The Revelation: Chapter 22:16-21 (Come, Lord Jesus!)

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(Rev. 22:16 ESV) 16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

The message is urgent. Wright picks up well on the spirit of the passage —

The song mingles with the bells, the voice of Jesus clearly audible through the echoing repetitions, the urgings, the warnings. Warnings there are indeed: it’s too late to change now; wash your clothes in the lamb’s blood, so that you can eat from the tree of life, because those who don’t, those who love inventing lies of every kind, will be outside (verse 15).

John isn’t worried about ‘consistency’ here; that’s not how bells and choirs work. Yes, those people were in the lake of fire before, and now they’re outside the city. It’s the same picture with another twist of the kaleidoscope, as usual. Stop worrying about that; listen to the music. The words of this book. Coming soon. This prophecy. Yes, I am coming soon.

Tom Wright, Revelation for Everyone, For Everyone Bible Study Guides, (London; Louisville, KY: SPCK; Westminster John Knox, 2011), 205. Continue reading

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From the Comments: More Holy Spirit Questions (Why study if we have the Spirit?)

HolySpirit7Reader Jeff R asked,

If the will of God is literally written on our hearts, why do we continue with Bible study? Why so much confusion and disagreement among us? Wouldn’t we all understand the same?

1. See my post my earlier post on free will. The Spirit doesn’t take our free will. We are free to ignore the scriptures should we so choose. Continue reading

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The Revelation: Chapter 22:6-15 (I am coming soon)

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(Rev. 22:6-7 ESV) 6 And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.” 7 “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

We now shift from the description of the New Heavens and New Earth and the New Jerusalem to the concluding words of the book. Continue reading

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From the Comments: Divorce & Remarriage, Part 5

divorce5Reader Laymond followed up with a pertinent comment.

Laymond wrote,

I believe the Hebrew writer gives a different conclusion for those who ask forgiveness, and continue to intentionally do the very thing they asked God to forgive them for.

I agree. Those who sin in reliance on grace are likely to find none. Grace is for those who repent and not a loophole to allow intentional sin. The key, as noted in my recent comments, is to understand what the “sin” is. Continue reading

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The Revelation: Chapter 22:3-5 (they will reign forever)

lion-dove-lamb-yeshuaThe river of the water of life brings about a change in the nature of the world.

(Rev 22:3 ESV) No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.

(Rev 22:3 NASB) And there shall no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His bond-servants shall serve Him;

The text speaks of either end of those things accursed or the end of the curse itself.

[The second movement is said to be the heavenly celebration after the Creation.] Continue reading

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From the Comments: Divorce & Remarriage, Part 4

divorce5Continuing my response to Nathan’s question in the comments:

Nathan asks (Part 2),

Is adultery a “one-time” sin that is committed on the day of the marriage ceremony, or is it an ongoing sin? Surely we would teach that individuals in homosexual or polygamous relationships would have to end those relationships in order to be faithful. We wouldn’t teach that baptism would forgive past sin AND sanctify the continuation of a sinful relationship. Yet is that not what we do when it comes to adultery?

Apples and oranges.

The passages dealing with homosexuality aren’t speaking of gay marriage but the actual sex act — which is sinful per se. Continue reading

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The Revelation: Chapter 22:1-2 (the river of the water of life)

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Reading the Revelation is like watching a 3D movie in Imax sitting on one of the rumbler seats that vibrates with the explosions. It’s fun but overwhelming. It’s sensory overload.

And the good news just keeps on coming. God could have ended John’s vision at the end of chapter 21 and left the readers satisfied. But like the chords at the conclusion to a Beethoven symphony, God just pours on the imagery, poetry, and spectacle. God wants to make a point: It’s going to be worth it all.

[Some take the first movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony to evoke the Creation.] Continue reading

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From the Comments: Divorce & Remarriage, Part 3

divorce5Inevitably, my responses to two emails about divorce and remarriage led to questions and responses in the comments. In fact, to cover the issue properly would require a book — and so I wrote one: But If You Do Marry … It’s a free (cheap!) download and covers all the familiar arguments as well as the latest scholarship.

But perhaps the far briefer comments I posted in response to questions would be of help to some readers who don’t need the full dose.

This and next comment are in response to a question posted by reader Nathan.
______________________________

Nathan asks (Part 1),

How do we deal with Ezra 9-10, where God’s people took wives in violation of His law? Did Ezra not instruct them to make a covenant with God and put away those wives?

Two key points. Continue reading

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The Revelation: Chapter 21:24-27 (there will be no night there)

lion-dove-lamb-yeshuaChapter 22 concludes with these words,

(Rev. 21:24-27 ESV) 24 By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, 25 and its gates will never be shut by day– and there will be no night there. 26 They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 27 But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

We’ve gone far too long without a Youtube video. Two very different versions of the same song. (And how could we get through the Revelation without at least one Mahalia Jackson video?)

Continue reading

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Elders: On How to Fire the Preacher

fired (1)I get emails —

Having grown up in a different tribe, it seems common among churches of Christ for the elders to get rid of the preacher periodically. I would be interested in your observations. Also, this usually seems to be a unilateral decision by the elders, often shocking the members. That doesn’t seem right to me. Thanks.

I have something like 10 years as an elder. I’ve been in church leadership nearly my entire adult life. And this is a very common reaction. And I don’t know an alternative.

First, in Churches of Christ, like all denominations with autonomous congregations, the elders (deacons in Baptist churches) have the power to hire and fire the preacher. Some denominations have no eldership and leave it up the congregation as a whole or the adult men. But Churches of Christ are far from unusual. Continue reading

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