THE PORTRAIT IN REVELATION
Stranger To Suffering
was well aware of Satan's attack against God and the church in that first century
of Christian history. He humbly affirmed that he was a "companion in the
suffering and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus" (Revelation 1:9).
And what had John's faithful Christian testimony earned for him?
Had it happened in North American in our era, some publisher would have flown
in to offer John a five- or six-figure check for book rights to his story. But
I do not think John would have been concerned about turning a personal financial
profit from his experience. The present-day financial value of a "born again
testimony" was mercifully unknown in A.D. 95.
your heart to the Lord, get born again, and your business will grow and grow and
grow!" "If you want to become a top athlete and well known, just accept
the Lord and be born again!" "If you want your cows to give more milk",
'If you want to be sure of getting better grades in college"
Possibly no one ever had a clearer, sweeter, stronger testimony of the grace and
salvation that is in Jesus Christ than John. Humbly he relates it: "I am
your brother and companion in' suffering" [I] was on the island of
Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus."
In our day, the media would be asking, "What are you doing there on Patmos,
John? You were the bishop at Ephesus. You should be at home among your people,
presiding over your congregation. You were born again, were you not, John?"
John would have replied meekly, "I was the Lord's disciple and companion,
and I have been ministering and witnessing as He said. I am now His servant in
Allow me to be frank about this insidious issue in our Christian circles. If the
modern doctrine of "accepting Jesus" is all its current advocates claim
it to be, John would not have been suffering in a one-man slave camp on Patmos.
He would be at home with his congregation. He would have financial prosperity.
He would know what strings to pull and how to be friendly with the right people
in high places.
this, however: If John had been a product of our present-day "accept Jesus
and prosper" gospel, he would have seen no divine vision of Christ's glory
and coming triumph; he would have written no Revelation.
have chosen to compromise his faith. Had he done so, he would have remained at
home-balancing his praise between God and Caesar. But then he never would have
glimpsed that open door in heaven or the throne with the heavenly rainbow encircling
Yes, John could have taken the easier way. Just a little compromise and the important
people would begin to say, "This man is really doing good things for the
community." But John was a man of faith. He knew what he believed; he knew
in whom he believed. He was willing to take the heat from those who hated the
living God and His Christ.
If you are willing to lower the temperature of your testimony, the world will
turn off the heat it has been applying. But if you are faithful to God and His
Word, consistent and sincere in your testimony to what Christ means to you, you
can expect both heat and pressure. John had a strong, uncompromising testimony.
It evoked the opposition of the powers, who decided to silence his witness in
Patmos's rocky isolation.
is a spiritual lesson for us in John's response to the voice of the living Christ.
He says, "I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me"
(1:12). John was not the first person to hear the Lord's voice behind him. Does
this say to us that we are usually facing the wrong way?
The prophet Isaiah knew full well that Israel had turned her back on God, departing
from His way. He counseled, "Whether you turn to the right or to the
left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, `This is the way; walk in
it" (Isaiah 30:21). Let us be thankful for God's mercy and patience.
He is the only One who is always faithful, always loyal, always compassionate.
His voice continues to call, "Come! Turn back! Walk in My way!"
John says he turned and "saw' someone `like a son of man.' " His vision
was that of our Lord and His presence in the midst of the churches. In our time
we have all kinds of status symbols in the Christian church-membership, attendance,
pastoral staff, missionary offerings. But there is only one status symbol that
should make a Christian congregation genuinely glad. That is to know that our
Lord is present, walking in our midst!