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1. The “great apostasy” begins with believing we’re already in the “better country’…“These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.
If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return.But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” (Hebrews 11:13–16 ESV)
2. I have a raging Daylight Savings Time hangover…
3. If you’re terribly unsettled by both the church and the culture you’re right where God wants you…
4. Rachel Denhollander gives me huge hope for better things in the fight against corruption in the church…this woman will not be intimidated by the bullying and smear tactics that have silenced so many…may God be with her in every way…
5. If you’re posting political angst every day on your social media, you’re basically talking to yourself…no one is interested in being persuaded…
6. I can accurately predict who the next pastor to fall will be by counting the number of “sponsored ads” they buy on Facebook…
7. I think I feel sorry for those folks who have been told what a heretic Eugene Peterson is…they’ve been robbed by the Pharisees…
8. I don’t tell our congregation who they can’t read…they’re adults with brains who should consider such rants that a breach of pastoral ethics and authority…
9. In the bad old days the church burned those it considered heretics…we’ve replaced the pyre with the post and tweet…
10. I wonder how people who don’t seem to have a conscience can claim to have the Spirit…got lots on my mind today…
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The Throne in Heaven
1 After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! 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.”
- After this = After Jesus gives his sermon to the seven churches.
- A door standing open in heaven – the door is open so John can see in.
- An open door in Revelation is a big thing. It means that something is being revealed. A revealing – an unveiling – a revelation. Here John can see heaven.
- Continuing on, John is seeing things from God’s perspective.
2 At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne.
- Just think, we all have doubts or we want to see proof. Here for John heaven is opened and he comes to see the throne.
- In the Spirit = Divine Revelation
- We now see heaven and earth coming together. This is what is happening when we sit in church – this is the divine worship service.
- There is only one church – not one on earth and one in heaven.
- Think how this relates to Ephesians 2 as it shows us seated in the heavenly realm.
- Also, this helps with understanding Revelation 20 where we see ‘they reigned with Christ for 1,000 years.’ It didn’t begin in Revelation 20, it began here (or in Ch 1) – a kingdom of priests reigning with Christ.
3 And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald.
- Just as Moses was not allowed to see God directly, we see the same with John.
- The glory is too much – this is the best John can do to spit out a description. This is better than what Moses got which was to see God’s backside.
- See how Paul speaks of God in 1 Tim 6:16 “who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.”
- The description is diamond like (jasper). The glowing red of carnelian and a halo around the throne – the rainbow.
4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads.
- Not just one throne but 24 other thrones and the 24 Elders representing us, ruling and reigning with God.
- A critical note – thrones in Revelation are always a heavenly scene.
- 24 = 12+12 = the whole OT people of God plus the whole NT people of God.
- Clothed in white = God’s righteousness = the holiness of Christ.
- Crowns = these are representing us as the saved people of God = the Church.
5 From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God,
- The scene around the throne is like what we saw on Mt. Sinai.
- This reminds us who is there – the Lord himself. The very same Lord.
- We don’t need to guess. The 7 burning torches are the 7 Spirits of God.
- All of this is to tell us God is here and God reigns.
6 and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind:
- Sea of glass – could there be something here about baptism?
- The 4 living creatures – eyes front and back = ever watchful – all seeing.
- They are always alert to do God’s will – they appear to be the closest to the throne.
- In v. 8 we will see that they never cease praising God.
7 the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight.
- ) Lion = The King of the Beasts
- ) Ox = Also known as a calf/young bull = King of the domesticated beasts
- ) Face of Man = King of all of God’s creation
- ) Eagle = King of all birds of flight.
- These can be compared to the living creatures in Ezekiel 1:5-14
- There are some variances, but the important thing is that it was a common way to describe things.
8 And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”
- Six wings = Compare to Isaiah 6:1-2 –“In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.”
- The 6 wings are not unique to John and Revelation.
- Eyes all around & within. Seems to be more descriptive than what we saw in v. 6
- The Holy, Holy, Holy scene here seems to be a modified version of what the cherubim sing in Isa 6.
- The Holy, Holy, Holy = the Sanctus.
9 And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever,
- Giving thanks no matter who you are.
- The eternality of God.
10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”
- This is a summation of the one who reigns.
- We will see this as we continue through Revelation – only God reigns.
- Satan does not reign – Anti-Christ does not reign – Political leaders do not reign.
- However, we will see ch 6-19 that the Church does suffer the attacks of the world, especially the unbelieving world.
- The Church is going to suffer the attacks of Satan and his henchmen – the Anti-Christ and other powers as well. But we also see the Church is gathered around the throne.
- So, not even the gates of hell will prevail against it and thus the praise we see here in chapter 4.
- This is literally the refuge of the Lord – this is Psalm 46 language – this is the language of the ark – God’s refuge as God gathers a people to himself.
- Therefore v. 11 can say “You are worthy” — Why?? Because you have created all things.
- This proves who God is and who is not God.
I do not normally recommend “Pulpit and Pen” to anyone, but this article on “Pastor” Greg Locke’s alleged spousal abuse is a must read.
It’s a must read because it fits the narrative I’ve heard dozens of times over the last fifteen years and as recently as the last two weeks.
As one non denomination pastor once said to me “all women are Philistines”…except the one they want to dump their wife for, of course.
The narrative in the story above comes right out of the cheating pastors text book.
The wife is sexually deficient for their needs.
The wife has become physically unattractive.
The wife isn’t invested enough in Pastor Horny’s vision.
When the wife breaks down from the emotional beatings, she’s “mentally ill”.
Then they turn the children against her and she’s abandoned by church and family.
It’s always her fault…
I’ve seen it over and over and over…
I ought to name names…but most of these women fear more consequences for the mistake of marrying these “men of God”.
To make the situation even more maddening, the same people who will howl like banshees about same sex marriage will turn a deaf ear to spousal abuse among their own clergy.
This is one of the most damning sins of the church today…and I hope that someday, it’s treated as such.
That day isn’t here yet…
“To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.”
Last week in Part 2 of this four part series on Psalm 51, we examined David’s confession (vv. 3-6). This week in Part 3, we will look at David’s plea for renewal (vv. 7-12).
Part 3 – The Plea for Renewal (vv. 7-12)
“7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.”
David has confessed his sin and has turned to God for mercy, but he realizes that dealing with sin requires more than correcting his outward behavior: God “delight[s] in truth in the inward being” (v. 6). David sees the depth of his sin, which he is incapable of rooting out. He wants a change of heart, but he is powerless to produce such a change.
Therefore, David asks for God to act upon him, first by purging and washing away his sin. In the Old Testament, “hyssop” was a plant the priest used as a type of sponge or sprinkler to apply the cleansing blood or water to the worshipper. Hyssop in this case symbolizes the mouth of a man who proclaims absolution. Absolution is the assurance of God’s forgiveness, which to David is a hearing of “joy and gladness.” This is what the Prophet Nathan proclaimed to David after hearing his confession: “David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’ And Nathan said to David, ‘The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die.’ ” (2 Sam 12:13)
When a pastor proclaims the Gospel (i.e., the forgiveness of sins) by teaching or preaching or administering the Sacraments, he functions symbolically as hyssop which sprinkles the people spiritually with the blood of Christ. Everyone is sprinkled with the blood of Christ, whether a believer or an unbeliever, when he or she hears the Gospel or receives the Sacraments. If the person receives the Gospel or Sacrament with faith that Christ has made satisfaction for his or her sins, then that person is cleansed of sin and made “whiter than snow” in the sight of God by the blood of Christ, as it is written: “the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7). If, however, the person does not receive the Gospel or Sacrament with faith, then unbelief prevents that person from being cleansed of sin.
Hearing with faith bestows the gift of the Holy Spirit (Gal 3:2), who cleanses our conscience; it is a hearing of “joy and gladness.” Moreover, when the weight of our sin, which Christ takes from us through His Word of Gospel, is removed (i.e., absolved), then even our bones, which were broken by sin, will rejoice. This is what David experienced when he sang: “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.” (Ps 32:1-2) David was blessed, not because he was holy in himself, but because God, speaking through the Prophet Nathan, sprinkled him with the blood of Christ, absolving him from his sin.
Even Christians, who have been justified by faith, so that sin does not condemn us, have the remnants of sin in our flesh. The flesh struggles against the Spirit to bring forth its old fruits which are hostile to God. But the Spirit and the flesh are not weighted equally, simply because God’s grace reigns over us, not sin. The remnants of sins continue to haunt us and work in us the opposite of justification, at which point we must turn to Christ in His Word who has claimed us as His own and whose voice we recognize as the sheep of His fold. Though residual sins cling to us, they do not reign over us. Sin cannot condemn us or change God into a wrathful deity, and this is on account of the reign of God’s grace and mercy over us for the sake of Christ.
With the words “Create in me”, David pleas for God to work miraculously in him. He desires a heart and will which conform to God’s will. He prays against his old Adam and the remnants of sin which struggle against the Spirit. His prayer is answered by the Holy Spirit, who bestows in him repentance, faith, and the willingness to service God. The Holy Spirit not only creates in us faith through which we receive forgiveness but also a willingness to serve God, so that we begin to keep God’s law. Because this renewal is never perfect in this life, David prays that the Spirit will uphold him and sustain him so that he will not fall again.
“13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
build up the walls of Jerusalem;
19 then will you delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.”
Thank you for reading. Next week in Part 4, we will conclude this series on Psalm 51 with an examination David’s vow to teach and praise (vv. 13-17). Amen.
In preparing for writing these articles, I made extensive use of the following works:
Brug, John F. Peoples Bible Commentary: Psalms 1. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2005. Print.
Ngien, Dennis. Fruit for the Soul: Luther on the Lament Psalms. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2015. Print.
Terrien, Samuel. The Psalms: Strophic Structure and Theological Commentary. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2003. Print
Be Concerned about Grace…
Recently I had the opportunity, along with my wife, to attend a lovely dinner party given by some close friends.
We were met at the door by the husband who, after taking our coats, led us into the living room. Other guests arrived and, together, we entered into a lively and entertaining conversation. While all this was taking place, I could glimpse the hostess and her husband slip through a door into the dining room, lighting candles on the table, adjusting the table linen, and taking the “one last look” before the guests came through for the meal. As we approached the door each person in turn began to comment upon the sight that met them. The furniture in the room glowed from the careful polishing that had been undertaken. The table was laid with china, crystal and silver which reflected the light of the flickering candles. A small arrangement of fresh cut flowers provided a centerpiece. Attention had been given to every detail. All was beautiful and gracious.
After returning home, I could not help but reflect upon the similarities between this lovely meal and the preparations many churches make as they gather to worship or, most especially, to celebrate the Lord’s Supper.
Certainly we could have been invited to an informal meal with our friends. Moreover, the meal could have been eaten and enjoyed without such extensive preparations and, indeed, there are times when such an informal meal is appropriate. It is clear, however, that the preparations brought a beauty to the evening which would have otherwise been absent. Furthermore, the care taken in preparation helped to signify the importance of the occasion and the regard in which the guests were held.
Likewise, there are times when an informal worship service is to be desired. There are times when an informal Eucharist is appropriate within a church. In the main, however, I think we need to reclaim “the beauty of holiness” and by our preparations honor not only our family and “guests”, but also give honor to the God we come to worship. One may sometimes tire of the tedium of such work – the cleaning of the worship space, the preparation of the service, the crafting of the sermon and all the rest – just as one might tire of the extensive preparations for a dinner party. Yet, there is something that is communicated to those whom we seek to serve in our labors. It is that they are loved and honored by us, as we also express our love and honor to God.
Be concerned about beauty…
Be concerned about grace…
It has recently come to my attention that a Facebook post in which I am pictured officiating a same-sex wedding, has caused a great deal of confusion on the Internet. Well, Michael, has so graciously provided me with an opportunity to help clear that up, for which I am truly grateful.
I ceased to be a Calvary Chapel pastor in September of 2014. We parted ways amicably, but it was time for me to move on. My theology had slowly shifted to the point that I no longer was philosophically compatible with Calvary Chapel.
Since that time I have not been in any way associated with CCCM or any other Calvary Chapel for that matter. However, I do still serve in LA… as a bartender. My change in thought was not influenced by any Calvary leader or pastor. In fact, quite the contrary, Brian Brodersen and CCCM are much too theologically conservative for my taste these days. Say what you will about me but do not use my actions to besmirch Brian or my father or otherwise play some guilt by association game. I love them both dearly even though we think very differently on certain issues. One last thing: I was not hired by Brian to begin with; I was hired by Pastor Chuck and ordained by the same. Not that it should matter anyway, as my current theological views have nothing to do with who ordained me or who the pastor was when I left.