Worthy is the Lamb: Jesus Christ Unlocks History – Revelation 5:1-14


The text for the sermon today is Revelation 5:1-14. Our text can be found on page 1030. These are the words of God:

Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”

And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10         and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.”
11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice,
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”
13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”
14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.


What makes you celebrate? This coming Thursday our nation will sit down to tables spread with turkey, dressing, a variety of vegetables that all the children will pass over, and pumpkin pies. As a nation, we’ll celebrate all the many blessings we enjoy, giving thanks and enjoying family and friends.

But there are many other occasions for celebrations that we observe. Our entire year is full of celebrations. We celebrate national holidays such as Independence Day or Memorial Day. We celebrate religious holidays such as Easter and Christmas. We even celebrate holidays that we don’t understand.

Originally St. Patrick’s Day was called the Feast of St. Patrick, in which the church celebrated the conversion of Ireland from paganism to Christianity. But what about today? What are we celebrating? Ireland? The color green? Shamrocks and leprechauns?

Once a year we celebrate birthdays, which mark off another year of God’s sustaining our physical life. We throw showers and receptions for weddings and babies, celebrating the beginning of a new family or a new generation. You might celebrate a personal milestone, like the graduation of high school or college, or a promotion at work.

Celebrations set human beings apart from every other living creature. Dogs don’t celebrate wedding anniversaries. Cats don’t celebrate a month of weight loss with a cheat meal. Chimpanzees don’t throw parties when their children graduate from Ape School.


But why? Why do we celebrate? If you think about it, from an evolutionary perspective, celebrations are terribly wasteful; they are an unnecessary expenditure of resources that could be saved up for the survival of the species. So, why do we celebrate?

Friend, you might say that celebrations are part of what make humans human. Because we are made in the image of the Creator, we have an internal knowledge that our lives are significant. The events of history have real and lasting meaning, be they the founding of a nation in 1776, or the evangelization of Ireland. In fact, historical events are so imbued and charged with meaning precisely because God works within history.

That’s why we celebrate Christmas. We recognize that the Son of God, as a fact of history, took unto himself a human nature, and had a birthday. That same Son of God, as a fact of history, was crucified outside of Jerusalem bearing the sins of his people, and was raised again three days later.

You see, the Christian view of history is not like the evolutionary view, which requires blind chance to determine what happens next. Nor is the Christian view of history like the Marxist view, that the material world is all there is, and therefore history is determined by economic relationships.

Rather, we believe that God who spoke both time and space into existence; who created all things by the Word of his power, is the same God who in Christ Jesus is redeeming all things in heaven and earth. The end of history isn’t the frozen, dead universe of the evolutionist, nor is it some utopia brought about by the proletariat’s rebellion against the bourgeoisie.

No, the end of history is a cosmic celebration, and as we will see in our passage today, it is brought about through the person of Jesus Christ. As we consider the unlocking of history, and the celebration that awaits those who are in Christ, let’s work through this passage in 4 parts:

  1. The Scroll He Saw (5:1)
  2. The Tears He Shed (5:2-4)
  3. The Comfort He Received (5:5-7)
  4. The Song He Heard (5:8-14)

Church, as we examine this passage, I pray you will know that Christ alone unlocks all of history. And if you are not a Christian, I pray that even today you will see that your life fits into God’s plan to redeem all things in Christ, and therefore you will turn to him in faith.

  1. THE SCROLL HE SAW (5:1)

In order to set the stage, consider what we studied last week in Revelation 4. The Apostle John, exiled on the Aegean island of Patmos for preaching Christ, received a vision from Jesus Christ in which he was invited up into heaven and there he saw, at the center of all things: a throne. God, seated on his throne is the ultimate center of all reality, and John relayed to us the worship that eternally occurs there.

Now, in Revelation 5:1 we read the following:

Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals.

Our attention is drawn from the one on the throne to a scroll or book in his right hand, the hand of God’s power.

If you were a first-century Roman citizen, you would instantly recognize the significance of a seven-sealed scroll. That’s because, in ancient Rome, the last will of a person’s estate and inheritance was written front and back on a scroll and sealed by seven witnesses. Only upon the death of a testator could the seals be broken and the legal inheritance be executed. So, this scroll is a deed of inheritance.

On the other hand, Jews reading this knew that centuries earlier, God had worked powerfully in the life of the prophet Daniel. Daniel gave many prophecies of the kingdoms of Babylon, the Medes & Persians, of even Greece and Rome.

Daniel was also told of the last days when God would judge sin and evil. In Daniel 7:13 we read these words:

13 “I saw in the night visions,

and behold, with the clouds of heaven

there came one like a son of man,

and he came to the Ancient of Days

and was presented before him.

14 And to him was given dominion

and glory and a kingdom,

that all peoples, nations, and languages

should serve him;

his dominion is an everlasting dominion,

which shall not pass away,

and his kingdom one

that shall not be destroyed.

In the final chapter of the book, Daniel inquired of the Lord when these last days would take place. But instead of giving Daniel an answer, the Lord told Daniel to “shut up the words and seal the book until the time of the end.” (Dan. 12:4, 9)

Amazingly, the Lord Jesus, in Mark 14:62, foretelling his resurrection form the dead and ascension to the Father, quotes this very passage.

62 And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”

You see, Daniel’s prophecy had been sealed up because the saints of the Old Testament could not have understood the full meaning of the Messianic age without direct knowledge of who Jesus Christ is, and what he came to do. But now that Christ has been revealed in the flesh, history has entered its final phase.

Church, you are living in the last days. The prophets like Daniel, Ezekiel, and Isaiah, foresaw a future age in which God’s Messiah would rule and reign, it would be a time of peace when the nations would come to Christ, they would learn to obey God’s commands, and God’s glory would cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.

But, when you turn to the New Testament, you realize that this reign of Christ, which the prophets saw as taking place at the end of the age, actually overlaps our current age. In other words, the kingdom reign of Christ is inaugurated not at the end of history, but right in the middle.

If we take both of those together we begin to form an understanding of what this scroll represents. This scroll represents the title deed to the earth, the plans, purposes, and judgments of God. It is written on both front and back, therefore nothing can be added to this plan.And, this scroll represents the unfolding of all history between Christ’s first and second advent. And John desperately wants to see what is in this scroll. How will God unfold the end of history and bring it to its consummation?

  1. THE TEARS HE SHED (5:2-4)

And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it.

The only way to unlock all of God’s redemptive plan and judgment is to break the seals and open the scroll. And the question is, as Joel Beeke says, “Who is equal to the task of executing God’s plan, realizing his decrees, and carrying out his purposes in the universe? If it were left to us, there would be no kingdom of God, no salvation for mankind, no spread of the gospel, and no final righteous judgment.” And therefore, John weeps.

Friend, what do you weep about? What brings tears to your eyes? Do you weep over your own need for forgiveness? Do you weep for those who have not heard the gospel? When you see hostages taken in Israel, cities bombed in Ukraine, and abortion legalized in our own nation, do you weep; longing for the day when God will set things to right? Church, apart from Jesus Christ opening this scroll, there is no hope for us, for the nations, for good.

Friends, notice that the question asked is not whether someone is strong enough to open the book. Rather, the question is, “Who is worthy?” Is there anyone who has the character, the righteousness, the quality of life to receive this title deed to the earth? And John weeps, for no one in heaven was worthy.

Consider who was in heaven when John received this vision. The Apostle Paul had already been beheaded by Nero nearly two decades earlier, as had Peter within a few years of Paul. But neither of these men, hand-selected by Jesus himself were worthy.

What about David, Israel’s greatest king, the man after God’s own heart? Or what about Moses, the great prophet and deliverer of the children of Israel; the man who split the Red Sea and saw the glory of God on Sinai and delivered God’s law to the people. What about Abraham, the father of the faith, who believed God and it was counted unto him as righteousness?

Friend, no one in heaven, not even the holiest saint was found worthy to receive this book.

The search expanded to earth. Surely there were great and powerful leaders of men, kings and emperors who might be able to enact and bring about God’s plans of redemption and judgment. But no. No man or woman on earth could be found. Not the Emperor Domitian, or any of the early church fathers.

Church this is a reminder that even the best of men, are men at best. As important as it is that we elect godly men and women to public office, and it is, none of them are able to enact God’s eternal plans of redemption. No politician, no pastor, no spouse, no child. If we place the hope of our immortal souls in any of these, not only will our hearts be broken, but we’ll become idolaters; looking to men for what only the Son of Man can do.

We have seen:

  1. The Scroll He Saw
  2. The Tears He Shed



As John weeps and no one can be found who is worthy, one of the 24 elders notices his tears and speaks words of tremendous comfort:

And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”

Who is this Lion of Judah and Root of David? Well, those are two Old Testament references to Jesus Christ. The first comes from Genesis 49:


Judah is a lion’s cub;

from the prey, my son, you have gone up.

He stooped down; he crouched as a lion

and as a lioness; who dares rouse him?

10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah,

nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,

until tribute comes to him;

and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.

And the second is from Isaiah 11:9

10 In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.

These were prophecies that would help Israel properly identify the Messiah of God. He would descend from the tribe of Judah, and more specifically, from the lineage of Jesse and King David.

Of course, Jesus perfectly meets these two prophetic requirements. He is the Lion of Judah. As the Root of Jesse, he is the rightful heir to David’s throne. And, as John turns to see this conquering Lion he is utterly shocked because when he turns around, instead of a Lion he sees a Lamb. And not just a Lamb, but who somehow appears to have been offered as a blood sacrifice. Yet this Lamb is standing and alive.

What is happening? Who is this one who is both a Lion and a Lamb? And what makes him worthy of taking the scroll? Church this is Jesus Christ, and what qualifies him is his victory: he conquered. But unlike every other human conqueror, Jesus victory is greater and his means of victory are more surprising. What did he conquer? While other warriors conquered nations, Jesus conquered the power of sin and the plans of the devil. In his perfectly obedient life Jesus conquered sin. He did what the first Adam did not do; where we failed to obey God, Christ the Son perfectly obeyed the Father on our behalf and received our punishment. And, in his resurrection, he conquered the plan of the devil to destroy him. Church, who could possibly execute the contents of this scroll if he could not first be master over sin? Who could bring about God’s redemptive plan and judgments if he was not able to first triumph over Satan? This is what makes Jesus, and Jesus alone, worthy to unlock all of God’s plans for history. And this is what brought John comfort.

Friend, this is what will bring you comfort in your distress, in your disappointments: Christ has conquered. Has your life not worked out the way you had planned: Christ has conquered. Have you received a diagnosis that has shaken you: Christ died in your place and was raised. Are you daily weighed down with concerns for your future? Friend, not one of God’s redemptive purposes will fail because Jesus Christ, the Lion of Judah, the Root of Jesse, the Lamb who was slain has taken the scroll and he will execute every line of God’s eternal plans not just for the cosmos—but for you personally.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take

The clouds ye so much dread

Are big with mercy and shall break

In blessings on your head.

The Scroll he saw, the tears he shed, the comfort he received…

  1. THE SONG HE HEARD (5:8-14)


When Christ takes the scroll from the one seated on the throne all of heaven and all of earth break out in song. John says “every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth,” acknowledges the kingly rule of Jesus Christ. And as they sing about the worthiness of the Lamb, I want to draw your attention to two details in their song.

First, I want you to notice that the Lamb possesses the same power and authority as the one who is seated on the throne. When heaven worships the Lamb, they are worshipping God. When heaven worships the one on the throne in chapter 4, they are worshiping God. Just as the elders fell before the throne in chapter 4, they now fall down at the feet of the Lamb. This is because the Lamb is the Second Person in the Holy Trinity. Though the Son of God is distinct from the Father in his person, he is equal in essence or nature. One of the greatest statements on the deity of Christ comes from the Nicene Creed, written in A.D. 325. Of the son it says:

[I believe in] one Lord Jesus Christ,
      the only Son of God,
      begotten from the Father before all ages,
           God from God,
           Light from Light,
           true God from true God,
      begotten, not made;
      of the same essence as the Father.

I don’t know if you realize this, but the Christian view of Jesus is different from the Islamic, Jehovah’s Witness, or Mormon view of Jesus. The Islamic view of Christ is that he was a mere human prophet. The view of Jehovah’s Witness is that Jesus Christ was a created by Jehovah as the archangel Michael and is a lesser God. The Mormon view is that Jesus is the offspring of a “heavenly father” and “heavenly mother,” who became exalted to godhood and, even more strangely, that Jesus and Lucifer (who were brothers) both offered to be the Messiah. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus a created being. Church, we may have family, friends, or neighbors who are Muslim, Jehovah’s Witnesses, or Mormon, and we have a responsibility to love them by explaining to them, from passages like Revelation 5, that Jesus Christ is clearly the eternally existent Son of God.

The second detail I want you to note in their song is this: Jesus Christ ransomed a people.

And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll

and to open its seals,

for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God

from every tribe and language and people and nation,

When Jesus Christ went to the cross, he was not dying for the possibility that some might be saved. No, he ransomed actual people. He didn’t die for the prospect that sinners in general might be saved. Rather, he took a list of names to the cross. He died for the sins of his people. But notice where his people come from: every tribe, every language, every people, every nation. The death of Christ embraces all sorts of men and women: all ethnic groups, and linguistic groups. There is no favoritism or partiality. He did not save us because we were beautiful, but to make us beautiful. He did not ransom us because we were righteous but to give us his perfect righteousness. Friend, though God chooses to save, “that choice is not elitist, or snobbish. There is no preference or bias.” (Beeke) He welcomes the weakest, the vilest the poor.

So, if you hear his voice today, if you believe he has died to redeem you from your sins today, then trust him. Confess your need of him. If you have more questions about what that means, after the service come talk to me, or even talk to one of the people sitting near you. This church is full of people who love Jesus and can help explain the gospel to you.

That soul who on Jesus has leaned for repose,

I will not I will not desert to its foes

That soul though all hell should endeavor to shake

I’ll never no never no never forsake.

Holy, Holy, Holy: Worship in the Throne Room of Heaven


The text for the sermon today is Revelation 4:1-11. Our text can be found on page 1030. These are the words of God:

After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.

And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,

                        “Holy, holy, holy, is he Lord God Almighty,

who was and is and is to come!”

And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

            11          “Worthy are you, our Lord and God,

to receive glory and honor and power,

                        for you created all things,

and by your will they existed and were created.


For as long as human beings have recorded history, we have records of ancient people looking up into the night sky, seeing stars and planets wheeling around, and wondering, “What is it that holds the universe together?” You are likely familiar with some of the most famous answers to that perennial question.

Claudius Ptolemy, a mathematician and astronomer who lived in Egypt just after the time of Christ, recognized that from any point on Earth, one gets the impression that the Sun, moon, stars and planets all revolve around the Earth once every twenty-four hours, and the earth appears to be an unmoving, stable, and stationary foundation. This theory, widely held during the ancient world and the Middle Ages became known as the Ptolemaic system.

But there were problems. Astronomers noticed that at different times of the year, the planet Mars appeared to reverse its course and move backward. Venus, which ought to orbit the earth inside the orbit of the Sun should only be seen in crescent or new phases, but never full, yet the astronomer Galileo looked through his telescope and saw her shining in a full phase.

Clearly, the Ptolemaic system, with the Earth as the center point, was not sufficient to explain the true nature of the universe. It would be 1,400 years before Nicolaus Copernicus would publish his famous work, “On the Revolutions of the Celestial Sphere,” which theorized that the Sun, not the Earth was the center of the solar system.

As an interesting side-note: Copernicus was convinced to publish his theories by a man named Rheticus, a mathematician from Wittenberg Germany who had been introduced to him by none other than Philipp Melanchthon, the close friend of the German reformer Martin Luther.

What followed was a scientific revolution. Having knowledge about the center of the solar system explains every other orbiting body. Or, put another way, a false understanding of the center will cause you to misunderstand everything else.

In Revelation 4, the Apostle John gives us a picture of the center, not simply of the solar system, or even the entire universe. He directs our attention to the center of all things material and spiritual, past, present, and future. This center is not a planet or a star, it is the very throne of God in heaven. As we begin to understand these eleven verses, a few reminders.

First, Revelation is not linear, but cyclical, and chapter 4 begins the second of seven cycles which repeat the same essential message: God rules history and will bring history to it ultimate consummation in Christ. That message is repeated in every section of visions, but from slightly different vantage points. For this reason, Revelation is a book for today, for us, for our difficulties.

Second, Revelation speaks to us in symbols. We are not to read this book in a literalistic manner. It is not a puzzle book, it’s a picture book. Revelation addresses spiritually anesthetized saints, employing vivid, and often terrifying symbols in order to shake us, wake us, and sober us to cosmic realities.

Friend, as you watch the news unfold, there is no question that the world is heaving in tumult. But Revelation reminds us that the violent storms of human history cannot be explained in merely human terms. Rather, these storms are part of a war in the cosmos.

What is it that will keep us buoyant and bear us up through the storms of history? What will keep us anchored and settled? John shows us that at the center of all things—there is one who is seated upon the throne. And, as we look to this throne, and learn who it is that sits upon the throne, not only are our hearts more settled and composed, but we even begin to rejoice and sing.

Church, we learn the identity of this one upon the throne as we see:

  1. Where He Is (4:1-2)
  2. Who He Is (4:3-7)
  3. What He Deserves (4:8-11)

And friend, if you have not yet placed your faith in Christ as the only savior of sinners, well I pray that even as this sermon is preached, you will begin to turn to him and believe.

  1. WHERE HE IS (4:1-2)

In Heaven. (v. 1)

This is the second vision of Christ given to John in Revelation. The first vision is found in chapters 1-3, and this second vision begins in chapter 4 and concludes in chapter 7.

Notice several similarities. Both the first vision in Chapter 1 and this second vision begin with a voice like the blast of a trumpet, and John is told that he will see things which must soon take place. In both visions, John tells us that he is in the Spirit.

In this vision, John is invited to step outside of time and space, into heaven. From this heavenly vantage point, John will see the sweep of all future history in the following chapters, but the first thing he sees in heaven is a throne.

On the Throne. (v. 2)

The throne is the symbol of kingly authority and dominion. The king, seated on the throne, shows us that the Lord God rules and reigns. Because this is a heavenly throne, the understanding of this king is exalted. The judgments of this king are uncontested. The sovereign will of this king dominates.

You might even say the word “throne” is one of the main themes of Revelation. The word occurs 62 times in the New Testament; 47 times in Revelation, and 17 of those 47 are found here in chapters 4 and 5.

The Centrality of the Throne. (v. 2 & following)

This throne is not simply in heaven. Notice that this throne is the centerpiece of heaven. Everything else in the passage surrounds the throne. Around the throne is a rainbow. Around the throne are the 24 elders. Out from the throne come lightening. Around the throne on each side are the four living creatures.

Friend you must read this passage imaginatively. John isn’t just telling you about a throne “up there.” He is painting a picture of a throne at the center of everything that is.

The center point of history, the center point of your life, that around which all else orbits is the eternal throne of God. Friend, your life is not an accident. The events of this last week were not random.

We may not understand why God allows all that he allows in the world today—but thanks be to God that the center of the universe isn’t the empty vacuum of space, rather it is the occupied throne of heaven.

I wonder if you live as if God is on the throne, or if you are living as if your life is an accident or mistake. Friend, if God sits on the throne, then the year of your birth wasn’t a mistake. The gender of your body is not a mistake. The role that God has called you to fulfill as a man or woman is not a mistake.

John is showing us that everything, from war in the Middle East, to even the chromosomes in our body find their meaning and significance in relationship to the occupied throne in heaven.

So, we see that the Lord God is in heaven, seated on a throne, and that throne is the center point of all that is. That’s where he is. Now, let’s see:

  1. WHO HE IS (4:3-7)

Surprisingly, John does not give us a physical description of the one seated on the throne. In this passage, we do not learn who he is by looking at him, but by noticing who and what it is that surrounds his throne.

When we see these images of thunder, and elders, and living creatures we must remember that they are not the focus. They are present in this vision in order to direct our focus towards the throne. Their individual characteristics shed light and understanding on the identity and character of the one seated on the throne. So, what do we see?

First, in verse 3, we see colors.

And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald.

Jasper, which can reflect a myriad of colors, symbolizes the multifaceted glory of God. Carnelian, an opaque red stone stands for wrath and judgment. Finally, a rainbow like an emerald, reminds us of God’s mercy; for when God judged the earth in the days of Noah, he set a rainbow in the sky as a sign that he would never again flood the earth in judgment.

We won’t turn there now, but in Exodus 28, God instructed Moses to work these same stones into the breastplate and shoulder pieces of the priestly garments of Israel.

We also see these same stones in Revelation 21:18-21, where they serve as the foundation and walls of the New Jerusalem which comes down out of heaven. The walls and foundation of the new Jerusalem reflect God’s glory, his wrath, and his mercy.

What does all this mean? I believe John is showing us that this one who sits on the throne is the same one who forgave the sins of his people in Exodus, he is the same one who builds a new heavens and a new earth. From the first to the last, he is the glorious, wrathful, and merciful sovereign God. Everything, from the priestly worship of Israel to the very walls of the new creation rests upon the brilliance of God’s glory.

After these colors, we see 24 thrones and 24 elders seated upon them.

Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads.

Who are these elders? Are they human? Angelic? These elders appear 12 times in Revelation. In Revelation 7 they are distinguished from the great throng of common angels.

11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, (Rev. 7:11)

In the same passage, they are also distinguished from Christians who endure through the tribulation.

13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. (Rev. 7:13)

They do, however, represent the saints of God before the throne.

the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. (Rev. 5:8)

I believe these 24 elders are a special order of angelic beings who represent the church before the throne. But why are there 24? Well, I believe the answer is that just as there were 12 tribes in Israel and 12 apostles of Christ, these 24 elders represent the true church in all ages, Old Covenant and New, before the throne of God.

Here we see that the one on the throne is aware of the needs of the church in every age. Today we are being represented in heaven. Our prayers are being heard. You may not be able to get through to the President, the Governor, or even your cable company representative. But if you prayed to the Lord this morning, you were heard.

And friend, if you are not a Christian, these 24 elders show us that God, who is the creator, is also the redeemer of sinners; those who have ignored God, disobeyed his commands, and instead lived for themselves.

How has he done that: by sending his own Son to become a human, to live a life of perfect obedience, and to receive the just punishment that we deserved. And that’s exactly what Jesus Christ did.

Friend to become a Christian means to turn from a life of ignoring and disobeying God, towards Jesus Christ—believing that he has taken your place, received your condemnation in his death, and that he was raised again. Turn to him today. Believe today. Look to Christ, and know that the Lord of heaven and earth has received you, hears you, loves you, forgives you, and welcomes you.


After the 24 Elders, we see that lightning and thunder shoot from the throne. This same language of “lightning, rumblings, and peals of thunder” occurs again in Revelation 8:5, 11:19, and 16:18 and each time represents the judgments of God poured out on earth. In fact, if you read those three passages you will see this common theme. The thundering of God’s judgment always is presented as the final judgment upon those who persecute God’s people. God’s people are oppressed, they cry out to the Lord, and the result is the swift and final judgment of God.

So we have seen colors, elders, lightnings and now a sea of glass.

In the ancient world, the sea was a fearful place. Storms at sea wrecked ships. The seas were the source of mythical monsters. If you go back to Genesis 1, before God made the land, the earth is said to be one giant chaotic ocean. In Revelation 13, a beast rises out of the sea. But here, the sea isn’t foaming and threatening; it isn’t chaotic and unruly. Rather, it’s so still it looks like solid crystal. In the presence of God’s throne, the seas are tamed and docile.

Friends, this should also remind us of the power of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who had the ability to speak to the winds and the waves and command them to be still.

Finally, the last sight John sees are these four living creatures.

And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within

You say, “What are the living creatures?” Well, just as the church is represented by the Elders, I believe we are seeing the heavenly representatives of all created living creatures. The lion is the king of the wild animals. The ox is the strongest of the domesticated animals. The eagle is Lord of the sky, and man is the ruler of the animals. Why are they said to be full of eyes? Because they are representing every animal on the globe, who see and behold all of creation.

So, who is this one upon the throne? Though we do not see him directly, those who surround his throne paint a vivid picture. He is the sovereign Lord. He alone can silence the tumult of the seas. He is the redeemer, who will pardon and receive all who come to him asking for mercy. He is the ruler over every creature, from the greatest to the smallest. Church, there is no one like him.

And for that reason, when we come face to face with the enthroned Lord of heaven and earth, the only proper question is, “What does he deserve?”

  1. WHAT HE DESERVES (4:8-11)

These four living creatures, the heavenly representatives of all ensouled life on earth, serve one purpose; they have one responsibility. Verse 8 tells us that:

day and night they never cease to say,

“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,

      who was and is and is to come!”

Church, much like the seraphim in Isaiah 6, these four living creatures, from the moment of their creation, have never stopped in their worship of the one true God. They declare his holiness; that is, he alone is totally and utterly set apart from creation. God is not to be identified with anything else in creation.

There exists an infinite chasm between the everlasting God and the world he made. He is not mortal. He is not material. He is not created. He is not finite. He is not time-bound. He is not space-bound.

And, every time these four living creatures give honor and glory to God, verse 10 tells us that:

10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

            11          “Worthy are you, our Lord and God,

to receive glory and honor and power,

                        for you created all things,

and by your will they existed and were created.”

Once again, they stress God’s unique nature—that he alone is the uncreated God who made all things. That he alone is the self-sustaining, self-causing, eternal being who creates and sustains all else.

Church, day and night, morning and evening, through every season, through every tumultuous century of human history, heavenly praise has been offered before the throne of God.

While evil men and women mock God on earth, the Lord has received all that he deserves in heaven. This is one of the reasons Christ taught us to pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

One of the questions you may have, as you consider this passage is, “Is this what heaven is going to be like for us? One long eternal song?” Well, no. This is but one portrait of heaven. We will see others that give more detail in this book. But friend, let me just say that if the idea of an eternal song of praise bores you, then perhaps you don’t truly understand who God is and what he deserves.

Church, consider all that John has seen: 7 churches who are persecuted. Consider what is to come: the unleashing of judgments, a beast who persecutes the church, Babylon which wars against the saints. Yet, as great and terrifying as these visions are, when you are in the presence of the throne—they aren’t even worth mentioning.

In fact, as we will see next week—the only way these judgments come to be is because the Lord God, and the Lamb who was slain decree and enact these judgments.

Friend, if you believe that the kings and rulers of the nations of the earth are the center of the universe, if you even believe your own life is the center of all things, you will be tossed about, up and down, anxious and confused.

But, if like John, you see that at the center of it all is a throne, occupied by the holy and sovereign creator, even when you are anxious, even when you are confused, you will not be overwhelmed. This is the anchor of your life, the center point around which you orbit.

The Lesser Magistrate

In this letter, I desire to impress upon you the importance of every election. Too many Christians who love the Lord, who obey his commands, and who love their country sit out local elections. “I’ll vote when it counts,” one might say as they wait for the next “big” election like a presidential or senatorial race. Here’s the problem with this line of reasoning: there are no small elections. Elections have consequences, even the local elections. In fact, having the right local and state representatives is a bulwark against corruption at higher levels of civil government.

During the high-insanity days of 2020, one only had to pay attention to how different states and municipalities managed the COVID pandemic to understand the importance of local and state magistrates. When unelected federal regulators sought to wield unbridled authority, it was up to Governors and local magistrates to stand up to tyrannical overreach. In those states where Governors went along with the program, the only recourse for citizens was disobedience. It was a perfect illustration of what the Reformers John Calvin and John Knox called the doctrine of the lesser magistrates. They used the word doctrine because it was formalized by German pastors, but it essentially states that “when the superior or higher civil authority makes unjust/immoral laws or decrees, the lesser magistrate or lower ranking civil authority has both a right and a duty to refuse obedience to that superior authority. If necessary, the lesser authorities even have the right and obligation to actively resist the superior authority.” (Trewhella, Doctrine, 2.)

The Christian church historically has taught that when the state demands what Christ demands or demands what Christ forbids, Christians are obligated to obey Christ rather than men. (Acts 5:29) The danger, of course, is that disobedience to civil authorities, though sometimes necessary, is fraught with peril and can be destructive. Just think of the French Revolution. Rather than the rebellion of the citizenry, a lesser magistrate, such as a Governor or Mayor, may interpose himself between the tyrant and the people. The lesser magistrate opposes tyranny so that the people don’t take up arms. We see this happen in Scripture. When Pharoah demanded the slaughter of Hebrew boys, the midwives interposed themselves between the Pharoah and the birthmothers and, in doing so, defied the edict of Pharoah in service of a higher authority. (Exodus 1) A civil magistrate is duty bound to protect the person, liberty, and property of those who reside within their jurisdiction. This entails their opposition of any tyrannical law or edict from a higher authority. They cannot plead that they are “just doing their job,” as they enforce unjust laws handed down.

On November 7, 2023 you will be called upon to vote for various mayoral and school board candidates as well as several referendums. You will give an account to the Lord Christ for how you used your vote. As I always say, it is not my job to “stump for Smith.” The church is political, but we are not partisan. We are political because we declare, “Jesus Christ is Lord.” But we do not represent any earthly nation or party. We represent the commands of the King eternal. (1 Tim. 1:17)

But here’s what I want you to pray about: When a federal anti-bullying law requires your school children to erase the distinction between male and female (in the name of love), which school board member will stand up against the tyrant? No, that school board member may not have as much power as a president, but they represent your interests, and they are a line of defense between you and higher magistrates. This is but one example of the importance of down-ballot votes. We need men and women leading with conviction and principle at every level of the civil government.

So, Christian, do not waste this opportunity to cast a vote. Politics is not a savior. But righteousness exalts a nation (Prov. 14:34), and unrighteous leaders make the church’s mission of gospel proclamation difficult. Now, more than ever, we need the right mayors, city council members, school board members, sheriffs, and governors. As you prepare to do your civic duty, pray that the Lord will guide your decisions. Ask other Christians for guidance and information. Pray that the Lord would grant a spirit of repentance upon the citizens of our nation. Pray the Lord would grant the church boldness in these trying times. And ask God to give us lesser magistrates who have the fortitude to stand up for their constituents against the oppression of tyranny.

To learn more on the doctrine of the lesser magistrates, I recommend reading: The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrates by Mathew Trewhella

Keep My Word: Christ’s Word to a Faithful Church – Revelation 3:7-13


The text for the sermon today is Revelation 3:7-13. Our text can be found on page 1029. These are the words of God:

7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.

8 “ ‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9 Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you. 10 Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. 11 I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. 12 The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’


Standing at 5’ 6” and weighing only 133 lbs., Spud Webb was one of the smallest ever players in the NBA. Playing for the Atlanta Hawks, Spud seemed to defy gravity with a 46’ vertical leap. Not only could Spud Webb dunk a basketball, he famously won the 1986 NBA Slam Dunk Contest as a rookie. It just goes to show you that it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the dog in the fight.

The same can be said of the church in Philadelphia. They weren’t big. They weren’t powerful. They made zero headlines. But they were faithful in everything Christ providentially placed in front of them. And, for that reason, they were the only church of the 7 to last through the centuries.

How did such a small church not simply endure, but overcome the collapse of the world around them? They understood who Christ was. They rested in his power not their own. And, they held fast to their simple faith. They didn’t become masters of great things—they were mastered by the greatest and most glorious thing of all.


7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.

What is this key of David? It’s a reference to Isaiah 22:22 when a faithful man named Eliakim was given the authority of the house of David. In other words, he alone could open the door into the king’s domain, and Eliakim is a foreshadow of Christ. He is the warden of history. The keys of the ages and epochs are securely in his hand. He alone opens a new century, and he alone can close another. He makes nations rise and fall. We may cast the dice, but he determines the result.

More importantly, he alone can open the door to his Father’s house. If he has opened that door for you, then you will walk through it. If that door remains shut, you can’t push it open through your own efforts.

Do you think the president, or the World Economic Forum holds the keys of history? They are merely pawns on the king’s chessboard.


When you realize that Christ is the warden of history, you worry less about how big, strong, or influential your life or church is. This is the God of disproportionate results.

He says to Philadelphia, “You have but little power.” In other words, they were a tiny congregation. He says they are persecuted by the “synagogue of Satan.” Their Jewish friends in the city had betrayed them to the civil authorities. So they’re small and the obstacles are big.

At the same time, he says to them, “I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut.” Though they were small, their gospel reach was big. Concerning the “synagogue of Satan,” Christ says, “I will make them come and bow down before you,” in repentance and belief in Christ. Though a trial was “coming on the whole world,” Philadelphia would be preserved through it. Why?

First, they kept the Word of Christ. It was the one thing they would not let go. Can the same be said of you?

Second, they endured patiently. They didn’t get their feathers ruffled. They weren’t like a dandelion, blown by the wind. They were like oaks, deeply rooted in Christ. Enduring the storms that threatened.


The passage concludes with promises too glorious for a single sentence, so Christ heaps up heavenly potentialities:

“I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God.” (v. 12)

Though you may be labeled a disturber of the current state of affairs, you are the one who upholds and supports the only building that will outlast this state of affairs: the church.

“I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.” (v. 12)

The threefold name given to the faithful church is the name of the Father, the new Jerusalem, and the very name of Christ himself. There is no greater title that can be placed upon you. To be a child of the Father, a citizen of the new creation, and a co-heir of Jesus Christ. When every skyscraper falls into dust and the castles of sinful men are proven to be made of sand, you will have a city that only becomes more beautiful in every eternal age.



Pastoral Sabbatical

The full text of the Deacon’s Pastoral Sabbatical Announcement is printed below. You may also access a PDF version of the information here: Pastoral Sabbatical Document


Prepared by the Deacons of Lake Wylie Baptist Church 

The following was presented by the Deacons to the church body of Lake Wylie Baptist Church in a congregational meeting on October 22, 2023. 

* * * 

Dear Father in heaven, 

We thank you for the privilege of worshipping you. We thank you for the cross of Christ which brought us redemption. We thank you for our church and the blessings upon blessings you have given us. We thank you for the blessing of our pastor and his family. 

Now, Father, as we discuss an exciting chapter in our church’s life, would your Spirit work in each heart. Enlarge each of our hearts to have a big vision of the open door you have given us as a church as we step out in faith and trust in you, the Almighty, Sovereign, and Good God whom we serve. 

* * * 

Sabbatical Overview (Jim Brooks) 

Several months ago, we deacons began a discussion among ourselves of how to care for our pastor. Once we reached our decision, we then let Pastor Jonathan in on the conversation, which has been ongoing for the past few months. We now want to bring the church into the conversation. 

The deacons wrote a letter to Pastor Jonathan that was shared and discussed with him in person when we first told him of our decision. I would like to read the first few sentences of this letter. 

We, the Deacons, give thanks to the Lord for your consistent hard work and dedication on behalf of Lake Wylie Baptist Church. Thus, the Deacons, without reservation, have unanimously embraced the following resolution: 

Resolved, Pastor Jonathan and his family will take a three-month sabbatical, during which time he will be relieved of all pastoral and ministerial duties. The purpose of this sabbatical is to give the pastor and his family an extended time to pursue physical and spiritual rejuvenation. 

The deacons want you to know that this resolution was totally, absolutely, and 100% deacon initiated. Pastor Jonathan did not ask for a sabbatical and he gave no hints whatsoever that he wanted one. The pastor was totally surprised and moved when we informed him of our decision for him to take a sabbatical. 

The idea of a sabbatical is rooted and grounded in Scripture. A few weeks ago, Ricki taught an excellent Equipping Hour series on the Sabbath. He emphasized that the word “sabbath” means “to cease.” God himself modeled for us what a Sabbath rest looks like. The Scripture says: 

And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. (Genesis 2:2) 

The word of “rested” in this passage is the word “sabbath.” God ceased from his creating work. 

Embedded in God’s instructions to Israel was the command for the people to take a Sabbath rest every seventh day, meaning the people were to cease from their work. Every seventh year, the land was given a Sabbath rest for the entire year. The land ceased from producing crops so it could rejuvenate. These Sabbaths were given as a preventative against overwork and burnout. 

You may not know, but I have pastored two churches and I have been around a lot of pastors. Most of the pastors I have known are like Pastor Jonathan—hard-working men who love the Lord and love their churches. Yet, they are but men. I have known too many pastors who have suffered ministry burnout to the detriment of their churches, their families, their marriages, and their health. Trust me, much exhausting work goes on in a pastor’s ministry that the congregation never sees and will never know about. 

The Lord has blessed our church with our pastor and his family. And the Lord entrusts Lake Wylie Baptist Church with the stewardship of taking care of our pastor and his family. The deacons do not sense in Pastor Jonathan any signs of distress or burnout, and we want to keep it this way. Our purpose in giving him a sabbatical is to prevent ministerial burnout by giving him an extended time of much deserved rest. This sabbatical also serves as tangible evidence that we deeply care for the spiritual and physical well-being of our pastor and his family. 

God created us as body and soul, which necessarily interact with and influence each other: the body affects the spiritual and the spiritual affects the body. The deacons have stressed from the beginning that we wanted Pastor Jonathan to craft his sabbatical in such a way that would include both restful bodily pursuits and spiritually invigorating activities for him and his family. 

To hold Pastor Jonathan accountable, the deacons asked him to submit a general plan with moderate details of what he and the family would do during the sabbatical to accomplish these goals of physical and spiritual refreshment. He has done so, and suffice to say that the deacons are pleased with the seriousness and thoughtfulness that Pastor has taken with our request. 

A Deacon’s Journey From Sabbatical Skeptic To Sabbatical Believer (Jeff Williams) 

I was asked to share my initial view and my initial reaction to a pastoral sabbatical, which was one of skepticism. After gaining additional information and engaging in some of my own personal reflection, my viewpoint regarding a pastoral sabbatical actually evolved to not only to simply better understand the intent. but to full support and advocacy. 

“Reluctance” would describe my initial reaction when the sabbatical proposition was on the floor for consideration during our deacon’s meeting. My corporate and management consulting career has simply not prepared me to accept willingly a sabbatical as one’s normal experience in service to any organization. So, my initial reaction was one of reluctance because it simply was not normal or expected, and it was not what myself or my colleagues in my sphere of influence or network do. 

After listening to vastly wiser men on the deacon board, researching on my own, doing some personal reflection, and after doing a lot of listening, I see not only the value, but also the necessity of a pastoral sabbatical. I have completely reversed my initial skeptical position because of a few key areas. I would encourage everyone to think about these areas if you are having the same sort of initial reaction to a pastoral sabbatical as I did. 

First, this is an investment in Lake Wylie Baptist Church as a whole. Clearly, this is an investment in Pastor Jonathan, as it should be, to offer him some rejuvenation, an opportunity of separation, an opportunity of education, to focus on family and self. These are the things that go without being said. But it is also an opportunity and an investment for congregational growth and development at Lake Wylie Baptist Church for everyone that attends. I think about how growth and development can be applied to each of you—whether it is getting involved in music, or youth ministry, or maintenance, or whatever it is and however insignificant or significant—it is an opportunity for the growth and development of our congregation. So, it is an investment for our church as a whole, both for our pastor and for those who attend. 

Second, what really stood out to me was simply becoming more informed and gaining visibility in learning more about how the actual extended time would be spent. Again, focused on spiritual rejuvenation, passion, education, refocused on family and self. When you think about the very limited quality time Pastor Jonathan has to spread across all these important areas—he has done a wonderful job—but having an extended sabbatical would allow him to repurpose and reground in each of these areas. A healthy functioning Pastor Jonathan cascades down to a healthy church and how he serves our church. 

I would ask that you spend some time reflecting on these areas that stood out to me to help me change my course and reorientate me to think differently about a pastoral sabbatical. Along with the other deacons, I am more than happy to speak with you one-on-one and share more, if it would be helpful as you think through this as well. 

The Operation Of The Church During Pastor Jonathan’s Absence (Ricki Ingalls) 

I would like to take a minute to tell you what a great group of men lead this church and serve this church as deacons. All of the deacons that I have served with over the last 3 years have a heart for God’s church, and especially for Lake Wylie Baptist Church. That love for Lake Wylie Baptist is shown in this proposal for a pastoral sabbatical. 

Unlike Jeff, I was very familiar with the idea of a sabbatical, both in academics and in the church. I understood the benefits of a sabbatical both for Jonathan and for the church. But… I had a very basic question, “How is the church going to function while Jonathan is gone?” It’s not like we have a huge pastoral staff to fill in. I am sure than many of you have the same question. My goal today is to answer that question for you.

Jonathan’s sabbatical will begin on May 26 and conclude on August 11. As Jim said, a sabbatical is for the pastor to “cease” his responsibilities. What that means for a Jonathan is that he doesn’t show his face at this church for 3 months. If he did, he would be roped into work that would defeat the purpose of the sabbatical. We do not want that to happen. 

We believe that God has blessed us with men that have the experience and ability to lead the church in Jonathan’s absence. It is our goal to fill the needs of the church, as much as possible, with the people of the church. It is an opportunity for each of us on this stage this morning, the new deacons that will be in place in January, and all of the members of this church to use this gifts that God has given us for His glory. 

Since I’m an organizational kind of guy, I’m going to talk about who is responsible for different aspects of the ministry and how we expect to see them functioning during the time Jonathan is gone. The first question I want to answer is, “Where does the buck stop?” 

  • First, Jim Brooks, who is a former pastor and has a PhD from Southern Seminary in counseling, will be responsible for Sunday worship service and any counseling that needs to be performed during that time. 
  • Second, I will be responsible for the other ministries and administration. In bigger churches, this would be the role of “Executive Pastor”, which is close to my current role at work of “Chief Operations Officer.” 
  • Jonathan, Jim and I will be meeting several times before the sabbatical in order to plan and execute the transition. 

Now, to the second question – “How’s it really going to work?” 

Sunday Service 

  • The Sunday Worship Service is handled today through a schedule where men sign up for different parts of the service such as the opening and the prayer of confession. That will not change. 
  • Casey will continue to be responsible for the music during the service. That will not change. 
  • The sermons during the Sabbatical will consist of preaching through the Psalms, as we do every summer. 
  • So, now the big question – who is going to preach? The answer – It will primarily be men from the church. Jim Brooks, Randy Warner and I have already volunteered. We are looking forward to additional volunteers from the church body. It is also possible that we could have an outside speaker for 1 or 2 weeks during this time. 


  • As I mentioned before, Jim Brooks will be taking on the counseling ministry in Jonathan’s absence. Any on-going counseling situations will be transitioned from Jonathan to Jim during that time. 

Equipping Hour 

  • Equipping Hour will not meet during the months of June and July, just like we did this year. For those Sundays that we will meet, Randy Warner will coordinate the Equipping Hour teaching, as he does today. 

Vacation Bible School 

  • VBS will run as it does today. Marcy does an outstanding job of running the VBS and that will continue. However, we are searching for someone to take a pie in the face in Jonathan’s absence. 

Other ministries will be coordinated with Deacon’s serving in their ministry role. 

We are looking forward to the sabbatical so Jonathan, Chelsea and the kids can have a time of refreshing. We are also looking forward to it as we see the members of Lake Wylie Baptist flourish in the ways that God has gifted them. 

The Finances Of The Sabbatical (Randy Warner) 

Jeff has already spoken about the importance of sabbatical not just for spiritual rest and renewal for our pastor and his family, but also as a pre-emptive measure to prevent burnout before it happens. 

One of our goals is providing a sabbatical for Jonathan and his family was to give them an opportunity for rest and renewal in a stress-free environment of his choosing. A major part of making it “stress-free” is to relieve the concern about any financial impact to him and his family that might result from stepping away from the pulpit and travelling somewhere where significant cost might be involved. 

Prior to discussing the sabbatical with Jonathan, we the deacons met, discussed, and agreed upon a number of important criteria that we felt would make the sabbatical both productive and effective. One of those criteria was that Jonathan would not incur any expense as part of the Sabbatical period. We felt very strongly that Jonathan and his family should have the freedom to pursue spiritual rest and renewal without being encumbered by finances. So, the obvious question is: how are we going to pay for this? 

I’m not sure if all of you are aware of just how financially blessed we are as a church, and just how generous our members and regular contributors are. If you take the time to look in your bulletin each Sunday, you will find a section that details our weekly and annual giving. Not only 6 

have we kept our expenses at or below budget, but our weekly giving has exceeded our needs to-date by over $60,000! Praise God! I am so humbled and blessed to be a part of a church body that honors God so well with their finances. 

So as we look to fund the sabbatical, we plan to do so primarily in 3 ways: 

  1. At year-end, using a portion of the funds received above and beyond the budget expenses to pay for the sabbatical; 
  1. Add the sabbatical as a line item in the budget for 2024 (essentially, build the cost in total or in part into our expenditures for next year). We will be finalizing the budget for 2024 over the next few weeks, and will considering the sabbatical as part of that budget planning. 
  1. Give you as a church body the opportunity to participate financially with gifts designated specifically for the sabbatical. 

We have scheduled a follow-up meeting to discuss the sabbatical in more detail. At that meeting, I’ll be providing you with more information about detailed costs, as well as the final plan for payment to cover those costs. 

We look forward to giving this gift to Jonathan, Chelsea, and their family. Our hope and prayer is that through the sabbatical, that they will be restored and refreshed, ready to serve the Lord and serve our church with renewed strength and purpose. 

Concluding Thoughts (Jim Hughes) 

Thirty-five years ago, last month, the Lord Jesus Christ came into my life and saved me. During that time, I have had the privilege of serving five terms as a deacon with four different pastors in three different churches. 

I can say without hesitation that the combination of spiritual maturity, biblical knowledge, discernment, power in the pulpit, devotion to God and family and humility are unique to the man who stands in this pulpit each Sunday. 

Something else that’s unique is the unity that God has chosen to give us over the last eight years. Unity is like reputation-it requires time, effort and commitment, and it can be lost in the blink of an eye. Among other things, unity is a function of God’s grace and mercy, the love of God’s people for one another and the attitude and character of the man who stands in this pulpit. 

If you think only in terms of what you see each Sunday morning, you might wonder how challenging this role really is. Well, let me tell you: it requires hours and hours of intense study, planning, preparation, practice and prayer each week. In addition, our pastor is responsible for providing guidance and direction to our children’s ministry and our music ministry, he ensures the integrity and vitality of our missions’ program, he provides confidential counseling to church members when needed, he mentors and teaches in a local home school coop and he is on call 7 

24/7/365 when one of us has an emergency. Oh, and he is also a husband and father of four children. His plate, as they say, is full. 

The deacons and I want to be very clear about one important point. This sabbatical was not the result of a request from Jonathan. He did not ask for it and it was not his idea. The genesis for and the support of the sabbatical comes 100% from your deacons. At the same time, Jonathan and Chelsea are overwhelmed by our generosity and willingness to provide them with this opportunity. They are excited, have a sense of anticipation and yes, they are relieved that a season of rest is coming in their ministry. 

If you were not here before Jonathan and Chelsea arrived, it would be hard for you to appreciate how dramatically the composition of the church has changed. During the last two years of Pastor Alan’s ministry, there were roughly 30 regularly attending members. Brian and Janice, Jeff and Marcy and Jennifer and I were the three youngest couples in the church. You could count the number of young people under the age of 18 on one hand and a couple of fingers. Today, the church has several young parents with young families who are becoming the new anchor of our church. The children’s ministry is vibrant and growing, if not busting at the seams! These young parents are playing an increasingly vital role in the life of God’s church. 

Our goal as a congregation is not to prove that we can run the church without our pastor. The church may or may not run as smoothly while he and his family are away, but I know we will do our best. One thing is for sure, there will be numerous opportunities for us to step out on faith and play a larger role. 

As the sabbatical term winds down next summer, Jonathan and Chelsea will be rested, refreshed, excited about coming back and ready to begin the next chapter in their ministry. By God’s grace, the rest of us will have grown stronger and closer as we serve the Lord together, eagerly anticipating their return and ready to help them as they begin the next chapter. 

Following the meeting, I have asked the deacons to stay around for a while so that you can talk with us one on one and ask any questions you may have. Our phone numbers and email addresses are now listed in the bulletin, and I encourage you to call us or drop us an email. Your questions and input will help us form the content for our second meeting on this topic which will be two weeks from today. 

We believe our plan has a firm foundation, but there is still much work to do between now and May. You may be wondering what you can do to help. I’m so glad you asked! First, you can consider giving to the sabbatical project over and above your regular tithes and offerings. Second, you can begin praying about the role God would have for you in the months ahead. 

* * * 

O God, as we step out on faith, we look to you, the Author and Finisher of our faith. We pray for your mercy and grace, your wisdom and your blessing. Please bless your church with unity, singleness of purpose, faithfulness to you and a heart full of gratitude for all you have done and will do. We pray all these things in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen 8 

Next Steps 

Get informed! 

A Google search on the term “Pastoral Sabbatical” will result in thousands of returns. The Deacons recommend the following resources as a starting place to help you become informed about the nature of pastoral sabbaticals. 

  • Why You Should Make Your Pastor Take A Sabbatical 


This article gives six reasons a Pastor should take a sabbatical. The author gives several excellent links that will direct you to other good posts concerning pastoral sabbaticals. 

‘Why don’t I get a vacation, too?’ How to talk about clergy sabbaticals 


The author of this article works with the Lily Foundation, which works with a variety of churches that are planning pastoral sabbaticals. This article puts the concept of a pastoral sabbatical into a larger context. 

  • Ten Steps To A More Fruitful Sabbatical 


This article is from a pastor associated with the 9Marks ministry. The author is a pastor writing to other pastors who are taking sabbaticals. Many of the ideas found in this article helped the Deacons think through the physical and spiritual aspects of Pastor Jonathan’s sabbatical. 

Ask Questions! 

We urge you to contact any one of the Deacons with any questions or comments you may have. Contact information for the Deacons is found in the bulletin and is given below. Deacon  Email  Phone 
Jim Hughes  jrhughes.60@gmail.com  704-995-9590 
Jeff Williams  jzw090200@gmail.com  704-609-5474 
Randy Warner  rrwarner@pm.me  904-819-3750 
Ricki Ingalls  rgingalls@me.com  405-612-4111 
Jim Brooks  jimbrooks5454@gmail.com  502-939-0916 

Attend The November 5th Congregational Meeting 

The October 22 meeting gave a general overview of Pastor Jonathan’s sabbatical. The November 5 meeting will give specific details of the sabbatical. 


Please be in prayer for Pastor and his family, the Deacons, and the entire church as we take this significant step as a church. Pray for the Lord to show you how you can minister to the church body in the Pastor’s absence. 

Pastoral Prayer

Prayers for the Church

God, Our Father,

The fear of you is the beginning of wisdom (Ps. 111:10), and we pray that you would give us that holy and reverential fear. May we keep your Word (Rev. 3:10), and obey your commandments (Eccl. 12:13)

Give us also the grace to love you with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. (Mk. 12:30) May your Son, the Lord Jesus, be very precious to us (1 Pet. 2:7), and though we have not seen him, yet may we love him and believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible. (1 Peter 1:8)

Father, let the love of Christ control us to live, not for ourselves, but for him who for our sake died and was raised. (2 Cor. 5:14-15)

Prayers for the Lost


Father, you have promised to give the nations as a heritage to your Son (Ps. 2:8), and so we ask this morning for the nation of Algeria. Though your church there is small, we know your arm is mighty to save. So, we pray, bare your arm in the sight of Algeria. May your gospel sweep across that nation and claim every heart.

Father, you are the God over the great and the small, every continent and every molehill. No nation is too great to resist you, and no island is so small that you would forget it. We pray for the island nation of Kiribati in the Pacific and ask that you bring spiritual renewal to a once-thriving church. Cause them to run from false teaching and hold fast to your Word.

Prayers for Members


Thank you, Lord, for your protection and your care for your sheep here at Lake Wylie Baptist. We are weak, and our faith fails so often, yet your love never fails us.

I pray for those in our church who are tempted to struggle with sin; and those for whom sin remains attractive. Lord, help them to see the destructive power of sin. Give them a sip of the bitter taste of the cup of which your Son drained on the cross. May they see the folly of sin and turn instead to repentance and obedience.

Father, for those who have become captive to sin, who have given up the fight, who perhaps long to be free but no longer feel the strength—may they know that Christ has broken sin’s power as he was broken on the cross. Give them a renewed love for Christ alone which enables them to forsake sin and return to him.


Prayers for those in Authority


Lord God, we know that Christ holds the keys of history. We know that nothing can happen outside of his knowledge and your decree.

Therefore, we plead your mercy over the bloodshed in Israel and Gaza. We ask that you make a way for both justice and peace. We ask that lives be preserved so that more can hear of the saving love of Christ.

To that end, we lift up the civil authorities in Israel, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, the United States, Russia, China, and all others involved. Lord God, defy the purposes of evil men. Show favor to the plans of righteous men.

And we do pray for the peace of Israel, may they soon see Christ as your Messiah, and turn to him in faith along with the nations of the world.


Prayers for Churches & Missionaries

Father, we lift up Relevant Church as Josh Hair has now become their Lead Pastor. Fill him with your Spirit. May he walk in holiness, proclaiming Christ faithfully. Give their church even greater reach and influence in our community.

We pray for FBC Clover and their pastor Mike Stafford. Thank you for their gospel witness in the town of Clover and we ask that you multiply their efforts. May you raise up more leaders and teachers and evangelists and missionaries from among their congregation.

Finally, Father, we give you thanks through our tithes and offerings. The work of your church is precious to us. May our gifts now demonstrate the gratitude in our hearts for the ministries and missions that are shaping us and forming our families into Christ-likeness. Increase our joy and our generosity even as we give.

We offer all of this in the name of Jesus Christ and for his sake. Amen

When Spheres Collide – The Governments


Take a deep breath because this installment may require multiple readings, but I promise it’s worth your effort. In 1880, Abraham Kuyper (pronounced kie-per) delivered a public address at the inauguration of the Free University in Amsterdam which he entitled “Sphere Sovereignty.” The basic idea is this: Jesus Christ is sovereign over all. Underneath his total sovereignty, Christ has instituted various spheres of human society and established the boundaries (or spheres) of their authority, responsibilities, and competence. In this post, I’m going to apply Kuyper’s concept of sphere sovereignty to our topic of the three governments directly instituted by God.

The family government possesses authority and competence within its prescribed sphere. The same is true with the civil government and the church. Sphere sovereignty, therefore, is concerned with the relationships between these human governments. Although Sphere Sovereignty isn’t a perfect system (no system truly is perfect a world of fallen human beings), we can gather several valuable inferences and applications from Kuyper’s thought.


In an earlier post in this series on the governments, I made the case that parents, not the state, have the authority and right to teach and discipline their children. Several of you wrote me and asked an important question: “Do parents have a right to subject their children to so-called “gender reassignment surgeries.” Sadly, of course, many states in our nation grant the legal right for parents to do so. In a saner society, the government would legally prevent parents from doing so. Why? Sphere Sovereignty. Parents do not have the right to mutilate their children’s bodies. In such a case, the government is not transgressing the boundary (sphere) of the parent’s authority. Rather, the parent is transgressing the civil and criminal laws which the government is required by God to enforce.

In other words, these spheres (family, state, church) cannot be isolated from one another. Instead, they all bear a responsibility to one another. The church cannot act in any way it pleases, nor can the family or the state. Let me give two more examples.


Christians (especially Roman Catholics) have long taught a social doctrine called “subsidiarity.” The idea is that the responsibility to provide for human flourishing subsides at the most basic unit where it can naturally be exercised. Larger social units should only step in when smaller social units cannot provide solutions.

For instance, if a person is physically unable to work in order to support themselves it does not immediately fall to the federal government to give assistance. Rather, the individual’s nuclear family is the first line of defense. They have a greater responsibility, a greater knowledge of the needs, and a greater motivation to assist than the federal government. If the nuclear family is unable to assist, the need then moves to the next largest social unit, the extended family/church, then the town, then the county, then the state, and so on. But the further you get from that smaller unit competence falls as does motivation and accountability. This is why a government can “lose” $6 Billion but families don’t.

If you and I want to see greater health in our nation, we must reassert the family as a sovereign sphere of responsibility and authority. We have to break the mentality that Washington, D.C. is responsible for solving our problems. We need a greater appreciation for the responsibilities entrusted to each of these governments.


Generally speaking, the church is to honor the civil magistrate. We are to be a good-faith member of society. We are not to be scofflaws. We pray for and submit to police officers as well as other government officials. We believe every single word of Romans 13:1-2:

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. (Romans 13:1-2)

But we also know that the Apostle Paul, who wrote those words constantly disobeyed the governing authorities when they demanded disobedience to Christ. Paul, along with many of the apostles, were fugitives who regularly angered the civil magistrates by their preaching. So, all-things-even, Romans 13:1-2 always applies as a general rule. But, there are some demands from the civil government that the church cannot obey. Just as we believe every word of Romans 13:1-2, we also believe every word of Mark 12:17:

17 Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him. (Mark 12:17)

Go back, for a moment, to March 13, 2020. I was standing in the parking lot of our church with several men who had gathered for a workday. We were spreading mulch and discussing whether we ought to have worship service the coming Sunday. The COVID-19 virus was making headlines, and it wasn’t hours before all of civilization around the globe came to a halt. In those first couple weeks, our church tried its best to honor the civil magistrate’s authority in asking us to all stay home. However, after several weeks it became clear that our church could begin meeting again without presenting a grave health threat to congregants. We began meeting outside and then moved indoors. We did all of this even while civil magistrates continued to ban or place draconian limitations on gatherings. It was an act, albeit a mild act, of civil disobedience. We didn’t shout and post about it. We didn’t protest outside of the county offices. We simply felt that Christ’s commands to gather and worship outweighed the guidance of the local magistrates. Some Christians may disagree with our course of action. There is certainly room for Christian liberty and freedom of conscience. We showed patience within our own congregation with those who were not yet comfortable gathering. All this is to say that two spheres of authority collided: the church and the state, and we could not honor both equally.


Each of these examples demonstrates both the reality as well as the limits of “spheres” of governmental sovereignty. As Christians, we have a responsibility to understand the three governments directly instituted by God (family, state, ecclesiastical) and their boundaries. We need to know what God has required of the family, the state, and the church. We need boldness to tell the state what it can and cannot do. We need conviction to live under the authorities which God has prescribed.

Hold Fast: Christ’s Word to a Compromised Church – Revelation 2:18-29


The text for the sermon today is Revelation 2:12-17. Our text can be found on page 1028. These are the words of God:

18 “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: ‘The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze.

19 “ ‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. 20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. 21 I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. 22 Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, 23 and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. 24 But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. 25 Only hold fast what you have until I come. 26 The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, 27 and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. 28 And I will give him the morning star. 29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’


We live in an age of tolerance. There are calls to be tolerant in our theology, our immigration policies, relationships, and just about every other area of life. And yet, the more our culture has embraced that word, tolerance, the less tolerant we have become. You might even say we now live in an age of intolerance.


So small, Thyatira was home to several strategic trade guilds, each worshipping their own pagan deity. Therefore, the only way to enjoy the rich commerce of the city was to pay homage to the guild deity. And Christ comes to them with piercing vision and irresistible judgment. (v. 18)

There is much for Christ to commend: works of love, faith in Christ, and service to others. And the church had matured since its founding. (v. 19)

However, much like Pergamum, they tolerate false teachers who have led them into compromise. The ring-leader was a woman Jesus calls Jezebel. (1 Kings 16:31; 21:25) (v. 20) Apparently, (v. 24) the church had drifted into a kind of pagan mysticism. In other words, the beliefs of the church we no longer being built on the objective Word of God, but on the subjective inner voice of man. And that inner voice always leads to immorality of some kind.

The door is open for the church to turn around, but if not, Christ’s judgments will come in the form of great tribulation, death, and sobriety among the churches. (v. 21-23)

A contingent of faithful Christians are called to hold fast until Christ, the judge, arrives. Then they will rule the nations with Christ (v. 25-27) Christ, the true Morning Star (Rev. 22:16) will give himself to them forever. (v. 28) And again, the churches are called to listen to the message of the Spirit (v. 29)


You have likely noticed that Christ introduces himself differently to each of the 7 churches:

Ephesus: “The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.” (2:1)

Smyrna: “The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.” (2:8)

Pergamum: “The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword.” (2:12)

Thyatira: “The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze.” (2:18)

Because he is the divine Son of God, he is able to meet every individual need of the churches. The church in Thyatira tolerated false teaching in an effort to blend in. Christ’s flaming vision pierces through every façade. He explicitly refers to himself as the Son of God. As his church, we bear and represent his name.


In his assessment of the church, Christ sees qualities which seem contradictory. He sees a record of love and faithfulness, yet at the same time compromise and tolerance of false teaching. And you might ask, “How does that work?”

This month we celebrate the 506th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Many of you will know the 5 Solas of the Reformation: Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, etc. But there was another Latin phrase that Martin Luther made popular: Simul Justus et peccator, “At the same time, we are just sinners.”

In one sense, we are justified, or declared righteous by God through faith in Christ, and yet we still sin. In and of myself, I am not righteous, I’m a sinner. Yet, God has imputed or transferred to my account the righteous record of Christ by grace through faith (belief). And, he has transferred my sin to Jesus.

In this double imputation, God deals with our sin—he doesn’t compromise or negotiate with it. (2 Cor. 5:21) This is the heart of the gospel.


Christ’s two-word exhortation to Thyatira was to “hold fast.” Grab onto the true Jesus, the Scriptures, true doctrine, and don’t let go no matter how hard the world spins you. But how do you know if the Christianity you are holding will hold you?

  • Does my Christianity serve only myself and my desires, or the honor and glory of God’s name?

  • Is your Christianity cultivating a bigger view of God or yourself?

  • Is God a means or an end?

  • Do you desire holiness as much as you desire happiness?

You are not a Christian if these do not, in some way, describe you. You are not a Christian because you attend a church or put money in an offering plate. You are not a Christian because the music here makes you feel at peace.

Being a Christian is not a feeling at all. There are plenty of days when we don’t feel like Christians. To be a Christian means that God the Father has set his love upon you in Christ. That Christ has given himself for your sins at the cross. That the Holy Spirit has opened your eyes to this reality such that you belief and rest in it as your only hope in life and death. And we know this only because God’s Word is true and beneath our feet. Hold fast to that Word.

Repent: Christ’s Words to a Worldly Church Revelation 2:12-17


The text for the sermon today is Revelation 2:12-17. Our text can be found on page 1028. These are the words of God:

12 “And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: ‘The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword.

13 “ ‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. 14 But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. 15 So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. 17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’


55 miles north of Smyrna, and 15 miles inland, Pergamum, which looked like a crown on a hill means “citadel,” and even today you can see the ruins of the Roman theater, the temple of Athena. The city practiced strict zoning measures such that your wealth and influence determined how close to the top of the hill you could live. One only had to look at the architecture of the city to understand her heart. Zeus stood atop the hill. The first temple dedicated to a Caesar was found in the center, and most importantly, at the foot of the city, was a hospital/temple for Asclepion, the god of healing, symbolized as two snakes wrapped around a pole. What an opportunity for the church of Jesus Christ to stand out, yet you can tell by Christ’s introduction of himself that the letter to Pergamum will be sharp. (v. 1)

Satan loves to persecute the church through the power of the civil government, (Ps. 2; 2:13; 13:2) In such an atmosphere, living faithfully for Christ would be difficult; and the church at Pergamum had shing examples of Christian perseverance. (v. 13)

Nevertheless, Christ indicts the church for harboring false teachers, those who for personal gain, taught that Christians could participate in the sinful celebrations of the city without supporting the sin. These teachers are likened to Balaam who led Israel to do the same. (v. 14-15)

16 Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth.

The church is called upon to repent of embracing these teachers, or else Christ will come to expose and expel them himself. (v. 16) Christians who forego the pagan feasts of Pergamum will feast on “hidden manna” that Christ alone can give in glory; a white stone indicating an innocent verdict. (v. 17)


“I know where you dwell,” (v. 13) is the same as saying, “I know the temptations you face.” Jesus Christ knew about Zeus crowning the city. He knew about the serpent cult. He knew every pressure Pergamum felt soften their own convictions in order to fit in. Lake Wylie Baptist, Christ knows the time in which you live, but do you? Do you understand the task and duties of a Christian in 2023?

We live in a culture that has rapidly shifted its posture to the church. Prior to the mid-1990’s Christianity enjoyed a privileged, or positive position in America. Between the mid-1990s and 2014, we watched Christian influence steadily wane in culture. In 2015, the Obergefell marked a distinct moment in our nation’s history. Our nation enshrined an abomination into law.

Christianity cannot take a neutral stance towards marriage. Christians cannot take a neutral stance to abortion. We can’t take a neutral stance to the harm done to children’s bodies who struggle with their gender. Therefore, American culture can no longer take a neutral stance toward Christianity.

The dividing lines in our nation are no longer over marginal tax rates. They are being drawn over the very nature of reality and who gets to write the dictionary.

Jesus Christ knows where you dwell. He didn’t put you here by accident. He is pleased to have you here, to serve his purposes in this time.


If we’re honest, we all would love teachers who will tell us that being a Christian doesn’t have to be so difficult, so demanding, so costly. (2 Tim. 4:3, 4)

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2 Tim. 4:3-4)

Having seen Antipas martyred for the faith, some at Pergamum likely said, “You know, the surrounding culture is so different from us. We ought to be more winsome as Christians. If we don’t change some things, we won’t have a chance of reaching anyone. We need to sit down and be better listeners, maybe attend some of their pagan festivals. I mean, “They don’t care what we know, until they know that we care.”

Church, not only are we faced with a negative culture, we regularly see popular Christian leaders retreat from clear Biblical truth in order to maintain their status.

  • Last year, when the Dobbs decision overturned Roe V. Wade, I took note of which evangelical leaders praised the downfall of Roe and which ones were mum on the subject.
  • Sadly, we’ve seen many pastors and spiritual leaders retreat on the issues of gender, marriage, and God given gender roles within the home and church. Sometimes in the name of the gospel itself.
  • Many Christian elites today are saying, “If we don’t unhitch Christianity from the Old Testament, we’ll lose our place in culture.”

And Christ says, “If you do not repent, I will come with a sword.”

You know what the downfall of Israel was just before they went into exile? Isaiah 30:8:

And now, go, write it before them on a tablet and inscribe it in a book, that it may be for the time to come as a witness forever.   For they are a rebellious people, lying children, children unwilling to hear the instruction of the Lord; 10    who say to the seers, “Do not see,”and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us what is right; speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions, 11    leave the way, turn aside from the path, let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.”

When all the words from the pulpit are smooth words, look for lies. When all the words from the national leaders are smooth words, look for lies.

The same Jesus who says to weary sinners, “I will give you rest,” also told Jonah to say to Nineveh, “Repent, or else in 40 days your city will fall.”


What is Christ’s encouragement to you today? What is the promise that he will hold you fast through the insanity of this world today? It is an invitation to table fellowship.

To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, (v. 17)

This is an invitation to come and dine with Christ, to enjoy table fellowship with Christ. But be warned, you cannot fellowship at this table and the table of idols. You cannot enjoy the richness of this table with divided allegiances.

If you consider yourself a sinner, then this table has been prepared for you if we are willing to confess your own sin and cling to Jesus Christ alone as the savior of sinners. If you are willing to that there is another promise in this text:

and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’

If you sit enjoy table fellowship with Christ you will be condemned by the lords of this world. You will be guilty of breaking their laws, their statutes, and disrespecting their idols. But in the end, the only judge that matters will give you a white stone, a new name, an eternal declaration not simply of innocence, but of perfectly white righteousness through his Son.