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Friday: Further Thought – “I Make All Things New” — 21 Comments

  1. I have really enjoyed the study of Revelation because it has been challenging. It has forced me not only to read the book of Revelation right through, but I have been encouraged to read many other passages of scripture that are the genesis of the ideas expressed by John. The study has not been a catechistic recital of church dogma and doctrine but a challenge to study for ourselves to search for meaning. In the true spirit of the Adventist pioneers, we have been encouraged to study for ourselves. I must also acknowledge the contribution my fellow commentators have made to my understanding. We have not agreed on everything and I am glad we have had the challenge of different ideas and interpretations.

    When I was a university student, at the end of my courses there were graduation ceremonies and I received testamurs to say that I had completed the courses of study. However, I had not done all that study just to receive the accolades of the faculty, wear funny clothes and hold a piece of parchment in my hand. Those long hours of study were preparation for professional life, and I had to apply the skills learned in the classroom to real-life situations. It is no accident that in many universities, graduations ceremonies are called "Commencement Ceremonies".

    What have we learned from our study of Revelation, and how are we going to apply it to our own real-life of Christian witness? John says it so well:

    And the spirit and the bride say: Come. And he that heareth, let him say: Come. And he that thirsteth, let him come: and he that will, let him take the water of life, freely. Rev 22:17 DRA

    There is still much to learn; and there is much to look forward to, not only in heaven but right now in the present.

    • Reading Revelation is like reading all the bible in condensed form. Revelation has been my favorite tome of the Bible and it is always more enriching each time I go through it.

  2. The most important message of Revelation is Jesus wins the Cosmic Conflict.
    We are to spread the 3 angels messages the truth of the Everlasting Covenant and the warning don't be deceived by the counterfeit beliefs or give in to secular force.

  3. I appreciate the author's telling us to read this book "again and again." Here is an exercise that has been a great blessing to me for not only understanding Revelation, but any book of Scripture. Back in my days in college I took up an exercise that I still do today. If I want to really know a book I must read it several times through without taking a lot of time getting stuck in one place. It is good to practice this exercise in the shorter books first. Sit and read the entire book ten times (not necessarily in one setting) prayerfully and you will begin to see all of its parts as a whole. It really enriches the message contained there in, and you have a great command of how it all ties together, every verse takes on a deeper meaning.

    Revelation is especially needed to be read through several times to catch the many structures and themes it contains. Once you have a comprehensive grasp of the books' make up, you really get a sense of how each part relates to the other. And then, when you read the entire bible, say in a one year plan, you regularly bump into things that you have heard in Revelation. That, then, enriches the understanding of the book as well.

    Finally, I would suggest that one pick up Dr. Ranko's book "Revelation of Jesus Christ." It is a great commentary on Revelation that does indeed keep Jesus the center of the whole.

    This has been a great journey. Thanks to the website people for providing the place here to take it.

    • Otieno Okun, the thing to focus on is the big picture. The imagery of fire is used to illustrate the end of the existence of evil and the cleansing of the universe from its effects. We understand the cleansing, sanitizing effect of fire so it is fitting that symbol is used.

  4. An open comment to everyone for reflection and consideration...

    Yesterday, Kevin R James wrote "Healing is the overarching reality in this place of redemption in full."

    Is it possible that healing rather than a forensic system is the overarching reality of redemption? See for example Isa 53:5 and note the outcome - we are healed. See also Isa 61:1,2 and note the allusions to healing metaphors.

    Would this mean that metaphors that have been interpreted as forensic/judicial may instead have been intended to reflect accurate assessment, diagnosis and prognosis by One who is absolutely qualified to reveal the Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth (1 Cor 4:5)?

    Could this accurate assessment, diagnosis and prognosis be the very processes that Revelation is revealing?

    You be the 'judge'...

    • Does it have to be an either/or thing? Seeing that the plan of salvation will likely be our study for eternity, can we not accept that it is multi-faceted, with each analogy and type shedding light on just one facet?
      The substitutionary death of the Lamb of God is a major theme of the Bible from Genesis through to Revelation, and that typology is often portrayed in a forensic way in the Bible. At the same time it is a healing sacrifice in revealing the self-renouncing love of our Father God and the Son.

      • I agree with Inge, the Bible reveals that the LORD's character has many aspects and we do Him a disservice when we imply there is only one and any other way of describing Him is the Bible misleading us.
        Many say we must pick law or grace but Paul tells God can be just and the justifier Rom 3:26 and Do we make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law. Rom 3:31

        • I agree with your explanation of faith and works. We can’t pick law or grace they work together. I go back to Morris Vendons original illustration of faith and works in the row boat, faith on one oar and works on the other. No, it is not the ideal illustration, but it comes close. God’s Grace through faith in Jesus Christ is as close I can see, I like Inge’s thoughts also, we will be studying the story of redemption through eternity. All have have added so much with today’s lesson.
          I know law and grace is some what off the topic, but it is in the message also in Revelation. I have picked up one quote this quarter that I did not know existed before, it is found at text.egwwrightings.org. Faith and Works page 102.1. It has solidified and substantiated my understanding of Romans and James on the topic.
          Some may ask what is my understanding of the law and grace, here it is: “ Christ has made the way by dying our Sacrifice, by living our Example, by becoming our great High Priest. He declares, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). If by any effort of our own we could advance one step toward the ladder, the words of Christ would not be true. But when we accept Christ, good works will appear as fruitful evidence that we are in the way of life, that Christ is our way, and that we are treading the true path that leads to heaven. Faith and Works page 102.1. Another of my favorites is. Desire of Ages chapter 17 page 175, paragraph 4 and 5. Gives us more detail on the how to of Revelation 14:12.

          • Thanks, John. Well said.

            Those are, indeed, some powerful references. Your specifying the chapters and page numbers helped me link the references in the comments. (You could help us further by providing the URL given by the sharing icon on the page. 🙂 )

        • “Self-renouncing” must mean, to many, something different from its standard orthodox meaning! What is there about God or His Son that They need to renounce?

          • Kenny, I think the word "self-renouncing" or "self-renunciation" in its natural meaning - a synonym of selflessness and self-sacrifice - perfectly describes the character of God. It's not what the Father and Son need to renounce. It's what they have renounced.

            Christ renounced His equality with the Father in heaven to become incarnate in humanity as our Savior. (Compare Phil 2:6-10) There is no greater example of self-renunciation or self-sacrifice.

            In human terms, self-renouncing love means to give up on self-interest - to stop seeking our own interests first but to look out for God's interests in this world, which is to do the work of Christ. It doesn't mean to focus on self as "worthless me" (as some interpret humility). Rather it means to forget self in the service of God and humanity. That's only possible after accepting the new heart God has promised to implant in us. And, in my experience, I have to ask for this continually, or I revert to selfish motivation.

            As a side note: When we accept the value Christ has placed on us and accept His salvation, we will place a high value on every soul, including ourselves. It leaves no room for feelings of worthlessness, which are another form of self-focus. And neither does it leave room for submitting to abuse. I've found that the best cure for feelings of worthlessness is to be actively involved in the service of God and humanity.

      • Thanks for your response Inge.

        I agree that our understanding of the facets that constitue, and are reflected in, the plan of salvation will likely unfold more and more fully as we study redemption throughout eternity.

        And I agree that the plan of salvation is multifaceted.

        Is it possible that each type and analogy sheds light on just one facet? Yes, that is possible.

        But what then of the nature of the relationship between these facets? Is it possible that these facets exist independently of one an another? Perhaps.

        Or is there possibly an overarching ‘paradigm’ that provides a cohesive framework in which the multifaceted types and analogies reside?

        And if there is such a ‘paradigm’ performing such a function, is it possible that the types and analogies might reflect a differening view of those types and analogies as a consequence?

        Am I merely looking at things through an ‘either/or’ lens, or might it just look like that on the surface?

        • One of the big moments in the theory of physics came with the understanding that the forces of gravity, magnetism, and electricity, while different in magnitude had a lot of similarities. Just as we gained a cohesive understanding of the implications of this, along came a number of other forces which were necessary to help explain some of the anomalous behaviors. In short, the Physics "Theory of Everything" still eludes us, but that does not stop us from using our current knowledge of gravity, electricity, and magnetism in very practical ways.

          Likewise in the spiritual realm, there may well be an overarching "Theory of Salvation", to use the analogy, but in the meantime, we have a very practical working model of love that we can work with.

          • The physical reality (physics) of God's universe is its inherent paradoxes. For example, light has both the properties of a particle and a wave, depending on how a person observes it. But the paradox goes deeper than this: Heisenberg's uncertainty principle is based on the observation that the state of the fundamental building blocks of our physical reality cannot be known definitively.

            So why should we expect the fundamental building blocks of our spiritual reality to be different? The attraction of eternity is the opportunity to know God and his handiwork more deeply as time moves to its edge.

        • I would suggest that, by definition, different facets of the same object or same subject do not exist independent of each other but are related - perhaps in ways we sometimes do not understand.
          You ask

          Or is there possibly an overarching ‘paradigm’ that provides a cohesive framework in which the multifaceted types and analogies reside?

          Good question. I would see the overarching paradigm to be one of restoration - restoration of God's design from the very beginning. To me, that goes beyond healing, because healing reminds me of scars, and I understand that the only scars in heaven will be the scars in the hands of Jesus.
          God restores hearts to His design of unselfish love. He will restore bodies to the perfection of His original creation in Eden. (It seems that may take a bit of time, since the tree of life is for "the healing of the nations.) And, above all, He will restore the natural love relationship with and within the human family, as it was in Eden, but even better. And then He will restore the planet to its Edenic beauty
          Along the way, a lot of healing will take place. The Bible says that He will wipe away the tears of the redeemed. To me that says there will be tears in heaven, but He will wipe them away with the revelation of His perfect love and justice. (That would happen in the millennium.) For many, God's execution of justice will be a necessary part of healing - just as it is here for many who have been traumatized. Those who don't see justice done on this earth, find healing by trusting in God's administration of justice in the final judgment.
          All this will work together for healing and for restoration of a perfect love relationship between God and His people and among God's people.

          • Thanks Maurice, Richard and Inge for your input.

            I agree with much of what has been said.

            My reason for exploring these issues is very practically-based. It is driven by the needs of the people I work with - secular, Non-Christian faiths and Christian faiths (including Adventist). I reflect upon the issues that the people I work with are facing and I take this into my bible study and prayer time seeking to understand better and better the nature of how things work so that I can better assist the people I work with. That people are benefited in their walk is the bottom line for me.

            And while there is much we won’t know this side of eternity, I believe there is also much that God desires we do know and learn here and now. No disconnect for me between these two positions either.

            Inge, I have no problem using the term restoration as a broader term than healing. And I agree with what you described under that concept. Where we may differ is in regard to the concept of God's execution of justice - but I would need to know more detail regarding how you view that concept and that is likely something for another time.

            Having said all that, why did I raise the initial comment? I recall Maurice mentioning a while back the dynamics of Mathemetics conferences he attended where people were able to debate ideas as part of their quest to tackle problems and grow understanding.

            [The idea that I raised was one of a cluster that was impacted by my re-study of revelation this quarter where I especially looked closely at passages/verses that in the English translation seemed on face value to challenge such ideas.]

            Adventism too needs a constructive space to be able to do this. So I present my ongoing learnings with my supportive ‘evidence’ and I invite people to study for themselves and respond citing their supporting evidence too. And sometimes we will agree and sometimes we won’t - but we can continue to ‘debate’ with a spirit of self-renouncing love and unity.

    • The severity of God is his revelation to me of my character, a forensic reality. The mercy of God is that he is the recreator and perfecter of my character, a relational reality.

      Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:24-25.

      He has taken on himself the remission of my sin (healing), a work that is impossible for me to accomplish. The leaves of the trees in the New Jerusalem watered by the River of Life are for the healing of us all.

  5. Note, Inge, that whatever is “renounced” is disclaimed, abandoned, rejected, devalued, by the *renouncer*. Christ laid down His life that He might take it up again assuring all that none could have taken it a way from Him. He did not “renounce” His life. He laid aside His glory, did not “renounce” it, and had it restored when He returned to His Father (Jn 10:17,18; 17:5,24). I think adding debatable terminology complicates, unnecessarily, God’s clear Word regarding Himself and his Salvation plan. Just about everything about unregenerate natural humankind needs to be renounced, with regards to salvation.


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