As we read through Ephesians, Colossians, and 1 and 2 Timothy, we see that these churches were spiritually healthy as Paul last ministered in this region. But by the time Revelation was written, approximately thirty years later, five of these same churches had suffered serious spiritual decline. Ephesus had left its first love, and most of the rest had been infiltrated by false doctrine and sin. Only two of the seven that Jesus addresses are not condemned by Him in some fashion, Smyrna and Philadelphia, yet today none of the seven currently exist. So, what are we to make of this?
“No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” Martin Luther King quoted from Amos 5:24
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:16-18
14 And the Lord said to me: “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds. 15 Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who prophesy in my name although I did not send them, and who say, ‘Sword and famine shall not come upon this land’: By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed.” Jeremiah 14:14-15
The practical remark has often been made that many of the things which now frighten Christians and fill them with anxiety would cease to frighten them if they would endeavor to see the Lord Jesus in all, ordering every providence and overruling everything so that not a hair falls to the ground without Him. They are happy who can hear His voice through the thickest clouds and darkness, and above the loudest winds and storms, saying, “It is I; do not be afraid.” R.C. Ryle – Notes on the Gospel of John
Good Christians can disagree on the tax code, the Affordable Care Act, the size of the military and many other issues, however matters of faith, such as the sanctity of life, is a matter of Christian ethics clearly defined in Scripture. The sanctity of the life of the unborn child is intrinsically entwined in the value our God places on all life. Throughout Scripture, God affirms the value of every human life—from children in the womb to the elderly. Throughout Scripture God attests to His love for all mankind regardless of any of the caveats that we as fallen creatures have personally placed on that value.
How do we define the character of a Christian? What is it that sets us apart from the world of non-believer’s? The mark of a Christian, the defining mark of the Christian walk, is that people should be able to see Christ’s character and love in us. The love of Jesus was revealed to us in God’s Word. The love of Christ is the measure of love that each of us should aspire to in our lives. His love is measured by His amazing statement that “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13). That is the highest standard of love.
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Genesis 1:16
Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:37-40).
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 5:8-11).
A sign of a healthy Church is their adherence to the Word of God. The Word of God is the foundation and starting point for every aspect of the Christian life. The apostles’ teaching has been preserved for us in the New Testament so that we have God’s instruction. One can hardly over-emphasize the importance of sound, biblical teaching. The teaching of the Apostles had already circulated to the seven Churches of Revelation including the Church at Ephesus. So that Church was well aware of the inspired Word of God.
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.” Romans 12:9-14
“He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against ation,neither shall they learn war anymore.” Isaiah 2:4
What Exactly is Progressive Parallelism? The short answer is that it is the cornerstone of the amillennialist position and without it they have no basis to contend we are currently in the millennial kingdom. I hope that I can make clear their contentions and reveal the theological gymnastics that must be accepted to give credence at all to this view of eschatology. Please examine the following Scriptures from Revelation.
The consequences of institutionalized slavery bringing Divine judgment was not lost on many Americans and was a major theme of Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address. Lincoln knew that God had “His own purposes” in bringing the Civil War to the American people. God brings “woe unto the world because of offenses… (and) if we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses,” then “He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came.”