The favorable year and the day of vengeance (Isaiah 61-1-2)

POST OVERVIEW. A study of Isaiah 61:1-2 in the context of Jesus’ quoting of this passage in Nazareth in Luke 4. This article sets the context of Jesus’ quote and considers the meaning of “the favorable year of the LORD.” The first of a two-part series.

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
Because the LORD has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to prisoners;
To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD
And the day of vengeance of our God. – Isaiah 61:1-2

After His baptism, as the Lord Jesus was beginning His earthly ministry, He went to His hometown of Nazareth and, in the synagogue on the Sabbath, the Lord read a short passage from Isaiah 61 (bolded and italicized above) and sat down. Most in the synagogue would have been familiar with Isaiah and many would have known this specific passage, but no one in the synagogue would have ever suspected what happened next. Jesus then said, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:16-21).


It is hard to overstate the significance of what Jesus has just announced. By quoting this prophecy from Isaiah, Jesus establishes three enormous truths. First, since this prophecy from Isaiah is certainly Messianic, Jesus is unambiguously declaring Himself to be the promised Messiah, the Anointed One predicted by the Old Testament Scriptures. But second, Jesus is announcing that He is inaugurating a period of “good news to the afflicted” and of “binding up the brokenhearted.” Jesus proclaims that there will be a time of “liberty to captives,” of “freedom to prisoners,” even “the favorable year of the LORD.” The long-awaited Messiah has come and He is ushering in a long time of the Lord’s favor, a time when sinners can be reconciled to their holy God. We now know that, with the coming of Jesus the Messiah, the gospel age has begun, the time when the nations will be gathered in, when the church will go out and make disciples, and when the name of Jesus will be proclaimed to the ends of the earth.

But there is a third truth that Jesus has announced, even though He intentionally avoids mentioning it. When a Jewish rabbi was reading a well-known passage of Scripture, he would often stop his reading before the end of the passage that he wanted to teach. The rabbi did this because he expected his hearers to complete the passage in their own mind. Here, Rabbi Jesus stops His reading with “the favorable year of the LORD,” but He expects His hearers to complete the reading in their mind. Thus, there is “the favorable year of the LORD,” but there is also “the day of vengeance of our God” (Isaiah 61:2b). The third truth that Jesus announces here in Nazareth is that, as surely as there will be a “favorable year of the LORD,” there will also be “a day of vengeance of our God.” It is on the second and the third truths that I want to comment.


By announcing “the favorable year of the LORD” and “the day of vengeance,” Jesus has moved the conversation into the realm of end times and of eschatology. And eschatology is the subject of this post. As stated above, “the favorable year” refers to the long time of the gospel age when the church goes into the world and among the nations proclaiming the good news of salvation to people of every tribe and tongue and nation so that the elect can be gathered in. The crucified and risen Lord Jesus has commissioned His church (Matt. 28:19-20) to ride out with the gospel, “conquering and to conquer” (Rev. 6:2), as His witnesses (Acts 1:8) to the ends of the earth till the end of the age. And because this is an immense task, the commissioned church will have a long time to accomplish its mission. The unity of Scripture is displayed in the fact that “the favorable year” of Isaiah 61:2 corresponds to “the thousand years” of Revelation 20. During this long time of relative peace, the fury of God’s wrath against sin is held back and the offer of salvation to sinners is extended. During this figurative “year of favor,” “the vilest offender who truly believes, That moment from Jesus a pardon receives.” Wretches with sins red like crimson are, by repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus, made white as snow (Isaiah 1:18). Those who “were fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, drunkards, and revilers are washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:9-11). The church proclaims that “the blood of Jesus God’s Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). Jesus has come, Jesus has died, Jesus has risen, and now for a long time God’s mercy welcomes believing sinners into His kingdom as sons and daughters. Yes, now is “the acceptable time, the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2).

But the favorable year of the LORD will not last forever. The favorable year will end and there will come “the day of vengeance of our God.” This day of vengeance will be the topic of the next post in this series.

Soli Deo gloria            rmb                 5/2/2023                     #646

The planned evangelistic encounter

A friend and I have been going through Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J I Packer. This study has taken me to the place where I am thinking in terms of a “planned evangelistic encounter” as the way to regularly be engaged in witnessing for Jesus Christ (Acts 1:8) and to be an active “fisher of men” (Matt. 4:19). The following are notes as they appear on my working page.

The gospel has complexity (astute quote from Packer in chapter 3). This means that the evangelist must plan in advance what portion of the full gospel he is going to present in the evangelistic encounter.


In the “entire gospel,” there are many complex ideas to communicate to the other person (God, sin, fallen man, judgment, Jesus Christ, death on a cross, resurrection, repentance, forgiveness of sins, heaven and hell, eternity, guilt, born again, the church, etc.). Because it is impossible to communicate this information in a short time or in a single sitting, I am proposing that the one who is “sowing seeds” (Matt. 13:3ff) and who is “fishing for men” (Matt. 4:19) on a regular, intentional basis (shouldn’t this be every disciple of Jesus?) should develop a “planned encounter” containing a “desired message.” That is, I am proposing that the evangelist plans the evangelistic encounter from initial contact through disengagement so that:

  1. The evangelist’s DESIRED MESSAGE is clearly communicated.
  2. The hearer has been given a clear opportunity to respond to the message.
  3. The hearer’s response can be evaluated.
  4. The hearer has been given a “next step” which they can pursue if they so desire (this would most appropriately be information about our church that was consistent with the evangelist’s message).
  5. The overall encounter can be evaluated and improved.


Note that the DESIRED MESSAGE must be drawn from the gospel message as communicated in the New Testament. Therefore, in this sense, the DESIRED MESSAGE is the most constrained portion of the evangelistic encounter. This message is the heart and soul of the encounter. Indeed, it is the entire reason for the encounter. The other variables and components (see below) that make up the evangelistic encounter are largely up to the personality and creativity of the evangelist and are, therefore, not tightly constrained. For these variables, there is no right or wrong. There is no eternal truth at stake. But the DESIRED MESSAGE portion of the encounter is not like that. This gospel message contains essential truth that must be understood and believed for the hearer to be delivered from the wrath to come. For this message, the evangelist is accountable to the Lord (Romans 1:16-17; 1 Cor. 1:23-24; 2:2; 15:1-2; 2 Cor. 4:7; Gal. 1:8,9; 2 Tim. 1:14).


Here are the components of the evangelistic encounter that should be planned.

  1. Venue. Where will this encounter take place? In a park? On a plane? On a street corner? At the beach? At work? In a café? Homeless shelter? Food pantry?
  2. Hearer. Whom do you envision as your hearer, the one who will hear your DESIRED MESSAGE? Having your hearer in view can help you anticipate roadblocks to your DESIRED MESSAGE.
  3. What is the means of engagement or initial contact? This is an important part of the encounter to consider. How do you plan to gain the person’s attention so they will even listen to you? How directly do you move to your message? You are in control of this part of the encounter. How do you move from stranger to person worth listening to? Thought-provoking question? “What is your opinion” on something related to the gospel or to Jesus? Short opinion survey that leads to the DESIRED MESSAGE?
  4. DESIRED MESSAGE. What is the good-news gospel message you are going to proclaim? The message must contain enough information to point to Jesus, to His death and resurrection and His offer of salvation and eternal life for all who turn from their sin and trust in Him. Remember, this is the main purpose of the encounter. The evangelist should aim to proclaim the DESIRED MESSAGE in every evangelistic encounter, whether that is done fluently and according to plan or done awkwardly. It is the message that has the power to save (Romans 1:16) and so it is the message that must be communicated.
  5. Interaction and reaction to the message. How will you continue the conversation after the message is proclaimed? How will you seek a clear response from the hearer? What follow-up questions will you ask? What reactions might you anticipate?
  6. Disengagement and end the conversation. At some point, either the evangelist or the hearer will seek to disengage from the conversation. The aim here is to make sure that the contact is not wasted. Prolong the conversation until you believe you have been heard and the hearer has given you an acceptable response. When it is time to disengage, do so graciously and be sure to hand out a deliverable that gives the hearer a follow-up opportunity, like information about a local church with service times and church address. It would be appropriate to include a gospel tract with the follow-up information.

BRAINSTORMING. Planning and developing ideas for these evangelistic encounters would very profitably be done in brainstorming sessions, where six to ten disciples from the church gathered on a Saturday morning for training and brainstorming workshops.

The next post related to this topic will focus on the contents and the delivery of the DESIRED MESSAGE.

Soli Deo gloria            rmb                 5/1/2023                     #645

The Lord turns a trivial deposit into a small fortune

POST OVERVIEW. An incident happened as I went to the bank to deposit a tiny check. A display of God’s providence.

Way back in the early 2000’s when I was living as a single man in a one-bedroom apartment in Alpharetta, GA, my electrical service was provided by Sawnee EMC. I did not choose this provider. In fact, I did not have a choice at all. The apartment complex chose this electrical co-op as the ones who would provide electricity to my apartment and I paid the bills. But what is curious about this is, because this is an electrical co-op, the customers are actually members of the co-op. “So what,” you say. Well, so if there are surplus funds in the co-op at the end of the year, then the surplus funds are distributed to the co-op members. I know, I can’t follow it either, but what happens in this arrangement is that every year toward the end of March, I receive a check from Sawnee EMC. Even though I have not been a “co-op member” (customer) since 2006, every year I receive a check. This year my check was for $6.18.

Thus, one of the errands I needed to do today was to deposit this check into our bank account. I intended to just shove the check into the ATM and be done with it, but as I drove up to the bank location, for some reason, there was an armored truck blocking the ATM access lane. “Oh, well,” I thought, “I guess I’ll have to go into the bank.”

I felt a little silly going into the bank to deposit a $6.18 check, but into the bank I went. I was the only customer in the bank. The teller was working both the counter, where I was, and the customers who were at the drive-through windows, and she was helping one particular man at the window as I walked up to the counter. As I waited for her to finish the transaction with this man, I noticed the bank’s advertising monitor as it told about bank products and services. One of these piqued my curiosity – a special offer of 3.50% interest for 6 months for select savings accounts. We were getting about 0.75% for a large amount of money in a savings account, so I asked another woman in the bank to tell me about this offer. She asked me if I had a savings account with the bank. I said I didn’t know, but when she checked our accounts, she said that we had a Platinum Savings account, which was the type of account that was eligible for the larger interest. We also had the necessary minimum balance of $100,000, so this bank employee flipped the needed switch that gave us the new 3.50% interest rate. By that time, the teller was free to help me deposit my tiny check.

As I did the calculations later, I realized that simple change of interest for our savings account was worth almost $8,000 to Lisa and me. So, I was going to make a $6.18 deposit, but God, in His providence, used an armored vehicle and a busy teller and a special interest rate offer at the bank to give us almost $8,000 in addition to the $6.18 deposit.

We serve an awesome God!

Soli Deo gloria            rmb                 4/26/2023                   #644

Evangelism study – Is sin a part of gospel proclamation? Part 1

POST OVERVIEW. A study of Acts assessing whether the sin of the hearers was a part of the gospel message proclaimed by the apostles. (There will be a subsequent study of the epistles to see if the gospel proclaimed includes a portion directed at the sin of those the evangelist is attempting to convert.) This is part 1 of the Acts investigation.


As David Bell and I were carefully going through Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, the excellent book by J I Packer that examines the task of evangelism from a theological point of view, we came to the third chapter of the book that talks in detail about what constitutes the actual message itself. That is, what is the content of the gospel message we are to proclaim? Packer states that the message of the gospel is a message about God, about sin, and about Jesus Christ, and then the hearers are summoned to faith and repentance. Packer’s four points are very similar to those of another influential evangelism book by Greg Gilbert called What Is the Gospel? In his book, Gilbert speaks of God, man, Christ, and response. In my experience, this is very typical of conservative instruction books on evangelism and it seems true to the message we should proclaim. It makes sense and holds to what I believe the apostles proclaimed. So, David and I were ready to discuss the details of how we could present this gospel message about God, about sin (or about man and his sin), and about Jesus to an audience and compel them to believe in Jesus and repent of their sin.

But we encountered a problem as we began to look at the book of Acts. The book of Acts is THE biblical book on evangelism. It is the disciple’s instruction manual for gospel proclamation, since it gives us the only examples in the Bible of people who heard and responded to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The context of Acts is a context like our own, meaning that the gospel proclamation in Acts is done by ordinary men and women and occurs after Pentecost (coming of the Holy Spirit) and before Jesus’ return. The preaching of the gospel in Acts is done in obedience to Christ’s Great Commission given in Matt. 28:19-20, which is exactly the same commission that we must obey. Since all this is true of Acts, I am convinced that our evangelism and gospel proclamation is to be patterned after what we see in Acts. This book of Holy-Spirit inspired Scripture is given to Jesus’ church as the instruction manual for the gospel and our evangelism must be constrained by what we find there.

And here is where we began to experience some tension. David began by saying that, as he examined Paul’s sermon on the Areopagus in Athens from Acts 17, he became aware that Paul barely mentioned sin at all. David said that he became uncomfortable the more he looked at the passage and saw that Paul almost avoided mentioning sin. Yes, he does say that “God is now declaring that all people should repent” (17:30), which hints at sin, and that “God will judge the world” (17:31), which could be understood as alluding to the punishment of sin, but as far as boldly telling these pagan philosophers that they are in peril of going to hell forever because of their sin, there is not a suggestion. So, as we discussed this and pored over the text, it became apparent that the gospel Paul proclaimed in Athens was very light on sin.

At that point, I commented to David that the other sermons and gospel proclamations in Acts might reveal the same thing. That is, as we studied the sermons and gospel proclamations in the book of Acts, we might find that the apostolic proclamations include little to nothing about sin or sins. We might find that the gospel according to the apostles, the gospel that was “fully preached from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum” (Rom. 15:19) and that saw Gentiles by the thousands come to saving faith in Jesus, included very little about sin. And if that was the case, what would we do with our evangelism books and methods that carried a large portion of teaching about sin? This investigation into Acts and what the apostles preached about sin had suddenly turned into a high-stakes event that could seriously shake up our evangelism.


Here, then, is what I am proposing as my approach to this project.

  1. Go through Acts and identify all occasions when the gospel is intentionally preached. List those occurrences by passage.
  2. Examine the text of these occurrences and note any explicit or implicit mentioning of sin.
  3. Summarize the findings and draw preliminary conclusions.

The next post in this series will give the listing of the gospel passages in Acts and will begin the examination of these passages.

Soli Deo gloria            rmb                 4/21/2023                   #643

A case for the 42 months being a literal period of time

POST OVERVIEW. A refresher on the 42 months from Revelation 11-13, reviewing what the Scripture says about this end-times concept. Related to post #641, 4/16/2023, on the “thousand years.”

I have written before at length about the end times, both on numerous posts on this site and in my book, “The Last Act of the Drama: a guide to the end times,” but lately I have felt that it might be beneficial to give some refreshers.


One of the most important interpretive decisions that the student of Revelation makes is how he understands the timing of the major end times events and time periods in the book. In my view of Revelation, the events of the last days (the time period between Jesus’ ascension and great white throne judgment) fit into three named periods: the “thousand years,” the 42 months, and the last day. In a recent post (#641, 4/16/2023), I reviewed the events of the “thousand years” and placed the “thousand years” chronologically on a timeline. In this post, my main objective, but not my only objective, is to demonstrate that “the 42 months” of Revelation 11-13 should be understood as a literal time period.

REVIEW OF THOUSAND YEARS. Looking back to Post #641, we saw that, rather than a precise measurement of exactly one thousand 365-day years, the “thousand years” (Rev. 20:1-6) was simply a figurative expression for a long period of time. That is, since “thousand” in Revelation most often simply means a very large number, the “thousand years” simply means a very long, non-specific period of time. In my previous post, I also explained from Revelation and other Scriptures that the “thousand years” begins during the ascension of Jesus to heaven between Acts 1:9 and Rev. 5:6. Then, according to Rev. 20:3 and 20:7, the “thousand years” ends when Satan (the dragon) is released from the abyss. Thus, the period of the 42 months begins with Satan’s release.


There are seven occurrences of the “42 months” in the Scriptures: Daniel 7:25 and 12:7; and Revelation 11:2, 3; 12:6, 14; and 13:5. The first thing we want to consider as we interpret these occurrences of the 42 months is whether this is a literal time period of three-and-a-half years or whether the expression “42 months” is to be understood figuratively as just a relatively short period of time. When I was studying end-times passages for my book on the end times two years ago, my position on the 42 months (or the “time and times and half a time” or the 1,260 days) was that this expression was “relatively literal,” in that it figuratively meant a short period of time compared to the long period of the thousand years. This position was not based on in-depth exegesis or on a clear principle, so this idea of “relatively literal” was weak. But since that time, as I have continued to study these things, my position on the meaning of the 42 months has changed. I am now persuaded that the “42 months” is a literal time period of 42 calendar months in duration. I have come to this conclusion for three reasons:

  1. John mentions this period of time five times in Revelation in three different ways; “42 months” (Rev. 11:2; 13:5); “1,260 days” (Rev. 11:3; 12:6); and “time and times and half a time” (Rev. 12:14). It would be very odd for him to mention a figurative period of time in three different ways.
  2. None of these expressions of 42 months has any figurative significance that I can discern, so it is unlikely that the time span is figurative.
  3. There are two other expressions of the 42 months which are located in Daniel (“time, times, and half a time” in 7:25 and 12:7), bringing to seven the total number of times that the 42 months is mentioned in an end-times passage in the Scriptures. Seven mentions of the same time period is very significant and is strong evidence for a literal understanding.  

These three reasons taken together make a very persuasive case that the 42 months is a literal time period.


According to my view of the last days, the “thousand years” is a time of relative peace where the primary end-times activity consists of the faithful church riding out to conquer the nations with the bow of the gospel (Rev. 6:1-2). Satan is locked in the abyss (Rev. 20:3) so that he will not thwart the work of the church to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19-20).

But at a point in time known only to the Lord, Satan “must be released for a short time” (Rev. 20:3). This “short time” is the period of the 42 months. With the release of Satan from the abyss, the time period of the 42 months begins and world history takes a dramatic turn toward the end of the age. The following are comments about the 42 months.

  1. There are three main purposes for the 42 months.
    • Lawlessness increases so that the rebellious world is prepared for judgment.
    • The church gathered during the “thousand years” is purified by persecution.
    • Final warnings and calls for repentance are issued for the unrighteous.
  2. The 42 months begins with Satan’s release from the abyss (Rev. 20:3, 7) and ends on the cusp of the last day as the nations are gathered for Armageddon (Rev. 16:13-16; 19:19; 20:8-9) and the destruction of the church.
  3. With a couple of exceptions, the events of the 42 months are given only in Revelation. Since there is not a biblical cross-reference for these events, care must be taken as the student pieces these events together.
  4. A proposed flow of events of 42 months. Satan’s release begins the 42 months. Satan makes war in heaven (Rev. 12:7-8) but he is defeated and thrown to earth (Rev. 12:9ff). This event is parallel with Rev. 8:10 and the great star from heaven (Satan). This “star” opens “the shaft of the abyss” (9:1) and releases demonic forces on the earth. These are part of the trumpet warnings for the unrighteous to repent. In 12:12, Satan’s wrath will result in woe on the earth. The church is purified through persecution (Rev. 6:9-11; 11:3-10, esp. 7; 13:7, 10, 15), the rise of the antichrist in the person of the beast (Rev. 13:1-10); the rise of the false prophet (“another beast,” Rev. 13:11-17), and the gathering of the kings of the earth and the forces of wickedness against the faithful church for the annihilation of the church (Rev. 16:13-16; 19:19; 20:8-9). The conclusion of the 42 months prepares the world for the cataclysmic events of the last day.

Soli Deo gloria            rmb                 4/17/2023                   #642

A detailed review of the “thousand years” (Rev. 20:1-6)

POST OVERVIEW. A refresher on the “thousand years” from Revelation 20:1-6, reviewing what the Scripture says and how to interpret and understand this difficult passage.

I have written before at length about the end times, both on numerous posts on this site and in my book, “The Last Act of the Drama: a guide to the end times,” but lately I have felt that it might be beneficial to give some refreshers on the key concepts.


The “thousand years” is admittedly a difficult topic but it is also an important one. Misinterpreting the meaning of the “thousand years” can lead the student of the end times away from biblical teaching about the end of the age and about the return of Jesus and into confusing man-made concepts and ideas. As seekers of biblical truth, we must cling to the Scriptures until they reveal their truth to us and must resist the temptation to simply adopt a popular view or to be influenced by a persuasive teacher.

When studying these questions about the “thousand years,” we should turn to Rev. 20:1-6 and observe what the Bible asserts, that Satan (the dragon) is bound in the abyss for “a thousand years” (Rev. 20:2, 3). This is plain from this passage of Scripture and we know that the Scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35), so first we conclude that Satan is bound for the thousand years. Next, Rev. 20:4 says that “the souls of those who had been beheaded and of those who had not worshiped the beast came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” Rev. 20:6 adds that these will reign with Christ for a thousand years. So, with this basic interpretation of these verses on the thousand years, we see that, during the thousand years, while Satan (the dragon) is bound in the abyss, the souls of the saints are reigning with Christ in heaven. So far, so good.

But we must go deeper than this if we are going to draw any real meaning from this passage. We must seek to answer two obvious questions:

  1. What is the nature of the “thousand years?” That is, is it a literal period of time or is it a figurative expression?
  2. When does the “thousand years” occur?

Only after answering these two questions can we begin to fully understand the meaning of the “thousand years.” Here I will try to (briefly) describe my view. (By the way, I published a book in October 2021 called “The Last Act of the Drama: a guide to the end times.” That book expresses most of my thoughts on these things in more detail. It is available on Amazon.)

  1. The “thousand years” is not a literal time period but is simply an expression for a long period of time. Numbers in Revelation, especially numbers like 3, 7, 12, and 1000, often have figurative significance. The number “thousand” in Revelation is usually figurative and simply means a really big number. That means that “thousand years” does not mean 365,000 days. It just means a really long time.
  2. The “thousand years” must begin at least a thousand years before the resurrection of the saints (1 Thess. 4:14-17; 1 Cor. 15:23, 51-54), because we know that the resurrection of the saints will be on the last day (John 6:39, 40, 44, 54; 11:24). Directly related to this is the fact that Jesus’ coming occurs at the same time as the resurrection of the saints (1 Thess. 4:15-17; 1 Cor. 15:23; 1 John 3:2). Thus, the “thousand years” must begin long BEFORE the resurrection of the saints and the return of Jesus because the “thousand years” cannot occur after the last day.
  3. (From 2) The binding of Satan in the abyss, which is the event that begins the thousand years (Rev. 20:2, 3), occurs at least a thousand years before the coming of Jesus and the Resurrection.
  4. The “angel” (Rev. 20:1) who binds the dragon (Satan) in the abyss is the risen Lord Jesus, for only the Son of God has the power and authority to throw Satan around like a rag doll.
  5. In Rev. 20:4, John sees “thrones.” In Revelation, thrones are always in heaven, so “the souls of those who had been beheaded . . .” are in heaven. Also in Rev. 20:4, John explicitly sees “souls” in heaven with Christ,” not glorified saints. Thus, we know the “thousand years” occurs before the resurrection, because “souls” only exist until the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:42-44, 51-54).
  6. In Psalm 110:1, the conversation between the LORD (Father) and the Lord (Son) took place when Jesus returned to heaven after His victorious death and resurrection. After that, the Lord (Jesus) has been seated at the LORD’s (Father’s) right hand until His judgment of His enemies.
  7. The beginning of the “thousand years” occurs during the ascension of Jesus, between Acts 1:9 and Revelation 5:6. Jesus (“the angel” in Rev. 20:1) binds Satan in the abyss (Rev. 20:2, 3) and then arrives in heaven (Rev. 5:6) where He begins His reign with the souls of the faithful saints.
  8. In a “simplified” timeline of the events of the last days, Jesus ascends (Acts 1:9), binds Satan in the abyss (Rev. 20:2, 3), thus beginning the “thousand years,” and takes His seat at the Father’s right hand (Psalm 110:1). The victorious Lamb (Rev. 5:6) sends out (Rev. 6:2) the commissioned (Matt. 28:19-20) church to proclaim the gospel to the nations for the “thousand years.” At the end of the “thousand years,” Satan is released from the abyss (Rev. 20:3, 7) and his release begins the 42 months. Satan makes war in heaven (Rev. 12:7-8) but he is defeated and thrown to earth (Rev. 12:9, etc.). The events of the 42 months include the persecution of the church (Rev. 6:9-11; 11:3-10, esp. 7; 13:7, 10, 15), the final “trumpet” warnings to the unrighteous to repent (Rev. 8:6-9:21), the rise of the beast (Rev. 13:1-10) and the false prophet (“another beast,” Rev. 13:11-17), the increase of lawlessness (Matt. 24:12), the apostasy of the visible church (2 Thess. 2:3), and the gathering of the kings of the earth and the forces of wickedness against the faithful church to attempt the annihilation of the church (Rev. 16:13-16; 19:19; 20:8-9). On the last day, the faithful church is rescued by resurrection (Rev. 11:11-12) and rises to meet the descending Lord Jesus (1 Thess. 4:15-17; Rev. 19:11-16). The Lord brings wrath and judgment on the unrighteous and slays them all (Rev. 19:20, 21). The final event is the great white throne where the unrighteous are condemned into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:11-15).

Soli Deo gloria            rmb                 4/16/2023                   #641

A settled response to the experience of fear

POST OVERVIEW. This is an idea that I found from writing I did on September 27, 2016, about the experience of fear and how I determined to respond to those feelings.

The Bible commands us to “fear not” many, many times. Yet, as a fallen human being, I have found that my natural response to many situations is still to instinctively fear and to feel the threat. There is a feeling in the bottom of my stomach or a tightness in the chest that tells me that whatever has just occurred has caused me to fear. Since the Bible commands me to fear not, I must confess that my fear is sin. Therefore, it is incumbent on me, as a disciple of the Lord Jesus who desires obedience, to develop a response to these feelings of fear.

Here is my settled , intentional response to fear and anxiety:

  1. Recognize and acknowledge the feeling of fear. I become conscious of the fact that I am fearing something.
  2. Identify the fear. What is it I fear? Be as specific and concrete as possible and go as deep as necessary to find the cause of the fear.
  3. Confess the fear to the Lord, while acknowledging that fear is not faith and, therefore, agreeing with the Lord that fear is sin. “Whatever is not from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).
  4. Refuse to be fearful anymore by casting the fear or the anxiety onto the Lord. (See 1 Peter 5:7).
  5. Pray specifically about the fear using the Word of God. Explicitly declare to the Lord that I have this fear and request that the Lord would act on my behalf to remove the fear. “Be anxious for nothing” (Phil. 4:6-7). Restrict the things that I allow my mind to dwell on (Psalm 131).
  6. Consciously and explicitly leave the fear with the Lord and willfully forget the fear. By faith forget the fear and turn to godly activities and thoughts.

Finally, if there is something practical that I can do to address the cause of the fear or if there is some action that I can take to combat the fear, then it is my responsibility to take that action.

Soli Deo gloria            rmb                 4/11/2023                   #640

How have you impacted the kingdom of God?

This post is simply a series of questions that seek to evaluate the disciple’s fruit and his impact. Are you bearing fruit or producing good works (Eph. 2:10) for the Kingdom? What will be your legacy?


  • Does your name get mentioned in Satan’s war room?
  • Does Satan even know your name?
  • Are you a target for Satan’s attack? (Consider Job 1, 2)
  • Do your prayers frighten Satan? By their frequency? By their power?
  • Is your witness for Jesus something that Satan feels compelled to silence?
  • Are you on Satan’s radar screen?
  • Are you on Satan’s “10 Most Wanted” list?
  • Does Satan consider you dangerous to his cause?
  • If you died today, would Satan breathe a sigh of relief or would he not notice?
  • Does your witness for Jesus keep Satan up at night?


  • If you died right now, would the cause of Christ on earth be lessened?
  • What kingdom work are you planning for the future?
  • What kingdom work are you currently executing (i.e., it is on your calendar)?
  • Will your efforts for Christ bear thirty, sixty, a hundred fold? (Matthew 13:8)
  • Would those seeking to persecute followers of Jesus be able to find you?
  • If Jesus gave you two talents at your conversion, what would you show Him when He returned/when He asked for an accounting (Matthew 25:14-30)?
  • Are there people who have heard the name of Jesus because of you?
  • How is the kingdom of God different because you have lived?
  • Is heaven well acquainted with your voice because of your prayers?

The point of these questions is to emphasize that the disciple has been called to bear fruit for the Kingdom (John 15:5, 8, 16).

“My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples.” –  Jesus Christ in John 15:8

The disciple’s goal is to be useful to the Master (2 Tim. 2:21). How will your life bear fruit for Jesus? How will you be useful to the Master?

What questions would you add to this list?

Soli Deo gloria            rmb                 4/10/2023                   #639

The authority of the Bible for doctrine and practice

16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17

The Lord has graciously given His people His book, the Bible, so that His people can know Him better, so that we can understand all that He has done through the Lord Jesus Christ for our salvation, and so that we can know how to glorify Him on earth. One of the Bible’s strongest statements about the authority of the Bible is given in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, quoted above. The features of the Word that I want to consider in this article are that all Scripture is useful for teaching and for correction.

STRANGERS IN THE EARTH. The Bible also says that we are strangers in the earth. “I am a stranger in the earth; do not hide Your commandments from me” (Psalm 119:19). The psalmist is making a statement about the condition of all mankind. We are strangers in the earth, in that we are born with no sense of direction, no strong means of survival, no significant control, and no real defense against the threats around us. We are strangers surrounded by strangers. Where are we going to find a trustworthy guide to help us through this minefield? The psalmist’s solution is to cry out to the LORD, “Do not hide Your commandments from me.” As a stranger here surrounded by hostiles, the psalmist asks God to give him His Word. God’s Word is what he needs, and so do we.

As we come into the world directionless, purposelessness, and defenseless, so the believer comes to Christ “conviction-less.” What I mean is that the new believer has no convictions about doctrinal truth or about practices within the church or about fellowship with other believers. This is one reason why it is very important for the new believer to become immersed in the Bible as quickly as possible so that they can begin building doctrinal foundations.


Part of growing from a new believer to a mature disciple involves fashioning biblical doctrines and practices into immovable convictions. In my own experience, when I came to Christ, I was worshiping the Lord in a large Baptist church in north Atlanta. This church was Arminian in their soteriology and was Dispensational in their eschatology. Since I came to Christ with no doctrinal foundation at all, I, too, became nominally Arminian and Dispensational simply by osmosis. But as time went on, and as I read through the Bible and studied its passages carefully, the nominal leanings that I had adopted from my pastor’s sermons were replaced with bedrock convictions bought with a firm grasp on the Word. I am now Calvinist in my soteriology and biblical in my eschatology. If there is to be sustained growth in the disciple’s walk with Jesus, it is necessary that the disciple move beyond mere adoption of the ideas of others to having convictions about what the word of the living God teaches.

Let me talk a little more about this idea of discerning and intentionally replacing erroneous ideas. The disciple of Jesus is a man or woman of one book. For the disciple, the Bible is the uncontested authority for all matters of doctrine and practice. All doctrinal and theological statements and ideas and claims should come from and may be tested by the word of God. Every doctrinal or theological statement or claim should be supported by the plain teaching of the Bible. Any teaching or theology of pastor or parent or priest or presbytery or parish or pope or professor must be crushed to dust and swept away if it cannot be readily defended from Scripture.

Therefore, it is the duty of the disciple, for the health of his own soul, to examine the doctrines he is being taught and the practices in which he engages inside the crucible of God’s word to be sure he is drinking pure milk (1 Peter 2:2) and not a diluted or tainted or even poisoned substitute. If, upon examination, the disciple discovers that a dearly beloved doctrine that he has cherished since childhood is in conflict with the teaching of the Bible, his necessary course of action is to slay that beloved doctrine and replace it with biblical teaching. The erroneous teaching must be treated as Deut. 13:6-11 treats the suggestion to serve false gods. That dearly beloved teaching that you learned on your mother’s knee, that you now know to be wrong, must be put to death without hesitation and without pity.


There are dangers to your soul from knowing that your doctrine or practice is in conflict with biblical teaching and yet persisting in it for subjective reasons.

The first danger of not rejecting and replacing this non-biblical doctrine or practice is that you will quickly grow to ignore your Bible altogether. When you tolerate known error in something small, it soon becomes easy to tolerate something bigger and more significant. It turns out that, when it comes to biblical truth, there is no such thing as a small thing. If God put that “thing” in His Word, he expects it to be obeyed, and it is a big deal when someone tolerates something else. Tolerating a “small thing” means the Bible is not the uncontested authority. Your behavior and your tolerating of the error have made clear that something else has more authority than the Word. And that is a huge problem. Now there is a rivalry (Matthew 6:24). Soon you will resent your Bible interfering with your life and eventually you will close your Bible and go do what you want to do. Tolerating any known error or conflict with biblical truth will cause your convictions to vanish like smoke. Therefore, reject any known error.

The second danger of not rejecting known error and replacing it with biblical truth is that you have a “form of godliness (religion), although you have denied its power” (2 Tim. 3:5). Man-made ideas and compromises are impotent and adopting man-made rules and teaching will evacuate all power from your faith. God’s Word is “a hammer that shatters a rock” (Jeremiah 23:29), but man-made substitutes have no power at all. If your church clings to error, you should leave the church. It is better to leave a church than to forfeit biblical truth. You can find another church, but once you surrender your allegiance to the absolute truth of the Bible, you will be forever at sea without rudder or compass. There is no other Word of God. What the Bible says is true and it may be trusted. Indeed, it must be trusted. If you are unwilling to examine doctrine and practice by the blazing light of the Scripture and then conform errant doctrines and practices to those demanded by the Word of God, then your Bible will soon be of no practical use to you and you will have a man-made religion.

CONVICTIONS. The disciple of Jesus must be continually purging man-made practices and made-up doctrines as he earnestly develops biblical convictions that cannot be shaken.

Soli Deo gloria            rmb                 4/10/2023                   #638

Hebrews: An introduction and an overview

POST OVERVIEW. This article gives an introduction to the letter of Hebrews with thoughts about the author’s purposes, the recipients, the author and the date of writing.

FORM OF A SERMON. The letter to the Hebrews takes the form of a sermon from the displaced pastor to his congregation.


The author preaches his sermon with two different purposes.

ENCOURAGED BY CHRIST AND OTHER BELIEVERS. His first purpose is to encourage the genuine believer and to urge that believer to persevere by faith in the face of persecution. The author’s primary means of encouraging the true believers in his flock is to present Jesus Christ in all His glory and majesty as the model we are to follow. The author also spurs his flock on by reminding them of others from the past who have persevered and who have remained steadfast despite great difficulty and suffering. We can press on and not shrink back because we have “a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us” (12:1).

APPLICATION – As we read about the glory of Jesus Christ, about His holiness and His power and His sinlessness and His sacrifice on the cross, true believers should take heart that we have such a High Priest (7:25) and, knowing that Jesus is our substitute, we should resolve to not shrink back but press on to maturity and persevere to the end.

DO NOT COME SHORT. But there is a second purpose in this epistle that is manifested in the warning passages which characterize this letter. The author is intent on warning the pretender, the one who is blending in with the believing crowd while still holding back from real faith in Jesus. These people are probably not aware themselves that they are unsaved. After all, they are doing the same things that the rest of the congregation does, so why would they not also be saved? But the author’s warnings are intended to make clear that it is possible to come short of salvation. It is possible to drift away, to go through all the motions and then fall away because you never, by faith, trusted in Jesus Christ. The issue is not to check off all the religious boxes and have all the “Christian experiences,” but the critical issue is to come to Christ by faith. With all your heart, mind, and strength, believe in the Lord Jesus without reservation. The author warns that anything short of that is an eternity away from salvation.

APPLICATION – In much the same way that we read 1 John, so we read Hebrews and examine our own profession of faith in light of the warning passages. “Do I exhibit any of the danger signs about which the author is warning us here?” Therefore, when we encounter a warning text, we compare our faith to the warning and see if there are any similarities. We should allow the text of holy Scripture to warn us away from the disastrous consequences of a formal false “faith” that falls short of salvation. We, therefore, put our faith in the balances and allow the Scriptures to determine its saving weight.

SUMMARY. Thus the author writes to his beloved congregation to encourage genuine believers to remain steadfast in their faith in the face of opposition and to warn those who are relying on their religious performance and on their association with the faith community as evidence of true salvation that they must place all their trust in Jesus Christ.

This overview will serve as a good template for understanding the individual sections of the letter. The author is either encouraging the perseverance of genuine believers or he is urging the pretenders to come all the way to faith in Christ, and he is using the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ as his means of accomplishing both.


AUTHOR. We do not know the author of this letter. Before canonicity was fully established, Paul was given as the author in order to justify the letter’s inclusion in the canon, but once the epistle was universally accepted as canonical, the need for Pauline authorship was removed. Thus, modern translations simply refer to it as the letter to the Hebrews.

Apollos seems to be the most likely author of this sermon. All the quotes are from the LXX (Septuagint), which was written in Alexandria, and Apollos was a Jew from Alexandria. We know that Apollos was “mighty in the Scriptures” (Acts 18:24). He was also an eloquent man (18:24), which would seem to suggest he was a good orator who would have been a strong preacher of sermons. Based on the breadth of quotes used in the letter, the author of Hebrews obviously had a comprehensive knowledge of the Old Testament Scriptures. He also uses the most complex Greek in the New Testament, indicating the author was a very eloquent man. Although Paul is not the author of Hebrews, it is evident that Paul’s person and ministry influenced the author, which would also fit Apollos (1 Cor. 1:12; 3:4, 5, 6, 22; 16:12; Titus 3:13). The author was well-acquainted with Timothy (Hebrews 13:23) and so was a well-known figure in the early Christian church, particularly in Asia Minor and Achaia. One of the most likely reasons that the author did not identify himself is that he needed no introduction. Those who were reading the letter immediately knew who he was, so he just went right into his sermon. All of these are clues that the author may very well have been Apollos.

AUDIENCE. The original recipients are also unknown. The audience did know Timothy (Hebrews 13:23), so they almost certainly knew Paul. The letter is referred to as “the letter to the Hebrews,” but it is inconclusive that the original recipients were Hebrews (Jewish). There is no mention in the letter of circumcision, of ceremonial foods, of the Law, or of Jews and Gentiles, so there is nothing here that we would expect in a distinctively Jewish letter.

Some have suggested that the author’s teaching about the tabernacle and the elements of the Day of Atonement are things that only the Jews would understand, but I would counter that with the fact that pastors today teach the Old Testament Law to Gentiles in order to help all believers know the Scriptures and know the glory of Christ in His fulfillment of the Old Testament types. In other words, that the author teaches how Christ fulfilled the foreshadows of the Day of Atonement reveals almost nothing about the audience.

My best guess is that the original recipients were located far away from Jerusalem and were probably mostly Gentiles. Maybe in Ephesus or Corinth?

DATE. The letter was probably written in the early 70’s AD. Since Paul is not mentioned in the letter, then I assume that Paul was dead by now. If he is not dead, he is far removed from this congregation. But Timothy is alive and is apparently in a leadership position. Nothing is mentioned about the destruction of Jerusalem, but Jerusalem is not mentioned in the New Testament unless someone is going to that city or is coming from that city.

The next post will use our template to give a preview of the letters contents.

Soli Deo gloria            rmb                 3/30/2023                   #637