Trinity Bible Studies
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Groups are listed below and are open to all. Let us know which you’d like to be involved in! More groups can be added based on topics meaningful to you, and we can schedule groups on lunch hours or in the evening after work is done/kids are in bed/families fed… whatever works best for those interested. Groups can start with as few as TWO participants and grow from there! Open to church, CDC, guests, friends, neighbors and strangers. All are welcome to connect, learn and grow! If you don’t see something that you’re looking for let us know and we’ll find something in your area of interest. And if you’re new to virtual meetings, don’t worry, it’s not complicated, and we can walk you through the process. You’ll be a pro in no time. Reach out to Trinity’s Ministry and Communications Coordinator, Chanda Gillenwater, at Chanda.Gillenwater@TrinityDowntown.com or 407-490-7339 (text or call).
In-Person Group Options
Tuesdays at 1pm, Loggia 3 Classroom, in-person, workbook needed, facilitated by Norma Smith, contact at firstname.lastname@example.org
GriefShare is for people grieving the death of a family member or friend. GriefShare is a friendly, caring group of people who will walk alongside you through one of life’s most difficult experiences. You don’t have to go through the grieving process alone. You are welcome to begin attending the GriefShare group at any session. Each is “self-contained,” so you do not have to attend in sequence. You will find encouragement and help whenever you begin. You will be able to continue with GriefShare through the next 13-week cycle and view any of the videos you have not seen.
Book needed, daily readings, eight week plan
- Sunday Mornings 8:45am adult group will meeting in-person at Trinity. Contact Gregg Yawman at email@example.com to confirm
- Tuesday Morning Women’s Group with Darlene Sabin – Begins Oct 6, Loggia 2 Classroom, 9am. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Tuesday Evening Women’s Group with Julie Lasater in her home. Email email@example.com.
- Tuesday Evening Adult Group in Gregg Yawman’s home. Contact Gregg at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Saturdays 4:30pm group will meet in person, in the Loggia 3 Classroom right next to the Sanctuary. Lead by Bob Trapp, Jr. Email email@example.com
Immerse: Kingdoms is the third of six volumes in Immerse: The Bible Reading Experience. Kingdoms presents a new and unique journey through the story of Israel from the time of its conquest of Canaan (Joshua) through its struggle to settle the land (Judges, Ruth) and the establishment of Israel’s kingdom, which ends in a forced exile (Samuel–Kings). The nation of Israel, commissioned to be God’s light to the nations, falls to division and then foreign conquest for rejecting God’s rule. Read more HERE about IMMERSE.
…Coming Up Next Month
Saturdays at 4:00 with Pastor Doug, in-person and online if needed. If you’re interested, contact Chanda at TLC@TrinityDowntown.com, book needed, daily readings, eight week plan, starts Nov 7
Online Group Options
A Study on The End Times with Pastor Weerts
Many people are having questions about the end of the world due to the Pandemic because of Covid–19. We’ll study this topic through daily lessons, six days a week, for an estimated two or three weeks at the most. You can follow along daily via Pastor Weerts’ Facebook page, or study at your own pace accessing the lessons here as published. Following the End Times study, Pastor Weerts will begin a study of The Gospel of John. Pastor Weerts uses the ESV translation but you can use your own favorite translation for study as well. If you have specific End Times questions, send them to Pastor Weerts at StrongInChrist@CFL.RR.COM
The End Times Bible Study #1
Welcome to a study of the approaching end of the world. I believe all Bible Study
should begin with prayer. Ask for God’s Spirit to lead and guide you. I have no trouble
telling you I can guarantee that what God says in the Bible is always true. You can’t say
that about any other person. My first bit of advice is don’t snack on the Word of God. Eat
a full meal. What I mean is that too often people want to study a verse or two instead of
larger sections. I will give you a Scripture reading which I encourage you to read out of
your regular devotional Bible. I will not be printing any translation for you. I use the
English Standard Version (ESV). Remember, I welcome questions about our topic or any
Bible or theological question. What I attempt is to answer any questions within 3 days if
it involves our special study or I will inform you if it is to be covered in a future lesson.
Send questions to: StrongInChrist@CFL.rr.com If it is some other Bible or theological
questions, it might take a week for me to respond. As I have told a number of you lately:
I’m not as fast as I used to be and I’m not as slow as I’m going to be.
Read: 2 Peter 3:1–10. Then go back to the beginning and I will take you through
verse by verse or sentence by sentence. The original writings had no verses or spaces
v. 1: In the opening two verses of this chapter, Peter indicates to the reader that he is
once again picking up themes he had mentioned in the first chapter. He stresses the need
to ‘recall’ (verse 2; compare 1:12–13) and to ‘understand’ (verse 3; compare 1:20).
v. 2: Understanding what the Bible says, that is, what the holy prophets have
spoken, and what our Lord and Savior himself has said, will be the only full-proof way of
combating heresy. This was a theme in the first epistle (e.g. 1 Peter 1:10–12; 2:4–12 etc.)
and is a vital message for all churches through the ages. It is assumed that it is through
[the] apostles that we can know exactly and reliably what Jesus had spoken and
vs. 3–4: Of course, the particular words spoken in the past that Peter wishes them to
remember are those relating to the final day of salvation, the “day of the Lord”. Peter
himself clearly lives by the principle he is enunciating. He looks to Scripture and to
apostolic teaching, including his own, as finally authoritative in all matters.
The heretics “scoff” at such teachings. The last days are those days between the first
coming of Christ and the second. On the day of Pentecost Peter himself had used the
prophecy from Joel to indicate that the last days had now come: ‘In the last days, God
says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people’ (Acts 2:17; see Joel 2:28–32). From that
time onwards until the day of the Lord, the church would be living in the last days.
As these Christians confront a world scoffing at the notion that Christ will return,
Peter wants God’s people to understand first from Scripture that all this was prophesied.
The prophets had warned of scoffers as did the apostles and even Jesus himself.
“Following their own sinful desires” raises again the issue Peter has addressed
throughout the letter. It is perhaps inevitable that those who mock the Word of God and
deny the return of Christ will also take no notice of the command for holiness, choosing
rather to follow their evil desires.
They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell
asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation” (v. 4). We
now have lived 2000 years since Christ’s first coming. Perhaps it should not surprise us
that the teaching of Christ’s return is mocked in our day and age.
But such mockery started early. Thirty or so years was still a long time. A
generation had passed away in that time. Those who had been household leaders and
political leaders in Jesus’ day, the middle-aged and older, had already died and still he
had not come. Indeed, it is quite possible that ‘the fathers’ of this church, the apostles and
some early leaders who had planted the church had died. So some ask: “Where is this
We must not underestimate the power of this challenge to the Christian faith. It is
easy for a question like this to raise doubts in the mind of even the sincere believer. When
such questions are asked with passion by teachers like those being confronted in this
epistle, the criticism of traditional teaching can seem strong. The only one way to provide
an answer is to trust the promises of God in Scripture and to know that such scoffing will
vs. 5–6: But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens
existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the
world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and
earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly
This is Peter’s last significant comment about the position of the heretics. In a
moment he will turn to draw encouragement for believers from the doctrine of Christ’s
return. At the heart of heretical teaching of any sort is the denial of God’s spoken and
active word. Peter contrasts the way true believers should remember God’s word and the
fact that the heretics forget that word.
Peter argues that these scoffing teachers know the word and have deliberately
forgotten bits that they don’t like or think are irrelevant. That is a problem today. How
often we find Christians today who overlook the bits of Scripture that do not suit what
they want to believe or do not fit with their actions. This was the problem faced by Peter
and the believers in this church.
God’s word cannot be treated as purely theoretical. It is not simply to be reduced to
a set of doctrines that can be accepted or deliberately ignored. It was by his word that the
heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. God’s word doesn’t
just provide us with a doctrine of creation that can be side-stepped, but it actually creates.
‘And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light’ (Genesis 1:3).
It is a word that has brought into being and a word that always fulfils promises as
well as actually making those promises. To say that we believe and trust God’s word must
also directly involve a commitment to the power of that word to bring to pass whatever is
v. 7: This word that has created is also a word that has destroyed. It is vital that we
see the importance of what Peter is saying here: deliberately forgetting the creating word
of God is part and parcel of their attempt to hide the destroying (judging) word of God.
By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. Just as water
had been used in creation at the order of God so it was used in the destruction of the earth
in Noah’s day (see 2:5). God’s word is so active and powerful that he spoke and the
world was destroyed through the great flood (Genesis 6:7; 7:4, 23).
Peter drives home for the believers the quite devastating message that the heretics
who deny Christ’s coming will be judged when he comes. By the same word, that is by
the active word of God, the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for
the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
The applications of these verses to today’s world and even today’s church are
numerous and sadly all too obvious. Heretics have not learned their lesson. Scorn is still
poured on those who believe in God’s word and look forward to a judgment day that will
come as certainly as Noah’s flood happened.
vs. 8–10: As Peter continues to speak to the believers, his dear friends, he reminds
them of another truth. The delay in the return of the Lord does not mean that it will not
happen. God has a different experience of time than we do. But do not forget this one
thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are
like a day.
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is
patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. This
shows how we often misunderstand the actions of God because we have listen to what he
Peter has argued that God’s word guarantees the return but, even so, the delay was
as perplexing for believers then as it is today. And so Peter tackles the issue head on,
asking us to bear in mind two points.
1) God’s timing. This point is simple. We should not simply look at time
from our point of view. We need to remember just who this eternal God is before we
jump to conclusions about describing the delay as a ‘long time’.
2) God’s purposes. We need to remember that God’s purposes for the future
do not simply concern judgment and salvation on the last day, but also concern people’s
salvation being worked out right now. If that all takes time, then we can put it down to
God’s patience with sinful people as he desires their repentance.
With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day
recalls the words of Psalm 90:4—‘For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that
has just gone by, or like a watch in the night’. Of course Peter is not arguing, as some
have suggested, that wherever we read ‘day’ in the Bible we can substitute ‘a thousand
We cannot, for example, suggest that the six days of creation are in fact to be
understood as 6000 years! Peter’s point is actually much simpler than that. He is asking
his readers to recognize that God is God and we are human beings for whom eighty years
is a life-time!
We need to remember that God may take what seems to us to be an inordinately
long time to fulfil his promises, but then he is God! The fact that he is eternal in his
existence should reinforce this point for us. Peter is not saying that God is somehow
‘beyond’ or ‘outside’ time, as if ‘time’ means nothing to him.
Peter is biblical and not Greek in his thinking. He is not describing God as ‘timeless
and spaceless’ as if we simply have to live with that. Peter’s point is that God himself
does not make plans that have to be fulfilled in a lifetime, for he lives forever. Rather they
will be fulfilled, and they will be fulfilled in history in time, but God views that time
differently from us for whom it rushes by in a few short years. (cf. Psalm 90:10).
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. This is
the issue. God has promised a ‘coming’ (verse 4). Will he keep his word? Time and again
Peter has returned to the issue of God and his word. It is active and powerful. What God
says, happens. He can be trusted and will keep these promises of the day of the Lord
Peter draws upon the Old Testament to make his point by alluding to Habakkuk 2:3
“For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end–it will not lie. If it
seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.”
Peter is prepared to admit that there is an apparent delay, but it must be understood
differently. It all has to do with God’s grace and love for people. He is patient with you.
This is how the delay should be viewed, from the perspective of God’s patience as he
provides still further time for repentance, not wanting any to perish, but everyone to come
Peter does not accept the mechanistic view of the universe put forward by the false
teachers and so prevalent today. From a Christian perspective the world simply does not
go on forever the same. God is at work in this world. He created it and will bring it to an
end. It has not simply come into being by chance nor will it simply disappear by chance
or even by the will of a human being.
1. One of the most important points is the reminder that we have been been living
in the last days ever since the eternal Son of God entered earth as Jesus. I still hear people
asking, “Are we living in the last days now?” The answer is, “Yes, ever since Jesus was
2. Remember to distinguish between “the last days” and “the last day.” The last day
is judgment day itself. I find many people who are concerned about the warnings of
historic difficulties leading up to judgment day. However, in later lessons in this study
you will find some words of guidance and comfort for living in turbulent times.
3. By the way, since you have lived all of your life “in the last days” it means you
have lived in turbulent times. Yes, sometimes they are greater than others, but turbulent
times are always a part of the last days.
4. What seems to us who live in generational cycles of about 40 years as a long
time waiting for Jesus’ return, is but a short time in eternity time and thinking. The times
are set by God, not us.
5. Notice how quickly false prophets and teachers appear in the history of God
people. This is true of both Old Testament and New Testament times. Their existence
begins with humans “Fall into sin.” (Genesis 3:1–24) The first false prophet is Satan
himself who called God a liar. (Gen. 3:4)
Close with prayer: Pray about God helping you to understand any new insights you
gained in today’s study.
10–29–2020 The End Times Bible Study #2
Remember: Begin with prayer asking the Holy Spirit who inspired the Bible authors to record the words you
read to help you understand the Scriptures.
Before you read our Scripture for today, I suggest reading this short Introduction to our reading: An unusual
question came up amongst the new Christians in Thessalonica (present day Thessaloniki). Some of them had
already died. If they had been practiced the common Greek religious life at that time, they believed the dead
went into a dark underworld from which there was no return. Not yet fully grounded in the Christian faith and
teaching about life after death and the resurrection, they were concerned that those who had already died were
going to miss out on the return of Jesus. While the Greeks did not believe in resurrection (Acts 17:32), the
Christians did. They were confused by their old religious ideas and the resurrection faith of the Christians.
This false impression or false teaching needed to be corrected. False teachers arose very quickly in the Early
Church. But instead of destroying the truth, they only succeeded in causing it to be brought out more clearly and
more powerfully by the apostles. Possibly the false teachers here suggested those who died would not share in
the benefits of Jesus’ coming. If so, this would bring sorrow to the believers who remained alive.
In this kind of sorrow they were coming very close to the black despair and empty hopelessness reflected on the
tombstones of the heathen of the time. Paul wanted them to know the truth that would keep them from that kind
of grief. Christians are not like the heathen who have no hope.
This section reminds us that there are several topics we will have to examine in greater detail. One is “The
Rapture” and another is “The Millennium” which will require a study of “Dispensational Theology.” We will
cover these before the end of our study.
Read 1st Thessalonians 4:13–18. Then study the notes which follow.
v. 13: It is not just Christians who use the word sleep to describe death. A number of the pagan religions of that
time did also. There have always been some who believed that you live and you die and that’s it. There is no
afterlife. There are an increasing number of people who believe that today. The end of this verse is still a
valuable message for us today: we do not sorrow as those who have no hope.”
v. 14: The key to a Christian’s hope is his belief in the fact that Jesus died and rose again. It simply indicates
that as surely as they believed, so surely will the dead believers be with Jesus when He returns. Their belief in
Christ’s death and resurrection was not a mere mental acceptance of the facts, however. It involved a personal
identification with Jesus in His death and resurrection, as pictured in our baptism. Baptism is the drowning of
our sinful nature and a picture of God’s saving work. God used water and the ark to save Noah and his three
sins and their wives. Because of the ark there is a lot of boat language in describing the church building. The
word used to describe the large interior space of the building is “Nave.” (You can see the word Naval in this
v. 15: Paul now outlines some specifics for the congregation to address their concern. He reminds them they
have had a “word from the Lord” about this. Of course, all he wrote in his epistles was by inspiration of the
Holy Spirit. Now Paul makes it clear that those who are alive and remain till the coming of the Lord will not go
ahead of or have any advantage over those who died before Jesus’ return. The fact Paul used “we” in this verse
does not mean he believed he would be alive at the second coming. He simply meant whoever is alive at the
time of Christ’s return.
v. 16: Those who die before the return of Christ will not miss a thing. The Lord will descend from heaven with
a shout or command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God. Then the dead in Christ will
immediately rise in response to His command.
v. 17: The moment after the dead arise, those who are alive and remain will join with them to form one great
body. Together we will all be caught up (snatched up in a powerful manner, carried up suddenly in great power)
to meet the Lord (for a meeting with the Lord) in the air. This sudden snatching away to meet the Lord is often
referred to as the “rapture.” You do not hear this term used in Lutheran discussions because of the specific
meaning it has among a number of our fellow Christian.
The rapture is an eschatological concept held by some Christians, particularly within branches of American
evangelicalism, consisting of an end-time event when all Christian believers who are alive, along with
resurrected believers, will rise “in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air.” In Paul the Apostle’s First Epistle to
the Thessalonians in the Bible, he uses the Greek word ‘harpazo,’ meaning “to snatch away” or “to seize,” and
explains that believers in Jesus Christ will be snatched away from earth into the air. (from Wikipedia.)
Where does the word rapture come from? The Greek was translated into Latin by ‘raptus.” From this comes our
English words rapt and rapture. Today these words usually speak of being carried away emotionally or
spiritually. But one meaning of rapt in current dictionaries is “lifted up and carried away.” Thus some believe it
is perfectly good English to translate this verse, “Then we which are alive and remain shall be rapt (or raptured)
together with them in the clouds.” (I do not agree this is a good way to translate v. 17. They choose it so they
can say that “The Rapture” is in the Bible. However, not one of the major translations and nor any of the lesser
known or used translations that I know translate it that way either. Plus, I find it interesting that John Nelson
Darby who was an Anglo-Irish Bible teacher, one of the influential figures among the original Plymouth
Brethren and the founder of the Exclusive Brethren, and considered to be the father of modern Futurism and
Dispensationalism did NOT translate it that way in his own translation which he published.
Another reason for avoiding the Rapture because it would make the coming of Jesus a second time actually the
third. Paul was just answering the question of the congregation concerned that because some had already died,
they would miss out on the Second Coming of Jesus. They consider it a pre Judgment Day Event. And offered
hope to those Dispensational Christians that they would avoid the tribulation of the end of times.
The teaching on this became popularized in the first publication of the “Left Behind” series in 1995. Left
Behind is a series of Christian novels written by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. The novels take readers to a
world where all the Christians have left earth and the remnants must contend with seven years of trials and
tribulations. I can remember seeing my bumper stickers on cars which read: “In Case of The Rapture This Car
will be without a Driver.” This was a time when there was a fascination and a fear of what would happen when
the 21st Century would arrive. There are 16 books in the series and three movies. The first movie (released
2000) was even shown in some movie theaters but was also released on video. The next two movies were only
released on video to the best of my knowledge.
Paul said nothing about what would happen when the resurrected believers and the living believers met the Lord
in the air (which include the judgment seat of Christ and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in teaching about
Judgment Day in the Bible). Paul concluded simply by saying that believers will always, forever, be with the
v. 18: There is no greater comfort, encouragement, or exhortation that can be given to another than the fact that
whether Christians live or die they will be caught up to be with Christ when He comes.
1. Always check the context to get the meaning of a passage. As you read 1st Thessalonians you see the context
of Paul’s words in todays reading. Paul was addressing a concern of the congregation, not starting to teach a
new significant doctrine to the people.
2. Always seek first to know what certainties we can confess, before we address the uncertain issues. If the
teaching weakens or attacks the clear statements of God, stick with clear statements.
3. When Christ returns, the Bible says ALL will be able to see him coming.
4. Remember our great assurance: We will always be with the Lord.
5. Don’t forget to encourage one another, especially those who have lost loved ones.
Don’t forget to close with prayer. I believe a correct understanding of the End Times produces comfort and
assurance in us, not fear. Beware of those whose teaching engenders fear rather than joy in the Lord. Amen!
Pastor Milan StrongInChrist@CFL.rr.com
10–30–2020 The End Times Bible Study, Lesson #3
We are going to spend the next 3 or 4 days in Matthew 24. Today you should read Matthew 24:1–14. Take
time to pray before you read.
vs. 1-2: It wasn’t just the disciples who thought the temple was beautiful. In his history Josephus describes
how impressive it was to those approaching Jerusalem. The Temple was covered on the outside with gold
plates, that were so brilliant that when the sun shone on them, it was blinding to look at. Where there was no
gold, there were blocks of marble of such a pure white that strangers, from a distance, thought there was snow
on the temple.
The original Temple was built by Solomon. It was destroyed, along with Jerusalem by the Babylonians in
586 b.c. and was rebuilt by Zerubbabel and Ezra (Ezra 6:15) but was greatly expanded and improved by Herod
the Great. It was the center of Jewish life for almost a thousand years – so much so, that it was customary to
swear by the temple (Matt. 23:16) and speaking against the temple could be considered blasphemy (Acts 6:13).
After Herod’s work, the temple was huge – nearly 500 yards long and 400 yards wide. Herod’s rebuilding
work started in 19 b.c., and was only completed in 63 a.d., taking more than eighty years. The temple was
finished only seven years before it was destroyed.
When Jesus went out of the temple and his disciples came up pointing out the buildings of the temple. And
Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown
Some 40 years after Jesus said this, there was a widespread Jewish revolution against the Romans in
Palestine, and they enjoyed many early successes. But ultimately, Rome crushed the rebels. In 70 a.d. Jerusalem
was leveled, including the temple – just as Jesus said.
It is said that at the fall of Jerusalem, the last surviving Jews of the city fled to the temple, because it was
the strongest, most secure building in the city. Roman soldiers surrounded it, and one drunken soldier started a
fire that soon engulfed the whole building. Ornate gold detail work in the roof melted down in the cracks
between the stone walls of the temple, and to retrieve the gold, the Roman commander ordered that the temple
be dismantled stone by stone. The destruction was so complete that today they have true difficulty learning
exactly where the temple was.
This prophecy was fulfilled literally. There was a real temple, and it was really destroyed. The literal
fulfillment of this prophecy establishes the tone for the rest of the prophecies in the chapter. We should expect a
literal fulfillment for these as well.
v. 3: The disciples were perplexed by Jesus’ prophecy and they come to him privately to ask two questions.
“Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
Matthew does not record Jesus’ answer to this first question, but Luke does in Luke 21:8-36. (We will look
at what all the synoptic Gospels tell us in this study.)
The disciples probably thought they asked only one question. In their minds, the destruction of the temple
and the end of the age might have been tied together. But really, they asked two questions, and this second
question is answered in the remainder of the chapter. The first question is “when.” That still is the first question
in the minds of many. The second question is the one has which opened people up to much false teaching and
worthless speculation.: “What will be the SIGN of your coming and of the close of the age?”
It may also be that this second question was asked as they remembered the events surrounding the temple’s
destruction by the Babylonians. The temple was destroyed and the people taken into exile in the context of
national judgment and exile.
As Jesus answers this important second question, He will make many specific comments and predictions
about the end times. These predictions have been the source of tremendous disagreement among Christians who
have tried to understand them. Why didn’t Jesus simply say it so clearly that there was no possibility anyone
could misunderstand Him?
One reason why prophecy may seem “vague” is because God wants every age to have reasons to be ready
for Jesus return. We should not think of Jesus’ return as an event far off on a timeline, but something we have
been running parallel with since the day of Pentecost.
Though some prophetic interpretations are different, we are sure of these two items: 1. He is coming again,
and 2. we must be ready at all times.
vs. 4–8: First Jesus gives us a warning about how the devil will attempt to deceive us before Christ’s
return. In v. 5 he says, MANY false Messiahs/Christs will appear. (Another question for you to think about as
we go through this study is, “What is the difference between the false Christs and the AntiChrist whom you will
hear about later in this study. Note the emphasis on the multitude of false Christs and don’t let their supposed
success or fame deceive you. Jesus warned they would lead MANY astray. This is why you need to know your
Bible and know the Biblical requirements which are revealed about HIS REAL RETURN. (Help me to
remember to give you a list on this before we end this study.) Remember: I’m not as fast as I used to be and not
as slow as I’m gonna be or as I also say, “My forgettery works better than my memory.”
Next Jesus goes through a series of things which most people consider SIGNS of the times that lead up to
the Second Coming of the Christ: wars, rumors of wars, v. 6; nations getting into conflict with one another or
leaders of nations involved in conflict, plus famines and earthquakes in various places, v. 7.
Do you remember how I closed our lesson yesterday? I said, “Beware of Bible Teachers who teach the 2nd
coming of Christ is such a way they create fear.” The return of Jesus is to be a highlight for us, not a fearful
experience. Did you note in v. 6 what Jesus said after we hear of these wars and rumors of war, “Don’t be
alarmed, but this is not yet the end.” World Wars I & II were so named because many believed they were the
wars to end all wars. That didn’t work out did it? Then in v. 8 Jesus says all the unsettling things happening are
just false labor pains. This still isn’t the end. Notice carefully: Jesus never tells the believer to panic in the face
of God’s judgment. Memorize Romans 8:1 if you don’t understand why you are not to panic.
Throughout the history of the church there have been rash predictions were made and relied on, and
resulted in tremendous disappointment, disillusionment, and falling way. I have heard many prediction just in
my short lifespan of almost 84 years. I had a lovely lady, a faithful follower of Jesus who got tangled up with
some prophecy folks who came and told me several months before Christmas came in 1975 that she had a
dream and God told her the world would come to an end before Christmas that year. My sound Biblical advice
was, “Let’s wait and see what happened.”
In our next section of today’s reading, vs. 9-14, Jesus describes what his disciples must expect during the
time between his Ascension and Second Coming.
v. 9: We are introduced to one of the key words in talking about the end times: “Tribulation.” This word
gets caught up in the Dispensational Theology and millennialism conversation. You have two groups: Pre–
tribulation and Post– tribulation. Will Christians go through the tribulation at the end or will God take them out
of this earth to heaven (Rapture) before the tribulation arrives? We will sort this out towards the end of this
study as discuss millennialism.
This verse speaks of an enemy on the outside. During persecution will be a difficult time (tribulation,
death,) and hatred by all nations because of our love for and confession of Jesus.
v. 10: In this verse Jesus warns that “many will fall away.” Those who used to be our friends in faith now
betray us and hate us.
v. 11: Now we have a second warning of false prophets. Now it is those who had been faithful pastors in
the past. They become false prophets and lead many astray. Don’t depend on human leaders. Depend on the
written and powerful Word of God, The Sacred Scriptures and the faithful witness of the Living Word of God,
v. 12: The problems of the tribulation will cause many to grow cold. They may still associate with us, but
their love for God is now missing. They no longer worship, study the Bible, or witness for the Lord.
v. 13: Jesus tells us, “Hang in there!” Endure to the end. You have been saved and marked by God as his
own. Don’t let the devil or anyone else tell you something different.
v. 14: The is the greatest SIGN or all. It is the only sign which ends with the powerful phrase, “then the end
will come. What is it that has to be done? The gospel of the kingdom must be proclaimed throughout the whole
world as a testimony to all nations, THEN THE END WILL COME!
1. Even though God’s temple is sacred and loved by him. It will fall when the people who worship there
turn away from God. I’ve encountered a few people who believe America is bulletproof from the wrath of God
because it was founded as a Christian nation. No one who turns away from God is bulletproof.
2. Instead of trying to figure out when the end will come or how close to it we are, we are to be ready at
anytime for the earthly journey to end. Consider the millions who have died since Jesus ascended into heaven.
Truth be told, we don’t know how many more will die before he returns. Be ready: ALWAYS!
3. SIGNS of the times. When I was serving in Wisconsin, a couple of years prior to 1999, a church in
Northern Illinois started to send out notices informing all the church of Northern Illinois and Southern
Wisconsin that the world was going to end before the year 2000. Their answer to how this could be true was
that they weren’t predicting an exact date, but they were able to see the signs of the time, thus their letters. I
prefer to refer to the “Signs of the Times” as the “Signs that God will come in judgment.” God is warning us on
every newscast, every storm weather report, each fall of our earthly economics, every new illness discovered,
every death of family and friends: “Repent, the Kingdom is at Hand.”
4. Twice in our reading today we saw the phrase, “lead many astray” (vs. 5 & 11) Be careful to whom you
listen. There are misguided Christians out there and false prophets out there, and false god being bought and
sold on every street corner. Don’t be afraid. Jesus is protecting you. (suggested Memory Verse: John 14:26: But
the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to
your remembrance all that I have said to you. By the way, spend more time reading the Bible than reading
books about the Bible. God said he guided (inspired) the writers of the Scriptures and he did not promise that
about books about the Bible. Why read less than the best?
5. Don’t live in fear of the “Tribulation.” Tomorrows reading with tell you why!
6. The greatest sign is the spread of the gospel. If you believe, support mission work. God wants the whole
world to know about Jesus. It is such a great work because everyone who sins, needs Jesus. There is no one who
does not sin so tell everyone.
Close with prayer for you to be ready for Christ, every moment of everyday. Amen. Pastor Milan
October 31, 2020 The End Times Bible Study #4
Begin with prayer. Ask God to keep us studying His Word. The Word of God is powerful and changes
Read Matthew 24:15–28. Here Jesus gives specific warnings concerning the coming destruction of
There is something specific which the disciples are to anticipate, described by Jesus as “the abomination
that causes desolation”, spoken of by Daniel (Dan.9:27, 11:31, 12:11) which will precede the destruction of
Jerusalem and become the cue for the people of Judea to ‘flee to the mountains’.
vs. 15–21: Daniel’s statement where he speaks of ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ was evidently
pointing to the erection of an idolatrous altar in the Jerusalem temple by Antiochus Epiphanes in the second
century before Christ on which he offered swine in sacrifice when he determined to replace Judaism with pagan
Frequently prophecies is the Old Testament had an immediate fulfillment and then a repeated fulfillment in
the future. History, says Jesus, will repeat itself again in another ‘abomination that causes desolation’, this time
in this generation. Some people falsely believed Jesus was promising that all the disciples would live to see this.
His promise is simple that will occur in that generation. We generally count 40 years as a generation and
Jerusalem and the Temple are destroyed in 70 a.d.so that fits into the generation picture.
In the previous instance the temple had been liberated by the Maccabeans, but the next desecration of the
temple will mark its destruction. The Romans erected their standards in the temple in Jerusalem, prior to its
actual destruction. This was regarded by the Jews as an act of idolatry and is most likely the event to which
Jesus is referring.
The advice given when this event takes place shows something unusual is happening. The typical advice in
the villages was to flee to a walled city. This time Jesus says to flee to the mountains because Jerusalem will be
destroyed. It will be a dreadful time for pregnant women and nursing mothers, for there will be distress
unequalled from the beginning of the world. This graphically describes the terrible time that surrounded the
destruction of Jerusalem.
The end of Jerusalem and its temple began when the Roman governor of Judea, Gessius Florus, seized
money from the temple in 66 AD. This provoked an uproar amongst the Jews, which in turn provoked the
governor to send troops into the city, massacring 3,600 of its inhabitants. This again provoked a massive revolt
by the Jews against Rome.
The Emperor Nero sent a general, Vespasian, to quell the uprising, but Nero died whilst he was away and
Vespasian was recalled to Rome to become the new emperor. He appointed his son Titus to fight the Jewish
war, who surrounded Jerusalem with his army, cut off the city from any outside communication, and caused
The historian Josephus tells us how the famine devoured whole families, with roads full of the dead bodies
of men, women and children. Young men wandered around like shadows waiting to fall down dead. There was
no mourning and few tears, for the famine dulled all the natural passions. Those who were going to die looked
upon those who had gone before with dry eyes and open mouths.
A deep silence had gripped the city and as Josephus recorded, ‘Every one of them died with their eyes
fixed upon the temple’. Some turned to cannibalism and ate their own children. The horror was made worse by
people flocking into the city for refuge rather than fleeing to the mountains, and in all more than one people died. Less than ten percent survived to be taken captive and enslaved. Four years after the uprising had
begun, the city and temple were destroyed.
Many had fled Jerusalem and Judea to Masada, a fortress on a hunk of rock overlooking the Dead Sea.
Herod had built a virtually impregnable fortress there but led by Zealots some Jews attacked and amazingly
captured Masada, slaughtering the Roman army there. Before the Romans could retake the fortress, a mass
suicide by the Jews took place to avoid defeat by Romans. These events marked the end of the Jewish state until
almost nineteen hundred years later after World War II when the nation was re–established.
However, this Israel is not the restored Israel spoken of in the Bible. The government from the beginning
has claimed to be a secular government. That is why the Hassidic Jews refuse to serve in the Israel Military.
They say, “We only take orders from God.”
The Christians had been driven out of Jerusalem by earlier persecution from the Jews, and a few who had
remained fled across the Jordan to Pella during the siege of the city. The Christian Jews were therefore not
directly involved in the revolt against Rome which began in 66 a.d., and this lack of patriotism cemented the
rejection of Christians by the Jews and a complete separation of Christianity from Judaism. Throughout the
Roman world Christians were barred ever again from participation in the synagogues.
v. 22: Do you remember the promise I made yesterday. Don’t fear the tribulation. This verse is the reason
why I made that promise. God is always in control. No one would have survived if he had not cut short those
days. Plus, the Lord is going to cut those days short for the sake of his elect.
vs. 23–26: Again Jesus warns about false christs and false prophets. Here is a very important point to
remember in this study. Why can Jesus say you should not listen to anyone who says, “Here is the Christ! or
There he is!”
vs. 27–28: In v.27 we find the answer. Jesus reminds us that he is not going to sneak back into town. When
lightening flashes, everyone can see it. Jesus says that you know where a dead body is when you see the
vultures gathering. When Jesus returns, everyone will see it. Don’t let them fool you with nonsense or even if
they can do great miracles and signs (v. 24).
1. It is often helpful to re–examine the Old Testament stories which are hinted at in the New Testament.
Understanding the first will help you understand the new.
2. Knowing some of the secular history of the world also can give you insights into references in found in
3. Be sure you understand that the current nation of Israel, is not the restored Israel promised in the Bible.
That Israel is one which recognizes the Messiah. That is one of the greatest misunderstandings today.
4. Don’t fear the tribulation because God is in control and has promised to cut short its days.
5. Above all, don’t let anyone deceive you into believing Jesus came back and you didn’t know it. Jesus
says everyone will see him when he returns. That simple, easy to understand truth, will help you avoid false
christs and false prophets.
Close your study with prayer asking God to help the church on earth recognize all false teachers. Amen.
Pastor Milan Send questions or comments to StrongInChrist@CFL.rr.com
11–02–2020 End Times Bible Study #5, Matthew 24:29–35
v. 29: Immediately after the tribulation (cf. vs. 4–28, esp. 9–11 and 15–22), there will appear great cosmic
disturbances. The language is apocalyptic and draws from Isaiah 13:10 (“The stars of heaven … will not show
their light”), Isaiah 34:4 (“All the starry host will fall”), and Haggai 2:6 (“I will once more shake the heavens”).
Similar language is used in Revelation when the sixth seal is opened (Rev. 6:12–14). One commentator, Tasker,
finds in verses 29–31 a cryptic description of the Roman conquest of Jerusalem and the subsequent spread of
the Christian faith. I think it is better to take the passage as setting the stage (using the rhetoric of apocalyptic
language) for the return of the Son of Man.
The “heavenly bodies” (v. 29) are sometimes identified by some as astral divinities. We know there were some
who worshiped the sun, moon and stars, but there is nothing here to suggest a war between the god’s here. It
was not Israel that played the game, “my God is better than your god.” That was the attitude of most of their
neighbor nations. It is better to take the references to the sun moon and stars in ordinary literal way.
v. 30: At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky. Context would suggest that the sign should
be understood as a star or comet. We remember in Jesus’ first coming, the surprise of Herod, the chief priests,
and elders who didn’t know how to answer the Magi from the east who came saying, we have seen his star and
have come to worship the new born king of the Jews.
Others refer back to the messianic passage in Isaiah 11:12 where the sign is a banner or identity flag. Schweizer
writes, “Matthew is merely trying to say that the standard of the Messiah will be raised and the trumpet blown
when he comes to establish God’s Kingdom.” Whatever the exact meaning of sign, the point being made is that
the coming of the Son of Man will be clearly visible to all people everywhere.
When the heavenly sign appears, then “all the tribes of the earth” “will beat their breasts as a sign of mourning.
Zechariah 12:10ff. pictures the clans of Israel mourning when they look on the one they have pierced (cf. John
19:37 and Rev. 1:7). When the Son of Man returns, the mourning will be universal. All the nations of the earth
will realize how irrevocably wrong they have been about the person and messianic claims of Jesus.
v. 31: Not only will all see his return but they will hear the loud trumpet call that announces his arrival. The
trumpet was used in ancient Israel to gather God’s people for religious purposes and to signal activities on the
battlefield. In speaking of a time yet future when the Israelites will be gathered, Isaiah says that “in that day a
great trumpet will sound” (Isa. 27:13).
At the sound of the eschatological trumpet (cf. 1 Cor 15:52; 1 Thess. 4:16), the angels will be sent to the four
winds (cf. 13:41, 49) to gather God’s elect (for Old Testament parallels, cf. Zech. 2:6 and Deut. 30:4). The
scene depicted is clearly that of the return of Christ at the end of history as we know it.
We are reminded of the words of Paul in Philippians 2:9–11 where he tells us every knee shall bow before Jesus
Christ when he returns. Some will bow in honor of their Lord and Savior. Others, those who have not received
Jesus, will bow because they know they are standing before the eternal judge. I thank God that I shall bow in
adoration of my God and King, not because I am before the judge of all.
vs. 32–33: Will bring us the lessons which the fig tree has to teach us. When its tender shoots appear and begin
to open into leaves, then you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see all the things just
described, know that the end is near, right at the door.
The fig tree shed its leaves in winter and budded late in spring. Since harvest in Palestine took place in the
summer, the budding of the fig tree would indicate that the end (symbolized by harvest) was at hand. All these
things, says Jesus, will happen before this generation will pass away (v. 34). This remarkable statement is more
certain than the universe itself. Heaven and earth will pass away but the words of Jesus will stand forever.
The problem is obvious: the generation alive at that time has long since passed away but the eschatological
events described in the passage have not taken place. There have been many suggestions as to how this
apparently insoluble problem may be resolved. Some have even said Jesus is a false prophet because what he
said did not happen as prophesied.
First, if the entire discourse is understood as relating to the fall of Jerusalem the problem disappears. This
answer can be held only by overlooking the rather obvious meaning of verses in the discourse. We know Jesus
is not a false prophet. Peek ahead to v. 36 where Jesus shows his limited knowledge.
Put rather boldly, Beare says, “It must be recognized that the entire apocalyptic framework of early Christian
preaching is shattered beyond any hope of rescue” (p. 473). But if the limitation of knowledge mentioned in
verse 36 is to be taken as referring to the general time of his return rather than the “actual day and time”
(Phillips), why would Jesus contradict himself with the analogy of the budding fig tree?
Third, perhaps the Greek genea (generation) means the Jewish race, or the human race in general, or perhaps the
generation alive when the series of final events begins. Others holds that it is a promise that the church will
survive to the end.
Fourth, if happened is taken as an ingressive aorist, the sentence would indicate that before the generation alive
at that time had died, all the things described in connection with the end will have started to take place.
Fifth, Hill suggests that we are probably dealing with a “shortening of historical perspective,” which is common
in prophecy. C. H. Dodd is quoted as saying that “when the profound realities underlying a situation are
depicted in the dramatic form of historical prediction, the certainty and inevitability of the spiritual processes
involved are expressed in terms of the immediate imminence of the event.”
Biblical prophecy is capable of multiple fulfillment. In the immediate context, the “abomination of desolation”
(v. 15) builds on the defilement of the temple by Antiochus Epiphanes, is repeated when the sacred temple in
Jerusalem is destroyed by the Roman army in a.d. 70. A more complete fulfillment occurs when the Antichrist
exalts himself by taking his seat in the “temple of God” proclaiming himself to be God (2 Thess. 2:3–4).
In a similar way, the events of the immediate period leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem portend a greater
and more universal catastrophe when Christ returns in judgment at the end of time. Gundry is right in his
observation that double fulfillment (I would say “multiple fulfillment”) involves an ambiguity that needs to be
accepted as fact rather than objected to on literary grounds.
1. Thus far the emphasis is on the people and events around us here on earth. Now we come to some of the
cosmic “signs of the times.” To be truthful they are as mysterious as the storms (earthquakes, tornadoes,
hurricanes, etc.) or wars and rumors of wars. My belief is that every one of those we see is intended to be a
reminder to us that this world is not going to last.
2. Again we have the assurance that when Jesus, returns, it will not be a secret visit that you might miss. It will
be self–evident to all the nations.
3. Don’t get caught up into the identity of the signs game! History is full of misguided identifications which
someone said would prove the world was coming to an end on ???? In 1988 a man sold over 1 million book
entitled, “88 Reasons the Lord with return in 1988.” He prepared a sequel in 1989 which still sold over 400,000
copies. He could not get anyone to publish his “90 Reasons Jesus will return in 1990.
4. Don’t let anyone tell you they know the day or hour Jesus is returning. The Bible is clear, only God know
5. Watch for the kinds of multiple fulfillments we find in the Bible.
6. The simple key is be ready ALL the time.
Close with prayer for the protection from the false christs and false prophets
11/03/2020 End Times Bible Study #6, Matthew 24:36–51
v. 36: This v. makes a surprise announcement. We are not amazed that no person knows the day or hour of
the Lord’s return. The angels not knowing doesn’t confuse us. They are not in charge in heaven. They serve
God. We are shocked that Jesus was certain of his return, but he didn’t know the exact time. Only the father
knows. This is a demonstration of what we call “The Humiliation of Jesus.”
This was a conscious decision of Jesus that is descripted in Philippians 2:5–8. I encourage you to read
those verses. As a genuine human being, the Christ did not always or fully use or manifest the divine powers
and majesty that were communicated to his human nature. This began with the lowly manner of his incarnation,
continued in the of his birth and life, and was complete with his death and burial. We call this his state of
vs. 37–39: Jesus’ point about Noah is that life went on as usual. There was no sign other than the preaching
of Noah for the 120 years while he was building the ark, when suddenly the flood came. From this reference we
note that God waited patiently for 120 years for people to repent, but there was no change. Since he waited 120
years no one could say if He had only waited a bit longer they would repent.
Then he pointed out that they were unaware until the flood came and washed them all away. He said that is
the way it is going to be at the end time.
vs. 40–42: These verses are often misunderstood. Those who believe there will be a ‘Rapture,” consider
these verses proof, one taken, another left. You should read vs. 40 and 41 in light of v. 42. Paul is writing to the
people who are eager for Jesus to return. The early Christians prayed regularly, “Even so Lord Jesus, come
quickly.” He is not writing to those who are unprepared to meet him.
It is the obvious that the emphasis for all is watchfulness. We are to be prepared all the time because we
can’t know the time of the end. We can’t outsmart God just as he warned us. This section is a call for
faithfulness as we live in hope. Our motivation in the service of Christ is a meaningful relation with him, not a
fear of the end and, a resultant artificial approach to life.
The emphasis in this last section is on preparedness, for although we associate freely in society we have a
different relation than the rest of society to the Master. There will be a division coming for “one will be taken
and the other left.” While this is often spoken of as the “rapture,” the thrust is to insure our being ready for his
coming, for Jesus said he is “coming at an hour when you do not expect him!”
vs. 43–44: We have a 1 verse parable type teaching in v. 43. Then in v. 44 Jesus applies the thief story
parable to us. We will not know the day or hour when the Lord returns. If the homeowner knew when the thief
was coming he would have stayed awake to protect his house. The only true protection we have is by being
ready all the time.
vs. 45–47: The Christ introduces this section by asking a probing question: “Who is the faithful and wise
servant?” It is the one who is carrying out his duties when the master returns. Whenever, the master returns, he
will bless the faithful servant and set him over all his possessions. This is not a picture of someone earning a
place in heaven. This is the example of someone thankful for the mercy of God who keeps his life focused, as
much as possible for sinful mankind, living a thanksgiving life for God.
vs. 48–51: Now we find a warning about someone who does not live a thanksgiving life. His idea is I can
do what I want until the master returns. What he forgets is that he does not know when the master is coming. In
v. 50 Jesus makes it clear again, it will happen on a day and hour when he does not expect the master and he
will be caught in his sin. Even if he had done such a good job of pretending to serve the master that he fools all
or at least many on the earth, he cannot fool God. Instead of joyful eternity with the master, he will be placed
with the hypocrites where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
SIGNIFICANT POINTS IN THIS READING:
1. No one knows or is able to predict the time of Jesus return.
2. No specific signs mark out the time (vs. 37–39).
3. The only sign which says, “and then the end will come” is after the Gospel of the kingdom is preached to the
whole world as a testimony to all nations (Matt. 24;14). Only God know when that time has come so don’t join
any Bible Study which promises you they will show you how to know when the end is at hand. If they say that,
they are claiming to be gods themselves.
4. To be prepared for the end, live a thanksgiving life for God. There is no secret society you need to join. Have
faith in God’s mercy and grace: confess your sins, be forgiven and cleansed of all unrighteousness. Then you
are ready. God’s grace cannot be earned or deserved. It is always God’s gift (Eph. 2:8–9).
5. The faithful and wise servant is the one doing what God has called him/her to do, knowing that when you
sin, you seek forgiveness.
Close with prayer asking God to protect you from the desire to know when the end is coming. If you get caught
up with those trying to figure it all out ahead of time, cease and desist immediately. Get busy living a
thanksgiving life rather than trying to satisfy your curiosity. Amen. Pastor Milan
11/04/2020 End Times Bible Study #7, Mark 13:1–37
Before we leave the Words of Jesus, we want to look at the Gospels of Mark and Matthew to see if any
additional information is provided in the Synoptic Gospels that we did not encounter in Matthew 24:1–51. Mark
is the next Gospel and we find a very similar outline and information. You might want to take a quick read of
Mark 13:1–37 to see for yourself.
The first additional information from Mark is about which disciples first heard Jesus remarks about the
coming destruction of the beautiful temple. Let me remind you of the three different perspectives of the authors
of the synoptic (means: ‘with the same eye’) writers. Matthew was one of the original 12. We know who he was
a tax collector. He is called Levi in Mark and Luke. He is the only disciple beside the first four fishermen, Peter,
Andrew, James and John, who gets a special recognition of his call to follow Jesus.
Mark was a very common name at that time. We find a number of references to Mark in the New
Testament, but we don’t believe there was only one Mark referred to in the Bible. Here we are dependent on
tradition. There are two Biblical references which fit into the traditions about Mark. The first is found in Mark
14:51–52 about one who fled naked from the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus was arrested. No name is
given, but since is an unknow detail from anywhere else and it not of great significance, most assume it was
Mark himself. Then in Acts 12:6–19 Luke records a fascinating story which connects him closely to Peter. A
prayer meeting for imprisoned Peter was being held at the home of Mary. A logical assumption is made that she
was a wealthy woman. She had a large house because many could gather there, plus she has a servant girl,
perhaps even other who are not mentioned. Her home could have been where the Christians in Jerusalem
Thus Mary’s son (John Mark) was an active participant with the disciples, which would account for his
being in the Garden with Jesus. Church tradition says he was one of the 70/72 sent out on a mission trip by
Jesus which is recorded in Luke 10:1–20. Then in Acts.15:36–41 We find a reference of a John Mark who had
been on a mission trip with Paul and for some unknown reason, left the trip He is also was a young man who
knew the disciple well. The traditions of the church are interesting, but certainly are not matters of faith for us.
Our confidence in the Scriptures comes from our belief in the work and power of the Holy Spirit in inspiring the
I will close my remarks about the traditions of Mark by referencing the elaborate traditions the Coptic
Church has about Mark, the Gospel writer. Coptic tradition also holds that Mark the Evangelist hosted the
disciples in his house after Jesus’s death, that the resurrected Jesus Christ came to Mark’s house (John 20), and
that the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples at Pentecost in the same house. Furthermore, Mark is also
believed to have been among the servants at the Marriage at Cana who poured out the water that Jesus turned to
According to the Coptic tradition, Mark was born in Cyrene, a city in the Pentapolis of North Africa (now
Libya). This tradition adds that Mark returned to Pentapolis later in life, after being sent by Paul to Colossae
(Colossians 4:10; Philemon 24. Some, however, think these actually refer to Mark the Cousin of Barnabas), and
serving with him in Rome (2 Tim 4:11); from Pentapolis he made his way to Alexandria. When Mark returned
to Alexandria, the pagans of the city resented his efforts to turn the Alexandrians away from the worship of their
traditional gods. In AD 68, they placed a rope around his neck and dragged him through the streets until he was
v. 9: Matthew says they will be delivered up to tribulation. Mark gives more details. He says they will be
delivered to local councils and they will be beaten in synagogues. Then he points out the problems will grow
because they will be called before governors and kings but they must witness before them.
v. 10: Worthy of note is this verse which reinforces Matt. 24:14 must FIRST be proclaimed to all nations.
Why do we focus on signs that this world will end someday and ignore the priority that God has established to
take the gospel to all nations? God’s plan is missions, missions, missions to all nations!
v. 11: Then he adds words of comfort. Being called before such high officials, as governors and kings, was
a frightening experience. God says, do not worry about what you will say. He will give them the words to say
because the Holy Spirit will be speaking through them.
v. 12: Now another word of warning. Problems because of following Jesus will even destroy families:
brother against brother, child against parents, even delivering them to death (cf. Matt. 24:10, 12). God always
adds: “Endure to end and you will be saved.” The world can take away everything except our salvation and the
gift of eternal life. As the world or life takes things from you, always cling to your salvation and eternal life, not
overly worried about your physical life. The best is yet to come for us.
The big question for us is why is the Lord waiting? God questions back to us is why aren’t you
aggressively taking the gospel to all nations? I like the theory suggested by one teacher. God is waiting until
humanity has so tied the affairs of this world into knots that to wait longer would not make a difference.
One aspect of this impasse may be that we have entered the nuclear age, and the world now has over
50,000 nuclear warheads, sufficient to blow the whole world up fifty times over! But God, the main actor in
salvation history, is holding back the end, pressing it back in His love and patience desiring that all should be
saved and “come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4).
1. Remember that each Gospel writer is speaking from a special perspective. Matthew, one of the 12, was a
despised Jew. Hated by his own people because he worked for the Romans as a tax collector. He personally
proved two important points: A. Jesus of Nazareth is the promised Messiah and should be received as such. B.
Even a fallen Jew, can be welcomed back into God’ family. Mark is a practicing follower of Jesus and looks at
Jesus through the eyes of someone close to Jesus, but not an intimate partner in ministry. He like John shows
the divinity of Jesus because when ever Jesus speaks or acts, immediately it is done. Since was a companion of
Peter, his message was understood by the Roman power brokers of his day. Tomorrow we will look at Luke.
2. Mark shows us a clearer picture of how resistant the world can become to God. Local authorities, high
government officials, and even family may be our enemy. A very good human reason for us to be concerned
about our earthly future, but remember, you salvation is sure and safe when you endure to the end. Also when
called to speak in circumstances beyond your capabilities, do not fret. God will send his Holy Spirit to speak in
you and through you.
3. If we are saying we are eager for the Lord to return, then get on board the missions bandwagon. Jesus will
return when God’s grace and mercy has been proclaimed to the nations.
Close with prayer. Ask God to fill you with a mission heart and to fill our churches with a mission mind.
Everyone needs Christ so let’s get busy sharing Jesus close to home, wherever we go, even to the ends of the
earth. Pastor Milan Weerts Send questions to: mailto:StrongInChrist@cfl.rr.com
11–05–2020 End Times Bible Study #08, Luke 21.5–-38
We continue our comparison of the synoptic gospels to Matthew to see what additional information may be revealed. Yesterday I shared with you the differences between the authors and their purpose as they wrote. Luke is a physician, but he was serving as a historian according to his introduction in 1.1–4. He tells us that many had begun to write a record of the things which happened among the early Christians. Eyewitness accounts from ministers of the word also shared their story.
Then Luke says it seemed like a good idea to him also and he was going to write an orderly account for most excellent Theophilus. He not only wrote his Gospel for or to him, but also the Book of Acts. His name has a wonderful meaning: “Friend of God.” But after he is mentioned in the introduction of these books, we never hear from him again. The fact that Luke addresses his as “most excellent Theophilus” indicates he is a person who holds some kind of high office, either in the government or the church.
I had always thought of him as a high official in government who was personally known by Luke. In more recent years the suggestion is that it was Theophilus ben Ananus, High Priest of the Temple in Jerusalem from 37 to 41. In this tradition Theophilus would have been both a priest and a Sadducee. That would make him the son of Annas and brother-in-law of Caiaphas, raised in the Jewish Temple. This certainly would be an interesting tie into the Jesus story.
I think it is more likely that he was a Roman Official or even Theophilus could have been Paul’s lawyer during his trial period in Rome. To support this claim people appeal to the formal legalese present in the prologue to the Gospel such as “eye witnesses,” “account,” “carefully investigated,” “know the certainty of things which you have been instructed.” The conclusion of the Book of Acts ends with Paul still alive and under arrest awaiting trial, suggesting it was the intention of the author to update Theophilus on Paul’s history to provide an explanation of his travels and preaching and serve as evidence in support of his innocence under Roman law. Some also point to the parallel between the account of Jesus’ trial before Pontius Pilate narrated in Luke’s Gospel with the account of Paul’s trials before Roman judges in the Book of Acts. In total, Jesus was declared innocent 3 times by Pontius Pilate as was Paul before various judges. We must be truthful and say we don’t know who Theophilus was and it matters not in this study.
v. 11: Luke seems to make a stronger case for the troubles to be faced in the tribulation. Matthew and Mark only mention famines and earthquakes. Luke says, “There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven” (cf. Luke 21:11 with Matt. 24:7 & Mark 13:13).
v. 12–15: I don’t claim to know why he gives a greater warning, but I believe he follows it up with greater comfort. In v. 12 he warns how these events will impact them personally. This is very similar to what Matthew and Mark said. His warning even includes the appearing before kings and governors because of their connection to Christ. Jesus said do not even start thinking about what you will say when that happens (vs. 14–15). God promises he will give them a mouth and wisdom which their adversaries will not be able to withstand. He doesn’t name the Holy Spirit here.
vs. 16–19: Then they are reminded again how people, even families, will turn against one another. Then comes the biggest promise: “Not a hair of your head will perish.” Endure, with the help of God and you will endure for eternity.
vs. 26–28: Now Jesus contrasts the behavior of the world with the attitude of the Christians. The world is fainting and with foreboding of what coming on the world (v. 26). Then in v. 28 we told to straighten up and raise our head in eager expectation for our redemption is drawing near. Wow! What a contrast: fear versus eager anticipation.
vs. 35–36: These have some important information for us. Notice there is no promise that some will escape the troubling times. He double stresses that by referring to “all who dwell on the face of the whole earth.” This requires us to stay awake all the time. We need to pray for the strength which God gives so we may be able to stand till the end of time.
vs. 37–38: While Jesus was facing the most difficult time in his earthly life, he wasn’t slacking off and resting. Every day he was teaching in the temple. He stayed now on Mt. Olive rather than hiking to the friendly confines of Bethany with Martha, Mary and Lazarus. Then early in the morning he was back at it. He continued teaching about the kingdom of God, working like someone who was making the most of his last days of a political campaign.
1. Don’t go chasing rabbits when you are involved in Bible Study. If we were involved in a study of Gospel of Luke, the questions about who is Theophilus, should be studied in depth. However, since we are studying the end times, it was unimportant for us. This is a lesson for you. What is interesting to us may at times distract us from our main study. Since we didn’t have a lot of significant material in Luke which was unique or expanded, we had time to cover an item of interest.
2. Luke’s more significant warning about the end times, is of note. We don’t know why, but as we study the end times it certainly attracts our attention.
3. Luke’s greater comfort is significant. God’s emphasis on not even beginning to think about your reply to the authorities, God will give his witnesses words which their enemies cannot withstand or contradict.
4. No matter how bad it gets, “Not a hair of your head will perish” That is comfort in the midst of crisis.
5. While the world is cringing in fear because of the world’s trials, we are standing tall, maybe even on tiptoe, because we see beyond the troubles to see the approaching redeemer.
6. Our confidence in the last days is NOT that we are raptured away to escape the troubles. Our hope, as pointed out by Mark13:20 & Matthew 24:22, is that the days of trouble will be cut short by the Lord.
Close with prayer asking for God to protect his people from fear and instead look forward to the coming of our Savior. Amen.
11–07–2020/posted 11-09-20 End Times Bible Study #10, A Look into Old Testament
As you begin, pray for God to help you see that the plan of God’s salvation has never changed. That is the power and work of the Holy Spirit in your life.
The Hebrew language doesn’t have as many words from which to choose when you are describing something. The same word is used with multiple understanding. The context determines which English word we use and those are chosen by the translators. The word for “DAY” is an example. The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament gives this definition of “Yom,” (Hebrew for Day): A masculine noun meaning day, time, year. This word stands as the most basic conception of time in the Old Testament. It designates such wide-ranging elements as the daylight hours from sunrise to sunset (Gen. 1:5; 1 Kgs. 19:4); a literal twenty-four hour cycle (Deut. 16:8; 2 Kgs. 25:30); a generic span of time (Gen. 26:8; Num. 20:15); a given point in time (Gen. 2:17; 47:29; Ezek. 33:12). In the plural, the word may also mean the span of life (Ps. 102:3 ) or a year (Lev. 25:29; 1 Sam 27:7). The prophets often infuse the word with end–times meanings or connotations, using it in connection with a future period of consequential events, such as the “day of the LORD” (Jer. 46:10; Zech. 14:1) or simply, “that day” (Isa. 19:23; Zech. 14:20, 21).
That is why you may find phrases such as “day of the LORD” or “that day” in an Old Testament translation, but in Hebrew the is only “day.” The largest number of verses are prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah. As you know from Acts 2:16–21 (Peter quoting Joel 2:28–32) Jesus earthly coming marks the beginning of the end times. None of us have ever lived outside of the end times, nor did our parents, grandparents, great–grandparents, etc.
The end-time period surrounding Jesus’ second coming is variously called the last times, last hour, last days, day of the Lord, day of judgment, day of Gods wrath, time of punishment, end of the ages, end of all things. The temporal finality of these expressions highlights the firm New Testament belief that the present course of history will come to an end when Jesus returns. The certainty of the first advent guarantees the certainty of the second (Acts 1:7)
Moses’ Warning to the Israelites: In Deuteronomy 31:29, Moses tells the Israelites: “For I know that after my death you will act corruptly and turn from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days, for you will do that which is evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him to anger with the work of your hands” (NASB). To understand the Covenant relationship, read Leviticus 26. It begins with the blessings of obedience (vs. 1–13), continues with the punishment for disobedience (vs. 14–39, and closes with the promise of forgiveness if they repent and return to God (vs. 40–46. Study your cross references and you will find many fascinating connections to the New Testament — particularly Romans 9-11 and the book of Revelation. The last days spoken of in Deuteronomy 31:29 are speaking of the last days of the Old Covenant not the last days of the earth.
Jeremiah 30:24 says: “The fierce anger of the LORD will not turn back, until He has performed and until He has accomplished the intent of His heart; in the latter days you will understand this (NASB).” Jeremiah 30:24 speaks of judgment coming upon His people, and it is also the context for Jeremiah 31. Jeremiah 31 contains several fulfilled prophecies at the first advent of Christ. For example, Jeremiah 31:15 is a prophecy fulfilled in Matthew 2:16-18. Jesus is born under law (Galatians 4:4), at the end of the Old Covenant. The Old Covenant is ending with Christ’s birth, and the New Covenant is at hand with the beginning of His ministry. In writing to Jews, the author of Hebrews says in chapter 1:1-2: “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.” The things “spoken of long ago to the fathers and prophets” are the passages that we are outlining here. If you study these verses carefully, against current thought, the last days of the Jews and their Covenant were upon them. These references begin to line up with the last days of the Old Covenant, not the last days of the world.
A special warning. Because the coming of Jesus marks the fulfillment of the promise of the Messiah, we don’t have dispensational theology. That says there are different ways to be saved at different times. No, there is only one way of salvation throughout the Scripture. We believe the promise of God to provide the victory over sin and Satan (cf. Genesis 3:15). The New Testament tell the story of the Messiah, God’s eternal son, who
humbled himself and became a human being. Faith in old or new covenant shows God fulfilling his promise to rescue us and the only difference between salvation in the Old versus the New is that we know the name of the one who came to save, Jesus is his name.
Tomorrow we will finish our peek into the Old Testament and then I will list the Significance Points we can take from looking back.
11–10–2020 End Times Bible Study #11, Old Testament Part Two
Good news! I have my email working again. You may resume sending me your questions to this address: StrongInChrist@CFL.rr.com
Always begin Bible Study with prayer. God used the Holy Spirit to direct the authors to record the truth of God. The Spirit will also help you to understand the Word of God.
Probably the Old Testament Scripture which sounds most like the New Testament on the end times is Micah 4:1–4. I encourage you to stop and read those verses now. Notice the End Times emphasis, the many gentile nations coming to God and peace that will come when God breaks into our world. These words are similar to the promises which God is going to fulfill after the return of Jesus. Two common picture are used: universal peace between the nations and harmony of nature. Read Isaiah 11:6–9 gives us a picture of nature in unity with other life forms in the world. My favorite way of describing this is to say, “The lion will lie down with the lamb and he won’t say, “Lunch.”
In Jeremiah 31:31–34 God reveals the work of the new covenant (Testament) God will make with his children. The commands of God will not be written on tablets of stone, but it will be written in our hearts. The foundation of the new relationship with God is the power of forgiveness when we are make holy, perfect, people by the grace of God.
Here again we see an example of what I refer to as double fulfillment. It is accomplished first when Jesus lives a perfect life for us. Then he pays the price of sin by laying down his life as the perfect sinless sacrifice for sin. No longer will blood be shed by man or beast as a continual reminder of our sin. Jesus has paid it ALL. The one who died is raised to life to show us the promise of new life given by God. We do nothing to pay for our sin. We do nothing to deserve forgiveness. It is the free gift of God to us (Eph. 2:4–10). This fulfillment happens when we come to faith in God’s promise. The fulness of it will not be received until the day Jesus returns and our soul and body are reunited in the great resurrection. Satan will be bound and thrown into the pit of fire (hell) never to bring the disaster of sin upon mankind again. That’s the Gospel (good news) that should cause us all to pray, “Even so Lord, come quickly!”
Ezekiel 30:3 warns that there is another side to the Lord’s return. He also comes to judge. It will be a day of doom for the nations which have ignored God and also for the children of Abraham who only share his blood line, not his faith or trust in the promises of God.
SIGNIFICANT POINTS FROM TWO PEEKS INTO OLD TESTAMENT
1. Remember that Hebrew is a more economical (less words) language and context is very important in selecting which emphasis of the word “day” is intended.
2. Note the wide variety of names used to describe the end times. The end-time period surrounding Jesus’ second coming is variously called the last times, last hour, last days, day of the Lord, day of judgment, day of Gods wrath, time of punishment, end of the ages, end of all things. Whenever you see one of these words or phrases, look for something about the end times.
3. The references to the last days of the Old Covenant and the last days of earth and heaven themselves are another example of partial and complete fulfillment. Every earthquake or destructive storm is to remind us that this world isn’t forever. God give us many reminders of his coming judgment and the final judgment.
4. I hope you have noticed how many times there are references to the nations (gentiles) being brought into the Kingdom. Just as the descendants of Abraham were to cause the gentiles to be jealous and desire to join themselves to Yahweh, so should be Christians function in that way. You might want to memorize Zechariah 8:23, “In those days ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’”
5. The two greatest pictures of what life will be like after the return of Jesus are life in the Garden of Eden (close, personal fellowship with God where work was always successful and rewarding) and true world peace. Peace between nations, between ethnic groups, peace between males and females, and peace in families and marriage.
6. By faith, live a thankful life for God in appreciation of all he has done for you. Thankful that you do not have to appear before the judgment throne of God because you are forgiven: holy and righteous in his sight.
Tomorrow I will give you a summary of Dispensational Theology and why it is not the correct way to approach God. Pray for God’s help in recognizing false theology.
11–11–2020 End Times Bible Study # 12 –– Dispensational Theology
As usual, begin with prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into all truth (John 14:26). This will be a short summary. You might need to read it several times to grasp what it says if you have not previously studies it or heard of it. I believe it misrepresents the teachings of the Bible in several ways.
Dispensationalism is a method of interpreting history that divides God’s work and purposes toward mankind into different periods of time. The main proponents use seven dispensations. I will limit the discussion to the seven basic dispensations, using the most common names. I will list time name, time period covered, God’s commands and warnings for each stage.
#1: Dispensation of Innocence (Genesis 1:28-30 and 2:15-17). It covers the time from creation till Adam and Eve sin in the Garden of Eden by eating the fruit of the forbidden tree. In this dispensation God’s commands were to (1) populate the earth with children, (2) subdue the earth, (3) have dominion over the animals, (4) care for the garden, and (5) abstain from eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God warned of the punishment of physical and spiritual death for disobedience.
#2: Dispensation of Conscience. It lasted about 1,656 years from the time of Adam and Eve’s eviction from the garden until the flood (Genesis 3:8–8:22). This dispensation demonstrates what mankind will do if left to his own will and conscience, which have been tainted by the inherited sin nature. The five major aspects of this dispensation are 1) a curse on the serpent, 2) a change in womanhood and childbearing, 3) a curse on nature, 4) the imposing of difficult work on mankind to produce food, and 5) the promise of Christ as the seed who will bruise the serpent’s head (Satan).
#3: Dispensation of Human Government which began in Genesis 8. God had destroyed life on earth with a flood, saving just one family to restart the human race. God made the following promises and commands to Noah and his family: A: God will not curse the earth again. B: Noah and family are to replenish the earth with people. C: They shall have dominion over the animal creation. D: They are allowed to eat meat. E: The law of capital punishment is established. F: There never will be another worldwide flood. G: The sign of God’s promise will be the rainbow.
Noah’s descendants did not scatter and fill the earth as God had commanded, thus failing in their responsibility in this dispensation. About 325 years after the flood, the earth’s inhabitants began building a tower, a great monument to their solidarity and pride (Genesis 11:7-9). God brought the construction to a halt, creating different languages and enforcing His command to fill the earth. The result was the rise of different nations and cultures. From that point on, human governments have been a reality.
#4: Dispensation of Promise. It started with the call of Abraham, continued through the lives of the patriarchs, and ended with the Exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt, a period of about 430 years. During this dispensation God developed a great nation that He had chosen as His people (Genesis 12:1–Exodus 19:25).
The basic promise during the Dispensation of Promise was the Abrahamic Covenant. Here are some of the key points of that unconditional covenant: A: From Abraham would come a great nation that God would bless with natural and spiritual prosperity. B: God would make Abraham’s name great. C: God would bless those that blessed Abraham’s descendants and curse those that cursed them. D: In Abraham all the families of the earth will be blessed. This is fulfilled in Jesus Christ and His work of salvation. E: The sign of the covenant is circumcision. F: This covenant, which was repeated to Isaac and Jacob, is confined to the Hebrew people and the 12 tribes of Israel.
#5 Dispensation of Law. It lasted almost 1,500 years, from the Exodus until it was suspended after Jesus Christ’s death. This dispensation will continue during the Millennium, with some modifications. During the Dispensation of Law, God dealt specifically with the Jewish nation through the Mosaic Covenant, or the Law, found in Exodus 19–23. The dispensation involved temple worship directed by priests, with further direction spoken through God’s mouthpieces, the prophets. Eventually, due to the people’s disobedience to the covenant, the tribes of Israel lost the Promised Land and were subjected to bondage.
#6: Dispensation of Grace. This is the one in which we are now living. It began with the New Covenant in Christ’s blood (Luke 22:20). This “Age of Grace” or “Church Age” occurs between the 69th and 70th week of Daniel 9:24. It starts with the coming of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost and ends with the Rapture of the church (1 Thessalonians 4). This dispensation is worldwide and includes both Jews and the Gentiles. Man’s responsibility during the Dispensation of Grace is to believe in Jesus, the Son of God (John 3:18). In this dispensation the Holy Spirit indwells believers as the Comforter (John 14:16-26). This dispensation has lasted for almost 2,000 years, and no one knows when it will end. We do know that it will end with the Rapture of all born-again believers from the earth to go to heaven with Christ. Following the Rapture will be the judgments of God lasting for seven years.
#7: Millennial Kingdom of Christ. It will last for 1,000 years as Christ Himself rules on earth. This Kingdom will fulfill the prophecy to the Jewish nation that Christ will return and be their King. The only people allowed to enter the Kingdom are the born-again believers from the Age of Grace, righteous survivors of the seven years of tribulation, and the resurrected Old Testament saints. No unsaved person is allowed access into this kingdom. Satan is bound during the 1,000 years. This period ends with the final judgment (Revelation 20:11-14). Then the earth will be destroyed by fire, and the New Heaven and New Earth of Revelation 21 and 22 will begin.
What are the problems with this design of God dealing with his people? Jesus warned there would always be false prophets. A few people expressed ideas with some similarity to the Dispensational theme, but they were all based on apocryphal books which were ignored or rejected in making the Biblical canon. It is a new way of looking at the prophecies of God. How new? Most people agree that J. N. Darby (1800––1882) was the father of modern Dispensational Theology and Futurism. He was an Anglo-Irish Bible teacher, one of the influential figures among the original Plymouth Brethren and the founder of the Exclusive Brethren. Pre-tribulation rapture theology was popularized extensively in the 1830s by J. N. Darby and the Plymouth Brethren, and further popularized in the United States in the early 20th century by the wide circulation of the Scofield Reference Bible.
Kansas attorney, C.I. Scofield (1843-1921), was converted to Christ at age 36. During the 1880’s in St. Louis, James Brookes discipled Scofield teaching him dispensationalism. An ordained Congregationalist, Scofield, pastored both Congregational and Presbyterian churches. He is well-known as a popularizer of dispensationalism through his widely-known and controversial Scofield Reference Bible (1909). His work has done more to spread dispensationalism through,out the English-speaking world than anything else.
Charles C. Ryrie (1925––2016), was a teacher at Dallas Theological Seminary and taught Systematics and for over 20 years was the dean of doctoral studies. I do not recommend using either the Scofield Reference Bible or the Ryrie Study Bible. I do not accept the existence of a Rapture. I would encourage you to study covenant theology. We have referred to the Bible as The Old Testament (Covenant) and the New Testament (Covenant). This will give you a more solid foundation for studying The End Times.
Another problem: In the Bible the word “dispensation” never refers to a period of time. Invariably its meaning is “a stewardship,” “the act of dispensing,” “an administration.” Read the four New Testament texts in which the word “dispensation” is found: 1 Corinthians 9:17 (ESV–stewardship); Ephesians 1:10 (ESV–plan); 3:2; and Colossians 1:25.
The plan of the ages is a gospel plan. God’s dealings with man have been ever the same. Faithful Abel and Enoch, Abraham and Moses, were all “saved by grace.” By “faith,” they trusted God’s promise. So, today God’s remnant church is a church which is saved by faith through grace and then lives a life of thanksgiving toward God and keeps the commandments of God to demonstrate their thanks.
Pray to keep clear that God has only had one plan of salvation from eternity. Tomorrow I will spend time discussing Millennialism, another divisive issue about the end times.
11–12–2020 End Times Bible Study #13, Millennialism
Begin with prayer. May the Holy Spirit help to get the message we need. Faith isn’t a problem solving event. It is trusting the one who laid down his life for you.
Revelation 20:1–10 mentions a thousand-year reign of Christ with His saints: the millennium. This is the only passage in the Bible that speaks of this, and because it is not obvious what is being spoken of, it has become a matter of controversy down through the ages.
There are two main ways to understand the millennium. Some theologians believe that the millennium is a symbol for the reign of the saints in heaven during the gospel age. Others take it as referring to a reign of Christ with or through His saints on the earth. Here there are three possibilities: Amillennialists (amils) believe that the entire gospel age is the millennium; premillennialists (premils) believe that the millennium comes after Christ’s return but before the Last Judgment and lasts one thousand years; postmillennialists (postmils) believe that the millennium is a golden age (no specified length) of spiritual influence on the earth, captained by Christ ruling from heaven, before His second advent. Most Lutherans are amillennialists.
There are variations in each view. Some amils put the millennium in heaven, while others include the church on earth. Some premils add other features, such as a rapture and seven-year tribulation period before the millennium starts (this is a feature of dispensationalism, which we discussed yesterday). Some postmils say that the millennium is the whole gospel age, but still look forward to a time of prosperity for the Gospel based on other passages.
The three positions generally boil down to a kind of historical pessimism versus optimism. Premils usually believe things are going to get worse and worse until finally a great tribulation breaks out, and then Jesus will return to set up His thousand-year rule. Postmils believe that, in spite of ups and downs, the kingdom of Christ will. spread over the world and leaven all of human culture, prior to a final rebellion at which point Jesus will return to end history. Amils see the ups and downs, but don’t see any kind of “golden age.” They stress that Christ could return at any moment, without any preceding signs or events.
The word “millennium” comes from Latin and simply means “one thousand years.” “Millennialism” (or “millenarianism”) envisions one thousand years of Christ’s reign on earth before world history comes to its final fulfillment. (“Chiliasm,” taken from Greek, has the same meaning and is often the term of preference among Christian scholars on the European continent.) The origin of the idea of a millennium, and the only explicit biblical reference to it, is in Revelation 20:1–10. In this passage John, the seer, sees a vision of Satan bound and locked away in the abyss for a thousand years to keep him from deceiving the nations. The same vision depicts Christian martyrs resurrecting to life to reign together with Christ for a thousand years. This vision portrays the millennial period as a time of justice, peace, and human flourishing in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies.
Christians have differed concerning the proper interpretation of John’s vision of the thousand years in Revelation 20.
Premillennialists believe that Christ’s second coming will occur before the millennium, at which time he will rule over the nations for a thousand years until history ends. Although not the only interpretation during the first three centuries of the Christian era, premillennialism was very popular among many. It declined during the Constantinian and medieval periods, but it attracted widespread attention once again (especially in its dispensationalist form) during the nineteenth century, under the influence of British and American leaders such as Edward Irving (1792–1834), J. N. Darby (1800–1882), and C. I. Scofield (1843–1921). Premillennialism remains very popular today, especially among Christian fundamentalists and some conservative evangelicals.
Postmillennialists view Jesus as returning after the millennial golden age, when good progressively triumphs over evil because of the spread of the gospel and of Christian influence on society. Scholars are in disagreement regarding its origins, but some of its basic ideas were anticipated early in Christian history. The
twelfth-century writer Joachim of Fiore (c. 1135–1202) was among the first genuine postmillennialists, and the Savoy Declaration of 1658 was its earliest creedal statement. It was Daniel Whitby (1638–1726), however, who popularized this view and gave it its most impressive formulation. He challenged the prevailing amillennialist interpretations of the day and paved the way for the dominance of postmillennial views in the nineteenth century. Postmillennialism played a significant role in promoting social gospel and reform movements in the modern era, but the horrors of World War I undermined it, and it was eclipsed by premillennialism.
Amillennialists reject the very idea of a future earthly millennium in history, interpreting John’s vision symbolically as Christ’s reign from heaven in the present church age. Among the church fathers, Clement of Alexandria (c. 150–215), Origen (185–254), and Cyprian (200–258) rejected millennialism altogether. Origen’s challenge was especially significant because of the allegorical method of interpretation he employed. Saint Augustine (354–430) capitalized on allegorical hermeneutics to systematize a view of amillennialism that became the dominant interpretation of the medieval and Reformation periods.
While there is no current consensus regarding the millennium, all orthodox Christians who hold to these various positions agree that Jesus Christ is the crucified and risen Lord of history who will one day return to bring all history to its culmination. Thank God the salvation story stands.
What I fail to understand is this: Since God has told us no human knows the day or hour when Jesus will return, why do we spend so much time trying to make sure we get the variety of things that are signs of the time in the correct order if can’t know when it is coming. Rather than wasting time trying to get it all straight, let’s just spend our time getting the salvation story out and follow Jesus instruction, “Be ready all the time.”
Close with prayer. Ask God to help you share the salvation story rather than worrying about how close the end it. Maybe you won’t be alive and still walking on the face of this earth. Then what good has all the focus on when or how the end is coming done. Spend your time telling people how to be ready all the time thru faith in Jesus Christ, your Lord and Savior. I don’t claim to know what God meant with the reference to 1,000 years. I just know that since I have Jesus in my life, I already have the peace which passes all human understanding. I don’t know if I might have to wait for 1,000 years somewhere down the road. I just want to know I’m ready whichever way history unfolds. What I NEED to know is that I am forgiven and loved by Jesus. Thus prepared for eternity. Hallelujah!
11–13–2020 End Times Bible Study #14, The Mark of the Beast
The Mark of the Beast in Revelation has consistently been a question of concern for the people of God. As you pray before you begin this study, pray God has helped me share something of benefit to you. Pray that you may understand and do not be afraid to ask questions. You can send them to me via messenger on Facebook or use the following email to contact me directly: StrongInChrist@cfl.rr.com If I should ever quote you, I will not identify you.
I have found a couple of misunderstandings about the Mark on the Forehead or on the right hand. I want you to stop before reading any farther and answer these questions: 1. Where does putting a special mark on someone first appear in the Bible? 2. Read Ezekiel 9:3–6. Who is putting a mark on the forehead here? Why is he putting this mark on them? What is the purpose of the mark?
The answer to the questions I asked. The first person to receive a mark is Cain. Read Genesis 4:13–16 and tell what was the purpose of the mark? When you heard it was the mark on Cain who murdered his brother Abel did you think it was a punishment or a blessing? I remember several of my Sunday School teachers who said that the reason we were expelled from the Garden of Eden was our sin, Go back and read Genesis 3:22 and see how God himself described it in the Bible. God wanted us to not eat of the tree of life and then be forced to live forever as damaged creatures. He wanted to have a way to redeem sinful mankind.
The mark of Cain was not punishment, it was protection. In Gen. 4:14 Cain said his punishment was more than he could bear. So in Gen. 4:15 God protects him with the mark. Now turn to Ezekiel 9. It is the Lord who instructs the unidentified man to mark certain people. He is to mark those who share God’s concern about the abominations (horrible sins) committed by the people of Jerusalem. God instructs his holy angels to go through the city, beginning at the temple and slay without mercy all except those with the mark. God marked them to protect them when the wrath of God is poured out in the final judgment.
Now read Revelation 7:3 where God withholds his judgment until all his own have God’s seal on their foreheads. Revelation says we are all going to have a mark, either the mark of God or the mark of the beast, Satan and the power of even. Why would we get so concerned about the mark of the beast when you have the mark of God?
Turn and read Revelation 9:1–6. Notice how the locusts are going to be a terrible plague on all the people except for those have the seal of God. This reminds me of the plagues in Egypt. The first 3 plagues touched both the Egyptians and the children of Israel. When the fourth plague came, (Exodus 8:20–24) it did not touch the people of Israel and God can do it again whenever he desires.
Then in chapter 20:1–10 we find Satan getting out of the pit for another shot at God’s people. Notice that when Satan is doing his worst, God is doing his best. In verse 9 the devil and his crew, surround the camp of the saints and the beloved city. But instead of destruction, fire came down from heaven and consumed them and the beast (devil) is returned to the pit. Some of me have heard me say that the three word description of the Book of Revelation is, “Jesus always wins.” Chapter 20 is a great picture of this truth.
Jesus warned us about the dying gasp of Satan so we would not be confused about the winner of the battle between God and the beast. Remember: God is going to shorten the days for the sake of the elect. We have a future now and always.
Notice how our worship reflects the mark of God. In the baptismal service the sign of the cross is made upon the forehead and the heart to remind us of our victor. Making the sign of the cross is not a command from God. It is just good way for us to remember who has marked us and whom we serve. That is also the symbolism of making an ashes cross on those who desire on Good Friday.
I do not care if I cannot buy or sell because I don’t have the mark of the beast. I have and I will keep the mark of God––the Cross of Christ.
11–14–2020 End Times Bible Study #15, Lessons from Daniel & Revelation
Begin with prayer for the help of the Holy Spirit. Visions, dreams, messages with hidden meanings, all make it easier to be led astray. Use the Law–Gospel contrast to stay on the right track. How is sin showing itself in your appointed reading and how is God’s grace and mercy revealed to us.
The classic example in the Bible of apocalyptic writing is Revelation. The other book recognized as apocalyptic writing is Daniel. Daniel gives us some important lessons about proper interpretation of the dreams or visions which came from God. The name comes from the Greek word: apokálypsis, which means vision or hidden. It was primarily used from the time of the Babylonian Captivity and till 200 years after Jesus.
The closely related word, apocraphal, is the title given to works where there was doubt that the author was who they claimed to be. The Apocraphal Books which the Roman Catholics use were rejected by the Protestant Churches. There were a number of other writing which were rejected by all the Western Church, both Catholic and Protestant.
We begin with the lessons we can learn from Daniel. Daniel, chapter two, begins with a unique dilemma that Nebuchadnezzar presented to his wise men. He had a troubling dream and instead of telling them the dream and asking them what it meant, he said they had to tell him his dream and its interpretation or they would all be killed (2:5). When the wise men said that was impossible the king ordered all the wise men to be killed. When they came to carry off Daniel and his three friends off for the grand execution, Daniel asked the captain of why this was happening. Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah had a prayer meeting and God revealed both the dream and its meaning to Daniel. Daniel asked the for an opportunity to tell the king his dream and meaning.
Because Daniel knew the dream, the king believed his meaning was correct. Daniel ‘s God and Daniel were honored and he was placed as ruler over the whole province and the leader of the wise men. There are two lessons here. If someone claims God gave them a message, then I believe King Nebuchadnezzar was right to ask them, tell me the dream and its meaning. In the Bible God says if the person is a true prophet of God, 100% of his prophecies will be correct. Unless God reveals the meaning in the Scripture, be VERY WARY of the Bible teacher who says, “I can tell you what it all means.” Then they proceed to say this represents Russia, Israel, China or whatever. It is one thing to say, “This resembles ‘so and so’ now.” When they begin to say, “This proves, this or this proves that” when God has not identified its exact meeting, run from them.
Chapter 4 gives a second example of a dream from King Nebuchadnezzar which Daniel interprets by God’s help and it happens as he said. In chapter 5, Daniel interprets the handwriting on the wall and his interpretation is correct. God used Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to reveal his glory to two different world leaders: Darius and Nebuchadnezzar. That was the purpose God had in mind when he created a family out of a dried up old man and a barren old women. They were to show the glory of God to the world so that others would seek to follow Yahweh. That by the way is God’s plan for us a well. Don’t seek to make yourself great! Seek to make God great in the world. Go back and see how Daniel did it in 2:27–30. That is our model. Daniel did not rob God of his glory and neither should we.
If you have read the book of Revelation recently, you would note how much of Daniel it expresses. Unless God explicitly says, “This means that” do not listen to them. I remember seeing a paper that was titled “242 Mistaken Predictions About the End.” If you could peruse all the languages of the world, I think you could probably find that many false predictions every year. The last 6 chapter of Daniel are written in Aramaic, the native tongue or heart language of the Babylonians. God continues trying to reach the whole world and now it is our money, our voices and our feet which God is using.
Now I’d like to show you several examples from Revelation which you need to remember. Lesson # 1: Many get off base because they don’t read carefully Rev. 1:1–3. Many people refer to Revelations (plural)
rather than Revelation (singular). So don’t let yourself get caught in the trap of looking for a multitude of different visions, which will show you exactly what is going to happen. In each vision you are to be looking for what is revealed about Jesus Christ. Remember my three word summary of Revelation: Jesus always wins.
We often underestimate the power of sin and the damage it has done to creation. That the various creatures we encounter look like a horror movie reminds us that sin is deadly and destructive. Good news: It cannot overcome the power of God and his grace to us.
Lesson # 2: God’s view of time is radically different than ours. In v. 1 it says it is about “things that must soon take place,” and v. 3 says “the time is near.” I must admit that I think 80+ years is a long time, but here we are almost 2,000 years later and the world is still in orbit around the sun.
Now read 1:4–8 noting the following: Communicating with us is the one who is, who was, and who is to come. This is easy to understand. Jesus IS. He is a real person who is really alive today, and who will return to earth for the day of judgment. He is not an imaginary person. He was a genuine human being and we will see him when he returns as did the people during his time on earth. In v. 4 it tells us that this grace and peace we receive from God is not only from him, but also from the seven spirits before the throne. Who are the seven spirits?
Notice the repetition of the number 7. Do not get hyped up on numerology, but 7 is considered a perfect number. It is the number of the earth, 4, and the number of God, 3, which totals 7: 7 churches (v. 4), 7 spirits (v.4), 7 golden lampstands (v. 12) , 7 stars (v. 16). In v. 11 we even find the names of the 7 churches. In v. 20 we learn the stars represent the churches angels and the lampstands represent the churches. Which one of the 7’s in not clearly identified: the seven spirits? I know of at least 3 suggested interpretation: 1. Angels are spirit beings so it is just another way of referring to the 7 angels. 2. It is an unusual way of referring to the Holy Spirit. 3. God uses angels to care for his children and his churches, so God has several angels working for each church, one on earth and another before the throne. Remember this simple rule: If God does not make a positive identity of something in his word pictures of horrible beasts, do not say you know what the answer is. Nor do you let someone else convince you that they have correctly and positively made the right choice with their suggestion.
Close with prayer. On Monday I will try to give you a summary of what I consider the most important things for you to remember on the topic of the End Times. And then on Tuesday we start our journey thru John’s Gospel. I believe John was the closest personal friend Jesus had among the disciples. After all, he entrusted the care of Mary to him. Your concerns and questions are welcomed at StrongInChrist@CFL.rr.com
Wednesday 7pm Connection & Prayer Group
Connect and pray for one another, our community, and the world. Zoom meetings. For zoom invitation contact Pastor Doug at firstname.lastname@example.org
One Nation under God: Healing Racial Divides in America
(Adults, discussion lead by Alina Davis, weekly reading assignments, 6-weeks, reading materials will be provided)
We are a nation divided. This division stems from a lack of communication, empathy, and understanding. Author Rev. B. Keith Haney, an African American LCMS pastor, encourages everyone to seek answers to racial tensions in the only place where truth and peace can be found—God’s Word. Healing must begin with Jesus. In this six-session study, you’ll openly communicate and begin the healing process. Let’s be a nation united—united under God. “The study is dangerous and risky. It will demand open and honest conversation. . . . The study will likely make a predominately white-Missouri synod feel discomfort as we talk about prejudice, discrimination, hatred, diversity, and divisions. So be it.”—Rev. Bart Day, Executive Director of National Mission for the LCMS
Suggested Future Group
- Joining Jesus On His Mission Have you ever tried to explain why you pray about things that concern you? Have you tried to describe to someone who Jesus is to you? Have you ever tried to explain how your spiritual development has had an impact on your parenting choices or your finances or career….. but you just couldn’t find the right words to make it happen? This book study is a great opportunity to learn about how to have these conversations, in every day circumstances, with people who are put in your path as a regular course of your day. Talking about who you are in Christ and what you believe can be a huge gift you give to others, and is a very important part of being a disciple of Christ. Join us to learn more and have some great discussions! This is a six week book study series. Joining Jesus on His Mission will alter the way you see your life as a follower of Jesus and take you beyond living your life for Jesus to living life with Jesus. Simple, powerful and applicable insights show you how to be on mission and recognize where Jesus is already at work in your neighborhoods, workplaces and schools. You will feel both relief and hope. You may even hear yourself say, “I can do this ” as you start responding to the everyday opportunities Jesus is placing in your path.
- Surrendered – Letting Go & Living Like Jesus, by Barb Roose (Women’s STUDY, Teaching led by author via video, daily study assignments in Study book, 6 weeks long.) Are you disappointed by unchanging circumstances? Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase, “Let go and let God,” which suggests that surrender is God’s path for peace for your life. It may be true, but it’s easier said than done, isn’t it? In this six-week Bible study, you’ll learn how to let go by exploring Jesus’ time of testing in the wilderness. As you look to his example, you’ll discover six principles that will equip you to let God lead you to victory as you deal with the problems and pain you are facing. Along the way, you’ll compare Jesus’ responses to those of the Israelites, who also faced a long wilderness season centuries earlier. This study will equip you to give up control, reach for God, let go of fear, and experience the blessings of the surrendered life. It’s possible to let go and live like Jesus and the result is experiencing God’s power and peace as never before.Resources Available: Leader Guide, Study Workbook, Six-Session Teaching videos online.
- Anxious for Nothing – Finding Calm in a Chaotic World by Max Lucado, (Men & Women/separate or coed, Author led teaching on video, five session study guide required) Do you feel weighed down with worry? Does the uncertainty and chaos of life keep you up at night? Are irrational fears your constant companion? Could you use some calm? In this five-session video Bible study, bestselling author Max Lucado explores God’s treatment plan for anxiety found in the most underlined verse in the Bible, Philippians 4:6-7: Be anxious for nothing, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. As you follow the Biblical prescription – celebrating God”s goodness, asking for his help, leaving your concerns with him, and meditating on good things – you will experience God’s peace. This is a peace that “transcends all understanding” and will help you reframe the way you look at your fears.With the heart of a pastor and his poetic storytelling and homespun humor, Max will help you:*Let God help you win the war on worry and receive the lasting peace of Christ.*Recognize the difference between present anxiety and persistent anxiety. *Find true freedom and experience more joy, clarity, physical renewal, and contentment by the power of the Holy Spirit. *Train yourself to rejoice in all circumstances. *Discover the secret of remaining calm when you feel you have more than you can handle. *Know how to encourage a friend and help them navigate anxiety and fear with real help from God’s Word.
- Revolutionary Parenting -How to Raise Spiritual Champions by George Barna (Parents, author lead via video, book needed, 8 sessions) As parents our deepest desire is to raise children who succeed in life. This is also our greatest challenge. How can we foster traits such as honesty, compassion, and dedication in young minds? How can we raise children who will love and serve God as adults? How can we develop future spiritual champions? The Revolutionary Parenting series will help you create a plan for your family to do just that. Drawn from a landmark study of Christian twentysomethings and the parents who raised them, these resources are designed to help you build a solid foundation of faith in your child. Revolutionary Parenting is an eight-week journey designed to help you create a parenting plan for your unique children. So whether you’re the parent of a newborn, a teenager, or any age in between, join the revolution and share a lasting legacy of faith with your children.
Completed Oct-Dec 2019
Completed Jan-April 2020
Begins this Fall 2020
Your Own Bible You can use your own Bible and follow along with the reading assignments
Immerse Book Orders can be made through Tyndale (print or Kindle) https://www.tyndale.com/p/immerse-messiah/9781496424136
Immerse Text You can read the text on the Immerse website at no cost
Podcasts are available via Apple and Google podcasts, and readings can be streamed online from the website. https://www.tyndale.com/p/immerse-messiah/9781496424136
Spritual Growth & Development
We recognize how important Christian Education is to your overall Spritual Development and Wellness. Trinity Bible Sutdies are just one of many resourses. If you don’t see something here that works for you, let us know! We’ll help you find something that meets your needs and keeps you on a path of growth and development! Contact us at TLC@TrinityDowntown.com.