Sunday, November 30, 2008

Revelation - A Vision to See with your Ears

Revelation is a book of graphic symbols depicting God and His plan to sustain us as we faithfully follow Him, His plan to thoroughly destroy His enemies and His plan to reverse the curse as He ushers us back into paradise: the new heavens and new earth.

Revelation is a series of pictures which are best caught when seen with our ears - when listened to in order to capture its big-picture reality of Christ-centered hope. Therefore, I would strongly encourage you not only to read Revelation this year as I preach through it, but listen to it. Unless you have a copy of the Bible on tape or cd, you can listen to any portion of the Bible in a number of translations (including the ESV) here.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Rightly Reading Revelation

Revelation renews us, not so much by telling us about particular future events, as by showing us God, who will bring all events to pass in his own time and own way.

Revelation constantly utilizes earlier Scripture, but uses it creatively, in new configurations. Any vision of God and and his throne room is less like a photograph than an artistic impression. It is a vision, which symbolizes rather than photographs the realities that it presents.

- Vern Poythress, The Returning King, pp. 99 & 105

Prophetic vision is not intended to provide photographic reproduction of what spirits such as cherubim and seraphim look like. Rather, in prophetic vision God adapts to the need of the moment the visual metaphors by which he portrays aspects of truth about himself and his heavenly courtiers.

- Dennis Johnson, The Triumph of the Lamb, p. 101

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Prepared to Die

I cannot say I have so lived that I should not now be afraid to die; but this I can say, I have so learned Christ, that I am not afraid to die.

- The words of Puritan Stephen Marshall on his deathbed, November 19, 1655

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Treasure Principle Keys

This morning during our Sunday School hour we spent time praying for the upcoming 2009 budget year.  We opened our time of prayer by looking at Randy Alcorn's "Treasure Principle Keys"  from The Treasure Principle.  

1. God Owns Everything.  I'm His money manager.
We are the managers of the assets God has entrusted - not given - to us.
2. My heart always goes where I put God's money.
Watch what happens when you reallocate your money from temporal things to eternal things.
3. Heaven, not Earth, is my home.
We are citizens of "a better country - a heavenly one."  (Hebrews 11:16)
4. I should live not for the dot but for the line.
From the dot - our present life on earth - extends a line that goes on forever, which is eternity in heaven.
5. Giving is the only antidote to materialism.
Giving is a joyful surrender to a greater person and a greater agenda.  It dethrones me and exalts Him.
6. God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving.
God gives us more money than we need so we can give - generously.  

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Key to Contentment

Before conversion, before God wrought upon your souls, you were contented with the world without grace, though you had no interest in God nor Christ; why cannot you now be contented with grace and spiritual things without the world?

- Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, p. 214

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Politics of James 3:9-10

Many Christians may be tempted today (and may be more in days to come) to fill their mouths with declamations, sarcastic jokes and doomsday predictions about our new president. At such times we need a biblical reality check to recall why God created our tongues. James 3 helps us:

With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not be so.

What, then, should we who long for righteousness to reign on the earth in the face of the election of an unrighteous ruler do with our speech? Paul tells us in
I Timothy 2:1-4:
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1Timothy 2:1-4).

Over the past two weeks we've posted some wise, biblical advice in the realm of politics from the tongue of John Piper. I'll let him have the last word in guiding us in the use of our tongues in light of our nation's election outcome and in light of
I Timothy 2:1-4:

1. Giving thanks “for kings” is hard when they are evil.
And, as Calvin said on this passage, “All the magistrates of that time were sworn enemies of Christ.” This shows us that anarchy is a horrible alternative to almost any ruler. We should give thanks for rulers because “non-rule” would unleash on us utterly unbridled evil with no recourse whatever. Again Calvin: “Unless they restrained the boldness of wicked men, the whole world would be full of robberies and murders.” The better we understand the seething evil of the human heart that is ready to break out where there is no restraint, the more thankful we will be for government.

2. The effect we pray for is “that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly, and dignified in every way.”
Dignified means “serious and reverent,” not stuffy. I suspect what Paul means is not that we can’t live godly and serious lives during times of anarchy. We can. I suspect he means that peaceful and quiet lives, which are the opposite of anarchy, are often wasted in ungodly and frivolous actions. So he is praying for a government that would give peace and quiet (not anarchy), and that Christians would not fritter away their peaceful lives with the world, but would be radically godly and serious about the lost condition of the world and how to change it.

3. Using our peace for radical godliness and serious action will lead to more effective evangelism and world missions.
This last observation is confirmed by the hoped-for outcome Paul mentions. Paul says that the reason God delights in such peaceful, Godward, serious action is that he “desires all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” More people will be saved if our government restrains the horrors of anarchy, and if Christians use this peace not to waste their lives on endless entertainment, but seriously give their lives to making God known.