By Pastor David Palmer
The more I read the Book of Revelation, the more I am convinced of its gospel-centered nature. Is this only because I come to every book of the Bible with this presupposition? Well, I have to admit that I have become quite gospel-centered in my approach to Scripture, and it’s probably due to the fact that Jesus was gospel-centered in His understanding of Scripture (see Luke 24:44-49). But with all this talk about being “gospel-centered” (and it seems that these words end up on a lot of book titles these days), is it too much to say that the Book of Revelation is gospel-centered?
I would argue that an understanding of the gospel as the major theme in Revelation is key to interpreting the message of the book. There are three main lines of thinking that leads me to this conclusion. First, we are confronted with the reality of the gospel from the very outset of the book. In Revelation 1:5, we see Jesus, the faithful witness unto death, the first born from the dead in His glorious resurrection, and ruler of kings on earth in His ascension rule and reign. This is the good news of the gospel--the death, resurrection, and subsequent ascension and reign of Christ over all. Just as Jesus Christ is the focus of the Book of Revelation, clearly it is the theme of the gospel that runs throughout the book as we are brought over and over again to Jesus atoning death and triumphant resurrection and reign.
Not only do we see the facts of the gospel, but we see the effects of the gospel. Staying here in chapter one, we see what Jesus’ work has accomplished on behalf of His people. Because of His death, He has freed us from our sins by His blood. Because of His glorious resurrection, He is the One is continually loving us. Because of His ascension and reign, He has made us a kingdom and priest to God. What gives comfort and impetus to be overcomers in the Revelation is the reality of what Christ has accomplished for us. We can fight the onslaughts of Satan because of Jesus’ final and complete work, and His continual work in us today by the Holy Spirit. We could not live the reality of the Book of Revelation apart from the gospel.
And lastly, we see the thread of the gospel throughout this book. Many have noted the thread of creation-fall-redemption-restoration. All four are found in the Book of Revelation. We are reminded of God's power in creation in 4:11. We are reminded of the Fall and all its effects--from the supernatural demonic realm all the way to the behavior of sinful people to their continual as well as ultimate judgment. We see the ravaging effects of sin on the human heart when we read statements like in 9:20-21, where after intense judgment by God for sin, people still refuse to repent and come to God. But in spite of scenes of intense judgment and destruction, we see the glorious picture of Christ and His great redemptive work as the Lamb having been slaughtered (5:9). And of course the Book of Revelation takes us to the glorious end, the consummation of all things, which for the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes, to the ones who conquer in Christ, the final destination of a New Heaven and Earth awaits them, where there is no longer the presence of sin, we will be in our glorified state, and God will be in our immediate presence forever (Revelation 21:1-4).
"...if we lose the gospel in Revelation, we lose the whole book."
We must maintain that the theme of Revelation, a vital key to its understanding and application, is the gospel. Because, if we lose the gospel in Revelation, we lose the whole book. We should Study the Revelation intently, noticing the continual theme of Christ’s death and resurrection, what that has accomplished for us, and how the gospel is driving everything that God does into eternity.