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Posts Tagged ‘Revelation’

Here’s how I chose to invite friends to study the Book of Revelation with me:

Humans are fascinated with the end of the world. We see this fascination everywhere. Alien invasions, Godzilla attacks, nuclear holocausts, and meteor strikes are only a small selection of our disaster movies that cinema enthusiasts relish. Even when real disasters strike, we have an uncanny knack for finding comfort in our apocalyptic entertainment and millennial charts. This appears odd at the outset. But is it, really?

Do we read books on the end of the world because we wish demise upon ourselves? Are we really that sick? Or, do we somehow believe that the end, whenever it comes, is not actually the end? The Bible speaks of the end times in great detail. But, the message seems awfully obscure to most of us. That complicates things. It seems too confusing to understand, at least for the most part. Yet we want to know. We want to know what will happen. We want to know, is the end really the end? Will we somehow triumph? Will death have the final say?

We naturally refuse to believe that kind of horrific idea, and say, death will surely not win.

This is because Christians are an incredibly hopeful people. It is built into our eschatology. We believe in all of God’s promises. We believe Jesus will return and reign at the end. We believe evil will be defeated and all wickedness will be destroyed, cast into the lake of fire.

And, we believe that the blessings Jesus brought with him at his first coming will be increased greatly when he returns. This is what theologians call the “already” and “not yet” theme of the kingdom of God in which we presently live. But that is simply the surface of what Scripture says about the future. We know it is difficult to understand what the Bible says about the end of the age and the age to come. We wonder, for example, will there be a millennium? If so, what will it be and when will it come? Will there be a “secret” rapture? If not, when will it be? There are certainly options for a framework of the key end times’ texts: premillennial, postmillennial, amillennial. But which, if any, are correct? What are their strengths? What are their weaknesses?

That is why books on the end times are written, at least the good ones. But we want to know what God’s book says about these things. If we can’t understand everything, what does God really want us to know right now, while we await the day of his return?

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It is with that introduction that I invited friends into my home to study this difficult book. I’m curious as to how you might invite friends over to study the Book of Revelation? As for the study itself, my goal will be to help my friends see Revelation in terms of its present usefulness to Christians, much in the same way it would have been encouraging, useful, and needed among the churches it was originally addressed to. So, we will leave behind the charts and focus of the text itself. We’ll use the help of study Bibles and commentaries to help us as much as they can. And when we get to incredibly debated topics along the way, I’ll explain the different options and say which one I hold or lean toward.

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I am not a big fan of “church signs.”  I put that in quotations because of course I don’t have a problem with signs that inform people of church services or church locations etc.  What I do have a problem with is the trivializing of serious biblical truths that can be found on church billboard such as “Hell is hot, come on in we are prayer-conditioned.”  Despite my disdain for some of the sillier signs, every once in a while, I will come across one that I really like, this happened to me recently on the way home from running. The sign that I saw said this, “COMING SOON:  Jesus!”  I read that and I thought, “YES, my Lord and savior, Jesus Christ is coming again and he is going to raise me up to be with Him forever!”

Are you excited about the Lord’s return?  This is how the Bible ends:

20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! 21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen. (Revelation 22:20-21).

When John received the promise and vision of Christ’s glorious return to finally and fully redeem his children, he got excited.  He said, “Amen” which literally means “truly” or in more modern terms, “YES!”  “Come, Lord Jesus!”  Paul was excited about it too, when Paul wrote the Philippians, he was in prison and wasn’t sure if and when he would be executed, he said, “If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me.  Yet which shall I choose I cannot tell.  I am hard pressed between the two.  My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better” (Philippians 1:22-23).  In other words, Paul is saying, if I got what I wanted, I would go to be with Christ.  Paul is saying here, “I want to be with Jesus, I long to be with Him for eternity!”  If you read on, Paul admits that it seems that God has more ministry in mind for Paul (thus he indeed live on in the flesh) and he submits himself to God’s will in that regard—there is no morbid longing to die in Paul, just a longing to be with Christ in a fuller way than he currently is.

This is a great question to ask yourself to gauge where you are spiritually—“do you long for Jesus to return?”  If not, what is keeping you from longing for that?  What is it that you want in this life that is keeping you from longing for Christ?  What do you want to experience this side of eternity that is keeping you from longing for Christ supremely?

When I was in high school and newly converted, I started dating a girl (neither of us were mature enough in our faith to be dating but that is another story) who from time to time would make comments like, “I hope Christ doesn’t come back before I have the opportunity to get married and have a family.”  At the time I suppose I sympathized with the sentiment, but I was also devouring the Bible at the time and Paul’s words, to “be with Christ is far better” seemed to contradict her sentiments.  So from time to time, I ask myself—is there anything keeping me from longing for Jesus to come back?  Are there things I think I would miss if Jesus came back now?  Those questions have helped me to identify idols in my life that are keeping me from delighting supremely in Christ.

If your heart’s desire is not, “come Lord Jesus,” why not?  Answering that question could be key in removing tremendous road blocks to growth in your walk with Christ.

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Well it’s the day we have all been waiting for or the day we have all been dreading-the day we get to head out the door and cast our vote for the next president of our country. This election has been reported to be the most important election in the history of our country. I suppose there is some truth to that claim, however it seems that each successive election is the most important election in our nation’s history. Things undoubtedly will change in our country, no matter who is elected president and that is in some ways a troubling thought, however, there are some things that will not change-things that no president can touch, things that ought to give us purpose and joy for all eternity.

I don’t intend to diminish the importance of this election, but no matter what transpires in the next 24 hours, there are a few constants that we can be sure will not change. First, God is still sovereign and working all things according to the counsel of his will (Eph. 1:13). Second, Christ has overcome the curse of the fall for all who would believe and as a result nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:13; 2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 8:37-39). Thirdly, Christ will return and gather all his children to himself and we will be with Him in glory (Col. 3:4; 2 Cor. 3:11; 1 Thess. 4:16-17).

Have you ever read the book of Revelation? I have, more than once, and I still am not sure exactly how things are going to end, but one thing is for sure-Christ is going to win and that means that everyone who has believed on him will win as well. We will reign with Him, we will be with Him for eternity and everything that has gone terribly wrong in this sin-filled world will be made right. And most importantly we will see our beautiful savior in all His glory unfettered by the bonds of sin and we will be filled with unspeakable joy for all eternity!

This reality of Christ’s return to finally bring the world under his eternal reign and rule is the reality that drove Paul to conclude that, to die and be with Christ “is far better” (Phil. 1:23). When Jesus told the apostle John, “Surely I am coming soon,” John responded by saying, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20).

As I have kept an eye on the ongoings of this election, I have become increasingly cynical. No matter who is elected, I don’t feel that my values will be upheld. What I have found most encouraging in the midst of my cynicism is a hefty dose of Revelation! Let me explain. The first three chapters of Revelation are composed of letters to seven different churches. In fact Revelation was written in large part to encourage these churches. Many of these churches were facing severe persecution. Persecution of the type that the United States knows little of. In Revelation 1-3, John repeatedly writes to “the one who conquers” or “the one who overcomes.” Why does John do this? He wants to encourage these Christians to remain faithful to Christ in the midst of persecution. He wants to remind them that our treasure is not on this earth but in heaven.

Perhaps we need that reminder as Christians on election day. No matter what happens today, our purpose as Christians, to worship Christ and make him known, will not change. The call to go and make disciples of all nations will not change. I strongly doubt, no matter what the results of this election, that we will face the kind of persecution that the seven churches in Revelation faced, but nonetheless we can learn from John’s encouragement to them to overcome, to conquer, to trust Christ and be faithful to Him no matter what the circumstances.

So what should we do on election day? By all means pray and vote, but perhaps more importantly, I suggest we worship the Lord sitting on His throne. I suggest we make plans to have dinner with our lost neighbors-as my pastor encouraged our congregation on Sunday, invite them to “come and see” what we are all about! I suggest we take time this evening to pray with our families, not just for our nation but for each other that we would each grow in our love for Christ and be strengthened in our fight against the flesh.

If tomorrow you wake up and your candidate has lost-do not despair but as one who overcomes, pray, share the good news of Jesus Christ, and worship the King who was and is and is to come (Rev. 1:4).

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22 “These words the LORD spoke to all your assembly at the mountain out of the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the thick darkness, with a loud voice; and he added no more. And he wrote them on two tablets of stone and gave them to me. 23 And as soon as you heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, while the mountain was burning with fire, you came near to me, all the heads of your tribes, and your elders. 24 And you said, ‘Behold, the LORD our God has shown us his glory and greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire. This day we have seen God speak with man and man still live. 25 Now therefore why should we die? For this great fire will consume us. If we hear the voice of the LORD our God any more, we shall die. 26 For who is there of all flesh, that has heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of fire as we have, and has still lived? 27 Go near and hear all that the LORD our God will say and speak to us all that the LORD our God will speak to you, and we will hear and do it.’ 28 “And the LORD heard your words, when you spoke to me. And the LORD said to me, ‘I have heard the words of this people, which they have spoken to you. They are right in all that they have spoken. 29 Oh that they had such a mind as this always, to fear me and to keep all my commandments, that it might go well with them and with their descendants forever! -Deuteronomy 5

There is nothing more important for you to do today than to hear from the Word of the Lord. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” The Lord, in Jeremiah 23:29 says, “Is not my word like fire . . . and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces.” The Apostle James compares the Word of God to a mirror in which we look and who we really are. You cannot truly look into God’s Word and forget who you are (James 1:23-25). Thus when we truly look into God’s Word, we are not only interpreting the Bible, but the Bible is in many ways interpreting us.  God’s Word shows us who were are called to be in Christ. Peter spoke of the Word of God as “pure spiritual milk” and he commands believers to “long for pure spiritual milk like new born babies, so that by it we might grow up to salvation” (1 Peter 2:2). Thus God’s Word is to be our authority, our spiritul food by which we grow, and the means by which we judge the thoughts and intentions of our hearts. There is nothing more important for you and I do than to hear from God’s Word.

There is a problem though. Ever since man received God’s Word in the Garden of Eden, man has been doubting and questioning it. Do you remember what the serpent said to Even in the garden? “Has God actually said you shall not eat of any tree of the garden?” (Gen. 3:1). Ever since Adam and Eve fell into sin, we have been responding to God’s Word with “has God actually said?” In James chapter 4, the apostle James asks the question, “Why are there fights and quarrels among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?” You see, ever since the fall our desires and our passions are all messed up. Our greatest desire and passion should be for the glory of God and secondarily for the good of our neighbor, but ever since the fall, when God’s Word comes, we are tempted to say, “has God actually said?” So the apostle James commands us to “put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and recieve with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). If we are to receive God’s Word, we must do so humbly.

The Israelites were shocked that they had heard the Word of the Lord spoken and lived. They knew from experience and from Moses’ teaching that God was holy and would not allow sinners like them into his presence. They were amazed that they might hear God’s Word and live. The good news of the gospel is essentially this–that you might hear the Word of almighty God and live!  It is impossible to hear this Word and respond in pride. You know why? Because this Word became flesh and dwelt among us and through Him, through the Lord Jesus Christ, we might hear God’s Word and live!

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In this series of posts on Lordship salvation and repentance, I have sought to make clear that the Bible teaches that sinners must both repent and believe in order to be saved. However, an essential objection to the lordship position on repentance remains to be addressed. Non-lordship proponents almost unanimously object to the lordship position on repentance by claiming that the Gospel of John nowhere teaches that repentance is necessary for salvation.[1] Hodges cites John 1:26-27, where John the Baptist compares his baptism with that of Jesus, noting that there is “not a word–not a syllable about repentance.”[2] Hodges proclaims the absence of repentance in John’s Gospel “the death knell for lordship theology,” claiming that “John did not regard repentance as a condition for eternal life . . . if he had he would have said so.”[3]

It has already been adequately shown that the New Testament clearly presents repentance and faith inseparably together as the human responses to the gospel call unto salvation. Hodges fails to address some of the New Testament’s clearest teaching on repentance and faith such as Mark 1:14-15 and Luke 24:46-47. Thus, Hodges leaves open the possibility that John’s Gospel teaches a different soteriology than that of the Synoptics. However, the word repentance “itself does not have to appear for us to see the principle of repentance as part of the message of God-centered evangelism.”[4] Jesus commanded the adulterous woman in John 8 to repent when he told her to “go, and from now on sin no more.”[5] It is difficult to make sense of such a command if the call to repentance is absent from John’s soteriology. In addition, the idea of repentance is present in the Johannine epistles (1 John 3:4-10). Furthermore, repentance is boldly commanded in John’s letters to the churches in Revelation as “the Lord found it necessary to rebuke five out of the seven churches in Asia Minor and to call them to repentance.”[6] John need not be pitted against the Synoptics as repentance plays an essential role in Johannine soteriology.


[1]Chafer, Systematic Theology, 376. Hodges, Absolutely Free!, 147-148. Ryrie, So Great Salvation, 97-98.

[2]Hodges, Absolutely Free, 148.

[3]Ibid. 150.

[4]Reisinger, Lord and Christ, 67.

[5]Reisinger, Lord and Christ, 67. Reisinger notes that there are several places in the Synoptics where the word is absent but the idea of repentance is clearly present (c.f. Jesus and the young ruler in Mark 10:17-22 and the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32).

[6]Roberts, Repentance, 37-38. Roberts cites Revelation 2:1-5, 2:12-16, 2:18-22, 3:1-3, 3:14-19, and 3:22.

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I preached on Colossians 1:15-20 yesterday at my church. Col. 1:15-20 represents some of the New Testament’s most profound teaching on Christ. So to open up my sermon I compiled a list of statements on Christ and read it before the church. Some of them are direct quotations of texts others are edited to be presented orally. Compiling this list blessed me so much (and blessed my church too I hope) that I thought I would post it today. I hope it encourages you to glory in our Redeemer!

Here it is:

  • He is the heir of all things (Heb. 1:2).
  • He is the beginning and the end (Rev. 21:6).
  • Through Him the world was created (Heb. 1:2 and John 1:3).
  • The heavens are the work of His hands (Heb. 1:10).
  • He upholds the universe by the word of His power (Heb. 1:3).
  • The world will perish but he will remain (Heb. 1:11).

The world will change and pass away, but HE is the same, yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 1:12 and Heb. 13:8).

The heavens will pass away and He will burn up the heavenly bodies and expose the earth and then he will bring in the new heavens and the new earth (2 Peter 3:12-13).

  • In Him was life, and the life was the light of men (John 1:4).
  • He is the light that shines in the darkness and the darkness HAS NOT overcome it (John 1:5).
  • He is much superior to the angels His NAME is more excellent than theirs (Heb. 1:4).
  • He is the only begotten Son of God (Heb. 1:5).
  • He makes His angels winds and His ministers a flame of fire (Heb. 1:7).
  • He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature (Heb. 1:3).
  • He sits at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Heb. 1:3).
  • The scepter of uprightness is the scepter of His kingdom (Heb. 1:8).
  • His throne is forever and ever (Heb. 1:8).

The Kingdom of the world has become His kingdom and He shall reign forever and ever (Rev 11:15).

  • His glory is the glory of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
  • He and the Father are one (John 10:31).
  • He is the Word that took on flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14).
  • He was tempted as we are in every respect, yet WITHOUT sin (Heb. 4:15).
  • Though He was in the form of God, He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a bondservant, being born in the likeness of men and being found in human form (Phil 2:6-7).
  • He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Phil 2:8).
  • He is the bread of life, whoever comes to Him shall not hunger and shall never thirst (John 6:35).
  • He is the light of the world, whoever follows Him will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life (John 8:12).
  • He is the door, whoever enters by him, will be saved (John 10:9).
  • He is the good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep (John 10:11).
  • He is the resurrection and the life: whoever believes in Him shall never die (John 11:25-26).
  • He is the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).
  • He is the true vine (John 15:1).
  • All the world will be judged by Him (Acts 17:31).
  • He is coming soon to repay everyone what he has done (Rev. 22:12).
  • He is THE JUDGE of the living and the dead (2 Tim. 4:1).
  • He will raise the dead in Christ to eternal life (1 Thes. 4:16).

To those who do not believe in him, He will say to them “Depart from me, you cursed, in the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt 25:41).

  • He will send those who reject Him will to eternal punishment (Matt. 25:46).
  • He will raise to eternal life those who are righteous IN HIM (Matt. 25:46).
  • He will lose NONE that the Father has given Him, but He will raise them up on the last day (John 6:38-39).

No one has ever seen God, but Jesus makes Him known (John 1:18).

  • While the Law came through Moses, grace and truth have come through Jesus Christ (John 1:17).
  • He has been given authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all the Father has given Him (John 17:2).
  • To all who receive Him, who believe in His name He gives the right to become Children of God (John 1:12).
  • He is the cornerstone and the foundation of the church (1 Cor. 3:11 and Eph. 2:20).

God highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus, ever knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:10-11).

  • Jesus is Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. (Rev. 22:13).
  • To Him be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever (Rev. 5:13).
  • To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity (2 Peter 3:18).
  • To Him belong glory and dominion forever and ever (1 Peter 4:11).

From Him and through him and to him are all things. To HIM be glory forever (Rom .11:36).

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