Monday, October 25, 2004

The following are excerpts of a sermon given yesterday by the Rev. Craig Burns at Vienna Assembly of God Church in Virginia.

At the last presidential debate, when asked a question regarding faith, President Bush referred to the “Almighty.” The use of the term almighty is significant, and the text today [Rev. 1:1-8] reveals how significant it is.

Verse 4 states, “Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come.” Verse 8 states “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” …

God sovereignly rules over all human history — human history past, human history present and human history future. …

We must accept this by faith, even if we can’t see it, or understand it. We must approach the answers to life’s questions with this firmly in our minds: God rules over human history.

The Bible states in Job 13:15-16, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face. Indeed, this will turn out for my deliverance.” As bad as moments of human history have been, God turns it around for our good, and for His glory.

How can He do that? “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” There is a problem within humanity. There is a fault line within each human heart. There is a fallenness about every human and, yes, God rules over human history.

Human history is fallen. Bad things really do happen to good people.

The one God chose to write the book of Revelation was a good man; in fact, he is the one that of whom it was said Jesus loved. If anyone was special, it was John. Yet even John had bad things happen to him. He was judged unfit to be in the presence of any other human being, and was cast away to a remote island called the Isle of Patmos and lived the rest of his life alone and in obscurity. Yet, in this desolate place of judgment from a fallen human leader, John was in the Spirit.

John, though abused by human leaders, was still able to “be in the Spirit on the Lord’s day.” …

Our bodies are not perfect. Each new day brings a new ache and pain. In February, I was diagnosed with stage-four non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Every day I am reminded that my body is fallen and subject to disease.

We can trace it all the way to Adam and Eve when they chose to disobey the one rule God gave them. Still, to this day, there is fallenness, brokenness in our life that desires to break the rules, to stretch the truth, to twist a story, to embellish an experience.

Though seemingly opposite, they are two facts of human history: God rules over human history and human history is fallen.

How do we connect the two facts together? What event connects the two facts, so that life can make sense? What occurred so that we can have hope in the midst of a bad situation? The Bible declares that within human history a Savior lived and died. …

With his death and resurrection He has freed us from our sins by His blood and has made us to be a kingdom and priests.

He frees us from our dark sides, our shadow lives, our moodiness and our fallenness.

He makes us someone special. He makes us into his image. He reorganizes us into a community of faith. He puts us into His body.

This is how we can connect to the Almighty. Though our sins, though our inner tendencies are prone to mischief, and darkness, and bad choices, we can demonstrate love, joy, peace, gentleness, kindness and faithfulness through a relationship with the Savior. Jesus Christ, the faithful witness.

John 1:12 says, “Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.”

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