Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Scratching the Surface of Revelation
Scratching the Surface of Revelation
A prayer line shared by Presbyterian Elders in Prayer and Belvidere, Illinois' First Presbyterian Church along with my cellular's voicemail have the same message: "Someday everybody will return from the cemetery but you or me. If that thought troubles you, you really don't get it. You really don't understand what Jesus has done for you. I would like to talk to you about Him at anytime. The most important thing is your personal relationship with Jesus so you can face the future unafraid - here, now, and forever."
Everybody's gonna die in time on earth - sooner or later yet definitely whether it's sooner or later.
Everybody's gonna live forever with the ultimate destination being the only interrogative.
That's what Revelation is all about - ultimate destinations.
Precisely, everybody's gonna live forever in heaven or hell in the end.
Revelation was especially entrusted or breathed into John to encourage people who are going to heaven to see beyond immediate burdens to eternal blessings: "The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to show to His servants the things that must soon take place...Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near."
This last book of the Bible has been revealed to women and men who have chosen voluntarily to be servants/slaves of the Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior.
Eschatologically (because this book points to end times) and existentially (because knowledge of the positive outcome in the end for those who have chosen God enables a sense of triumph over temptations and tribulations in the meantime), Revelation is about the consequences of the voluntary decision to be or not to be a believer in God as Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him...I will grant with him to sit with Me on My throne..."
This volitional choice to be or not to be a believer with consequences here and now and forever was articulated so clearly, concisely, and conclusively by our Lord in the most famous or at least quoted words of Holy Scripture: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light..."
God provides the choice - "No one can serve two masters" - but we must choose.
C.S. Lewis referred to this choice as The Great Divorce: "It is...'either-or.' If we insist on keeping Hell,...we shall not see Heaven. If we accept Heaven, we shall not be able to retain even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell...There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done.' All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice, there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened."
That's the big message of Revelation.
We get to choose our ultimate destinies; and Revelation is explicit in providing the details of this great divorce.
Heaven awaits anyone/everyone who chooses God: "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore..."
Hell awaits anyone/everyone who fails to choose God: "Torment...no rest...the second death, the lake of fire..."
The good news for those who choose God and the bad news for those who do not are in the words of the Lord: "Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with Me, to repay everyone for what he has done."
It's a consistent message in Holy Scripture.
David: "The Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish...The Lord has set apart the Godly for Himself..."
Jesus: "I will separate the sheep from the goats...Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you...Depart from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels...[and explaining how behavior confirms the belief that determines ultimate destinies]...As you did it to/for them, you did it to/for Me."
Unless one is dense by design or decision, it is impossible to read Holy Scripture and not acknowledge the ultimately and distinctively different destinies of those who choose and those who do not choose God as Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior.
That's the big message of the book, the whole book, and nothing but the book with Revelation highlighting that message with symbolic language and flare to encourage everyone who has chosen God as Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior.
Certainly, there are many other important lessons to be learned in Revelation.
If you want to know what heaven will be like, it's there (viz., 24/7/365 worship): "Day and night they never cease to say, 'Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty..."
If you want to know the difference between good/Godly churches and bad/unGodly churches, there are seven letters to 1st century churches commending behaviors confirming authentic belief and condemning behaviors exposing infidelity with striking parallels to contemporary versions of the same.
If you want to know more about battles between good and evil that will get worse before the final score, it's there.
Yet, again, as Grandpa Kopp warned, "Don't miss the forest for the trees!"
Revelation is about Jesus as Alpha and Omega - Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior - who has always wanted to save us for Himself forever and will do that with enthusiasm, without equivocation, and without exception as the ultimate consequence/destiny of our choosing Him.
I like Tozer's summary of this book as a summary of the whole book and nothing but the book: "Since the Christian is a part of God's eternal purpose, he knows he must win at last, and he can afford to be calm even when the battle seems to be temporarily going against him."
Then Tozer echoes C.S. Lewis' conclusion of the great divorce by choice: "The world has no such 'blissful center' upon which to rest and is therefore constantly shifting about, greatly elated today, terribly cast down tomorrow, and wildly excited the next day."
We live triumphantly here and now and forever because our Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior predetermined that triumph in the end for all who choose Him.
That's what I've concluded by scratching the surface of the book, the whole book, and nothing but the book.
It's possible to live happily ever after by the book.
...to be concluded...
Blessings and Love!