Where Do I Fit In?

Where Do I Fit In?

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

Brent Pollard

It is likely that after learning of the importance that both Jew and Gentile bring to the church, members of the cosmopolitan church in Rome began to wonder what role they should play individually within the church. As a result, Paul addresses this issue in Romans 12. It may be helpful for those of us living in the twenty-first century to think of it as deciding on a career path. First, we can consult a few available vocations within the church to predict our aptitude for it. Then, we can use these guidelines to figure out where we fit in the Body of Christ. 

“Prophecy” is the first vocation Paul lists (Romans 12.6). The Greek word for “prophecy” means speaking God’s mind and counsel. Initially, this referred to the Holy Spirit’s inspiration to reveal God’s truth. Today, the closest thing to prophecy is preaching—expounding on God’s Word without direct inspiration. Of course, the Holy Spirit is still very much involved in this process, but today’s prophet finds His inspiration in the pages of Scripture. 

The second option for church vocation, called “ministry” by the KJV, means “to serve” (Romans 12.7). This term refers to people who have been qualified and appointed to serve as deacons. However, the Holy Spirit also uses the word to describe the actions of non-office holders within the congregation. These devote themselves to serving their brethren. Paul uses this word in this context to highlight the devotion of Timothy and Phoebe (2 Timothy 4.5; Romans 16.1-2). 

The third church vocation is “teacher” (Romans 12.7). The word “teach” means “to make another learn” when taken at face value. A more comprehensive range of applications is possible with this interpretation. For example, one can be Priscilla and do this privately, as she and her husband Aquila did for the ignorant Apollos (Acts 18.26). It can be an older woman mentoring a younger woman (Titus 2.4) or an appointed male leader of a Bible study (James 3.1). 

A fourth possible church vocation is the “exhorter” (Romans 12.8). According to Joseph Henry Thayer, the Greek word for exhorting combines the ideas of exhorting, comforting, and encouraging. Barnabas is an excellent example of someone who publicly exhorted. In Acts 4.36, Luke says the apostles called him “Son of Encouragement.” The word “exhort” derives from the same root as one of the titles given to the Holy Spirit: the Paraclete or Comforter (John 14.16). Although this position is not a formal church office, it carries a certain air of importance in its association. What congregation does not need a bevy of Barnabases? 

A fifth possible church vocation is limited to a select few, the role of “giver” (Romans 12.8). Giving in Greek refers to someone sharing their possessions with another. Only those who are financially well-off could take on this role. We cannot afford to be like the wealthy young ruler if God has blessed us with the ability to give. The rich young ruler was willing to do anything to be obedient, short of selling his possessions and donating the proceeds to the poor (Luke 18.22-23). His heart sank when he realized he would have to give up his possessions. When we give up control to God, we give up everything, including our money. 

The sixth church vocation Paul lists is an official office within the local church: “leadership” (Romans 12.8). The term “leadership” refers to someone who protects, guards, and assists others. It has specific qualifications that Paul provides to the young preachers, Timothy and Titus, elsewhere (1 Timothy 3.1-7; Titus 1.5-9). However, younger men should be mindful of this as a role into which they can grow as they mature in the Lord. Not everyone, regardless of their willingness, can serve in church leadership. Once granted that grace, however, such men must be diligent in their service. 

The seventh and final church vocation Paul gives in this short list is one that shows mercy (Romans 12.8). I could understand one feeling confused by this being a role one can fulfill, given that we must all be merciful (Matthew 5.7). To have mercy on or pity for another person is the meaning of the underlying Greek term from which we derive our English word “mercy.” However, when you dig to the root word, you discover the intimate connection between mercy and compassion. Joseph Henry Thayer translates the “mercy” in Romans 12.8 as “to succor the afflicted, to provide help to the wretched.” When Jesus looked out at the crowds, compassion often overtook Him (cf. Matthew 9.36). So, just as with the exhorter, the one showing mercy likewise assumes a role closely resembling one of the characteristics of God. 

In Romans 12.3-8, Paul enumerates the various ways in which Christians can serve the church, illustrating the diversity of the body of Christ. How do we know which role (or roles) fit us well? Make the most of the numerous educational opportunities available in teaching, preaching, evangelism, etc. You can also “shadow” more seasoned brothers and sisters as they go about their daily routines. Even if you try something and realize you’re not good at it, you’ll gain insight into the work of others and their struggles. 

Don’t be too nervous to try something new or give up after a couple of tries if it doesn’t work out. It’s possible that lack of experience, rather than talent, is to blame for setbacks. Instead, give your all in every way you can. We won’t know what we’re capable of until we put in the work. It’s possible that others would better grasp our relative strengths and limitations than we would. When we prioritize our own sense of worth and confidence over listening to and learning from those around us, we risk letting our pride get in the way. Also, younger Christians can gain a lot from listening to and following the counsel of their more seasoned counterparts. 

In closing, let us be mindful of Peter’s words in 1 Peter 4.11: “…whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever” (NASB). There is much work to be done. The sooner we discern our role in the body of Christ, the better off the church will be.  

The Local Preacher (Part 2)

The Local Preacher (Part 2)

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog 

Carl Pollard

Acts 20:18 says, “And when they came to him, he said to them ‘You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia…” The apostle Paul gave of his time to the church. If a preacher doesn’t give his time to the church, then he is doomed to fail the congregation. 

What is a preacher that does not give of himself? First he is selfish, and secondly he is not treating the Bride of Christ with the respect and care needed. Notice that Paul says “the whole time,” not just “most of the time” or “some of the time.” Paul was fully devoted to those in Ephesus. He was a man that was church-minded. This was a man that showed focus, and likewise we must show this focus and determination to make the church as strong as it can be. A proficient preacher proffers personal time for others. It takes a selfless person to give up time for the brethren. 

Paul uses the Greek word epistamai which means “to acquire information about something, know, be acquainted with” (BDAG 380). Paul knew for certain that the elders knew who he truly was. The same must be true for the preacher and the congregation. So what does this mean? This means as ministers we must be transparent. The elders should know what we are doing to help build and strengthen the church, and so should the members. 

When it is all boiled down we see that a minister, in the most simplistic of terms, is to be a servant. He should be a servant of others in the church, and most of all he should be a servant of God. If the preacher is not a servant and is not setting that example then how are the other members in the congregation supposed to look up to him and follow him? Will they be servants? Most likely they will follow the example of the minister. We, as ministers, in many cases set the standard. We can inspire, or we can harm the church. One thing we should never forget is that our influence and example can be some of our best tools. Are we excited about God’s word and work? We should be showing that and lighting the fires of every member in the church. 

Work Cited: 

Bauer, Walter. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, edited by Frederick W. Danker, et. al., Third Edition, U of Chicago Press, 2000. Logos Bible Software, 13.0, Faithlife Corp, 2022.

Live Like God

Live Like God

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary Pollard

How does God expect us to treat each other as a church family? Look at Ephesians 4 and 5 —  

  • Always be humble and gentle (2). 
  • Be patient and accept each other with love (2). 
  • Be unified through God’s spirit (3-6). 
  • Use any talents and abilities to make the church stronger (11-12).
  • Work together as a church to reach a greater level of spiritual maturity (13-16). 
  • Avoid living like the world, because they can’t have the life God gives (17-24). 
  • Avoid telling lies, and always be truthful with our Christian family (25).
  • Avoid getting too angry, because it gives satan a way to defeat us (26-27). 
  • Avoid stealing, instead work for what we need and share with those who need it (28).  
  • Avoid cursing and hateful speech, instead encourage people (σαπρος means rotten speech) because we can make God sad with our speech (29-30). 
  • Avoid being bitter, angry, or mad, don’t raise your voice when mad, or say things that hurt other people, and don’t do anything evil (31). 
  • Be kind and loving to each other, and forgive each other just like God forgives us (32). 
Major Message: Minor Prophets

Major Message: Minor Prophets

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

blond man with goatee smiling at camera with blazer on
Dale Pollard

MAJOR MESSAGES FROM A MINOR PROPHET: AMOS 

Who’s The Prophet?

  • Shepherd and fig tree farmer. 
  • Lived on the border of northern and southern kingdoms 
  • The North was ruled by Jeroboam the 2nd who brought wealth and prosperity to the people 

What Are His predictions?

  • Warning Israel, Judah, Benjamin and all nations of a coming destruction described as “the Day of the Lord.” 

What Was His Purpose?

  • He about the oppression of the poor, sexual immorality, greed, and corrupt government In the Northern kingdom 
  • The wealthy Israelites had become apathetic and spiritually lazy 

SIMPLE CHAPTER BREAKDOWN 

  • 1-2 messages to the nations and Israel 
  • 3-6 poems expressing the message to leaders and people 
  • 7-9 God’s judgment is explained 

SKY HIGH SNAPSHOTS 

  1. The 9 chapter book spends time circling the surrounding nations and pointing out their evil. He starts with the nations furthest away from the people and works his way closer to the target, the Northern tribes.
  2. Amos expresses God’s anger towards Damascus, Gaza, Ammon, Moab, Edom, and even Judah 
  3. Finally, the primary audience is shocked to hear that they (Northern territory) are the source of God’s anger as well 

Top 2 Practical Lessons From The Book 

Our lives will also be lessons for future generations. When they look back they will either say, 

“we ought to live as they did” or 

“we ought not live as they did.” 

PLUGGING IT IN 

“WHAT DOES GOD NEED FROM US?”

  1. God needs more fig tree farmers. He needs community preachers in the form of plumbers, school teachers, electricians, nurses, surveyors, dentists, accountants, mechanics, and engineers. 
  2. We need more preachers. It’s more common than it was, but there’s a great need for gospel preachers in the LORDs church. Amos spoke for God, but he was in the minority.
  3. We need more elders. Great elders are rare. It’s been said and proven to be true, “The church will never outgrow the shadow of her leadership.” 
  4. We need more seriousness. Not more piety, not an immovable allegiance to man’s tradition, more people who take their God seriously. 

Amos in a sentence: 

“Service does not mean salvation if our service is not from the heart.” 

Real faithfulness means worship that is holy— not habitual. He wants committed people, not costume parties. He wants our attention to be placed on our purity, not our performance. 

Let The World Be The World And The Church Be Different

Let The World Be The World And The Church Be Different

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

Neal Pollard

Many of us were startled by an automatic alert sent to our phones last Saturday morning, alerting us of potential violence and danger in our usually serene city. The reason was a planned protest and counterprotest, a racially-charged event centering on a horrible incident that happened almost seventy years ago in another state. Predictably, it stirred up some division and exposed extreme and racially-prejudiced views from some.

The world prefers to keep people divided on the basis of race, gender, political affiliation, and the like, and uses such tools as identity politics (Brittanica defines this as “political or social activity by or on behalf of a racial, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender, or other group, usually undertaken with the goal of rectifying injustices suffered by group members because of differences or conflicts between their particular identity or misconceptions of their particular identity and the dominant identity or identities of a larger society”) and tribal alliances. Subject to human biases, emotions, and subjectivism, easy to misjudge and assume others’ motives and intentions, it becomes a massive roadblock to oneness and unity.

But we would expect no less from the world. Who is the prince and ruler of this world? He is a murderer (John 8:44), a devourer (1 Pet. 5:8), a sinner (1 Jn. 3:8), and a deceiver (2 Co. 11:3,14). Chaos, disorder, and division serve his purposes quite effectively.

In the midst of such mayhem, the Lord has the church in this world to be a beacon and light (Mat. 5:13-16). What an opportunity we have in the midst of the world’s divisiveness to show a people united on the foundation of truth, regardless of our race, background, education level, economic strata, or any other way the world wants to divide us. We won’t compromise the eternal truth of God’s Word, but we will stand together on that even however difficult or unpopular. We will live by 1 Corinthians 1:10, “Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.” We will honor His objective and follow His blueprint to achieve it.

When an onlooking world gets a glimpse of us in action, red, yellow, black, and white, working in love, harmony, and acceptance of one another, they will find an alternative to the world’s hate. When they see the poor esteemed and accepted as much as the well-to-do (Js. 2:1-8), they will see a bright alternative to a cold, status-conscious world. If the church will be the church, we can help the world–one searching person at a time. But the world will always be the world. We should not expect them to show us the way to be one. Their ruler wants chaos. Ours wants peace.

Vicarious Faith

Vicarious Faith

Saturday’s Column: Learning From Lehman

David Chang

Joshua, at the end of his life in Joshua chapter 24, summons all the tribes of Israel and their leaders to Shechem. He reminds them of their journey as a nation so far, what all God has done for them since the days of their forefathers, and everything God has done for them from Egypt until that present moment. Starting in verse 14, Joshua calls the people to fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and in faithfulness and to put away the gods beyond the River and of Egypt. 

Joshua issues a challenge to the people, that if it’s evil in their eyes to serve the Lord, to choose that day whom they will serve—whether the gods beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites whose land they conquered. As for Joshua and his house, they will serve the Lord. Israel answers, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods” (v. 17a). They review what they have seen and what they know that God did for them since bringing them out of Egypt. Joshua continues to challenge their response. They respond the same way: “No, but we will serve the Lord” (v. 21). Joshua once again warns them, that by renewing this covenant, they are becoming witnesses against themselves. The words they say are weighty; it is nothing to play around with. The moment they choose God, that decision comes with accountability and responsibilities. Israel answers, “We are witnesses” (v. 22). 

This scene of unity as the entire nation of Israel come together to answer their calling to serve God is incredible. Just imagining all of those people coming together to renew their covenant relationship with God is a chilling image, in a good way. However, the other side of this story, the part that makes this scene a tragic one, is the reality of their eventual disobedience and apostasy. Just a single page after this part of the Bible, we know what begins to take place in Judges. Israel’s continual downfall as they constantly forget their God and stray towards other pagan gods of the peoples they failed to drive out as God commanded them.

Reading this interaction between Joshua and the people of God and knowing what takes place shortly after makes us wonder: how many people in that crowd that day were truly zealous for God?

We do not do faith alone; Christianity was designed by God to be something that we share with each other and with those around us. However, it is also a double-edged sword in that we as participants of this faith journey can mistaken other’s zeal for our own. When things are going well and you see work being done, it is easy for our emotions to get heightened. And there is a sense in which we need to promote that kind of synergy among the members of the Body in all that we do. However, boil it down to the core. At the end of the day, we are accountable for what we do individually. As difficult as it is, we have to constantly challenge ourselves and ask: “Is my faith truly mine? Is this zeal for God that I feel truly my zeal for Him—or is it a momentary passion that I feel vicariously through others?”

It is a dangerous thing, living vicariously through others. Passion in the hands of others does not do much good to us in the long run. The same goes for faith. I wonder just how many people among the number that was present there when the covenant was renewed were truly zealous for God. And I wonder how many in that number was just saying the right things, looking the right way, and just went along with the flow. Feeling the passion and the emotions around them in that moment, mistaking it for their own zeal for God. Living vicariously through others is dangerous for obvious reasons, but it is harmful in that it is deceiving. The deception is that the congregation’s overarching atmosphere, culture, and zeal can replace one’s own true desire for God. Personal zeal for God requires real work, effort, and endurance.

Let us never become a people who lives vicariously through others’ faith. Rather, let us individually be producers and workers for the kingdom, that when we do come together corporately like tonight, the fruits we bear are hundred-fold. 

“Hi-Ho, It’s Off To Work I Go”

“Hi-Ho, It’s Off To Work I Go”

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

Brent Pollard

The book of Proverbs contains helpful “dos and don’ts” for the gainfully employed working-age child of God.  

Do (For Employees).  

  • Develop the skills that will earn you the notice of your boss or customer base (Proverbs 22.29). 
  • Work diligently to earn a promotion (Proverbs 12.24). 
  • Profit by your industry, not grand schemes that never reach fruition (Proverbs 14.23). 

Do (For Employers). 

  • Be a planner (Proverbs 21.5). 
  • Encourage the input of others (Proverbs 15.22). 
  • Though not micromanaging, be aware of everything happening within your purview (Proverbs 27.23-27). 
  • Champion the rights of your workers (Proverbs 29.7). 
  • Treat your employees so well that they will love you (Proverbs 29.21). 
  • Show your employees what is in it for them to work well (Proverbs 16.26). 

Don’t (For Employees). 

  • Don’t be lazy because you will irritate your employer (Proverbs 10.26). 
  • Don’t be a slacker (Proverbs 18.9). 

Don’t (For Employers). 

  • Don’t be oppressive (Proverbs 28.16a). 

I would be remiss if I did not address the 800-pound gorilla in America’s living room in closing. Our workforce has lost interest in working. Thus, they cannot profit from Solomon’s sage wisdom provided previously. 

It is a biblical expectation that all of God’s children of working age will work for someone else or as their own boss (2 Thessalonians 3.6-12). God is good, sending rain on the righteous and unrighteous (Matthew 5.45), but He only promises Providence to those who seek His kingdom and righteousness first (Matthew 6.33). Such a person seeking God should be obedient to His commands, including those concerning the necessity of work. Furthermore, even if not for himself, a person should want to care for his family because failure makes him worse than an infidel (1 Timothy 5.8).  

In November 2021, the US Chamber of Commerce conducted a poll. 8% of those polled said they would never work again! At the time of publication, more than half of those surveyed said they were not actively looking for work. And this is not a problem for young people. The respondents ranged in age from 25 to 45+. People said they hoped to change industries or were awaiting the allure of a large signing bonus. Despite media reports, theBureau of Labor Statistics shows little has changed.  

It’s anecdotal, but I know of two local businesses that closed because no one showed up. Both were restaurants, even if they were not technically in the same industry (one is fast food and, thus, considered food and beverage, and the other is hospitality industry). I’ve previously discussed this issue in this forum, but it persists. There are still desperate burger joints offering above-minimum-wage pay for a guaranteed 40-hour week, and people aren’t applying. How is this possible? 

These indolent who expect others to look after them cannot expect even God’s children to feel compassion for their self-inflicted plight. As Paul tells us, “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3.10 NASB).     

The Local Preacher (Part One)

The Local Preacher (Part One)

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

Carl Pollard

When taking a look at the book of Acts, many insights can be found about the church. From the Lord’s supper to the appointing of elders, there are many things that can be learned about the Lord’s Church and how it should act. Today there are far too many churches that have left and strayed away from the original design. Since we have one Bible, there should be one church. Out of the many things that can be learned from Acts, one of the most prominent aspects seen is the local preacher in a congregation and how he should behave. 

Today when we look in the denominational world, we see the preachers as a sort of leader in the church. The names given to preachers can sometimes be misleading. But the preacher has a very significant job, and hopefully by the end of this article series we will see that the minister is not too different from the member of the body. He is one that proclaims the word. His main job is to be an example and one who can take the word of God and turn it into something that God’s people can learn, and then apply to their christian walks. By looking at the examples given in Acts about the local preacher, we are able to answer quite a few questions. 

Probably the chapter that contains the majority of these insights is chapter 20, specifically verses 17 through 38. These articles will be an in depth study on this section of Acts, and how it applies to a preacher in a local congregation. 

Acts 20:17, “Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him.” Notice that Paul met with the Elders of the church at Ephesus. The word for elder here is the word presbuteros, and we know that this is in reference to those who held the office of elders, and were not just older men. We see this in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6ff. 

To be a successful local preacher it is vital to talk to, and build a relationship with the elders of the congregation. Elders play an extremely vital role in churches, and to be an effective minister we must make sure that there is a healthy relationship between the elders and the preacher. Paul set the example, and now we follow what he has set. It makes sense. The elders are the leaders of the congregation and if the preacher is leading in a way other than what the elders have asked then how will the members react? The preacher must be one that uplifts and submits to the authority of the eldership. Paul was a great man. He had given up so much for the gospel yet even he submits himself under the elders. God knew what He was doing when He designed the church, so it is no wonder that many denominations fall away from the original design, and then run into many issues. 

The local preacher is a member, therefore he must submit to the oversight and leadership of the elders. 

Full Translation Of 1 John

Full Translation Of 1 John

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary Pollard

It’s existed since the beginning. We’ve heard it ourselves and we’ve seen it with our own eyes. We’ve studied it and touched it with our own hands. This is the word of life, and this life was shown to us. Everything we’ve heard and witnessed and told you about is this eternal life. He came from the father and was revealed to us. We’ve told you everything we’ve seen and heard so you can partner with us. We have this partnership with the father, as well as with his son Jesus Christ. We’re writing this to you to make our joy complete.

The message that we’ve been hearing from him is the same one we’re giving you: God is made of light, and no darkness exists in him whatsoever. If we claim to be partners with him while our lives are defined by walking in darkness, we’re liars and can’t even practice the truth. But if our lives are defined by walking in light, we have partnership with each other. On top of that, the blood of God’s son Jesus gets rid of any and all sins we have!

If someone says they don’t have sin, they’re lying – no truth exists in them. If we admit that we have sin in our lives, he is consistent and morally pure, so he’ll forgive us and get rid of our moral impurity. If someone says they’ve never even sinned, they make God a liar. His word will have nothing to do with them. 

My children, I’m writing all of this to you to help you avoid sin. But when we do sin, we have someone who came from God and who advocates for us: Jesus Christ, the morally perfect one who gets rid of every one of our sins. He doesn’t just take care of our sins, he does the same thing for everyone in the world! 

We can know for sure that we know him if we do what he’s told us. Anyone who claims to know God but doesn’t do what he’s told us is a liar. The truth doesn’t exist in them. If we do what he’s told us to do, the truth is in us and God’s love is, too. That’s how we know we’re with him. If we claim to be with him, we’re obligated to live by the same standard Jesus lived by. 

Loved ones, I’m not giving you a new commandment here. It’s the same one that’s existed since the beginning of time: love each other deeply. You’ve heard this before. It is new in a way, though. The same truth that existed in Jesus now exists in you. Darkness is disappearing and the true light is already shining through. 

If someone claims to be in this light but hates their Christian family, they’re actually in darkness. If you love your Christian family, you’re a part of this light. You don’t trip other people in their walk, either. Anyone who hates their spiritual family lives and walks in darkness. They’re lost because the darkness has blinded them. 

Children, I’m writing to you because Jesus forgave your sins. 

Fathers, I’m writing to you because you’ve known this from the beginning. 

Teens, I’m writing to you because you’ve defeated the evil one. 

Children, I’m writing to you because you’ve always know the father. 

Fathers, I’m writing to you because you’ve known this from the beginning. 

Teens, I’m writing to you because you’re strong. God’s word lives in you, and has defeated the evil one. 

My loved ones, do not love this world or anything in it. If you love the world, God doesn’t love you! There’s nothing good in this world. Unhealthy sexual desire, materialism, and unhealthy pride are not from God. They’re exclusive to the world, which is disappearing along with everything in it. Anyone who does what God wants, though, will live forever. 

Little children, the end is coming soon. You’ve already heard that enemies of Christ are coming. Well, many of those enemies are already here. That’s how we know the end is coming soon. They left us, but they were never really with us or they would’ve stayed. They showed their true colors when they left. 

But you have been chosen by the holy one, and you know everything you need to know. I’m not writing to you because you don’t know the truth, but because you do know it, unlike those who lie. 

Anyone who denies that Jesus is the chosen king is a liar. Anyone who rejects the father and the son is an enemy of Jesus. Anyone who rejects Jesus rejects his father, too. 

But anyone who acknowledges Jesus partners with the father, too! It’s important that you stick to what you’ve heard from the start. If you do, you are partners with the son and the father. Through this message we’ve been promised eternal life. 

I’m writing to you because people are trying to deceive you. He chose you, and that stands – no one needs to teach you anymore about it. When he chose you, you learned everything you needed to know. His choosing you was true, not a deception. Stick with him. Stick with him so that when he comes back, we can have confidence without having to feel ashamed. You know that he’s morally perfect. 

Look into the kind of love the father gave us: we can be called “God’s children,” and we actually are! The rest of the world doesn’t know us, but that’s because they never knew God. 

We are God’s children right now, but we have no information about what we’re going to be in the future. What we do know is this — when it’s made known, we’ll be just like him. We know this because we’ll be able to see him the way he is now! Anyone who has the kind of hope that comes from him is pure, the same way he’s pure. 

Anyone who continuously, consciously sins is anti-law. Sin itself is anti-law. We’ve known that Jesus was revealed to everyone1 so that he could lift away sin, and sin doesn’t exist for you when you’re partners with him. Everyone who sticks with him avoids sin – if you continuously sin, it means you’ve never seen or known him. 

Children, don’t let anyone fool you. If you continually practice moral excellence, you’re as pure as he is. If you continuously practice sin, you’re an ally of satan. He’s been a sinner since the very beginning. 

God’s son was sent here for a specific reason: to destroy satan’s work. Anyone who joins God’s family for real is able to avoid sin. How? His very essence lives in you, so you’re unable to commit sin because you came from God. 

This is how you can tell the difference between God’s family and satan’s family: if they aren’t practicing moral goodness, they aren’t God’s. If they don’t selflessly love their Christian family, they aren’t God’s. 

This is what you’ve heard from the beginning: you should love each other. Don’t be like Cain, he was evil. He slaughtered his own brother. Why would he do that? Because he did evil things, and his brother was morally pure. 

Don’t be surprised, family, if the world hates you. You know you’ve transferred from death to life when you love your Christian family. Those who don’t love their Christian family are still dead. Anyone who hates their Christian family is a murderer — and you know that no murderer lives forever. 

This is how we know what love is: Jesus gave up his own life for everyone. We owe each other our lives, too. Let’s say one of you is living life to the fullest, financially comfortable and stress-free. If you notice that one of your brothers or sisters needs basic necessities and you suppress your feelings of compassion, can God’s love exist in you at all? Children, don’t just say you love each other — prove it by how you treat each other. 

This is how we know we exist in the truth: we can pacify our guilty consciences in front of God whenever our hearts condemn us. God is more powerful than our hearts and he knows everything! Loved ones, if our hearts don’t condemn us, we can be completely confident when we pray to God. If we ask him for something, he’ll give it to us. This is because we do what he’s asked and we listen to his commands. 

These are his commands: believe in his son (Jesus, the king), and selflessly love each other. Everyone who carefully practices those commands is with God, and God is with them. 

This is how you know you’re with him: he gave us his spirit. Loved ones, don’t believe every spirit, but really put them to the test to see if they came from God. You’ll need to test them because a whole lot of fake teachers were sent to the world. 

This is how you know if a spirit came from God: every spirit that comes from God will acknowledge that Jesus was sent to earth as a human. If a spirit refuses to acknowledge this, it isn’t God’s. In fact, it’s the spirit of Jesus’s enemies. You heard that the spirit of Jesus’s enemy was coming — it’s here now. 

Young ones, you are from God and have already beaten these spirits. How? Jesus is far more powerful than his enemies, and he’s with you. These enemies come from the world, so they talk like it — and the world listens to them. But we came from God. If you know God, you’ll listen to us. God’s enemies are the ones who don’t listen to us. This is how you can tell the difference between a legitimate spirit and a fake one.

Loved ones, we should make a habit of showing each other selfless love. This is because love comes from God. Everyone who makes a habit of showing love is part of God’s family. They show that they know God well, too. If someone fails to practice selfless love, they don’t know who God is. God is love. 

This is how we know God loves us: he made it pretty clear when he sent his only son to earth to give us life forever. That was real love — not the same way we love God. No, God loved us so much that he sent his one son for the purpose of taking away all of our sins. Loved ones, since God showed us that kind of love, we owe each other love, too. 

At no point has anyone ever taken a good look at God. But since we love each other, he’s with us. He continues to grow his love in us!  

This is how we know that we’re with him and he’s with us: he gave us his spirit. We were there, we saw firsthand that the father sent his son on a mission to save the world. Whoever agrees that Jesus is actually God’s son is with God, and God is with them. Because we saw him, we came to believe and really understand the kind of selfless love that God has for us. God is love. The one who practices love is with God, and God is with them. 

This love is being matured in us for a reason: so we can be completely confident on the last day when everyone is judged. If we have selfless love, we’re considered to be as pure as Jesus was when he was on earth. Love leaves no room for being afraid. If we mature our love, that love keeps us from being afraid. If we live in fear of judgment day, it’s because we haven’t matured in our love. 

We practice love because he loved us first. If someone says, “I love God,” but still hates their Christian family, they’re a liar. How’re you supposed to love a God you can’t see while failing to love a Christian family you can see? It’s not possible. Remember the commands he gave us: we have to love God and love our Christian family, too. 

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the king who came from God should also love everyone who belongs to God. When we love God and practice what he commanded, that’s how we know we love his family, too. We prove that we love God when we do what he’s commanded, and those commands aren’t difficult to live out. 

If you’re a part of God’s family, you’ve already beaten the world. Our faith is how we’ve won — if you believe that Jesus is God’s son, you’ve won against the world already! 

Jesus Christ is the one who came to earth with water and blood — notice that he didn’t just come here through water, but also with his own blood. And the true spirit attested to this, because it’s true. In fact, there are three proofs of who Jesus is: the true spirit, the water, and the blood. All three of these agree with each other. We accept what people say about Jesus when it’s true, but God’s testimony about Jesus is far superior. 

This is what God said: if you keep believing that Jesus is God’s son, you have God’s approval. If you don’t believe God, you make him a liar. It means you never believed what God said about his son. God gave us eternal life, which exists only in his son. If you have his son, you have life. If you don’t have the son, you don’t have life. 

We’re writing this to you so you’ll know you have life forever. This is for those of you who believe the name of God’s son. We can be confident when we talk to God — if we make a request that aligns with his will, he listens to us. We know he listens whenever we ask, and that he’ll give us what we ask for. 

If one of you sees a Christian family member sin (not the kind that causes death), ask God to give them life, and he will. This only applies to the kind of sin that doesn’t cause death. There is a kind of sin that leads to death, and I’m not saying you should pray for someone who commits that kind of sin. Every morally wrong act is sin, but there are sins that don’t lead all the way to death. 

We know that no one in God’s family continues to sin. God’s son personally protects us, and evil can’t affect him at all. We know that we belong to God, but evil controls the whole world. We know that when God’s son came to earth, he gave us the ability to understand the true one. We live in truth through his son, Jesus Christ. He is the truth, and he is life forever. Children, keep each other away from idols. 

The Mystery Of The Thundering Voices

The Mystery Of The Thundering Voices

Tuesday Column: Dale Mail

blond man with goatee smiling at camera with blazer on
Dale Pollard

John is getting ready to faithfully record more of the incredible (and incredibly bizarre) visions in heaven as Revelation ten begins. However, the text says this, 

Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars. He was holding a little scroll, which lay open in his hand. He planted his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the landand he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion. When he shouted, the voices of the seven thunders spoke. And when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven say, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write it down.” 10.1-4 

This wouldn’t be the first time that partial information is purposefully held back. The book of Daniel is considered to be “Revelation’s relative” and in Daniel 12 we see a similarity. The prophet understands that Israel will be destroyed and, understandably, he would like to know when these things will take place. 

“Although I heard, I did not understand. Then I said, “My lord, what shall be the end of these things?” 12.8 

The answers aren’t given and Daniel is left to wonder. The angels goes on to say, 

 “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand. And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he who waits, and comes to the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days. But you, go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days.” 

9-13 

We don’t get to know everything. In fact, we know based on these two accounts that God doesn’t reveal all of the information we’d like to know. We can rest peacefully knowing that God does reveal everything we need to know. For those of us who enjoy a good mystery, there are many to be found within scripture. 

The content shared by the thundering voices in Revelation 10 aren’t revealed in scripture. Perhaps because we don’t need to know these things. Maybe what was being said has already taken place, or maybe the information is beyond our earthly comprehension. God’s Word is a fascinating and incredible collection. It has the ability to save all of us— as well as the tendency to make us scratch our heads.