The Net Pastor’s Journal, Eng Ed, Issue 37, Fall 2020
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I. Strengthening Biblical Interpretation
“How To Read And Understand The Bible” (Pt. 4)
This is part 4 of our continuing study of “Strengthening Biblical Interpretation: How to Read and Understand the Bible.” In the previous three parts of this study (issue numbers 34, 35, and 36 of this Journal) we have looked at the following subjects:
1. Three basic tasks in Biblical interpretation
2. Two important hermeneutical questions
1. Literal interpretation
2. Interpreting certain literary genres and devices
3. Single mean; multiple applications
4. The impact of culture on our understanding – ancient and contemporary cultures
1. Two extremes of cultural vs transcultural interpretation
2. Two examples of cultural vs transcultural interpretation
a) Foot washing
b) Head coverings for women
3. Four guidelines for understanding and interpreting cultural issues
Now, in this part 4, we will outline Ten Simple Rules Of Biblical Interpretation. For this subject, I have found R. C. Sproul, Knowing Scripture, 63-99 to be very helpful.
RULE #1: Interpret Scripture In Accordance With The Author’s Originally Intended Meaning
If you have properly and adequately studied the text, you should be able to write down what the author intended to say to his original audience. You must be able to state this before you move to what it means for your audience today. I recommend that you write out the passage in your own words (paraphrase it). This will reveal whether you know the meaning of the passage. If you don’t know what it means, you won’t be able to write it out in your own words. Try to write it out by amplifying the meaning of the words and phrases, explaining the imagery in your own words.
RULE #2: Interpret Scripture In The Light Of Other Scripture
Since we believe that Scripture is divinely inspired, we also believe that no part of Scripture can contradict or be in conflict with another part of Scripture since God cannot contradict himself.
This principle (interpreting Scripture in the light of Scripture) is very important for two reasons. First, because of attacks against Scripture by unbelievers. One of the primary attacks against Scripture by unbelievers is the assertion that Scripture contradicts itself. Since the Bible was written by over 40 authors over a period of 16 centuries, if it were not a divinely authored book, contradictions and inconsistencies would be very possible. By interpreting Scripture in the light of Scripture, you can show that the entirety of Scripture is consistent with itself.
Second, interpreting Scripture in the light of Scripture is an important principle because of the attitude with which Christians read Scripture. Christians do not read and interpret the Bible with the intent of finding inconsistencies in the text (as a non-Christian would). Rather, we look for inconsistencies in our interpretation of the text, which would be revealed by this rule of “interpreting Scripture in the light of Scripture.” Furthermore, we read and interpret Scripture with an attitude of submission to the inherent authority, accuracy, integrity, and cohesion of the text so that if there is a contradiction or inconsistency with our interpretation, the problem is with us, not the text.
Therefore, a basic principle of sound biblical interpretation is that to correctly understand one passage of Scripture, you must bring in other texts that are either comparative or contrasting texts. If your interpretation of the passage under study conflicts with the teaching of another comparative or contrasting passage, then your interpretation is not correct. Or, if a verse or passage has several interpretive options, and the one you have chosen is not consistent with other comparative or contrasting passages, then that interpretive option must be rejected and one that is consistent with the other passages must be chosen.
Following this rule of biblical interpretation helps in several ways:
(1) It expands your study and exposition of the text by bringing more light to it from other texts.
(2) It acts as a safeguard to ensure that you are not interpreting the text in a way that is inconsistent with other texts.
(3) It ensures that you understand the progressive unfolding of God's revelation in Scripture. As time progressed, God revealed more and more of himself, his will, his purposes etc. to us through Scripture.
(4) It helps you see the different bases on which God related to and dealt with people at different times. So, Scripture is not only a progressive unfolding of divine revelation but also a progressive unfolding of God's relationship to mankind.
RULE #3: Use The Clear, Major, and Numerous Scriptures To Explain The Less Clear, Minor, and Few.
Since revelation in Scripture is progressive, it is understandable that early revelation may be less clear than later revelation because it is partial and sometimes obscure. Scriptures which are partial or minor in their treatment of a topic do not have interpretive authority over those which are fuller and clearer. The clear and major revelations clarify those that may be less clear and minor.
This, again, emphasizes the need for rule #2: Interpret Scripture in the light of other Scripture.
RULE #4: Be Careful In Making “Logical” Deductions And Inferences.
This rule is closely related to the previous rule. What may seem like a logical deduction or inference from Scripture may not necessarily be true. What is logical to us may not be logical in God’s ways or thoughts. Obviously, if explicit teaching contradicts your inference or what you think is implicit, then the explicit teaching rules. It is important, therefore, to look for explicit instruction that supports what you may think is implicit in the text.
It’s so easy to adopt interpretations and applications of Scripture based on logical deductions, or assumed implicit instructions or inferences that you draw from the text, which may not be what the author intended to convey at all.
While we need to be careful with making deductions and inferences, we do need to identify the general principles that arise from the specific details in the text under our study. Be very careful that the conclusions you draw from your text are the underlying, universal, timeless principles that are being revealed in the text.
RULE #5: Do Not Make Scripture Meet An Unreasonable Literary Standard
By “unreasonable literary standard” I mean a standard that you would not require of any other literature. R. C. Sproul calls this “reading the Bible like any other book” (Knowing Scripture, 63). One commentator puts it this way: “In interpreting the Bible we do not ask any favors which we do not believe are proper rules for the reading of any serious literature” (Mal Couch, ed. A Biblical Theology of the Church, 15).
Of course, the Bible is not just like any other book because: (1) it is unique (no other book like it); (2) it is divine (no other Author like it); (3) it is inspired (no other source, communication, revelation, or power like it).
But, we must read it like any other book in the sense that it is constructed using written words, like any other book - words which had a commonly understood meaning at the time; words which need to be interpreted and understood in accordance with the common rules of grammar at the time and which are designed to be understood on that basis. Also, we must not attribute to it literary liberties that we would not allow for any other literature.
But note this caveat: though we may understand the meaning of the words and grammar correctly, that does not mean that anyone who reads the Bible will necessarily arrive at the correct conclusions about what it says and how it applies to our lives. For that, we need the illumination of the Holy Spirit, which is the exclusive possession of believers only. Unbelievers can understand the words on the page; they can analyze its grammar; they can engage in the same literary analysis that they would do for any other piece of literature. But unbelievers do not arrive at the correct conclusions about it because they do not have the illumination of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:14; Eph. 4:18) - their ability to understand the Bible is limited to the level of literature only. Though they may have intellectual comprehension they do not have spiritual comprehension. Thus, unbelievers do not submit to the authority of Scripture; they come to wrong conclusions about it; they cannot see the spiritual significance of Scripture; they do not assign proper value to it; they do not accept the implications of Scripture for faith and practice; and they will not accept the application of Scripture to their lives. If we are to assign to the Bible proper value, arrive at the correct conclusions about what it says, and apply it relevantly to our lives, we need the illumination of the Holy Spirit.
The point I am trying to make here when I say “do not make the Scriptures meet an unreasonable literary standard” is that its grammatical construction (words, phrases, clauses etc.), its contexts (historical, cultural, political etc.), and its literary genre (poetic, narrative etc.) must be examined in the same way you would examine and read any other literature, but with the enablement of the Holy Spirit. This objective method of biblical interpretation prevents subjective, mystical interpretation that is not rooted in scholarship and can be made to mean anything the reader wants or thinks.
RULE #6: Read and Interpret The Bible From A Personal-Application Perspective.
Do not ask “What does this mean to me?” but “How does this apply to me?” In asking this question, we not only bring out its current and relevant application, but we find out first how it was applied to the people to whom it was originally written. By seeing how the author crafted his argument and how he applied it to the real life situation of his original audience (i.e. why he was writing, what problem he was addressing etc.), we discover how it may apply to ourselves within the limitation of its original intended meaning.
Please note this limitation: Even though we may make many applications from one truth, those applications are still limited by the teaching of the author as he originally intended it. You are not authorized to apply Scripture any way you want, just as you are not authorized to interpret it any way you want. As someone has said, “There is more heresy taught in the area of application than in explanation.”
So, we need to read and interpret the Bible from a “personal-application” perspective by identifying with the author’s intended meaning (and what his original audience would have understood); by identifying the life situation of the original audience (and how what was written applied to them); and then applying it appropriately to our own life situation and culture (i.e. in a way that is consistent, and corresponds, with the original situation).
RULE #7: Identify Literary Devices and Genre And Interpret Them Accordingly.
I have already defined what I mean by literal interpretation, particularly when it comes to literary devices (such as figures of speech) and literary genres (such as poetry, apocalyptic, allegory etc.). Each literary genre must be interpreted accordingly. For example, Hebrew poetry must be interpreted in accordance with its patterns and customs - e.g. parallelisms etc. (e.g. Ps. 2:4; Prov. 1:20; Gen. 4:23; Isa. 55:6-7). We need to distinguish between proverb and law. Like our English proverbs, Hebrew proverbs are not intended to be universal truisms for all people at all times, but general principles that are generally true for those living godly lives.
RULE #8: Study The Grammatical Construction and Meaning Of Words Carefully
You cannot interpret Scripture accurately if you do not pay close attention to the grammar – (1) the parts of speech (e.g. noun, verb); (2) the form of each word (e.g. singular or plural; present or future tense etc.); (3) the meaning and use of words in their context and their relationship to each other (i.e. syntax) to form phrases, sentences, and paragraphs. Do not make words mean what you want them to mean or what you think they mean based on contemporary usage. You must understand the word as it was used in its original literary, cultural, and historical contexts. Remember that sometimes words change in their meaning over time.
Pay attention to repeated, significant, and key words. Repeated words and phrases usually tell you something about what the author is trying to emphasize, and / or the theme of the text (e.g. Phil. 1:27; 2:2,3,5; 3:15,16; 4:2,7). Significant words might be: (1) Theological terms (e.g. justification); or (2) The main verb in a sentence; or (3) Conjunctions and prepositions. Words cannot be interpreted in isolation from their usage. So, be sure to always determine what a word means by analyzing its form and its usage in its context.
When you have a word with multiple possible meanings, you have to look at its context and at the various usages in the Bible in order to determine its meaning.
RULE #9: Read and Interpret The Bible Christologically.
By this I mean, read the Bible from a N.T. perspective. Every message should point to Christ or the Christian life in Christ. Each sermon should be governed by the redemptive focus of the Scriptures (cf. Bryan Chapell’s “Fallen Condition Focus” (FCF) in Christ Centered Preaching, 1994). This focus is not only the salvation of the lost but also the growth of believers so that they become all that God intends them to be. Chapell asserts that “proper understanding of a passage and focus of a sermon require a clear FCF” (Bryan Chapell, 42).
Theologically, every sermon must have as its purpose the same purpose as the passage, which is “an aspect of the human condition that requires the instruction, admonition, and / or comfort of the Scriptures” (Chapell, 43). By having this as its objective, every sermon will be unified in its purpose.
RULE #10: Read and Interpret The Bible Theologically.
Look for indications in the text of the essential truth(s) that the author is expressing. Ask yourself: (1) What doctrine (theology) is the original author expressing? (2) What is the overriding truth that emerges from the text? Don’t impose your doctrinal bias onto the text. Don’t read into the text what is not there. Ask yourself: (1) What is the text saying about God? (2) What is it saying about man’s relationship to God? (3) What is it saying about how to live for God? If you can’t find the answer to these questions in the text, you probably don’t know what the theological point of the text is.
The difficulty of this task often depends on the literary genre. The non-didactic genre can be challenging to uncover the truth that is being taught – e.g. the Song of Solomon, or, the book of Jonah. Is Jonah about how God deals with a wayward prophet? Or, is it about God's sovereignty in all circumstances, whether acts of nature (storms, plants, and worms), pagan sailors, wayward prophets, or wicked Gentiles etc.?
In this regard, you have to be very careful interpreting narratives in order to be sure you understand the theology that is being taught. You have to extract the theological point from the narrative detail.
II. Strengthening Biblical Leadership
“Serving Our Master In A World That Hates Him: An Exegetical Study Of John 15:18-27”
As Christian leaders we often face rejection both in our churches and in the world. Living as a Christian is challenging and often intimidating, isn’t it? The world is so antagonistic to the gospel and to Christ himself. Sometimes their animosity makes us afraid to stand up for Christ. But here’s the encouragement - Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33).
So, what do we do, as leaders of God’s people, to encourage our congregations to testify for Christ when the surrounding culture is so hostile? That’s our subject in this article: “Testifying for Christ in a world that hates him” (Jn. 15:18-27). I hope that this Bible study will help you and encourage you as it becomes increasingly difficult to publicly profess Christ in this world.
In our passage, Jesus has just exhorted the disciples to abide in him (15:1-11) and to love one another (15:12-17). Now Jesus moves on to warn them of the hatred of the world against himself and therefore against them, his followers (15:18-25) and to encourage them to testify for him in the midst of such hatred (15:26-27).
The principle that we learn from this passage is that “Despite opposition from the world, we can faithfully testify for Christ.” We notice three theological principles in this text…
I. The World Hates Followers Of Christ (18-20).
Notice that 1. The world hates followers of Christ because it hated Christ himself first (15:18). “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you” (15:18). When Jesus says, “if” the world hates you, he is not inferring that the world may or may not hate you. This is an “if” of reason, not an “if” of doubt. There is no doubt that the world hates followers of Christ.
The disciples themselves had already experienced this. They knew what had happened to the man born blind and his parents in ch. 9. They knew the blind man’s parents “feared the Jews because the Jews had agreed already that if anyone confessed that He was the Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue” (9:22). This was sheer intimidation by the Jews against these people because they had experienced the healing power of Jesus. The Jews were bound and bent to shut down their testimony of what Jesus had done for their son. In the days to come the disciples would experience an even greater degree of hatred from the world. There is an innate hatred that springs from those who are bitterly opposed to Christ. The truth is that the world hates Christians because it hated Christ. The world is filled with wicked men and women whose Satan-inspired hatred for Christ is manifested in their hatred for followers of Christ.
Jesus comforts his disciples by saying, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you (15:18).” The comfort in this is that Christians who experience the world’s hatred are suffering alongside their Saviour. Jesus suffered the world’s hatred first, and Christians suffer for Christ now. The apostle Paul calls this a privilege, a gift: “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Phil. 1:30). Jesus does not call us to experience anything that he has not experienced himself first. Because of suffering and opposition, many of Jesus’ disciples stopped following him (Jn. 6:66). They couldn’t take the intolerance, the rejection, the humiliation, the physical punishment. That’s the challenge many Christians face today.
So, 1. the world hates followers of Christ because they hated Christ himself first; 2. The world hates followers of Christ because we have been chosen by Christ (15:19-20). “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you (15:19). To be “of the world” means to be identified with the world, to hold the world’s beliefs and morals, to adopt the world’s habits and character. If you did that, Jesus says, “the world would love” you as one of “its own.” If you were motivated and characterized by the world’s standards, the world would accept you as one of its own. But the truth is, the world does not accept you. In fact, the world hates you “because you are not of the world.” The reason you are not of the world is because Jesus “chose you out of the world.”
Did you get that? Jesus is saying there is only one reason why you are not accepted by, nor subject, to the world and that’s because “I chose you out of the world.” That is his sovereign grace and mercy toward his followers. The reason the disciples were separate and apart from “the world” was not because there was anything good or meritorious before God in them, but because they had been sovereignly chosen by Jesus. And just as Jesus sovereignly called them so he sovereignly calls all believers today to himself to be his followers and his spokespersons. That’s what makes us different from the world. We have been called out of it by God and separated to him for his exclusive use and purpose.
Repeating what he had already told them in 13:16, Jesus says “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’” (15:20a). Jesus’ followers cannot expect better treatment than Jesus himself received. Just as he was not exempt from persecution, neither are we. “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also” (15:20b). In other words, however the world responds to Jesus will be their response to us, his followers. If they persecuted him, they will persecute his followers. Conversely, if they obeyed his word, they would obey the word of his followers also. In short, the world will respond to you the same way they responded to Jesus.
The world hates followers of Christ - 1. because it hated Christ himself; 2. because Christians have been chosen by Christ out of the world, and, 3. The world hates followers of Christ because the world does not know God (15:21). “But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me” (15:21). The world will persecute and hate those who take the name of Jesus “because they do not know Him who sent Me.” You can only know God through Jesus Christ. If you hate Jesus, it’s because you do not know God – “the One who sent Him.” Anyone who truly knows God knows that Jesus is his one and only eternal Son whom he sent into the world. If they had known that Jesus was the sent One from God, they would not have treated him as they did. For the Bible says that “the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world” (1 Jn. 4:14).
So the first theological principle in this passage is that the world hates followers of Christ. But notice the second theological principle…
II. There Is No Excuse For The World’s Hatred Of Christ (15:22-25).
1. There is no excuse for hatred of Christ because of the words He spoke (15:22-23). “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin” (15:22). The truth is they should have known who Jesus was. He came to make God known to them and he did so in word and deed. If Jesus had not revealed to them who He was in his teachings, then they would not have committed the sin of rejecting him as their Messiah because they would have been ignorant - “they would have no sin.” But since Jesus did reveal to them who he was, “now they have no excuse for their sin.” To reject Jesus is inexcusable; they are guilty. Why? Because Jesus clearly spoke the truth to them about who he is and who God is. Yet they still rejected him. And for that there is no excuse. No person ever born into this world has any excuse for rejecting Jesus when they stand before the Great White Throne of God’s judgement - nothing to say, no excuse, no self-justification. Why? Because they have heard the truth and rejected it.
“He who hates Me hates My Father also” (15:23). You cannot know God except by knowing and believing in Jesus. If you hate Jesus you hate the Father also. The Jews in Jesus’ day claimed that God was their Father but they rejected Jesus as God’s Son, the Messiah. That’s impossible because Jesus and the Father are one. You can claim to know God, but if you reject Jesus the Son of God, you reject God the Father also. So, people and religious groups who claim to worship God but deny the deity of Christ, his substitutionary atonement for sins, his resurrection from the dead etc. cannot and do not know God.
So, 1. there’s no excuse for hatred of Christ because of the words he spoke. And, 2. There is no excuse for hatred of Christ because of the works he did (15:24-25). “If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin” (15:24a). Not only are Jesus’ words (15:22) irrefutable evidence of who he is but so are Jesus’ works. He was unique in what he said and what he did. If he had not performed the miraculous signs that he did, then, he says, “they would have no sin.” But Jesus did perform “works which no one else did” and for that everyone is responsible for their response to him. “But now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father” (15:24b). The people of Jesus’ day showed their response by rejecting him during his lifetime and at his death. Such rejection was inexcusable for the evidence was irrefutable as to who Jesus was. In rejecting him they rejected the One who sent him as well.
Now, this isn’t any different from today. We have the evidence of Jesus’ words and works right in front of us in the Scriptures. So, everyone is responsible for how they respond to the evidence. What we see in this passage is that the evidence often isn’t enough to convince some people of their sin and need of a Saviour. Such is the hardness of the human heart.
“But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’” (15:25). That’s a tragically sad truth – “they hated me without a cause.” People who may hate us usually have a reason. But in the case of Jesus, they hated him for no reason. This just goes to show the incredible hardness and wickedness of the human heart! Jesus came doing good to people without money and without price. He did good to people who didn’t even know him, healing those who were sick, feeding those who were hungry, raising some from the dead. He came speaking words of grace and mercy. He came to make God known to us.
By hating Jesus without a cause, Jesus’ opponents unknowingly accomplished two things: (a) they were responsible for his death; and at the same time (b) they fulfilled God’s eternal redemptive purposes. God used man’s wicked acts to accomplish his perfect will so that human beings are responsible for Jesus’ death while at the same time, through his death, God offers eternal life to the human race. That’s the magnificent love and grace of God!
What have we learned so far? First, the world hates followers of Christ (15:18-20). Second, there is no excuse for hatred against Christ (15:22-25). So, how then do we, as Christ’s leaders in His church, faithfully serve Him and testify for Him in such a hate-filled world? Well, here’s the encouragement…
III. Despite The World’s Hatred, We Can Testify For Christ (15:26-27).
1. We can testify for Christ because of the empowerment of the Holy Spirit (15:26). In 15:18-25, Jesus has warned the disciples of coming persecution and he explained the reasons why they would be persecuted. Now, in 15:26-27, Jesus exhorts and comforts the disciples by telling them where our source of strength would come from to testify for Him in the midst of opposition and persecution. Just as he had told them at the beginning of chapter 14, Jesus reminds us again that our comfort and power in the face of opposition is the Holy Spirit. “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me” (15:26). Jesus promised that when he went back to heaven, he would send to them the “Helper (Comforter)… from the Father.” This, of course, is what happened at Pentecost.
The nature of the Holy Spirit is “the Spirit of truth” (15:26b). Just as the word of God is truth and Jesus is the truth, so the Holy Spirit is truth because the Trinity is one. So, the nature of the Holy Spirit is truth itself and the work of the Holy Spirit is to “testify of Me.” That is one of the Holy Spirit’s primary roles today in the world. “When he has come,” Jesus says in 16:8, “he will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgement.” In the world, the Holy Spirit testifies to the utter sinfulness of the human race, the utter graciousness of God, and the utter marvel of Christ’s redemption. The Holy Spirit is the “Spirit of truth” who testifies to God’s truth.
So, 1. we can testify for Christ because of the empowerment of the Holy Spirit and 2. We can testify for Christ because of our relationship with Him (15:27). “And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning” (15:27). Very soon the disciples would experience their utter lack of witness for Christ when they all forsook him and fled. But upon the coming of the Holy Spirit they would be emboldened and empowered to do so without any fear. Men who deserted Christ in fear would soon be men of courage, who fearlessly testified for Christ even to the point of death because of their relationship with him from the beginning.
Like the disciples, because we have an intimate relationship with Christ, we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to testify to the grace of God without fear. We can testify to the pitiful moral condition of the human race. We can testify to the saving grace of God in Christ. And all this in the midst of the world’s opposition. As church leaders, our responsibility today is to set the example of how to testify for Christ even in the face of opposition. As his followers, we are indwelled by the Holy Spirit and placed in the world to testify to who Jesus is, why he came, what he did, where he is now, and his soon-coming return. We testify for him every time we pray for our food. We testify for him every time we speak a word for Christ to others. We testify for him when we take a stand against those who demean Christ. We testify for him by our lifestyle, our speech, our deeds, our priorities, our associations, our habits. Whatever we say or do must be with the goal that we bring glory to God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
What have learned in this passage is: 1. The world hates followers of Christ because they hated Christ himself (15:18-20); 2. There is no excuse for hatred against Christ because of (a) the words that he spoke, and (b) the works he did (15:22-25); yet, 3. Despite the world’s hatred, we can faithfully testify for Christ, (a) because of the empowerment of the Holy Spirit (15:26), and (b) because of our relationship with Him (15:27). That’s our comfort and encouragement.
May this word today be an encouragement and challenge to us all, especially those of us who lead and pastor God’s people. Jesus has warned us that testifying for him will not be easy. And he has encouraged and equipped us to do so even despite the world’s hatred. May we stand firm for Him in a world that hates him.
III. Sermon Outlines
Title: Letters To The Seven Churches: Sardis- Nominal Christianity (Rev. 3:1-6)
Theme: A church may maintain a façade of Christianity even when it is about to die
Point I: There is a difference between reputation and reality: “I know your works that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead” (3:1)
1. By reputation (“name”) this church was “alive”
2. But in reality it was “dead.”
Point II: There is a connection between waking and working (3:2)
1. This church needed to “wake up” – “be watchful”
2. This church needed to “work out” – “to strengthen the things that remain”
Point III: There is a necessity to remember and repent (3:3-6)
1. It’s necessary to remember the past – “remember therefore how you have received and heard” (3:3a)
2. It’s necessary to recognize the present – “hold fast and repent” (3:3b)
3. It’s necessary to refocus on the future
a) Many sleepers will be surprised by Christ’s judgement – “If you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you” (3c)
b) A few saints will be satisfied by Christ’s approval – “You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments” (3:4a)
To these faithful but few saints, Christ promises…
- “They will walk with Me in white for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed int white garments.” (3:4b-5a)
- “I will never by any means blot their names out of the Book of Life” (3:5b-c)
Conclusion: “He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (3:6).
Related Topics: Pastors