Jump Start # 3018
Revelation 1:3 “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.”
Sometimes I think it’s easy for us to forget that the N.T. letters were first read to the churches. When our preachers say “Ephesians”, we quickly turn in our Bibles to Ephesians. Often times these days, the passage is displayed on the screen before the entire audience. Not so originally. Someone read and everyone else listened.
This put a great responsibility upon the reader. Our verse today has a dual blessing. One for the reader and one for the listeners. One would have to read in such a way that people could hear. One would have to read in such a way that people could understand.
And, this reminder reminds us to read God’s word carefully. It is easy to put words in the text that are not in the text. It’s easy for our conclusions to creep into our reading of God’s word. Let me give you a few examples:
GRACE: Ephesians tells us that we are saved by grace through faith. Some read the word “only” there, but it is not there. They would conclude that salvation is all upon God and all we have to do is believe, nothing more and nothing else. Just believe and you are saved by grace. However, the word “only” is not in that text. Jesus would say that unless we repent we all will perish. Believing and repenting are not the same thing. Paul said we make it our ambition to please the Lord. Pleasing God involves more than just believing. After the cross, believers were baptized before they were considered washed clean from their sins. Blessed is he who reads.
APT TO TEACH: This is found in the qualities or qualifications of a bishop in 1 Timothy. The text tells us that the bishop, or elder, must be able or apt to teach. When someone’s name is put forth to be an elder, someone will quickly say, “I never saw him teach a class before.” The text does not say “apt to teach a public class.” It says “apt to teach.” The teaching may be one on one. It may be across the kitchen table or in a coffee shop. It is very likely that the early church did not have Bible classes like we do. So to inject that one has to be a good public Bible class teacher is reading things into the text. Blessed is he who reads.
BELIEVING CHILDREN: This also is found among the qualities of a bishop. This comes from what we read in Titus. His children are to be believers. In Timothy it says, “He manages his household well,” which implies the kids are still at home. Now when it comes time to appoint elders, it seems this is the one that most get hung up on. Forget all the other qualities, it’s this one that everyone focuses upon. First, some will say all his kids have to be Christians. Does the text say that? Is the word “all” in the text. Does he have believing children? Next, as the children have moved out and lived on their own, some have not stayed with the Lord. Somehow that works it’s way into this reading, even though the passage says nothing about children living on their own who have fallen away. Then we get into the odds game. What if a man has three kids, two are Christians and one is not? Or what if he has three, and two fell away and one remains faithful? We work up all these situations and try to plug them into the formula and then we get sideways with each other because it doesn’t work out the way we think it should. Blessed is he who reads.
We could do the same with the subject of divorce. So many different ideas, situations and thoughts. What do the passages say? Blessed is he who reads.
Here are some thoughts:
First, I wonder if we have become like the first century lawyers. The lawyers that confronted Jesus were not injury lawyers but rather those who were supposed to be expects in the law of God. Yet, so many of those very people missed it. They missed the Messiah. They missed the heart of what the Bible was about. They made life miserable for themselves and those around them. This is not to ignore what God has said. No, instead, “blessed is he who reads.” What’s the intent and the purpose of the Bible? Get that. Know that. Start there.
Second, how we want things is not always as God wants them. The Pharisees did not want the sinners coming to Jesus. Luke 15 deals with that extensively. What we think ought to be qualifications to lead the people of God often is not what God desires. Blessed is he who reads.
Third, when we read, it ought to open our eyes, change our hearts and bring understanding to us. God’s word is good. The gospel is good news. Let God accept who God accepts. Let God forgive who God forgives. Let us stop representing God. Let us not put stumbling blocks in front of others. Blessed is he who reads. He is blessed because now he knows the will of God. Now he knows how to walk with the Lord. Now he can see clearly. Now he is free.
Blessed is he who reads.