Think of the few times in the Gospels when Jesus was truly angry. You know, those times when He flipped over tables and swung a whip around.
Jesus never got angry in response to a personal insult. No, His righteous anger was aroused when He saw corrupt religious leadership profiting from religious roadblocks that prevented people from worshipping God. Roadblocks that were never commanded by God, but enforced by the religious rulers to extort loyalty and money from people who just wanted to worship.
And Jesus hated this! He got angry—angry enough to call out the religious leadership of the day (see Matthew 23:15 and Luke 11:46). Angry enough to do something about it (see Mark 11:15-17).
It still angers Jesus when religious corruption takes advantage of people and keeps them from worshipping God. And, as we read in Revelation 18, it will continue to anger Jesus in the future. He will someday flip over more than tables—He’ll flip over Mystery Babylon and put an end to this wicked religious system once and for all.
Listen to or watch the video replay of our study of Revelation 18 as we consider the future ultimate destruction of Mystery Babylon in vivid detail.
We might not be able to destroy false religious systems in spectacular fashion with fiery hail from heaven, but we can learn an important lesson from Revelation 17. As strange as it seems, there is a lesson we can live out in our lives today from this snapshot of things to come.
History, prophecy, and current events this morning show us that earthly empires use religion—not to worship, but to expand their rule and reign. Civic rulers will appear to submit to a religious system—not out of reverence, but to gain favor and power.
As that happens, heed this word of warning: be careful. Be very careful with aligning yourself with a movement that uses religion as a means to their end. It might be exciting for religious leaders to influence powerful political leaders, who might give the impression that they are submitted to the same Jesus you serve. But power corrupts. Once religion has served its purpose, those in power will turn on it and tear it to pieces.
So be careful! God cannot be confined to any political party or movement. He is not defined by the ever-increasing list of causes and chaos that cycle through the 24/7 news feed. His concern reaches beyond these moments and movements, beyond the heart of the issues to the issue of the heart—the Gospel.
The Gospel is central and must remain central. Politicians, political parties, and political movements will come and go, and one day be no more—but the Gospel, the everlasting Gospel, will always be God’s focus to fulfill the desperate need of sinners for the Savior.
“If God had perceived that our greatest need was economic, he would have sent an economist. If he had perceived that our greatest need was entertainment, he would have sent us a comedian or an artist. If God had perceived that our greatest need was political stability, he would have sent us a politician. If he had perceived that our greatest need was health, he would have sent us a doctor. But he perceived that our greatest need involved our sin, our alienation from him, our profound rebellion, our death; and he sent us a Savior.”
–D. A. Carson
It’s been 15 long weeks since our last study in Revelation. In that study, we ended with thoughts from these verses from Psalm 13:
But I have trusted in Your mercy; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me. (Psalm 13:5-6)
If you remember, we were thinking about the tribulation saints singing after losing their lives and worshipping the Lord because they knew that no matter what happened to them on earth, God had already given them victory in heaven.
And so it can be said of saints today—no matter what might happen to believers here and now, we can be confident in the victory God has already given believers in heaven.
That is something to remember as we look back and reflect on the past 15 weeks. Little did we know how our lives would be upended. We have gone through just one wave of many waves to come. Waves that will increase with frequency and intensity. And yet, we can still sing and worship because we know that God has already given us victory in heaven.
So let’s not waste a single wave—with each crest and trough that comes, let’s cling to the Lord as we ask Him these questions: “What do you want me to learn during this time? Of what do you want me to let go? Of what do you want me to repent?”
Make no mistake—the waves will continue to come and we don’t know how our lives will be affected in the next 15 weeks. But this is what we do know—no matter what, God is good, God will be good, and God has been good.
But perhaps in your stubbornness, you still refuse to repent…even now before the day of God’s wrath. Maybe you think you can continue to enjoy the pleasures of sin and repent just before God tips the bowls of His wrath upon humanity. If anything, these past 15 weeks have taught us to ask God to number our days (Psalm 39:4). We are not guaranteed tomorrow. That is why today is the day of salvation! (2 Corinthians 6:2). “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…” (Acts 3:19).
His Word is clear—if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. You can do that right now! Ask God for forgiveness. Believe that Jesus died for your sin and that God raised Him to life. Trust Him as your Savior and follow Him as Lord.
Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:2-4)
People can be stubborn. Perhaps you have noticed. Sometimes stubborn people need incentive to turn away from their sin, to repent, and to turn towards the Lord. And sometimes, the Lord (in His grace and His mercy) gives people this incentive.
One day, God will give humanity all the incentive we could ever ask for. He will pull out all the stops and pour out all of His wrath for the purpose of producing repentance so that humanity might receive the greatest gift of all: eternal salvation.
This time is described in great detail in Revelation 16. It is the final opportunity God gives people to repent from sin and to receive salvation. And we shouldn’t be surprised to read how intense this time will be when it happens. God, in His great mercy, endeavors to produce repentance because He loves those who will be left at the end of the tribulation. He doesn’t want any of them to perish, but all of them to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
Watch or listen to our study of Revelation 16 and hear how God will pull out all the stops to pour out His wrath for the purpose of producing repentance. Then read ahead in Revelation 17 for our study this Sunday, at the Regency or online.
“But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavored more eagerly to see your face with great desire.”
– 1 Thessalonians 2:17
Oh, how our desire will soon be fulfilled! After a significant amount of prayer and preparation in light of the lifted restrictions for large-group faith-based gatherings, we have made the decision to resume our in-person gatherings starting this Sunday morning (June 14th, 2020)!
Depending on your comfort level, you will be able to participate in worship in six different settings:
We look forward to seeing you, face-to-face! We ask for your prayers and patience as we navigate the new challenges in this unprecedented season we are all walking through. We are thrilled to see you and to serve you!
You need to know God’s word.
You need to know ALL of God’s word.
Because it’s the living out of God’s word in difficult times that develops maturity to the glory of God. When we begin to see trials as opportunities rather than wasted suffering, we start to develop spiritual maturity that brings glory to God. And that is what this life is all about—God’s glory.
The book of James says it this way:
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
In 2 Timothy, we’ve discovered the great and precious gifts we’ve been given. We’ve been given mercy, grace, and peace; life, breath, and a heartbeat; power, love, and a sound mind—and so much more—so that we can glorify God as we grow more and more like Jesus.
This Godly growth is produced when we hear and apply God’s word in difficult times. As we mature, the Holy Spirit produces spiritual fruit in our lives that causes us to overflow with the love and grace of God.
Maturity to the glory of God.
“We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.” (Ephesians 4:14b-15)
Maturity to the glory of God.
That’s 2 Timothy in a nutshell.
Oh, this book has been such a good word from the Lord during this season of difficulty! Just think of how we’ve been encouraged throughout these four chapters. What a difference we make when we wait on the Lord instead of whining and wiggling out of testings and trials. For it is the tests and trials we encounter that produce patience, endurance, and perseverance in our lives—maturity, to the glory of God.
This is the maturity Paul encouraged Timothy to develop. He knew the difficulties Timothy faced every day as he followed Jesus, and every week as he pastored his church. He knew these challenges were opportunities for Timothy to mature as he fulfilled his calling.
And what was Timothy called to do during his season of difficulty? Watch our live stream from this past Sunday, our final study in 2 Timothy, to find out.
If we are to be the light of the world—if the world is supposed to look at our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16)—then we can’t live for ourselves or pursue sinful desires.
We were set free from that—so why would we return to it? Out of gratefulness for God’s grace, we are to use our freedom to serve others and to lay down our liberties in love. This is how the world will know that we follow Jesus. But if we are not very careful to continue to follow Jesus, we could find ourselves somewhere in this list from 2 Timothy 3:
“…lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.” (2 Timothy 3:3-5)
Remember, this list is specifically talking about people who claim to be believers and followers of Jesus, but choose to continue to live like this. People like this will be the source of the perilous times in the last days.
So what should we do if we are on this list?
Give your life to God. Surrender your soul to Jesus. If you continue to live like this are you a believer? Were you ever really saved? And if those questions scare you—that’s good. Let them lead you to Jesus. You don’t have to wonder anymore—God really wants you to know that you are saved.
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine
O what a foretaste of glory divine
Heir of salvation, purchase of God
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood
From Pastor Dom...
When I first gave my life to Jesus, there were friends in my life who helped me to grow in my understanding of God, through His word, and for those friends