Friday, August 21, 2015

Book of Revelation

The Book of Revelation
    “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants--things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw.  Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.”  Rev 1:1-3 (NKJV)
    It is 96 A.D., the church is in what seems to be a “death-struggle” with the forces of evil, and the Christians seem to be losing! But things are not always what they seem to be outwardly. “Write, then, the things you see, both the things that are now, and the things that will happen afterward” (Rev. 1:19).
    To understand this book, we must first begin at the fact that it was intended for the believers in John’s day and age (Rev. 2:1-3). It is God‘s answer to the prayers and tears of severely persecuted Christians who were scattered through the cities of Asia Minor. It must be studied in the light of the conditions that existed in the last ten years of the First Century A.D. It shows Jesus as the expediter (one who puts into effect an order or decree in the shortest possible time) of God’s Plan (Rev. 5). The Trumpets of chapter 9 answer the question: “How can a loving God allow pain and suffering?” To the Christian who suffers pain, this is a Seal (compare Rev. 7:2-3 note); but to the unbeliever, this pain and suffering is a Trumpet of warning! The theme of this book is stated very well in the words of Rev. 17:14.  “They will fight against the Lamb: but the Lamb, and his called, chosen, and faithful followers with him, will defeat them, for he is Lord of Lords and King of Kings.
    The LORD shall reign forever.
    “Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!"  And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God,  saying: "We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, The One who is and who was and who is to come, Because You have taken Your great power and reigned.  The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, And the time of the dead, that they should be judged, And that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, And those who fear Your name, small and great, And should destroy those who destroy the earth."  Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail.”  Rev 11:15-19 (NKJV)
    Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet. This introduces the End of the World and the Final Judgment, but does not describe it. The loud voices in heaven announce: “The power to rule over the world belongs now to our Lord and his Messiah, and he will rule forever and ever.” Compare I Cor. 15:24-28. It may seem as if Satan is the supreme ruler, and that all the power is on the side of the forces of evil. Revelation shows us that God is in control NOW! Judgment will reveal God’s mighty Power as it
actually is.  Then the twenty-four elders. Symbolic of the Redeemed. They respond to what the loud voices announced by falling down and worshiping [see note on Rev. 5:14].  And have begun to rule! God has been ruling all along, but not in ways clearly seen. As Judgment begins, all opposition is crushed forever.  Because it is the time. It has not been the right time, up till now.  To reward your servants. God keeps his promises. Compare Rev. 22:12.  It is the time to destroy those who destroy the earth! Sin pays its wage. The wicked earn the punishment they will receive. Compare Rev. 18:6. God’s temple in heaven was opened. This symbolic picture shows the beauty of God’s love to his children. The temple is wide open so all can see the ark holding the covenant. That ark symbolizes the real and perfect union [fellowship of 1 John 1:7 given real meaning] of God and his people. Flashes of lightning. The same ark holding the covenant is symbolic of God’s wrath to those who have rejected him. The lightning, sounds, thunder, earthquake, and hail symbolize God’s mighty power brought in wrath against the ungodly (compare Jude 15).
    “Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, "Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints,  to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him." Jude 1:14-15
    The Mystery of Faith Revealed.
    “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen.”

Jude 1:24-25; Romans 16:25-27  


Godhead – The Holy Spirit   adapted from Phil Sanders - SearchTV
     “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.”
1 John 5:7 (KJV)   “And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.” Luke 23:46 (KJV)   “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”  Eph 4:30 (KJV)
   "The historic reason for employing the language of “Holy Ghost” is that the Douay-Rheims Bible (used by traditional Catholics) and the King James Version (used by Anglicans and Fundamentalists) employ the term “Holy Ghost” for the Third Person of Holy Trinity over 90% of the time. “Holy Ghost” is not used exclusively, however.  Both versions also employs “Holy Spirit.” For example, the Douay Rheims uses “Holy Ghost” 95 times, and “Holy Spirit” 8 times.  The 15th, 16th and 17th century English translators used “ghost” to translate the Latin “spiritus,” which in turn was a translation of the Greek “pneuma” (like pneumatic tools and catching pneumonia).  Ghost derives from the Old English word gast which refers to personal immaterial being – a soul, an angel, or even a demon. It is directly related the German geist. Today, “ghost” conjures up images of haunted houses. It is a shame that this is the case. Is it, however, a reason to abandon the term “Holy Ghost”?”  Taylor Marshall
     “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.  And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.  I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.  Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.  He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.”
John 16:7-15 (KJV)
     “For this reason the apostle Paul could say, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words” (1 Corinthians 2:12-13). Every word written in Scripture is there by the power of the Holy Spirit. Second Peter 1:20-21 says, “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation (that is, they didn’t make it up), for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” The human authors did not write whatever they pleased to write in Scripture; the Holy Spirit moved them to write the things that they did.”
     “The scriptures not only describe the Holy Spirit but attribute to Him a Divine personality. More than one hundred times, He is called the “Holy Spirit,” which is a clear reference to His deity. In Hebrews 9:14 He is called the eternal Spirit. “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
Heb 9:14 (KJV)  The apostle Paul taught in 1 Corinthians 2:10-11 that the Holy Spirit is omniscient; that is, He knows all things. Paul said, “For to us God revealed them through the Spirit (that is, the things in scripture); for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.”
     “When God raised Jesus from the dead, the Holy Spirit was very much involved. Romans 8:11 says, “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”  Romans 8:11 (KJV)  When Jesus comes again, the Holy Spirit will raise our bodies from the dead. Only a divine being can do this. Likewise, a prophet named Agabus made a prediction, “And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.
Acts 11:28 (KJV)  Only God can know the future. The Holy Spirit is divine!”
     “When Jesus and the apostles began working miracles, they acted in the power of the Holy Spirit. Peter recalled, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.”  Acts 10:38 (KJV)  In every miracle of Jesus, the Father and the Spirit were very much involved. Likewise, God was confirming His message through the miracles that the apostles and others performed by the Holy Spirit. Hebrews 2:3-4 says about our salvation that “For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;  How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?”  Heb 2:2-4 (KJV)
The Holy Spirit was behind and involved in every single miracle.
     “When the Lord Jesus was conceived, the Holy Spirit was involved. The angel told Mary, “And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”  Luke 1:35 (KJV)  Later an angel of the Lord told Joseph, “But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.”
Matt 1:20 (KJV)

     “David said that the Spirit was present everywhere; this is another sign of being Divine. He said, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.  If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.”  Psalms 139:7-10 (KJV)

Sunday, August 16, 2015




      “And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.”         

Daniel 2:44

      What might a standard church be like?  Would there be a three-ring manual giving exact details of all the services down to the smallest detail?  Would all the churches (buildings) be clones of the pattern?  SciFi writers ask what if a brotherhood of churches were set up as a franchise, much like the Fast Food industry does.

      The entrance room of First Church is, of course, just like all the others in the franchise.  A picture of Evangelist Brother Billy-Bob is placed so you will see it as you enter.  A stylized picture of Jesus receives the emphasis.  A counter sits to one side, done up in fake wood so it looks like something from an old church. Behind the counter, an elderly lady sits, a flimsy sort of choir robe thrown over her shoulders.

There's a little rack along the front of the counter bearing gospel tracts, free for the taking, donation requested. The lady types some stuff into the computer. The worshiper snaps her Visa © card down on the fake wood counter top; it sounds like a rifle shot. The lady pries the card up, then she swipes the card through its electromagnetic slot with a carefully modulated sweep of the arm, as though tearing back a veil, hands over the slip, mumbling that she needs a signature and daytime phone number.  Since cash and checks are no longer used, the collection must be taken up before the service.  (We are to “lay by in store.”).

Then it just remains for the “Word from On High.” But computers and communications are awfully good these days, and it usually doesn't take longer than a couple of seconds to perform a charge-card verification. The little machine beeps out its approval code. "Thank you for your donation," the lady says, slurring the words together into a single syllable.

The worshipper hurried toward the double doors. The song leader has already walked to his place to convene the service. The interior of the church is weirdly colored.  Fluorescent fixtures are wedged into the ceiling.  Large colored light boxes simulate stained-glass windows. The largest of these, shaped like a fattened Gothic arch, is bolted to the back wall, above the pulpit, and features a waterfall pouring into a river basin.  The baptistery is placed beneath this.  The song leader announces the first number and the singing begins.

      But what is the church?  Campbell disliked the word church, because, he said, there were too many unreal ideas attached to it.  In his “Living Oracles Version” he used the word congregation.  “As Jesus was going to the district of Cesarea Philippa, he asked his disciples, saying, Who do men say that the Son of Man is? They answered, Some say, John the Immerser; others, Elijah; others, Jeremiah, or one of the Prophets. But who, returned he, do you say that I am? Simon Peter answering, said, You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God. Jesus replying, said to him, Happy are you, Simon Barjona; for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. I tell you, likewise, you are named Stone [Peter]; and on this rock I will build my congregation, over which the gates of Hades shall not prevail. Moreover, I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you shall bind on the earth, shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you shall loose on the earth, shall be loosed in heaven.”  Matt. 16:13-19 Living Oracles Version

Jesus preached: “Repent, the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  If you will substitute the word kingdom for church, you will find you cannot say some things.  And Paul the Apostle wrote: “who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his beloved Son: by whom we have redemption, even the remission of sins. Col. 1:13 Living Oracles Version

“Now, then, you are no longer strangers and sojourners; but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God: having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the foundation corner stone; by which the whole building being fitly compacted together, rises into a holy temple of the Lord; in which you also are builded together for a habitation of God by the Spirit.”  Eph. 2:19-22 Living Oracles Version

[For the believer, the Church is a reality of an entirely different order.  The Church is a mystery at once visible and invisible, given the task of making real the Gospel of Jesus Christ and translating it into action for each new generation.  But the Church is activated by God The Holy Spirit, clothed with His power and possessing His pledge of loyalty.  Compare 1 Cor. 12:12-13.]

      What the question really asks is: “Can I find a church like the one I [think I] remember from my childhood?”  This writer remembers a small church in Columbus, Ohio, that has not been there for many years.  It was replaced by a Disciples Church.  The small church was rural in nature, even though in the city.  The Disciples Church was city-oriented.  The small church had a series of preachers who Kept Things Just Like They Were.  Then a new preacher came Who Thought Big.  There was some difference in doctrine, yet basically the emphasis was still on Jesus and the gospel.  But they began to Do Things and as population grew in the Columbus area, so did they!  To several hundreds!  [If preaching the truth means we will continue to be small - what about the Jerusalem Church?  They baptized thousands!]

      But when we say "standard church" we set the boundaries of the answer.  The Roman Catholic Church to some extent grew out of a wish to produce a standard church which would be exactly the same everywhere.    Centralized Authority ruled that each (local) Church would follow the matrix-pattern: Latin language; Latin Vulgate Bible; fixed order of worship; priestly ministers trained and certified by Authority.  But even this eventually has had to change.  The charismatic movement has changed even the Catholic Church.  And now many speak in the language of the people.

      The Old Testament does not describe in detail just how worship was done under The Law (even though we are told certain things they did).   The New Testament does not show us in detail a worship-service under the Gospel.  Certainly we have an opinion of what things were done, but not all the fine print details.  And certainly a Jew and a Gentile did the same things "differently."  The Jerusalem Church was the first megachurch (which would require some adjustments to how they did things.  [Campbell stressed FACTS over words and theories.  The Book of Acts shows us some facts about the church.]

  "God is not impressed with what other people think of us, or even with our own opinion of ourselves.  He sees what we really are, and He knows our motives as well as our deeds....  Christian worship, with familiar psalms, hymns, prayers and readings from the Scriptures, brings God the praise 'in spirit and in truth' which He seeks (John 4:23)."  Wallerstedt

      An English writer of the 19th century wrote: "The whole world is a temple and man is everywhere a worshiper."  This is in harmony with the "living sacrifice" which Paul speaks about in Romans 12.  We worship God with purity and holiness and good works and especially love.  We intend to be faithful throughout our whole life.  [Surprise!  The Judgment is about how we treated others.  Matt. 25:31-46]

      Solomon’s Temple was destroyed.  The Jews were sent to Babylon.  Temple worship was no longer possible.  Certainly by God’s design the synagogue was developed.  Jews came together at a location to worship God, to study the Scriptures, and to share Jewish life and culture.  This predates the pattern of the Christian community - the church.  The synagogue was both visible and invisible.  Their loyalty and relationship to God was invisible.  When they met for worship they were visible.

      Christians are commanded to meet together as a worship-community. "Don't give up the habit of meeting for worship."  And even during times of severe persecution we see Christians meeting in secret as a group to worship their Lord and Savior.  Some belittle the "institutional church," yet we see huge congregations at Jerusalem, Antioch, Corinth, etc.  Many blessings for the individual Christian and a pooling of energies and abilities exist only in the Institutional Church.  Note Paul in 1 Corinthians 12.

      But all this doesn’t see the one factor common to each local church congregation - God The Holy Spirit.  "...that He may abide with you forever."  "...but to wait for the Promise of the Father, 'which,' He said, 'you have heard from Me.'" "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?"  “in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”  “For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them And walk among them.  I will be their God, And they shall be My people."

      Jesus said in John 4:14, "But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life."  Note the inspired explanation of what Jesus is saying, in John 7:37-39.  [Jesus was glorified in the Cross & Resurrection.]  It surely cannot be right to deny grace and try to explain it away.  Nor to try to  depersonalize The Holy Spirit and say “It is just a power like electricity” as some do.  Nor to fail to elevate JESUS in our lives and worship.

      A good case can be made for the fact that it is the presence of God The Holy Spirit who "standardizes" the church   The Book of Acts could be spoken of as the "Acts of The Holy Spirit."  God indwells the church (The Congregation of the Saved) by The Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:22).  God indwells each Christian by The Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19; 2 Corinthians 3:6,18).  It isn't necessary that we become "Pentecostal" in what we do (nor JW’s in what we don’t do).  But to "DENY" The Holy Spirit places us on dangerous ground.  [Few would admit to denying The Spirit.  But what are we doing?  We should look carefully.]

      Someone has written about Christian believers and worship.

         "Without God The Holy Spirit,

         God is far away,

         Christ stays in the past,

         The Gospel is a dead letter,

         The Church is simply an organization,

         Authority is a matter of domination,

         Evangelism is a matter of propaganda,

         Worship is no more than calling on a

         deity who isn’t there,

         Christian living is only a slave morality."


      The Creation is resurrected and groans with the birth-pangs of the Kingdom (Romans 8:18-23).

      The Risen Christ is there.

      The Gospel is the power of life.

      The Church shows forth the life of the Trinity.

      Authority is a liberating service (cf. Luke 22:25-26).

      Propagation of the Faith is a "Pentecost."

      Worship-service is both memorial and anticipation.

      Human action becomes "in the image of God."

      Consider the following which I have adapted from a letter.

      "I had been a member of the church for 48 years and was about as strict a Bible-Christian as anyone could be.  I never missed Worship and was there every time the "church" met.  Then I discovered through the Holy Spirit that what I had been trying to do for 48 years by works and service to the church, had already been done 2,000 years ago at Calvary [Hebrews 1:3]. At that moment I knew the only way to heaven was through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.  As I tried to share this truth with others, I got a severe lecture from the preacher.  He said I could not get to heaven by grace but had to work out my salvation through the church.  Sadly and reluctantly I was forced to leave.  It was so strange being both in the 'Lord's Church' and on the verge of being kicked out because of my belief in salvation through grace as Paul taught."

      What Jesus taught is not the normal human way of looking at things. God The Father deals with us as we deal with our children.  Not punishment in the sense of revenge.  But chastisement to protect and mature.  God's response to the prodigal who brings himself back is to receive him home! Note what Paul said in Philippians 3:8-11.  The righteousness that is given through faith in Christ!  "...but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

      The average person is "soft" on forgiveness.  They cannot believe that God forgives sins.  Note this from one of our brothers in Romania. "In general Romanians do not trust each other, prompted by their communist experience. Associated with this is the difficulty of believing in God's grace.  To them, the older brother in Luke 15 is a hero and the father inexcusably unfair in receiving the prodigal back."

      The "older brother" was loved and accepted by the father.  Yet the older brother had problems with the "grace" extended to the prodigal.  Perhaps he felt no need of grace for himself.  He had works and faithfulness!  Yet his acceptance by the father also involved his own acceptance of the returned prodigal.  Note 1 John 4:20.  "...for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?"  Our own love of God is circumscribed by our love for our "brother."

      And take note of what God said to Jonah.  “But the Lord said, "You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left--and much livestock?"

Jonah 4:10-11 (NKJV)

PS: Communion on Tiberias Cylinder (a city out in Space).

The third song will be the Communion Hymn: "Upon The First Day Of The Week."  Christ raised from death on the day following the Sabbath - Sunday, the first day of the new week.

   A word of explanation.  The tradition of this Church is that every Sunday is Communion Sunday.  We believe it was so in the early Church.  Some of the names applied to this Communion are: Vespermangon; Lord's Supper; Holy Meal; Eucharist.  This will be the high point of the worship service.  HE has overcome the world!  HE has won the victory!  We worshipers believe that this Holy Meal ties each one of us to every other Christian in the Universe as each one shares in the bread and wine of the Communion.  Note 1 Corinthians 10:16-17.

   We will see the tradition of simultaneous communion.  Each communicant has already received an individually sealed portion of the bread and wine (an outgrowth of the AIDS epidemic of the past).  The bread is unleavened.  The wine is unprocessed grape juice with only enough fermentation to prevent spoilage."  [Note: already in 2010 “The Celebration Cup is a patented double sealed wafer and juice set, that makes celebrating Holy Communion more sanitary and more convenient.”  It is about the size of an individual coffee creamer.  The first flap covers the wafer of unleavened bread.  The second covers the fruit of the vine.]

   Morris Evans has come to the symbolic table and is the Unifier of this Holy Meal.

   Again we inject a note of explanation.  This Church makes no sharp distinction between clergy and laity.  Steve is an electrician; Morris is a paramedic.  Both are church-elders, as is Rod, who is also a Preaching Minister.  As brothers and sisters in the Family of God all work together for the common good of all.  "He lets us rule as kings and serve God His Father as priests" (Revelation 1:6)


   Morris lifts up his hands and speaks:  "As we join together in this Holy Meal, we remember our Lord who died on Old Earth many centuries ago.  Jesus died as God's Sacrificial Lamb, to expiate the sins of the world of humans and to put us right with God.  We are here today to praise Him and to show Him our love!  We honor Jesus for Who He Is and for What He Did!  We take this bread - by faith, His body.  We take this wine - by faith, His blood.  As the Scripture says: 'For until the Lord comes, you proclaim His death whenever you eat this bread and drink the cup.'  And now Stan Chenowitz will lead us in the prayer of thanks."

   Stan comes from the right to stand at the podium.  He lifts up his hands and speaks.

   "We praise You, O Lord our God!  While we were estranged from You because of our sins, You reached out to us by sending Jesus!  We are so thankful for Your blessings!  Touch this bread - to us the body of Christ by our faith.  Touch this wine - to us the blood of Christ by our faith.  Touch our lives, and make us one in Christ - we are the Body of Christ.  We pray in the Name of Jesus, Amen."

   Now attention shifts back to Morris Evans at the Table.  The entire congregation waits in anticipation, holding in their hands the individual portions of bread and wine.  Morris lifts his individual portion as high as he can reach, holding them for a moment.  Then he lowers his arms and speaks.

   "This is My body, which is for you.  Do this in memory of Me."

   As Morris puts the individual portion of bread in his mouth, simultaneously so do each of the communicants.

   Again Morris speaks.

    "The wine which is this cup is God's New Covenant, sealed with My blood.  Whenever you drink it, do it in memory of Me."

   Morris drinks the individual portion of wine and so do the communicants simultaneously."

   We remind you that the bread and wine are encapsulated in individual portions.  As we said, this began during the AIDS crisis on Earth as a sanitation measure.  Actually, this works quite well in a crowd like this.  There is nothing to dispose of.  And, it permits us to follow the example of the early Church who celebrated the Holy Meal regularly.  This Church emphasizes the memorial /commemorative /celebration purpose of the Lord's Supper.

   Now Steve Chin returns to the podium.  A song of praise appears on the wall-screen.  "Praise be to God, In every time, In every place, From every person."  All sing with love and devotion.

   Again a word of explanation.  Many years ago a collection/offering was taken up following the Holy Meal.  Since Tiberias uses electronic money - no coins or paper money - they cannot take up a collection as they once did on old Earth.  What Apostle Paul actually said was: "On the first day of every week each of you must put aside some money, in proportion to what he has earned, and save it up..."  Each worshiper who wishes to do so, then, transfers an amount of credit into the Church's account.  And this is part of our worship to Him.

Saturday, August 8, 2015


How to preach like Jesus preached
    “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”  John 3:16-17 (KJV)
    “We won’t change doctrine.  What we will do is return the church to its true doctrine—the one it has forgotten, the one that puts man back in the center. For too long, the church put sin in the center. By putting the suffering of man, and his relationship with God, back in the center, these harsh attitudes toward homosexuality, divorce, and other things will start to change.”  Serna     [read 1 John 5:14-17; Matt. 25:34-46.]

    1. The God who loves us.
      "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." Luke 4:18-19 (NKJV)
    Notice His entire emphasis on meeting needs and healing hurts. Jesus had Good News to share, and people wanted to hear it. He had a message that offered practical benefits for their lives. His truth would "set people free" and bring all sorts of blessings to their lives.  Very few of the people who came to Jesus were looking for truth. They were looking for relief. So Jesus would meet their felt needs, whether leprosy, blindness, or a bent back. After their felt needs were met, they were always anxious to know the truth about this Man. He had helped them with a problem they couldn't solve.
    Our basic message to people must be good news. If it isn't good news, it isn't the gospel. We must learn to share the gospel in ways that show it is both "good" and "news." The gospel is about what God has done for us and what we can become in Christ.  A personal relationship to Christ is the answer to all of man's deepest needs. The Good News offers people what they are frantically searching for: forgiveness, freedom, security, purpose, love, acceptance, and strength. It settles our past, assures our future, and gives meaning to today. We have the best news in the world.
    If you'd been in a car accident and were bleeding to death in the Emergency Room, how would you feel if the doctor came in and wanted to talk about the Greek word for hospital or the history of the stethoscope? All he said to you could be true but irrelevant because it doesn't stop your hurt. You would want the doctor to begin with your pain.
    Beginning a message with people's felt needs is not some modern approach invented by 20th-century marketing! It's the way Jesus always preached.  It's based on the doctrinal fact that God chooses to reveal himself to man according to our needs! Both the Old and New Testament are filled with many examples of this.
   Even the names of God are revelations of how God meets our felt needs! Throughout history when people have asked God, "What is your name?" God's response has been to reveal himself according to what they needed at that specific time: to those who needed a miracle, God revealed himself as Jehovah-Jireh ("I am your provider"), to those who needed comfort, God revealed himself as Jehovah-Shalom ("I am your peace"), to those who needed salvation, God revealed himself as Jehovah-tsidkenu ("I am your righteousness").

    2. The Great Commission.
 `”And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.Matt 28:18-20 (NKJV)
    “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,  that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.  Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God.  For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  2 Cor 5:18-21 (NKJV)
    “So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.  And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.”
Mark 16:19-20 (NKJV)

Monday, August 3, 2015

13 Lessons on Mark

(Mark 1:1-16)
Background Notes

MADMAN OR SON OF GOD??? Who is Jesus Christ??? Shortly before his crucifixion, Jesus was being interrogated by the High Priest, who asked him point-blank: "Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed God?" "I am," answered Jesus, "and you will all see the Son of Man seated at the right side of the Almighty, and coming with the clouds of heaven!" (see Mark 14:61-64). The High Priest understood the claim Jesus was making. He tore his ceremonial robe, and declared: "We don’t need any more witnesses! You heard his wicked words." There can be no doubt at all that Jesus made the claim to be God. This was the official charge placed against him by the Jewish leaders. "We have a law that says he ought to die, because he claimed to be the Son of God" (John 19:7).
The answer of the identity of Jesus Christ is at the heart of each of the four Gospels. Matthew, Mark, and Luke each produced a general account of the life of Jesus, each with his own special emphasis and added material. Matthew writes as a "preacher"; Mark as a "chronicler"; Luke writes as a "historian"; and John writes as a "theologian." Matthew gives us a Jewish point of view, proving from the Old Testament portion of the Bible that Jesus is the promised Messiah. Mark gives us the Roman point of view, describing Jesus as "God’s Superman," who demonstrates his deity by his miracles. He emphasizes what Jesus did, rather than what Jesus taught. He shows us the war of Jesus against sin and evil in the world. Luke writes "an orderly account" of the things that had taken place. He emphasizes the universality of the "Christ event" as it applies to all mankind, both Jewish and Gentile. Clement of Alexandria speaks of John’s Gospel as the "spiritual gospel." John shows us The Word (Logos) who came down from the invisible God to reveal the Father to all mankind.
Scripture declares to us that Jesus is the Messiah -- the Lord from heaven! It is this statement of fact that makes it possible for us to know Jesus by faith. But how can we learn what Jesus was like when he lived here on earth as a human being? What was it like to be with him? How did he deal with difficult situations? How did he relate to people? The four Gospels give us the opportunity to know who Jesus is and what he is like. Each of the Gospels is a character sketch of Jesus, carefully detailed by someone who knew him (and who was inspired by the Holy Spirit). Only Matthew and John traveled with Jesus in his public ministry. But Mark and Luke drew on eyewitness accounts from Jesus’ first disciples. (And they were guided by the Spirit in their choice of material.) Each of the four Gospel writers knew Christ with a faith full of excitement and with a love that illuminates Jesus’ character forever in the Gospels!
When you have four "pictures" of a person, you can compare one with another, and get a clearer understanding of that person. Perhaps this is why God gave us four accounts. There can be no real doubt that Mark’s Gospel is independent of the others. He also gives us a valuable statement of God’s truth. As we compare the Gospels, we remember some things which Alexander Campbell said.
1. Not one of these four historians wrote with any design of improving upon the others, of detailing the things omitted by them, or of supplying any defects which he observed in their statements.
2. Not one of these historians relates all that he knew of Jesus, nor do they all relate as much as any one of them could have related concerning him.
3. These historians do not always aim at giving the precise words of those they quote, not even of the Savior himself; but only the full and precise sense of what was uttered or written. Campbell adds that Jesus certainly taught the same things many times and worked the same miracles many times. Also that the order of narration does not follow our modern plan of historic writings; but is similar to the Jewish or Oriental way of looking at things. All this helps to explain the "differentness" of the four Gospels.
The probable date for Mark to write is between 60-70 A. D. A statement by Papias (in the second century) has Mark writing at Rome, traditionally around the time of Peter’s death there. But this has been challenged by the discovery among the Dead Sea Scrolls of what may be a fragment of Mark’s Gospel (Bible and Spade, Winter, 1972). This could push the date back as far as 35 A.D. Since Mark clearly wrote by inspiration, such an early date would pose no real problem. Peter has traditionally been identified as the source of Mark’s eyewitness accounts. There is a similarity in the way both word their statements. Compare Peter’s sermon in Acts chapter two. Peter gives a good summary of Mark’s Gospel in these words from Acts 10:38. "You know about Jesus of Nazareth, how God poured out on him the Holy Spirit and power. He went everywhere, doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him."
Mark was very likely the young man who "ran away naked" in Mark 14:51-52. Although not one of the "inner circle," he would have known Jesus at least by sight, if not personally. His mother was Mary, an aunt (sister, KJV) of Barnabas (Col. 4:10). His mother’s home was such a center of Christian activity, that when Peter was released from prison, he immediately went there (Acts 12:12-17). Some think her house was where the apostles stayed just after the ascension (Acts 1:13), and some think the Last Supper was eaten in the "Upper Room" of her house. He was probably born in Jerusalem, and his Jewish name was "John." "Mark," his Roman name, gradually superseded the other (compare the change of Saul to Paul). The "John Mark" of Acts 12:12, 25, and the "John" ("John Mark" in some versions) of Acts 13:5, 13 becomes "Mark" only in Acts 15:39; Col. 4:10; 2 Tim. 4:11; Phm. 24. He was a helper to Paul and Barnabas in their first tour of missions. Johnson thinks Mark did most of the actual work of baptizing people into Christ (compare 1 Cor. 1:14-17). Mark returned to Jerusalem before the first tour ended, and this became a problem (Acts 15:38-39). But this was worked out to Paul’s satisfaction (Col. 4:10). He was with Paul during the first imprisonment, (Col. 4:10; Phm. 24). Later we find him with Peter (1 Pet. 5:13) at Babylon. Still later during Paul’s second imprisonment, he seems to be with Timothy at Ephesus (2 Tim. 4:11). Tradition makes him the founder of the church at Alexandria, and says he died a martyr’s death in the eighth year of Nero.
Mark and the other Gospels cover much identical material, yet there are facts which prove we are listening to an independent statement. The outstanding characteristic of Mark is realism. He does not idealize, but presents the facts as they were, with all the "warts and wrinkles" that might appear. For Mark, Jesus is the Jesus of history and the disciples are simply disciples. Remember that Jesus is the Logos who became a human being (John 1:14; 1 John 1:1-4). Mark gives us the true human personality of Jesus in all its originality and power, and as colored by the time and the place. Jesus is a carpenter (6:3) before he begins his public career. The Spirit drives Jesus into the desert at the temptation (1:12). When Jesus first appears in the synagogue at Capernaum, the people say, "What is this?" (1:27). Before daylight the next morning, he is up and out of the city (1:35-38). We see Jesus so involved with his mission, that his family fears for his sanity (3:20-21). We see Jesus climax his teaching in parables by suddenly leaving the crowd (4:35-36). Toward his last days on earth, Jesus goes ahead of his disciples on the ascent to Jerusalem, and the disciples are alarmed and the people are afraid (10:32). Jesus promised the return of the colt ridden in the Triumphant Entry (11:3). But in everything, mark is faithful to his theme: "This is the Good News about Jesus Christ, the Son of God" (1:1).
There are probably no more than twenty-four verses in Mark which are not paralleled, more or less exactly, in Matthew and Luke. Mark tells us: "The Sabbath was made for the good of man" (2:27); his family "set out to get him" by force (3:21); more detail in the healing of the Gadarene demoniac (5:1-20); some detail in the raising of Jairus’ daughter and the healing of the woman with severe bleeding (5:22-43); some detail in the calming of the storm (4:35-41); more detail in the healing of the boy with an evil spirit (9:14-29); "For everyone will be salted with fire: (9:49); that Jesus "would not let anyone carry anything through the temple courts" (11:16); that "The large crowd heard Jesus gladly" (12:37b); the command to watch and be alert (13:33-37); the young man who ran away naked (14:51); the conflict of the false witnesses (14:59); details about Simon who carried the cross (15:21); Pilate’s surprise that Jesus was already dead (15:44); the statement of the women about the stone (16:3-4).
Mark connects Peter with Capernaum (1:29); identifies Levi as the "son of Alphaeus" (2:14); tells Jesus named "Peter" (3:16); that Jesus called James and John, "Boanerges" (3:17); he names "Bartimaeus" (10:46); he mentions that Barabbas was part of a group of rebels (15:7). Mark also preserves words, phrases, and complete statements of Jesus which deserve to be examined: 1:15; 4:13; 6:31-34; 7:8; 8:38; 9:12; 39; 10:21 24, 30; 11:17; 13:32; 14:18-37; 16:7, 15-18.
Any controversy about the different endings to Mark’s Gospel has been solved by further discoveries. Over five thousand manuscripts have now been found. Of the most important ones, the Regius and Athos manuscripts give both endings. The Alexandrinus and Ephraemi Rescriptus give the longer ending, and it must have been in existence at the close of the first century. Both endings are considered authentic, and all Greek Testaments since Westcott & Hort include both endings in the text.   Rhoderick D. Ice