Don’t tamper with God’s word

“I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book” (Revelation 22:18–19 ESV).

What a stern warning to end this book of prophecy! And what a stern warning to end the collection of books we call the “New Testament.” Continue reading “Don’t tamper with God’s word”

God’s judgments are true and just

“After these things I heard what sounded like the loud voice of a vast throng in heaven, saying, ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, because his judgments are true and just. For he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her sexual immorality, and has avenged the blood of his servants poured out by her own hands!’” (Revelation 19:1-2 NET).

As we mentioned in our previous article, John’s Revelation is not the easiest to understand. There are many explanations and interpretations, but there are also eternal truths in the word-pictures that John used to paint a picture for us. Continue reading “God’s judgments are true and just”

Fear God and give him glory

“Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, and he had an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth – to every nation, tribe, language, and people. He declared in a loud voice: ‘Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has arrived, and worship the one who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water!’” (Revelation 14:6-7 NET).

John’s Revelation is not the most straightforward scripture. There are many explanations and interpretations, some of which have merit and some are more in the realms of fantasy. But whatever interpretation we want to place on it, there are some eternal truths that we can see in the word-pictures that John used to paint a picture for us. Continue reading “Fear God and give him glory”

Do the deeds you did at the first

In the beginning of John’s Revelation Jesus addressed seven letters to seven congregations in the Roman province of Asia. The first of these is addressed to the Christians in Ephesus.

The congregation in Ephesus had a wonderful beginning. Paul visited the city at the end of his second teaching trip, spending time debating with the Jews in their synagogue. Such was the interest that he returned on his third teaching trip. He spent two years teaching in this Roman city which was steeped in paganism. Such was the success of Paul and his companions that those who made images of Artemis, the local goddess, started a riot in protest. (All of this can be found in Acts 18-19). Continue reading “Do the deeds you did at the first”

Walking in truth

When John wrote his second letter he was concerned with truth as well as with love. And when you think about it, these two go hand in hand: truth and love. In a world where “truth” seems to be defined as whatever a person wants it to be, it is refreshing to read about something definite and concrete called “truth” – and it is based in God’s word.

“The elder, To the lady chosen by God and to her children, whom I love in the truth—and not I only, but also all who know the truth— because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever…” (2 John 1-2 NIV). Continue reading “Walking in truth”

Baptism in the name of Jesus

“While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul went through the inland regions and came to Ephesus. He found some disciples there and said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ They replied, ‘No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’ So Paul said, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ ‘Into John’s baptism,’ they replied. Paul said, ‘John baptized with a baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.’ When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, and when Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they began to speak in tongues and to prophesy. (Now there were about twelve men in all.)” (Acts 19:1-7 NET). Continue reading “Baptism in the name of Jesus”

Helping someone better understand Jesus

What do you do when you hear someone teaching God’s word, teaching it well, and being accurate,  as far as they knew God’s word – but they left something out. There was something missing. How do we tell the person that there is more? This is the situation when we meet Apollos in the book of Acts. 

“Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, arrived in Ephesus. He was an eloquent speaker, well-versed in the scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and with great enthusiasm he spoke and taught accurately the facts about Jesus, although he knew only the baptism of John” (Acts 18:24-25 NET). Continue reading “Helping someone better understand Jesus”

All people are acceptable to God

For around ten years after Jesus’ death and resurrection, the first Christians were active in telling others about Jesus, but only to Jews. On the Day of Pentecost Peter had stated quite plainly that the good news of Jesus was “for you and your children, and for all who are far away, as many as the Lord our God will call to himself” (Acts 2:39 NET). It was for the Jews (you and your children) and for the Gentiles (all who are far away). (In the Jewish way of thinking, they were near to God and everyone else, who were Gentiles, were far away from God.)

Although Samaritans had also been taught and had accepted the message of Jesus (see Acts 8), they were still partly of a Jewish background. Those who had no Jewish connection had yet to hear about forgiveness through Jesus. Continue reading “All people are acceptable to God”

Don’t reject what God has given

When Stephen appeared before the Sanhedrin to answer for what he was teaching, he gave the highest Jewish court a history lesson. Stephen’s speech is often referred to as his “defense” but it really wasn’t defending what he had been teaching; he was convicting the Jewish leaders of following in the steps of their forefathers.

He began by talking about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Acts 7:1-8), and then centered in on Joseph (Acts 7:9-16). With Joseph, he introduced his theme: the one God who was with Joseph was the one who was rejected by his brothers. Continue reading “Don’t reject what God has given”