Light, Revelation

Revelation 7

As if the white horse, with its rider bent on conquest were not enough. Or the red horse, whose rider had the power to take away peace, followed by the black horse of famine – because famine often follows war.

As if Death, riding a pale horse, killing a quarter of the population, with Hades hot on his heels wasn’t enough. The martyrs crying out to be avenged, the sun turning black, the moon turning blood red, stars falling from the sky and the heavens receding like a scroll being rolled…

As if all of that were not enough, a seventh seal looms.

Four angels stand at the ready. Four powerful angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four fierce winds. They wait for the signal.

But first.

A fifth angel approaches from the east. “Wait!” Foreheads need to be marked.

Twelve thousand foreheads from each of the twelve tribes. One hundred and forty-four thousand  foreheads in all.

I pause and wonder how it is that each tribe has exactly 12,000 servants.  What if one tribe has more than 12,000 worthy servants and another has less? Doesn’t matter, God apparently wants equal representation.

Before God will allow the winds of destruction to blow, swirl, whistle and howl across every corner of the earth, a seal has to be placed on the forehead of each of His servants.

Again I pause, grateful that I am sealed with the Holy Spirit; grateful that I am guaranteed an inheritance. (Ephesians 1)

But this seal, I think, is different. I’ve been stamped with the Holy Spirit. Revelation 14 will reveal that these 144,000 are stamped with the name of the Father and the name of the Lamb.

Remember when God marked Cain – a murderer! – so that no one could kill him?

Remember when God directed the Israelites to mark their doorposts with the blood of the Lamb to protect them from the angel of death?

Not everyone is as familiar with this story from Ezekiel 9, but God was fed up with His people and His wrath was imminent. He said:

“The sin of the people of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great; the land is full of bloodshed and the city is full of injustice. They say, ‘The Lord has forsaken the land; the Lord does not see.’ So I will not look on them with pity or spare them, but I will bring down on their own heads what they have done.”

But before He unleashed the six men who were appointed to execute justice, a man in linen WITH A WRITING KIT, appeared. The Lord called to him and said:

“Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it.”

I stop and chuckle: Gives new meaning to “The pen is mightier than the sword.”

Put a mark on all those who grieve and lament.

God notices when we grieve over injustice, cruelty and all the detestable things in which our culture engages.

It reminds me of what Peter wrote about Lot:

“and if [God] rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard) – if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment.”

I never saw Lot as a righteous man who was distressed by the depraved conduct around him. I always saw him as a man who was cozying up to the depravity around him – which got him into trouble more than once. “Friendship with the world” is what James called it. Maybe that’s why Peter added “if this is so,” and put some of it in parenthesis. (Not that the Greeks used punctuation back then.)

Perhaps it wasn’t Lot’s own righteousness that caused him to be spared, perhaps it was solely his association with Abraham.

But I digress.

My point is that God has a history of marking people – worthy or not – in order to protect them. And that the seal on the foreheads of the 144,000 was more like the one received by Cain and the one described in Ezekiel 9 – a seal of protection – rather than a seal guaranteeing an inheritance.

The names of the Father and the Lamb, not the Holy Spirit.

Different names for different purposes?

The winds of destruction, with their seven trumpets and seven bowls of wrath, would not blow quite yet.

Not until chapter 8.

For now, the throne room is growing larger.

In chapter 4, John saw 4 living creatures and 24 elders around the throne. In chapter 5, they were joined and surrounded by thousands upon thousands of angels.

Now, a countless multitude has joined the worship. They cry in a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

The names of the Father and the Lamb on the foreheads of the 144,000….

But these aren’t the 144,000. The 144,000 are still on earth to endure and survive the opening of the seventh seal.

This is a countless multitude who survived the first six seals and are now standing before the throne. They’ve been through a lot and they know a little something about from where salvation comes. Some of them may have been among the princes and the paupers cowering together begging the rocks to fall on them.  But then, they ran to Jesus. They “washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb.” Check it out. Verse 14. “They came out of the great tribulation and they have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb.”

And now here they stand, with the four living creatures and the 24 elders and the thousands upon thousands of angels, wearing freshly cleaned white robes and holding palm branches, shouting the praises of the Ones who saves them.

And when they shout, the creatures, the elders and the angels fall on their faces and worship.  When you’ve seen so much destruction, when you’ve been saved from so much, you want God to remain on the throne forever, and you say so:

“Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.
Amen!”

The hub has been through some things. The hub has made some mistakes, and now the hub often says, “I’m just happy to be here.”

The multitude was happy to be there. So happy that they served God day and night in His temple, because when you are grateful, you want to do what you can.

And because it is in serving Him that you find your protection.

Remember, 144,000 servants were marked for protection against the devastating winds.

Standing there, at His throne, you are sheltered in His presence.

Never again will you be hungry or thirsty. Never again will the sun beat down on you.

You are under the care of the Shepherd – who will lead you to springs of living water, who will wipe away every tear from your eye.

And that is glorious. ‘Cuz you’ve done some crying.

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Light, Revelation

Identity Theft

I was reading my Bible Study Fellowship notes while savoring a hot cup of black gold (with cream). The topic was John’s vision of the throne room. Everything was clipping along just fine.

“The Bible speaks of other believers who received visions of God’s transcendent nature and character,” a new paragraph began, and it mentioned Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel and Daniel. Good, good, good and good.

And then:

“The apostle Paul was ‘caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.’”

Whoa! What?

When was Paul “caught up to paradise”? I checked the footnote to see what Scripture they based that statement upon.

I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord.  I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.  I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses.  Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say,  or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  2 Corinthians 12:1-7

How does Paul saying he knew a man who was caught up to the third heaven translate to HIM being caught up to paradise?

I was too comfy and too lazy to get out from under the cozy afghan on my cozy sofa to brave the 22 chilly steps (44 round trip) to my library to grab The Bible Knowledge Commentary, so I stayed put and checked an online commentary.

Matthew Henry: “for doubtless [Paul] himself is the man in Christ of whom he speaks.”

Doubtless? I’m in doubt.

Mr. Henry proceeded to commend Paul for his humility in not referring to himself directly. Paul’s humility? Since when? In that very same chapter of 2 Corinthians, Paul wrote:

I have made a fool of myself, but you drove me to it. I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the “super-apostles,” even though I am nothing.  I persevered in demonstrating among you the marks of a true apostle, including signs, wonders and miracles.  How were you inferior to the other churches, except that I was never a burden to you? Forgive me this wrong!   2 Corinthians 12:11-13

Those defensive and accusatory remarks don’t sound like the model of humility to me.

Even his self-deprecating remarks come off as humble brags. Take this one, for example:

For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reasons for such confidence.

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. Philippians 3:3-6

And then there are all the I, I, I’s of 1 Timothy 2: I urge, I was appointed, I am telling the truth, I am not lying, I want, I also want, I do not permit.

John often referred to himself indirectly as “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” and it was well within his personality to do so, he did so consistently and there are verifiable incidents that tie that descriptor to him.

But indirectly and humbly referring to himself in the third person was NOT within Paul’s personality and no where else was it his m.o.

So let’s get logical: In the context of 2 Corinthians 12:1-7 – where Paul is arguing that he is equal to the apostles who actually walked with Jesus – a humble, indirect statement just doesn’t make sense.  If ever there is a time to speak boldly and directly it is when arguing a case or asserting one’s credentials.

Perhaps it was due to Matthew Henry’s impressive and exhaustive work that this doubtful interpretation has been promulgated in commentaries ever since. Even by my beloved BSF – who taught me to read the Scriptures for myself under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

When I read, “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven,” for myself under the guidance of the Holy Spirit,  I hear Paul saying that he knew someone who had been given a vision. And that person may have shared it with him. Or that person may have told him he couldn’t share it with him.

And I wonder whether that person was John, because John and Paul may have very likely crossed paths in Ephesus.

Or perhaps it was someone else altogether.

All I know for sure is that Paul DID NOT say that HE was “caught up to paradise.”

So why does the church twist Scripture and logic and temporarily change Paul’s personality in order to say he did?

Perhaps, when it comes to the church’s love affair with Paul, the lover is blind to its beloved’s blemishes.

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Light, Revelation

Revelation 6

I know I already posted today, but I am posting again.

I know I already responded to the daily prompt today, but I am responding again.

Because I want to.

Last year I challenged myself, in the month of December, to make each daily prompt to which I respond about Jesus. In honor of His birthday.

So here I go.

I spent the morning preparing to teach Revelation 6 on Monday night. Studying Revelation is really bringing what is important in life into focus. And it’s putting all the nonsense of life into perspective.

In Revelation 4, John wept because there was NO ONE anywhere in heaven or on earth or under the earth who was worthy to open the scroll – not even Jesus.

Until He showed up as a slain Lamb.

Even Jesus wasn’t worthy until He was slain.

It was His sacrifice, not His being, that made Him worthy.

And as He took the scroll with the seven seals, there was much REJOICING in heaven.

But then He started to open those seals and, here on earth, not so much.

Jesus opened the first seal and John saw a white horse. It’s rider held a bow and was given a crown. He rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.

I wonder if that rider is Jesus on a conquest to rescue as many as possible from the coming wrath. Or perhaps the rider is the Holy Spirit, and with His bow He is going to shoot arrows of Truth, prophecy and warning.

Isaiah said, “He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver.” 49:2

Zechariah said, “Then the Lord will appear over them; his arrow will flash like lightning.” 9:14a

So I’m thinking the bow belongs to Jesus.

Then He opened the second seal and John saw a fiery red horse with a rider who had the power to take away peace, a large sword and the ability to make people kill each other.

That rider seems to be riding high these days.

At the opening of the third seal, John saw a black horse with a rider who was holding a pair of scales. He heard a voice saying, “Two pounds of wheat for a day’s wages, and six pounds of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!”

The commentaries I read say this rider is bringing famine, but I disagree.  Here’s why:

The Greek word translated as a pound, is “choinix”.

Here’s how Strong’s lexicon defines it: “a choenix, a dry measure…less than our quart, one litre, or as much as would support a man of moderate appetite for a day.

So I’m thinking the rider is providing exactly what the people to whom he is riding need – their daily bread.

and do not damage the oil and the wine!”  AND, not but.

Here is more evidence that the crops are being spared, not destroyed:

Zechariah went on to say, “The Lord their God will save his people on that day… How attractive and beautiful they will be! Grain will make the young men thrive, and new wine the young women.” 9:16-17

Wheat, barley and wine to make the young men and women thrive.

Now look here at Zechariah 6:1-8:

I looked up again, and there before me were four chariots coming out from between two mountains—mountains of bronze. The first chariot had red horses, the second black, the third white, and the fourth dappled—all of them powerful. I asked the angel who was speaking to me, “What are these, my lord?”

The angel answered me, “These are the four spirits of heaven, going out from standing in the presence of the Lord of the whole world. The one with the black horses is going toward the north country, the one with the white horses toward the west, and the one with the dappled horses toward the south.”

When the powerful horses went out, they were straining to go throughout the earth. And he said, “Go throughout the earth!” So they went throughout the earth.

Then he called to me, “Look, those going toward the north country have given my Spirit rest in the land of the north.”

I rest my case.

Back to the seals.

The opening of the fourth seal brought a pale horse whose rider is Death, and Hades was hot on his heals. Death and Hades were given power over a quarter of the earth to kill by sword, famine, plague and wild beasts.

The opening of the fifth seal revealed the souls of those who have been martyred, waiting under the altar to be avenged.

And then the sixth scroll opens and things grow dark.

The sun turns black, the moon turns blood red and the stars fall from the sky.

The heavens recede like a scroll being rolled up and everything changes.

Princes and paupers alike hide in caves and between mountain rocks. Wealth, position, popularity, intelligence, cunning and celebrity cannot save them. “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne,” they cry to the rocks, “and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?”

No one.

Except those who take refuge in  Jesus.

 

 

 

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Jesus, Light, Revelation

The Throne of God

God is shaking the remaining leaves off the trees here in Michigan. Wind gusts of up to 60 miles per hour are in the forecast, so are power outages. Therefore, lest I fail to meet the NaBloPoMo challenge for today, I will hurry up and post.

I’ve been reading and re-reading Revelation 4 this morning in preparation for teaching it to a group of high school students Monday night, and I noticed some things.

After John saw Jesus move among the seven lampstands, and after John took the dictation of Jesus’s letters to the churches the lampstands represented, he saw a door standing open in heaven. And he heard the same trumpet-like voice that he heard back in chapter one – Jesus’ voice – say, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”

Instantly, John was in the Spirit, looking at the throne of God. He was looking at a powerful throne – with peals of thunder and flashes of lightening emanating from it. And he was looking at a room filled with praise.

In His loving wisdom, God showed John His power and His praiseworthiness before He showed him the scary things that “must take place.”

And it occurred to me that before we walk into the scary places of life, God reveals the power and goodness of His throne. We just have to come up and look.

I noticed that the One who sat on the throne looked sort of like jasper and ruby – precious stones that have a warmth to them. Rubies range in color from pink to blood red. Jasper comes in shades of brown, yellow and bordeux.

Look at this hunk of raw jasper:

jasper

And these two:

Mookaite jasper, photo credit: Tjflex2, Creative Commons

Mookaite jasper, photo credit: Tjflex2, Creative Commons

Mookaite jasper Tjflex2

Mookaite jasper, photo credit: Tjflex2, Creative Commons

Look at the many colors in the appearance of God.

All the colors of humanity are represented. A tune starts playing in my head: “Red and yellow, black and white, all are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world.”

Here’s something else I noticed:

Surrounding God’s throne were 24 elders sitting on thrones of their own. They all wore white garments and gold crowns. But they aren’t named. There are plenty of theories about who they might be – some think that Revelation 21 suggests they are the heads of the twelve tribes of Judah – you know, Jacob’s boys (minus one plus two grand-boys) and the twelve apostles. Could be, could be.  But, if the apostles occupied twelve of the thrones, wouldn’t John have recognized them?  “Heyyyy, that’s ME!”

John saw names spelled out in Revelation 21:12, 14, but no names were spelled out for us here, which leads me to believe a) it doesn’t matter who they are because, as the laying down of the crowns indicates, the throne room is all about Him; or b) God doesn’t want us to know who they are…yet; or c) He wants us to ponder who they might be. Which brings me to the theory I propose this morning:

Perhaps the identities of the elders are not given because they change, rotate.

Have you ever been to the fort on Michigan’s Mackinac Island? The whole island is a cool place.  And one of the coolest things about the fort is that every week from Memorial Day through Labor Day a different scout troop comes to the island, stays in the barracks behind the fort, and serves for the whole week.  They serve as guides at Fort Mackinac and State Park buildings, they raise and lower all flags in the State Park and city, help with tours every Wednesday at the Governor’s Summer Residence  and work on service projects.

Boy Scouts have been coming to Mackinac Island to act as the Governor’s Honor Guard every summer since 1929. Girl Scouts were added into the mix in 1974. I don’t know how the troops are selected, but the invitation to serve is quite an honor. I like that lots of troops are given a turn.

And, considering the multitudes in heaven who are wearing the unfading crown of life, it just seems hopeful that God would give us all a turn. We’re talking eternity, so there’s plenty of time.

Of course I don’t know if everyone gets a turn to sit on an elder throne and lay their crown at God’s feet, or if the same 24 people lay down their crowns, put them back on their heads and them lay them down again, repeatedly throughout eternity, but I do know this: Once you’ve been to the throne room, you want to take off any crown you were proud to wear.

“the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:

‘You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being.’”

Once you’ve been to the throne room you realize that there is a God, and you are not Him. You realize that you are not the One who created all things and give all things their being.

You are so the opposite of the proud one who was booted from heaven and hurled to the earth.

Okay, this is getting long, so I’ll share just one more thing I noticed:  The four creatures who surround the center of the throne – the ones the likes of which we don’t have here on earth; the ones that represent God’s power (lion), strength (ox), intelligence (man) and span (eagle) – they all have eyes ALL OVER THEM.

And that made me think of 2 Chronicles 16:9a:

“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”

He sees us. He sees us clearly, as though looking through a crystal clear sea. He has eyes ranging throughout the earth looking for those who are fully committed to Him. So He can help us, strengthen us.

The first thing He did to strengthen John for the terrible things He was about to witness was show him His throne; assure Him that He had the power and the goodness to get him (us) victoriously through it.

“Holy, holy, holy,” those all-seeing, clear-eyed creature kept saying, “is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.”

Amen.

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Jesus, Light, Revelation

Enraptured

Just when you think you have Him all figured out, everything’s gonna’ change:

I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name. Revelation 3:12b

Revelation 5:9 “And they sang a new song… every tribe and language and people and nation.”

I love, love, love how so many nations/languages are represented in this performance. Perfect!

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Jesus, Light, Revelation

Back on My Soapbox, Banging My Well-Worn Drum….

I hear you typing with your arrogant bravado. Slapping one another on the back with a hearty amen as you mock and ridicule and judge and slay your brothers and sisters in Christ. YOU have theology and doctrine all figured out and tied up in a tight, neat bow, and since their package does not look exactly like yours, they must be wrong, wrong, WRONG!

And I can’t help wondering whether you EVER stop to consider that maybe THEY are right and You are wrong. Or even that you might BOTH be right and you might both be wrong.

You say the Bible clearly says this and clearly says that and I think to myself, Where?

I’m guessing that it is your pastor and your Sunday School teachers and your well worn denominational traditions that clearly say it, not the Bible.

Just this week I’ve come across Christians who feel justified in judging and condemning Rob Bell (with whom I disagree, but whom I do not judge) and mocking and ridiculing Rod Parsley.

Some are so busy calling a spade a spade, that they have not taken the time to really get to know God at all. If they did, they would discover that the One they follow does not scoff or mock or ridicule.

A careful reading of the letters that Jesus dictated to the seven churches, as recorded in Revelation 2 and 3, would show you that He actually considers a lack of love (and by that I mean arrogant judgmentalism) WORSE THAN tolerating false teaching.

Check it out:

Jesus told the church at Ephesus that their hyper vigilance when it came to snuffing out false teaching had stripped them of their love.  And without love, their deeds, hard work and perseverance meant nothing. How do I know they meant nothing? Because He told them that if they did not stop and regain their perspective and ask Him to refill their hearts with love, He would take them out of the equation. Remove their lampstand. Make them no longer a church. Because there is no point in a lampstand that doesn’t shine love, since God is love.

So, no love equals no more church.

But, tolerating false teaching does not equal no more church.

Look here:

There were some in the church in Pergamum who held to false teachings which allowed them to commit sexual immorality and eat food sacrificed to idols. Jesus told them to change. “Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.”

I will come to you (the church as a whole) and fight against them (those who are following false teaching).

He was going to fight them with Truth.

He wasn’t going to mock them, ridicule them, or destroy them, He was going to set them straight.

He was going to set them straight.

Likewise, some in the church in Thyatira were following the sexually immoral teachings of Jezebel.  Jesus warned that since Jezebel was unwilling to repent, He would cast her on a bed of suffering and her children (her followers?) would be killed.

Here’s the thing I want you to hear, dear brothers and sisters:

This is Jesus talking to you:

“Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets, ‘I will not impose any other burden on you, except to hold on to what you have until I come.’

‘I will not impose any other burden on you, except to hold on to what you have until I come.’

Did you hear that? Jesus did not put the burden of judging, destroying, shaming, mocking or even setting those false teachers straight on YOU!

It’s not your job.

Your job is to hold on to the truth you have until He comes to set things straight. Your job is to love.

Until Jesus gets here, it’s His Holy Spirit’s job to guide us to the Truth. The Holy Spirit convicts, not us.

So, hold on to what you have, and before you started typing arrogant words, take a new look at God, and at Scripture, and take a look in the mirror, too. Work on getting that log out of your eye, because you really don’t see nearly as clearly as you think you do.

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Light, Revelation

It’s My Birthday & I’ll Post if I Want To…

…I’ll post if I want to…

When you read Revelation slowly, you start to notice some stuff.

Like the seven lampstands.  The KJV calls them candlesticks.  Either way, their purpose is to hold light.  To raise it up high enough to cut through the cold, dark night.  And isn’t that exactly what a church ought to do – raise Jesus up high enough to cut through the cold, dark night?

Jesus walked among the lampstands. He was the Light in them and He was the Maintenance Man walking among them.  Each lampstand was evaluated.  Each received a performance report.

And, I noticed, Jesus used the same technique I used to teach to the volunteer counselors at the crisis pregnancy center:  the critical feedback sandwich. Basically, it’s a slab of criticism sandwiched between a slice of commendation and a slice of encouragement. Because criticism is a whole lot easier to swallow if you use the right bread.

Jesus told the first church that He saw them. He saw their hard work and perseverance.  He saw their discernment and loyalty to the Truth.  Good job Ephesians!

Love

BUT.  They were taking their discernment a little, no a lot, too far.  They were loving their doctrine more than they were loving people, more than they were loving God.

I know exactly what He meant.  Several years ago, as I was preparing to speak to a group of middle school students, I mentioned to the youth pastor that I might show Rob Bell’s short video entitled, Fire.

“I wouldn’t show that video here,” he said.  “They hate Rob Bell here.  In fact, they have a whole committee actively devoted to rooting out heresy.”

Whoa! Hate?  This was back when Rob Bell was just starting to fall out of favor with the church at large because he said he doesn’t believe in a literal hell.  I don’t agree with Rob, but I don’t hate him.  And I don’t think being wrong about one thing negates every true and right thing a person has ever written or said.  But they hated him.  And they were determined to swiftly and completely cut him out – like a cancer – before he infected everyone.

Except that’s the Holy Spirit’s job.  And Jesus suffered life and death on earth for PEOPLE, not doctrine.  Even Paul – that great contender for the faith – instructed us to speak the truth in love.  Gentle restoration, my friends, gentle.

So, yes, I would say the letter to the Ephesians was also a letter to that committee. And to the guy whose post I read the other day while I was sitting in the waiting room.  He was mocking Priscilla Shirer because she hears directly from God and he doesn’t.  But that might be another post for another day.

The point is, if your church is working so hard to perfectly dot your doctrinal “i” and perfectly cross your doctrinal “t” that it is forgetting to love, then your church is missing the point of being a lampstand. And it will die. Because Jesus does not make idle threats.

He warned the church in Ephesus, “Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

According to my Bible study notes, there is now hardly a trace of the Christian church in this region. The lampstand at Ephesus has been removed, the church is gone and the city is in ruins.

Jesus won’t stay in a loveless marriage.

The dim glow of doctrine is not nearly bright enough to illuminate anyone’s path, cut through their darkness or warm their way.  In the end it will only cause them to stumble.

Don’t misunderstand, I’m not hating on doctrine here.  It just shouldn’t be your first love, your everything. And we all know that sometimes it is.

If you are quoting Paul a whole lot more often than you are quoting Jesus, then you need ears to hear.

If you and/or church lacks love, get it back.  Do the things you did when your wick was first lit, back before you got all tied up in the straightjacket of legalism.  Quick, before the Holy Spirit leaves the building.

“Love one another,” Jesus said. “As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Life

Oh and look!  “To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”

The tree of life. The one in Eden from which we’ve been banned.  The way to which is guarded by cherubim and a flaming, flashing sword.

We’re gonna’ get to eat from it again.

When we love again.

©2015, Light & life

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