At breakfast we witnessed another beautiful sunrise, a red rubber ball rising over new Jerusalem. This is Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath – no work is done. Our breakfast was made from food prepared on previous days. Not even scrambled eggs could be prepared. Talk about straining gnats.
Israel is made up of hills, valleys, hamlets, and towns. Mountains abound all around the Jordan Valley. We descended toward the Dead Sea and traveled the mountain, desert road, which is also rocky, hilly, craggy and lonely – between Jerusalem and Jericho. We descended over four thousand feet and once again, entered a different climate. This, as you probably realize by now, was the road used by the Good Samaritan. Our ears popped. What a beautiful land of endless variation! We saw many Bedouin camps and tents, goats, and sheep along the way. Israel really opens up the past. We passed through the wilderness of Judea, just north of Neger, and the wilderness of Beersheba. We passed deep gorges and narrow mountain passes, and canyons (Wadi) on the way toward Jericho. In the distance we saw Mount Nebo, Jericho, and the Wilderness of Temptation. We descended rapidly to the Dead Sea which was once a desert, but now, with water available, tomatoes, onions, strawberries, etc. are raised. We saw a Greek Monastery – the site of Biblical Gilgal. We also saw the place where Joshua crossed the Jordan River and laid down twelve stones. The Dead Sea provides Israel with minerals, power and electricity. We turned south towards En Gedi and Masada. We passed the mountains at Qumran, where later today, we will see the caves where the Bedouin shepherd boy discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947. Our ears kept popping. Now we went by the actual caves which hid the scrolls. What a desolate place is Qumran, home of the Essenes. The Dead Sea is 20% salt, and right next to a fresh water spring. The residents of Qumran depended on this fresh water supply. We saw possible Essene farms and a community near Qumran.
After proceeding south along the Dead Sea for awhile, away from the spring, the land again turned into a desert. The Dead Sea is shrinking and getting smaller. The water line is moving back. What beautiful terrain – the desert, mountains, and the Dead Sea – it has to be seen. We drove south a long way, passing caves where rebels hid from Greek and Roman authorities. The Dead Sea was four shades of blue, surrounded by lush, green vegetation, and towering red and brown mountains and cliffs. Leopards and ibex dwell in these forlorn mountains. We kept proceeding south toward the oasis of En Gedi. As we passed through En Gedi, we immediately saw an oasis filled with beautiful palm trees. En Gedi, of course, is where David hid from Saul in a cave and cut Saul’s garment. I can see why David stayed here.
We then passed a health resort where a sulfur spring bubbled from the ground. Finally we approached our first destination of Masada. What a majestic site in the distance. The ramp that the Romans built in order to capture Masada could be seen. The Romans, under Titus, took three years to capture it through siege (70-73 A.D.). We also saw Mount Sodom south at a distance. An oasis was at the bottom of Masada. What a beautiful drive, Jerusalem to Masada. One may ascend Masada in one of two ways: 1) by cable car or 2) by the “snake path” which takes about forty five minutes. There is no rain here, and we saw one large cistern on the way up. It was a large man made quarry, turned into a cistern. Masada means stronghold, rock, or fortress, and was built by the paranoid Herod. There are three separate levels to King Herod’s Pleasure Palace, connected by staircases. The top level of Masada is twenty acres. Many of the Roman encampments could be seen below. The Roman encampments were square shaped and very easy to see. Masada had water, swimming pools, gardens, and just about everything to make it a paradise. A Roman wall crept all around the base of the mountain in order to keep the people captive. After three years, over nine hundred zealots committed suicide. Masada was discovered only one hundred years ago. When the Romans laid siege to Masada, they probably got their water at En Gedi. When the Romans attempted to build the earthen ramp, the zealots threw rocks down on them. We passed a stone quarry that was used by Herod in order to build. The walls of all the rooms at Masada were once beautiful, painted, and covered with plaster. There were saunas, hanging gardens, bath houses, pillars, storage rooms with a nine year food supply (the food was near Herod’s quarters). There were beautiful mosaics. There was even a hot room, and the floor was supported by small columns – underneath the floor were coals and hot water which created a sauna. Tile was on some of the walls. As mentioned, the pleasure palace of Herod had three tiers, and was located in such a way as to catch the breeze at the end of the mountain. The outline of the Roman encampments could be seen all around the mountain. The General’s Quarters could be seen inside the encampments at the corner of each. Water came to Masada all the way from the mountains near Jerusalem and was collected in cisterns. There were holes in the base of Mount Masada which collected the water runoff from the mountains nearby. The force of gravity pushed the water up, because even the top of Masada is below sea level! The top level of Masada features the Northern “pleasure” Palace. Next, I visited the lowest tier of the pleasure palace, the third level down. This tier gave Herod shade and breeze. There was a hidden stairwell which was built into the rock, that Herod used to go up and down. There were no trees in the area, hence the Romans had to haul a battering ram for a long distance. Then I saw the middle terrace of the pleasure palace (Northern Palace), and observed the remains of a narrow, circular stairwell built into the rock.
Back on the top terrace was the oldest synagogue in the world at the time of the Second Temple. Ezekiel, Chapter Thirty Seven, “The Vision of Dry Bones,” was found in the synagogue. Nearby, there was a chamber for the scrolls, or library. We observed the Roman ramp of earth closeup from the top of Masada. There were many towers posted along the outer walls. We left the “leisure” Northern Palace, and entered the Western “working” Palace. This was the Administrative Palace. A woman and her daughter were the only ones who did not commit suicide in 73 A.D. They hid themselves in an empty water cistern.
Now we will head for En Gedi. The Dead Sea has no fish or seaweed. The sulfur smell is very strong. En Gedi comes from “En” or spring, and “Gedi” or goats. We came to Wadi David – the springs and water source for En Gedi. We observed the ibex wandering on the cliffs, the mountain animal of Israel, from which we get the word “Gedi.” En Gedi features a beautiful waterfall. At En Gedi, the water originates at a spring and goes underground. The water is warm. On our walk back from the waterfall, we saw a “coonie” which looks like a groundhog. We also saw about twenty ibex walking along a high ridge. We saw many other ibex amid the rocks. They are very coordinated for the mountains, and they change the position of their feet to land square on the rocks.
Now we went to the Dead Sea at En Gedi for a swim. One can float there with no effort at all. Salt deposits were left all over our bodies. Since I shaved the previous night before swimming, my neck stung. You could smell the sulfur, and clay deposits were left everywhere. The clay is used for cosmetics, facial treatments, and other vain pursuits of man. Since the Dead Sea is the lowest place on the face of the earth, and tropical, and unseasonably warm, and has many mineral deposits, one feels that God did something special here – such as rain fire and brimstone down on Sodom and Gomorrah, and dropping the entire valley below sea level.
Onward to Qumran. We passed an oasis filled with palm trees along the way. (By the way, it just came to mind that there were no problems on the trip which had to do with the recent P.L.O., Gaza Strip and Bethlehem developments). Qumran was settled by the Essenes in the eighth century B.C. We visited the remains of the community, observing a water channel, a cistern, scrolls stored in a Scriptorium, and a cemetery. Many scrolls have been located in these mountains nearby. Observed in the Essenes Community were homes, pottery, stables, flour, a dining hall, a pool and a cistern. Every remaining artifact gives evidence of a simple life style. The Essenes left Qumran and went to Masada.
We left Qumran to go back to Jerusalem. On the way home, our guide mentioned that Bedouins still trade camels for wives. They love their simple life style. We passed a military camp. Now we went back to the road which goes from Jericho to Jerusalem. We passed another military camp. Many Bedouin Camps were seen on the way back to Jerusalem. We passed through today’s Bethany and stopped at Lazarus’ tomb. It was deep and dark and seemed very real. We had to duck and crawl in order to enter the crypt area. It appeared to be a real possibility of genuine authenticity, like the tomb of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem.
We again entered Jerusalem. We visited Jesus’ Garden Tomb, mentioned in the paragraph above. It too, seemed authentic because of 1) the trough where the stone rolled, 2) and the window where the Bible seems to indicate light came in (John 20: 4-8); when John and Peter saw the linen clothes in the tomb, a source of light would have been needed for them to see the clothes after running into the tomb – the window, of course, would have provided the light.
Luther’s Sola Fide
Posted: 31 Oct 2017 02:06 AM PDT
500 years ago today, Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517. This marked the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. In his publication, Luther criticized the sale of indulgences, the papal pardons which reduced the amount of punishment for sins in Purgatory. We can all appreciate Luther’s challenge to papal authority, specifically toward the Roman Catholic Church about the selling of papal pardons to rebuild St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. But did the Reformation get us back to biblical Christianity?
The Protestant position would come to incorporate doctrinal changes such as sola fide, or justification by faith alone. Sola fide has been a hallmark of Protestant theology since the beginning of the Reformation. For Luther, faith alone is specifically contrasted with good works. In his preface to Romans, Luther said, “faith alone makes someone just and fulfills the law.” By “faith alone” the Reformers clearly meant belief or trust, apart from anything else. According to Luther, good works have nothing to do with our salvation other than being the result of saving faith. Sola fide is thus formulated in the Augsburg Confession of Faith as follows:
[T]his faith is bound to bring forth good fruits, and that it is necessary to do good works commanded by God, because of God’s will, but that we should not rely on those works to merit justification before God. For remission of sins and justification is apprehended by faith, as also the voice of Christ attests: When ye shall have done all these things, say: We are unprofitable servants. Luke 17:10. The same is also taught by the Fathers. For Ambrose says: It is ordained of God that he who believes in Christ is saved, freely receiving remission of sins, without works, by faith alone. (Augsburg Confession of Faith, Article VI)
Luther was so insistent that justification was by faith alone and not works that, when translating Romans 3:28 into German, he added the word allein (“alone”), so that the verse would read: “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith [alone] without the deeds of the law.” But the word “alone” is not present in the Greek text. This also brought Paul in direct contradiction to James. Church Historian Philip Schaff summarized:
The most important example of dogmatic influence in Luther’s version is the famous interpolation of the word alone in Rom. 3:28, by which he intended to emphasize his solifidian doctrine of justification, on the plea that the German idiom required the insertion for the sake of clearness. But he thereby brought Paul into direct verbal conflict with James, who says (James 2:24), “by works a man is justified, and not only by faith.” It is well known that Luther deemed it impossible to harmonize the two apostles in this article, and characterized the Epistle of James as an “epistle of straw,” because it had no evangelical character. (History of the Christian Church, Book 7, Chapter 4)
Ironically, the only place “faith alone” appears as a phrase in the New Testament is in James 2:24: “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone” (NET, or “faith only” in the KJV). James also says: “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone” (James 2:17). In context, James wrote:
What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. (James 2:14-26)
Most Protestants argue that James is merely attacking an empty faith. In order to agree with Luther, they say, “Faith alone saves, but the faith that saves is not alone.” But here is an obvious contradiction of terms in order to agree with Luther’s interpretation of Romans 3:28. In the end, an “empty faith” is nothing other than “faith alone” or “faith without works.” And James tells us that “faith alone” cannot save.
Taken at face value, James 2:14-26 contradicts Martin Luther’s doctrine of sola fide. How did Luther reconcile this glaring conflict? He sought to expel the Epistle of James from the New Testament canon. In his Preface to the Epistles of St. James and St. Jude, Luther said that the Epistle of James was “not the writing of any apostle.” Luther went on to question the authority of James:
Flatly against St. Paul and all the rest of Scripture, it ascribes righteousness to works, and says that Abraham was justified by his works, in that he offered his son Isaac, though St. Paul, on the contrary, teaches, in Romans 4:2, that Abraham was justified without works, by faith alone, before he offered his son, and proves it by Moses in Genesis 15:6. . . .
I cannot put him [James] among the chief books, though I would not thereby prevent anyone from putting him where he pleases and estimating him as he pleases; for there are many good sayings in him.
Luther not only questioned the authority of James, but also of Jude, Hebrews, and Revelation. Moreover, in his Preface to the New Testament, Martin Luther wrote:
In a word, St. John’s Gospel and his first Epistle, St. Paul’s Epistles, especially Romans, Galatians and Ephesians, and St. Peter’s first Epistle are the books that show you Christ and teach you all that it is necessary and good for you to know, even though you were never to see or hear any other book or doctrine. Therefore St. James’ Epistle is really an epistle of straw, compared to them; for it has nothing of the nature of the Gospel about it.
But Paul doesn’t have to conflict with James. The most satisfactory solution to the alleged contradiction between Paul and James is that Paul was referring to the “works” of the Law of Moses, especially circumcision (cf. Romans 4:2, 6, 9-12; Galatians 2:6-10, 12, 16; 3:2, 5, 10). On the other hand, James was referring to good “works” or works of obedience to God (James 2:14, 17-18, 20-22, 24). The raging issue for the first century Church was whether or not Gentiles needed to keep the works of the Law of Moses, i.e., circumcision (Acts 15). Preaching at Antioch, Paul said, “And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:39).
The Scriptures have a much broader view of justification than Luther’s doctrine of sola fide. The Greek word dikaioō (translated “justified” throughout Romans 3 and James 2) also occurs in other passages without reference to faith. For example, Jesus said, “For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Matthew 12:37). Even Paul said, “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified” (Romans 2:13).
Again, James also says, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? . . . Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?” (James 2:21, 24-25).
The Greek words dikaioō (“justified”) and dikaiosynē (“righteousness”) both come from the root word dikaios which is normally translated “righteous” or “just.” In this broader sense, justification is the righteousness acceptable to God, more in line with the use of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).
John says: “If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him” (1 John 2:29); “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous” (1 John 3:7); “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother” (1 John 3:10).
The Scriptures deny that one is justified by faith alone. Indeed, “by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Though our good works do not earn or merit our salvation, our obedience is in cooperation with divine grace, working together with God for our salvation (see Philippians 2:12-13).
On the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, we can appreciate Martin Luther for his challenge to reform the Roman Catholic Church and papal abuses. But we must not simply reject the infallibility of the Pope in order to embrace the infallibility of the Reformer. Pope Leo X was not infallible, and neither is Luther. Unfortunately, many Protestants hold to Luther’s doctrine of sola fide as if it were an infallible interpretation of the Scriptures. Let’s be honest with what the Scriptures actually say and reform our own lives accordingly, by the grace of God.
Faith & Works – Harmonizing Paul & James
The post Luther’s Sola Fide appeared
The above is very good theology. My simple mind interprets it succinctly as follows: We are saved by our faith in Jesus Christ (II Corinthians 5:17,21; Ephesians 2:8-10), but a genuine saving faith is always accompanied by works. Specifically, please note Ephesians 2:10. It is true that Martin Luther is NOT a Protestant Pope, and he erred in his disparaging comments in reference to the book of James. A genuine saving faith and works are like a horse and carriage or love and marriage. They mesh together beautifully and naturally. You cannot have one without the other. Should not the numerous exploits of the faithful saints described graphically in the “Hall of Faith,” Hebrews 11, convince us of this? Pastor Steve <><
Bill Salus ~ The Roots Of Mideast Conflict
There are 26 speakers and 54 messages in this prophecy conference. We are living in fascinating times. We are living well within the end times. The greatest sign that we are living in the end times is that all these signs are converging rapidly upon us. Christ’s return is very immanent. Bill has a website that updates prophecy on a daily basis: ProphecyDepot.com Jeremiah 49:34-39 deals with prophecies that have been overlooked. There are prophetic implications regarding Iran and nuclear armaments.
The Roots Of The Mideast Conflict
What Believers Need To Know
Why Americans Need To Prepare
The hostilities experienced in the Middle East between the Arabs and Jews go back nearly 4,000 years to God’s covenant with Abraham. Due to the inherent blessings contained within this covenant, the infamous Bible characters Hagar, Ishmael, Esau, Moab, Ammon, and Amalak coveted the rich contents of this covenant. They came to hate the Hebrews, who were heirs of this blessed covenant. Ultimately, they conceived a cleverly disguised religious package giving it license to unleash itself in a holy war. The Jihad, as it is often labeled, presently underway in the Middle East, finds its justification in Islam, but its roots are in this longstanding hatred. There is a spiritual nature to this conflict. When diplomacy fails, wars begin, and diplomacy has failed. Psalm 83 (written by Asaph, King David’s worship leader) will resolve the Israeli Arab conflict. Asaph was also a prophet and a seer. Psalm 83 tells us that the nations around Israel will form a confederacy against them, and their goal is to destroy Israel. This Psalm refers to the Edomites, Ammonites, Amalakites and Assyrians. Isis could also be part of Psalm 83. Jacob’s name was changed to Israel, which means one who wrestles with God and prevails. Esau fathered the Edomites in southern Jordan. Olam Ebah Ancient Hatred – Perpetual Enmity. This is a hostility that will not go away. The Edomites originated this hatred, referred to in Ezekiel 35:5. The Edomites felt cheated in the Abrahamic Covenant. Genesis 12:1-3 Abraham was promised an innumerable amount of descendants.
the Fountain of Blessings
The Mothers – Sarah vs. Hagar
The Sons – Isaac vs. Ishmael
The Twin Brothers – Jacob vs. Esau
The Cousins – Israelites vs. Ammonites & Moabites
The Great Grand Kids – Hebrews vs. Amalakites
Ishmael is the father of the Arabs and those in Saudi Arabia.
Esau Despised God’s Plan of Redemption for Man
The perpetual enmity between Edom and Israel is mentioned again in Numbers 20:20-21. Jeremiah and Obadiah prophesied that Edom would be despised among men and small among the nations.
Islam renews the ancient hatred of Israel. Israel is born as a nation on May 14, 1948. The Arabs fight them immediately. The Arabs fight them again in June, 1967. The third transgression was the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Perhaps the fourth and final transgression will be in Psalm 83. Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Koran. Zechariah 12:2 “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem.” Israel will have initial success against their enemies.
Psalm 83 Confederacy-
The eternal blessings come through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, leading up to the Son of the Highest, Jesus Christ, and in His kingdom there will be no end.
The Abrahamic Covenant will complete God’s plan for the redemption of man.
Paul’s Missionary Journey
by Henry M. Morris, Ph.D. | Aug. 3, 2017
“Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” (Ephesians 3:8)
The apostle Paul was undoubtedly the greatest missionary of all time. It is well to take note of his missionary strategy, for it was designed to reach the greatest number with the highest efficiency. In the first place, although he by no means neglected his Jewish countrymen, his calling was to all peoples of the world.
As much as possible, he tried to “preach the gospel in the regions beyond” where it had never gone before (2 Corinthians 10:16), “not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation” (Romans 15:20).
He especially concentrated on great cities, particularly the major seaports. He had come from the large city of Tarsus himself, and he preached in the great capital, Rome, and in Athens, the world’s cultural center. Philippi was the “chief city” of Macedonia (Acts 16:12), as was Corinth in Achaia and Ephesus in Asia Minor. Antioch, Troas, Thessalonica—all were great seaport cities. Establishing solid churches in such cities would provide centers for carrying the gospel throughout the world.
In considerable measure, his ministry in these cities seemed to reach people of special ability or opportunity to teach and influence others, such as the philosophers at Athens, the proconsul Sergius Paulus at Paphos, the honorable women of Berea, the school of Tyrannus at Ephesus, and others of like significance.
Most important of all were his writings. Paul wrote half the epistles of the New Testament. He traveled at least 15,000 miles and preached to many thousands of people, but his written words have been read by countless millions over 1,900 years. HMM
Course #4 – Intermediate Loneliness In a period of twenty four hours, Moses found himself isolated from every relationship that he ever enjoyed. One day he was a leader in the Pharaoh’s palace, the next day he led scorpions in the desert. God led Moses into the desert to teach him to lead. A leader is not a leader until he has learned to follow. God would not use Moses until Moses had learned to submit to God and to submit to His timetable. So Moses was alone. God, in His wisdom, at times will separate us from our normal network of family and friends. Isolation is an opportunity to get to know Him better.
Conclusion Moses felt like an absolute failure. He lost his career, status, reputation, family, friends and future. But he was not a failure. God took him aside to take some courses. These courses have to do with character development. God was not trying to ruin Moses. He was rebuilding him so that he could be used strategically. …And the people God loves to use most are those who have learned to depend completely upon Him. For many of us self-sufficient, confident types, that does not come easily. Our society is intoxicated with worldly success. But if you know Christ, you know that FAILURE IS THE BACKDOOR OF SUCCESS. God uses our failure to equip us for future success. Has God enrolled you in a Masters of Character Acquisition (M.C.A.) program? That is good company my friend. God does not enroll anyone, only those with a special work. When you graduate, there will be no ceremony, sheepskin diploma, class ring, and a cap and gown. But you will have the approval and certification of the Master Himself. …And God does not make any junk!
Failure is the backdoor of God turning you into a success, and fully equipping you for the Master’s use.
In Christ, Pastor Steve
Course #2 – Advanced Obscurity Moses went from the penthouse to the outhouse. A somebody to a nobody. Moses was overconfident. The remedy for overconfidence – obscurity. Midian is a barren area without restaurants, servants and chariots. It is a great place to learn obscurity. In 40 years of obscurity, solitude and quietness, God rebuilt Moses from the inside out. Illustrations- Elijah had his Tishbia and Beersheba, Jesus had His wilderness, and Paul had his Arabia. God still enrolls folks in Advanced Obscurity. As we frantically pursue the American Dream, we do not have time for this. That is why God steps in and changes our circumstances. Obscurity is tough, especially when you are in a hurry to climb the corporate ladder. But God wants you to climb the CHARACTER ladder. TRIALS build character. Perhaps it is an obscure job going nowhere; maybe it is an illness that knocked you down and took you from your routine. It is here, that God works on us. But we often do not understand what God is doing, and that leads to our next course:
Course #3 – Remedial Waiting Moses was nearly 40, and in a hurry to get with the program. Peter Marshall states: “We are in such a hurry that we hate to miss one panel of a revolving door.” You and I are in a hurry, and God is not. God does not fax character to us overnight. It takes a lot of time to build character. Can you believe God took 40 years to build character into the life of Moses? Most of us want character in 40 minutes. Moses was in a hurry to deliver his suffering countrymen, but he overlooked one thing – Character development comes before ministry. Perhaps you are waiting – for a promotion, to conceive a child, waiting for a business to turn around, waiting for employment, for a house to sell, etc., etc. We are right on His schedule. He is working on your character, molding it as He sees the need.
Introduction- At the age of 39, Moses was a man of power, prestige, education, wealth, and a career of unbelievable potential. He was worldly successful. At the age of 40, God called Moses to go back to school. He already had an Egyptian Bachelor of Arts, a Masters Degree, and a PhD as well. Moses lacked an MCA – a Masters in Character Acquisition. It is not an easy degree. People do not sign up for it; events lead to it. Events such as bankruptcy, divorce, moral failure, drug abuse, and major setbacks. It is a tough program consisting of four courses plus God’s electives that He selects. It took 40 years for Moses to graduate. Moses lived to be 120 years old. For his first 40 years he was an unqualified success, for the next 40 years he was an undisputed failure, and for his last 40 years he was fit for the Master’s use. After Moses was a worldly success, God enrolled him for a 40 year course at the University of Midian in the desert. The four courses he took were 1)Unemployment 101, 2)Advanced Obscurity, 3)Remedial Waiting, and 4)Intermediate Loneliness.
Course #1 – Unemployment 101 Moses was a scholar, statesman and a soldier. With these credentials, jobs come looking for you. Moses was a success. He had a Nile beachfront summer home. He was financially well off and living on cruise control. Sudden unemployment had to be a shock to the Golden Boy. He was stunned, hurt, wounded, embarrassed and humiliated. Unemployment 101 is a tough course to take, and attacks a man’s self worth. One has no idea how long this course is going to last. In most courses, you know when the midterm and final exams are coming….and then the class will be over. In Unemployment 101, the professor does not hand out a syllabus signifying the date of the class and the specific teachings. And that is the source of your suffering. How long is this trial going to last? Here is the good news about Unemployment 101. This challenging course will cause you to suffer, but it is the suffering that qualifies you for the ministry. You may think, “I am not in full time ministry!” But if you know Jesus Christ, then you are in the ministry…and it is the suffering that will equip you for the unique task that God has set aside specifically for you. He has not shelved you. He is simply retooling, and you are the tool.
The seven churches mentioned in the book of Revelation, chapters 2-3, reveal many characteristics of the church, both good and bad. We can use these churches as a check against our own respective vineyards today, since our churches are similar to the early church. You may see traits of your church in several of these examples. Dr. Henry M. Morris III from the Institute For Creation Research (ICR) wrote the seven sketches of the churches below in the devotional “Days Of Praise.” They are all listed below. Afterwards, enjoy the superb video of The Seven Churches. In Christ, Pastor Steve
by Henry M. Morris III, D.Min. Evidence for Creation
“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; . . . I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:14-16)
The Lord Jesus used intense language to rebuke this church, the last of the seven He had John write to in the book of Revelation. Laodicea was dangerously near the brink of being disavowed by He who is the Head of the church.
Such churches believe they “have need of nothing” (Revelation 3:17). Worldly wealth, extensive property, and popular recognition blinded these members and their leaders to their true spiritual condition. They failed to understand that, from the Lord’s perspective, they are “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).
The cause of this terrible spiritual destitution is being spiritually tepid. It’s like expecting a glass of cold water or a cup of hot tea but finding everything at room temperature. This church “tasted” just like the world around them. They were neither godly nor in rebellion—just “nice people” who blended in well with the community. Their spiritual reputation did not smell either like life or death (2 Corinthians 2:16).
Despite the Lord’s distaste for such a condition, He loved and counseled them to “buy” from Him the gold of the Kingdom’s true wealth, righteous clothing that would cover their shameful exposure of worldly behavior, and to anoint their spiritual eyes so that they could see eternal values rather than temporal things.
As the Lord graciously closed His letter, He “stands at the door” of the church, waiting for anyone to open and let Him in (Revelation 3:20). Tepid spirituality keeps the Lord outside. What a shame that such could ever be said about any church. HMM III
by Henry M. Morris III, D.Min. Evidence for Creation
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; . . . I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.” (Revelation 3:7-8)
Philadelphia and Smryna are the only churches that did not receive warnings from the Lord in the seven letters recorded in Revelation. Philadelphia had “a little strength” because they had built their church on the two foundations of the Word of God and the name of the Lord Jesus.
The foundation of Jesus Christ Himself (1 Corinthians 3:11) and the foundation of the writings of the “apostles and prophets” (Ephesians 2:20) that are inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16) make the church “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). Philadelphia had faithfully held these eternal principles and was therefore given an “open door.”
The Lord’s introduction to Philadelphia cites the “Key of David,” suggesting a reference to the treasure house of the king (1 Kings 7:51) and to Christ’s authority as the heir to the kingdom (Isaiah 22:22). The treasure of the eternal Kingdom is not physical riches but the gold, silver, and precious stones of God-ordained work for the Kingdom (1 Corinthians 3:12-13).
But just as the talents and the pounds granted to the servants in the parables (Matthew 25; Luke 19), the open door is an opportunity to use the resources of the King for His benefit—not a guarantee of success. The Lord grants the resources, but the work and the use of those resources are our responsibility. We will be held accountable.
If we use those resources well, even those of the “synagogue of Satan” will “come and worship” (Revelation 3:9) and “every tongue [will] confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:11). HMM III
by Henry M. Morris III, D.Min. Evidence for Creation
“And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.” (Revelation 3:1)
The church at Sardis received the saddest of the Lord’s seven letters in Revelation. Sardis seemed to want to remain known as a “live” church, but the Lord saw their real testimony and reputation and concluded that they were “dead.” Many such places around the world today are enshrined with stained glass, statuary, crosses, and inscriptions that have the “name” of Christianity emblazoned throughout their property, yet they are dead spiritually. Such churches might be compared to the monuments and gravestones erected in cemeteries to honor the memories of faithful men and women of past generations who were alive for a time with a solid reputation for godliness yet whose families have drifted away from the Lord.
Yet, “even in Sardis” there was a small number who had remained faithful in spite of the drift of the church itself, as there are also in families now adrift but with a Christian heritage. The advice to Sardis (and certainly to families as well) is this: “Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent” (Revelation 3:3).
The Philippian church received the same counsel: “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you” (Philippians 4:9). The verb is “do.” Heritage is wonderful, but each church—and each of us—will be held accountable for what is actually done. HMM III
by Henry M. Morris III, D.Min.
Evidence for Creation
“And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; . . . I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee.” (Revelation 2:18-20)
The Lord Jesus’ letter to the church at Thyatira is the longest among the seven recorded in Revelation. Although they were faithful in their works to the city, had a strong charity among themselves, and were evidently growing in their reputation and perhaps even in number, the Lord Jesus used some very harsh language to rebuke their behavior.
Whether or not the woman who held influence in the church was actually named Jezebel, she had entrenched herself as a prophetess. Her namesake in the Old Testament (1 Kings) was the wicked queen and wife of King Ahab of Israel during the days of Elijah. Her evil deeds are recorded throughout seven chapters—more than any other woman in Israel’s history!
The Jezebel of Thyatira had been allowed “to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols” (Revelation 2:20). It is not clear if the Lord spoke of physical fornication among the church members, but the practice of sacrificing to idols was a serious rebellion against the second commandment and a clear violation of God’s Word (Exodus 20:4-5).
Those who were committing “adultery with her” (Revelation 2:22) had entered into “the depths of Satan” (Revelation 2:24). Whether this behavior was a physical practice or not (as was common among the pagan religions of the day), it is most certainly identified as spiritual adultery when those who name the name of Christ worship other gods (Jeremiah 3:1, 20; Hosea 9:1; etc.). May God protect us from such horrible leadership. HMM III
by Henry M. Morris III, D.Min.
Evidence for Creation
“And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; . . . I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith . . . . But I have a few things against thee.” (Revelation 2:12-14)
Retaining a clear identity as a church of the Lord Jesus in an evil environment is worthy of commendation. And indeed, this body of believers at Pergamos held fast to its Christian name—even in a city that was known (at least by God) as the place where Satan had his “seat.” One of their members, Antipas, was killed for his faith. Yet, the church at Pergamos remained faithful with a spiritual testimony, a small light in a sea of wickedness.
But perhaps because of the pressure surrounding them, the Lord warned them that they were allowing two destructive doctrines to flourish among them. The first was compromising with “wages of unrighteousness,” exemplified by Balaam, which had become entrenched among the church (2 Peter 2:15). The second was the “doctrine of the Nicolaitanes,” which their sister church in Ephesus also confronted (Revelation 2:15, 6).
Balaam was a well-known prophet who willingly accepted an assignment with an enemy of God’s people so that he could receive a large sum of money (Numbers 22). And, even though God would not permit Israel to be cursed, as the enemy wanted, Balaam continued to promote his “error,” and Israel lapsed into grave sin (Jude 1:11).
Not much is written in Scripture about the Nicolaitanes. The word basically means “conquer the people.” This early teaching developed into a strong hierarchy of church polity over the next decades, and by the end of the second century, it was well established in the major cities. Jesus taught against such leadership (Matthew 20:26-27) and clearly said that He hated it (Revelation 2:6). HMM III
by Henry M. Morris III, D.Min.
Evidence for Creation
“And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; . . . I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) . . . . Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer . . . be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” (Revelation 2:8-10)
The Lord Jesus recognized this struggling church, which is not mentioned anywhere else in the New Testament, as one of only two churches mentioned in the book of Revelation that did not receive any warning or condemnation.
He saw them very differently than our “church growth” movement might today. Many tend to envy the churches with big auditoriums or grand building programs. Most of the world praises those churches that are “emerging” from the restraints of godliness and churches that are “driven” to attract and please the ungodly.
Smyrna was poor, troubled by those who hated God’s message, and suffered tribulation for their works. Some were thrown into prison for their willingness to be identified with the truth. Generations have passed since anything like that has happened to churches in the Western world. Those countries that persecute Christians today seem only like scattered incidents that have little bearing on the day-to-day life of “civilized” nations. May God protect us from such attitudes.
But the One who walks among the “candlestick” churches of Revelation (His churches) saw Smyrna as rich and worthy of a crown of life. He praised this little church and encouraged them to remain “faithful unto death” (Revelation 2:10). When the King gives out His rewards from the great judgment seat, these faithful, poor, persecuted, troubled, and imprisoned souls will enter eternity with great riches and joyful liberty in the “general assembly and church of the firstborn” (Hebrews 12:23). HMM III
by Henry M. Morris III, D.Min.
Evidence for Creation
“Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write;. . . I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars.” (Revelation 2:1-2)
This church, founded by the apostle Paul, had grown in its doctrinal precision and careful attention to the words of Scripture. They were intensely focused on purity of leadership and were vigilant against any form of false teaching. Most of us would find that kind of church a refreshing example to follow in these days of indifferent (and often heretical) theology.
They hated the “deeds of the Nicolaitanes,” which was a horrible practice that the Lord Himself hated (Revelation 2:6). Peter had warned against this domineering attitude in his first general letter to the churches when he insisted that the elders of the churches should not be “lords over God’s heritage, but [be] ensamples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:3).
Ephesus was a “good” church, but the risen Lord Jesus had “somewhat against” them. Apparently, amid all of their careful attention to doctrine and to purity of leadership lifestyle, they had “left [their] first love” (Revelation 2:4). They had fallen from the deep bond of love they had demonstrated years earlier when Paul called the elders to Miletus to encourage and exhort them to remain faithful to “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). They were so much in tune with Paul’s heart for the gospel that they “all wept sore, and fell on Paul’s neck, and kissed him” (Acts 20:37).
The drift away from that “first love” was so serious that the Lord warned Ephesus to repent or He would take away their “candlestick” (Revelation 2:5)—their authority to represent Christ as one of His churches. Cold, precise doctrine must never take away our love for people or for the truth. HMM III
Jeff Swanson interviewed by Doug Hagmann and Joe Hagmann
Jeff Swanson has a website planbible.com It is his life work that produced a chronological Bible that is in order verse by verse. It is the only one of its kind.
Where are we in the prophetical time line? Jeff believes the signs at the end times will intensify and occur in rapid order within a relatively brief period of time.
Are we seeing prophecy fulfilled everyday in the headlines? Yes. They are not single events, but merging patterns and seasons. The Middle East is falling together. Nations are becoming antisemitic and standing against Israel. Genesis 12:3 “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee.” When the United States went against Israel, the Lord allowed us to be punished in the exact same amount through Hurricane Katrina.
There are 800 prophecies/verses that have been fulfilled in the Bible. There are 2,500 prophecies/verses yet to be fulfilled.
Jeff Swanson’s studies of the Bible and his expertise in mathematics have enabled him to date key Biblical events. Consider the following:
Using the Julian, Gregorian and Jewish calendars, Jeff Swanson completed 66 calculations and arrived at a creation date of 3960 B.C. Jeff agreed with the famous Archbishop James Ussher (author of Annals of the World) on all but two calculations. They arrived at creation dates only 44 years apart. Ussher’s date of creation is 4004 B.C.
Jeff Swanson’s other dates are:
Date of Christ’s birth: September 11, 3 B.C. (Julian Calendar)
Christ’s Crucifixion: April 3, 33 A.D. (Julian Calendar
Christ’s Crucifixion: April 1, 33 A.D. (Gregorian Calendar)
Jeff Swanson advised Christians that the Lord has placed each of us within a particular sphere of influence. We are to be faithful to the people who God has placed in our lives. We are touching more people than we realize. After we leave this earth, the Lord will use the legacy of our lives to continually touch people in a powerful way that we do not fully understand. [This was one of the most profound statements that I ever heard in a prophecy conference. The interviewers, Haggman and Hagmann were touched by it as well].
Listen below to Eric Hovind and Paul Taylor interview Jeff Swanson about the same subjects discussed above: