Friday, March 25, 2011


“The book of Revelation is a work of fiction describing how a truly vicious God would bring about the end of the world. No half-smart religious person actually believes the book of Revelation. Such were the recent “worldly-wise” musings of Lawrence O’Donnell of MSNBC News.

Denial of God’s pending judgment is nothing new. The Apostle Peter warned us head of time regarding such declarations. 2 Peter 3:3-7, “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation. For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water. But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.”

Lawrence is gravely mistaken regarding the nature of the God that we serve. The writer of the book of Revelation, the Apostle John, was the same man who declared “God is love” (1 John 4:16). Likewise, it was he who wrote “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). John was so convinced of the truths of which he spoke that he was willing to suffer great persecution for them (Rev. 1:9).

It is becoming ever more popular for men, even evangelicals, to deny the truth of God’s pending judgment. Hell and judgment have never been popular truths. But they must be understood in the broader context of what the Bible teaches about God. God is the creator of all things (2 Pet. 3:5). He is holy and just (Isa. 6:3; Heb. 12:29). Man is sinful by nature and practice (Col. 1:21; Eph. 2:1-3). God’s justice demands that sin be punished (Rom. 2:2; Jude 15). The wages--deserved punishment--of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). God--in His love, grace, and mercy—has provided for our salvation through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8; Tit. 3:4-5). He “died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet. 3:18). Those who trust in Christ for salvation are saved (Acts 16:31; Rom. 10:9; Eph. 2:8-9; John 3:36). Those who refuse to obey the gospel “will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thess. 1:9). At a future time, God will bring a judgment upon this world--“the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men”--that will be characterized by the great calamities spoken of in the book of Revelation.

The book of Revelation promises a blessing to those who read and hear and heed “the words of the prophecy” (Rev. 1:3). Many years ago my uncle Frank, current Pastor of Edgewood Bible Church, was reading the book of Revelation. His brother Bob had been sharing with him of his need to trust in Christ for salvation. Reading of God’s pending judgment frightened Frank to such an extent that he was compelled to reconsider the Savior of whom Bob spoke. Frank trusted in Jesus and his life was transformed. Since that day he has been privileged to lead countless others to do the same.

Lawrence’s perspective reminds me of what happened to Harry Truman. Before Mt. St. Helens erupted a warning went out to all those in the vicinity of their urgent need to leave the mountain. Harry Truman refused to evacuate. The mountain erupted in a tremendous explosion equal in power to that of 500 atomic bombs. Scientists think that Harry probably had time only to turn his head when the mountain erupted. Moments later Spirit Lake was buried by landslides and mudflows. It is supposed that his body lies deep in the mountain--about 150 feet under the present lake.

Denying God’s pending judgment won’t stop it from happening. God has warned us ahead of time. He “is not slow about His promise…but is patient...not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up” (2 Pet. 3:9-10). Smart people not only believe in the book of Revelation, they believe in Christ, “who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10).

Pastor Jerry

Thursday, March 3, 2011


“Do not quarrel on the journey” (Gen. 45:24). Joseph admonished his brothers with these words as they departed from Egypt for Canaan. He knew something about their nature. They had a propensity for angry disputes--that’s what the word “quarrel” means.

Joseph’s counsel to his brothers is good counsel for us all. A similar admonition is found in Phil. 2:14, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” God has likewise spoken to us—“Do not quarrel on the journey.”

We are prone to do it. The two year old doesn’t have to be taught to fight over toys. The kids in the back seat on a long trip are prone to quarrel over insignificant matters. We, as humans, don’t need to be taught to quarrel—it is in our Adamic DNA. Cain murdered his brother Abel--mankind has been quarreling ever since.

“What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have so you commit murder. And you are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel” (James 4:1-2). The fountainhead of quarrels is our lusts. The lust of the flesh (to do), the lust of the eyes (to have), and the boastful pride of life (to be) give rise to many quarrel causing concerns. To do, to have, to be—these desires lie at the heart of all quarrels. The flesh demands satisfaction of these desires, whatever the cost—even if it leads to angry disputes and destruction of relationships.

And the flesh will do anything to get want it wants. “The deeds of the flesh are…enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying…“ (Gal. 5:20-21). Such sins are a recipe for spiritual disaster in a life, in a marriage, or in a church.

God has saved us, in part, to rescue us from ourselves. He has so worked through His Son to reconcile us to Himself and to one another (Eph. 2:16). He has indwelt us with His Spirit such that we may “through love, serve one another” (Gal. 5:13). He is at work to transform us from our old selfish and demanding ways, into the selfless and giving nature of Christ. In Christ, relationships can and do work. The servant-minded believer, the loving marriage, the love-filled church all testify to the power of Christ to save and transform.

Joseph’s brothers didn’t have any reason to quarrel on the journey. He had sent them on their way with “ten donkeys loaded with the best things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain and bread and sustenance” (Gen. 45:23). They were well provided for. Not only that, their brother was the Prime Minister of Egypt. “The best of the land of Egypt” (Gen. 45:20) had been promised to them.

Likewise the believer in Christ has been blessed beyond measure with all that is needful for the journey of life. He has “granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3). He has “blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3). Rom. 8:32 likewise assures us: “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” Why argue over crumbs that fall from the table if you have been served a bounteous feast? In the person of Christ Himself we have “unfathomable riches” (Eph. 3:8). Why quarrel then over pennies?

Mary Estabrook, now with Jesus in heaven, once shared with me how she had served in WW2 as a nurse and witnessed many unspeakable horrors. That experience changed her henceforth—as a mother she forbade her children from quarreling with each other. In so doing she left behind a wonderful legacy. You have the freedom to quarrel now, with others, if you choose. Your joy (in the journey) and your testimony (along the way) will, of course, be diminished. But one day the journey will end and it will end in a place where all quarreling will cease. What a glorious place that will be! Let’s not quarrel on the journey—we need to learn to get along--we’re going to be together for a long time!

Pastor Jerry