The next course I selected as part of my Unschooled Master of Theology program was the KI course, Revelation part 1, which covers the first half of the Book of Revelation. Here are the Discussion Questions for the entire course along with my responses.
As a reminder, you can all of my course assignments for the uThM here.
So, let’s get started….
KWL – What I Knew Before Starting This Study?
Revelation is a book in the Bible that I’ve read several times but only recently do I feel as if I have at least a rudimentary understanding of its overall message and some of the more important details and timelines presented within. Despite it being a book about the uncovering of mysteries it seems quite cryptic and vague at times, and this is not at all helped by the last 2000 years of theological development that overlays the text with endless minefields waiting to go off with each and every step.
I know the first two chapters focus on the church, covering both specific, local, individual churches and their troubles as well as providing an overview on the different kinds of churches present within the human context as well as a historical blueprint of how the church develops over the course of its existence. But here is where things get murky, as the text then slips into detailed descriptions of what some say are end times events and retractors argue are fulfilled events that took place in the first century. So much of the text and its meaning is shrouded in coded reference to the Old Testament it is often difficult to struggle through and make heads or tails of any of it.
Of all 22 chapters, the 20th is my favorite. Specifically Revelation 20:11-15 in the great white throne of judgment. I also like Revelation 11:14 in the end of the second woe, with the third on its way, with the sounding of the seventh angel (the last according to Paul – 1 Co 15:52), the dead in Christ will rise and then those who are still alive will be caught up into the air with the resurrected and they will all meet Christ and will be forever changed. Revelation goes on to declare, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Re 11:6).
I know there will be a new heaven and a new earth (I’m not certain this heaven is the supernatural realm where in which the angels and God do dwell or if it is referencing the immediate sky surrounding earth, or if it refers to all of space, the known and unknown physical universe, ie. all of the material dimension.
KWL – What I Want to Find Out in This Study?
I’m unclear on the timeline for the rapture of the church. I hope it is pre-trib and is actually coming within the next day or so (or right now would be okay, too), but from a biblical basis I’m more convinced of a mid-trib timeframe.
I’m also unclear on what is required of the individual believer. There is so much propaganda out in the world, even within the modern churches with their doctrines and traditions, so much of which is clearly and utterly unbiblical. What is waiting for the individual immediately after death but before the resurrection is really unclear. What qualifies one to be in Paradise as opposed to Hades is also unclear.
Mostly, though, I would like to be convinced and confident as to the timeline of the end times, what to expect will be the signs of Christ’s return, when we will be raptured, and what it means to die, what will be experienced during that process and immediately afterward.
I would also like to know what we as humans are actually getting into with salvation and eternity in heaven or on the new earth or maybe even in the supernatural realm or in a new creation scenario with a new redemptive group of beings with us as the angels (as angels are to us in our redemptive narrative). Is the human redemptive story a unique one? Does the church command a mysteriously unique and special position in the kingdom (something new and different) or are we part of an already existing pattern that occurs among multiple groups of beings with their own unique redemptive needs?
I would also like to know the whole story about the origins of the angels and God and the supernatural realm. What is this place? What came first, that realm or the physical dimension? Was the supernatural realm created? When? How were the angels created? Why? Who (what) are they exactly? Why will we be “like them” after the resurrection? Were they something not unlike mortal man at one time before they became angels (or like angels)? Or were they especially and specifically created by God in the state they are currently in? I would also like to know the full details on Satan and his rebellion. What was the context? Why do demons side with Satan? How do they communicate? How does Satan influence us? Can he read our minds? In that same vein, what happens in the Lake of Fire exactly? Annihilation? Eternal torment? Who originates the torment? Exacts it? Is it continual? Is it the natural consequence of utter separation from God? Is it the juxtaposition between being destroyed and simultaneously being immortal?
I recognize that most of these questions will remain unanswered even after finishing this course. But these are the driving questions I have that bring me back to studying the Bible day in and day out. They drive my curiosity, my thirst, and my imagination.
Lecture 1 Discussion Questions
What lessons in this session caused you to take the Bible more seriously?
I’m not certain the statement in this particular session has caused me to take the Bible more seriously than previously since I’ve taken my research/study of the Bible seriously for the last several years. It was Missler 30 years ago, while I was stationed in Germany, who encouraged me to take up Acts 17:11 for myself, to not just accept what he or anyone else said, but to “trust but verify.”
Overall, though, the biggest motivation for me to take the Bible seriously has been and still is the fulfillment of prophecy. I’m not so much motivated by prophecy that has not yet been fulfilled (though I try to remain watchful and sober), but by prophecy that has been fulfilled. The fact that the Old Testament has 1845 references to Christ’s rule on earth, and the New Testament has 318 references to Jesus’ second coming. Dr. Missler makes a staggering statement, “for every prophecy relating to his First Coming there are eight referencing his Second Coming.”
The fact that most people assume life will just go on as it always has been is a fulfillment of 2 Peter 3:4, “since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”
I await in great anticipation for the return of Christ or for my own death. Every day on this earth is another day in a pitiful existence. I want nothing more from the earth or the people who dwell on it. Death would be a relief, but the rapture or resurrection would be optimal. The sooner the better.
But, I really can’t explain what motivates my fascination or thirst for God’s Word. It was something supernaturally given to me when God plucked me out of Buddhism and in an instant, reading 2 Peter 2, simply took from me my faculty worldview (karmic reincarnation) and replaced it with a desire to study and learn and explore the message he has gifted to men. It has stayed with me all these years. Studying the Bible has become my all-consuming hobby. My passion. I do not get paid to do it. I’m not a pastor or a priest or even a monastic (though I certainly live as one). But these questions consume me and I never grow weary from searching out the truths he’s hidden.
How did this session impact you personally?
Much of it was review for me, but I do find it fascinating the heptadic structure to the book (and to the whole Bible.) as well as all the connections between Genesis and Revelation.
What are the major interpretive views of the Book of Revelation and how do they differ? Where do you stand?
There are traditionally four interpretive views of Revelation. There is the preterist view, the historical view, the idealist view, and the futurist view. Preterism states that all prophecy in the Bible was fulfilled by 70AD. It goes hand in hand with either amillennialism or postmillennialism. The historical view argues that prophecy plays out throughout the pages of history and is not necessarily concentrated in any one time or place. The idealist view argues that there is no actual physical fulfillment of anything, that prophecies in the Bible are written to edify and should be taken spiritually or symbolically. Lastly, futurism tends to argue for a literal and actual prophetic fulfillment with many of the prophecies still yet unfulfilled to occur in the end times.
Personally I have always been futurist. I have seen all the others twist and contort Scripture to make it say what they want, to allegorize it away because it usually doesn’t set well with them that the world is going to end badly (there is no future to count on) or it prohibits them from embrace the world or they must allegorize so it will give them freedom to live in their sin without judgment or conscience. All but the futurist view tends to lead people to either embrace the world or relax in the world.
I would argue that a straight forward, plain reading of the text would lead naturally to a futurist interpretation of Revelation.
This is how I first was exposed to the Bible. Locked in my barracks room. No commentaries. No encyclopedias. No Bible software. Just me and the text. I came away from that initial reading with a notebook full of questions and a futurist viewpoint.
Chuck mentions that the key to unraveling much of Revelation is found in the Old Testament. How well do you know the OT? What are your likes and dislikes of the OT?
I know the OT fairly well. Not as well as the NT certainly. I personally would love to be appointed in heaven to a research position in a remote library where all the books are housed of all of God’s history and creation and human history, the thoughts and deeds of all men, and be tasked with exploring the stacks and producing reports and working in utter and complete obscurity. It would be even better if the library was located in between the two dimensions or on a solitary planet where I’m the only inabitant.
Doesn’t that sound like heaven? (I told a fellow believer this once and she thought I was crazy to want to spend eternity in a library with my nose endlessly in books).
As for my likes and dislikes of the OT. I like that it appears to be supernaturally designed and is integrated into the NT as well. I also like that it is a deep and endless well of knowledge about God and Christ and the church and creation. I also an thankful for the desire God has given me to want to study the Bible for all these years. I wonder if this will go away after the resurrection/rapture? Will I just know the Bible forward and backwards at that point? Or will I be able to spend all of eternity digging into the annals of man and uncovering the secrets of the cosmos?
As to what I do not like about the OT. I do not like the historical books. I struggle also with the prophetic books, the cryptic and often vague wording they have, which has led many to misapply those prophecies to current events. The biggest issue I have with the OT (and the NT for that matter) is how it is incomplete. Much of the story about the origin of the angels, about God, about the supernatural realm has been left out of the message God has given us through the Bible. Why? Why is it so important to keep humans in the dark? Why do we have to go through this process of living at all? Why not just get on with the judgment and with the transformation? Why do so many have to struggle and suffer to make it through this life? Why not preempt the process and get on with the show? We will be “like the angels” once we are transformed. So why all the secrecy of who they are, when/where they were created, how they were created, who/what they really are? Why is Satan so angry? What actually happened to cause of this drama? Why are we completely in the dark as it pertains to the supernatural realm? What’s beyond the physical dimension? What happens after Revelation 22:21? Will we just live in the new city on earth forever or will there be a new redemptive narrative where we will serve as God’s host? I have so many questions that the Bible simply does not answer. It’s frustrating.
What special privilege is associated with being a “friend of God?” Elaborate on what it means to you to be a friend of God.
To be a friend of God is to be included in what God is doing. He includes you in his plans, in his activities. Only John and Abraham were considered friends of God. Though Enoch walked with God or was well pleasing to God and he was raptured for it (or for some reason). David was a man after God’s own heart. I think these all indicate the same kind of intimacy with God that they all shared.
I don’t know if I could ever presume to be a friend of God or to be considered by him. I wonder often if I were not deluded by a strong delusion and were created before the foundation of the world, not for good works, but for condemnation and destruction in the Lake of Fire. The modern church has made it pretty clear over the years that my faith is somehow malformed, that there is something wrong with how and what I am convicted of. Either they are wrong and I’m right (or the opposite) or we’re both right, or we’re both wrong. It would be terrible to wake up from death and realize that karma is in control or to realize you’re standing before Allah with no get out of jail free card.
All my hope in this world and in my entire existence is pinned on the promise of Christ in the resurrection of the dead and in his work on the cross. If he was wrong I am doomed. If he was mistaken I am utterly at a loss. I’m still dead in my sins and will be thrown to the wolves at the judgment. A better fate would be not waking up at all and recognizing that the evolutionists were correct and that all of this is just one giant, cosmic accident. If this be the case, I’m glad to go as soon as possible. If there is no hope in Christ, no hope in his resurrection, no promise of salvation by grace through faith, then I would rather not even exist.
To be a servant in heaven is sufficient for me. Scrubbing floors in the kingdom is a much greater reward than the fate that awaits in Gehenna. May God’s mercy be great and may he not impute onto me the just penalty for my sins.
K-W-L Self Assessment: L- Describe what you LEARNED from this session.
I’m excited to be going through the book of Revelation at this stage in my research and at this time in which we live. I personally think we are nearing the end, but how wrong I could be. Instead of trying to predict, I simply wait on the Lord, watch, soberly and prayerfully lay my petitions at his feet in hopes that he hears my cries and knows my sadness and pain and will redeem all who are worthy to stand at his side in the end times.
It is my hope that the pre-tribuation timeline is the correct one and that any day now we will be caught up into the air to meet Christ our King along with all our brothers and sisters who are resurrected. What an experience that will be, the transformation, the end of sadness, of illness, of pain, and of suffering, and genuine injustice. While I hope for this, I don’t see it line up with the biblical account of end time events. From the Bible I see a mid-trip rapture at the sounding of the seventh trumpet in Revelation 11:15. I would love to be found wrong on this matter.
Lecture 2 Discussion Questions
What is prophecy and why is prophecy important?
Prophecy is the insertion into a message the outcome of future events before they occur. This is present in multiple kinds of writings and throughout many cultures with varying success (often low), but the prophecy found in the Bible is 100% accurate 100% of the time. We may not have the correct context and, as fallen humans, as we get the meaning and application of prophetic texts wrong often, but I think in the end we will look back and find no error in God’s prophetic timetable.
Prophecy is God’s means of authentication of both his Word and of his message, of Christ’s authority on earth and of God’s sovereignty against his retractors, both mortal and supernatural. It illustrates that God is outside of and not bound by time, that he is aware of future events before they occur, and that he can discern the beginning from the end (all things humans and angels cannot apparently do).
The Bible is filled with “types.” Which one is your favorite? Why?
Paul explains that Adam is a type of Christ (Ro 5:14). He is the first Adam while Jesus is considered the Second or Last Adam (1 Co 15:45-49). I appreciate this type because Paul goes out of his way to specifically identify it as such.
How is the symbol of garments used in the Scripture? What can we learn from this to apply to our lives?
They are used menstrual cloths for our own, but Christs are always light, righteous, and dripping in sacrificial blood. Our “garments” are indicative of what wears out, breaks down, declines, and ultimate succumbs to the process of death, the separation of soul and spirit from body. In Psalm 102:25 the physical dimension is described as being “worn out” like a garment.
For me, this indicates that this world, this reality, everything that I’ve ever known or hold dear, everything that I possess, even to my body and blood and bone – it is all temporary, transitory, and prone to decay and destruction. There is nothing in this world that we can hold on to, trust or have faith in, save the one who is not of this fallen world. Jesus is our only means of escape from this godawful place, and our only means of overcoming the powerful grip of death. If not for him we would spend eternity in the abyss, tethered to disembodiment forever. But, as it states in the first chapter, Jesus is the one who has the keys to both Hades and Death (Re 1:18). He is the narrow gate, the only means by which we can be saved (Jo 10:7-10).
Why were these seven churches the subjects for the seven letters? Which one of the churches speaks more directly to you?
These churches were actual local churches. They had genuine problems and the messages to them were for them specifically. But, all of the letters together were an admonishment to the church (universal), for they were all to reach each other’s letters. Lastly, the letters were for all of us. Anyone who has the ability to hear (not literally, but who is receptive of God’s message) can learn by example for each of the letters. Prophetically, the seven churches together constitute not only a record of the history of the church (universal) and the phases in which she has passed through, but it also illustrates a litmus test of sorts, defining the different types of churches that each church in existence is (i.e. we are a legalistic church or we are a devout church).
Personally I feel as if I identify with the Ephesian church because I am at odds with the modern church of today (forsaken its first love). But, I’m not certain this conclusion is driven by conviction from God or by misplaced guilt ginned by the modern church to shun and shame people who do not blindly accept their Nicolaitan doctrines.
Lately I think America specifically, but really the church (universal) globally might be closer to the Church of Smyrna, as we could very soon be plunged into tribulation and suffer persecution.
Because of the firm foundation that developed in my initial training as a new believer (thanks to reading the Bible itself first without doctrinal affiliation and then thanks to Chuck Missler’s materials later on) I escape the Pergamum tendency to allow false teachers to influence my beliefs (though who could be certain what is heresy these days).
I am not known for Thyatirian charity but I cannot judge these things. Do I not give because I have no heart to give or because I have nothing to give or because I know of no one who is in genuine need? Certainly if my heart is stricken with greed, the woman with two pence will stand against me at the judgment (Mark 12:42ff).
I’m not certain if God would consider me as Sardis, dead despite having a good reputation. In the churches I have a reputation of making pastors uncomfortable. They don’t like people rocking the boat or questioning the very foundation (false though they may be) in which they’ve erected their lives and livelihoods. The last interaction I had with a pastor of a local church was a conversation and then he proctored a comprehensive exam for my Master’s program. Despite our pleasantries and an overall cordial interaction, this pastor never once invited me to his church or asked me why I did not attend a local fellowship. Personally, I think he purposefully (or reflexively) did not extend an invitation because I was finishing a Master’s degree in Theology and had expressed plans to go on and get a PhD or ThD. The pastor only had a Bachelor’s degree. We had talked at length about his attempt at going on to finish school and how he simply did not have the time. He stated he had a family to raise. I think I was barred from an invitation simply because he was concerned about possible competition for his pulpit (though I had no call to or personal ambitions for anything like this). I actually would have rather taken an informal, volunteer position as his assistant. Help him with research for his sermons, etc. If truly he is overloaded with familial and pastoral responsibility I think I could have been genuine help to him.
I do believe I have the evidence in my life to be considered Philadephic, in that I have steadfastly kept the faith, enduring patiently the abuses and ostracization of the modern churches. Though, this has nothing really to do with me or any effort I may have extended. Faith in Christ and belief in a biblical worldview are not something that I gin up within me or even really encourage. It was a gift, wholly given. One day I was a Buddhist and whole heartedly believed in reincarnation and in the karmic wheel of life, and was wrestling through active daily meditation to achieve Nirvana and escape this delusional existence, and the next moment that whole belief structure and activity set was stripped from me and replaced in full by a thirst for God’s Word and a fully formed belief in the biblical worldview. Throughout the years since that faith has not wavered. It is simply there informing me, convicting me, and encouraging and comforting me as the end draws near. I don’t even think it would be possible for me to lose my faith since it is not actually mine to lose. It was a gift, given to me by God.
Lastly, I have been accused in the past of being the Laodicean church, or more specifically, compromised, lukewarm. As one individual put it, I am “not fit for the kingdom of God.” I also had a professor in my Master’s program who, after reading one of my papers, stated I “was not equipped to live life on earth or in heaven.” Sometimes I wonder if all my critics in the modern churches are correct and I am somehow malformed, or my faith is twisted or misshapen in some way, as if maybe I were one of those vessels Paul writes about in Romans 9, a “vessel of wrath,” the object of God’s longsuffering, prepared beforehand for destruction. How would I know, if I am one of these, then I would be from the beginning given over to a futile mind, debased, unswerving in my heresy, led by delusion headlong toward shipwreck. I know I don’t personally feel this way about my faith or about my love for my King. But it doesn’t really matter, in the end, what I think. It only matters what Jesus thinks on Judgment Day. I lean so heavily on the promises of the Bible that those who believe will be saved (Ro 10:11), that this is the work of God, that we should believe in Him who he sent (John 6:29), that it is not anything I do or could do that saves me, but it is entirely what Christ did on my behalf. This is my only hope in the end and I simply have to trust God has a plan for my life and I am where he ultimately wants me to be.
What does “the day of the Lord” mean? In what sense has it already begun? In what sense is it yet future?
Unfortunately I do not see “the Day of the Lord” in any Greek text. They all have κυριακῇ ἡμέρᾳ even though all the reverse interlinears have the Greek order ἡμέρᾳ κυριακῇ with numbering indicates it should be reverse, but the English words above them have Lord over day and day over lord. It is really odd. I’m not certain why the reverse interlinears (NKJV and EOB) would have the words out of order, but numbered to put them back in order. The text should read “the Lord’s Day.”
Pulpit says “beyond all reasonable doubt it means on Sunday.” It states that from Ignatius forward the phrase ἡ Κυριακή became the standard Christian expression given for the first day of the week. UBS Handbooks indicate the same.
I wouldn’t discount Dr. Missler’s view that this is actually the “Day of the Lord” as in Christ’s return at the end of days, but I don’t necessarily think this is conclusively shown by the underlining text. It is just as possible that John was referring to the first day of the week and he had a vision or it was on the first day of the week that he was transported. Either interpretation works for the context and the content.
I would argue this has not actually begun already. It is yet future. For John, maybe it has already begun, since the future event that has not yet occurred for the rest of us has occurred for him. This is only true if, indeed, he was transported into the future to the Day of the Lord rather than experiencing a vision (within his mind) while the body itself remained in the first century. By seeing into the future he did not actually take up space or was otherwise located in the future. He only saw the future.
Chuck says that “the book of Revelation is in code, but every code is explained somewhere else in the Bible.” Pick one of your favorites and use it to demonstrate this statement.
I think it’s interesting that the rapture occurs at the “trumpet of God” and not necessarily at an angel’s trumpet (though trumpet of God does not preclude it being trumped by an angel). Though, this still can’t get around I Co 15:52ff, that “in the moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet…the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” If the trumpet here is not the “last trumpet” (the seventh) listed in Revelation 11:15ff, then this means there is at least 2 trumpets (or more) and all the preceding ones are not discussed at all in the Bible, only this last one. I think Revelation 11:15 is the code for the other passages to be correctly understood. Then again, I could be entirely wrong here. I just have not come across an adequate explanation yet for the last trumpet remark by Paul. I also do not see a clearly defined timetable for pre-trib in the text.
I know the question asked what in Revelation could be a sign that is decoded by other places in the Bible. I found this in the notes specifically, “Revelation is in code: every code is explained in Scripture (virtually every other book required)!” But no examples were given. I also did not pick up on any examples in the lecture either. Hopefully this will become clearer as I move through the other chapters. I had hoped a list would be included in the notes, but I could not find it.
K-W-L Self Assessment: L- Describe what you LEARNED from this session.
This was kind of review, though the issue concerning the Lord’s Day I found interesting. One of the things that drew me to Dr. Missler in the very beginning was his adherence and promotion of Acts 17:11. Trust no one. Verify everything. I’ve taken this to heart over the years and it has served me quite well, even when I checked on claims made by Dr. Missler himself and discovered they were off the mark (some bible codes).
Having a foundation firmly established on the Bible itself rather than wrapped up in a particular denomination or a particular local church or specific individual has really helped me remain consistent in my theology. I do have what some would call bizarre beliefs, but those are ultimately tied to Scripture, which provides me a great deal of confidence in where I’m at.
It has also helped me a great deal in spotting counterfeit ideas or doctrines. Because of a sure foundation in the Bible I was able to spot the problems in the JW doctrines almost immediately, which drove most of them to rage and concluded I was a heretic as they stormed out of my business (only one stayed and studied with me for over a year and I think he was just stubborn or was using me to pad his turn in sheets).
I’m thankful that Dr. Missler recognized he was human and respected that he always pointed me toward Christ and toward the Bible rather than just accepting what he said as the gospel itself.
Lecture 3 Discussion Questions
Are you living in Ephesus? If so, how did the message to this church apply to your life?
If the question is asking if the culture and my surroundings, daily life, and church life is similar to that of the Ephesian Church exampled in this letter, I would have to say yes. I live in a culture that is falling apart, with expressions of church-like organizations of professionalists but not at all resembling the biblical account of the local church. They are definitely abandoning Christ for something else, and are very busy with their learning and their teaching and their programs, but I wonder how much of this is nothing more than hay and stubble and how much of it was actually predestined by God for them to walk in. Most of the time it appears as if modern churches really only function to amass revenue, to perpetuate the professional clergy class, and will allow and promote any kind of doctrine or heresy as long as the congregants are sated and the coffers are filled.
If the question is asking if I, personally, am like the Ephesians, I would have to say yes and no. God knows who I am and what I’ve done and what I do. He knows the tremendous confusion that I live with concerning the church and my calling in Christ. He knows how I was saved (if, indeed, I am saved at all) and he knows what my fate will ultimately be at the judgment.
I have been quick to point out error when it is found, and that is easily discernible with a proper foundation in the Word. I’ve had to deal with false teachers, false prophets, even false apostles. I’ve had to struggle with stiff-necked congregations, with people who profess to be Christians but who act as if they are just like everyone else.
I spent much of my 20’s trying to serve organized churches, only to come away with the realization that they neither resemble the biblical church nor do they really want me involved in whatever it is they are actually doing.
But, I can tell you, I am not like the Ephesian church because I have grown weary of doing that kind of direct work with people. A great deal of that comes from doing the work of a pastor or minister or shepherd when I’m not really called to do so, or because I have psychological problems preventing me from being effective. The entire time I served local churches in any capacity, even just in weekly attendance, I felt like a fraud. I am convinced I do not belong or benefit or am a benefit to anyone in a local fellowship and this is a peculiar position to be in.
I don’t believe I’ve left my first love (Christ) unless John 13:34; 15:12; Ro 12:10 are correct and I should love others. This has proven difficult for me since people are by and large the source of all judgment against me. I’ve found that people are not really interested in the Bible or in genuine fellowship and so my Christian experience has the last several years been one of a solitary journey.
I used to think that because I did not have love for others it meant that the love of the Father was not in me. But then I discovered it was not a lack of love for others that caused this but a love of the world that draws us away from God’s love (1 John 2:15).
So, overall, I would say I’m most closely aligned with the Ephesian church in that, like they, I object to the professional clergy that has prospered in modern Christian society. It has taken the local church away from its ultimate purpose.
Are you in a Small Group? What are the advantages and disadvantages?
Ahh. Such a difficult subject. Over the last several years I’ve wondered if I should be a part of a small group. Unfortunately, I do not know where they are or how to find them, plus past experience has shown that most groups have no interest in my participation.
Today with COVID concerns, I have little interest in going to another person’s home or interacting with people face to face. I personally think COVID is a virus intentionally manufactured by the US government and other governmental entities around the world so that they can force the “vaccine” onto the populous. I also think the vaccine is many times worse than the virus itself and should be avoided (and its real purpose has nothing to do with stopping COVID. The vaccine renders the vaccinated as incubators for the virus and they become super spreaders. Because of this, and because I think there is no plausible situation in the future where this will ever end (if COVID goes away they will release another virus like the flu or something else). Small groups and interactions in person with people are simply a non-starter. I live in isolation from the rest of the world (mostly did so even before COVID). I live alone. I work alone. I go to the grocery store on off-peak hours to avoid crowds. I’m not vaccinated because I have no interest in participating in this new system they are developing.
I’ve tried to find online groups to participate in, but there are none. There was a church in Texas that I was talking with about becoming an online member, but after discussions with several of their staff and even with the executive pastor (crazy titles) it was pretty clear they were compromised or willfully ignorant of what was happening around the world and in the culture. Once COVID took off, I decided then that online was not really an option since I think it will sooner than later be forbidden by the authoritarian government that will take the place of the current American regime.
I used to start informal Bible studies in my 20’s and hosted a house church in my own home for five years in my 30’s. I own my home today and most of it sits empty (too big for just me) and would be the perfect place to host a weekly meeting. If the place was cleaned up and I bought some furniture (currently only have a recliner) it would be very nice. But, I live in a very small town and most people are not interested in studying the Bible like I do. When I was 19 and in the military overseas, God placed me in a situation in the barracks where several of us were single soldiers and also Christians. We would go from room to room organically asking each other questions, reading the Bible together, going to the library on base together to use their theological books, and we shared our lives together. Since leaving the military I’ve never experienced this kind of natural, organic, or genuine spiritual/community life again.
Maybe I need to put an ad up for room mates. I could have two others here with a little remodeling and I could be very specific that it would be an intentional community life that I was looking for, where we studied together daily, prayed together, and held everything in common. Maybe I don’t need to go to a monastery as much as create an intentional community here where I’m at. I could put an ad up across the country, not even be limited to just this local area where there is very little religious interest at all (very individualistic spirit here).
Then again I’ve spent the last 10 years alone. I’m not certain I could adjust to living with people again, especially given COVID ramifications.
What I would love would be an online group that studied together each week on Zoom. I’ve looked at other groups online, but haven’t ultimately pulled the trigger. Part of the issue is I’m not certain I understand the purpose of the local gathering to begin with. Sure, I understand its purpose for new believers to be discipled. But I see no redeeming value in just sitting through a Sunday service each week. It is rudimentary and quite honestly obsolete with the availability of the internet.
The idea of a small group or intentional community is great in theory. I remember one group in the valley that met in the back of a tire shop every morning before the business opened and 10-12 people every morning would spend 1-2 hours just taking turns praying. They did this Mon-Sat (and left Sunday open for people to go to their individual church services). It was a great experience having communal prayer be a part of my daily life.
The problem is that most of these kinds of communities or groups do not last. People are difficult to deal with, it is a struggle to entice commitment from just about anyone, and it is hard to tell the difference between a genuinely interested person and a wacko. While running the house church, a guy came through who claimed to be an apostle (acted like he was) and yet, we ended up having to give him the boot because he couldn’t keep his hands off the kids. Another guy thought he was a self-proclaimed prophet and that was another fiasco. The insanity was monotonous. People were always trying to get over on someone else. There was another group I was a part of that I later discovered was only together because the people who attended wanted free food. They actually did not like each other at all!
I really struggle with the idea of local gatherings. Most if not all of what is or could be done in this context can be done as a solitary or in a 1on1 relationship with another person.
Who are the “Nicolaitans” today? Why does Jesus HATE their works?
Dr. Missler operates on the etymological explanation, which I found was only briefly covered in my commentaries and dictionary/encyclopedias. I could not find the Beale reference in his Revelation Commentary, though it is cited in the Lexham Bible Dictionary in support of Missler’s theory. Basically, the concept is the word is transliterated and is a combination of (νικᾷ, nika; + λαός, laos) and basically means “one who consumes the people” or “overcomes the people.”
The more popular interpretation is the Nicolaitans were a sect within Christianity that promoted idolatry with the pagan world of Ephesus which is supported by Irenaeus, Hippolytus, and Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian. It is speculated that the group was founded by Nicolaus, a proselyte form Antioch, one of the seven chosen disciples tasked to serve tables (Acts 6:5). They were most often associated with gnosticism and shunned.
Personally, I think they are the first century equivalent of our modern professional clergy. A band of professional priest like individuals who perpetuate a division between clergy and the rest of the community in order to not only prop up their authorities but to secure their funding into the future. Missler points out that Jesus provided a much different hierarchical structure for the church (John 13:14-16). I would add Ephesians 4:11ff would also illustrate the lack of a professional priesthood.
I would say the biggest reason Jesus might hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans is that they, at least in our modern culture, pacify the congregation to the point that there is little to no growth. Once converted, they are indoctrinated into a passive entertainment program where they are required to do little and sacrifice nothing. It is also why many modern churches push marriage as the ultimate and best state when Jesus clearly provided an exemption for those called to celibacy and Paul very much favored celibacy over marriage in most situations (without banning marriage entirely).
What is the “Third Commandment” about? In what ways have you been a positive representative of Christ?
Dr. Missler believes that this commandment has more to do with our representation of Christ as a professing Christian than it does with foul language. If we profess to be Christian to the world then our actions should represent that declaration honestly and loyally. I would agree.
I personally don’t think I am a positive representative of Christ, but only because I’m not really certain I understand what it is God truly wants from me, or how I’m supposed to act, or what the division is between God’s true commands for the individual what what is defined as doctrines of men. The modern church cannot be trusted to define these parameters since they often have an ulterior motive for what they say and do, and this typically has nothing to do with biblical truth or advancing the gospel. Bottom line, I’m either on track or I’m way off the mark.
Likewise I think it is overly simplistic within evangelical circles to simply assume proper representation is the typical extroverted evangelism that is passed off as ministry today. Not everyone is called to be an evangelist, that is clearly explained in Ephesians 4:11ff. Not everyone has the same gifts or the same calling. Some people may be called to serve God in isolation from others, such as by writing books or writing blog posts, or they may be called to work a job and finance a missionary. Some are never called to any formal ministry at all and serve God in the gaps, with haphazard encounters maybe with perfect strangers. It’s disingenuous to perpetuate the idea that the Great Commission was given as a blanket statement to all of the church throughout the entire history of the church. Ephesians 4:11ff would be a better example for the church to follow as it encompasses all of the ministry gifts.
What title does Christ choose for Himself and what does it mean? What can we draw from this?
In this section he states he is the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand, and he’s the one who walks in the midst of the seven golden lamp stands. This title applies universally to all the churches and illustrates his authority over both the church (which is a mystery) and the supernatural realm or the angels (which are the stars).
His walking means he is tirelessly active within and on behalf of the church, much in the same way that we are his workmanship (Eph 2:10) and given the assurance of the seal that Christ will finish the good work that he started within us (Phil 1:6).
What does “first love” mean? How does this verse apply to you?
This could have one of two meanings. Either the phrase refers to the first love of the believer, which is Christ, or it could refer to the command Christ gave us, that we will be known as his disciples by the love we have one for another (John 13:35).
Both, I think, are adequate interpretations, but I lean toward the former, as Christ is the central object of our salvation, for it is faith in his resurrection that brings about our actual salvation experience (Ro 10:9-10).
What does this really mean, though, is anyone’s guess. Does it mean, as Dr. Missler asserts, that God would rather have devotion than doctrine? I’m not so certain of this. Does it mean that it is possible for the Christian, the genuinely saved, to still miss the mark, miss a mark? It does appear so. Nowhere does it state in this letter that they would lose their salvation if they did not repent. They would lose their lamp stand (which is the church establishment) which was ultimately destroyed. But this pales in comparison to subsequently becoming disqualified for the Kingdom as Paul certainly seems to assert is a possibility (1 Co 9:27; 2 Co 13:5). It is, after all, possible to shipwreck one’s faith (1 Ti 1:18).
Concerning my own forsaking of my “first love,” if it is indeed Christ, I do not know ultimately my standing before my King. It is completely his determination that will be leveled at the end of the age, when I stand before him and he determines whether I will answer for all of my deeds or if he will instead stand up for me and his work will be credited on my behalf. If referring to the lack of love for others, I don’t know what I can say. I have no justification. But, I also have no compulsion toward it, either. I hesitate to make the argument that I was made this way, since I think I know how futile this argument will be for the abominable on the earth when judgment finally comes. I could very well have been made this way and it is something I must overcome. Or, what others view as “love” might not be the love that I experience or know or express toward others. For me, love is not an emotion, or well wishes, or even camaraderie. I don’t have to even like the people I love. The love of Christ is one of commitment, of a vow, of a faithful promise, of self-sacrifice. Plus, there is concern for others I have and express in my teaching and discipleship of others. Likewise, nowhere in the Bible does it say that one must continually be an outspoken advocate for ministry or actively engaged in ministry their entire lives. It is possible that I was called for the specific period of time in my 20’s and 30’s to serve the church (universal) and now I serve the church asynchronously (or maybe not at all).
I struggle against John 13:35, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” I struggle with what this means to have love one for another, knowing that Christ’s commandment is all the more harsher than that of the Mosaic law ever could be. Yet, I also know if Christ be true, if Paul be true, then nothing I do or don’t do can affect my salvation status. But I am still compelled, whether by unnecessary guilt by the professional clergy of my age or by conviction of the Holy Spirit, to search the depths of my soul and work out my own salvation in fear and trembling (Phil 2:12).
K-W-L Self Assessment: L- Describe what you LEARNED from this session.
I find the Olivet Discourse breakdown quite fascinating. For the longest time I’ve struggled with many of the so called “conflicts” or “contradictions” the Bible was said to have, especially in prophecy. But this certainly clears up the issue with Luke 21 and Matthew 24. With both accounts centering on Wars, Famines, Earthquake, etc, it is clear the meaning of both in their proper context hinge on a single word in each: then after, and before.
It makes things a little clearer as to the ultimate timeline of events in the end of days. But, I still do not understand why the need for all this symbolism. Why the signification? Why not just laid it out in plain detail for all to see?
Lecture 4 Discussion Questions
What gifts did the Magi bring and what was their prophetic relevance? Have you ever given these gifts to Christ? How would you go about doing that?
They brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They are linked to Jesus’ royalty as King, to his deity as the priest of the new covenant in the order of Melchizedek, and to his death on the cross. I found it quite fascinating that in Isaiah 60:6, at the resurrection, he is brought gifts of gold and frankincense only, no myrrh. As Dr. Missler indicated in the lecture, this could indicate that Christ has defeated death (which Satan brought about by deceiving Eve in the garden and enticing them to eat of the forbidden fruit). If not for Christ’s work on the cross and his power over death (that he now has the keys of both Hades and Death), then all humans whoever lived would eventually end up existing in Hades or Paradise (assuming this is a subset of Hades) for all eternity as disembodied souls.
I’m not certain what the point would be of giving these gifts to Christ. I certain can respond to his authority and autonomy as King of the created world, over everything that has ever been made on earth or in heaven, by surrendering my own life to him and live my life in subjection to him as his servant (slave). Personally, Paul’s description of two types of people really resonates with me, “For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ’s slave” (1 Co 7:22). I was certainly free when I was called by God at 17 (despite being utterly lost and deluded in a karmic worldview), which would make me the Lord’s slave.
To respond to Christ’s authority as priest, I simply must accept there is no other means by which I am saved. There is nothing I can do or say that can remedy the damage done at the fall. In my best efforts I would still fall short. Only God can bridge the divide between my current deplorable, fallen state and his righteousness. I don’t know how this is possible or why it is necessary for this equation to exist (my faith+Christ’s work = God sees Christ’s work). I don’t know how, requiring my faith to trigger the accrediting to my account Christ’s work is not synergistic, utilizing part of my volition and also God’s. But, I simply submit to what the Bible says and accept the propitiation he offers me. I am in his hands. He can do what he wants with me.
Lastly, I can respond to his death by proclaiming his death in my life, conforming to his death (Phil 3:10), and taking seriously the mercy he has exercised in sparing my life by making my calling and election sure.
He has broken me down over the last several years to the point that I care for nothing else in this world now. I have no worldly aspirations, no goals to meet. I simply want to see him in whatever capacity he desires. I eagerly anticipate either my death and the sweet release from this godawful place, or the rapture and final transformation of my mortal flesh into an immortal body and become like the angels in heaven and take my appointed place in the hierarchy of heaven (whatever rank that might be).
What is the danger of Replacement Theology? How does this heresy impact world events in today’s world?
This is based partly on the concept that there were those in the first century who said they were Jews but actually were not. It also stems from concepts of allegory, the faulty hermenutic that allows the Bible to say just about whatever we want it to say to fit into our pre-defined presuppositions. It is the source of antisemitism and was a major cause in the Holocaust. It will also be a major contributing factor to the second Holocaust that will come in the future.
Replacement Theology has twisted mainline denominational Christianity and its theology into a predominately dominionist platform, where Christianity inherits all the promises God made to Israel but who rejected their messiah and thus forfeited those promises.
It simply is untenable with a plain, straightforward reading of the biblical text, especially in light of Paul’s treatise on the subject in Romans.
Discuss reasons why Christians have trials. Compare Biblical examples with contemporary or personal ones.
Dr. Missler lays out several potential reasons for this. I’m not certain I would agree with all of them. But he lists:
1. To glorify God
2. To discipline an individual for known sin
3. To prevent us from falling into future sin
4. To keep us from the sin of pride
5. To build our faith
6. To cause growth individually and corporately
7. To teach obedience and discipline
8. To equip us to comfort others in the future
9. To prove to us the reality of Christ
10. To provide a testimony to the angels
Dr. Missler distinguishes between persecution and the tribulation that comes at the end of days. I would agree. But I think we need to further distinguish between persecution and general suffering that is experienced by individuals simply because of our malformed condition. This is a fallen world, and we are fallen and imperfect people, and no matter how lofty our aims, we are not able to do the right thing the right way every time.
Sometimes suffering is simply bad luck or random occurrence. It is sometimes simply a direct or indirect result of poor choice, uninformed choice, or unavoidable choice. Sometimes suffering comes to no fault of our own and is completely out of our control.
Yet, I wonder about this, because there are places in the Bible that indicate that everything that happens to the created world and the creatures therein happen according to the Father’s will. Nothing happens outside of that, which indicates to me that maybe everything, even random suffering, is working the Lord’s will out through us and on us in his timeframe and through his processes. With this in mind, there may be no such thing as random occurrence or happenstance.
Can we expect to have persecutions in our churches today? Why?
This is a very tough question to answer definitively. I say this because there is actually a large percentage of Americans in the country’s 250 year history that have actually escaped life as Christians without any kind of genuine persecution leveled against them. In fact, many American Christians have led quite prominent, successful lives in a quasi cultural bubble, experiencing the entire process, from initial conversion to death, going from good to better to great in how they experience life and their faith.
Then again, some American Christians experience the exact opposite of this. I’ve seen believers who are hounded by tragedy, by suffering, and end up dying horrible, painful deaths.
None of this, though, is, as Paul puts it, “uncommon to man” (1 Co 10:13). Sickness, suffering, and ultimately death come for us all at different times and to differing degrees.
These I think are separate from actual persecution by other religious groups or by government authorities or by the church (so called) herself. And it is clear, few if any in American history have had to endure any kind of sustained, systematic, or relentless persecution as they did in the first four centuries or today around the globe.
So, we can’t really ask the question can we expect to have persecution in our churches today since the lives of many in the western world prove it is not an absolute necessity. In fact, it is currently not the norm for American Christians to suffer any kind of genuine persecution.
Yet, Jesus promised persecution of Christians. So did Paul. Early persecution was brought about by both the Jews and by the Roman authorities. Christians in those times were made easy targets to blame for natural disasters, for defeats on the battle field, and for disease among the populous. Much like the sailors who threw Jonah overboard in hopes of appeasing whatever God was causing the storm, many Christians early on were accused of causing all kinds of evils simply because they would not relent and pay homage to the god of the day.
This kind of brazen scapegoating can be seen around the world today as well, with more Christians having been murdered for their faith in the 20th century than all the other centuries combined. I would also argue that this tendency will only increase in the 21st century, as Christianity (and especially biblical Christianity) is actively being scapegoated for all sorts of evils (cause of COVID deaths, cause of hatred or racism, etc).
I think to ask this question today: should Christians expect to be persecuted, I think the answer is yes. But only because it is difficult not to see the handwriting on the wall. The same things that were said during the first few centuries are being repeated today. The hostility, the anger, the intolerance toward any biblical reference only illustrates the dramatic shift in the cultural moorings of a society that has utterly lost its foundings.
I find it interesting that such a long span of time has passed where Christians in America were able to escape any kind of persecution at all against their faith. Yet, today the horizon seems rather bleak and the outlook for American Christians retaining their biblical authenticity without some level of increasing and persistent persecution is dismal. How can it be such an unequal distribution? Dr. Missler stated in the lecture that we, as American Christians, cannot presume we somehow earn the right to escape what the rest of the church has for most of her history endured. Maybe the last 250 years has truly been an anomaly that society and providence will soon correct.
Name three “tares” sown among the early churches. Are these still operative today?
In the lecture Dr. Missler listed three of these. Legalism, Gnosticism, and Idolatry. All three of these are not only operative today, they are increasingly so. Legalism and Gnosticism seem to set opposite on a sliding scale from one another. The more you move away from gnostic tendencies, the more legalistic you tend to become and vice versa. It’s hard to thread the needle toward a balanced view between the two. Idolatry may not today come in the form of Casear worship as it did in the first few centuries, but it does seem to focus instead today on idolatry with secularism, scientism, consumerism, capitalism, and dominionism.
K-W-L Self Assessment: L- Describe what you LEARNED from this session.
I was intrigued by Dr. Missler’s quip, “If you are born twice you die once, and if born once you die twice.” It is quite poignant. Interestingly also was the fact that several prophetic elements in the Olivet Discourses have not yet been fulfilled, such as the days of Noah and the darkening of the sun and moon, or the death of a third of the earth’s population. I think it is disingenuous to allegorize these remaining prophecies, claiming they already occurred or will occur but only spiritually, just to make the discourses fit with a specific presupposition.
Lecture 5 Discussion Questions
How does the Third Commandment impact our understanding of the lessons to Pergamos?
There is a comment made in this letter that they should “Hold fast to [his] name” (Re 2:13). I’m not certain this is referencing Dr. Missler’s 3rd Commandment, but rather that those at Pergamos held on to their faith (faith in Jesus) because of the next phrase in the verse, “and did not deny my faith.”
It’s not here presented that they should represent Christ well but that they should hold on to their faith, should not denounce it or fall away. This is seen in their compromise with the doctrine of Balaam and some who held the doctrine of the Nicolaitans.
How should a Christian avoid “marriage to the world?” How does this impact “seeker-friendly” issues?
This is a difficult thing to achieve completely since the world is Satan’s and he is the father of lies. Deception seems inherently built into everything: culture, government, military, family, employment, and even the modern church. Everything has been tainted. If one were to avoid all of it they would have to find a way off the planet or isolate themselves completely from the world indefinitely (which actually sounds kind of nice right about now).
Seeker-sensitive movements in the church are just an amalgam of liberal theologies and/or a dominionist theology that seems to think the Church (or modern churches) can do no wrong and that numbers or financial success or fame equates to God’s approval or his will. The mistaken assumption that the Church will rule the world and that it is by the church that Christ’s kingdom will be established on earth is a heresy.
Much of the church today marries the world through its worldview. Either they accept the evolutionary propaganda of the atheistic cult Scientism or they embrace the social malfeasance that is CRT and Woke Ideology, or they worship their programs and pagentry (their doctrines of men).
For the individual, it is difficult to maneuver through all of this without being completely ostracized or relegated to the background. For my own experience there was definitely no place for me in the modern evangelical church simply because I would not comply with and conform to their programming. Too much of what they did and how they operated was simply not found anywhere in the Bible.
This was back in the 90’s. Today is so much worse. Not only is it impossible to participate without significant compromise but the cultural erosion we are witnessing all round us seems to be infecting the church as well (or those who call themselves the church).
Personally, I’ve accepted the place of the outcast, though I’m nowhere near disconnected from the system. Tools can be used as most of them are indifferent. Malevolence resides in the user not the implement. Participating in the culture, especially today, in festivals with pagan sources, in traditions that foster overconsumption rather than biblical communalism, should be avoided. Thankfully, in the age of the internet, information is accessible (99% for free) and can be had for a tap on a screen, so, in this respect, the local modern fellowship (the passive sermon) is obsolete.
But, despite this, it is bleak times in which we live. I don’t think a biblical Christian can really have a whole lot to do with the world anymore. Politics is utterly debased. The medical field is defiled. Education is only now propoganda. A new system is rising from the ashes of the Western Culture and it is an ugly monstrous thing being formed before us. I think sooner than later, biblical Christians will have to make a choice – their faith or compromise to participate in the system. If they choose faith they will be stripped of their assets, their resources, their livelihoods, and will be either sequestered in camps or shunned to the wilderness to wander and starve and die.
When I was first saved in the 90’s, to avoid marriage to the world a Christian had to choose a sub-culture. Today I think the choice will soon be the system or dystopia.
List five things that Jesus hates. List five things that Jesus loves. How are you loving and hating the things that Jesus loves and hates?
This was a difficult question. I went through the lecture again and could not find a reference to it nor could I find a reference to five of each in the notes. So let me try and piece together a list the best I can.
God first and foremost hates pride or the prideful look. He hates lies or the liar and he hates sin (that wickedness which arises from our hearts). Interestingly, I remember sitting with a few brothers one afternoon and we were discussing a hypothetical woman who was not living a godly life and what Jesus’ first response would be to her. The others said love and mercy, etc but I said it would be disgust and hate. My companions were aghast that I would say such a thing, but I am still convinced this is the case. God does not tolerate or condone or in any way mince words about the dreadfulness of our sin or our life choices that lead to sin or our perpetual living in sin. He hates it. I personally think it actually hurts him when we are mired in sin. But, as Dr. Missler said in a lecture on Proverbs, it comes as a surprise that God does actually hate things.
As we can see in this particular letter, for whatever reason, Jesus seems to really hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans. If their doctrine is a professionalization of the clergy to rule over the people (or over people in general) to do what the modern evangelical churches seem convinced is right in God’s sight, then I can see why he hates this kind of activity. The same is true of idol worship, another thing that God detests.
Along with lying, God hates false witness, which is basically lies about someone else. But, lastly, and as Dr. Missler points out, I think is quite an important point, God despises the one who sows discord, especially among other believers.
I personally struggle with this statement because it seems to contradict the idea that we should be correcting and exhorting believers to steer away from shipwreck and false doctrine and evil deeds. But, how can this be possible if we are not to cause division? By standing on the truth of the Bible we immediately cause discord, especially when this is done in a gathering. I’ve had people say that if an individual is always in a position where there is objection to what churches are doing then it is the problem of the individual and not the churches. I woefully disagree. Especially today, there are few organized churches that are not drowning in extra-biblical traditions. If it were the case, the the majority of the Old Testament prophets would have been in the wrong, since few if any accepted them. Isaiah stated that all the prophets God sent to the people they murdered and he was the only one left.
Now I personally have separated myself from these groups simply because it is apparent that 1. These groups had no interest in what the Bible says 2. They have no interest in changing. To stay would mean either 1. I would have to deny the conviction I have from the Bible or 2. I would be a continual thorn in their flesh and would only cause continual division and strife.
Personally I left to avoid this.
As to what Jesus loves, I’m rather unclear as the lecture didn’t really say (at least, I couldn’t find it). I know God loves righteousness, justice, truth, but above all else, God loves the believer, the true biblical Christian. The one who worships him in spirit and in truth.
Does Satan have “locality?”
Dr. Missler states that Satan has locality. I would not necessarily argue against this, though his locality certainly does not equate to our understanding of locality. Angels (which Satan is) can seemingly appear and disappear at will, they are not hampered by walls or roofs or locked doors. They can change their appearance (2 Co 11:14) and present an appearance to us as if they were humans (mortals) when in fact they are much more than this. Clearly, they are able to travel between dimensions as Satan is seen in the Garden, on earth, in heaven, etc. When he is tempting Christ he is able to take him to a mountain top and to the top of the temple. Can angels fly? Can they teleport? Is their mode of travel altogether foreign to what we can even comprehend?
I do have issue with Satan (and the angels) not being able to read our thoughts. While the devil may not be everywhere at once (as God appears to be), or in two locations at once, he certainly seems to be able to communicate with humans beings beyond the normal method of speech or writing. This can be seen in John 13:2, 27. Satan (and angels in general) tend to seek ways to influence the fallen nature of man (James 1:14), and this can be done in a myriad of ways, even directly through normal speech (Genesis 3). Though, this account occurs in the Garden of Eden before the fall. The very foundational reality of this dimension could have been so different at that time compared to what it is today, there is no telling what words or speech or communication really entailed.
While Satan, the fallen angels, demons all seem to be limited to certain perimeters, I’m not certain they are limited by their ability to infiltrate the mind of fallen men and use that information to influence them. Of course, it is quite possibly my apprehension derives from popular movies and other entertainment. I will have to look into this further.
Describe spiritual warfare and what weapons are the most effective and how have you implemented them in your life.
There appears to be at least two dimensionalities to existence. 1. The earth and/or the physical dimension which encompasses the planets, the solar system, the known universe, and everything outside of the known universe that is comprised of physical matter (i.e. the entire actual physical universe, even the parts that we cannot see or that are unknown to us). 2. The supernatural dimension that includes what we would define as “heaven” or where God dwells, the Mountain of God, and what I call variable X, that equals all the things we are not privy to about the supernatural realm but that actually do exist. This realm appears to be defined as “spiritual” rather than “physical” but is no less tangible than the physical realm. In fact, there is some indication that the “spiritual” realm is more “real” than the “physical” realm and that quite possibly this physical dimensionality is a digital simulation, either within the substrate of the supernatural dimension or even possibly existing only within the mind of God (i.e. no actual locality within the supernatural realm – similar to a book written by an author or one that has not yet been written but exists and resides only in the mind of its author).
All this has been provided to say that there appears (I keep say appears because much of this is speculation as the full or even the majority of the full reality of this existence is held back from us, we have only bits and pieces, so even the little that we think we might know is cursory at best and could actually be something completely different) to be a God (as the Bible clams a creator that is different than all other proposed gods) who is “sort of” at war with part of his creation (i.e. the angels). These supernatural beings seem to be part of creation though their origin story and full description evade us almost completely. A singular individual from this group, Satan, has initiated this war, but oddly he is fighting a battle he can’t possibly win (which makes no sense, unless he’s just enraged by something and so logical doesn’t matter)? He is trying to accomplish something that also remains unclear to humans (we don’t know why Satan wanted to usurp God, or what his ultimate goal is). Likewise it is unclear how we play a part in this supernatural war between God and Satan and the fallen angels (1/3 of heaven) and the demons (assumptively the disembodied spirits of the Nephilim). The war is either focused on humans (though this is not adequately explained) or we are incidental to the actual narrative and are simply caught up in it. In the end of this war (which interestingly appears to already be prophetically ordained and predetermined) humans will be transformed and become “like” angels (but not exactly alike) and we will take our place in the heavenly host for eternity. What will come after this, or what the point of all this is remains an utter mystery. There is no explanation provided as to who the angels are, who God is (in relation to anything that might be out beyond the supernatural realm if anything is beyond it, or what came before creation, or what God’s origin or narrative story is, or even what the angels’ origin story is). It is a wait and see kind of situation, where we must jump off from the ledge into a murky unknown, with no consideration for our opinion or any conclusion we might draw if we had the full facts. Whatever will occur will occur and we have no input into that final outcome.
While on this earth, while part of the living, humans (believers) are tasked with resisting the devil and encouraging and building up the saints. The greatest weapon to do this is 1. The Word of God and 2. Prayer. The word of God appears to be simultaneously a rule book, a prophetic message, and scorecard. Prayer connects us (somehow) to the plan and purposes of God (but in no substantive way – i.e. prayers immediately answered or supernatural occurrence proffered).
Personally, adapting these tools were done for me when I was 17 years old. Immediately after a supernatural experience I was stripped of my faulty karmic worldview which was replaced with a biblical worldview and a thirst to study the Bible. That thirst has remained with me for nearly 30 years. From many accounts, this experience has ruined my life. I have lost any self-confidence I previously had. I’ve been ostracized by other Christians (or have ostracized myself because I’m unwilling to participate in unbiblical doctrines/teachings/activities), and I’ve ended up living alone, with health issues, and live a pauper’s existence (this is, of course, extremely relative). Yet, despite all of this, I have had such joy and contentment in my life, especially in the last 12 years of it. I want for nothing (God seems to provide everything for me exactly when I need it). I’ve never wanted for a job or a means of supporting myself. When I lose one job another one seems to just appear out of nowhere. When I think there is no reason for my current employer to keep me employed, they go out of their way to do so. Despite the separation from a community of believers, my faith has only grown stronger over the years. My marriage was lost due to my spouse being unwilling to live a Christian life, and this has only driven me closer to God rather than further away from him.
I say this because it isn’t anything I’ve done or implemented in my life. I took Chuck Missler’s advice many years ago and made studying the Bible my hobby (people I know spend thousands of dollars on off road vehicles, on camping supplies, on sports events, etc). In the last several years I’ve actually been able to make it my avocation, in that it takes up 40+ hours a week while my actual job takes up 16 hours a week. I’ve made the decision to do this, but not because it’s the right thing, but because the thirst God placed in me all those years ago is still active and compelling. Whether I am right or wholly wrong (and will face condemnation at the Great White Throne), I have spent the last 12 – 30 years doing what I love, exploring the Bible, praying for others, and living in blissful solitude. I plan to devote the rest of my life to these things, while I wait soberly, prayerfully, watching for the return of my King. Everything else, my salvation, my redemption, and my ultimate fate, rests solely with him.
What is implied in each of the elements in the Promise to the Overcomer in this letter?
Dr. Missler talks about the white stone being used as an entrance ticked in Rome. Personally, if this is correct, it means that the overcomer is one who gains entrance to eternity, to redemption, who escapes condemnation and the Lake of Fire. He will be given a new name, that only we will know (individually). The overcomer receives some of the hidden manna, which is the bread of heaven, the food from heaven, and the source of life. All of these I am convinced will not only be fulfilled physically, logically, literally but also they will carry important spiritual and allegorical significance, beyond what we can even possibly comprehend.
Thankfully John explains who the overcomer is: “Whoever is born of God has overcome the world, this is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God”(1 John 5:4-5)?
How does Balaam’s advice to Balak relate to the theme of this letter? What can we learn from this to apply to our lives?
The advice was temptation. He taught the gentile king how to thwart Israel without even any bloodshed, through the enticement of sin. This is the same tactic used by Satan and the principalities and the rulers of the darkness of this world. Likewise, Balaam was for hire, which basically meant he believed the ends justified the means. He wanted financial gain and this allowed him to corrupt God’s people, and to marry the world.
We, as believers, should learn from the account of Balaam, and where else it is discussed in the Bible, as an example for us, a warning, a guidance on what we should do. As Christians we have freedom in this life, the forgiveness of sin, and a promise that in the resurrection we will be saved from sin and from death. But this is also a great responsibility, as we are to represent Christ in our life as we await the return of our King. Are we truly servants of the most high God? Are we actually Christians in both word and deed or are we just mimicking what we see in a culture in which we don’t actually belong? If we are truly Christ’s slaves, then we will not seek the things of the world, we will not chase after the things of the world, and this will cause the world to reject what is not its own. This is a decision we each have to make, and I personally think it is a decision Christians in the 21st century in America will have to soberly consider as the severity of the consequences to that decision increase.
K-W-L Self Assessment: L- Describe what you LEARNED from this session.
Dr. Missler’s explanation concerning the different generations (first and last) resolves the presumed discrepancy that I always thought was in the Luke 21 / Matthew 24 accounts concerning the phrase, “This generation will by no means pass away until all these things take place.” I knew their was always a problem in how I read this passage since I knew that if Jesus was talking about the end times then it was way too late (its already been 2000 years). If he was talking about the temple being destroyed in 70 AD there were several parts of the olivet discourses that were left unfulfilled (requiring allegorization to make it work). With Dr. Missler’s layout of the three different passages, everything fits together as I would expect it to.
I find Dr. Missler’s remark that what God permits is not necessarily what he prefers. Is it possible that we could be living outside of God’s desire for us? Could our stubbornness, or spitefulness be preventing what God has prepared for us beforehand? I don’t know how to judge such things. There is simply no way to tell. I think only a decisive, moment by moment reliance on prayer can protect us from ourselves and guide us closer to God’s ultimate plan for our lives.
God help us all.
Lecture 6 Discussion Questions
What was Elijah’s challenge to the people of Israel? What are some of the things in that challenge that you wrestle with?
Elijah challenged the Israelites to make up their mind, to either worship God or to worship the pagan deities they had been chasing up to that point.
Personally, I don’t wrestle with the idolatry of a love for money or a love for things or a love for false religion or the current delusions running through western society. I honestly think the grounding I received as a new believer has protected me, inoculated me from these counterfeit deceits that are ultimately of the devil.
For a long time, though, several years after that supernatural experience I had at 17, I struggled to reclaim the life and worldview I held before. I tried desperately to find a way so I could meditate again. I tried to practice and teach the Martial Arts again. In fact, the world itself conspired with me, as I sought out help from military chaplains for guidance to seek God, they instead encouraged me to return to Buddhism.
Nothing worked, though. Nothing has ever worked since that night when I read 2 Peter 2. It was as if a pane of glass had been shattered inside me, and there was no way to put that glass back together again, no matter how I or the devil tried.
I sometimes think about how my life might have turned out if God had never reached out to me when he did. If I had resisted his voice and stayed up on the mountain, if I had remained under my bodhi tree overlooking the city in which I lived. Would I have gone off to college instead? Would I have become a professor or high school English teacher or would I have sought Nirvana in a Buddhist monastery? There is no telling how the trajectory of my life would have changed if God had not done what he did. But, despite what the world would see only as loss, how great do I view what I’ve gained in Christ and in the knowledge of him and in the understanding of God the Father and in the world around me.
I don’t wrestle with joining in on the worldly system. I wrestle with those who claim to be Christian but who’s practices are anything but biblical, who turn and claim I am heretical or malformed because God has called me to a different path. This is the time in which God has chosen for me to live, amidst what I am convinced is the beginning of the great falling away predicted by Paul in 2 Th 2:3. My battle is not (at least I don’t think it is, but what if I am actually the one under delusion?) against idolatry but against losing hope in my own conviction, in my own faith, in the faithful promise of God the father in that he would raise me up at the resurrection just as he did the first fruit.
Habakkuk 2:4 was indstrumental to Martin Luther. What is the meaning of this passage and how does it impact your life?
Habakkuk said “…the just shall live by his faith.” Paul stated, “…that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.” Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them”” (Ga 3:11-12) and “…in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith” (Ro 1:16).
So, what? Is there nothing left for us to do to institute, initiate, effectualize, or actualize our own sanctification? Are we not held accountable for our deeds, or our thoughts? Are there not books in heaven filled with our misdeeds? Truly, this is correct. Yet, there his nothing else we can do to guarantee our redemptive path. If there is such a path, if Christ did actually die and was actually resurrected on the third day, and he did actually ascend to heaven and take his seat at the right hand fo the Father, then we have that singular hope in the resurrection of the dead and in the propitiation of Christ’s blood for our sins. This is the only remedy available to men. It is the only means by which we might be saved, and Paul and the apostles and Christ himself claim it is sufficient. We not only live each day on earth by faith, but we live each day in eternity by that very same faith which gains us entrance into God’s mercy and God’s grace.
How should the Letter to Thyatira impact our churches today? Or us personally?
This letter is about compromise. It is witness to what was deeds of the Nicolaitans in Ephesus to now full doctrine. It is established religion and doctrines of men. It is tradition. It is idol worship. Modern evangelical churches are so far from the mark they can scarcely resemble biblical fellowship. I don’t know if there is a means by which they can be collectively rescued, but will most likely be consumed by the delusion predicted by Paul in the end.
For the individual, it is a clear warning, a sounding of the alarm to be ever watchful, sober, not prone to following leaders because they are great speakers or because they are the fad of the day or because they are professional or popular. The litmus test must be the proximity in which one stands to the whole counsel of God. Does a preacher or a church focus on proclaiming the Bible or are they focused on their own fancy program or their extroverted agendas?
The same is true for our individual walks in Christ. Personally, I’m not certain what an authentic Christian life looks like, or what kind of boundaries contain such a type. Would the first century Christian look at the modern American Christian with derision and shame? Would I be considered worldly in the eyes of Calvin or the peasant Christian in the early church who struggles to keep food on the table because he’s been kicked out of his guild for refusing to pay homage to their god? How often do modern Christians in America look down on Christians in other countries as simple or ignorant, or what about the modern evangelical view of the monk in the Middle Ages who toils day and night making copies of biblical manuscripts? Many of the compromises that plague modern Christianity are a sickness that has no real cure. It is doubtful that we would see a revival like in the days of Jonah when Nineveh heeded the warnings and repented from their evil deeds. I just don’t see this happening in the world today.
But, let God be true and every man a liar. Anything is possible with God.
Compare Jezebel with the “woman and the leaven” in Matthew 13:33.
The woman with the leaven is a parable of the Kingdom, which a woman hid leaven in three measures of meal and eventually that small portion of leaven leavened the entire three measures.
Jezebel, on the other hand, is one who operates cunningly, daringly, and unscrupulously, and achieves her goals through persecution and destruction and deceit. She is the picture of not only the medieval church, but I would argue she is the picture of the false church throughout history in ever manifestation. Whether it be the Catholic Church in her long brutal history of persecuting true believers or the modern evangelical church with its epidemic scale compromise with the world, there have been many who claim to be Christian but who are not and those always persecute the true church.
What are the implications of “Evangelicals and Catholics Together?”
This is not only a denial of everything the reformation stood for, and denies the reasons why countless reformers died brutally for the cause, but it also illustrates how far protestantism has declined in recent years. In the 90’s ecumenicalism and, at first, I was a strong supporter of it. But when I discovered it really was more about watering down the biblical account so everyone could find common ground, rather than starting from our common ground and working forward through discrepancies, I had to walk away.
This is the way the world works. It is how the worldly system operates. It is how the devil arranges everything so that, whether hot or cold, the rest dilute and pollute to the point that there is only left the ineffectual and lukewarm.
K-W-L Self Assessment: L- Describe what you LEARNED from this session.
I often wonder and consider my thoughts and beliefs and the things that have happened to me over the years to lead me to the place in which I am now, the positions I have concerning the church and the solitary vocation. It is entirely possible that I was simply found unworthy by my King to help others draw closer to him, that whatever is wrong within me perverts and corrupts the faith of others. If this be accurate, I am thankful God has taken me out of the way and sequestered me by monasticism and the solitary vocation so that I can do no more harm to the body of Christ. I am willing to lose everything and be sacrificed on the altar of my God in an eternity of fire if it means that others are somehow spared because of my absence.
But, I know the Bible states that it is God who begun this work in me (if indeed it is a work he has begun), and that he is faithful to finish that work. And every day I trust that my God knows what is best for me and what it is I should be doing. I pray to be used by him, not necessarily for any specific purpose or calling or task, but simply that I be within his will and be a part of his purpose in bringing about the fullness of the Gentiles so that this world can burn as it is intended. So much so do I want this world and this dimensionality to be over with. I do not want evil to continue on the earth. I do not want the wicked to go unpunished (even if that includes me).
May he come quickly and soon.
Lecture 7 Discussion Questions
Why would CM state that of all the letters, this one might have the most significance? Was there any personal application for you? If so, what was it?
If the interpretation is correct, the church of Sardis is a representation of the “denominational” church, or that which is contained from the Reformation to today, or possibly ending at some point in the 20th or 21st century. It is equated with a growing “soft” hermeneutic that denies the major doctrines of its own founding: the millennial reign, the gospel of Christ, Israel’s destiny, and instead propagates liberalism, ecumenicalism, and the resurgence of the Nicolaitan doctrine in the professionalization of the clergy. The denominational “church” has become fossilized in its own invented doctrines (doctrines of men and of demons). It’s progression has been from that of state church to professional church to dead church. This is the cause of the mass exodus being seen in modern, protestant church organizations, even though belief in God and the biblical message remain high.
For me, personally, I find concern in this letter if it is true that evangelism is a gift that should be exercised throughout the church (universal). If the church Jesus is building is innately extroverted, communal, then the gifts I perceive to have been given are in error and I am, in actuality, in rebellion to my Creator. If the name I have pretends that I am alive, but in reality I’m instead dead, what can I do to rectify such a delusion?
Christ’s was clear to the Sardis church, 1. Be watchful 2. Strength that which remains (what is ready to die) 3. Know that God has found your works to be imperfect.
But, this universal “evangelism” interpretation is at odds with what comes next, since Jesus says the Sardis church should 1. Remember how they received and heard 2. Hold fast and repent.
If I’m to remember how I was saved, or how I came to believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord, it was not through direct, extroverted evangelistic effort. Rather, it was by the appearance of happenstance, by the divine will to bring me to a point, to come into the possession of a Bible and to then supernaturally impress upon me (for no logical reason) a need to read said Bible. I still am unclear how that reading of 2 Peter 2 brought about the change in me, or what that particular change was, or it was effectual in taking out of me a karmic worldview and replacing it in whole with a biblical worldview and embedding within my soul an everliving spring of thirst for the Bible. I cannot express it in any way other than a supernatural experience that wholly happened to me. I did not make a choice, the choice was made for me. Afterward I wanted (desperately) to return to my old ways, to meditating, to practicing the Martial Arts, to pursuing a potential life in a Buddhist monastery, but I received a life in Christ instead. So if I were to remember how this came about for me, there would be no evangelism at all.
But, I am encouraged by his instructions. 1. Hold fast. 2. repent. 3. Watch (to avoid the thief or the surprise to come – the rapture). 4. There are a few individuals in the “denominational” church that will be saved.
But, how does one become worthy before God? Is it doing the work of the Father, believing in the one he sent (John 6:29)? Is that why there are so few in the “denominational” church to be saved because there are not many who actually believe? There are only a few who have not married themselves to the world?
I come away form this letter cautious, concerned, sober minded, but full of faith, undeterred because what I have done since grace found me was operate in faith. There have not been many successes but he world’s standards over the years. There have been a multitude of (by their gauge) defeats. But I know the world does not judge me in the end of days. Only God will judge me and may he judge me by the word of promise, by the gospel, that Jesus died that I might live through him. Whatever occurs at judgment I accept, for who I am to question the potter, being but clay? I know and trust his judgment to be true and perfect.
On the promise of the resurrection alone do I place all of my hope. On the sure word of the prophecy of the gospel do I trust that God will find a way to forget my sin, as far as the east is to the west, and will remember them no more.
All my life God has provided for me, has protected me, has directed my steps. Everything I have today has been a blessing and a gift from God. I can only assume, regardless of my relationship with the “denominational” church of Sardis today, that my standing with Christ by grace through faith is firm.
What fruit does an allegorical view bring to one’s hermeneutics? Why does Israel suffer when one espouses this view, which, by the way, is the most prevalent in many denominational churches?
This kind of interpretation usually brings with it or leads one into postmillennialism, amillennialism, post-tribulationalism, and ultimately a disregard for the supremacy of Scripture itself. Allegory tends to be the ready tool of the liberalist, who wants to remake the biblical message in their own image rather than be transformed by the renewing of their mind in Christ.
This kind of make believe typically renders Israel without her perpetual promises God made. Something within fallen human nature (or supernatural influence by God or Satan) lead the masses then to antisemitism.
How have you (“incarnated” word made flesh… in other words – put into action) the promise of Genesis 12?
I assume this question is referring to: “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:3). If so here is my answer.
I’m not certain there is anything for me to do here to put into action this promise. It was made by God to Israel or more specifically to Abraham concerning his descendants. I have been a defender of Israel’s unique position in God’s future plan primarily because of the outline given in Romans 9-11 and Zech 12:10 and 2 Co 3:14-16. When the time has come, and the fullness of the gentiles has come in (Ro 11:25), then Christ will return for his Church and he will return to dealing with the world through the nation of Israel until the end of days.
Why was Habakkuk 2:4 Luther’s life verse? What is your life verse and why?
After a visit to Rome, Luther investigated Habbakuk 2:4 and checked the use of righteousness (after reading Paul’s quote in Romans 1:17). It is here the “righteousness of God” or a gift given to us by God. In “it” (the gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed by each individual who is saved by it. Because the “just shall live by faith.” He claimed at that moment, when he recognized the free gift of God, Luther was saved.
As for me, personally, I have several life verses, or passages that really resonate and help me throughout difficult times and good times.
“…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame” (Ro 10:9-11).
“…And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” (Eph 4:11-16).
“…Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:6-7).
Ro 10:9-11 is the claim I have on salvation. It is the promise I am given, that I can have confidence in my faith and in my testimony, despite any failure or shortcoming on my part. This verse is the reason I remain a believer (apart from whatever was within me before that caused my disbelief that was replaced by whatever it was that God put in me that established by belief in him and in Christ and in the biblical worldview), for I know if there were any other method by which men were saved I would have no chance, no opportunity, no mechanism by which I could be. All my hope is on the finished work of Christ and in his faithfulness to stand for me out of his abundant mercy and grace, and not because of anything I’ve ever done in the past, do now in the present, or anything I might do in the future. I pray that when I stand before God and am judged, he sees only Christ crucified and the blood my savior willingly shed on my behalf. If not, if God sees any of the actual me, I am doomed and will share in my rightful reward in the Lake of Fire.
Eph 4:11-16 – this passage has stuck with me through the last 30 years as a testament and a witness to me not actually being crazy. It is because of this passage that I am critical of the modern, evangelical church (or that which is called the church today). It is, interestingly, the Sardis church, the “denominational” church that it represents, that resembles nothing of this passage to me. But, I have seen and experienced glimpses of the Ephesian 4:11 church on occassion, but never for long and never as it was intended by human hands.
Whether this kind of church has escaped me throughout all these years I do not know. Either it doesn’t exist today, or it is hidden from me because I am not worthy of it or I would harm it in some way, or I am being protected from those who claim to be believers but are not really (who are wolves in sheep’s clothing). All I know is I have not found an Eph 4:11 church.
Phil 4:6-7 – this passage tells me how I am to operate as a believer in my daily life, how I am to interact with my God, how I am to pray, and how I will be promised a provision by and through Christ whenever I do. Do not be anxious for anything is a mantra I repeat often.
What was the cause of Sardis being destroyed as a city? What lessons can we learn from this? What are you watching out for?
Sardis was destroyed in 17 AD by a great earthquake, but this is before Revelation is even written, and the city was also quickly rebuilt through financial support form the state and tax breaks. But in 616 AD the city itself was sacked by the Persian army. It was so devastated that there were no attempts to restore it.
This is interesting give Jesus’ statement in the letter, “if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you” (Re 3:4). Of course, I’m not certain this could be used to refer to the 616 events since the verse here is clearly referring to the Second Coming and not an event from war.
Personally, I take a verse like this to heart. I am watchful for the end, for not only the second coming of Christ but for the rapture (whether pre, mid, post, or pan). I think it will come as a thief in the night and no one will be ready for it or expecting it when it comes. I also think it will come with such a force and such swiftness that those who are taken by surprise will have little time to react or prepare, and those who are watchful and waiting will be overcome with awe and excitement that it is actually happening (or has just happened) to them. Just imagine what it will be like to be caught up, the actual process? Or will we not even experience the “change” when we are transformed, but instead one second we will be going about our regular day and the next moment it is all done, we are now suddenly like the angels in heaven, our bodies transformed from mortal to immortal and we are present with Christ in the air? Or, will it be a flying experience, interrupting whatever we’re doing by being lifted up off the ground and flying into the air. What mechanisms will be used to achieve this? Will others see it or will it remain a mystery to those who are left behind? Will believers be left behind? What if an individual was “saved” but was engaged in some act of sin the moment the rapture happens, will they be passed over? Will they forfeit their redemption? Will their name be subsequently blotted out of the Book of Life?
CM speaks how discipleship is best developed in a Small Group. What are your thoughts about this? Do you have any experiences you can share?
I find this a little troubling when weighed against my actual experiences. Yes, in theory, a group of believers together in a small group can dialogue more so than they can in a church meeting full of 100 people. Personally I don’t think the modern example of the church is actually “a” or “the” church at all. I think members of the church Jesus is building are found individually in this human organization, but it is not the actual church. Or, based on the lecture, it is truly the Sardis church and few in her ranks are actually saved.
But, I spent much of my 20’s starting and facilitating small groups, some in the military setting, others in a college setting, and then in the community at large. My 30’s I spent either participating in house churches or starting and running them. The last small group / house church I was a part of I started with my then wife and it operated for five years (the length of our marriage).
I can say there is little difference between a house church or small bible study and a large group meeting in a big auditorium. It is not the size or the location, it is the heart of the people that is important. Sadly, I have rarely found a group of people who are interested in a biblical community anything like described in the Bible.
Large, organized churches tend to be focused on and oriented around entertainment. They want the clergy to be active in the “business” of the church and the congregants to be passive spectators, but large donators of their assets (to perpetuate the funding of the professional clergy). Most churches are burdened by “everyone wanting to be teachers” and there seems to always be an overemphasis on gifts or doctrinal division.
Small groups are no different. As Dr. Missler mentioned, there are issue with raising up leaders in these groups and keeping them networked as they grow so as to keep them from isolating themselves.
My experience may very well be tainted by 1. The people I’m drawn to or people drawn to me 2. The region I’ve worked in. Predominately, I am a passive, introverted person, with a predisposition to isolation, solitude, and living and exploring wilderness areas. I am not naturally drawn to groups of people or building or maintaining relationships with other people. Most of my relationships with people in the past (both men and women) have often withered on the vine, not because I am hostile to the concept but simply because I just don’t think about nurturing the relationship as time goes on. I have not been equipped with those kinds of interpersonal skills, and this has been the case since I was a very young child. As a 1st or 2nd grader, my parents were called into the principal’s office to discuss my abnormal behavior because I preferred to sit in the classroom and draw or write when my classmates went out for recess. This is just who I am and who I have always been. I am preferential to my own company and lack the need for interaction with others.
As to the region in which I’ve labored, I live in the Pacific Northwest and this region is known for its highly independent people. I’ve predominately lived in rural areas, and currently live in a place with less than 4000 people. If/when I move again I will be moving to a town of less than 400 and I will be living out in the country away from the actual town. Few if any here want to spend their time studying the Bible. Most of the small groups I’ve started have meager draws, usually “crazies” who have no voice in the organized churches. The false prophets, the so called “apostle” types.
I’ve personally only experienced two groups that were healthy and functional for long periods of time. 1. An organic group that formed during my 2 years living in the barracks in Germany. We studied together, lived together, vacationed together, and prayed together. 2. A small group that met 6 days a week in the back of a tire shop in a small town. Their focus was on prayer so there were no sermons, no pastors, no doctrines (just about all denominational affiliations were represented). We sat in a circle, held hands and each would randomly take a turn praying out loud. There were no rules, no structures. But everything was sincere and no one seemed to become unhinged with tongues (no one spoke in tongues in the meeting – it wasn’t against the rule they just didn’t do it) or prophesying. People were there to pray, to pray for their churches they attended on Sunday, pray for their families, friends, for the world, etc.
There seems to be an kind of spiritual malaise over people in this age in which we currently live. I currently own a home where I could easily have a weekly study in. But, based on my past experience, only those seeking attention or a platform (or have their own Nicolatian spirit) would attend (if anyone actually would). This little town I live in now has a hard time keeping even organized churches open. One church in the business district is own but rarely has a service (if it’s actually even open). The one on top of the hill is really only there because of historical value. The church in the more affluent part of town (a Presbyterian church) closed down last year and was sold to the hospital. It is now being used as office space.
After several checks, it’s pretty clear, the lack of ample populous (which I’m not complaining about, I very much enjoy the lack of people here), the independent disposition of the people who do live here, and the overall disinterest in anything Christian or biblical seems to have rendered groups, large or small, as obsolete. And this was all before COVID.
Jesus tells the church at Sardis that their works were not complete. To what was He referring? What is the Holy Spirit challenging you about?
In my translation (NKJV) it says their works were not perfect before God. Since this phrase is connected directly to “strengthen the things which remain, that are already to die” with a “for” it would indicate that their works not being perfect are connected to the things which remain and are ready to die are weak (because they need to be strengthened).
In the context of the modern church, the “denominational” church which here Sardis is interpreted to represent, I would argue that this could be referring to 1. Disciples (believers) or 2. The Lost.
I’ve most often heard this verse used as a call by pastors to encourage (or berate) their congregants to get out the vote, and bring more people into the church. But, I struggle with this because the lost are not actually all that ready to die normally. They are typically afraid to die, or are terrified of death, or are in denial of death. Usually those who are “ready to die” are genuine, biblical Christians. I state it this way because many believers are very much like the world above and are terrified, despite their logical arguments about God and heaven (usually these concepts are more guided by television and popular folk theology than the biblical text). But there are those in the Sardis church who are believers (those who remain), who are weak, struggling, yet they have strong faith grounded on the biblical account, and these people need to be strengthened because persecution is coming.
I’m not personally convinced of either of these. I don’t think there is really any way to know with certainty what this passage means. It could be either of these. It could be both. It could be neither. But I do believe it is written for a particular group at a particular time within the body of Christ. It is prophetic.
I know the part in the question about the Holy Spirit challenging me is an attempt to encourage me to get out and talk to people, to interact with people, to be the evangelist. I struggle with this whole concept that everyone in the body of Christ is called to the gift of evangelism. This contradicts Ephesians 4:11 that specifically states, “he himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, SOME evangelists, and some pastors and teachers..” I’ve always found it interesting that no one in the modern denominational churches call for everyone to be an apostle or prophets, or pastors (which is not a biblical role in the church – this is the Greek word for elder) or teachers (though everyone wants to be a teacher in modern churches). Yet, everyone jumps at the concept that all members of a church need to be evangelists.
I am convicted that there is something very wrong with this issue. It is either me or it is the “denominational” church structure itself. Only God will judge in the end. I speak only when God gives me something to say. It’s not about how many people I can bring to church on Sunday morning so I can win that $70 Bible they’re parading around. Christ is building his church. When I try to do it, it just falls apart.
K-W-L Self Assessment: L- Describe what you LEARNED from this session.
This subject, the “denominational” church is one I’ve struggled with for a long time. I’ve been at peace about it for the last 12 years, since embracing my solitary lifestyle, but it’s hard to be certain of anything when it comes to faith, the Bible, and especially Christianity. Everyone is quick to judge and slow to listen, and the only thing absent seems to be love for the other.
I think this might be why I long for all of this to be over soon. My life is not bad. I do not suffer, certainly not like many around the world who are beaten and brutalized and murdered for their faith. I wonder if that’s because they have something or know something that renders them worthy to suffer for Christ while America exists in a kind of bubble of doubt and doublespeak and false humility. Most everything I wanted in life has been stripped from me. But I find solace in knowing the truth for what it is rather than believing the lie. And today lies seem to abound more and more.
It is fitting if this era from the Reformation to today is the church of Sardis. But the next church is coming (or is already here) that is even worse.
Lecture 8 Discussion Questions
In what practical ways do you apply the teaching of Genesis 12? How are you blessing Israel?
Other than accepting what the Bible actually says about Israel and their distinct destiny from the church, I’m not certain there is anything else to do. I often pray for Israel but I also pray for my own country and for my own leaders (despite their tendency toward evil and corruption). At this point in time, Israel is the enemy of the Christian (Ro 11:28), but only so Christians can be brought in by adoption, the wild olive branch grafted in. I am, individually, a blessing to Israel only in that, as part of the mystery that is the church, it is by the culmination and completion of the gathering of the gentiles will the Israelites’ path back to salvation be re-established.
Jesus claims to be holy and true. What do those terms mean? In what ways are you holy and true?
These two words indicate “genuine” or “athentic.” Holy is the song of the Seraphim. It is the dedication, the making sacred, that which is set apart from the common.
I am made holy by Christ’s work on the cross. By the blood of the only high priest, I am rendered truly holy before God the Father, for when I stand before him all he will see is Jesus’ shed blood. So, while those who are condemned to the Lake of Fire are both simultaneously being immortally destroyed (destroyed while existing forever) I, as a sinner, am simultaneously under judgment (of my sin and fallen nature) yet found innocent through propitiations.
Holiness is the goal of the redeemed, to one day be transformed into the likeness of him who purchased us. Truth relates to the very nature of Christ, as we grow in “the knowledge” or the “full knowledge” of him who wanted all of this before any of this was even in existence.
If our understanding of the gospel and the biblical message is correct, we were each individually known fully by the Father before we existed, before there was a creation, before there was a physical dimension within which we now exist. We were predestined to be conformed to the image and likeness of Christ, who is the first fruit of the resurrection.
Two words that describe the church at Philadelphia were loyal and faithful. This session refers to the third commandment as pertaining to ambassadorship. Describe what it means to you to be a loyal and faithful ambassador in the day in which we live?
Loyal and faithful, to me, equates to authenticity and credibility as a representative of Jesus Christ to the world. Many times over the years I’ve had non-believers tell me that they are not Christian specifically because they knew people in the “modern” church who claimed to be Christian but outside of church they were like everyone else (or worse). One man told me once that he started going to a church to see what it was all about only to discover his drug dealer was actually a member there.
The same is true of how we interact with the world generically. Are we seen no differently than the lost the six days of the week we are not attending church meetings? As a “pastor” do we take more marketing and church growth courses in seminary than we do courses on the actual Bible? Are we more of a fixture at the local bar, despite the fact that on Sunday we dress up in our favorite suit and present ourselves at the church meeting as if nothing is wrong in our life? Do we participate in church gatherings as a means of networking, to sell more insurance or have more customers come into our store or to potentially sell more cars because other Christians will buy from us?
As for me, I think what is on the inside should be presented on the outside. Unfortunately, in the Christian world, this is not always an option, since there are several opinions that are not condoned or considered orthodox. Of course, this is subjective since in most liberal churches anything goes.
Just recently, I was forced to declare myself as a Christian or I would lose my job. This was a risk on my part, as making such a declaration, and a specific one that prohibited me from participating in specific requirements to maintain employment. I was fortunate enough that my employer accepted my religious objection and immediately granted my exemption. In many other fields, and at many other companies, this would have been much more difficult, hostile, and ultimately would have resulted in me being fired or laid off.
Yet, there is now a high probability that my name is on a list someone with the State government that not only self-identifies me as a Christian but does so in such a way that I would be considered a “fundamental” Christian or a biblical Christian (i.e. one who take biblical prophecy seriously).
Before this situation, religious views never came up at work. I discussed it with only a few coworkers, and I never went out of my way to express my religious views. I don’t think this is wrong. My faith is a very personal thing to me and I do not become overly friendly with my co-workers as a general rule. In the past when opportunity presented itself that I was required to give a reason for my faith, whether at work or with friends or family or in the shopping line, I never faint to give a reason. But, I also don’t go out of my way to beat my beliefs over peoples’ heads.
But, as the culture in America turns toward authoritarianism, I don’t think Christians will have the ability to separate work from faith for much longer. We will have to declare our obedience to the new god of the new world order before we can have a job, have a place to live, or have food to eat. When these are the choices Christians will have to make, I think there will be a mass exodus from the faith.
Describe what it means to you to be a loyal and faithful ambassador in the day in which we live?
I think I answered this in the above question.
When God “opens doors” what should you expect? What doors has God opened for you?
This is an interesting idea, one I have been debating on for quite awhile. It really cuts to the heart of the predestination vs. free will debate. Are we predestined to “walk” in works God has already defined for us (Eph 2:10) or are we free to make our own choices in this life? The idea of God “opening a door” would almost indicate the latter, but why couldn’t he manipulate the environment the same way he does our own decisions? I know for Paul, he thought there were times in which opportunities presented themselves, opportunities he could capitalize on for the sake of the Kingdom (1 Cor 16:9; 2 Cor 2:12; Col 4:3).
But, I don’t know if for the gospel alone, God provides paths and step (Proverbs 16:9). In my own life I can look back and see God’s hand moving things and people and incidents around for my benefit. He has saved me from ravenous wolves, from my own stubbornness, even from my own Government who was bent on trying to destroy me just because I didn’t fit into their fiscal plan (and they decided it was okay to deceive me and then break the promises they made). Not only did he open a door for me to experience this sooner than maybe originally expected, but he did it in such a way that I am more prepared (and have more of the truth) than I would have been a few years later.
In fact, God has been active enough in my life that I am confident that if something were to happen to my job or my health (what there is left of it that is) or even my country, God will provide a door of either escape, alternative provision, or even supernatural provision. If banished to the wilderness or I had to go into hiding tomorrow because the regime that is the American government decided to wage war on Christians and dissidents, I am fully convinced God would provide.
What does the church of Philadelphia refer to prophetically? How are you involved?
The lecture and notes state that the Philadelphia church represents the Missionary church. So, I guess I was incorrect to assume that the Sardis church spanned from the reformation to today, but it was strictly the reformation period.
It’s interesting, if this be correct, that not only is the “synagogue of Satan” made to worship at this church’s feet, but they will be kept from the hour of trial. When exactly did those who promote an allegorist interpretive rule, who are replacement theologians, worship at the feet of those who are dispensational or zionists? I do find it fascinating, though, that here is a promise that this church will not go through the trial of the world because they “kept his command to persevere.” Does this indicate that those who did not persevere will be passed over during the rapture? Does it mean that those who are passed over cannot be saved? And what exactly is the crown? Is that rewards? Is it salvation?
K-W-L Self Assessment: L- Describe what you LEARNED from this session.
I question somewhat the interpretive use of these letters at times. How do we know that these churches represent the different ages of the church? Is it possible they’re vague enough that we can fit them where we want? I’m not certain.
What distinctive is there between the Reformation church and the missionary church? Modernity? James White often comments on his program that if he found himself back in the time of Calvin or Luther that either of them would almost certainly banish James White as a heretic. If that be the case, how drastic the two ages must be, at least in theology.
Certainly what stands today as the modern, evangelical church has its roots in the Reformation. But has it changed so much since those times that they are to be considered distinct? Because of such vast variances between the different church ages, I would argue that the representative church(es) are not the actual church Jesus is building, but are just that, representations of that church at any specific period of time. The true church is the universal church, that is unseen. In fact, we really do not know what the true church of Jesus looks like. Only he knows. We do not know the vast variety of gifts the true church has been gifted with nor the works by which the church accomplishes her mission. Only God knows what the church does, what the church’s true appearance is, and when the time will come when all who are to be part of the church are actually included within the church. This is why we are to wait and watch soberly, as if he can and will return t any moment.
Lecture 9 Discussion Questions
Which two churches are best seen in our world today? Explain your answer.
In the lecture it states that the two churches listed here in Revelation 2-3 that are most commonly seen today are the Laodicean Church (or the compromised or apostate church) and the Philadelphian Church (or Missionary Church). I would disagree. I think the Sardis Church needs to be included, either replacing the missionary church or adding to it.
Certainly the compromised church is visible (if, indeed, this can be identified as a church at all since its apostasy has rendered it at war with God), it manifests itself in any local church or religious organization that denies the physical resurrection of Jesus, and these are a plenty in modern society. But the denominational church is still seemingly alive (though dead) in the world, especially in the United States. In Europe it has gone by the wayside and has only its artifacts and the shells in which it once inhabited (the church buildings). But there is a strong denominationalism that runs through American Christianity still. Reformed, Charismatic, Baptist, Catholic – all of these and so many more claim to serve first Christ but in reality serve first their denomination and then all other things secondary.
Additionally, I’m not certain I see a whole lot of difference between these two churches (apostate and denominational) and the missionary church. If it were before my time, maybe I’ve never really seen what the missionary church looks like. But, if it is anything like the modern churches of today, it is mired under a great weight of both apostasy and denominationalism.
What was the connection between what Laodicea was known for and the message that Jesus had for them?
Those in the Laodicean church were similar to the city in which they lived. They were apparently affluent, wanted for nothing, were of independent means, and quite prosperous.
Interestingly, the title Jesus chooses for himself is “the faithful and true witness” as if the church there were being neither faithful or true to the claim they had that they were Christians.
God wants zealous believers. He wants those who will worship him in spirit and in truth. Not in offerings or in outward adornments. He states he would rather they be hot or cold, anything but the lukewarm believers they were. They sought nothing for Christ, nothing from his provision, but trusted in their own efforts, in their own outward support. They thought they were rich but Jesus informs them, they are actually wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.
He would rather they sought the gold he provided, the white garments of faith, to anoint their eyes with the salve of wisdom that they might truly see what is and what will be rather than blurry shadows cast on cave walls. There was a lecture I once heard where a Christian woman commented that she was opposed to the idea that wealth was a negative in Christianity because (her being wealthy) meant that, because of the money she gave to the church, they would “be able to do this thing right.” It makes me wonder if wealthy christians like this think it would be impossible for God to accomplish his task without their help?
These individuals were not saved in the compromised church, the Holy Spirit had not yet indwelled in them, for Jesus makes this clear, stating “I stand at the door and knock…I will come in.” He was just still outside and they had failed to invite him in (I have met many a so called Christian like this). Those who are lukewarm have an outward religion, a material faith, but they are no different than the lost world around them.
What concerns did Jesus express to the church at Laodicea? How do these apply to us?
They were putting all their trust and reliance on the things of the world, on their own personal wealth, on their own efforts. They also held themselves in high regard, thinking themselves rich and wanting for nothing. Yet, so often is the case, what we think of ourselves is wholly different from God’s opinion of us.
This is the same today with us. Too often Christians rely on the world. They talk about God and they talk about faith, but when tested they quickly fold, seeking out alternative medicine instead of prayer or faith, seeking out the ways of the business world instead of biblical wisdom, seeking out justification for their lasciviousness and sin as the world does instead of repentance and reconciliation with God who they have sinned against.
Just like Christianity today, the compromised church was not at all like what they appeared to be. They thought they were doing quite well and wanted and needed for nothing. But the reality is, they were the worst off than the lot of them.
Why did Jesus speak in parables? How do you hear God? How can you be sure you are not deceived?
Jesus spoke in parables to 1. fulfill prophecy written 2. So that those who would not believe could not believe (which is what the prophecies predicted).
I’m not certain how I hear from God or if I hear from God. I used to take long walks on my way home from work at night, and I would have long conversations with God during those times. Walking, praying, calling out to God to forgive, to correct, to advise. I never heard his actual voice, I never received any certainty in those moments. But there was a comfort in them.
Most of the time I hear from God through prayer, but not as in answered prayer, because most of the time this is not the case. God typically says no to me much more than he says yes. In fact, I don’t recall a single prayer answered in the affirmative. On the other hand, as I look back on my life I can see God working within and through others and through myself – in my decisions, in my choices – carrying me about, answering prayers I never thought to pray. This is where I hear most from God, in retrospect.
The rule Dr. Missler laid out about Jesus giving a little just to see what we will do with it, I’m not certain it is so cut and dried. I’ve seen people given a great deal and then even more. I’ve seen vast amounts of money wasted on fools who squander it in just a few months what should have and could have lasted them for ten lifetimes. I’ve seen people profess to pray for others and have those prayers answered only to find themselves, their lives and their faith shipwrecked beyond repair.
God continues to provide for me, to guide me, to protect me (at least it seems so) and yet he has never asked anything of me. I’m not an evangelist. I’m not allowed to be a preacher or pastor. I thought for a long time that I was called to be a teacher, but in the last few years I see this was simply an assumption because there were no other categories left. The reality appears as if I’m not called to any of these gifts. Whatever it is I’ve been tasked with does not apparently appear in Ephesians 4:11ff. It must fall into the “works of service” that are left unidentified.
Or, God has left me disengaged because I am truly a heretic and he wants to protect the flock from the damage I would cause. Yet, why protect them from me when he obviously does not protect them from the rest of the pack? There are so many wolves in sheep’s clothing today. So many blatant heretics, false teachers, false prophets and apostles. So many pastors that have no interest in dying for the flock presumably left in their care.
But, God has not taken away what was once given to me. In fact, he’s given me more. If honest, in fact God has answered today all of my prayers from years before. The kind of job I have. The kind of life I’ve wanted to live. The kind of ministry work I’ve longed to do. It is not the perfect life. Then again, is it possible that he’s given me all that my heart desires because it will be a witness against me at the judgment seat? I don’t know the answer to this because I really don’t know what it is God expects of me in this life.
There is just as good a chance that I’m deceiving myself as there is that I am within God’s will. Deception is all around. There is no means of determining what is real. At the moment I simply step out in faith, doing whatever I am convinced in faith is from God, knowing that anything that is done apart from faith is a sin.
Why is the Pearl a perfect idiom of the Church?
The pearl, a non-kosher creature, produces the pearl through painstaking irritation, which eventually grows into that which is adorned and beautiful to behold. We don’t really know what the church truly looks like. We have glimpses. We have ideas from what she will eventually appear like in the end of days, when she is arrayed in fine adornment and presented to her groom. But there is no one local church that represents “the church.” Only Christ knows what his church looks like for he is the one doing the work.
List each of the seven churches with a summary sentence of the personal application we can learn from each one. Which one speaks to you the most?
Ephesus -The apostolic church had abandoned it’s first left. It had neglected it’s priorities.
Smyrna – The persecuted church was that which suffered during a time of satanic opposition.
Pergamos – The Catholic Church sought to rule the populous through compromise with the world.
Thyatira – The Medieval Church, sought to codify the compromise from Pergamos.
Sardis – The Denominational Church, or the Reformation Church wanted to escape those compromises but enacted some of her own.
Philadelphia – The Missional Church found no criticism by Jesus, and was a loyal ambassador.
Laodicea – The Apostate Church is one that seeks to establish its own righteousness aside from that which is offered by Christ.
I personally think the last three of this set represent the church(es) most recognizable today. Which one do I most affiliate with? I most feel connected to all 7 in one way or another. Certainly I live in the context the last 3, but these three are built upon the first four as well as all seven incrementally. Then again, I don’t really feel as if I am a part of any particular church as defined in modern times, since most churches today seem to be weighed down by so much extra-biblical doctrine and tradition they seem to have ceased being churches at all.
K-W-L Self Assessment: L- Describe what you LEARNED from this session.
Dr. Missler makes a comment in the lecture that some view the lukewarm church as the compromised church of today and that the hot or cold Christian are the true Christian, but trying to identify these two distinct groups is impossible. I would disagree. Placing these on a spectrum, Cold to the right, Hot to the left, lukewarm in the middle, Christ calls each of us to a fervent faith, one driven by ardent belief and all encompassing loyalty. These are the things missing from the compromised Church, the one that will do or say anything for the affections of the world, for the world’s approval. There are those who are convicted to reject and there are those who are convicted to burn hot for certain things. God would rather we be known for what we stand against or what we stand for rather than we stand for anything and everything and ultimately stand against nothing.
There are those who are burdened to remain pure, to keep the sabbath, to keep particular days, to eat only vegetables. If this is done in faith God loves the one who does so. There are others who view every day alike, who keep no particular days, who hold to no particular tradition, who eats whatever he likes. This too, though, is done in faith, and by doing so God loves the one who embraces rather than obstains. It is a degree of difference in liberality.
The one God rejects is the one who accepts everything not out of faith but out of personal benefit, out of tradition, out of works geared as sacrifice to God (but is the same kind of sacrifice as Cain’s). It is not a sacrifice of first fruits, it is not one made sincerely from the heart but from pragmatism and selfish motive.
Lecture 10 Discussion Questions
Why is the book of Ruth so important in terms of understanding Revelation 4 and 5? Who do the 24 Elders represent? How do you know?
As Dr. Missler points out there is a theory that the 24 elders represent the 12 patriarchs of Israel and the 12 apostles of the Church. I personally don’t see why this is any less fitting than the 24 elders being representative of the church.
It could also represent the ruling and serving portion of a much broader group known in heaven as the church, in which these 24 are choses and organized similarly to the Levitical priesthood in 1 Ch 24:1-19. But of course, they would not be organized after the Levites as much as they would after the Order of Melchizedek. Maybe there was an actual Order that Melchizadek established in Salem during the time of Abraham (after all he was the King of Salem). Maybe this is a group we know nothing about, their specifics hidden from our view until redemption comes and all things are made known. The Melchizedekian mystery is but one of many questions left unanswered in the Bible. The same is true of the Priest of Median, which we know next to nothing about.
I think a lot of the conclusions drawn in this lecture are quite arbitrary or forced by the pre-tribulational position. The 24 elders can’t be tribulation saints because they appear elsewhere in Revelation 7? Why not? Why can’t they be listed twice? What rule is this?
I can see that the text does limit angels from being the 24 elders since “all angels” are represented in the scene, a those individual beings in concert are surrounding the 24 elders. In Re 6:11 we see the number of these three distinct groups totaling “ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands.” The angels, the living creatures, and the elders appear to be distinct groups of beings. But what the elders actually are is less certain than this.
What is the job of a priest? How does this apply to you?
The purpose of the Levitical priest was to act as a holy mediator between God and men. They were distinct from Kings and offered sacrifices for the sins of the people and were required to be ritually cleansed before doing so. They would stand in the temple, a few of them in the holy of holies, repeating those same sacrifices, which, oddly, never actually took away sins but somehow made them right before God (He 10:11). Unless, of course, the law never saved anyone and none of Israel would be saved or are saved until the end of days when they repent and turn to Christ their messiah (and thus are saved by grace just as the church is).
I’m not certain why we would be made priest-kings in the Kingdom to come since Jesus made the sacrifice once for all, and then sat down, meaning he no longer now makes additional sacrifices for sins. One offering was all that was needed by him to perfect those who are being sanctified or set apart (He 10:12-13).
The Levitical priesthood (along with the law) was a shadow of what was to come (He 10:1).
What purpose then will there be in the afterlife for priests? The sacrifices will have ceased. The final effectual, singular sacrifice of Christ will have been completed. What work will be transpired in heaven that a priest would be qualified for? There is no additional need for mediation, since “the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people” (Re 21:3). There will no longer be a need for mediation (or Christ will continue to be the only mediation based on the singular work accomplished at the cross, not additional work done by the king-priests of the redeemed.
More interestingly I find the question, if the saved will become priest-kings in the afterlife, and we will become “like the angels in haven” in the afterlife, then does it stand to reason that the angels are not also priest-kings? Or will we be something knew and unique, something not yet present in heaven? Does the church (universal) have a special, unique position in the Kingdom, while remaining as Sons of God, they also are priest-kings?
Give a brief explanation of the doctrine of imminency. How does this impact how you live your daily life?
This is the idea that Christ could return at any moment to provide a means of escape for the church (universal) from what is called the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:50-54). This is also seen in Mark 13:32-33; Romans 8:19-25; 1 Corinthians 1:7; Philippians 4:5; Jude 21; James 5:8; Re 1:3; 22:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:6; Phil 3:20; Titus 2:13; Her 9:28; 1 Th 1:10; 4:18; 5:6; Rev 22:20.
The biggest issue I have with this doctrine is that is does not acknowledge the conditions Paul sets on the rapture, “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Th 2:3-4). Of course, the rebuttal is this refers to the 2nd Coming of Christ not the Rapture. But, this does not align with vs 1 “concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ AND our gathering together to him.”
He goes on to say, “that day will not come unless….” Paul appears to be combining 1. The Rapture (our gathering together to Him and 2. His 2nd Coming. This would, of course be allowed in a Mid-Trib timeline, since immediately after the last trumpet (7th trumpet – Re 11:15-19) the war begins and the wrath of God is poured out onto the inhabitants remaining on the earth.
I’m not saying the mid-trib timeline is certain, I’m just arguing that there are issues pertaining to the pre-trib timeline that do not align with Scripture.
Paul definitely saw the falling away and the revealing of the anti-christ as two events that had to happen either before the rapture or before Christ’s second coming. He groups both of these together in vs 2 as the “day of Christ.”
I’m also not certain how a pre-trib timeline would impact a Christian’s life unless there is an inherent chance of losing one’s salvation based on how one is living either before the Rapture or at the Rapture. If our salvation is sealed and guaranteed by the Holy Spirit, then there would be no reason for alarm or any reason to adjust our lifestyle (at least not for this particular reason). The one who is “saved” even if they are living carnally would be saved either way and would be part of the Rapture either way, right? Otherwise, it would cast doubt on the concept of saved by grace through faith and not of works.
I think we are called to be watchful and sober in these end times, to be awaiting the return of Christ not so much because there is a chance we will miss it (which is what the Thessalonians feared) but that we (like the rest of creation) should have an “earnest expectation” of Christ’s return, “eagerly awaiting” the revealing of the Sons of God (Ro 8:19). This word, ἀπεκδέχεται is an “eager anxiousness” a state of mind in which we “look for, await” for something to occur. It is a state of ἀποκαραδοκία or “eager expectation” the same word used by Paul in Ph 1:20 when he described the hope he had that nothing he did or said would cause him shame.
I don’t think I am anxiously awaiting Christ’s return or the Rapture (whether occurring distinctively or in combination) because I don’t know when it will occur, but because I am desperate to have this fallen existence end, I glamour for righteous judgment on the earth and all who are guilty, and that I long to see God’s mercy toward those he loves. I am anxious for this world, this system, for this existence to “pass away” because of the promise of the future one to come. I long for evil to be judged by my King, and I long for suffering to finally and completely cease.
Elaborate on Revelation 5:6: What is the image that comes to mind here and what other illustrations can you think of that parallels this depiction of Christ?
In verse 9, 12 we see the same kind of image, “a lamb slain.” In fact, this imagery is repeated again and again, especially in Revelation (Re 6:16; 7:9–17; 12:11; 13:8; 17:14; 21:23; 22:1, 3. Is. 53:7, 8. Jno. 1:29, 36. Ac. 8:32. 1 Pe. 1:19, 20).
The stature here of the individual is small, but not indicating weakness or infirmity but innocence. He is standing central to the living creatures and elders so as to indicate central authority of all. The 7 horns and 7 eyes are allegorical (interpreted for us) for the 7 spirits of God sent out into all the earth.
Does this mean the Holy Spirit is manifest as 7 spirits or is 7 spirits? It is unclear. Are the 7 spirits somehow connected to the lamb? Unclear. Does he use the seven eyes to see the world (since the 7 spirits have been sent out over the whole world)? Horns indicate authority or kingship.
This is the exact reason why I struggle with prophecy in the Bible. It’s not that it’s too vague or too difficult to explain. It’s simply that we do not have enough information to go on. We are not give a clear picture of who Jesus actually is, what he is, or what his origin is or how he is connected to the Father. The doctrine of the Trinity would have us believe that he is one in the same with God and the Holy Spirit, but clearly he is not the same in substance or identity or authority since we see from Scripture that God was not placed under Christ’s feet. We have not been given the full information about our own creation, about the creation, purpose, substance, nature of the angels, or even the basic natures and essences of our reality (is the physical world a dimension or a plane of existence or something else entirely)? We have not been given even a single bit of information concerning what will occur for us (and for certain) after Re 22:21. We don’t know what we will be doing. We don’t know how we will be doing it. We don’t know where exactly we will be doing it. All we know is we will serve our king (willingly). Will everyone willingly serve in heaven? There’s already a pattern of spiritual beings not willingly serving (Genesis 6:2; Satan; The Fall, etc). Will this or could this happen again? Will we even remember what’s happened in our former lives on earth? Is that why nothing has ever been said about the angels’ origins because their history has been utterly blotted out of the record? From their recollection?
There are so many questions and so few answers.
CM mentioned that you cannot earn your salvation but you can earn crowns. What did he mean and what are some of the crowns that are available?
There is apparently a βήματος “judgment seat” before Christ (as differentiated from the Great White Throne of Rev 20:11ff) to which we will all stand before to receive (punishment, judgment, rewards – it does not say) that which was done in the body (whatever we’ve done) good or bad. This is, apparently related to “the terror of the Lord” (2 Co 5:11) which sparked in Paul an urgency to “persuade men.” In his mind this mindfulness of fearing God was somehow connected to being known by God, which harkens back to Matthew 25:31-46, yet this appears to be connected to or inline with the Great White Throne as well.
In an article on K-House they quote “Charles Stanley, in his wonderful book Eternal Security, said, “Some believers will be entrusted with certain privileges; others will not. Some will reign with Christ; others will not (see 2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 3:21). Some will be rich in the kingdom of God; others will be poor (see Luke 12:21, 33). Some will be given true riches; others will not. Some will be given heavenly treasures of their own; others will not. Stanley ends by saying, “Privilege in the kingdom of God is determined by one’s faithfulness in this life . . . It is true that there will be equality in terms of our inclusion in the kingdom of God but not in our rank and privilege.””
I may be way off the mark here, but I see this as a recipe for disaster. If it is true that there will be disparity between beings in the afterlife, then how is this different than here on earth? It does not matter what the gauge is that’s used. If Christian X has three crowns and Christian Y only has 1 and Christian Z has no crowns and all of this is based entirely on what was or was not done while all three Christians were on earth (without any certainty in direction mind you), this may very well only bread resentment and bitterness in the hearts of Christians Y and Z. We cannot say, “but this is in heaven, there is no sin here.” That is utterly incorrect, since Satan was presumably in heaven when sin was first found in him. The angels of Genesis 6:2 were definitely in heaven (that was the abode in which they abandoned) when they chose to sin, and Adam and Eve were both immortal beings living in the Garden of Eden (which we really know next to nothing about) when they sinned. The bottom line is: supernatural beings CAN and DO sin. This can only mean, unless God is going to do something completely knew after Revelation 22:21 in the afterlife (where there is no possibility of sinning) the possibility still exists and the stage is set for another supernatural rebellion. No created being appears to be above bitterness and resentment or rebellion even when in an immortal state of grace.
There are listed at least five crowns of reward, but Dr. Missler points out that these may not be all that are available to be earned. These five are: The Incorruptible Crown (self-control) – victory over the flesh (1 Corinthians 9:24–25); the Crown of Rejoicing (fruitful labor) – laboring in the lives of others (1 Thessalonians 2:19); the Crown of Life (perseverence) – for enduring trials, death in faith (James 1:12; Revelation 2:10); the Crown of Glory (shepherding) – tending the flock to bring about growth (1 Peter 5:4); the Crown of Righteousness (radiating Christ) in everything an internal ethical nature (2 Timothy 4:8).
These are all, of course, singular in instance in the text (with the exception of the Crown of Life), so it is difficult to ascertain definitively what is being referred to in each instance. We certainly should avoid any dogmatic formulations that box us in. Personally, I struggle with the idea that there are levels in heaven, or rewards based on works or efforts. If so, why then wouldn’t such works define our ultimate disposition? If we are saved from the Lake of Fire by no effort or deed of our own, yet the Kingdom is ultimately hierarchical, immediately there would be planted the seed of discontent. I would think the reality that “the former things have passed away” (Re 21:4) and “I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind” (Is 65:17) would indicate an entirely different system than what is already present on earth (that is hierarchical and disparate).
Would it be that there is no seed of resentment planted because once the “judgment” at the Bhema seat is over, we all lose our memories as Isaiah describes? This would actually solve the problem and also explain why the angels have no past.
There are so very many questions that only death and the rapture can possibly answer.
K-W-L Self Assessment: L- Describe what you LEARNED from this session.
I was surprised to see marriage in ancient times predicting or typing the future event of the rapture. For most of my adult life I’ve viewed at least modern wedding ceremonies are nothing more than tradition alone, based on folk theology if any theology at all. I think this would be a good research project in the future, if time permits. I thought ancient marriage had no ceremonies, but that the groom who sought to marry a potential bride struck a deal with the bride’s father, and the groom subsequently took his newly purchased bride home to his mother’s tent and fulfilled her week. If he did, then after the week was completed, they were considered married. It will be interesting to see 1. Where I got this idea from concerning ancient marriage ceremonies 2. When the rapture predicting ceremony began and why 3. What kind of connections to the history of marriage ceremony remain to modern versions of such ceremonies. Then again, I’m not certain it would be the best use of my time. I have no intension of ever marrying again, and thankfully have no daughters to give away and no sons to stand up for. Since marriage is an earthly endeavor and thus temporary, it might be a better use of my time to focus on more important subjects of study.
I found Dr. Missler’s comment that what the angels of Genesis 6 abnegated (i.e. their οἰκητήριον “own abode, habitation” is the very thing we, as believers, aspire to in the “revealing of the Sons of God” (Ro 8:19).
I find it interesting that the angels have a natural or innate “dwelling place” and this is clearly not earth. If so, then this must be speaking of what Paul describes as “supernatural realms” in Ephesians 6:12. Interestingly, Paul uses the word once in 2 Co 5:2 to reference a kind of clothing from heaven, our habitation. It makes me question what exactly the angels gave up when they left for earth, what was the process exactly? Certainly they do not disrobe their “habitation” whenever they entered the physical dimension we exist in, do they? The “left in Jude 6 appears to indicate “leaving something behind, abandoning, deserting” as if never intending to take it up again.
It will be a shame if the memory wipe is of Isaiah 65:17 is true and all the questions I have will go unanswered and unremembered. Personally I hope there is a place for me in heaven (I could care less about rewards) where I can live out my eternal existence (however that will be actually experienced) in the vast libraries of heaven (if such things actually exist) exploring and reading and uncovering the answers to the myriad of questions the study of the Bible have produced over the last 30 years. I can think of no better reward than eternity as a librarian of heaven. I pray there will be genuine unanimity among the populous of the Kingdom, not differentiation based on works done while we were on earth that we can’t even remember.
Lecture 11 Discussion Questions
Why could one argue that the 69 weeks of Daniel is the greatest prophecy in the Bible?
It predicts to the day the revealing of the Messiah to Israel on the exact day that Jesus road the donkey into the city. This is confirmed by the reaction of the Pharisees (Lu 19:39-40) to what the crowd was saying of him, most specifically quoting Psalm 118.
Jesus opens and closes the Olivet discourse with what phrase? How can we put this into practice?
He said, “Take heed that no one deceives you.” This will be the primary sign of the end times, deception. It is also elucidated by Paul, where he described “the falling away.” He also says, “Let no one deceive you” (2 Th 2:3). This is because the Thessalonians were led by false teachers or counterfeit writings to conclude that the Rapture and/or the Second Coming of Christ had already occurred. This is, in fact, very similar to the modern day heresies of millennialism and postmillennialism, as both argue for either no 2nd Coming and no Rapture or they “spiritualize” these away.
The reality is, the anti-christ will bring great “sings and lying wonders” that the whole earth will see. They will be “unrighteous deceptions” but will be convincing to “those who perish” because they “did not receive the lover the truth, the they might be saved…God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie.”
Keep in mind, this is no mere philosophical or new age belief system. It will be something that can, as Jesus states, “deceive even the elect” (Ma 24:23-25). It’s going to be difficult in the end times to not fall into deception, for there will be great pressure to compromise the faith, great incentive, and alluring and convincing manifestations that will lead many astray (look at how major conservative denominations today are collapsing under the heresies of CRT and Intersectionality). In an online article, Missler describes it as “a powerful visible display of supernatural signs and wonders, physical manifestations of satanic forces that will persuade the five senses.” This deception has already begun and has been growing for decades in the west and it is only spiritual discernment that will be able to detect the counterfeit signs and wonders at that time. As it grows, it will formulate into a global, one-world government that will seize power and rule over everything and everyone. To accomplish this, the West will need to be dismantled.
Dr. Missler’s antidote to this is as follows:
1. Treat the biblical text with Precision. It is, after all, God-breathed, inerrant, and infallible.
2. Do not assume synonyms. Anticipate a distinction between words that appear to be the same.
3. Exercise Hermeneutical discipline and more so as the day grows ever closer to the end, as the conviction to handle the text responsibly will be challenged.
4. Be aware of borrowed vocabulary. Many secular ideas will infiltrate not only the visible “church” but also our interpretation of the Bible itself. These are interesting but not necessarily true (i.e. current manipulation of definition of vaccine).
5. Beware of Scientific Discovery. These are avenues of deception and should be handled with care and skepticism.
6. Beware of Presuppositions, these will get us into trouble if we are not careful.
7. Increase biblical literacy. This is the antidote to protect against deception.
What OT “arrows” do you have in your quiver when it comes to proving that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah – the Christ?
Daniel’s 69 Weeks.
Hebrew’s Hall of Faith.
It is an interesting project I would like to take on at some point in the future, to find all the ways of presenting Christ as the Messiah strictly using the OT as evidence.
One issue is that the OT is no longer authoritative in culture or society. It might hold historical and some religious significance in Israel or for Jewish people, it does not hold any additional relevance than does the NT for the rest of the world. This is one reason it is lower on my priority list.
List those who are referred to as Friends or as the Beloved of God and make note of what they were given as “prophetic insight.”
Moses. John. Daniel. Abraham. Disciples.
These individuals were all given insight into what God was doing, either at the time or even before he would do it.
Comment and share with us at least three things you can see in Daniel’s devotional life. How have you applied these to your life?
First, Daniel’s prayer life (or devotional life) was routine, consistent, and predictable. His enemies even used it against him when they conspired to have him thrown in the lion’s den. They knew he would be praying three times a day in his upper room because it was what he always did (one caveat: Christians are instructed to pray in their closets, not in view of other people – secret prayers).
As Dr. Missler remarks, the prayers of Daniel grew increasingly fervent as he prayed. This is the spiritual progression of the Holy Spirit, as the individual aligns his whole self (physical, emotional, intelligence, spiritual) in prayer, not so much to move God to a particular end, but to allow God to align us to what he is already doing in the world.
Lastly, after reading prophecy concerning the return of Israel to the land, Daniel prayed that God’s will would be done as he predicted, despite Israel’s collective sin and rebellion. This is the prayer we are given as well, “Kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.”
I personally pray constantly that God will return as he promised. I pray that I might find a way to expedite his return (to bring it about sooner than currently expected), that he would bring his judgment to this planet and to this creation and to the people who live in this world. I pray that God will rescue those who seek him, that the Kingdom would come.
I personally desire to pray like Daniel, 3 x daily, and I also desire to conform my daily life to the monastic tradition of praying / reciting Scripture 7 days a day. 3 appointed times of prayer, 3 appointed times of recitation, and 1 appointed time in the middle of the night for a combination of prayer and recitation in the “night watch” that specifically seeks and anticipates the return of the Lord.
I am far (very far) from accomplishing this goal in any practical way. Laziness, distraction, devices, entertainment, they all conspire to keep me at a distance from God and from my own longing to draw closer to him.
I do continue to form habits that brings about a long-lasting spiritual transformation. I also contemplate what habits are good to form now, in this life, that will be continued in the Kingdom after the end of days has concluded.
Why did Jesus pronounce spiritual blindness upon Israel in Luke 19? What can we learn from this?
Jesus did several specific things in his triumphal entry to authenticate himself as the Messiah of Israel. To know the Scripture, he held the Israelites to account, and to recognize his return on the 14th of Nisan, 32 AD. He fulfilled Zech 9:9, and it was the only day he allowed them to declare him as King (Lu 19:38).
In fact, when the people began to sing Psalm 118, the Pharisees were quick to demand Jesus rebuke them. They knew this Psalm was prophetic and that the people were declaring Jesus as the King of the Jews (Lu 19:40).
Jesus actually wept over the city and for the people because they had not recognized the day of his return (Lu 19:41) even though it was prophesied in many places in the OT. He wept because he knew the city would subsequently be destroyed in 70 AD as a direct result of their not recognizing him as their Messiah (Lu 19:43-44).
This reality of Israel’s denial of Jesus as the Messiah (and the references in the NT to this being predestined so that the gentiles could be grafted in) makes me wonder what else God has hidden form us that will be revealed at a later date. I soberly consider just how in the dark we all are, even those who invest the time to study the Bible and who devote time to prayer and try to live a life pleasing to God, we are, in the end, at his mercy. There is no way to be certain if we are vessels of mercy or vessels of wrath, and there is no in-between. Death and judgment await all men, and how we will fair is really a mystery. We have a promise form God, that if we believe that God raised Jesus up on the third day, that we confess him as Lord, then we’ll be saved. But how do we know, in this world today, after so long a time since Jesus’ generation (2000 years) that the message has not been corrupted beyond recognition. Works? Faith? What really will save us from the Lake of Fire in the end? God’s mercy alone? I think much of the visible church today, the denominations, are simply grasping at straws, desperate in their denominationalism to hold on to anything they can to make sense of an insane world. They try their hardest to be like Christ while simultaneously modeling themselves after the world. Yet, Jesus said, “You cannot serve two masters, for either you will hate the one and love the other, or else you will be loyal to the one and despite the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon” (Ma 6:24).
In the end, mercy is at the heart of existence, of salvation, of hope. If not for the mercy of God, there is no possible means of redemption. The future concerns me because there is no much that remains hidden from view, and I can only wonder why that is. Why is there not a clearer picture of what heaven or the kingdom or the afterlife will be like? Why is death so shrouded in mystery and convolution? Why would someone who resides at Abraham’s side be in need of “comfort” in the first place? Is not “to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord” (2 Co 5:8)? If we are present with the Lord in death, then what occurred in this process that requires comfort? Personally, I think death is much more severe than we give it credit. The depravity of it, the weight of it, the monumentous ramification of the unwilling and forceful severing of soul and spirit and body one from another I think will be an experience unlike any other. It is something truly to be feared, not because of the loss of our life in this place of the world, but because death brings about captivity for the living, we are sequestered for the indeterminate time remaining between death and resurrection. I think the loss of our bodies and the spirit will be for our soul more traumatic than we can possibly comprehend.
K-W-L Self Assessment: L- Describe what you LEARNED from this session.
I found this lecture interesting, especially the practical side of how one we should prepare for the coming end of days and the new world order that is apparently creeping up on us as we speak.
It is just unsettling for me that so much about reality (that which actually is rather than that which we suppose is) and the greater reality to come is hidden from our view. Why such secrecy in the Kingdom of God (or about it)? Even those who have devoted their lives and occupations to the study of Scripture tend to in one way or another fall into traps of deception. What possibly hope do we have if even the elect can be led astray?
Even those who were considered friends of God or the beloved, despite being given some information about what was to occur, they were not given all information. Only pieces of the puzzle were revealed to them, and often the individual it was revealed to had no idea of the true context or ramifications of that information.
Will it be possible that at least some who find themselves in the Kingdom of God will experience regret? Many, many times I’ve desired a position or a job or a career, or some other project and once completing or achieving whatever was my object, I later realized what I had strove for was not really something I truly wanted in the end.
I desired a relationship with an individual at one point and, once I won that person over and we were subsequently together journeying through life, I recognized that person had been fundamentally unfaithful in her words and deeds. She projected a different kind of person entirely and the foundation of our relationship was based (on my part) on a lie. The person I was married to was not the person I thought I was marrying.
Is it possible this will be the case in heaven? Will there be an individual who, though saved (as through fire), will have nothing good said of him, will find no favor before God, and will have entered the Kingdom basically on a technicality (fulfilling the requirements of Ro 10:8-11)?
Will there be regretful slaves in heaven? Those who discover after the fact that they really would not choose to be there if they had known the whole truth of what heaven was like? Or will God’s judgment weed out those who would not be grateful for life in the Kingdom? Will the afterlife, for some, ring as underwhelming?
This is certainly how I feel about life in general. I was not given a choice to be born. I was not consulted on whether I would want to be put here, and to be honest, if I were given a choice, knowing the full set of information that I know about living and life, I would not choose to live. I would not haven chosen to be born. But, I might change my decision if I were given all the information pertaining to my yet unrealized future. Maybe that which is yet to come will temper that which currently is. Maybe I would conclude that the discomfort of this life pales in comparison to the joy and bliss of the life to come. Maybe I would consider whatever trauma I might experience through death is ever bit worth it given the immensity of heaven.
The real challenge here is the unknown. There is so much left unsaid. So much hidden from view. Why? Why not put it out on the table. Why does God not show his hand? Granted, being the creator of everything that has ever existed or will ever exist, he certainly has the prerogative to do as he sees fit. He has complete and utter sovereignty over himself, his actions, and over all of us as well. If God decided today against salvation, against redemption, and instead came to earth and destroyed all who lived on the earth, and he decided to lay seige to those in Hades and utterly wipe from existence anyone who ever lived, it would be within God’s good judgment to do so. The very fact that God did this would necessitate that it was “good” and “righteous.” Our opinion of him or his actions or his conclusions do not factor into the value placed on his actions or his thoughts.
In the end, everything is reduced to faith in God, hope in his mercy, trust in his divine plan. Because so much remains obscured, there is no way to determine what I would ultimately want. But, this has been my whole existence up to this point. As already stated, it was not my choice to live, to come to life, to be brought into existence. It was the hand I was delt, right or wrong.
I have to trust:
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Co 2:9).
Lecture 12 Discussion Questions
What new concept have you learned through this study on the book of Revelation? Please explain.
The Olivet Discourse and the differences between Matthew 25 and Luke 21, that these are covering the same “event” in end time, but from differing perspectives is a new concept for me. It resolves several contradictions, especially the “this generation will not pass away.”
What is the “abomination of desolation?” When did it occur historically? Has it occurred since Christ’s prediction? Explain.
This is pictured in the actions of Antiochus IV (Epiphanes) 100 + years before Jesus was even born. Jesus stated in Matthew 24:15-16, when this is seen “abomination of desolation” that was spoken of by the prophet Daniel, then the Jews who are in Jerusalem should flee.
The issue I have here is that Daniel was written before Antiochus IV’s events. But, it was another 200 years approximately before the destruction of Jerusalem, much too long of a gap for Jesus’ words to be referring to Antiochus IV. This would argue for a second event that is similar in type to what Antiochus did. This would mean there would need to be a third temple built sometime in the future.
Additionally, Paul tells us in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 “that Day” (meaning from vs 1 “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering to Him” – indicating both the resurrection and rapture) does actually have 2 specific prerequisites that must take place beforehand.
1. The Falling Away.
2. Man of sin is revealed (by the abomination of desolation).
The issue of immanency could still be fulfilled once the temple has been rebuilt, for then there would be nothing to gauge the second coming – it could happen at any time. But, currently these things must first take place and in order for this to occur (if the interpretation is correct) the temple will need to be rebuilt.
Discuss the dangers of “Replacement Theology”.
This is the idea that every time Israel is mentioned in the NT and in several places in the OT it is not referring to the physical nation of Israel, or the Jewish people, but to the Church. It is the idea that, since the Jews denied Christ as their Messiah, they forfeit the promises made to them by God, any promises to the land, any promises of redemption. They are basically lost in perpetuity. They have, as a nation, no corporate redemption as they once did.
Because Christians accepted Christ as the Messiah, they were adopted as a “spiritual” Israel (regardless that this phrase never actually occurs in the text).
It was this theology that gave justification to the pulpits in Europe that led to the Holocaust and will be the same kind of ideology that leads to the second Holocaust during the tribulation.
Discuss the problems associated with a post-tribulation view.
The biggest issue is it is not biblically represented in the text. To claim that there is a single resurrection at the end of the 7 year period is to deny that there is more than one resurrection (Re 20:6). It also denies the specific time element provided by Paul in 1 Co 15:52, “in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed…” as well as 1 Th 4:16, “the Lord will descend from heaven with a shout…with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” This latter portion of the verse has been used to argue that this could only occur after the tribulation is over, which does not make sense. When it does occur (I would argue at the sounding of the seventh trumpet – Rev 11:15), those who had died from that point back to Adam (in Christ) will be raised (which is the first resurrection – Re 20:5-6). Those who are living at the time this occurs will be subsequently raptured (or first the dead are resurrected and then everyone is “caught up” to Christ in the air – in that everyone in Christ will experience the rapture but not everyone will experience a resurrection).
I remain unclear, though, on who constitutes the saved in the resurrection. Does this include the OT saints such as Abraham? Will Hades / Paradise be emptied out completely at this point? There will be at least 1000 years between the first resurrection / rapture and the second resurrection in Revelation 20:11.
Additionally, I am unclear on what portion of Israel will actually be saved. Paul states, “all Israel will be saved” (Ro 11:26). He also states, “at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace” (Ro 11:5) and also, “Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, the remnant will be saved” (Ro 9:27). So, which is it? “All Israel” or “a remnant?” Where do OT saints (i.e. Hebrew’s Hall of Faith) fall into the redemption? What about those who remain on the earth after the first resurrection / rapture but before the second resurrection? Likewise, will there be a second rapture (those who are existing on the earth when Jesus comes the third time, or will every mortal human on earth die when Christ returns in his wrath and so everyone who lives after the first resurrection / rapture will experience the second resurrection without there being a rapture?
Post-trip is difficult (at least for me) to pin down in the biblical text. But, that being said, all of the rapture views provide some level of difficulty.
What titles are applied to the Antichrist? Give Scriptural references.
Seed of the Serpent (Get 3:15)
Idol Shepherd (Zech 11:16-17)
Little Horn (Dan 7:8-11)
Prince that shall come (Dan 9:26)
Willfull King (Dan 11:36)
Lawless One (2 Th 2:8)
Man of Sin (2 Th 2:3)
Son of Perdition (2 Th 2:3)
What effect has this course had on you?
I’m seeing a few issues or contradictions a little clearer after this course, specifically the Olivet Discourse and also more clarity in reinforcing my view of a Mid-Trip Rapture. I’m also thinking the opposite on who experiences the rapture and resurrection in that everyone in Christ will experience the rapture but only the dead in Christ the resurrection (I used to think everyone experienced the resurrection but not everyone the rapture).
K-W-L Self Assessment: L- Describe what you LEARNED from this session.
I do think I’m gaining a better understanding of end times, especially that surrounding the rapture, the resurrection, and the distinctions between various elements that occur at different points along the time line.
I still am unclear as to why God chose to reveal end times in the way he does, through cryptical messaging that at least requires the Holy Spirit to work in tandem with human intellect in order to accurately interpret those portions of Scripture.
I am also still unclear about why God has left so much of the details of reality out of the historical record. What is God hiding at this point? What remains concealed? Why? Why does he not clearly identify the angels, their origins, or their essence or fundamental natures? Why is absolutely nothing defined or described about what will occur after everything is done and we enter eternity, other than we will be his servants and we will serve him (Re 22:3)? Why is there no practical descriptions of heaven, the afterlife, or the Kingdom, other than vagaries and generic descriptions? Why is there really no detailed descriptions of the supernatural realm, what it is, how it was created (if it was created)? Why are their no contextual descriptions of God concerning his background, his origin story, or what he actually is (though we are given the promise that we will at some point see him as he is – I find this fascinating that what we’ve seen of Jesus thus far is not actually “as he is.” Does that mean his mortal form is just a partial aspect of his full and true form, or something else entirely)?
There are many unanswered questions about so many things pertaining to God and his creation.
This was a great course and I would highly recommend it. I do wish it was clearer on chasing down the evidence for several theories, since Dr. Missler has a tendency to mention something in passing and then move on without elaboration or support for the claim. I also think a lot of end times topics are handled in a confusing way, instead of laying out the theory, providing the biblical support in summary form (i.e. comprehensive, exhaustive list of Bible references), and then expositive support and then providing the opposition addressing the specific data/arguments presented.
But, despite this deficiency, it’s still a great course. Until my next assignment….
Please consider supporting my writing, my unschooled studies, and my hermitic lifestyle by purchasing one or more of my books. I’m not supported by academia or have a lucrative corporate job – I’m just a mystical modern-day hermit trying to live out the life I believe God has called me to. So, any support you choose to provide is GREATLY appreciated.
Excerpt from Our Daughter:
“Okay, mom,” Randy said.
“You behave yourself and be nice. You’re lucky to have company while you wait for the doctors.”
The woman turned and started back the way she came.
“The nurse said it would be twenty or thirty more minutes, so we’ll eat quick and be back up here before they take you in, okay?”
“Sorry for him,” the woman said to Katie as she walked by.
As the woman left, Katie noticed the boy moving around again on the bed. Before she realized what was happening, the tiny lump disappeared and she could hear the faint sound of bare hands and feet on the tile floor.
He was low crawling under the beds toward her.
A moment later, Randy popped his head out from under the nearest hospital bed, craning his neck around to look up at her.
“Hello, there,” Katie said.
Randy disappeared back under the bed, the bed sheet draping down almost to the floor. Katie could still see three little fingers pressed to the tile.
“What are you here for?” Katie asked, readjusting her seat in the chair, trying to get the ache in her chest to lessen.
For whatever reason, the wheelchair was really uncomfortable.
“Why are – “
Randy’s voice trailed off for a moment as he looked around.
“Why are you here?”
“I’m getting my leg fixed,” Katie said. “See?”
Randy poked his head back out from under the bed and looked at the leg she was pointing to.
“What’s wrong with it?”
“The doctor said it’s broken,” Katie said. “Shattered.”
“Can you feel it?” Randy asked, able to stay out from his hiding place.
“I can feel it, but it’s not too bad,” Katie said, then tapped the IV in her arm. “This thing is giving me medicine of some kind for the pain. At least that’s what the nurses said.”
“Why are you – ”
Randy stopped mid-sentence.
He scooted out from under the bed entirely and slowly crept over to er on all fours.
“What are you, some kind of spider?” Katie asked, giggling a little.
“What are you?” Randy echoed.
He was now only about a foot away from her chair and sat there, his legs folded up under him, gawking up at her.
“What are you staring at me for?”
“I’ve never – ”
Randy put out a hesitant hand and ever so gently touched her arm.
“Are you some kind of ghost?”
He looked around again.
“Are you – ”
He leaned in, talking in a whisper.
“Are you dead?”
A nurse came around the corner and stopped abruptly, spotting the empty bed in the far corner where Randy should have been.
“Randy Andrews,” the nurse said, her hands now on her hips. “You get right back into the bed and you stop playing around, please. They are ready for you in surgery.”
Katie watched as Randy scrambled on all fours under the beds and back up onto his, pulling the sheet back over top of himself again.
She started to ask him about his question, but couldn’t get the words out before his parents appeared at the door.
Katie sat there quietly, watching Randy stare back at her from under his sheet. She glanced over at his parents and the nurse, noticed Randy’s dad had no hair on the top of his head.
Are you dead?
What kind of question was that?
The snap of the wheel locks being disengaged on Randy’s hospital bed jarred Katie out of the confusion she was in.
The doctor she’d first seen was now at the door, waiting for Randy.
He was his surgeon.
They wheeled Randy out of the room, his parents following right behind, disappearing to the left, heading for his operating room.
The pre-op room was empty again.
Are you dead?
What kind of crazy question was that?
The nurse came back through the double doors.
“It won’t be long now,” she said.
Katie tried not to think about the dull ache growing just behind her sternum.
The nurse disappeared around the corner as Katie watched the double doors to the operating rooms slowly shut.
Buy my book Our Daughter and begin the adventure of a lifetime, as you uncover the mysteries behind Katie Cadora’s new life after the horrible accident that stole her mother away from her. Will she find sure footing again? Will the pain ever stop? Will she discover the secrets her new foster family are keeping from her? Is the boy’s question right? Is Katie Cadora actually dead?
Click here and grab your copy today and jump into this Witch Gnostic Heresy trilogy with both feet!
But, trust me when I tell you, there are deceivers in our midsts! Get started in this bone chilling suspense novel right away and find out why….sometimes….you’re just better off DEAD!