Author Archives: Stephen

A witnessing church is a victorious church

Revelation 10-11

click on link to hear audio: 12-10-17

Observations and riddles:

 Who is the mighty angel?

 What are the seven thunders?

 What is the little scroll?

 What temple does John measure?

 What are the 42 months, 1260 days, and 3 ½ days?

 Who are the two witnesses?

 What is the great city?

 Is the rapture of the church described in 11:12?

A witnessing church is a victorious church.

 The gospel is ________ and ________ for those who receive or reject it.

 God is preparing a __________ for his faithful followers.

 We are waiting for the seventh ____________.

The Battle we Don’t See

Revelation 8-9

Click on link to hear audio: 12-3-17

 Our cries for justice are best expressed to God.

• If Revelation is a symphony then prayer is the percussion.

• Prayer calls on God to act according to his character.

• Imprecatory prayer releases our anger towards God.

 God is always calling the world to repent.

• The trumpets and the plagues attack the idols we worship.

• 1/3 is a lot but not all.

• People today worship the universe instead of it’s creator.

 Rejecting grace exposes people to demons.

• John describes spiritual things familiar physical terms.

• Demons aren’t pretty or nice.

• Unbelief is not rational.

God can handle our enemies better than we can.

When the roll is called up yonder

“The Sealing of the Saints” Revelation 7


The Book of Revelation is more a symphony than a story.

 The 144,000 are spiritual Israel. (Or maybe Jews saved during the Great Tribulation)

• Ephraim and Dan are omitted for apostacy.

• The church is often considered spiritual Israel. Our final home is the New Jerusalem.

• They are joined by a multitude from all nations.

 The seal protects the saints from spiritual, not physical harm; from the wrath of the Lamb but not the wrath of Satan.

• We are sealed by the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 4:30

• The martyrs get theirs early but we all get a robe.

 Who would use blood for detergent?

• Soon we will take off the armor and put on the robe.

• This is only the commencement service.

• The motivation for personal holiness and Christian service is joy, not duty or guilt.

When the Stars Fall

Revelation 6

click on link to hear audio:  11-19-17

God is pouring out his wrath on the earth in the form of human conquest.

 God is pouring out his wrath. (first 4 seals)

• Conquest, war, economic disaster, and death receive authority.

• These things have been happening throughout human history.

• War drives some people to repent and others to harden their hearts.

 The righteous suffer with the wicked. (Fifth seal)

• God will not deprive the martyrs of their opportunity to persevere.

• White robes symbolize victory.

 Human rebellion will eventually bring about the destruction of the earth. (Sixth seal)

• Will mankind destroy the earth?

• It will be too late to repent.

Is it safe to go to church?

Click on link to hear audio:  11-12-17

“Is it safe to go to church?” Revelation 5

The Texas church shooting raises the question, “Is God able to protect his own Bride?” I have sometimes thought that a troubled person I was trying to help could come to church with a gun. But I believed God would protect us so I didn’t worry about it.

The interpretive question that will help us understand the Book of Revelation, “What would the visions John received have meant to the folks in the 7 churches described in the first three chapters?” They were asking, “Can God protect us in the world?” is one of the big questions in Revelation. Is it safe to go to church? “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil…” Can he do that?

 God’s decree is powerfully effective to accomplish his will. (What’s on the scroll?)

• A pregnant message: Papyrus was normally only written on one side but God needed both sides to complete his plan. God has a fully developed strategy for cleansing his church and calling the world to repentance. He’s not shooting from the hip and making it up as he goes.

• What’s on the scroll? When the seals are broken and the scroll is opened God’s wrath is poured out on the earth. Just as when God said, “Let there be light” and there was light, the words on this scroll create a new future.

• John weeps because if God’s purpose is not accomplished then men are left to their own devices and there is no answer to evil. The world will descend into anarchy. The prayers of the saints would not be answered. John doesn’t want to take that message to the church.

• Things don’t happen in the world by chance but rather according to the decree of God.

 The Lamb (and only the Lamb) has the moral authority to judge the world.

• We look to see a ferocious lion but instead see a gentle lamb who then appears to be slaughtered who becomes an all-powerful, all-knowing ram.

• Christ has already won the victory.

“Here lies the great paradox of Christianity: victory comes from apparent defeat; evil is conquered through the terrible sacrificial suffering of the cross (1 Cor 15:54)…When Satan placed Christ on the cross, it was his greatest tactical error, for he took part in his own defeat.” Grant Osborne, 253

“In Revelation martyrdom is seen as a victory over Satan, not a defeat (6:9-11, 7:14-17; 12:11). As when he put Christ on the cross, Satan defeats himself whenever he takes the life of one of the saints.” Grant Osborne, 194 (Because that saint overcomes and defeats him.)

 Worship invites judgement: The next thing coming is a release of divine wrath.

• The Elders sing worthy is the Lamb

o Seems to be representative of the redeemed of all ages; OT and NT saints. Every nation: Diversity is achieved not by validating every lifestyle but by bringing all things in submission to Christ. We can tolerate and even enjoy our differences but unity only happens in the body of Christ. There isn’t really anything else like the Church.

o The elders are holding harps and bowls of incense.

o In the context of Revelation these prayers are a calling out to God to act on behalf of the martyrs, to avenge their blood, to bring justice to the wicked.

o Even when we pray for a sick friend our prayers will be more powerful if we call out cancer, diabetes, and other diseases for what they are: manifestations of evil that will be vanquished when Christ redeems the world.

• The angels sing, worthy is the Lamb, who was slain is fit to govern.

No one would say a TSA agent possesses qualities of power, wealth, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, and praise.

• Every creature in heaven and earth submits to the rule of God. Christ receives power without seizing it. This points to the consummation as a fait accompli.


“It is important to realize that the victory of the Lamb and his exaltation to a place of authority occurs not at the end of the book but has already been achieved at the cross.” Grant Osborne, 221

It’s hard to live safely since victory only comes through suffering. The purification of his church through suffering is part of God’s strategy for the end times, which is now.

It is safe to go to church because the Lamb who was slain has victoriously become the seven horned ram.

What did John see?

Revelation 4

click on link to hear audio:  11-5-17

“what must take place after these things”

“seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.”

 John’s vision was real.

• God is omnipresent…but reveals himself in time and space.


• Intelligent beings can’t worship statically forever…


• John saw what Ezekiel had seen.


 The Reign of God is Federal

• It is not decentralized like the United Nations.


• Unlike eastern mysticism it is not impersonal.


 The Reign of God is Holy

• God is just, merciful, and good.


• God deserves our personal devotion.


Winning is more fun

Revelation 1-3, The First Vision

Click on link to hear audio:  10-29-17

Jesus wants his church to win!

Things that can distract us from winning:

I. Ephesus: “Correct” Doctrine


II. Smyrna: Suffering


III. Pergamum: Worldly pleasures


IV. Thyatira: Toxic Friendships


V. Sardis: Laziness


VI. Philadelphia: Cherished relationships


VII. Laodicea: Prosperity


“Winning” means persevering in the practice of our faith.


The Danger of Prosperity

“The Danger of Prosperity” Revelation 3:14-22, Laodicea

Click on link to hear audio:  10-15-2017

 Jesus cannot stomach apathy.


• This is a severe warning. What does it mean to be spit out of Jesus’ mouth?


• Wealth is never just a number.


• How do we generate enthusiasm for the gospel when we’re just not feeling it?


 We need to buy what Jesus is selling.

• Buying from Jesus might seem to contradict grace.


• The Letters to the Churches have to be read like the parables of Jesus.


• Let’s put our money where our soul is.


 How much would we pay for a meal with Jesus?




“Cherish” by Gary Thomas

Gary Thomas was the speaker at the Fall District Conference of the EFCA.  This a summary of some highlights of three sessions in which he spoke to the conference.

Click on link to hear audio:  10t

 Love is the bread of relationship (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

 Cherish is the jam of relationship (Canticles 4:10)

 The Only One (Canticles 6:8-9)

 Every spouse has certain bothersome tendencies. (James 3:2; Proverbs 19:11)

 Taking Bids