A Reformed View of the 1,000 Years — Revelation 20:4-6

The number ten is a specific number that holds meaning in the Bible. Like the Ten Commandments which cover all the Laws of Moses. So the number 10 times 10 times 10 is the completeness of the Trinity’s view on a matter within time and history. Two illustrations of that.

Remember the number 144,000 that are saved? Was that a literal number limiting the actual souls of people who can get saved? Of course not. In sermon #27 covering Revelation 14:1-5 I said that This 144,000 represents the twelve tribes of Israel, multiplied by the twelve Apostles, multiplied by a millennium. It’s God’s way of speaking about the Great Host of the Redeemed, united in one Faith Community in Heaven. (12x12x1,000=144,000) Cults think it is literal.

Jesus talked this way when He said that 7 times 70 is all the goodness and kindness we must offer in hospitality. To limit our forgiveness to 490 would disappoint Jesus and the Apostles. We must think deeper than that.

When a period of time is described as a thousand years, God is describing a period of time that is complete and done. God is counting out complete periods of time between one event and another. God is not counting out the exact years. This period of time described as a 1,000 years is God’s way of saying that the specifics of that period of time will never again occur. The uniqueness of that period of time is done. Complete. Satan will never again be bound awaiting his being loosed back to the Earth. Satan is never coming back!

There is a long period of time when Satan is bound, and a short period of time when Satan is loosed. If 1,000 was literal, then why didn’t God give us the exact number of years for the little period of time? Because neither period of time is necessary for us to know in real numbers.

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A Place Prepared for the Devil — Revelation 20:7-10

A Place Prepared for the Devil -- Revelation 20:7-10 ARPChurch Anthony R Locke

What is the Lake of Fire? The Sea of Fire is a place so big, that there are no shores. No islands of refuge. No stable footing and no reachable surface. There is sulfur. Gunpowder is made with sulfur to increase the heat and explosive nature of the compound. Sulfuric acid has lots of sulfur. Sulfur boils at 850 degrees.

Ancient civilizations understood that volcanoes have lots of sulfur in the magma. The Old Testament tells us that God rained down brimstone, which is a synonym for sulfur, on Sodom and Gomorrah.

So God is asking for us to imagine a sea of boiling sulfur into which the Devil is cast and sinks. That’s not a comforting thought, unless you hate the Devil.

And this experience of the Devil is permanent. There’s no end to his torment. He is lost under the billowing waves of God’s wrath. He will forever feel like he is burning up. He will forever feel like he is drowning. He will be forever lost to God’s love.

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The Dragon Isn’t Above the Law — Revelation 20:1-3

The Dragon Isnt Above the Law Revelation 20 1-3 ARP Church Anthony R Locke

Jesus will orchestrate the Omega of this Creation and declare with absolute finality the destiny of every person.

After the war. After He has changed His blood splattered garments. After He has brought us into His eternal rest. God the Father will reveal a new name by which we will know Jesus.

Today we know Jesus as Redeemer. Jesus is Lord. Jesus is Savior. Jesus is the Lamb and He is a Lion. Jesus is THE Wonderful Counselor. He is Mighty God, Everlasting Father and THE Prince of Peace. Jesus is the Great High Priest. He is the Great Prophet. Jesus is the Great King.

Revelation 19:12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. This name will be revealed!

Maybe His new name will have something to do with reversing the Fall, ending sin and chaining the Dragon.

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Capturing the Bad Guys (The Gruesome Ending of All God's Enemies) — Revelation 19:11-21

Capturing Bad Guys Revelation 19 11-21 ARPChurch Anthony R Locke Tony

One day soon God will again send His only begotten Son into the physical realm of this planet.

Jesus will show up in all His glory and splendor with orders from the Father to finish out the victory He already won at the Cross.

Jesus will have orders from the Father to tie up loose ends, squash the resistance and bring an end to the conflict.

The rebellion will not be resurrected. God will call the unclean birds of the air to remove the impurity and filth that they leave behind.

This is a glorious victory for our battle scared Lord Jesus.

Peace will be found at the tip of His sword and He will win the battle.

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Are the Saints Guilt of Heavenly Schadenfreude? — Revelation 19:1-5

Are the Saints Guilt of Heavenly Schadenfreude Revelation 19 1-5 ARPChurch Anthony R Locke

Schadenfreude is that wonderful German term for those who experience wicked glee at the demise of others.

If we see someone suffer, someone that we don’t like very much, and our hearts feel malicious pleasure, then we can be accused of Schadenfreude.

Well, are the saints in this passage feeling that? Are we going to sin a little in our hearts while watching sinners receive God’s judgment?

What causes our hearts to shout for joy when sinners are judged?

There is an answer, and it isn’t what you might imagine.

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These Are God's Final Warnings in the Bible before the End — Revelation 18:1-24

The Final Days and Prophesy of this World Revelation 18 1-24 ARPChurch Anthony R Locke Tony

The Holy Spirit is vexed when pride, greed, lust, envy, anger, gluttony and laziness are at home within our hearts. When these traits increase, we know that the end is near.

God has been warning the Earth of His judgment since the beginning of Genesis.

These are literally the last words of warning before the end of the world comes.

Are you ready for that final moment? Are you saved? Have you repented of your sin and walked away from a love of this world?

God loves you so much. God has been patient for so long. Will you keep testing His compassion? Will you seek His forgiveness? May God give us the grace to repent right now.

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A Woman Rides the Beast — Revelation 17:10-18

A Woman Rides the Beast Revelation 17 10-18 ARPChurch Anthony R Locke Tony

Everywhere you look people talk about being spiritual. Yoga empties us for spiritual enlightenment. Walking outdoors connects us to the Earth. Buying a hybrid car makes us feel like we are saving the planet.

Yet, none of these things are real connections to the Father in comparison to what Jesus offers.

Many churches participate in meeting spiritual needs without Jesus. They provide religious rituals and sentimental experiences. Churches seek to be relevant to impress and attract “seekers.” Worldly techniques for entertainment are used to grow the financial and congregational numbers.

But, what does Jesus think about this alliance between the World and the Church?

Jesus uses a brutal and graphic allegory to share His thoughts.

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A City on Seven Hills — Revelation 17:1-9, 18

A City on Seven Hills Revelation 17 1-9 ARP Church Anthony R Locke

The whole book of Hosea is based on the accusation from God that the people of God had prostituted themselves for what the world had to offer.

God illustrates our sin by commanding one of His very godly men to marry a very silly girl who was in love with this world.

Hosea 1:2 When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the LORD.”

God does shocking things to teach us valuable lessons. This passage is provocative.

The Church that was started in the Book of Acts has now become, like Israel became, an unfaithful spouse.

How many of these harsh accusations could be applied to us?

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. . . and God Remembered — Revelation 16:17-21

and God Remembered Revelation 16 16-21 ARP Church Anthony R Locke

Sometimes my children mess up a LEGO project. I have to disassemble their project until I find the wrong piece in order to fix it. God will disassemble the universe for the same reason.

The dis-assembly part scares me, but for God to fix the imperfections of this Creation, it has to be totally disassembled and reassembled correctly.

My children come to me in tears wondering why their project looks wrong and doesn’t work right. In love I have to judge certain LEGO pieces as wrong and then break it apart that it might be corrected.

God is going to judge certain things as wrong. God will then disassemble the sinful things and reassemble the Creation perfect and holy.

That’s the message of all the judgment passages in the Bible. God loves us all too much to let things stay imperfect forever.

God looks forward to the day that your body disassembles into the grave that He might resurrect you into life everlasting.

Don’t fear the tear down. God is a great re-builder!

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Invitations to Repent — Revelation 16:1-16

Invitations to Repent Revelation 16 1-21 ARPChurch Anthony R Locke

This passage is one of the most negative chapters in the whole Bible. Let me offer a new view.

When my children disobey, as a parent I place them in crisis through discipline. I might threaten to take away their favorite toy, ground them or spank them. I bring trouble in their life to lead them to repentance.

God did this with the Egyptians. He brought Ten Plagues to upset their life and motivate them to obey His commands.

During the end times God will bring these plagues back. God will bring Humanity into a great crisis that He might lead us all toward the last great invitation for repentance.

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Time to Learn the Song of Moses — Revelation 15:1-8

Time to Learn the Song of Moses Revelation 15 1-8 ARPChurch Anthony R Locke

The people of God crossed over the Red Sea on dry ground. When they looked back from the Promised Land, they watched God destroy their enemies and they sang out in victory.

That same experience will be ours when we get to Heaven and watch God destroy our enemies left on the Earth. We will sing the same song Moses sang.

Jesus also walked through the valley of the shadow of death. From the other side He looked back in victory and sang a song of praise that the curse was defeated, the Dragon was crushed and sin was removed.

The Church will join Israel to sing the Song of Moses, but Jesus will join both of us while we sing the Song of Moses . . . and the Lamb!

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The Great Harvest of the Earth — Revelation 14:14-20

The Great Harvest of the Earth Revelation 14 14-20 ARP Church Anthony R Locke

Jesus holds Death’s sharp sickle. He wrestled it from Death after He was taken down off the cross and lay in the tomb for three days.

Jesus now has the right to determine the destination of your destiny. He alone can call a life into judgment.

All will feel the cutting sickle of death severing them from life as promised in the Garden of Eden.

Our nation celebrates this harsh truth when we sing,

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord: He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored; He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword: His truth is marching on.

His swift sword is for death and judgment. That shatters the average image of Jesus.

How should we feel about that? we should sing with gusto, Glory, glory, Hallelujah!

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The Blessings of Heaven Are Better & the Terrors of Hell Are Worse — Revelation 14:6-13

The Gospel informs us that Jesus has all authority and all power in Heaven and Earth, that the Father has given all judgment to the Son, and that the blessings of God will rain down forever upon those who place their faith in Christ.

These are the Big Promises of the Bible that are planted in Genesis and finally bloom in Revelation.

Jesus promised that it hasn’t entered our imagination how great Heaven will be for those who love God.

Sadly, it also hasn’t entered into the imaginations of men the eternal terrors that await those who reject God’s love.

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The Blessings of Heaven Are Better & the Terrors of Hell Are Worse — Revelation 14:6-13

The Big Promises of the Bible Revelation 14 6-13 ARPChurch Anthony R Locke

The Gospel informs us that Jesus has all authority and all power in Heaven and Earth, that the Father has given all judgment to the Son, and that the blessings of God will rain down forever upon those who place their faith in Christ.

These are the Big Promises of the Bible that are planted in Genesis and finally bloom in Revelation.

Jesus promised that it hasn’t entered our imagination how great Heaven will be for those who love God.

Sadly, it also hasn’t entered into the imaginations of men the eternal terrors that await those who reject God’s love.

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Do the 144,000 Have a Tattoo? — Revelation 14:1-5

Do the 144,000 Have a Tattoo Revelation 14 1-5 ARPChurch Anthony R Locke

When the 144,000 sing, it sounds like Niagara Falls multiplied by Thunder.

Heaven is more like a Monster Truck Show than a Presbyterian worship service. Cast out this idea of Heaven being quaint. Heaven will knock your socks off.

And this congregation wears the Heavenly tattoo. They are filled with moxie and bravado. Who are these 144,000?

The Jehovah Witness Church teaches that only 144,000 will be saved. Wrong answer.

Islam says that these are the 144,000 Prophets of Muhammad. No.

The Church Universal and Triumphant teaches that 144,000 souls were brought back to Earth from Venus. Not even close.

Tim LaHaye thinks that only 144,000 Jews are saved during the tribulation and that they become evangelists before the final Armageddon. Who do you think these people are?

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The False Prophet and 666 Revealed — Revelation 13:11-18

A Dragon in Religious Clothing Revelation 13 1-18 ARP Church Anthony R Locke

Why is it 666?

I am going to give you an answer that is so simple, it stretches credulity. I hope you find it beautiful in it’s simplicity.

6 is less than 7. There are 7 churches, 7 stars, 7 lamp-stands, 7 seals, 7 trumpets, 7 bowls, 7 horns. There’s the 7 days of Creation. Seven is the number of fullness, the number of completeness. We enter God’s rest on the seventh day.

To be short of seven is to be locked in the cycle of work. To be short of seven is to be incomplete. To be short of seven is to be Earthly and temporal. You are outside of God’s blessing as a six.

Humanity is a six. We are created in God’s image, but on the sixth day because we are less than God. The Dragon is a six. He is a fry short of a Happy Meal. He is a day late and a dollar short. He doesn’t measure up to God.

This Demonic Trinity will leave you empty and lost for all they have to offer is 6, 6, 6.

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No Beauty In This Beast — Revelation 13:1-10

No Beauty In This Beast Revelation 13 1-10 ARP Church Anthony R Locke

The Beast is all the nations in opposition to all that is good. All ten nations symbolize the totality of humanity involved in this rebellion, and the seven heads remind us that the Dragon is the Puppet Master.

Which is why this Beast, through the leadership of the anti-Christ and the power of the Kingdoms of the Earth, targets their anti-Christian rage against the followers of Jesus. This is a Demonic Beast who is Hell bent on the Church’s destruction.

Have you ever wondered why the world is so unified in their hostility to the Lordship of Jesus Christ? This vision answers that question.

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Do You Believe in Dragons? — Revelation 12:1-6

At a local mall is a dinner theater called Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament. Their building is made to look like an old European castle.

When my sons saw the castle for the first time I nonchalantly told them that we needed to keep our distance because the dragon inside isn’t very nice.

The car went silent.

I looked into the rear view mirror and saw their wide eyes and concerned faces. They were terrified of that Dragon!

Do you believe in Dragons? God does. In Genesis 3 God introduces a Dragon who reappears in Revelation 12 and 20.

This Dragon is the real deal. We should be terrified.

Anyone feel the need to start humming A Mighty Fortress is Our God?

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Which Politician Stood Before 65 Mill Viewers and Labeled Our National Debt Immoral? — Revelation 11:15-19

When Lot was in front of the people of Sodom, he weakened the message of the Bible so that the people would leave him and his family alone.

Churches do the same thing today. We have lowered our rhetoric against sin.

During the last presidential debate, one of the candidates said that our national debt was immoral. Even good Churches don’t talk about morality.

Maybe this is why there isn’t much persecution of believers in America.

We have stopped saying what God told us to say for our own comfort sake.

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Why Does Christmas Come Early for Those Who Hate God's Prophets? — Revelation 11:1-14

The only legal document with measurements that most of us possess is the deed to our homes. Careful measurements were made to determine exact specifications. We identify that area as our possession. God has identified His people by careful measurement.

God’s people are Commissioned to speak the sweet and bitter words of the Unsealed Scroll of Destiny.

The World will not appreciate their words and will work hard to cleanse the culture of their Christian message. When a child of God is martyred, the world celebrates like it’s Christmas. But God has the final word and calls them to their eternal home in Heaven.

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Islam Requires Christians to Act Timid and Submissive, But God Expects Truth to Look Dominant! — Revelation 10:1-11

If you lived in a Muslim country, and lived your faith in the public square, you would be required to act pensive and timid when walking down the street.

You would be forced to submit, at least as reflected in your demeanor, to the superiority of Islam.

Would you do it?

Many Christians act that way in America.

Believers act weak when confronted by those arguing for evolution, abortion and same sex marriage.

This weak demeanor is the opposite of the dominant posture modeled by the angel in Revelation 10.

What happened to our confidence when holding God’s word? We should be inspired to charge the gates of Hell, not be cowering in fear.

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Join a Network that's Bigger and Better than Facebook — Revelation 7:9-17

Facebook has almost a billion monthly members, but there is a bigger and better community that you really should join!

God has a network. By faith we get connected in a community of saints.

If you will “Like” repentance and faith, then Jesus will share the same communion with the Father that He enjoys.

Our connection with Jesus will unite us with the Father, the Spirit, believers alive today, the Church of history and the glorified Church of tomorrow.

This community of believers is the only collection of people who are enabled to stand at the last day.

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The Surprise Identity of the Sealed 144,000 — Revelation 7:1-8

Jesus told us to forgive 7 times 70, but we don’t think of 490, rather the spiritual lesson it symbolizes.

The Sealed 144,000 also holds symbolic truth. Do you know who they are?

Want a hint?

This group of people are protected from the wrath of God, but not the wrath of Satan.

They are protected from God’s condemnation for sin, but not the natural disasters at the end of the world.

Their eternal destiny is secure, but they will suffer in this life for Jesus’ sake.

They are not limited numerically to 144,000, yet God identifies them by that number.

There are battalions in twelve formations ready to die for the cause. They are soldiers of the Cross. They are beautiful in perfection, symbolized in the number twelve, and full in their assembly as symbolized in the number ten. Before reading further, who do you think they are?

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Will the World End on December 21st? — Revelation 6:12-17

If a huge meteor shower hits the Earth (verse 13), then we can only assume that other planets in our solar system will be hit by the same meteor shower, including the Sun.

This is why the Sun turns black. Let me explain.

Have you ever seen a bowl of melted steel. If it is pure then the contents of the bowl glow red hot. But if you drop impure metal into that white hot liquid steel, then the dross, the debris from the impure metal separates. The impurity then floats to the surface and forms a black crust over the molten steel until the dross burns away.

Imagine God throwing billions of tons of dirt into the hot liquid plasma of the Sun via a meteor shower. The dirt will separate, float to the surface and form a crust of debris until it burns off. This is why the sun will turn dark black like sackcloth.

When this happens to the sun the inhabitants of the Earth will understand that the end is upon them. They will understand that God has intervened to judge sinners. They will all know that Jesus is coming. They will all be asking, “Will I be able to stand?”

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The Cry of the Martyred — Revelation 6:9-11

When Jesus told the disciples about the coming destruction of the Temple and the city of Jerusalem, they asked “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?” Matthew 24:3.

Jesus answers the what, not the when.

Jesus answered, But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only Matthew 24:36.

There is a soft rebuke for their carnal calendar curiosity. If we know the when, then we might procrastinate our repentance.

Like Paul Harvey, God tells us the Rest of the Story, to encourage us when we suffer for His name sake.

Are you pouring your life out on the altar of total sacrifice for Jesus? Why not?

Do you not know what happens to the souls of the martyrs?

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The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse — Revelation 6:1-8

These four horseman fan the flame of man’s depravity to cause human suffering. I believe the suffering is cyclical and increasing as we approach the end. It started with Cain killing Abel and will end with Armageddon.

God has determined to keep humanity from being at peace on Earth while they are at war with Heaven. Worldwide suffering is a foretaste of God’s displeasure that we might be brought to repentance.

And here is the real surprise, when Jesus walked this Earth, He also bore the suffering of these four Horseman.

Jesus suffered under the hands of men in government who were Hell bent on conquering the freedom and liberty found in His message. The blood of Jesus was shed. Jesus lived a life of poverty and He died.

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The Key to Worship — Revelation 5:8-14

The ARP has a slogan that “All of Life is Worship.” How is worship being defined to fit that slogan?

David Peterson defines worship in his wonderful book, Engaging with God, quote “Worship of the living and true God is essentially an engagement with him on the terms that he proposes and in the way that he alone makes possible. I like this definition because it isn’t generic. It applies to Christian Worship specifically.

Revelation chapter 5 gives us a peek into Heavenly worship.

This chapter reveals the Key to Worship .

Worship happens when we rightly profess the identity of Jesus and then rightly respond to that profession.

Said even more succinctly: when we say, “Jesus is Lord!”, and we act accordingly, we are worshiping.

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The Search for a Legitimate Heir — Revelation 5:1-7

Imagine ripping the most important page out of your favorite novel. On that page is the pivotal event in the story when the plot culminates into one shocking moment of colorful drama.

If you haven’t read the book, if you don’t know the plot, then that page is without context and without drama. For those who know the larger narrative, that page is the game changer.

Revelation 5 is the game changer. It is the climax of the story that God started in Genesis. Jesus walks from the congregation of the people of God into the center of the Heavenly Throne to take from the Father all authority and all power over the Creation. Jesus receives His inheritance.

It is a peaceful transfer of power from the Father to the Son.

From this moment on, the reader can be assured, that all the rest of eternity will be centered around this One Divine person: Jesus the Son of God.

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Shocking Throne Room Secrets!

Lions, Bulls, Humans & Eagles . . . Oh My! The most ferocious, strongest, smartest and fastest creatures in the Creation occupy the immediate space around God’s throne.

The whole Creation bows down and gives God glory. All creatures cast back to God any glory ascribed to them.

My dad named his company “Crown” to signal he was offering his greatest career achievement in praise to God. How do you communicate that you’re living for Jesus?

Are you ready to be led by these four angels to do God’s will for the rest of eternity? God reveals shocking details about Heaven in this chapter.

The greatest shock will be for those who think Heaven is all about the saved.

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What’s at the Center of the Universe?

I watched a television series about the universe this last week narrated by Morgan Freeman. Did you know that at the center of every Galaxy, so science believes, is a Black Hole. As far as they can figure a black hole is billions, maybe trillions of stars, all collapsed into a mass the size of a baseball stadium. Maybe as small as the baseball. And the gravity is so intense that even light can’t escape it’s grasp. The same model holds true in miniature for an atom.

So if a black hole is at the center of every galaxy, then what’s at the center of the universe?

John tells us. and behold, a throne stood in Heaven, with one seated on the throne.

There is a throne at the center of the universe. This is the theme of chapter four as the word throne appears 13 times. The throne may not be visible by our modern telescopes, but it is the centerpiece of all that exists.

And the Bible tells us that this throne stands. It is active and empowered. No disinterested Deity sits on that singular throne. God didn’t complete the Creation and become bored. God didn’t wind it up and wait for the timer to ding.

At the center of the universe the Creator reigns supreme.

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What Makes Jesus Physically Upset? — the Letter to Laodicea

Just a short walk up the road was the famous natural spring waters of Colossae. Like the bubbly French spring water called Perrier, no water was cleaner, colder or more refreshing.

Also nearby was the famous hot spring waters of Hierapolis. Like an expensive spa, the water was enriched with natural minerals. It’s hot springs were medicinal and rejuvenating.

The city of Laodicea didn’t have their own water supply. They built aqueducts to bring the water in. By the time water arrived from Colossae it had turned salty and lukewarm. It wasn’t good for refreshing the animals. Residents who were native to the city were repelled by it’s taste.

Jesus says that this church leaves Him feeling the same way.

Why would Jesus say this about a church and might we be on His list of people that make Him sick?

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The Open Door Policy for Aliens & Strangers — the Letter to Philadelphia

Have you ever felt like you weren’t wanted? Like a fifth wheel? Has a religious crowd ever made you feel like a stranger? Like everyone else was extended brotherly love, but you?

Jesus promises never to let His people feel like outsiders.

Jesus will not withhold His friendliness, favor, brotherly love or praise for His faithful.

Jesus opens the door wide into Heaven for His people. In the New Jerusalem the faithful will never feel like a fifth wheel. With Jesus we will never feel like a stranger.

We might feel like an alien in this world, but when we approach Heaven, we will find an open door. We will be greeted by Jesus and the saints!

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The Church of the Living Dead — Sardis

Gospel passions build great organizations, but carelessness let’s them slide into Christian obscurity and Kingdom irrelevance.

Consider the Kingdom Mission of Harvard, Dartmouth, Princeton and Yale. Gospel passion made them grow, but carelessness left them useless for the Kingdom of Christ. The current fight within the ARP over Erskine is a work of sweat and prayer to keep our Denominational College and Seminary off the list of the spiritually irrelevant.

The Church at Sardis was fast becoming irrelevant to Christ’s Kingdom.
Evangelistic zeal had dried up. Fervent prayer was marginalized. A commitment to discipleship was replaced with commitments to programs and fruitless busy-ness.

None of these things were concerns for the Church at Sardis. They had become content with previous spiritual victories. They made their boast in their glorious history, not the Lord, and they lost Christ’s vision for their community.

They looked alive, but Jesus said they were dead. They had a reputation for being alive, but they were spiritually dead. They were the church of the living dead.

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The Deep Things of Satan . . . in the Church of Thyatira

Christians in Thyatira felt pressure from the trade guilds. We would call them Unions.

Imagine yourself living in Chicago as an electrician. If you are willing to join a Union and vote for the local politicians then you’re fine.

But let’s say you’re a Tea Party radical and a conservative political activist. Could you get employment as an electrician in Chicago?

The Unions in Thyatira were teaching immoral and corrupting values. Each guild worshipped a deity who promised financial success and good health.

Worship was like a Mardi Gras Party. The guilds sponsored immoral festivals like what you might see in Rio de Janeiro. Union members were expected to participate or possibly lose their benefits.

Christians faced a huge dilemma. They could attend these festivals and eat the meat offered to the idols, or boycott the festivals and damage their careers. Some Christians did speak out and call the society to repentance. Others, within the church, argued that participation was fine. Jesus calls these church people Jezebels.

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Can We Negotiate a Ceasefire with Satan? — Revelation 2:12-17

Abraham Kuyper said that, “There is not a square inch in heaven or on earth or under the earth in which there is peace between Christ and Satan.”

Jesus said that Satan lived in Pergamum. Does Satan dwell in your town?

You can tell be answering this question — “Do your neighbors publicly express their animosity toward God without shame?”

Is homosexuality celebrated? Are cults and witchcraft treated as acceptable religious options? Does the culture treat abortion as a morally neutral decision? Is living together without the benefit of marriage considered moral? Is pornographic material readily available?

How much animosity against God can citizens flaunt without being shunned? Can people be publically sinful and not become social outcasts?

Answering these questions will measure the level at which Satan is allowed to feel at home within your own community.

Do you help Satan feel comfortable by going along to get along? Have you lost your saltiness? Have you negotiated a ceasefire with Satan to protect your own skin? Jesus calls this the error of Balaam.

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Suffering, the Smyrna Church and their AD 155 Pamphlet on the Martyrdom of Polycarp

There are a quarter of a billion Christians living under intense persecution right now. 200,000 are martyred every year for their Christian witness.

Their death is heartbreaking, but from God’s perspective, it’s like graduating summa cum laude, meaning “with highest honor.”

Jesus dictated a letter through John to the Church to remind them to get ready for the trouble.

What might cause trouble for Christians in America?

Might we face persecution for not embracing Darwinism as an Educator? That already happens.

Might we be accused of committing a hate crime if we call homosexuals sinners? That already happens.

Might we be fired and told we were not “team players” for confronting lies in corporate marketing materials? That also already happens.

So what does Jesus say about our suffering? It’s like we are making deposits into our 401k account. One day Jesus will make sure we cash in.

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"Oh, How I Loved Jesus" — Are We Much Different Than the Church of Ephesus?

Yesterday my wife told me she was in love with me, and my response was, “I love you too.” A few minutes later she asked me about my response. She pointed out that she loves her brothers, but she isn’t in love with her brothers.

She wanted to know if I was still in love with her. Jesus begins his conversation with the Church on this personal level.

It’s a love conversation. Awkward. Peter denied three times on the night of Jesus’ crucifixion that he even knew Jesus. So after the resurrection, Jesus asked if Peter loved Him. Peter said he was only fond of Jesus. So Jesus asked again.

Now Jesus is having the same conversation with us.
I remember when a girl told me she loved me, yet I didn’t respond with the same level of commitment and enthusiasm. Eight hours later we ended a two year dating relationship.

That’s the way Jesus starts His conversation with His Bride. Jesus says, “You’re not in love with your husband anymore.”

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Do the Catacomb Paintings of Jesus Help Us Imagine His Likeness at His Second Coming?

Before Christianity was accepted by Constantine, the saints buried Christians along the walls of tunnels in what we call catacombs. Most major cities in the Roman empire have large sprawling catacombs underneath them. The city of Rome has over 4 million Christians buried underground in this fashion within 600 miles of tunnels.

The family often decorated the tombs. We do the same with carved headstones and occasional flowers. They often painted a portrait of Christ, or a fish, or bread and grapes, or bread and fish, or the Good Shepherd, or a cross.

Early Christians knew what Jesus looked like. They saw His face every time they greeted Him. Artists of the day could have easily been employed to paint His picture on a stone used to seal up a tomb in the catacombs. And in fact this was often done.

Obviously, our relationship with Jesus is not enhanced by our ability to rightly frame His earthly image in our head, but, might our worship be enhanced by rightly framing a heavenly image in our head?

Revelation 1:9-20 encourages us to do just that.

So what does this image look like?

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The Book of Revelation Ends the Same for Everyone — God says, "Checkmate!"

The only memory I have of my mom’s dad is playing chess in the basement of his home during the holidays. He owned a split level home. We played in the downstairs next to the fireplace.

My grandfather was American Indian. He had the jet black hair and flat nose to match. He was a striking man to see. And he never let me beat him in chess. He always won.

As I reflect on those memories I find comfort in his winning. Occasionally, I would think I was getting the upper hand. But in the end it was always checkmate. He was always in control.

I am glad I didn’t have the ability to out-think my grandfather. I am glad he always won.

That’s what God is telling us in Revelation. You may think God is not in control, but in the end it is checkmate for everybody. Jesus wins. God gets the glory, and things work out for our benefit.

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