Interpreting Revelation

Few books of the Bible have been as controversial in their interpretation as Revelation. This article is a transcript of various sermons and lectures I’ve given over the years about how I approach the book. I’ve included it here essentially so I can link to it whenever Coffee with the King deals with a text from Revelation – to avoid having to justify the way I’m interpreting it each time. Enjoy!

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“I am of Albo” / “I am of Scomo” – Political Tribalism and the Church

Some election-season advice from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians.

1 Cor 1:10 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.

Although Paul wrote these words nearly two millennia ago to the house churches he’d founded in Corinth, they remain a word-on-target for our churches in the West today, as we fight and fracture along political lines. Particularly around election time. And the similarities between our situations are stronger than we might first realise. Because this is how Paul describes the divisions in the Corinthian churches:

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Beyond Israel Folau: the importance of rhetorical setting

Over the past couple of months there’s been a steady stream of articles by Christian leaders weighing in on the Israel Folau controversy. A common theme has been an affirmation of Folau’s commitment to his faith, while expressing concern about his rhetorical strategy; that is, the way in which he’s spoken about it. We see this in such diverse writers as Brian Houston from Hillsong Church and Simon Smart from the Centre for Public Christianity.

However, if you then dive into the comments section on these articles (and on the plethora of social media posts expressing similar sentiments), you’ll find significant pockets of support not only for Folau’s courage, but also defending his approach. The common theme there seems to be: all he’s doing is quoting the Bible. How can we fault him for using the same rhetorical strategy used by the Old Testament prophets, John the Baptist, the Apostle Paul, and even Jesus himself?

But is it the same?

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When your sermon needs Greg

I’ve been guilty of it. Probably more times than I’ve realised. And so have you, I’m guessing, if you’re a preacher who has ever tried to be creative; who has tried to do something different in order to captivate the congregation with the truth of Scripture. At some point, we’ve all fallen into the error of allowing our sermon to serve a creative idea, rather than the other way around.

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Why bother with preaching?

Most people don’t remember anything that happened to them before the age of two. Which, as a parent, makes you wonder why you bother. Feeding, changing, bathing, going to the park, pretending you can’t see them when they put their hands over their eyes, and reading the same story over and over again – none of it gets remembered. So why do it? Why not take it easy for a couple of years, then start to be nice just when you think they’re ready to remember? You know, like politicians do in an election year.

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Preaching Acts

An Acts to Grind: using Acts as church manual

‘Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the way things are done, just as they were handed down to us by those who were foundation members of our particular denomination. Therefore, since I myself have carefully confirmed my own prejudices from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write a prescriptive handbook for you, most excellent twenty-first century reader, so that you may know for certain that you are right in how you do church*.’

[*Some authorities add: ‘and that anyone who disagrees with you is wrong’, here and everywhere else throughout their ecclesial practices.]

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