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Exploring the Truth and Abounding Grace Baptist Church…Better together

Exploring the Truth and Abounding Grace Baptist Church…Better together

As we are preparing for the planting of Abounding Grace Baptist Church, It is important to know that Exploring the Truth will remain the Bible teaching ministry of Pastor Matt Sherro. Beginning in January, the guided study notes will reflect what is being taught in the pulpit.

Here is our lesson plan for 7 January 2018 until 4 March 2018 (Should the Lord delay His return). All lessons are from Matthew Chapter 5. The verses to be covered are in parentheses:

Beatitudes: A life hidden in Christ (3-12)
Salt and Light: The effects of a robust faith (13-16)
Christ and the Law (17-20)
Anger, where murder begins (21-26)
Adultery: Sex isn’t the problem (27-30)
Divorce: What is really allowed? (31-32)
I swear: Christ teaches about vows (33-37)
Getting Even: What God wants you to know (38-40)
Loving those who hate you: what grace demands (43-48)

 

Grace to you. We look forward to ministering to you in the future.

A Woman Rides the Beast Part I: The Great Whore of False Religion

A Woman Rides the Beast Part I: The Great Whore of False Religion

In Revelation 17 we see one of the great mysteries of the ages laid bare. Finally, the Agent used by Satan to deceive millions will be stripped of all her splendor and her filthiness will be exposed to all the world. John looks and sees that a woman (false religion) rides the beast (a false church.)

One of the best explanations of this, that I have found is from the late Dave Hunt at the Berean Call. You will find the lesson by clicking on the blue link below.

In part 2 we will look at the false church that will one day dominate the world; indeed she already has and will once more.

 

A Woman Rides the Beast with Dave Hunt

Abraham’s Faith Tested

Abraham’s Faith Tested

Genesis 22 (NLT)

Abraham’s Faith Tested

22 Some time later, God tested Abraham’s faith. “Abraham!” God called.

“Yes,” he replied. “Here I am.”

“Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.”

The next morning Abraham got up early. He saddled his donkey and took two of his servants with him, along with his son, Isaac. Then he chopped wood for a fire for a burnt offering and set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day of their journey, Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. “Stay here with the donkey,” Abraham told the servants. “The boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there, and then we will come right back.”

So Abraham placed the wood for the burnt offering on Isaac’s shoulders, while he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them walked on together,Isaac turned to Abraham and said, “Father?”

“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

“We have the fire and the wood,” the boy said, “but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?”

“God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham answered. And they both walked on together.

When they arrived at the place where God had told him to go, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. Then he tied his son, Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. 10 And Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice. 11 At that moment the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Yes,” Abraham replied. “Here I am!”

12 “Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.”

13 Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son. 14 Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means “the Lord will provide”). To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

15 Then the angel of the Lord called again to Abraham from heaven. 16 “This is what the Lord says: Because you have obeyed me and have not withheld even your son, your only son, I swear by my own name that 17 I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendants[a] beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will conquer the cities of their enemies.18 And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me.”

19 Then they returned to the servants and traveled back to Beersheba, where Abraham continued to live.

20 Soon after this, Abraham heard that Milcah, his brother Nahor’s wife, had borne Nahor eight sons. 21 The oldest was named Uz, the next oldest was Buz, followed by Kemuel (the ancestor of the Arameans), 22 Kesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph, and Bethuel. 23 (Bethuel became the father of Rebekah.) In addition to these eight sons from Milcah, 24 Nahor had four other children from his concubine Reumah. Their names were Tebah, Gaham, Tahash, and Maacah.

Footnotes:

  1. 22:17 Hebrew seed; also in 22:17b, 18.
God Calls Abraham

God Calls Abraham

Genesis 12 (NLT)

The Call of Abram

12 The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”

So Abram departed as the Lord had instructed, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran. He took his wife, Sarai, his nephew Lot, and all his wealth—his livestock and all the people he had taken into his household at Haran—and headed for the land of Canaan. When they arrived in Canaan, Abram traveled through the land as far as Shechem. There he set up camp beside the oak of Moreh. At that time, the area was inhabited by Canaanites.

Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “I will give this land to your descendants.[a]” And Abram built an altar there and dedicated it to the Lord, who had appeared to him. After that, Abram traveled south and set up camp in the hill country, with Bethel to the west and Ai to the east. There he built another altar and dedicated it to the Lord, and he worshiped the Lord. Then Abram continued traveling south by stages toward the Negev.

Abram and Sarai in Egypt

10 At that time a severe famine struck the land of Canaan, forcing Abram to go down to Egypt, where he lived as a foreigner. 11 As he was approaching the border of Egypt, Abram said to his wife, Sarai, “Look, you are a very beautiful woman.12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife. Let’s kill him; then we can have her!’ 13 So please tell them you are my sister. Then they will spare my life and treat me well because of their interest in you.”

14 And sure enough, when Abram arrived in Egypt, everyone noticed Sarai’s beauty. 15 When the palace officials saw her, they sang her praises to Pharaoh, their king, and Sarai was taken into his palace. 16 Then Pharaoh gave Abram many gifts because of her—sheep, goats, cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels.

17 But the Lord sent terrible plagues upon Pharaoh and his household because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. 18 So Pharaoh summoned Abram and accused him sharply. “What have you done to me?” he demanded. “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ and allow me to take her as my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and get out of here!” 20 Pharaoh ordered some of his men to escort them, and he sent Abram out of the country, along with his wife and all his possessions.

Footnotes:

  1. 12:7 Hebrew seed.
On Choosing NLT

On Choosing NLT

Over the last couple years, I have made overtures to change the main translation that I use, and, after talking with several readers of this site, and consulting with my pastor, I have chosen to post all Scripture from the NLT, moving forward. We came to this conclusion for a few reasons:

  • Translated into the English a 6th grade student would use, the NLT is far and away the easiest to understand of the major English translations.
  • Outside the United States (Where most of my readers are located) the NLT is in a statistical dead heat with the NIV in terms of availability. It is vitally important to have a Bible that is accessible to the audience.
  • Faithfully accurate: Because the NLT uses a thought for thought style of translation, the original intent is easily captured.
  • Discipleship results: I do a lot of one-to-one ministry and I am regularly told by disciples that passages make more sense in the NLT, an “I get it now” experience is common.

You will note that these are not “fancy” or sophisticated theological reasons. They are more on the practical side. I still study in a word for word translation but for the purposes of ministering to the faithful brethren, I have found NLT to be the most helpful choice.

Grace to you. May you fall in love with the Word all over again.

 

Answering Tragedy with Worship: The Psalm of Moshe

Answering Tragedy with Worship: The Psalm of Moshe

Psalm 90 (KJV)

90 Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.

Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.

Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men.

For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.

Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which groweth up.

In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth.

For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled.

Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.

For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told.

10 The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

11 Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath.

12 So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

13 Return, O Lord, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants.

14 O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

15 Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil.

16 Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children.

17 And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.

Divine Worship as Judgment Begins

Divine Worship as Judgment Begins

Text: Revelation 4

Several visions of the heavenly throne-room occur in Revelation, usually preceding punitive actions on earth implying divine sovereignty over all earthly events, for events in heaven determine events in the world (7.9–17; 8.1–5; 11.15–19; 14.2–3; 15.2–8; 19.1–10; 21.3–8; see also 1 Kings 22.19–23; Job 1.6–12; 2.1–6).

 

Overview

This chapter is all about praise to God, the Creator of all. In the first vision, John sees the one God enthroned over the whole universe, praised as the Creator of all. This scene provides the setting for the remainder of the book. Faith in one God is at the core of both the Jewish and the Christian faiths (Deut 6:4-5; Mark 12:28-34; Rom 3:30; Gal 3:20; Jas 2:19).

In chapters 4 and 5 we get a glimpse into the Divine Throne Room as YHWH prepares to judge a Christ rejecting world.

Revelation 4

4:1 Come up here. This is not a veiled reference to the rapture of the church, but a command for John to be temporarily transported to heaven “in the Spirit” to receive revelation about future events. The Rapture has occurred somewhere between chapters 3 and 4. We note that it is not mentioned again until chapter 19 and God is specifically calling John into the Throne Room of Heaven to see:

what must take place after these things. According to the outline given in Chapter one and verse 19, this begins the third and final section of the book, describing the events that will follow the church age. We need to be absolutely clear here, the events which are described in chapter four and following do not concern the Church. This is the time of Jacobs Trouble (Jeremiah 30:7) and is for the purification of national Israel.

4:2 throne. This is not necessarily a piece of furniture; it is, however a symbol of sovereign rule and Divine authority (7:15; 11:19; 16:17, 18; Isa 6:1). The Throne is the focus of chapter 4, occurring 13 times, 11 times referring to God’s throne.

4:3 It is unlikely that this is a description of God Himself. More likely what John is describing are the colors he sees as the Lord’s Crown reflects His radiant majesty. jasper. John later describes this stone as “crystal-clear” (21:11). He is probably referring to a diamond, which refracts all the colors of the spectrum in wondrous brilliance. A jasper/diamond would amplify the brilliance of Divine Majesty

sardius. A fiery bright ruby stone named for the city near which it was found (The sardius stone was commonly found near the city of Sardis).

emerald. A cool, emerald-green hue dominates the multi-colored rainbow surrounding God’s throne (cf. Ezekiel 1:28). From the time of Noah, the rainbow became a sign of God’s faithfulness to His Word, His promises, and His Noahic covenant (Genesis 9:12-17).

4:4 twenty-four elders. Their joint rule with Christ, their white garments, and their golden crowns all seem to indicate that these 24 represent the redeemed (verses 9-11; 5:5-14; 7:11-17; 11:16-18; 14:3; 19:4). The question is which redeemed? These Elders cannot be Israel, since the nation is not yet saved, glorified, and coronated. That is still to come at this point in the events of the end. Their resurrection and glory will come at the end of the 7-year tribulation time (Daniel 12:1-3). Tribulation saints aren’t yet saved (7:9, 10). Only one group will be complete and glorified at that point—the church. Here elders represent the church, which sings the song of redemption (5:8-10). They are the overcomers who have their crowns and live in the place prepared for them, where they have gone with Jesus (John 14:1-4). We need, also, to remember that the term elder is used to describe the Sanhedrin, which these are not, and it is also the title of the leaders of the Church. Since the Elder (presbuteros) stands before God to represent the flock, it is logical that the elders mentioned here are analogous to the Church.

4:5 lightning… thunder. Not the fury of nature, but the firestorm of righteous fury about to come from an awesome, powerful God upon a sinful world (8:5; 11:19; 16:18). Much like a storm that blows up on a lake, this is sudden and severe. It will seem like a surprise to the unredeemed world but to God it will not be a surprise but will come at exactly the time He plans for it.

seven Spirits of God. The Holy Spirit in His full perfection.

4:6 sea of glass. There is no sea in heaven (21:1), but the crystal pavement that serves as the floor of God’s throne stretches out like a great, glistening sea (Exodus 24:10; Ezekiel 1:22).

four living creatures. Lit. “four living ones or beings.” These are the most likely cherubim (sing., cherub), those angels frequently referred to in the OT in connection with God’s presence, power, and holiness (Ezekiel 1). Although John’s description is not identical to Ezekiel’s, they are obviously both referring to the same supernatural and indescribable beings (Psalm 80:1; 99:1; Ezekiel 1:4-25

full of eyes. The description of them as being full of eyes is reminiscent of the seraphim in Isaiah chapter 6. However, while these 4 Living Creatures could be seraphim it is more likely they are cherubim. The eyes are metaphoric in nature; although they are not omniscient—an attribute reserved for God alone—these angels have a comprehensive knowledge and perception. Nothing escapes their scrutiny, hence a description of being full of eyes.

4:7 first… like a lion. In what is obviously intended as symbolic language, John compares these 4 beings with 4 of God’s earthly creations. Ezekiel indicates that every cherub has these 4 attributes. The likeness to a lion symbolizes strength and power.

second… like a calf. The image of a calf demonstrates that these beings render humble service to God.

third… face like that of a man. Their likeness to man shows they are rational beings.

fourth… like a flying eagle. The cherubim fulfill their service to God with the swiftness of eagles’ wings.

4:8 full of eyes. See v. 6

Holy, holy, holy. Often God is extolled for His holiness in this 3-fold form, because it is the summation of all that He is—His most salient attribute (Isa 6:3). Here, again, is why I bring up the possibility that the 4 Living Creatures are seraphim. As in Isaiah, these angels call out holy, holy, holy in what is most likely an antiphonal chorus.

who was and who is and who is to come 

This is the eternal nature of who God is. He always has been (Psalm 90:2), He is I AM (Exodus 3:14), and He always will be (eis tus aionos tau aiono) (Revelation 22)

4:10 cast their crowns. Aware that God alone is responsible for the rewards they have received, they divest themselves of all honor and cast it at the feet of their King.

4:11 You created all things. It is the Creator God who set out to redeem His creation.

Heaven’s response to the person of God and to everything He does is praise. The Church joins in that worship. We join in because He is not just our King, He is our Redeemer and for that, we praise Him

NASB Side Column Reference Bible (2017) Review

NASB Side Column Reference Bible (2017) Review

 

Since at least 1973, the Side Column Reference Bible (SCR) has been a mainstay of the New American Standard Bible. It is the “workhorse” Bible for many a pastor, student, missionary, or at-home Christian who wants to know God better. It is the one Bible that I keep going back to, irrespective of which translation that I try to use. Why, though? What is it that makes the SCR the ideal choice in a Bible? I hope to answer that in this review…

 

Disclaimer: Today’s review Bible, the NASB Side Column Reference Bible in black calfskin was provided by the Lockman Foundation at no charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not asked for a positive review, simply an honest one.

 

Product Details from Lockman

A one inch outside margin and over 95,000 cross-references will enhance your daily reading and study. This Bible features a single column of Bible text making reading smooth and steady.

Features

  • 1″ Wide margin
  • Concordance
  • Maps
  • Side-column cross references and text notes
  • Single column, verse format layout
  • Presentation Page
  • Family record section
  • Black Letter
  • 2 Ribbon markers
  • Gold page edges
  • 10-point text size
  • 75″ x 7.00″ x 1.50″

 

To the question of what makes this Bible the ideal choice…

As I have mentioned before, most people have only one Bible that they use on a daily basis; it is an uncommon event for them to purchase a new one and so choosing a new Bible can be a very momentous event (and from what I have been able to participate in at local bookstores, a very emotional one as well). Hopefully this review helps you to make your decision…

 

Translation Choice:

It is no secret that I love the NASB and there is perhaps no choice more important that which English translation that you use. New American Standard Bible is absolutely uncontested as the most literal translation that you can invest your resources in; a sentiment backed up by a number of college professors and pastors that I know. Almost every pastor I know, regardless of what they teach from, owns an NASB and uses it for comparative study. NASB, being the update of the 1901 ASV, well lives up to its tagline that the most literal is now more readable. Some have said that the NASB sounds “wooden/stiff;” I disagree. After 21 years of use, I find the NASB to be as familiar as talking to an old friend.

The Margins

I love wide margin bibles and this is no exception. Margins are 1-inch wide and while I have seen as large as 1.25 in times past, this seems to be the standard size. Every page has these luxurious margins for your notes and personal cross references. In fact, it is this feature alone that makes this your personal bible. No one else will ever put the same content into their Bible.

 

Let’s digress for a moment. There are two brands of pens that I would recommend for writing in your margins and I will link them below.

http://pilotpen.us/categories/ball-point-pens/better-retractable/

F-301 Retractable Ballpoint 0.7mm Assorted 9pk

 

Both of these pen series will provide rich color with little to no bleed through. I have tried a number of different pens and highlighters in various Bibles and I have found that I like the Pilot Better Retractable and the Zebra F-301 the best for writing notes and underlining. Your results may vary. As far as highlighters go, I still have not yet arrived at a product that I like well enough to recommend. 

What do I recommend to write in the margins of your SCR Bible? There really isn’t one specific answer. In some Bibles I like to write key points from a sermon I am listening to. In other Bibles I like to do topical reference lists. With my NASB, I always have at least one that has word studies in it.

 

Notes and References

95,000 references guide you through virtually every possibility of Scripture interpreting Scripture. There are one or two Bibles that offer more references such as the Westminster but, for most pastors, this Bible will go far beyond your daily needs Accompanying the references are translators notes, showing alternate translations as well as what variant Greek manuscripts may or may not have in the text.

 

If you are unfamiliar with a Bible from Foundation Publications (Lockman’s publishing brand) it is somewhat difficult to explain why I think the references are a big deal. There are some other Bibles with excellent references, Concord, ESV Classic, and others but Foundation Publications Reference Bibles stand in a class by themselves, ok maybe Westminster joins them. I always advise people to choose a Bible as if it were going to be the only tool you have to study the Bible ever again and in choosing the SCR you will be sufficiently supplied with tools to study and to teach others. We will talk about additional tools in another section.

 

Size and Portability

This is considered a full size Bible with dimensions of 9.75x7x1.50 inches. To look at it, you would not think it would be easily portable. For a book of its size, I expected it to be a little heavier. I am very parapatetic (I like to walk and talk) and I am also very Italian (I talk with my hands and in both cases there was no issue. While I am not as hard on my Bibles as Dr. Stanley, I do put them through their paces and I am confident that this will hold up nicely.

It was a little big for the pocket I normally use in my laptop bag but easily fits in the main pocket. If you are curious as to which Bibles work well with which briefcases, I have found that Solo and Swiss Gear do nicely. When you are traveling, this Bible should fit in most luggage or laptop bags easily.

Cover & Binding

As would be expected, the SCR uses a smythe sewn binding. In regular English, that means that it is sewn together so that you do not have to worry about chunks of the Bible falling out (I live in Arizona and have made the mistake of leaving a glued Bible in the car. That is not a cleaning bill I plan to get again). It also means it will lay flat, ready for study, no matter which book you open to. This particular method would allow, if you were so inclined and I am not, for folding your Bible in half. I am not inclined to do that because eventually it will damage the spine.

The calfskin for the cover is very soft and limp. It does not rival the venerable 2002 edition but I do not really see anything to complain about; it is what I expect from an ironed calfskin cover. The calfskin SCR is leather lined for an even softer more supple feel.

 

Caring for your calfskin

For some of you, this may be your first calfksin Bible and I want to add a little note. The most important advice I can give you is to use it. Your skin has natural oils that will keep the leather soft and supple. Do not use household oils. If you need a particular product, I recommend you contact Leonards Books and they can give you several ideas.

 

How long should this SCR last? That will depend on you, the user. With proper care, I could see 20 years of use before a rebind would be needed; here in the desert that might be closer to 10. The block itself could last 50 years.

 

The Paper

At last we come to it, the major concern of those buying Bibles today, the paper…

How you view the paper is largely dependent upon your experience with other Bibles. I would classify this as a semi-premium Bible because of its price point. I have 4 versions of the SCR, 1973, 2002, 2013, and 2017. The 2002 has the best paper of the three. That being said…

I like the paper. There isn’t really see through like there was on the 2013 edition. Comparatively speaking, the 2013 SCR was no where near as bad as some of the garbage other publishers try to pass off as a quality Bible. Some people are super particular and if they see any shadow, at all, they don’t like the book. Those folk will not like this edition. Others, like myself, are more realistic and will note that even though you see a little shadowing, you cannot read the text on the opposite side of the page like you can in other Bibles.

I want to write in this Bible, what will happen? Earlier, I mentioned two series of pens that I recommend; if you use these, you will be fine. You should not experience bleed through. I cannot speak to any liquid highlighters as I do not plan to try them. The gel and dry-liners should not have any issue either.

Here is some official information from Lockman:

“New:

30 gsm, 1520 pages per inch

Whiteness ~84

Opacity ~83

 

Past/current paper:

28 gsm, PPI 1350

Whiteness ~87

Opacity ~77

 

The new paper is a brighter color which provides better contrast with the print. It’s smoother and more consistent in opacity across the page. It’s more thin reducing the thickness.

 

It will take a while for the new editions to filter into distribution depending on binding and there will be a mix of edition for quite a while. There is not a way to tell when purchasing, so the new ones will get out over time and I don’t know how long that will take.”

 

I am pleased with the paper overall.

 

Tools

The other tools that are available are the NASB Concordance, Book Introductions and Maps. These are fairly uniform across Foundation Publications products so there is not much needing to be said.

Final Thoughs

This is an excellent Bible. I give it a 9.5/10. I am only taking half a point off for lack of goatskin as a cover option. While we wait for the new update, I commend this Bible to you for your daily study and ministry needs.

 

**Additional/better pictures to follow**

 

Yeshua (A Note From the Complete Jewish Study Bible)

Yeshua (A Note From the Complete Jewish Study Bible)

Yeshua was a common alternative form of the name Y’hoshua or Joshua in later books of the Hebrew Bible and among Jews of the Second Temple period. The name corresponds to the Greek spelling Iesous, from which through the Latin Iesus comes the English spelling Jesus.

The first letter in the name Yeshua (Jesus) is the yod. Yod represents the “Y” sound in Hebrew. Many names in the Bible that begin with yod are mispronounced by English speakers because the letter was transliterated in English Bibles with the letter “J” rather than “Y.” This is because in early English, the letter “J” was pronounced the way we pronounce “Y” today. All proper names in the Hebrew Bible were transliterated into English according to their Hebrew pronunciation; but when English pronunciation shifted to what we know today, these transliterations were not altered. Thus, such Hebrew place names as Ye-ru-sha-la-yim, Ye-ri-cho, and Yar-den have become known to us as Yerushalayim, Jericho, and Jordan. Hebrew personal names such as Yo-nah, Yi-shai, and Ye-shu-a have become known to us as Jonah, Jesse, and Jesus.

The Hebrew spelling of Yeshua appears in some later books of the Hebrew Bible, once for Joshua the son of Nun, and twenty-eight times for Joshua the High Priest and other priests called Jeshua—although these same priests are also given the spelling Joshua in the books of Haggai and Zechariah. Yeshua differs from the usual Hebrew Bible spelling of Joshua (Y’hoshua), found two-hundred eighteen times in the Hebrew Bible. It also differs from the Hebrew spelling Yeshu, which is found in Ben Yehuda’s dictionary and used in most secular contexts in modern Hebrew to refer to Jesus of Nazareth, though the Hebrew spelling Yeshua is generally used in translations of the New Testament into Hebrew and used by Hebrew-speaking Christians in Isra’el. The name Yeshua is also used in Israeli Hebrew historical texts to refer to other people called Joshua recorded in Greek texts, such as Jesus ben Ananias and Jesus ben Sira. The name Yeshua means “The Lord’s Salvation” or “Cry Out to the Lord for Help.”

The 7 Churches in Revelation (used by permission of Turning Point)

The 7 Churches in Revelation (used by permission of Turning Point)

This week’s lesson is the 7 Churches in Revelation. The notes you will find today are from my pastor, David Jeremiah.  You can find the notes and additional resources at http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/articles/seven-churches-of-revelation-bible-study.aspx

While exiled on the island of Patmos, the apostle John received a revelation from Jesus Christ that we now call the book of Revelation. In this vision, Christ gave John seven messages for seven first-century churches in Asia Minor. Read on to discover why Christ wanted to speak to these seven churches and what the messages mean for us today. Watch and listen to these messages here.

1. EPHESUS: THE LOVELESS CHURCH (REVELATION 2:1-7)

The church of Ephesus had many positive qualities; Christ commended them in five specific ways—they were dynamic, dedicated, determined, disciplined, and discerning (Revelation 2:2-3). But verse 4 reveals where they went wrong. “Nevertheless, I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” Everything about the Ephesian church looked good on the outside, but inwardly they had heart trouble. Their devotion to Christ was waning.

If you find yourself in this place with your relationship with Christ, here is a three-part formula on how to return to your first love.

Remember

“Remember therefor from where you have fallen” (Revelation 2:5).

If we have left something or someone, the first step is to remember where we started.

Repent

The next logical step after remembering where we started and realizing where we are now is to repent. This means to reverse course and go in the opposite direction. “. . . repent . . .” (Revelation 2:5).

Repeat

Repeating to the original good works will help you get back to the place where you began. “. . . do the first works” (Revelation 2:5). Return to what you did when you first became a Christian—the spiritual disciplines that kept you close to Christ and motivated to follow Him.

2. SMYRNA — THE SUFFERING CHURCH (REVELATION 2:8-11)

Christians in developed countries today think little about being persecuted for their faith. But there are churches in the world where such persecution is a daily reality. Such was the case for the ancient church in Smyrna. They suffered because of pressure, poverty, and persecution (Revelation 2:9). Christ’s words to that church can prepare all believers for what might come.

Be Fearless

“Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer” (Revelation 2:10). Because Christ is Lord over all of life’s circumstances, we have nothing to fear. Paul wrote that there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:35-39). Fear is a natural human response, but we live supernatural lives through the power of Christ in us.

Be Faithful

“Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). Given the intensity of the persecution in Smyrna, I believe Christ was saying, “Yes, you may lose your life for My sake, but be faithful until the end.”

3. PERGAMOS — THE COMPROMISING CHURCH (REVELATION 2:12-17)

Pergamos was nicknamed “Satan’s City.” The Christians in Pergamos were surrounded by pagan beliefs and practices. In spite of their faithfulness in some areas, the Christians in Pergamos had compromised their faith in others. They had allowed idolatry to creep into their congregation.

Satan is still employing the strategy he used in Pergamos: What you can’t curse and crush, you can corrupt through compromise.

Wherever two or three are gathered together in Christ’s name, Satan will be there to try to corrupt the truth.

Speak the Truth in Love

Christians should not be combative or antagonistic. Wherever corruption or compromise tries to gain a foothold, we need to be vigilant, sober, and on guard and speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

Remember the Lesson from Pergamos

Guard against the dilution of true doctrine by false teaching and authoritarian leaders. If that makes us intolerant in the eyes of some, then so be it. Christ will commend us just as He did Antipas, His “faithful martyr.”

4. THYATIRA — THE ADULTEROUS CHURCH (REVELATION 2:18-29)

There are Christians and churches today who feel a need to be relevant and all-inclusive when it comes to spiritual and moral boundaries. The ancient church in Thyatira must have felt that way as well. This church allowed an immoral individual to lead many others away from Christ (Revelation 2:20). What does Christ say to a church that is tolerating immorality in her midst?

THE THREAT OF DISTRESS (REVELATION 2:22)

When the prophetess refused the chance to repent, Christ warned of His judgment: “Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed.” Whether taken figuratively or literally, we should take those words as a warning. God is holy and will not abide rebellion forever. As Hebrews 10:31 says, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

The Threat of Death (Revelation 2:22-23)

This warning is not just to the prophetess but also to “those who commit adultery with her.” They would find themselves in “great tribulation” unless they repented of their immorality.

The Message to the Christians (Revelation 2:24-25)

The message for those that stood their ground and did not engage in the cult of immorality is to “Hold fast what you have till I come” (verse 25.)

The Message to the Conquerors (Revelation 2:26-29)

This is a message to those who would choose to remain faithful to Christ “until the end”. Christ promised that they would reign and they would be raptured.

5. SARDIS — THE DEAD CHURCH (REVELATION 3:1-6)

With this church there are no commendations; Christ begins immediately with a denunciation: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.” The church was full of what we today would call “nominal Christians”—Christians in name only. Christ gives five specific directions for the church that is dead.

  • Be Sensitive to the Inroads of Sin in the Church (verse 2)
  • Be Supportive of Those Who Remain True to Christ in the Church (verses 2, 4)
  • Be Submissive to the Control of the Holy Spirit in the Church (verse 3)
  • Be Subject to the Authority of God’s Word in the Church (verse 3)
  • Be Sorry and Repent for the Sin of the Church (verse 3)
There is hope for those that do what Christ has directed. He promises eternal life for those that repent and submit to Him (Revelation 3:5).

6. PHILADELPHIA — THE FAITHFUL CHURCH (REVELATION 3:7-13)

Christ commended the church in Philadelphia for four things: they have an open door, they have a little strength, the have kept the Word of God, and they have not denied the Lord. If we want to be commended by Christ like this church, we will go through open doors of ministry, depend on His strength, and be true to Him and to His Word. What does this mean for us today?

The Potential of the Local Church

If Christ is present and the church is committed to Him, there is going to be a door of opportunity for ministry. Every church should pray for those doors to be recognized, opened, and walked through.

The People of the Local Church

Many churches today think there are too few people, there is too little money, there are too few gifts, and there are too few opportunities. Remember this simple truth: When we are weak or little, Christ is strong and big. Building the Church of Jesus Christ is not up to us. We depend on the head of the Church to give His Body the strength we need.

The Principles of the Local Church

In verse 8, Christ summarizes three principles that apply to every Church: open doors for ministry, depending on Christ’s strength, and keeping the Word of God. Being faithful to God’s Word will lead to open doors for ministry and depending on Christ’s strength since they are both taught in the Bible. When the Word of God is the first priority, everything else will fall into place.

The Priorities of the Local Church

Because the Church of Jesus Christ is His Church, we are to boldly identify with Christ regardless of the cost. We must proclaim Christ as the Bible does—the only name whereby we can be saved (Acts 4:12).

7. LAODICEA — THE LUKEWARM CHURCH (REVELATION 3:14-22)

The church in Laodicea was lacking in every way. It was a compromising, conceited, and Christless church and Christ said that it made Him sick (Revelation 3:16). Today’s Church should take note; those words may apply to us as well. We would be well advised to apply this counsel to our lives and churches today.

The Prescription for Spiritual Poverty

The Laodiceans were rich, but their riches were worldly, not spiritual. They needed spiritual wealth which can only come through Christ (Revelation 3:18).

The Prescription for Spiritual Nakedness

Nakedness in Scripture is a metaphor for defeat and humiliation, therefore Christ counsels them to procure “white garments” from Him that the shame of their nakedness might be covered (Revelation 3:18).

The Prescription for Spiritual Blindness

The only salve for spiritual blindness is repentance and submission to the Lord Jesus Christ, asking Him for the fullness and wisdom of His Spirit to restore our spiritual sight.

The Prescription for Spiritual Compromise

There is only one word of counsel for the spiritually compromised: “Therefore be zealous and repent” (Revelation 3:19). God doesn’t love us only when we are doing the right things. He loves us all the time and He wants us to repent when we need to.

God loves us too much to leave us the way we are.

The Prescription for Their Christlessness

Christ has this to say for any without Him: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20). When Christ is moved to the margins and pushed outside the Church altogether, He stands knocking and seeking to be invited back in.

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