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Answers to Revelation 14 and an introductory thought on 15 October 2, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Hell, Jesus, Judgment, Religion, Revelation of Jesus Christ.
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What additional information do we have about the 144,000 in 14:1-5 which we did not learn in chapter 7?

Their purity and holiness before God is described. They are sexually pure (virgins) and speak only the truth.

What is the general message to be taken from the three messenger angels (14:6-11)?

The gospel is available to the world but most of the world as a whole and as individuals will reject the gospel.

What is the relationship of these judgment proclamations to the martyred saints (14:12-13)?

It provides patience for them because they see that the troubles they are going through are nothing compared to the eternal punishment that is the fate of the lost world.

Who is given authority to mete justice out on the world and how fully will He accomplish His task (14:14-20)?

Jesus Christ. It will be a bloody and complete judgment. This judgment is also the theme of chapters 15 and 16.

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How to know if God is revealing Himself (From Sermon Series on God’s Word) August 5, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Antichrist, Bible, Depravity, Deuteronomy, Eternal Security, False Doctrine, False Teachers, First John, Gospel, Hell, Holy Spirit, Jehovah's Witnesses, OT Preaching, Perserverance, Prophets, Satan, Sermons, Spiritual Warfare, Truth.
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TRYING THE SPIRITS

1 John 4:1-6 and Deuteronomy 13:1-5, 18:21-22 

Lying spirits exist and we are to test the spirits (verse 1). Now God has given us the final word but God has chosen to allow competition, to allow false spirits to speak their false doctrine through false prophets, to allow the lie to coexist on this earth with the truth.

It is not always easy to discern the false from the true. Just as counterfeit money is meant to be spent, false doctrine is intended by Satan to be believed and that means he must make it believable to the human mind and appealing to the human heart.  That is why it is of eternal importance that we look into God’s Word and find out how to determine the difference between the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

TESTING SPIRITS IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

There are two passages in the Old Testament law in the book of Deuteronomy that discuss testing the spirits who claim to speak the truth. Now, it is easy to say that the Law was for then and not for today, for example in the law against eating pork which is also in the book of Deuteronomy (Deut. 14:8). We understand though that the law is more than the Ten Commandments and when Jesus said He came to fulfill the law He meant all of it, not just the moral code but also the civil and ceremonial aspects of the law. Not only that but as we saw about a month ago, “All Scripture is…profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). So how do we apply the Old Testament tests? By finding and investigating the timeless principles that apply to the subject of testing the spirits as taught in 1 John. (Ideas in this paragraph with thanks to Paul Lamey of Huntsville, AL.)

Test #1 –

If one part of the prophecy is proven untrue or inaccurate, then it is not of God (Deuteronomy 18:20-22).

“Here’s a Help Wanted ad you may find interesting: Spokesman needed for international firm. No experience necessary, no education required. Must be between 20-85 years old. Full- or part-time…Will meet often with the CEO who will instruct brief you on what to say to the public. Important that you be able to move in all circles of society–from the highest to the lowest. Good vocabulary a must, ability to speak in colorful images a big plus…Unlimited opportunity for advancement…Must be willing to endure ridicule, persecution, slander, and occasional beatings. This job carries only one significant negative aspect: Make one mistake and you will be stoned to death….That ad describes the biblical role of the prophet…The test for a biblical prophet was 100% accuracy. Make one mistake and you would be stoned to death…(T)he Jews had a well-defined procedure for stoning. The victim was stripped naked, with hands bound, paraded out of town and placed on a scaffold nine feet high. The first official witness pushed the victim off the scaffold. The second witness dropped a large stone on his head and chest. Bystanders then pelted the dying man with the stones. The corpse was then buried in a special place along with the stone that inflicted the fatal blow. No mourning ceremony was permitted. False prophets had to be stoned. The Law commanded it…(P)rophecy was not a growth industry in the ancient Israel. It was a risky way to make a living. Today prophecy (and messages from God) is big business–and not nearly so risky.” (Thanks to Ray Pritchard)

(In fact, you can make the New York Times Best-Seller List and become a fixture there.)

A WORD ABOUT DREAMS AND OTHER MODES OF CLAIMED DIVINE REVELATION 

Not only does a prophet sent from God speak the truth with 100% accuracy but he knows that his message is 100% accurate and does not try to hide that fact. When someone says that they have a vision or dream or message from God and they temper their claim with the possibility of human fallibility then I know that I need not be afraid of that person. God does not speak to every subject but to every subject that He speaks, He speaks authoritatively and without error.

Test #2 –

If the prophecy leads away from the truth, then it is not of God (Deuteronomy 13:1-5).

Actually, this whole chapter deals with the seriousness of following anyone who would lead us away from the truth. In verses 6-10, if a family member attempts to lead away from the true and living God, they were to be stoned. In verses 11-18, if Israel heard that one of their cities had turned from following God, they were to go against it and destroy it with all its inhabitants, all its livestock, and to destroy everything in it. They were not to take anything for plunder. Obviously, we are not to apply the extreme measures that are commanded to the Israelites but we are to take this seriously.

APPLYING THIS TEST TODAY 

How do we recognize the spirits (verses 2-6)? In other words, how does this apply today?

The Spirit of truth identifies…

…Jesus as God and man (verse 2). Any person or any group that denies that Jesus is 100% God and 100% man is not of God. The Bible is very clear. One of the reasons that we have started studying together the book of Colossians in the adult and junior high and junior aged Sunday School classes is the vital importance of this doctrine. If Jesus is not God then Christianity is a lie and if Jesus is not man then Christianity is a lie and the Bible is a lie. I do not have a problem with the Jehovah’s Witnesses refusal to celebrate birthdays. That is not an eternal issue. I do not have a problem with their refusal to salute the American flag. That is not an eternal issue. I do not even have a problem with their refusal to take blood transfusions. I think they are wrong and that it is an unfortunate belief but that belief will not send them to the lake of fire. I do have a problem though with their refusal to acknowledge Jesus Christ as God, not a god, but Jehovah God Himself. That is why I fight for the Virgin Birth. If Jesus was not Virgin Born, He was not God. That is why I fight for the Bodily Resurrection of Christ. If He did not rise bodily from the dead then there is doubt that He was really man. He was and is both. That is also why it is so important that we hold to the Bible as given by God without error. If the Bible is in error in any area, then how can we trust what it says about Jesus Christ and the message in verse 2 about Jesus Christ is only to be found in the Bible?

NOT JUST THE PERSON BUT ALSO THE WORK OF CHRIST IS PART OF THE TEST. 

The Spirit also identifies the redemptive work of Christ as sufficient for eternal salvation (verses 9-10). I understand that John is not addressing this directly but it is addressed in other places in the Scriptures: the first half of the books of Romans, the epistles to the Galatians, the Ephesians, the Philippians, the books of 1 Timothy and Titus, the book of Hebrews. I am saying that it does matter what we believe about Christ’s saving work.

The word “propitiation” here means to appease God. We are sinners, we deserve the eternal punishment of the lake of fire but Jesus Christ came and died to appease His Father. That is the good news that we are to believe. If you believe that salvation comes any other way than through Jesus Christ alone, you are in the trap of the spirit of error. If you believe by being good you can satisfy God, then you believe the spirit of antichrist. If you believe that trusting Christ and being baptized to wash away your sins, then you are trusting a ritual. Paul said in Galatians of such rituals that they make the crucifixion of Christ of no effect. Either Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection was sufficient or it is not. If you believe the Church provides you appeasement before God, you are trusting the doctrine of the world. If you believe that the Lord’s Table which we partook of earlier in this service will impart God’s saving grace into your life, then you are trusting the doctrine of a false spirit. It is through Jesus Christ alone.

Acts 5:12 says that there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved. He does not need my help, He does not need your help, and he does not need the help of any ritual, good deeds, or organization. He is capable through His death alone of saving us and according to these verses, He does this because He loves us.

The Spirit of error… (verse 3-5).

…contradicts in some way the Spirit of truth (verse 3a).

Why?  Because the spirit of error is of this world (verses 3b-5). This is not a new phenomenon (verse 3b). Since time began, Satan has been lying to humankind. Although it is true that as we get closer to the end, evil men will get worse and worse, it is a matter of degree and not of quality. The quality of the counterfeit is always bad. Some are more effective in their deception than others but counterfeits are always a lie.

WHAT IF I QUIT BELIEVING? 

Believers in Christ have protection within them from false prophets (verse 4). In 1 John 2:18-27 we find specifically what he means by this verse. Some have asked me, what happens if I quit believing in Jesus Christ. According to these verses that will not and cannot happen. If you quit believing in Christ it is because you never truly believed in Him. I am not talking about doubts. I am not talking about those who give up in frustration and quit trying to live for Christ. I am talking about those and the text is talking about those who teach the truth and then turn their backs on it and attempt to drag others with them on their path. That is what John is addressing here. We, however, are protected. We are protected because we have the Holy Spirit living within us. We are protected because we have the truth in us.

The world has no protection from the false prophets because they think just like them (verse 5). This is an awful thing to think about but the Bible plainly teaches that the natural mind follows after the lie of Satan. The lie appears in all kinds of forms but every form is deadly. Which will kill you a bullet through the heart or a knife through the heart? So it is with the lie of Satan. There is no hope unless they are awakened by the Holy Spirit and believe the truth of the Word of God concerning Jesus Christ.

ANSWER THESE THREE QUESTIONS 

When someone clearly sees and rejects the truth we know that they are not of God (verse 6). If you are here this morning, you have heard the truth. Did you understand it? If you understood it, have you accepted it or rejected it? If you have accepted it, how are you going to react when you hear the lie? That is our invitation this morning.

Revelation 6 (Questions concerning the first six seals) July 5, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Antichrist, Day of the Lord, Eschatology, Famine, Hades, Hell, Judgment, Persecution, Repentance, Revelation of Jesus Christ, Spiritual Warfare, Suffering, War, Zechariah.
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Update:  answers are in italics 

Revelation 6 (compare the four horsemen with Zechariah 6:1-6)

The four horsemen are an allusion to Zechariah 6:1-6 and 1:7-17. What is the main purpose of using the symbol of four horses of varying colors?  It seems to correspond with the emphasis of Zechariah 6 that is also made in other ways in Revelation 6. This emphasis is that the things that coming by way of these horsemen will affect the whole world and not just certain regions.

There are generally two popular interpretations of the first rider on the white horse:  that it is the antichrist and that it is Jesus Christ. What are the arguments for one or the other interpretation? Which of these interpretations is easiest to support from the book of Revelation itself? Depending on your interpretation of the first rider, what purpose does this horse serve internationally?  There are a lot of different arguments put forth but I will mention the two that seem to me to carry the most weight because they arise more from the text and are less determined by the system of interpretation one may already have. 1) The white horse rider being Christ is best supported by the fact that Jesus is pictured in Revelation 19 as coming in victory on a white horse. If this horse is Christ, then it is consistent with the theme presented often in the Revelation, i.e., that Jesus will overcome the forces of Satan. In fact, the sixth seal seems to tell about that event. 2) The white horse rider being anti-Christ is best supported by the fact that the other three horses have a negative impact on the world. If this rider is the anti-Christ it gives credence to a one world government or the domination of the world by the beast. 

If the red horse is war, where will this war take place?  No place on the earth will be untouched.

What conditions in the world are described by the third horse and the voice from the midst of the four living creatures?  Inflation and famine for the poor but the rich may not be affected.

We are told directly who the fourth rider is. What will happen during the time of his working on the earth? Has there ever been a time when one fourth of the people on the earth were destroyed?  The day of the Lord, which seems to be what this chapter is beginning to describe will be a time of much death by all sorts of means.

What prophetic events are the fifth seal looking forward to (7:9-14; 13:14; 14:13; and 17:6 with contexts)?  Revenge on the persecutors of God’s people including but not limited to “the beast” and “Mystery Babylon”.

What prophetic events are the sixth seal looking forward to (Isaiah 13:9-10; Joel 2; Matthew 24:7; Hosea 10:8; Luke 23:30 with contexts)?  The day of the LORD.

The Church at Smyrna (answers) May 28, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Hell, Revelation of Jesus Christ, Seven Churches of Revelation, Spiritual Warfare, Suffering.
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We did not get to the church at Pergamos but I felt we really got a good picture of the suffering that the church of Smyrna endured, the reasons for that suffering, and the encouragement that John/Jesus gave them. 

The answers are in italics. There was some great discussion last night and  we spent a good bit of time discussing the second death which is not reflected in the notes below. We will be coming back to that when we look at Revelation 19 but the short answer is that the second death is the lake of fire and not Hades or Hell.

There were also a number of great insights made on the tree of life and how to interpret that phrase both literally and symbolically.

  1. In the message to Ephesus, Christ’s relationship to the local church is emphasized (see especially verses 1, 4-5). What is the emphasis of the message to the church at Smyrna (verses 8, 10c-11)? Victory over death (not just victory over persecution).
  2. Compare the Spirit’s message to Ephesus in verse 7 to that of Smyrna in verse 11. What is John/Jesus trying to do with these final words of encouragement to those who overcome? He is trying to encourage them in specific areas that are or should be of great concern to them. The tree of life in Paradise is the place where man can have unbroken fellowship with God. Escaping the second death is the fate of those in Christ who is the one who was dead and lives again. Is the tree of life a literal tree in Paradise or is this a symbol? I believe it is most likely literal based on other passages of Scripture. Can it be both? In this case, whether it is literal or not does not affect the meaning of the passage. If John/Jesus is using the literal tree of life in Genesis as a symbol or if there really is still a literal tree of life, the meaning of the passage is the same. See also Revelation 22:2,14 and Genesis 2:9; 3:22-24. What does this teach us about reading symbolism? Is it intended to hide a meaning that we are clever enough to understand or is it intended to be obvious and through its obviousness impact our understanding of the passage? Symbolism is normally intended to have an obvious meaning rather than a hidden meaning.
  3. Compare the situation in Smyrna described in verse 9 and the situation in Ephesus described in verses 3-4. How are their situations similar? Both are suffering persecution. How are their situations different? The persecution in Smyrna appears to be more intense or deadly than that in Ephesus. Whose physical condition is worse? Whose spiritual condition is worse? Smyrna had very poor physical circumstances but Ephesus which had comparatively better physical circumstances, had a very serious spiritual problem.
  4. Is it likely that the Jews described in verse 9 were ethnic Jews (Compare with John 8:38-45)? Yes. Some think this could be talking about false believers but it is likely that these are ethnic Jews who were involved in the persecution of the Christians.
  5. What is the near and eternal future of the church at Smyrna (verse 10)? A short period of imprisonment and death but they will come out victorious.
  6. The word “tested” in verses 2 and 10 are the same Greek word. How are they used differently? What is the result of the testing in both cases? In Ephesus the false prophets are being tested. In Smyrna the believers themselves are being tested. In both cases the test reveals whether they are genuine or not.
  7. What is the implication of the term “ten days”? It is a short time period (we do not know if it was a literal ten day period or not). This is meant to be a word of encouragement to the believers.
  8. There are two words for crown: one implies royal dignity or kingly authority while the other implies victory in a struggle. Which word would you guess John is using in verse 10 (see also James 1:12)? Victory in a struggle.