What now….

When one escapes from the massive damage that was caused all around them by the massive tornadoes that ripped through the area it’s easy to just forget that devastation is all around them affecting thousands of people. But one thought does not escape. What about those who suffered no damage? What are they thinking? What reasons do they bring to the table as to why they escaped and others did not?

I don’t presume to offer anything except Jesus’ words in Luke 13:1-5. Some people come to Jesus and “tell” him about a two harsh losses at the hands of a tyrant and a falling tower. Jesus reply? Repent!

Jesus makes clear that the loss suffered had nothing to do with the suffering being because they were worse sinners. They were not worse sinners at all. For all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. The living and those not suffering were sinners just like the ones who were dead and mourning loss.

Jesus offers no reason to satisfy their curiosity nor does he offer a theology to them on why Father allows some to escape and others to not. He profoundly says to them that unless they repent they to will perish.

Harsh loss witnessed by others who escape harsh loss is a chance to repent now and avoid eternal consequences.

For me, today, I must repent. I don’t ask why. I repent of my many sins. I have been spared harsh loss. Why? I don’t know except to say I must not miss this opportunity to repent now. Oh, and I have plenty of sin to repent of.

You?

Theology is Practical

A fellow pastor just tweeted a link, Bill Streger, down in Houston. TRCC’s elders got some time with this dude and have been getting to know some of his fellow staff in Minneapolis each year at the pastor’s conference. We are also tweet maniacs, but I digress.

Bill posted a link to an article worth your time highlighting the need for pastor/theologians.

Give it a whirl.

/Rise of the Pastor/Theologian

Revelation 4 and 5

Revelation 4-5

John starts with this amazing vision of Jesus, the resurrected and reigning King who is present with and knows his churches intimately.

The letters to the churches are introduced with the phrase “things that are”.

So, we’ve taken note that the greatest need of the churches and for us today is to have a glimpse of the resurrected Jesus. To see him and know him is the most vital event.

That still holds true today.

Jesus has commended and corrected his church and now John transitions with the phrase “what must take place after this”.

In Revelation 4 the vision changes from earth to heaven and will remain there until chapter 10, and this is important.

“This section may be viewed as a turning point in the book of Revelation. It provides a fuller understanding of the Christ and his salvation that dominates the previous chapters and of the judgments and the kingdom which are the subject of the chapters that follow. A single motif binds together the twofold vision of ch. 4 and 5, namely that the God of creation is the God of redemption who brings to pass his purpose through the crucified and risen Christ.

Ch. 4 reads like one of the visions of God in the OT (cf. Is. 6; Ezk. 1), where God is presented as exalted in holiness, far above the storms of history and the efforts of evil forces to resist his will.

In ch. 5 attention is concentrated on the Christ (Jesus who is risen) who has conquered all evil powers and thereby won the right to open God’s scroll of (historical) destiny and carry out what is written in it.

Through the combination of the two visions it is made clear that God’s will in creation, celebrated in the closing hymn of ch. 4, is accomplished by the Lamb who was slain and raised to the throne of God; and so history ends in the acknowledgment and worship of God and the lamb by the living and the dead.[1]

What is the vital revelation that John sees here that moves the churches and prepares them for what is to come?

1. Worship is the end and a means Rev 4

What are some keys to getting worship right?

A. Throne – “The key word in this chapter is throne; it is used fourteen times. In fact, this is a key word in the entire book[2]…”

1. There is recognition of the source of all things v. 11

2. There is submission to the One who is the source of all things v. 11

The reason it is important to understand this theme of throne is that the heavenly reality of who Jesus is and that fact that he providentially rules history (remember, he opens and closes all doors) and our place in it determines our response to it.

If our worldview is out of whack then our response to Jesus’ work will be out of whack.

The heavenly scenes are much more vital than the earthly scenes because they give the earthly scenes their meaning.

It’s the same now. What happens at the commands of Jesus gives meaning to our existence as people and as members of his Kingdom.

B. All creation worships – God gets praise from all of creation. If people are silent even the rocks

would cry out (Luke 19:40). Even the created order groans for it’s day of redemption (Romans 8).

 

4 The twenty-four elders are reminiscent of Is. 24:23, where the ‘elders’ were viewed as Jewish leaders.

These elders have often been interpreted as representatives of Israel and the church (twelve patriarchs and twelve apostles).

In 1 Ch. 24:4, however, we read of twenty-four priestly orders, and in 1 Ch. 25:1 of twenty-four orders of Levites appointed to prophesy and praise with harps and cymbals.

Since in Revelation 5:8 the elders present the prayers of God’s people and in 4:6–11 are linked with the for living creatures, they are evidently to be understood as exalted angelic beings, worshipping and serving the Creator. [3]

 

5 The flashes of lightning and pearls of thunder recall the theophany at Sinai (Ex. 19:16) and portray the awesomeness of God. [4]

7–8 Their ceaseless worship rendered to God may well represent the subjection of all creation to God. The Jews came to understand Ezekiel’s vision in this way, regarding the man as chief representative of creatures, the eagle of birds, the lion of beasts, and the ox of cattle.

The song of the cherubim implies that the future triumph of God is rooted in his very nature; the Lord, who is holy and almighty, is to come.[5]

C. Worship is a constant reality and we only join in – When we join in heaping praise on the Lord

Jesus, we are not doing anything novel. We are joining with the appointed officials who do this as

their created purpose forever.

1. Worship’s object is the King on the throne

2. Worship’s givers heap their words and their lives / possessions on the King

Who is the object of this worship?

2. The enthronement of Jesus makes Jesus the object of worship Rev 5

Here there is a clear presentation of the Tri-une God of the universe for this enthronement ceremony: Father on the throne, Jesus obeying and exalting and implementing his rule given by the Father and the Spirit testifying to that reality on a global scale (seven spirits of God).

“It is likely that we have here a representation of the coronation of Jesus the Lord in terms of the ancient enthronement ceremonies of the Middle East. The steps of the ceremony are generally defined as exaltation, presentation, enthronement and acclamation. The equivalent of the exaltation is seen in v. 5, the presentation in v. 6, the bestowal of authority in v. 7, and the acclamation (praise, worship) in vs. 8–14. So the Christ-Redeemer enters upon his reign in power.”[6] (Italics and bold mine)

A. Exaltation v. 5

A contract or will would be written either on stone tablets with clay wrapped around it with a brief description to give information on the tablet’s contents. “When papyrus or parchment was introduced, fundamentally the same procedure was used, and the document was sealed with seven seals. A related procedure took place with the writing of a will, in that a will was sealed by seven witnesses, and after the death of the testator it was opened, when possible, in their presence…the scroll in the hand of God represents his covenant promise of judgment and kingdom for humanity.”[7]

B. Presentation v. 6

C. Enthronement v. 7

D. Acclamation (praise, worship) v. 8-14


cf. compare

[1] D. A. Carson, New Bible Commentary : 21st Century Edition, 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), Re 4:1–5:14.

[2] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1996), Re 4:1.

[3] D. A. Carson, New Bible Commentary : 21st Century Edition, 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), Re 4:1–11.

[4] D. A. Carson, New Bible Commentary : 21st Century Edition, 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), Re 4:1–11.

[5] D. A. Carson, New Bible Commentary : 21st Century Edition, 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), Re 4:1–11.

[6] D. A. Carson, New Bible Commentary : 21st Century Edition, 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), Re 5:1–14.

[7] D. A. Carson, New Bible Commentary : 21st Century Edition, 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), Re 5:1–14.

Laodicea: How to NOT be the church

Revelation 3:14-22

Laodicea: How to NOT be the church

Laodicea was situated on the bank of the River Lycus. Its position at the junction of three imperial roads traversing Asia Minor favoured its development as a wealthy commercial and administrative centre. Three facts known throughout the Roman world about the city throw light on this letter: it was a banking centre, whose banks even Cicero recommended for exchanging money; it manufactured clothing and woollen carpets, made especially from the glossy black wool of sheep reared locally; and it had a medical school and produced medicines, notably an eye ointment made from a pulverized rock in the area. The stern characterization of the church’s spiritual life (17) and the call for its repentance (18) are both couched in terms of these three activities of the city.[1]

1. Don’t include too much doctrine and teaching because people are stupid, spiritually, and they can’t get it. Dumb it down to the lowest common denominator v. 14

A. Don’t worship Jesus as the epitome of truth John 14:6

1. Make worship all about people and their experience

B. Don’t worship Jesus as the creator and controller of all creation Col 1:15, 16; Hebrews 1:3

C. Use Scripture as a means to talk about whatever is the most popular subject among your

demographic. Whatever you do, don’t teach people how to read the bible, they might

question your conclusions.

1. Worship Jesus as the way, truth and creator of life

A. Amen “truly”

B. Faithful and true witness

C. Beginner of all creation

1. Jesus is the reason, means and the end

2. Be useless to the mission, show a video once a year and take an offering after you feel guilty v. 15-16

A. Just exist

B. Seek to survive rather than obey Jesus’ words

2. Be useful to the mission of Jesus

The terms cold, hot and lukewarm are likely to relate to waters around and in Loadicea.

Nearby Hierapolis was famed for its hot springs; Colosse, also near at hand, was noted for a cold, clear stream of excellent drinking water.

Since, however, the River Lycus dried up in summer, Laodicea had to use a long viaduct for its water, which was not only tepid but also impure and sometimes foul, making people sick.

The church of that city had that effect on Christ—a vivid and horrifying picture of judgment.[2]

What Jesus is saying by illustration is that they were like their water, putrid, foul and useless.

Jesus’ point is that they should be useful. Ideally they should be useful for the mission.

A. Engage the mission

B. Do what you can to the best of your resources (people and otherwise)

3. Be prosperous and need nothing v. 17-18

A. God helps those who help themselves

B. Just write a check, don’t put yourself in a position to have to depend on prayer rather than

prayer being a fashionable trend to put one’s spirituality on display.

3. Be totally dependent on the Gospel

The point is that Jesus has all their resources needed bound up in himself. He has all they need. He does not need anything and we don’t need anything apart from him.

A. Gold – purity

B. Garments – righteousness

C. Salve – worldview for operating and making decisions

4. Don’t regard “frustration of events” or hardship as the Lord’s loving discipline. God just does not do that, right? v. 19

A. Is it really the Lord’s discipline or just karma? What goes around comes around, right?

B. Would the Lord really bring something painful on me? Isn’t he just supposed to make me

happy?

4. Know that Jesus will frustrate events for our good and he can uphold while he chastises and this is good

A. Acts 16:7 “…the Spirit of Jesus would not allow…”

B. Hebrews 12

5. Don’t fellowship with Jesus, that’s just weird, we need a production meeting v. 20

A. I don’t like to sit quietly or read. I can’t pay attention long enough.

B. I really need something to get my attention. You know, entertain me!

C. Really, isn’t Jesus and Christianity just a religious myth on par with the other world’s

religions?

5. Fellowship with the Lord Jesus at all costs

Contrary to a pragmatic worldview that says getting things done is just vital, Jesus commends to us to be enriched by time with him.

A. Luke 10:38-42 Mary sits while Martha serves. Jesus commends Mary for listening to Jesus

While Martha consumed with serving. Jesus’ repetition of Martha’s name is vital. Jesus is

speaking through the veil of perceived necessity to the soul of Martha to show what is most

vital.

6. There is nothing of import past this life, so let’s get as much here as we can v. 21

A. God wants me to be rich and successful while here.

B. After all, what does suffering really do for a person? Let’s throw a few dollars at the rest of

the world’s suffering and sooth our conscience.

6. Life is important but treasure in the Kingdom of Heaven is where our reward lies

A. Matthew 6:19-21

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.


[1] D. A. Carson, New Bible Commentary : 21st Century Edition, 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), Re 3:14–22.

[2] D. A. Carson, New Bible Commentary : 21st Century Edition, 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), Re 3:14–22.