Friday, April 27, 2018

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday April 29, 2018

Over 159,000 readers worldwide

(Blessing, glory, and honor to the LORD forever)
(Revelation 5)

   It is the strong conviction of every New Testament writer that all of human history will continue to hold as its meaning, the life, death, and resurrection of our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST. JESUS is “the axis” around which all of human history hinges, and indeed, all that we see now began in HIM, and through HIM. All things find their origin and meaning in JESUS, and without HIS work of redemption, history would remain an enigma at best, and we would have a future without hope, at worst.
    In Revelation 5:1-10, through his vividly detailed writings, the Apostle John allows us to look in on his vision just as CHRIST is about to prove HIMSELF as being the only one worthy to take the scroll from the hand of GOD, and unseal it’s secret contents. John tells us that the scroll had writings on both, the inner and outer surfaces, and was sealed with “seven seals”. The scroll must have been rolled in such a way that the seals would have to be broken one seal at a time.  
    In the Greek, the word used here for “scroll” is “biblion” (bib-lee-on), and it is from that word that we derive our English word “bible”. A scroll that was sealed could only be read when all of the seals were opened. The symbolism here, in Revelation 5:1, is that, only when judgment has been fully executed, will the ultimate intent of GOD be revealed.
    In Revelation 5:5-6, John’s vision serves to remind us that JESUS conquered all by giving HIS life for us. Here we see the Apostle raising his tear-filled eyes, expecting to see what the Elder had described as “a LION”, opening the seals, and instead, seeing a bloodstained “LAMB”, WHO is still bearing the marks of HIS execution, about to be revealed as the executor of GOD’s final judgment. Soon there will be a new song, never heard before, and all will be forced to acknowledge that JESUS truly is worthy to rule, and, to be praised.
    Ultimately, the idea here is that GOD has a book in which “the history of time to come” is already written. When we are seeking to interpret this idea, it will serve us well to remember that this is a vision, full of symbolisms, shown to John, by GOD. It would not be wise to take this great vision too literally, and to think it means that everything was settled long ago, or, that we are in this “inescapable grip of fate”. What it is saying is that, GOD has a plan for the world, and that, the purpose of GOD, will, in the end, come to pass, or, be worked out.
    In this chapter of Revelation both “the LION” and “the LAMB” are mentioned in reference to JESUS CHRIST. The lamb refers to HIS “first advent”, where HE came “to bring salvation” to the world through HIS vicarious sacrifice for the sins of man on the cross. JESUS, the LION, refers to our LORD and SAVIOR’s “second advent”, which will be “a time of judgment” on those who have rejected HIS salvation.
    The “seven horns” of the LAMB in this chapter symbolize “great and complete authority and strength” of the ONE who is “a RULER over all kings”. The “seven eyes” symbolizes “complete awareness and knowledge of all things”, and is, in fact, “the HOLY SPIRIT of GOD”, the “seven spirits” that are sent into every part of the earth (v.6).
    In verse 7 the “resurrected lamb” steps forward, and takes the scroll from the right hand of GOD WHO was seated on the throne, and as HE took it, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell prostrate to their knees before the LAMB and began to worship HIM. Each one had a harp in his hand, and they each also held “golden incense bowls” that contained the many prayers of the saints of GOD over the years.
    The four living beings and the elders here were not serving as priests or mediators, for only the LAMB is qualified to deliver HIS OWN sacrificial blood up to the altar of GOD in Heaven. JESUS delivered the ransom for GOD’s people personally, as only HE could. And by doing so, HE caused us to become priests in GOD’s Millennial Kingdom, where “saved people” will serve in that capacity, here on earth for a thousand years (v.10).
    Before JESUS came along, we had been living in a world, so far from GOD, that, there was no one worthy enough to even receive HIS message. JESUS solved this problem by way of HIS earthly ministry and subsequent vicarious sacrifice. HE revealed to us, the great and challenging truth that GOD cannot deliver a message to men, unless there first be a man fit and ready to receive it, and then, deliver it to others.
    And so, we see in our world, the very essence of “a communications problem”, as we have alienated ourselves from the Word of GOD. There is a definite need in this world for us to keep ourselves sensitive to GOD’s communications, so that we will be able to receive HIM in SPIRIT, and in Truth. He has a message for the world in each and every generation, but it couldn’t be delivered until there was SOMEONE found, WHO was able and willing to receive it, and then, begin the process of “correctly” delivering that Word to others, here on earth.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

                                           LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

Friday, April 20, 2018

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday April 22, 2018

Over 158,000 readers worldwide

(The vision of the throne room)
(Revelation 4)

   The second coming of CHRIST JESUS, and those years immediately following, are more vividly detailed in the book of Revelation than in the book of Daniel. The prophet Daniel writes of that period from the days of King Cyrus of Persia to the time of the first advent of CHRIST. Daniel writes only briefly of the great Tribulation period and CHRIST JESUS’ Millennial Kingdom rule here on earth.
    The book of Revelation was written by the Apostle John, after he received a revealing vision from CHRIST, while he was still exiled and imprisoned on the Greek island of Patmos, during the reign of the Roman Emperor Domitian circa A.D. 95-96. After a few challenges from the early Church leaders and thinkers, the book of Revelation was widely accepted as being divinely inspired. And by the end of the third century, the book of Revelation was being widely quoted as Scripture.
    The purpose of the book of Revelation is to reveal those events which will take place before, during, and after the second coming of CHRIST JESUS. Revelation chapter 4 has come to be known as “The Vision of Heaven’s Throne Room” by most scholars. However, there are three basic interpretations of this particular chapter, and that is also true about most of this fascinating eschatological account by the Apostle John.
    The way a person views the book of Revelation, at least in regards the “second coming”, actually determines what group of bible enthusiasts you or I might fall into. Most people are “premilennialists” in their thinking, because they believe that these events in the book of Revelation will occur shortly “before” the second coming of CHRIST. They believe that John’s call in verse 1 to “come up here” is a representation of “The Rapture” of GOD’s people into the air before the great Tribulation period begins.
    “Amillennialists” believe the events in the book of Revelation are things that are occurring right now and are “a call to worship” or get things right with GOD before it is too late. They see the 24 elders in this chapter as representing the Old Testament “Twelve tribes of Israel” and “The twelve apostles” of the New Testament.
    The third group of scholars, the “postmillennialists”, believes that most of the events in the book of Revelation will occur, after the second coming of Christ. It is by far the least popular of all scholarly interpreters of the bible. However, no matter what group you may fall in, all agree that chapter 4 focuses on “praising and worshiping the Almighty GOD in Heaven.
    While many interpretations have been provided by various bible scholars, the only views that provide a cogent understanding are those which consider the book of Revelation, beginning here in chapter 4, as referring to eschatological (future) events. Any other train of thought gets lost in a mishmash of conflicting opinions.
    In the spectacular vision that is seen by the Apostle John, while he was “in the SPIRIT”, he tells us that, after being called up by a voice from Heaven’s Door, he is shown a vision of GOD HIMSELF, in all HIS brilliance, sitting on HIS throne, and being surrounded by 24 elders who are seated on 24 thrones of their own. All of the elders where clothed in white garments and wore gold crowns on their heads. And from the throne of GOD came flashes of lightning, and the rumble of thunder.
    In front of GOD’s throne were seven lampstands with flames burning in them. These lampstands represent the seven SPIRITS of GOD, and symbolize the perfection of the HOLY SPIRIT. Also in front of the throne was a shiny sea of glass sparkling like crystal.
    In the center, and around the throne, were four living beings, the body of each was covered with eyes front and back. These four living beings are reminiscent of the ones seen by the prophet Ezekiel (see Ezekiel 1:5-10), and most likely represent or symbolize various aspects of divine majesty.
    The first of these four living beings had the shape of a “lion” and could perhaps symbolize “nobility”. The ox figure probably represents “strength”, or even “faithfulness”. The third creature, the “human face”, could symbolize “wisdom”, while the fourth creature, the “eagle” probably symbolizes, or represents “control”.
    There is, however, another popular view among scholars concerning the four living beings here in this chapter of Revelations. Some believe they represent JESUS CHRIST in the four gospels. In Matthew’s Gospel, perhaps “the lion” symbolizes JESUS as “the lion of the tribe of Judah”; in Mark’s Gospel, “the Ox” symbolizes JESUS as “the servant of GOD”; in Luke’s Gospel, JESUS is portrayed as “the 100% human being” who, through the way HE lived HIS life here on earth, and overcame it, qualified HIMSELF to be a “perfect sacrifice” for the sins of all mankind; and finally, in the Gospel of John, JESUS is symbolized by “the eagle” as the only divine begotten SON of GOD, or, “Monogenus Theos” in the Greek, which means “The only begotten GOD”, the only man that was born of woman, and then became GOD.
    In the final analysis, we can certainly all agree that the worship of all who were present was bestowed by them upon the only wise, sovereign GOD, the CREATOR of the whole universe. It is only through GOD’s Will and purpose that all things exist, and only HE can make “something” “from nothing”.
    The great truth is that, in every sense, everything in the world belongs to, and was made by, GOD. And everyone here in this divine glimpse of the future by the Apostle John, submitted themselves totally unto the LORD Almighty. Isn’t that the way it all began? And now we see here in Revelation 4, that, this is the way, it will all end. And even now, there can be no Christianity, unless there be total submission to GOD, in life, in worship, and, in prayer.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander



Friday, April 13, 2018

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday April 15, 2018

Over 157,000 readers worldwide

(We are called to be shepherds)
(John 21:15-25)

   In John 18:27, Peter denied JESUS for the third and final time. It was H.G. Welles who said, “A man can be a bad musician, and yet, be passionately in love with music”. And so, for whatever Peter did, and no matter how terrible his failure was, there was never truly any doubt that he was passionately devoted to JESUS. He may have been overconfident at times, as he was when he told JESUS that he would never deny HIM. However, sometimes when a man says, “That’s the one thing I will never do”, then, that’s the very thing that he needs to carefully guard against doing.
    Satan often attacks a person at a point where they seem most sure of themselves, because he knows that it is there, where they are most likely to be unprepared. The shame of failure and disloyalty may not always have to be chalked up as a total lost, because, often it can serve us, with a lesson in sympathy and understanding, that, otherwise, we may have never came to know.
    Do you love ME?” is what JESUS asked Peter, three times, here in John 21, and I guess, the only way that we can ever prove our love for JESUS is by loving others. Love is the greatest privilege in the world, yet, it brings with it, the greatest responsibility. And for Peter, it brought a cross (Vs.18-19), and he did die for the LORD, because he too, eventually died on a cross, and according to Jewish tradition, he requested to be nailed “upside down”, because he felt unworthy to die in the same manner as CHRIST (right side up).
    JESUS sought to teach Peter and the other disciples, and us, here in the 21st century, that, “love” always involves “responsibility” and it always involves a “sacrifice”. In fact, we don’t really love JESUS, unless we are willing to take on HIS task (HIS “Great Commission”), and, take up our own cross (repent and take responsibility for our own sin).
    After disclosing to Peter by which manner of death he would glorify the LORD, Peter turned and looked at the Apostle John and asked JESUS, “What about him?” JESUS then replied to Peter, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You follow ME”. And so, because the people misunderstood what JESUS meant by that statement, they started a rumor that the Apostle John would not die.
    As Christians, it is very important that we focus on where JESUS is trying to lead us, and not on where HE’s attempting to lead someone else. The Christian Church is not a place of hierarchy where rulers tell other people in the church what GOD’s plan is for them. The Church, however, is an organism, where each member is connected into a personal relationship with CHRIST, and we are each required to love and follow HIM, all of the remaining days of our lives here on earth.                                                                                              
    We may never be able to write, or think, like the Apostle John, and in fact, we may never even be able to travel to the ends of the earth and preach like Paul. But here’s where we can all follow in the footsteps of Peter. If we love JESUS, each of us can help someone else guard against going astray. And if we love JESUS, each of us can love one another. And finally, if we love JESUS, each of us has an open opportunity to feed JESUS’ sheep, with the loving and nourishing food, of the “Word of GOD”.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander


Friday, April 6, 2018

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday April 8, 2018

Over 156,000 readers worldwide

(JESUS appears to seven of HIS disciples)
(John 21:1-14)

   In the epilogue to the gospel account of the Apostle John, he seeks to show us how JESUS re-instated Peter, following his latest bout with failure, namely, his blatant denial of even knowing our LORD and SAVIOR, during HIS “passion” hours in Jerusalem. JESUS had already promised to meet with HIS disciples in Galilee (Matthew 28:7), and so, here in the opening lines of this final chapter, John invites us into this reunion scene at the Sea of Galilee, otherwise known as the Sea of Tiberias.
    Here in John 21, we find that Peter had led many of the disciples back into the fishing trade from which JESUS had called them some three years earlier. However, their lack of success in their old profession stands as evidence as to why we should not try and return to a place where the LORD has already removed us from. JESUS moves us so that HE can better use us for HIS purpose, and HE doesn’t expect us to keep looking back at the old places.
    When JESUS calls us, not only does that often call for a change of occupation, it also always calls for us to change our ways and our thinking completely, so that we will no longer feel any real satisfaction in the old lifestyle. Peter must have, no doubt, been feeling pretty low about his denial of CHRIST JESUS, and was desperately seeking to find acceptance back in his old fishing career. We should never allow our sin to drive us away from the LORD, but rather, one should let their sins stand as proof that we cannot live life correctly, apart from the LORD.
    After Peter and the other disciples had been out all night fishing without catching a single fish, JESUS instructs them to cast their nets on the “right side” of the boat (v.6), where they would catch plenty of fish. The disciples were obedient to that suggestion by the LORD, and as a result, they were overwhelmed with success.
    This incident prompted the men to recognize that the LORD was still with them. HE had given them a commission to obey, and their old style of fishing was not going to work for them anymore. They were to now lay down their old nets that were used to catch fish for physical food, and pick up their new “spiritual nets”, and become “fishers of men”.
    JESUS had shown them during HIS three-year ministry, how to fish from the “right side” of the boat, and now, it was time for them to implement those teachings, and the whole world would serve as their new fishing waters, where their harvest would be exceedingly great. Then in verse 7 the Apostle John recognizes that the man shouting to them from the beach was actually JESUS, and he said to Peter, “It is the LORD!”
    When Peter saw that it really was the LORD, he hurriedly put on his tunic (for he had stripped himself for work), jumped into the water and swam to the shore. The other disciples stayed in the boat and pulled their heavy catch to the shore, which was only about 300 feet away. When they arrived at the shore they saw that JESUS already had a fire going which fish frying over it. HE also had plenty of bread.
    JESUS instructed Peter and the men to bring over some of the fish that they had caught and Peter ran and grabbed the net and dragged it over. Inside the net there were 153 large fish yet it did not break apart. JESUS invited them to come and have breakfast with HIM and no one dared to ask HIM if HE was really the LORD, for in their heart they knew that HE was. This was the third time that JESUS had appeared to them following HIS crucifixion on the cross at Golgotha.
    This 21st chapter of the Gospel of John was added to clearly demonstrate the reality of the resurrection of our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST. The appearance of CHRIST to HIS apostles was not just a figment of their imagination, nor was it a ghost or spirit, but rather, it was a real person in human flesh that they gazed upon several times after HE had died on the cross and been raised from the dead by GOD the FATHER.
     As a real human being, JESUS, in this chapter, instructs HIS faithful how to catch fish, after an unsuccessful night on the waters of Galilee. It was a resurrected CHRIST who set the fire on the shore, cooked, and invited them to come and eat with HIM early that following morning. It was a risen CHRIST who still bore the scars of HIS crucifixion, who, showed them HIS wounds, and then, invited them to feel them for themselves. Yes! It was really a resurrected JESUS who had not only overcome the gravitational pull of satan in this world, but had also conquered death, and then, come back into the world, to prove what HE had done. And HE is still alive today to show us in this 21st century, that we too, if we follow HIS instructions, can do the same thing, here in our lifetime.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander