Author: Mark Johnson

Questions For Reflection for Sunday, March 17, 2019

  1. What is the contemporary depiction of the final state? Describe it? Does this depiction inspire your hope? Is there anything about this depiction that bothers you?

2. What does it mean that “heaven and earth departed” (Rev. 21:1)?

 

  1. What does it mean that the “sea was no more” (Rev. 21:1)?

 

  1. Why is “a new heaven and a new earth” in Revelation 21:1 followed by the description of a Garden-like city in the shape of a temple (21:2, 10-21)?

 

  1. What other verse in Revelation refers to “new Jerusalem the city”?

 

  1. What does new Jerusalem symbolize?

 

  1. What is the point of similarity between Jerusalem and a bride adorned for her husband (Rev. 21:2)?

 

  1. What is the most precious aspect of the new heaven and new earth (New Jerusalem) to you?

 

  1. Where else in Scripture is the action of “wiping away tears” (Rev. 21:4) also described?

 

  1. What is signified by the verb “to be thirsty” (Rev.21:6)? (support your answer)

 

  1. Where else in Scripture does God come to us?

 

  1. Each verse in this section recalls passages from the writings of the prophets, what are some of those passages?

 

  1. What is the most significant “take away” for you from the text of Revelation 21:1-8 and the sermon (“All Things New”) dealing with it?

WAITING FOR GOD

The sixth chapter of Revelation opens with John seeing four seals being opening which releases the so-called “four horsemen of the apocalypse” (Rev. 6:1-8). Then John sees the fifth seal opened,

Revelation 6:9-11 When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; 10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also

The “souls” under the altar are in the heavenly temple. They had sacrificed their blood for the testimony of Jesus Christ. Their blood had been poured out at the sacrificial altar. They live in the presence of God, dressed in their white robes. They have moved from earth, with all its hardships and heartaches, to a reality where they are engulfed in the worship, adoration, praise, and joy of God.

The martyred saints recognize both the holiness and justice of God. They appeal to both aspects as they lament the injustice upon the earth. As John Mark Hicks noted:

The saints before the throne share the lament of those who still live upon the earth. . . . The martyred saints share our lament and continue it in the presence of God. They, too, yearn for the fullness of God’s kingdom to manifest itself in a new heaven and new earth. (“Waiting With Us,” JohnMarkHicks.com)

“Wait” is the divine response. Waiting is what the martyrs must do. Waiting is what the saints on earth must all do, “And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:23).

What are we waiting for? The answer from Revelation is that there is more “witnessing” to do (Rev. 6:11; 12:11). God desires more people to come under His rule before Judgment comes.

Nothing To Live Or Die For

I just read an interesting article by Grayson Quay entitled, “The Soft Nihilism of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine.’” Quay’s thesis is that Lennon’s, “’Imagine’ has all but replaced the Nicene Creed as the official statement of faith of the Western world. The great virtue is tolerance, defined not in the classically liberal sense of non-aggression, but as an imperative to confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that all beliefs and lifestyles are equally valid.”

The denial of absolute truth is the only absolute truth. This is “Nihilism,” an extreme form of skepticism: the denial of all real existence or the possibility of an objective basis for truth. Dorothy L. Sayers notes that “is the sin that believes in nothing… hates nothing… lives for nothing, and remains alive only because there is nothing it would die for.”

“Nothing to live or die for” is totally counter to the call of the gospel. Paul noted that for him “live is Christ and death is gain” (Phil. 1:21). Jesus’ call was for those who follow Him to take up their cross (which means death) and follow Him (Mt. 10:38; 16:24; Mk. 8:34; Lk. 9:23).

The prospect of suffering for one’s faith was not just speculation to the original recipients of Revelation (nor the original recipients of 1 Peter). The clarion call of Revelation is for perseverance in faith (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21; 12:11; 21:7), even if it means suffering and death (Rev. 2:10; 12:11). Faithfulness to God cost Jesus His life (Rev. 1:5; 5:6, 9, 12) and He calls those who follow Him to the same path of nonviolent faithfulness (Rev. 14:4).

From a worldly point of view, the deaths of the martyrs, seem to show that faith in God and the Lamb leads to suffering and loss (it is ludicrous to die out of loyalty to a crucified Messiah). From that perspective, the most prudent course of action would be to abandon one’s allegiance to Jesus in order to obtain a more secure place in society. The vision of the martyrs at the heavenly altar (Rev. 6:9-11) and God’s judgments (Revelation chapters 6-9, eleven, and sixteen) counter this view by insisting that the faithful who have suffered on earth find rest and reward in heaven. Meanwhile, those on the earth will be disturbed by divine judgment (Rev. 6:12–17).

“Nothing to live or die for” may be the philosophy for those outside of Christ. Having everything to live and die for is true concerning faithfulness to the Lord Jesus.

How Long?

For Sunday, March 3, 2019

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION

 

  1. What questions or concerns remain for you about the judgment of God and/or the scenes of judgment in Revelation?

 

  1. If God did not deal with evil, would God be just? Would God be God?

 

  1. How does God’s wrath differ from human anger or wrath? Why does this difference matter?

 

  1. How does God’s character relate to judgment? Why is this so important?

 

  1. What biblical events demonstrate God’s delay in judgment?

 

  1. Are our prayers directed toward obtaining a benefit for ourselves or glory for God?

I Am The Alpha And Omega

I AM THE ALPHA AND OMEGA

The divine title “the Alpha and the Omega” occur as self-designations by God and by Christ in Revelation:

God: I am the Alpha and the Omega – 1:8

Christ: I am the first and the last – 1:17

God: I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end – 21:6

Christ: I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end – 22:13

Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. The “Alpha and Omega” designation is the equivalent in meaning to “the first and the last” and “the beginning and the end.”

God precedes all things and He will bring all things to fulfillment. He is the origin and goal of all history. He has the first word, in creation, and the last word, in new creation. As the Alpha, God is the Creator, the beginning of all things (4:11); as the Omega, He brings all things to completion in the new creation (21:1). His first word is spoken when the book begins (1:8), and His last word signals the fulfillment of His purposes: “All is done.”

“I am” recalls the name of God, like the expression “the one who is” (Exod. 3:14). This recalls texts from the Old Testament that stress the singular lordship of Israel’s God:

Exodus 3:14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'”

Deuteronomy 32:39 See now that I, I am He, And there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal, And there is no one who can deliver from My hand

Isaiah 41:4 Who has performed and accomplished it, Calling forth the generations from the beginning? I, the LORD, am the first, and with the last. I am He

Isaiah 44:6 Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me

Isaiah 45:22 Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other

Isaiah 46:9 Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me

Isaiah 48:12 Listen to Me, O Jacob, even Israel whom I called; I am He, I am the first, I am also the last

The Lord God Almighty Reigns – Rev. 19:1-6

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION

 

  1. What do you think about the statement that “absolute power corrupts absolutely”?

 

  1. What is necessary for power to not corrupt someone?

 

  1. Why is it important to understand that God is the “Almighty”? How does this fact translate into your life?

 

  1. What things claim to be “Almighty” in our time and place?

 

  1. How has and can the idea of God’s rule and judgment been misused and abused?

The One Who Is And Was And Is To Come

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION

 

  1. Why do you think John “brackets” the prologue of Revelation (1:4-8) with identifying God this way (what is John’s purpose in beginning the document this way)?

 

  1. How does one’s understanding of God impact one’s spirituality?

 

  1. How is God described (including phrases and titles) in Revelation and what is the significance of those descriptions?

 

  1. What significance does God being always in the past, being constantly in the present, and coming in the future have for you?

 

  1. What is the difference between being “in control” and “in charge”?

 

  1. Why is it important that the text of Revelation ties the reader back to Exodus and the God of Exodus?

BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO HEAR AND HEED

THE BIBLICAL MEANING OF BEING BLESSED

The Popular Concept Is That “Blessed” Means “

“Blessed” Has The Idea Of Having (Being The  Of) God’s Favor Or Approval – Mt. 5:4; Jam. 1:12; Pss. 1:1-2; 32:1-2; 34:8

Biblical blessedness                         our circumstances

“Blessed” In Revelation

In Revelation μακάριος is used in similar fashion to the beatitudes of Mt. 5 and Lk. 6

The blessing texts are linked to the  purpose of the book

The blessing texts summarize the  and rewards of overcoming

BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO FAITHFULLY HEAR AND DO

A  Blessing – 1:3

The first blessing  the reason readers should take the message seriously

A blessing on the one who       it aloud (in the assemblies) – Col. 4:16; 1 Thess. 5:27; 1 Tim. 4:13; Rom. 10:17

A blessing on those who gather to  and            the message they hear – Rom. 10:17; Deut. 6:4; Ezek. 40:4; Mt. 13:9, 13-16

Blessed Are The  – 22:7; 2:26; 3:10; 14:12; Acts 8:30-31; Dan. 7:15-17; Rev. 7:13-14

Jesus                 this prophecy to be obeyed

The message of Revelation is not                          to provide fodder for intellectual speculation about the end times but is rather a series of commands addressed to the present-day lives of all who read it

The message of Revelation is a call to                         and                        in light of past, present, and future realities

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION

Why is the public reading of Scripture important?

Why is hard to be attentive listeners (what hinders listening)?

What can help us be attentive listeners? (get us into the world imagined in Scripture)

What does the phrase “being a people under the Word” communicate to you?

What should our motivations for engaging God’s Word be? (why do we read the Bible?)

Why is Revelation so neglected when it is the one New Testament document that pronounces a blessing on those who read, hear, and keep what is written in it?

Do you agree or disagree with the statement, “There is a correlation between understanding the ‘words of this prophecy,’ ‘keeping the words of this prophecy’ and the blessings that are given”? Why do you agree or disagree with the statement?

 

  1. A blessing on those who gather to  and            the message they hear – Rom. 10:17; Deut. 6:4; Ezek. 40:4; Mt. 13:9, 13-16

 

 

  1. Blessed Are The  – 22:7; 2:26; 3:10; 14:12; Acts 8:30-31; Dan. 7:15-17; Rev. 7:13-14

 

Jesus                 this prophecy to be obeyed

 

The message of Revelation is not                          to provide fodder for intellectual speculation about the end times but is rather a series of commands addressed to the present-day lives of all who read it

 

The message of Revelation is a call to                         and                        in light of past, present, and future realities

 

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION

 

  1. Why is the public reading of Scripture important?

 

  1. Why is hard to be attentive listeners (what hinders listening)?

 

  1. What can help us be attentive listeners? (get us into the world imagined in Scripture)

 

  1. What does the phrase “being a people under the Word” communicate to you?

 

  1. What should our motivations for engaging God’s Word be? (why do we read the Bible?)

 

  1. Why is Revelation so neglected when it is the one New Testament document that pronounces a blessing on those who read, hear, and keep what is written in it?

 

  1. Do you agree or disagree with the statement, “There is a correlation between understanding the ‘words of this prophecy,’ ‘keeping the words of this prophecy’ and the blessings that are given”? Why do you agree or disagree with the statement?