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Gems in the book of Revelation
Part 125 - Revelation 1:9-20
A Portrait of Jesus
 

We do not know what Jesus looked like. Paintings, by Westerners, show him as a tall Nordic type, broad shouldered, blond and blue eyed. All of which is very unlikely. If we may guess what he looked like he was probably fairly small by modern standards, dark skinned, with black hair and dark brown eyes. It will have been his personality rather than his size that enabled him to walk through a crowd intent on lynching him (Luke 4: 30). I hope by now you are saying to yourself something like ‘so what, does it matter’. Of course, it doesn’t.

So when John wants to tell us what Jesus was like he says something quite different:

 

“and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire.15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.” (Revelation 1:13-16).
 

It is an impossible picture if taken literally but it isn’t meant to be taken literally; it is a word picture. The different parts of the image are copies of Old Testament images. The ‘son of man’ is described in Daniel 7: 13 and is a figure of a human being but also stands for all the people of God. It was also the way that Jesus referred to himself. He did not say ’I’ or ‘myself’; he talked about himself as the ‘son of man’. The ‘robe and the golden sash’, the blazing eyes’ and the ‘glowing bronze feet’ are all reminiscent of the divine messenger in Daniel 10: 5, 6, who is described as a man but might be an angel or even Jesus or God himself. ‘White hair’ is like that of the God figure in the vision of Daniel in his 7: 9. The ‘sound of rushing waters‘ uses the image of the approach of God’s glory in Ezekiel 43: 2. His ‘face like the sun shining in all its brilliance’ resembles the ‘likeness of the glory of the Lord’ in Ezekiel 1: 27, 28. You will note that I have deliberately left out the image of the ‘sharp double edged sword’ reserving that as the next great gem for next week.

The whole picture is not a gem but more like a necklace of gems strung together to glorify our Lord. This is Jesus - beyond ordinary words to describe and therefore described with images drawn from Old Testament visions, with which it has much in common. Images like these have to be employed to try and give some impression of his glory.

The description goes on as he touches the worshipping John. He describes himself as the first and the last, which is the same as being Alpha and Omega (the first and last letters in the Greek alphabet, so the A and the Z in English), the resurrected one, who will be alive for ever and ever. Therefore he is of the same status as the ‘Alpha and the Omega, the Lord God, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty’, all descriptions of God in the very recent verse 8. Thus we see something more than a hint of the Trinity in his self-description.

But in the end, it is no good me explaining the image or you reading about it - it is meant to be thought about and meditated upon. Do just that.

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Partakers Friday Prayers

We pray together and when Christians pray together, from different nations, different churches and different denominations - that reveals Church unity! Come! Let us pray together!

Let the just rejoice,
for their justifier is born.
Let the sick and infirm rejoice,
For their saviour is born.
Let the captives rejoice,
For their Redeemer is born.


Let slaves rejoice,
for their Master is born.
Let free people rejoice,
For their Liberator is born.
Let All Christians rejoice,
For Jesus Christ is born.
Amen

(A Prayer of St. Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-440)

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Exploring Islam 09

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Exploring Islam

9. The possibility of Salvation

We have previously looked at the concept of sin in Islam and Christianity, now we shall naturally move onto their ideas of salvation. Salvation is the common idea that there is a need to be saved from punishment and condemnation for sinful acts, ultimately seen in going to Paradise and Heaven. Paradise for the Muslim is not about spending time in the presence of Allah as his transcendence still remains even here. For the Christian, Heaven is all about worshipping God directly in his presence in a way which is not fully possible now because of sin. This fundamental difference can help us see how and why their routes for salvation are equally dissimilar.

 

Salvation Within Islam

Within Islam salvation is mostly a concept based upon works seen in belief and actions;

Qur’an 3:57 – ‘But as for those who believed and did righteous deeds, He will give them in full their rewards.’

It is something which at first glance is achievable by the Muslim on their own, unlike a Christian who believes that only God can help them out of their sinful predicament. Recognising that you are a slave unto Allah, after all this is what the word ‘Muslim’ literally means, and that it is your duty to be obedient to his law in the way you live your life.

However, despite the most ardent attempts by the most committed Muslim does not guarantee entrance into Paradise. Allah’s will in deciding who does gain entry is always above any actions by any person even if they are in accordance to the law. Ultimately, a Muslim’s salvation is in the hands of Allah, in a way predestined, and they will never know for sure their fate.

Qur’an 7:178 – ‘Whoever Allah guides - he is the [rightly] guided; and whoever He sends astray - it is those who are the losers.’

Salvation Within Christianity

(For more about salvation in Christian thought on this website, please do click here. )

These ideas are in stark contrast with salvation found in Christianity, of which only a summary is presented. In order for forgiveness to be given by God for humanity’s sin punishment must be borne by someone. Instead of every individual suffering death for their disobedience God, in Jesus Christ, chose to suffer the penalty of death on their behalf.

1 Peter 2:24 – ‘He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.’

This is something alien to the Muslim where a substitutionary sacrifice for sin is outright refused as even possible. We will talk about how Islam views Jesus in a later podcast. Earning salvation for the Christian is therefore not achieved by their own efforts or successes even though the Bible does advocate a way of life which God wishes. Instead, forgiveness is a gift to humanity out of God’s grace, love and desire to have a real personal relationship with his creations which would not be possible with sin in the way.

Ephesians 2:8 – ‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.’

Although there are concepts of predestination within Christianity, salvation once accepted by a person and confirmed by the Holy Spirit is guaranteed by God giving a sense of peace and assurance which a Muslim is forever searching for.

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Part 4 - Beliefs about Jesus Christ

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It is common among many different religions and cults that all apart from Christianity fall short in giving Jesus Christ His rightful place and giving Him the due honour to His name. In this study we shall look closely at His person and His work. Jehovah Witnesses I need to remind you speak of 7 principles which they impress upon us that they stand by. Let me remind you of the first three. They say that they:

  • Exalt Jehovah as the true God
  • Recognise Jesus vital role in Jehovah's purpose
  • Adhere closely to God's Word

Because they say they exalt the Scriptures, Jesus Christ and Jehovah God they should have no difficulty in agreeing with me as I go directly to The Word of God to substantiate these facts. So lets first look at what Jehovah Witnesses say about Jesus Christ in their own writings:

  • Christ was the created archangel Michael and although a 'god' and a 'mighty one' yes He was not Jehovah. (Watchtower Feb.15th 1979 p31.)
  • 'Despite a virgin birth, Jesus was no more than a perfect mortal man while on earth. Two things happened at His baptism - he was born again and He became the Christ or Messiah.'

May I suggest to you that they have no grounds whatsoever for those statements. Where do you find Jesus described as an angel called Michael in the Bible (unless you slip it in yourself) In fact the scriptures make it crystal clear that Jesus was not an angel. Hebrews 1:5,8: "For to which of the angels did God ever say, "You are my Son?" "But about the Son He says "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever....Or again in verses 10-12 in the same chapter these words are applicable to Jesus Christ "In the beginning O Lord you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands" (Interestingly you will find those same words are a quote from Psalm 102: 25-27;) Why is that? Because the writer (probably Paul) writing under the inspiration and authority of God clearly saw they referred to Jesus Christ. In His human nature Jesus was filled with The Holy Spirit. Matthew 3:16; & Luke 4:1; refer to this. But born again at his baptism? There is no record of that in fact we know that He was already The Messiah from his very birth into this world. The promised Messiah of The Old Testament. Hear what Luke writes concerning the amazing virgin birth of Jesus Luke 2:11; "Today in the city of David a Saviour has been born to you, a Saviour who is CHRIST THE LORD" Paul the apostle writing to the church at Colossae writes in chapter 2:9; "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form." This particular verse is perhaps the strongest affirmation of Christ's deity in all the Scriptures. What is clearly pointed out to us here is that in Jesus of Nazareth, God was uniquely and bodily among us. Since the power of Christ rested in Jesus Christ, Christ overcomes all other powers. Jesus Christ is the complete revelation of God to humanity. In Revelation 1:8; we have a description of Jesus Christ as what? The Almighty! "The Alpha and Omega Who is, and Who was and Who is to come. It is abundantly clear this description can only be given to One Being God Himself. Yes I am aware that Jehovah Witnesses find it difficult to believe in the Trinity of which Jesus is One of the Persons within the Trinity. God in three persons blessed Trinity. Remember God is unique and is able to do anything. You only have to go as far as the very first chapter in Genesis and discover the Trinity. The name for God there in the Hebrew is Elohim. Elohim is composed of three component parts. 'El' meaning one, 'O' added makes the name plural and 'him' finally added makes the word mean more than two. In that same chapter God says concerning the making of man in verse 26 "Let us make man in our image" Who is the Creator? God you reply. Quite right . So here is a conversation going on between the three persons within the Trinity. Father, Son and Holy Spirit. All are involved in Creation All are distinct from each other with distinctive work to do but all vital and necessary. From eternity God knew man would need a redeemer, a Saviour and planned to come to earth in His own Son to do this vital work.

What do Jehovah Witnesses say about the work of Jesus upon the cross?

"Jesus atoned only for the sin of Adam and not for our personal sins. His death provided an exact payment for what Adam lost, namely, perfect human life in Eden. This ransom sacrifice was not a finished work. Rather it is the basis from which individuals work to provide their own salvation.('You may survive Armageddon' p39 )

What does The Bible have to say about the work of Jesus upon the cross at Calvary?

The central theme in the Apostle Paul's letter to the Romans is Justification. (How can a man get right with God) Paul shows how impossible it is for man to get right with God. He cannot earn his own salvation by just deeds. Paul explains it is a gift. (Romans 6:23;) In his letter to the Ephesians he wrote "For by grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God not of works lest any man should boast for we are His workmanship created unto good works which God has before ordained that we should walk in them." Only through Christ's work of atonement can a man stand justified before God. It had to be achieved by a perfect righteous Person is and to be received through faith and repentance towards God (our part) So going back to where we started this fourth study as to what Jehovah Witnesses believe and teach. Do they explain the Bible truth about Jesus Christ like this? Do they explain his vital role in the purpose of God to redeem us? It was not for Adam's sin only that Christ died but for the sins of the world. His sacrifice was sufficient and efficient to save anyone from their sins. (John 3:16; ) Christ's death upon the cross did not only remove sin inherited from Adam but includes every sin committed during the believers life both before conversion as well as afterwards. Romans 5:9; "Much more then having been justified(past tense) by his blood we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him (it has nothing to do with a believers work added to Christ's work which Jehovah's witnesses advocate.) Much more having been reconciled we shall be saved (absolute assurance) by His life". 1 John 1:7; The blood of Jesus Christ God's Son cleanses us from all sin" Next time we shall see how important the resurrection of Jesus Christ is to the believer and I do mean a bodily resurrection.

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** Disclaimer: The author of this article, Jim Allis, is a guest podcaster and Partake Ministries may or may not agree with his opinions and writings, either in their entirety or part thereof.

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POD - Psalm 19

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Psalm 19

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

 

1 The heavens declare the glory of God;

the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

2 Day after day they pour forth speech;

night after night they reveal knowledge.

3 They have no speech, they use no words;

no sound is heard from them.


4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,

their words to the ends of the world.

In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.

5 It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,

like a champion rejoicing to run his course.

6 It rises at one end of the heavens

and makes its circuit to the other;

nothing is deprived of its warmth.


7 The law of the Lord is perfect,

refreshing the soul.

The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,

making wise the simple.

8 The precepts of the Lord are right,

giving joy to the heart.

The commands of the Lord are radiant,

giving light to the eyes.


9 The fear of the Lord is pure,

enduring for ever.

The decrees of the Lord are firm,

and all of them are righteous.

10 They are more precious thangold,

than much pure gold;

they are sweeter than honey,

than honey from the honeycomb.

11 By them your servant is warned;

in keeping them there is greatreward.

12 But who can discern their ownerrors?

Forgive my hidden faults.

13 Keep your servant also fromwilful sins;

may they not rule over me.

Then I will be blameless,

innocent of great transgression.


14 May these words of my mouthand this meditation of my heart

be pleasing in your sight,

Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

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Think Spot 4 December 2017

 

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things." Philippians 4:8


Isn’t it great to be a believer? Or maybe yesterday’s meetings at Church were not much of an inspiration to you as you begin a new week? You just didn't get much from the services yesterday. You listened but other thought you allowed to crowd in. Concerns for certain family members, friends or neighbours. So you have not started the week with gusto. Even your morning quiet time today didn’t go well. Your prayer life hit rock bottom. Your prayers, you thought didn’t get any higher than the ceiling. You had to not only drag yourself out of bed but also through your devotions. "Is this what the Christian life is all about?" you ask yourself. Am I not meant to be a joyful triumphant Christian?

Our minds are fertile ground and must be guarded and guided. They are open to all kinds of infiltrations and our part is to guard our minds and put useful good healthy thoughts in. The key is to ask ourselves the question "What would Jesus have me do?" "What can I do for His Kingdom and name sake?" "Is there someone today I could meet up with and encourage? Someone to offer financial help to? Someone who needs my sympathy? Someone who needs a car lift to hospital? We need to take our minds off of our own needs and focus on others and their needs.

Minds can soak up all kinds of useless stuff if we let them. Jesus took time to prepare himself for each day. He began with several hours in prayer. Maybe we should see Him as our example as well as reading a good Christian biography, including a commentary on a passage from the Bible each morning and pray it in. If we did we might have a much better day. It’s our relationship with Jesus that will determine our state of mind throughout the day. Think on these things .Have a great day and a great week!

Dear Lord, take care of my mind and do not allow those awful thoughts to continue in my mind. Help me think upon good useful thoughts that are sweet and helpful to building others up which will glorify God. I am sorry for allowing such rubbish to fill my mind. Instead, fill my mind with thoughts such as "How would Jesus think about this situation where I have anger, jealousy or even hatred. The truth is I want to be like You Lord." In Jesus name.
Amen!

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