Support us on Paypal
Contact Us
Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Michael Youssef » Michael Youssef - Introduction

Michael Youssef - Introduction

Michael Youssef - Introduction
Michael Youssef - Introduction
TOPICS: Letters from Jesus, Seven Churches of Revelation, Church

Think about this with me, please, just think with me. The Bible makes it very clear that the church is the bride of Christ. We're the bride of Christ. And as sometimes the case, a wife, after being married for a few years or many years, it doesn't matter, begins to drift away from her husband. Now, mind you, it happens a lot with husbands, but I'm gonna stick to the biblical illustration, the biblical imagery, okay? She's married, yes. She's still living with her husband, yes. She's still going through the motions of marriage, yes, but she's no longer, as we would say, "madly in love" with her husband, as she once was. She is not emotionally engaged and deeply enamored by her husband as she once was. She's more of a roommate with her husband.

Now, beloved, please, listen to me. This is a condition of many a church in the West in the 21st century. They may have started with great love for Jesus, but after being battered by the attack of Satan and the emissary of Satan, they begin to defend themselves, not to take a stand and say, "We love you no matter what you call us". They wanna prove that they're none of these things, none of these false accusations. They wanna prove it. So how do they do it? How do they prove that this is a false accusation? They try to accommodate to their critics. They try to accommodate to their critics, and then, all of a sudden, slowly... it's very slow. Slowly but surely, they find the love for the world has overcome the love for Jesus. They no longer live the life of longing for him alone, of pleasing him alone, of honoring him alone, and, yes, of obeying him alone.

But I wanna tell you something else. Don't forget this. This temptation, this temptation has plagued the church since its inception. Throughout the series of messages, I'm calling it "Letters from Jesus," we're gonna see not only the cause, the cause, but also the cure, also the cure. The one thing that you will notice again and again and again and again and again is that, if a church, any church, any believers, any group of believers want to stay in love with Jesus, then they have to be, first and foremost, stubbornly, deliberately, unapologetically refusing to accommodate to the pressure of culture; why? Because once you start accommodating to culture or you try to please the culture around you or want to be accepted by society, you'll most certainly not only lose your vision, you lose your power for witnessing. We're gonna see this in detail as we look at these seven churches in Asia Minor.

Why seven? Well, as you know, in the Scripture, seven is the number of perfection. It's the number of completeness, and so our Lord chose seven churches to send seven letters to. This is a complete package, as it were. He covered everything that needs to be covered in all the seven churches, and so we are going to see this complete picture of challenges, of sin, of failure, and, yes, of success, all represented in these seven churches, but you find them everywhere throughout the world, throughout time.

Before I get to the seven churches, we have to begin with the beginning, and that's Revelation 1:1. Revelation 1:1, actually, we're only gonna look at that verse and verse 5 today. That's it, chapter 1. The book opens by saying, "The revelation of Jesus Christ". "The revelation of Jesus Christ". What's "revelation" means? It means "exposure". It means "unveiling". It means "the revealing". That's what it is. It means "the uncovering". It means "showing what is hidden," but because the Greek word for "revelation" is "apokalupsis," came to reveal, talk about "apocalyptic," and then we use it, and you hear it even in the secular world. They use it as something ominous, something terrible, apocalyptic. No, no, not at all. In fact, the whole book of Revelation is the unveiling, is the uncovering of the glorified Jesus. You say, well, in the gospels, we saw Jesus, the God man, walking in the streets of modern Israel. We saw him as the God man who chose to lay aside the splendor of his majesty, never, never, never, never lay down his divinity.

There are churches in America today that is teaching that when Jesus came to earth, he laid aside his divinity. That's falsehood. That is a heresy. He never laid aside his divinity, for he coexisted with the Father before all worlds, but he laid aside the splendor of his majesty, why? So that we can relate to him and so he can relate to us, but now that he's resurrected, ascended, and glorified, that glorified Jesus is needed to be revealed to the world and, hence, it's a book of Revelation, revealing the glorified Jesus. That's what the book of Revelation is. It is a continuous uncovering of the glorified Jesus and what's gonna happen in the future. The glorified Jesus begin by revealing himself, revealing his glory, revealing also what he thinks of his church. His choice of these seven churches in Asia Minor are the representatives of all churches of all times, everywhere in the world.

These were seven major cities during that time. These seven cities form an irregular circle. If a diplomat is traveling from Patmos, where John was, and sail from Patmos, and he gets, with his diplomatic papers, diplomatics traveling and with the diplomatic pouch, he would go and make the full circle. So here's Patmos, where John was, so he's gonna sail. He goes to Ephesus and up to Smyrna, to Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea. Why these cities? Well, they were the most popular city at the time. They were the wealthiest cities. They were the most influential cities. They were the most powerful cities in the whole region, but before we can even go to the first letter, which I'll do in the next message, there is something, some things that are very important you need to understand in the background of these letters.

Without understanding the background, you really won't get each individual letter and why Jesus said what he said, because without knowing and understanding what was going on at the time, you'll miss out on the incredible depths of these letters and these messages that are in these letters. First of all, this was a time in which the Church of Jesus Christ, all over the Roman Empire, were under persecution, every corner of the Roman Empire, which is literally, the populated world at the time. How come? Well, between AD 81 and 96, remember those years, 81 to 96, there was a miserable, evil, wicked emperor in Rome by the name of Domitian, and he began the second wave of persecuting of Christians. Emperor Domitian's persecution was more systematic, was more organized, was more deliberate than the first wave under Nero. Nero was a crazy man, and the persecution was haphazard of whom he doesn't like, and he was mostly limited to the city of Rome.

Nero's persecution, as I said, was haphazard, but Domitian, his persecution was empire-wide, circled the entire empire. Nobody was able to escape the persecution, and all of the worshipers of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, were told that they must worship Lord Caesar. Think about this. Think about this. You can only imagine. You can only imagine, the Christian believers, how they felt at the time, how they felt, but persecution was only from the outside. It's from without. From within, oh, my goodness, from within, they were experiencing false teaching and false preaching and false prophets. In addition to that, immoral people sneaked into the church, and they began to influence the church members' behavior. All of this, of course, was the devil's way, the devil's way to destroy the church of Jesus Christ in its infancy. He wanted to destroy it in its infancy.

Don't ever forget that Satan always, always working overtime to destroy the church of Jesus Christ, the faithful believers, those who have put their faith in him alone. We know that he did not succeed then, and we know that he ultimately will not succeed now. Oh, but what chaos he creates. What horror, what devastation he causes. Families today don't talk to each other, and all that Satan needed, one or two non-discerning believers in each church, and voilà: compromise, devastation. In the book of Revelation, we see him again and again and again. He's behind the visible and the invisible conflicts. He's behind the war between the dragon and the Lamb. He's behind the conflict between the holy city represented in Jerusalem and the great city represented in Babylon, and you see it all over the place, all over the place.

And one other thing you need to know: that Satan attacks from multiple directions. Before you really even take a breath, oh, the next one, and then before, the next one and... oh, the next one. His one goal is to get you so flabbergasted that you can't even respond. You don't think I know this? It's not a theory for me. I know it experientially. Sometimes he'll attack us through physical persecution. Other times, he attacks through governments, through laws, and through the courts. Other times, he will attack through false teachers and false preachers. Other times, he'll attack through compromising Christians. Look what he's doing in the world today. In the West, he's conniving to cooling off the love of many. He gets the believers to love the world and materialism more than they love Jesus.

Question: What is Jesus revealing to his church, to his believers through John the Revelator, John the apostle? One thing is repeated again and again is our Lord Jesus wants his bride to be faithful to him alone no matter what people say, to be faithful to him alone, but he also communicates some very important things. We're gonna look at them right now, three of them, as a matter of fact, but the most important lesson that Jesus wants his bride, the believers, the faithful believers, this age, any age, particularly this age, is to look to him alone, not to seeking acceptance and favor of society, no. He wants you to look to him and him alone. The only way for the believers in Jesus, in these last days, the only way for them not just survive but to thrive is to keep their eyes on the exalted, glorified, soon-coming Jesus.

Look at verse 5 with me. He spells it clearly why he wants them to look to him alone. Three things, as I said, he wants them to look at him as the glorified. And so he introduces not only his past achievements, dying on a cross, shedding his blood to redeem every repentant sinner, but so he doesn't only show this accomplishment, but he also let them know about his triumph, current triumph, and future triumph, and so the first thing, it says, "Look at me because I am the faithful witness". Can you say that with me? He is a faithful witness. Do you wanna be a faithful witness? Do you wanna be a faithful witness? Follow the example of Jesus. He never faltered. He never twitched. He never fudged. He never evaded. And when all of this took him to the cross, he was still unshaken. The Pharisees tried to shake him up. Pontius Pilate tried to get him to fudge just a little bit.

The chief disciple, Peter, tried to get him to forget about the cross and the suffering of the cross. He called him "Satan". But the Bible said Jesus set his face like a flint. Have you ever seen a flint? He set his face like a flint toward Jerusalem, because if he didn't do that, you and I would not be here today. We would not be redeemed today. The second thing, he calls himself the firstborn from the dead. When Jesus walked the earth, he raised a number of people from dead, Lazarus being the most known example because he was in the tomb four days. Literally, he was stinking. And he raised him from the dead, but every one that Jesus raised from the dead died again. Jesus is the only one who rose from the dead, never, never, never, never to die again. He is alive forever and ever and ever. He is now the ever-living one. Death has no further demands over him. That's why he's the firstfruit, and we, too, will also be resurrected.

Beloved, this should strengthen everyone, should strengthen everyone at the sound of my voice. We stand against temptation to courageously endure suffering and persecution. And the third one, the third reason why our only hope for thriving and victory is keeping our eyes on the resurrected, ascended, glorified Jesus, verse 5, again, because "he is the ruler of the kings of the earth". Can you say that with me? "He is the..." Earthly dictators and rulers might want to crush the church, egomaniacs want to dominate the church, but don't ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever forget that Jesus is the King of all kings, that he is the ruler of all rulers, that he is the Lord of all lords, that he's the controller of all nations, that he is the presider over the universe, that he's the director of the destiny of people in every nation, that his empire is far greater and far bigger than the world put together.

His dominion is greater than all of the world. His power is mightier than all of the fleeting life of these despots, that he and he alone is the holder of the title deeds of the universe, that he and he alone has the name that's above every name. Oh, for now, of course, we can't see this with our physical eyes like John the Revelator did. He was privileged to see this with his eyes, physical eyes. We don't, we see it only with our spiritual eyes, our spiritual eyes. Oh, but listen to me, soon and very soon, we will see the glorified, magnified, majestic Lord Jesus Christ with all of his splendor, dominion, authority, power. Come, Lord Jesus. Come, Lord Jesus. Say it with me.
Are you Human?:*