Saturday, August 31, 2013

P1 Some reflections on cosmogeny

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.


Whenever you consider the first verse of the Bible, the amazing thing about it is that it ends in a period.  Why of all things would I begin today's post with such an unremarkable observation? Because periods mark the end of sentences that state established facts.  There is a calmness and effortless tone in which God speaks forth all creation into being in Genesis 
1. In the Genesis record there is no long war that God has to fight in order to create time (in the beginning), energy (created), space (the heavens) and matter (the earth).  God is, was and always will be.  In today's post and tomorrow's, I want to jot down some thoughts and reflections on the subject of the origin of the universe (called by the technical name cosmogeny= cos-mo-gin-ee).1  I will contend that whenever you compare the Biblical record with other religious or secular accounts of origins (cosmogeny = the origin (genus) of the order (cosmos) of the universe, the Bible alone is unique and henceforth the only Divinely revealed true record of the origin of the universe.

Briefly defining the Biblical view of creation

Before we compare the erroneous ancient versions of the origins of the universe, I feel it necessary to briefly define what we mean by the Biblical view of creation.  The Baptist Faith & Message 2000 (BFM 2000) makes the following statements: "There is one and only one living and true God. He is an intelligent, spiritual, and personal Being, the Creator, Redeemer, Preserver, and Ruler of the universe."  The BFM 2000 states again: "God as Father reigns with providential care over His universe, His creatures, and the flow of the stream of human history according to the purposes of His grace. He is all powerful, all knowing, all loving, and all wise. God is Father in truth to those who become children of God through faith in Jesus Christ. He is fatherly in His attitude toward all men." Then one more statement from the same source: "Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image. He created them male and female as the crowning work of His creation. The gift of gender is thus part of the goodness of God's creation."  When you look at this marvelous summary of God's relationship with His creation, we discover three fundamental truths that contribute to forming a Biblical definition of creation, namely: God created from nothing, by the Word of His mouth

1. the universe
2. life 
3. humanity  

With that definition in mind, we will briefly list a summary of the ancient proposals of the origin of the universe by non-biblical religions and pagan philosophies to demonstrate how the Biblical account is not only unique, but alone the Divinely inspired record of such an event.  

The origin of the universe according to ancient non-biblical religions & philosophies
A. The Persian religion of Zoroastrianism depicts two equally power deities: Ahura Mazda is the so-called good deity, with his lesser sub-deities and Angru Mainyu is the so-called evil deity who has lesser sub-deities.  The conflict between the two results in a choice between existence and non-existence, with existence winning out.  

B. The Old Babylonian creation epic features a deity named Marduk who has an epic battle with another Tiamat and slays her, creating the earth and sky from her body.  

C. The ancient Greek writer Hesiod wrote his account of the origin of the universe (also called a theogeny) in 750 b.c.  According to him, Chaos was in the beginning, from whence came forth voice, followed by earth and then eros (physical love).  The earth then made the starry sky above.

D. The ancient Egyptians of Moses' day had a theogeny called "Akhentan's Great hymn to the Aton", written shortly after the Exodus of Egypt. In Egyptian worship, the sun was central and the source of all life and maker of the underworld.  The Egyptians worshipped other deities and in similitude to the other ancient worldviews, included some conflict that led to the formation of the universe.

E. Then finally we see the Greek philosopher Plato in his classic Greek piece called "Timaeus", wherein his version of Deity had to bring order (cosmos) out of disorder (chaos) and make the universe like himself.  In Plato's scenario, the universe is in a sense eternally old.

Reasons as to why the ancient accounts of origins are similar and how the Biblical record is completely different

No matter the culture, language or age in which they were written, the non-biblical origins accounts (cosmogenies) tell the same story: a great conflict and war was fought between multiple gods and chaos, with the deities in question narrowly winning and the universe being the result.  In other versions, the universe was the source of the deities, since it has always been. The commonalities between these non-biblical records stem from the false religious system that came from the tower of Babel as recorded in Genesis 11:1-9. Interestingly enough the varieties of secular and non-divinely inspired theories for the universe's origins are somewhat repeated in more sophisticated terms today. As I stated before, There is a calmness and effortless tone in which God speaks forth all creation into being in Genesis 1. In the Genesis record there is no long war that God has to fight in order to create time (in the beginning), energy (created), space (the heavens) and matter (the earth).  God is, was and always will be.  

In Conclusion

In contrast to the non-divinely inspired records of pagan antiquity and philosophy, the Divinely inspired and inerrant Biblical record of origins knows of no conflict, since the God of scripture alone is Sovereign and simply spoke everything into being by the Word of His power. (Psalms 33:6; John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16-20)

More tomorrow....


1. As we stated, "cosmogeny" deals with the origin of the universe.  A closely related word "cosmology" is a field of astronomy that deals with the structure and overall development and proposed end of the universe. A third word "eschatology" is a term used often in discussions surrounding Bible prophecy, but in discussions surrounding creation and origins, eschatology would propose how the universe will end, and as to whether or not there is an ultimate purpose to all things.  Christians and the Bible assert that God through Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit created all things (cosmogeny). Second, God through Christ with the Spirit is sustaining the universe and stretching it out for the sake of His glory and our enjoyment of His glory (cosmology). Finally, The Son will return, and by the Spirit set up His Kingdom on earth, raise the righteous, end with the raising and judgment of the unrighteous and Satan and the presentation of the Kingdom to the Father (eschatology).

Friday, August 30, 2013

Jesus Christ - The Beginner of all things

Revelation 3:14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:

Among the titles that Jesus uses in His letter to Laodicea, the one that stands out is the one rendered by the NASB "the Beginning of the creation of God". In surveying several other English translations, "God's Word Translation" of 1995 renders it the best: "the source of God's creation".  In simpler terms, we could take this word and translate the Greek text as "the beginner of God's creation."  Hence in today's post we will briefly consider what Jesus meant when He termed Himself "The beginning (or beginner) of God's creation."

The church of Laodicea appears in Colossians and would had been familiar with Jesus' designation as the beginning (or beginner)
There is only one other place in the Bible where the city of Laodicea appear - Paul's letter to the Colossians.  In Colossians 4:12-13 "Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God. 13 For I testify for him that he has a deep concern for you and for those who are in Laodicea and Hierapolis."  Laodicea, Hierapolis and Colosse were little more than 5-10 miles from one another and drew their wealth and livelihood from living around the fertile area of the Lycus River. Now the reason why we are interested in the book of Colossians is because the Greek word translated "beginning" in Revelation 3:14 is the same word we find in Colossians 1:18. Colossians 1:18 states: "He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginningthe firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything."  Whenever you read the previous verses of Colossians 1:16-17, as well as the following verses of Colossians 1:19-20, you discover that all things were created through Him and for Him, and that all things (including the church) consist or hold together because of the Son.  Thus whenever you read the word "beginning" in Colossians 1:18, you could just as easily translate the word as "beginner".  Colossians 1:19-20 applies this same thought to Jesus being the Beginner or head of His church. With the Laodicean church having received Paul's circular letter to the Colossians, they would had been familiar with the terminology of Jesus being "the beginning" or more appropriately translated "the Beginner". 

All of creation began through the Son
John 1:3 says these words - "All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being." The message of this verse is powerful in that it states something about Jesus Christ as the Beginner both positively and negatively.  A positive statement tells us what something is, whereas a negative statement defines something by noting what is not present.  Positively, Jesus Christ is the Agent through which all things came into being.  By His action and agency, everything, both visible and invisible, came into existence.  To further reinforce this point, John states the same truth negatively, namely that without the Son, nothing could exist. This second phrase is important in that it proves that Jesus Christ is not a creature nor part of the creation.  Rather His sharing in the same nature with the Father and the Spirit makes Him, along with the Father and the Spirit, the Creator God.  As One God, the Father is the Author, the Son is the Agent and the Spirit is the Animator of creation. 

The Old Testament asserts the eternal pre-existence of the Son as the Beginner 
Proverbs 8:22-23 states: “The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His way, Before His works of old. 23 “From everlasting I was established, From the beginning, from the earliest times of the earth." The NASB handles this verse perhaps better than most English translations in that it captures the point that Solomon is making about the Eternality of Wisdom.  Wisdom is personified in Proverbs 8, prompting many able Bible commentators to conclude that this is an Old Testament appearance of Jesus Christ speaking. Despite the failed efforts of some, Proverbs 8:22-23 does not disprove the Deity of the Son, rather it reinforces the full Deity of Jesus Christ.  How? If the Son has been possessed or as some translations put it "acquired" from eternity, at what point in eternity would that had occurred? Answer: in eternity there is no beginning, since eternity by definition is an endless succession of moments. The following logical statements below will bear out (hopefully) the point I am making:

Major Premise: Eternity means an endless stretch of moments  had no beginning nor ending before creation

Minor Premise: God the Father had acquired or possessed the Son in eternity

Hence: The Son is eternal as the Father is eternal, having been with Him from all eternity.  
Conclusion about the title of the Son as being the Beginning (or Beginner) of creation
We looked today at the title used by Jesus in Revelation 3:14 "the beginning of God's creation".  Through word studies in Colossians 1:18 and Proverbs 8:22-23, we concluded that we could rendered this title as Jesus being the Beginner of creation and His church.  Such a title is Jesus' way of asserting His eternality and His co-shared role as Creator along with the Father and the Spirit. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

W.A Criswell's Sermon: "The Symbolic Meaning of the Seven Churches of Asia"

Matthew 16:18 "I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it."

For years Dr. W.A Criswell pastored the First Baptist Church at Dallas and influenced an entire generation of preachers and Christians both inside and outside the Southern Baptist Convention.  God greatly used him to mold and shape the lives of many people.  In today's post I want to feature an outline of Revelation 2-3 from Dr. Criswell's notes on a sermon he preached in 1961 entitled: "The Symbolic Mean of the Seven Churches".  The website for all of Dr. Criswell's sermons and sermon notes is found at It is from that resource that I now present to you his outline of Revelation 2-3, unaltered and unedited.  Enjoy and be blessed this day as you read material from a wonderful preacher of the word - Dr. W.A Criswell.


I.          They Represent All the Churches Through All History

They are literal, historical churches, but they stand for, represent, the entire Christian body in all periods of history.  We can see here what the churches were in the beginning, what the course of this history has been since, and will be to the end.  The significance of their message not confined to few particular congregations but to all the churches throughout the age.  How know this?

1.         The number "Seven".
Completeness, fullness.
These chosen for an elective purpose.  Other churches, congregations more powerful some not favored in the world. Antioch, Corinth, Rome,  even many in Asia omitted, Hierapolis, Colosse.  Why then not taken into account?  Did they not need reprimand, rebuke, encouragement, warning, as well as the 7? Because all are included in the 7.  They included everything found in the churches as then existed, as shall ever exist.  The entire fullness of the churches of all times.

2.         The way introduced--impressively, authenticating one or more of the attributes of the speaker--begets this idea of unusual solemnity and importance.  The letter consists of Christ’s own words exclusively, the very heart we knew from Him.

3.         They way they end–the 7 times repeated admonition ""  Such language 7 times repeated, has in it an intensity of universality, urgency, beyond anything in Scripture.  What is said to one is said to all, to all churches of all times.  

4.         1:20, "The mystery" of the 7 churches.  Something significant from the beginning, something more intended than is seen on the surface, a significance beyond these local churches.

5.         1:3; 22:18 "words of this prophecy".  A pre-eminent and vital part of a body described as a book of prophecy.

II.          The Symbolic Meaning of the Churches

1.         The promises, messages seen to have been framed in the light of the whole sweep of God's ministries from the days of Adam until Christ shall have given back to us all that Adam lost.

a.         2:7, Ephesus.  Re-admission to tree of life, paradise, from which Adam excluded.

b.         2:11, Smyrna.  Any exception from the death which pertained to the expulsion from the paradise of Eden.

c.         2:17, Pergamos.  A house, out of which Hebrews pilgrimage nourished in the wilderness, names inscribed on Aaron's breastplate.  

d.         2:26,27, Thyatira.  The authority, judicial administration over nations represented by Joshua, David, Solomon: this victorious reign heralds the exaltation of saints as the morning star.

e.         3:4,5, Sardis.  Reservation.  Opening of books. Reward, the future.

f.          3:12, Philadelphia.  The new Jerusalem, the new citizenship, the people not made with hands, eternal in heaven.

g.         Laodicea.  A session, dominion, beyond which nothing higher to be imagined--session with Christ your everlasting throne.  What good things God hath prepared for those who love Him!

2.         Represent phases, periods, in church history from time of the apostles to the coming of Christ.  A prefiguration of the entire church life in successive phases.  A panoramic outline of the whole, militant church:  paradigmatic of the whole history.

a.         An Ephesian period.  Cooling of love.  To end of apostolic age. 

b.         A Symrnian period.  Era of martyrdom.  Fox's Book of Martyr's.  The great persecution.  Our church, no fault. To 316, Constantine.

c.         A Pergamian period.  The church married to the world, under imperial favor, dwelling where Satan sits.  Under Nicolaitanes, clergy.

d.         A Thyatirian period.  Triumph of Balaamism, Nicolaitanes.  People asked for the clergy.  Darkness for truth. 2:24, the believing remnant.

e.         A Sardian period.  Reformation.  Return to Christ, age of worthy manner.

f.          A Laodicean period.  The final state of apostasy.  Luke warmness, self-sufficiency, empty profession.  Jesus outside, 3:20.

3.         A description of churches in every period.  Each period it's pre-dominant characteristic, but some churches like them all, through all history.  An Ephesian church, a Smyrnan church (now in Asia), a Laodicean church.

4.         Seven co-exist in every church, denomination, congregation. Contain specimens of each. 

Compare:  All the elements of the ocean to be found in every drop of ocean water, so every Christian church all the varied classes.  Ephesians....Laodiceans.

5.         To us.

A directness of appeal to us of the most solemn importance. The Epistle not so much messenger from an absent Lord, as sentence of a present Judge, engaged in the solemn act of inspection and decision.  Christ walking in His churches with open, flaming eyes.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Church history through the 7 churches of Revelation

Revelation 3:14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this"

As the church of Jesus Christ has passed over the chilly waters of history these past 2,000 years, the reason for her continuing success has been due to the Rock upon which she is built.  In Matthew 16:18 Jesus stated: "I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it."  Much ink has been spilled on account of the exact interpretation of the word "rock".  Some have suggested Peter as the rock or perhaps the faith of the Christian.  However there is only one "rock" that is fit to be the true foundation of the church, Jesus Christ Himself. (Ephesians 2:20; 1 Peter 2:7) 

As you turn to Revelation 2-3, you find Jesus' 
letters to the seven churches.  The seven churches are literal historical churches that together constitute a representative picture of every church of all ages and all times.  We know this by virtue of the fact that each letter ends with the statement: "Let him who has ears let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the seven churches." (Revelation 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22). Some well-known commentators over the years have come to understand the seven churches as representative of seven successive or simultaneous divisions of church history.  Though this blog writer may not take such a view as far as some would, nevertheless the characteristics of the seven churches can prove instructive. Furthermore, in viewing these seven churches as corresponding to various periods or traits of The Church's journey through time, we can grasp how much Jesus Christ has done by being the "Rock" upon which the church is being built until His return.  

Period #1 Ephesian Period   30-100 AD
Jesus promised His disciples that the Holy Spirit would be sent in His name by the Father on the day of Pentecost.  When the Spirit came and the church began to spread through the preaching of the Apostles, false teachers and error began to creep alongside and then into the church.  Peter had to contend with Simon the Magician and Paul had to battle the Judaizers.  The Apostle John himself is recorded in church history as having to contend with the heretic Cerinthius1 who attempted to mix works salvation, Christianity and immorality.  As the Apostolic era drew to a close, we find in at least seven places in the New Testament warnings about the church experiencing wide spread falling away. Love was growing cold. Thankfully by the end of the first century, the New Testament was complete and with a completed canon of scripture (Old and New Testament books), Jesus had by His Spirit equipped future generations of Christians with the only foundation sufficient for faith and practice - the Bible.     

Period #2 The Smyrnan Period  100-313 AD
As the church was battling false teachers internally, persecutions from the Roman Empire increased.  In reading the great historian Philip Shaff's work "history of the Christian Church", we can count from Nero2 in 54 A.D to Diocletian's3 persecutions 303-311 a total of 10 major periods of trial in the early church.  The Smyrna church was noted for being the most persecuted of the seven churches, and so this is why some have marked the period from 100-313 A.D as having a "Smyrnan" like character.  In all reality there has never been in age where martyrdom or persecution of Christians has not been going on in the world.  In fact in the past twenty or so years, more Christians have been martyred for the faith than in all previous centuries combined.  Nevertheless Jesus Christ raised up godly men like Polycarp, Iranaeus, Tertullian4 and others to proclaim the inerrant scriptures to the church.

Periods #3,4,5 Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis 313-1517 AD
It is here where we see the next three churches in Revelation 2:12-3:16 represent increasing levels of compromise and shrinking levels of true believers in proportion to non-believers in the church.  Pergamum pictures the marriage between the church and the state, beginning with Constantine in 313 A.D and ending with the official first Pope of the Roman Catholic church, Gregory I in 590 A.D. Thyatira represents increasing tolerance of false teaching that would characterize the church of the early Middle Ages from 590-800. Then we see the Sardis representing a dead church of formality and ritual that came to be the church from 800-1517.5 Jesus never let His church totally die nor get completely overthrown.  In the history of the church He raised up such men as Athanasius, Augustine, John Wycliff and John Huss as well as such movements as the Waldensians and Lollards.6  The names and identities are not near as important as the Gospel they preached and the Christ they proclaimed.  The shining star of Jesus in God's Word kept lit the otherwise darkened sky of the church.

Periods #6,#7 Philadelphia and Laodicea 1517-1800; 1800 - Present
In these final two churches we see a major contrast between Philadelphia the faithful missionary church and Laodicea the faithless selfish church.  In the years between 1517 to 1800 we witness movements such as the Protestant Reformation, led by such men as Martin Luther, John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli and Menno Simons7, and later on John Wesley's Methodist Revivals and Jonathan Edwards Puritan revivals.  Both Edwards and Wesley were representative leaders of a move of God in the 1700's called by historians "The First Great Awakening".8 Both of these movements and others like them demonstrate that Jesus Christ has never left his church.  In the period of time I would classify between 1800 to present, we have seen the church experience liberalism, globalism and influences from Eastern religion and Paganism alike.  Thankfully the Lord Jesus Christ has raised up men like D.L Moody, Billy Graham (in his early years), John MacArthur, Adrian Rogers and others to proclaim the truth of the Gospel in this final act of church history.9 Women too like Annie Armstrong and Lottie Moon have been used of the Lord to urge the church to pursue Christ's command to go into all the world and make disciples.10  

In this overview of church history through the lenses of the seven churches, we have witnessed how Jesus Christ as the Head and Founder of the church is the Rock upon which the church is built.  Through every age and every threat, Jesus has kept His promise that the gates of Hell will not prevail.  Jesus Christ is the Faithful and True Witness who rules over His church by means of the preaching and teaching of God's Word and the Spirit's ongoing work through His people.  

1. Cerinthius was a 1st century heretic who lived at the same time as the Apostle John

2. Romans Emperor Nero's persecutions were during the ministry of the Apostle Paul

3. Diocletian was a Roman Emporer who ruled Rome before Constantine

4. Polycarp was a disciple of the Apostle John who was martyred. Irenaeus wrote many books defending Christianity against the heresies of his day at the end of the second century. Tertullian began his ministry at the beginning of the third century (200's) and is considered the first Latin speaking church father. 

5. I'll admit that the dates I am assigning the various "periods" are somewhat different from what other writers may assign.  To me, the interpretation that favors Revelation 2-3 as literally corresponding to a seven-fold division of church history is instructive and perhaps even helpful, however I don't tend to view it as a primary interpretation of the passage.  Often too, historical summary of any period of time is as much of an art as a science, meaning that thought we have information about men and movements, nevertheless our own doctrinal leanings or current situation will influence what we emphasize in our telling of history.

6. Athanasius was a major proponent of the doctrine of the Trinity and Deity of Christ in the fourth century.  Augustine wrote over 100 books on Christian theology and is considered next to the Apostle Paul the most influential Christian writer of church history. John Wycliff and John Huss were precursors to the Protestant Reformation led by Martin Luther. John Wycliff translated the 1st entire English Bible and John Huss was martyred roughly a century before Luther.The Waldensian and Lollards were Christian groups whose doctrine mirrored similar tenets of the Baptists that would come out of the Reformation.

7. Martin Luther led the German wing of the Reformation.  John Calvin was leader of the Reformation in Switzerland, Ulrich Zwingli was leader of the reformation in Switzerland and Menno Simons is credited partially with the founding of groups such as the Amish and Mennonites.  

8. Jonathan Edwards is considered by man the greatest theologian ever produced on American soil and main leader of the first great awakening.  John Wesley was the founder of the Methodist movement and lived around the same time as Edwards. 

9. D.L Moody was a nineteenth century evangelist who started Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.  Billy Graham was a household name and for a long time and at least in his early years, known for his consistent stand on the Gospel.  Adrian Rogers was for decades a statesman and pastor in the Southern Baptist Convention and John MacArthur is known for his solid verse by verse preaching of the scripture and is pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley California, President of the Master's College and Seminary and Grace to You Radio Program. 

10. Annie Armstrong and Lottie Moon are two big names in the history of Southern Baptist Missions that lived in the nineteenth century.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

P3 Jesus wants a S.T.A.Y faithful church

Revelation 3:12-13 He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

What ingredients in Revelation 3:7-13 does Jesus give for Christians to S.T.A.Y faithful?
As we noted yesterday, there are four ingredients of faithfulness found in Revelation 3:7-13 by way of the acronym "S.T.A.Y".

Strength of Jesus Christ.      Revelation 3:7-8

True power of the Gospel.    Revelation 3:9

Application of the scripture.  Revelation 3:10

Yearn to run for Jesus.        Revelation 3:11-13

We noted yesterday that faithfulness could be defined as repeated, moment by moment loyalty to Jesus Christ exercised by faith. A s.t.a.y faithful church is what Jesus is commending in this letter to Philadelphia and the trait he desires for Christians and the church today. So far we have considered the strength of Jesus Christ and the true Gospel as foundations for staying faithful.  In today's post we want to close out our examination of the letter to Philadelphia by noting two other ingredients necessary for staying faithful: namely application of scripture and yearning to run for Jesus. 

Application of the scripture.  Revelation 3:10
Revelation 3:10 states - "Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth."  To "keep" the word of God is another way of saying that you guard its words in your mind and heart by way of application. Passages such as Joshua 1:8 and Psalm 119:11 remind you of the importance of scripture memory, while other passages such as John 14:21 and James 2:22 emphasize the need to apply what you memorize.  Application of God's word will ensure the maximum amount of staying power to remain faithful to Christ both now and for the future of God's people. 

Jesus' words about keeping the saints "from the hour of testing coming upon the whole world" cannot be missed in this passage due to His promise of preservation. First, the phrase "keeping from" has caused many commentators to debate over whether the church will be preserved through or kept out of the coming great tribulation.  This writer personally doesn't think one can build a conclusive case for either from this passage, and that other texts need to be included to construct the Bible's teaching of the timing of the Lord's snatching away of His church - i.e the rapture.1  Secondly, "hour of testing" is closely related to the time period called in scripture "the great tribulation" (see Matthew 24:21) which is coming upon this world and will be unfolded in detail by John in Revelation 6-19.  Thirdly, a quick study of the phrase "whole world" in the original language reveals four places where it speaks of the entirety of all the unbelieving inhabitants of planet earth and its kingdoms. (Luke 4:5; Romans 10:18; Revelation 3:10, 16:14) These remarks serve to show the preserving power of scripture.  The words of God need to be applied in order to elicit a greater desire on God's people to persevere both now and if need be, in future times of increasing persecution.  And so to stay faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ, we need the strength of Christ, true power of the Gospel, application of the scripture and a fourth ingredient, namely.....

Yearn to run for Jesus.        Revelation 3:11-13
Two key words in Revelation 3:11-13 signal to us the reasons as to why we must yearn to run for Jesus. First Jesus tells the Philadelphians to hold fast so that no one will take their "crown". So note the word "crown".  Then secondly, Jesus speaks on three occasions of the Philadelphians having a "name".  Whenever you see that word "crown", it speaks of the prize that was given to runners in the ancient world.  Passages such as Philippians 3:13-14 and Hebrews 12:1-2 urge Christians to run so as to win while fixing their eyes on Jesus.  The idea of crowns speaks of the motivation, the yearning that every Christian should have to stay faithful for Jesus. In scripture we see five such motivational crowns promised to Christians: the imperishable crown for all Christians (1 Corinthians 9:25); rejoicing crown for soul winners (1 Thess. 2:19); crown of righteousness for those eager for His return (2 Timothy 4:8); crown of glory for pastors (Philippians 4:1; 1 Peter 5:2-4) and crown of life for Christian martyrs (James 1:12; Revelation 2:10).3  So whenever you see the word "crown" in the Bible, think of yearning.  In the instance of Revelation 2:10, we see the yearning to run for Jesus so-strong that if need be, these faithful Christians may end up dying for their faith.

Then the second term in these verses that points the way to yearning for Christ is the three-fold repetition of the word "name". In ancient times the pagans would inscribe the "name" of their false deities on pillars in their temples.  Undoubtedly with the left over pillars of such a temple standing in their earthquake ravaged city, the Philadelphians would be reminded of the fact that as a church, they were owned by their Lord, the only true God, in human flesh - Jesus Christ.  2 Timothy 2:19 reminds us: "Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.”  The faithful church that Jesus desires is His temple.  Despite the tremors of unbelieving culture and the increasing trials of history, as well as the future tribulation whereby the Lord has promised to protect His church from God's wrath, the church militant must stand as a pillar among the ruins of humanity.  May you and I believer rely on Christ's strength, the truth of the Gospel's power, apply the scripture and yearn to run for Him so that we may be His "stay faithful" church.  

1. The issue to which I am referring to involves the ongoing intramural debate between Pre-millenialists who wrestle over whether the church will be raptured before the tribulation (i.e pre-tribulationalism), in the middle (i.e mid-tribulationalism) or near the end of the tribulation (i.e post-tribulationalism). I have read many good arguments on both sides on the matter of the meaning of the word translated "out of" ("ek" in the Greek) and have my own opinion. However any attempt to build a conclusive ("conclusive" is the key word here) for pre-tribulationalism, mid-tribulationalism or post-tribulationalism from the word "ek" (out of) in this one passage is not a good exercise in Biblical interpretation.  Other passages in scripture, such as John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4-5 and 2 Thessalonians 2 must be included if attempting to discern the nature and timing of the rapture of the church.  The chief issue in this text of Revelation 3:10 has to do with Jesus' preservation of His people by His word. For the sake of today's post, the point of the text is that Jesus is going to preserve His people by means of His word and grace, regardless of whether they have to endure persecution both now and in the future or whether He chooses to take them out of the way completely.   The issues of the rapture and its timing, as well as my own personal viewpoint on the meaning of "ek" in this text will be taken up in later posts. 

2. Some have taken John's words to meaning the immediate readers undergoing severe trial under Roman persecution, however the remaining chapters of Revelation suggest that John is pointing to the final great tribulation that will occur prior to Jesus' return.  

3. It is worthy to note that nearly twenty verses in the New Testament have this word "crown".  The first mention of the word occurs in Matthew 27:29 in reference to Jesus' crown of thorns.  The final mention is found in Revelation 14:14 wherein we find Jesus wearing a "golden crown".  How fitting that His crown of thorns and crown of gold flanks the crowns of believers in the in-between passages we just considered.