Friday, October 9, 2015

The Law, Prophets, and a Lesson About Gathering

“And you will say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD, “If you will not listen to Me, to walk in My law [תורה] which I have set before you, to listen to the words of My servants the prophets, whom I have been sending to you again and again, but you have not listened; then I will make this house like Shiloh, and this city I will make a curse to all the nations of the earth”’” (Jeremiah 26:4-6).

Ask most people what prophets do, and they will tell you that prophets foretell the future. I have been convinced for a long time that such an understanding of the prophets and biblical prophecy misses a crucial message of the biblical Prophets (and those who echo them in the New Testament). I contend that the Prophets applied the Law of Moses to their audiences in the power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. They communicated using language meant to move hard hearts – powerful language with dramatic imagery and edgy language. Their “future telling,” when it is present at all (not nearly as often as we’ve grown accustomed to think), is merely an application of the curses for covenant violation in the Law (Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28). The Law promised invasion by a foreign army and deportation. The Prophets, in seeing covenant violation among the people, promised this would come. And it did.

Learning one thing revolutionized my reading of the Bible, and that one thing is seeing parallelism.[1] The Hebrew language is not highly technical (like Greek) – the Old Testament writers say one thing several different ways to further illuminate their meaning.

Consider this parallelism:
  • “...listen to Me, to walk in My law [תורה] which I have set before you...”
  • “ listen to the words of My servants the prophets, whom I have been sending to you again and again...”

Both of these phrases are introduced with the verb “listen” (שמע), setting up the parallelism as clear as possible for us. Both “law” and “the words of My servants the prophets” are the words of the LORD to His covenant people.

From the standpoint of the doctrine of the Bible, the Law is foundational. The New Testament shows us the Lord Jesus and His apostles continually citing the Law as authoritative teaching. The Prophets of the Old Testament rely on the Law in the same way. There is no fullness to your understanding of later passages of Scripture if you aren’t familiar with what came before. Sadly, most people’s reading of the Prophets leans forward rather than backward. I find the same to be true in most attempts to interpret Revelation.

The LORD, speaking through Jeremiah, places His Law and Prophets in parallelism.

False prophets do not speak the words of the LORD (applying His Law), but speak their own words. “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you. They are leading you into futility; they speak a vision of their own imagination, not from the mouth of the LORD” (23:16). “‘Behold, I am against the prophets,’ declares the LORD, ‘who use their tongues and declare, “The Lord declares”’” (23:31).

Prophecy is the Spirit-empowered application of the Law to the lives of God’s people with the goal of moving them to repentance from their sin before the Lord. I would use this definition for most of New Testament “prophecy,” as well (especially as described in Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 12,14; Ephesians 4:11). We would put it under the category “preaching” these days, though the Bible seems to have parsed the categories of prophetic preaching of the Law for conviction, evangelistic preaching of the Gospel for the giving of grace (to believers and non-believers), and the teaching/explanation of the Bible. We need all of these in our spiritual diet continually.

The “Prophets” of the Old Testament are inerrant and inspired, and serve as models/examples for preachers in the Church. We are, as part of our calling, preach the commands of God, leaning on the Holy Spirit’s help, to move the people of God to repentance and obedience...and we are to do this without abandoning the giving of the grace of the Gospel or the explanation of the meaning and theology of the text.

It is foolish to believe we can accomplish this in a 15-minute talk filled with anecdotes and stories. It is woefully naive to believe attending the gathering of the Church for one hour a week can adequately fill the God-intended purpose of teachers/preachers in the Church. Does your Church have an evening service, a mid-week Bible study, other small groups that study the Word? Are you a part? These are the means by which God speaks His Word to His people through the power of His Holy Spirit.

We need to be convicted unto repentance and obedience, fed grace unto communion with God in Christ, and trained in the nature, character, ways, and thoughts of God through the explanation of His Word. This cannot happen without giving time to the corporate times in the Word. Commit and get involved. It’s not a matter of not having enough’re reading this, aren’t you? If you’re reading this, you’re probably reading a lot of other stuff online. How many hours of online time are you spending a week compared to gathering with Spirit-filled believers to get into God’s Word together? We fool ourselves by complaining there’s not enough time.

He has given the Law and Prophets, the Gospel and Apostles. We need this more than anything else, and He has purposed that we receive and grow in His Word together.

Let’s get to it.

[1] This book was helpful when I was first learning this principle.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Big Picture Parallels in the Bible

I was thinking about the big picture of the Bible yesterday on my run, specifically about the two revelatory “dark ages” in the history of the biblical story. Between the final events of Joseph’s life and the Exodus is just over four hundred years (Genesis 15:13; Exodus 12:40,41; Acts 7:6; Galatians 3:17). Between Malachi and the apostles’ writing of the New Testament is a similar period of time (depending on when you date Malachi and the earliest writings of the New Testament).

The covenant people of God were delivered through Moses (as servant in God’s house, Hebrews 3:1-6) from Egypt, the house of slavery (Exodus 13:3,14; 20:2; Deuteronomy 5:5; 6:12; 7:8; 8:14; 13:5,10; Judges 6:8; Micah 6:4).

The covenant people of God were delivered through Jesus Christ (as Son in God’s house, Hebrews 3:1-6) from Second Temple Judaism, the house of slavery (John 8:31-36; Galatians 4:1-5:1).

In the allegory of Galatians 4:22-31, Hagar is “is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children” (4:25). Remember that Hagar is Egyptian (Genesis 16:1,3; 21:9; 25:12), a native from the house of slavery.

The Revelation makes the same comparison between earthly Jerusalem and Egypt: “...the great city which mystically is called Sodom [Isaiah 1:10; Jeremiah 23:13; Ezekiel 16:46] and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified” (11:8). This is, in fact, my interpretation of the Revelation: the story of the generation that transitioned from the old covenant to the new covenant, culminating in the current Gospel age (described symbolically in chapters 20-22).[1]

Jacob’s family goes into slavery in Egypt. Parallel to this, Zerubbabel, Joshua, Ezra, and Nehemiah lead the people back into the land after the Babylonian exile. They build a second temple, one without the Ark of the Covenant or a manifestation of God’s glory at its dedication (it is an exceedingly empty symbol).

Over four centuries of silence occur both in the Hebrews’ time in Egypt and the growth of Second Temple Judaism.

God manifests His presence through His servant Moses and His Son Jesus Christ to bring deliverance.

The revelatory “dark ages” come to an end with Moses’ writing of the Law (the first five books of the Old Testament) and Jesus Christ’s apostles’ writing of the New Testament.

Interesting parallels worth some thought.

[1] I do not deny a second coming of Christ, but don’t believe the New Testament tells us much about it (many of the passages we attribute to the second coming actually describe the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and the full establishment of the Gospel/New Covenant Age) – instead, we’re told how to live in Christ on earth while longing to be with Him in heaven. “To deter all men from sin on the one hand, and to give greater comfort to the godly in their adversity on the other, Christ would have us firmly persuaded that a day of judgment lies ahead. For the same reasons He has kept the day’s date a secret so that men may shake off all confidence in themselves and, in ignorance of the hour in which the Lord will come, may be ever on the watch, and ever prepared to say, ‘Come, Lord Jesus; come quickly. Amen’” (1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, 32.3).

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Holy Spirit's 70-Year Lesson in Bible Reading

“Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Because you have not obeyed My words, behold, I will send and take all the families of the north,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will send to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land and against its inhabitants and against all these nations round about; and I will utterly destroy them and make them a horror and a hissing, and an everlasting desolation. Moreover, I will take from them the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones and the light of the lamp. This whole land will be a desolation and a horror, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years. Then it will be when seventy years are completed I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation,’ declares the LORD, ‘for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans; and I will make it an everlasting desolation. I will bring upon that land all My words which I have pronounced against it, all that is written in this book which Jeremiah has prophesied against all the nation...for thus says the LORD, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place’” (Jeremiah 25:8-13; 29:10).

This is the first place chronologically in Scripture where the “seventy years” are promised by the Lord for the Babylonian exile of the Jews.

As our Baptist forefathers taught, “the infallible rule for the interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself” (1689 Baptist Confession of Faith 1.9). Jeremiah’s prophecy seems very straight-forward, without any need for nuance or cleverness. However, three other inspired authors of Scripture give us three different inspired interpretations of Jeremiah’s “seventy years.” In this we learn an important lesson about biblical interpretation.

“The LORD, the God of their fathers, sent word to them again and again by His messengers, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place; but they continually mocked the messengers of God, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, until there was no remedy. Therefore He brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, old man or infirm; He gave them all into his hand. All the articles of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king and of his officers, he brought them all to Babylon. Then they burned the house of God and broke down the wall of Jerusalem, and burned all its fortified buildings with fire and destroyed all its valuable articles. Those who had escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon; and they were servants to him and to his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its sabbaths. All the days of its desolation it kept sabbath until seventy years were complete. Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia - in order to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah - the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying, ‘Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, “The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all His people, may the LORD his God be with him, and let him go up!”’” (2 Chronicles 36:15-23).

The Chronicler is inspired to interpret “seventy years” as the time between the destruction of Jerusalem (586 B.C.) and Cyrus’ decree (539 B.C.) – somewhere between 47-48 years. Given that the Chronicler mentions this time as that in which “the land had enjoyed its sabbaths” (36:21; in accord with the covenant curses in Leviticus 26:34,35,43), we are probably meant to understand this seventy years to be seven sabbaths (49 years). The Chronicler, as inspired of God the Holy Spirit as Jeremiah, understands the 70 years to be “literally” about 49 years, or seven sabbaths. If we truly let Scripture interpret Scripture, Jeremiah’s prophetically-uttered time period must be understood symbolically.

“Then the angel of the LORD said, ‘O LORD of hosts, how long will You have no compassion for Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, with which You have been indignant these seventy years?’ The LORD answered the angel who was speaking with me with gracious words, comforting words. So the angel who was speaking with me said to me, ‘Proclaim, saying, “Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and Zion. But I am very angry with the nations who are at ease; for while I was only a little angry, they furthered the disaster.’” Therefore thus says the LORD, “I will return to Jerusalem with compassion; My house will be built in it,” declares the LORD of hosts, “and a measuring line will be stretched over Jerusalem”’” (Zechariah 1:12-16).

Interestingly, one of the most challenging prophets to interpret (Zechariah) seems to be inspired of God the Holy Spirit to interpret Jeremiah’s “seventy years” in what we would consider the most “literal” manner! Between the destruction of Jerusalem (586 B.C.) and the dedication of the second temple (515 B.C.), the building of which is the predominant theme of the first chapters of Zechariah, is roughly 70 years. Is Zechariah more accurate or inspired than the Chronicler? No! They are both inerrantly inspired by the same Holy Spirit. Jeremiah’s “seventy years” are meant to be understood symbolically, and the Holy Spirit’s interpretation of His own words reveal this to us clearly.

“In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of Median descent, who was made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans - in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was revealed as the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years. So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed...” (Daniel 9:2-4).

The prophet Daniel, after reading Jeremiah’s “seventy years” prophecy, prays a confession worthy of our reading, meditation, and memorization (9:4-19). He doesn’t seek interpretation of the prophecy, but confesses the sins of his forefathers and his own generation. He confesses that they are worthy of the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile – all “the curse...along with the oath which is written in the law of Moses the servant of God” (9:11). After this prayer, the prophet is visited by a supernatural messenger who gives us a third inspired interpretation of the “seventy years.”

“...while I was still speaking in prayer, then the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision previously, came to me in my extreme weariness about the time of the evening offering. He gave me instruction and talked with me and said, ‘O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you insight with understanding. At the beginning of your supplications the command was issued, and I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed; so give heed to the message and gain understanding of the vision. Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place...’” (9:21-24).

This revelation is related to Jeremiah’s “seventy years” since Gabriel says he was sent “at the beginning of [Daniel’s] supplications” (9:23), which were prompted by the reading of Jeremiah.

Jeremiah’s “seventy weeks,” while referring to the Babylonian exile, are now expanded to “seventy weeks” (9:24). Is there conflict between Jeremiah and Gabriel? No. Both are perfectly inspired by God the Holy Spirit. We now learn in this period of redemptive history that the promises made by the prophets concerning the return from Babylonian exile would not be immediately fulfilled after the “seventy years” (including Jeremiah’s promises concerning the “new covenant” in 31:31-34). Instead, they would be delayed until after the intertestamental period (the time between the Old and New Testaments, a major theme of the book of Daniel), until the time of “Messiah the Prince” and the destruction of the second temple in A.D. 70.

One inspired prophecy (Jeremiah) and three inspired different interpretations (the Chronicler, Zechariah, and Daniel) – all given by the same Holy Spirit. Each uses the “seventy years” in a theological sense to teach the original audience (and us) something important about God’s plan for His people. The Chronicler connects the “seventy years” to the completion of the land’s sabbaths promised in the Law’s curse and Cyrus’ decree that the exiles return to that land. Zechariah connects the “seventy years” to his (and Haggai’s) great prophetic concern – the rebuilding of the temple so that the returning exiles could resume the worship mandated by the old covenant. Daniel is moved to intercession and confession by Jeremiah’s “seventy years,” and Gabriel is sent to extend the fulfillment of the return/restoration promises to the time of the beginning of the new covenant in Jesus Christ.

Biblical numbers are not given to us for the primary purpose of making charts or timelines or setting dates. Biblical numbers, as the Holy Spirit teaches us in this example of the “seventy years,” themselves are symbolic and teach theological truths. This is not one redeemed sinner disagreeing with the interpretation of another (as you and I might over Gabriel's statements in Daniel 9), but four biblical writers all inspired by one God the Holy Spirit, the infinitely wise Author of all Scripture.

May we learn from this example as we come across other theologically-significant numbers in Scripture, and let the Author teach us how to read His Book, in the name of the Son ("All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, Who is Himself the focus of divine revelation," Baptist Faith & Message 2000, 1) to the glory of the Father now and forever.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Drinking Mercy (and Coffee) Instead of Sorrow

“...I will rejoice, for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith” (Philippians 1:18-25).

Sometimes we read (and teach) this passage with an emphasis on Paul’s “gain” and “desire to depart and be with Christ.” This is a good and right thing – we need more of a scripturally-informed leaning toward and yearning for Christ’s heaven (Colossians 3:1-4 is a very important passage to me). However, that’s not the whole story.

I got to be part of a 100th birthday for a dear sister in Christ yesterday. She was having a difficult day health-wise, but it was a joy to see her reach – by God’s grace – this landmark. I thought of the difficulties and sorrowful loss her family has experienced in the years I’ve been their pastor, and was reminded of this profound truth proclaimed in the midst of heartbreak:
“This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.
The LORD’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul,
‘Therefore I have hope in Him.’
The LORD is good to those who wait for Him,
To the person who seeks Him.
It is good that he waits silently
For the salvation of the LORD” (Lamentations 3:21-26).

This was Tuesday’s meditation for me.

Today is Wednesday. I got a call this morning telling me that another dear sister in Christ, a 94-year-old prayer warrior of the highest degree, was in the hospital with a possible stroke. I confess: I felt a bit of fear inside. I was thankful to find her sitting up, smiling, eating breakfast, and drinking coffee (that magnificent elixir gifted from heaven to a sod-bound race). It was good to see her like this.

I don’t know what the next hour, day, or month holds, but I told her I hoped we’d be celebrating her 100th in six years. She agreed. I read Psalm 30 with her, prayed, and left. On the drive in to the office another passage from Philippians came to mind, and it wasn’t the one at the top of this post.

“But I thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger and minister to my need; because he was longing for you all and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. For indeed he was sick to the point of death, but God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, so that I would not have sorrow upon sorrow (Philippians 2:25-27).

It’s interesting that Paul’s “gain” and “desire to depart and be with Christ” didn’t make him emotionless or oddly inhuman about “the last enemy” (1 Corinthians 15:26). The apostle loathed this thing (as I do with all my soul) and considered it the mercy of God that his fellow servant and dear brother was brought back from the brink, so that Paul wouldn’t have to drink a cup of “sorrow upon sorrow.”

I long for the heavenly Home where my Savior and Lord is. A lot. But I hate the process of getting there, and despise the fact that a funeral is always somewhere unseen around the corner. Paul held both of these emotions without contradiction or sin, which strengthens me. I pray for the grace to do the same.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Line in the Sand

Glenn Beck (a Mormon) and George Barna (a pollster) giving a twelve-point list on what the Church wants to hear from the pulpit? And none of the twelve points are the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

There is usually a great gulf fixed between what we think we need to hear, what we want to hear, what we feel would meet our needs, and what the Bible itself tells us we need to preach and to hear.

My theology concerning preaching and what motivates it largely comes from three passages in the Bible:
  • “For thus the LORD spoke to me with mighty power and instructed me not to walk in the way of this people, saying, ‘You are not to say, “It is a conspiracy!” In regard to all that this people call a conspiracy, and you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it. It is the LORD of hosts Whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, and He shall be your dread. Then He shall become a sanctuary...bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples. And I will wait for the LORD Who is hiding His face from the house of Jacob; I will even look eagerly for Him. Behold, I and the children whom the LORD has given me are for signs and wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, Who dwells on Mount Zion. To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn” (Isaiah 8:11-14,16-1820).
  • “And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).
  • “Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God's righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes...if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believe in Him will not be disappointed.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for ‘Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How then will they call on Him in Whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him Whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!’ faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:1-4,9-15,17).
It concerns me enough that fellow confessors of the biblical Jesus Christ are willing to hear, watch, read, and re-post the political musings of a Mormon, but are we really going to listen to a single word the man says about what folks in our congregations want to hear (regardless of what the pollster and historian who were his guests say)? Am I the only one for whom this is quite a red flag? The only way this seems to work is if politics is your idol; at that point there’s no great line to cross to partner with someone who denies the Trinity, the nature of salvation, and the sufficiency of the Bible alone.

I am blessed to preach behind two sacred desks. One is built in the shape of a cross. The other has the words, “Sir, we would see Jesus” (John 12:21) on its surface (where only the preacher can see it). This is enough for me, no matter what the congregation thinks they want to hear and no matter what I feel like preaching. For twenty-two years I have trusted the Word to give us what we need when we need it. When people have had questions on particular topics, we have gone to the Word in search of those things in private counsel or small-group discussion. But, in the gathering of the saints at the Table and in the Word, we do not steer the ship, and the reality given us in the Word does not change no matter what is happening in the world around us. We need to bend to the Word, not the other way around. We need to follow it to a heavenward focus rather than shaping an earth-bound message. Christ is the center, not any current events. This is what the all-sufficient Word does for the congregation that receives it by faith.

I do not preach expositionally because Jesus or Paul taught that way; I do not believe I have been commanded to preach as they did (or that I am able). But their words are recorded in “the apostles’ teaching” (Acts 2:42), that is, in the inspired and inerrant New Testament, and rather than using felt needs or current affairs to lead me to various passages in the Book, I am convinced that the Spirit Who gave us this Book will shape us into Christ and fit us for heaven if we follow Him through every passage, without missing a one and without picking and choosing what I think we need. My trust in the Book is not complete and not nearly as deep as it should be, but a liturgical practice that guides me (and the congregation) into a greater faith will, Lord willing, take us further in and further up far more than any other approach.

“I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, Who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires” (2 Timothy 4:1-4).

The whole idea that we know what we need to hear is bizarre to me (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25; 28:26). I did not know what I needed before I heard the Gospel by faith for the first time; there have been plenty of times daily since that moment that I have thought I knew what I needed and was (and will be) completely wrong.

I need Christ preached from the Word. And so does the Church. And so does the world. Whether any of us know it, feel it, or want to hear it, or not.

“Then he showed me a river of the water of life [John 7:37-39], clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations [Matthew 28:18-20] (Revelation 22:1,2). The Spirit, coming from the Father and Son (see the Trinity?), flowing through the Church's preaching of the Gospel to the nations, is the only thing that will heal them. The only thing.