Week Two – John’s Epistles & Apocalyptic Vision
As you work through John’s epistles I want to draw your attention to one very important feature. John loves establishing a vital doctrinal point––in the case of 1 John this is the doctrine of Christ’s Incarnation––and then imploring his listeners to live out the practical implications of that doctrine. God has come in the flesh, so love your brother. The Gospel is that Jesus is God’s Son—our only hope of eternal life and the only propitiation for our sin—so refuse to believe antichrist’s false Gospel. God, through Christ, dwells in us; so rest in that assurance. Doctrine and love are not at odds for John, but the truths of the Apostles’ doctrine form the basis for our fellowship with God and with those He has begotten.
Revelation is perhaps the most fervently debated book of the Bible, and one thing we often skip right over is found right at the beginning. It is a Revelation of Jesus Christ (Rev. 1:1) and is for our blessing (Rev. 1:3). Christ is being revealed as the great conqueror and King of the cosmos, and this is to bolster the faith and confidence of His servants, even in the face of apocalyptic disasters and trials. In Rushdoony’s commentary on Revelation he makes this salient point: “For too many people, the purpose of any reading of Revelation is to enable them to walk by sight. They demand a chart telling them what to expect and how to walk in full and open sight. But the calling of the Christian is to walk by faith, and the purpose of Revelation is to strengthen us against the enemy, prepare us to do battle, and to walk in the faith that our Lord will triumph, that the great work He has begun, He will accomplish (Thy Kingdom Come, pg 214).”
A couple things to keep in mind as you trace through the disorienting maze which Revelation can sometimes be, there is an echo of the Exodus story throughout: the plagues upon Egypt are paralleled by the cycles of judgement upon Jerusalem––spiritual Egypt. As God delivered the Israelites from Egypt with a mighty hand and outstretched arm, He is now delivering True Israel (i.e. believing Jews & Gentiles) from spiritual Egypt (i.e. Jerusalem). Let me make a shameless plug here for you to read through Pastor Doug’s current series of blogposts where he is working through Revelation. Really helpful and insightful stuff there.
As always, don’t forget that the point of reading the Word of God is communion with the Living God. It is food after all. And furthermore, the Word is edible food, it isn’t gravel. You’ve made it through one week, now on to week two and beyond!