We started on Day 1 (Gen 3) with the beginning of a battle between God and Satan and now we are going to see how it is all going to end. This book will tell of a war between 2 kingdoms: God’s Kingdom (the New Jerusalem) and Satan’s Kingdom (Babylon).
John the apostle survived waves of persecution. The first being under Nero (in the 60′s), where both Paul and Peter did not survive and then under Emperor Domitian when in a short period of time 40,000 Christians were tortured then killed. The third wave was about to begin under Trajan. It was extremely dark days for the Church. By the way, one of the torture/execution styles was to dip Christians in boiling oil, sometimes head first. Tradition has it that John was boiled in oil and survived it, so that is why he was exiled to the Greek Island of Patmos. This Island is where John got the Revelation of Jesus Christ.
Revelation means the unveiling. The theme is Jesus. So all together it means, The Unveiling of Jesus Christ. It tells of the second coming, the millennial reign on earth, His judgment of the earth and describes His final Victory over our enemy, Satan. As we read of the Wrath of God we must know that this is an OPTIMISTIC book if you are a Christian. We are assured and reassured that we as Christians are under God’s protection with a life of everlasting “Blessedness”.
Revelation is full of Old Testament references (not quotes) upward of almost 300. However, when we read it, it is NOT about explaining every detail it is about the overall theme of Jesus. There are so many views on Revelation and so much no one understands. I will be reading it literal and futuristic. I believe that it is talking about events that are yet to come and I believe that every word is literal, not theoretical.
I by NO MEANS feel adequate to even think I will understand much of this book so I will be heavily in prayer. The only question I think we need to ask ourselves is if this happens today, (and it very much could) Are you prepared? Is your family?
This book claims no author but scholars all agree that it is John. This is written about 20 years after the Temple was destroyed in a Jewish Roman War. The entire Temple Herod built was destroyed leaving the Jews without a center for worship. Since then a Philosophy had really taken root called Gnosticism.
Gnosticism in short said that the human nature consists of 2 parts, flesh and spirit. Sin was in the body only, not the spirit. So basically the spirit dealt with Spiritual matters, while the body could do what it wants. In Gnosticism, people believed in a “mystical” knowledge that some could obtain through knowledge, like a spiritual maturity or epiphanies. (I actually know of someone who is a Gnostic).
Gnostics also denied the incarnation, they said that God was more like a phantom, a man in appearance only (called Docetism). Another theory called Cerinthianism (very large following) believed that Jesus was a normal man and that the spirit of God joined Him at baptism and left him before the death on the Cross. By the way, if you think “theories” are not as strong today, get out of your comfort zone of the Bible Belt and just make conversations with some strangers in airports all around the country. It will shock you, especially todays teens.
John writes this Letter to ALL Christians. The book of John (the Gospel) was written on believing to receive Eternal Life. 1 John is about Knowing we have eternal life. The word KNOW will be used over 30 times in this short letter.
Soooooo have you ever questioned your Salvation?? Read this book to see “If” you are saved and KNOW.
Hey Jude don’t make it bad
Take a sad song and make it better (Beatles)
So the sad song here is that Jude, the brother of Jesus himself, is about to write a letter about sharing in Salvation when he gets word that such false teachings have infiltrated the church. Jude and Peter grew up in the Faith together and it is obvious by their words and writing that they have spent much time together, for their teachings and writings are extremely similar.
We know that Jesus and Jude (and James) grew up in a God centered home where the Scriptures would be taught, so the Jewish references in this book should be expected. Jude holds nothing back for the danger is INSIDE the church. If you think this isn’t relevant today WAKE UP.
Hebrews. An EXTREMELY important book. Just like Romans was a foundational book for the Gentiles, this is the counterpart to the Jews in Jerusalem. Think about this for a minute, before Christ came all Jewish people were taught to make atonement for their sins through animal sacrifice. It is an extremely important part of the religion and their way of life. So Christ comes as the Promised Messiah to fulfil all the ritual acts they were doing, specifically handed down from God himself. Before the Christ they lived a very legal life of order, sacrifice, hierarchy, priests…etc. So now that Jesus did come, and many Jews came to believe, what do you do with all they were taught their whole life. (some of you may be going through this personally as we read this New Testament together).
As long as there is a standing temple, the Jews (even Christian Jews) will feel this human effort desire to make sacrifices to the Lord. Makes sense, it would be really hard to literally change everything that was taught for 2000 years, right . So God breathes this letter through an un-named author, confirming all the Law was a SHADOW of The Christ. ALL of it. The tabernacle, the animal sacrifice, the feasts, the Priests were all a prophecy of the Christ to come. Shortly after this book is written to the Christian Jews, the Temple in Jerusalem will be destroyed, so God is preparing them for what is to come since only sacrifices and priests are part of a Temple. God needs to eliminate the temple to focus ourselves on Christ, not on ritual. See all that we learned in the Old Testament WAS a Shadow of Christ. To partake in any exercise that we think earns favor with the Lord in Salvation eliminates our Faith in the Messiah.
So if the Temple is about to be destroyed how does one approach God?
Before we talk about Timothy, I want to talk about the Church. What do you think of when we say the word Church? Well, I picture an ‘A’ framed roof, with pews, and stained class, maybe some marble steps, and a beautiful alter. Uhhh NO. You need to really keep in touch with the times on these next few books. Emperor Nero was on the throne in Rome and he was a disgusting man who took great pleasure in Christian Persecution. ‘Churches’ were extremely small gatherings, often in homes and in secret. As we read last week, Ephesus was one of the largest growing Christian areas in the World, and guess who Paul left in charge? That’s write, his little helper, timid Timothy.
There are 3 letters written by Paul known as the “pastoral letters”, they are
- 1 Timothy,
- 2 Timothy
- and Titus.
Timothy was left in charge of Ephesus and Titus was left in charge of Crete (an enormous Greek Island). So here is the Big Question..what does God use Paul to say through Paul about what a ‘Church’ should look like? PAY ATTENTION. This book maybe written to the ”elders” and overseers but what did we read yesterday in Philippians 1:10
“so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ”.
This book is so stinkin important so you can discern what is right and what is man made when it comes to ‘church’.
Paul will write to Timothy on a number of matters, but first he will instruct Timothy on how to deal with False Teachings. I am sure you are sick of me talking about this BUT man has been adding to the Scriptures since the beginning of time. Since the time of Moses we were told
“Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you” (Deut 4:2)
Paul also writes about choosing leaders in the church, roles of men and woman and finally but most important to Lead By Example. Timothy was mentored by Paul but came from a mixed family, his mother was Jewish and his father was Greek (cool huh…reminds us of some icons from the Old Testament?? huh?) Anyway, Timothy’s biggest battle was combating ‘legends’ and ‘family tales’ that were infiltrating the church. Well, who remembers Ephesians? What was the one thing you combat with offensively…that’s right, the SWORD! The only thing we have to fight rumors and false teachings is the Word of God and Truth. SO let’s have at it!
Philippi was a Roman Colony, once called Krenides but the name was changed by Philip, the King of Macedonia (Alexander the Great’s Father). The town was occupied by Italian settlers following Octavian’s great battles (first against Brutus and Cassius, then against his former ally Antony). Philippi was a very wealthy town and very modern in the sense that woman held high status in the community (Penny just said amen!)
Philippi was the first Church established in Europe by Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke. Philippi being a Medical center of the world, Luke stayed behind (it may have been his hometown, but he was also a physician). Luke was the author of the book of Luke as well as Acts. He was the Pastor of the church in Philippi for about 6 years.
Paul never charged money for his mission work, instead he made his money in his trade (tent making) however he did occasionally take gifts or offerings. The messenger, Epaphroditus, arrived with a gift of money and almost lost his life doing it. Paul was deeply touched and Paul wanted to send a letter back (when Epaphroditus recovered) that no more gifts were necessary.
Paul writes a beautiful letter about Joy. The letter is to ALL believers called ’saints’. Paul writes this letter in chains and scholars say under heavy bad treatment in Prison. Paul would rather be in Heaven with the Lord but while he is here on earth he will live for Christ.
This is not a typical Paul letter, it will not have your typical greeting, nor does it deal with a particular problem inside or outside the church. It reads more like a sermon than a letter, focussing on the character of the church. Yesterday we read about Jesus as the Head of the Church (Colossians), well in Ephesians we will read about the Body of the Church (Believers).
Paul will state that there is a oneness between all believers, even Jews and Gentiles. By no means does Jesus intend there to be a separate church for Judaism or Christianity. We are fully intended to be one Church. The word Church in Greek is Ecclesia, meaning the assembly of the called out ones. In other words, the body of believers.
The city of Ephesus was a rich port to the Mediterranean Sea. This huge city contained an enormous theater (holding 25,000 at a time), a town square, a marketplace, public baths, libraries and a number of enormous temples (mostly to the fertility goddess, Diana).
Many of you know Ephesians for the “Spiritual Armor” sequence in the last chapter but I challenge you to carve out an hour of your day today, that’s right I said an hour (uhhhh turn off the TV or the computer??) and read it and really think about this book. You will hear cool verses like “learn what pleases the Lord” and you will read action words that we are to do as Christians like “put off…and put on”. Not things that we ask the Lord to change in us, but things we are to do ourselves FOR the Lord. Anyway, this might just be your new favorite book!
Here are some pictures of Ephesus. Enjoy.
Find Hebrews and it is one chapter to the left of it. This one little book in the Bible may be only 25 verses but it completely encompasses the change Christ can have on us. Have you ever read it. ( I am not even sure I know how to pronounce it)
This book is about 2 things: Love and Forgiveness. So if you struggle with either/both of those, dig in.
- Paul is in prison and comes to meet a man by the name of Onesimus.
- Onesimus is a runaway slave to Paul’s friend Philemon in Colosse (a leader in the Church).
- So, Onesimus, who before meeting Paul was considered useless has come to be a Christ Follower (Christian), thus his name Onesimus actually means “useful” in Greek.
Paul writes a letter from the Love in his heart to Philemon to accept and forgive Onesimus for running away and the crimes he has committed. (anyone feeling like Onesimus??). Paul not only asks for forgiveness but also for his protection.
Enjoy this wonderful personal letter that Paul writes from Prison.
Paul established a church in Colossae on his third mission journey. Today this area is in Turkey. There were two prominent men in Colossae, Philemon and Epaphus, who became Christians and were spreading the message while Paul was in Prison. Paul wrote them this letter to be read in the Church.
The troubles in Colossae were other ideas and philosophies from other religions were being introduced and put on the same level as Christianity. (Is this book not pertinent to today or what!). This idea of “there are many ways to God” has been since the beginning of the Church, it is called syncretism. I have heard people say, “You have your way, and I have mine…it’s personal.” No it is Doctrinal!
We have been reading since October 1 the New Testament so I think we have a pretty good idea of what it means to live a Christian life. Well, in Colossae, they were melding Jewish circumcision, food laws, and now was introducing worshipping angels and mysticism. Click on the word to see the definition, ever watch late night Christian Tv? or like astrology or Tarot Cards but the person says the revelation comes from God: mysticism. Even though they gave God credit…it is still FAKE.
The idea of angel worship as an intermediaries (some faiths do this with past dead people of the church ) denies the supremacy of Christ. Angel worship was the newest philosophy being introduced as part of Christendom. There are few hills I am willing to die on for but this is one of them. Jesus is your intermediary to God. No one or nothing else. Don’t worship, pray to or believe in any Supremacy other than the Christ Head.
This book rebukes the “Hodge Podge” belief system. The church may have lots of body parts, all acting different, but Christ is the head.
If there was one book to read: It is Romans. How do you know what Doctrine is God made and which ones are not. This is the Book to read. I do not care if you fell off this “read through” at the Garden of Eden, God penned this book through Paul SO THAT we can filter what we are taught through God’s Word. Are you ready?? Open your Bible and read Romans this week. go to www.biblegateway.com and read it on your lunch hour if you have to.
Romans Overview. This may be the first Epistle you come to in your Bible, but as you can see it is far from the first one written. We just got done reading about some of what Paul is going through in 2 Corinthians:
I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.
Paul is in Corinth on his third Mission trip there and he is taking the collection, not to his pocket, but to Jerusalem, where people need it more. He writes this letter to the Romans before he ever gets there. He intends to go there but maybe (I wonder why) he is afraid he may never make it there. So he feels compelled to write this letter so that the Churches in Rome would have a record on his account. While he was in Corinth, a woman named Phoebe (not from Friends) was headed to Rome, so he took that opportunity to have her carry that letter.
Rome was a HUGE city, the capital of the entire Roman empire. There were however many churches there since there were “visiting” Romans at the time of Pentecost that were able to go back to Rome and start churches after Peter’s Sermon (Acts 2). Paul does make it to Rome about 3 years after the letter was written, under not so good circumstances.
The purpose of the letter to Rome was to convey that Faith in the death and Resurrection of Christ is the only ground of acceptance by God. A God who shows no favoritism between Jew or Gentile. We will read that we cannot do for ourselves what God has done for us. Paul does have a sadness and struggles with the fact that Gentiles freely accept and receive the Gospel yet many many Jews will reject it.
The impact this letter will have on the world is incredible. This book has changed the course of History for the Churches today. The Book of Romans has influenced such men like Augustine (Catholic Church), Martin Luther (Protestant Reformation), John Bunyan (not Paul the logger but the writer preacher of Pilgrim’s Progress), John Wesley (Methodist foundation) and many others.
What to expect to walk away with is: A person’s justification before the Lord SOLELY rests on the mercy and grace of Christ and NOT on the Law of Moses (10 commandments). It is not a matter of Law at all, because no person can EVER live up to God’s standards but God himself. Out of God’s LOVE for every single one of us he forgives our sins. There is nothing we can do, that could give us Salvation (and this is coming from a man, Paul, who has given GREATLY) but only from God can we receive Salvation. WITH THAT SAID, since we have been given that gift in spite of ourselves, God deserves our wholehearted attention, love, service, loyalty, boldness, obedience and devotion, not for him to love us, but BECAUSE HE LOVES US.