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  • J. Randal Matheny 5:03 pm on 2016-05-26 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 2Chronicles, , Revelation   

    Did God speak to King Necho of Egypt? 

    It sure seems like he did. See this passage:

    After Josiah had done all this for the temple, King Necho of Egypt marched up to do battle at Carchemish on the Euphrates River. Josiah marched out to oppose him. Necho sent messengers to him, saying, “Why are you opposing me, O king of Judah? I am not attacking you today, but the kingdom with which I am at war. God told me to hurry. Stop opposing God, who is with me, or else he will destroy you.” But Josiah did not turn back from him; he disguised himself for battle. He did not take seriously the words of Necho which he had received from God; he went to fight him in the Plain of Megiddo. 2 Chron 35.20-22

    It’s not terribly unusual for God to speak to pagans, even foreign kings. But this is a twist: a foreign king speaking the word of God to a king of Judah. One supposes that if God can make a donkey can speak to a prophet, he can make a pagan king speak to his anointed one.

    It could have been through a dream. Apparently, the Chronicler has Spirit inspiration behind him to confirm that it was God who spoke to Necho. But how would Josiah have figured that out? What expectation would he have that this pagan ruler was actually bringing him a revelation from God? It’s a passage that puzzles me.

    Got any perspectives on it?

    • John Henson 9:47 am on 2016-05-27 Permalink | Reply

      Professor Keesee, in his TFT Commentary on Jeremiah, indicates what Nebuzaradan said to Jeremiah was this same kind of thing. Nebuzaradan said, “The Lord your God pronounced this disaster against this place,” (Jeremiah 40:2b ESV).

    • Don Ruhl 4:06 pm on 2016-05-27 Permalink | Reply

      My only perspective is that God does one thing a certain way, and another time He does it another way, so that we do not begin to think that the power is in the method, but in Him.

  • J. Randal Matheny 8:41 am on 2015-08-26 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Caitlyn Jenner, , Halloween, , , , Revelation   

    It’s a Deal! A Take-It-or-Leave-It Deal! 

    fight-for-topIrks me to no end to hear or read the phrase “preacher for ___ church.” You’ll note that we avoid it in places like Brotherhood News and Forthright Magazine. Sure, Paul can call himself a servant of the church, but the modern phrase comes from a far inferior concept — an employer-employee mentality, exactly part of the problem today in the American church. (More …)

  • Ron Thomas 7:00 am on 2015-07-14 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , God spoke to me, Revelation   

    God Spoke to Me 

    A surrendered heart is crucial in one’s relationship with God, but to use John 14:21 and say that “revelation comes to those who are willing to follow God’s ways” is a plain misuse of the passage, even the context. Jesus is speaking exclusively to His twelve disciples (less one). That promise which He spoke to them was for them, not for any of us today. We are not guided into all truth except through the very written word of God! The apostles did not have for themselves a “Bible” that could be taken into all the world. What they had was God’s Spirit that taught them that which God wanted them to know (1 John 1:1-3; 4:1, 6). This they taught and wrote down for man today (cf. Jude 3).

    How does God speak to us today? He speaks to us through His revealed (written) word. This is abundantly clear when one considers the following:

    Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,  but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. (Hebrews 1:1-2,ESV)

    To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 2:14, ESV)

    I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:14-15, ESV)

    His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, (2 Peter 1:3, ESV)

    …how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel (Ephesians 3:3-6, ESV).

    When a man gets into the subjective realm of “God spoke to me” he has gone into a realm that is nothing more than “I want.” In other words, he has gone into a realm where he wants to believe that God spoke to him; it is not a realm of objective truth, but a subjective realm of “This is my opinion and don’t you tell me anything that is different!”

    In such a realm, getting the objective truth of God’s revealed word into the mind of that one is difficult. On the other hand, if one is willing to compare his or her subjective approach to life in alongside the revealed word of God (Hebrews 4:12), then the subjective approach can be lain aside for the Lord’s word.

    In such case, it can be said, properly, that “God spoke to me.”

    • J. Randal Matheny 8:57 am on 2015-07-14 Permalink | Reply

      Ron, a few days ago, this stanza really stood out to me, especially the third line:

      How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
      Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
      What more can He say than to you He hath said,
      You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?

      Such a beautiful line, that third one.

      Thanks for your thought here.

    • Ron Thomas 5:21 pm on 2015-07-14 Permalink | Reply

      very good, Randall.

    • Eugene Adkins 6:16 pm on 2015-07-14 Permalink | Reply

      So are you saying that a person can’t look into a magic hat to get “another” revelation of Jesus, or have a dream of Jesus revealing that he rose from the grave on Sunday but that the 10 Commandments are still in effect as God’s law, or have a vision that led to a revelation of Jesus’ return beginning in 1914?

      • Ron Thomas 8:17 pm on 2015-07-14 Permalink | Reply

        I sure couldn’t say it to them, could I? LOL

        On Tue, Jul 14, 2015 at 6:16 PM, The Fellowship Room wrote:


  • TFRStaff 4:31 am on 2015-03-24 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Revelation   

    Hugh's News & Views (Revelation) 


    (Part 2)

    The scriptures of both the Old and New Testaments are inspired (“breathed out of God”) and are an infallible account of God’s dealings with man down through the ages. The Bible sets forth the gradual unfolding of the grand scheme of redemption that was brought to fruition by the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, and the setting up of His spiritual kingdom, the church. (More …)

  • John T. Polk II 6:00 am on 2014-07-14 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , Revelation,   

    (#196) The Proverbs of Solomon 29:18-Be Happy 

    Since God Created humans, only God can provide specific understanding of human behavior. God gave Solomon Divine Wisdom (1 Kings Chapters 3 and 10) to explain what and why behavior is as it is, and Proverbs 10:1-24:34 are randomly written, as if they were Solomon’s judgments about individual cases brought to him, or simply God-given explanations about life. New Testament passages may help see the continuation of Wisdom offered through Jesus Christ.

    Proverbs 29:18: “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; But happy is he who keeps the law.”

    “Revelation” (“vision” in the King James Version) refers to God’s inspired Word. As God miraculously led His people, he spoke to them through a “prophet:” “So the LORD said to Moses: ‘See, I have made you as God to Pharaoh, and Aaron your brother shall be your prophet. You shall speak all that I command you. And Aaron your brother shall speak to Pharaoh to send the children of Israel out of his land’” (Exodus 7:1-2). Moses then became “the prophet” (Numbers 12:6-8) through whom God’s Law was given (Deuteronomy 34:9-12), and by following that written Law, the nation of Israel would remain separate from other peoples (Joshua 23:6-8). After Moses, unless God inspired a prophet to call the people back to that written Law, they forgot God: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6). “Then the boy Samuel ministered to the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation” (1 Samuel 3:1).

    King Zedekiah is an example of what this proverb is saying: “He did evil in the sight of the LORD his God, and did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke from the mouth of the LORD” (2 Chronicles 36:12). Even though Christ’s Law has been given, people sin when they made to think there is no Law of God that applies to them: “To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled” (Titus 1:15).

    The New Testament is the written Law of Christ and God has not had a prophet since it was written: “If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 14:37). Whatever people say to demean, diminish, or destroy their confidence in God’s Word does not change God’s Word: “But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit” (Jude 17-19). Christians are admonished: “Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Romans 13:13-14), because God’s written Word is our Judge, for Jesus said: “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him–the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).

    Where sin abounds is a fertile field for preaching and teaching the Word of God, for Jesus said: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Mark 2:17).

    “The revelation” from God is in our Bible – Be “happy!”

    All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

  • Joshua Gulley 11:54 pm on 2013-12-20 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , orchestral music, , Revelation, ,   


    I was recently afforded the opportunity to perform in the Murfreesboro Symphony Chorus at a concert with the Murfreesboro Symphony Orchestra. I had been to orchestral performances many times before, and while they can be very exciting, they can also be a bit tiresome during some passages. If you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself waking up to the applause of the audience at the end of a piece. This one, however–almost every moment of it–was different.

    Perhaps it was the acoustics–the reverberation in the venue; perhaps it was the one or two thousand faces focused in on the stage; perhaps it was being able to see the conductor’s face for once instead of his back; perhaps it was getting to be part of a group of incredible singers to which I felt inferior; perhaps it was the beauty of the music, much of which was written by one of the best-known composers of our time. As I sang with the choir, or simply sat and listened as the orchestra played alone, excitement flowed through me like electricity during almost the entire concert. Every solo, every climax, every quiet passage, every pause created a sensation I could feel, not only in my mind and heart, but in my body. Here was a group of some of the best musicians (and me) performing excellent music by one of the most well-regarded modern composers on some of the finest instruments in a superb venue, led by one of the most talented conductors in our region. Every person there (on stage and in the audience) was focused on one thing–the music. Being in the midst of the ensemble provided for one of the most intense musical experiences I’ve ever had.

    Revelation 14, 15, and 19 have descriptions of multitudes of people and angels singing praise to God. I’m afraid sometimes we think of that image and liken it to our local congregational singing, which–like any other thing we do on a regular basis–can often seem less than thrilling. (More …)

  • Michael Summers 11:31 am on 2013-07-26 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Mark 13, Revelation,   

    Has Jesus Left Our Temple? 

    C.E.W. Dorris wrote these provocative words concerning Jesus’ departure from the temple in Mark 13:
    “Sad the day for us when Jesus leaves our temple, and his voice is no longer heard pleading in our souls.”
    His words evoke memory of Jesus standing at the door of the hearts of Laodicean Christians in Revelation 3. Do we sometimes ignore Jesus as we would an unwelcome guest? Do we mentally and spiritually pretend that we’re not home when our conscience senses his knocking?
    Jesus calls us to follow him. That call requires attention in all areas of life, in making decisions and in forgiving as he forgives as well as in preaching sound doctrine.
    Have we surrendered all? Is the voice of Jesus still pleading in our souls?

    • Lillian 9:01 pm on 2013-07-26 Permalink | Reply

      I believe we sometimes ignore Jesus. I have at times, not proud to say it, but it is a fact. When something is being taught and you aren’t comfortable with it, but remain silent or do not take the time to look up the truth in the Bible. I consider that ignoring Jesus. Hopefully I am doing better on this issue. I question more and read more and discuss more with friends. The ultimate decision is mine with the Lord.

      • Michael Summers 11:59 pm on 2013-07-26 Permalink | Reply

        You have a great attitude, Lillian. I especially appreciate that you see the need to look up the truth in the Bible. I must admit that there have been times when I have taken the time to look up what the Bible had to say when I was uncomfortable with what was said or practiced, only to find that my expectation or previous belief was wrong. When the practice or teaching is wrong, we must address it firmly, yet with love. Jude verses 20-23 are helpful in this regard, as are the instructions of Jesus in Matthew 18.

  • TFRStaff 7:52 pm on 2013-03-22 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Revelation   

  • TFRStaff 6:53 pm on 2013-01-30 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: mystery, Revelation   

    The Mystery of God (Roy Davison) 

    Dear brethren,

    An article in text and audio, in English and Dutch, has been added to the Archive:

    “God has revealed the mystery of His will to His saints”



  • Ed Boggess 7:51 am on 2012-12-11 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Revelation, scarlet beast   

    The Book of Revelation is about the end of things. Whether old Israel, the Roman Empire, the Papal Regime or some other people or nation; it is about the final curtain of all that opposes God. Both the mother of harlots and the scarlet beast shall fall and with them their blasphemies, harlotries and abominations will fail. The sea will turn to blood, the earth will be shaken, darkness will replace the light and righteousness will be avenged. He with eyes as a flame and a robe dipped in blood, he whose title is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, is coming riding on his war-horse armed with a sharp two-edged sword and a rod of iron, ready to tread the winepress of wickedness with the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. When he comes again, it is not as the Lamb of God but as the Lion of Judah; it is not as the Savior of mankind but as the Judge of sinners. Will you be ready? This is Just-A-Minute with Ed Boggess

  • Richard Mansel 12:12 pm on 2012-05-02 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: calvinism. hell, Revelation,   

    Revelation and Calvinism 

    It seems to me that Calvinism looks even worse in view of a study of Revelation. The accounts of the destruction of the wicked in Revelation are chilling.

    And another angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire, and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, “Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.”  So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw [it] into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs” (Revelation 14:18-20).

    How can we read such passages and think that God would punish people when they had no chance to choose righteousness? How could God elect certain people to doom, then destroy them with great violence and send them to Hell.

    I’ll never understand such a doctrine. It is completely foreign to what I read in Scripture.

  • Richard Mansel 7:48 am on 2012-03-15 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Revelation   

    New Heaven and New Earth 

    I am looking for your insight into a difficult passage. It seems obvious to me that this discusses heaven. However, there are two parts of this passage that are difficult.  I accept the later date for Revelation so I don’t know what advocates of the destruction of Jerusalem interpretation believe about this scene.

    Ogden says, “The new Jerusalem is the bride of Christ, the Lamb’s wife” [p. 377].

    Others take these verses to mean that heaven will be on a reconstituted earth.

    The text says:

    “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:1-2, NKJV).

    The questions for you are:

    1. What is being discussed here? Heaven or something else?

    2. What is the new heaven and the new earth?

    3. What does “come down” mean in this context?

    Thank you for your sharing your knowledge with me. God Bless.

    • Brad 10:42 am on 2012-03-15 Permalink | Reply


      It cannot be heaven, because it comes down out of heaven. Speaking of heavens and earth being destroyed or shaken was a symbol of the end of a system (usually governmental), see Joel 2:10-11, 28-32. Thus it would be no surprise that a new heaven and new earth would describe a God’s new system (where Christ is the king).

      Also, John is shown New Jerusalem, and it is called the Lamb’s bride. The church is the bride of Christ (the Lamb).

      Also in this chapter, it describes God’s presence “among men” (verse 3), compare this with Christ being in the presence of the church in chapter 1.

    • Ashby 10:17 pm on 2012-03-15 Permalink | Reply

      Hi Richard,

      Please bear with me while I fill in some background to my response. Much of it may be “old news” to you, but I think it will help to clarify my understanding of the text you asked about. I do not regularly visit this blog and am not familiar with its ground rules, so if I have violated something in submitting a post of this length please forgive me. (I fear the formatting for the diagrams may mess up, but it was worth a shot.)

      The O.T. ends on a note of unfulfilled hope. It was clear that in one sense God always had ruled the world from the time of creation. He was on his heavenly throne (e.g., Ps. 11:4; Isa. 6:1) and reigned over all (e.g., 1 Chron. 16:31; Ps. 93:1, 96:10). But there was some sense in which his kingly rule was not being fully expressed. He was allowing creation to go on out of step with his ultimate intention for it, to continue in a state of sin and suffering that was contrary to his ultimate purpose and vision.

      But the prophets saw that a day was coming in which God would express his rulership of creation in such a way that all things would be brought into harmony and conformity with his ultimate will and purpose. His creation would be redeemed from the dreadful consequences of sin that had invaded it. This world of rebellion, sin, hostility, fragmentation, suffering, and death would be rescued by God, transformed by him into a true utopia, a perfect reality of love, joy, and eternal fellowship with God and one another. Craig Bartholomew and Michael Goheen write in The Drama of Scripture: Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004), 122:

      “The people of Israel thought of history being comprised of two very distinct periods: the present age and the age to come. In the present age, which had begun with Adam’s rebellion against God’s rule, the whole of creation had been stained by sin. Inevitably, therefore, evil would continue to flourish in the world throughout the present age, even among God’s own people of Israel, who had been called out to provide the solution to that evil. But in the age to come, God would intervene to cleanse and renew his creation.”

      On that day God would express his authority over creation in a way he was not doing at present; he would in his sovereign power bring his creation to its ultimate fulfillment. At that time, he *will* be king over all the earth (Zech. 14:9) in a manner unlike the present. Robert Saucy states in “The Eschatology of the Bible” in Frank E. Gaebelein, ed., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979) 1:105:

      “According to the Scriptures, there is a sense in which God has always ruled and is even now the King over all creation (1 Chron 29:11, 12: Ps 103:19; 145:13). But there is another thread of truth that views the kingdom as yet to come (Zech. 14:9; Mat. 6:10). It is this last theme that dominates the eschatological hope of Scripture. . . . While [God] rules over the affairs of the earth with nothing occurring apart from his permissive will, he has allowed sin and rebellion to enter history and Satan to have a certain dominance as the ‘god of this age’ (2 Cor 4:4). God’s rule might be said therefore to be over the earth, but not directly on the earth. It is the coming of God to establish this latter condition, to bring his kingdom to earth in the vindication of his sovereign holiness, that has constituted the hope of God’s people throughout all time.”

      As I. Howard Marshall expresses it in Jesus the Savior (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 218, “[T]he [kingdom of God] is the full and powerful manifestation of the sovereignty that God already exercises over the world.”

      The O.T. uses different imagery to refer to this blessed state that God is going to create. The imagery varies in how sharply it distinguishes the blessed state from this present existence, but all of it says, in forms relevant to ancient Jews, that a time of divine blessing is coming. It says that the failures and sufferings of the present age would be put to rights by the coming of the new age. Sometimes the O.T. speaks of (e.g., Isaiah 2, 11, 25, 51:6, 61, 65:17-25; Jeremiah 31; Daniel 7, 12; Amos. 9:13-15; Micah 4; Joel 2) the restoration of Israel to greatness and of the coming of a new king like the great king David; God’s healing the world’s sicknesses and hatreds; God’s people being freed from oppression; renewed prosperity and justice for the poor; war and weapons of war being abolished; death being swallowed up and tears being wiped away; alienation between God and man being removed; God’s Spirit being poured out in a new way; and a new heaven and a new earth.

      In the first century, Israel was weak, poor, and under the rule of pagans (the Romans). Graeme Goldsworthy writes in According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1991), 196, “The return from exile results in only a pale shadow of the predicted glorious kingdom for the people of God.” Thomas Schreiner states in New Testament Theology: Magnifying God in Christ (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008), 44-45:

      “The prophets promised a new creation, a new temple, a new covenant, and a new king. The exile would be over, and the wilderness would bloom.
      “The great promises in the prophets, however, were not fulfilled when the exile ended in 536 B.C. Israel did return from Babylon and a temple was built, yet the temple was insignificant in comparison to the Solomonic temple. Nor was the nation enjoying glorious prosperity, the kind of glory envisioned in Isa. 40-66. Israel was small, struggling, and under the oppression of former powers. Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi document the low spiritual state of the nation. Nor did matters improve in the four hundred years before the coming of Jesus of Nazareth. Israel was a pawn in the struggle between the Ptolemies and the Seleucids. A brief period of freedom dawned with the Hasmoneans in the second and first centuries BC, but the interlude was brief, and soon the Romans swept in and subjugated Israel, appointing the Herodians and procurators to rule the land.”

      The people longed and prayed for the coming of God, for his final intervention when he would set all things right and rule in the fullest sense to the blessing of his people. In Mk. 15:43 Joseph of Arimathea is described as one who was “waiting for the kingdom of God” (TNIV). He was waiting for that state in which God expresses his sovereignty by “heavenizing” creation, by transforming this fallen creation into the divine utopia, into an eternal state of love, joy, peace, and ultimate fellowship.

      It was into that religious, social, and political environment that Jesus came saying, “The time is fulfilled; the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mk. 1:15) and “But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Mat. 12:28) and “for behold, the kingdom of God is among you [in your midst]” (Lk. 17:21b). Jesus came announcing the arrival of God’s final intervention in history, the ultimate expression of his kingly rule on the world. David Wenham writes in The Parables of Jesus (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1989), 25:

      “To sum up: in proclaiming the kingdom of God, Jesus was announcing the coming of God’s revolution and of God’s new world, as promised in the Old Testament. God was at last intervening, Jesus declared, to establish his reign over everything, to bring salvation to his people and renewal and reconciliation to the world. But fortunately Jesus did not announce his message in such general theological terms; he announced it primarily through vivid, concrete parables.”

      This naturally created excitement in some quarters and suspicion and opposition in others. It also led to misunderstanding because of incorrect ideas the Jews had about the coming and nature of the kingdom of God. Many of them thought the kingdom would arrive through or in conjunction with human military conquest, and more specifically, through or in conjunction with the expulsion of the Romans and their supporters from Palestine. But as Wenham notes (p. 23):

      “Jesus had in mind a bigger revolution than that: God’s revolution was to be a total revolution overthrowing Satan and evil and bringing earth and heaven back in harmony, and this would not be accomplished by force of arms, but – unbelievably so far as the disciples were concerned, and who blames them? – through suffering and death.”

      They also expected the kingdom to come suddenly and decisively. They thought God’s final intervention would be a one-shot deal – the Day of the Lord – where the old age would be terminated abruptly and the new, glorious age would begin. Recall Lk. 19:11 where the people supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately upon Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem. That aspect of their thinking has been diagrammed as follows (Wenham, 63):

      The day of
      The Lord
      The old age The new age

      This caused people to wonder how Jesus could be ushering in the kingdom of God when the hallmarks of the old age – death, decay, suffering, etc. – still were present. Even John the Baptist began to question as he sat in Herod’s jail whether Jesus was in fact the one who would bring in the kingdom of God (Mat. 11:2-3; Lk. 7:18-19).

      Jesus explained in a number of parables (and elsewhere) that the kingdom comes in two stages. It is introduced or inaugurated, then there is an interval of time, and then there is a decisive intervention when the kingdom is consummated or finalized. Samuel Mikolaski states in “The Theology of the New Testament” in Frank E. Gaebelein, ed., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979) 1:471:

      “While Scripture recognizes the reign of God as being eternal, it acknowledges that his sovereignty in the evil-infected world is only partial. Scripture declares that God’s universal reign will be achieved at Christ’s second advent. This reign, however, has already broken into history in the incarnation, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ.”

      Preben Vang and Terry Carter state in Telling God’s Story: The Biblical Narrative from Beginning to End (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2006), 199:

      “According to Jesus, the kingdom of God is already here. Jesus inaugurated it! The “age to come” has broken into the “present age.” God is making his presence felt already now. Yet the kingdom of God is not here in full. Evil still exists. God does not yet fill “all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28). This will only happen at the time of consummation when Christ comes back. We now live between the times. The promised “age to come” has already begun but is not here in full. The “old age” is still here as well.”

      Wenham (p. 63) diagrams the concept like this:

      Jesus’ Jesus’
      coming second coming
      | |
      | |
      | The kingdom of God |
      | |
      | |
      The old age of Satan

      There are texts in addition to the parables that indicate the kingdom of God is a present reality between the first and second comings of Jesus Christ, and there are texts in addition to the parables that indicate the kingdom of God is a future hope. Thus, Robert Stein writes in Walter A. Elwell, ed., The Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996), 453:

      “The kingdom of God is both now and not yet. Thus the kingdom of God is “realized” and present in one sense, and yet . . . future in another sense. This is not a contradiction but simply the nature of the kingdom. The kingdom has come in fulfillment of the Old Testament promises. A new covenant has been established. But its final manifestation and consummation lie in the future. Until then, we are to be good and faithful servants (Luke 19:11-27).”

      It is at Christ’s return that the redemption he began nearly 2,000 years ago will come to completion. That is the time when in Rev. 11:15 the heavenly voices say, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” And that is the time when in Rev. 11:17 the twenty-four elders say, “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign.” At Christ’s return, the kingdom he inaugurated with his first coming will be consummated or finalized.

      This expectation is what is behind Peter’s statement in Acts 3:20-21 that Christ must remain in heaven “until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets” (TNIV). And it is the coming of the kingdom in this consummated sense for which Jesus instructed the disciples to pray in Mat. 6:10: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

      The resurrection of the dead (and transformation of the living) will occur when the Lord returns (1 Cor. 15:20-26, 51-54; Phil. 3:20-21; 1 Thess. 4:13-16; 1 Jn. 3:2). Both believers and unbelievers, the saved and the condemned, will be raised to life at that time (Dan. 12:2; Jn. 5:28-29; Acts 24:14-15; see also, Mat. 25:31-46 and Rev. 20:11-15). Note that sometimes a reference to the resurrection relates exclusively to the resurrection of the redeemed, what Jesus calls in Lk. 14:14 “the resurrection of the righteous.”

      It is important to understand that in the resurrection at Christ’s return the body will be restored to life (or transformed in the case of those living on earth at the time – 1 Cor. 15:50-52; 1 Thess. 4:13-17). In other words, the resurrection is not about the mere post-death survival of the spirit or soul. That is simply death, not victory over death! See, e.g., (Rom. 8:11, 8:23; Phil. 3:20-21; 1 Corinthians 15 (esp. vv. 20-23, 42-44, 49); Jn. 5:28-29; 2 Tim. 2:18). On the other hand, the resurrection body is not simply a resuscitated natural body. Rather, our natural body will be transformed into a supernatural body, what Paul in 1 Cor. 15:44 calls a “spiritual body.” Note that Paul does not say the dead body is raised “a spirit”; he says it is raised “a spiritual body.” The contrast is not between a physical/material body and a spiritual body but between a natural body and a spiritual body. Resurrection bodies are “spiritual” not in the sense of being nonphysical (made of spirit), which would be an oxymoron given the inherent physicalness of the word “body,” but in the sense of being supernatural, in the sense they are imperishable, glorious, and powerful. This is recognized by a broad range of scholars.

      1 Cor. 15:50 does not bar all things physical from entering the eternal state. Paul there says, “Now I say this, brothers, that flesh and blood is not able to inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” He is referring to flesh and blood as presently constituted, that is, as subject to weakness, decay, and death. He was not saying that a natural body that was miraculously transformed into a supernatural (“spiritual”) body (being imperishable, glorious, powerful, and immortal) could not, in some sense, be said to consist of flesh and bone (or blood). Indeed, Christ’s resurrection body was a transformed body that was no longer subject to death (Rom. 6:9), but the Lord still described it in Lk. 24:39 as “flesh and bones.” And our lowly bodies will be transformed so that they will be like his glorious body (Phil. 3:21).

      The idea that Christians will spend eternity with God as spirits in some nonphysical realm has seeped into much Christian thinking, but it is wrong. Listen to how N. T. Wright states it in Surprised By Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection and the Mission of the Church (New York: Harper Collins, 2008), 194:

      “Mention salvation, and almost all Western Christians assume that you mean going to heaven when you die. But a moment’s thought, in the light of all we have said so far, reveals that this simply cannot be right. Salvation means, of course, rescue. But what are we ultimately to be rescued from? The obvious answer is death. But if, when we die, all that happens is that our bodies decompose while our souls (or whatever other word we want to use for our continuing existence) go on elsewhere, this doesn’t mean we’ve been rescued from death. It simply means that we’ve died.
      “And if God’s good creation – of the world, of life as we know it, of our glorious and remarkable bodies, brains, and bloodstreams – really is good, and if God wants to reaffirm that goodness in a wonderful act of new creation at the last, then to see the death of the body and the escape of the soul as salvation is not simply slightly off course, in need of a few subtle alterations and modifications. It is totally and utterly wrong. It is colluding with death. It is conniving at death’s destruction of God’s good, image-bearing human creatures while consoling ourselves with the (essentially non-Christian and non-Jewish) thought that the really important bit of ourselves is saved from this wicked, nasty body and this sad, dark world of space, time, and matter! As we have seen, the whole of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, speaks out against such nonsense. It is, however, what most Western Christians, including most Bible Christians of whatever sort, actually believe. This is a serious state of affairs, reinforced not only in popular teaching but also in liturgies, public prayers, hymns, and homilies of every kind.”

      Roger Olson writes in The Mosaic of Christian Belief: Twenty Centuries of Unity and Diversity (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002) 311, 314:

      “The bodily resurrection of all people at some time after death has played a prominent role in Christian teaching throughout history. In spite of a pronounced tendency among untutored lay Christians to focus attention on immortality of souls and neglect bodily resurrection, the fathers of the church, medieval Christian thinkers, all the Protestant Reformers and faithful modern biblical scholars and theologians have emphasized the bodily resurrection as the blessed hope of believers in Christ. . . .
      “It would be impossible to discover any single point of greater agreement in the history of Christian thought than this one: the future bodily resurrection of the dead is the blessed hope of all who are in Christ Jesus by faith. Over two millennia the church’s leaders and faithful theologians have unanimously taught this above the immortality of souls and as more important than some ethereal intermediate state between bodily death and bodily resurrection when Christ returns. And yet, as we lamented earlier, it seems that the vast majority of Christians do not know this and neglect belief in bodily resurrection in favor of belief in immediate post-mortem heavenly, spiritual existence as ghost-like beings (or even angels!) ‘forever with the Lord in heaven.'”

      Not only will our bodies be transformed to be suitable for eternity with God, but all of creation will be transformed, as Paul explains in Rom. 8:18-23. According to Eph. 1:7-10, God’s will for the handling of the end of history, his will for the management of the completion of the ages, is to unify heaven and earth in Christ. The eternal state, which will come about in conjunction with Christ’s return, will be a redeemed and transformed creation, a “heavenized” creation from which sin and all its consequences have been expunged. The curse will have been lifted (Rev. 22:3), and creation itself will have been freed from its slavery to decay (Rom. 8:20-21). It is what the Bible calls the new heavens and new earth (2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1-3; see also, Isa. 65:17, 66:22), the divine utopia in which Christians will dwell forever in resurrection bodies and in which there will be no evil, no death, no mourning, no crying, and no pain (Rev. 21:1-4). As Wayne Grudem states in Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 613:

      “We as resurrected men and women will live forever in “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet. 3:13). We will live in a renewed earth that ‘will be set free from its bondage to decay’ (Rom. 8:21) and become like a new Garden of Eden. . . . In this very material, physical, renewed universe, it seems that we will need to live as human beings with physical bodies, suitable for life in God’s renewed physical creation. Specifically, Jesus’ physical resurrection body affirms the goodness of God’s original creation of man not as a mere spirit like the angels, but as a creature with a physical body that was ‘very good.’ We must not fall into the error of thinking that nonmaterial existence is somehow a better form of existence for creatures: when God made us as the pinnacle of his creation, he gave us physical bodies.”

      “Within the Protestant world, there has been disagreement as to whether the earth is to be destroyed completely and replaced, or just changed and renewed” (Grudem, 1160). I think Grudem has it right when he states (p. 1160-1161):

      “The [radical-transformation] position seems preferable here, for it is difficult to think that God would entirely annihilate his original creation, thereby seeming to give the devil the last word and scrapping the creation that was originally “very good” (Gen. 1:31). The passages above that speak of shaking and removing the earth and of the first earth passing away may simply refer to its existence in its present form, not its very existence itself, and even 2 Peter 3:10, which speaks of the elements dissolving and the earth and the work on it being burned up, may not be speaking of the earth as a planet but rather the surface things on the earth (that is, much of the ground and the things on the ground).”

      In Rev. 21:1-2 John is reporting the vision he was given of the consummation of the kingdom of God, the “heavenization” of this reality; we and creation are getting the ultimate makeover. The heavenly Jerusalem represents the eternal abode of the redeemed. As the holy city descends, heaven and earth are merged. God’s dwelling is with redeemed humanity (21:3) and the throne of God and of the Lamb is in the new Jerusalem (22:3). Thus, glorified believers will be both in heaven and on earth since the two shall then be one. In this existence, there will be no more death, mourning, crying, or pain.

      I pray this is of some value.

      In Christ,


    • Kevin L Moore 6:50 pm on 2012-03-16 Permalink | Reply

  • Richard Mansel 4:51 pm on 2012-02-08 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Revelation,   

    Completely Missing the Point [Updated] 

    Teaching Revelation is fascinating. Reading the bizarre comments from commentaries is both mystifying and amusing. I saw one today that I wanted to share. I shall withhold the name of the commentary to protect the guilty. 🙂

    Revelation 17:6 says: I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement.

    The commentator came to this grisly, powerful verse and spent his entire entry on the dangers of drinking alcohol. I kid you not.

    Here we have faithful Christians, godly people walking in the light, being massacred for being in Christ and all he can muster is don’t drink alcohol? This verse should provoke tears rather than a temperance lesson.

    It is actually offensive to think that someone could ignore the sacrifice of the martyrs while riding a hobby horse. Have some respect for those who died for their faith!

    Sometimes you don’t understand what runs through people’s minds.

  • Richard Mansel 8:40 am on 2012-01-19 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , challenging, Revelation,   

    Clever Way to Handle Revelation 

    I am currently teaching Revelation on Wednesday night. We finished our last lesson midway through chapter 16. The study is challenging but empowering as we see the clear gospel and the power of God.

    One of our men found an old Adult Bible Quarterly from 2000 on Revelation. We recently spent a good bit of time working through chapter 13 because it is such a difficult chapter. He was curious to see what this book said about that chapter.

    He soon discovered that this Quarterly had a clever way of handling Revelation — you skip all the hard chapters. Chapter 13 wasn’t even covered. They also skipped chapters 16-18 and 20-21. hmmm

    This may make it easier on the writer but it doesn’t do anything for the teacher or the student. While these chapters are difficult to understand, they are also very powerful testaments to the glory and plan of God.

    Ignoring them is an insult to the Holy Spirit’s efforts to give them to us and leaves us without the full message of judgment. How can that benefit anyone?

    • Will 9:08 am on 2012-01-19 Permalink | Reply

      hUM…I’m doing a Monday Night Bible study with those interested in studying the book of Revelation, and I’m using the material gathered by James M. Booth, from the web site http://www.padfield.com. I find James material refreshing and rather easy to teach and understand.

    • Eugene Adkins 9:59 pm on 2012-01-19 Permalink | Reply

      I used the pdf class outline for Revelation from Padfield and it was very useful along with a commentary by Donald R. Taylor called “The Apocalypse: A Revelation of Jesus Christ”. I found them both to be useful when I taught through the book of Revelation in our teenage class (by request). I don’t think they thought it was as “exciting” as they “thought” is was going to be. No doubt though, there are some wonderful lessons to learn from Revelation about the work/will of God that go along with the “small” glimpses of heavenly glory that can comfort us greatly when understood properly.

      Good article Richard.

  • J. Randal Matheny 9:54 am on 2011-11-24 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Revelation,   

    A new Thanksgiving Day poem 

    Here’s my contribution to the sentiments of gratitude, written today and posted on the Christian Poets website. http://2.ly/p9eb

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