Archive for the ‘Kingdom of God’ Category


Maybe you’ve seen it as a comment on a social media post – it’s the word “this!” It expresses hearty agreement with something that has been said. After I read Revelation 4:5-11, I could have circled it and “This!” next to it.

Out from the throne came flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God; and before the throne there was something like a sea of glass, like crystal; and in the center and around the throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind. The first living creature was like a lion, the second creature like a calf, the third creature had a face like that of a man, and the fourth creature was like a flying eagle. And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say,

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.”

And when the living creatures give glory, honor, and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and they will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

“Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.”

We see a vision of the throne of God in heaven with angelic creatures and all of His redeemed worshipping.

This is what we wait for.

This is what we work for, as God in His mercy chooses to use us.

This is what we want.

This is what we know will happen – because God cannot be thwarted!

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This morning I had the privilege of hearing Pastor Rick Elzinga preach on John 19:16-30. Here is a summary of his sermon in one sentence: The death of Jesus, as John describes it, proclaims Jesus as king, shows that what happened was part of God’s plan, that Jesus perfectly obeyed His Father, and that He fulfilled the task given to Him by His Father.

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I had the privilege this morning of hearing Pastor Rick Elzinga preach on John 19:1-16. Here is a summary of his sermon in one sentence: Jesus Christ was, and will be, recognized as King even by those who don’t believe in Him or submit to Him – what should be the response of those who believe and submit?

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I had the privilege this morning of hearing Pastor Rick Elzinga preach on Psalm 8. Here is a summary of his sermon in the space of one sentence: This who are in Jesus Christ are blessed to have Him as our representative in the Father’s plan of restoring all things.

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This morning I had the privilege of preaching on Philippians 1:12-14. What follows is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: The gospel advances because of suffering – non-believers hear the gospel and believers are encouraged and strengthened.

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I had the privilege of preaching on 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 this morning. A one-sentence summary of my sermon is: God’s design for gender and sexuality is being restored in those whom He has graciously saved and who are in the process of being sanctified.

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I had the privilege this morning of preaching on John 18:28-40. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: When Pontius Pilate asked, “What is truth?” he didn’t know He was face-to-face with truth incarnate-Jesus Christ.

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I had the privilege this morning of preaching on John 17:20-26. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: The Lord Jesus prays for unity, presence with Him in heaven, and faithfulness to His mission for His church.

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“May you live in interesting times.” That Chinese proverb could be seen as a blessing or a curse depending on how we perceive it. As Christians in the United States in 2016, we live in interesting times. It doesn’t matter if we asked for it or not (or want it or not), it’s the truth. Erick Erickson make this statement in You Will Be Made to Care:

Each of us is going to have to choose – believe in Christ’s teachings or the world’s teachings, but either way you will be made to care. Jesus himself said it: “No one can serve two masters…” (Matt. 6:24). For far too long, Christians in America have been able to coast in peace on the faith fumes of yesterdays believers. But a peaceful people is seldom a religious people. And coasting can only take you one direction – downhill. It has been said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” We tend to change direction in life for one of two reasons. Either a crisis forces us to make a move, or our own vision for a better life pulls us in a new direction. Christians in America have lost our internal drive to grow our faith – because we haven’t had to. Because everything still looked okay on the outside, we thought we could afford to drift. We were wrong. The culture that we live in will no longer permit Christians to remain invisible, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing for the Kingdom of Heaven, even thought it may be briefly painful for believers in America.

Believers need to remember that our faith and loyalty to God are distinct from our love for our country. Not always incompatible, but different. And Christians may soon need to choose between the two as they are accused of being freaks and enemies of the state, of upending the social order of the secular elite. There’s going to have to be a resurgence in orthodox belief and boldness among believers so we can say we are Christians first and Americans second. The Judeo-Christian foundation we once shared with most people in our culture is no longer there. Russell Moore correctly notes that we can no longer make the assumption that people share what we believe. “There was a time when Christians could assume that most people in American culture agreed with us on values, if not on gospel. Even the way that some Christians engaged [culture] was to say, ‘This is not the real America. These are just some elites in Hollywood or somewhere else.’ Well, looking around now, those issues that were once wedge issues for the Right are now wedge issues for the Left in almost every category – on marriage, on sexuality, on marijuana, on drug use, on all of these sorts of things.”

Yes, the winds of change are blowing, and the changes do not necessarily favor the comfort of individual believers. Like countless Christians who’ve gone before us, we might wish we could avoid the war on our freedom to believe, but that choice is not ours to make. As Gandalf noted in The Lord of the Rings, we do not get to choose the battles of our time: “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

(pp. 206-207, italics in original)

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Why did Jesus teach in parables? That’s a good question, but the answer is not as clear as you might think. First of all, Jesus didn’t always use parables (or stories) when He taught. He only taught in parables after He was rejected by the Jewish leadership (mainly the Pharisees) who claimed He performed His miracles by the power of Satan. Second of all, the Lord Jesus didn’t teach in parables to make it easier for His hearers to understand. He taught in parables in order to hide His teaching from those who had rejected Him, and for those with ears to hear, they illustrate and clarify the truth.

John MacArthur makes those points well, and persuasively, in his book Parables: The Mysteries of God’s Kingdom Revealed Through the Stories Jesus Told. MacArthur provides what we’ve come to expect from him – a precise and thorough treatment of Scripture that’s both informative and challenging. Most of all, it’s faithful to Scripture.

Parables isn’t an exhaustive study of all of Jesus’ parables, but it does cover a number of them. The lessons drawn are timeless and much needed in today’s American church. I can recommend this book without any reservations whatsoever. Tolle lege!

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