Apocalipsis #11

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This entry is part 11 of 11 in the series Apocalipsis
Series Navigation<< Revelation #10

Author

Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart (1934–2016) — People around the world have come to appreciate his easy style, non-combative approach to explaining the Bible, and the personal, almost one-on-one method of explaining what’s going on in the world in the light of the Bible. After retiring from teaching and church administration in 1995 he started Christian Educational Ministries and the Born to Win radio program.

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Apocalipsis #10

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This entry is part 10 of 11 in the series Apocalipsis
Series Navigation<< Revelation #9Revelation #11 >>

Author

Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart (1934–2016) — People around the world have come to appreciate his easy style, non-combative approach to explaining the Bible, and the personal, almost one-on-one method of explaining what’s going on in the world in the light of the Bible. After retiring from teaching and church administration in 1995 he started Christian Educational Ministries and the Born to Win radio program.

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Apocalipsis #9

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This entry is part 9 of 11 in the series Apocalipsis
Series Navigation<< Revelation #8Revelation #10 >>

Author

Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart (1934–2016) — People around the world have come to appreciate his easy style, non-combative approach to explaining the Bible, and the personal, almost one-on-one method of explaining what’s going on in the world in the light of the Bible. After retiring from teaching and church administration in 1995 he started Christian Educational Ministries and the Born to Win radio program.

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Apocalipsis #8

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This entry is part 8 of 11 in the series Apocalipsis
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Author

Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart (1934–2016) — People around the world have come to appreciate his easy style, non-combative approach to explaining the Bible, and the personal, almost one-on-one method of explaining what’s going on in the world in the light of the Bible. After retiring from teaching and church administration in 1995 he started Christian Educational Ministries and the Born to Win radio program.

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Apocalipsis #7

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This entry is part 7 of 11 in the series Apocalipsis
Series Navigation<< Revelation #6Revelation #8 >>

Author

Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart (1934–2016) — People around the world have come to appreciate his easy style, non-combative approach to explaining the Bible, and the personal, almost one-on-one method of explaining what’s going on in the world in the light of the Bible. After retiring from teaching and church administration in 1995 he started Christian Educational Ministries and the Born to Win radio program.

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Apocalipsis #6

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This entry is part 6 of 11 in the series Apocalipsis
Series Navigation<< Revelation #5Revelation #7 >>

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Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart (1934–2016) — People around the world have come to appreciate his easy style, non-combative approach to explaining the Bible, and the personal, almost one-on-one method of explaining what’s going on in the world in the light of the Bible. After retiring from teaching and church administration in 1995 he started Christian Educational Ministries and the Born to Win radio program.

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Apocalipsis #5

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This entry is part 5 of 11 in the series Apocalipsis
Series Navigation<< Revelation #4Revelation #6 >>

Author

Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart (1934–2016) — People around the world have come to appreciate his easy style, non-combative approach to explaining the Bible, and the personal, almost one-on-one method of explaining what’s going on in the world in the light of the Bible. After retiring from teaching and church administration in 1995 he started Christian Educational Ministries and the Born to Win radio program.

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Apocalipsis #4

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This entry is part 4 of 11 in the series Apocalipsis
Series Navigation<< Revelation #3Revelation #5 >>

Author

Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart (1934–2016) — People around the world have come to appreciate his easy style, non-combative approach to explaining the Bible, and the personal, almost one-on-one method of explaining what’s going on in the world in the light of the Bible. After retiring from teaching and church administration in 1995 he started Christian Educational Ministries and the Born to Win radio program.

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Apocalipsis #3

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This entry is part 3 of 11 in the series Apocalipsis
Series Navigation<< Revelation #2Revelation #4 >>

Author

Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart (1934–2016) — People around the world have come to appreciate his easy style, non-combative approach to explaining the Bible, and the personal, almost one-on-one method of explaining what’s going on in the world in the light of the Bible. After retiring from teaching and church administration in 1995 he started Christian Educational Ministries and the Born to Win radio program.

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Apocalipsis #2

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This entry is part 2 of 11 in the series Apocalipsis
Series Navigation<< Revelation #1Revelation #3 >>

Author

Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart (1934–2016) — People around the world have come to appreciate his easy style, non-combative approach to explaining the Bible, and the personal, almost one-on-one method of explaining what’s going on in the world in the light of the Bible. After retiring from teaching and church administration in 1995 he started Christian Educational Ministries and the Born to Win radio program.

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Apocalipsis #28

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Author

Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart (1934–2016) — People around the world have come to appreciate his easy style, non-combative approach to explaining the Bible, and the personal, almost one-on-one method of explaining what’s going on in the world in the light of the Bible. After retiring from teaching and church administration in 1995 he started Christian Educational Ministries and the Born to Win radio program.

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Apocalipsis #27

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Author

Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart (1934–2016) — People around the world have come to appreciate his easy style, non-combative approach to explaining the Bible, and the personal, almost one-on-one method of explaining what’s going on in the world in the light of the Bible. After retiring from teaching and church administration in 1995 he started Christian Educational Ministries and the Born to Win radio program.

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Apocalipsis #25

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Author

Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart (1934–2016) — People around the world have come to appreciate his easy style, non-combative approach to explaining the Bible, and the personal, almost one-on-one method of explaining what’s going on in the world in the light of the Bible. After retiring from teaching and church administration in 1995 he started Christian Educational Ministries and the Born to Win radio program.

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Apocalipsis #26

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Author

Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart (1934–2016) — People around the world have come to appreciate his easy style, non-combative approach to explaining the Bible, and the personal, almost one-on-one method of explaining what’s going on in the world in the light of the Bible. After retiring from teaching and church administration in 1995 he started Christian Educational Ministries and the Born to Win radio program.

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Apocalipsis #24

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Author

Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart (1934–2016) — People around the world have come to appreciate his easy style, non-combative approach to explaining the Bible, and the personal, almost one-on-one method of explaining what’s going on in the world in the light of the Bible. After retiring from teaching and church administration in 1995 he started Christian Educational Ministries and the Born to Win radio program.

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Apocalipsis #23

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Author

Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart (1934–2016) — People around the world have come to appreciate his easy style, non-combative approach to explaining the Bible, and the personal, almost one-on-one method of explaining what’s going on in the world in the light of the Bible. After retiring from teaching and church administration in 1995 he started Christian Educational Ministries and the Born to Win radio program.

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Basic Christianity: Making the Choice

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This message has also been released with the title: “The Choice”


Author

Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart (1934–2016) — People around the world have come to appreciate his easy style, non-combative approach to explaining the Bible, and the personal, almost one-on-one method of explaining what’s going on in the world in the light of the Bible. After retiring from teaching and church administration in 1995 he started Christian Educational Ministries and the Born to Win radio program.

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A Very Special Feast

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Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart (1934–2016) — People around the world have come to appreciate his easy style, non-combative approach to explaining the Bible, and the personal, almost one-on-one method of explaining what’s going on in the world in the light of the Bible. After retiring from teaching and church administration in 1995 he started Christian Educational Ministries and the Born to Win radio program.

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Marriage: Who Leads?

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The Bread of Life [Thread Chapter]

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The Bread of Life

And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst (John 6:35).

The thread has now taken us to one of the singular peculiarities of the Passover, and one that carried over into Christian observance. Why did the Jews, and later the Corinthian Christians, eat unleavened bread during the seven days of the Passover season?

When Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthians, it was at the Passover season, and he had to tackle a regrettable problem in the church. A man who was a brother in the church was committing fornication, so openly that it was commonly known in the city. The leadership of the Corinthian church, who knew what was going on, had done nothing about it. Since they would not judge the matter, Paul did.

For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present I have already pronounced judgment in the name of the Lord Jesus on the man who has done such a thing. When you are assembled, and my spirit is present with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord (1 Corinthians 5:3-5 NRSV).

Having judged the leadership of the church as arrogant (“puffed up” in the KJV), Paul goes on to develop the theme of the season. “Your glorying is not good,” he said. “Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?” (1 Corinthians 5:6).

The NIV uses the word “yeast” instead of “leaven” here, but the Greek word, zume, means “to ferment”. The bread was sourdough. When baking bread, the sourdough baker preserves a small lump of starter. When the time comes to bake a fresh loaf of bread, he takes the starter and works it into the new lump of dough and sets it aside to rise. Before he bakes it, he saves a small lump to start the next loaf of bread. A baker’s starter can sometimes have years of history, and each may have a distinctive taste.

The bread of the Israelites in Egypt was also sourdough, fermented, bread. Perhaps the image of corruption, of souring, was the reason the law did not permit the offering of any sacrifice with leaven.i So if the lamb is a sacrifice, it must be eaten with unleavened bread. Thus, there is not even nominal corruption connected with the Lord’s sacrifice.

From the idea of fermentation, Paul develops the idea of one corrupt individual corrupting the whole. “Purge out therefore the old leaven,” he said, “that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened” (v. 7). The expression “old leaven” is a reference to the old lump of starter which was used to leaven a new batch of dough. The man who was corrupt was having the effect of souring the whole church (hence, the puffed up leadership). Paul acknowledges that they were unleavened in the matter of ordinary bread (“as you are unleavened”) but that spiritually, they were far from it.

“Therefore let us keep the feast,” Paul continued, “not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (v. 8).

Paul told them to get the man who was sinning out of the church like they had gotten leaven out of their houses. So leaven symbolized corruption, and there was to be no corruption connected with the Lamb of God or his church.

Part of the understanding we are looking for focuses on the curious question of unleavened bread. The impression one gets from Exodus is that it was merely a matter of the haste of the Israelites fleeing Egypt who had no time for their bread to rise. Thus the days of unleavened bread following the Passover were merely commemorative of one aspect of the Exodus from Egypt. But that doesn’t explain why Paul was urging the Gentiles in Corinth to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Egypt had nothing to do with their history. So there had to be more to it than that, especially in the light of what Jesus said on a day early in his ministry.

John, who tells us the story, notes that this was just before the Passover (see John 6:4). Jesus had gone up into a mountain, and he was followed by a great company of people because of the miracles he had done for sick people. It isn’t surprising that Jesus would draw a crowd wherever he went. It was all but impossible for him to get away from crowds.

When he saw so many of them there, so far from anything to eat, he asked Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” There was no such place, which both of them knew well enough. So Jesus had the people sit down in ranks, and fed the whole multitude of people with only a few loaves and fish. It was a classic example of Middle Eastern hospitality. Jesus had the means to feed them, so feed them he did. But in doing so, he posed a problem for himself.

Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that Prophet that should come into the world. When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone (John 6:14,15 KJV).

At this point, Jesus did his best to get away from these people. They were ready to start a revolution with him as king, and he wanted no part of it. They, for their part were not ready to take no for an answer. He crossed the Sea of Galilee, and they followed.

And when they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, “Rabbi, when did You come here?” Jesus answered them and said, “Most saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him” (vv. 25-27).

Jesus saw through all of this. People who have seen a miracle will only want to see another one. Jesus ignored the question and pointed them away from food to what is really important.

Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” Therefore they said to Him, “What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do? Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat’” (vv. 28-31).

They were still looking for the miracle, demonstrating that Jesus was right in judging their motives. And, of course, they wanted their bellies filled. Nevertheless, it opened the door for Jesus to clarify a crucial issue that shed light on the approaching Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread.

Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Then they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always” (vv. 32-34).

Now Jesus is ready to make the crucial point: “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (v.35). And it is right here that we find a hint of the connection with the Feast of Unleavened Bread which is fast approaching.

But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day (vv. 36-39).

This did not please many of his listeners, for he plainly said that he was the bread that came down from heaven. That can’t be true, they said. We know his father and mother. How can he claim to have come down from heaven?

Jesus therefore answered and said to them, “Do not murmur among yourselves. No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, “And they shall all be taught by God.” Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me. Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.” (vv. 43-47).

And here we approach the mystery of the meaning of the unleavened bread of Passover. Jesus went on to say, “I am that bread of life” (v. 48). Now it may not be immediately apparent, but the command in the law is that you shall eat unleavened bread for seven days. It is not that we must merely abstain from leavened bread, we are to do the positive act of eating unleavened bread (Exodus 12:15). For the Christian, that unleavened bread would symbolize Jesus, the Bread of Life. Because leaven will be seen as a symbol of sin, and because Jesus was sinless, then the bread of life is unleavened.

Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. “This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world” (vv. 49-51).

When I read this passage, I can’t help reflecting on all the years I thought about, read about, sang about, and trusted the blood of Christ to take away my sins. This is fundamental, woven into the fabric of the Christian faith. But I never gave a thought to the flesh of Jesus which he said he would give for the life of the world. I did not grasp the importance of the flesh of Jesus in the New Covenant. It is odd that this has never made it very far into the consciousness of the Christian church. The blood of Christ has made it there. The blood of the Lord is everywhere in Christian hymnals. We all understand this. But Jesus said he would give his flesh for the life of the world, and there is an important distinction here.

The Jews who were listening did not much like this idea. “How,” they wondered, “can this man give us his flesh to eat?” (v. 52). Jesus did not stop there, he went on to say something that they should have understood but did not.

Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him” (vv. 53-56).

Anyone should immediately see the connection with the Lord’s Supper in this saying. We take a little wine as a symbol of the blood of Christ, and a little bread as a symbol of his body. This is why, at the Last Supper, Jesus handed them the cup and said, “Take this and drink it. It is my blood of the covenant” (Matthew 26:28 NIV).

Even Jesus’ disciples had a problem with this, calling it a hard saying. They should have recognized that this was language symbolic of a covenant, but they seem to have missed it. Some of his disciples went home and ceased to follow Jesus.

Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (vv. 67-69).

What is inescapable in this passage is the connection between the Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread, and the Christian Passover which he will soon thereafter institute with his disciples.


i. “Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven; neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the Passover be left unto the morning” (Exodus 34:25).


Author

Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart (1934–2016) — People around the world have come to appreciate his easy style, non-combative approach to explaining the Bible, and the personal, almost one-on-one method of explaining what’s going on in the world in the light of the Bible. After retiring from teaching and church administration in 1995 he started Christian Educational Ministries and the Born to Win radio program.

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Did You Have a Good Christmas?

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Author

Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart (1934–2016) — People around the world have come to appreciate his easy style, non-combative approach to explaining the Bible, and the personal, almost one-on-one method of explaining what’s going on in the world in the light of the Bible. After retiring from teaching and church administration in 1995 he started Christian Educational Ministries and the Born to Win radio program.

Click here for more posts by Ronald L. Dart



Image Credits: Joel Montes de Oca

Digging Up Hebrew Roots

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Pam Dewey’s Field Guide to the Wild World of Religion website
features an extensive profile of the Hebrew Roots movement.25
Below are excerpts from two recent emails which site visitors sent
[italic emphasis added].
I’ve been prayerfully asking God to show me the light
as I belong to [a Hebrew Roots synagogue]. Here
lately they’ve been downplaying Jesus and referring
to the New Testament as “The Addendum.” God led
me to your website today. It was like you have been
sitting in our temple because you have addressed all
of my concerns. I have now resigned from the temple
along with another couple who have been feeling the
same as I have. Like we were being smothered.
God Bless you so much for putting this on the web. I
feel free again. . . like a huge weight has been lifted
off of my shoulders. My desire for wanting to learn
more about Jesus was actually leading me away from
his arms. Please keep this site up for others as it saved
me from false teachers.
Just wanted to give you thanks and blessings for the
great overview of the Hebrew Roots movement. My
husband and I were leaders of such a group for almost
4 years until God opened our eyes to the path we were
on about a year and a half ago. We had to leave the
group we started because the other elder would not
agree to recognize the New Covenant as we believed
25Op cit
www.servantofmessiah.org
37
the Bible proclaimed. . .
I found your outline of groups from harmless to the
most dangerous kind [see list above] interesting
because this was a progression our group followed—
beginning well, and finding ourselves eventually in a
very dark place.
The spiritual agony for me was like death, and I cried
out to God. If this was all supposed to be a blessing
and a way to “draw near” to God as we taught, why
were we so dead? I then saw the countless ways we
had diminished Christ in our teaching and practice.
We recognized the anti-christ spirit that had taken
over the minds of people, and which we almost fell
under ourselves. My husband went through a valley
of doubts about Jesus as the Messiah and thankfully
came out. We knew others who did not. . .
We have such joy in Christ now—after a season of
sorrow and repentance for our wayward hearts. We
realized we had been feeding our pride and wanting to
be special rather than truly seeking the truth. We
realized in the end, the glory that Christ deserves we
were diverting to many different places and no one
could have found Him through our testimony.
Thank you for raising awareness about this
movement. So few people realize what it is and it’s
picking people off like flies. . .
We do not mean to imply, by sharing these comments, that all
individuals who become involved in the various branches of the
Hebrew Roots movement will end up like these people. But we have
been watching the movement for over a decade, and found that their
experiences have become more and more common, and should give
cause for serious consideration of the foundational assumptions upon
which many branches of the movement are built. There are signs that
www.servantofmessiah.org
38
can help you evaluate whether a particular ministry may help you to
draw closer to Jesus, or ultimately lead you away from him. We are
convinced that any ministry or group that identifies itself with
Hebrew Roots interests and which promotes any of the following
ideas is undermining the simplicity that is in Jesus:
􀁸 Any claim that insists that adopting customs or traditions of
Judaism is necessary to “get closer to God” or “understand
the deep things of God.”
􀁸 Any claim that such a ministry or group is revealing
astounding information, unavailable to the average Bible
reader, that will “transform your spiritual life.” (Only Jesus
truly transforms lives.)
􀁸 Any claim that insists that Christians must study the
writings of the historical Jewish Rabbis, such as those in
the Talmud, in order to understand the Bible and live godly
lives.
􀁸 Any subtle hint or overt claim that the Apostle Paul
attempted to undermine the teachings of Jesus.
􀁸 Any subtle hint or overt claim that the New Testament is
inferior to the Old Testament as inspired by God.
􀁸 Any subtle hint or overt claim that Jesus of Nazareth was
just a really pious first century Rabbi.
If you notice any of the red flags above in some ministry, we urge
you to remove yourself from its influence.


Author

Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart (1934–2016) — People around the world have come to appreciate his easy style, non-combative approach to explaining the Bible, and the personal, almost one-on-one method of explaining what’s going on in the world in the light of the Bible. After retiring from teaching and church administration in 1995 he started Christian Educational Ministries and the Born to Win radio program.

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Reflections on Acts

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Introduction: The Church in Transition

How many hundreds of millions of Christians are there in the world by now? What is your guess? I looked it up. Christianity of all stripes is the largest religion in the world and Christians number one and one half billion people.

How did this happen? How could twelve men, bearing witness of one man, create a religion that has, in fact, changed the world? Everywhere Christianity of any stripe has gone, it has made men’s lives better. Oh, I know about the abuses, the corruption and the harm done in the name of Jesus Christ. But the evil done by Christians was done contrary to the teachings of Jesus. And the good brought to the world by those teachings overwhelms any evil that evil men have done in His name.

But how did it come to pass? How did you go from 120 disciples into a billion and a half disciples in just under 2000 years? Everyone knows about Jesus and His teachings. The Bible has been translated into nearly every language and dialect in the world. But knowing what Jesus said and taught does not explain how 120 disciples turned into a billion and a half disciples in just under 2,000 years.

To properly explain this phenomenon, we have to go back a lot further in time to a man named Abraham. Abraham was God’s man. He is called in the Bible the Friend of God. It is plain that God thought a lot of Abraham. He stopped by for a meal and a talk. He revealed things He was going to do. He made promises. Believe it or not, one of those promises had to do with Jesus Christ.

"By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice" (Genesis 22:16-19).

Mind you, there were no Jews at this time and no Judaism. This was the Faith of Abraham––the religion of a man and his family. But there is a small piece of dynamite in this passage that gets overlooked in most translations: The word for nations, is the word "Goy", The Hebrew word for "Gentile." What Abraham is now told, by God Himself, is that "in your seed shall all the Gentiles be blessed." That means all the nations of the earth, and not just Abraham’s descendants. It was God’s intent that the blessing that came upon Abraham from knowing God should be and transmitted to the entirety of the world, including the Gentiles.

It is also clear in this statement, that God was not satisfied merely to be the God of one little corner of the world. He did not mean to bless merely Abraham, but the nations––all of them. It was in the seed of Abraham that the nations, all of them, were to be blessed.

Now the apostle Paul had read all this and when he encountered a difficulty with the Galatians, he took a little time to explain it. Here is Paul’s explanation of what God told Abraham. What is important about this is that wherever the gospel of Jesus Christ has gone, it has made the lives of men better. Perhaps they have understood only a part of the message. Perhaps in their culture it made sense to them only in some applications. But the gospel has been a blessing to men. According to Paul, it was God’s intent that this gospel be blessing to the nations-to the Gentiles.

There are 18 million people in the world who follow Judaism and 1,500 million who follow Christ. I do not mean to imply that because there are more Christians that makes them any better. It is not that the numbers mean anything other than the fact that lives have been touched by the teachings of the Bible. The early Christians did not have a "New Testament." The only Holy Scriptures they knew were what we call the "Old Testament." And as the Christians went forth into the world, they carried a knowledge of the Scriptures with them. They carried the scriptures to such an extent that there are now a billion and a half of them.

If Judaism had gone to the world, if they had somehow been evangelists from the start, who knows what good they could have done, because the underlying ethical system of Judaism and Christianity is the same. It’s the faith of Abraham.

A strong case can be made that it was God’s original intent to make the nation of Israel a beacon of faith in the world. That ancient Israel take their God to the nations. But they never did. They acted as though God belonged to them and not to the Gentiles–the rest of the world.

There is nothing in the law of God to lead an Israelite to think he could not eat with a Gentile, but by the time of Jesus, Judaism had developed its own set of rules which, to all intents and purposes, ruled out the Gentiles.

Don’t get me wrong. I see Judaism as the response of the Jewish people to the revelation of God. They have carried the scriptures and their faith down through the generations in the face of terrible persecution. I have nothing but respect for the Jewish people and their religion. For in their mind their religion does not call for them to evangelize the world.

But it appears to me that they have made it their religion, and have kept the faith of God to themselves. They have never evangelized. They have never taken their magnificent law to the world.

But then, there was Jesus. And everything changed.

Throughout His ministry, Jesus continually challenged the Judaism of the day––the religious establishment. So consequently Jesus was challenging Judaism at every turn. Never mind that He was a Jew himself. He kept contrasting the rules and regulations of Judaism with God’s written law "from the beginning." He was aiming back beyond Judaism to the faith of the Fathers, to the faith of Abraham.

Now there’s an interesting little Scripture in the Old Testament about Abraham that may help you understand this. God is speaking to Abraham and He makes this statement:  "And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws. (Genesis 26:4-5)

Now this is a curious thing, although it might not immediately strike you as so. The fact is that as you read your way through the book of Genesis you encounter law at every turn. Men understand that there is a law, they know there are things that are sin and things that are not. They basically have an idea of how to relate to God. And here we find out that there is not merely a  law, but that there is a system of law that makes differentiation between commandments and statutes and laws.

Why is that nowhere in the book of Genesis is that law outlined? Moses tells us there is a system of law. Why doesn’t he tell us what it is? The answer is simple. He does. The law is recorded in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. It is easy to forget that Genesis was written by Moses long after the giving of the law on Mt. Sinai. What this reveals to us is that the law Abraham obeyed was essentially the same law God handed down from Sinai-which, when you think about it, is exactly what we would expect.

This is why Jesus was at such pains to emphasize that His rejection of the traditions of Judaism did not involve a rejection of the law. It is that very law that is the basis of the ethical system He wanted His disciples to take to the world. It is that ethical system by which the world has been so blessed.

Now returning to our original question. How did Christianity make this move into the world?

It came about in response to clear instructions given by Jesus to His disciples: It is in that passage called the Great Commission, "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." (Matthew 28:19-20.

Now if you are a Christian, you probably already know this scripture quite well. But you may not realize what a bombshell it was to the men who first heard it. For the translation obscures what Jesus actually said. What He really said was this: "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all the Gentiles, baptizing theGentiles in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching the Gentiles to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."

What is really strange about this is that the disciples did not get it at first. The book of Acts is the story about how they finally got the message and of the subsequent break out of the gospel to the Gentile world.

The book of Acts is written by a familiar friend-he is Luke, the beloved physician, the same fellow who wrote the gospel according to Luke. He wrote the book of Acts and addressed it to a fellow named Theophilus. We know little about this man, but we can sit with him and read the Acts of the Apostles to this day, thanks to Luke.


Author

Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart (1934–2016) — People around the world have come to appreciate his easy style, non-combative approach to explaining the Bible, and the personal, almost one-on-one method of explaining what’s going on in the world in the light of the Bible. After retiring from teaching and church administration in 1995 he started Christian Educational Ministries and the Born to Win radio program.

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Reflections on Romans

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Author

Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart (1934–2016) — People around the world have come to appreciate his easy style, non-combative approach to explaining the Bible, and the personal, almost one-on-one method of explaining what’s going on in the world in the light of the Bible. After retiring from teaching and church administration in 1995 he started Christian Educational Ministries and the Born to Win radio program.

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Image Credits: Joel Montes de Oca

Feast of Tabernacles Sermon #1 (real draft)

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A Tale of Two Trees

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The story of the Garden of Eden is a source of endless fascination for me–especially the part about the two trees. Plainly, they are important, but what do they mean? Consider the story.

It seems the Lord God planted a garden, eastward in Eden, and there He placed the man whom He had formed. He made to grow out of the ground every tree that was good for food and pleasant to the eyes. There were two trees that were special: the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Everyone knows the story. Adam could eat of any tree of the garden–including the tree of life–but he was not permitted to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The result of eating of the one tree would be eternal life. The result of eating of the other tree would be death.

16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat: 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die.

Genesis 2:16–17 KJ2000

Endless morals are drawn from this passage. Most preachers find them good for at least one sermon a year. Along with the morals, there is a nice set of puzzles. And being one who can never resist a good puzzle, I keep coming back to the tale of two trees.

The first puzzle in the story is why God put the bad tree there in the first place. Had He not put it there, Eve could not have been tempted by it, nor could the serpent have made an issue of it. This one small change in landscape planning, and all human history might have been different. Why, then, was it there?

Maybe it was just a matter of landscaping–the tree was only there to look at. Not every plant that is beautiful is fit to eat, and some are downright poisonous. The Genesis account tells us plainly that trees were planted that were good to eat and pleasant to the eyes. Of course, God warned them that they would die if they ate of the tree. If they ate of the tree after being warned, their blood was on their own head.

I suppose it is a satisfactory explanation as far as it goes, but it just doesn’t go far enough. After all, God is God. It would have been no trick for Him to have provided for the aesthetics of the garden without putting dangerous plants in it. One presumes that most of the dangerous plants we know were not in the garden; Adam was only warned about one tree. Then there is the indisputable fact that the tree was not poisonous in the usual sense. Adam and Eve ate of the tree and didn’t even get sick. No, there has to be something else. God exposed Adam and Eve to an unnecessary risk. Surely He had a reason for it.

Perhaps the tree was put there for a test. Maybe God is trying to answer some questions: Would Adam and Eve do as they were told? Could they be trusted to carry out instructions? To think this out, we must do some simple theology.

The idea that the tree was put there for a test is based on what I call the arbitrary God theory. This theory holds that things and acts are not necessarily evil of themselves, but are wrong solely because God says they are wrong. When you break a law, nothing bad happens to you directly and solely because of transgression. God must see to it that you are punished. If He does not punish you, you get off free. This makes God arbitrary because He could just as easily have made the act harmless. God could have declared adultery to be no sin, and we could have slept around without consequences.

Those who believe this are like the teenage girl who says to her mother, Aw, Mom, you never want me to have any fun. The sole objective of the parent is to obstruct all the fun the teenager wants to have. Never mind that having sex with the football team will result in a wide variety of negative consequences. The operative question of the arbitrary God theory runs along these lines: If I commit this sin, this way, for these reasons, under these circumstances, will God punish me for it? Under this theory, when we ask God why we shouldn’t do something, His answer is, Because I said so.

But what if it is the other way around? What if the reason God says not to do something is because the act is intrinsically wrong or harmful? In that case, it would require divine intervention to prevent the punishment, not to cause it. In the Genesis account, the immediate results of eating of the tree took place without any action on God’s part. This is why God is portrayed as not knowing what happened.

Here we come to the second great puzzle in the tale of two trees. Doesn’t God know everything? How could He possibly arrive in the garden totally ignorant of the sin of Adam and Eve? The only answer that makes sense is that He had chosen not to know. By doing so, He made it clear that the arbitrary God theory is false. Sin is sin because it hurts, and God does not have to be there to make it hurt.

This simple fact foreshadows the need for redemption from sin–for a savior. Sin itself is destructive. God takes action in sending His only begotten Son into the world to save the world from the consequences of sin. God did not sacrifice His Son to save the world from God’s own punishment. This changes everything you might have believed about the law. The Law of God is given to tell man where the pitfalls are, where the hurt lies. How could the Law be arbitrarily abolished if it were not arbitrary in the first place? The Law is rooted in the nature is what it is, man needs the Law of God.

This may clear up one aspect of the puzzle, but it still leaves us with an uncomfortable question–why did God put something so dangerous within such easy reach of His children? If there is one thing that is clear in this story, it is that God deliberately placed Adam and Eve at risk. Presumably, He had a purpose. It seems unlikely that He would have put them at risk without expecting something worthwhile in return.

Not only were they at risk, but it was a high degree of risk. Could God have imagined that they would not, sooner or later, partake of the tree? And if He was interested in a test, why not test them with something that didn’t have such disastrous results right off?

Perhaps the underlying truth is as simple as a choice. Without a full range of choices to be made between good and evil, do we really have a choice at all? If the garden had only trees that were harmless, and Adam and Eve could eat of any of them, what then? Where would be the character? In the end, character is about the choices we make.

Yet simply putting the choice there–the risk–without some significant value is problematic. There is, of course, the matter of gaining strength through resisting temptation. This is the one reasonable benefit from placing the tree there and having man not eat of it.

In the end, Eve ate of the fruit and gave it to her husband and he ate as well. At first, it may have seemed that the serpent was right. They ate of the tree and did not die. They did not even get sick. Had God misled them?

There was, from the beginning, no prohibition against eating the fruit of the tree of life. The result of eating of that tree would have been eternal life (Genesis 3:22). In eating of the wrong tree first, Adam and Eve were barred from the tree of life, and so died. No, in the end the serpent was wrong.

Yet the challenge of the serpent deserves attention. There is no Hello, how are you? There is no small talk. Without preamble he inquires, Yes, and has God said you shall not eat of every tree in the garden? It is almost as though he were surprised to see the tree there.

Innocently, the woman defended God’s instructions: Of course we can eat of every tree in the garden. There is only one tree of which we are not to eat–the tree in the midst of the garden. Notice, she did not name it–she identified it as the one in the middle. The tree was placed squarely in the center of the garden. It had centrality of place.

Perhaps we should not place too much weight on the central position of this tree–the tree of life is also in the midst of the garden. And yet one wonders at this central location. There are two and only two trees standing side by side in the middle of the garden–the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The centricity of both hints at a relationship between them and a position of importance for both of them.

Perhaps the forbidden tree was there for man at another time–later, when he was ready for it. The serpent said, Ye shall be as gods. Maybe that was the point. Perhaps man was destined to be like God after all, but not from the start.

It is, after all, within the plan of God for man to become like God. Late in life, the apostle John said this: Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is (I John 3:2). The serpent said that the tree would cause to happen what God intended to happen anyway.

There is nothing in the account to identify the tree as evil except that it causes death. And yet it is plain that the way it caused death was by the denial of access to the source of life. Perhaps the fruit of this tree was only to be eaten when one had qualified for it. Perhaps this tree was the one that truly made a man as God.

It almost seems blasphemous to say it, but in his astonishment at the presence of the tree, the devil may have spoken the truth as he knew it. Suppose he knew what the tree was and what it was for. It would not kill outright. It would convey a godlike quality to man. What he said was not an outright lie. After all the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field. Is it a lie to tell only a part of the truth? The tree would not kill, but taking the fruit of the tree against the commandment of God would cut man off from life. He would then die.

The serpent knew that. He wasn’t cursed by God for a mistake in judgment. He was cursed for tempting man to doubt God, to assume that God was trying to keep something good from him. It is the oldest and most persistent ploy for keeping man from God. Satan tells us that God is not fair. He is arbitrary. He wants to keep us from having fun, from enjoying life. His law is not really necessary. God could have as easily given other laws. And if He doesn’t know what we have done, what’s the harm?

The presence of this tree in the garden must have really galled the serpent. That man could eventually become like God was a hateful idea to him. He had wanted that for himself. From the beginning, he had tried to make himself a god, and it led to his ruin. Isaiah records all this and tells us the original name of the serpent:

How are thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit

(Isaiah 14:12-15).

That for which he had striven and lost was placed right here within the easy reach of man. It is small wonder that the serpent should be astonished at the presence of the tree in the garden. It had never been for him. That the tree was here for man may have been his first inkling that the destiny of man was finally to be like God.

The serpent may not have thought of himself as a liar. He recognized that tree; he knew what it was and what it was for. He wondered if the arbitrary God he knew had forbidden it to man as He had forbidden it to the serpent.

When the woman replied to the serpent that God had forbidden them to eat of the tree saying that they would surely die, the serpent blurted out:

Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil (Genesis 3:4, 5).

The serpent surely tempted the woman to eat of the tree, but it took no great effort. He did not even urge her to eat of it. But then without a willing participant, temptation never works very well.

Why then was the tree there? One thing is certain. God intended that man finally become like God. But He intended it to happen His way, in His time. When weak, fallible men start acting like gods, no end of mischief is possible.

In the end there can only be one reason why that tree was placed where it was. God placed the tree there as a message. The presence of the tree revealed that to be like God was within the reach of man.

So the Tale of Two Trees is no mere tale after all. Here, in the very beginning of God’s interaction with man, are some of the most fundamental things man would ever need to know.


Author

CEM

Christian Educational Ministries was founded as a service ministry with two major goals. First, in the hearts of all Christian people is the imperative to share the Gospel with the world, to evangelize, to make disciples for Jesus Christ. Second, it is our desire to teach those who are disciples of Jesus all that He commanded His disciples to do (Matthew 28:19–20).

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Embracing the Paradox (real draft)

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CEM

Christian Educational Ministries was founded as a service ministry with two major goals. First, in the hearts of all Christian people is the imperative to share the Gospel with the world, to evangelize, to make disciples for Jesus Christ. Second, it is our desire to teach those who are disciples of Jesus all that He commanded His disciples to do (Matthew 28:19–20).

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Unequal Parts (real draft)

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CEM

Christian Educational Ministries was founded as a service ministry with two major goals. First, in the hearts of all Christian people is the imperative to share the Gospel with the world, to evangelize, to make disciples for Jesus Christ. Second, it is our desire to teach those who are disciples of Jesus all that He commanded His disciples to do (Matthew 28:19–20).

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Judaism and the Christians (real draft)

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CEM

Christian Educational Ministries was founded as a service ministry with two major goals. First, in the hearts of all Christian people is the imperative to share the Gospel with the world, to evangelize, to make disciples for Jesus Christ. Second, it is our desire to teach those who are disciples of Jesus all that He commanded His disciples to do (Matthew 28:19–20).

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Feast of Tabernacles 2015 Announcement

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CEM

Christian Educational Ministries was founded as a service ministry with two major goals. First, in the hearts of all Christian people is the imperative to share the Gospel with the world, to evangelize, to make disciples for Jesus Christ. Second, it is our desire to teach those who are disciples of Jesus all that He commanded His disciples to do (Matthew 28:19–20).

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Covenant as Contract

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Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart (1934–2016) — People around the world have come to appreciate his easy style, non-combative approach to explaining the Bible, and the personal, almost one-on-one method of explaining what’s going on in the world in the light of the Bible. After retiring from teaching and church administration in 1995 he started Christian Educational Ministries and the Born to Win radio program.

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Making Covenant Possible

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Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart (1934–2016) — People around the world have come to appreciate his easy style, non-combative approach to explaining the Bible, and the personal, almost one-on-one method of explaining what’s going on in the world in the light of the Bible. After retiring from teaching and church administration in 1995 he started Christian Educational Ministries and the Born to Win radio program.

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Pentecost 2000 (real draft)

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Author

Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart (1934–2016) — People around the world have come to appreciate his easy style, non-combative approach to explaining the Bible, and the personal, almost one-on-one method of explaining what’s going on in the world in the light of the Bible. After retiring from teaching and church administration in 1995 he started Christian Educational Ministries and the Born to Win radio program.

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2,000 Years of Jesus

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Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart (1934–2016) — People around the world have come to appreciate his easy style, non-combative approach to explaining the Bible, and the personal, almost one-on-one method of explaining what’s going on in the world in the light of the Bible. After retiring from teaching and church administration in 1995 he started Christian Educational Ministries and the Born to Win radio program.

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Millennium Madness

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Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart (1934–2016) — People around the world have come to appreciate his easy style, non-combative approach to explaining the Bible, and the personal, almost one-on-one method of explaining what’s going on in the world in the light of the Bible. After retiring from teaching and church administration in 1995 he started Christian Educational Ministries and the Born to Win radio program.

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Day of Atonement 1999 (real draft)

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Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart (1934–2016) — People around the world have come to appreciate his easy style, non-combative approach to explaining the Bible, and the personal, almost one-on-one method of explaining what’s going on in the world in the light of the Bible. After retiring from teaching and church administration in 1995 he started Christian Educational Ministries and the Born to Win radio program.

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Feast of Trumpets 1999 (real draft)

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Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart (1934–2016) — People around the world have come to appreciate his easy style, non-combative approach to explaining the Bible, and the personal, almost one-on-one method of explaining what’s going on in the world in the light of the Bible. After retiring from teaching and church administration in 1995 he started Christian Educational Ministries and the Born to Win radio program.

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