Transformed by Generosity

Both my parents have died in the years since I came to Advent Presbyterian Church. About three years ago, my mother died. Dad  died years before. Mom and Dad were members of a small Presbyterian church in Springfield, Missouri. That church was the center of our lives as I was growing up. We were active in Sunday School, worship, youth group, and the ministries of the church. The fellowship and friendship of Westminster Presbyterian were among the most important formative aspects of my childhood and youth. Although I strayed from God during my college years, by midway through Law School I was beginning my long and painful trip back to God. I returned to God during my first year practicing law.

In the years leading up to Mom’s death, Westminster aged and declined. Nevertheless, Mom was a constant giver to the church. Until the day she died, she gave generously to Westminster. Occasionally, she made special gifts so that the church could afford something the leadership felt was needed. Tim and I did not always agree with the purchase, but Mom was always adamant about helping. The only specific request she made before she died was that Tim and I pay off her pledge and give something from her estate to Westminster. Her final gift made possible a special project of the congregation.

Mom grew up on a farm; Dad was an FBI agent. They were hit by an uninsured motorist early in their marriage. The result was financial ruin. They worked their way back from the debts of Mom’s long hospitalization, put two boys through college, helped one get through law school, and saved every day of their lives. Mom was giving and saving more than ten percent of her income at 94 years old, just a few weeks before she died. Along the way, for fifty years, Mom and Dad supported Westminster. In good times and bad times. When the church was growing and when it was declining. Mom and Dad still gave. Like many depression era people, my parents were frugal and careful with their money.

Generosity is an important Christian virtue. It is also a virtue in decline. This week I read an article that disclosed that American generosity has been in decline for more than the past 50 years. It is interesting that the decline in American generosity parallels the decline in Christian faith. The problem is not getting better. It is getting worse.

A Community of Generosity.

At the beginning of Acts, we are given a picture of the life of the early church (Acts 2:42-47). We see that the early church was Biblical and gospel centered. The people listened constantly to the apostles’ teaching. The early church was a vital community of love. They shared their lives in deep ways. The early church was filled with the Holy Spirit, and miraculous things happened. One aspect of this miraculous Spirit-filled fellowship was that it was generous. The world saw the love and the generosity of the early church, and the result was growth. We see the generosity of the early church described again in Acts 4, where Luke records the following:

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need. Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet (Acts 2:32-37).

Let us pray: Generous God, fill us with your Spirit. Fill us to overflowing. Allow us to become little Christ’s filled with the life of our Lord. Amen.

The Spirit of Generosity.

This  blog is based on my last stewardship sermon at Advent Presbyterian Church. Nevertheless, it is more than a stewardship sermon. This is a blog about the power of the Holy Spirit to transform our lives to make us more wise and more loving. On Pentecost, God sent the Spirit upon the church in Jerusalem. Before Pentecost, the believers had been living together in a kind of community of prayer, Bible study, and love (Acts 1:12-26). On Pentecost, that community of love became a gift to and  for the entire world. By the time Luke wrote Acts, the Gospel had spread throughout the Roman Empire, and a new generation of leaders was emerging as the original disciples passed away.

Paul was probably in custody of some kind when Luke wrote Acts. [1] When Luke looked back at the first Christians, he recorded their memories of the transformational fellowship that characterized the early church. The Christians that experienced Pentecost experienced a wonderful, life-transforming fellowship brought about by their baptism by the Holy Spirit. The early church was evangelical. It was socially active. It was caring. The life of the early church was so different than what people were accustomed to that the people of Jerusalem were astounded.

One area in which the people of the early Church were different than the surrounding culture was in the area of generosity. The early Christians were generous; to their own members (Acts 7), to surrounding churches, and even to churches that were distant from them (2 Cor. 7-9).  This was so unusual in the Greco-Roman world that people took notice.

Jesus and Generosity.

It has been said so many times that it almost does not bear repeating, but Jesus spoke a lot about money and generosity. [2] For example, one day Jesus was at the temple praying and watching what was going on. He saw rich people giving large sums of money and then a poor widow who only had a mite (a very small sum). He announced that the woman who gave the mite was more generous because she gave much more as a percentage than did the rich people (Luke 7:9). Jesus spoke about the dangers of wealth in the story of the rich young ruler, who was a good and generous person and an observant Jew, but who was in love with his money and could not bear to give it up (Matthew 19:16-30; Mark 10:17-31; Luke 18:18-23). Jesus spoke about the greed of the Pharisees, which they masked by a hypocritical public display of righteousness (Luke 11:42).

In Luke, just after Jesus teaches his disciples how to pray, he discusses God’s generosity (Luke 11:1-13). He put it like this: Suppose on of us had a friend who came around midnight and asked for three loaves of bread. Probably, even though we were put off by it and did not want to do it, we would get up and see what would could do just because he had the audacity to come and ask. If one of us had a child that asked us for a fish, we would probably give it to him. We certainly would not give our child a poisonous snake! Then, Jesus gives the punch line: If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13).

God is a generous and loving God and can be trusted to generously give us the Holy Spirit, and other good gifts if we only ask. For example, in the New Testament,  Jesus repeatedly does miracles in response to requests for healing. If we are going to become like Jesus, then we need to think about how we can ask God to send us the same Holy Spirit (the Spirit of Jesus) that transformed the lives of the earliest disciples and made them, among other things, generous.

Principles of Generosity.

This is not the place to give a complete outline of Jesus’ teachings on stewardship of the full extent of the Old and New Testament teachings on the subject.. What I want to do in this blog is outline a few basic principles we glean from the Bible:

Be Humble. Last week we looked at Proverbs, and especially at the theme of Proverbs which is that a deep, awe-filled respect for God, for the power, wisdom, and goodness of God is a prerequisite for wisdom (Psalms 111:10; Proverbs 1:7, 9:10).  Humility and and a deep respect for God allow us to experience a deep faith and trust in God. The first step to generosity is understanding just how great and generous God is!

When we recognize that all we have, life itself and all the blessings of life, are from God, then we will be struck with awe and be able to love and trust God. When we are humbled, and recognize how imperfect and how flawed we are, we understand that we need God’s grace. When we realize we need God’s grace, we cry out to God, and God sends his love upon by the Holy Spirit—and then we have taken the first step towards become as generous as God is generous.

Give Yourself Fully to God. In Acts, we learn that our attitude about money is not the only thing that God uses the gift of the Holy Spirit to change in us. When we give ourselves fully to God and are filled with the Holy Spirit, God makes us wiser and more interested in his Word. God empowers us to pray. God gives us other people, the Body of Christ, to love and care for. Perhaps most importantly, God gives us Spiritual Gifts to share with others and build up the Body of Christ (I Cor. 12). God desires to see all that we are and all that we can be fully and completely devoted to Him.

Recognize the Power and Potential of Money. When I was a young Christian, I read a book by a French Christian called “Money and Power.” [3] The basic message of Money and Power is this: Money is power; and money not only gives us power, it has power of over us. Our lives can be warped and controlled by money and the love of money, however much or however little we have. Until we become aware of the power of money for good and for ill in our lives, money will control us, sometimes unconsciously, and often in destructive ways.

Become a Good Steward. Once we realize that we need the grace of God, that all we have and all we will ever have (however hard we worked for it), then we come to another conclusion: God is the owner and we are his stewards. One way we break the power of money over our lives is by realizing we aren’t the real owner of our possessions. God is. Once again, this is one of Jesus’ favorite points to make, and he uses this point to make a lot of other points. He often refers to God as like an absentee landlord who turns over his properties to his servants (stewards) and lets them run things in his absence (See for example., Matt 24:45-51; Lk 12:42-48 Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:12-19, 27). When God is the owner and we are only giving away someone else’s wealth, giving gets a lot easier!

We will never be good stewards until we get our financial affairs under control. Kathy and I are reasonably good managers of our finances, but that has not always been the case nor is it always the case even today. Just last week, we learned of a mistake we had made that involves our finances. Being a good steward requires constant life-long work. People need to learn to budget when we are young, when we have our families, when we retire, and when we are near the end of life. The challenges and the dangers of each time of life are different and there is not a time when we don’t need to learn more. There is never a time in life when we don’t need to exercise financial discipline. Discipline does not just mean not purchasing wasteful or unnecessary things; it means learning when we cannot afford nice, good, and even necessary things. Spiritually speaking, learning to be simple in our wants and needs is part of becoming a wise steward.

Generosity is Part of our Love Transformation.

Often stewardship sermons focus on tithing. I do not mean by this blog to indicate that tithing is unimportant. It is. However,  underneath any Christian idea of giving is the notion that, as God so loved the world that he gave his Only Son for our salvation, and as God has given to each of us life and all the blessings of life because he loves his creation and each of us, so also, we are given by the power of the Holy Spirit the capacity to become a part of God’s community of self-giving love. That community of self-giving love will change us in a lot of ways. One of the ways God is going to change us is in how we view giving and in how generous we are.

Some weeks ago, our small group talked about giving and generosity. In the lesson, Kathy writes the following:

“Dear Reader:

I like this little ditty: ‘A greedy heart cannot be satisfied. A grateful heart cannot be robbed.’ Greed. Gratitude. Generosity. Grace. Four ‘G’ words that explain it all. “We love because God first loved us (I John 4:19).” He gave us the garden; he gave us our first clothes; he delivered us from slavery; he gave us the law for our protection; he gave us a Savior. He has taught us to be givers, if we will only respond.

When we left Houston for seminary, friends came forward to support us with their finances. It made me cry. It also made me quit spending in areas that were not necessary. The generosity of our friends was humbling. At some point, I recognized that I had given up most of my personal dreams (many of which were materialistic and not in Jesus’ interest). The more I gave up, the easier it was to give away.

Around this time, I began supporting Casa MAMi MX. Sister Elma began the ministry over twenty years ago simply by sharing the gospel and feeding people on the streets of Reynosa, Mexico. Today, the home houses street children; has a day care, school, and parent education program. When gifts are received, there are two important things that happen: Sister Elma teaches the children that God touched hearts to send gifts so they praise God and ask God to bless the givers; Secondly, they share their blessings with poor people living the garbage dump. The children learn to be grateful and generous. God gives us opportunities to practice generosity every day.

Peter understood this: “I have no silver and gold, but I give you what I have; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk. (Acts 3:6).” [4]


Copyright 2017, G. Christopher Scruggs, All Rights Reserved

[1] Luke and John Mark probably wrote their gospels and Acts just about the time Peter and Paul were martyred somewhere near the year 64 A.D. The first draft of Acts was probably created while Paul was under house arrest in Rome.

[2] Howard Dayton, founder of Crown Financial Ministries together with a friend, recorded the number 2,350 verses that refer to money and possession in the Bible. I have a copy of the list. This number has been disputed, and may contain numerous quotes that are only metaphorically about money. See, Crown Financial Ministries at

[3] Jacques, Ellul, Money and Power Reprint. (Eugene OR: Wipf & Stock, 1984, 2009). This book is not easy to read, but it is very good.

[4] See, Chris and Kathy Scruggs, Salt & Light: A Discipleship Curriculum (Collierville, TN: Innovo Publishing, 2017) (In Process). We hope that this curriculum will be complete in the next few weeks.

Transformed: A Tale of Two Women


For those of us who like to read, there are always a few books make all the difference in the world. For me, C. S. Lewis’ books have always been important. Mere Christianity was instrumental in my conversion to Christ. His Space Trilogy, and That Hideous Strength, have been important. The works of J.R.R. Tolkien formed my yearly life as a Christian. Our children grew up on The Chronicles of Narnia. One of my favorite books, which I read every so often is The Glass Bead Game by the German writer, Herman Hesse. (One day, I would like to be like the Music Master of that book I fear that I may be more like Joseph Knetch).

The first book to make a difference in my life was Charles Dickens’, A Tale of Two Cities, which I read in 7th Grade. A Tale of Two Cities is about two men in love with the same woman during the French Revolution. One of the men, Charles Darney, is a French aristocrat living in exile in England because he dislikes the aristocracy of his nation. The other man, Sidney Carton, is a drunken and morally dissolute lawyer’s assistant.  Darney and Carton happen to look exactly alike. The woman they love, Lucy Mannette, is the daughter of a French physician. Lucy eventually marries the handsome, good, and dedicated Charles Darney.

Eventually, Darney undertakes a mission of mercy to France and is arrested as an aristocrat. He is unfairly condemned to die. Lucy Mannette and her father seek his release. They fail, and the evil Madame LaFarge plots to have Lucy and her young daughter killed. The night before Darney is to be executed and Lucy arrested, Sidney Carton arranges to change places with Charles Darney in his prison cell in the Bastille. The next day, Darney and Lucy escape France, while Carton dies in Darney’s place. His life is redeemed in the end. Carton’s last words are these: “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”

At one point in the book there is a line about Sidney Carton that forms me to this day. It goes like this:

Sadly, sadly, the sun rose; it rose upon no sadder sight than the man of good abilities and good emotions, incapable of their directed exercise, incapable of his own help and his own happiness, sensible of the blight on him, and resigning himself to let it eat him away. [1]

Sidney Carton is a lost soul. When I first read the book, in fact the moment I read the line I just quoted,  it seemed to me that I might become a man like Sidney Carton. I might be a person of good abilities and good intentions, incapable of their exercise for my own good. It is a warning and insight that has haunted me, followed me, and warned me throughout all the years since.

A Tale of Two Cities, describes the power of our choices. It is about consequences and redemption. The character of Sydney Carton is a warning—or at least it was to me. Every day we make choices about the kind of person we will be–and upon those choices the happiness or unhappiness of our live depends.

A Tale of Two Women.

In this blog, we are thinking about “A Tale of Two Women.” Every month for almost forty years, on the ninth day of the month, I read today’s text. It is, in some ways, my favorite chapter of my favorite book of the Bible, Proverbs. Here is  the word of God as it comes to us from the voice of the Wise Men of israel:

Wisdom has built her house; she has set up its seven pillars.  She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine; she has also set her table. She has sent out her servants, and she calls from the highest point of the city, “Let all who are simple come to my house!” To those who have no sense she says, “Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of insight.” Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults; whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse. Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you. Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For through wisdom your days will be many, and years will be added to your life. If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer. Folly is an unruly woman; she is simple and knows nothing. She sits at the door of her house, on a seat at the highest point of the city, calling out to those who pass by, who go straight on their way, “Let all who are simple come to my house!” To those who have no sense she says, “Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!” But little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead. (Proverbs 9:1-18)

God of Wisdom Who in Wisdom Created All Things and Us Included: Come by the power of your Holy Spirit so that your Spirit of Wisdom and Love may enter and transform our hearts. Amen.

 The Call of Wisdom.

In Proverbs, wisdom is often personified as a woman calling to the human race. In today’s text, Lady Wisdom builds her home, fills her table with delicacies, and invites all who will to come to her banquet (9:1-6). In the earlier chapters, wisdom is personified as a woman sitting at the city gates, offering blessings to those who will hear. For example, the previous chapter begins as follows:

Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice? At the highest point along the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand; beside the gate leading into the city, at the entrance, she cries aloud: “To you, O people, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind. You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, set your hearts on it. Listen, for I have trustworthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right. My mouth speaks what is true, for my lips detest wickedness. All the words of my mouth are just; none of them is crooked or perverse. To the discerning all of them are right; they are upright to those who have found knowledge Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her” (Proverbs 8:1-11).

We live in an overly-concrete, materialistic age. We have trouble understanding the deep truths embedded in proverbs, parables, stories,  images, art and literature. The wisdom writers of Israel wanted us to see that,  just as a person responds to the call of an attractive person of the opposite sex and/or intuitively seeks to acquire precious jewels and metals, wisdom calls our to us to develop the practical ability to respond to the challenges of life with grace, intelligence, and discernment. Depending upon how we respond to that call, our lives may be better or worse, successful or unsuccessful, happy or miserable.

The single greatest problem our society faces is a loss of faith in traditions, in religion (Christianity included), in traditional wisdom, and in the reality of invisible qualities of character, such as righteousness, justice and  wisdom—qualities that we cannot be successful in life unless we develop. If our children and grandchildren are to have lives even a fraction as good as the life we have enjoyed, we need to recover our confidence in the existence of truth, of goodness, of justice, of wisdom, of fairness and find ways to teach the next generation about these qualities. Nevertheless, even in our society, wisdom is not without a witness. Wisdom is calling. The question is: “Are we listening?”

Trust-Faith: The First Big Step.

Chapter Nine of Proverbs is important for, among other things, the way in which the writer set the central teaching of Wisdom right in the center of the poem that makes up the chapter: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, and knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Proverbs 9:10). Over and over again in Psalms and in Proverbs this central teaching is repeated: The first step in becoming wise is to develop a healthy respect for God.

We modern people do not necessarily believe fear is a virtue, but it is. We human beings were given the capacity for fear in order that we might avoid things that are dangerous. Courage is not the absence of fear in dangerous situations; it is the ability to manage and overcome fear where necessary.

When I translate this saying, I often phrase what is being said something like this: “A Deep and awe-filled Respect for the Power and Wisdom of God is the beginning of wisdom.” [2] The idea is not that we should fear God as a we might fear a bad person. We ought to fear God as we fear the consequences of misbehavior as a child. More importantly, we ought to respect God. Coming to understand that failing to follow God’s ways is injurious to ourselves and others is the single most important, first step in becoming a well adjusted, wise, and successful human being.

I have mentioned before that my father had an old fraternity paddle that Tim, my brother, and I got to experience once in a while if we were very, very bad. (I had many more experiences with that paddle than did my brother!) My father never used the paddle unless it was absolutely necessary to make a point about really bad behavior. And, as a practical matter, one trip to his home office was enough to correct whatever bad behavior in which we had engaged. (Just to give an example, we once decided to see if we could derail a train on a Boy Scout camp out and very nearly succeeded. This was an offence that my father believed merited the paddle. After 52 years or so of thinking about it,  I now think he was correct.)

This “fear” or “deep awe and respect” a believer has for God reveals itself in relationship of faith and trust—a faith and trust that allows the believer to experience the love and wisdom of God. In other words, just as the faith and trust a child is supposed to have for a parent enables the child to live based on the love of the parent, so also our faith and trust (respect for God’s wisdom, love and power) opens our lives to the wisdom God gives us for living.

The Importance of Resisting Temptation.

There are two women described in Proverbs 9. The  beginning of Proverbs 9 describes Lady Wisdom. The end describes her opposite, Lady Folly. If Lady Wisdom builds her house and prepares a banquet of wisdom which will result in blessing for God’s people, Lady Folly brings the results of folly. The gift of lady Wisdom is the blessed life. On the other hand, Lady Folly seduces the human race into behavior that can only end in suffering, destruction, and death.

Once again, if repeatedly Proverbs describes Lady Wisdom as seeking to influence humanity by reason and good sense,  Lady Folly is described as a kind of seductress attempting to seduce the human race to embrace folly. By using the image of a beautiful but dangerous woman, Proverbs reminds us that wisdom is not always attractive or apparent nor is folly always ugly and obvious. When the original Star Wars movie was made, and the character of Darth Vader introduced, I made a comment that the only problem with the character is that evil is not always ugly, obvious or scary as Darth Vader. Some of the most evil and dangerous people I have  known were handsome, engaging, and fun. They were not scary. They were seductive. This is the message of the end of Proverbs 9.

Wisdom teaches us to look beneath the surface of things to see things as they really are.  Modern media, and particularly visual media, has created in most people a tendency to look at the surface of an image for truth, for beauty, for goodness, for love, and the like. The surface of things does not necessarily reveal the reality of the thing. Things that look good on the surface often do not look good once we pierce beneath the surface.

One danger to young people is that our young people are often not experienced enough to evaluate the images they are seeing in movies, on TV, etc. Today, our young people are subjected to temptations at an age when prior generations would not have permitted the contact. Perhaps unfortunately, computers, the internet, and cable TV have made it almost impossible for parents to fully protect their children from dangerous images. I don’t have an answer to this problem, which Kathy and I have faced.

The Blessings of Wisdom.

We began this series with a quote from Revelation: “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near” (Revelation 1:3). As the early Christians remembered the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus they early on began to see in Jesus the very wisdom of God incarnate. When John wrote his gospel he described Jesus as the Word or Wisdom or Reason of God made incarnate (John 1:1). Paul describes Jesus as the very wisdom of God (the icon of God’s glory (Colossians 1:15).

To a Jew, wisdom was not some unearthly, mystical thing. In Hebrew, the root word underlying the word “wisdom” is the kind of shrewdness needed by a trader in a Middle Eastern bazaar. It is the ability to make wise choices in the practical things of life.

Proverbs is important as a source of God’s wisdom, but we must never forget that Christ is the ultimate source of our understanding of the wise life. As Jonathan Edwards said, “Christ is the true light of the world. It is through him alone that the true wisdom is imparted the mind.” In Christ we see something that no human being could possibly write down in such a way to transform our lives.

At the Cross, we see the wisdom and love of God revealed in such a way that we cannot help but be transformed as we trust in Him. In Jesus, the love of God and the wisdom of God are joined in such a way that we cannot just understand but also experience that love and be transformed by it. The Cross of Christ was so unexpected by the wise men of Israel and of the Greco-Roman world that it seemed to be a kind of foolishness, but that foolishness was in fact the Deep Wisdom of God (I Corinthians 1-2).

It is a mistake to hear the words of Paul as if it were meant to nullify wisdom or to indicate that God’s wisdom is a kind of foolishness. Instead, what Paul means is simple: While the deep wisdom of God may seem to be foolishness to the wise of this world, it is in fact the most practical thing of all. Why? Because in Christ, wisdom and love are,  and will be, the most powerful  force in all the world.


Copyright 2017, G. Christopher Scruggs, All Rights Reserved

[1] The quotes are from Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities. Because my books are all packed for our move, I cannot give you pages and other citation information. You can find these quotes easily on the internet.

[2] “Fear, as applied to God is the kind of deep awe, respect, reverence or piety appropriate to the God of Israel, the creator of the heavens and the earth, and the one God among all the false gods of the surrounding nations.” G. Christopher Scruggs, Path of Life: The Way of Wisdom for Christ Followers (Eugene OR: Wipf & Stock, 2014), 246.

Transformed Living in Hard Times


Many people don’t remember Neil Armstrong. He was the first man to step onto the moon. Even those who remember who he was may not know how he got to be the first man on the moon. Neil Armstrong flew seventy-eight missions over Korea during the Korean War. During one low level bombing run in September 1951, his planc was hit by enemy anti-aircraft fire. While trying to regain control, at an altitude of twenty feet, his right wing stuck a pole shearing off three feet of the wing. Armstrong managed to nurse the damaged plane over the ocean where he ejected safely.

After the war, Armstrong was a test pilot for the F-100, F-104, X-1B and X-15 programs, among others. He entered the astronaut program in 1958 and was assigned to the Gemini 8 mission. This mission tested the ability of astronauts to rendezvous and dock with an unmanned target vehicle, a skill necessary for a lunar landing. When Gemini 8 docked with the Agena rocket, a control rocket malfunctioned, and both vehicles began spinning out of control. On the verge of blackout, Armstrong detached from the Agena, diagnosed the problem, switched off the maneuvering rockets, turned on the re-entry rockets, and used them to regain control of the capsule.

Based on his strong record of facing difficulties with intelligence and calm, Armstrong was selected to command Apollo 11—the first manned moon landing. During training, Armstrong was piloting a lunar landing simulator when it started pitching out of control. Armstrong was forced to eject. Later analysis concluded that had he ejected a half second later, he would have been killed.

During the lunar landing, Armstrong noticed that lunar craters were passing by too quickly and the landing computer had malfunctioned. Armstrong returned the lander to manual control. With one minute of fuel left, the lander started kicking up dust, so Armstrong chose a different, safer landing site. With Buzz Aldrin reading off the amount of fuel left Armstrong set the lander on the surface of the moon with less than 40 seconds of fuel left.  [1]

Armstrong was ready to command Apollo 11 because of the pressures and problems he endured over many years. In today’s blog, we are going to be talking about how our faith grows under pressure.

Those who Persevere.

Last week, we looked at the image of the Lamb of God as Christ is portrayed in Revelation 5. Revelation 6 deals with the sufferings of the human race, which we will briefly talk about in a few minutes. About three years ago o July 4th, I preached a sermon and wrote a blog called, “When the Four Horsemen Ride the Sky.” [2] I don’t want to retread ground I’ve already covered, so in this blog we will be skipping to Revelation 7. This chapter begins with the salvation of the 144,000, which most scholars believe communicates to a reader the salvation of all those in the New and Old Testament people of Israel. [3] Then, we read the following vision of heaven:

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?” I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:9-17).

Prayer: Lord God of History: Help us to understand these words not just as your words to the ancient church as it faced pressure, but to us, today, in our society. Amen.

We Live in a Broken World.

One misunderstood part of Revelation has to do with the four horsemen and the meaning of six of the seven seals. In this blog I am only briefly reviewing the major teaching of Revelation 6:  We live in a broken world. As Revelation 5 ends, the Lamb of God has taken the scroll with seven seals from the hand of God, and in Revelation 6, the scroll is unsealed. In the beginning, four horsemen, sometimes popularly known as the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” are loosed upon the earth. These four horsemen represent conquest, war, economic dislocation, and disease and death. [4] When the fifth seal is opened, we are given a view of the suffering of the Christian martyrs under Domitian, who receive white robes in heaven for their suffering (6. 9-11). The six seal opens to a time of cosmic upheaval (vv. 12-14). In the end, all the peoples of the earth, the powerful, the wealthy, and ordinary people cry out because of the wrath of the Lamb (vv. 15-17).

What are we to make of all this? Is the loving Christ now punishing the world for rejecting him. No. The best explanation of these scenes of suffering is that John is describing for us the character of life in our fallen world. In this world, there is and will be suffering, war, economic hard times, disease, and death. There will be times of war, famine, persecution, cosmic upheaval, earthquakes, volcanoes, etc. In such a world, people suffer. [5] We live in a broken and imperfect world—and in such a world bad things often happen to good people. Bad things happened under Domitian and bad things happen even today. As a result, people suffer.

This is a good place to stop and remind ourselves that Christians are not exempt from the common sufferings of humanity, nor are we necessarily spared the sufferings of injustice and persecution. For the first time in our history, the American church is coming to grips with a culture in which persecution is a reality. Like the early church of Revelation, we now must learn to maintain our faith and our way of life in a society in which they are often not popular.

God’s Love Saves His Beloved.

As Revelation 7 opens, there is a pause before the seventh seal is opened and the end of history commences. The four angels that surround the throne of God hold back the winds of history long enough for “144,000 people” to be saved. This number is 12 times 12 times 1000 and can be interpreted to mean that God stays the end until every single person who is supposed to be saved is saved. [6] When the period of salvation ends, John sees a great multitude that no one can possibly count before the throne of God, people from every tribe and nation, from every ethnic group all wearing white robes because all these have been saved. All of them together are worshiping God with the twenty-four elders, the four heavenly creatures and the angels of heaven (7:9).

Who are all these people? They are those who have come out of the “Great Tribulation.” Most of us have at least heard about the “Great Tribulation.” However, so that we can better understand its meaning for us today, I think it is a good idea to learn a little more about the term. In Greek, the word we translate “Tribulation” comes from a root word that means to “press,” or “apply pressure,” “press together,” or “compress.” [7] Therefore, instead of calling it “The Great Tribulation” we might call it “The Great Pressure.” When things are refined, or made pure, they are often placed under pressure or compressed to purify them. Human beings are no different.

At the time Revelation was written, the Emperor Domitian was putting the church under great pressure, hoping to wipe out the church or at least make it subservient to the rule of the Roman Emperor. The idea of his pressure was to cause Christians to lose their faith or compromise with Rome. The pressure, however, had an opposite effect: instead of causing the Church to die out, it caused the faith of the people of God to be purified and strengthened. The Church came out of this time of persecution stronger than ever before.

This is true of our own day and time. In Communist China, the government of Mao tried to eliminate Christian faith by persecuting the church. Throughout the late 1940’s, 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s this persecution continued, as it does to some degree even today. In the midst of this pressure, the church grew and became much stronger. The same thing has happened in Russia, Iran, and other places where faith has been put under pressure. Today, in our nation, our faith is under pressure. Those who are putting it under pressure hope that the church will lose influence and die. That will not happen. What will happen is that the Church will emerge purified, strengthened, and more clear in its mission and proclamation to take the Gospel into every family possible.

In our own denomination, we have a minister who has been unfairly imprisoned in Turkey. Andrew Brunson is in prison, but throughout America churches like ours are praying for his release, working for his release, and waiting for the day in which Andrew comes home to his family and our nation. This very week members of Advent have written congressmen, signed petitions, and prayed for Andrew. [8] (Please read footnote 8 for information concerning how you can help achieve Andrew’s release.)

There is a Blessing for those Who are Saved.

Preaching on Revelation on Valentine’s Day Weekend is a stretch, I admit. Yet, as I was thinking about and preparing this sermon, I started thinking about the deeper meaning of the text. In the end, the Bible is a love story. It is about the love of God, a love so great it would endure a cross and terrible death in order to rescue his beloved creation and its people. It is about a God who in mercy often delays what we perceive as judgement in order that we can have time to turn our lives around and receive his blessings. When I was a young Christian an older, more mature Christian gave me some advice that I have never forgotten: “God is just and in the end God intends to show us and everyone in the world as much mercy as possible.” [9]

In response to the Love of God, God calls into eternal fellowship with Him those who are willing to give up their self-centeredness and by faith accept God’s offer of forgiveness, mercy, and grace. He does not just make this offer to good people, or fundamentally good people, but to everyone. History is unfolding and someday history will come to an end. However, for the time being, the angels of heaven are busy holding back the winds so that the message of God’s love can be preached to all the nations and to all the people in all the nations.

It would be nice if that could be accomplished without suffering, but unfortunately that is not the case. The Cross of Christ is the great symbol and reminder of the fact that the Kingdom of God is free, but the price paid for it was the ultimate price. The Lamb had to be slain, not just once, but from the very foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8). This means, among other things, that God’s church must from time to time suffer so that God may rescue from sin his beloved, fallen world.

Here are just a few of the blessings that we Christians receive from times of pressure:

  1. Our faith is strengthened.
  2. Our sense of purpose to share the Gospel is reinforced.
  3. We learn to be obedient under pressure.
  4. We come to rely totally upon God for our life and salvation. [10]

None of this is easy, but you can see that,  just as Neil Armstrong was tested and refined by the difficulties he faced over many years so that he could be successful in leading the first moon landing, we also are strengthened by our sufferings and the pressure of being different in our society so that we receive the blessing God promises those who are called by his name.

The Lamb that Shepherds and Washes Away Every Tear.

Our text today ends with a promise that is found here and at the end of Revelation: The Lamb of God, the One who died for our sins, does have a blessing in store for believers if we will only stand firm:

Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes (Revelation 7: 16-17). [11]


Copyright 2017, G. Christopher Scruggs, All Rights Reserved

[1]  Ken McCarthey, “Grace under Pressure” in Quora, April 27, 2014 (“,” downloaded February 7, 2017). I have quoted this article almost verbatim. The members of the flight control team were amazed at his actions.

[2] G. Christopher Scruggs, “When the Four Horsemen Fly” (Preached July 7, 2013 at Advent Presbyterian Church). There is a blog version of the sermon available to read at

[3] It is common among some commentators to teach that the 144,000 related only to the Jews. See footnote 6 below for the reasoning supporting my view.

[4] See, Bruce M. Metzger, Breaking the Code: Understanding the Book of Revelation (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1992, 2006), 55-57. There is a controversy as to whether there are Three or Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The first horseman could be the Risen Christ come to retake his rightful possession. See, William Hendricksen, More than Conquerors: An Interpretation of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1940, 1976), 93-96 for a very good defense of this view.

[5] Id, at 57: “The way God’s power is manifested in the world is that the misuse of power brings on suffering and disaster.”Those who are familiar with the work of John Polkinghorne will recall that the price we pay for a world of freedom is the potential for natural and moral disasters.

[6] Interpreters that see this as applying only to the Jews are probably mistaken. The names of the tribes are not the actual names of the twelve tribes. In addition, by the First Century, ten of the tribes of Israel were long gone, having been disbursed and destroyed by the Assyrians when they conquered the Northern Kingdom. The best explanation is that John is symbolically assuring his readers that the end will not come until everyone is saved who can and should be saved. The 144,000 is a symbol of completeness and of the salvation of God for all people in the Old and New Testament churches. 12 (tribes of Israel) times 12 apostles (the New Testament Church) times 1,000 equals 144,000.

[7] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Dictionary: For a Deeper Understanding of the Word (New Testament) (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1992), 736-740). “Thlipsis” means to crush, squeeze, or break. It is used figuratively of afflictions or tribulations, natural our man-made.

[8] This week, we are asking members and friends to go onto the White House Web-Site and register support for Andrew Brunson. The Evangelical Presbyterian Church has launched a “Forgotten American in Turkey” petition at The EPC would like to get 100,000 signatures by March 6, if possible. While a high bar, the EPC believes it is reachable if we all take a minute to sign and get the word out to our friends. In addition, you can contact the White House directly at

[9] John Mawhinney was an elder at First Presbyterian Church of Houston, Texas who has now gone to the church triumphant. We were in a Bible study many years ago together when John shared this insight. I was a new Christian and hearing this from a more mature Christian was important.

[10] See, William D. Black, MD, “Seven Ways God uses Tough Times to Shape our Lives” Christian Broadcasting Network (Downloaded February 9, 2017).

[11] See, Revelation 21:4 and for the history of the promise see Isaiah 49:10 and 25:8. The early church did not think of the “Tribulation” in quite the way we do today. While there is a connotation of suffering, the suffering involved was for the Early Church, the sacrifice that had to be made to share the Gospel of life with others even if it involved martyrdom. Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Dictionary: For a Deeper Understanding of the Word, at 737.

Imitate the Lamb

There is an old Indian parable about six blind men who are trying to describe an elephant. It goes something like this: One day six wise blind men went for a walk. Along the way, they ran into an elephant. Their leader, first blind man, walked right into the side of the elephant. He put out his arms to either side, but all he could feel was the big body of the elephant. The first blind man. “We have walked into a wall.” The second blind man accidentally touched the elephant’s trunk. He quickly let go and shouted, “This isn’t a wall. This is a huge snake!” The third man touched the animal’s tail and exclaimed, “This is neither a wall or a snake. This is a rope.” The fourth blind man ran into the elephant’s legs. He concluded that the elephant was a huge column, and they must have run into a temple. The fifth blind man felt the animal’s two long tusks. He said, “It seems to me that this object is made up of two spikes.” The sixth blind man scratched his head and thought but could not understand what in the world they were confronting, so he asked a passing wise man. “My friends and I can’t seem to figure out what this thing in front of us is. One of us thinks it’s a wall; one thinks it’s a snake; one thinks it’s a rope, one thinks it’s a warrior’s spike, and one thinks it’s a column from huge temple. “You are all correct, the wise men said. This elephant seems like something different to each one of you. The only way to know what this thing really is like is by sharing what each of you knows and understands.” [1]

As we humans try to understand God we are like the six blind men: There are so many aspects of God that to understand God we must share and combine different understandings. During our study of Revelation, we are going to see many images of the Risen Christ. Each of them will tell us something important about him. Today, we are going to study the most important images of Christ from the Old and New Testament.

Two Sides of Jesus.

Two weeks ago, we read John’s first vision of the Risen Christ. This vision bears a lot of similarity to a vision given to the Prophet and Wise Man, Daniel (Daniel 7:9-14;10:5-6). In this vision, the Risen Christ is seen with a golden sash, pure shining white hair, flashing eyes, and bronze feet. This vision is of the risen, royal Christ filled with the wisdom, holiness, and power of God. In this blog, we see that vision reinforced and deepened.

Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or look inside. Then, one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”

Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. And they sang a new song, saying:

“You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals,
because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God
persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth.”

Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne, the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying:

“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!”

Then, I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!”

The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped. (Revelation 5:1-14).

Prayer: God of Wisdom, Love, and Power: Come to us this morning and let the image of the Lamb that Was Slain enter into all of our hearts. In Jesus Name, Amen.

The End of history is in God’s Hands, Not Ours.

Two weeks ago, I introduced the congregation (and my readers) to the importance of the number seven in John’s writing. [2] In Revelation 4, we are introduced to the seven lamps that are the seven spirits of God, symbolizing the perfection of God’s Spirit. [3] Revelation 5 contains a continuation of the vision of Revelation 4—a revelation of God on this throne in heaven surrounded by the patriarch’s, the apostles, and the heavenly court, all worshiping God. There may be trouble in the seven earthly churches, but that trouble is not to be found in heaven. In heaven, God is on this throne and everything is fine.

As the vison continues, John looks and sees the right hand of the One on the Throne of Heaven holding a scroll with writing on both sides. This scroll is sealed with seven seals. Once again, if seven is a perfect number, then the scroll is perfectly and permanently sealed because it contains important information that only a worthy person should know. In fact, no one on our earth is entitled to see what is in the scroll. It will take a special person to undo these seals! Soon, we shall see that the scroll is a very important and powerful scroll. The scroll contains the secret to the future and to human destiny. What any of us would give to have such a document.

As John looks around, he realizes that no one in heaven or on earth comes forward to open the scroll because no one is worthy to do so. He begins to weep. There is no one to open the document and answer the deepest question of the human heart: “What does the future hold for me and for my loved ones?”

Imagine the power of knowing the future. The movie is old now, but in the second of the three “Back to the Future” movies you may remember that Marty McFly goes into the future where he purchases a magazine containing the winner of all sports events from his time until the time in the future where he is an adult. [4] Biff ends up stealing the magazine with terrible consequences: He becomes fabulously wealthy by using the magazine to gamble. The future of Hill Valley and of Marty’s family is damaged almost beyond repair until he undoes his mistake.

The movie illustrates a fact that is so important to remember: We human beings were never intended to know the future. In fact, we cannot know the future. [5] We can study the past, we can study and live today, but we can only live wisely by faith regarding the future. Therefore, I like to say that Revelation, Daniel and other apocalyptic literature are a kind of wisdom literature—wisdom operating at its limits where only metaphors, images, and symbols are possible. [6]

History is fortunately not in our hands or in the hands of any single human being. I always dislike it when politicians speak of themselves as being on “the right side of history” and of their opponents as being on the wrong side of history. We human beings simply do not know the future, where it is headed, or where it will end. What we do know is how God expects us to behave in the meantime. God expects us to live with wisdom and with love towards others in the power of the Holy Spirit.

The One Who Is Worthy.

As John is weeping because there is no human being worthy of opening the scrolls, he hears the voice of one of the elders saying, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” (Rev. 5:5). So far, there is nothing unusual about this vision. Every Jew knew that one name for the Messiah, the Anointed One, the one who would reestablish David’s kingdom and rule forever on David’s throne was the “Lion of Judah” (Genesis 49:9). However, what comes next is totally unexpected. When John looks, he does not see a lion. He sees a lamb looking as if it had been slain.

This too is a symbol that Jews would have found familiar and which the early church readily adopted. As far back as Exodus, God had instituted Passover, a night that remembers the deliverance of the people of God from slavery in Egypt. On Passover, God asked the Jews to sacrifice a Passover Lamb and place its blood over the doorposts of their homes. When they did so, the angel of death, which was to punish Egypt for its sins, would “pass over” them and they would be spared the death of their first born (Exodus 12:1-50).

The early Christians almost immediately saw the Passover Lamb as a kind of type or symbol for what Jesus had done on the Cross. Because of the death of Jesus, the perfect lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29), the angel of death passes over the sins of the people of God and in mercy makes them righteous before God. This understanding made sense of Isaiah 53 where the prophet said:

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.  He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment, he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth (Isaiah 53:4-9)

In Jesus, the Lion of Judah, the King of Kings, the True Heir to David’s throne, was revealed to be a suffering, sacrificial lamb who died for the sins of his people.

A Lamb Like No Other.

As John describes the Lamb Who Is Worthy, it turns out that this is a lamb like no other lamb you have ever, ever seen. This lamb has seven eyes and seven horns. The seven eyes are the same seven spirits we discussed earlier—a symbol for the Holy Spirit. It turns out that this lamb is no ordinary lamb; it is a lamb that perfectly possesses the fullness of the Spirit of God. In other words, this is a lamb symbolizing God as the Second Person of the Trinity, the Christ, the One who is uniquely filled with the Holy Spirit, the very wisdom and love of God.

The Lamb also has seven horns.  In the Old Testament horns are a symbol of power. This is obviously an unusual lamb, and it is worth thinking a bit more deeply about the meaning of the image, for it will impact how we read the rest of Revelation and how we live our Christian lives. There is a kind of “pop eschatology” that implies that in Christ God was meek, lowly and loving to give humanity a chance and time to repent. Nevertheless, in the end, God is going to come with a universal violent judgement to put those who do not repent in their place. This would be the Lamb that became a Lion. The image, however, is of a Lion, the Lion of Judah, revealed to be the Lamb. Jesus was, is and always will be the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world and he represents a God of love who has and will always act in love. [7]

A Lamb We Are Called to Imitate!

The Paul in Philippians tells us that we should have the same kind of mind that Jesus had (Philippians 2:4-11). He goes on to spell out what that means. Jesus, though he was in the very form of God did not grasp and maintain that royal position. Instead, he was willing to be humbles and take on the form of a servant becoming obedient to the Father even unto death, death on a cross (Phil. 2:5-8). If we are to have the same mind as Christ, then we too must become lambs willing to be slain for the sins of the world—not as Jesus was but in our own way.

The first six months of each year we train elders. Recently we met on a Saturday to cover a portion of the training. There is a lot of information to cover, but the message of today is the most important message: Those who follow Jesus follow the Lamb that was slain from the foundation of the world, a lamb that is in fact the greatest truth about God—the most powerful force in the world, the force behind all other forces, is self-giving love. As his children, we are to be transformed into the image of the Lamb and give ourselves for the world just as Christ, the Lamb of God, gave himself for the world.


Copyright 2017, G. Christopher Scruggs, All Rights Reserved

[1] See, the Blind Men and the Elephant, (Downloaded, January 30, 2017).

[2] As mentioned before, the number seven appears in John in the form of the seven signs around which the book is structured and the seven “I am sayings” that occur in the book. The seven signs are generally thought to be the changing of the water into wine (2:1-11), healing the official’s son (4:46-54), the healing of the paralytic (5:1-18), feeding of the 5000 (6:5-14), walking on water (6:16-24), healing of the man born blind (9:1-7) and the raising of Lazarus (11:1-45). The seven I am’s are: “I am the bread of life” (6:35), “I am the light of the world” (8:22), “I am the sheep gate” (10:19), “I am the good shepherd” (10:11), “I am the resurrection and the life” (11:25-26), “I am the way, the truth and the life” (14:16), “I am the true vine” (15:5), In Revelation, the number seven appears fifty-four times. There are seven churches (1:4) seven lampstands (1:12), seven stars (1:20) seven spirits (1:4), seven seals (5:1), seven bowls of wrath (15:7), seven trumpets, (8:2) and some imagery is often repeated as in the letters where the seven lampstands and seven angels appear and reappear. See, William Hendricksen, More than Conquerors (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1940, 1967), 23.

[3]  The seven lamps (or torches of fire) symbolize the Holy Spirit of God using symbolism adapted from Zechariah 4 in which the prophet uses the same symbol for the Spirit (Zechariah 4:2-6).

[4] Robert Zmeck, wr. Back to the Future Part II Dir. Robert Zemeckis, starring Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Thomas F. Wilson (Universal Pictures, November 22, 1989).

[5] Matthew 24:36, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Evangelicals often forget that this saying does not mean “No one knows the day nor the hour until they read Revelation. It means no one ever will know. We can only read the signs of the times and live faithfully.

[6] See, G. Christopher Scruggs, Path of Life: The Way of Wisdom for Christ Followers (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2014), 195-204.

[7] I am thankful to M. Eugene Boring, “Revelation” in Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1989), 109.