Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Advent 2017

When we think of the Christmas story we usually see it through the eyes of Luke – the angel visiting Mary, the manger, the angelic choir, the shepherds; the visit to Jerusalem when he was 8 days old and the encounters with Anne and Simeon. Such richness in those first two chapters!

This year I thought I would look at how Matthew presents the birth of Christ. We are not totally unfamiliar with him – he tells us of the wise men – but the rhythms of his story are different. And the story he relates is an amazing one!

The Lord willing I will take a look at the first two chapters of Matthew, offering one post each week of Advent. What is Advent? It is the first season of the Christian church year, the four Sundays leading up to Christmas Day.

Ah, the church year. Unless you are part of a liturgical church, this can be somewhat mysterious. The church year follows the life of Christ and is a way for the church to keep the focus on Christ.

I confess, while I know the big picture, I’m not so good on all the details.

Now, back to Advent. It is a season observed as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, meaning coming and offers the opportunity to share in the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah, and to be alert for his Second Coming.

As I said, I want to take a look at how Matthew presents the Christmas story and since I am really creative I am calling it, The Christmas Story from Matthew. This year Advent is December 3rd through December 24th. Here is my plan:

December 3 1st Week of Advent 
1:1-17  The book of the generation of Jesus Christ

December 10 2nd Week of Advent
1:18-25  Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise

December 17 3rd Week of Advent 
2:1-11 There came wise men from the east

December 24 4th Week of Advent
2:12-23 Out of Egypt have I called my son

My posts may be a little bit longer than usual (but not much). I plan to post once a week, Tuesday, to be precise, but I have discovered that I will need an additional post each week lest my posts turn into short books! Here are my planned second posts

1st Week   Messiah or Christ?
2nd Week He shall save his people from their sins
3rd Week We have seen his star in the east
4th Week  Dreams & Visions

I hope you will follow along through the season and I pray the Lord will bless you and strengthen you in the grace and faith of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Let you faith . . . be in Christ

A friend posted this on Facebook and commented, “I’m trying.” I have no doubt they are. But there is a subtle and dangerous error in this proverb.

What?? Everyone knows faith is good and fear is the bad guy. And every preacher and teacher leading us on into the abundant life talks about faith. A.B. Simpson+ wrote an excellent book entitled, A Larger Christian Life. The very first chapter, The Possibilities of Faith, lists nine things that are possible to faith. And the tenth one is:

“But beyond all that has been said this promise means that all things are possible to him that believeth... The meaning of this promise in its fullness is that faith may claim a complete life. God is waiting to give you all, and all things are possible to him that believeth.”

So, yes, faith is the key to receiving from God blessings and victory. And lack of faith is sure to keep the same blessings and victory from you. So where is the subtle and dangerous error in this proverb? In what it implies and what it omits.

Let you faith be greater than your fears. If you wish to overcome your fears, you must have a faith bigger than your fears. The implication being, well not really an implication but direct statement, it is faith itself that conquers fear. Therefore, get you a really big faith so you can whup up on your fears. This is nothing less than faith in faith; and is really faith in you, in yourself, in something in you (faith). And this is destructive.

Faith is always in something. Fear is really faith in an inadequate object. In order to conquer that fear I need faith in something more adequate, more powerful, more bigger. The faith that justifies, sanctifies, heals, leads to victory and answered prayer, that results in power, peace, and joy is belief/trust/confidence IN JESUS. This is the omission. Faith can’t do anything. Faith can’t get me justified or give me peace, but Jesus can. Jesus is bigger than my sins, my sickness, my troubles, my temptations, my fears. "Have faith in God."

"There came a time when even faith seemed to come between me and Jesus. I thought I should have to work up the faith, so I labored to get the faith. At last I thought I had it; that if I put my whole weight upon it, it would hold. I said, when I thought I had got the faith, "Heal me." I was trusting in myself, in my own heart, in my own faith. I was asking the Lord to do something for me because of something in me, not because of something in Him. So the Lord allowed the devil to try my faith, and the devil devoured it like a roaring lion, and I found myself so broken down that I did not think I had any faith. God allowed it to be taken away until I felt I had none. And then God seemed to speak to me so sweetly, saying, "Never mind, my child, you have nothing. But I am perfect Power, I am perfect Love, I am Faith, I am your Life, I am the preparation for the blessing, and then I am the Blessing, too. I am all within and all without, and all for ever." (A.B. Simpson)

You see, it’s not me. I’m not adequate. I can’t handle the devil. Or sin. I’m not enough. I can’t muster up enough ‘faith’ either. I’ll blow up my big balloon of faith and the devil will simply pop it. My own temptations are stronger than me! It would seem I’ve got good reasons to be afraid. Yet the Lord says continually, “Fear not.” How do I get victory over fear?

“When I was first saved, I heard a story about a young girl who knew the meaning of victory very well. During the Keswick Convention, a man asked the little girl how she overcame when the devil came to her. She answered, "In the past, if the devil came to knock at my front door, as soon as he knocked, I would say, `Don’t come in. Don’t come in.’ But the result was always a failure. Now when the devil knocks at my door, I say, `Lord, You open the door for me.’ If the Lord opens the door, and the devil sees the Lord, he will say, `Sorry, I came to the wrong door,’ and he will run away." ” (Watchman Nee*, The Overcoming Life)

Faith bigger than our fears? How big does our faith need to be? Actually, not very big at all, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Again, it’s not the size or strength of my faith, it is the size and strength of the One I believe in!

It is true, if you would be justified, sanctified, healed, filled with peace and joy, have your prayers answered, be an overcomer, you must have faith. But it’s not faith itself, or faith in faith, or faith in my confession, or anything else in me. I must have faith in Jesus. We need to keep our eyes on Jesus. He alone is the Savior, the Lord, the Conqueror, the Overcomer. 

Let your faith be in Jesus. He is bigger than all your fears.

Look unto me, and be ye saved, 
all the ends of the earth:
for I am God, and there is none else.

Fainting soldier of the Lord
Hear His sweet inspiring word— 
"I have conquered all thy foes
I have suffered all thy woes
Struggling soldier, trust in Me, 
I have overcome for thee." 

"I have overcome, overcome, overcome for thee; 
Thou shalt overcome, overcome, overcome thro' Me."  (A.B. Simpson)

+ A.B. Simpson 1843-1919; successful Presbyterian pastor who left the Presbyterians to start a deeper life and missionary organization called the Christian & Missionary Alliance

* Watchman Nee 1903-1972; Chinese teacher and evangelist; died in prison

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Should Churches Arm Their Members?

First Baptist Church Sutherland Springs, TX. A truly horrible occurred here last Sunday. I’m sure everyone reading this is aware of the details so I don’t need to repeat them. Among the responses to this massacre is the question, Should Churches Arm Their Members?

Before this took place, Dr. Michael Brown* wrote an article about Jesus and guns (you can read it here). I think it is a good article.

Tuesday after Sutherland Springs a pastor friend posted this article on Facebook. I encourage you to read it, but permit me to summarize the conclusion: Churches would do well to arm their members and train them to defend themselves against attack.

I thoroughly disagree with the author. Let me tell you why.

The author quotes the Old Testament for support. Well and good. But where in the New Testament are we told or encouraged to do this? In truth, the gospel says:

As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

Yes, we are soft targets precisely because we don't take up arms against our persecutors.

We are in a war, a very dangerous and deadly war, but who is it we are fighting?

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12)

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)  Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled. (2 Corinthians 10:3-6)

Yes, we are in a war, but we wrestle not with flesh and blood – our enemies are spiritual forces and beings. And the goal of our warfare is not the death of our enemies but the casting down of imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and the bringing into captivity of every thought to the obedience of Christ. And our weapons are not carnal, y’know, guns, swords, fists etc.

But what about the armor we’re supposed to put on? Doesn’t Paul exhort us to take up a sword?

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints. (Ephesians 6:13-18)

Our warfare is in the spirit realm, our armor is spiritual. No, we don’t shoot those who attack us, we pray for their repentance and return to Christ.

In the discussion that followed his post, one of the questions asked was, Does Luke 22:36 have any application to the question [the article] raises?

Let’s take a look at Luke 22:36-38

Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end. 
And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough. 

I say, No.

First, It appears he wants there to be a sword so he can be reckoned among the transgressors.

Second, I know Peter lopped off that servant's ear, in response Jesus [said] unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? Otherwise, according to plan and principle, they offered no resistance. Listen, 12 guys with swords could've put up quite a fight.

Third, If we are to arm and defend ourselves how are we to be persecuted only for the name of Christ?

Fourth and linked to Third is 1 Peter 4:12-16: Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. Not one word about a sword. Or fighting back. And this spirit continued into the next generations in the face of tremendous (and unresisted) persecution, leading Tertullian to say, the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.

I know this incident in Sutherland Springs wasn’t exactly persecution, but it’s coming. Dr. Brown wrote another article after this attack that speaks to this. I encourage you to read it as well.

How are we to respond to these things? Jesus said, But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. Nothing about swords or guns or even security guards.

Should churches arm their members? No.

Here are a couple of other responses to this tragedy

This is amazing and is from one of the victims

This is pretty good too

*Dr. Michael Brown - a national and international speaker on themes of spiritual renewal and cultural reformation; widely considered to be the world’s foremost Messianic Jewish apologist

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Apollos and the Ephesian Twelve

My pastor is working his way through the book of Acts and has most recently (last two weeks) covered Acts 18:24-19:7. I was there for 18:24-28 but out of town for 19:1-7 (I did watch the first few minutes of the video). I had been anticipating chapter 19 and consequently meditating on it for a while and then I was not there! I’m persuaded we agree on the matter of “receiving the Holy Spirit” so this is in no way to be considered a correction of something he said. 
For more than 25 years I was a pastor with the Christian & Missionary Alliance founded by A.B Simpson. This passage was an important part of his teaching on the Christian life - after conversion “we should lead the convert to the altar of consecration, and never leave him until he has been sealed and sanctified by the same Spirit.” So I have long thought on this and these are some of my thoughts on this from the last couple of weeks.

Acts 18:24-19:7  Apollos and the Ephesian 12

In order to properly understand this passage, we should probably start with baptism. Why baptism? Because twice we read of John’s baptism: of Apollos, knowing only the baptism of John and of the twelve, Unto John's baptism. In both of these situations we encounter people whose spiritual boundary was John’s baptism. This must be significant. I believe understanding this will enable us to understand these verses.

Unto what then were ye baptized? One significance of baptism is the embracing of a faith, a message, and we have two baptisms spoken of: the baptism of John and baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

We don’t have to guess what each baptism meant for Paul tells us: Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. John’s message was, Repent for the Messiah is coming soon. People baptized with the baptism of John had embraced this message (faith), He is coming soon. To be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus was to embrace the message, He has come and Jesus is his name. This tells us exactly where these two groups were spiritually.

24 And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.  
25 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.  
26 And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: 
Apollos knew the Scriptures, especially the prophetic promises of Christ, and he fervently and diligently taught the soon coming of Christ and the need for repentance to be ready to meet him. But since he knew only the baptism of John, he did not know Christ had come, that Jesus was his name, that he had been crucified in Jerusalem and raised from the dead.

whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.  
What did they tell him? Messiah has come, his name is Jesus; him they crucified; him God raised from the dead. Jesus is Christ and Lord.

28 For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.
Here you can see the difference in his message – “forcibly the Jews he was refuting publicly, proving through the Scriptures Jesus to be the Christ.” (Young’s Literal)
Two questions are left unanswered: Was he re-baptized? Did they pray with him to receive the Holy Spirit. I believe the answer to both questions is, Yes, and that this is one reason for the next few verses.

Ephesian Twelve
Paul comes across a group of disciples and asks them about the Holy Spirit, Have ye received the Holy Spirit since ye believed? (I will get back to the question itself). Their answer, We have not heard if the Holy Spirit is. Surely they didn’t mean, "If there be a Holy Spirit.” Anyone familiar with the Old Testament would know of the Holy Spirit. This is similar to John 7:39, The Holy Spirit was not yet. Not yet what? We have to supply “given” - not yet given. These disciples had not heard whether the Holy Spirit was given, had come. They didn’t know about Pentecost. This revealed where they were –  Christian baptism is in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and included the laying on of hands for the receiving of the gift of the Spirit - had they been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus they would have heard that the Holy Spirit was (given).

Upon hearing this Paul asked about their baptism. They answered they knew only John’s baptism, so he proclaimed the gospel - Jesus is the Christ - and they were immediately baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

This illustrates a problem unique to the early church – people who had responded to the message of John the Baptist but who had not heard of Jesus. Incredible but obviously true and maybe even common. What was the spiritual condition of such people? I mean, were they lost? On the one hand it is true, Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. But on the other hand, these folks had responded to all the light they had from God. I believe the grace of Christ covered them because their hearts were as right as they could be. The evidence for that is as soon as they heard of Jesus they believed.

The Question
Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?
This is translated by everyone else, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" (ESV) But Young’s Literal Translation shows the tension, 'The Holy Spirit did ye receive -- having believed?' Paul’s question is, Did you when or Have you since? What? Yes. Even if you translate it, Did you receive when you believed? this is a yes or no question. Paul expects a yes or a no. Did you receive the Spirit when you believed? No. Have you received the Spirit since you believed? The point being, this receiving the Spirit is a definite and distinct experience. You can know whether or not you have received the Spirit; I don’t argue you into it, you tell me about it. So many today would never even ask this, they would instead say, “Listen, when you believed you received the Spirit.” Paul found a group of people, noticed something missing in their spiritual life, and asked, Have you received the Spirit? When they answered No he immediately took steps to address this. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.

What do these passages teach us?

- Jesus Christ
I said earlier, “I believe the grace of Christ covered them because their hearts were as right as they could be.” Yet they still needed to hear about and believe on Jesus Christ. In the providence of the Almighty the message was brought to them: Apollos just happened to be speaking at a synogogue attended by Aquilla and Priscilla, co-laborers with the Apostle Paul; Paul just happened to run into twelve disciples in Ephesus. Their hearts were open and ready and the Holy Spirit delivered the message.

- Baptism
We never read of any individual or any group in Acts who had not been baptized. Faith and baptism are so linked together with salvation that every single person who hears and believes in Christ is baptized. No exception. The idea of an unbaptized believer was inconceivable to the apostolic church. We never read of the apostles coming across a group of disciples and asking if they had been baptized - to become a Christian is to believe and be baptized. This speaks of the significance, importance, and necessity of baptism.

-Holy Spirit
There is a definite and distinct experience of receiving the Holy Spirit. Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? and Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed? are legitimate, apostolic questions. Of course, what receiving the Spirit means is a different study!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A dream - love as brethren

Last night I had another dream that prominently featured a phrase. This time it was

I was with a group of people. I can’t remember what we did before and after but there was a time when we were all together and this was on the wall or something. I said,

“Love as brethren. Isn’t it sad that we always think of the relationship between brothers as marked by animosity. But y’know, there are a lot of brothers who, if one asked the other, ‘You want to go into business together?’ the other would respond, ‘Sure!’ or would be excited at the prospect of living next door to each other. We need to love each other like that.”


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Columbus Day

In fourteen hundred ninety-two
Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
He had three ships and left from Spain;
He sailed through sunshine, wind and rain.
He sailed by night; he sailed by day;
He used the stars to find his way.
A compass also helped him know
How to find the way to go.
Day after day they looked for land;
They dreamed of trees and rocks and sand.
October 12 their dream came true,
You never saw a happier crew!

Today is Columbus Day here in the US. This year it was observed on the 9th so folks could have a 3-day weekend, but it really is today. That may not be the case much longer.

Every year people try to out-do each other in their rejection and hatred of Columbus. You see, according to the modern narrative, Spain sent Columbus with the express purpose of keeping people of color under the thumb; that Columbus himself invented murder, rape, slavery, rapine, greed, and led the invasion and illegal occupation of the Americas.

I know, I embellish. But the ignorance and hypocrisy of those protesting Columbus Day is irritating and frustrating.


They are either willingly ignorant of or too lazy to read a little history. Let’s just summarize:

Christopher or Leif or Brendan? There are stories of Leif Eriksson coming to Vinland (L'Anse aux Meadows) in 1001. I accept them. I am persuaded that Columbus was aware of them and planned his trip using this information. There is also the Journey of St. Brendan, an Irish monk, who is said to have sailed to North America 500 years before Leif. I’m also inclined to accept this story. It is known that Columbus knew of and believed it. So why have a Columbus Day and not a St. Brendan’s Day? Simply because nobody followed either Leif or Brendan. But, as is well documented, millions have followed Columbus to the New World. Columbus Day is a memorial of the opening of this new world.

Discovered? Really?? Many people like to sarcastically ask, “How do you ‘discover’ a world people are already living in?” Of course, Columbus wasn’t the first human to lay eyes on America (strictly speaking, the Caribbean). Nor were Eriksson or Brendan. There were people already here. Captain Cook wasn’t the first person to see Hawai’i either. But Europeans didn’t know they were there, and to them it was a discovery.

Invasion/Greed/Slavery/War and all that  I am just amazed that people seem to think Columbus invented all these. Yes, Columbus was a good sailor and a bad governor – in fact he was called on the carpet (as in arrested) for being a bad governor. And Yes, the history of contact between Europeans and the indigenous peoples of the Americas is not a pretty tale. But you know what? this is the story of mankind. Since Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him people have been invading and enslaving, robbing and mobbing, stealing and dirty dealing. Take Rome. They felt compelled to introduce civilization to all the barbarians around them. Julius Caesar invaded Gaul unprovoked. When he had conquered Gaul he invaded the Celts in Britain. When the Romans abandoned Britain, the Angles and Saxons and Jutes invaded. And it wasn’t pretty. Then came the Vikings. After the Vikings had settled down in their new lands, they became known as the Normans, and in 1066 William of Orange invaded England. And on and on the story goes.

You may say, “That’s white people for you - just a violent race.” Let’s move east. Chinggis Khan. Attila the Hun. Terrors in their conquering. Every nation has its story of conquering or being conquered. Even the Indians, excuse me, Native Americans, were constantly fighting, conquering, enslaving each other before 1492.

Statue of King Kamehameha
I love Hawai’i. Nearly everyone has heard of King Kamehameha, even if they can’t tell you anything about him. (He was King when Cook landed in the islands.) He is the one who united the Hawaiian Islands. Any idea how he did that? He literally killed everyone who objected to him being King of all Hawai’i. And they celebrate him in Hawai’i because it was a good thing in the long run.

Battle of Nu'uanu Pali where Kamehameha drove the opposition over edge
My point is this – this is the story of mankind. It’s sad, it’s not pretty, but it’s not new. Should we wipe out all history because we don’t like it?

What gets me the most is the utter hypocrisy of these protesters. Hypocrisy? Yes. They scream “invasion”, “injustice”, “illegal occupation” but they do nothing. Oh yeah, they feel guilty, they cry white privilege, they protest, they persuade towns and cities to rename Columbus Day Indigenous Peoples Day, they tear down statues of Columbus, but that’s it. If they’re really convinced they are illegally occupying land, shouldn’t they give it back? Shouldn’t they find a Native American family and give them their land and house? Otherwise, aren’t they perpetuating this terrible injustice? Anything less is just talk.

Columbus Day is a commemoration of the opening of the new world. What about the sad consequences? I’ve read a fair amount of the history of the Indians. It is a heartbreaking story. Nevertheless, it is a common one. This day is not a celebration of the demise of one culture, it is rather the marker of the beginning of a new one.

I don’t believe Columbus was an evil man. By all accounts he was a terrible governor. And on his heels came the Spanish, the English, the French, the Portuguese, the Dutch, the Russians. Thus a new culture was born and Western Civilization was expanded. A culture and civilization whose benefits even the protesters enjoy. But he didn’t set out to destroy a culture or nation. He wasn’t a Hitler or a Mao Zedong or a Stalin. He was a navigator, an explorer who was seeking a better route to the Indies. "Columbus's claim to fame isn't that he got there first," explains historian Martin Dugard, "it's that he stayed."

As I was wrapping this up I came across a video posted on Facebook by my brother. It is 12 minutes and 40 seconds long but it’s pretty good. In defense of Columbus

Happy Columbus Day!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The last time I preached I didn't mention this

This past Sunday I preached on Hebrews 13:8, Jesus Christ. Yesterday and today the same, and for ever. You can watch it here

In my preparation I spent some time in the book of Revelation looking at the phrases that speak of the eternity of God. They are:

which was, and is, and is to come
Alpha and Omega
the beginning and the end
the first and the last

and then there is the phrase
the Almighty

I noticed something about these: they each occur three (3) times; Almighty occurs nine (9) times (9 is a multiple of 3). Is there any significance in the numbers 3 and 9? I am inclined to think there is - the book of Revelation is a very symbolic book and numbers are a principle player. Three is an important number throughout the Scriptures, so I am pretty sure it is noteworthy. Having said that let me add, I don’t plan to pursue that aspect in this post. I merely wish to explain what I found.

which is and was and is to come 
Revelation 1:4 John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;

Revelation 1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

Revelation 4:8 And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.

What a fascinating way to express the eternity of God! This is equivalent to “I am who I am” and “I am” of Exodus 3.14, which is an explanation of Yahweh, the name of God.
You may have noticed that 1.4 and 1.8 say which is, and which was, and which is to come while 4.8 says, which was, and is, and is to come. I confess, I don’t know why it is different.
This is only used of the Father.

I am Alpha and Omega
Revelation 1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

Revelation 21:6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. 

Revelation 22:13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. 

Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. It signifies that he is first and last and everything in between. The Father says this twice (1.8, 21.6) and Jesus says it once (22.13). This is a declaration of deity.

the beginning and the end
Revelation 1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

Revelation 21:6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

Revelation 22:13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

Notice how every time Alpha and Omega is used it is followed by the beginning and the end. The one explains the other. And like Alpha and Omega, the Father speaks twice (1.8, 21.6) and Jesus once (22.13). This is also a declaration of the deity of Christ.

the first and the last
Revelation 1:17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:

Revelation 2:8 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;

Revelation 22:13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

Each time it is Jesus speaking. This is a strong declaration by Jesus that he is God. There are two interesting quotes from the Old Testament that are similar (both are from the Septuagint):

Isaiah 44:6 Thus saith God the King of Israel, and the God of hosts that delivered him; I am the first, and I am after these things: beside me there is no God.

Isaiah 48:12 Hear me, O Jacob, and Israel whom I call; I am the first, and I am forever.

When Jesus says, I am the first and the last he means, I am the first, and I am forever. Amen!

The Almighty
This is a name for God from the Septuagint. A few times it is used for El Shaddai (God Almighty) but most often for “God of hosts”, which the Septuagint understands as God Almighty. It occurs nine times in this book and only once outside of it. Whenever we talk of the Almighty, everyone knows we are talking about God. Not one of many, the one and only God. Amen!
It is only used of the Father.

As I said, I studied this while preparing for my teaching on Hebrews 13:8. People always say you get way more out of preparing to preach than those who hear you. Amen to that! And anytime you think a 30-40 minute teaching is long, just think of how long it would be if we mentioned everything we studied in preparation!! Anyway, I was blessed. I pray you are as well.

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If you have made it this far, you may recall there are two phrases (which is, and which was, and which is to come and the Almighty) I said were used only of the Father and not of Jesus. You may be thinking, what about Revelation 1:8, I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty, isn’t that Jesus speaking? I don’t believe it is. Jesus is referred to in the preceding verses (1-7), but does not appear or speak until v 11. This means v 8 is the Father. Am I trying to avoid a clear reference to the deity of Jesus? If you have read this you know that is not the case. Nevertheless, I believe these are two phrases that are not used of or by Jesus.

Variations of  "which is, and which was, and which is to come"
Revelation 11:17 Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.
This is interesting. Three times, as I have already pointed out, we have seen, which is, and which was, and which is to come (with one variance). This looks like a fourth time. What’s the explanation? For some reason, instead of "which is, and which was, and which is to come", 11:17 has "which art, and wast, and art to come." I’m not sure why the translators (of the KJV) did it this way. There are some texts which read, "We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, who is and who was…” And this makes sense because beginning in 11:15 the future has arrived!

Revelation 16:5 And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus.
This is curious because the literal translation is, “Thou art righteous, O Lord, who is and who was, the Holy One...”