Wednesday of the Annual Fellowship means a full day of preaching and activities. I’ll give a brief summary so that I will be somewhat rested for tomorrow’s finale.
We began with a stirring message by our friend, Craig Hartman. His topic was, “Thank God for Israel”. He gave us at least seven reasons to thank God for Israel from the Scriptures, starting with “because God loves Israel” ( Dt.7.7-9) He continued…
He continued with
- because Israel is God’s miracle among the nations (Ezek 38.9-12)
- because Jesus loves Israel (Lk 19.41-44)
- because Paul loved Israel (Rm 9.1-5)
- because the prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, etc) loved Israel
- because I want God’s blessing (Gen 12.2-3)
- and because God will judge the nations concerning Israel (Mt 25.31-46)
We broke up into various workshops for the second session of the morning. Of course, I could only make one, so I spent my time with Dr. Fred Moritz instructing us about the topic, Fundamental Distinctions Between Covenant Theology and Dispensationalism. He listed three key areas of distinction, 1. The unifying principle in Scripture (covenants vs. glory of God), 2. The nature of the church (beginning with Adam/Abraham or at Pentecost), and 3. The method of biblical interpretation (when and where to interpret passages figuratively). The session was profitable in helping to clarify issues that can be confusing to the casual observer.
We closed off the morning with a strong message from Dr. Jim Bickel, “Living in Light of Bible Prophecy.” Dr. Bickel reminded us that “prophecy is a person,” that is, it is all about Jesus Christ. Thus, prophecy becomes a means by which we are moved to live for and with our Lord Jesus Christ. We love his appearing best when we are most fully walking with and abiding in our Lord. “Holiness is me accessing the life of Christ and living it out.”
The afternoon was open for activities. Some of us golfed, most of us did not! A good group toured historic Fort Munroe, a site of significance during the Civil War and since. Some of the most famous occupants of the fort were Robert E. Lee (as a military engineer long before the Civil War, supervising its construction) and Jefferson Davis as a prisoner following the Civil War. It is a reminder of the tragedy of the fall and the sin nature that leads men into such conflicts and necessitates security measures such as the fortress itself.
Finally, the day closed with our evening message by Dr. Chuck Phelps on the subject of the Rapture and the Tribulation, “You’re Not Living in the Tribulation.” (2 Thess 2.1-5) He showed us how the Thessalonians were shaken by false teaching that the Day of the Lord had already come and how the apostle assured them and us by laying out quite clearly the things that must come before the hour of trial. The Lord meant to comfort us with these words, not frighten us that some hour of trouble is yet to come upon us as well as upon the unbelieving world.
One more day to go, then we scatter.