New Testament

The Structure of Revelation

Survey of suggested structures of Revelation

The clearest evidence of structure, which is universally recognized is in the sequences of seven. Four of these are explicit:

  • Seven letters to churches (2:1–3:22)
  • Seven seals (6:1–8:1)
  • Seven trumpets (8:2–11:19)
  • Seven plagues/bowls (15:1–16:21)

In addition it is often recognized that seven visions of warfare can be identified in 12:1–14:20. (There are some minor variations of where some of the divisions are placed.)

Many have gone on to divide the last six chapters into two more sequeneces of seven, making a total of seven sevens. This can be visualized pictorially in a chart (pdf).

Chart of the Structure of Revelation

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The Gospel Pt.5 - How do we Preach Repentance Today?

The command to repent is right at the core of the Gospel message preached in the New Testament, but repentance sits very ill with today’s self-righteous society. Three possible approaches are:

  1. Concentrate on preaching to those with obvious moral failings
  2. Spend time going into more and more detail about the required perfection in our thought life etc.
  3. Edit repentance out of our Gospel

Unwilling to limit the gospel to the obviously immoral (a), to focus on moralism (b) or to change the Gospel (c), I want to find a way of convicting people of their most important sin—failure to love and acknowledge God as their creator and Lord.

The second target I want to hit is the politically correct pluralism that says: “I am not against your god—he is fine for you. I am not his enemy, I am just neutral in this whole god debate.”

The reality is that we are either for God or against him. But how do you convince people of that?

My suggestion is an approach in which we start with what God is doing—He is involved in a cosmic struggle to root out every form of evil and injustice in the universe. Given this situation, not to be on God’s side is actually to help his enemies.

This is especially true when you consider that the forces of evil are united by one thing: Denial of God’s rights as their Lord.

So if you do not acknowledge God, then you are siding with his enemies

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Gospel Pt.4 - Should we give our testimony instead of preaching the Gospel?

Paul is arrested in Jerusalem by the Roman soldiers. As he is being carried away he says to the captain, “I beg you, permit me to speak to the people.” (Acts 21:39)

Remarkably, Paul is given permission. “Paul, standing on the steps, motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great hush, he addressed them in the Hebrew language, saying:”

What will he say? Now is his opportunity to preach Christ and him crucified.

…but no! Instead, Paul gives his testimony!! What on earth was he thinking?

I recently listened to a podcast from the White Horse Inn about how inappropriate it is to give one’s testimony when presenting the Gospel. One of the speakers said

“My story may be interesting but it has nothing to do with the Biblical Gospel”

So why did Paul not take this golden opportunity to preach “the Biblical Gospel” but instead told his story. Actually it is worse that that—Paul’s testimony is actually repeated no less than three times in Acts. Luke gives it to us, and then Paul tells it on two occasions rather than giving a more cross-centred Gospel message.

So why does Paul do this? The answer is very simple: first and foremost Jesus tells us to be witnesses.

The biblical scholar, Professor A. A. Trites, looked at all the Greek terms in the New Testament used to refer to evangelism and came to the conclusion that the word translated as ‘witness’ or ‘testimony’ occurs more often that all the others put together. He published this in an excellent book entitled The New Testament Concept of Witness.

The book was later republished in a popular format as New Testament Witness in Today's World and in it he states, that the group of related “witness” words appear over two hundred times in the New Testament (p.9)

Paul didn’t just spin an interesting yarn. His testimonies were very focused. If you compare the account that Luke gives us together with Paul’s two accounts, some valuable insights can be gained into Paul’s strategy.

Your main evangelistic responsibility as a Christian is simply to be a witness to Jesus and what he has done for you.

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The Gospel Pt3 - The Preaching of Paul to Pagans

We have several detailed accounts of Paul preaching the Gospel. It is very interesting to see how different his message is when he is preaching to pagan Gentiles as compared with his message to Jews.

The two occasions are:

  • Acts 14:8-20 at Lystra
  • Acts 17:16-34 at Athens

It is quite remarkable how similar these two sermons are. I have laid the two passages out in parallel here: Paul preaching to pagan Gentiles--Acts 14 and 17 laid out in parallel.

Here are some observations:

  • Both contexts describe an idolatry that is excessive to the point of being ridiculous
  • There is no reference to the Old Testament Scriptures at all
  • Paul particularly addresses their context and meets them where they are
  • Both the Lystrans and the Athenians mis-interpreted Paul’s statements by interpreting them within their own framework
    • To quote Cornelius Van-Til:
      We must surely do what Paul did, tear our garment when men would weave our message into the systems of thought which men have themselves devised. We must set the message of the cross into the framework into which Paul set it... the doctrines of creation, providence and the consummation of history in the final judgement.
  • One of Paul’s main concerns is to distinguish himself radically from this conception and to show that the God he proclaims is utterly outside their own framework.
  • In both cases it was the idolatry that provided a point of contact for Paul.
  • In both cases, Paul appeals to two witnesses to substantiate his preaching. They are the same in each case and are:
    1. the creative work of God,
    2. his providential care.
  • How does Paul’s example help us in our own efforts to preach the Gospel to a largely pagan society? I believe Paul is very helpful to us.
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The Gospel Pt.2 - The Preaching of Peter

The first example of Gospel preaching after the cross was that of Peter. We have five examples of his preaching recorded in Acts.

  • Two to the crowds in Jerusalem, explaining miracles that had just happened
  • Two in front of councils after he was arrested
  • Finally, one to Cornelius’s household

What is remarkable about these five sermons is that they all have the same outline! In Gospel preaching in Acts: The preaching of Peter I have put all five in parallel and examined the similarities and differences.

I took a somewhat different approach when I preached this, focussing on the second of the five addresses, and thinking about how we can follow Peter’s example in a day when such dramatic miracles are not as common.

Brief notes and audio are here: The Gospel Pt2--The Preaching of Peter

Preaching The Gospel, New Testament Fashion

What is the Gospel?

Back when I was in my early 20’s a friend asked me how she could become a Christian. I thought I had all the answers and had read all the best Reformed books, but was frustrated at the questions she kept coming up with. There seemed to be a mis-match between the books I read and how it was done in the New Testament.

Years later, when I came to do my M.Div thesis, I thought “this is a chance to really come to grips with this question.” I narrowed the subject down to Gospel Preaching in Acts and systematically analysed the contents of the book.

  • I found there were 49 places where there was explicit or implicit preaching of the Gospel
  • I narrowed the list down to places where there was substantial content recorded and was left with:
    • 5 addresses by Peter
    • 2 addresses by Stephen and Philip
    • 7 addresses by Paul
  • I was surprised by:
    • the remarkably strong patterns of similarities between these messages
    • and how they differed from preaching today
    • for example, Peter could not preach without the resurrection being one of his points
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Response to "the polite cessationist"

First, thank you for your sincere response! I am going to respond back to you point by point. I appreciate also the comments of RB.

  1. How do you know this voice was from God? Is there not a philosophical-statistical possibility that this is from Satan or a demon that is trying to get this man’s thoughts away from Christ and his promises in the Word by glorying not in the person and work of Jesus Christ but rather in a subjective supernatural experience ? Surely you must logically see that there is somewhat of a chance philosophically speaking.
    • If we look at cold statistics, people do on occasion think God speaks to them. However, Mary had been dying for several months so for the voice to be accurate to within 2 minutes would be highly unlikely to be a co-incidence but not totally impossible.
    • Richard is not a charismatic and attends a cessationist church, so this makes him imagining it even more unlikely.
    • However, Jesus tells us to judge prophecy by the fruit. (Matt 7:15f) The fruit was that Richard:
      • has great joy and peace (fruits of the Spirit) as a result
      • has continued to give glory to God over the events
    • I am concerned that you place the Word in opposition to subjective experience as if we can have one or the other.
      • Jesus promised the Spirit as a comforter.
      • If our relationship with God has no subjective component, it is mere knowledge and we do not know Christ.
  2. Were there other person’s in the room who heard it?
    • It was not audible. Richard said “God spoke it to my heart”
    Thus to be PRECISE every time the Bible talks about the voice of the Lord is it not actually the voice of the Lord rather an Angel who is sent on God’s behalf to speak for Him.
    • What about when Jesus appeared to Ananias (Acts 9:10f) and Paul (Acts 18:8f)?
  3. If this was a true revelation from God then of what use is it to the church. How does it benefit the global church?
    • The prophetic words given in Acts 15:32 were for the purpose of “encouraging and strengthening” some individual brothers. If their words were relevant to the global church then God would have caused them to have been recorded in the Scriptures. Genuine New Testament prophecy sometimes had only a local purpose.
    • How does this make one more holy?
      • This is an excellent question and is the right one to ask. Richard has not stopped praising God for what he has done and giving him glory. He has also received peace through the events. These sound like fruits of the Spirit to me.
    • It sounds alike an attempt of Satan to create spiritual pride
      • I am sure that there is a great danger of gifts producing spiritual pride, but let us not forget that it is the spiritual gift of knowledge that Paul singles out in 1 Cor 11 as sometimes leading to being “puffed up” Yet of course that would not lead us to deny the value of spiritual knowledge!
      • the same logic would lead us to say that the gifting of a Bible scholar is a result of Satan’s work because it could lead to pride
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Light and Life Community Chapel

Last Sunday we were staying in a cottage in the Bruce Peninsula and visited Light and Life Community Chapel, Tobermory.

Tobermory Church Location: Tobermory (Bruce Peninsula)
Address: 7347 Hwy 6, ON, Canada
Google map: link to map
Sunday Meeting: 9:30am
Pastor: Jerry Clubine
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (519) 596-2939
Cell: (519) 379-1689
Affiliation: PAOC
Website: lightandlifecommunitychapel.nexo.com/

The Pastor, Jerry Clubine, was preaching on Matthew 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” He pointed out that poverty is usually considered a bad thing, so how can Jesus say it is blessed?

The answer is in how we define what it means to be poor in spirit. What Jesus is talking about is a recognition that we do not have what we need by ourselves, but need God to give us a “download” of his spiritual filling. The poverty is a recognition of need.

I think this was an excellent explanation of the text, but I had a couple of thoughts about it afterwards that I would liked to have been able to discuss with Jerry.

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Fundamental Structures in Paul

I remember coming across this phrase as a section heading in Paul, an Outline of his theology by Herman Ridderbos. It was so exciting to read and I felt as if whole vistas of understanding were opened up to me.

That book together with Resurrection and Redemption by Richard Gaffin are two books that have made the biggest impact on me in my understanding of the Apostle Paul.

I imagine these concepts like a great range of underwater mountains that penetrate the surface of the ocean as groups of islands. In the same way, once you grasp Paul's underlying framework, you can see it poking through in numerous places in his letters.

For me, one of the most fundamental of the fundamental structures is Paul's teaching on the "Two Worlds", or if you prefer, "Two Aeons". Jesus leaves the old, entering the tomb and then is raised a new being. We follow by virtue of being united with him. This my picture of how I think of it:

The Two Worlds/Aeons

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What it means to live under the New Covenant

Last Sunday evening I spoke at TACF on the subject of "What it means to live under the New Covenant" as part of their "Equipping series". Of all the subjects I speak on, this is probably the one that is most important and foundational for the Christian. It is also one that I get very excited about.

I have uploaded the video to Youtube:

If the above video does not play smoothly for you try the following link:

Please don't be offended at the way I have involved the audience in role-playing some of the scenes. I am not trying to be disrespectful to God, I just feel that there is much more of an impact when people are more involved.

All my notes (fairly detailed), illustrations and Scripture passages are at loveintruth.com/newcovenant - What it means to live under the New Covenant

The video can also be downloaded to your computer from the following links:

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