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Life, the Universe, and Everything. What is it?



Updated: 2017-11-21T10:18:20.679-05:00

 



The Five Solas -- Class 2, Sola Fide

2017-07-23T08:10:07.996-04:00

I am doing a short series of classes, The Five Solas. This is the slides for the second class, Sola Fide.

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New Series, the Five Solas -- Class 1, Sola Scriptura

2017-07-08T22:19:22.388-04:00

I am doing a short series of classes, The Five Solas. This is the slides for the first class, Sola Scriptura.

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The Consummation, Class 11, Review and the Intermediate State

2017-04-02T08:19:18.750-04:00

This is the last class of the series The Consummation.

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The Consummation, Class 10, The Olivet Discourse

2017-03-26T08:01:48.405-04:00

Last week was devoted entirely to questions, so the material of Class 9 will be covered today. The slides on the Olivet Discourse is ready for further discussion. It expands what is covered at the end of Class 9.

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The Consummation, Class 9, Preterism

2017-03-19T08:07:08.922-04:00

Class 9 of the Consummation series looks at Preterism. There are two forms: Partial Preterism and Full Preterism.
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The Consummation, Class 8, Postmillennialism

2017-03-12T07:45:58.197-04:00

Class 8 of the Consummation series examines Postmillennialism.
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The Consummation, Class 7, Amillennialism

2017-03-05T08:13:29.953-05:00

Amillennialism is a misnamed view because this view does hold to the millennium occurring between the first coming of Christ and his second coming.
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The Consummation, Class 6

2017-02-26T07:57:15.128-05:00

Class 6 of The Consummation is a continuation of the notes of Class 5. We will pick up from where we left off -- the biblical contradictions of a "rapture" event that is separate from the second coming of Christ.




The Consummation, Class 5, Dispensational Premillennialism Critique

2017-03-12T07:52:49.030-04:00

These are notes for the fifth class on The Consummation. Last week we took a break to hear from some missionaries. The previous class covered Historic Premillennialism, which was the first half of the presentation notes. These notes are a revised second half of those notes. Some of the slids are animations, which might not show quite correctly in the slides here.
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The Consummation, Class 4, Premillennialism, Historic and Dispensational

2017-03-12T07:52:21.886-04:00

The material in this class overlaps "class 2". The pace and direction is set by the discussion and questions in the class. Think of these slides as a resource that goes along with the class.
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The Consummation: When was Satan Bound?

2017-01-29T08:01:49.319-05:00

Question was asked in the previous class, when is Satan bound in the different views. This presentation goes over the different views.
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The Consummation, Class 2, Overview and Historic Premillennialism

2017-03-12T07:51:03.429-04:00

This is a draft of the second class on the Consummation.
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Who are the Assembly of God's People?

2017-01-09T22:07:09.916-05:00


Due to snow and ice this past weekend, church and Sunday school were cancelled for this past Sunday (January 8). The first class will be held this next Sunday, January 15.

Understanding who make up the community of God's chosen people is central to understanding eschatology. The assembly of Israel in the Old Testament, with the coming of Christ, had an in-grafting of Gentiles to the Jews who believed in Jesus as their Messiah. Those who did not believe in Jesus were pruned or cut off from the assembly of Israel.

The word translated as "church" in the New Testament comes from the Greek word "ecclesia" -- congregation. In the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, the Septuagint, the Hebrew word for the assembly of the people of Israel was translated as "ecclesia".

This continuity of the assembly of Israel, the assembly of the people of God, has a continuity from the Old Testament into the New Testament. It should be noted that the Church does not replace Israel. Rather, God has graciously grafted in believing Gentiles with believing Jews. This is one people where there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile.



The Consummation, Class 1, Foundations

2017-03-12T07:49:42.045-04:00

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New Series, The Consummation

2016-12-28T10:23:10.395-05:00

I will be teaching a Sunday school class series at my church, Christ Presbyterian Church, 495 Terrell Mill Road SE, Marietta, GA 30067, starting January 8. It will be at 10 AM each Sunday morning for 12 weeks. I will publish the class notes here each Wednesday prior to the Sunday class.



Revelation Advent -- December 25

2016-12-25T00:00:07.952-05:00

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 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. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. (Revelation 22:1-5, ESV)


The end of the Bible, the end of Revelation, takes us back to the very beginning again, to the Garden in Eden. In many ways, the Garden in Eden was a temple, and Adam was the first priest who had direct access to God. The tabernacle and the temples built afterward had garden motifs, trees in its furnishings, reminding of the paradise of God. The temple also modeled the night sky with stars, pointing to how God inhabited his creation. All that pointed to a time in the future when we would directly see God and his creation unspoiled.

Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden. They were prevented access to the Tree of Life. In the new heavens and earth, the Garden is recreated and the Tree of Life is present, and it provides healing for the nations. The bitterness, war, strife between nations will be healed through these trees.

Before Adam's fall, God gave Adam the charge to subdue the earth. This was a spiritual charge as much as a physical command. The Garden only existed in on spot in Eden. The Garden was to grow to cover all of Eden, and all of the earth was to be brought under the dominion of God's image bearers. The human race could not do it, but God will.

Paul tells us in Romans 8 that all of creation awaits its redemption. Randy Alcorn has opened my eyes to the possibility of some of the amazing things that might be in the new creation. This is speculative, but imagine having a conversation with the author of the book of Hebrews while you each ride the backs of Brontosaurs. Far fetched? Perhaps, but maybe not. His book, Heaven, is an interesting book to read. He pulls thoughts from many theologians, many from my own Reformed tradition, and others. Another excellent read on the Garden of Eden and the temple in Revelation is G.K. Beal's book, The Temple and the Church's Mission. A short audio summary is found here.

The new heaven and earth is going to be a fascinating place, a place filled with joy, delighting in God and his creation.

This concludes the advent series on Revelation. Merry Christmas!






Revelation Advent -- December 24

2016-12-24T00:00:08.360-05:00

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:1-4, ESV)



We come to the goal of God's work in the history of redemption. God's dwelling is with the human race and we are fully his people.

Lots of images portray this. This are varying schools of thought on how literal these images will be. Revelation 21 tells of Jerusalem descending from heaven onto earth -- Jerusalem the shape of a cube that is 12,000 stadia in length, width, and depth. This translates to a 1,380 by 1,380 by 1,380 mile cube. Certainly this new Jerusalem is possible with God and would provide plenty of living space for all of humanity. But the number of 12,000 looks to be indicative of symbolism. There is 12 for the apostles and the tribes of Israel, and the factor of 1000 for the millennial rule and is a large ancient number. Personally, I think this is a symbolic description of Jerusalem indicating it is a huge place for God's people. In fact, it is so big that Revelation seems to imply it fills the entire dimension or span of God's new heaven and earth. Revelation 21 says that outside of the New Jerusalem "are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood." Since all of these evil people have been banished to another dimension described as the lake of fire, it implies that Jerusalem fills all of the new creation.

The shape of the New Jerusalem is a cube -- which is the shape of the Holy of Holies in the temple. The New Jerusalem, which encompasses the whole of the new creation, is God's temple. However, John says he "saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb." Also, in another sense, all of God's people are the temple, for they were measured into God's temple earlier in Revelation.

We will not lose our identity in God's new heaven and earth. We will be identified by our nationalities, because in God's light "will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, ... they will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations." In this new creation we will find our true identity, the best of all done on earth will come into the new creation and be made infinitely better.

I have enjoyed traveling to many places in the world and always enjoy the rich, diverse culture, sights, smells, and tastes. That will come through in perfection in the new creation, to the glory of God and our great delight. The new heaven and earth will not be a boring place. We will find wonderful things to explore, work that is enriching, rewarding . It is going to be incredible beyond our fondest dreams for all those who are in Christ. It will be better than the best Christmas every moment of our lives there -- forever.



Revelation Advent -- December 23

2016-12-23T00:00:10.348-05:00

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11-15, ESV)


This passage in Revelation echoes back to the sixth seal:

The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. (Revelation 6:14, ESV)


Revelation 20 amplifies the final judgment spoken of earlier and fills in some of the details. All people will stand before God in judgment. There are two sets of books. The first set contains the record of everyone's activities, good and bad. We know that if anyone were to try to justify their right to enter heaven based on their activities, they will be found wanting. The Apostle Paul tells us in very strong language:

“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
“Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
(Romans 3:10-18, ESV)



You might say, that doesn't describe me. However, this is the Bible's description of all of us in our natural condition. We all have sinned. While we may not physically shed blood, there are times we cut down other people in our thoughts and words, which is shedding their blood, diminishing those people. And from this description of each person, sin from God's perspective is very heinous and serious. It is so serious that if we are judged only by the first set of books, we face eternal punishment which is described as being cast into the lake of fire. The only way to not be judged by the first set of books is to have your name written in the other book, the book of life. All who recognize their sin, their need of Christ's death to pay for their sin, and who cling to Christ, they will have their names written in the book of life.

For those whose names are written in the book of life they have the rest of Revelation to look forward to. The next two entries will briefly look at that.





Revelation Advent -- December 22

2016-12-22T00:00:00.242-05:00

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while. (Revelation 20:1-3, ESV)Revelation 20 is the great dividing point for interpreters of Revelation. Many believe this passage refers to the period after the second coming of Christ. The reason is that this vision, they would argue, follows in time sequence, the visions of chapter 19. In this view, Satan is not completely defeated, but is bound for a thousand years and is released at the end of the one-thousand years for a great war against Christ and the saints.A second view is that this passage is a retelling of the history from the time of Christ's ascension into heaven, nearly two-thousand years ago, to the time when Christ will return again in the future.By far the most popular view for Christians, at least in the United States, is the first view. I hold to the second view for several reasons. First, I see that Revelation has already presented the visions in cycles of retelling, recapitulation, or overlays of visions on the same period of history. Each overlay presents another view of the period of history between Christ's first advent to his second coming. Secondly, there is a complete destruction of the armies in Revelation 19. There does not appear to be anyone left to destroy again, or any seeds left to sprout into those to be destroyed again. Thirdly, in the bowls judgment cycle, a loud voice from the thrown cries out "it is done" at the seventh seal. Another period of a thousand year period which concludes with more fighting of Satan would mean the judgments were not done with the seventh bowl. Fourthly, numbers in Revelation have symbolic meaning just as other symbols in Revelation. The millennium speaks of the mightily reign of Christ and his church. The gospel has gone throughout the world and Satan could not stop it. Finally, I think the rest of scripture presents a clear picture that all of redemptive history completes with Christ's second coming. If we did not have Revelation 20, there would be no speculation about a millennium after Christ's return where there would be a great battle at the end of the millennium.But those of the first view might ask, If the millennium is now, how was Satan bound? The answer comes from Jesus. He told the Pharisees in Matthew 12:24-29 that he does his work because he has bound the strong man Satan. period Christ also spoke of Satan falling in Luke 10:17-19 when the seventy-two disciples excitedly reported back after Jesus had sent them out ahead of them.This binding of Satan relates the the gospel going forth to all the nations. Before Christ's first advent, the people who responded to God were largely the Israelites and the Jews. Since Christ's advent, the gospel is going to all the nations.So, what does this have to do with us? We live in the millennial period where the kingdom of God is spreading to all the nations and people groups. God is powerfully at work. Since we live in the period of God extending his kingdom, we can have the joy of taking part in this. This is not a time to hang back, but a time to celebrate God's millennial rule by participating in it.[...]



Revelation Advent -- December 21

2016-12-21T00:00:00.151-05:00

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,

“Hallelujah!
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”—

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. (Revelation 19:6-8, ESV)



Revelation 19 and 20 presents six snapshots:
  • Rejoicing in heaven over the fall of Babylon.
  • The marriage supper of the Lamb.
  • The last great battle.
  • A recapitulation of history from Christ's ascension to second coming, expressed as 1000 years.
  • The defeat of Satan.
  • The final judgement.

The saints in heaven rejoice over Babylon's fall. These were the ones under the alter in Revelation 6 who cried out how long will it be before God avenges them. The fall of Babylon, along with Christ's second coming and the marriage feast of the Lamb, are God's answer to their prayers. All believers who face persecution and hardship can look forward to the fall of the corrupt, evil systems of this world and to Christ's return. This vision has given strength to millions of Christians throughout the ages when they could not fight back, and allows others who can fight to yield their desire for vengeance to God, who is the one that will set everything aright.

The marriage feast in Revelation 19:6-10 shows the great celebration of Christ's return. Christ's church will be consummated in marriage to Christ.

The last part of the Revelation 19 depicts the final battle. The sea beast (referred to as the beast) and the earth beast (referred to as the false prophet) are defeated.

We are entering the glorious part of Revelation, where Christ's second advent will usher in the new heaven and the new earth. All evil will be defeated. A party unlike all others will erupt in heaven and come to earth. All the suffering, no matter how great, will pale to the celebration that follows.

As the angel says: "Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." Don't miss out on this. Come to Christ. Those who are already in Christ, we have a lot to look forward to. As we celebrate Christ's first advent, let us also remember




Revelation Advent -- December 20

2016-12-20T00:00:00.795-05:00

After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was made bright with his glory. And he called out with a mighty voice,

“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!
She has become a dwelling place for demons,
a haunt for every unclean spirit,
a haunt for every unclean bird,
a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast.
For all nations have drunk
the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality,
and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her,
and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living.”
(Revelation 18:1-3, ESV)


When John wrote Revelation, Babylon was exemplified by Rome. Rome was the commercial power center of the world, was Rome. Rome was rotting at the core and would topple a few centuries later. Other Babylons arose throughout the ages, and they too will fall. The church must not be wedded to the Babylons of its age.

Let me give an example of the church being wedded to strongly with the culture. What isn't too well known is that Christianity spread to China during the T'ang dynasty (618 - 907 AD). One of the Christian communities got official recognition from the ruling authorities. However, in the 800s, the T'ang dynasty was in serious decline. When it fell, Christianity in China was virtually extinguished. The church in China had become so entangled with the ruling party the when the dynasty vanished, the church vanished too.

As great as my country is, the United States, there are many Christians and churches that are too closely wedded to it. There are two polar opposites we need to tread carefully. One is shunning all contact with the culture and the world so that the church does not engage with Christians in any meaningful way. The other is that the church so identifies with the culture it loses being a church at all. The church is to be in the world but not wedded to the world. The world as we know it, the civilizations will perish. We need to be apart from the Babylons of this world







Revelation Advent -- December 19

2016-12-19T00:00:03.079-05:00

And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality. And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth's abominations.” And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. (Revelation 17:1-6, ESV)This is one of the most disturbing pictures to me in the book of Revelation. I live in a country and time where I do not face persecution for my belief in Christ. Oh, there is a little mild inconveniences. People will look at me strangely if I tell them I am a Christian and that other people who do not believe in Christ face hell. Even someone commenting on one of the blog entries in this series said I was a bigot. Those kinds of things are not persecution -- just some oddities.There are some in this country that face stiffer persecution. I think of florists, bakers, and photographers who cannot in good conscience provide their services for same sex weddings, who face ruinous fines and sanctions. Freedom of religion is eroding in the United States.There are other Christians in other countries that face real persecution that includes enslavement, rape, taking away families, and death for being a Christian.Where I live, life is comfortable. I am easily seduced with the comforts of life. I'd like a big computer for Christmas (that won't happen), games to spend lots of time on. I want to keep the comforts of a lifestyle of pleasure. Giving up time to pray, to study the Bible, to spend time with the friendless, those who need encouragement, even my family, well, it is easy for me to put those aside. In other words, I find the whore of Babylon altogether too appealing. That is why I find this vision disturbing -- very disturbing. This vision is a warning to me and people like me. In fact, God warns us:“Come out of her, my people,lest you take part in her sins,lest you share in her plagues”(Revelation 18:4, ESV)The whore of Babylon is very beautiful. The description in Revelation tells how she is dressed beautifully, with fine clothes, rich accessories. She carries a exquisite golden cup. She is winking at you, at me. She is enticing. But she is drunk -- drunk on the blood of the saints.The whore rides on top of the beast, the sea beast, who have great military might. They have an alliance -- but not a happy alliance. Ironically, the beast will destroy Babylon the whore. Those who profit from her will morn over her -- for the money and wealth they loose at her demise.Jesus said:“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.” (Matthew 6:19-21, ESV)Take your delight in Christ. Seek Christ's kingdom above all else. John Piper stated this principle well when he said: "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him."Take your full delight in God rather than the pleasures of this world. In pursuing God, you will find your heart's content.[...]



Revelation Advent -- December 18

2016-12-18T00:00:00.158-05:00

After this I looked, and the sanctuary of the tent of witness in heaven was opened, and out of the sanctuary came the seven angels with the seven plagues, clothed in pure, bright linen, with golden sashes around their chests. And one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever, and the sanctuary was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished. (Revelation 15:5-8, ESV)


I am skipping ahead. I cannot cover all of Revelation before Christmas. Chapter 14 is an interlude with a vision of heaven with the 144,000, the announcement of the destruction of a yet to be introduced player in the tribulation, Babylon the harlot, the harvest of the Christians from the earth (the grain harvest) and the nonbelievers (the grape harvest). Following this are the final judgments God pours though his angels carrying the bowls onto the unrepentant dwellers of the earth. The previous cycles of the seals and the trumpets had a warning element to them, calling for repentance. With the conclusion of the bowls, God's wrath is finished. Some interpreters see the bowls are the final act of judgment just prior to Christ's return. Others see this as the final act of judgment on individuals throughout history. Whatever the case, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God, to quote Hebrews. As Paul reminds us, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

When troubles, illness, disaster come out way, we can have several reactions. The first is to be angry at the unfairness of it all, to move away from God, to hate anyone who could permit such a thing to happen. Another response is to see God's warning, that you do not control your life, that indeed you are a sinner in need of God and come running to him.

Those who flee to Christ and depend on him will not be disappointed.







Revelation Advent -- December 17

2016-12-17T00:00:25.282-05:00

Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. (Revelation 13:11-12, ESV)The dragon (Satan) brings up the third creature of the unholy trinity, the earth beast, who is later known as the false prophet. The earth beast counterfeits the work of John the Baptist and the prophets that speak in power through the Holy Spirit. He directs worship to the sea beast through counterfeit miracles.God's people are marked with a seal. The beast has his own mark, the mark of the beast. It is described in Revelation as the number of a man, 666. Personally I have been curious about this number. For the first audience of Revelation, the seven churches in Asia Minor, whether Revelation was written around 90 AD (the earliest written traditions say so, and it thought so by most scholars), or written before 70 AD (a popular idea among others that study Revelation), it is very possible they thought of Emperor Nero, because of some popular ways of playing with the letters of people's names and adding up the letter values. Nero and other later Roman emperors demanded worship. The cultic emperor worship fit as a prototype for the earth beast described in Revelation. In any case, those who serve the beast take on his mark.What is the mark like when it is applied to people? Just as the mark of God (his seal) on his people is invisible, so probably is the mark of the beast is invisible. This mark allows people to do commerce and it could take various forms throughout history. For those who crave material comfort, they can become slaves to personal credit debt. The number could be symbolized by their credit score, or credit card account numbers. As in the previous blog entry, I think people need to think outside of the typical parameters in popular discussions, sermons, and novels on end-times. We need to ask the question, what do I desire, crave? Is it a nice home that I can't afford? New cars? Gadgets? Games? Sports? Do I control my spending, or does my spending control me? Am I tithing? Am I going beyond the tithe? If not, why not? Do I live a lifestyle that prevents me from giving to God and others? These questions can give insights to where your real treasure is.The earth beast also has a religious tone to it. During the Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church oppressed and persecuted Protestant Reformers. Martin Luther and others saw the Church of Rome as the beast. Any religion that draws people away from Christ is a form of the beast. This includes popular "civil" religion which claims that all the religious faiths of the world worship the same God, that there are multiple paths to God and heaven. This thought is the work of the earth beast, the false prophet. Groups and churches that pervert the gospel are used by the beast. Health and wealth churches have sprung up all over. Religious cults are growing, such as Scientology. All of these are forms of the earth beast.Economics and religion -- used by the earth beast to entrap and enslave those outside of Christ. Am I saying that credit cards, Visa, Master Card are the beast? They have beast-like features that draw people to become slaves to debt. Much of their advertising is deceptive. Using credit does not give freedom, it enslaves many people. Are we to fle[...]



Revelation Advent -- December 16

2016-12-16T00:00:24.101-05:00

And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads. And the beast that I saw was like a leopard; its feet were like a bear's, and its mouth was like a lion's mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority. One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast. And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?” (Revelation 13:1-4, ESV)The one God we worship is three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In the previous entry I mentioned how Satan counterfeits God in trying to emulate knowledge, power and authority. Satan also has fashioned a counterfeit trinity. There is Satan who counterfeits the Father, and in this passage we see Satan giving rise to the beast from the sea, the second of his perverted trinity.At the end of chapter 12, the dragon stands on the sand of the sea. The sea, for ancient Israel, was a place of unrest and evil. The sand in the Old Testament is used to describe the descendants of Abraham. Satan is claiming lordship over all the peoples of the earth.The beast the coming out of the sea is the image of the dragon, Satan. The sea beast (to distinguish it from the beast that comes out of the earth), has seven heads and ten horns. Instead of seven crowns that the dragon has (one for each head), the beast has ten crowns, one for each horn. The beast mimics the Son of God in that one of his heads has a fatal wound that was healed, mimicking the death and resurrection of Jesus.The beast is an amalgam of four creatures from the book of Daniel, that represented four empires, the last being Rome. The amalgam indicates the universal nature of the sea beast. The beast has authority for 42 months, the symbolic timespan from Christ's resurrection until the time of intense evil just before Christ second coming (as seen with the two witnesses in Revelation 11). The people of the earth who do not belong to God worship the beast.The sea beast represents oppressive power throughout the time between the two advents of Christ. At the time Revelation was written, the oppressive power was Rome. Later we will see allusions to Rome and possibly Nero. In fact, it is quote possible that one example of the fatal wound that was healed was the turmoil in Rome in the events surrounding the suicide of Emperor Nero. Rome was rife with rumors of revolution and upheaval during the years immediately after Nero's death. With Domitian, stability returned to the empire. In history, other oppressive regimes had periods of near demise followed by seemingly miraculous recovery. Examples in the twentieth century include the Soviet Union, where during the Russian revolution of 1917, the communist movement looked like it faced extermination but survived and grew, and the Communist Chinese revolution that appeared to die and then come back to life to take over China.The sea beast can show up in many guises. There are the obvious political and military oppressive governments that persecute and suppress Christians. Islamic countries are examples of those. It can take subtler forms. It can take the form of governments usurping the authority of families in raising their children in the [...]