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Revelation: The Commission of John

John’s Relationship With His Audience

John writes in Rev. 1:9, “I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island of Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.”  John identifies with his audience in three important aspects of Christian living:  tribulation, kingdom, and patience.  John spoke as one who shared in the sufferings of Jesus Christ.  He was not immune from the tribulation facing his audience; he shared in it.  D.S. Clark writes, “He stood with them on common ground.  Every hardship they bore, he endured.  Every prospect of martyrdom they faced, he had already contemplated.  He was even in the vanguard bearing the first baptism of fire and blood.  They would listen to the words of one who suffered in their sufferings, and stood in the forefront of their dangers.” Click to read more about “Revelation: The Commission of John”

Why Pray if God is Sovereign?

In Matthew chapter 6, the Lord Jesus Christ cautions His disciples against praying as the hypocrites (v.5) and the heathen (v.7).  He then prescribes a model prayer for His disciples’ use.  Prior to the model prayer (or, “Lord’s Prayer” as it is commonly called), Jesus makes this statement in v.8, “For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.”  This statement is a corrective to the technique employed by the heathen:  use many words so that God (or the gods) will hear you and answer.  Jesus is saying that you cannot manipulate God or control God or exercise certain formulas in order to make God perform; rather, He knows what you need before you ask Him.  It is important to notice what Jesus does not say; He does not say, “Your Father knows the things you have need of so don’t bother asking Him.”  No, the Lord Jesus says “He knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” – the Lord assumes we will present our petitions before God.  This is consistent with the Prophet Isaiah in chapter 65:24, “It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.”  God is a sovereign God and therefore knows the end from the beginning and has certainly decreed all things that come to pass.  If God were not sovereign; if God did not decree all things; if God did not possess absolute authority over all things, prayer would be useless. Click to read more about “Why Pray if God is Sovereign?”

J. Gresham Machen: Valuing God

“We value God solely for the things He can   do; we make of Him a mere means to an ulterior end.  And God refuses to be treated so; such a religion always fails in the hour of need.  If we have regarded religion merely as a means of getting things – even lofty and unselfish things – then when the things that have been gotten are destroyed, our faith will fail.  When loved ones are taken away, when disappointment comes and failure, when noble ambitions are set at naught, then we turn away from God; we have tried religion we say, we have tried prayer, and it has failed.  Of course it has failed!  God is not content to be an instrument in our hand or a servant at our beck and call.  He is not content to minister to the worldly needs of those who care not a bit for Him…Has it ever dawned on us that God is valuable for His own sake, that just as personal communion is the highest thing that we know on earth, so personal communion with God is the sublimest height of all?  If we value God for His own sake, then the loss of other things will draw us closer to Him; we shall then have recourse to Him in time of trouble as to the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.”  (“What is Faith?”)