Looking back over the history of humanity, there have been, both in business and in other pursuits, a history of well documented blunders. Stepping past the suspect stories of Julius Caesar’s wife telling him not to go to the center on the Ides of March, there are some documented mistakes that the UK newspaper called “The Telegraph” picked up some time ago. They reminded:
- The Coca Cola Company made a series of errors in the early 20th century, when its biggest rival, Pepsi, struggled to avoid bankruptcy. On at least three occasions Coca Cola was offered the chance to buy the company – but never did. The companies have vied for supremacy in the cola market ever since.
- It took 177 years to build, but the Pisa’s famous tower began to lean less than a decade after construction began. The enormous project was planned on unstable soil, and had a shallow three meter foundation which couldn’t support the structure’s weight. After extensive renovations, the tower has now stopped moving for the first time in its history.
- This image depicts a triumphant Christopher Columbus landing in America in 1492. However, the fortuitous discovery which allowed Spain to colonize America was little more than a mistake. Columbus had been hoping to reach China and India, and believed that they could be reached by sailing west across the Atlantic. This is why, of course, he called the indigenous population Indians.
- Captain George Custer had always wanted fame, but the disastrous Battle of Little Big Horn in 1876 ensured him a reputation only for arrogance and miscalculation. He had estimated only a small number of Native Americans would fight his troops, but his entire company was killed by an army of thousands.
- Remember the moment in ET when Elliot lures the little extra-terrestrial into his house with a sweet called Reese’s Pieces? Well, you may only know of that particular treat because of of it. Spielberg had tried to get Mars to let M&Ms be featured in the film, but was turned down. After the film was released, sales of Reese’s Pieces rocketed by more than 65 per cent.
- RMS Titanic, the largest passenger steamship in the world, was popularly believed to be unsinkable. The huge loss of life that occurred when it crashed into an iceberg in 1912 was due partly to an inadequate supply of lifeboats, and partly to design flaws – including an unreliable system of watertight compartments, and poor quality rivets in the ship’s hull. After the ship sank, a number of safety improvements were introduced to boat design.
- In 1961, Decca Records auditioned a small Liverpool band in their London studios. Eventually, however, they decided that the group wasn’t sellable. Not long after, they signed with EMI. The group’s name? The Beatles.
- His name is now synonymous with genius, but Albert Einstein was so unsuccessful at school that his teachers believed he had had learning difficulties.
- “This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.” So said Western Union, the company with a monopoly on the telegraph system, when offered the patent for Alexander Graham Bell’s new invention in 1876. Two years later, they offered $25 million for it, but were turned down.
- If only all our mistakes resulted in medical breakthroughs. Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin when he mistakenly left a Petri dish open. The blue-green mould which grew in the dish had released a substance which killed the bacteria around it. It was the beginning of modern antibiotics.
-For the whole article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/expat/expatpicturegalleries/7079567/Historys-great-mistakes.html).
The history of the world is riddled with such blunders. When we open the last page of the Bible, we see that some errors have much more catastrophic consequences than the slanting of a “campanile” or bell tower, and certainly carry greater import than the loss of soda pop revenues. In fact, the Bible closes with a response to the very errors that began with the introduction of sin to the human race back in Genesis 3.
Key Principle: Truth can be eroded, obscured, theorized, postponed or even ignored.
The lies of sin have led men to errors by lack of trust in God’s Word, lack of clarity about God’s Word, lack of practical living in light of God’s Word, lack of urgent change because of God’s Word, and finally lack of heeding God’s Word out of a sense of personal entitlement. Before we read the final response, let’s remind ourselves of the initial problem from Genesis:
Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” 4The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! 5 “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.
If you look back at Genesis 2:25. Man was OK with himself. Woman was OK with herself. No advertisements made them feel inadequate. No self image marred – no need for better makeup or another exercise machine. The issue wasn’t whether they were beautiful enough or felt important enough – they were happy with who God made them.
Enter the tempter (3:1). A series of events led to a “domino falling failures”:
1) The man was to guard the garden and failed – exposing his wife to the tempter and not governing the parameters of God (3:1b).
2) The woman entertained the question of God’s authority over her and focused on the one thing God told them to leave alone (3:2-3).
3) The serpent accused God of holding back on them and they succumbed to the idea that God wasn’t who He claimed to be (3:4-6).
4) What came from the fall was a LOSS of INNOCENCE – “eyes were opened” (3:7a), DEATH of intrinsic positive SELF IMAGE – “knew they were naked” (3:7b), SHAME – “covered themselves” (3:7b); DISTANCE from God (3:8) and GUILT – the FEAR to be seen of God (3:10).
The bottom line is that man’s pain came from his rebellion – and so does YOURS. When we decide we know better than God, we forgo the benefits of trusting Him to meet our every need. We lose out on blessing. We gain shame, discontent, guilt and a host of problems. If you kept reading the familiar passage, you would see clearly the results from “The Fall” experience:
1) BLAME: Man tried to blame the woman for his lack of guardianship and leadership (3:12) – the leader blames the followers! Woman blamed the tempter (3:13) – the shopper blames the advertiser for MAKING HER BUY the product!
2) WAR: God promised to put a battle between the deceiver and man through the Messianic seed (3:15). Every believer that faces pains of the enemy and his warfare can trace the struggle of Ephesians 6 back to this moment – not to mention the PRICE of the Cross!
3) PHYSICAL PAIN replaced the joy of the reproductive system. A collective groan may now raise from the females of the assembly! The pain of childbirth is not ALL there is to this!
4) A REBELLION HELPER: Woman was made to AID man in his walk with God – and now she would COMPETE with him and help him by supplying her own rebellion (3:16b). She will want HIS JOB – and struggle with submission.
5) STRUGGLE: Because of the lack of guardianship and leadership, God ends His dealings with their rebellion in words to Adam – the work I gave you will now be a struggle. The ground won’t cooperate (3:17b-19).
Why do I mention these in a study on Revelation? Because the last part of the story of God’s written and revealed Word is this: there have been some underlying errors that have plagued mankind since the Fall in the Garden of Eden. Five great errors have dogged man – and God calls on man to SEE them and RESPOND appropriately! What are the FIVE ERRORS? First, the text, then the implications:
They are found in Revelation 22:6 And he said to me, “These words are faithful and true”; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must soon take place. 7 “And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.” 8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things. 9 But he said to me, “Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God.” 10 And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. 11 “Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy.” 12 “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. 13 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” 14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying. 16 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” 17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost. 18 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book. 20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. 21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.
Remember the principle we noted earlier? Truth can be eroded, obscured, theorized, postponed or even ignored. In the final words of the Bible we can see the five lies men have believed – and the five delusions many have lived under:
Lack of trust in God’s Word (22:6,8,9):
In all three verses – 6,8 and 9 the issue is the faithfulness of God’s record. John says that the words were carefully and properly related to him in TRUTH. He claims his record is what he HEARD and SAW – the things he described in the circular letter we now call the “book”. His personal witness to the events did not imply that he thought HE was infallible – since he bowed to the wrong guy and got corrected two times in glory (Revelation 19:10 and 22:9). The basis of John’s belief in the testimony was the REVELATION by God – not his abilities as an author. John didn’t think, based on his record, that HE was the reason we should believe the message at all.
Peter argued this very point in 2 Peter 1:16 “For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”— 18 and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. 19 So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. 20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”
Peter and John both KNEW they SAW first hand a move of God. Yet, they also knew it wasn’t their VIEW of things that mattered, but the revealed truths accurately recorded because of God’s work in and through them. They saw themselves as flawed, but the Word as revealed.
Here is the truth of it. Satan questioned Eve and implied that God didn’t really mean the things that He said. “Has God really said?” he asked. Anyone that walks closely with God and daily in His Word knows the hearkening to selfish rationalization when they hear it. “Can you really trust that this is the truth?” our world cries out – echoing the voice of their dark master. What they are really saying is this: “Can you really try to tell me that I cannot do what I want?” Lack of trust in God’s Word leads to a lack of belief that any moral system can truly be placed over me. I end up being God in my life – making decisions that suit my own purposes and satiate my own desires. He who trusts in the Lord trusts in His Word- by which He has been made known.
Fundamentally, people have three choices in dealing with the Bible:
- First, we can believe that although God’s Word is revealed truth through imperfect men – its reliability is based on God’s power and ability to communicate – unhindered by the flaws of the men themselves.
- Second, we can see God as lacking the power (or will) to communicate effectively through flawed men. Some of its stories are made up by men, others show some truth of the Holy One. This is the curious modern “Christian” thinker who believes God can raise a lifeless body from a grave, but cannot both record the event flawlessly and preserve the event wholly in history. Power over life doesn’t seem to include power over the facts.
- Third, we can toss the Bible onto the stack of other ingenious, influential and curious fictions of the old world.
I believe the third has been widely adopted in the modern academic world – it is a piece of pure religious sage fiction, and the second in many Christian circles –it is a flawed record of well meaning followers of God. The idea that it is the unhindered revelation of truth is now held among only a handful of believers. I want to be counted among them. God is able to speak through a donkey if He chooses. He can sign His name and reveal His character in the lights of the heavens above. Fallen creation poses no particular obstacle to His ability to clearly show Himself. His Word is truth. Biblically speaking, His detractors are fools – plain and simple. Sometimes people fall for the oldest deception on the planet – contradiction to God’s Word. A knowledge of revealed truth can be steadily eroded by unending attacks – ask any modern university student that is trying to live for Christ on campus.
Lack of clarity about God’s Word (22:10,16-19):
Not all rejection of the Word in our day is because of simple hardheartedness, though indirectly that is at the core of our problem. Some of the rejection is due to the obscuring of the Bible’s true message. When someone turns the Bible into a prosperity manual – using the Holy Writ to encourage the hungers for a better life this side of Heaven – they obscure its real message. Many times when I have talked with someone who “left the faith” the issue wasn’t that God’s Word was insufficient – it is that promises made on God’s behalf by those who purported to teach His Word – but were NOT Biblical – were found to be untrue by the defector.
Look at God’s truth. In verse 10, John was told NOT TO SEAL UP the prophecy – not to block the flow of information – in contradistinction to a command issued long before to the prophet Daniel (Daniel 8:26 “The vision of the evenings and mornings Which has been told is true; But keep the vision secret, For it pertains to many days in the future.”). The words given to John were to be shared, unfiltered and unhindered. Such a good word should be given to preachers of our day.
We are not to create a church that is a stirring concert followed by a public therapy session. We are to make disciples by the careful and consistent sharing of the Word of God. Every other pursuit of the church must serve that purpose.
The verses that unfold this truth and drive it home to John appear to be 22:16-19:
16 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” 17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost. 18 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.
The unmistakable message of the Bible is this: Come to Jesus. He is the Savior, and there is no other! Buddha’s enlightenment cannot ensure your eternal destiny. Mohammed’s rules cannot make you acceptable to God. Animism’s beckoning to the “circle of life” will leave you searching for truth on a fallen planet set for destruction. The message of the Bible is NOT that we have failed – but that He has prevailed! Jesus has CONQUERED death’s hold on us, and broken through the back of the tomb into the place of eternal blessing. We cannot by our sincere works chip through the tomb’s solid walls – only the Savior was able to break it open. The call of the Word is not to attempt a new strategy to attain blessing in the hereafter – but to open our heart to the victor over death and the grave.
Note that in Revelation’s great close the word is repeated… Come. Come. Come. It is the message of the Spirit of God. It is the message of the Bride of the Lamb. It is the message of anyone who CLEARLY hears what the revelation’s true testimony is.
- Prosperity theologians say “get”.
- Psychologists say “become”.
- Sociologists say “empower”.
- Educators say “enlighten”.
- Scientists say “investigate”.
- Religious teachers say “work”.
Jesus simply says – COME! If our message can be reduced to anything, it must be reduced to this… Man is lost without the Savior, and saved only by submitting to His Word and His Work. When the church fouls the message, we hinder the lost from hearing the truth. Sometimes people fall for Satan’s age old tactic of obscuring the truth… “Has God really said?” A clear and crisp presentation of Jesus can easily be obscured by worldly agendas that permeate even the church’s message. Ask anyone who invested in a teacher who put up billboards on the actual date of Christ’s return – and then it passed. Honest followers got sucker punched by well meaning but misguided teachers.
Lack of practical living in light of God’s Word (22:11-15):
Look again at the words in verses 11-15:
11 “Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy.” 12 “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. 13 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” 14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.
This part of the Bible doesn’t sound BIBLICAL! Let bad guys be bad guys? Really? What is Jesus saying – Don’t try to change people with the Gospel? No! He is relating an essential truth – Time is running out people who follow Him will show their allegiance in their lives. They will take their dirty robes and wash them in the stain-cleansing flow from the blood at Calvary. They will trust His work as sufficient for their salvation, and call on God to wash them because of Jesus’ payment at the Cross. At the same time, and this is critical to understand – the changes in a true believer will be evident in the change of their moral choices, ethical selections and practical lifestyle. Jesus didn’t come to make people theologically superior. He isn’t a theory creator.
Many of us have to admit that we don’t change our stubborn and ungodly practices – we simply add the message of sin’s payment to our own stubborn self will. We too often live for self but add “God words” and “Bible verses”. We can talk theology while still comfortably living sinfully. We can expound on Biblical truths from our head, while caging and locking up our heart. That wasn’t God’s intent.
Let me say it clearly: We must stop acting like we know God’s Word if we choose to continue to live immorally. We must stop pretending to be knowledgeable about a God to Whom we simply refuse to submit. We must learn to drop the theology of the arrogant and begin to humble ourselves before the forgiving hand of God! These are hard words – but the time to play is running out! Jesus said that truth unpracticed is dead truth. James records that faith that doesn’t work itself out is dead theory. There are far too many who have fallen to this old error – that God wants a sharpened head and theologically educated tongue. What He wants is a surrendered heart that reshapes the mind, reforms the tongue and redresses the hands. Anything else is short of the goal. If we KNOW the truth – it must drive us to LIVE the truth – or we don’t truly BELIEVE the truth. Salvation is about surrender, not hedging bets on eternity. God wants practical believers – that live out truth. One of the five great errors is simply this: We can believe in our head but not surrender with our heart. It is time to choose, on every level, truth.
Lack of urgent change because of God’s Word (22:7,12,20):
With little fanfare, John closes the book with repeated warning. In 22:7 “And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.” In 22:12 he wrote: .” 12 “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.” In 22:20 he wrote it one last time: “20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
One of the oldest errors that has afflicted mankind and duped many an intelligent man or woman is this – “I have more time”. I don’t need to accept Jesus today. I don’t need to surrender sin today. I can do it tomorrow, or perhaps next month. Maybe when I am older I will get more serious. Urgency isn’t there. We have been deceived into thinking we have more time. Read the word again.. quickly, quickly, quickly….
Look at your life. Seriously, I ask you this question: “Has time seemed to be moving faster and faster for you?” Are some of you thinking, “Wow, I am getting older a lot faster than I thought I would!” That should be a temporal warning for an eternal problem. We have only this life to make a decision – and the timing on this life is always short and never certain. Truth can be postponed when urgency is suppressed. It is an error many are making… is that YOU?
Lack of heeding God’s Word out of a sense of personal entitlement (22:21):
The final error that has plagued humanity is laying on the face of the passage, but may not be so obvious. It is found in the unpacking of the simple declaration in the final sentence of the written Scripture: Revelation 22:21 “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.”
The heart of rebellion manifests a sense of self destiny. When we think in rebellion, we do it OUR way. We believe we “master our own fate”. Grace is not like that. Grace is a gift – and it requires both a GIVER and one who opens their hand, and heart, to receive it. The Bible ends with a grace statement – because at the end of everything, there is a great future to those who open themselves to God’s grace.
- People who believe they deserve Heaven don’t want or need grace.
- People who feel entitled to Heaven in spite of their unrighteousness aren’t seeing things the God does.
They are evaluating themselves against other people, not against the HOLINESS of God. There is nothing fallen man can DO to overcome the gap placed in our path between us and God – and ultimately us and Heaven. The bridge that was built was one of GRACE built with the blood-stained wood of the Cross of Jesus Christ.
Despite what anyone may tell you, the main problem on the planet IS rebellion against God – something the Bible calls simply “sin”. It isn’t primarily a political problem as Madison purported in his time – so it lacks a singular coherent political solution. It isn’t an economic issue at it core as Lenin espoused, and cannot be solved by any form of wealth redistribution he and his later comrades attempted. It isn’t an primarily social injustice issue as Roosevelt preached – so no dose of “New Deal” can solve the pains of it. It cannot be solved in Hoover’s austerity, or Nixon’s attempt at control. Politicians fall flat in the face of the problem, for they lack the power to deal with it. It is a SIN problem, a spiritual stain that marks the human heart, darkens the human mind, fouls the human spirit and weighs down human hope. The problem has a solution, but it will be found only in the power of One greater than the problem – a Savior. We do not vote for Him, we simply bow before Him.
Our world is in a SIN crisis, but it is a masked problem. We see the symptoms on every hand – but the underlying errors have become part of the thinking of our day – and profoundly affect every part of our lives. The lies of sin have led men to errors by:
- lack of trust in God’s Word,
- lack of clarity about God’s Word,
- lack of practical living in light of God’s Word,
- lack of urgent change because of God’s Word,
- lack of heeding God’s Word out of a sense of personal entitlement.
We must see these errors in our own thinking and untie their hold on our hearts. It will take deliberate trust in God’s Word and His Promises – and it will take conscious ungripping of strongly held deceptions…
A man went fishing along a rushing river in the floods of spring time. The water raged, so rather than rowing, he tied his small wooden rowboat to a tree and slowly slacked the rope so the boat could move away from shore. When the line unexpectedly untied from the tree, the little vessel was swiftly swept away, and in a flash was dashed to pieces on a rock. Clinging to the wreckage the fisherman cried for help as he was being swept along with the current. A farmer near the shore downstream saw his plight and raced ahead to a small bridge. Lying down, the rescuer hung his arm over the side of the bridge and yelled, “grab my hand.” The fisherman, with both arms wrapped around the wreckage, did not know if he trusted the unseen rescuer enough to let go. He was faced with a potentially perilous choice. Either he could let go of the wreckage and grab the hand above –or he could cling to what he knew and surely perish.