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Wisdom and the Road to Character Seminar

Please join us for this Free event on January 19-20, 2019

Wisdom is essential to capably negotiate the complexities of life. The wise person is one who develops expertise in living responsibly. Our culture and churches desperately need wisdom because we live in technologically advanced but character challenged times. A person is not born with wisdom; it is a learned quality. Wisdom’s ultimate goal is the formation of moral character. Please join us at the Columbine church of Christ for this study in Wisdom and the Road to Character with Dr. Dave Bland.

Saturday, January 19th

Wisdom and the Shaping of Character @ 9:30 AM

Characteristics of the Wise @ 10:30 AM

Lunch (on your own)

Beginning the Road to Character Formation (Proverbs 1–9) @ 1:00 PM

Continuing the Hard Road to Character Formation (Proverbs 10–27) @ 2:00 PM

 Sunday, January 20th

Character in Maturity (Proverbs 31) @ 9:00 AM

Crooked Timber (Psalm 51) @ 10:00 AM

The Proverb as a Tool for Character Formation (Prov. 11:1; 13:24; 22:6; 29:18) @ 1:00 PM

Dave Bland is professor of homiletics and serves as co-director of the Doctor of Ministry program at Harding School of Theology in Memphis, TN. He also serves as one of the section editors for the journal Homiletic. Dr. Bland specializes in Homiletics and the Wisdom Literature of the Bible and is the author of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes & Song of Songs (a commentary); Proverbs and the Formation of Character; and Creation, Character, and Wisdom. Dave grew up in Colorado and enjoys running and enjoys hunting, backpacking, and doing other outdoor activities with his family.

THINGS TO REMEMBER WHEN IT SEEMS LIKE SATAN IS WINNING

Sometimes it just feels like Satan’s winning the game. No matter how hard we want to believe otherwise, our heart and our mind struggle because of our circumstances. Yet, as the people of God, we need to remember:

  1. Satan’s not winning – he’s been cast down. And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.  10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night (Rev. 12:9-10)
  2. He’s not winning – he knows God has placed hedges where He wants them. Satan wanted to destroy Job, but he also knew that God had placed a protective hedge about that upright man (Job 1:10).
  3. He’s not winning – Jesus demonstrated His victory during the wilderness temptations (Matt. 4:1-11). Jesus had no intention of bowing down to the enemy. He had come to defeat him.
  4. He’s not winning – Jesus disarmed the powers through His cross (Col. 2:15). He has triumphed over them.
  5. He’s not winning – he is headed for eternal judgment. John gives us that word in Revelation 20:10 – “The devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet are, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

It might seem today like Satan’s winning in your life, the church, or the world, but he is a “loser.” Do not be deceived. Persevere in the faith!

Adapted by Mark Johnson

Whose Mark Do You Wear?

We live in an increasing image-based culture. Icons are everywhere. It is vital for businesses to establish their “brand” and cultivate an “image.”

Revelation constructs a world full of “signs” and “images.” One of the themes found in Revelation is that of being “marked” or “sealed.”

One item contemporary readers of Revelation get sidetracked on is the mark of the beast (Rev. 13:16-18). There is a fantastic array of suggestions concerning the meaning of “666,” many of which relate to the contemporary situation (at the time they were suggested) and have absolutely no meaning to the original readers of Revelation. Some of the popular targets have been “Caesar Nero,” “Ronald Wilson Reagan,” “Mikhail Gorbachev,” and various popes in Roman Catholic history. The hot name when I taught Revelation at Amarillo College was “Prince Charles.” The lengths some will go to to get a person’s name to add up to 666 are incredible.

Everyone receives a “mark” or “seal.” This mark figurative (symbolic) and not literal. There are two contrasting “marks” in the book of Revelation. God “marks” His people and “the earth beast” also “marks” those who follow him. The “mark” that one wears signifies the spiritual reality to which one belongs. Both stamps of ownership are placed on the hand, and/or forehead, symbolizing commitment and allegiance demonstrated through thinking and actions. Both marks portray a person’s loyalties reflected in their ethical choices and objects of worship.

Having God’s seal and bearing God’s name is the same thing in Revelation. Both the seal and the name of Christ and God are placed on the person’s forehead (Rev. 7:3; 9:4; 14:1; 22:4) and signifies that one is owned by (belongs) to God.

THE CALL TO CONQUER

Fundamental to the structure and theme of Revelation is the call to “conquer” or “overcome” (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21(twice); 5:5; 6:2 (twice); 12:11; 15:2; 17:14; 21:7). The need to “conquer” is present due to the spiritual war between good and evil. “This military metaphor assumes that the faithful in each congregation are engaged in a struggle to remain faithful” (Koester, Revelation and the End of All Things, 57). Those who faithfully persevere may enter the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:7).

As Richard Bauckham points out, “The visions that intervene between the seven messages to the churches and the final vision of the New Jerusalem are to enable the readers to move from one to the other, to understand what conquering involves” (Theology of Revelation, 88). The saints win the victory by faithful endurance in following the Lamb wherever He goes (Rev. 14:4). But what does “faithful endurance” look like? What is involved in persevering in faithfulness to God?

Searching the messages to the seven churches for what is involved in conquering, one finds: deeds (works, toil), endurance, intolerance of false teaching and evil (Rev. 2:2-3); suffering, being slandering on account of Christ, faithfulness until death (Rev. 2:9, 10); holding fast Christ’s name, not denying the faith; being faithful witnesses, and repentance (Rev. 2:13, 16); deeds, love, faith, service, perseverance, and not holding to Satanic teaching (Rev. 2:19, 24-25); purity (Rev. 3:4); deeds, obedience, not denying Christ’s name, and perseverance (Rev. 3:8, 10, 11). The most prominent threat to faithful endurance in Revelation is an accommodation to culture.

The “conquer” terminology in Revelation is not just used for those on God’s side. The beast is allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them (Rev. 11:7; 13:7). It is important to note that this does not mean that “you win some and you lose some.” The “conquering” of God’s people “is described both as the beast’s victory over them and as their victory over the beast. In this way, John poses the question: who are the real victors?” (Bauckham, Theology, 90).

If one is viewing life from an earthly perspective, it looks like the beast wins. However, this same event (the martyrdom of God’s people) is considered to be “victory” from the heavenly perspective. Only by means of a vision from heaven (Rev. 7:9-14; 15:2-3) or a voice from heaven (11:12; 14:2) can those who die because of their faith in Christ be recognized as “conquerors.”

Christians triumph over evil by faithful witness to the truth of God. Maintaining this witness and resisting evil, even to death, allows one to participate in the power of the victory Christ (Rev. 12:11).

A Word Of Encouragement

Because life is difficult and the walk of faith is an upward climb, we need encouragement. We need to be urged on when we don’t feel like going anymore. We need to have our thinking jolted in God’s direction when temptations and struggles pull us down. The Book of Hebrews offers a word of encouragement to keep your faith strong.

First, the writer encourages us to keep listening to God’s message in Christ. God has always revealed His will to His people. But in the last days, He went to the trouble to become flesh and deliver His once-for-all-time will to mankind. If you want to stay faithful to Him, focus on Christ, His character, and His message for your life. Without staying focused on His message, we will drift away from God.

Next, the writer urges us to profit from examples of faithfulness and unfaithfulness. This will help us to imitate successful, rather than unsuccessful spiritual behavior. People like Abel, Enoch, Noah, Moses, and especially Jesus, never gave up walking with God. They inherited God’s great rewards and promises. The Israelites, on the other hand, were redeemed from slavery only to die in the wilderness before reaching the promised land. This disaster occurred because they did not heed the word of God or trust His promises enough to do His will. Let us, then, run the race of faith with endurance, as Jesus did, and be careful not to repeat the faithless fall of the Israelites.

In addition, Hebrews encourages us to draw near to God personally through Jesus Christ. Since Jesus has opened the way to God by His own death, and since He always stands before God to intercede on our behalf, we should regularly draw near to God in prayer and praise. We can come to Him any time with a sincere heart and full assurance of faith, knowing that He will welcome us. Constantly seeking and receiving His grace, constantly seeking and receiving His divine help, we can weather the storms of life faithfully. Being in a trusting personal relationship with God and Christ Our High Priest is crucial to continued faithfulness and spiritual growth.

All of us made our confession of Jesus Christ as our Lord, King, and High Priest. The Bock of Hebrews can be summarized in the writer’s repeated exhortation “Let us hold fast our confession,” (4:14; 10:23). “Do not cast away your confidence,” he says in another place. So be encouraged, fellow Christian, to endure in your faith. Never give up, because God has prepared for us a city and will keep all of His wonderful promises!

Dan Owen

Dan Owen at Columbine

Dan Owen will be teaching and preaching at the Columbine church of Christ (7453 S. Zephyr Ct. (NE corner of Ken Caryl and Wadsworth), Littleton, CO 80128 on Sunday morning, September 16. Bible class is at 9:00 AM and worship is at 10:00 AM (Dan is preaching on Encouraging One Another). Please join us (you will be blessed).

Faithful Witness(es)

“The most significant characteristic of the church as the people of God in Revelation is its calling to be a faithful witness” (Gorman, Reading Revelation Responsibly, 131).

Jesus is portrayed as the faithful witness, who remained true to God despite trails and suffering (Rev. 1:5; 3:14; 19:11). Jesus is the faithful witness because He is the authoritative witness to God’s ways and truth, countering the world’s values and ways. The sharp double-edged sword comes from His mouth (1:16; 2:12, 16; 19:11, 15, 21) as He comforts His faithful followers and rebukes those who are not in conformity to the ways of God (Duvall, The Heart of Revelation, 105-106).

Jesus fulfilled His mission by going to the cross for the redemption of the world (Rev. 1:5; 5:6, 9).

Being faithful witnesses is exemplified in John the faithful witness now on Patmos (Rev. 1:9), the martyred Antipas of Pergamum (Rev. 2:13), and the faithful witnesses/martyrs (Rev. 6:9–11).

The task of a witness is to speak courageously in word and deed, testifying to the truth of God and speaking against falsehood. The witness accomplishes his or her mission through service, sacrifice, prayer, forgiveness, and speaking the truth in love.

Martin Niemöller was a Lutheran pastor who resisted the Nazis during Hitler’s reign of terror, is credited with saying:

 

First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

And then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

 

Not being a “faithful witness” is not an option for God’s people.

Success for faithful witnesses is not measured by the number of converts but by the steadfastness of our testimony.

Mark Johnson

THE LAMB ON THE THRONE IN REVELATION

Translations of Revelation 5:6

NAU Revelation 5:6 And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth

NIV Revelation 5:6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.

NJB Revelation 5:6 Then I saw, in the middle of the throne with its four living creatures and the circle of the elders, a Lamb standing that seemed to have been sacrificed; it had seven horns, and it had seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits that God has sent out over the whole world.

NKJ Revelation 5:6 And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth.

The Greek word translated as “between” in the NASB is μέσος: a) BDAG – middle, in the middle, among; b) EDNT – in the middle, amid, in the midst, between; c) Mounce’s Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar – middle, in the midst (58; *μεσο) – Meso is a combining form that when added to another word carries the meaning of “middle,” such as “mesomorphic” (the state between liquid and crystalline), “mesoplast” (the nucleus of a cell), and “Mesozoic” (the age between the Paleozoic and Cenozoic ages).

Other texts in Revelation with the “throne” and the “Lamb”: a) Revelation 7:9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; b) Revelation 7:17 for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd; c) Revelation 22:1 Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb; d) Revelation 22:3 There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him

The “child” (Christ) is taken up to the throne – Revelation 12:5 And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne

The Lamb is the “King of Kings”: a) Revelation 17:14 These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful; b)       Revelation 19:16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS