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Showing posts from December, 2014

C. S. Lewis Bible Wrap-Up

One year later, over 300 posts, over 200,000 words added to this blog, today we are finishing up our journey through the C. S. Lewis Bible. I know I did not share much about the whole book of Revelation but chose instead to focus on a couple of passages. Therefore, let me highly recommend Michael Wilcock’s book, The Message of Revelation . After many years of studying and reading about this difficult book, I have found Wilcock’s work to be the most helpful. So what of C. S. Lewis and the Bible? I really like the Afterword to the book. It is a snippet of Lewis’ perspective on the Bible taken from Reflections on the Psalms . I can think of no more fitting way to close out our yearlong journey of reading and thinking on Scripture…. For us these writings are “holy,” or “inspired,” or, as St. Paul says, “the Oracles of God.” But this has been understood in more than one way, and I must try to explain how I understand it, at least so far as the Old Testament is concerned. I

Ready for Heaven?

Monastery of St. John the Theologian, Patmos After this I looked, and there in heaven a door stood open! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the spirit, and there in heaven stood a throne, with one seated on the throne! And the one seated there looks like jasper and carnelian, and around the throne is a rainbow that looks like an emerald. Around the throne are twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones are twenty-four elders, dressed in white robes, with golden crowns on their heads. Coming from the throne are flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and in front of the throne burn seven flaming torches, which are the seven spirits of God; and in front of the throne there is something like a sea of glass, like crystal. Around the throne, and on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: t

The Last Telling of the Christmas Story, Part 6

We read in Revelation 12 that, “The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.” I believe the secret message for us in this is that in the desert of persecution God prepares for us a place of protection. The 1,260 days represent a period of time during which Satan is persecuting the Church. 1,260 days is three and a half years. Seven years would be a complete period of suffering. Thus, 1,260 days represents a complete period of suffering cut short by half. This shows us that even in suffering God is merciful to us. God will not let us endure suffering longer than we can bear. (See 1 Corinthians 10:13.) God’s protection will last as long as Satan’s persecution lasts. Notice that God prepares a place for the woman to be taken care of. The desert represents a place of spiritual refuge and protection from Satan. Because the Lord aided the woman’s escape into the desert, we can be sure that God will provide se

The Last Telling of the Christmas Story, Part 5

Michael & Satan by Guido Reni As we saw yesterday, the second secret message of Revelation 12 is that there are forces of evil set on the destruction of the Church. The moment we become witnesses for Jesus Christ, the moment we try to bring him forth to the world, we become targets, targets for Satan. Satan will try everything in his power to stop us from being witnesses for Jesus. The story is told of a meeting that Satan had with some of his head demons. They were talking about how they might stop the Christians. One of the demons suggested, “Why don’t we try to get them to believe that God does not exist?” Satan replied, “No, they won’t fall for that. They have seen too much of the evidence of God’s existence in their own lives and in creation.” Another demon suggested, “Why don’t we try to convince them that God doesn’t really care about moral behavior?” But Satan replied, “No, that won’t work either, because they have their conscience and the Bible to tell t

The Last Telling of the Christmas Story, Part 4

Mary & The Dragon on the ceiling of The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Washington, D.C. In Revelation 12, the next sign that appears in heaven is an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. This dragon sweeps a third of the stars out of the sky and flings them to the earth. He stands in front of the woman to devour her child the moment it is born. Who is this dragon? We do not have to do much searching to find the answer. John tells us in Revelation 12:9 that “The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.” Thus, the dragon represents Satan. The seven heads represent the tremendous authority of Satan. The ten horns represent his great strength. The seven crowns represent the power and kingdoms of this world over which he rules. The stars that plunged to earth with him are the angels who fell with Satan and became his demons.

The Last Telling of the Christmas Story, Part 3

Who are the woman’s offspring in Revelation 12? We read that the rest of her offspring are those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus. The woman’s offspring are Christians. This story is, as I have already suggested, a highly symbolic way of telling the Christmas story, the story of Christ’s birth to Mary. However, this story also contains a message, an application for us. I believe that message is that just as Mary gave birth to the Messiah, so we, the Church, must continue to bring forth Christ to the world. How do we do that? How do we, as Christians, bring forth Christ to the world? I think we do it in the simple way we learned in preschool…Show and Tell. To bring forth Christ to the world we have to show him to the world in our lives and we have to tell about him with our lips. John Trent tells this story…. When I led a Young Life group, I did my best to round up kids who really needed to hear the gospel when we went to summer camp. M

The Last Telling of the Christmas Story, Part 2

Here is the last telling of the Christmas story in the Bible. It comes to us in Revelation 12:1-6. I believe we find a secret message encoded there. It is a message of Christ’s love…. A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days

The Last Telling of the Christmas Story, Part 1

As far as I can remember, I have only preached from the book of Revelation once. Since we have now come to the last book of the Bible in our year-long study, and since it is also Christmas, and because the one sermon I have preached from Revelation is entitled “The Last Telling of the Christmas Story,” I thought I would share it here with you over these last days of 2014 as we read through Revelation together. Here is the beginning of the sermon from Revelation 12:1-6…. A parent tells the following story about attending a Winter Pageant at her son’s school: Each December, I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience. I had cut back on nonessential obligations—extensive card writing, endless baking, decorating, and even overspending. Yet still, I found myself exhausted, unable to appreciate the precious family moments, and of course, the true meaning of Christmas. My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten that year. It was an exciting season for a six year o


The Apostle Jude by Anthony Van Dyck The author of this letter calls himself, “Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James”. The mention of James has led to some speculation. Is this a reference to James the half-brother of Jesus and leader in the Early Church? If so, then Jude is not only the brother of James but also the half-brother of Jesus. Jude or Judas or Judah is mentioned as the name of one of Jesus’ brothers. (See Mark 6:3 and Matthew 13:55.) Therefore, some scholars have thought that this letter was written by that Jude. However, if this is the case, why does Jude not simply come out and say that he is the half-brother of Jesus? Perhaps he does not do so because he does not think himself worthy of that familial connection. He is, after all, just a servant of Jesus the Messiah. The strike against this letter being written by Jude is that it appears to be one of the later letters of the New Testament, written, most likely, after the generation in which J

3 John

There are a few things that strike me in reading 3 John. First off, this and 2 John are much more like real letters than the other letters of the New Testament which are, in some cases, much more like theological statements or sermons. 3 John covers a variety of topics in a short span just as we would if we were writing a letter to a friend today. We do not know who Gaius was any more than we can be certain who John the Elder was. However, that does not keep us from benefitting from the contents of this letter. The first thing that strikes me is the statement: “I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul.” If someone prayed for your physical health to match your spiritual health, would you be in good shape, or on the point of death? This is an important factor to consider. Many people today spend much more time focused on improving their physical health while many focus little if at all on improving their spiri