John and the Vision of Jesus


John and the Vision of Jesus

October 4th, 1992 @ 10:15 AM

I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus.  I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last…And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. 
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Dr. W. A. Criswell

Revelation 1:1

10-4-92    10:50




It is hard for me to realize this is the first time I have ever sat down here and looked at the choir; and they are so impressive.  And Fred, to my amazement you look as good from your back as you do from your front!  I realize that the hour is late; so a brief word from my heart.

Turning to the last book in God’s Holy Scripture, Revelation 1:1.  In the original Greek it starts with a marvelous word: apokalupsis.  Just that word opening the twenty-two chapters, apokalupsis, spelling it out in English, “apocalypse”; and translating it, “the unveiling.”


The unveiling, the Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to Him…Unto Him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood…to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.  Amen…I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus.  I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last…And I turned to see the voice that spake with me.  And being turned, I saw seven golden lampstands; and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like unto the Son of God, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the breast with a golden girdle.  His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire; His feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters…And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as one dead.  And He laid His right hand upon me, and said…Behold, I am He that liveth, and was dead; and I am alive forever more, Amen; and I, I have the keys of Hell and of Death.

[Revelation 1:1, 5, 6, 9-15, 17-18]


This is one of the most remarkable visions to be found in all the Word of God.  And it amazes me because the sainted apostle John had been remanded to the rocky, lonely isle of Patmos to die of exposure and starvation [Revelation 1:9].  In that terrible persecution of God’s people under Domitian, the last decade of the first Christian century, this pastor, John, is remanded to that rocky island.  But not a word of reference does he make of it, rather he sees the glorified Lord Jesus: nothing of the persecution, nothing of the trial, of the tribulation, just the glorious vision of the precious Lord Jesus, looking at Him, Jesus only [Revelation 1:13].

And as he looked, he fell prostrate at the feet of our Lord—where we belong, down on our faces, down on our knees, prostrate before Jesus our Lord.  And he describes it, “as one dead”; dead to the flesh, dead to the self, just alive with God.  And as he lay there prostrate, the Lord placed His right hand upon him [Revelation 1:17].  How many times in the ministry, in the days of His flesh, did our Lord lay His right hand upon John?

Two summers I have preached in each one a month, in the city of Boston, in one of the great historic churches of the earth.  And practically every day I would go by that beautiful church, pastored for a generation by the incomparable preacher Phillips Brooks.  And at the front of the church, in a little place on the lawn, there is a large statue of that glorious minister of the word of God.  And right back of him stands the Lord Jesus, with His right hand upon Phillips Brooks.  O God! What a benediction!

I have never seen a painting that impressed me more than that one of the Lord, with His right hand upon the shoulder of His apostle John, and pointing to the vast need of the world.  “He laid His right hand upon me” [Revelation 1:17].  And He raised John to the work of the kingdom.  In the fourth chapter John says he is lifted up, raised up, and assigned the task the Lord had chosen for him [Revelation 4:1-2].

And thus it is with us.  You have, in God’s will and purpose, an assignment in your Christian life, and to be true to it and faithful pleases our Lord, and will infinitely bless you.  So it is, I think, of God’s will for me.  As there is a purpose of the Lord for you, I find it in God’s answered prayer for me.  We have a great assignment in our wonderful church, our beautiful and precious congregation.  One of them is the support of our college.  As you have read in the papers, Dr. Richard Melick of MidAmerican Seminary in Memphis, Tennessee, has been called, and he has accepted, the presidency of our preacher’s school.  He must fulfill his assignment for this semester; but beginning the first of January he’ll be here with his family.  And by his side and as his chancellor, I will pour my life and strength and prayers into the building of that wonderful school.  I’ll be teaching.  I’ll be all over the nation inviting our preachers to send their young men to that wonderful school.  And the young women who are being prepared for service as staff members; they’ll be taught and trained in that glorious institution.  And I put my life, gladly, gratefully, alongside with President Melick in the building of that school.  That’s where I shall be.

And with you I shall be a fellow member of this glorious church.  However we can help, and build, and serve, we thus dedicate our lives, our best to the Lord Jesus.

Last Sunday night we began our one hundred twenty-fifth anniversary with this glorious choir and orchestra under the leadership of Minister Fred McNabb and all this year we shall be praising God for the innumerable, multitudinous, infinite blessings of the Lord upon this house of God for 125 years.  And we are believing and are persuaded that the greatest years are yet to come.  God is here; the Lord is in this place.  And you and I, as fellow members, fellow pilgrims, fellow worshippers, fellow servants, will magnify the message of salvation and hope preached and taught and sung in this glorious congregation.

We are persuaded and we know that God is in this place, this church.

I love Thy church, O God,

Her walls before Thee stand,

Dear as the apple of Thine eye,

And graven on Thy hand.


For her my tears shall fall

For her my prayers ascend,

To her my toils and cares are given

Till toils and cares shall end.

[“I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord,” Timothy Dwight]


We shall be one in the faith and one in the Lord; never divided.  We shall be one in God’s will.  God’s will is not divided.  God’s will is one.  And our people will be one in the will of God.  We shall have God’s man in this place, God’s servant, God’s preacher, God’s pastor, God’s leader; and we shall love him, and pray for him, and hold up his hands faithfully.

How much that man means to us.  He marries our young.  He buries our dead.  He comforts us when we’re sick. And he mediates to us the infallible Word of God.  Oh, what a privilege, as a fellow member of our precious church, to walk by your side, to love God and to uphold that wonderful man that the Lord will have in this place, our mentor, and our pastor, and our model of love and service to the Lord Jesus.  God will not fail us, and His will be beautiful and precious to us all.

And now, as without exception in the closing climactic moment of our dear church, we extend an invitation in His precious name.  Somebody you, to give your heart in faith to the precious Lord Jesus [Romans 10:8-13]; a family you, coming into this dear fellowship [Hebrews 10:24-25]; anybody you, answering God’s call in your heart; in the balcony round, down a stairway, in the press of people on this lower floor, “God has spoken to my heart, and I’m answering with my life.”  On the first note of the first stanza, come.  And God lead and bless in the way, while we stand and while we sing.