The Word for today:
mark this: Revelation 14:18-20
“Put in your sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe.”
So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.
And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse’s bridle, for 1,600 stadia.
When was the last time you sang this song in your church?–
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.
Or when was the last time your pastor preached a sermon on the section of scripture that we have before us today–the scripture which inspired that song?
Must have been before you started attending church, because you’ve probably never heard that sermon.
The reason we Stand in the Rain, reading the whole of scripture, is because it forces us to consider verses like Revelation 14:14-20. It forces me to present the Bible as God wrote it, not as I chose it.
The evangelical church today tells the truth, for the most part, but it’s often a limited truth. Limited truth can be a form of a lie. That’s why our courts find it necessary to insist upon “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”–because many a huckster and many a cult have hoodwinked the public without, technically, “lying.”
Here’s a principal to remember:
to the extent that your church teaches and preaches every verse in the Bible, your church is telling the truth.
Or, to put it another way:
to the extent that your church does not teach and preach every verse of the Bible, your church is not telling the truth.
Almost every cult has a Bible in the pew. Their lie isn’t in their book, it’s in their emphasis of what’s in their book.
We have not been commissioned to edit God’s words. Our commission is to spread the word–to sow the seed, all of it–over every path.
As a Bible teacher, I find the following warning–from the very last page of your Bible–to be even more worrisome than the images of judgment from our reading today:
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. (Revelation 22:18-19)
Because if you or I–as pastor, preacher, elder, or teacher–have under-emphasized (or altogether avoided) the teaching of some verses or scriptural concepts, then we have effectively detracted–taken away–from the Word of God.
When we were kids, my brother and I used to pick the the grapes out of the fruit cocktail and throw them away. Sad to say, that’s how the Bible is often taught. But recall the proclamation of the great King himself:
“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (1)
We can’t keep picking just the fruit of the Spirit (2), while leaving the grapes of wrath behind.
(1) Matthew 4:4; (2) Galatians 5:22