Transcript: Podcast Episode 156

Billy Graham's preaching bible

This week on the Speak Life Church Podcast, I’m going to start off with a long prayer for
you, me, and everybody.

Our biblical study continues with the Book of Revelation.
We’re going to talk about chapter four, the Throne of God, and get a little geeky with the
theology. Before we get to that, we’ll actually talk about what happened to Cain and his
wife, just for those who are skeptical — a little knowledge I want to pass on to you.

Can I tell you how much I love you? Yeah. For listening, for downloading, for subscribing, for
being a part of this ministry — and most of you have probably never even seen me
before! Thank you for being here. Thank you for supporting me.

The Bible says in Proverbs 18 and 21, that life and death are in the power of the tongue.
Here, we choose to speak life. We are a 100% online ministry created to restore and
strengthen the family, provide hope for those in need, and offer a nontraditional place of
worship of the Lord Jesus Christ, using technology to be anywhere. All are welcome,
including those souls still searching for what they believe in. My name is Kenn
Blanchard. Welcome.

There’s an old standard gospel song by Tommy Dorsey that says

“Take my hand,precious Lord. Lead me on. Let me stand. I am tired. I am weak. I am worn. Through the
storm, through the night, lead me on to the light. Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me
home.”

Eternal God, our Father, it is in the Name of Your Son, Jesus that I bow before
You asking that You would forgive me of everything I’ve done contrary to Your Will for
me. Help me, Lord God, to hear Your Voice today. Help me, Lord God, to be still, and
feel Your presence in this place. We come together, Lord God, to wish each other good
will and happiness and thanksgiving, and we pray, Lord God, in the Name of Your Son,
Jesus, that everything we do and say be according to Your Will and Purpose for us, but
we fall short over and over again. We desire to serve You. We desire to do good. We
desire to be good children of Yours, Lord God, but we fall short so many times. Father,
please forgive us, and hear this pray. Father, I had the opportunity to hear from a sister
this week who is grieving, who is relieving, who is going through what only You know.
Father, she asked for some things, and You gave them to her. She might not have even
been sure what she asked for, but You answered her prayer.

I ask that You would help her in her situation, that You would help her in her state, that you would help her move
to the next level with the assurances that You have never left her, and You have not
forsaken her. Thank you, Lord God, for answering prayer. Thank You for being there.
Thank You for being so close to us that, even when we don’t know what to ask for, You
know what we need. Thank You for being a loving Father — an all-powerful, all-
knowing, all-seeing God. There is none like You. There is nothing that can take You
away from us but ourselves. You’ve opened Your Hand to us, Your Eyes to us, Your
Heart to us, and it is us who choose to walk astray, to walk away, to not hear, to not see
the blessings and the gifts that You’ve given us. For that, I also ask for Your
forgiveness, and I also want to just say thank you, Lord God. Thank you for the job that
you gave one, the opportunity that you gave another, the bringing to the light those who
have been in darkness, the answer to pray that they just realized they got. I ask You,
Lord God, for another opportunity to say thank You — for more opportunities to say
thank You. Sometimes, Lord God, we don’t appreciate what You’ve given us.

I appreciate the food, the water, the warmth, the rest, to be in my right mind right now, to
be able to move with all my limbs. I thank You for security and for safety. I thank You for
intimate relationships and for friends. I thank You for those who I might’ve forgotten, that
they actually care about me. Help me not to neglect the gifts and the people in my life.
Thank You for the feeling of accomplishment. Thank You for helping my self worth,
helping me psychologically to arise when everybody else is falling apart and sad. Thank
You for keeping my mind steadfast on You, for keeping my mind not crazy.
Thank You, Lord God, for helping me achieve my potential. Help me to still be creative — I am Your
child. I want to look more like Your Son, Jesus. Help me to remember the person who is
down who doesn’t have to stay there. Help me to continue to be a person who uplifts
and tries to make this world better. Help us, Lord God, to be more agents of You, more
hands and more feet. When we open The Bible, help us to understand the Words that
are written. Help us to understand Your intention for us. Feed us, Lord God. Even if
we’ve read the same thing before a thousand times, give us a newness, a new strength,
a new light.

Renew our spirit afresh. Create in us, Lord God, a clean heart so that we
can act better to our spouses, act better to our friends, act better to our enemies. Again,
Lord, Help us to be more like Your Son. Father, I’m praying for those who are actually
physically sick right now, for those who have coronavirus, for those who have the flu, for
those who have allergies, for those who are suffering in silence from mental anguish
and anxiety and fear and frustration. I pray, Lord, against the enemy who is still coming
to steal and destroy this Your people.
I pray, Lord God, for a steady healing of our nation that has been torn by politics, torn by media, torn by our own arrogance, and
finally, Lord, I pray for the person listening to me right now, who has found this podcast
and has shared it and meditated on it with me, and has studied with me, supported it. I
pray, Lord God, for this church family that I’ve never seen, this church family that You
have given me, this church family I hope to see at Your Feet someday.
This is my prayer. This is Your servant’s prayer, in the name of Your Son, Jesus. Amen.

You know, as we go on through this year — and, we’re getting down to the end —
there’s been a lot of folks who are doubting things and worrying about things, and the
Covid didn’t help. I’m just here to tell you that God is still on the Throne. God is still large
and in charge. God is still God. The you look at The Bible — and we’re going back to
the Book of Revelation again. We’re continuing that thing because it’s huge! I’m hoping
that I’m doing justice to it for you. And, if not, please give me a call. Please email me.
Let me know if I’m screwing up because I’m trying to do right, you know? You know one
of the Bible pieces that pops up every once in awhile when somebody says, “Man! I
couldn’t get past Genesis!” I’m saying, “Why?” They say, “Because there’s this thing that
happened with Cain that I just don’t get.” Where did Cain get a wife? — it’s a question
that pops up sometimes, and this is probably one of the favorite questions from those
who are skeptics. Cain was a member of Adam’s family if you remember. He and his
brothers Abel and Seth were the first generations of children born on the earth. Now,
where am I getting this from? Genesis 4:1-2 and 25. After Cain killed his brother Abel —
ah, see? Now, you remember this story, right? — the Lord put a curse on him and drive
him from the land, and later, we read that he went to a place called Nod, east of Eden,
where he took a wife. Presuming that there are no other people on Earth at that time,
the question becomes how Cain was able to find someone there to marry. And, for all
our single people, they’re wondering how the heck Cain found a wife when they can’t
find a husband or wife. Well, that’s something different, right? Well, a few times when
this has come up, there is a logical answer to this. Genesis 4:17 says, “Cain made love
to his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch.” Notice that The Bible
doesn’t say that Cain found his wife in Nod. The Scripture just states that Cain had a
wife and that he had children. Neither Scripture nor history imply that there were other
races of people on Earth whom Cain somehow stumbled across and from among whom
he found a wife. It is important to note that in Genesis 5:4 it mentions that by the time he
was 800-years-old, Adam had had other sons and daughters. Adam lived a very long
time — 930 years total. And during this time were born other children besides Cain and
Abel. One of these siblings was the female Cain would ultimately marry. Yeah, Cain
married one of Adam’s daughters, making his wife one of his sisters. I know that’s kind
of weird, but in a similar sense, every child descended from Adam marries another child
descended from Adam, i.e. a relative. At this early juncture in history, such intermarrying
was a practical and logical necessity. Just sayin’. [rain forest sounds inserted here]
Ahhh! The birds! The birds! Stop the birds!
Last week in the Book of Revelation study, we were talking about the Rapture, and part
of the Rapture is the Second Coming that happens in two phases — the first is only for
the church that is all living and dead believers, and the second is what they called the
Glorious Appearing which will take place at the end of Tribulation. So, in saying that,
that Glorious Appearing cannot come today. Umm-Hmm. The Glorious Appearing of
Christ cannot come for at least seven years, yet, the early church for three hundred
lived almost every day in the light of His Return, which is why they were so successful in
reaching their world for Christ. When they thought God was coming back any minute,
they worked harder. Even now, millions of Christians expect Christ to return at any
moment as the many Rapture passages that we have been listening to teach. Well, He
won’t disappoint us. He will come, and His Coming could be at any moment, but that
Coming is for His Church only, which is made up of all true believers everywhere who
have received Him personally by faith. But, to expect His Return in power and majesty,
to take control of this earth and set up His Kingdom for at least seven years is to expect
the impossible. The different passages relating to Christ’s Coming are in harmony with
what we read throughout the New Testament. I am convinced that these two phases of
Christ’s Return are what the apostle Paul had in mind when he wrote the Titus, when he
said, “looking for that blessed hope and the Glorious Appearing.” The blessed hope is
the confident way we put our Christian deceased loved ones to rest in anticipation of
that day just before Tribulation when we will be gathered together with them to meet the
Lord in the clouds and then be taken to His Father’s House. The Glorious Appearing
obviously refers to His Coming to the earth in power and great glory. To those who take
The Bible literally, this interpretation passes the test of “making common sense” out of
the Scriptures.
Many of the texts that we talk about for the Rapture of the Church teach
an imminent coming of Christ. That just means He could come at any moment, right?
So, take, for example, one of the first teachings on the Rapture in First Thessalonians
1:9-10 when it says, for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us.
They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait
for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from
the coming wrath.” The Christians in Thessalonica were not sitting around waiting for
the Rapture. They were serving the living and true God in an attitude of expectancy to
wait for His Son. That is as it should be for it could take place at any moment, or it could
be a generation or more away. Philippians 3:20 is another example of proper
understanding, and Second Thessalonians 2:1-8 is another, and there are others, but it
must be stressed again that the Rapture is scheduled prior to the Glorious Appearing.
Almost all of those who believe that Christ come back personally to set up his Kingdom,
called Premillenialists — that’s easy for you to say — agree that there is a Rapture
scheduled before the Glorious Appearing. This is where you get into all the theological
stuff. It depends on which doctrine you’re looking at, whether you’re Calvinist or
whatever, I mean, it’s like, if you go to Seminary or you go to a biblical school, you’ll
hear these guys argue all day. So, what should you take out of that? Well, see, some of
the million of post-tribulation believers are even now coming out with books instructing
Christians to prepare for life in the Tribulation, and I find that interesting in view of the
fact that not one verse can be found in the New Testament telling us how to live during
that seven-year period. Why? Because we won’t be here. Those tribulation saints, that
we will study about in future chapters of Revelation, are individuals who do not receive
Christ until after the church has been raptured. Now, it does seem strange that since so
much prophetic content by both the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament
apostles describes the seven-year tribulation more than any other prophetic subject
except the Second Coming itself — that, not even one verse can be found instructing
Christians on how to live during that period. This can only mean that the church will not
go through the Tribulation as pictured by John, a member of the Body of Christ, who
was taken up by a vision into Heaven before the vision of the events of the Tribulation
were revealed. For several years, a popular argument against the pre-tribulation theory
of the blessed hope phase of Christ’s Return is that it was invented by some dude
named John Darby in the last century, and was never seen or mentioned by the early
Christian fathers for almost nineteen centuries of church history. That argument is
simply not true. In fact, one post-tribulation writer advertised an offer of $500 to anyone
who could prove a pre-tribulation rapture was seen before John Darby began to
popularize it in Great Britain, the U.S., and Canada in the 1840’s. Subsequently, he had
to pay for that $500 challenge when somebody discovered that the Reverend Morgan
Edwards saw it back in 1742. Since then, that minister has admitted his error and
withdrawn his offer.
Basically, this whole-expecting-a-pre-tribulation-Rapture is not new,
and if I can just dig into some old history with you….this is going off-chart a little bit. This
is straight from school notes: Reverend Morgan Edwards was a Baptist pastor in
Philadelphia who included a discussion on the pre-tribulation Return of Christ for His
Church. In his book, Millennium: Last-Novelties was written in 1788. Although he saw
only a three and half year tribulation, he definitely taught that the Rapture occurred
before the Tribulation. What is even more interesting is that he claimed he had written
the same thing as early as 1742. He may have been influenced by John Gill before him,
or even others whose writings or teachings were available at that time but had not been
preserved. Historically, the Protestant Reformation resulted in a proliferation of Bibles
being translated, printed, and made available to the common people for the first time in
1,700 years. As they began reading it, they were impressed with the many prophetic
teachings it contained.

There was even a commentary by Sir Isaac Newton in the mid-17th century. He was an avid Bible scholar as well as a scientist, and he was obviously
influenced by other writers before him. By the 19th century, The Bible was being read by
millions in the English-speaking world for the first time. It’s said that prophesy was in the
air, particularly at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, which John Darby and other
prophesy scholars attended between 1800 and 1830. Doubtless, some of these Bible
teachers on the faculty had a strong influence on the thinking. Perhaps all of these old
cats were trying to find when it was going to happen, when the date was coming. They
were just as anxious as we are today, and no matter how scholarly you are or how
much you’re into the weeds of this thing, remember in Matthew 24:36 it says:
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only,” in the New King James Version. Let’s continue, lest I hold you too long.

Revelation four through five talk about the Throne of God. Chapter four starts off with: “After these things I looked, and behold, a
door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet
speaking with me, saying, ‘Come up here, and I will show you things which must take
place after this.’ Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and
One sat on the throne.” That’s Revelation 4:1-2. Somewhere, high in the heavens, out in
the universe, a throne is set which is The Throne of God. This Throne, described in the
passage before us, gives us a glimpse of the Heaven of God. The Bible teaches us that
there are three heavens. Did you know that?

The first, the atmospheric heaven where
the prince of the power of the air hold forth. He will one day be destroyed. The second
heaven is the stellar heaven known to us as the universe. The third heaven to which
John was caught up in (verse one) is the Heaven of God. This could be the “empty
space” referred to by Job in 26:7. Although the heavens are filled with stars, wherever
the telescope can reach, it seems that behind the North Star there is an empty space,
and for that reason, it has been suggested that this could be the third heaven, the
Heaven of God, where His Throne is. How cool is that? So, you gonna float up
somewhere, or you’re gonna rise up somewhere. You’re gonna teleport. You’re goin’ a
long way, Jack! You know the central object of Heaven, this Throne of God is referred to
eight times in Revelation 4:1-6, and eighteen times altogether in chapters four and five.
It seems to be a fixed point with everything else in Heaven located in relation to it. We
find such expressions such as “about the Throne,” “out of the Throne,” “before the
Throne,” and “in the midst of the Throne.” The Throne of God has been considered the
fixed center of the universe, the immovable point of reference, just like the North Star
has been the ancient navigators’ positional guide because of its fixed position among
the stars. So, the Throne of God is the place of authority and the center of God’s
Rulership for all of the activities of Heaven. This Throne before which everyone in
Heaven worships may well be the Judgment Seat of Christ before which all Christians
will stand, as you remember in the Book of Romans (14:2) and Second Corinthians
5:10. Immediately after the Rapture, they will all go there to receive their awards (1
Corinthians 3:10-15), or to have them burned up, depending on how you roll. I always
say, “Which side are you sitting on? Smoking or non-smoking section?” And, I think I’m
going to put a pin in it right there on my notes and stop, so that next week, we’ll talk
about the seven things around the Throne of God, and also the things that are
mentioned here in chapter four, like the Triune God, the 24 Elders, and —what else we
got in here? — the Signs of Judgment, the Seven Spirits of God, the Sea of Glass, the Four Living Creatures, the Heavenly Worship of Christ.

Yeah, It’s gonna get mystical
and special. I

t’s the Word of God. You with me? Thank you for listening.
[music playing] I got a really good email from Laura, and I want to mention something to
you that I probably failed to before. “My sister, Carolyn, is home and working and back
in her normal life after recovering from chemo and radiation for cancer. She is doing
well. God blessed her. God blessed me.” I don’t know what you’re going through this
week. I don’t know what’s happening in your life, but I’m here to tell you that God is still
in control. God is still awesome! God is. He just IS. Sometimes you can’t even say what
He is because the word we would use is too small. Make sure you honor that this week.
Make sure you thank God, personally, for where you are and where you are not. I don’t
care if you’re locked up in a prison, if you are in a hole, if you are down deep, buried in
something, and you can’t see the light of day, God is still able to reach you. God is still
able to lift your spirit up. God is still able to talk to you. God is still able to save you.
Don’t forget that. Don’t let the enemy of God, don’t let the world, don’t let anybody
walkin’ around here now convince you otherwise. You can make it. It ain’t too late for
you. That’s my new theme. It ain’t too late. I’m trying to make sure that I inspire people
to live their best life, and not be a cliche with that. I mean, truly, if you understand whose
you are and who you are, you can do a whole lot better. Amen? I, personally, am
working on being a better husband. I’m working on trying to learn the guitar to the point
where I can be a studio musician, where I can actually play in a band. My desire is to be
like a worship guitarist, to be really, really, really good, so I can take my show on the
road and go to senior homes and retirement places and play Christian music. We can
play jazz and blues, and cheer up people. I get joy from playing the guitar like nothing
else — so much so that I’m actually working on a little book that I’m trying to put into
words that make sense of what I’ve learned about that joy and that feeling. That’s just
somethin’ I’m doing on the side, but that’s not the only thing I’m doin’. I’m actually also
trying to become a professional voice actor. I figure Morgan Freeman and Keith David
and James Earl Jones can’t get all the work! SO, I’m spending my extra money trying to
learn the business. I’ve got coaching. I did my demo tape just last week, or, this week,
rather, in a real studio we paid for, and hopefully the engineers are all going to master
that thing down to a 30-second piece, and I can shop my stuff around. What will that do
for this church? Hmm. When I’m able to pay for everything and not ask for anything,
whoooooo! That’ll make me feel good. I know, for you, it’s biblical to give, to help a Body
of Christ, to help worship, to help the less fortunate, all that stuff is biblical. “Giving” is
written so many times in The Bible. I give of my service with this, but I also want to give
in a way, which will probably be when I’m traveling around and playing in retirement
homes, playing in assisted living, playing with this band that I can actually probably pay
them off of Speak Life Church because I just learned that a lot of people don’t like to
play for free. Where am I coming from with that? So, I’ll be paying them if nothing else,
but if your heart is right, God can do wonders for you. It’s gotten me through my whole
world. Get your heart right, so God can use you. It’s all we got until He calls us all home.
Amen?
Well, that’s it for this week.

May the Lord bless and keep you. May heaven’s face
continue to shine upon you and give you great peace. Until that great day — that we’re talking about right now! — when there is no dawn and there is no sunset, when He calls
us all and we meet in the air, both us and those who have gone before, my friends, my
brother, my sister, I will see you at the Feet of Jesus.

Tell somebody about the Speak Life Church.
Tell somebody about this podcast, and remember, it ain’t over yet.

 

God
bless you.
pastor@speaklifechurch.net

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The Rapture: Part 1

This week our Bible Study talks about the the Book of Revelation and specifically, the beginning of the Rapture. You know, in 1987, there was a group called R.E.M. that had a song that was pretty strange. It was called “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine).” It’s got some crazy lyrics. I’m going to add it into the show notes so you can check it out if you’re not familiar with it. But, it’s just interesting on different takes of the apocalypse.

How are you doin’? I’m glad that you’re here. The Bible says in Proverbs 18 and 21, that life and death are in the power of the tongue. Here, we choose to speak life. We are a 100% online ministry created to restore and strengthen the family, provide hope for those in need, and offer a nontraditional place of worship of the Lord Jesus Christ, using technology to be anywhere. All are welcome, including those souls still searching for what they believe in. My name is Kenn Blanchard. Welcome.

The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof — the world and they that dwell therein. Lift up your head, oh ye gates, even lift Him up, everlasting doors, and the King of Glory shall come in. Who is this King of Glory? The Lord of Hosts. He is the King of Glory.

Thank you for listening, downloading, and subscribing to the Speak Life Church Podcast. Let us pray.

Eternal and most heavenly God, it’s in the Name of your Son, Jesus that we bow before You right now. We pause, no matter where we are in time and space, to first admit that we are not You, that You are our God, that You are our Master, that You are The Lord of the universe. We ask you, Lord God, now to hear our feeble cries, to hear our mumbles, to hear our words, to hear our prayer. Father, we know that You are the Master of the Universe, the Creator of heaven and earth, and all in between. You alone can save us. Father, please forgive us of everything we’ve done against You. Forgive us for things we’ve done openly and in secret. Forgive us for not doing what You’ve called us to do. Forgive us for not trusting You. Forgive us for not talking to You until we’re in desperate need. Bless us, Lord God, if it be Your Will. We humble beseech You right now. We ask, Lord God, that You would give us another chance. We plead the Blood of Your Son, Jesus over our lives, over our minds, over our bodies. We ask that that blood heal us of all inequities, all infirmities, all things that would prevent us from being heard and from being in Your Presence. We thank You, Lord God, for Your Darling Son, Jesus Christ, who did die for our sins. We thank You, Lord God, for His Sacrifice. We thank You for His Holy Spirit which now rests, rules, and abides with us, even now. Father, we ask for Your Peace that surpasses all understanding. We ask, Lord God, that You would come into our homes right now. Come into our minds. Settle our hearts. Allow us to focus on You today, right now. Allow the message which is coming forward about the Rapture of the Church, study of Your Word, and any understanding and knowledge that would come from You be understood. Father, bless the person listening and praying with me right now. And, Lord, if it be according to Your Will, please hear the prayer of Your people, of Your sheep of Your Pasture. Thank You for this ministry. Now, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Thy Sight. In the Name of Your Son, Jesus, I ask these things. Amen.

Good people! Good people, hey, the question this week I’m going to ask: There are so many churches, how can I know which one to attend? Have you ever asked anybody that question? How do you know what church is good? Well, I’ll give you a short answer: The right church is the one that teaches the Truth of God’s Word, and that God created the universe, that man fell into sin and needed redemption, that Jesus Christ was God in the flesh come to pay the price of that sin, and that He freely offers that salvation to anyone who will accept it by faith. Most of the rest is extra. Extra! Yeah, I’m talking about the music, the setting, the dress code, the pastor, preachers, all that stuff is extra. We kind of go to church sometimes because it’s what makes us comfortable, or what we’d like to see or do. Is it important to God? No. Not necessarily. So, be careful about what keeps you going to a church, or keeps you from church when the most important thing is Jesus. Just in case you want to shout me out or holler at me or scream at me or say “thank you” or “how dare you?” — I’ll take it all — pastor@speaklifechurch.net is my email address. You can find out more contact information at speaklifechurch.net. Actually, I don’t even know you, but I want to hug you just for listening. Thank you for being here.

Alright, this week on our study of the Book of Revelation, we are still in chapter three, but we’re going to hit on chapter four, but I want to round this puppy out. Christ’s challenge to the Church of Laodicea, like His other six challenges, was to overcome or become born-again believers. The challenge is simply a promise to share His Throne as He shares His Father’s Throne. This is a promise that we will rule and reign with Christ in His coming Kingdom — the ultimate victory of the Christian, not seen in this life now, but in life to come. I like when it says, “he who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” That would be a bumper sticker for me. Have you heard what our Lord has said to the churches? The message of Christ to Laodicea indicates that this Age draws to a close. The apostasy, the deadness, the indifference will increase. It is no wonder our Lord asks of this Age: However, when the Son of Man comes will He find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8)” We shouldn’t expect to see revival as in the days of those old evangelists like Moody and Finney and Spurgeon, but apostasy on the part of the Laodicean Church, the church age right now. But, you and me, we are a part of this church, and part of our job is to help to convict millions of people of their sins and offer them forgiveness in Jesus’s Name just prior to the Rapture of the universal church, which will be the end of the Church Age. That’s why I like to be ready at all times, for those individuals who may be ready to receive the Savior before He returns for His church. You know, it’s not the pastor’s job, it’s not the deacons’ jobs, it’s not the trustees’ jobs, it’s not the choir members’ jobs. It’s everybody’s job who calls themselves Christians. We’ve all been called to lead others to Christ. We’ve all been called to be witnesses, all been called to help others not perish.

Look at the Book of Revelation (4:1-2). It says:

4 After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” 2 At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it.

It was no coincidence that the first thing that happen after John described the Seven Churches is its being taken up into Heaven. In so much as John was the last remaining apostle and a member of the Universal Church, its elevation into Heaven is a picture of the Rapture of the Church just before the Tribulation begins. It’s also noteworthy that the invitation comes from Jesus Himself who is the One Who first spoke to John “like a trumpet (1:10).” Note how similar to this event is the promise of Our Lord to His Disciples near the end of His Life about taking them to His Father’s House (John 14: 2-3):

2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

Everybody knows God is in Heaven, and Jesus ascended to Heaven where He sits today at the Right Hand of God. Paul tells us that when he himself dies, his spirit and soul would depart and be with Christ (Philippians 1:23). He also said, “for though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit (Colossians 2:5).” Obviously, when a Christian dies, their soul and spirit goes to be with Christ in the Father’s House, that is, in Heaven. His or her body, of course, remains in the grave until the Resurrection, which, for the Christian, is at the end of the Church Age just before the Tribulation. That’s why we locate the Rapture at this spot in the flow of events in the Book of Revelation. There are at least four reasons for locating it here:

1. The location of this event is right before the Rapture. Chapters four and five present a vision of “in Heaven,” and chapter six introduces the Tribulation Period. John, one of the first true members of the Church of Jesus Christ, is a fitting symbol of the church being taken out of the world just before the Tribulation begins. As our Lord promised, “since you have kept My command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth (Revelation 3:10).”
2. The absence of any mention of the Church in the rest of Revelation indicates it’s not on the earth during Tribulation. There are sixteen references to the Church in Revelation 1-3, whereas in 6-18 — which cover the Tribulation — do not mention the Church once. The natural conclusion drawn from this is that the Church that was so prominent during it’s 2,000-year history is not mentioned in chapters 4-18 because those chapters describe the Tribulation which the Church does not endure.
3. The extensive use of Old Testament language and symbols in chapters 4-18 is an indication of Israel, not the Church. This is understandable since the Church Age is the time of the Gentiles — Us! — whereas, the Tribulation is the time of Jacob’s trouble, or the 70th Week of Daniel, that God determined for His dealings with Israel. Some of these Old Testament symbols are: the tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant, the altar, the elders, the censors, the cherubim, seals, the trumpets, and the plagues.
4. There is much similarity between the events of Revelation 4:1-2, and the Scriptural readings on the Rapture that we’ll find also in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

None of the four reasons is sufficient in itself to insist that Revelation 4:1-2 refers to the Rapture of the Church, but when you put them all together, we are inclined to believe that this inference can rightly be made. Now, the Rapture of the Church is not explicitly taught in Revelations 4, but definitely appears here chronologically at the end of the Church Age, before the Tribulation.

As we look at other passages of Scripture that deal with the Rapture, you can clearly be informed of what The Bible teaches on the subject. The first thing to occur in this vision of the future — well, after Jesus’s own Revelation of the Church Age described in chapters two and three — is the calling of John up to the Father’s House in heaven. So, this can be instructive. John obviously represents the church, and because the door opening in heaven is a personal invitation of Christ Himself to “come up here,” it certainly parallels other prophetic passages (1 Thessalonians 4). These all detail the Rapture of the Church. Rapture! What does it mean? Well, if you study the Second Coming of Christ and future events as they reveal to us in the prophetic books of The Bible, it’s a perfectly legitimate subject, not only because His Coming is mentioned 318 times, but because it also occupies so much of the apostle Paul’s teaching. The first book written in the New Testament was 1 Thessalonians, addressed to a small Greek church in the city of Thessalonica. Paul was there only three weeks before he was driven out of the town by irate Jews. While he was with them, he had taught that Christ would come and rapture Christians out of this world to go with Him to His Father’s House. After he left, however, some of their members had died. Consequently, these young Christians were perplexed about the status of they dead Christian members. So, they wrote him letters requesting an explanation, and 1 Thessalonians is Paul’s answer. In it, he gives the most detailed description of the Rapture of the Church found in all of Scripture. Note 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 very carefully:

13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

To appreciate the contrast between this event and the Lord’s Appearing at the end of the Tribulation, we should read our Lord’s own description of that event in Matthew 24:27-31:

27 For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.
29 “Immediately after the distress of those days
“‘the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’[a]
30 “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth[b] will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.[c] 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

Don’t be surprised if you cannot correlate these two installments of our Lord’s Second Coming. They are totally different, and when we include additional Rapture events like those described in 1 Corinthians 15:51-55 and add Glorious Appearing descriptions like the one we will study in Revelation 19:11-16, we can only conclude that they are not describing the same event. In fact, I have discovered the fifteen differences between the Rapture before the Tribulation and the Glorious Appearing after it. So, don’t feel bad. Many important observations could be made about the fifteen contrasting events that describe the two phases of our Lord’s Coming. One, is that it is impossible for them to be described in the same event. Only when you place these Biblical descriptions beside each other is it possible to see that. This is the one reason why many have never seen the distinction and think that the Second Coming is a single event rather than a Coming of Christ in the air to take His Church to His Father’s House as He promised, and seven years later, His Coming in Power and Great Glory to the earth as He had promised. Whoa! This is deep, right? See, there is only one Second Coming, but it occurs in two phases. The first phase is only for His Church — that is, all living and dead believers since the church was founded in 33A.D. after Christ died. The second phase is for all of those living on earth at the end of the Tribulation. That the Glorious Appearing will take place at the end of the Tribulation just before the Millennium cannot be questioned, for Jesus predicted that His Glorious Appearing would come immediately after the distress of those days (Matthew 24:19). Meaning, the Glorious Appearing cannot come today. So, what I’m saying is, there are two big events. There is The Rapture of the Church, the Tribulation, and then the Glorious Appearing after that. Alright, that’s actually three. {laughs} Okay? So, right now, millions of Christians all over the world are expecting Christ to return at any moment as the many passages listed above reach and teach. He won’t disappoint us. He will come, and His Coming will be at any moment, but that Coming is for His Church only which is made up of all the true believers everywhere who have received Him personally by faith. But to expect His Return in power and majesty to take control of the whole earth and set up His Kingdom for at least seven years, is to expect the impossible. The different passages relating to Christ’s Coming are harmonized when we see that there are some exclusiveness for His Church and others that include the entire world. I am convinced that these two phases of Christ’s Return are what the apostle Paul had in mind when he wrote in Titus looking for that blessed hope and the Glorious Appearing. The blessed hope is the confident way we put our deceased Christian loved ones to rest in anticipation of that day, just before the Tribulation, when we will be gathered together with them to meet the Lord in the clouds, and then be taken to His Father’s House. The Glorious Appearing obviously refers to His Coming to the earth in power and great glory. But, what could happen, is that the Rapture could happen at any moment, and all of the sudden I feel like I just swallowed mouthful of sand, so I’m going to stop for now, and we’re going to continue on with the Rapture — if it doesn’t come between now and next week — next week.

Quick shout out and a word of thanks for all of those who have been supporting the podcast. We are real close to being able to pay off this doggone computer. And, I thank you so much for your attendance, for sharing, for your prayers, for just being a part of the ministry. There is so much stuff yet to do, and I can only do it with your help. And, my voice is shot! You can check out the show notes at speaklifechurch.net thanks to Sarah, whom I’m happy to share had a praise report this week! God is still in the blessing business. Don’t think that He doesn’t know what’s going on with you and your life. As always, He’s asking that you would trust Him and have faith in Him, and He will make a way that nobody else can believe.

I know sometimes I put the pressure on you to join our Patreon, or Givelify, or something, but do you know the biggest thing you can do for me personally, is to pray for me? Even to send a note of encouragement to my email address, or to share something that was said that you think will bless somebody else — it’s all about the work here, actually.

“He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”

Well, that’s it, my friend. Until next time, may the Lord continue to bless you and keep you. May heaven’s face continue to smile upon you and give you great peace. Until that great day when there is no dawning and there is no sunset, I will see you at the Feet of Jesus. Thank you for being a part of Speak Life Church online. If you’d like to contribute, there are links on the show notes. God bless you.

Spirituality and Continuation of the Church of Laodicea

Transcript of the podcast.

Welcome to the Speak Life Church Podcast. Yesterday, I was talking to an entrepreneur/business guy, successful dude, and he was talking about in his guitar business that he’s getting a lot of older people who are buying guitars and delivering their dreams. It reminded me of something: It’s never too late to get started on that new path of success. You can shape your life the way you want to by putting in that work on a daily basis. Even if it feels like nothing makes sense, just remember that you can make a change so that you can also save lives in the future — your life. You can make  change. If you get nothing else out of today’s message, I wanted to start with that. The Old Testament book of Lamentations (3:21-23) says, “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness.” This week, I want to remind you that it’s not too late to change. It’s not too late to improve. It’s not too late to make a new way for yourself. You can still make it. I don’t care if you are nine or ninety-nine.

1  God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2  Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst [1] of the sea; 3  Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. 4  There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. 5  God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.

6  The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted. 7  The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. 8  Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth. 9  He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. 10  Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. 11  The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

 

I read for you Psalm 46 in its entirety. How are you doing this week? What you got goin’ on? There are some praise reports in the house! Yes, there are. My friend, Tat sent one, and Sarah sent one, and I think you’ve got something to tell me, too. I’m looking forward to hearing from you. Send me an email: pastor@speaklifechurch.net I want to hear the good news! Come on and share it. Next I want to talk real quick about the title of spirituality and what that means. And then, we’re going to do our study on the Book of Revelation, alright?

 

Heavenly Father, may the words of my mouth and the mediations of my heart be acceptable in Thy Sight, oh, my Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer. Amen.

 

Somebody made a comment and I wanted to just respond to it. They said that they were a “spiritual person” already, and they’re comfortable with what they doubt. Why do I insist that people see God from my perspective? I thought, Wow, ok! Uh, let’s start off right about here: You know, a lot of people would agree with that. They’d say that rather than speak about God in specific terms, how about we just handle the ultimate questions of this life and the next, in terms of vague generalities. You ever heard of a guy by the name of C.S. Lewis? He wrote a really cool book called The Screwtape Letters, and in it, the apprentice demon in this story was encouraged to deceive people by keeping their minds off the plain antitheses between true and false. In other words, a potent way to keep people from the truth of the Gospel is to lull them into assuming there is no actual truth to embrace, nor error to avoid. There are only feelings and opinions — mine, yours, and everybody’s, with none being more or less correct than any other. Now, see, that sounds really cool. C.S. Lewis asserted that such “spirituality” is the oldest heresy in Christian history because it denies devils and denies sin. He says, ‘when talking with somebody who is skeptical that there is an objective truth beyond our own subjective opinions, I found it helpful to ask questions like I genuinely want to understand what that person truly believes. Also, is it likely that most people who embrace an unobstructed, undefined spirituality haven’t really evaluated their position in any depth. If you ask good questions, it kind of forces them to do this.’ For instance, is there a difference between spirituality and religion? Discuss people who are known to have been “spiritual” — Jesus Christ, Mother Teresa, Adolf Hitler, David Koresh, Martin Luther King, Jr., Jim Morrison, Abraham Lincoln — it’s a big list.

Everybody I named pointed to God, or some transcendent higher power, as the base of their beliefs or behaviors, yet their values and teachings are all very different if not completely incompatible.

 

 Is there a right or wrong way to be spiritual?

Why? Why not? What is our authority on basis for deciding this? You know, the world is full of things that have been described as spiritual: crystal rocks, witches, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, stuff at the art museums, the birth of a baby, youtube concert, yeah, for real. People have said that. So, how are you spiritual, and how is that better than these? Those are the kinds of questions you can ask. How are religion and spirituality different? Do you think objective truth is a religious or a spiritual principle? Why? Or, how about: Do you believe Jesus was spiritual? Why? Jesus made many absolute statements concerning salvation from sin and deliverance from Evil, and He gave warnings about demons and Hell. Was Jesus correct in the things He taught?

What things can hinder a person’s spirituality?

That’s another good question. Sometimes it’s convenient to say, “I’m not into that stuff. I’m just spiritual.” But, see, some religious cults are spiritual, and they are evil. Can you define spiritual goodness without a specific reference point? If there were a specific reference point that determines goodness, wouldn’t that be something above and beyond our individual spirituality? In other words, wouldn’t there be an ultimate standard of the good, i.e. righteousness? The point is that while it may feel good to think of ourselves as spiritual, this means little without specific definitions based on object reality. The cold truth is that many who call themselves spiritual aren’t able to explain what that means — how they became spiritual, how it’s necessary to grow spiritually, or how to meaningfully share this with others. More and more younger Americans say that religious beliefs have no influence on their lives. So, in this context, Christianity offers objective, testable truth claims, corroborated by evidence that may be investigated. So, don’t say you’re spiritual. Alright.

 

Bible Study

Our Bible study this week returns us to the Book of Revelation (3:14-22). We’re talking about Laodicea, that wealthy city forty miles from Ephesus. If we continue like we were doing before, we have the commendation, the condemnation, the counsel, and the challenge of each of these churches. The commendation of Laodicea is that they have the distinction of being the only one whose conduct was so reprehensible that even the Christ of Glory who knew all about her could not find one thing on which to commend her. This was a tragic indictment, indeed, on so-called Christianity in the 20th and approaching 21st century. The condemnation of Laodicea — He said they were lukewarm. “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other.” God makes it clear that He is fully aware of our neutral position and condition of the church in these last days. It’s not hot — meaning zealous or good works — nor is it cold — meaning lifeless. Instead, it is lukewarm or indifferent. That’s the description of the modern day church. All kinds of organization, programs, committees: activities, but no power.

The Holy Spirit warned through Paul (in 2 Timothy 3:5). It says that in the last days many will be characterized as having a form of godliness, but denying its power having nothing to do with Him. The lukewarm church that he is talking about claims to represent Jesus Christ, but never sees the transformation of a soul from darkness to life, but instead deceives many because they do not have the power of the Gospel of Christ. These churches are usually more interested in social action than gospel action, more interested in reformation than transformation, more interested in planning than praying, and as a consequence, they are sickening to the Lord. He says, “so, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I am about to spit you out of My Mouth.” The Lord Jesus Christ does not claim this church for Himself even though its members make broad their claim of Him. They are deceived about themselves. They say, “I am rich. I have acquired wealth. I don’t need a thing,” but they don’t realize they are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. All deception is evil, but the most devastating deception is self-deception. The Laodicean Church and this age that she represents are about deceiving themselves. This fact can easily be seen by the comparison of Laodicea’s description of herself and the Lord’s description of her. They are two different things. Here’s what Laodicea describes themselves as: “I am rich. I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” Material abundance is not conducive to spiritual vitality. The Laodicean church of today is rich. Her churches are the finest. She has fabulous architecture, million-dollar buildings, fundraising organizations, and a large — though unconsecrated — church membership. In saying, “I have acquired wealth and don’t need a thing,” she does not realize her poverty-stricken spiritual nature. We’re talking about the mega-church here. Jesus said, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing.” We, humans, can organize. We can build. We can promote. We can preach. We can teach, but only the Spirit of God can convict human souls. And God will use anybody or anything for that purpose. The person who’s standing behind the pulpit can be a babbling idiot, but if God has called him there and the Word is from Him, it can change souls. It can heal. It can do everything Jesus said it can do. Only the Spirit of God can transform the lives of people. Only the Spirit of God can glorify Jesus Christ who said, of the Holy Spirit, “He will bring glory to Me.” (John 16:14) This is a good test of any work claiming to be performed in the Name of Christ. If it glorifies humanity, it is not the work of The Spirit. The unique test of the Spirit is: Does it glorify Jesus Christ? This church age does not, for instead of preaching the Gospel in Jesus’s Name to reach a maximum number of souls in these days, folks spend their time in doctrinal denial of the faith that was once for all and entrusted to the saints. As one mainline church pastor once said, “I don’t want to condemn anyone by telling them Christ is the only way of salvation. That would condemn their belief as wrong.” Instead of grappling with and teaching the truth about The Bible, this guy spent his time on social causes. His sermons were titled in a catchy way so that it looked like they were up-to-date. He was part of the “growing movement.” The Laodicean church of today would be at the forefront of rights and movements and be the leaders of ordinations of people you know shouldn’t be. The plight of the Laodicean church, which, when she stands before Jesus Christ in judgment, will be the same as that of the group of religious folks described by our Lord Himself in Matthew 7:22-23: “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your Name, and in Your Name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then, I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers.” The true state of the Laodicean Church can be seen by noting in detail what Christ saw in this church. To Him, she was wretched, pitiful, poor, and blind, even though she gave herself lessons on positive thinking and read books on how to have peace. In reality, her people were an unhappy, wretched lot, for riches never satisfy the hungry human heart. Even though rich in material things, the Laodicean church members were poor because they did not know Christ, and this is in accord with Our Lord’s Statement in Mark 8:36 where He said, “For what good is it for a man to gain the whole world yet forfeit his soul?” And although the Laodicean church members thought  they knew and understood through their sophisticated education and appropriation of “wisdom,” they did not understand the ways of God. Human nature must be changed internally, and only God can do that. The more people try to solve the problems, socially, without Christ, the more confused the problem will become. He also said they were naked. This 20th-century Ladicean Church is clothed with religion. She wraps her religious robes about her, burns her candles, waves her symbols, offers her chants, and reads her creeds, but Jesus Christ sees her as “naked,” for she is not clothed by faith with the garments of righteousness. I feel like I’m mumbling, but do you understand what I’m saying today? God does give us some counsel. He gives us some recommendations. He counsels the Church of Laodicea to do four things, all of which are part of the salvation experience, indicating that this church is not a born-again church. First, He says, “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire so you can become rich.” Eternal riches are not appropriated by material possessions. Instad, they have been appropriated by Christ and are available by faith. 1 Peter 1:7 indicates that “these have come so that your faith may be more precious than gold.” It is interesting to note that the Laodicean Church labeled “poor” is asked to buy something. How’s this to be understood? You know, in the Book of Isaiah the prophet (55:1), we can read about God’s invitation to human beings to come and buy what they need without money and without cost. Salvation is not purchased through our efforts. It has been purchased for us by the death of Christ on Calvary’s Cross. Therefore, the poorest of the poor can pay the price, which is to: humble oneself, call on the Name of the Lord, and believe in Him.

 

Secondly, He says, “I counsel you to buy from Me white clothes to wear.” This denotes the righteousness required to come into God’s Presence (Revelation 3:5). He knew their nakedness and their need for the “white clothes” to represent righteousness. Back to the prophet Isaiah (61:10); we read of God’s Provision of garments of salvation and a robe of righteousness, as a bride or a groom might wear. Righteousness is imputed to human beings when they call on the Name of the Lord and are saved.

 

Thirdly, “I counsel you to buy from me salve to put on your eyes so you can see.” What this is talking about is an indication of our need of spiritual illumination. No matter how brilliant people are here, unless they are indwelt by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, they will never understand the Ways of God. Only the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus said would be our teacher, can cause human beings to understand the Ways of God. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them because they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14).

 

And, finally, the fourth thing is to be earnest and repent. This lukewarm, indifferent, materialistic church is challenged by God on the basis of His Love for them even in that lost state, to repent of their sins and return to Him. You know, no matter how far you go off-track, it only takes one step to turn around. Remember that. What is Christ telling us in this couple to the Laodicean Church? Although the church has excluded Him, those who are willing to receive Jesus are given a special invitation that is also applicable to individuals of all church ages. He says, “Here I am. I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My Voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” This verse of Scripture has been beautifully described by one saint of God as the simplest explanation of the plan of salvation encompassed in a brief statement within the lids of God’s Word. The door, referred to here as the door to one’s heart, is the center of one’s being. The Bible says: Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life (Proverbs 4:23). Consequently, we find Christ knocking at the door of this emotional center called the heart asking entrance. He doesn’t force His way. He patiently knocks. If anyone hears My Voice and opens the door, I will come in. For almost 2,000 years, our Lord has faithfully, patiently, and wonderfully knocked on the doors of our hearts. How does He knock? In many ways.

Four of which I’d like to share with you now.

 

  1. Through His Word. The Lord Jesus said, “I tell you the truth. Whoever hears my Word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be condemned. He has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24) We must hear our blessed Lord’s Word to be saved. Many have felt the gentle knock of The Savior at the door of their hearts as they read some portion of the Word of God or maybe even as you are listening to the words that are coming out of my mouth. Sometimes His knocking is evidenced itself by a violent reaction or rejection, but it does not minimize the fact that Christ has knocked. How else does God knock?
  2. Through His people. Sometimes we look at folks and go, “What was I supposed to talk about with that person? I’m not quite sure.” But, the Scripture says, “and how can they hear without someone preaching to them? (Romans 10:14)” We usually think of the great preachers of the church, the Billy Grahams, the Charles Stanleys….but if the truth were known — and it will be when we stand before The Judgement Seat of Christ — Jesus knocks through the ordinary, everyday, often obscure people, like you and me. How does God knock?
  3. Through His Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus made it clear in John 14:8 that He sent the Holy Spirit to convict the hearts of humankind of sin and righteousness and judgment. Many who thought they had escaped the preacher and the Word of God have been awakened in the middle of the night to toss restlessly in bed at the conviction of God’s Spirit, which is the gentle knocking of Jesus at the door of one’s heart.
  4. Through Providence. Yeah, Providence is kind of a funky word. It’s often misused as a rather impersonal reference to God, but I want to use it in the sense to mean God’s gentle alignment on the affairs of a person’s life that continually point him or her to the need of inviting Jesus into their life. Many who have felt the hot breath of death recognize they were saved by the Providence of God. They may not recognize that this was the gentle knock of Jesus at their door, but it was just the same. How it happens sometimes throws us off, but sometimes the reason why we’re still here is because God is still knocking. The reason He hasn’t called us all home is because He’s still trying to reach the one. Perhaps you’ve heard that knock at your heart in some of these ways — through His Word, through His people, through His Holy Spirit, maybe even through Providence. The key question is: Have you opened the door and accepted His Promise? He says, “If anyone hears My Voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” This indicates fellowship with Jesus. You are incomplete until you have fellowship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. The Word tells us that in 1 John 1:3 that is only possible by inviting Him into your heart.

 

I’m going to stop right there, and next week, we’ll carry on with the challenge of the Church of Laodicea. I’m hoping that you’re thinking about that question I just asked you. You’ve listened. You’ve been at church. You’ve read some words in The Bible, but you don’t have a personal relationship with God. He is trying to get you to tune in to His Station. He’s been knocking on your heart for, maybe, years. When you open The Book, and you read The Word through even this podcast, or other people, through the Holy Spirit, through divine intervention, there’s been something that has happened that has pointed Him to you, and you still haven’t moved. I’m asking you to consider it right now, not to waste another day. Okay?

 

{Hymn Have Thine Own Way, Lord sung here}

 

Eternal God, our Father, we come before You to say thank You for today. Thank you for The Word. Thank You for this message. Thank You for touching our hearts. Thank you for being a part of our lives. Father, we don’t always know what to pray for. We are quite dumb sometimes. We miss the mark so many times, but thank You for allowing us to come back again to Your Throne. We ask that You forgive us of everything we’ve done contrary to Your Will. Help us to be more like Your Son, Jesus Christ. Help us, Lord God, to understand when You’re there in our presence. Help us to realize the love that You’ve given us, that You’ve sacrificed for us. Help us to be a better light to other people, better ambassadors. Help us, Lord God, to do what You’ve called each one of us to do. Show us the way. Open our eyes and our hearts so we may receive You. Forgive us, Lord God, for that thing, whatever that thing is. We stand before You naked and unashamed. We are Your children. We ask, Lord God, that You would bless our families, that You would keep us safe, that You would watch over us and put that hedge of protection around us anew and afresh. Heal those who are sick right now. Heal those who are brokenhearted. Heal those who are mourning. Somebody is grieving. Somebody is sad. Lift up our eyes, oh, Lord God. Even in the darkest night, You are there. Help us to remember Your Peace that surpasses all understanding. We ask for that Peace right now. We thank you, Lord God, for this time together. It’s in the Name of Your Son Jesus that we praise You and thank You. Amen.

 

Well, that’s it for this week. You’ve made it to the month of November 2020. We’re headed towards Thanksgiving already! I want to thank you for listening, downloading, and subscribing, again, to Speak Life Church Podcast. I’m Reverend Kenn Blanchard, and I’m hoping that the Word convicts you and the Word teaches, that the Word does something that the Lord intended it to do. If you want to reach out to me, I can be found at pastor@speaklifechurch.net Yes, I can. You can call me at (202)579-9435. I’m all over Facebook. Look for Kenn with two “N’s,” and you’ll find Kenn Blanchard. I’m there! Let me know what’s on your mind, alright?

 

May the Lord bless and keep you. May heaven’s face continue to shine upon you and give you great peace. Until that great day when there is no dawn, and there is no sunset, my family, my friends, my brother, my sister, I will see you at the Feet of Jesus. Until then — or next week! — God bless.

 

Micah and The Church of Philadelphia

I received this Message from the Lord this week.  It hit me kind of hard and I didn’t know how to use it.  I found out Sunday afternoon that I will be preaching it to a church congregation as well next week.  You got it first.

What does God want from us?

This week has been an interesting episode because I’m being attacked as I try to present this to you. Yeah. A little bit about Micah the prophet, a short message, music created from the Psalm of David, and the continuation of our study of the Book of Revelation: The Church of Philadelphia.

This week I want you to go to the Book of Micah. He is the sixth of one of the twelve minor prophets. Micah 8:6 says, “He hath showed thee, old man, what is good, and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God.” So, who was this guy? He was a prophet from a place called Moresheth-Gath, which was southwest, about twenty-five miles southwest, of Jerusalem. It’s mostly an agricultural part of the country, and he lived outside big government powers, and he had a strong concern for the regular person, the less fortunate of society, the lame, the outcast, the afflicted. So, most of his prophesy was toward the powerful leaders of Samaria and Jerusalem, the capital cities of Israel and Judah, respectively.

Micah was different because he prophesied about Jesus Christ’s birth, seven hundred years before it happened. Surrounding Micah’s prophesy of Jesus’s birth is one of the most lucid pictures of the world’s future under the Reign of the Prince of Peace. His future kingdom, which scholars call the Millennial Kingdom, will be characterized by the presence of many nations that live with one another in peace and security, and coming to Jerusalem to worship the Reigning King, that is, Jesus Himself.

Because these events have no yet occurred, we look toward that Millennial Kingdom at some undetermined time in the future. Much of Micah’s book revolves around two significant predictions: One, of judgment on Israel and Judah, and the other, the restoration of God’s people in this Millennial Kingdom. Well, that’s some of the biblical study for this.

Micah chapters 1-3 talks about Micah’s vision in God’s grief over Judah and Israel’s evil deeds, their coming destruction, and, later, how He delivers them, the capture of Jerusalem and the future Arrival of Jesus the Christ. Micah chapters four and five discuss the key events: the capture of the City of David and the Coming of the Son of David. Micah six and seven, Micah addresses God’s case against Israel and His compassion for the people. And, as he does so, his confidence grows. There are only seven chapters in this book, but it’s a powerful book of prophesy. I need you to find Micah 6:8, and I have three points in this message for this week.

“He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” 

It’s as if somebody asks, “What does God want from me?”

Well, the first thing is to do the right thing. Act justly. Be fair. Be morally right. Be deservedly.

You know, if I were to just put that into perspective, it’s as if you were a husband, if you’re a married man, do the right thing. Be fair to your wife. What does that mean? Well, the longer you are married to somebody, the less they might look like a supermodel, but to be fair, either are you, but this world judges beauty and all of that, and it can get us caught up in a trick bag, as we would say back in the 70’s, that double standard. And you’ll start looking elsewhere, and that’s not right. It’s not morally right. You should be more deserving.

Act justly. Have more compassion, more forgiveness, more grace, more pity. That’s the second part. And then thirdly — walk humbly, unpretentious, modest, lifting up your spouse. You know you can get more things being sweet than you can being sour. If you would invest just a “hello” or a smile or a touch or do something for somebody else, you can life up somebody else in more ways than just financial. If you want to have a happier home, if you want to do better, don’t be just the only one who’s contributing to the relationship. Do the right thing. Do it justly. Love mercy. Be compassionate. Be forgiving. Have some grace. Have some pity, and walk before the Lord humbly, because He sees everything that you’re doing. You know, you can’t be one-sided. It can’t all come from one side. It has to be both of you, so what does God want from you? Well, somebody asked this of Jesus, too, and He said, “Love God with all your heart, and love each other as you love yourselves.” You know, that’s easy to say, but sometimes I’ve noticed in this world, we don’t love ourselves that much. We drink too much. We smoke too much. We don’t take care of our bodies. So, when you’re talking about loving somebody as much as ourselves, you’ve got to love yourself more than you have been. You’re letting yourself go. You’re letting yourself fall away. You’re being self-destructive. That’s also a negative. There’s a message in here somewhere. I’m hoping that you hear what I’m saying. The Great Commandment is what? You’ve heard me say it already: You should love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment, and the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all of The Law of the Prophets. I’m saying, if you want to do better this week, think about Micah 6:8 — Do the right thing. Love mercy. Walk humbly with thy God. Love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. And love yourself, and your neighbor, your wife, your husband. If you’re not doing a good job on yourself, fix that because you can’t repair things with broken tools. You need to do better with what you have. That is what God requires of you this week — Micah 6:8.

Let’s pray.

Heavenly Father, I ask that You would forgive me of my stammering lips, that You would allow the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart to be acceptable, even though something is hindering me. I ask that the Holy Spirit will not hinder Your Message. Allow it got go forth. Father, forgive me for everything I’ve done that’s against You. Forgive us as we bow our heads, as we think about You, about Your Greatness, about Your Goodness, about all the things You’ve blessed us with. Help us, Lord God, to do what You’ve called us to do. Help us to obey You, to trust You, to love You. How can we say we love You and we can’t see You? But the person we have in our life, we’re not doing the right thing with, and that You’re judging us based on that. Help us all to understand that. I’m praying for marriages right now. I’m praying for relationships right now. I’m praying for those who are seeking to be loved. Father, clear our hearts and our spirits from past hurt and pain. Allow us Your Grace and Your Mercy to abide so that we can love again, hear again, walk again. Father, I don’t even know who I’m praying for right now, but You do. Touch them in a mighty way. Heal their pain. Bring the spark of love back to their life, to their lives. It’s in Jesus’s Name that I ask this. Amen.

Bible Study

Alright, let’s go to the Church of Philadelphia in Revelation 3:7-13. If you get the chance, please read that ahead this week. We’re not going to get all of it today, but Revelation 3 is interesting, and I’m having trouble speaking today. Maybe I’m just fired up, I don’t know. You know, the name Philadelphia literally means “brotherly love.” Our Lord selected that church to describe the kind of church age that was initiated around the year 750 and will continue to the Tribulation. Just as Sardis came out of Thyatira, so does the Philadelphia Age come out of Sardis.

The Reformation Church, as we read and heard before, became dead and cold as a state church. Philadelphia was marked by vitality of life. In this church age, God worked in a manner that produced revivals in Europe and the British Isles, spreading even to America. These revivals, in turn, produced what is now known as the Modern Missionary Movement. It was this moving of the Spirit of God on the part of His people that caused an English shoe cobbler to become so burdened for the lost of India, that in 1793, he became the first foreign missionary. His name was William Carey.

William Carey was followed by other young people whom the Spirit of God touched and thus the present day Faith Missionary Movement was begun, and it is our Lord said, “I have placed before you an open door.” This open door found such men as Adoniram Judson, David Livingstone, Jonathan Goforth, and thousands of people going out to Africa, China, Japan, Korea, India, South America, and the islands of the sea.

The Church of Philadelphia was located in the center of Greek civilization. Founded only 189 years before Christ, the city had a surprising influence on the area of the ancient world. This church must’ve been vital for Philadelphia to remain the independent Christian city until the close of the 14th century when it was conquered by the Turks. The church Christ loved, it’s commendation, is: I know your deeds. I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept My Word and have not denied My Name. The condemnation of the church: not one word. The counsel for this church: I’m coming soon. Hold onto what you have so that no one will take your crown. The challenge: He who overcomes I will make a pillar in a temple of My God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the Name of My God and the name of the City of My God, the New Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from My God, and I will also write on him my New Name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Now, compared to the other churches that we talked about, this one you might want to be a part of. You know there are two reasons for the Missionary Movement: One, The Bible was printed by that time in regular languages around the world.

So, when a young guy, by the name of William Carey, read Our Lord’s Command to go into the world and preach the good news to all creation, it was easier to do! Secondly, the Missionary Movement was happening at the same time as the turn of the century, so folks were kind of thinking it was coming now. Like 2020, folks are looking at things thinking, “Man, I bet you it’s coming now.” We’ve always been looking for Christ’s Return in trouble, in bad times like now, but no one knows the hour or the day. One of the things I like about this passage of Scripture is that our Lord commended the Church of Philadelphia for four things which, in turn, invoked a promise from Him.

Number one, He said, “I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut,” and this refers to the doors of opportunity opened to them for the proclamation of the Gospel, one of the chief characteristics of faithful service throughout the church age.

1 Corinthians 16:9 indicates that the apostle Paul considered an open door an opportunity for Christian service. Number two: You have little strength. This refers to the minority status of the believers in Philadelphia. Except for some churches in America, the Philadelphia church age is characterized by smaller congregations which, according to human standards, are weak.

This, of course, is real strength, for as the Holy Spirit tells us through Paul, “When I am weak, then I am strong,” which is a plus for me because sometimes I’m thinking that because I’m in this world with you that couldn’t I do better, maybe, with a larger group? But, I was reminded when talking to my pastor buddy this week when we were walking that somebody has to go after the one. The one is very important to God. When you’ve got the groups that are out there in masses, it’s quite often that the one wanders off and can get snatched by the enemy. I like being the one who can go find the one. And smaller things are often stronger.

Think about how potent cologne and perfumes are in their original forms. You have to thin it out a little. It’s a little strong on the nose. Nitroglycerin is very powerful, and it’s really small. Some of you ladies, physically, are small, but you’re, yeah. You get it.

Number three, He says, “yet you have kept My Word.” You see, this church not only believed the Word of God, it obeyed It. The Reformation churches, past and present, believe the Word of God, but are not characterized by obedience to It. The Church fo Philadelphia, a fitting contrast to this pattern, is characterized by obedience to his Word. Number four, “and you have not denied My Name.” Satan always counters an effective work of God, and that’s one of the things I was telling a married couple earlier.

As soon as you said, “I do,” and that you want to be a Christian marriage, a holy matrimony, you are a huge target to the devil. So, don’t think that the stuff that’s happening to you is just because. It’s bigger than you, and you have to learn to what? Do the right thing. Have some grace, some compassion, and to walk humbly. At the same time, when the church was growing and doing the right thing, it was also the increase of false christ and false religions.

One characteristic of this church age is that is refused to deny the Name of The Lord, thereby offering a challenge that needs to be presented to every faithful Christian as he or she approaches the end of the age. Christ gives a promise to this church, which comes down to two things: vindication and preservation. He says, “I will make those who are of the synagogues of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not but are liars, I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you.”

Christ promised that all the false religionists, imposters, and false teachers and antiChrists, those who claim to be Jews but are not, would someday be subdued before them. Their heretics will realize that in persecuting the faithful church of Christ, they have turned their backs on Him. On the preservation piece: Since you have kept My Command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth. The world has never known a universal period of tribulation. What we’re going through right now is not it, but we’re getting close. This passage is obviously in reference to the Tribulation period of seven years that will be covered extensively when we get to, like, Revelation 6-18.

This promise, though, is to the Church of Philadelphia, that she will be raptured before the Tribulation begins. It seems difficult to understand why some false teachers suggest that the church must go through the Tribulation in view of this clear-cut statement of our Lord to keep you — in this case, us — out of the hour of trial which must be understood in light of Jesus’s description of that period in Matthew 24:21: There’s a time when there will be great distress unequal from the beginning of the world until now, and never be equalled again. Obviously, that period has never historically happened yet. Many believe, as we will see, that such a time of Tribulation will not commence until the anti-Christ signs a covenant with Israel for seven years.

The rapture of the church, which we’re going to talk about soon, will proceed after that covenant signing, and this explains why many of us think that the next thing on the prophetic agenda is the Rapture of the Church. And, we’re going to get more into it later. Amen?

That part was so heavy, I had to stop! I mean, it’s just, like, I don’t know, it’s like I need more strength to get into this. The Spirit was holding me back. So, whatever the thing is that’s going on right now, continue to pray for your strength and mine, for this church, for our ministry, for something that you do to be done better. Amen? Amen.

You might not know it, but we had our first Zoom prayer meeting this past week, and I was so nervous, but it turned out pretty good actually, so I want to thank all those who made it. Shout out to Teyonna and Sarah and Jon.

May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord’s Face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift up His Countenance unto you and give you that peace. And until that great day when there is no dawn and there is no sunset, my friend, my brother and my sister, I will see you at the Feet of Jesus. Until then, God bless.

Are you looking for more control in your life?

And Jesus said, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart and you shall find rest unto your souls, for My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

 

Welcome to the Speak Life Church Podcast. I’m Reverend Kenn Blanchard, and this week, we’ve got a message about control, Bible study about the Book of Revelation — we’re going to be ending the Church of Sardis, finishing that up —and, we’ve got music from Sister Sarah. All this and more, coming up next.

 

The Bible says in Proverbs 18 and 21, that life and death are in the power of the tongue. Here, we choose to speak life. We are a 100% online ministry created to restore and strengthen the family, provide hope for those in need, and offer a nontraditional place of worship of the Lord Jesus Christ, using technology to be anywhere. All are welcome, including those souls still searching for what they believe in. My name is Kenn Blanchard. Welcome.

 

This week I’ve got a message about control. You know, control kind of is a huge thing for everybody. You might not think it’s you, but I can guarantee there is some elements of it that even you want. It’s a life thing. It’s a normal thing. Many of us are unhappy right now over many things. I’m not going to say anything that will change that except for maybe that “God Is.”

Happiness is dependent upon what it happening now in your life. It’s temporal. It’s temporary. It’s fleeting. Some of us are waiting for things to change. Others are changing the things that we can — little things like cleaning up around the house, painting, building things, practicing new things.

Straighten the stuff out. I’m in that boat. I’m practicing more with my new guitar. I’m trying to finish and write a book about the joy that God gives. I’m taking advantage of this teleworking option. I’m a little bit anxious, worried that I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I do know holds tomorrow. I’m mending fences and reaching out to people I haven’t spoken to in awhile — politics aside, social media aside.

Believe it or not, your current situation isn’t unique. Would you believe that you’re not alone in the way that you feel if you’re feeling some kind of way right now? We may not all be in that same boat, but we are all in the same storm. After years of filling my cup with more and more, trying to control the matters of my life, I’ve realized that I’ve got to learn how to stop and let go, and let God. I am so much more at peace, so much happier, so much “stress-less” knowing that God has my tomorrow.

 

Control. Anybody got control issues? Control is typically a reaction to the fear of losing it. People who struggle with the need to be in control often fear being at the mercy of others, and this fear may stem from something that happened to you in your past when you were totally helpless and vulnerable. Maybe you just got some disproportionate and unhealthy issues that you want more of everything. Sometimes, those of us that experienced some abuse, some neglect, look for ways to reign in control of that so that it doesn’t happen again.

So, it can be from traumatic or abusive life experiences. It can be from a lack of trust. It can be from just plain old anxiety which happens if you breathe, fear of abandonment. You might have some self-esteem issues. There might be some personal beliefs, some values that you don’t have, some lack of faith. Maybe you’re trying to be perfect. Perfectionism and the fear of failure run hand-in-hand. And maybe you’re just emotionally sensitive to some stuff that’s going on. And there’s a lot of stuff that’s going on. You want to micro-manage and orchestrate something in other people.

Maybe you want to get a little bit more rigid in your routine. You want to change your diet. You might want some more order. Those are all things that have control in them. Psalm 33:8-22 says, “the Lord watches over those who obey Him.

Those who trust in His constant love. He saves them from death. He keeps them alive in times of famine. We put our hope in the Lord. He is our Protector and our Help. We are glad because of Him. We trust in His Holy Name. May Your Constant Love be with us, Lord, as we put our hope in You.” (I believe that’s the New Living translation.)

 

The wise among us recognize your struggles because we had them, too. The wise among us seek to share advice, probably unsolicited, because we care, but believe it or not, there is nothing new under the sun. King Solomon had that totally right. But, who controls this dag-gone storm? You know the answer. God. Colossians 1:17 says, “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” For those who have been to church a few times, I’m sure you’ve heard the story of when Jesus was in a boat and a storm came up. You’ll find it in Mark 4:35-41, Matthew 8:23-27, and Luke 8:22-25.

It sounds a little something like this:

On the same day when evening had come, He said to them, “Let’s cross over to the other side.” Now, when they had left the multitude, they took Him along, in the boat, as He was. Other boats were also with Him, and a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat so that it was already filling, but He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. They awoke Him, and said, “Teacher! Do you not care that we are perishing?”

Then, He arose and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace. Be still.” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm, but He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” And, they fear exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be that even the wind and sea obey Him?”

They said to each other, “What kind of man is He? He speaks to the wind and the waves and they obey Him.” Matthew 27 says, “but the men marveled (in the King James version) saying, ‘What manner of man is this that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”

How cool is that?

See, what we really need to do right now in our situation is to stop striving and start abiding. You know what the truth is. You know who God is. You know how you are in the world. You know how far you’ve fallen. You know where you’re at. There’s no joke. Right now, we all crave control, but the remedy for all of that is to be with God, to pray, to be honest, to tell Him how you feel, to say what’s wrong and confess that you like being in control. After all, you are made in His Image. But, you’re not Him, are you?

No. You’ve got to recognize who you are, too. I know you want to please Him, because I do. I had to recognize that I need Him in my life. I’m not going anywhere without Him. Lord, help me and us to surrender control to You each and every day. Help us to trust You deeply. Help us, Lord God, not to fear surrendering control. Help me to remember that You hold everything in Your Hand.If you’re having trouble surrendering through prayer alone, I find out that you can try by taking a piece of paper and writing down the things that are holding you down, holding you tightly. Once you get all that stuff out of you, pray about them individually. You know, trusting in God is a lifelong process.

You don’t get wise without being stupid first. You don’t get wise without having experiences first. You don’t get wise that you can sit back and share information, unless you’ve done some stupid stuff that God has allowed you to come back on. Like so many things in this Christian faith, there’s a choice that we make everyday. We have to learn how to let go of figuring out all the “whys” of life and just trust God and understand Him more and more than we ever could. And, after you let go, I guarantee you’ll feel better. You will be that happier that you’re looking for. You will see how far you have to go, though, once you let go. Once you get closer to God, you will see all your imperfections and it will make you humble, but humble, being in true humility, is a good thing because God resists the proud.

So, once you let yourself hang out there, that you’re not all that and a bag of chips, that you got some stuff wrong with you, folks will look at you strangely because you’re honest. They’ll look at you strangely because you admitted it. They’ll look at your strangely because you’re self-deprecating, but they don’t matter because they don’t have a Heaven to kick you out of or a Hell to put you into. Being closer to God is all that matters in this world. The song says: When we walk with the Lord in the Light of His Word, what a glory He sheds on our way. While we do His Good Will, He abides with us still, and with all who will trust and obey. Let us pray.

 

Eternal God, our Father, Heavenly Father, the only One True God, Creator of Heaven and Earth, Lover of our souls, it’s in the Name of Your Son, Jesus that I bow before You now, that I close my eyes and lower my head before You, that I ask, Lord God, You will forgive me of everything I’ve done and allow your servant to be heard. Somebody right now is seeking help, and may they, through this time, find it through You. Bless us, Lord God, and keep us and we will be kept. Touch us, and allow Your Presence to be felt now. Somebody is lonely. Somebody is anxious. Somebody is frustrated. Somebody is angry. Somebody is mad. Somebody is going through a tough time, and they need You, Lord God. They’ve tried everything else, but You. Help us to trust You and obey. Help us to let go of the control issues that we have and to trust You. Heal the brokenhearted. Put a smile back on our face. Give us the joy that has nothing to do with this world. Give us the joy that surpasses all understanding. Give us Jesus. Holy Spirit, lighten our burdens. Lighten our eyes. Lighten our spirit. This is Your servant’s prayer for Your people. In the name of Your Son, Jesus, I ask this thing. Amen.

 

 

That was a group I snagged off of Youtube called, Kaoma Chende. I am hoping that you have the chance to check out speaklifechurch.net this week or last week, or maybe even today. It’s our website and the home of all of our stuff. Facebook is cool and all, but you know, sometimes they can censor you how you get to things, and before you know it, you never get to the website. So, if you’re looking for the show notes, they are provided for you at speaklifechurch.net.

Also, I want to invite you to our very first Zoom prayer meeting, which is going to happen on the 14th of October, 2020 at 8:30p.m. EST. The invite can be found on Facebook and on the show notes for this episode. And, if you don’t get any of those, you can call me and I will send it to you myself: (202)579-9435. But, I’m hoping that I’ll get at least one or two of you. We’ll pray. We’ll talk. We’ll laugh. We’ll share what God has done for us, have a little testimony time, only thirty minutes. It’ll just be our trial under fire using technology, to reach out, maybe I haven’t talked to you in person before. I would love to see you. I’m looking forward to this time. October 14th at 8:30p.m.

 

And, if you can’t make it, it’s okay, just send me a note though, and let me know that you would like to. We just pulled this date out of the air. It’ll be after work, for most people, and maybe you can make it. If there is something you would like me to pray for in the interim, feel free to send me an email, to call me, or maybe you’re ready to make a move right now, and come to God. I know you’re not with me right now. You don’t see me right now, but did you know that if you would confess with your mouth — that means say it out loud — that the Lord Jesus is the Christ, and believe in your heart that God raised this Man from Nazareth from the dead, that you will be saved.

For with the heart, one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth, confessions are made unto salvation. You could never be saved by trying to be a good person. Nor can you be saved through any other amount of good works and things that you do here in this world. The Bible tells us that for by grace we have been saved by faith, and not of ourselves. It is a Gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast.

You and I can only be saved by confessing our sins and placing our faith in God’s Son, Jesus, who died for us and paid for our sins on the Cross. We must surrender our lives to Him, placing Him in charge of every area of our lives because we now belong to Him.

Both John the Baptist and Jesus Himself began their preaching with the words, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” To repent means to change one’s mind or to turn. You know, the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. No matter which direction you’re going in, to turn around only takes one. I’m asking you right now, that if you don’t have Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, if you don’t know about this God thing that I’ve been talking about, if you don’t understand but you want a change, you want something to happen in our life, that you would stop right now, and ask God to hear your prayer.

Ask Him to forgive you of everything you’ve done, and allow the Holy Spirit to come into your life. Ask Him for the free gift of eternal life. Say, “I believe in Your Son, Jesus. I don’t really quite understand all this stuff that’s been said to me over and over and through life, but I believe that You exist. I believe that You sent Your Son to die for me.” See, God promises that all who receive Him, that those who believe in His Name, He gives the right to become Children of God. God does hear and accept all who come to put their faith in Him.

There is no more need to fear death because Jesus broke that whole thing. He paid it all. Jesus didn’t remain in the grave. He rose from the dead after three days. Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. You will be a new creature. Old things will pass away.

All things will become new. Your faith will come by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. All the stuff I’ve just said prior and always through this thing are the Words of the Lord. If you prayed, if you decided to follow God, if you decided to allow Jesus to be your Savior, then your journey as a Child of the King of Kings has just begun. God bless you. Looking forward to speaking with you in the future.

Give me a call: (202)579-9435 or email me at pastor@speaklifechurch.net.

 

{Hymn “Softly and Tenderly” sung by Sister Sarah here}

 

Thank you, Sarah.

 

Let’s go to the Book of Revelation. We’re talking about the Church of Sardis — Revelation 3:1-6. You know, Christ’s nature was reveled to Sardis. Time period wise, this was the capital city of Lydia, Sardis was. After the death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ, in this book, in Sardis, this church, he reveals two characteristics of Himself. He calls Himself The Seven Spirits and The Seven Stars. The Seven Spirits refer to the Holy Spirit who Jesus said is Truth.

The Stars are the angels of the churches. This church had more than adequate opportunities to know the truth and to obey the Lord if they had heeded His warning. The natural explanation of the deficiency appears to be that they preferred to trust the state instead of God. The Church of Sardis received the shortest commendation from our Lord than any of the other churches. In fact, some biblical scholars do not include any commendation for this church, but lists the commendation as a condemnation because of the way it ends. It says: “I know your deeds.” This may well refer to the early stages of the Reformation when Martin Luther and others chose to defy Roman authority, even at the risk of their own lives, to obey the Bible’s teaching on salvation by faith. “You have a reputation,” it says, probably referring to the fact that the Reformation Church had a reputation, as a faithful church particularly in the early days of the movement, of being “alive,” in the case there was some life in the church. If you remember, last week, I talked about my own experience with my church that it wasn’t always dead.

Those who place their faith in Jesus Christ made the church alive. It should be noted, though, that the act of placing one’s trust in Jesus Christ and receiving His Salvation does not guarantee us consistent obedience to the Holy Spirit. It’s a daily thing you have to do. I mean, you can wake up some days and just be disobedient. You can wake up some days and just be in the flow. It’s a work in progress. You have to submit, personally, to the Will of God. We have so many choices, and it’s really easy to somebody, even a church person, to go off kilter. Christ did condemn this church, though. He says, “but you aren’t dead.” I already said that, but I got good news for you, yes, I do. There are five things that God says that if you do them, He’ll make you acceptable again.

 

The first is to wake up! It’s an expression that points to a serious deficiency in the teaching of some of the early church people. The word our Lord uses here is used in other passages of Scripture to indicate the attitude of life that should characterize His children in view of His Promise to return. We should be talking more about Biblical prophesy and separation. Prophetically instructed Christians are more apt to be separated, consecrated Christians, than those unaware of the promises of our Lord’s Second Coming. We’re talking about this Revelation piece right now because from all intents and purposes, things look a little closer today than they did twenty years ago, that the Lord is coming back.

Number two: strengthen what remains. This is a no-joke kind of thing, like, duh! There’s a whole bunch of depravity right now, number three, we need to lean more on the Authority, on the Word of God. Number four is we need to remember, therefore, what we have received and heard. We need to obey, as we spoke about earlier, and number five is we need to repent. So, the five things are:

 

  1. Wake up.
  2. Strengthen what remains.
  3. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard.
  4. Obey it.
  5. Repent

 

Repentance not only involves an act of turning to God, but of having a submissive heart. See, it’s one thing that after He slaps you down, you fall on your face that you say, “Alright! I surrender!” It’s a lot better if you do that before that happens, seeking His Will and His Teaching in all truth.

 

Christ had a big warning to Sardis. He said, “If you don’t wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know of the time I will come to you.” One of the worst things that can happen to us here, is that we think we have all the time in the world. “I’ll get my life together when I get older.” “I’ll get my life together after I get married.” “I’ll get my life together after I get through school.” “I’ll get my life together after I get a house.” Whatever you put before God is a bad thing. You don’t know when He’s coming. You don’t know when your life will end. You don’t know that you could live a whole lot better if you would just give your life to God now. How much joy are you missing? How much pain are you enduring that you don’t have to?

I’m not saying that you won’t have some stuff happen to you after you give your life to Christ, because all the Christians listening to me right now know that in this world, you will have tribulations. You’re going to have some stuff, but it’s a whole lot better to go through it with God than to go through it without. And, like my church, He says to this church, “Yet, you have a few people in Sardis who have now soiled their clothes. They will walk with Me dressed in white for they are worthy.” There are some individuals, even now, who remain faithful even through all the crazy stuff that’s going on. I want you to be like that, to be faithful to God regardless of what’s going down. The Lord has promised that all who are faithful to Him during persecution will “walk with Me dressed in white for they are worthy.”

A lot of us have never tasted the sting of persecution for the cause of Jesus Christ. We’ll stand aside and be thrilled at the Judgment Seat of Christ when those who have endured are rewarded.

 

Christ’s challenge to Sardis, as to all the others, is directed to the individual. He or she who overcomes, as we have already seen, is a direct reference to those who have been born again by faith in Christ. I want you to check out 1 John 5:1-4: He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. It refers to the righteousness of Christ with which we are clothed when we are born again (2 Corinthians 5:21). Scripture says, “I will never blot out his name from the Book of Life, but will acknowledge his name before My Father and His angels.” This indicates the security with which a believer is held against the Day of Judgment that’s described in Revelation 20:11-15 that we haven’t gotten to yet. That Book of Life is the book that contains the names of all living individuals. It is possible to have one’s name blotted out in that book for three reasons.

One, sinning against God.

Two, not being an overcomer, which is synonymous with being born again, or putting one’s trust in Christ, and three, for taking away from the words of the prophesy of Revelation. In short, anyone who has sinned against God has his or her name blotted out of the Book of Life upon death. And then our Lord concludes, in this book,

“He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Whether or not you have heard is determined by whether or not you have heeded His warning to be born again.

The way to guarantee that  — that your name will never be blotted out of the Book of Life — is to get on your knees and ask God, right now, to cleanse you of your sin and save you as we asked earlier and gave you the opportunity. It’s not too late. Still think about it if you’re not.

 

Next week, we’re going to hit the Church of Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13.) Amen? Wow! Time is flying. Thank you for listening, downloading, and subscribing to the Speak Life Church Podcast. I’m Reverend Kenn Blanchard, and I want to thank you personally for listening and for your prayers. I’m hoping to meet you online on the 14th of October, if you can. Now, unto Him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.

May the Lord bless and keep you. May Heaven’s Face continue to shine upon you and give you great peace. Until that great day when there is no dawn and there is no sunset, my friend, my sister, my brother, I will see you at the Feet of Jesus. Until next time, God bless.

Jesus, The Church and Us

The Church of Pergamum

This week, the Church of Pergamum in the Book of Revelation, and some teachings about the church, Jesus the Christ, and where we are at right now.

2 Peter 1:20-21 — Above all you must understand that no prophesy of scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation, for prophesy never had this origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Heavenly Father, Lover of our souls, we thank You for this opportunity to come before Your Throne of Grace. We ask for Your Mercy. We ask that you would cover us with Your Blood, that You would allow us, Lord God, to approach Your Throne. Hear our prayer, oh, Lord, Most High God, Creator of everything, Lover of life, Maker of Heaven and earth, the only one true God. Father, we ask that You would forgive us for all of the things we’ve done against You that would keep us from being close to You. Help us, Lord God, when we don’t believe. Help us to understand the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart. Let these things be done as You say, according to Your Will. Help us to grow closer to You. Help us to defeat the enemy in this time period, in this season of our lives. Help us to overcome our struggles no matter what they are. In the name of Jesus, we pray — Amen.

Last week, my friend, we were talking about the Church of Smyrna, and the challenge of Christ to those who have spiritual ears to hear what the Spirit says to the churches, and there is a challenge to overcome. As you’ve already heard, this is dependent upon one’s personal faith in Jesus Christ. The Bible says that he who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death. We’re already heard in the vision of the Christ of the churches of Revelation 1:18 that Christ holds in His Hands, the keys to Hell and death. God’s children have Christ’s personal promise that they will never be hurt by the second death that’s described in Revelation 20 as “a time when Hades the present abode of the unbelieving dead and death are cast into the Lake of Fire.” This Lake of Fire is the second death. We’ll talk about it when we get to chapter 20, verse 14. Understand what the Bible means by the second death. It is the Bible’s term for the complete ruin of a person’s life so that they can never fulfill God’s Plan for their life, which is eternal. We think linearly, in a straight line. We think what we can see, feel, touch, hear. There’s much more to this world. Death occurs when a person is forever separated from God instead of being united with Him as is His intention. The second each is that stage when people who have died in unbelief are resurrected, and cast alive in an eternal separation from God in a place called the Lake of Fire — not the Ring of Fire that Johnny Cash sang about, but the Lake of Fire. This second death need never cause the child of God to fear for it will have no power over them. I made sure I said that again because sometimes, this stuff makes you think that you’re doomed. And, if you’re listening to this, if you’re a child of God, then you’re good to go! The Church of Pergamum (Revelation 2:12-17), have we talked about this yet? Well, let’s get on down to it, all right?

Pergamum was the capital city of Asia until the close of the first century. It was a dirt given over to the worship of Greek idols. We haven’t changed too much. You know, a local Roman rulership, unable to cope with the multitude of religious differences in the city, demanded cooperation of all the groups. So, two of the most prominent religious systems of that city were the worship of Bacchus, the god of revelry and parties, basically, and the worship of Asclepius, the god of healing. If you look at verse 13 in chapter 2 in the Book of Revelation, verse 13 twice refers to the city as the place “where Satan has his throne,” or “where Satan lives.” A detailed commentary on this condition can scarcely be given with accuracy for we don’t have access to this thing. We were never there, right? But, we can say that the following conjecture to a large degree is representative of the truth: Satan has a kingdom. Babylon, from the earliest times, has been considered the capital of his kingdom. Idolatry gained its start in Babylon through Nimrod and his mother, inspired by Satan. As long as Babylon was a dominate world power, it made a pretty good headquarters for Satan’s attack on the human race. However, when Babylon’s glory began to decline, and it was left desolate, Satan looked for another location. He selected Pergamum because of its strong idolatrous religions. Missionaries have been in this area so pagan in its religions, that it seemed as though the very atmosphere was charged with the presence of Satan. No doubt that these were the conditions in which this little church in Pergamum was faithfully preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It reminds me of when you see a little storefront church next to a liquor store, or in a really bad part of town, and it’s struggling — whether it’s like five or ten members to do what saith the Lord. They called the Church of Pergamum the indulged church. The actual church was around 312 to around 606A.D. The commendation that Christ gave this church was: I know where you live, where Satan has his throne, yet you remain true to My Name. You did not renounce your faith in Me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness who was put to death in your city where Satan lives. He did have something to condemn in this church, though. He said, “nevertheless, I have a few things against you. You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols, and by committing sexual immorality. Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teachings of Nicolaitans. The counsel, repent therefore, otherwise I will soon come to you and fight against them with the Sword of my Mouth.”

The challenge here, for this church: “to him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden mana. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.” You know, as soon as you say the words “Satan” and “church,” folks’ ears perk right up. I mean, it’s like, “oh, man, he’s talking about some good stuff today!” Why is that? I don’t know. Maybe we like being scared, or nobody else is talking about this stuff. They called this the indulged church because Satan learned from his attack on the Church of Smyrna that persecution only causes the church to flourish and continue in a perpetual state of revival. After the Diocletians’ unsuccessful attack on the church, Constantine seceded him as Emperor of Roman. Constantine’s ascendancy to the throne was not without controversy, and it had far-reaching affects on the Christian Church, way back in the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries. Now, Roman history tells us that Constantine contended for the throne with Maxentius after the death of Galerius, and both Roman history and church tradition indicate that Constantine, already attracted Christianity, allegedly saw a vision of a fiery cross in the sky, and saw the words, “in this sign, conquer.” Constantine believed his vision was a message from God, that if he would embrace the Christian religion, he would be able to conquer his enemies. He accepted the Christian faith, and declared himself to be its defender and protector.

There are some who accept this as a bona fide conversion on the part of Constantine, however, a careful examination of his life indicates that he either he had a poor concept of Christianity, or he had never been truly born again by the Spirit of God. One commendable thing he did, though, he ordered his bishop Eusebius to supervise the production of fifty copies of the Holy Scriptures to be used by the churches. Some of these manuscripts are the oldest existing copies of God’s Word. When Constantine became Emperor of Rome, he became the virtual emperor of the western world. As the self-styled protector of the Christian faith, he issued an edict of toleration for Christianity, and showered many favors on the Christian Church. The government provided money for the operation of the church, and many of the pagan temples were taken over by the Christians. To please the emperor, these leaders adopted customs that were parallel to pagan practices. And, this right here, is really going to mess some of you guys up. One compromise invariably leads to another, and what seemed at the start to be a great blessing, ended up to be a great curse. During the seceding three centuries of this period, many anti-Christian practices of pagan origin were adopted, which robbed the church of its fire and its evangelistic fervor. Now, what am I saying? There was this church that went around the world in the sign of the Cross, and it would meet other religions, pagan religions, and instead of casting them out or changing them, it would say, “all right, we’ll just name your god, Boo Boo Boo Boo, the Virgin Mary, and we’re going to build a church here over on top of your other temple.” That happened throughout the world. The influence of Paganism on the church increased over the years, step by step. The church began to shroud itself in a “mystery and ritualism that had a strong resemblance to Babylonian mysticism.

The Greek Tao, which is the elevation of the large T at the end of a pole, was changed to the sign of a Cross. The rosary of pagan origin was introduced. Celibacy of priests and nuns, which has no scriptural verification, finds a counterpart in the vestal virgins of Paganism and was conceived. I can give you a list of non-scriptural changes introduced during this age. Gradually, these changes became more prominent than the original teachings of Christianity. In 300A.D., Prayers for the Dead. Also, the making of the sign of the Cross. 375A.D., the worship of Saints and Angels. 394A.D., mass was first instituted. 431A.D., the worship of Mary began. 500A.D., priests began dressing differently from lay people. 526A.D., extreme unction. 593A.D., the doctrine of purgatory was introduced. 600A.D., worship services were conducted in Latin, and in 600A.D., prayers directed to Mary. From 312A.D. on, the church became more Roman and less Christian in its practices. The Roman Catholic Church of today is hard-put to trace its ancestry beyond 312A.D. Until that time, the church was an independent collection of local churches working together whenever possible, but not denominated by a central authority.

The name Pergamum literally means “marriage” or “elevation.” As the church became married to government authority and elevated to a place of acceptance, it declined in spiritual power and blessing. You know how everybody talks about the imminent return of Jesus? Well, that was big in the first three centuries, and it produced evangelism, it consecrated and made a fervent church, but that changed when Christianity became a state religion, a countrywide religion. As the church became rich and powerful, it was suggested that the world was getting better and better, and that Christ’s Kingdom was already ushered in, and that He would come at the end of the thousand-year reign. This demanded a reinterpretation of the status of Israel, which was accomplished by suggesting that Israel had been cast off forever, and the promises of Israel now applied to the Church. It was not until 1,400 years later that the coming of Christ was reemphasized, and with that came a return to evangelism. Whenever a local church or denomination has maintained a strong emphasis on the second coming of our Blessed Lord, it has been an evangelistic, missionary-sending station. Where this doctrine has been neglected, the church becomes cold, old, indifferent, and worldly. Just sayin’.

You know, the nature of Christ is revealed in Pergamum. Scripture says, ‘these are the world of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword.” We had previously heard that Christ selected one of the aspects of his nature as revealed to John in his vision, and presented it to each individual church. To Pergamum, he revealed the sharp, double-edged sword, which, without question, is the Word of God. The cure for the problems of the local church at Pergamum, of the Pergamum-age of the church, or any church that is of God, Christ used that word to sanctify His Churches, as in John 17:17, to cleanse it in 15:13, to bring it joy in 15:11, and to bring it peace in 16:33. Had the church, or any church of Pergamum, heeded the Word of God, the evils of the dark ages could well have been avoided.

Let us pray: Heavenly Father, You said in Your Word, “be still and know that I Am God.” There are so many things going on right now where we need to hear that more and more. There is nothing that You can’t stop, that You can’t fix, that You can’t help, that You heal. We ask, Lord God, that You would help us to move towards You so that we can hear Your Voice, follow Your lead, and get the blessings that we desired. Thank You for everything. It’s only in the matchless and wonderful Name of Your Son Jesus that I ask this thing. Amen.

There’s a common phrase that you’ll hear almost on any news station or any talk radio thing where they say, “speak your truth.” That’s a load of crock. That’s some B.S. That’s some bovine excrement. If all truth is subjective, everybody must be right, no matter how ridiculous, perverse, or immoral their beliefs are. You know, back in the day, back in the 70’s, a lot of R&B songs, there was a phrase that we used to say: Yo, man. Everything is everything. Well, today, they say, “speak your truth.” If all beliefs are true, then non-beliefs are false. How could anybody learn anything in the scheme of things? Also, if true is subjective, then we can hardly attempt to challenge or correct somebody else. Everybody would be just as right as the next person. Logically speaking, it’s only the absolutist who can actually challenge a belief or philosophy, and that’s because the absolutist believes people can be wrong in their beliefs. If truth is relative, it includes all moral truth, which means no one should complain about robbery, murder, or slander by those who have the moral right to do so.

See, one big problem we have with relativism is that no one can live it out consistently. So, in essence, it is much easier to consistently accept the idea that absolutes do exist in the sphere of morality and truth. How does this relate to religion? All religions claim to be the truth, even scientific ones. And, as a result, a lot of people are confused. Of course, not all religions can be fully true since they clearly contradict one another in spite of a few similarities. I always say that all of us — every religion, every faith, every belief — have some commonalities and at least one thing that is right. So, how does one know which religion is really true? Well, to answer this question, one would need to consider the claims made by each religion. Any religion claiming that it, alone is fully true and produces solid evidence to that affect is worth serious consideration for that reason alone. Of all the world religions, biblical Christianity is the only religion that makes the claim it does.

In fact, Christianity makes bold claims that other religions do not, including salvation and forgiveness of sin based on grace not merit or deeds, assurance of salvation and eternal life through faith and belief in Jesus Christ, and in Jehovah God being the only one and true God, Creator and Sustainer of all that exists. Either Christianity is the greatest thing for mankind or the biggest lie ever told to mankind. What really makes Christianity unique among world religions? Jesus. If you want to see how everybody is rollin’? Ask them what the Jesus thing is in their faith. Who is Jesus to you? That separates everybody. You want to draw a line? Bring up Jesus. So, why is it that you can talk about God, and nobody gets upset, but as soon as you mention Jesus, people want to go and stop the conversation? Why don’t the names of Buddha, Mohammed, and Confucius offend people? What makes Jesus so different from other religious leaders? I’ll tell you what. These others didn’t claim to be God, but Jesus did. That is what makes Him so different. For many people, this claim is too exclusive, too narrow for them to want to believe, as if one’s belief is the key element. See, that’s not so for Christianity. One’s belief is important, but not the key element. Christians do not accept the cliche that it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you believe it enough.

The Christian faith is an objective faith, therefore it must have an object. Jesus Christ is that object. For the Christian, the value is not in the one believing, but in the One who is believed in. Faith’s object: Jesus Christ. The issue is not what we want to think or believe, but rather who Jesus Christ is, and who He claimed to be. You follow me so far? I’m going to try to tackle at least one big, audacious subject like this every week, if I can.

One of the things that happened, and one of the things that is a big misconception is that folks say that Jesus didn’t really claim to be God. They try to find an out. One assumption is that those who lived at the time of Christ misunderstood Him as we are misunderstanding Him today. In other words, Jesus didn’t really claim to be God. But, He did. Jesus not only claimed equality with God as His Father, but He also asserted that He was the one in essence or nature with God. Go to the Gospel of John. Jesus continually spoke of Himself as being One with God. In the Book of Mark, Jesus claimed to be able to forgive sins, which, according to Jewish Law, only God could do. Folks were ready to stone Him every time He brought this up. The Scriptures attribute characteristics to Him that can be true only of God — self-existent, omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, possessing eternal life. And the Gospels present Jesus as the actual embodiment of truth and love.

It’s important to understand than an attribute isn’t something that is a part of God, but something that is true of God. How about the trial of Jesus? Unique among criminal trials is this one, which, not by the actions, but by the identity of the accused. That’s the issue. Jesus was tried for blasphemy. In most trials, people are tried for what they have done. Jesus was tried for what he was claiming to be. You see, the people of His day, were highly cultured and intensely religious people. They did not misunderstand Him, just as we are not misunderstanding Him today. The references are abundant and their meanings are clear. In Mark 2:10, Jesus claimed to be able to forgive sin. He said that He was Lord over the Sabbath. That’s in Mark 2:28. In Mark 14:62 and Luke 22:66-71, Jesus called Himself “I Am,” the name God used of Himself in Exodus 3:14. Jesus said He was the one who sent prophets to Israel in Matthew 23:43. He referred to Himself as fulfillment of the Scriptures, like, a few times. Luke 4:21, and John mentioned it in 5:39. He claimed that to reject Him was to die in sin. Ain’t my words, it comes right out of the Book, in John 8:24. In the Book of John, chapter 8, verse 51, Jesus said that those who kept His Words would never see death, and in a few verses later in verse 58, He attested to His own eternalization. In John 10:30, He claimed to be of the same nature as the Father. He claimed to be Lord in John 13:13, and the only way to God (John 14:6), which people just go crazy over. And in John 14:9, Jesus said, “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.” Equally significant, though perhaps not as noticeable to our 21st century Western minds, our Jesus’s repeated references to Himself as the Son of Man. More than eighty times, Jesus uses “Son of Man” as a title for Himself. Jesus’s use of the term was referenced to Daniel 7:13 and 14 in which the prophet speaks of “one like a Son of Man seated with the Ancient of Days who presided with authority over the world and all its people.”

See, Jesus’s listeners would have known that passage as well. We find one such use of this title, Son of Man, during Jesus’s exchange with the Jewish high priest in the Book of Mark, chapter 14, verses 60-64. The New American Standard version says, “The high priest stood up and came forward to question Jesus saying, ‘Do you not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against you?’ But, He kept silent and did not answer. Again, the high priest was questioning Him, and saying to Him, ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?’ And Jesus said, ‘I am. You shall see the Son of Man, sitting at the right hand of power, and coming with the clouds of Heaven.’ Tearing his clothes, the high priest said, ‘What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy. How does this seem to you?’ And, they all condemned Him to the deserving of death.”

The reason they called for Jesus’s execution was because, in their minds at least, He had committed blasphemy. He said that He was God. And, that is why nobody wants you to say that Jesus word.

 

Ever Heard of the Synagogue of Satan?

Church of Smyrna

This week on the Speak Life Church Podcast, I’ll rant about an educated skeptic. We’re talking about the book of Revelation, chapter 2: The Church of Smyrna. And, I have a handful of questions I ask you during this episode, which is a little longer than usual, but I want to hear from you.

1 John 5:14 says, “and this is the confidence that we have in Him that if we ask anything according to His Will, He hears us.”

[Rev. Kenn praying]

Heavenly Father, Lord God, Creator of Heaven and Earth, Lover of my soul, thank you for the promise of Your Word that tells me that when I call on You, You will answer me and show me great and mighty Things. This wonderful promise inspires me to learn to pray more effectively and to experience all that You have for me in prayer. I thank you, Lord God, for the confidence that I have in You – that if I ask anything according to Your Will, You will hear me. And because I know You hear me, I know I will receive whatever petitions I ask of You. Your Word reveals Your Will to me, therefore I will pray according to Your Word. Your Word is filled with so many precious prayer promises. Thank you, Father, for each one. As I meditate on these promises and learn to pray Your Word and Your Will, I know Your Word will never return until You void. You will always accomplish Your purposes. Help me, Father, to be in Your Will. Help me to study Your Word. Help me not to be so selfish and so self-focussed that I forget that there are others who stand in need of help. Help me to pour out Your Love to other people. Give me the joy that surpasses all understanding, the happiness that only comes from You by helping other people. Help me, Lord God, to feel Your Presence today. Somebody listening right now has had a rough time. They need a word. They need a touch. They need Your Presence, Lord God, in their life. They don’t know that You are right there. Help them to feel Your Presence. Help them to see You — like the air that we can’t see, but we know is there because we’re still here. We’re still breathing. The Holy Spirit helps us. Help us to understand those things that are so misunderstood, to trust what we cannot see. Help us to trust the Holy Spirit to lead God in every area of our lives. Father, I thank You for teaching me what’s important — opened my eyes and my ears to see Your Work, to see Your Creation, the miracles that are happening all around me. Give me an appreciative heart, a heart of gratitude, a heart of love, a heart that still can be receptive in a hard time. This is Your servant’s prayer. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

Before we get into Revelation this week, I want to talk about the educated skeptic — you know, that person that’s just so smart, they don’t believe what you and I believe, or maybe somebody listening is considering, “maybe this stuff is okay for you, but I don’t really get it yet.” Perhaps you’ve met that person already, the guy who is too smart to be a Christian: “Oh, sure! Christianity is fine if it gives you comfort.” But, you know better. You know that there’s really nothing to it — sort of like there’s nothing to Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. Those are just stories we tell people until they’re old enough and smart enough to know better. A lot of times, the educated skeptic is a college student home from their first year of college. They’ve been exposed to a lot of new ideas and levels of learning they’ve never experienced before. A good example of this is from a story from the guy who created the Life Without a Net website that caters to skeptics and atheists. His name is Bill Hamby.

Hamby says he was raised in an evangelical home and he recalls his college days. He said the first thing that happened was he took a course in evolutionary biology. “I took a course concurrent with geology. I began to see that the world was not 6,000-years-old. I had been trusting a very old book, the Bible, when I ought to be trusting new science. Then, I took some classes in ethics. I began to see that you can establish a system of ethics without relying on authoritarianism.” That’s a word for you. He goes on to say, “You don’t need a guy with a stick holding it over your head. I do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.” That, in a nutshell, is how a lot of educated people become skeptics.

Someone once complained about the argumentative, know-it-all friend: “I’m not bothered by what he knows. What bothers me is what he knows that ain’t so.” That’s often the case with the educated skeptic. He or she might be very well-educated with a bunch of degrees on the wall, but educated in some matters doesn’t mean educated in everything, and an educated skeptic might be smart in some matters without realizing they aren’t smart in the terms of Christianity. It’s not that what they know about biology, geology, or any number of other topics – it’s what they know about Christianity just ain’t so. They often have a bias against Christianity. In other words, they didn’t become a skeptic by examining the evidence and coming to a conclusion. No, often they’ve been led in that direction by things they’ve read, people they’ve talked to, and things they’ve heard. They often take pride in their level of education, and can become totally unaware of their prejudices or the prejudices of those they read. They don’t see the walls they have erected, or the gymnastics they have employed to reach this conclusion about Christianity. You know, when you’re dealing with an educated skeptic, it’s probably not wise to try to convince them that they’re wrong about things that ultimately have no bearing on the truth of Christianity. You might be very smart when it comes to such matters. I say, engage them on those things they know ain’t so. Let’s take this guy, Bill Hamby, for example, who wrote this blog post. One of the first teachings of Christianity that he called into question was the claim that the Earth is 6,000-years-old. His study of biology and geology seemed to provide evidence that the Earth and the Universe are much older, so he figured that there must be something wrong with the Bible. The problem is, nowhere does the Bible teach that the Earth is 6,000-years-old. There may be some Christians who believe that though, but nowhere are you going to find it in the Book.

So, here’s one strategy for dealing with the educated skeptic. Make sure you clarify what Christianity teaches versus what they think it teaches. The 6,000-year-old-Earth idea originated with the Bishop James Ussher back in the 1500’s and 1600’s. He was a prelate of the Church of Ireland. Ussher postulated that God created the Earth at nightfall preceding Sunday, October 23rd, 4004B.C. Yeah, I know. For real. Ussher was a well-educated man, not some guy making guesses. He arrived at this date by looking at the historical events in the Old Testament that we can reliable date by going through the various genealogies in both the Old and New Testaments.

This process required great depth of learning in history, including knowledge about the ancient Persians, Greeks, and Romans, as well as expertise in the Bible — biblical language, astronomy, ancient calendars, and chronology. Ussher’s methodology worked to a point, that is to give just a couple of examples: He accurately placed the death of Alexander the Great in 323B.C., and the murder of Julius Caesar in 44B.C. But the problem for Bishop Ussher was that he didn’t have access to all of the archaeological research and scholarship that we have available to us now. Remember, this was the 1500’s.

For example, few biblical scholars today believe that genealogies in the Bible mention every single person in that line of descendants. For various reasons, including cultural and symbolical, the writers of these genealogies skipped some generations, in order to, for example, emphasize certain persons in a lineage. In other cases, if you add up the generations listed, you’ll find that they are all multiples of the number seven, which was considered the number of perfection. I’m not saying that these genealogies were made up, metaphorical, or otherwise not true. I’m just saying that the writer had a purpose other than the literal, straight-line listing of every person in a given genealogical line, and it is work of hermeneutics to discover this. (Hermeneutics is the art and science of interpreting scripture.) I’m not arguing here for an old Earth or a young Earth.

The important points are is that the Bible doesn’t teach that the world is 6,000-years-old, and that many Bible-believing Christians come down on different sides of this issue. Help your educated skeptics understand this is not a nonnegotiable point of Christian doctrine, and therefore not a compelling reason to reject the Christian faith.

The second reason Bill Hamby has for becoming a skeptic: He says, “I began to see that you can establish a system of ethics without relying on authoritarianism. I do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.” There are several problems with this statement. Let’s start with the first one — Hamby misunderstood the source of our understanding of good and evil. He sees God as really commanding a thing because He wills it to be so. So, in effect, in Bill Hamby’s view, God says, “Do it, or else I’ll smash you. Either now, or in the afterlife, or both.” And, this makes God arbitrary and authoritarian.

You’ll often hear skeptics throw out other things like Plato’s dialogue. Socrates asks his young questioner — I think his name was Euthyphro — whether an act is good because God wills it, or if God wills it because it is good. If an act is “good” merely because God wills it, then He is arbitrary. Morality has no root beyond God’s Will and the power to enforce it. So, as one atheist website puts it: “If God can define good and evil however it likes, then of course, there is no problem with God always being good. Good is whatever God does, by definition. But, now we simply have the ultimate case of ‘might makes right.’ There’s no real difference between a speed limit of 55mph and ‘thou shalt not kill,’ except, presumably, God enforces its rules better. You could say, ‘no, an act is not simply good because God wills it,’ thus dodging the arbitrary-ness problem, but if God wills it, it is because it is good. Now, you’ve hit the second horn of the dilemma: If God wills it because it is good, then there are some standards outside or before God that defines ‘good’ — something that God Himself must conform to. This means that God is not Sovereign, but rather subject to something outside Himself.” A famous mathematician and atheist, Bertrand Russell, makes an argument similar to that one. He said, “The dilemma can be stated this way: Either God is not good, or He is not sovereign.

Either option conforms to classic Christian teaching, and here’s the way out. You arrive at this dilemma only by asking the wrong question. The correct answer to Euthyphro’s dilemma is ‘none of the above.’ Morality is neither something arbitrarily commanded by God, nor something outside of God to which He is, too, subject.” Real morality is rooted in God very nature. He didn’t make up this thing or get it from somewhere else. Good is what comports with God’s nature. Evil is what goes against it. God cannot sin — not because He has superior will power, but because it would violate His nature, and He would then cease to be God. When I was taking philosophy class, this stuff made my head go ‘round in a circle. And, I watched other students who were trying to just suck up to the teacher, and I saw people lose their faith in seminary. I really did.

I watched folks try to pick a side, and wanting to sound important and smart, and quite a few who couldn’t explain themselves just decided that maybe this stuff was made up. The educated person — not just a college student; it could be anybody. There’s quite a few pastors I challenge today — well, it’s not up to me actually. It’s God, Himself that will challenge them. They’re highly educated.

They have doctorate degrees, but they act as if God doesn’t exist when nobody’s watching. What I’m trying to say is education doesn’t help your faith sometimes. We go back to the statement this guy Hamby made: “I do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. Right. Right as compared to what? Wrong as compared to what? If there is no objective standard to measure against, what does it mean to say right or wrong? Let’s look at it this way: In tennis, the umpire can say the ball hits on the wrong side of the line because A. there is a line painted on the court and B. the objective rules of tennis say that the ball must land on one side of the line to be in, and anything else is out.

Morality is the same way except the line is God’s Law written in our hearts, and the rules are what conforms to God’s intrinsic nature. Being created in God’s image, we instinctively all know that. So, when this guy talks about right and wrong, we all have a general understanding of what these terms mean. The problem for this guy and other skeptics though, is that they have no basis for saying no.

Here’s the big thing: Without God, we have no way to judge if something is good or evil.

Just by chance, if I’ve touched a nerve with you, and you want to get more into apologetics, which is the study of defending your faith, then let me know. Then I can pray on it and get deeper into it so that I can actually come correct and say the right things, and we can have some good dialogue so that you’ll be able to defend the faith better, which might not be a bad idea. Let me know where you are on this whole thing, and I’m hoping I didn’t just take you right off the charts with this little division or derision I took here, but something was pushing so I thought I would just go with it, talking about the educated skeptic because sometimes, we can be too smart for our own damn good.

And I think, I really think the reason this was tugging on me is probably coming from a conversation I had with someone not too long ago, and this thing didn’t get resolved, so it was sticking in my head. Matthew 18:3 says, “Verily, I say unto you, except ye be converted and become as little children you shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child the same is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” Why would a grown person want to be like a child? I am reminded of when my son was small, and I had to bend over to pick him up, and he’d just kind of put his arms up in the air and move his hands to get my attention. That meant, “Daddy, pick me up!” He trusted me to pick him up without saying anything. It was a nonverbal thing between us, and I automatically knew that I was going to pick him up, no matter what the deal was. You want to have that same kind of faith.

You want to be able to look up into Heaven with your arms outstretched and have your Daddy, your Heavenly Father pick you up. That doesn’t require a PhD. It doesn’t require you to jump through any hoops, just the acknowledgement that God is your Heavenly Father, the Creator of all things, the Master and Lover of your soul, and when you trust Him, He will always be there. He shall be.

If you grab your Bibles and go to the New Testament book of Revelation, chapter two, we will hit verses eight through eleven this week. We’re talking about the Church of Smyrna — not Smyrna, Georgia, but the Church of Smyrna. Amen? “Until the angel of the church of Smyrna write, the first and the last who was dead and has come to life, say this: I know your tribulation and your poverty, but you are rich, and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan, do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison so that you will be tested and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the Crown of Life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches: He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.” The church in Smyrna was a much persecuted church in a wealthy city that had little time for Christians. The city itself, founded about three centuries before Christ was a well-planned accomplishment of Alexander the Great. The commercial center of Asia Minor, it was on the direct trade route from India and Persia to Rome. The large variety of coins found by archaeologists in the city clearly indicate that it was a wealthy city. The Jewish segment of the population seems to have been the most irreligious and neglectful of spiritual things. Few specific details are known of the history of the Smyrna Church, other than what is given in Scripture and text. It can be safely deduced, though, that it was a most faithful church in the face of persecution. From this account, the known characteristics of the condition in the Church of Smyrna indicate that the Judgment Seat of Christ will reveal this church to be one of the most outstanding local bodies of believers in all of church history. It was the persecuted church. The commendation of this church: “I know your afflictions and your poverty, yet you are rich.” Condemnation: Not one thing. The Counsel: “Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. Be faithful even to the point of death.” And the challenge to this church: “He that overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.” The Smyrna Period of church history is probably the greatest time of persecution the Church of Christ has ever known. Satan unleashed a violent attack on the church in an effort to obliterate it, for it became evident to him that the Apostolic church, because of its faithful preaching of the Gospel, had become a serious threat to his worldwide Godless empire. That he was unsuccessful in this attempt is easily seen in a study of church history. For God overruled and Satan learned a valuable lesson: The more he persecuted the church during this period, the more the church overcame the one condemning characteristic of the Apostolic Age — that of having lost his first love. Not one word of condemnation was hurled by Christ at this church. So, from this, Satan learned a great secret: Persecution will not stamp out the Church of God. Consequently, the age ended with the easing of persecution when Satan used which turned out to be his most effective weapon to weaken the Church: Indulgence. Or endorsement. You know, one of the things we do as students of The Bible is look at the types of these churches that are talked about in the Book of Revelation. See their characteristics, and see if the churches you are in now, or that you were a part of, have some of those characteristics. So, what I just said was, when the church didn’t have a lot of money or material wealth, but were rich in character and personality, they were getting abused by the Devil, attacked by the Devil, they were persecuted, but folks hung in there. The Devil understood that if he attacks the Church directly, we will dig in. But, if we let folks get puffed up in themselves, full of themselves, if he actually endorses the Church, if he actually encourages some of our foolishness, then we self-destruct. Those are some of the lessons in the Church of Smyrna.

The Synagogue of Satan piece pops right at your face, right? Let’s talk about that for a minute. Satan has his own religious faith. He also has his church. It’s called Synagogues of Satan. Any church that preaches a gospel other than the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is a Synagogue of Satan, regardless of what it’s called. Many so-called “Christian churches” today are just like the Jews at Smyrna. They are not Christians at all, and are condemned by the Savior Himself because they preach a message other than the one laid down in the Word of God. In reality, they are the Synagogue of Satan, not the Church of Jesus the Christ. That’s heavy, right? I know. I know. But, you see, the two basic heresies that come from the Synagogue of Satan in the name of Christianity were apparent before the end of the second century. In fact, they existed at the time Christ gave His Message to the Churches of Ephesus and Smyrna. These heresies are a false doctrine of Christ in mixing of law and grace. The latter was the work of the Judaizers condemned by the Savior in verse ten.

Practically every false religious system and cult coming out of Christianity can be traced to one of these two heresies. Either people are confused about the personal deity of our blessed Lord, suggesting though He was a good man, He was not a virgin-born Son of God who lived a sinless life, died a sacrificial death, rose bodily from the grave, ascended physically into Heaven, and promised to return physically to this Earth someday. Or the add-to-salvation by grace through faith saying than in addition to believe on Jesus, we should also see the Sabbath, observe certain rites and ceremonies, eat or not eat certain types of food, etc. The church of the first three centuries in large measure successfully withstood these two insidious teachings that are still deceiving many people today in one cult or another. I almost want to do a mic-drop, but I just got this microphone, so I’m not dropping it. And, here’s the challenge that Christ gave us — to those of us who have spiritual ears to hear what the Spirit says to the churches, and it is a challenge to over come. As you already know, this is dependent upon one’s personal faith in Jesus Christ. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death. We have already seen, in the vision of Christ and the Churches in Revelation 1:18 that Christ holds in His Hand the keys of Hell and death. God’s Children have Christ’s personal promise that they will never be hurt by the second death described in Revelation 20. There will come a time when Hades, the present abode for the unbelieving dead, will cast the dead into the Lake of Fire. The Lake of Fire is the second death (Revelation 20:14). You have to understand what the Bible means by “death.” It is the Bible’s term for the complete ruin of a person’s life so they can never fulfill God’s Plan for their life which is eternal. Death occurs when a person is forever separated from God instead of united with Him as is His intention. The second death is that state where people have died in unbelief and are resurrected and cast alive into an eternal state of separation from God in a place called the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:15). The second death need never cause a Child of God to fear. We’re not going there, so, no sweat! But, if you’re not in Christ, then I might worry. Heavy, right? This is the short part of Smyrna, but man, it’s full of stuff! I know. Next week, we’re going to do the Church of Pergamum (Revelation 2:12-17).

I just want to say thank you, again, for listening, for being a part of this church, being a part of my prayer circle. I’ve been praying mightily for quite a few of you because you’ve called me, you’ve sent me emails, you’ve let me know how you’re feeling. I just want to give a quick shoutout to Sarah who will be doing some work with us, helping print some of these notes, so that you can back it on up, and get the details of the stuff I’ve mumbled through and said, get some clarity from her. She’s going to put this to text, and you’ll be able to find these show notes on speaklifechurch.net once I get that all rockin’ and rollin’. And, no pressure. It’s going to happen. The church is on the move. We’re doing some good stuff. I’m rockin’ a new microphone right now from Heil, the company. They make some pretty good stuff. It’s a gain-hungry thing, so I’m hoping you don’t hear too much of a hiss in the background. Let me tell you how I got this thing. My microphone, the old one, the rubber just fell off it, and the thing was dangling. It was kind of embarrassing, but it was a twelve-year-old microphone and a setup I’ve just been moving around. I called on a friend, a believer, and asked him if he knew anyone who wanted to donate a microphone to a brother. This was the one I wanted. I’m not going to mess around. I’m going to ask for this one right here. I sent him a little link from Amazon, and he got back to me in about fifteen minutes. I was expecting him to tell me, “Man, you got some cajones to be askin’ like that!” But, he said, “Continue to do good work. It should be there in about ten days. I just ordered it.” Man! You could’ve knocked me over with a feather. Look at God! Thank you for being a part of that same spiritual power. Your prayers, those who donate, those who work for this virtual church. We were doing this virtual church before corona, and I do believe we may be doing some Zoom stuff in the future. If you would be interested in doing that, let me know. It won’t be every Sunday because I couldn’t handle it, but once a month, how ‘bout we get together and do a Zoom meeting? Let me know what you think about that too. So, I’m going to give you a couple of questions and calls to action, and I’d love to hear from you. My email is pastor@speaklifechurch.net or kenn.blanchard@gmail.com. Let me know what you think about any of those questions I asked you today. I think one of them was, basically: How you doin’? Simple. I would like to hear from you. The second was: Would you like us to talk about apologetics? Would you like us to get deeper into the subject of this week, The Church of Smyrna? I think I asked you about my new microphone: Is it okay? Can you hear me okay? Is there too much hissing or background noise? Do you hear anything extra that I should be working on? And, I’m just looking for conversation, to touch bases with you. You matter. Yeah, you. You and me, in this thing together. Don’t think you’re by yourself. I want to hear from you this week.

Let’s pray.

Heavenly Father, God of Israel, Isaac, and Jacob, and the Father of us all, Father, please forgive me and us for everyone we’ve done against You. Please, hear my prayer. Allow me to approach Your Throne of Grace. I plead the blood of Your Son over my life, over my words. Cover me so that I may approach Your Throne. Have mercy on us as we look to the future and seek to do right in Your Eyes. Help us to seek You first in all that we do. Help us lean not on our own understanding. Help us to walk upright before You. Help us to do Your Will. Help us to do what You asked — to love our neighbors as ourselves. Help us to honor our parents. Help us to turn away from evil. Help us to focus on what is good and acceptable. Help us to love our spouses. Help us to be better stewards of all the things you’ve given us, starting with our very lives. Help us to listen more and talk less. Hear my prayer, oh, Lord. I recognize and acknowledge what I am to You. I acknowledge what You have done for me, and that is everything. I acknowledge what You have provided for me, what You have blessed me with, delivered me from. I stand before You only because You allow it. I bless You, Lord God, for where You have taken me and kept me from. Thank You for leading and guiding me thus far. Thank You for feeding me, clothing me, being a roof over my head, and keeping the Death Angel away from my door. If I had ten thousand tongues, Lord, I couldn’t say “thank You” enough. This is Your servant’s praise and prayer. Amen.

I want to thank you for being a part of my life and this ministry. Thank you for your support financially. Thank you for your support spiritually and your prayer. Thank you for your encouragement online. Thank you for all the things you, personally, have done for Speak Life Church.

Now, may the Grace of God, and the Sweet Communion of the Holy Spirit rest, rule, and abide with you both now and forevermore. Just in case I don’t see you on this side of the river, I will see you at the Feet of Jesus. Until I hear from you, or until next week, God bless you.