Books

The Shape of Gospel Astonishment

BY JARED C WILSON

Sigh. I would love to enjoy fellowship with God, to receive his blessing and his righteousness. But I don’t have clean hands and a pure heart, and I have often lifted up my soul to falsehood and have sworn deceitfully. If that’s the standard for acceptance unto God’s favor, I can only hang my head in shame and sorrow.

The Shape of Gospel Astonishment

Revelation 2:18-29 | Shrine Of The Sambatha | 018

BY BRANDON HANSON

The danger was not necessarily inside the city. Nor was it from an obvious source. Outside the walls of Thyatira, lay a small shrine of white stone. Neither the Imperial Cult, nor the cults of the Pantheon held great sway in Thyatira.

 Revelation 2:18-29 | Shrine Of The Sambatha | 018

God, I’m Mad At You

BY BRUCE HILLMAN

How many times have you been mad at God? Probably more than you’d like to admit. I remember a time when a family member said some very hurtful things to me, and I was very upset. I felt the comments were extremely unfair and disingenuous.

God, I’m Mad At You

Revelation 2:12-17 | Bring On The Bull | 017

BY BRANDON HANSON

Pergamum was huge. Think New York. Think Las Vegas. Think of London. If the other cities had their attractions, Pergamum was the place to be just because, well… it was the place to be. They may not have been the greatest at any one thing, but they had it all.

Revelation 2:12-17 | Bring On The Bull | 017

Revelation 2:12-17 | To the Church in Pergamum: Part 2 | 016

BY BRANDON HANSON

Many say Balaam was a prophet, but this was not so. Balaam was no prophet. At least, not a prophet of Yahweh. He was definitely a false prophet, a prophet for hire. He was a thief and a trickster who meddled with powers beyond his comprehension. For lack of a better term, he was a warlock or sorcerer.

Revelation 2:12-17 | To the Church in Pergamum: Part 2 | 016

What Sin?

BY STEVEN PAULSON

Psalm 51 teaches two things: mercy and sin. But aren’t we already experts in sin?  Why do we need God to teach it to us? Well, we are good at pointing the finger to say, “There is a sinner!”  But it takes hard schooling to say, “I am a sinner—indeed nothing but sin” and “I only sin before you.”

What Sin?

Revelation 2:12-17 | To the Church in Pergamum: Part 1 | 015

BY BRANDON HANSON

Jesus has a mighty weapon which is the weapon of His warfare, the sword of His mouth, the very Word of God. He is coming soon and will bring one, final, holy war down upon all they who follow after the teaching of Balaam and the Nicolaitans. Will you be among the slain?

Revelation 2:12-17 | To the Church in Pergamum: Part 1 | 015

Revelation 2:8-11 | To the Church in Smyrna | 014

BY BRANDON HANSON

In the movie, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Jedi Master Yoda recounts the ancient Jedi teaching before a fearful Anakin, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” Even in secular culture, we recognize cause-and-effect patterns which begin with something small, leading to a domino effect of increasingly more dire actions and reactions.

Revelation 2:8-11 | To the Church in Smyrna | 014

Revelation 2:1-7 | To the Church in Ephesus | 013

BY BRANDON HANSON

John begins transcribing this first letter from Jesus to the Church of Ephesus, the Ephesians, his home congregation. In this letter, out of all seven letters, is contained the highest praise and the lightest rebuke. Theirs also is the most magnificent image of the promise as they continue in faith in the finished work of Christ

Revelation 2:1-7 | To the Church in Ephesus | 013

Revelation 2-3 | Seven Letters to Seven Churches | 012

BY BRANDON HANSON

My email was once hacked and read, then used to send emails to contacts in my address book. It was not done by some malicious, darknet hacker or scammer trying to rip friends and family off. It was far more innocent, at least in intention. It was done by someone close to me, someone I knew.

Revelation 2-3 | Seven Letters to Seven Churches | 012

An Unimpressive Kingdom

BY ERICK SORENSEN

Have you ever seen a mustard seed? If you have, you know it’s pretty tiny. When deciding how to describe the kingdom to us, Jesus purposely used the smallest known seed at the time. The leaven is hardly anything in comparison to the amount of dough it is placed into.

An Unimpressive Kingdom

The Offence of Our Heart on Another’s Sleeve

BY DANIEL EMERY PRICE

We don’t love little because we have little that requires forgiveness. We love little because we’ve confessed little and hidden much. Therefore we experience little forgiveness. This is what Jesus is teaching both Simon and us when he says, “I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much”

The Offence of Our Heart on Another’s Sleeve

Revelation 1:10-20 | What Kind of God Is This? Part 3 | 011

BY BRANDON HANSON

Finally, we draw near the end of this three-part article on Revelation 1:10-20. We have also nearly made it to the end of chapter 1 of Revelation. And we’re right back where we started: at the end of the beginning. This is not the last time we will be here.

Revelation 1:10-20 | What Kind of God Is This? Part 3 | 011

Revelation 1:10-20 | What Kind of God Is This? Part 2 | 010

BY BRANDON HANSON

The white hair of Jesus’ head teaches us that the Gospel is an ancient mystery. It is the foolishness of God which is wiser than the wisdom of men. And contrary to how we think of white hair today, it does not signify age in the sense of weakness, but in the sense of an ancient and formidable strength.

Revelation 1:10-20 | What Kind of God Is This? Part 2 | 010

Revelation 1:10-20 | What Kind of God Is This? Part 1 | 009

BY BRANDON HANSON

John had heard Jesus’ voice countless times and seen Him every day over the course of three years, and yet nothing could have prepared him for what he was about to witness. As he turns, the sight of the resurrected and exalted Christ nearly kills him.

Revelation 1:10-20 | What Kind of God Is This? Part 1 | 009

Revelation 1:10a | In the Spirit | 008

BY BRANDON HANSON

We’re going to take a little bit of time going through John’s description of the resurrected and exalted Jesus and its significance. So we’re really just setting the scene here. John has already told us in verse nine that he is exiled on the island Patmos. He is most likely working in the Imperial mines there, day in and day out.

Revelation 1:10a | In the Spirit | 008

Revelation 1:9 | Enduring the Tribulation | 007

BY BRANDON HANSON

We’re living in the end times. We have been since Pentecost. The earliest Christians believed it, and what’s more, that is what the apostles teach us in Scripture. As early as Acts 2:17, just after Jesus had ascended to heaven…

Revelation 1:9 | Enduring the Tribulation | 007

Revelation 1:5b-8 | God's Calling, Our Response | 006

BY BRANDON HANSON

We can pretend that we’re not sinful all day long. But coming face to face with the thrice holy God clears things up in a hurry. Suddenly, there is no place left to hide, no way to disguise our sin, no device or scheme left to excuse us.

Revelation 1:5b-8 | God's Calling, Our Response | 006

Revelation 1:4a | What’s Up with Asia? | 004

BY BRANDON HANSON

What might we say is the significance of John addressing Revelation to the seven churches that are in Asia? It does two things. First, it grounds it in reality. This gives the book credibility as attested to by the naming of actual places and actual churches residing in those places.

Revelation 1:4a | What’s Up with Asia? | 004

Revelation 1:3 | Kept in the Keeping | 003

BY BRANDON HANSON

John ends the prologue of Revelation in verse three with a three-part blessing. The blessing is proclaimed on the one who reads, those who hear, and who keep what is written. What John is writing here must be interpreted within the context of the community of faith.

Revelation 1:3 | Kept in the Keeping | 003

Revelation 1:1-2 | It's All About Jesus | 002

BY BRANDON HANSON

It’s the First Century, the early days of the of the Post-Pentecost Church. Something is in the air. There is change on the wind. You can feel it like electricity, clinging to you, causing the hair on your arm to stand up. It has been 50-60 years since the Spirit fell on the apostles and disciples in that upper room.

Revelation 1:1-2 | It's All About Jesus | 002

Revelation 1:20 | The End of the Beginning | 001

BY BRANDON HANSON

It may seem like a strange place to begin: the end of the beginning. But the pattern of Revelation is one of continually circling back to the beginning, proceeding to the end, and repeating the process again from a different perspective. At the center of it all is the comforting and confident message that Jesus reigns.

Revelation 1:20 | The End of the Beginning | 001

The God of Rejects

BY JESSICA THOMPSON

We should take great care in observing how the psalmist relates to God. Our eyes and hearts should be open to seeing what the psalmist appeals to and how he addresses God. How does the sinner have communion with a holy and upright God?

The God of Rejects

Ill-Conceived: Pinpointing When Our Lives Went Wrong

BY CHAD BIRD

The little psychologist within us is often hard at work to pinpoint the origin of life’s problems. During marital strife, we sift through everything from sexual proclivities to spending habits to discover the source of our discontent. When raising a rebellious child, we replay every episode in his upbringing to determine where things may have gone awry.

Ill-Conceived: Pinpointing When Our Lives Went Wrong