The Bible in 10 Weeks – Week 10 Review

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away..."

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away…”

Having reviewed nine weeks of our reading plan let’s turn to the final readings we finished for week ten, New Creation.

In those readings we see the final stages of God’s plan–a plan that has been in the works since before the world was created. It is a plan for restoration and newness. Christ has reversed the curse that Adam had brought and now we can look forward to life everlasting. We, along with the entire creation, will be remade and raised to a life that is lived fully in the presence of God.

In Revelation there is a moment of concern for the author John because the scroll, the plan of God for this world, is sealed and there is no one that can open it. He despairs that the good work of God is being halted. As he weeps someone comes to him telling him to weep no more, for in fact there is one who can open the scroll. It is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, the conqueror, who can open the scroll.

This Lion is the one who can carry out the plans of God.[1] Jesus has been on the move in a powerful way throughout Scripture and he takes center stage in Revelation. But there is a fantastic twist that follows. As John turns he doesn’t see a Lion, but a Lamb. It is the Lamb of God that takes the scroll and is able to open it.

This is a great, quick illustration of the way in which God came in a way that was not what people expected. Jesus is the Lion of Judah, but the way in which he conquers is not like others. Our Lion is the Lamb, the one who would be the sacrifice for our sins. He conquers by means of his own death.

It is the death of God who would comes to earth to save sinners that is able to break the curse of our sin and reverse the damning effects of our sin not just in ourselves, but in all creation. We trust our life over to the Lamb that was slain, but who now lives and reigns forevermore. And if our life is now in him, in Jesus Christ, we follow his lead and live for him now as we eagerly await his return.


  1. With this imagery in mind I had this 10 Week plan use a picture of a lion for its logo.  ↩

Jesus Christ and the Big Reveal

The Sixth Sense

The movie the Sixth Sense is about a psychologist, Malcolm Crowe, who is trying to help a boy who can see and talk to dead people. It is a standard supernatural thriller, but what makes the movie so powerful is that at the end it is revealed that Crowe has himself been dead the whole time.[1] It is a fantastically surprising ending to the movie and it makes you want to go back and watch again. When I first saw it, I also wanted to take others to the movie so I could see their faces when they figured it out. People’s eyes would get big and their jaws would drop as their mind would try to immediately reprocess the story in light of the stunning reveal.

In watching the movie again you could go back and see all the clues that were there earlier in the movie. Without knowing that Crowe was dead, they hadn’t meant anything to you. But in light of how the story ends, it all seems so perfectly obvious.

As you read the gospels do you get the sense that this is God’s great revealing? God comes to us in Jesus Christ and lives a fully human life in our midst. Jesus reveals God to us and even says, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”[2] As if this isn’t already too much for some to handle, Jesus then lives a life that people would never have expected the Messiah to live. Jesus would eventually do what no one ever saw coming, he submitted himself and suffered a criminal’s death on the cross. People, including his closest disciples, were distraught and in despair. Even though Christ had told them what was to come–what you might even call clues–they could not anticipate that God would come among them and then be crucified.

After three confusing days Jesus is raised. He comes and continues to teach his disciples and help them make sense of what had gone on. Jesus then sends us his Holy Spirit to open our eyes and lead us into all truth.

What Jesus did was so world-changing that the early church needed to look at all of life through new lenses. They needed to go back and reprocess their own story in light of the crucifixion and resurrection.

The story that had been handed down and preserved was what we call the Old Testament. So they went back to the beginning and studied it all seeing more clearly what God was doing because they could see by the light of Jesus Christ. The church began to see how everything pointed ahead to the one who would one day come and fulfill and the hopes and needs of the people.

Now that God had been made known in a greater way than ever before, now that the plans of God found their fulfillment in Jesus Christ, and now that the church was living by the power of the Holy Spirit, they had to go back. If what Jesus Christ said about himself were true, if he really did all he said he did, then Jesus must be there in all of Scripture. People like Paul and the author of Hebrews helped the church to connect the dots and see how the story of God had its climax in Jesus Christ. It isn’t a new story but a continuation and fulfillment of the same story–the story of creation, of Israel, of redemption and forgiveness. But it now makes more sense because of what Jesus has done.

The story continues, though. We continue to look back to Jesus’ works, live for him today, and we await the thrilling conclusion when he will one day return.


  1. I’m sure by now that anyone who has desired to see the Sixth Sense has done so already, so I don’t need to fear spoilers.  ↩

  2. John 14:8–10  ↩

Relying Upon the Spirit and Not on Our Apologetics

And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
1 Corinthians 2:3-5

There are some great books that defend the Christian faith that I’ve personally enjoyed in the past. They could be grouped broadly into the category of “apologetics.” This name isn’t based on our saying “sorry” for our faith, but the word relates to giving a defense. While I certainly believe that there are reasons to believe in Jesus Christ and that our Bible is a trustworthy book, it is important to remember that we cannot argue someone into faith. We shouldn’t present some sort of bullet point list to someone, then demand that she believe.

While Paul does use argumentation and is thoughtful with his words and his audience, he is primarily a witness pointing to Jesus. Paul can’t make someone believe. In fact, he doesn’t want to. His desire is that a person’s faith “might not rest in the wisdom of men.”

Dove

This chapter goes on about how what we now know–the wisdom of God that we see in the cross of Jesus Christ–is not based in our own intellectual achievements. It is not because I’m smart enough that I’m a Christian. Likewise it is not because someone is dumb that they may not believe. The eternal purposes of God are known to us because they have been revealed to us by the Spirit of God.

But, as it is written,
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—
these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.”
1 Corinthians 2:9–10

We can’t even boast in our knowing because it is a gift of God’s grace. Our coming to believe and understand is a work of God’s through and through.

We ought to love God with our minds, seek to know him better, to discern the mind of Christ, and speak ably about Jesus to those around us, always giving a reason for the hope we have (1 Peter 3:15). But we do not do this as though everything hinges on my skillful argumentation. Christianity is not an anti-intellectual faith, but it is not a faith dependent on advanced understanding and academic achievement. Our faith is dependent on the working of the power of God.

No More Tears in God’s New Heaven and New Earth

Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, Jan van Eyck, c. 1390-1441

Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, Jan van Eyck, c. 1390-1441

From NT Wright’s commentary, Revelation for Everyone, he says this about Revelation 21:1-5:

When has there been a moment in your life when you have said to yourself, ‘This is new’? I don’t just mean a car with a few new gadgets, or a meal with a different combination of sauces and seasonings – though these, too, may point in the right direction. I’m thinking more of major life-experiences in which we think to ourselves, ‘Everything is going to be different now. This is quite new. This is a whole new world opening up.’

Such experiences might well include some major life-events: birth, marriage, full recovery from a long and dangerous illness, the experience of someone new coming to live with you. All these, interestingly, feature in the list of images which John uses as he builds up this breathtaking picture of the new heaven and new earth. ‘I will be his God and he shall be my son’ (verse 7): a final new birth. The holy city is like ‘a bride dressed up for her husband’: a wedding. There will be ‘no more death, or mourning or weeping or pain any more’: the great recovery. And, central to this whole picture, and indeed explaining what it all means, is the great promise: ‘God has come to dwell with humans.’ The new, permanent guest.

There may be mystery about God’s new creation, but what we do know is surely good news. What a hope we have in Jesus Christ.

Judgment and a Means of Salvation

We read this week of more judgment that is poured out upon the earth and there are parallels to the plagues that afflicted Egypt. This similarity is helpful in understanding how these trumpets, seals, or bowls operate in God’s grand plan. Just as the plagues in Egypt were not random acts of God’s vengeance, neither is what we see in Revelation. The plagues were a judgment on Egypt, but there were also the means by which God brought about the deliverance of his people. Likewise, the wrath that comes upon the earth is judgment, but it also has the purpose to be a means of God’s restoration of his creation. It is judgment, but it also plays a part in how God’s faithful people will be saved.

Revelation: A Vision of Tomorrow that Matters Today

Francisco de Zurbarán, Agnus Dei, c. 1635

Francisco de Zurbarán, Agnus Dei, c. 1635

I had the privilege to preach this last Sunday on chapter five from the book of Revelation. In it Jesus Christ, the lamb of God, steps up as the only one worthy to open the scroll of God. I thought I’d share the cliff notes version of the sermon, as I didn’t write too much on the book for last week.

One concern of mine in regards to this book is that we see it as just an extended forecast–something that shows us the future, but has no real bearing for how we live today. Revelation does show us what is to come, but I believe it also reveals a vision that breaks into our life in the here and now. Here is a summary of three takeaways for how we should live today.

  • Worship and Praise

    Revelation pulls back the curtain to give us a glimpse of one so worthy, so glorious that he deserves our praise now and through eternity.

  • Perseverance and Hope

    Revelation pulls back the curtain and shows us the truth that although this world appears to be in chaos, God has a plan, a plan that Christ accomplishes, and it is a plan for his victory, so let us persevere with hope.

  • Royal Priesthood

    Revelation pulls back the curtain and reminds us that the God who reigns has called us into that family business. We reign with Christ and live as a part of his kingdom, serving right now, as a royal priesthood in this world.

Hope Fulfilled Around the Throne of God

We see a powerful image of what life with God will be like, and in these verses are wonderful promises of Jesus truly fulfilled. Jesus, the bread of life, told us that if we come to him we won’t hunger and if we believe, we’ll never thirst. He said that he is our good shepherd. He offers us living water. Our lives are hidden within him, finding shelter there. Such hope is wrapped up in the scene around the throne in chapter seven:

They are before the throne of God
and serve him day and night in his temple;

and he who sits on the throne
will shelter them with his presence.
‘Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,’
nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb at the center of the throne
will be their shepherd;
‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’
‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.