status vs. work

All who would make Disciples to Jesus should recognize that our STATUS as a teacher is not so important as WHAT WE DO for others and the SPIRIT in which we work.


A Revelation for the People of God

The Book may be divided into 7 representations highlighting 7 facets of that which must (go on immediately) soon take place.

1) The Representation of The Glorified Christ Among His Churches 1:9-3:22.
2) The Representation of God, The Presiding Almighty and The Lamb Opening The Seven Sealed Book of God's Decrees 4-8:1.
3) The Representation of The Prayers of the Saints and The Seven Trumpets 8:2-11:19.
4) The Representation of The People of God as a Woman and Her Conflict With Satan 12-14.
5) The Representation of The Wrath of God in Seven Bowls 15-16.
6) The Representation of The Harlot City and The Victory of Christ Over Her 17-20:15.
7) The Representation of The Bride of Christ or The New Jerusalem 21-22:7.


Only Camping In This Age

Lee Camp has written an extraordinary book on discipleship called "Mere Discipleship." I would like to share the following excerpt with you.

The Constantinian cataract distorts our vision so that we believe it to be the power brokers, the emperors, and the mighty who control human history. Believing that we must make things "turn out right," we seek to get hold of such power for the purposes of the "good" and the "right" and even "God." In Christendom, we try to employ the methods of the rebellious principalities and powers to beat them at their own game.
But one thing the scriptures make very clear is this : the principalities and powers of this world, the kings and princes and queens and presidents--they do not run the world, though they may think they do. It is not nation-states that run the world or determine the real meaning and purpose of history, but God.

Camp goes on to say that God has chosen an obedient, despised minority to be the salt and light of the world, without trying to beat the powers of this age at their own game.

I think his perspective is in keeping with the Gospel and in keeping with what is communicated in the representations of the Revelation.


"Pure Bride or Unfaithful Harlot"

Revelation is a book filled with representations. These representations are meant to communicate a specific set of impressions by which the readers may correctly interpret the events transpiring in the world until they see the risen Lord Jesus in his exalted and full manifestation. One representation in Revelation is that of the Harlot. She is focused on in chapters17-20. Another representation, the bride, is focused on in chapters 21 and 22. These two, the Harlot and the Bride are collective nouns being used to represent peoples. God's complaint through the prophets has been that she who would have claimed to be the bride has proven to be the harlot.

In this case the woman you are a part of must be one or the other. You may be a part of the Harlot or you may be a part of the bride but fidelity is not a simple matter of association. Think of the warnings and exhortations to the churches in chapters 2 and 3...If I am reading this theme correctly through the entire Book of Revelation, then the determining marker may have more to do with your personal faithfulness to Jesus than it has to do with organizational participation or "membership."
With a higher desire for Jesus and his faith,
Jeff Miller


Image-Honor: The Perennial Use of Man's Art

Symbolic art has long been appreciated for its usefulness in religion. Many of the oldest works of art discovered in modern times are thought to have been created for religious purposes. Man has given art highest honor when he has used it as a symbol for God and sought to honor God by honoring the symbol. Man's desire to engage in this high use of art, though at times thought of as inadequate, or inappropriate, has proven to be a basic, and perhaps inalienable, pursuit of humanity.
The emergence of civilization, writing (thus history), and the religious use of art can be traced to the region known as Mesopotamia.
"Mesopotamian sculptors, particularly the Sumerians, were adept and sophisticated. They did not produce realistic representations of reality --that was not their purpose. Rather, they aimed at creating symbols of religious piety or political or military power. Sumerian statues tend to be stiff and solemn. The head and face are carved in detail, and the body is neglected and sometimes merely represented by a geometrical form (Noble 21).
From Mesopotamia, the Babylonians used symbols to represent God. The tablet below depicts the nature of Babylonian "Image-honoring." Note that the large figure is the anthropomorphic deity seated on a heavenly throne and represented to the priest, king, and (presumably) people by the symbol.
"The tablet of which a representation is given was erected by Nebobaladan, king of Babylon, an ardent votary of the worship of the sun-god, about 900 B.C. The god is seated on a square seat, placed inside a porch supported by pillars, and holds in his hand a ring and a short rod....Of the three figures standing with their faces turned toward the disc, the first is a priest, who holds the stool with his left hand, while with his right he grasps the left hand of the second figure--the king whose right hand is raised in adoration. Above the heads of the three figures three lines of inscription: 'The image of the Sun-god, the mighty lord, the dweller in the temple of Uri, which is within Sippara (Patrick 642).
Mesopotamia was also the seed-bed that produced the antithesis to this basic desire for "image-honoring." Abraham, the father of the Hebrews, came from Mesopotamia. It was among his progeny that Abraham's God gave (through Moses) the strict prohibition: "You shall not make for yourselves any carved image, or any likeness of anything...you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I the Lord your God am a jealous God...(Exodus 20:4,5)." This law becomes the foundation for sporadic resistance to "image-honoring" throughout history, in Judaism, Islam, and sometimes Christianity. The fact that the Christian, New Testament also prohibited idolatry resulted in a repression of art's highest place among the early Christians.
"For the first four centuries of the history of Christianity, the fear of introducing the pagan practice of idolatry deterred the use of images in churches (Morse 4816)."
This was the case even though a close reading of the Hebrew text would not forbid images, but rather the bowing before, or worshiping of them. In the Middle Ages, Roman Catholicism had to overcome the internal struggles of the Iconoclastic controversy in order to legitimately sponsor some of the greatest works of art of the High Middle Ages and early renaissance. At the second council of Nicea, in 787 c.e., the Catholic Church sought to deflect the pejorative use of the word "idolatry" by the Iconoclasts who had sprung up within her ranks. The second council of Nicea overcame the objections of the iconoclasts by two methods. One, by claiming that "...the honor given to the image passes to the prototype" (EOWA 811), and Two, by creating a distinction between "idolatry" and "image-honoring". This the Roman Catholic Church did without offering a sufficient apology for the Hebrew prophets, who refused to accept the Babylonian practice of worshiping the god through the image. Nor did those assenting to the council recognize that "idolatry" and "image-honoring" would have been synonymous at the time the New Testament was written.
During the Reformation "Protestant aniconism severed the bond between the visual arts and worship" (819). Nevertheless, an acceptance of "image-honoring" has prevailed among many of the Protestant churches, especially since the Romantic period. As the Anglican author Massey Shepard notes in his book titled "The Worship Of The Church": "The setting of liturgy may also be richly decorated and include a wealth of symbol carved in wood or stone....Ceremonial is thus intimately related to art. Hence ceremonial styles prevailing in the successive generations of history. The cut of a vestment, the ornament and decoration of a church, are obvious examples of the accepted art-forms of the period when they were made. But ceremonial gestures of reverence, such as standing, bowing, genuflecting, etc., also reflect the good manners of the age in which their use in church was introduced (Shepard 57-58).
So that finally, "great-tradition Christianity" serves as a narrower test case indicative of the broader streams of humanity's religious endeavors. Christianity, in its central form--most consonant with culture and the arts--affirms our thesis. The ancient practice of "image-honoring" supersedes the more strict dogma of written revelation. The idea that man's projected concept (god), should reveal a willful command against such a fundamentally desired practice is by and large extinguished. Humanity, since the dawn of civilization, has sought to bestow its highest honor upon both art and God; to symbolize God and God's presence, and then to honor God by honoring the symbol.
-Jeff Miller

Encyclopedia Of World Art: Volume 7. England: McGraw-Hill Pub., 1958

Morse, Joseph Laffan, ed. "Image Worship." Funk and Wagnalls Standard Reference Encyclopedia. New York: Standard Reference Works, 1959.

Noble,Thomas F.X., Carry Strauss, Duane J. Osheim, Kristen B. Neuschel, William B. Cohen, David D. Roberts, eds. Western Civilization. New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1998.

Patrick, David, and William Geddie, eds. "Babylonia." Chamber's Encyclopedia. London: The Waverly Book Co., 1925.

Shepard, Massey. The Worship of the Church. New York: Seabury Press, 1952.