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Revelation is the strangest book in the whole Bible, and for many people, it is a closed book. They avoid it, thinking it too mysterious for them to understand. On the other hand, a few people seem to live in the book of Revelation, concentrating all their reading of Scripture on this one book alone. Both of these extremes are shortsighted.

Revelation addresses the common challenges facing Christians under Roman rule, rather than speaking only to those enduring a time of terror. Some of the readers were struggling, but others were affluent and complacent. Revelation’s visions work to shape the fundamental convictions of the readers and call us to renewed faithfulness to God and the Lamb (working) out the implications in the contexts where we live.

The goal of these sermons in Revelation is to present the message of Revelation in a manner that is accessible, engaging, and meaningful. Revelation is not about the antichrist, but about the living Christ. It is not about a rapture out of this world but about faithful discipleship in this world. We will be addressing the central truths and realities of Revelation that we can know for sure. We will also be asking, “what type of congregation (and individual disciple) is Revelation attempting to form?”

08-05-18       One Weird Book                          Revelation 1:1-3

08-12-18       The Center of the Universe          Revelation 4:3-6

08-19-18       The Conquering Lamb                 Revelation 5:4-6

08-26-18       The Seven Spirits Before The Throne     Revelation 1:3-6

The Meaning Of “Making A Covenant” in Genesis 9:12

  1. Genesis 9:12 God said, “This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations;
  2. Most of the standard English translations use the same language of “making a covenant” for this verse – CSB, ESV, NIV, NJB, NKJV, NRS
  3. An exception is the NLT Then God said, “I am giving you a sign of my covenant with you and with all living creatures, for all generations to come
  4. the word for “make” in most translated is translated as “give”
  5. the word order is changed to state that it is the covenant sign that is being given
  6. The use of hēqîm bĕrît (“establishing” a covenant) instead of kārat bĕrît (“cutting” or “making” a covenant) indicates that God is upholding His covenant (between God and creation) instead of initiating a new covenant
  7. the construction “to cut a covenant” (kārat bĕrît) refers to covenant initiation while the expression “to establish a covenant” (hēqîm bĕrît) refers to a covenant partner fulfilling an obligation or upholding a promise in a covenant initiated previously so that the other partner experiences in historical reality the fulfilling of this promise (one makes good on one’s commitment, obligation, or promise)
  8. “covenant” (bĕrît) occurs eight times in Gen. 6 and 9

1)       4 times the text refers to “confirming” or “establishing” a covenant (hēqîm bĕrît)

a) 6:18 But I will establish My covenant with you

b) 9:9 Now behold, I Myself do establish My covenant with you, and with your descendants after you

c) 9:11 I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh

d) 9:17 This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth

2)       the other four occurrences of “covenant” deal with the sign or remembering the covenant

a) 9:12 This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you

b) 9:13 it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth

c) 9:15 I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh

d) 9:16 remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth

3)       the standard expression for initiating a covenant is lacking (“cut a covenant” – karat bĕrît)

4)       Gen. 9:12 is an upholding or reinstatement of the covenant initiated at creation and not a renewing of the covenant (God is making good His commitment to creation)

  1. The Hebrew word translated as “making” in Gen. 9:12 is נָתַן (nātan)
  2. the word is not “cut” (kārat)
  3. New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis – נָתַן (nātan), give, present, offer, allow, permit, surrender, deliver, set, put, place נָתַן (nātan), give, present, offer, allow, permit, surrender, deliver, set, put, place
  4. The Dictionary of Classical Hebrew – בוא come, i.e. enter into CD 22; 310; 619; 92; 1315; 2025; 1QH 523; 1QS 218, נתן give Gn 9:12; 17:2; Nm 25:12; Si 44:22, שׂים place 2 S 23:5; Jr 33:25 (or em. בָּרָאתִי I have created), שׁבע ni. swear Dt 4:31; 7:12; 8:18, צוה pi. command, i.e. ordain Jos 7:11; 23:16; Jg 2:20; Ps 111:9, נגד hi. tell Dt 4:13, זכר remember Gn 9:15; Ex 2:24; 6:5; Lv 26:42, 42, 42, 45; Ezk 16:60; Am 1:9; Ps 105:8‖1 C 16:15; Ps 106:45; 111:5; CD 14; 62 GnzPs 413 4QDibHama 1.59; 4QPrFêtesc 97.17, דרשׁ seek 1QH 59, אהב love Ketef Hinnom inscr. 14 ([א]הב הבר[ית]), שׁמר keep Gn 17:9, 10; Ex 19:5; Dt 7:9, 12; 1 K 8:23‖2 C 6:14 (all three ‖ חֶסֶד loyalty) 1 K 11:11 (+ חֻקָּה statute) Ezk 17:14; Ps 78:10; 103:18; 132:12 (+ עֵדָה testimony) Dn 9:4; Ne 1:5; 9:32 (all three ‖ חֶסֶד) CD 2017; 1QM 148; 187; 1QS 52, 9; 1QSa 13; 4Q521 102 (ברי[ת]), נצר guard Dt 33:9 (+ אִמְרָה word) Ps 25:10 (+ עֵדָה), appar. ידע know 1QH fr 77; 1QS 519, hi. make known Ps 25:14, חזק pi. restore 1QSb 323; 521, חדשׁ pi. make new 1QSb 326; 1QLitPrb 3.26; 4QPrFêtesc 97.18.
  5. Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament – The lexicons usually distinguish three chief meanings of ntn: (1) “to give,” (2) “to place,” “to establish,” “to lay,” and (3) “to make,” “to do”
  6. Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament – נתן with qal (which the form of the verb in Gen. 9:12 – MRJ) —1. to give —2. to present someone with something
  7. Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon – נָתַן – verb give, put, set
  8. this Hebrew word has various meaning; it seems that its basic meaning is “to give” (which is given in various Hebrew Grammars)
  9. The syntax of the verse – the verb “נָתַן” (nātan) follows two nouns (“sign” and “covenant”) and relates to both nouns (not just one)
  10. I think the New Living Translation has it correctly; God is “giving” (not “making”) a covenant sign (not just a covenant)

Being An Example

Your life forms the ceiling above which you cannot influence people to grow. Luke records Jesus as saying, “A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40).

This is not to say that they cannot grow beyond you. They most certainly can. But you don’t have any influence over that. If students grow beyond you, they are not growing because of you; they are increasing in spite of you. Seldom does the students’ maturity eclipse that of his teachers.

That is one reason why James warned, “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment” (James 3:1). Judged more strictly because of what the teacher teaches and the lives of the people we create. That is what Paul meant when he said, “You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men” (2 Cor. 3:2).

The apostle called others to follow his example and imitate him. “Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me” (1 Cor. 4:6). “Brethren, join in following my example and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us” (Phil. 3:17). There is a correct way (pattern) to live for God that can be seen and followed.

We think it sounds really spiritual to say, “No, no, no, don’t follow my example; follow the example of Jesus. Don’t look to me, look to Christ.” This sounds humble. This sounds spiritual. But this is not how the Bible teaches us to work as teachers. The truth is, students will follow your example whether you like it or not. They will follow your example whether you tell them to or not. They will follow us, so we must follow Christ. This is what Paul said in another place: “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1).

Adapted by Mark Johnson

HANGING OUT WITH FRIENDS IS NOT THE CHURCH

Who doesn’t like getting together with friends and sharing about life? What’s not to love about having deep conversations about spiritual truths with those close to you? Those things are great, and we should do more of them, but they are not the church. People seem to be increasingly thinking that their spiritual hangouts with friends a congregation. They are exploring the question: What is the church? Great question.

It seems like some of those who are asking this question are not driven by a desire to be a part of a biblical church of any model. They just want an excuse to claim their discussions over dinner as church. There are several ways these gatherings of friends fail short of what it means to be the church.

First, they raise questions of self-centeredness. When someone desires to break away from being an active part of a local church and instead wants to substitute a gathering of friends in its place, the question to consider is not “Can we?” but rather “Why would we?” It’s a matter of motivation.

Second, they prevent us from growing as we should. You and I need other people to be the church. We need other people who aren’t like us to be the church. We need other people who are not like us to help us become more like Christ. Other people who are in different life stages than us, have different personalities than us, come from different backgrounds than us, not only protect us from heresy, they help chip away and sand off our self-centered traits. When we just gather with friends and those like us, we remove much of the way God uses others in the body to refine us. The desire to be only with those like yourself assumes that only they can teach you and help you grow. It dismisses the contributions others can (and would) make in your sanctification.

Third, they rob us of places of service. There are so many avenues for growth and service that can never be yours if you exchange being a part of a church with hanging out with friends. The church comes together to serve one another using the spiritual gifts the Holy Spirit has given us and goes out to help others using the equipping of the saints the church provides for us.

Will you be hurt within the church? Absolutely, but who is to say Christ will not use that to conform you to His image? Jesus has promised to be in the midst of even two or three gathered in His name, but He has not called that the church. If you are gathering with a group of friends to talk about life and the Scriptures, don’t stop. But don’t confuse it with church either. Seek to build up the bride of Christ, not try to replace her.

Edited by Mark Johnson

Reasons We Should Sing Passionately

From the beginning of the church, singing has been an integral part of corporate worship. The first hymns are as old as the early books of the Bible. Here are just five of the many reasons we should all sing passionately as the church this Sunday:

1) We are commanded to sing! We are called to sing; indeed, the Scriptures command us – more than 250 times – that we are to sing. It’s hardly one of those “controversial” issues that are hard to ascertain precisely what scripture is saying. It’s not a choice; it’s not dependent on “feeling like it;” it’s not our prerogative.

Throughout Biblical history, in every place and circumstance; in victory, in defeat; in celebrations and festivals; in death and mourning; singing was second nature for people of faith. Indeed, the largest book of the Bible is itself a songbook, exploring the range of human experience and interaction with God through singing.

2) Singing together completes our joy. Celebrating with each other is as natural as breathing. At your kid’s soccer game or when we watch football or March Madness, it’s not enough for our team to win, we want to revel in the moment and share it with other people. C. S. Lewis believed singing completes our faith, explaining in his book Reflections on the Psalms, “I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise does not merely express but completes the enjoyment; it is appointed consumption.”

3) Singing is an expression of brotherhood and unites generations. Singing together is a picture here on earth of the hope of heaven where every tribe, tongue, and nation will sing to God. Throughout history, God’s people have both discovered and affirmed their solidarity in times of celebration and in times of tragedy through singing.

4) We are what we sing. Singing affects how we pray, think, feel; it influences our memory banks and even the deepest parts of our subconscious. If the songs we sing to ourselves and to each other are just about the moment, detached from Scripture and lacking in history or perspective, we’ve little to keep us moored to Truth. But, when we are intentional about singing and about the songs we sing, we build up a testimony that will travel with us through life.

As you worship God today – as overworked dads, stressed out mums, grandparents struggling with health and young people looking for wealth – each of us can, with integrity and with relief, go with repentance and thanksgiving to the One who has created us, forgiven us and lives within us. How can we not sing?

Keith Getty (edited and adapted by Mark Johnson)

Titles and Terms found in the Psalms

Titles Of Literary Or Musical Genre

1. Song (shir)
a. normally a reference to songs sung in the temple
b. suggests a vocal rendering (rather than instrumental)
c. when used in conjunction with mizmor (psalm), it suggests accompanied singing
d. used as the heading for Psalms 120-134, “songs of ascent” (shir hamma’ aloth)
1) these are pilgrimage psalms (going to Jerusalem to worship)
2) see Ezra 2:1; 7:9 – describes the going up from the Babylonian exile
3) the term was later applied the fifteen steps leading up to the temple proper and the temple singers would sing one psalm on each step
2. Psalm (mizmor)
a. used fifty-seven times
b. suggests playing a musical instrument
c. four times, the musical instrument is specified – 33:2; 98:5; 144:9; 147:7
3. Miktam
a. there is no consensus on the meaning of this term
b. it occurs in the titles of Psalms 16, 56, 57, 58, 59, and 60 (which are all Davidic psalms)
c. suggestions as to what Miktam means:
1) “gold” (a golden psalm)
2) “atonement” (an atonement psalm)
3) “indelible”
4) “silent prayer” (covering the lips in secrecy)
4. Maskil
a. it occurs in the titles of thirteen psalms: 32, 42, 44, 45, 52, 53, 54, 55, 74, 78, 88, 89, and 142
b. it also occurs in Ps. 47:7
c. some have rendered it as “artistic psalm” or “didactic psalm”
d. a participle with the same root occurs at 2 Chron. 30:22, which describes Levitical activity
e. presenting songs and poems in a skilled, intelligent, and artistic way
5. Shiggaion
a. the term only occurs at the heading of Psalm 7
b. the plural form occurs at Hab. 3:3
c. it comes from a verb which means “to err” or “to wander”
6. Tehilliah (“song of praise”)
a. it normally used in the sense of “praise” (22:25; 33:1; 34:1; 40:3; 48:10; 65:1; 71:8; 100:4; 106:12, 47; 119:171; 147:1; 148:14; 149:1)
b. see also Psalm 145
7. Tefillah (“prayer”)
a. appears in the titles of five psalms: 17, 86, 90, 102, and 142
b. it also occurs in Hab. 3:1
c. it is the general term for prayer in the Psalms as well as in the Old Testament
8. Selah
a. possibly refers to a musical note that signals reaching a crescendo
b. it may signal the worshippers to utter a worshipful cry (similar to “Amen”)
c. not strictly a title
d. 3:2, 4, 8; 4:2, 4; 7:5; 9:16; 24:6

Titles With Musical Terms

1. Lamenatstseakh (“to the choirmaster”)
a. occurs in the title of 55 psalms and in Hab. 3:19
b. the verb form means “to lead,” “to excel,” or “to be a the head” (see Ezra 3:8; 1 Chron. 23:4; 2 Chron. 2:2)
c. provides instruction concerning speed, inflection, and other stylistic considerations
2. Binginoth and ‘al-neginoth
a. Binginoth (“stringed instrument”) occurs in the titles of Psalms 4, 6, 54, 55, 67, and 76
b. ‘al-neginoth (“to run over the strings”) occurs in the title of Psalm 61
c. these psalms were to be recited or sung to the strains of stringed instruments
3. ‘al-hashminith (“according to the eighth”)
a. some suggests that the instruments are tuned for the bass singers
b. some suggest that it refers to the “eighth string”
c. it occurs in the titles of Psalms 6 and 12
4. ‘al-muth, ‘almuth labben, and ‘al-alamoth
a. probably all three phrases are variants with one meaning
b. “according to maidens” – 1 Chron. 15:20
c. the soprano key
d. they occur in the titles of Psalms 9, 46, and 48

Titles With Musical Tunes

1. ‘al-gittith
a. used in the titles of Psalms 8, 81, and 84
b. possibly a musical instrument that originated in Gath
c. it may also refer to the “winepress” and suggest a “vintage song”
2. ‘al-tashkheth (“do not destroy”)
a. used in the titles of Psalms 57, 58, 59, and 75
b. used in Isa. 65:8, where the expression seems to refer to a vintage song
3. ‘al-‘ayyeleth ha-shachar (“on the hind of the dawn”)
a. used in the title of Psalm 22
b. we do not know what this tune was
4. ‘al-shoshannim (“on the lilies”) and ‘al-shushan eduth (“according to the lily testimony”)
a. occurs in the titles of Psalms 45, 60, 69, and 80
b. has something apparently to do with “those whose situations change for the worse”
5. ‘al-yonath ‘elem rekhoqim (“set to the dove of the far-off terebinths”)
a. occurs in the title of Psalm 56
b. we do not know what this tune is