Text: Rev. 19:11-16
It is important to know and understand the underpinnings of our faith because one of the primary ways the enemy works is to cause us to doubt. The trinitarian nature of our God is one of those foundational doctrines that has been attacked by heresies throughout the church's history. In this section of teaching we are looking primarily at God the Father, although it must be understood that we cannot separate the members of the Trinity because they are so intertwined that when we speak of the Father as the Warrior God we know that Jesus won the battle for our redemption on the cross. The Holy Spirit hovered over the water during creation and came upon Jesus at his baptism empowered him to endure till the end. They are Three in One. One God.
Q. What are the names of Jesus listed in Rev. 19:11-16?
There is a sword pictured in V.15. In Greek, the word used for this sword is "Romphia." This is one of the long swords used in ancient warfare. The sword mentioned in Ephesians 4 is the short sword, the "Machairan," typically used for defense. In the vision described in this passage, this sword is being used to 'strike down the nations'.
Q. In your opinion, what does this sword represent?
A. God's authority?
C. The blood of the Lamb?
E. All of the above?
F. Or .....?
Q. Why do you think it fitting that Christ has a name known only to himself (V.12)? What mystery about Christ are you looking forward to understanding in heaven?
Q. What hopes and fears does this triumphant picture bring out in you? How has Jesus been your deliverer this past year?
This blog is based on my sermon preached on February 12, titled The Law Giving God (please click here if you would like to read the sermon notes). I incorporated a couple of written questions from the question box.
A couple of questions from Sunday; thank you to those who wrote.
1. How do I become part of God’s covenant?
Remembering that God initiates covenant and not we, from the Noahic to the New Covenant faith is the basis for becoming part of God’s covenantal care for us. As we desire to believe or increase our faith in Him, He welcomes us into His covenant of love, renewing us daily, growing us into Him without our even realizing it (read the parable in Mk 4:26-29, or the Mustard Seed in Mt 17:31).
We know we are part of God’s new covenant of love as we partake of the Eucharist in company with our brothers and sisters in the faith. The bread and wine are the signs of Christ’s sacrifice of His body and the shedding of His blood. We receive the bread and wine, by faith, to remember His sacrifice that forgives our sins.
The next question/s are too vast to answer in a brief blog, so here are some useful internet sites.
2. If all members of the Trinity share the attributes of deity, what is the significance of differentiating the individuals? Is it to recognize their role or distinct action? If so, how does this not divide the Trinity, nor diminish the deity which they share?
The Reformed viewpoint: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/two-reasons-trinity-matters/
The Catholic viewpoint: https://churchlifejournal.nd.edu/articles/the-best-guide-for-understanding-the-trinity/#:~:text=In%20the%20New%20Testament%2C%20the,it%20speaks%20of%20the%20Trinity.
The Anglican viewpoint: The “39 Articles of Religion” are found in the Book of Common Prayer (in the pews on the chapel side). Article 1 addresses faith and the Trinity.
The Orthodox viewpoint: https://www.oca.org/orthodoxy/the-orthodox-faith/doctrine-scripture/the-holy-trinity/the-doctrine-of-the-holy-trinity
At base, we have to leave aside our Enlightenment dependence on rational explanations, and take on the attitude that Trinity is, ultimately, a mystery of God, revealed when Christ returns.
Brief summaries of the main covenants, including the Edenic Covenant:
1. Edenic: Between God and His first humans.
- Have dominion over Creation, care for it.
- All tree fruits for them except Tree of Knowledge.
- Disobedience = consequences for all of Creation until Christ returns.
Sign: clothing Promise: a Redeemer.
Our part? A new discipline to care for the world around us, to change how we take Creation for granted. How do we care for what He has given us?
2. Noahic: Between God and righteous Noah.
- Righteous Noah and his family saved from a destroying flood.
- Obediently builds an ark despite mockery.
- Offers sacrifice when God restores the earth.
Sign: rainbow Promise: God will never again destroy the earth.
Our part? To pray God’s continuing restraint of evil in this world (and our city, as we prayed last month) and not stop. How does this covenant continue in our world and lives?
3. Abrahamic: Between God and Abraham.
- Went where God commanded.
- Believed God would fulfill His promises.
Signs: circumcision; a son Promise: generations under God’s care; land
Our part? To show God to the world in our words and actions. When our plans don’t work, we trust God for His, then listen prayerfully to His new instructions. What of our plans or attitudes might need alteration? How will we do this?
4. Mosaic: Between God and Israel, Moses as mediator.
Israel initially agreed to keep God’s Law.
- Constantly deviated from their agreement.
- God brings them out of slavery into Promised Land.
Sign: the Law, 10 Commandments. Promise: become a great nation
Our part? Continued obedience to God’s law, embodied in Jesus by love. The intricacies of the written law were summed up twice, in Deuteronomy and by Jesus Himself: Love God above all, and your neighbour as yourself. What ‘laws’ are you trying to follow? How do we learn to trust God?
5. Davidic: Between God and David.
God will build a ‘house’ for David.
- Someone from his line will always sit on that throne.
- Culminated in Jesus’ coming as Son of David, Son of God.
Sign: kings in David’s line. Promise: someone of David’s line will always be on the throne, i.e., Jesus.
Our part? To remember that Jesus is the Son of God, our great and glorious King who loves us. The Psalms reinforce this revelation. Which Psalms speak to you deeply about who God is?
6. New Covenant: Between God and His believing people.
- A new covenant of God’s forgiveness for the people’s sins.
- Fulfilled in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
- All who believe are under this covenant.
Signs: faith; baptism in the name of the Trinity. Promise: our adoption into God's forever family, the Church.
Our part in this ongoing covenant? To love God with all our hearts, to forgive others with all our will, to love others as God loves us. Tell others that this is made possible by Jesus’ loving sacrifice. How do our Baptismal vows resemble a new covenant? How can we keep this ongoing covenant?
I would like to thank our sister Debbie, for sharing her Real Lives talk this past Sunday. Her personal story characterized God’s love so elegantly, in a way that could connect relationally with each one of us. Thank you, Debbie, for sharing your intimate story in a manner that glorified God and encouraged your brothers and sisters.
Our current focus on God the Father, set up nicely for a Real Lives service about the Father’s love. A love the is boundless and unmeasured, yet so personal and transformative. Our hope was that this service would be a “heart” service, and a time of worship in which we would all come to know our Heavenly Father’s heart more intimately.
Read Luke 15: 11-32
The parable of the Prodigal Son is loaded with content. But if we were to take only one thing away from this parable, I would suggest that one thing should be the overwhelming love that the father has for his two sons. One powerful sentence tells the whole story: “And he arose and came to his father, but while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him” (v. 20).
Though the younger son was covered in dirty rags, the father immediately felt compassion when he saw his son. That is, he was so overcome that he had an immediate reaction, and he “ran” (a very undignified thing for the old man at that time), and literally embraced him and kissed him again and again and again.
The younger son had distanced himself (in a distant country) from his father due to sins of passion. However, the elder son who was still in the physical vicinity of his father, had separated himself due to his sins of attitude. Rather than celebrating his younger brother’s return, he became angry. He even refused to celebrate, despite his father’s encouragement to come and “join in” with the celebration.
Self-righteous, the older son overstated his performance: “Look, these many years I have served you, and I have never disobeyed your command” (v. 29). Never? Really? Sinless? Hmm. He was so convinced of his own goodness that he had built up barriers that prevented himself from loving his brother and that also hindered intimacy and fellowship with his father.
This parable is meant to give us all hope. Whether we are struggling today in ways that are more relatable to the younger son or the older son, we are to be greatly encouraged. This parable is about our Prodigal God – the lavishly loving God. If we are in a far away country because of our sins of passion, God is scanning the horizon waiting for us. If we have distanced ourselves like the older brother with our sins of attitude, our heavenly Father reminds us that he is always with us and all that he has is ours. When we understand our true condition, it helps us see how wonderful our God is, and how incredible his unrelenting love is for each one of us.
1. Which son do you currently relate with?
2. What behaviors/traits do you have in common with that son?
3. Do you have a personal relationship with God the Father?
4. What barriers are currently in place that are preventing you from accepting our Heavenly Father’s love for you? Who is ultimately responsible for those barriers being in place?
5. What will you do to prevent these barriers from remaining in place?
6. Are you ready to fully embrace your Heavenly Father’s love for you?
Below is the corporate prayer that we prayed together last Sunday during the service. Let us now pray this again privately in our hearts.
Prayer for the Father’s Love
Heavenly Father, you have loved us with unconditional love, and we thank you for this love lavished upon us. We confess that it is difficult at times to accept and believe that you love us so much. You allow us our own wants and we have gone our own way and rejected your will for our lives. Yet you patiently wait for us, trusting us to come back. You are mighty and powerful, but before us, you lower down to us yearning for our hearts. We are so important to you, and we ask now for your help to accept your mercy and grace. We thank you for your amazing love, for each one of us. Help us accept your love with our whole beings and to be confident of this because we are your children. For the sake of your Son who died for us, forgive us, cleanse us, and change us. By your Holy Spirit, enable us to live for you, and to please you in every way; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.