Tuesday, 10 March 2009
I have just finished reading a truly fascinating book, Discipleship on the Edge, An Expository Journey Through the Book of Revelation by Darrell W. Johnston. A rather mundane title but a life-changing read.
For the first time in my walk with Christ, I feel that I now understand the principles of interpreting Book of Revelation! Darrell Johnston answered for me one of the big questions concerning the Book of Revelation, the Apocalypse (or revealing) of Jesus Christ: Are the fascinating figures and numbers the Apostle John uses to describe what he sees literal or symbolic, or a mixture of the two? I have come to agree with Mr. Johnston that the illustrations are symbolic and, in order for the Book of Revelation to make sense, must be viewed this way consistently.
He clearly and simply explains the meaning of numerology in the Bible as it would have been understood by the first century church. He also explains the symbolism of the many 'creatures' and wonderful figures described. The one that has got me thinking most, especially in light of our present times, is understanding what John was saying when he used the name Babylon.
Essentially, he says, Babylon, ever since the construction of the Tower of Babel, has come to represent governments, most especially world governments and their efforts to draw people away from God rather than lead them towards God. Today more than ever we seem to have a one-world system and especially when it comes to the economy. Governments around the world are deliberately excising God from the public square and from government completely. Having a Christmas tree in a judicial court lobby is an absolute no-no. Governments are condoning and promoting all kinds of evil that the Bible cautions us against.
With all this in mind you might want to read Revelation, Chapter 18. In many Bibles the chapter heading is The Fall of Babylon. As you read it keep these symbols in mind:
Angel = messenger
Babylon the Great = World Government(s)
One Day = a short time
One Hour = a very short time
Great City = wealthy economies of the world
Verses 22 and 23 infer that the economy will never recover (remember, the present time is the first time we have encountered a world-wide recession). What do you think?
Were it not for Chapter 19 I would be very scared right now. Praise God! He is in control!
Sunday, 1 March 2009
Ultimately, only God can prove to the human heart that He exists. How would Jesus convince Richard Dawkins, or people of any other belief system for that matter, that they are wrong. I know Richard Dawkins is wrong in his belief. I say this with not one whit of arrogance because there is no physiological way I can prove to Richard that he is wrong. It just can't be done. We can debate back and forth 'til the cows come home and nothing will have changed.
There is no miracle, in the physical realm, that God could perform that can change a hardened heart. Sure, one might be convinced that God does in fact exist, but will anything have actually changed? If Richard Dawkins witnessed an undisputed miracle [from his perspective], scientifically verifiable and repeatable, would Richard be a changed person the next day? The simple answer is, "No." Even when Jesus performed miracles in the presence of religious leaders all they wanted to do was kill him for working on the Sabbath. Their hearts were hardened before they witnessed a miracle and their hearts were still hardened after they witnessed a miracle. Nothing had changed. Miracles are only a 'sign' to those who want to believe, to those who are seeking to know the truth.
So what gives?
The essential attribute of God that must be understood for belief is the attribute that cannot be seen, the attribute that cannot be scientifically proven, the attribute that can only be experienced by a grateful heart, is GRACE. Grace; the freely given, unmerited favour of God.
Until an atheist is willing to discuss the topic of grace there will never be any convincing.