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Survey of the New Testament

Final Thoughts on Revelation and Where do we go from here?

I.  Introduction:

 Tonight I want to try to consider three different issues.  First, I want to finish our look at the four major views of the Millennium from the book of Revelation.  Following that, I want to give some concluding thoughts to our survey of the Old and New Testaments.  Last, in preparation for next Sunday night, I want to talk about our upcoming Advent services in our Church.  Thus, tonight is somewhat of a hodge-podge of thoughts, but hopefully it will help us bring some things together and better transition to Advent.

II.  The Millennium (continued)

 A.  Historic Premillennialism (final thoughts): I told you last week that even though this view has some difficulties, I still would find myself in this camp currently.  One final issue that I failed to mention last week is the number of passage which seem to refer to a time that is not like the present state and not yet the eternal state.  These passages include: Isaiah 11:6-9, 65:20, Psalm 72, Zechariah 14:5-17. 1   Look at Psalm 72 with me, particularly verses 8-14.  These verses speak of a time that is not the present state and not yet the future state, thus the Millennium.  Again, although not all of my questions about the Millennium are answered, at this point I do think that Historic Premillennialism does the best with Revelation 20:1-6 and many other passages as well.

 B.  Dispensational (or Pretribulational Premillennialism): The main difference between this view and Historic Premil. practically speaking is that Christ will rapture the Church prior to the time of great tribulation on the earth.  Following the ‘secret’ return of Christ, those who are left behind will face seven years (based on Daniel 9:24-27) of severe tribulation on the earth.  After the seven years, Christ will return to reign with believers on the earth for 1,000 years.  Satan will be loosed at the end of the Millennium only to finally be defeated and thrown into the lake of fire.  The resurrection of unbelievers will then occur and the final judgment.  Along with these differences concerning Christ’s return, the Dispensational view also sees a clear distinction between the Church and Israel.  They maintain that the promises made to Israel in the Old Testament will be literally fulfilled during the Millennium.  My struggle with this view is two-fold.  First, I do not think that the Bible teaches that the Church will be removed from the earth ‘secretly’ prior to the Great Tribulation.  Rather, the rapture will occur when Christ comes at the last trumpet, which will not be secret or quiet.  Likewise, many passages talk about the Church going through times of severe tribulation (see Matthew 24, Luke 21, 2 Timothy 3, and others).  Second, I do not agree with the Dispensationalist approach in general.  Their view of a hard distinction between the Church and Israel is not faithful to Paul’s teaching in Galatians.  Likewise, the seven dispensations are somewhat of a strange way to interpret the Scriptures and history in general.  Thus, I do not hold to this view.

 C.  Conclusion: I recognize that there are many questions that I have not even mentioned concerning the book of Revelation.  Yet, again my goal is to consider the book in general and not all the specific questions that it raises.  At the end of the day, I am reminded of a story that my New Testament Survey professor told me in college concerning the book of Revelation.  He said that when he was in seminary, a particular group from the seminary decided to take a survey about the book of Revelation.  One person they interviewed was a local barber.  They asked him what the book of Revelation taught us.  He answered simply: “God wins in the end.”  Although this is an oversimplification of the book, we must realize that if we get too far from this truth in trying to understand Revelation, then we have missed the point.  The book should not be divisive or controversial to Christians as much as it should be a rallying point for our belief in the reign of our Sovereign God.  May it call us to rejoice and take hope in the God who will win in the end.  Amen.

III.  Where do we go from here?

 We have now covered briefly every book of the Bible in our survey.  Does this mean that the task is over?  Of course not, our study of the Bible is a lifetime task because we constantly want to be growing in our relationship with God through Christ and we do this through the Word.  Yet, sometimes we struggle in getting started.  Let me offer just a couple of thoughts to hopefully help you in your continual study of the Word.  First, develop a plan for your continued reading of the Word.  There are many reading plans out there and most of them are good.  One of the best approaches I have found so far was developed by Robert Murray M’Cheyne.  His plan, like many others, starts you in four different places in the Bible and is great for reading the Bible in a year. 

D. A. Carson in his devotional book For the Love of God (Crossway Books, 1998) follows M’Cheyne’s plan and would be a great book to follow through the year.  Also, if reading four chapters or more in one day is too much, as I have said before, you could do your best just to follow along with me as I preach through books of the Bible.  Each day as you read you could focus on different questions like: what is the main point of the passage, how is the main point supported in the text, what does the passage teach about Christ, how can I apply this passage to my own life, and how could I teach this passage to others?  These questions could guide you through different texts each week.  Again, there are so many ways to approach reading the Bible, so you just need to choose one and begin.  If your reading of the text seems stale at this point, then maybe trying another approach will be helpful, but do not give up on reading the Bible and do not fail to have a plan.  

 Second, read the Bible expecting to learn, expecting to be challenged and changed, expecting to find Christ on every page.  This is so important.  Do not read the Bible because you think you have it all figured out, rather, read the Bible because you know that you don’t have it all figured out.  Always remind yourself that you are reading to be conformed more and more into the image of your Savior.  He is the point.  His glory is our goal, so read to that end.

IV.  Preparing for our Advent Services:

 A.  Introduction: As we did last year, we will have four Advent services this year to celebrate the coming of Christ.  These services will begin next Sunday night (December 3rd) and will continue the over the next two Sunday nights (December 10th and 17th) with our final Advent service being on Sunday morning, December 24th.  This year our theme for our Advent celebration will be Jesus is our Prophet, Priest, and King.  Thus, each week we will focus on one of these three offices of Christ (3rd- Prophet, 10th- Priest, 17th- King) and we will conclude on Sunday the 24th by considering how we should respond to such a Savior.  If you are still wondering what Advent is, I encourage you to talk with Barry about getting the resources that he made available last year for this purpose.

 B.  Elements for our Services:

  1.  Jesse Tree:  Last year we participated in making a Jesse Tree, which is meant to focus on Christ as our Redeemer, who came from the root of Jesse (see Isaiah 11:1-5).  This year, following our theme, I want to encourage all parents with children to talk with their children each week about the particular office we are studying and to help them in making an ornament pertaining to that office that can be hung on our Jesse Tree.  We will take time each night for our children to hang their ornaments on the tree and tell us what they have made.  For assistance and ideas, please refer to the handout.  I cannot encourage you parents enough to take advantage of this opportunity to help your children focus on Christ during this season.
  2.  Special Music: We will also have times of special music each night that goes along with our theme.  I realize that finding a song about Jesus being our prophet will be somewhat difficult, so I am open to suggestions.  Yet, in the end, I want this to be an opportunity to worship Christ in a way that we may not normally do (like the Wallace’s playing of ‘O Come, O Come Immanuel’ last year).  So, if you may be interested in that then you can talk with me.
  3.  Lighting of the Advent Candles: each night we will light candles and read passages during our services.  If you and your family would be interested in this part of the service, then you can come and talk with me about that as well.

 C.  Conclusion: In the end I want these services to be times where our Church family comes together and spends intentional time focusing on the coming of Christ as our Savior and His future return to gather His Bride.  As we said last year, we encourage you to do this in your homes as well.  In closing, I ask you all to spend some time praying for our services this year that God would grant us favor as we come to worship His Son and to thank Him for putting on flesh to redeem a people to Himself.  Amen.

1 Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994), 1127-30.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Monday, 04 December 2006 )

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