5x5x5 Bible Reading – Revelation

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Dear 5x5x5 readers,

We have come at last to the end, The Book of Revelation is the last book in the Bible and the last we will read on our journey through the New Testament in a year.  Congratulations to all who are still reading with us!

Revelation is clearly one of the most complicated and neglected books in the Bible.  We know that it is important, but we cannot figure out what to do with all the symbolism and strange events, and we end up ignoring it completely.  Consider whom it was written to and why, and perhaps that will give us a start.  The consensus is that the Apostle John wrote Revelation while in exile on the island of Patmos (a Mediterranean Alcatraz of sorts!)  He wrote it around 90 AD, some 60 years after the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the birth of the church at Pentecost.  Churches across the Roman empire remained small, scattered, and persecuted.  Jerusalem had been destroyed.  It was undoubtedly difficult for Christians to persevere, there was doubt, conflict, and disappointment that Christ had not yet returned and set things right in the world.

To these little, persecuted, frustrated church communities John writes the letter of Revelation.  The book is firmly rooted in the historical context of the Roman Empire.  As you read, work to identify broad themes.  Who is God?  How is He working in human history?  Who is Jesus Christ?  What happens to evil in the world?  Is there any hope?  Where does real power lie?  What is the end of the story?  Try not too get too caught up in figuring out the sequence of events, or what various symbols mean – much of it remains a mystery and many commentaries have been written on such things with no agreement.  Remember that Revelation was not written to give us a precise timeline of history, but rather to offer hope and encouragement.

(update) For those who asked for a commentary recommendation – I am reading and loving Revelation by Leon Morris, 2009, part of the Tyndale New Testament commentary series.  It is written for a pastoral/ministry audience (not an academic one) and is very balanced.  It is also firmly rooted in the historical context of the original audience, so many of the symbols they would have understood are explained.  Dispensationalists would not like it.

“To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb, be praise and honor and glory and power forever.” – Revelation 5:13

365 Challenge – Revelation

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Dear 365 Readers –

The end is near!  How fantastic that we are scheduled to start reading the book of Revelation on Christmas Day.  Revelation is a book of HOPE, a strong word of encouragement for its original recipients and for us today.  Revelation is a reminder that, no matter how things look, God is in charge of history and good will ultimately triumph!

The apostle John wrote Revelation approximately 60 years after Jesus left the earth.  Many questions troubled the church – Was Jesus coming back? Where had He gone? To do what? Why didn’t He return immediately?  After the fall of Jerusalem Christians were scattered throughout the Roman empire and many were persecuted and distressed.  Revelation gives them (and us) hope.

The symbolism in Revelation is complex, so much so that people today can rarely agree what it all means.  Readers tend to fall into two categories:  Some people think that many of the predictions in Revelation have not yet been fulfilled, and will be fulfilled sometime in the future.  (The Left Behind series interprets Revelation in this way.)  Others explain Revelation in terms of the first century, concluding that many events prophesied have already taken place during the time of the Roman empire.  In either case, the end of the story is the same – Jesus Christ will return triumphant over all the evil in the universe!  For this reason we have hope.

Merry Christmas to you all!  As we approach the new year I’ll send out our reading plan for 2017.

Cheers!  Mindy

Christians Do Face Judgment

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Judgment is not a Christmas-season topic… but it has come up in my conversations four times in the last two weeks, so let’s clear up this misunderstanding (or false teaching).

Salvation is by grace, but Christians still face judgment for how they have lived their lives.  Keep reading.

“Christ Jesus who will judge the living and the dead…” 2 Timothy 4:1

“Both believers and unbelievers will be included among the living and the dead. The judgment of unbelievers will involve a determination of eternal destiny. The judgment of believers will not determine eternal destiny, but will concern itself with an evaluation of works for the purpose of recognition or reward.” – The New American Commentary

  • Salvation is by grace alone. The believer’s sins are atoned for by Christ’s death.
  • The works of every believer are judged at the “Great White Throne” judgment in Revelation 20 and result in reward or loss. This does not affect salvation, only reward or loss in eternity.

Revelation 20:11-15. 11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

  • Note the “book of life” that records the names of those who are saved and determines their destiny.
  • Note the “other books” that record “what they had done” and determine if there is reward or loss.

2 Corinthians 5:10  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

  • Paul, writing to believers, indicating that we will face judgment of our works and will receive something (or not).

Matthew 16:27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

1 Corinthians 3:10-16. 10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because The Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames. 16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?

  • Paul, writing again to believers, whose works are going to be tested by fire on Judgment Day and he will receive a reward – or suffers loss, but will still be saved. I will say that we still don’t really know what the reward or loss will be, only that it exists.  We do know that there are at least five crowns mentioned in scripture that believers can be rewarded in eternity.  What we do with the crowns – lay them at the feet of Jesus, wear them, who knows?  You can use www.blueletterbible.org and search for “reward” or “crown”… interesting!

So just remember, you’re saved by grace – but then you are RESPONSIBLE for being a good STEWARD of all that God has given you.   Your choices are significant.