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May 6, 1997

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Hello Everyone...

The series on the "Seven Churches of Revelation" was purposely written in a "scratch-the-surface" format to fit the "morsels" nature of the weekly mailings. However, there is so much more available from the Word regarding each church. There were many points that I would have included, had I been teaching the series in another setting. Some questions I "knew" would arise. But it was not the Spirit's will for them to be included or covered in the articles proper. But, He has seen to it that some of you have brought them to light, so that we can consider them in the Q/A forum.

Topics:


Introduction:

Comment:
I read something a while back that might pique your interest. Apparently in Roman times, there was a "circuit judge" that went around meting justice to the outlying areas of the Empire. This judge would land in Ephesus, then go to Smyrna, then to Pergamum and the quote I read stopped there and didn't include any of the other cities. I did, however, find something regarding a letter carrier who traveled the main road after alighting at Ephesus and the towns he visited were in the exact order of the 7 churches in Revelation. If the Second Coming is in judgment, the activities of this "circuit judge" are very interesting (to me, anyway).

A.
Yes..VERY interesting!

The "adjudicator" addresses His messages to the "angel" of the church of... The term "angel" actually means "messenger" and most likely refers to the leaders of the churches. Pastors, heirarchy, etc. He exhorts the churches to get their affairs in order. The Church is supposed to govern Itself and fix things so there is unity of "mind" and of doctrine.(1Cor1:10) In ch6 Paul chides them, "are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? ..is it so, that there is not a wise man..who will be able to judge between his brethren?"

In most of the cases, the churches were so corrupt that Scripture is to be fulfilled, "Behold, the Judge is standing at the door."(Jas5:9) For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?"(1Pt4:17)

Paul states in 1Cor5:12-13 that the Church "should" judge it's own matters. And that God's judgment is for the world. But as He comes, standing at the door, knocking, desiring fellowship(Rv3:20)...the church (universal) is rejecting Him. Thus, rather than fellowship, most of the "church" can expect judgment.

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Ephesus:

Comment:
The beginning to the churches was certainly a different view, but very well done. The only things that might have thrown some off would have been those big words you used for judge and praise, at the beginning. "Ha"

I can also see where some pastors would be hit between the eyes and a lot of "church members" might be upset about the numbers part. But you hit the nail on the head and its time someone says these things. At least no one can run you off or make you resign from your pastorate!

Thought I'd let you know what came across to me. I hope you have a large audience out there.

Comment:
Your analysis is very conprehensive. Thanks for your very worthwile efforts.

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Smyrna:

Comment:
There is another book that I read to report on for the Women's Retreat at the church we attend. It is call "By Their Blood" It is a modern day Foxes Book of Martyrs. It was very well written an contemporary. It breaks the world down country by country and tells for martyrs who have recently (with in 100-200 years). Horrible things are happening all over the world.

Comment:
I know many people recieve your writings and I am sure that this one will be well recieved. I was quite impressed.

I would ask you if you could guide people to places that they can learn more about persecution in the world and what they can do to help and to comfort their brothers and sisters

International Christian Concern, Voice of the Martyrs, LightSource Online

THanks! Please keep doing the Lords work.

A.
As we read about martyrs throughout history, one thing becomes apparent. There are two kinds of martyrs. One, for Jesus Christ. The other, for all sorts of other causes. If one reads a book such as Fox's "Book of Martyrs" it is noted that the first century or two, there is a very clear witness that the martyrs died for Jesus Christ. As we get further and further into the "Dark Ages" the martyrs become more such for political reasons. Because they were "Protestant" or "Catholic." While history makes a big deal of the politics of Luther, Calvin, etc., little is barely known of the Waldensians, Donatisten, St„bler, Catharer, Anabaptists, etc. who were systematically persecuted by both Catholic and Protestants. "..tortured, not accepting deliverance..trial of mockings and scourgings..stoned, they were sawn in two. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented--OF WHOM THE WORLD WAS NOT WORTHY."(Heb11:35-38) And their attitude? Seeking comfort? No. Rather, "..rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name."(Acts5:41)

Q.
But do NOT FEAR! You will have even more! But BE FAITHFUL, even unto death. "He that endures to the end shall be saved"(Mt24:13) "No temptation [trial] has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted [tested] beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape [exit-by-death], that you may be able to bear [endure] it. (1Cor10:13)

Here you insert an interpretation of the scripture in brackets, where you write "exit-by-death". This is one way to look at it, and for that I praise God. However, this type of presentation could be misleading, where the purpose of what you write is not clearly *interpretation* but may appear to be *definition* or *explanation*, could be misleading.

This scripture can apply to any temptation, not only those which require death from which to escape. WHEREVER we could fall God does present a way to remain standing. He will never tempt us beyond what He enables us, through His power, to resist. At least that is another interpretation. My concern is for babes in Christ who may remember that scripture now as referring specifically to death, because that is the way you wrote it. Please take care to separate your very valuable interpretations from the actual word of God so people will see them for just that, valuable interpretations, and not confuse them for THE interpretation.

A.
Actually, what I placed in brackets *is* definitive. It *is* what these words mean, when looked up. I realize that most Christians have been used to hearing it preached/taught as a "temptation to sin." And in the context of the passage, people usually stop with that definition.

As the Holy Spirit reminded me of these words for the Smyrna piece, and I then saw them in context and thought to myself, "Oh, I goofed," I then went and looked up the words.

In addition to the traditional view this is also speaking of "trial" of our faith. This is the first and primary definition of the word rendered "temptation." (Later definitions, however, do include the more commonly thought-of definition==tempting to sin) But, in context with the rest of the verse, and the actual definitions of those words, it is obvious that the first definition counts.

To escape==an egress, a way out, exit...the issue referring to the end of one's life.

Bear..Endure==to bear by being under, bear up, bear patiently, to endure.

These are words indicating that we don't necessarily "get out of having to go through it." The trials will come, and we endure and bear up under it. But God is also merciful, and knows how much each person can withstand. And as the martyr records show...there were some cases where, for instance, when a person had been tied to the stake to be burned, before the fire actually reached them...the Lord made them "sleep" in death.

"That the proving of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ." (1Pet1:7)

Yes, your concerns are legitimate. Perhaps this explanation will help, however?

Q.
What do you mean by "exit by death" as a way from escape from sin.

A.
This is in the context of the "trial of our faith." Satan flinges his fiery darts at us. For many people, the Lord allows him to actually kill the believer. Often, with arduous torture. The object of the torture, to attempt to force the sufferer to recant his faith in Christ. "Recant..or die." Recant..or more fire brands. Recant..or more blows, fillets, abuse. Eventually the torture results in death. The Lord knows those who are His(2Tim2:19)...and he also knows how much pain and suffering a person can take before he would say things he wouldn't want to, just because the suffering is SO BAD. Thus, He would allow the person to die under the torture before it reached that point. No...it's not an "escape from sin." But an escape from the torture as one is bearing up and "enduring" under the harshness of the persecution.

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Pergamos:

Comment:
I do not understand everything the Bible has in it, but the Holy Spirit has convicted me that you are right that even though all churches are not doctrinally accurate, there are probably people in every church who love the Lord and are following Him to the best of their ability. All the Christian reformers, such as Luther, Calvin, Wesley, believed the the Roman Catholic church was the anti-Christ power. How things have changed. It is amazing to see Evangelicals reaching their hands over the gulf to unite with Rome. I am glad that God has everything under control. I am sure He will lead His true followers out of this false unified world church that seems to be forming. God is leading me not to be critical of others, but God's Word certainly warns us of last day deceptions. May the Holy Spirit continue to guide you, brother Paul.

Comment:
I believe this would include the "Promise Keeper" groups too. Right???

Q.
Why are you lumping every denomination together. Baptist with Catholic and Mormon??? I thought I had a problem with judging, But really! As you should know, I am affiliated with the ??? Baptist denomination. There are many Baptist denominations as I am sure you are aware. Denominations aren't what they should be...But there are some advantages of denomina- tions, for which I will not take the time to go into now. But how much do you know about the ??? Baptists? The reason I asked you...was because your beliefs( I know, based on the Word)pretty much line up with theirs. I do not agree with every thing they believe either. But they are far from being Mormons or Catholics. They are one organization for which part of the body of believers belong to. Most of them even believe in a "pre-trib rapture" (woops, used quotes too). I am beginning to wonder if you think you and your study group, home church, whatever, are the only ones going to heaven. That would make you close to a cult!

P.S. I know you did not name "??? Baptists" by name, but I think it was implied when you mentioned "Baptists".

A.
I have just uploaded a couple of files, accessible at the Library

The first, ECT (Evangelical and Catholics Together). Look at the list of names at the bottom, and the major organizations they represent. e.g. Chuck Colson, Southern Baptist, Wheaton College, Nazarenes, Campus Crusade for Christ, Fuller Seminary, etc.

The other, a rather large (170K) file is the Pope's encyclical of May 1995, "That they may all be One." You need to forge your way through it all, and get past the initial flowery paragraphs about love, unity, dialogue, etc. that might otherwise lull you to sleep, and get into the middle, where he talks about Catholic doctrine remaining the same as it has been, and the relationship of others to "The Church" you will understand what is going on.

These are two documents that were sent to me which I have saved. I have read many other things, which I haven't saved (perhaps I should have for discussions such as this), which speak of the world ecumenical unity being forged, and names of participants. The "evangelicals" on those lists include Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell, Chuck Swindoll, etc.etc. as well as, of course, the more radical Benny Hinn, Paul Crouch, et.al. On a more local level, I wake up to Moody Radio in the mornings, and they often have interviews with local pastors (all flavors), including the primary teachers in the local Moody extension school...and they are ALL going down the same path. That even included John MacArthur about a year ago.

The other day as I was waiting my turn in line at the business next door to mine, I spied some booklets on the shelf in their "church" section (Christian Missionary Alliance) a booklet on "spirituality" and "faith." Amongst other garbage the little phrase, "The greatest faith there is, is faith in your fellow man." The picture on the front was of a woman, arms outstretched and raised towards the sun, in the typical eastern pagan New-Age pose of worship.

This is why I pick the words VERY CAREFULLY (even if I do use too many quote marks) as the Holy Spirit is directing what to write. The piece asks, "Is it possible for an *INDIVIDUAL* to be in the Catholic, Mormon, Baptist..." and be saved?

Yes, I know that the Baptists are in the "Heinz 57 varieties." There are little groups here and there who are faithful. There are INDIVIDUALS here and there who are faithful. Some of these individuals are in these larger corrupt organizations. But as individuals before God, in their hearts, they belong to Him because they are washed in the blood of the Lamb.

No, I am not a cult. I am an INDIVIDUAL who has been washed in Christ's blood. The Lord has impressed upon me, and I have been obedient to His command, to "come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues."(Rv18:4) I used to keep hoping that there was some local group I could fellowship with. I have been to them "all" that I rightly know of. It used to be, if I heard of some other little group, I would go visit them...and come away wanting. I do know there are some other "home churches" that are faithful. But the Lord has not led us to cross paths to join together with each other.

I hope this helps?

Q.
Thank you for the ECT document. It was good and interesting reading. I had heard so much about this "uniting" and now I know for myself. BUT- the ??? Baptists are not partakers of this, and I was looking for a response from you in regard to this denomination...they are not part of the ECT...

A.
Don't you think it would be foolhardy of me to speculate whether or not your local congregation is part of this or that? I guess I had hoped my silence in the matter would have been enough.

There are "INDIVIDUALS" within all these organizations who "are" Believers in Christ. There are "INDIVIDUAL" groups of believers that are in Christ, also. If your "local" group is one of those, I truly praise God for that!

Comment:
I am a non Catholic Christian; but I respect the Catholic Church for the great services rendered for preserving the faith through the most difficult times of Christian History. Shortcomings of individuals do not wipe out the services of the Chrch. When you look through yellow glass everything look yellow. I cannot take the narrow minded poison shots any longer. Please stop sending them to me.

A.
You have been deleted from the list.

You should realize about the Catholic Church, rather than "preserving the faith" as you suggest, they have actually introduced False Doctrine which is not in Scripture...the pope, mary, eucharist, etc. And it is because of their "preservations" (perversions) that we now have so many versions of Scripture that are polluted.

And furthermore, they have been the CAUSE of some of the "most difficult times of Christian History." They have been the persecutors of True Believers in Jesus Christ, who stood firm on the Scriptures in spite of Rome's systematic attempts to annihilate them.

I'm sorry...you mis-read. It is the "individuals" that the Spirit says to the churches "hold fast what you have till I come." It is the "Church" (the organization) that is corrupt. And He says, "come out of her (the organization) my [individual] people. (Rev18:4)

It is the "narrow-minded" who will make it. "for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it." (Mt7:13-14)

Q.
What is your opinion as to the "doctrine of the Nicolaitans?" Who were they?

A.
Ooo! I was hoping nobody would see that little part and ask about it.(smile) Now I need to dig in and try to figure it out, too.

Revelation ch2 is the only place they are mentioned. My prefered method of figuring something out, Scripture directly, doesn't shed much light. It doesn't say, "the deeds of the Nicolaitans...as they do XXX." Where "XXX" is the deed or tendency.

Here are quotes from a couple of study sources I have:

1) Opinions are not agreed concerning this sect, but it is probable that the followers of a Nicolaus are meant who taught that Christian liberty meant license to commit sensual sins.

2) The church at Ephesus (Rev. 2:6) is commended for hating the "deeds" of the Nicolaitanes, and the church of Pergamos is blamed for having them who hold their "doctrines" (15). They were seemingly a class of professing Christians, who sought to introduce into the church a false freedom or licentiousness, thus abusing Paul's doctrine of grace (comp. 2 Pet. 2:15, 16, 19), and were probably identical with those who held the doctrine of Baalam (q.v.), Rev. 2:14.

...to say "probably identical" to the doctrine of Baalam, I have a bit of a problem with. Otherwise, why wouldn't it say, "to intermarry, Christians with non-Christians, and take on the religion/s of the non-Christians."(Nu25:1-5,Josh22:17)

But it says in Rev 2:15, "Thus you ALSO have..." In other words, "in a similar manner..." As though it might be a similar topic, but, perhaps with a variation?

The Corinthian church had a major problem with immorality (1Cor5:1,7:1-2) which was rather "wide open"(5:2). And Jude writes about the ungodly men "who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ."(vs4) This word "licentiousness" translates "unbridled lust, wantonness, shamelessness, etc."

It would seem that this MIGHT be what they were. But, since Scripture doesn't say directly, I can only speculate. Many resources I've checked out don't even touch this one. It would be interesting to know if there is some mention in some "OLD" manuscript someplace that tells more from a purely historical perspective. But I don't have such access.

After this exchange a couple of friends I queried sent some pieces from documents they had. For anybody interested in them, they are uploaded into the Library

A.
As I was lying in bed, waking up for the day, thinking about this some thoughts rattled around in my mind:

  1. The Nicolaitans are mentioned in Ephesus and Pergamos.

  2. Ephesus, the pharisees, ultra conservatives, faithful to the Word, discernment oriented. These people tend to be the only ones who see anything wrong with "Christmas."

  3. Pergamos, the Catholic church. ...and "Christ-MASS."

  4. Who is the "saint" of "Christmas?" Nicolas.
Just some thoughts. ...perhaps just trivia. But I find them to be "interesting" trivia.

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Thyatira:

Comment:
You have touched on what may very well be the most important message of our age with your message regarding Thyatira. I know that many believe the Laodicean church best represents the modern American church. However, the characteristics of the other churches, particularly Thyatira and her Jezebel leader, and the parallel with current events should cause them to at least give reconsider that view.

A.
The "Laodicean church" view might be related to the historical, chronological view of the 7-churches? As such, it likely has its merits. But with the approach we are taking it appears they are all "equally" relevant to the modern church. Some just "seem" more heinous than others, I should think...they get more attention.

Comment:
False unity, I fear, is the noose with which the antichristian forces shall attempt to strangle the true church.

A.
As foretold, "to deceive, if possible, even the very elect."(Mt24:24)

Comment:
And the infatuation with satan and his minions cast a pall over everthing. Satan has always wanted to be worshiped. We should wonder what influence births and promotes this infatuation.

A.
Jesus asked Peter, "do you love Me more than these?"(Jn21) I think the phrase, "more than these" can leave the door wide open for us to apply the concept. Do we love Jesus fully? Have we given our all to/for Him? Have we laid aside the weight and sin which ensnares? Are we running with endurance? Do we look to Jesus? (Heb12:1-2) The answer to these questions pretty well answers yours.

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Sardis:

Comment:
Amen!

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Philadelphia:

False "Jews" or "Christians"?

QUESTION:
I notice in your lesson you refered to those the Bible calls false Jews as false Christians...you reasoning on this?

ANSWER:
First of all, it should be remembered that the early Church -was- "Jewish". Pentecost in Acts ch2 was one of the annual Jewish feasts that they celebrated each year. (Lev23:15-21) And if you notice of all the Jewish feasts, if I recall correctly, this is the only feast where the bread was -with- leaven, (vs17) signifying the 'spreading' of the Holy Spirit into all Believers; and what would also result in the world being "turned upside down" (Acts17:6) with the spread of the Gospel. Acts ch2 was a "Jewish" event, fulfilling "Jewish" law.

But also notice in connection with that feast (culmination of Firstfruits, having begun with waving the sheaf the day after the Sabbath of the Passover (vs11) signifying Jesus' resurrection as the "Firstfruit" -1Cor15:20,23), that they were to leave "gleanings" (vs22) for the "poor and for the -alien-".

Notice that Paul says of Gentiles, "..at that time you were without Christ, being -aliens- from the commonwealth of Israel." (Eph2:12) When Gentiles were given the Gospel, that was fulfillment of those "gleanings" Israel left in their fields year after year. We have been brought "near by the blood of Christ." (vs13)

Some people say that Romans was written to the -Jews- residing in Rome. However, Paul's yearnings in ch9 sound like Israel is 'third person' in relationship to those to whom he is writing. So, assuming he wrote it to Gentiles, notice his wording about that concept we often label in these writings as "True Believer": "For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly..but he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart; in spirit and not in letter." (~Rom2:28-29) ..as he again says, "..not all those of Israel are Israel." (Rom9:6) As he ties all Believers together, both Jew and Greek as "Abraham's seed" through "faith in Christ Jesus." (Gal3:26-29)

If Israel had received Jesus, then the terms "Judaism" and "Christianity" would be synonymous today. But when "He came to His own..His own received Him not." (Jn1:11) And so the "salvation of God [was] sent to the Gentiles..." (Acts28:28, Rom11:17) As Paul affirms, God's purpose was that Israel should be a "light to the nations" (Acts13:47, Is49:6) as they were supposed to proclaim Christ. But instead of letting Christ's light shine, through their "good works" (Mt5:16, Heb10:24), they asked Pilate to have Him crucified. And once the Church began after Pentecost was fulfilled at the coming of the Holy Spirit, they continually persecuted the Church.

All the missionary journeys in Acts were carried out by Jews. Even Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, himself was a Jew. When they spread out going to new places, they always went first to the synagogues to proclaim to Jews. But it was the Jews in these places that stirred up the crowds to persecute their fellow-Jewish missionaries. (Acts13:45,50, 14:2,19, 17:5,13, etc)

When persecution scattered the Church (Acts8:4), they finally got out to where Gentiles were also hearing the Word. But when "the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch" (Acts11:26) the leaders there were still primarily Jewish Believers.

When these letters to the Seven Churches were written, the primary Church leadership is still Jewish. The large Roman "church" structure has not yet come into being. John, the writer, is Jewish. According to the primary Jewish hierarchy of the day, this new entity the "Church" (believing in Jesus Christ) was a rebel faction. You see, just like today, the early Believers tried to work within the organized structure as they went into the synagogues, but were hounded and persecuted.

Today, True Believers who try to work within the organization are hounded and persecuted, just like back then. Back then, the primary structure was "Jewish". After centuries of Jewish dispersion, the primary structure is Gentile, and called, "the church".

If we remember the "Intro" to this series, part of the understanding of these letters was as they were written to -those- seven churches in Asia Minor, at the time John wrote them. Those entities don't exist today. But those seven characteristics do. We are observing the seven as they exist today. Then, the entity that was supposed to be Godly, but was apostate, was "Jew". Today, it is "Christian".

[Note to newer subscribers: ...please understand that God's work with Israel is not finished. He will restore them. (Rom11:26, Jer31:31-34) During the time of Wrath, after the Church has been removed. For more on this at the website please refer to TopicSearch keyword "church & Israel"]

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