Coming With The Clouds

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are continuing our Trinitarian Commentary through the book of Revelation. We’re still on the first chapter as there’s much in here about who Jesus is. However, I ask for your prayers first in my continued path of Christlikeness and becoming the man that I need to be. I also ask that you pray for my financial situation. Finally, I ask for prayers in another important area of my life. For now, let’s get to the commentary. We’re going to be looking at Revelation 1:6-7.

6and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
7Look, he is coming with the clouds,
and every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him;
and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.

John (And for the record, I am going to be assuming that John the apostle wrote the book of Revelation) is continuing his description of Jesus. As has been said, this blog in going through Revelation is not going to focus on eschatology but is instead going to focus on the doctrine of the Trinity and it is everywhere in this book.

John has just described the role of Jesus and what he will do. He has come to build a kingdom of priests. The service will be to God and the glory is his. Jesus is the main agent in the world in bringing the glory to God.

He goes on to speak of coming on the clouds. Clouds were often a symbol of deity. YHWH would ride on the clouds when he defeated his enemies. In the same way, Jesus’s coming on the clouds is the language of deity when it is used.

For instance, in the trial of Jesus, he tells Caiaphas about how Caiaphas will see him coming on clouds. At this, Caiaphas tears his robes knowing full well the ramifications of what Jesus has said. He has claimed deity for himself in referring to coming on the clouds.

This was definitely an allusion to Daniel 7:13-14, which is a passage that we looked at earlier. Jesus is saying in that passage that he is the Son of Man that is coming. There can be no doubt that John had the same passage in mind when he wrote this letter.

Jesus is the centerpiece in this grand drama. At his coming, whichever time you put that in, we are told that every eye will see him and that all the world will mourn. The reference to being pierced refers to the crucifixion of course, but also refers likely to Zechariah 12 where it says “They will look upon me, the one they had pierced.” Note that when that was being said, it was YHWH speaking.

John is thus starting off his epistle right in telling his readers who Jesus is. If we do not grasp that, then we will not understand the judgments in this book. Whatever timeframe you put the judgments in, they are judgments because they are based on the rejection of Jesus Christ and who he is. John wants to make clear we haven’t made that mistake when we start reading.

We shall continue tomorrow.

Revelation’s Greetings From Jesus

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters. I wish to send my thanks first off to Jason for his kind compliments and his promotion of this blog on his site. I plan to soon be promoting his blog on this site as well in exchange. We’re continuing our Trinitarian Commentary going through the book of Revelation. Before that however, I ask for prayer as I continue the path to become a more Christlike man. There is much I’m having to learn and much I’m having to unlearn, but I want to do this right. I also ask for prayers for my financial situation. Finally, I ask for your prayers in another area in my life related to both of these that all will work out. For now, let’s go to the text. We’re looking at Revelation 1:4-5.

To the seven churches in the province of Asia:Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, 5and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

We’re focusing on verse 5 and wanting to see what it says about who Jesus is. First off, Jesus is referred to as the faithful witness. This is in contrast to all others who have failed in the past. Many did not reveal God, but Jesus revealed him as he is. He was faithful, as the writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews 3.

Jesus was the faithful witness because he himself has the nature of the one who he came to reveal. Jesus is the exact representation of deity. To see him is to see the Father. If you want to see what God is like, you are to look at Jesus.

He is also referred to as the firstborn from the dead. This would refer to his coming back from the dead as the firstfruits of the new resurrection. For the readers of Revelation, this would remind them that Jesus was the one who conquered death, which was always a threat to a Christian population back then who lived in terror from an evil Roman empire and today that lives in terror from other evil empires that seek to destroy the Christian faith.

Finally, he’s the ruler of the kings of the Earth. Now I’ve stated that I don’t intend to go into eschatology and I don’t. This is something that I think could apply to any time however. If you live in the Roman empire, it is a comfort to know that Caesar is not the one in charge. Jesus is.

Today, we can take comfort in knowing who is sovereign over the world. Who Jesus is is a message for all time regardless of what timeframe you think Revelation applies to. This also tells us about Jesus’s identity. In Psalm 2, the one enthroned sits and laughs and tells the rulers of the Earth to kiss the Son. Jesus is that Son. By being deity and the perfect witness of the Father as shown by his being the firstborn from the dead, he rightly rules the world.

We shall continue tomorrow.

Which God Gave Him

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters. I hope you all had a great Christmas. I know I certainly did. A certain area in my life I asked for prayer for went well and now I have a whole new area. Thus, before I continue our Trinitarian Commentary, I will make the prayer requests that I have. For the first, that I will be courageous and positive and be more Christlike in my daily walk. Second, I do ask for prayer for my finances in this hard time. Third, I ask for prayer in the same area again as I am entering whole new territory. For now, let’s get to work. We will be studying Revelation 1:1 again today.

1The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,

As I said, we will not be discussing eschatology in this study of the book of Revelation, which is a rarity for studying Revelation. Instead, we will look at what the book has to say on the one it is revealing to us, Jesus Christ. I hope we’ll all be surprised by how much it says about him in this book.

There are a number of anti-Trinitarians who use this verse to argue against the deity of Christ. It is argued that this revelation was given to Jesus Christ and since the revelation was given, that means that it was received and since Jesus received a revelation from the Father, he can’t be God.

If you can somehow find an argument against the deity of Christ in there, then you’re seeing something I’m not. I instead see bare assertions that do not have backing.

Still, I do see the assumptions and they’re hideous. This idea is that this would be something that Jesus would receive because he was in an inferior position ontologically. However, if we simply say that Jesus was in a position of submission, we do not have a problem.

This is the way we would expect it to happen anyway. Jesus is the one who is the revelation of the Father as well and when he comes to give a message from the Father, he is the go-between. In ancient understanding, Jesus would be seen as the broker who is coming on behalf of the patron to present revelation.

The early church knew this well and saw no problem with the idea of Jesus being fully God, even in other passages such as Jesus being told that he has had a body prepared for him by God. It’s the same mistake that Arians often make when they see submission and draw out a conclusion about nature that is not warranted.

Simply put, I cannot see how this is a problem for me as a Trinitarian, but I wanted to say something on it as I’ve seen several Arians use this passage. If you’re in conversation with one, simply ask them to tell you what the problem is with this verse and see if they can see the absurdity of using it on their own.

We shall continue with Revelation tomorrow.

Merry Christmas 2009

Hello everyone. Welcome back to Deeper Waters. We’re going to continue our look at Revelation next week. As it is, I am going to be out of town for Christmas and I won’t be doing another blog until Monday. For now, I ask for your prayers for my continuing path of Christlikeness. It is a process going on, but I see more signs of it happening every day. I ask for your prayers for my finances as well. I also ask for prayer in another area in my life that is of high importance to me. For now, let’s talk about Christmas however.

Have you ever considered Christmas as an invasion? It seems an odd way to view it, but it’s an accurate one. G.K. Chesterton wrote about this in an essay that’s found in a book collection of his called “Brave New Family.” Christmas was the world of Heaven invading the world of Earth for the battle for men’s souls.

Christmas is when the Word became flesh. How much we need to think about those words! The world of Heaven entered the domain that had long been dominated by the enemy and he fought opponent on his own turf. Christ took on the powers of darkness in a short time of ministry and conquered them.

This is what we celebrate. We celebrate the battle being shot. We often speak of the shot heard around the world. Christmas was the first shot that was heard around the world. Christmas was God laying down the gauntlet to satan and saying that he would no longer rule. His time was to be cut short. (Not to say that satan ever literally ruled the Earth, but evil had been a dominant influence.)

We don’t often see Christmas as a declaration of war, but it certainly was as it was immediately countered by the slaughter of the babies in Bethlehem and with Mary and Joseph having to escape away to Egypt on the advice of angels in order to protect the young baby. Christmas today is a happy and joyful time, but let’s not forget that it has its battle as well.

By all means, celebrate with friends and family. Enjoy carols and Christmas gifts and such. Don’t lose sight however of what has happened. Christmas is the day that turned the world upside down. However, that is not entirely accurate. It did not turn the world upside down. It turned an upside down world right side up.

Christmas began the restoration of all things. The hope of all mankind came on Christmas. Listen to some of the carols, particularly the older ones, and consider the words that they have. It is easy to sing them over and over again and not really listen to the words.

Christ has come. That is what we celebrate in Christmas and in evangelism, we continue the effort on the battlefront for our ultimate commander-in-chief. As you celebrate Christmas, remember that you are participating in a battle that must be won. Onward Christian soldiers!

The First Five Words

I am pleased to welcome all of you back to Deeper Waters. It’s exciting realizing we’re on the last book of the Bible and I want this to be a really informative and new look at this book. I’ll get into the details soon, but first, I want to ask for your continued prayers for my developing Christlikeness. I see it coming, but most of us know what it’s like to be in the refiner’s fire at times. I also pray for my financial situation. Finally, I ask for prayer for a certain area in my life which again, I shall leave unnamed. For now, let’s go to the text. We’re not going to cover the whole of this verse. I just want us to look at the first five words tonight. It’s from Revelation 1:1.

1The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,

There are many debates we could have on the book of Revelation. Is John writing about a future apocalypse? Is he writing about the church throughout history? Is he writing about events that largely took place in the first century? Is he writing a book simply about the idea of the judgment of God overcoming evil? Now these are all important discussions, but readers of Deeper Waters know we don’t get into that here, not even my own viewpoint which I do have.

However, when we approach the book of Revelation, despite our disagreements, we should all heed these first five words. “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.” Revelation is a book primarily about Jesus Christ and revealing who he is.

As we go through the book in our Trinitarian Commentary then, we will not be examining eschatology. We will instead be studying what the book says about the Trinity and of course, a focus on who the person of Jesus Christ is. I have noticed in my reading of the book that we have missed over many gems of who Jesus is throughout this book as some of the most powerful imagery is used in Revelation to describe him. (And keep that in mind people, the book is called Revelation. It’s not RevelationS.)

The letters to the seven churches proclaim who Jesus is and when we get to the scene of the throne room in Heaven, we will see even more about who he is. I do hold that the author of this book is the same John who wrote the epistles ascribed to him and the gospel that bears his name. What did this intimate disciple of Jesus have to say about him?

We will get into all of that after Christmas. For now, I simply want it to be remembered when you read this book that regardless of your eschatological perspective, please keep in mind that this book is about Jesus. We need to come here to not only learn about eschatology, but to learn about Jesus. Eschatology is a fine topic, but Jesus is a much more important one and I would prefer you have the right Jesus and the wrong eschatology than the reverse.

All this will start after Christmas. Tomorrow, I plan on a Christmas blog and then I will be out of town and won’t be writing again until Monday. I look forward to us diving into this book and as we do, always keep in mind the first five words.

The Lord of Jude

Welcome back everyone to Deeper Waters. Tonight, we’re going to wrap up the book of Jude and then move on to Revelation where we will be ready to wrap up our Trinitarian Commentary. I hope you all have enjoyed it. I do ask for your continued prayers on my path to Christlikeness. Thing seems to be going well in that area and especially thanks to some friends of mine who helped chat with me about various issues today. Also, prayer for my financial situation. This Christmas has been tight. Finally, prayer for an area in my life I wish to leave unnamed. God knows. Tonight, we’re going to finish Jude not with one verse but rather a collection of verses.

First is verse 5:

5Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe.

Notice in this case the Lord is the one who delivers his people out of Egypt.

And verse 9:

9But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”

Notice in this case, the Lord is the one who will punish the devil.

And verses 14-15:

14Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones 15to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

This is a key one in my belief. The Lord is coming to judge. The New Testament writers knew about Jesus coming to judge, but not about God the Father coming to judge.

Verse 17:

17But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold.

The Lord in this case is specifically said to be Jesus Christ.

And in verse 21:

21Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

And here, we see a distinction of persons between God, meaning the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

And finally, verse 25:

25to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

Once again, we see a distinction.

So what’s the point?

The point is if we take Lord to be Jesus Christ and we hear that Jesus is our only Lord, well let’s look at what the Lord does in these passages. He is the one who delivers the people of Israel from Egypt. He is the one who judges the devil. He is the one who is coming to judge. This is a high position.

Also, if all of this applies to one person, Jesus, in Jude 4, then that means that the Jehovah’s Witnesses have a problem with their favorite verse of John 17:3. By their standards, the Father cannot be Lord then and he could not have been the one to deliver from Egypt, judge the devil, etc.

What’s the conclusion? Jesus is Lord in the sense that he is Lord and God.

Tomorrow, we begin Revelation.

Our Only Sovereign and Lord

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters. My thanks goes out to JB for his kind compliment on last night’s blog. It’s hard to believe, but tonight, we’re going to start the next to last book of the New Testament, the book of Jude, in our Trinitarian Commentary. I ask for your prayers however in that I continue to grow in Christlikeness and cease to be a man of fear more often but rather one of courage. I also ask for your prayers concerning my current financial situation. Finally, I ask for your prayers in a certain are of my life. I’ve had a good deal of anxiety today that I’m working through which is in connection with the first prayer request that I list. For now, let’s go to the book of Jude. Today, we’ll be looking at verse 4:

4For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

Let’s get some introductory comments in first. Jude was the half-brother of Jesus, but yet, refers to himself as the brother of James, the half brother of Jesus, and the servant of the Lord. He’s creating a parallel of who he is in distinction to Jesus.

He also says he was eager to write about the salvation that is shared, but thought it imperative to write about a threat entering the church. While we as Christians should be in the practice of preaching the gospel, let us always follow the example of Jude and remember that in addition to that, we also have to contend for the faith.

Jude is dealing with the threat of people coming in to corrupt the family of believers with the idea that since we are saved by grace through faith, let’s go and live as we please. This is a kind of antinomianism that Paul also argued against.

There are mixed opinions as to the interpretation of this passage. Some see the only sovereign as the Father and the only Lord as Jesus. That is one held by many conservative evangelicals. Some see it all referring to Jesus. I agree with the latter and I will be looking at some reasons why as we go through this book.

But let us suppose that it is the former. How does that hurt the case? Not a bit. The relationship of the Father and the Son are still tied in together. To deny one is to deny the other. Both of them are given titles relating to sovereignty. We as Trinitarians must emphasize the relationship between the two persons.

The latter would give a much stronger case for the unique position of Jesus as the word used is “Despotes” which we can see the word “despot” in. Jude would be challenging them to consider who it is they’re going against and his position as the sovereign Lord and not to take that lightly.

As I said, we will look at this issue as we go further in the book, which we shall start doing tomorrow.

Should Cultists Enter Our House?

I welcome you all back to the Deeper Waters blog, or if this is your first time, welcome aboard. At this blog, we dive into the ocean of truth regularly. I simply ask in return for the writing I’m putting out that you all pray for me. First on the path of Christlikeness. For me, it’s overcoming a lot of doubt and fear and with my habit of obsessive thinking, that can be very difficult. I’m having to learn to change my attitude on a lot of things. Second, my financial situation. Third, I’d appreciate your prayers for a certain area in my life that I don’t want to mention. For now, let us go to the text. We’re not looking at a Trinitarian verse per se tonight, but at 2 John 10-11, which is relevant to those who minister to cultists.

10If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. 11Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.

Today, there was a chance I could have had some Jehovah’s Witnesses return to visit me. We’ve been trying to get them to come for awhile, and it hasn’t been easy. It’s been a number of months since I saw them last. So let’s suppose you came to me and said that what I am doing is in violation of this passage in 2 John. What am I to say?

In the early church, there weren’t exactly church buildings on the streets where people could meet and worship. Most churches met in house churches. The ones who could do some of the teaching were often the visitors. The parallel is in the Jewish synagogue, with a passage such as Acts 13 where Paul and Barnabas were visitors and were allowed to address the congregation. One suspects that membership would drop drastically at churches today if visitors were expected to teach those inside.

This is the context that John is dealing with. At the start of this book, John mentions the word truth five times in four verses. Truth is of utmost emphasis. He wants the churches that he writes to to be those that care about the truth.

Thus, if someone comes along with a different message, they are not to be allowed to teach. That is what is going on here. When John is talking about houses, he is not saying that they are not to come into individual houses to meet with people. He is saying that they are not to be given a place of authority within the church. They are not to teach as if they were valid teachers.

So today, when we live in our homes, unless you are allowing the cultists a place to teach in your house, there is no sin in allowing a cultist to come in and have a discussion with them. I would in fact encourage it. For Mormons, I would invite them over on major holidays when they’re away from their families. When we had some coming here for awhile, we would often pick up pizza for when they came so we could all snack together and serve them drinks. It worked well. Make the cultists feel like guests in your home to show them the love of Christ.

Above all, please don’t slam a door in their face. They’ll take it as persecution and that will convince them more of their message. If you don’t have time, be honest. Just tell them that now isn’t a good time and ask if you can rearrange. This could be a chance for you to give them the gospel or at least plant a seed someone else can water.

Cultists are people too. They’re caught in bad ideology and need the love of Christ. Show it to them.

We shall continue tomorrow.

The True God

Welcome again everyone to Deeper Waters. Tonight, we are going to finish up the book of 1 John. I am amazed that we have come this far. I had no idea this is how the blog would turn out when I started blogging on the Trinity. It’s been a fun ride however. I again ask for your prayers for my continued commitment to Christlikeness. I constantly see sides of myself that are not loving as they should be and I am learning to work on that. I also ask for prayers for my financial situation and then again, a certain area in my life that I would like prayers for. God knows. For now, let us go to 1 John 5:20.

20We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true—even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.

This is one of the debated verses again. I would recommend for an in-depth look at this and several other verses where the word theos is used of Jesus, that one check out Murray J. Harris’s book “Jesus as God.” Harris takes the position that this does not refer to Jesus. Of course, there are several passages where he does believe that “God” refers to Jesus, but he is a fair interpreter of the text.

The book has been telling us at this point much about the nature of God. It was Jesus who came to reveal God to us. We know the Father best by looking at the Son. When we see Jesus, we are seeing what a person of the nature of God is like. He comes to us and shows us how we are to live. Ultimately, Jesus doesn’t just show us who God is, but he shows us who we are to be.

Thus, the passage says that the Son came to reveal him who is true. This would be God. It is the nature of God that has been the real focus and Jesus is the one who tells us the nature of God. So, when John says “He is the true God”, is he saying that Jesus is the true God, or is he saying that this is the nature of God? He is true.

I would say that it is referring to God himself. I think the him that is true refers to God and Jesus Christ is his Son. The one who is true then is the one that John wishes us to think about and he says that he is the true God and eternal life. I also think that this is in contrast to the evil one all throughout. The one who is true is a counter to the one who is evil. This also fits with John’s final warning for us to avoid idols. It’s not just idols of wood, but idols of false gods of the mind.

Tomorrow, we shall move to 2 John.

1 John 5:7

Welcome back everyone to Deeper Waters as we dive into the ocean of truth. I thank you all for your continued prayers as I work to grow into the man I need to be, which is a more Christlike man. It is a slow process, but those who know me are saying that tremendous progress is being made. I also ask for your continued prayers with my financial situation, especially seeing as we’re in Christmastime. Finally, I ask prayers for a certain area in my life that I wish to remain silent on. For now, let’s get to the text. We’re going to be looking at a text that isn’t in everyone’s Bible, and that is 1 John 5:7. (I’m sure you had no idea from the title what passage I would talk about.) Let’s go to the text!

7For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

As someone who deals with cults regularly, it would be wonderful if I believed such a verse was real. Unfortunately, this is one of those verses that I just don’t believe was in the original letter that the apostle wrote. I stand in this opinion alongside giants in textual criticism such as Daniel Wallace and the late Bruce Metzger.

The truth is that the number of manuscripts that have this text is definitely in the  minority. Erasmus when he was putting together his translation was asked about this and said he’d put it in if someone could find a Greek manuscript that had it. This was after considering that Erasmus had a number of manuscripts at his disposal that didn’t have the verse in them. Well someone did bring one to him and as a former professor of mine said “And the ink had not yet dried.”

Erasmus grudgingly put it in. The KJV today has the text, which is where I went to to get it, but most of your modern versions will not and if they do, they will put a footnote with the passage that says that the oldest and best manuscripts do not contain this verse.

So let’s consider something in the area of the text and the message of Scripture. I do not believe the text that is the topic of our blog tonight is legitimate. However, that does not mean that I believe that the proposition that is spelled out by the text is in error. I would love it if that text were in the Bible. It would make dialogue with Jehovah’s Witnesses so much easier.

What we need to realize as Christians is that many of the doctrines of Scripture are systematic. This is also an area the new atheists make a mistake in. The assumption is that the Bible must spell out everything when really, people need to study the Bible. It’s a complex book. There’s a lot that’s hard to understand. I won’t claim to understand it all. The Trinity is one such area of understanding. You will not find one verse, but you must take the whole of Scripture and look at it systematically. In doing so, you can arrive at what the Scripture teaches.

We shall continue 1 John tomorrow.