Monthly Archives: December 2008

What A Difference A Year Makes

candle-flame

It’s hard to believe but, at this time last year, Revolution didn’t even exist as an idea or concept, let alone as an actual church. In less than one year’s time, Revolution has gone from being a spark of an idea that God laid on the hearts of a few people; to a lit match of possibility among a core group of fifteen or twenty people; to a dimly burning candle of a small, beginning church; to a brightening (but still fragile) flame of enthusiastic young people ready to know & follow Jesus.

It’s impossible to know what God has in store for Revolution in the year ahead (and the years to come). Maybe the small, fragile flame will continue to grow & expand in ways that will glorify God beyond our hopes & expectations; or maybe the fragile flame will flicker and slowly go dim. It’s not for us to fret about God’s plans for Revolution. Our task is to be faithful and glorify God, come what may.

That being said, I have great hope for the future of Revolution. I’ve seen what God has accomplished through us in just a few short months and it makes me eager to see what He’ll do through us over the course of a full year’s time. The “Revolution” may have started, but I believe that we’ve barely begun to fight!

 

Eron Elswick

Worship – Grow – Serve

Why I Believe in the 2nd Coming but not the Rapture Sermon Redux

A number of people asked me for the MP3 for this sermon but for some reason it won’t upload, so here is the sermon outline.

The reason I believe in the second coming but not the rapture has to do with how I study the Bible.  Professors Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart wrote in their invaluable book “How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth” that “the Bible cannot mean what it never meant.” In other words, however the intended initial readers of Scripture would have understood the text in question is how we should understand it.

Let’s start here, what if nuclear war came and our culture was wiped out and several thousand years from now an archaeologist digs up a number of High School graduation photos.  The archeologist  analyzes the pics of kids dressed in strange robes on a stage and older people crying and determines that long ago we selected certain teenagers to sacrifice to the gods.  Now, we know he is wrong but that’s because we are familiar with the ritual.  Keep this in mind.

The idea of the rapture is largely based on a reading of 1 Thess. 4:13-18, which reads:

13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Now notice first of all that no where in the text does it say that we go with Jesus to heaven.  We assume it because it speaks about being with Christ “always.” 

Back to that later. For now let’s concentrate on how the Thessalonians would have understood chapter 4 of Paul’s letter.

The Thessalonian church was located within a Roman imperial city.  Since the time of Alexander the Great, when a king would visit a city, the king would ride in his chariot to roughly a mile or so from the city gates.  Royal heralds would blow trumpets to announce the king’s arrival and one of the heralds would issue a cry of command for the citizens to greet their king.  The entire city would then go out to meet the royal party and escort the party back into the city.

So, if that is the historical background then how would the Thessalonians have understood Chapter 4? Keep in mind that “Lord” was also the title that Caesar used. 

Finally, remember that our ultimate destination is not heaven but here on a new earth. 

Revelation 21:1-4 reads, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away”

Keeping all of this in mind, it is easy to see that the Thessalonians would not have understood Paul to be speaking about “the rapture” (a term not found in the Bible or even in church history until the 18th century) but as stating that Jesus would return as the true king of the earth, we will meet him and then escort him back to his kingdom where he will stay with us forever. 

Those who conceived of the idea of the rapture simply didn’t know the historical background and were, therefore, like the fictional archaeologist who theorizes that high school graduations were actually ceremonies commemorating human sacrifice. 

The idea of the rapture has had horrible consequences in that it has led Christians to believe that our real goal is to leave instead of fight for the Kingdom of God here and now where we will spend eternity with our King.

There you have it!

Posted by Matt, Revolution Leadership Team.

This Weekend at Revolution…

We will cover the spiritual discipline of fasting.  Coffee & Community begins at 6:30 (yes, we realize how ironic it is that our service covers fasting yet we will be serving cookies, coffee and hot chocolate!).  Pastor Justin will bring things to order at 7:00 and Ryan Rolfe will lead the World’s Most Dangerous Praise Band to wrap things up. 

We are continuing to collect food for the local pantries, so be sure to bring whatever you can.

We meet every Sunday night at the old PHS gym on 8th & Waller Street. Hope to see you there.  Have a great weekend.

Grace and peace.

Posted by Matt, Revolution Leadership Team.

“This is God. Testing…Testing…”

space-listening

After Matt’s sermon this past Sunday evening where he made the point that meditating on God’s Word is one of our primary means of deepening our prayer life (i.e. “communication with God”), I went home and went to sleep, only to be awakened at exactly 2:51am by a very strange thought (or dream) that entered my head. The thought was this: What if scientists, in some freaky “sci fi”-like telecommunications experiment, accidentally stumbled upon the audible “voice” of God speaking to one of his followers on earth and managed to capture & record a few brief seconds of it?

Imagine the uproar & hype that would surround such a revelation! There would certainly be a two-hour live, primetime TV event – hosted by Geraldo Rivera, no doubt – in which the recording was played for the entire world to hear. And, truly, the whole world would come to a standstill to watch & listen. Virtually every religious person, agnostic person and atheist on earth would sit in rapt attention to hear the few brief seconds of God’s voice being played.

Now, what’s amazing is that the whole population of the world – believers & non-believers alike – would stop everything they’re doing simply to hear a momentary snippet of God’s voice recorded electronically. YET, Christians – “The Bible is the True Word of God” Christians – will barely pick up, let alone read, the very Bible which contains, not just a couple of seconds of God’s words, but hundreds & hundreds of hours worth of God’s words! We would give more credence to a few seconds of something on “modern technology” (thus more “scientific” and therefore “true”) than to 4,000 years worth of written, tested & lived testimony to the validity of God’s word recorded in the Bible. If we really believed the Bible contained God’s words by the thousands, I dare say we would treat it with at least as much enthusiasm as we would treat the playing of three seconds of God’s “voice”. But, generally, we half-believe it and just hedge our bets (and then wonder why our prayer life is “dry & boring”).

 

Eron Elswick

Worship – Grow – Serve

The Heat is on!

The heat has been fixed at the old PHS gym, so Revolution will meet at its regular place and at its regular time. Coffee & Community at 6:30. Pastor Justin will bring things to order around 7pm. I (Matt) am preaching on prayer and Ryan will be leading the World’s Most Dangerous Praise Band. Hope to see you there.

God’s Masterpiece

michelangelo-for-julius1

Many years ago, in the pre-“married with children” days, I had the opportunity to spend a couple of weeks traveling around Europe. One of the cities I visited was Florence, Italy where I was taken to see Michelangelo’s masterpiece, “The Statue of David”, in the “Galleria dell’Accademia” museum. While that may have been the centerpiece of the museum, it was a different Michelangelo exhibit that really caught my attention. It was a collection of unfinished sculptures known as Michelangelo’s “Captives” (or “Prisoners”) that lined the corridor leading to the “David” exhibit. These were blocks of stone that the master sculptor had worked on but never completed. Some of them were nearly finished, others were half finished, while still others were barely even started.

What was so startling about the works was the way in which the figures just seemed to be emerging, fully human, from the blocks of stone but were somehow still held captive by it (thus the designation of “Captives”). Our tour guide explained to us that when Michelangelo selected a block of stone, he didn’t see it as a piece a stone. He saw the finished sculpture (“person”) trapped inside the stone waiting to be freed by the master’s skillful hands. Of course, it took years of work and many pounding hammer blows for a “trapped” sculpture to be “freed”, but the splendor of the finished David statue testified to the ultimate value of the undertaking.   

I believe this is how God views us when we first come to him as his children. We come to him completely encased in sin & guilt, but he doesn’t view our sin & guilt (praise be to Jesus!). Rather, he sees the wondrous creature that will emerge after the “Master Craftsman” has had his way in us. It may take many years and many painful “hammer blows” to free us entirely from our captivity to sinful habits & behavior – just like the “Captives” lining the museum corridor, we’re all in different stages of progress – but the finished product will be a masterpiece far-surpassing anything we can hope for or even imagine.

 

Eron Elswick

Worship – Grow – Serve

This Weekend at Revolution–The End is the Beginning

This weekend at Revolution we come to an end of our overview of the Bible.  Coffee & Community begins at 6:30 and Pastor Justin will kick things off at 7:00 p.m. at the old PHS gym on 8th & Waller Street in Portsmouth.

I’ll be preaching on why I believe in the second coming of Jesus but not a rapture and then Ryan will lead the World’s Most Dangerous Praise Band in an awesome set including some music that I guarantee you have never heard played in a church before.

Hope to see you there.   

Grace and peace.