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The Inkwell: A (Gospel) Blog

Seeing the Son: Living in Paradise When You’re Stuck on Patmos (Listening Guide #4)

Jan 28th, 2015 | By | Category: The Inkwell: A (Gospel) Blog

Overcome: The Hope of the Christian in the Revelation of the Lamb
January 28, 2015
Seeing the Son: Living in Paradise When You’re Stuck on Patmos
Revelation 1:9-20

I. Of Exile and Eschatology

God’s people are kingdom citizens in a world that is in rebellion against God. In some ways, to use C.S. Lewis’s imagery from Mere Christianity, we are co-conspirators for the gospel who live in a world that is behind enemy lines in “enemy-occupied territory.” We are resident aliens, at once at home in the world and at the same time very much not at home. We are exiles on earth, and that exilic life can be really tough. We are surrounded by the pressures of temptation, persecution, and despair. The thick cloud of the curse hangs heavy over all the land.

That’s why God has given his people confident hope in the midst of all their troubles. He sent them a deliverer and mighty signs during their sojourn in Egypt. He revealed his glory to Ezekiel during the exilic imprisonment in Babylon, and now through John he sends his beleaguered churches communications of his presence, plan, promises, and ultimate victory over everything that is now bent low under the illegitimate reign of Satan. Because we live in a world full of pain and pressure, God in his grace sends us a booming announcement that paradise is still to come, will come, and will be ushered in by the triumphant victory of Christ.

That’s really good news. It is a great mercy that God gives his people what they so desperately need. The churches of Asia Minor needed to hear from God. John, the old apostle alone on the island needed to hear it to. In a world that seems like one giant Patmos, they all needed one thing, to see and to hear from the Son.

II. The Way to Paradise in the World of Patmos

And because that’s what God’s people need(ed), that’s what God has given. At just the right time he sent the battered believers a love letter unveiled in the cosmic drama of an apocalyptic climax to history, a love letter that showed believers the presence of paradise in the world of Patmos. He did this by showing believers himself, and in doing so he showed them (and us) what we are to be characterized by, united in, strengthened through, and called to:

1. Believers are characterized by their faithful endurance in suffering, sorrow, and sanctification.

2. Believers are united in their ongoing enjoyment of God through worshipping by the Spirit.

3. Believers are strengthened through encountering the risen, glorified, and sovereign Son of God.

4. Believers are called to live in obedience to God by being entrusted with the Word of Christ, the Scriptures.

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Jesus From A to Z: The Gospel According to Revelation (Revelation Listening Guide #3)

Jan 21st, 2015 | By | Category: The Inkwell: A (Gospel) Blog

Overcome: The Hope of the Christian in the Revelation of the Lamb
January 21, 2015
Jesus from A to Z: The Gospel According to Revelation
Revelation 1:4-8

I. The Entrance Into Eschatology

Sometimes the biggest truths can be summarized very simply. We can condense an email message to a subject line. Corporations can communicate who they are with a logo. Wives can send a clear message to their husbands with one focused look! And think of the tremendous truth that is spoken when an elderly couple looks into each other’s face and says, “I love you more now than I ever have before,” or the whisper of a new father peering into the face of his newborn daughter and saying, “You are the most beautiful girl I have ever seen.” Those are all very simple words, and yet they are loaded with a weight, depth, and meaning as big as the universe itself.

John understood this truth, so it should come as no surprise that in the prologue of his letter he has summarized the entire apocalypse into a single paragraph. Everything that the book of Revelation says to the churches, to believers, is packed into these sentences. It is the doorway into John’s vision. It is the entrance into his eschatology. If we want to come to terms with the full length and breadth of this book’s message, we must start here. It is the portal through which the Lamb’s revelation becomes clear. If we’re ever going to come to terms with parts of the book that may seem a bit more bizarre, we had better grasp the totality of what John wants to communicate that is so very basic.

II. Grounded on the Gospel

So how does John both introduce and summarize his letter? What does he want the beleaguered churches of Asia Minor to have ringing in their ears as the letter’s imagery and hope are unfolded to them? At its simplest John wants to remind them that everything is ultimately centered on the person and work of Jesus Christ. In order to be rooted for endurance in the trying days of the future one must be grounded on the gospel. Never forget, far more than merely unveiling the culmination of God’s actions in history, the book of Revelation shows us the glory of God in the face of Christ as the all encompassing center for all reality. In direct opposition to everything the world sets its hope in, John wants the churches to remember that history is all about the victory of God in Christ. He shows us this by showing us five gospel truths that we must never forget:

1. The gospel according to Revelation COMES from the unity of Persons who is the triune God.

2. The gospel according to Revelation PROCLAIMS the unique supremacy of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

3. The gospel according to Revelation ANNOUNCES the completed atonement that has been accomplished by the loving and gracious God.

4. The gospel according to Revelation WARNS of the certain danger of the righteous wrath of the holy God.

5. The gospel according to Revelation DISPLAYS the certain and total triumph of the sovereign God.

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Apocalypse Now: Rejoicing in the Revelation of Jesus Christ (Revelation Listening Guide #2)

Jan 14th, 2015 | By | Category: The Inkwell: A (Gospel) Blog

Overcome: The Hope of the Christian in the Revelation of the Lamb
January 14, 2015
Apocalypse Now: Rejoicing in the Revelation of Jesus Christ
Revelation 1:1-3

I. The End of the World As We Know It…

What you believe about the future greatly influences how you will face your life in the present. That’s true both locally, in the short-term, and globally over the long-term (even the very long-term). One of the building blocks to your worldview is your own particular perspective on what the future holds, what this world is coming to. No matter who you are, or where you are, your today is fueled by how you view tomorrow. So what do you think about the future? Do you think your future is looking good? Are things getting better? Do you see a forecast of progress? Or maybe you’re not quite sure. Maybe you’re a bit uneasy about what your future might bring. Maybe instead of progress, you look into the future and see only pessimism.

What about the really big picture? What do you think about when you think about the end of the world? What comes to mind when you hear words like doomsday or apocalypse? Chances are those words don’t make you want to party. For most people they conjure up thoughts of nuclear holocausts, WWIII, global pandemics, extinction, fear, uncertainty, and chaos. None of those things sound like things that might make you want to get up and dance! They’re all pretty depressing, aren’t they?

Maybe that’s how you feel about the book of Revelation too. After all, it’s confusing, graphic, violent, and seems to be filled with a whole lot of scary stuff. If any book of the Bible were to be voted “most terrifying,” surely Revelation would be it! So would it surprise you if I told you that the book of Revelation isn’t a horror story at all, that instead it’s written to increase your delight and joy in God forever? The book of Revelation is meant to be reveled in! It is the fountain for the future’s happiness.

II. “Celebrate End Times, Come On!”

So why do I think Revelation is all about rejoicing? Well, the first few verses tell me that. It begins with a literal three-pronged blessing, and the word “blessed,” can be translated here, “happy, joyful, and glad.” In other words, we’re immediately told that this book is no mere prophecy. It’s not a physic prediction. The book of Revelation is gospel. It’s really, really good news! And to make that truth clear, the first three verses give us four reasons why this is true. The book starts by giving us four reasons we can and should rejoice in the book of Revelation:

1. It is faithfully WRITTEN by a trustworthy and authoritative apostolic eyewitness.

2. It is ultimately FROM and ABOUT Jesus Christ.

3. It is sovereignly GIVEN to believers by the gracious and wise will of God.

4. It is powerfully SUFFICIENT to strengthen believers to live faithfully in a fallen world, now and into the future.

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Books I Hope You’ll Read in 2015

Dec 30th, 2014 | By | Category: The Inkwell: A (Gospel) Blog

As you may know, I have, get, and read a lot of books. I love books, all kinds of books. I like fiction and history and poetry and theology, and just about anything with words. That makes picking a short list of “the best books of the year,” really difficult. Where would I even start? And it’s also true that not everyone likes to read the same kinds of things. So any “best of…” list that I might make may include things that just aren’t appealing to most people. That’s okay. We all have our likes and dislikes. We all have things that interest us more than others. We’re unique. We’re different, and those types of differences should be celebrated.

So I can’t really give you a list of the best books that I’ve read this year. Instead, I want to give you something else, something that’s similar but different. I want to share with you a set of books that I hope you’ll read this year. I hope you’ll read these 15 books in 2015. Most of them I’ve read, and some of them I’m just getting around to reading now. Many of them have been released this year, but some were published earlier. Either way, these are books that I want to encourage you to buy, borrow, order, lend, loan, or check-out. I hope that over the course of the twelve months of 2015 these books will be our friends.


Edwards

1. Edwards on the Christian Life, by Dane Ortlund

The Christian life is a long pilgrimage through life. That’s why we need guides. We need pastors, friends, and teachers who are older, wiser, experienced, and loving enough to help point the way forward. Most of these guides are the flesh and blood people that God has placed around us in a local church, but some guides are faithful saints who have gone before and though dead still impact and influence us today. Jonathan Edwards is that kind of guide.

christ crucified

2. Christ Crucified: Understanding the Atonement, by Donald MaCleod

For the Christian, the cross is everything. We are a cross-centered people. That’s why you can never meditate enough on what the cross means. This book is a great meditation on why the cross is so important, what it achieved, and what it means for our lives today.

prayer

3. Prayer, by Timothy Keller

I want to be better at prayer. I want to learn how to pray. I really struggle with this aspect of being a believer. I’m willing to bet that you do too. That’s why this book is a Godsend.

things of earth

4. The Things of Earth, by Joe Rigney

Does treasuring God above all things necessarily mean that you don’t treasure other things? Does enjoying God demand the exclusion of enjoying anything else? If you find pleasure in good food, good books, sports, or a nap, does that make those things idols? Joe Rigney doesn’t think so, and he provides a biblical foundation that shows how we glorify God by enjoying the gifts that God has given us.

ordinary

5. Ordinary, by Tony Merida

The extraordinary life of the believer is a very ordinary life. This book helps me see the beauty of following Jesus in the ordinary-everydayness of life.

gospel

6. The Gospel, by Ray Ortlund

By far one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. This short little book is a drink of cool water for thirsty souls.

risky gospel

7. Risky Gospel, by Owen Strachan

Like the two listed above, this book calls readers to a life of abandon to what matters most, the good news of Jesus Christ.

deyoung

8. Taking God at His Word, by Kevin DeYoung

What should Christians believe about the Bible? Why does it matter? This book helps show us the way.

proof

9. Proof: Finding Freedom Through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace, by Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones

Do you struggle sometimes with assurance of salvation? Does grace sometimes seem too good to be true? Read this book to be staggered by the amazing truth about God’s amazing grace.

underestimated gospel

10. The Underestimated Gospel, Edited by Jonathan Leeman

The gospel is powerful to save. This book is an extended series of chapters all about how powerful the gospel really is, and it includes the published testimony of Sonia Jenkins, our senior pastor’s wife.

the church

11. The Church, by Mark Dever

This year we’re going to be spending time meditating on what God has said about what a local church should look like by preaching through the book of 1st Timothy. This book is a helpful companion to that series and will help us all clarify exactly what the Bible says about what a biblical church should be and do.

what's best next

12. What’s Best Next, by Matt Perman

Does it sometimes seem that you just can’t get things done? Do your time-management gifts seem to be lacking? Do you struggle with just not enough time in the day? Does all this stress you out? So how does the gospel fit into all this? What does God say about how we work? This book helps us in the day-to-day tasks of getting things done for the glory of God.

joseph

13. Joseph and the Gospel of Many Colors, by Vodie Baucham

After we finish our sermon series in 1st Timothy, we’re going to move into the book of Genesis. While this book isn’t about the book of Genesis as a whole, it does help us read and understand the book of Genesis better, and it does help us see how the gospel is portrayed in the life of one of the book’s most important characters.

Biblical Theology

14. What is Biblical Theology?, by James Hamilton Jr.

The Bible unfolds one unified story from beginning to end, from Genesis to Revelation. This little book helps all of us read the Bible better.

paul david tripp

15. New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotion, by Paul Tripp

I want you to read the Bible daily. I want you to spend time meditating on the gospel daily. This daily devotional helps us anchor our day in the beautiful truth of God’s goodness, grace, and glory.

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When Shock and Awe Yawned and Slept

Dec 23rd, 2014 | By | Category: The Inkwell: A (Gospel) Blog

The earth is littered with the eroding monuments to the passing greatness of humanity. Every generation, every civilization, and every empire has had the manic drive to commemorate their achievements for the memory of history. The Pyramids and the Sphinx displayed the worth and greatness of the Egyptian pharaohs. Arches, roads, temples, cities, and coliseums spoke of the glory of Rome. The Great Wall of China proclaimed a clear message: “You shall tread no further!” In every corner of the globe there are crumbling ruins of man’s attempt to maintain immortal notoriety. We want to be remembered. We want to be respected. We want to be marveled at. We thirst for worldwide compliments and commendations.

And this relentless drive isn’t an antiquated tendency of long lost civilizations. We’ve inherited the incessant obsession with plastering our power and stamping our superiority onto the pages of history. That’s why we build monuments, huge cities, and skyscrapers. That’s why we wanted to make sure we put our flag on the moon. The story of human progress isn’t merely the narrative of our attempt to make life better. It’s the tale of our attempt to make life better while simultaneously showing the rest of the world how awesome we are. We want to impress.

That was at least a part of what we wanted to communicate at the very beginning of the Iraq War in 2003. We made a deliberate effort to display the might of America’s military power. We wanted to create “shock and awe” in the minds of our enemies and all potential enemies. The message was clear to those who might commit acts of terrorism or aid and abet terrorists: “You do not want to mess with us. If you do, you will have the full weight of our armed forces to deal with.” That was a pretty important message to communicate. We were still wincing from the attacks of September 11, 2001, and we wanted to remind the world that a sleeping giant had been awakened. And so like all great world powers we lifted ourselves up to show the nations of the world our immense power. It was a reminder that the world needed to hear, but it wasn’t a reminder that was all that unique. That’s how we’ve always reacted in moments of crisis, tragedy, disaster, and uncertainty. We rise to the occasion. We draw ourselves up to full strength. We believe that our only hope is to make the world recognize how great we are.

That’s why Christmas is so amazing.

That’s why the nativity story is so counter-intuitive. That’s why the manger is so magnificent. In the darkness of our sin and the chaotic crisis of the curse, God didn’t act like we do. Instead, he did the exact opposite. While we want to make ourselves big, he made himself small. While we want to achieve great things by making much of ourselves, God achieved the greatest of things by making himself nothing. While we want to deal with the human dilemma by having people notice us and marvel at us, God dealt with the human dilemma by coming in disguise, having only a handful of herdsmen-hirelings present at his birth.

The one whom the universe stretches to contain kicked inside Mary’s womb. The one whose hands had unfurled the heavens and had hung each supernova into place was barely able to wrap his tiny hands around Mary’s index finger. The one who had clothed himself in inapproachable light was clothed in very approachable swaddling clothes. The light of the world, was rocked in the shadows. The one whom the seraphim had worshipped spent his first night on earth being serenaded by sheep. The God whose hands scooped out the oceans, sucked his thumb. The voice that had thundered from the burning bush on Mount Sinai was burped on Mary’s shoulder. The very one whose command, “Let there be light!” had erupted in creation, gurgled and whimpered from a feed-trough. The same one who upholds all things by the word of his power, had to wear a diaper. In a world where “might makes right,” the creator God was content to blink back at us under the sleepy eyelids of a newborn. In stark contrast to every conqueror, every Caesar, and every empire, God became a baby. In a world where “shock and awe” is too often reduced to man-centered monuments and military arsenals, the only one who is truly shocking and truly awe-inspiring yawned and slept in his mother’s arms.

“Gloria, in excelsis, Deo,” indeed.

-Pastor Cade

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Revelation Resources: A Bibliography

Dec 16th, 2014 | By | Category: The Inkwell: A (Gospel) Blog

A friend of mine asked me to share the commentaries and other reference works that I was using in my preparation and study for the sermon series in Revelation. I sent him the bibliography of my resources, but I thought others might like to see what I would be using, so here are my resources:

“Overcome: The Hope of the Christian in the Revelation of the Lamb”
Revelation Sermon Series Resources
Cade Campbell, FBC Henryville

Bauckham, Richard. The Climax of Prophecy: Studies on the Book of Revelation. Continuum International Publishing Group – T & T C, 1998.

Bauckham, Richard, and James Dunn. The Theology of the Book of Revelation. 1st ed. Cambridge [England]: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

Beale, G.K. A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Transformation of the Old Testament in the New. Baker Publishing Group, 2011.

———.The Book of Revelation: A Commentary, 2013.

Blaising, Craig, Kenneth Gentry, Robert Strimple, and Darrell Bock. Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 1999.

Duvall, J Scott. Revelation. Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, 2014.

Hamilton, James, R. Kent Hughes (Contribution by). Revelation: The Spirit Speaks to the Churches. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 2012.

Hamilton, James. God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment: A Biblical Theology. Wheaton, Ill: CROSSWAY BOOKS, 2010.

Hemer, Colin, and Astrid Beck. The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia in Their Local Setting. Edited by David Noel Freedman. Grand Rapids, Mich: Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company, 2000.

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, 1994.

Hoekema, Anthony. The Bible and the Future. Grand Rapids, Mich: Eerdmans Pub Co, 1979.

Johnson, Dennis. Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. EVANGELICAL PRESS, 2004.

Ladd, George Eldon. A Commentary on the Revelation of John. Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company, 1972.

MacArthur, John. Revelation 1-11. Moody Publishers, 1999.

———.Revelation 12-22. Chicago, Ill: Moody Publishers, 2000.

Macpherson, Duncan. The Promise of the Future. Success Source, 2000.

Mounce, Robert.The Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids: Ethics & Public Policy Center Inc.,U.S., 1977.

———.The Book of Revelation (New International Commentary on the New Testament). William B Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1995.

Osborne, Grant. Revelation (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament). Baker Publishing Group, 2002.

Patterson, Paige. Revelation: New American Commentary. B&H Publishing Group, 2012.

Riddlebarger, Kim, and Kim Riddlebarger. Case for Amillennialism: Understanding the End Times. Baker Publishing Group, 2003.

Schnabel, Eckhard. 40 Questions About the End Times. KREGEL PUBN, 2012.

Schreiner, Thomas.The King in His Beauty. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Pub Group, 2013.

Staff, Baker Publishing Group. Case for Historic Premillennialism, A: An Alternative to Left Behind Theology. Edited by Craig Blomberg and Sung Wook Chung. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 2009.

Storms, Sam. Kingdom Come. Fearn, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 2013.

Summers, Ray. Worthy Is the Lamb. Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1951.

Venema, Cornelis. The Promise of the Future. The Banner of Truth Trust, 2000.

Wright, N.T. Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church. HarperCollins Publishers, 2008.

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“Waking Up at the Start of the End of the World” (Revelation Listening Guide #1)

Dec 4th, 2014 | By | Category: The Inkwell: A (Gospel) Blog

This introductory listening guide provides a foundational survey of some basic information that is helpful for understanding the book of Revelation generally, how to read and interpret the book, and the way we’ll be dealing with the text in the upcoming sermon series. This introductory material is much longer than the normal sermon notes/listening guide will be. The extra material is provided to give listeners and readers a little extra framework for everything that will be coming in the weeks and months ahead.

Overcome: The Hope of the Christian in the Revelation of the Lamb
December 3, 2014
Waking Up at the Start of the End of the World:
An Introduction to Eschatology, Apocalyptic Literature, and the Boo
k of Revelation
I. A Book Most Mysterious: Why We’re Attracted to Revelation and Avoid Revelation at the Same Time

It sits at the back of the Bible, bringing up the rear of the canon, standing there like a sentinel guarding a valuable treasure. And it’s an appropriate ending point for God’s special scriptural revelation, because the last book in the holy library is unlike any other book. It’s a bit of a loner. It’s odd, maybe even a bit standoffish. It doesn’t seem as inviting as the gospels, even though Jesus incarnate is its focus. Nor does it seem as easy to follow as Paul’s letters, even though it is itself a letter to a particular group of churches at a particular place and time in history. No, whatever else we might say about Revelation, one thing is certain. It sure is different.

As soon as we open the pages of Revelation we immediately know that we’re in a foreign world. Everything seems strange and new. Instead of a normal letter that flows in a straight line from beginning to end, we get a set of letters connected to a glimpse into the secret counsels of God. Instead of a list of encouraging instructions, we get a graphic and vivid docudrama that seems to be equal parts fantasy and horror story. And above it all, we definitely get confused. In some ways if we read through to the end of this book we might be left rubbing our eyes and asking, “What was that?!”

Throughout church history this confusion has oftentimes created two very different responses from believers, two responses that we want to avoid. Some students of the Bible have been so attracted to Revelation that they never want to go anywhere else. These are preachers who never seem to preach a sermon unless it’s connected to some fantastic interpretation of Bible prophecy. They oftentimes want to use the book of Revelation as the lens through which the rest of the Bible is understood, rather than having the rest of the Bible be the lens through which the book of Revelation is understood! The opposite reaction is one of avoidance. The book is confusing. It’s controversial. Its correct interpretation is contested, so some just stay away from it. If the first group has an incessant obsession with the book, the second group seems to have a strong allergic reaction to it.

Both of these responses are two extremes that we want to navigate between. We want to acknowledge that the book of Revelation is a part of the biblical storyline and we want to understand it in context through the rest of the Bible. And at the same time, while we acknowledge that the book can be confusing and intimidating we want to always confess that the book of Revelation is a part of the biblical canon. It was inspired by God. It is given to believers. It is meant to be read, understood, and obeyed. We shouldn’t be afraid of it. Everything that is true about the rest of the Bible that is described in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 is just as true about the book of Revelation.

So…we must read and hear the vision given by Christ to John on the Isle of Patmos. But before we do there are a few things we should introduce. We need to know what the book is (an eschatological apocalyptic letter) and we need to consider the underlying themes and purposes of the book:

II. Essentials of Eschatology: But…Finally

The book of Revelation is an eschatological apocalyptic letter. Eschatology is the study of last things or final things. It focuses on the point to which everything and everyone is headed, for both individuals (Heaven/Hell) and all of creation and history. And yet, there’s a bit more to it. It’s not merely a prophetic playbook that gives the details for the future. Eschatology in the Bible is centered on two things: The resurrection of Jesus is the climax of history and the truth about the culmination of all things compels us to live in light of the resurrection today, in the present, in the here and now.

1. First, eschatology understands the resurrection of Jesus to be the climax of all history. It’s all about the “last days,” but here’s the catch: from a biblical perspective everything after the resurrection is the last days (Acts 2:14-21; Heb 1:1-2).
2. Second, eschatology isn’t a “pie-in-the-sky” trailer for coming attractions for the Christian church. It’s not a Nostradamus-like preview of future events that are meant to merely inform us about what’s up next. Eschatology is always a message to God’s people that is a call to love the risen Christ, trust the risen Christ, and obey the risen Christ in the here and now. It is always applicable for where we are presently!
3. With these two foundations in place, we might then define eschatology, the type of eschatology that the book of Revelation is a part of, as “The biblical meditation on last things for the purpose of treasuring ultimate things, namely the person and work of Jesus Christ.”

III. The Apocalyptic Puzzle: Vivid Vagueness

And here comes the tricky part. The book of Revelation is an eschatological apocalyptic letter. That means that the book is in some ways in a class by itself. It’s not just an ordinary letter or an ordinary piece of prophetic literature. So that begs the question, what is apocalyptic literature? Well, it has a long history in Jewish writings (biblical and extra-biblical) and might best be characterized in the following ways:

1. It is written to encourage the people of God who are suffering through some type of trauma or cataclysmic event to give them hope in God’s reign over the present and his sovereign triumph over the future.

2. It flows out of a deep reliance on and reference to the Old Testament. So rather than merely being situated in the future, it is rooted in the past revelation of God.

3. It presents its message through vivid vagueness. The medium by which the message is communicated is through repeated patterns of truth that are communicated by symbolic and graphic images, and significant and representative numbers.

We will always lose our way through the maze of Revelation if we fail to recognize and remember these three crucial keys to understanding and interpreting apocalyptic writings, of which Revelation is the most famous example.

IV. Revealing Revelation: Sailing to the Island of Patmos

With that briefest of introductions to eschatology and apocalyptic literature, we can now give a summary introduction to the book itself. We want to briefly consider the basics of the books authorship, the particular way we will be studying the text, and the purposes for which the book was written in the first place:

1. A Preliminary Introduction

A. Author: John the Apostle
B. Date: Probably around 95 AD during the reign of Emperor Domitian
C. Place of Writing: The exilic island of Patmos, a little more than fifty miles off the coast of Asia Minor from the port city of Ephesus.
D. Original Audience: Unlike many of Paul’s letters, the book of Revelation is a circular epistle, meaning it was written to a group of local churches throughout Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) and would have been circulated through those churches by messenger(s). The recipients of the book were the churches in Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.

2. Perspectives of Interpretation

This is a big question. How will we approach the book in this upcoming sermon series? That question really lies at the heart of what we believe about the book as a whole, and throughout church history there have been four major approaches:

A. The Preterist Interpretation: The book is primarily written about the historical situation(s) at the end of the first century. As such, this view typically argues that all (or most) of the prophecies were fulfilled shortly after the book was written and delivered.

B. The Historicist Interpretation: The book is primarily a prophetic outline of the entirety of church history from the time of the apostles until the return of Christ.

C. The Idealist Interpretation: The book is primarily a symbolic overview of the cosmic battle between good and evil, God and Satan, and presents timeless spiritual truths to equip believers to be a part of that struggle.

D. The Futurist Interpretation: The book is primarily a description of the ultimate “last days” including the final judgments of God on the fallen world, the eternal overthrow of Satan, and the ushering in of the new creation into eternity by Jesus Christ.

Different readers and interpreters have defended their views and attacked the others. Oftentimes the conflicts have centered on a belief that an interpretation demands an “either-or” approach. I believe that’s a mistake (especially when it comes to Revelation). As such, our approach will be an increasingly popular view known as:

E. The Eclectic Interpretation: The book is like a fine diamond with different hues and shades. As such, to be most faithful to the text we’ll be open to aspects of each of the interpretations listed above. The book of Revelation is multi-layered as it communicates the eternal triumph of Jesus, the ultimate defeat of evil, and the unending hope of believers, now and in the future.

3. The Purpose(s) of the Book

Finally, in wrapping this introduction up we need to ask why the book was written in the first place. What are the big themes of the letter? What was the purpose for which John took pen to paper? A few days ago I tried to summarize the main message of the book, and I did it this way:

The purpose of the book of Revelation is to confront the church’s crushing crises of the cosmic curse, catastrophic conflict, and cultural compromise through confidence in and commitment to the crucified, crowned, conquering, and coming Christ.

Now, let’s state the obvious. That’s a lot of “c’s.” So let’s take this a section at a time. The book of Revelation is written for believers who are suffering, hurting, and are always being tempted to give in to doubt, defeat, and despair. It confronts the church’s crushing crises of:

A. The Cosmic Curse – Believers suffer from the ordinary consequences of living in a fallen world and are constantly being threatened by sickness, death, suffering, sickness, sorrow, uncertainty, and anxiety.

B. Catastrophic Conflict – Believers are also always in jeopardy of suffering for not merely living in a fallen world, but particularly because they are believers. So Christians face the threats of ridicule, attack, censorship, marginalization, and persecution in our families, workplaces, and by society (or government) in general.

C. Cultural Compromise – Finally, the pressures of the curse and conflict always threaten believers (who are always sinners) with the temptation to compromise their faith and give-in to the call to look and act like the world around them. Sin, immorality, worldly accommodation, and complacency are siren calls that invite us to an “easier” life if we’ll just not take our calling to follow Jesus so seriously.

These are the enemies of the churches that John is writing to, and the way he confronts these dangerous threats is by calling believers to:

A. Confidence in: Believers are called to have faith and belief in, trust in, and love for Jesus Christ that gives us assurance and hope for the future.

B. Commitment to: This confidence in Jesus Christ is then lived out personally and publicly in our allegiance and obedience to and our profession and proclamation of Jesus Christ.

This confidence and commitment to is connected to one specific person. The believer’s hope is not to our wealth, health, self-esteem, nation, government, or any superficial situation that we find ourselves in. Our confidence is in Jesus, and our commitment is to Jesus, and in the pages of Revelation Jesus the Christ is revealed to be the one who…

A. Was Crucified – Jesus was killed, slaughtered as a substitute on a Roman cross to purchase for God a people from every tribe, tongue, and nation.

B. Is Crowned – Jesus didn’t stay dead. The crucified one is also the resurrected on. After being slaughtered on the cross, Jesus was resurrected from the dead and ascended into heaven, being given by his Father a name that is above every name. He is currently reigning at the right hand of God as king over the universe. No other worldly power, person, or empire has the right to see itself as supreme. Only Jesus is worthy of the divine and royal worship of his people!

C. Is Conquering – Jesus will ultimately and triumphantly defeat all evil, the serpent, and he will rid the cosmos of every trace of the curse descended on creation as a consequence of our sin. Jesus (and all those who are his) has won the victory already and will completely overcome and conquer when all is said and done.

D. Is Coming – Jesus (God the Son) will physically and literally return to bring history to a climactic conclusion in which all things that the Bible has been promising and expecting are finally brought into full reality forever! God’s people will be resurrected bodily and all creation will be transformed into a new creation in which God’s people will dwell with him forever in the full beauty and pleasure of his presence. In his coming all the promises and prayers of the Bible will be eternally answered. The hope of Adam will be an eternal reality as Jesus, the seed of the woman, crushes the serpent forever and eradicates the darkness of rebellion from all creation. The hope of Abraham will be an eternal reality as Jesus, the promised heir, will be worshiped by an unnumbered multitude from every tribe, race, nation, and people. The hope of David will be an eternal reality, as Jesus, the physical descendant of Jesse, fully man and fully God, reigns as the supreme king over all creation. And finally, the hope of God’s people’s prayers that Jesus himself taught us to speak, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” will finally, fully, and eternally be answered as Heaven and earth are united in the unending reign of Jesus Christ!

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What’s Next: Announcing the Start of New Sunday Morning Sermon Series in 2015

Nov 19th, 2014 | By | Category: The Inkwell: A (Gospel) Blog

Power and Glory Cross 1In January 2012 we began to preach an expository sermon series through the book of Romans. Following a series through the Gospel of John, the series was titled, The Power and the Glory: The Gospel of God in the Book of Romans. When we stepped off into chapter one we had no idea what God would do in our church in the years to come, but our expectations were high as we began to climb this tallest of all peaks in the mountain range of New Testament books.

Now, nearly three years later, we can’t fully express all that God has done in our midst. A few weeks after beginning the sermon series our town was rocked by the March 2nd tornado. Through the aftermath of that storm we began to minister to our community and rebuild the physical and spiritual damage and devastation that had been left in the tornado’s path. And we stayed the course in our Sunday morning preaching, verse-by-verse walking through the grandeur of the gospel that radically changes lives forever.

And our church was transformed. We renovated the church building and worship sanctuary. We added an office suite. We held worship services in the gym. We put time, effort, and money into community clean-up, rebuilding, and service projects in our town. And our heart for the gospel near us was enflamed with a passion for taking the gospel to the nations. We sent a mission team to Honduras, then to Moore, Oklahoma, and then to Hartford, Connecticut. Now we’re in the process of sending a group to Eastern Europe, the nation of Macedonia. And all the while God’s Spirit has continued to breathe revival in our midst – saving sinners, transforming lives, mending relationships, and equipping believers that God grafted into our fellowship and united to us as our hearts have been knit together.

In the background of all that God has been doing has been the steady and repeated immersion of our church in the book of Romans. We feasted on a weekly diet of the truth of God’s gospel, his grace, his sovereignty, and how the God who saves sinners through the blood-soaked wood of a Roman cross transforms believers into lives of sacrificial worship. We confronted the truth of our depravity in chapters 1-2. We drank deeply from the doctrine of justification in Romans 3-7. We soared on the heights of Romans 8 (for eight months!). We trekked up the breathtaking paths of God’s sovereign grace in chapters 9-11. And we’ve been pierced by how the gospel is applicable to every area of our lives, publically and privately.

So now, it is late November 2014 and we’re moving through Romans 15, with only chapter 16 left to preach. We’ll be finishing this monumental sermon series in the first few weeks of the new year of 2015. Almost three years to the day after this journey began we’ll be closing the pages on this series. We’ll never move away from the gospel. And you’ll definitely hear other sermons preached from Paul’s epistle to the Romans, but this once-in-a-lifetime series will be moved to a memory. But God’s magnificent word and his invincible power will not be a memory. His word, proclaimed to his people is powerful to save and to change lives forever. We believe that we will continue to see the fruit of what God has done through this series in Romans for years to come.

But we are moving on in our preaching schedule for Sunday mornings, and as a team of pastors/elders we’ve been preparing for this transition for some time. Where we go and what we preach is not a light matter. We are charged with the task of preaching the “whole counsel of God,” to preach the whole truth of the Bible for the building up of the church. The Bible is big and it is infinitely deep, and so over the last few months we’ve been praying and planning about the direction that God wants to take us next. And now as we enter the holiday season, as the temperatures begin to drop, and as we bring our series in Romans to a close, we want to let you know where we’ll be headed next. We’re excited to unveil where we will be spending much of our time on Sunday mornings for the next few years! So we’re announcing the next two Sunday morning series. We want you to build expectation, get excited, and begin praying for us as we prepare and for our whole church concerning the things God will be doing in our midst in the months to come.

Beginning in early 2015 we’ll start a short(er) sermon series all about God’s plans for what a local church should look like and be like. In many ways it’s going to be a “nuts and bolts” introduction to the way God has told believers to live in community together in local churches. We’ll be talking all about right-doctrine, elders, deacons, worship, church planting and local church ministry:

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“DIVINE DESIGN: GOD’S PLAN FOR HIS CHURCH IN THE LETTER OF 1 TIMOTHY”

We haven’t spent much time in the books called “The Pastoral Letters,” but as a team of pastors we believe these blueprints for how local churches are to function are unimaginably important. As we continue to grow, and as our ministries continue to expand, we believe that it is vital for us to be grounded in how God has created our fellowship to live, breathe, and glorify him in a healthy gospel-saturated and God honoring way. That’s what 1 Timothy is all about. It’s a short book and the series will be pretty short too. We expect to spend a few months in this epistle, finishing the series after the summer sometime in the Fall of 2015.

Because this series will be noticeably shorter, it will be a much needed and refreshing “deep breath” after spending so much time in Romans. We think it will be good to go through a book over an intentionally shorter period of time, and we also believe it will be helpful as we gear-up to once again dive into what will be another epic sermon series like the ones in John and Romans. That’s what we’re preparing for in late 2015, and even though it’s about a year away, we want you to already begin preparing and praying about what is coming. After a few months in 1 Timothy we’ll start a new series unlike any that we’ve preached before:

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“THE CREATION, THE CURSE, AND THE CHRIST: THE GLORY OF THE GOSPEL IN THE BOOK OF GENESIS”

A sermon series through Genesis is daunting, in many ways like our Midweek series through Revelation! It will be our first Sunday morning series through an Old Testament book, and it will be the longest book we’ve preached through (50 chapters)! But it’s going to be so good. Every page of Genesis is foundational to everything else in the Bible, and every verse in its story sings the good news of Jesus Christ – in the beginning when the Word shouts all creation into existence, in the shadow of a whispering serpent, in the choking bites of a poisoned fruit, in the impenetrable fog of a cosmic curse, in the gracious promise of a coming king, in the flooding mercy of a mighty deluge, in a promise to an elderly man with no children, in the impossible birth of a miracle baby, in the provided lamb of a horrifying sacrifice, and in the blood-soaked stains of a many-colored robe, the beauty of Jesus Christ leaps off every page.

This is where we’re going. This is what’s next. We’re excited about the future at First Baptist Church Henryville, and as always we want to thank you for the great privilege of allowing us to preach the glorious gospel each and every week. We do not take this calling lightly, and we truly appreciate your prayers…now and in the weeks to come.

Toby, Cade, and Logan
Pastors, FBC Henryville

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A Vision of What is to Come: A Sneak Peek At Our Upcoming Revelation Sermon Series

Nov 11th, 2014 | By | Category: The Inkwell: A (Gospel) Blog

RevelationAs I begin to prepare for a new and upcoming sermon series I like to try and sketch out a rough-draft outline of how the series through the book of the Bible might be preached. I read through the book dividing it into preaching units and giving each passage and sermon a preliminary working title. It’s not ultimately set it stone. As we go through the series the passage lengths may be shortened or lengthened, new and additional sermons may be added or adjusted, and oftentimes completely new titles make their way into the final sermon that is preached. Even with all those caveats, however, I genuinely value the road map that this preliminary prep-work provides for me as I begin to trek through a new series. Even though I know that some things will change, I have a blueprint and guide that helps me focus as we move forward.

As our time in 1 Samuel comes to an end, as so many of you have been both telling me that you’re looking forward to our new series in Revelation and have been praying for God to work in our lives as we study this very difficult book, I thought I’d give you a sneak-peek both into my preparation process and to what you can be looking forward to in the months to come. We’ll start the series with the introductory session in December and begin in earnest with chapter 1 of Revelation in January 2015. I encourage you to use this series outline as a promotional tool to build anticipation, a guide to help you study the book along with the preaching, and as a prayer-guide to help you pray for me and the other pastors as we lead you through the book of Revelation in our Midweek service each week:

Overcome: The Hope of the Christian in the Revelation of the Lamb
Preliminary Series Outline

1. Waking Up at the Start of the End of the World: An Introduction to the Study of Eschatology and the Book of Revelation
2. Apocalypse Now: What Revelation is All About (1:1-3)
3. The Alpha and Omega: Coming With the Clouds (1:4-8)
4. One Like a Son of Man: The Keeper of the Keys (1:9-20)
5. The Spirit Speaks: An Introduction to the Seven Churches of Chapters 2-3
6. First Love First: To the Church in Ephesus (2:1-7)
7. Faithful Unto Death: To the Church in Smyrna (2:8-11)
8. In Satan’s Shadow: To the Church in Pergamum (2:12-17)
9. Uncompromising Christianity: To the Church in Thyatira (2:18-29)
10. No Grave Clothes Allowed: To the Church in Sardis (3:1-6)
11. The Fellowship of the Faithful: To the Church in Philadelphia (3:7-13)
12. The Offer of Abundant Life: To the Church in Laodicea (3:14-22)
13. What Was, and Is, and Is to Come: An Introduction to Revelation 4-22
14. Holy, Holy, Holy: Life in the Presence of Almighty God (4)
15. The King on David’s Throne: The Lion-Lamb, The Slaughtered-Sovereign (5)
16. Signed, Sealed, and Delivered: The Wrath of the Lamb (6)
17. Like Sands and Stars: The Inheritance of All the Nations (7)
18. Trumpeting Tribulation: The Symphony of Righteous Judgment (8-9)
19. A Sweet and Sickening Scroll: Feasting on the Word of God (10)
20. A Worldwide Witness: Living Though Dead (11:1-14)
21. Thy Kingdom Come: The Sound of the Seventh Trumpet (11:15-19)
22. Desolation and Dragon-Fire: The Conflict of the Cosmos (12)
23. The Monster and His Mark: The Dominion of Antichrist (13)
24. The View From the Mountaintop: The Mark of the Lamb (14:1-13)
25. A Holy Harvest: The Fields of Blood (14:14-20)
26. The Terrible Tabernacle: Trembling Before the Wrath of God (15)
27. Poured Out Plagues: Where Sin is Not Passed Over (16)
28. Babylon Ascending: The Beauty and the Beast (17)
29. Babylon Descending: The Fall of the Fall (18)
30. The Banquet of the Bridegroom: Getting the Party Started (19:1-10)
31. The Rider on the White Horse: A Truly Triumphal Entry (19:11-21)
32. On Earth as it is in Heaven: Meditating on the Millennium (20:1-6)
33. Judgment Day: The Serpent is Silenced (20:7-15)
34. Everything Sad Coming Untrue: The Beginning of the Very Best (21:1-8)
35. Joy to the World: The People of New Jerusalem (21:9-21)
36. The Garden Again: Far as the Curse is Found (21:22-22:5)
37. Even So, Come: Living the Book of Revelation (Forever) (22:6-21)

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FBC Henryville Marriage Retreat!

Oct 5th, 2014 | By | Category: The Inkwell: A (Gospel) Blog

TheHeartOfMarriage
February 13-15, 2015

To sign up Click HERE and follow the steps outlined on that page.

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