John

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Jesus Reveals Himself

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The most essential characteristic of the bible is that it provides a ‘place’ where Jesus reveals himself and where we can encounter him.

I know that some people find reading the bible a rather dull and unrewarding exercise. I also know many folks who love to study the bible. In both cases, most fail to encounter Jesus in and through the scriptures. This article is my attempt to provide some remedy to this situation.

The Way we are Programmed

I think that the Western education system most of us have experienced bears some blame. It has trained us to value knowledge above relationship, yet at the same time, it has largely failed to teach us to think analytically, critically, and creatively. The legacy of this is a belief that studying is about knowledge without necessarily knowing, and reading without revelation.

Little wonder then that we tend to default to a knowledge-acquisition mode when reading the bible.
The Bible’s Primary Purpose

However, the bible is not just a repository of knowledge or a rule book; it is primarily a revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. A knowledge-acquisition mindset tends to exclude relationship. We can’t have a relationship with a book, no matter how inspired we believe it to be.

But we can and should have a relationship with its author and main subject, the Living Word, Jesus Christ.

Jesus said to the Pharisees of his day: ”You diligently study the scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39-40). The scriptures they had at that time consisted only of what we call the Old Testament. How much more would the Lord’s words apply to us who have the Gospels and the epistles, yet still fail to encounter him in and through the bible? So, this article is about how we can remedy this condition. The passage I have selected to showcase what I propose is John 21:1-14.

The Passage

(1)‘Afterward, Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way: (2) Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. (3) “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. (4) Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. (5) He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. (6) He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. (7) Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. (8) The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards.   (9) When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. (10) Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” ( 11) Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. (12) Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. (13) Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. (14) This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead’.

A Knowledge-acquisition Approach

Now, if we adopt a knowledge-acquisition approach to this passage then these are the sort of things we will probably experience:

  1. We start reading and in verse 1 it has, ‘Jesus appeared again’. Straight away our minds click into analysis gear and we wonder to ourselves, ‘how many post-resurrection appearances were there?’ So we stop reading and consult a commentary or the notes in our reference bible. But tell me, how does knowing that there were three such appearances help us to relate to Jesus here and now?
  2. Then in verse 7, we find the words, ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’ and we wonder who that was. If it was John then why didn’t he just write that? Perhaps it was one of the others? But how does the answer to this help US to love Jesus more?
  3. Verse 11 contains the most obvious example of all where it mentions that there were exactly 153 large fish in the net. Why such a precise number? What does it signify? We immediately dive down the rabbit hole like Alice in Wonderland and try to chase down an answer in the commentaries and reference books. 153 fish species in lake Galilee symbolic of all the people in the region? Not likely. Perhaps the square number of the sum of 1 to 17? Yes, but so what? How does this all add to our relationship with Jesus?
These things may be interesting, but they are so often distractions that focus us on acquiring knowledge about Jesus rather than knowing Jesus himself.

No, we need another approach to reading the bible. Study certainly has a place, and analysis has a place, but surely we must give first place to knowing Jesus in and through the bible?

An Alternative Approach

I want to demonstrate an alternative approach that uses sanctified imagination sparked, and not snuffed out, by logical deduction. So, first I will shed a different and more relational light on the passage, and then I will show how we can see Jesus in and through it.

Relational Insights

The narrative starts with seven disciples leaving Jerusalem and going down to Lake Galilee. Peter was not necessarily running away because he was ashamed, but rather because Jesus had previously told him that after he rose from the dead he would go ahead of them to Galilee (Matthew 26:32). The angel at the empty tomb had then confirmed this to Mary and instructed her to tell this to Peter and the others (Matthew 28:7  Mark 16:7). So Peter was simply obeying the Lord and going down to the lake expecting to meet Jesus.

It seems that this meeting did not immediately occur because at some point Peter says, “I’m going out to fish” and all seven of them went off in a boat and fished the entire night. They caught nothing, but as dawn was breaking a man appeared on the shore, about 90 meters away and called out to them: “You don’t have any fish do you?”.  The light was poor and he was far away so they could not recognise him yet his voice was strangely familiar. Then the man called, “Throw your nets on the right side and you will”. And they did! Now, why did they obey? They must have been tired and frustrated. The man was on the shore with a worse view of the water around the boat than they had. Yet they immediately cast their net on the right side of the boat. Why?

Well, perhaps you will recall the passage describing when Jesus called Peter and John to follow him some 42 months earlier? If not, look it up in Luke 5:1-11. They had been fishing all night but had caught nothing. They pulled the boats up onto the shore and started mending their nets when Jesus approached. He told them to go out one more time, they did, and caught so may fish that the boats were swamped and in danger of sinking. On that occasion, Jesus had invited Peter and John to follow him and to become ‘fishers of men’. Now here they were again, in remarkably similar circumstances. Imagine Peter and John exchanging glances as the unspoken question hung in the air; “Could this man be Jesus?”

They started pulling in the net and felt the weight of fish in it. As it neared the surface, they must have seen the fish jumping and squirming in it. John turns to Peter and exclaims, “It IS the Lord!” and Peter does something very strange. He has been fishing all night in his loincloth (underpants) but now he pulls on his robe and jumps into the water to swim the 90 meters to the shore. Why would he do this? Have you ever tried to swim in a robe or something similar? Well, when Jesus had called Peter three and a half years earlier, Peter had fallen on his knees amid the fish in the boat and had cried out: “Go away from me Lord, I am a sinful man!” Peter had profound respect for Jesus and no way was he going to stand before his Lord dressed only in his underpants.

When the others got to the shore with the catch of fish that Jesus had provided for them, what did they find? Jesus was cooking them breakfast of braaied fish and bread. He blessed the food and served them.

Peter had covered himself up but Jesus laid himself bare, revealing his nature and character to them – caring, serving, providing, and loving.

Step into the Scene

Ok, now that you have a sense of what was probably happening in the narrative, why not take a step further; instead of just observing, why not BE there? At the start of the passage, it names just five of the seven disciples, so the other two were probably not members of the original twelve but rather just ordinary folks like you and me. So, be one of them as they sit around the fire at dawn on that memorable morning. Feel the warmth of the fire, hear the sizzle of the fish, and smell that fresh bread. Hear the way Jesus is speaking and see the expression on his face. How do you feel? Do you sense the reverence of that group as they eat with Jesus, the resurrected Lord of creation?

Now, why not speak to him in prayer? Ask him what you will, tell him how you are, or just express how grateful you are to be there with him. Then listen, because perhaps he has something to say to you or show you. 
It is All About Jesus

The bible is God-breathed and contains information, wisdom, and direction. But it’s primary purpose is to reveal Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. In and through its pages God reveals himself to us so that we might know him now and eternally. The last verse of John chapter 20, just before the start of this Galilee narrative, contains these words: ‘These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.’

A Prayer

My prayer for myself and everyone who reads this article is just what Paul prayed for the Christians in Ephesus:

‘I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.’

As in the words of the song known to so many of us:

‘Open our eyes Lord, we want to see Jesus. To reach out and touch him, and say that we love him. Open our ears Lord, and help us to listen. Open our eyes Lord, we want to see Jesus.’

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Articles for Easter

Three of the articles I wrote for Joy! Magazine between 2008 and 2014 are worth repeating as a build up to the Passover season of 2019.

The first article concerns Passover, or what many now call Good Friday, and links it to the Lords Table we regularly celebrate in church. The second covers territory not often traversed because the Bible does not directly address what happened between Crucifixion Friday and Resurrection Sunday. And the third article focuses on an Easter phenomenon often debated in the media this time each year; the Shroud of Turin.

I have written dozens of other articles relating to this time of year, but I have selected these three because they are not the usual ‘bread’ served up at Easter, and could therefore provide new ‘food for thought’. I do hope they nourish your spirit as we approach the most sacred time on the Christian calendar.

Passover, Good Friday, and Communion

Last Supper PicThe death of their firstborn was the final judgement that persuaded Pharaoh to let the Israelites leave Egypt. God instructed the Israelites to paint the blood of a lamb on their doorposts. He said that when He saw the blood, He would pass over that household and not strike their first-born.

Passover gets its name from this ‘passing over’ the homes of the people of God.

It is a graphic foreshadowing of how Jesus, the Lamb of God, would shed His blood for the salvation of all who believe.
Every year thereafter, through to the time of Jesus, the people of God celebrated Passover with a special meal. On the Thursday evening that started what we now call Good Friday (the Jewish day starts at six pm the previous evening), Jesus met with His disciples to celebrate Passover with them.

From the details given in the Gospels, it seems they reclined at a low table arranged in a typical Roman format; a sort of square U shape with two short sides and a longer middle section. According to the custom of the day, the one responsible for the meal would sit at the extreme end of one of the short lengths, next to him would be the host, and next to him the guest of honour. The other guests would then sit in order of importance, with the least important sitting at the end of the other short length, directly opposite the organizer. For the Last Supper, the organiser would have been John, the host Jesus, and the guest of honour Judas. Yes Judas! It was protocol for the host to have the guest of honour seated on his left, and to demonstrate favour by serving him with a piece of bread dipped in the stew. Jesus announced to his startled disciples that one of them was about to betray him. John 13:21-26 records how Peter signalled to John to catch his attention and then asked him to inquire of Jesus who His betrayer was. John leaned back against Jesus and asked him. Jesus replied, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread , he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon.’

What incredible grace! Jesus knew that Judas was going to betray him yet he chose to make him the guest of honour.

He placed Judas, the least of all, in the highest position, and poor Peter, the leader elect, in the lowest position at the very end of the table. What a lesson for us. Before starting the meal, Jesus had washed his disciples’ feet. He had made it clear that He was setting them an example of servant leadership (John 13:15). Peter must have been very ashamed because he was sitting in the least important seat, and custom demanded that the least at the table serve the others. Jesus had nominated Peter as His successor yet He afforded Peter the least privilege and expected of him the greatest service.

Jesus went from the Upper Room to the Cross. In the Upper Room He washed His disciples’ feet with water, but at Golgotha He washed their souls with His blood. And not just them but all of us who accept His sacrifice.

In the Upper Room, Jesus gave up His dignity to serve, and at Golgotha He gave up His life to save.
When we take communion, we should remember its origins and ponder the depth of the message it conveys. Communion is a stylised recreation of the Last Supper, which was itself a commemoration of the Passover. The wine of Communion reminds us that Jesus gave his lifeblood for us, and the bread reminds us that we are part of the body that He birthed through His death. In Communion, we honour Jesus and serve each other.  We, who are by nature rebels and betrayers, are given the highest honour, yet we are called to take the place of least honour and to serve each other.

Between Crucifixion Friday and Resurrection Sunday

Empty tomb picI wrote this article on the day after Resurrection Sunday. I don’t usually like to call it Easter Sunday – why should we give the pagan goddess Ishtar any credit. Friday embodies the glorious truth that Jesus settled the penalty clause of the violated covenant between God and humanity. I guess that is why some call it ‘good’ Friday. Sunday represents the equally awesome truth that through Jesus we can be born-again of the Spirit. On the cross of Calvary Jesus Christ brought to an end the line of Adam’s sin. As He walked out of the tomb, He started a new spiritual lineage for all who will believe. ‘So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.’ (1 Corinthians 15:45)

The message of Friday is clear. The truth that Sunday conveys is equally obvious. What, though, is the significance of Saturday?

According to The Apostles Creed, as we now have it, after dying on the cross Jesus ‘descended into hell’. However, the earliest versions of that creed do not contain this clause. When Rufinus introduced it in 390AD it seems that he understood the word ‘hell’ simply to mean ‘grave’. Notwithstanding this, some theologians have developed a complex doctrine of Christ’s decent into the devil’s abode. The primary texts they use are Acts 2:27, Romans 10:6-7, Ephesians 4:8-9, 1 Peter 3:18-20, and 1 Peter 4:6. Wayne Grudem has an excellent section on this topic in his ‘Systematic Theology’ (pages 586 – 594). His concluding sentence reads, ‘concerning the doctrinal question of whether Christ did descend into hell after he died, the answer from several passages of Scripture seems clearly to be no.’

From the descent into Hell doctrine has come the teaching that Jesus had to die both physically on the cross and spiritually in Hell. Saturday, for those who believe this, stands for Jesus’ torment in Hades and his eventual victory, as He was ‘born again’ from the devil’s dungeon. There are plenty of problems with this view. Was Jesus then less than ’God’ that He could be tortured by the devil? Was His death on the cross less than adequate for our salvation? (See 1 Corinthians 1:17)

Colossians 2:13(b) -15 contains a more satisfactory explanation of what Passover Saturday represents. ‘He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.’ The language used in this passage evokes the scene of a military court-martial. They bring the offending officer to stand before his troops. The supreme commander then strips him of the symbols of his authority and expels him. Jesus settled the death penalty of the ancient covenant and proceeded to the heavenly throne room of God the Father. There Satan stood in shame before all the angels of heaven. Jesus stripped him of his authority and expelled him from heaven. The accuser of the brethren no longer has access to the presence of God. Hallelujah! This is what the Saturday between Crucifixion Friday and Resurrection Sunday stands for.

So, instead of descending into Hell, Jesus ascended into Heaven! Instead of the devil tormenting Him, He expelled the devil! How could some get it so wrong? Part of the answer lies in how we interpret the Bible. I deal with this in the second half of my latest book ‘Truth is the Word – restoring a lost focus’.

The Sign of Jonah – or a Whale of a Tale

Shroud pic“A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.  For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”’  

Over the years, I have been keeping reasonably up to date on the findings and theories concerning the shroud of Turin. Every year something new emerges as various scientists seek to understand this enigmatic burial shroud.

The shroud put in its first recorded appearance in 1356 at a time when religious relics and superstitions were rife in medieval Europe. Some researchers claim to be able to trace it back to the sixth century and one even claims that there is reasonable evidence for it coming out of the first century. Whatever its recorded history, many religious people think it is the authentic burial cloth of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Recently the Pope went to pray before the shroud, so clearly he believes it has significance.

No matter what one thinks of the shroud, it certainly is a mystery. In 1898 it was photographed for the first time and this led to an intriguing discovery: the image in the shroud is a ‘photographic’ negative. Up to that time, most sceptics had thought that the image was simply the work of a skilled medieval artist trying to cash in on the relics market. However, the discovery that the image was actually a negative put this idea under a lot of pressure. More recently, artists and scientists have attempted to reproduce such an image using pigments, dyes, rubs, heat treatments, and so on. Their results are interesting, but far from compelling. Besides, current microscopic examination of the fabric shows no evidence at all of any pigments.

In 1988, carbon 14 dating seemed to indicate that the shroud originated in the middle ages. More recently, however, facts have immerged which prove that the dating process was seriously flawed and that the cloth could well date back to the first century.

Since 2003, a number of articles have appeared in reputable scientific journals seeking to make sense of the shroud and its image. A popular hypothesis is that the image was formed by ammonia derivatives from a human body interacting with carbohydrate residue in the fabric (the Maillard reaction). But, this doesn’t fully explain the remarkable image. It seems that the image in the shroud is a sort of 3D terrain map of the body it covered. Because of this quality, researchers have been able to use modern computer techniques to develop a full reproduction of the body. In 2010, the History channel aired a documentary showing the results of this process. The resultant 3D image shows a man with abrasions in his face, shoulder, and knees. The scourge marks of a cat-o-nine tails are visible and the wound in the side, wrists and feet are unmistakable.

The consensus opinion at this time is that the shroud of Turin is genuine in that it carries within its fibres the image of a man who died by crucifixion and that in all probability the material can be dated back far earlier than the medieval era. Is it the burial shroud of Jesus? No one can be sure of this, but it is true that the wounds shown in the image conform to the Gospel record of the crucifixion.

Some scientists are still not satisfied with the chemical interaction theory of how the image was formed. They claim that a catalytic event must have caused such a reaction. They theorise that some form of energy must have passed through the fabric to trigger a chemical reaction. One hypothesis is that the units of matter called nuceons must have decoupled causing a dematerialisation of the body. Simply put, the body passed through the fabric of the shroud.

All this is interesting but far from conclusive, so why am I interested in it, and why should you be? Luke 11 and Matthew 16 record Jesus’ words concerning the only sign He was prepared to give an unbelieving generation. Matthew 12:38-41 records, ‘Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you.” He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.  For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”’  Whether or not scientific evidence of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the sign for our age is debateable. What is certain however is that research continues, TV channels continue to produce documentaries, people write books, but the mystery remains. The crucifixion and resurrection remain in the public’s eye.

Every Easter, the Christian church remembers the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am grateful that scientists and sceptics, although they may not believe, continue to wrestle with the possibility that this pivotal event in biblical history may well be historically and scientifically verified. If it was verifiable, would this effect my faith in any way? No, but it sure would make an unbelieving world sit up and take notice.

For anyone interested in learning more about the shroud, HERE is the January 2019 updates to the major site on the subject.

Some mages courtesy of Brooklyn Museum / FreeBibleimages.org and wikipedia/commons

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Westminster Confession

The Westminster Confession through Jesus spectacles

Many are well educated on the history and contents of the Westminster Confession  of Faith. Some may have just a nodding acquaintance with it, while  some may never have heard this term.

New ArticleI recently read an article in Joy! Magazine asserting that the Westminster Confession “has been described as the finest, most Biblical description and definition of Christian life, faith and practice”. Only those adhering to the Calvinist system of theology could assert such a thing so I promptly submitted an article presenting a different view on the subject. The article is to be published in the August edition of Joy! Magazine. If you would like to read the full article then please click HERE, but for those of you who need a bit of background, here is a brief description of the Westminster Confession.

The Western Confession of Faith was commissioned by the Church of England and published in 1646 to set out its essentially Calvanistic understanding of the Christian Faith. It consists of a number of questions each followed by the Church of England’s response.
The condensed version of the confession, usually referred to as the Shorter Confession, starts with three important questions:
  1. What is the chief end of man?
  2. What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy Him?
  3. What do the Scriptures principally teach?
My article attempts to answer these questions, not from a Calvinistic standpoint, but from a Jesus-centred perspective. l am deeply committed to the idea that the questions of faith and life should be answered, not in terms of systems of theology, but from what Jesus taught and did
You can find “The Westminster Confession through Jesus spectacles”  here at www.truthistheword.com under the PUBLISHED ARTICLES tab, where you can also find other articles I have written over the years.
Please note that the dates shown are not the dates the articles were published (most of them are a lot more recent) but back-dated for archival purposes.

God Bless you!

 

 

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3 angels with interlinked message

The Eternal Gospel

Revelation Revisited Post 49

Humanism and Religion work together in an unholy partnership to oppose the church and to bewitch and control the world. Opposing them stands the church proclaiming an Eternal Gospel.

Humanism, (the sum of science, medicine, philosophy, economics, technology, military power, politics, and hedonism), delegates its authority to Religion (the sum of The Occult, New Age Mysticism, World Religions, Cults, and Apostate Christianity). Religion, in turn, endorses Humanism and acts as its prophet and miracle worker.

Those who are not sealed by the Holy Spirit as born-again followers of Jesus bear the mark of Humanism and Religion; they live by the principles, values, and priorities of the world rather than those of the Kingdom of God.

Chapter 13 of Revelation describes these two beasts that oppose the church and so what would we expect to find described in Chapter 14? The church of course! And here is how the church of the Lord Jesus is described:

Religion and Humanism*  It is composed of all Jesus-followers both in Heaven and on Earth, and also those Old Testament saints who lived by faith in the coming saviour. I have already shown in a previous post how 144,000 is a numeric shorthand for the full body of believers.

*  The believers who make up the church bear the name of the Father and the Son and they sing a ‘new song’ of praise before the throne of God.

*  They do not defile themselves with the idolatry of religion. In the book of Revelation both the true church and the false church are depicted as women. The latter is also referred to the Whore of Babylon.

*  True believers follow Jesus!

Revelation 14:6-13 describes three angels who proclaim ‘the eternal gospel’. This is the message the church is commissioned to proclaim on earth through all ages but with particular power and focus in the Last Days. This Eternal Gospel consists of three interlinked messages:

Revelation Revisited In Article Image“Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come!” Revere, honour and adore God, the creator of all that is.

“Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!” Religion, the great deceiver of the world is defeated and ruined.

“If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the head, he, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury.” The message is very clear – religion is worthless, God alone is to be worshipped, and anyone who lives by the values of the world (humanism and religion) will be judged.

John draws a stark contrast between the people of God and the people of the world and then cautions that the ongoing clash between these two groups will call for ‘patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus’ (Revelation 14:12).

Then John ends this section of the chapter, as I shall end this post, with the words of a voice from heaven which saying, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labour, for their deeds will follow them.” (Revelation 14:13)

 

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Message to the world

Revelation Series the Scroll

We all know that the church has a message of salvation for the world, but here is another, less obvious, aspect of it.

Revelation Chapter Ten features a mighty angel descending from heaven holding a little open scroll in his hand. Some commentators teach that this is a portrayal of Jesus Christ but I don’t hold to this for several reasons. In Revelation angels are never symbolic portrayals of something else – they are simply… angels. In any event, Jesus is NOT an angel, He is much, much greater than any angel ever could be (Hebrews 1:4) for He is God incarnate. I think that the confusion comes from the similar descriptions of Jesus and angels in the book of Revelation, but this is because all those who come from the heavenly realm are consistently described with words such as light, radiance, fire, glory, and so on.

In any event, the real focus is not on the angel but on what he is carrying – a small open scroll. We first encountered this scroll rolled up and held in the right hand of God the Father (Revelation 5). It represented the ‘title deeds’ to the earthly realm which humanity had forfeited when they rebelled in the Garden of Eden. It was sealed on the outside and Jesus alone was fit to take it from the Father and break open its seals. As each seal came away a voice boomed out the eviction order to the devil and his minions. Now, in the scene before us, Jesus has handed the scroll to a mighty angel to deliver to John, the representative of the church. Jesus instructs John to take the scroll and to eat it and tells him that although it will taste sweet on his lips it will turn his stomach sour. The Lord also commanded John concerning this message he had internalised, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages, and kings.” (Revelation 10:11)

The essence of the prophetic declaration entrusted to John, and indeed the whole church, is;

The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15)
The church has a prophetic duty to declare to the world, all who have not bent the knee to Jesus, that He is Lord of all, and that Satan has no rights and is simply an illegal squatter in the process of eviction. This is indeed a ‘sweet’ message… but it has some very ‘sour’ implications. The devil loathes the truth of this declaration and unsaved humanity both rejects it and reacts violently to it. So, wherever the church faithfully declares this message it suffers criticism, rejection and some form of persecution.

This prophetic mandate does not give us license to act in ways that Jesus neither modeled nor taught. To proclaim the lordship of Jesus does not equate to Bible-bashing or turn-or-burn aggressive ‘evangelism’. Jesus’ words to the world-weary are still: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30). And Peter’s instruction regarding personal evangelism is still: ‘But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.’ (1 Peter 3:15-17)

There are two other aspects of Chapter Ten that I want to develop before progressing to the Two Witnesses of Chapter Eleven. The first concerns ‘mystery’ in scripture and the second concerns the immediacy of the ‘end days’ and the urgency this brings to our Christian witness. In preparation, why don’t you give some thought to the enigmatic ‘seven thunders’ of Revelation 10:3-4 and to the bold statement of verses 5 to 7.

  When he shouted, the voices of the seven thunders spoke. And when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven say, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write it down.” Then the angel I had seen standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven. And he swore by him who lives for ever and ever, who created the heavens and all that is in them, the earth and all that is in it, and the sea and all that is in it, and said, “There will be no more delay! But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets.”
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About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.