Hope: Living Today In The Light of Tomorrow – Dr. Wilton @ The Plant at 17

Dr. Wilton @ The Plant at 17

 

“I love the book of Revelation the way that I love alligators,” Dr. Wilton declared on Sunday, June 26th at The Plant. “I’m from Louisiana. We have alligators everywhere, and they are fascinating creatures! I love alligators, but I love them from a distance. It’s not the kind of love that makes me go, ‘Oh, alligator! You’re so wonderful! Let me just give you a hug!’ No, not that kind of love. It’s the kind of love that says I need to keep my distance.

“This is how I love the book of Revelation. It scares me greatly.” It is full of symbolism and uncertainty and gives cause for a person to feel nervous about it. What is actually going on in the book of Revelation? “I’m still enthralled and fascinated with it, but my fear has actually increased as the years have gone by,” Dr. Wilton said.

Dr. Wilton grew up loving the book of Revelation and used to read it all the time with his best friend. He is also of the “Left Behind Series” generation—a fictional series that attempts to portray life after the “rapture.” But as he began to transition from high school to college, he started to wonder if he could be wrong.

Perhaps there was a possibility that the way he was teaching and training his mind concerning what would come was not quite right. During this time, one particular passage from the Bible spoke to him:

 

16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

because he has anointed me

to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives

and recovering of sight to the blind,

to set at liberty those who are oppressed,

19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” 23 And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself.’ What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.” 24 And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. 25 But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, 26 and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And there were many lepers[a] in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. 30 But passing through their midst, he went away. (Luke 4:16-30)

 

“When I read this story, I was completely fascinated at how the crowds completely missed the mark.” They could not comprehend that Jesus was the Messiah—the Christ. The Son of the Living God. The Pharisees and the Sadducees, the scribes and the elders were way off when it came to their idea of the Messiah.

They were anticipating the coming of the Messiah, but they had a completely different expectation and mindset of who He was supposed to be. Some of them even thought that the Messiah would form some kind of a military rule over Israel and establish a physical kingdom the way King David did.

 

Worship session
Worship session

 

Today when we read the New Testament, we scowl at the religious leaders of Jesus’ time—and rightfully so. However, we also need to realize that there were very sincere religious leaders who were genuine about knowing the right path to God and yet they did not recognize Jesus for who He was. Is it possible then, that many of us will similarly miss the mark concerning the Second Coming?

For this reason, Dr. Wilton considers himself a skeptic when it comes to the book of Revelation. Not concerning its authority, but concerning his interpretation. How should we approach this apocalyptic writing? Do we put on a mystical or futuristic lens, or should we try to understand it from the perspective of a first century church?

Dr. Wilton then took some time to go through the different schools of thought concerning the interpretation of Revelation:

 

Historist

Futurist (Historical Pre-Millennialism)

Futurist (Dispensationalist Pre-Millennialism)

Partial Preterist

Idealist

Classical Pre-Millennialism

Pre-Tribulation Pre-Millennialism

Post-Millennialism

Amillennialism

 

With so many different understandings of the signs and prophecies—some overlapping while others being totally different, it does not take too long for confusion to set in. “Ultimately, I began to describe myself as uncertain—inconclusive.” But that’s not what I’m trying to advocate.

“Some of you have been driven scripturally to a particular position, and if you have done that on the basis of the Bible, I commend you. But if you have done that just to follow suit of a pastor or a church, or because that’s the systematic theology book that you used that one time you read systematic theology, I don’t commend you.”

In light of all the different views and his inconclusive conclusion, Dr. Wilton has become completely confident and certain of one thing: Jesus Christ was, Jesus Christ is, and Jesus Christ will always be completely and totally victorious.

This is where we get to say that we sit on a chair that is totally and completely secure. We can sit there with the understanding that regardless of views, we are all pointing to the fact that Jesus is totally and completely victorious.

How can we build upon that statement so that we might have hope that we can live today in light of tomorrow?

 

1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

6 And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.”

7 “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, 9 but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”

10 And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. 11 Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”

12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

(Revelation 22)

 

Revelation 22 is:

1. A vision of the restoration of Eden.

There is talk of fruit and the Tree of Life, reflecting Eden. As we know, things were created perfectly—not with sin. In this chapter, it is revealed to us that what we see about the future is a vision of what was at the beginning, being fully restored. Adam and Eve had it all, but sin broke that.

They were expelled from the garden, and the sentence of death was brought upon us. But God, being rich in His love and mercy provided a way of restoration and fulfillment through Jesus. All of this will be ultimately realized at the end.

 

Ref: answersingenesis
Ref: answersingenesis

 

2. A declaration of the eternal reign of Christ.

Forever and ever. Jesus calls Himself the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. We see at the end of the Bible a picture of the eternal reign of Christ that will go on forever and ever.

One thing that all the different views have in common is the end—the eternal state. We have this firm, fixed, guarantee that Jesus will reign forever. That He wins. He is completely and totally victorious. This is important because future hopes should impact the present.

While it is true that we are the sum of our past and that what we do today affects tomorrow, it should be equally embraced that what we anticipate for the future should impact what we do in the present. What we want for our future should influence what we do in the here and now. We set goals and so we need to base our present actions on them.

That is why we need to make sure that what we hope for in the future is true. Because if it isn’t true, it will distort the way we live right now. Our present reality will be distorted if what we believe about the future is not true. Therefore, it is important for us to be entirely certain that Jesus will reign forever and ever and is already completely victorious. It is fixed. Firm. Guaranteed.

3. A statement of imminence.

All these things will surely happen, soon.

 

6 And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.”

 

7 “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

 

12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done.

 

20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

 

In light of this firm, guaranteed hope and future—in light of the truth of the end times being imminent—that what we are reading about will happen soon, what is your reaction?

The followers of Jesus should have three reactions:

  1. Yes!
  1. No….
  1. Come.

 

Yes!

This is awesome. Jesus is coming! Jesus wins. He reigns supreme. There is none greater than my Lord. Your Lord. Our Lord. It should cause us to celebrate, to be excited, and to be ready. “I can’t wait to meet Jesus, because when I see His face, everything else will just fall away.” Perfect. I know that because I am His follower, the moment I encounter Him, it will be a “Yes!”

“I was a wretched sinner and had no hope of salvation but You sent Your Son, Jesus, to pay for my sins and gave me life abundant and life eternal, and I’m seeing the beginning of eternity, fully realized in the moment and You will bring about the new heavens and new earth.” But wait…

No…

All that is pictured in Jesus and His eternal reward that He is for me—that I am with God for all eternity—I know that there are people in my life who will not get to participate in that. No, no, no… With the eternal reign of Christ, we see the warnings in Revelation 22 for those who have not believed in Him. They are eternally separated from Him. “I don’t wish that on anyone,” Dr. Wilton said.

So it’s a “Yes!” and then… “No…” and because of that,

Come.

 

17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

 

20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

 

This ought to be our reaction. Or are we so self-absorbed that this does not grip us in the least for somebody who does not know Jesus? Are we so consumed with ourselves that we cannot even be emotional concerning the fact that there will be some who will not receive that reward that Revelation 22 describes?

God forbid, because that is a very selfish faith. It is a faith that says, “Jesus is for me. Forget the rest.” Jesus says, “Come.” What about you? Are you saying to others, “Come to Jesus”? This is our God who loved the world and sent His only Son; that whoever believes in Him shall not die, but have everlasting life. “Yes! No… Come.”

 

** The Plant @ 17 is a brand new church service in SS17, Subang Jaya! They meet on Sundays from 4pm – 6pm with the purpose of “Cultivating a gospel centered community.”  For more information, visit:

https://www.facebook.com/ThePlantAt17/

 

Delicious refreshments served after service
Delicious refreshments served after service

 

|Share The Good News|  

Esperanza Ng

 

 

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