Is the New Testament church supposed to be the model for the church of the 21st Century?
Churches which were founded by the apostles from the beginning had serious problems with sin and false teachers. Note the seven churches of The Revelation.
The church of the First Century preached under great difficulties and persecutions, which largely continued into the early Fourth Century. But these materially poor and persecuted churches were not to be the final narrative of God’s plan for his people.
Jesus taught us to pray God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Our Lord compared the Kingdom of Heaven to a mustard seed, which is planted and eventually grows into tree with strong branches spreading throughout the earth, where the birds come and make their nests (Matthew 13:31).
The poverty and persecution of the church was not to last forever. The church was to disciple the nations and bring them under the domain of the church (Matt 28:19-20).
God wanted his church to be the head and not the tail. By the end of the Fourth Century Christianity established itself as the official religion of the Empire, which began the era of Christendom.
Alas, the church has largely turned its back on making the disciples of the nations. She seems content to be once again a persecuted minority, as if that is the more spiritual vision.
Let’s not look back for our church model but let’s look forward to a Triumphant Church, which is ruling and reigning with Christ from heaven. We need to occupy and take dominion until the Lord returns.
Some it would seem would prefer God’s people returning to meeting in homes or worse catacombs as a sign we are faithfully following Christ.
The gospel proclaimed in America might well be different from the way it is taught in other parts of the world. This country was established by our Puritan fathers, who considered America to be the New Jerusalem, or the New Israel, the City on a Hill, that was to be the light of the world. In those days America was known as the New World. She was “Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean.”
Through the 19th Century the prevailing view of the American church was Manifest Destiny, that Christian Americans were destined by God to conquer the wilderness from sea to shining sea. The idea was that savage America would be replaced with a Christian Civilization.
We had left aristocratic Europe behind where there was not the opportunity of upward mobility. Americans believed that if one is industrious, takes initiative and is able to live a life of independence from governmental economic controls, anyone can prosper by “pulling himself up with his own bootstraps.” It was axiomatic that “the Lord helps those who help themselves.” This vision was known as the American Dream. Americans believed that it was a God given right to pursue happiness (property and success).
The Protestant work ethic teaches that it is God’s will that men should work hard, make a profit, save, and be productive and successful. The doctrine of American exceptionalism was widely believed and promoted by all political parties, except for the socialists and communists. It should be noted that America was and remains an exception compared to the nations of the world, so we should have an Exceptional Gospel.
“The New Israel, Manifest Destiny, Christian Civilization, the American Dream, American Exceptionalism and the Protestant Ethic are all tied in with the true gospel of Jesus Christ, which he called the Kingdom of God or Heaven, when and where the Church, God’s people, rule and reign with Christ.
Thankfully, we are not living under the tyranny of the Roman Empire or an Islamic State governed by Sharia Law or the despotism and atheism of the former Soviet Union. Americans are a free people.
Unfortunately, some Christians think that if we are really spiritual that we should be a persecuted minority and not wealthy and healthy. Consequently, churches are often weak and sickly. Many ministers have the audacity to even call the church a hospital for the wounded. No, the church is the Army of God! We are not just conquerors; we are more than conquerors over the world, the flesh and the devil, who would have us to be poor and sickly.
So, call me a promoter of the prosperity gospel or a teacher of the American Gospel if you like. I am not ashamed of this gospel and neither is Joel Osteen, nor was Jeremiah of old, who wanted the people to prosper even in Babylonian captivity 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
It never ceases to amaze men how many college students say they have never been to church, which means they have not been confronted face to face with the deadly consequences of sin.
Monday, August 20, Brother Jed & Co. will be returning to our post, opening at the University of Kansas, which is always a lively campus with huge crowds.
I will be the first preacher to stab multitudes of them with the two-edged sword of God’s Word.
Parents and grandparents your precious sons and daughters are being let-loosed among a den of wolves, which includes many administrators, professors and their fellow students.
We are shepherds to bring back into the fold of peace, hope and safety from which many have strayed and many more have never known.
We would appreciate your prayers and financial support; we are embarking on a month-long mission which includes Kansas, Colorado, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Our feet are shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Will you help send us?
If they don’t hear the glad tidings from us, of whom will they hear? We have been called for this vital mission.
Have you ever heard this? “I don’t interpret the Bible; I just take it for what it says.”
If there is any book in the Bible that needs to be interpreted, it is the Revelation.
The Revelation is a vision. The difference between a dream and a vision is that with a vision one is awake. What if we were to say we don’t interpret dreams? Joseph told his brothers about a dream he had about sheaves; his brothers rightly interpreted the upright sheaf as representing Joseph and the round about sheaves symbolized the brothers doing obeisance to Joseph. They did not argue about whether the sheaves were of wheat or rye or some other grain. Their focus was not on the symbols but what figures meant.
In another dream about the sun, moon and eleven stars, which Joseph told to his family. His father immediately understood that the sun was Jacob, the moon was Joseph’s mother and the stars his brothers, all of whom were bowing to Joseph. Jacob and the brothers did not speak of the brightness of the sun compared to the moon or starts. They did not speculate as to solar-centered universe as opposed to an earth-centered one.
So, should it be with the signs and symbols, which dominate John’s vision in the Revelation. We should not concentrate on the figures of speech more than on the meaning of the figures. For instance, our love is not so much for the American flag but for the independence and liberty for which the flag stands and flies.
In the Revelation, our interest is primarily on the number 666 as it is the degenerate character the mark of the beast represents. We should not spend much time on whether the mark is a microchip in the hand, or whatever other possibility, but the fact that manifesting the character of Satan dooms us to perdition.
Two wise men, Joseph and Daniel, came into prominence by their ability to interpret dreams. We need to be skilled in interpreting the Revelation of Jesus Christ to John, the Apostle, from preterist, historical, futuristic and most of all spiritual perspective. We ought to understand and apply the principles of this mysterious vision into the churches of our generation and to our individual Christian lives, that we might be prepared for the Final Judgment and Reconciliation.
Revelation is a contrast of the vision of the ideal heavenly realm (the New Jerusalem) with the worldly perspective and apparent reality of Babylon.
To learn more tune into my FB live broadcast each Tuesday at 7 AM, E.T. or watch it later via FB or YouTube.
In Chapter 16 of Revelation, the great voice out of the temple pronounces, “It is done.” What is done?
For the answer join us for our weekly study on Revelation at 7 AM Eastern Time on Tuesday, July 31, in the Smock living room either in person or via FaceBook live stream. To enjoy Sister Myrna’s famous cinnamon rolls, you will have to be here in person.
How do we reconcile the vials of God’s wrath with his love?
Please consider the main characters in these chapters, The Lamb, the Seven Angels, the Great Whore, the Beast, the Kings and the Faithful.
Keep in mind that numbers in the Bible are keys to understanding the spiritual interpretation of Revelation. The important numbers in this lesson are one (unity), seven (perfection), eight (new beginnings) 10 (completeness). How are these numbers relevant to our understanding of events in these chapters? Who is unified? Who and in what sense is perfected and complete? Who experiences a new beginning?
We are reaching the climax of our study on Revelation. I hope that you all are learning nearly as much as I am gaining from teaching on this mysterious, wondrous historical and prophetic book.
Our study needs to be promoted. I have been buying a $30 weekly ad on FB to promote this study. Two weeks ago, Sam attended in response to the FB ad.
One thing you can do is forward this to family or friends inviting them to attend with perhaps a brief word on how these studies are helpful to you.
Notes on Revelation 12&13:
The essential theme of Revelation is the war of the ages between good and evil. We learn through John’s vision that events of heaven correspond to actions on earth. In Chapters 12 & 13 we receive through terrible images a distinct conception of the powerful foes with whom the Christian has to contend.
Who are the three great enemies of the soul, which we encounter in these two chapters? Answer: the world, the flesh and the devil.
Ephesians 2:1-3 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air (the devil), the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh (mark of the beast on right hand representing selfish action) and of the mind (mark on forehead representing thought life); and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
1 John 2:15: Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
1 John 3:8:He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
Or the first beast could be the secular world (Babylon, the state) and the second beast the religious world (the Old Jerusalem), which does not keep the commandments of God, and does not have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
The second beast may denote the religious world in submission to the godless or idolatrous state.
Who is that woman? Answer: Israel/the Church; Mary/the Church.
What is the mark of the beast? Answer: It is not a literal number on the right hand and forehead of unbelievers and “Christian” compromisers with the world. The mark is the selfish character of fallen man. Men without God are brute beasts, virtual animals having lost the image of God. The number 6 is the number of man, who was created on the Sixth Day. So, 666 signifies fallen man.
There is a war from without (the world and the devil) and there is a battle from within (the flesh, our physical and natural appetites).
These interpretations are according to my humble opinion.
I have a sure-fire plan for building a great church. We will name it Trump Church, no, better yet, call it Trump Cathedral. The motto will be “Make the Church Great Again (MCGA).”
I will be senior pastor of the Trump Cathedral. President Trump will always be welcome to deliver the Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving Day message. He has demonstrated that he can speak on these religious issues as well as if not better than most pastors.
This will not be without precedent. There is the Washington National Cathedral. In Lexington, VA. There is R.E. Lee Memorial Chapel (There was recent talk about changing the name; I don’t know whether it was done or not).
There are many Trump people, who would like to attend Trump Cathedral, who likely don’t go to church regularly, because the churches tend to have a negative view on the future. Too many churches have a loser instead of a winner mentality.
Trump Cathedral will represent the Second Triumph of Christianity accomplished by Constantine the Great at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in the issuance of the Edict of Milan in 313 A.D.
“The gates of Hell will not prevail against the Trump Cathedral. We build a beautiful stone church with no expense spared for the glory of God and his Son Jesus Christ. Trump cathedral will win, win, win souls.”
My satirical post a few days ago concerning establishing a Trump Church or Trump Cathedral received a lot of attention, mostly likes, but some friends accused me of blaspheme. Satire is humor, not simply for a laugh, but for the purpose of illustrating truth or making a point in an entertaining way.
Now some of you pastors, who work so hard to encourage folks to visit your church might try putting up a sign, maybe temporary, which reads the Church of Trump or maybe something less daring like advertising a sermon on, “The Faith of Trump.” I would even be glad to come and deliver the message. I am convinced that such a sign or advertising such a message would draw visitors. Give it a try pastor. As Trump told African Americans, “Vote for me, what do you have to lose?”
Friends have been accusing me of making an idol out of Trump. Not so, Trump is my hero. We all need heroes. Hebrews Chapter 11 is often called the “Hall of Faith” or the “Faith Hall of Fame.” In this renowned chapter, Paul celebrates an inspiring list of heroic figures from the Old Testament –remarkable men and women, whose stories stand out to encourage and challenge our faith. Some of these heroes are famous personalities, while others remain anonymous. Some of these champions were saintly, others were flawed.
In the early days of my ministry, I was invited to preach at a black church in Indianapolis. Jimmy Carter had recently been elected president. The pastor counseled me for an hour concerning the black community, especially the black church. I remember him saying, “The fact that Jimmy Carter is noted as Sunday School teacher and claims to be born-again helps me.” I learned a lot from the pastor in that hour.
Pastor, promoting Trump can help your church. I know some see Trump not as a man of faith but simply a man with extreme self-confidence. The skeptic and or envious perceive him as prideful and a braggart. I respect him as an example of heroic faith, which should motivate all of us to think big and build a great church which will impact the community and the world.
I have always believed that Christian music is one of the greatest evidences to the skeptics for the truth of Christianity. No other religion has produced the quality and beauty of the music that God has inspired!
I thought of this because our United Methodist Church had a “hymn sing” today. The song leader quoted John Wesley, our church founder, “Sing lustily and with good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead, or half asleep; but lift up your voice with strength. Be no more afraid of your voice now, nor more ashamed of its being heard, then when you sung the songs of Satan.”
Part of the reason that I am Christian is that this disco queen heard my husband singing the songs of faith “lustily and with courage” in Gainesville Florida in 1978. Still today one of my favorite things to do is hear his voice singing out in the church beside me.
Today at the hymn sing, I also thought of the majesty of the Almighty who created this wonderful art called music; it can transport and guide us us through the broad range of human emotions and bring us inspiration and strength, joy and peace, hope and love, wisdom and truth, beauty and wonder!
I am thankful for the privilege of knowing this God and the hope of making melodies with Him for eternity!!
Constantine the Great (272-337 A.D.) was responsible for two momentous transformations of history and civilization: moving the capital of the Empire from Rome to Constantinople (the City of Constantine) and making possible the conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity.
Constantine is regarded as a saint by the Eastern Church, but is not so highly regarded in the West. All of us, East and West, should be thankful that Constantine, God’s Champion, delivered our Christian forefathers from three centuries of terrible persecutions by “executive order,” the Edict of Milan in 313.
The great church historian and Constantine biographer, Eusebius, once heard the Emperor say, when he was entertaining a company of bishops, “You are bishops whose jurisdiction is within the Church: I also am a bishop, ordained by God to overlook whatever is external to the Church.”
Eusebius added, “And truly his measures corresponded with his words; for he watched over his subjects with an episcopal care and exhorted them as far as in him lay to follow a godly life.”
To Eusebius Constantine was the “the blessed Emperor.”
Will “BishopTrump” one day be known as “Trump the Great?” Last year, Trump signed the “Presidential Executive Order Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty.” Since then he has moved the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Hopefully, he has made peace with North Korea, which will likely open up the country to evangelism.
So far these and other accomplishments are not as momentous as Constantine’s, but Trump is only 500 days into his likely eight years of governing. Bishop Constantine ruled the Empire for almost a quarter of a century.
Our blessed President!
By Sis. Cindy
In our United Methodist church a lay member is always designated to read the scripture and other liturgy. Today it was a distinguished looking man in his 80’s whom I did not know. He had poise and grace and a “voice soft as thunder.” I thought, this man is “somebody” and must have come from a really good family like my husband.
Before he read the story of David and Goliath which was the Scripture selection, the attractive gentlemen told a story that shocked me!!
He said that at age 5 he went to live with his aunt because his mother had no money to feed him! He said that his aunt who raised him for the next four years was “extremely religious!” She had told him the story of David and Goliath and assured him that he could overcome any obstacles!
Later I approached the gentleman and inquired more about the “extremely religious” Aunt. He assured me that she was good to him but very firm. He said that he was always in trouble and had to “get saved” almost every week while attending the small Methodist church with altar calls!!
I told him that we would have three of our grandchildren for two weeks this summer and that we fall into the “extremely religious” category. We will teach them at least one Bible story a day!!
After reading about President Trump’s “extremely religious” aunts, I told my husband that these two weeks with THE THREE, ages 2,3 and 4 may be the most powerful of our life ministry!