Let’s pick it up this week in Revelation 1:18 where it says, “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” Only Jesus could make this statement. He is the only one who lived, died, and rose again. It’s called the gospel or good news.
Sometimes we get confused about just what the gospel is. We start babbling about creation and the rise of the Antichrist in the last days. While all of that is interesting and true; the gospel is much simpler than that. It is simply the death, burial, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Yep, that’s it! The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:” That’s the gospel. He died for our sins. He was buried. He rose again the third day. That’s it!
We must be very careful not to add anything to that message either. We have a tendency to want to complicate the things of God. I think it makes us feel a little bit better about ourselves. However, in so doing we “frustrate the grace of God” (Galatians 2:21).
The Apostle Paul said that a person can be saved just by believing the gospel when he said in Romans 10:9-10, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” To add anything to that is to put faith in something other than the gospel.
You may ask, “Do people really place their faith in other things besides the gospel for salvation?” Unfortunately, the answer is yes. I hear it all the time, “Well, if you want to be saved, you have to believe and be baptized.” I’m sorry, I don’t even see the word “baptize” anywhere in those verses. If baptism was a requirement for salvation; Jesus lied to the poor thief on the cross when He said in Luke 23:43, “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” No, there is no mention of water in that conversation.
I’ve heard others say, “If you want to be saved, you have to believe and keep the sacraments.” Again, I’m sorry but that’s not part of the gospel message either. As a matter of fact, it says in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” That means that nothing beyond simple faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ will save you.
What happens when someone puts their faith in the gospel plus something else? They’ve forfeited the gospel and are trusting in the “something else” to save them. One says, “It’s faith plus baptism.” They’re trusting in their baptism to save them. Another says, “It’s faith plus sacraments.” They’re trusting in sacraments to save them. It’s faith in the gospel plus nothing that saves. Put your faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and then find a church that teaches the simple gospel of Jesus Christ as the only requirement for salvation.
Now, let’s look at verse 19 that says, “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;” This is called the outline verse of the book of Revelation. Unless you understand and apply this verse, the book will be very confusing to you. It says that the book is divided up into three parts: “the things which thou hast seen”, “the things which are”, and “the things which shall be hereafter”. It’s pretty straightforward and simple actually. People struggle with it because they can’t wrap “their theology” around it, but it’s true.
In a nutshell, the “things which thou hast seen” are found in chapter one as John describes Jesus. The “things which are” are the seven churches that are described in chapters two and three. And the “things which shall be hereafter” refer to chapter four and following. Next week, we’ll take a little closer look at that.