Where’s the Church

By Ron Graham

“After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.” Revelation 4:1. The Apostle John was given a special preview of future events as they would occur in Heaven. John wrote the book of Revelation approximately 2,000 years before the events he was allowed to see would actually occur. Our Lord Jesus Christ allowed this Apostle a very special gift and John wrote about all He saw as he gazed into the future.


The book of Revelation can be a little mysterious for believers who don’t understand what it’s all about. Many denominations just write this book off as allegory or dismiss it as past history with no bearing on the future of the Church. When I was first saved I asked my pastor about the book of Revelation hoping, as a new believer in Christ, to get some clarification about a book that had fascinated me for years, long before my becoming born again. I was seeking answers from a man who I presumed would be able to enlighten me as to the mysterious writings in that book; he had been a pastor for many years. His response to me was simple, “I don’t understand the book of Revelation therefore I just ignore it.” Consequently I never asked that man another question about the Bible and after a few more painful years at that church, my family and I left that non-denominational denomination. I went on to study my Bible and to place much emphasis on eschatology. I now understand the book of Revelation, and you can too. 


There are 22 chapters in the book of Revelation, but after the first five chapters the only people who need concern themselves with the next 17 are those who will be left behind after the Rapture of the Church. Within the first three chapters Jesus addresses believers as well as others who think they are His followers but who are actually living a lie. As we can see from the verse above John is told to explain to all who will read this book of prophecy some of what Heaven is like and also who’s already there.


Remember, the voice which called to John in verse one above told him he would show John the things that must occur “hereafter”, in other words, things that must happen (in the future). John couldn’t have had any idea how far in the future this would occur, but he is sure of his location. He records the events as they occurred as the Holy Spirit directed.


“And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.” Revelation 4:2. John was in the spirit. Why? Because no sinful flesh can enter Heaven “...and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags...” Isaiah 64:6. Jesus Christ is in Heaven, and in the flesh, but He was and is sinless. His righteousness is perfect.


John was given an awesome gift as was the Apostle Paul; they were both given a glimpse of Heaven, an advance look if you will, into the Throne room of God Almighty. John goes on to explain what he saw there and his explanation is what assures all believers in Christ that they will not see the tribulation week unfold.


“And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.” Revelation 4:3. John was looking upon the Throne of God as God sat on His Throne. He uses the most descriptive terminology possible at that time to provide readers with understanding as he views God’s glory. John hands believers in Christ a most glorious insight into what awaits all those who place their trust, their faith, their lives in Christ’s hands, a peek at Who awaits us at the Throne of God.


John’s next view is quite significant for those who will be Raptured. “And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.” Revelation 4:4. The elders spoken of here by John are representative of Christ’s Church. This is where we who follow Jesus Christ realize that we are, at this point and from here on until sometime just after the end of the tribulation week, assembled before the Throne of God worshiping Him and giving Him all glory, honor and praise.


In Revelation 5:9-10, the twenty-four elders sing a song of praise to Jesus, and they cry out: “Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation. And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” Revelation 5:9. In that passage, the twenty-four elders are clearly speaking as representatives of all God’s people, of the great company of the redeemed (Christ’s Church).


“The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” Revelation 4:10-11.


“The white robes and crowns of the elders seem to indicate that they are indeed human beings - in glory, of course. Angels are sometimes presented in white robes or garments (Mark 16:5; John 20:12; Acts 1:10), but saints also have white robes (Revelation 6:11; 7:9; 7:13-14) as a picture of their imputed righteousness (Isaiah 61:10; Revelation 3:5-18). However, we never see angels crowned, but believers are and will be (1 Corinthians 9:25; 2 Timothy 4:8; 1 Peter 5:4).


Therefore, redeemed, glorified man sits enthroned with Jesus, on lesser thrones, to be sure, but thrones none the less. We are joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17), and we will reign with Him (2 Timothy 2:12). John, through Jesus’ insistence, gives the Church a wonderful picture of the saints in Heaven, and kneeling before God, and recognizably way before the wrath of God is unleashed on a Christ rejecting world.” – David Guzik


“... four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb..., and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” Revelation 5:8, 10. At the end of the Great Tribulation the saints will return with Jesus Christ as He assumes His visible position as King and reigns over all of earth for 1,000 years. This is proof positive for all the scoffers and naysayers who reject the Rapture that the saints (those who belong to Jesus Christ) are in Heaven and that we are made kings and priests and that we will reign with Christ on earth. If we are to come back with our Lord to rule and reign with Him, at some point we must have left earth to be able to return to earth. Clearly, the Church will not be here during the seventieth week spoken of by Daniel the prophet.


From this point and throughout the remainder of the book of Revelation, the tribulation and the wrath of God is clearly portrayed with no further mention of the Church (the body of Christ) being on earth. The seven year tribulation week becomes the point where God once again turns His attention to Israel. Even though the majority of Jews are blinded to the truth of the Gospel during the first half of the tribulation week, at the 3 ½ year point of the tribulation week, when the anti-Christ introduces the abomination of desolation, we’re told that all remaining Jews on earth will be saved. And not only Jews but many gentiles will also come to faith in Christ during that final week.


The Bible clearly tells us that through Jesus Christ, and only through Him, can we ever expect to enter Heaven. John was a believer, a follower of Jesus Christ and he was allowed a trip to Heaven before his death. To be in the presence of God Almighty we must be purged of our sins. The only way to be purged of sins is to believe in Jesus Christ; to believe is to accept His truth and His Gospel through faith, faith in the fact that His sacrifice on that cross was to pay the price for the sin of the world, that all might be saved. The Bible is written to everyone and everyone can either accept it as truth or reject it as a fairy tale. Believing the Bible to be a fairy tale, though, doesn’t negate the fact that God’s word is true. Unbelief and the rejection of the truth will only act as a catalyst in the condemnation of that person.


Rejecting the Bible and thereby rejecting the Gospel of Jesus Christ will automatically place you or your loved ones in the next chapter of the book of Revelation. “And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.” Revelation 6:1-2. Enter the anti-Christ, not Jesus Christ, although Jesus Christ does return on a white horse in Revelation 19:11-16. This is not Him, this is a satanic dictator who imitates Jesus. He rules (a crown was given), he rules with a bow not a sword, and he exercises dominion over the earth (went out conquering and to conquer). But the results of his rule show that this is not the reign of Jesus Christ.


I think we can tell much about how a person understands the book of Revelation and God’s prophetic plan by seeing how they understand this first rider. Those who think Revelation is mostly a book of history believe that this rider is Jesus. Those who believe that this is a prophetic passage, yet to be fulfilled, mostly account this rider to be the antichrist. This final satanic dictator over men will be more terrible than all previous dictators. He will rule over men as a false Messiah, and lead man in organized rebellion against God.


This (anti-Christ) guy is going to demand everyone take his mark and worship him and if they don’t they will be killed (beheaded). From this point on the Revelation of Jesus Christ gets very disturbing, even gruesome. There won’t be any place to hide from the coming horrors, they will be worldwide, fierce to behold, and completely consuming in their vastness. No one on earth during this time will escape the tidal wave of tribulations. Those who miss the Rapture yet become believers during the tribulation week will fall prey to some of the horrors spoken of in those remaining chapters. Most will be martyred for their faith.  


Only by becoming a born again believer in Christ now, before the Rapture, can we be assured of our non-involvement in all those horrors. The book of Revelation is God telling all who will read it that they will be blessed by it and that they should see their need for a savior and repent while there is still time. That’s the blessing. Read it for yourself and tell others to read it also. Keep in mind that you only have the first five chapters as a time frame for repentance and avoiding all those judgments which will ultimately prove God’s displeasure with those who’ve rejected His only begotten Son.


Those first five chapters of this awesome book speak of blessings, churches doing well and churches doing not so well, about things going on in Heaven, and about who is surrounding God’s throne. There’s no doubt about who’s there and who isn’t. Besides God Almighty, only angels and believers in Christ are there.


“...to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass...” Revelation 1:1. The word “shortly” in this verse means quickly or speedily. In other words, what John was about to witness were things that once they began their succession would bring quick and speedy results. Jesus said the signs we were to be watching for would come on this planet like a woman in labor (birth pangs). We are currently witnessing the beginning of many end times signs spoken of by our Lord Jesus. It seems, according to the book of Revelation, we’re now in the ninth month of labor. 


Many will ignore the book of Revelation as my ex-pastor has. Many others will write it off as simply an allegory. Some will read it and dismiss it as having already taken place. God, on the other hand, is quite specific when it comes to this book and its wonderful blessing, and the future it holds. “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.” Revelation 1:3. Folks the time is at hand for the prophecies that have been spoken of.


The book of the Apocalypse is a book of prophecy in which we are given the events that lead up to Christ’s return. “Apokalypsis” in the Greek is transliterated Apocalypse, which is translated Revelation in English. Its meaning is more simple than what many perceive it to be. It literally means “uncovering, unveiling, revealing or laying bare a mystery, of things before unknown. The book of Revelation was never meant to confuse or scare anyone away; on the contrary, it was written to benefit each and every believer in Christ and to open the eyes of the lost.


So, the question is, how will you respond to God’s blessing as it’s associated with reading this book concerning “things before unknown”?  


God bless you all,


Ron Graham


All scripture is from the KJV