The theme of chapter two of Conversations About God by Graham Maxwell is what went wrong in God’s universe, in other words, what is sin and how did it mess everything up? After the lecture, Maxwell took questions from the audience mediated through the pastor of the Loma Linda University Church, Lou Venden (1984). Edited by Jon Paulien.
Lou Venden: Here’s a question that takes us back to the previous chapter and helps set the foundation for everything we are trying to do in this book. “You said that the book of Revelation was especially directed to the Christians living at the time when it was written. Can you explain that a bit more? I have always understood, or been told, that it has special relevance to the present day church instead. What do you think about that?”
Graham Maxwell: It’s true, I believe the book of Revelation was written first for the Christians of that time. They were discouraged, wondering why the Lord had not yet come. There was heresy in the church, opposition to leadership, and persecution. They needed the message of Revelation to point them to the larger view. They needed to know that they were caught up in a great controversy, but that God had already won the war.
We need it too. The book was written just as much for us as for them. We live at a time when we are faced with many of the same problems. And we need the same insight they did. Not so much a message about dates and events to come, interesting and helpful as that might be. Rather, we need the major message of the book of Revelation: Look a little higher, take a larger view of things. Realize that God has won the war. When we understand that message, our assignment and privilege is to go out and tell people that He’s won the war, and how He has won it. Supported by the message of this book, we can act more like players on a winning team instead of so often being on the defensive.
Lou: Are you saying that the meaning for us now may be even clearer when we understand its impact back then?
Graham: It’s the same message, but from our perspective in history, it should mean even more to us. God didn’t have a message for them and a schedule of events for us. I believe the consistent message of the book for all readers is to take the larger view of things. Set everything in the context of the great controversy. That perspective makes everything so much more significant. And it is a reading of Revelation that is positive and optimistic.
Lou: I have a question regarding the beginning of the rebellion in heaven. “Did any other angels question God before Lucifer did? If they didn’t, why didn’t they? Is it possible that another angel will question God again in the future? Since it happened once, why couldn’t it go on happening?”
Graham: I don’t know of any text that suggests other angels did what Lucifer did. The Bible only tells us a little of what happened. You remember that John said, “If I were to record everything that Jesus said and did, there wouldn’t be room in the world for all the books that could be written” (John 21:25). It’s enough for us to learn of Lucifer’s questioning rebellion and the consequences. Will this ever happen again? What about raising questions reverently? Of course, I think we’ll do that for eternity. How else could we learn? God is not afraid of reverent questioning at all. I think He’s complimented by it. But the Bible assures us that the kind of rebellion that arose with Lucifer will never arise again (see Nahum 1:9). Not because our freedom has been taken away, but because a costly basis has been established to provide us the answers we need. Jesus will always be there in His human form to remind us of all the answers God gave at the cross. And we’ll remember. And that will guarantee peace for eternity. But it will not take away our freedom.