City Lights & Christmas

City Lights & Christmas

City Lights & Christmas


The name of this newsletter has been “City Lights” for decades. It’s based on Matthew 5:14–16: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your
Father who is in heaven.”

Churches are supposed to be different from the world. Our good works are meant to shine like a light into the moral and spiritual darkness that surrounds us.

Christians, in other words, are supposed to be different than we used to be. Our good works are meant to shine like a light—by contrast to the moral and spiritual darkness that used to define us.

“And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God” (John 3:19–21).

Sadly, this is often not the case for professing Christians or for churches bearing the name of Christ.

Selling Half a Jesus

“Easy-believism” refers to peddling or buying into a false spirituality. It’s a spirituality that says “Believe!” but never “Repent!” It offers a place in the kingdom without teaching the ways of the kingdom. It says “Hope in heaven!” but not “Live for God!” It invites you to celebrate Christmas without calling you to take up your cross.

The counterfeit spirituality of easy- believism has been on the market—in assorted editions—from the very beginning of the church. It’s a lot easier to mass-market Christmas trees than crosses.

But Jesus doesn’t peddle easy-believism. He doesn’t cash those checks.

That’s because he does not intend on short-changing those who look to him for grace. God’s unmerited favor is a package- deal, because it comes through his Son, who is Lord, not just Savior. We don’t deserve to be pronounced guiltless when we trust in God’s Son, but we are! We also don’t deserve to be called into the service of God’s Son, but we are! It’s all grace—but it’s all- encompassing.

To receive the invitation to come be forgiven is also to obey the command to come be changed. To grab hold of the Savior by faith is to bow the knee to the King in repentance.

Which brings us to Christmas.

Cross-Shaped Christmas Lights

From the moment of his birth, Christ’s death and resurrection came into view.

The Christmas tree—casts a cross- shaped shadow.

We couldn’t celebrate the baby laid in the manger if not for his body laid in the tomb. His birth as the son of David, from the womb of Mary, finds its purpose in his bursting from the tomb—when he’s declared with power to be the Son of God (Romans 1:4).

And this Son of God has sent the light of his gospel into the world to create a people marked out by the obedience that comes from faith—City-Lights, born-again children of God shining a spotlight on the goodness, grace, and glory of our risen Savior.

Christians—are to shine a spotlight on Christ and his cross.

Believer in Jesus, does your life shine a light on Jesus? We do this in many ways. Mostly in small ways and by small steps: asking forgiveness, asking for strength, asking for wisdom; showing up, singing
praises, sticking with each other; doing our chores, holding our tongues, helping our
neighbors, praying for our bosses; loving and leading our children, serving our spouses;
speaking about Jesus.

Our light shines, but it flickers. We never outgrow our need for grace. By grace God gives the increase for those held fast by and holding fast to the Word of life. Would you pray with us for what we need from him in this upcoming year?

Growing knowledge of the Word of God,
Growing submission to the will of God,
Growing dependence on the grace of God,
Growing love for the Son of God,
Growing affection for the people of God,
Growing concern for the enemies of God,
Growing passion for the glory of God.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

Merry Christmas from BHOF!

Jordan Roberts

Cover Image Design: Naomi Cusimano

Being, Not Just Making, Disciples

Being, Not Just Making, Disciples

Being, Not Just Making, Disciples

          We describe the mission of our church this way: “To make, mature, and multiply disciples of Jesus Christ.” We’ve known other churches who use this as their mission statement, and we thought it was a good summary of Matthew 28:18–20: “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”

          Hopefully you can see the connection between our mission statement and Jesus’s climactic instructions to his Apostles, the initial members and appointed leaders of the New Covenant church. (The “multiply” part of our mission statement refers to our commitment to raising our children in the knowledge and ways of the Lord [Eph 6:4] and to our desire to see evangelistic churches established among more and more people groups). We see Jesus’s words here as summing up the reason God has sent his church into the world. Our “mission” as it relates to the world around us is focused on proclaiming the things this passage emphasizes: the authority of king Jesus; the gospel call to repent, believe, and be baptized; the sufficiency and authority of Scripture for every area of faith and practice; the presence of Christ through his Spirit until his return. Proclaiming these things and instructing others in them, with the desire to see more and more people following Christ, sums up our church’s mission.

          But…our mission does not sum up our identity or our calling as a church. In other words, there’s more to being a church, to being a Christian, than “doing ministry” or being “on mission.”

          That’s because before we are disciple-makers, we are disciples ourselves. Ours is not fundamentally to proclaim, but to believe. Ours is not primarily to teach, but to learn. Ours is not mainly to make disciples, but to be disciples. Of course, these things should never be separated, but they should be distinguished—much like a house and its foundation cannot be separated; still, the integrity of the foundation merits primary attention.

           Our commitment to following Jesus cannot be boiled down to activities aimed at getting others to follow him. He is worthy of our worship and sufficient as our heart’s desire—regardless of whether anybody else joins us or not. We are subjects in Christ’s kingdom, by the grace of God. We are recipients of the gospel that brings salvation and of the baptism that marks us out as God’s beloved and holy people. We are in the process of learning to observe all that Christ has commanded. We are invited and compelled to trust in and rest in the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit, the down payment of our inheritance.
           All this is to say that we have been called to worship Jesus Christ as Savior, King and God and to call others to do the same. The disciples worshiped before they were commissioned (v. 17). Our “mission” statement focuses on the latter—to make, mature, and multiply disciples—but this will shrivel up if it is not an outgrowth of the
former, more foundational calling of every Christian: to be and be maturing as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

          So what about you? Are you a worshiper of Christ—not just in public, not just in private—in the personal and in the public sphere, are you living and growing as a disciple of Christ, your Savior and King? Regardless of whether anyone joins you or not?

          And if so—will you also heed his call to try to get others to join you? Are you seeking and striving and praying to participate in the mission of Christ’s church: to lead others to faith in Jesus, baptism into his church, and a growing understanding of his Word and his ways?

Are you a disciple?
Are you making disciples?

Blue Skies, Kind God

Blue Skies, Kind God

Blue Skies, Kind God

“Why is the sky blue?” The question popped into my head one morning as I was looking at it through my window. I wasn’t thinking about the science of refracted light that affect the sun’s rays racing through the earth’s atmosphere, but about why God made the sky like that. The night sky is black, with up to 5,000 points of light visible to the human eye. Why wasn’t the daytime sky created so that the stars could still be seen, and why not pink or green?

Maybe my speculations are just that, but I wonder if it has to do with the thoughtfulness of our kind Creator. “Sky blue” is easy on the eyes and is a pleasing canvas that gives the perfect background for the whites, grays, and blacks for the Artist’s brush. And if the stars were also visible during the day, the busyness of the sky would give no rest to sensitive eyes—the visual clutter would distract and weary us. Like a thoughtful, creative, and loving parent arranges his/her child’s environment to promote discovery, curiosity, delight, and learning, the God of all creation has made our earthly home accommodating, challenging, stimulating, and awe-inspiring.

Such is the thoughtfulness of the Creator in whose image we are made. But he doesn’t get any credit from many of the human beneficiaries of his kind-heartedness. He is largely ignored.

As wonderful as he is as Creator, it is his kindness revealed in his action toward rebellious and lost people which best displays the character of this God. “…when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us…” (Titus 3:4). Nothing in human experience comes close to the expression of love exhibited in the redemptive actions of the Triune God on behalf of undeserving, unconcerned, and unholy sinners. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21).

To be unfazed by the unfathomable humility and self-sacrifice of the Triune God is to miss out on the purpose of our existence! What he has done for sinners in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection is the beginning, not the end, of God’s plan to lavish his kindness on his own. He “raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6-7). We haven’t seen anything yet! Our kind and loving Creator/Savior has plans for an ever-expanding, unstinting, and unending display of his lovingkindness to those who are his own.

Bolstered by the certainty of God’s innate kindness displayed in creation and the cross, we can look through the fog of the culture wars to the breathtaking brilliance of the Lamb slain for us. And we can invite others to join us in responding to this humble, gentle, and compassionate Lord of all, knowing that “God’s kindness is meant to lead [them] to repentance” (Romans 2:4).

God Is Like This

God Is Like This

God Is Like This

How does God make himself known? Our triune God, being infinite and everywhere-present, is invisible—and I’ve become more comfortable with this reality over the years. I think there were times when it used to trouble me, the question, Why doesn’t God show himself?

I think I must’ve been picturing God as a very big, stubbornly invisible human being. If he would just “appear,” I’d know he was real! Right?

Impossible Question

Sometimes my kids and I play a game we call “Impossible Questions.” We try to come up with questions that are impossible to give logically satisfying answers to—like “Why haven’t I stopped asking this question yet?” or “How many spoonfuls of muffin equal a song?” Deep stuff like that.

Why doesn’t God show himself? is kind of like an impossible question. How could the immense and infinite God “show himself?” What would that look like? If we were able to somehow “stand back” at a distance to take him in, so that we could say “Ah, there he is,” we could at that moment rest assured we’d gotten the wrong god (hence, one reason for the second commandment)! How could God’s infinite essence ever be contained in a field of vision? I am beginning to understand why God didn’t let Moses see all of his glory (Exodus 33:17–23).

But he did show Moses his glory, didn’t he? God does not show himself exhaustively; but he does reveal himself truly. The Scriptures testify that God condescends to make himself known in ways human beings can genuinely understand—understand not perfectly, but genuinely. This is one reason why forever will take forever: we will never finish comprehending God’s glory!

But in the meantime, God makes his invisible attributes known not by appearing in the sky—but through the sky itself (Psalm 8)! The sky—and all the rest of creation, of course. He reveals himself in the works of his hands; he reveals himself through his acts of providence and in particular through his acts of redemption; he reveals himself through words.

Lately I’ve been reflecting on this question—the question I asked at the beginning: How does God make himself known? If creation, providence, redemption, and speech are God’s media, what are his techniques? How does he use these media to reveal himself?

I’ve noticed one “technique” in particular I want to draw your attention to: God makes himself known through comparison and contrast.

Knowing God via Comparison

He does this all the time in Scripture. He is like a rock. He is like the sun. He is like a shepherd. Or is he? Probably we’ve got to put it the other way around, since he’s the original and everything else is derivative: Rocks are a little bit like him; the sun is a dim illustration of his glorious, dazzling purity; shepherds reflect God’s tender, tenacious care, in a way.

As inadequate as any one comparison is to capture God, he’s filled the world with such comparisons! And he loves to use them, apparently, as a look through Scripture shows: streams, fathers, warriors, winds, builders, singers, bread, kings—the list goes on. He has filled the world, filled history, with tiny illustrations of his glory and character, to which he can point and say “I’m like this!”

Our task—our privilege as creatures made like him as well, and designed for relationship with him—is to become practiced in letting his self-revelation in nature, in history, and in Scripture draw our hearts back to him (see Acts 17:24–27). The heavens don’t just testify to God in the way a person’s house bears the marks of an absent owner or a former builder; God is speaking to us now through these things. As Gerald Manley Hopkins puts it, “The world is charged with the grandeur of God.” God is making himself known NOW, in the things that he has made and in the way he sustains them (see Romans 1:18ff, for example).

Tragically, our souls, gutted by the ravages of sin’s infection, struggle to see, struggle to hear. Don’t want to see or hear, apart from his grace (see Eph 2:1–10). Hence our great need for God’s self-revelation in redemption.

Knowing God via Contrast

The nature of God’s relationship to creation and his way of speaking invites us to know him via contrast as well. This can apply, for example, to the very things he offers up as comparisons!

Because God is the Creator and all else is creature, everything to which he can point and say “this is like me” simultaneously possesses qualities that God (and we) can confidently say are not like him. So the rock in its enduring strength is like God; but it’s also not like God because, for one thing, it’s dead as a doornail and cares nothing for those whom it shelters. Hence we are invited, in considering that our God is a rock of refuge, to compare and contrast him with the object lesson the mountain fortress offers us: our loving, all-seeing God is like, but so much better than, any inanimate object, place, or possession on which we set our hope.

God has also built absolute contrasts into creation and time. We can know God better, for example, through the way he frames his own being as perfect holiness and truth in contrast to darkness. God is not like darkness; he is light. God is not like Satan. Heaven is not like hell. These contrasts are absolute. And God makes himself more clearly, more gloriously, known through orchestrating even evil itself to the great end of blessing his people forever with the fullest knowledge of all his goodness that we can endure.

Yet even these contrasts fail to exhaust the infinite character of God. “Showing” himself—via comparison and contrast—is necessary but not sufficient. We want, we need, him to speak to us, too.

Knowing God in Christ

So here’s one more impossible question, of a sort: how could the Son, being God, become man? Given all I’ve said, how could God both show himself and speak to us—through a human being we could see, touch, hug, sing with, cry with?

I don’t know.

I do know that Jesus is the ultimate self-revelation of the Father. God has spoken to us—speaks to us now, will speak to us forever—through this human King. He is the self-revelation of God, come down to us on a creaturely level, yet constantly displaying God to us (Hebrews 1:1–4).

In him the whole fullness of God dwells bodily (see the letter to the Colossians!)—and though we will never know him exhaustively, we who believe in Jesus behold by faith now, and one day by sight, God himself.

In Jesus, God makes himself known in the fullest way possible for a creature to comprehend. In his first coming, Christ displayed (and accomplished) what no other creature, comparison, or contrast could ever convey: God’s grace.

Jesus Christ, the living Savior crucified once for all to deliver us from sin’s curse, became part of the comparison/contrast painting itself, so that he can point to himself and say, “I’m like this.”

And in the gospel, wonder of wonders, we see Jesus—we hear his voice—beckoning us to come to him, and to know our God.

Friends, let us fix our eyes on Jesus, and never give up seeking deeper knowledge of him—deeper knowledge of our God. One day, we will see God in the sky. On the day of Christ’s return, every eye will see him. Come, Lord Jesus!

Don’t Forget They’re Dead

Don’t Forget They’re Dead

Don’t Forget They’re Dead

“I see dead people.”

It’s just a quote from a famous movie; it’s not a common phenomenon, and not, I trust, something any of us would like to experience—hallucinations of the walking dead. Creepy!

And yet, in a way, I ought to see more dead people. At least, I ought to see more people as dead. If you’re a born-again believer, you should too.

I base this on an inference from Ephesians 2: “We were dead in our trespasses and sins.” I infer that this means people who don’t yet know Jesus are dead right now in their trespasses and sins—and Christians should remember that!

When we forget it, I think, we’ll be less likely to talk to people about Jesus, and less likely to talk to Jesus about those people.

Why do we so often forget?

Christians believe that we have new life in Christ. We believe that before Christ saved us, we were walking corpses, spiritually. But when it comes to interacting with unbelievers, we can find it so natural to experience them as being…just like us. In many cases unbelievers can seem happier, friendlier, “livelier” than us weary saints. Simply put, they don’t seem dead! And that makes it harder, for me at least, to long for them to have life in Christ.

As I’ve thought about this, two analogies have helped me sort out my difficulties.


Analogy #1: Roadkill.

Driving across NJ’s Route 80 on Memorial Day led my family past more than 15 dead deer. I’m no expert, but I know what a living deer looks like, and these were definitely dead deer, no question about it. We all know pretty intuitively the difference between a living creature and roadkill. The fact of the matter is roadkill can’t do a thing except decompose. Dead animals cannot do what living animals are designed to do: they can’t hunt or hibernate, they can’t grow or reproduce, they can’t forage, frolic, sing or howl. They do nothing but rot.

Spiritually dead humans have bodies that are headed that direction too. We’re not biologically dead yet, but we’re on our way. We’re as good as dead: physically our fate is sealed. But here’s the key, and the thing that’s easy to forget: unlike animals, human life is not merely biological. We have souls. Souls that are designed for relationship with God, souls that make us capable of reverent worship and loving obedience.

That’s what’s dead. Our souls. We know a dead body when we see one: it’s not doing what living bodies are supposed to do! Do we know a dead soul when we see one?

If one definition of a dead animal is an organism that has ceased to perform any of the activities associated with biological life, then perhaps a good explanation of how unregenerated sinners are dead is that we are conceived and born, suckled and schooled, married and buried without ever performing any of the activities comprising spiritual life: We do not, and we cannot, glorify and enjoy God. At all. We’re dead.

Ah, you might say, but we’re still worshippers, we still can desire good things, and love people. Surely we’re not totally dead spiritually, just sick!

Consider, in response, a second analogy:


Analogy #2: A Dead Car.

Imagine a wiry boy straight out of Jungle Book, raised by wolves, venturing from the trees into the outskirts of an Indian village. Across the dirt road he sees a creature he’s never seen before: a rusty, dusty pickup truck. After making sure it won’t bite him (it looks safely dead, but maybe it’s just sleeping!), he climbs inside. He fiddles with the buttons and the levers. There’s a key, and he discovers that it turns in its socket. click-click-click-click…. “THE INDIAN PRIME MINISTER ANNOUNCED TODAY A NEW INITIATIVE AIMED”—at the loud voice blaring from the speakers, Mowgli flings himself out of the truck, somersaults across the road and bounds up a tree. The beast is alive after all! The car is working!

Only…we know it’s not. There’s still some juice in the battery, for now. Enough to keep the radio going for a few days more, maybe. But if we could open up the hood, we’d see the engine troubles responsible for its recent abandonment. It’s dead.

See, cars are made for driving. A car that can’t drive may have some elements that still work. But if it is unable to perform its most essential function, we would be right to consider it dead, even though it’s not completely “broken” in every respect.

Can you see what I’m getting at? Human beings’ essential function—our “chief end” as the old catechisms have it—is to live in the awareness and service and worship of God, the Creator and Lord of the universe. It is this essential function that is dead in every human being—dead as a gutted car in a junkyard—apart from the saving work of Christ.

I hope that this is a challenge to you; it is to me. I can very easily be impressed by the fact that my neighbors have functioning radios and headlights and windshield wipers, if you will. They seem to be quite fine, some of them! It is only as I remember and reflect on the truth that they were created to know and love and worship and listen to and serve and sing to and live for God that the alarming state of their souls becomes apparent, that the sad absence of admiration for God or interest in the Bible or routines of worship or desire for wisdom or love of Christians begins click-click-clicking, and I get a whiff of the reality: they are dead and rotting, spiritually.

Recalling what people were created for helps me want to keep in mind that they are dead spiritually. This should serve as a motivation to see the gospel as something everyone around me needs. Sometimes I find it much more natural and comfortable to share the gospel with people who are obviously broken, obviously a mess, obviously in need of major spiritual renovation. But wait long enough and roadkill of the noblest variety is going to stink. Whether it’s a Lexus or a lemon, a car that won’t drive is dead, period.

I’m no mechanic, no veterinarian, no physician; but I do know a gospel-message and a God-man that give life to the dead. My prayer is that he will open our eyes to see the spiritual deadness of people more clearly, so we’ll cry out on their behalf to the God who gives life to the dead, and so that we’ll be emboldened to tell them about Christ—that “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”


-Jordan Roberts

The Good Life

The Good Life

The Good Life

I sat next to a 16-year-old boy wearing a baggy T-Shirt that said “BLESSED” in gaudy lettering. The image on the shirt gave the sense: two hands pressed together in prayer, between them a long-stemmed rose and a stack of hundred-dollar bills.

Pleasure and prosperity—the “blessed” life. The good life. Is this all we need from God? Is it all we ask of God? Pleasure and prosperity—and power, perhaps—are the only goods the world has to offer. Sixteen-year-old, you’re still young—do you remember anything of your Maker? Lottery tickets and girlfriends won’t make up for the vertical rift.

Bootleg Blessing

What is the good life? That’s the question. Most answer it with pre-fabricated assumptions that fit their souls like a glove (or like a T-shirt). Our fallen hearts crave blessing without the Benefactor. The “world” is happy to supply the demand with bootleg blessings (and even so, most of us won’t hit it big in terms of the three P’s. But in America we have plenty of free T-shirts to go around).

In the world’s saner enclaves, pleasure and prosperity take the form of tightknit communities (incubators for healthier pleasures) and meaningful work (“prosperity” is relative). But even such wholesome “blessings” as these, limited as they are to the realm of sin and sinners, are two-dimensional. Like the graphic on the Tee.

In our saner moments we sense it’s threadbare. True blessing needs its origin outside the broken world. True blessing must minister to my soul’s needs, not my body’s appetites. This shirt covers a future corpse. But eternity cries out in the 16-year old’s heart to be acknowledged.

The Good Life 101

God knows about eternity. He alone is qualified to speak to it, and he does in Scripture. But his goal is not just to instruct our minds. He aims (amazing grace!) to give it to us. To give people eternal life. To give sinners the good life.

Before there were sinners—before the world was broken—God blessed us and spoke to us (Genesis 1:28). Even in a perfect world true blessing comes on God’s terms.

Much more then, after the fall, God must give the good life—and he also must describe it so we know it when we see it. It can be easy to miss. Before the new creation comes in glory, true blessing comes like treasure in jars of clay. Not all that’s gold glitters.

So it’s fitting that we look to the Psalms—that mixture of praise and lamentation, that collection from the kingly choirmaster shepherding us toward the Hallelujahs of 150—to learn to recognize the good life. In the bad world, the good life always looks like God changing us, not necessarily our circumstances. That is why the Psalms, particularly Book I (Psalms 1-41), do not just talk about “blessing” but describe the blessed person. Let’s take a look at how Book I describes this person in four key Psalms: 1, 2, 32, and 41.

Psalm 1: The Blessed Person Finds Life in God’s Revelation.

God’s grace is mediated through his redemptive word. The blessed person is the one who has been healed to hear his Maker’s voice again—and not only to hear, but to listen.

Psalm 2: The Blessed Person Takes Refuge in God’s Son.

The word and the Word are inseparable. God’s covenant speech issues from and commands our allegiance to our covenant Lord, God’s Son. The blessed life is not moralistic adherence to the word—it is the life wholly surrendered to the mercy and majesty of the Savior-King.

Psalm 32: The Blessed Person Seeks and Receives God’s Forgiveness.

Whoever lives by the truth, whoever comes to the Son, must grapple with the guilt they trail behind them—and the corruption within them. Psalm 1 could be confused for self-righteousness. Psalm 2 could be misinterpreted as nationalism. Psalm 32 puts the pieces together (as Paul does more fully in Romans 4). The righteous person of Psalm 1 is blessed with a life of righteousness, not because of it. The nations in Psalm 2 are invited to repent and join the Jewish Messiah. Righteousness is a gift that God gives the repentant offender, not a badge worn by the self-justifying. Blessing is blessing because it is unearned. (It’s no accident the word for “blessed” could also be rendered “happy.” He who has been forgiven much loves much.)

Psalm 41: The Blessed Person Manifests Mercy and Integrity.

God’s blessing not only counts righteous but makes holy. Those who remember the poor, who walk in integrity—who love God and love their neighbors—they truly are called “blessed in the land.” Ironically, the world often mistakes people of mercy and integrity as weak or naïve (meek is Christ’s word for them). But they are in fact those to whom the kingdom is given. They will inherit the land. Pleasure, prosperity and power will come to those who are pure in heart.

But first: They see God.

THE Blessed Person

The blessed person sees God as the blessed one (Ps 41:13), the supreme good, the “sumum bonum.” One day, face to face; for now, in the Christ of Scripture. The blessed person will see God because he has seen Christ.

The blessed person has seen Christ to be both the rightful recipient of infinite blessing and the gracious content of our blessing. Christ is The Blessed Person. And Christ is our blessing. In him we have the Word (Psalm 1). In him we have the King our refuge (Psalm 2). In him we have forgiveness (Psalm 32). In him we become holy (Psalm 41).

Future Blessing

This “blessedness” is not for this life only. Far from it! Resurrection life will put the lie to all this-worldly imposters to the good life (like roses and cash). But for now, true blessing transcends concerns about “standard of living.” Life in the Spirit might look like you renouncing all earthly possessions. At the very least the good life is one free from the love of money. Yet life in the Spirit ends not in poverty but in paradise.

And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book. (Rev 22:7)

Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. (Rev 22:4)

The book of Revelation brings the blessing of Genesis 1:28 full circle, describing the heavenly city-garden where God’s people will see his face. And it speaks in terms of the good life: “Blessed.”

Roses and stacks of cash will simply be part of the pavement in that place.


–Jordan Roberts

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