Archive for the ‘Book of Revelation’ Category

“The church at Laodicea was in danger of judgment. What offended the Lord was not their intense sin but their moderate Christianity: “You are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! You are lukewarm” (Revelation 3:15-16). They weren’t heretical or wacko. They were somewhere in the mushy middle. They neither promoted the gospel nor opposed it. They thought the Bible had some good ideas, but they didn’t relish it. They wanted their kids to grow up moral, but not missional. They found some space in their busy weekend schedule for going to church, but they didn’t redesign their whole lives around the cause of the gospel. Jesus would not put up with it: “I will spit you out of my mouth” (verse 16). There is a kind of Christianity that Jesus finds distasteful. But still, Jesus lovingly reached out to them: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (verse 20). He didn’t force himself on them. He offered himself with a humble knock on their door.

Notice the word “anyone.” He didn’t say “If the pastor hears” or “If the elders hear” but “If anyone hears my voice.” Martyn Lloyd-Jones, in his book on revival, observes a striking pattern in Christian history. A new movement of blessing never begins by a majority vote. It begins when one person, or a small group of people, “begin to feel this burden, and they feel the burden so much that they are led to do something about it. . . . It may be anybody.” Don’t think you can’t do anything. Don’t wait for someone else. Jesus offers himself to anyone: “If anyone hears my voice and opens the door . . . .”” – Ray Ortlund

You will find below my reading list for 2009.  You might call it my bibliography for the year.  I have tried to start the list out with things that people would find the most interesting, which for the readers of this blog I think would be the “average joe” section and “church leadership”.  However, for the resident theology nerds you will find a reading list for Biblical theology and exegetical works, as well as theological readings (primary and secondary) from the Patristic period all the way to the modern.  If I felt that a comment might be helpful, or if I wanted to strongly recommend a book I left my remarks next to the bibliograhical information in bold.  If you have any questions about the books themselves I would be happy to answer them.  Enjoy!  To see the list simply click through… (more…)

The following is an excerpt from Horatius Bonar’s commentary on the Book of Revelation.  Reading the Puritan authors for me is often a bittersweet experience.  I derive such joy from their devotional writtings and yet at the same time I realize that their’s was a special generation that has not been replicated since.  I long to see men and women of such thoughtfullness, joy, and passion for Christ and his Gospel.  Perhaps that’s why I post them so frequently!  Maybe some of their thoughtfullness, joy, and passion will rub off on some of you, spawning a resurgence of their great faithfulness.  Check out all of Bonar’s commentary on Revelation by clicking here

I. What is this grace of the Lord Jesus Christ? Free love! Divine favor, unbought, unsolicited, and undeserved! With this the Bible begins, and with this it ends. The free love of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit! This is the ‘good news’ which the messengers of God have brought to us; the ‘good news’ which the cross of Christ has made available and accessible; the ‘good news’ which remains ‘good’ to the last, unchanged and unweakened by the lapse of time. The gospel has not become a dried-up well or broken cistern. The free love of God, coming to us through His Son, has not been exhausted or made less free. In these last days, we can take up the old message of grace to the sinner, and sound it abroad as loudly and as freshly as at the first.

No delight in the death of the wicked! Delight in his turning from his ways and living! Yearning over the impenitent, tears for Jerusalem sinners, stretching out of the hand to the rebellious, invitation upon invitation to the weary; the open door, the universal call, the beseeching to be reconciled, the pressing of the cup of life to the lips of a thirsty world—all this, continued to the last, marks he unutterable compassion of God to the sinner, the riches of the divine grace, the boundless fullness of God’s heart, as it pours out its longings, and proclaims its long suffering to the chief of sinners. Return to your Father’s house, and be blessed! Come, and be forgiven! Look, and be saved! Touch, and be healed! Ask, and it shall be given!

II. How this grace has been shown. In many ways, but chiefly in the Cross. The words of Christ were grace—the doings of Christ were grace—but at the cross it came forth most fully. Grace all concentrates there—grace shines out there in its fullness. The cross is the place and pledge of grace. The cross did not make or originate the grace; but it made it a righteous thing that grace should flow out to us. It threw wide the gates of the storehouse; it unsealed the heavenly well. From the cross comes forth the voice of love, the message of grace, the embassy of peace and reconciliation. This grace flows everywhere throughout a guilty earth; but its center is the cross; and only in connection with the cross is it available for and accessible to us. The ‘it is finished’ of Golgotha was the throwing down of the barriers that stood between the sinner and the grace.

The grace itself was uncreated and eternal; it did not originate in the purpose—but in the nature of God. Still its outflow to sinners was hemmed in by God’s righteousness; and until this was satisfied at the cross, the grace was like forbidden fruit to man. Divine displeasure against sin, and divine love of holiness, found their complete satisfaction at the altar of the cross—where the ‘consuming fire’ devoured the great burnt-offering, and gave full vent to the pent-up stores of grace. The love of the Father, giving His son, was there. The love of the Holy Spirit, by whom a body was prepared for Him, and by whom ‘He offered Himself without spot,’ was there. The cross is the great exhibition of the grace!

III. How we get this grace. Simply by taking it as it is, and as we are; by letting it flow into us; by believing God’s testimony concerning it. Grace supposes no preparation whatever in him who receives it, but that of worthlessness and guilt, whether these be felt or unfelt. The dryness of the ground is that which fits it for the rain; the poverty of the beggar is that which fits him for the alms; so the sin of the sinner is that which fits him for the grace of Christ. If anything else were needed, grace would be no more grace, but would become work or merit. Where sin abounds, there it is that grace much more abound. How many are shutting out the grace by trying to prepare themselves for it! Open your mouth wide and I will fill it, is all that God asks. Our thirst may be but the thirst for happiness; our hunger may be but the hunger of earth; our feelings may be altogether unspiritual; our sense of sin nothing—yet all this does not make us less qualified for Christ’s free love, or that free love less immediate or less bounteous in its flow. In the belief of God’s testimony to the grace of His Son, we let in the grace, and become partakers of the pardon and the joy.

read the rest of this passage here

The Revelation to John

Dec 15:                        A Love Grown Cold                 (Rev 2.1-7)

 

“They that see God cannot but praise him.  He is a Being of such glory and excellency that the sight of this excellency of his will necessarily influence them that behold it to praise him.  Such a glorious sight will awaken and rouse all the powers of the soul, and will irresistibly impel them, and draw them into acts of praise.  Such a sight enlarges their souls, and fills them with admiration, and with an unspeakable exultation of spirit” –Jonathan Edwards, “Praise, One of the Chief Employments of Heaven” (Thanksgiving Sermon, Nov 7, 1734)

 

We begin today’s class with an important principle from Jonathan Edwards, namely that in beholding the excellency of God we are drawn into acts of praise that affect the deepest and most remote compartments of our soul.  That is why we do Bible study. That is why we take Bible study one step farther and do Biblical theology, and farther still to systematic theology.  These are an attempt to behold God, grounded in the revealed word that he has given us, that we might behold him and be given “an unspeakable exultation of spirit.”  I have said this many times before, and I say it again.  THE KEY to spiritual growth lies not in applying Biblical principles to your life, but in beholding God and having his majesty and the depth of his love, mercy, kindness and righteousness transform the heart and reorient our desires. 

 

And yet even this pursuit can be corrupted and turned from its original end, as we shall see in our reading today, we see a church whose love has grown cold.  What is striking about this, is that their love grew cold when they were so well equipped to behold the majesty of God.  So there is a lesson for us here.  When knowledge of God becomes more important than God himself, then our doctrine has become our idol, replacing our “first love” with cold dogma.  May God save us from this!  Let us see what Jesus has to say to the church in Ephesus, and see how we might be turned from this sad situation. (more…)

 

From Horatious Bonar’s Commentary on Revelation

1. Learn self-denying Christianity.

Not the form or name, but the living thing. ‘Christ did not please Himself.’ Let us in this respect be His true followers; bearing burdens for Him; doing work for Him; submitting to the sorest toil for Him; not grudging effort, or cost, or sacrifice, or pain; spending and being spent for Him; relinquishing the lazy, luxurious, self-pleasing, fashionable religion of the present day. A self-indulgent religion has nothing in common with the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ; or with that cross of ours which He has commanded us to take up and carry after Him, renouncing ease and denying self. Our time, our gifts, our money, our strength, are all to be laid upon the altar. We are to be ‘living sacrifices’ (Romans 12:1)

2. Learn faithfulness to His truth.

We hear it often said that what the age needs, and what the Church needs, is religion—not theology. But the whole Bible takes for granted that there can be no true religion without a true theology. The Bible is God’s testimony to Himself and to His Son—the Christ of God. There can be no acceptable religion or worship or service except that which is founded upon that testimony. The belief of that testimony is life everlasting—the belief of any other testimony is death eternal. Let us be true witnesses for the truth—let us shun and hate error—trying those that propagate it, and finding them ‘liars’, as the Ephesian church did. Let the Master’s word in reference to the errors of the early churches sound in our ears—’Which thing I hate.’

 

A church may, no doubt, have a true testimony, and yet be a very unfaithful church; she may have the FORM of sound words and the form of godliness—and yet be cold like Sardis, or lukewarm like Laodicea. Yet, on the other hand, it is not possible that, with a false testimony, or a testimony to what is untrue, she can represent her Master and Head. A false testimony must make a false church. The belief of a lie will not save a man; nor will the belief of a lie win for a church the favor of the Lord. A true creed is of unspeakable importance, even though at times it has been associated with inconsistency and death.

read it all here

risen-christaccess his commentary here

I am the LIVING One.

Thus should the passage be read—’I am the first, and the last, and the living One.’ Throughout Scripture the name of the Messiah is associated with life. He is—Jehovah—the I Am—the Being of beings—the Possessor of all life—the giver of all life—the living and the life-giving One. His association with death is only transient—and that for the purpose of overcoming death, and bringing life out of death. He is the PRINCE of life—He is the LIGHT of life—He is the BREAD of Life—He is the WATER of life. Everything connected with LIFE is linked with Him; for as the Father has life in Himself, so has He given to the Son to have life in Himself.

The words, “I am living One,’ would remind John of the many things which he himself had narrated, and of the many words he had recorded concerning Christ as the Life; for he, of all the evangelists, has brought this great truth before us. It was as the Living One that He said, ‘the Son quickens whom he will’ (John 5:21). ‘He who believes in me has everlasting life. This is the bread that came down from heaven, that if a man eats of it, he shall not die. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever. Whoever eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, has eternal life’ (John 6:50-54).

Ah! Truly it was the living One who spoke such words as these; and it is as the living One that He utters them still. We fall at His feet, like John, as one dead! He lays His right hand upon us, and says to us, “fear not; I am the living One;’ it is not death, but life, that I have come to bring; and in beholding the glory of the living One, it is life, not death, that you should look for! (more…)

 “To inspire all people through the power of the Gospel to become living members of the Body of Christ…”

The Revelation to John

Dec 8:              Who is this Jesus?                     (Rev 1.9-20)

 

“Nearly all the wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts:  the knowledge of God and of our selves.  But while joined by man bonds, which one precedes and brings forth the other is not easy to discern.” –Calvin, Institutes Book 1.1.1.

 

Our topic today is “Who is this Jesus,” and if we are to take the quote seriously from John Calvin that I have just read, and I hope that we do, then we see that the answer to this questions hinges upon knowing two things:  Jesus and Self.  We cannot know Jesus unless we know self and we cannot know self unless we know Jesus.  The selection of the verses for today exhibit both in profound ways.  Let us turn then to knowledge of self.

 

“I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the Kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus…”  In Roman Catholic, and unfortunately some Protestant churches, it is common to refer to John as “Saint.”  Aside from the fact that Scripture clearly defines the household of confessing believers as saints (Eph 3.18), the appellation “Saint” assigned only to certain Christians has unfortunate pastoral consequences.  For one, what are the adjectives most commonly associated with a saint? Righteous, perfect, holy, innocent, sinless etc.  In other words, NOTHING LIKE YOU.  But the grace of this particular scripture is that John seeks not to differentiate himself from us with exalted titles, but he seeks to identify with us by calling us “Brother.”  John can call us “brother” because he is made from the same stuff we are.  He has the same shortcomings, the same weaknesses, the same vulnerabilities and the same fears.  He has the same need for salvation.  So he begins this section of Revelation with “I, John, your brother.” (more…)