

What the Lord says is, it’s always the same, point the right direction. Jesus asks us just like in any marriage or relationship, it’s all about time and focus and trust. You want to have a close relationship with someone? Spend time with them, focus on them, and come to the point where there is immense trust. Do we invest our prime time with Jesus? What is it that as soon as your coffee has kicked in, or you’ve washed your face, and your eyes are working, what’s the first thing you can’t wait to get to? That tells you where your antenna is pointed.

Jesus says, I want your prime time. I have a challenge. My wife is like a college student. She comes alive at about 9:30 PM at night. Me, I have already been shuffling around with a robe on at 8:30 PM. She’s just coming alive. When we traveled to these Bible Institutes, do you know which of the team members they love? It’s Bonnie. She’s in the dorms with the girls. They’re talking and she’s everywhere around. Me, if I have to do the evening dorm chapel I’m saying, guys I am going to finish this while I’m still awake, but I’m going to bed right after, so ask your questions quick. Bonnie comes alive at night. She’s best from 9:30 PM to 1 AM or 2 AM in the morning. Me? Gone at 8:30 PM and up at 5 AM /5:30 AM.

There are two kinds of people. Some people are like that. The springers and the feelers. Some people spring out of bed in the dark and they’re just going. Then there are those that go like this, and it takes them a couple hours to get really moving. That doesn’t mean we’re all supposed to read the Bible at 5:30 AM. Our prime, your primetime might be at night. It could be you study and you’re doing all of your chapter things you do just before you go to bed. That’s all you think about all night long. That’s great. Others, it’s the first thing. We got to get up in the dark and do it. It doesn’t matter. It’s our prime time that Jesus knows we’re focusing on Him.

Then we focus on Him, intently looking right at Him. If you’re talking to someone and they’re really listening to you, they’re looking right at you. They’re just trying to look at your face and your eyes and your mouth and they’re listening to the words. They don’t want to miss anything. You all know when you’re talking to someone and you can hear something else going on, especially if you’re on the phone. You know they’re typing, they got to get one of those silent keyboards. You know they’re doing it; you can tell by the lags that they’re actually looking at something, or maybe they’re watching or they’re playing a game. Who knows what they’re doing, but they’re certainly not focused on you. You know what Jesus says? I want you to focus on Me. I want you to look right at Me. He wants our prayer, our reading His word, our memory work, our sacrificial giving, everything, to stay prompted by consuming love.

I want to tell you really quick, in fact I won’t finish if I don’t read this. In 1983, I led a mission exposure trip. I just finished up eight years at Bob Jones University. I’d gotten a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Arts, and a Master of Arts and a Master of Divinity. I was working on my PhD. All those years I was in school. At the end, over that summer, I led a mission expansion trip. I got to teach in churches. It was exciting. I was in Eastern Europe. I was in Western Europe. We went to Africa. I went to Asia. It was a 96 day missions’ trip. Bonnie and I right now are on day 5 of 72 days. We have 67 more days till we get back to our home base in Colorado. This was a 96 day-er in 1983. Think of this. It ended, this missionary trip, two weeks before I was to marry Bonnie. She was in Syracuse, New York. I went to 30 countries on three continents for 96 days. I hope that gives you a little backdrop.

Every day, when I would get to the desk of the mission we are staying at, or the hostel, or the hotel, or the YMCA I would ask… I would run because in 1983 I was 27 years old, and I still could run. I would run to the desk and say, is there a letter for me? Bonnie, way back before I left in September, we were getting married December 27th, on September 6th when we left she had already for over a month had exactly our schedule, all the places I was teaching at. The Taj Mahal in Northern India. I was in the jungles of Thailand. We were in China running up the rivers, doing stuff. We were all over in Africa. In the UK, speaking between all these churches. We flew between all of them. We had one of those tickets, TWA before they went bankrupt or whatever they did. They had a ticket that you could stop as many times as you wanted, as long as you were always going either east or west. They had a partner. I took Air India and Transworld airlines. Between the two, I would fly Boston to London, London down into Africa, up into Germany, back down into Africa, up into Scandinavia. I was always going east, and it was really neat. Bonnie was in Syracuse and every flight was going away, further away from her until we got, halfway around. Then, we started getting closer.

I would say, is there a note for me? I would sit, down sinking to the floor right there if they had one. I would hold that precious record of Bonnie’s voice. As I read, I could hear her. I could see her smile. I could feel her close. Everybody on that team that was with me for 96 days, knew that they couldn’t try and disturb me because it wouldn’t work. I was undisturbable until I finished reading, hearing her voice. I would sit there. Nothing could separate me from her love, until the next day’s letter. I would treasure all of my letters. I carried them with me. I have a binder with all those letters she sent me for those 96 days, all in order on that thin onion skin, if you remember, paper. They’re still a treasure. I would ponder every word in my mind. I couldn’t wait for the next one. If none came the next day, I just read my old ones like they had arrived. Is that how you look at the scriptures? Or I’ve already read that, I’m going to go to the Christian bookstore and find a new book on some, something new, but I’ve already read that.

It’s whether or not we’re prompted by a consuming love. It’s not, I have to do this. It’s not, I’ve got to check off the box. It’s not, that someone might ask me if I am doing my quiet time. No, that’s not what the Lord designed. That’s the mechanism. We in America are so mechanical. We want progress and we just want to check it off and have done it. We’ve lost that consuming love that prompts. Do you know what it says in John 14:21? “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and we manifest Myself to him.” When I think of how my wife-to-be had a letter for me at every one of those 30 countries, some of them were even communist countries that we ministered in. Mainland China. All over Asia. I don’t know how she did it. She calculated at the post office and found out that it takes 76 days for a letter to get from here to here. She just was a continuous letter writing, envelope licking, stamp putting, label making communicator with me. It gave me the most beautiful picture of how, for the rest of my life, I should look on God’s word.

That’s what the Lord was asking. If you belong to Jesus, then He wants us to know that everything we do, everything we think, everything we say, that means the way we approach His word the reason that we study His word, is either pleasing to Him or not. Doesn’t that make life simple? “Whether therefore you eat,” it either pleases Me or not, “or drink,” it either pleases Me or not, “or whatever you do,” either pleases Me or not. Did you know that’s why the early Church had it so simple. They didn’t complicate life. There were not rivalries. There were, “I am of Paul,” “I am of Apollos,” “I am of Cephas,” but they didn’t have these rivaling voices. They were originating from their time in the word where Jesus said, I want you to be a well done, good and faithful servant. I want you to please Me. They caught it and they did it. They were prompted by love. This morning, where you’re going after this, either pleases the Lord or not.

If there’s someone you want to impress, if you love them, if you want to get close to them, you don’t intentionally do things to displease them because that repels them. That’s why Jesus compared our marriage to our relationship to Him. I’ve performed 300 wedding ceremonies. I love wedding ceremonies. I always like to get them up in front and I say welcome to the second greatest day in this couple’s life. That gets the whole group whispering. Is this a remarriage? Second, greatest day? I go the first and greatest day was the day they came to know Jesus Christ. I share their testimonies and I look at the guy who’s scared and usually a little clammy and hyperventilating. I say, this young man agreed to take on the role of portraying Jesus Christ for the rest of his life.

His wife has taken on the role of reflecting the adoration and admiration of the Church to their Savior Jesus Christ. This woman is agreeing to become this man’s very best friend in the whole world, closer to him than to her mother, her sisters, her future children, and all of her other buddies. He is going to be her very best friend. Isn’t that what the Church is supposed to be? Yet, I remember the first time I taught that from the book of Titus, because that’s actually a verse in the Bible, it says that women are to be the philandros. The Greek word phil means phileō, that’s the love of friendship. Andros is the word for husband. They’re supposed to be husband friends. By the way, that’s the very first command of a Titus 2 woman to become. There are two groups. The older women are supposed to already be that. The younger women, their very first command of the list that Paul gave them is to be husband friends. Your husband is to become the closest friend you have on Earth.

I remember teaching that, a group of people at Calvary Bible Church went to the elders and said, if he harps on that anymore we’re not coming. They were closer to their mother, they were closer to their sisters, they were closer to their children, and all the girlfriends they had than their husbands. They wondered why their husbands were passive and distant. Men are responders. It’s irresistible to whoever pays attention to them. If the lady at the office pays more attention to them than their wife, it’s a real dilemma for them. They gradually relocate their satellite dish toward where the attention is coming from. That’s why Paul said, the first thing you do in the church is you engage an army of godly older women to teach those younger women that their first priority is to make their husband the closest earthly friend, as Christ is to be to us.

I wonder, are our marriages pleasing Christ or not? Does your husband feel that you admire him as much as Christ? It’s a real motivator to men, scares them to death, when they’re finally allowed to play their role. Most of them don’t.

Jesus knows our loves and hates. Look at Revelation 2:6. Look at this. Have you ever thought about that? What Jesus actually knows about our lives. Revelation chapter 2, verse 6 He says this, “This you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans.” Have you ever thought, Jesus knows what we love, what we hate, and whether we hate the same thing He hates. Do you know what Jesus hates? Do you hate what Jesus hates? That’s part of this whole close relationship. For Bonnie, I became a lifelong student of her. I had this notebook and from our very first date on May 1st, 1983. I met her, May 1st, 1983. We were engaged on July 4th, 1983. Then, I left on that incredible 96 day trip. We were married on December 27. I had a short time to find everything out I could about her. I wrote down things. If she said, I like butter pecan… boy that went in the book. She says, I like fried whatever, I wrote that in the book. If she said, I’ve always wanted to… If I heard her say in conversation to anybody else, I’ve always wanted… I was eavesdropping. It was a… wow, that was an exciting insight into her life. That’s what our Bible study is like. If we find out Jesus hates something, we hate it.

Look at verse 7, remember we’re at the coffee shop and we’re studying this out loud. We’re applying it. What we’re doing is, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” By the way, that ending is on all seven of these letters. This ending is about, who’s really saved. The evidence of salvation is right there in verse 7, “He who has an ear.” What did Jesus say when He was walking around the temple mount, the colonnade of Solomon when He gave the Good Shepherd, John chapter 10, message? Do you remember what He said? “My sheep hear My voice.” What John is capturing in this letter from Jesus, is that true believers hear the voice of Jesus.

Let’s turn there. I know you all know that but look at John chapter 10. It’s phenomenal to think how simple salvation is. It gets so confusing nowadays. People argue about who saved, who’s not saved. How did they get saved? Did they pray the right prayer? Did they do it the right way? You know what happened? Look what Jesus said, how simply He said it. Verse 26 of chapter 10 of John. “But you don’t believe, because you are not of My sheep.” Everything was simple with Jesus, you either were or weren’t. We have this huge middle ground where we’re not sure about anything. Jesus was quite confident, quite bold. In Him with His word, we can also be very bold and very confident of what He says.

It takes a lot of work to get down to what He says, because we have to work through all this stuff that we’re not sure of. A lot of people aren’t sure if Ben Franklin said it, or God said it because they don’t have enough time to read the Bible. You remember, cleanliness is next to godliness? All these things that people in the world think that are quotations from the Bible. Jesus said, you’re not one of My sheep. Who are Your sheep? Verse 27 chapter 10 of John. My sheep are the ones that hear My voice. They’re the ones I know. What did Jesus say? “This is life eternal, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You’ve sent.” Salvation is knowing a person; it’s not praying a prayer. It’s not going forward. I know people have gone forward a thousand times and prayed more than that. If you talk to them you say, how were you saved?

This reminds me of someone I just shared the Gospel with, because we’re always supposed to be doing that with someone. They said, I did that. I said, you did that? Great. What did God do? Did God give you a new heart, a new spirit? Did God take away your stony heart out of you? Did He put a soft heart in? Does God cause you to keep His word? I just quoted for you Ezekiel 36:26 and 27, which is the new covenant, which is the new birth, which is what is salvation. Truly born again, people respond to Christ when they hear His voice. That’s why He’s walking around to see whether or not we’re turning on the recording.

When you open the Bible, it’s not having to do something, it’s to hear Him speak. His sheep hear His voice. It’s not just they hear it at salvation, they hear it every day. It’s the greatest reminder of who we are, and who we belong to, and why we’re here. We hear Him when we read His word. It says in Psalm 119 verse 18, Ezra’s prayer before he ever studied the Bible, he says, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things,” out of Your word. He did start like George Müller, my hero said. He always bowed and asked the LORD to open His word, and then he listened. He listened to the word of God; he heard His voice. It’s God’s Spirit within us that empowers our response and we by faith want to respond. That’s what genuine salvation is. It’s not, I did that. It’s God did that. He began a good work in me. I received the engrafted word that His word talks about. I received a person that now lives within me. I hear His voice when I read the word. It’s the most exciting thing in the world to experience this.

I’ll tell you a quick one. Bonnie and I heard from someone on YouTube. It was a 60-ish year old woman. She was riding the London subway. She was at the end of herself. She told me the whole story. She said, I was a groupie. I went to every rock concert. All the rock famous ones or the British ones. The Beatles and the Rolling Stones and Queen. (I don’t know anything about music, but they’re the famous ones, you see the movies about them.) She went to all of them. She’s about our age. I started thinking about all the ones I’d heard of. She said, yes, I went to every one of them. She says, you go there as a single young lady, and you just try and attract as many boys as you can, so you have a place to sleep at night. That’s why you get the boys, so you can go wherever he’s staying, you sleep with him. Usually, he shares the drugs with you and the alcohol with you. She said, that was my life from a teenager until six months ago. She said, every concert, whenever they had one there, they are there every few months.

She said, I lived for the concert. I planned my life around the concert. I rode the trains from London, where I live, to the concert. She said, I always came back with a record jacket, an album of whoever did the concert. I would try and write out the names of the guys to see if I could remember how many boys I had slept with in my dissipation and drunkenness and drugs and going from tent to tent. I’d try and remember them I had those on my London flat wall. (Her apartment.) She said, now I’m in my 60’s. After decades of that it’s hard to attract men to invite you into their tents but I’m still going to the concerts and still doing all that.

She said, I was on my way home. I felt so empty. I felt empty for decades. I was thinking life was empty and worthless. I sat with my phone on the subway and I typed into Google, video on hope. She got the three or four minute clip of the closing concert at Calvary Bible Church, where they captured me talking about the Season of Hope and what Jesus offers. At the end of the Christmas concert there’s always that Gospel hook right at the end, because community comes in twice a year, Easter and Christmas. It was Calvary’s and we had multiple concerts and thousands of people came. One of those times I was doing this Gospel presentation from Luke 1:78 and 79, about everybody’s born blind on the edge of the precipice. They’re sitting there in their blindness and they’re tumbling into the blackness of darkness forever. That was 30 seconds.

Then, the next two and a half minutes I talked about why Christ came, the sunrise from on high, to open our eyes and turn us from darkness to light and all that. She’s sitting on the London subway she’s at minute 2.5. I said, I want all of you to bow your head right now. She said, she bowed her head on the subway. That’s how people are, they really get into their games and their movies. They’re just doing whatever it says. She bowed her head. I said, right now Jesus is within an arm’s length of every one of you. If you would like Him, reach out toward Him right now. She was bowing her head, but she was looking at the video. I was going like this (reaching up). She said on the subway, she reached up. Then I said, you just ask Him. I just did the Gospel that you all do. That of course, I didn’t know about this, I was at the concert, and it was a couple of years before she saw that.

She wrote me a note and said this. She said, six months ago I was sitting on the London Tube watching you. She said, you said bow your head, I bowed my head. You said reach out, I reached out. You said cry out, I cried out. She said, I just came from the bin (that’s what they call dumpsters, the bin). She said, I just came from the bin, my last trip. I have taken down every one of those albums. She said, they are disgusting to me. There are reminders of all my rebellion against God and my body is a Temple. She said I threw them all away. She said, my whole life has changed. I still have the same job. I still have the same apartment. I still have the same body that is less and less desirable to the men at those concerts. For the last six months, she said, I utterly changed. She said, I find all I want to do when I go home from work is read God’s word. She says, I’ve sought out a Christian assembly and I’m a part of it. She said, the more I thought about it, it all started sitting on the subway with my eyes closed reaching out to God.

Do you know what? “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” You know what the acid proof, the acid test of salvation is? Whether or not you heard His voice and you’re following Him today.

When someone says I did that, yet there is no evidence that they are today hearing His voice and following Him there’s cause for concern. 2 Corinthians 13:5 says, “Examine yourselves as to whether you’re in the faith.” For how do you know? Except you yourself are a Castaway. Only you know if you’ve heard His voice. By that, I don’t mean this sound out here somewhere. When the word of God speaks, your antenna picks up the signal and you say, I want to respond to You. That’s what God is doing, that’s genuine salvation.

He speaks to all believers through all the ages. I like this verse 7. All of them say the same thing, the ending of all these letters. Verse 7, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes.” Revelation 2:7. We are overcomers, the people with the ears, the people that respond to Christ, the people that follow Him, the people that He has saved that have been converted, that have been born again. All those terms we use are overcomers, that’s what 1 John says. Paul put it this way, “He who has begun a good work in you,” that lady, I always see her reaching out on the subway, He that began that good work doesn’t leave us. He’s going to finish it. I guess that’s the most important message of Revelation. We’re not going this alone. We’re not flailing around on our own. Right next to us, all the time, is the Creator who redeemed us. Who someday we’re going to stand in front of as the one sitting on that Bema seat, the Judgment Seat of Christ. He energized us for good work, He wants us to finish well with good works. He’s going to keep us by the power of God. He says, are you letting me coach your life?

If we would have not run out of time, we would have talked about the near extinction of Christianity. Nero started murdering people. Domitian exiled John. There’s the bad guy, Diocletian. Diocletian systematically ravaged the Church. He was the most amazing of all the Roman Emperors. He’s the only one that retired. All the rest of them either died of dissipation, or they were murdered, or died on the battlefield. Not Diocletian. He said I’m done; I don’t want to be Emperor anymore. He went back to his palace that’s in Dubrovnik, it’s down there in Croatia somewhere. The entire town is built inside his palace. It was so massive.

He used his great engineering skills to systematically kill or imprison every pastor in the Roman Empire. That’s all they were concerned with; to get rid of every pastor, they got rid of every meeting place. If any church was even rumored to meet somewhere they raised the building. He finally hunted down and destroyed every complete copy of the Bible. If you know anything about textual criticism in Greek manuscripts, there is no complete copy of the New Testament. By complete I mean, someone sat down or a group sat down and wrote it in one short time period and made it into a scroll or a collection of Papyrus documents that is still in existence, because he destroyed every one.

What the church did is the same thing I did when I smuggle Bibles. In Russia, they would tear out each book of the Bible and disperse it among 66 families in the church. If the KGB came, they could only get one of the 66 books because they had dispersed them. That’s what the early Church did. That’s why we have 25,000 manuscript copies of the New Testament. When they saw those Legionnaires coming, they cut up the Bible into all the pieces and spread it out among all the people. After Diocletian got done, they started gathering them back and we have a whole Bible, old and New Testament. We have no single manuscript copy from before this time. He almost wiped out Christianity. That was the closest Christianity got to extinction. God said, no, I’m going to coach them through even this and He did.

Only Jesus can identify with our struggles. He’s our greatest sympathizer. He told those who were facing fatal prosecutions, I know what you’re going through and I’m going to go through it with you. That’s the message of the book of Revelation. It’s not about identifying whether Putin might be one of the whatever’s. It really doesn’t matter. That’s God’s department. My department is, I’m supposed to be here worshiping my Creator, knowing He redeemed me, doing what He left me to do, and not able to contain my excitement to someday stand in front of Him when He says, this is the summary of everything you lived for Me and I’m going to give it back to you a little crown. You can show your adoration for Me by casting it before Me. I can’t wait to give you your new name on that little invitation to Heaven on that stone, that’s a little bit later in chapter 2. I’m going to welcome you to a banquet. I’m going to take you in front of my Father in Heaven. I’m going to confess the name that nobody else knows but you. I’m going to introduce you to your Father and My Father. You are going to spend forever with Me in My house. That’s what the early Church lived for.

Let’s bow.

Father, I pray that’s what we would live for. I pray that we would look on our Bible study completely differently. It’s really a love letter from You as we’re on this extended trip. We can’t wait to get to the wedding, and we can’t wait to marry You. You have sprinkled all along the way these love letters in Your book. We can’t be distracted. It’s not people can distract us, they can’t because we’re consumed by love for You. I pray that You would stir our hearts to that end. In the name of Jesus we pray. All God’s people said, Amen.