Henry & Shirley Hudson
GRACE INTERNATIONAL FELLOWSHIP
P. O. BOX 7187
GULF SHORES, AL  36547
 
www.giftdigest.com


Dear Friends and Co-laborers in the Gospel,                                                                                                                                                                                     December 20 ‘08

Greetings in the blessed name of our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ.  Yes, we are now down in Southern Alabama.  We anticipate wonderful fellowship with the blessed saints here in Mobile, Coden, Fairhope, and Foley.  Please note the above address.  However, our mail is being forwarded, so the Holland MI., P.O. Box 1042 (zip 49422) address will still reach us.  Using the Alabama address will be good till the first of April ’09.

We have gone completely to email for our monthly studies.  This saves time and money.  Should any of our regular readers be without email we can send these studies by snail mail, but we will need a phone or written request to accomplish this possibility.  The present series of studies will concentrate on the Revelation and will probably end up in a fair size book when they are completed.  Wilbur Smith, in his closing years, pleaded with contemporary preachers to study and to preach the Revelation.  This urging did not spring from any sensationalism but was timely in the light of present world circumstances.
  
My last page tells of the publication of my exposition of 2 Timothy.  The book cover features the center of the stained glass window at Calvary Chapel in Massillon, Ohio. My son Bruce added a brief commentary on the two men who put it together.  Its symbolism should be self-evident.
 
I took the liberty once again to include a couple of photos.  Thanksgiving for Shirley and me was outstanding.  Our life-long friends Norman & Carol Gidney were with us in Massillon, as were almost our entire family.  We had a great time. I’m amazed at the size of our fanily.  We have 3 children, 7 grandchildren, and 7 great (great) grand!  Whow!  We had a blessed series of meetings at Calvary Chapel where Norman preached a message on the indigenous church that was outstanding.  If I can convince him he ought to preach it again while he is here in Alabama in March there will be copies available on request. We also had a wonderful time with Pastor John Hollis and his flock in Bedford PA.     
Time to sign off.  Be sure to read Shirley’s Soliloquy.  They come out every Saturday and are available without cost. Let us have your email address if you would like to receive them.

Continued blessings.  Because His, Henry & Shirley Hudson (Jn.3:30)




“The Inevitable”  (Shirley’s Soliloquy 149)

I’ve been reading a book about Heaven that a friend recommended.  She was quite impressed with it.  Randy Alcorn wrote it.  It is a different approach to the subject than I’ve usually seen or heard.  As I was reading, I was quite excited at the prospect of Heaven becoming a reality for me!  I’m thinking, ‘It’s going to be so wonderful, I sure hope all my good friends and loved ones will be there too!’

Then I started wondering if there might be some one who has never really given much thought about what will happen when death arrives.  If this is true, this is really dangerous.  I just heard from my cousin, Julie, about a man who was simply walking outside his apartment and some roofers threw down about 30-40 pounds of shingles that hit him on the head!  Certainly he should have been killed on the spot.  Miraculously he was not. 
 
The saying goes, “A wise man prepares for the inevitable.”  An appointment that is inevitable for everyone to keep is ‘Death.’  However, much as some people might wish, ‘Death’ is not the end.  The Bible tells us that,

“It is appointed unto man once to die, and after that the judgment.”

Before that inevitable appointment comes, a decision needs to be made.  ‘What will I do with Jesus?’ 

I can do nothing, and remain on the broad, easy road to Hell.  Romans 3:23 makes it clear that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”  Romans 6:23 continues that “the wages of sin is death.”  Or I can believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved (Romans 10:9).  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father but through me.”  (John 14:6).  1 Corinthians 15:3-4 tells us that

“Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. 
He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day.”

Now is the accepted time, behold now is the day of salvation.
2 Corinthians   (KJV)

“God showed his great love for us
by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ,
He will certainly save us from God’s condemnation…
So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God
Because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.”
Romans 5:8-9,11  (NLT)

“Friends of God!”  What a wonderful, joyous, comforting relationship to have!  I get a warm feeling all over when I think of the day when there will be no more anger, jealousy, or any of those feelings that cause sadness.  There will be no more pain, suffering, or death.  Our beautiful world will no longer be in the minor key, but the joyful major key eager to praise God for His goodness!  Thank you Lord! 


UPDATES:

Shirley’s first 100 Soliloquies are in book-form: “He Awakens My Heart”  It is available in most national chain bookshops.  Her second volume is ready for the publisher.  We await the provision of the necessary $500.00 to cover the costs.  Judging by the responses, these Soliloquies have been a great blessing to many.

My most recent book: Putting It All Together has met with some pleasing results.  As one who approaches the Bible through the principles of dispensationalism I nonetheless have come to appreciate the presence of “unity” and “continuity” in the progressive unfolding of the truths of Holy Scripture.  Unfortunately the value of the dispensational approach has been brought into disrepute by a pendulum dynamic that obsessively emphasizes a disintegrative understanding of biblical truth.  This dynamic is governed by a system of deductive logic that inadvertently tends to distort the overall significance of the ministry of the Apostle Paul.  There is a great need to refine the accepted premise that “Mystery excludes Prophecy.”  Prophecy does exclude the truth of the mystery, but this does not mean that Gentiles now have a prophetic program totally separated from that revealed in the Old Testament and the Gospels. Dispensational thinking should operate together with the principle of progressive revelational development and when it does I am sure that it will eventually acknowledge that Ephesians 3:6, while introducing new truth, does not introduce an entirely different prophetic hope.           

My New Book: “Henceforth a Crown” should be available in the new year, 2009. It was a blessing to attempt an exposition of the heart felt emotions of the Apostle Paul to Timothy.  I would encourage all my colleagues in the ministry to pick up the challenge and allow the “subtext” of this epistle to reach into their own hearts.

Do we have your correct email address?  Feel free to download these pages and share them with church members and friends.  If necessary you can contact us by phone: 616-405-7700.  



STUDY # 1
REVIEWING THE REVELATION 
by
Henry T. Hudson

“THE REVELATION OF Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified by his angel unto his servant John:”

INTRODUCTION
       
Since the book of the Revelation was first written and sent to the seven churches of Asia Minor, it has remained throughout history a cause of great fascination, not only to Christian people, but also for many who normally would not be interested in studying any part of the Bible.  Countless writers and artists have been captivated by its vivid imagery. 

One outstanding attempt to depict this imagery can be found in the imaginative colorful depictions of the Antichrist, the end of the world, and the resurrection of the dead by Luca Signorelli (circa 1499 AD). These colorful frescoes continue to attract hundreds of thousands of people every year. They can be seen in the Cathedral of Orvieto in Italy.  I personally do not think that the symbolism of the figurative language in the Revelation was ever intended to be portrayed by artistic talent, but Signorelli’s work comes across with insightful power of suggestion and in many ways bears implications that would suggest that he had approached an understanding of much of the content and interpretation of the Revelation.   Should the reader be interested, I’m confident that a good public library will have a book containing these frescoes. They are worth viewing.  Better still, should my reader ever get to Italy and travel through the region of Umbria, he can make a point to visit the cathredral and see the frescoes for himself.  I have made the trip no less than four times and would do so again if cicumstances would allow. 

The one fresco I find to be the most fascinating is the one where Signorelli depicted the Antichrist speaking to a crowd of people.  He is seen standing on a pedestal in front of which have been laid all manner of precious gifts.  On the base of the pedestal is depicted a man galloping on a white horse.  The head of the Antichrist is obviously a parody of the true Christ. It is tilted toward a sinister looking Satan who is whispering in his ear apparently telling him what to preach.  On Antichrist’s left are some of his followers who are in the act of killing people who oppose their leader.  Behind him are a group of friars and scholars who, with books open, seem to be debating whether or not they are dealing with the real Antichrist.  Signorelli apparently had a facetious bent in his nature, having depicted a tendency among religious leaders to debate eschatological topics even when biblical truth is present before their very eyes.  In the background of this scene, there stands the Jerusalem Temple with the two witnesses of Revelation chapter 11 being martyred right there on the temple steps. 

I suppose I could be accused of reading into the frescoes my own understanding of some of the main features of Revelation, but at least it is apparent to those who know something of its content that Signorelli had a grasp of a few of the more significant highlights of the book.  Savanarola, a contemporary may have been of some influence as he was not too far away and his attempt at reformation had caused major concern in the Papacy at Rome.  There were others, before Signorelli, such as the Venerable Bede, Geoffrey of Auxere, and Joachim di Floris who also had found the book to be of no small interest.

Beside the artistic fascination with the book, there is also a wide degree of scholarly interest due to a variety of interpretations that have washed over into theological, sociological, political and even psychological studies.  For any reader who might be curious, two of these studies might be mentioned: (1) Bernard McGinn, Antichrist: Two Thousand Years of Human Fascination with Evil, and (2) Norman Cohn, The Pursuit of the Millennium.  If only half of Cohn’s thesis is correct, then apocalyptic ideas, particularly such as are found in the Bible, had extensive sociological influence in Europe during the eleventh to the sixteenth centuries. These centuries were the parameters of Cohn’s book. However, such ideas continued to have influence on into the seventeeth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries.  It has been said that during these centuries countless numbers of men carried around with them, “in their breast pockets,” detailed plans for a millennial utopia. 

MORE RECENT EXAMPLES

There have been those within my own lifetime who have also tried to implement millennial-utopian-like plans.  For example, I might mention the Jim Jones’ tragedy in Jonestown, Guiana in which over 900 people died.  Or, the thousands of devotees whose lives came under the doctrinal distortions of “Moses” David Berg, the supposed endtime prophet of “The Children of God.”  Then there was the more recent “showdown” with what came to be called the Branch Davidians that happened outside Waco, Texas. That particular tragedy brought discussions of the Revelation and related biblical apocalyptic matters into living rooms all over the world. Newspaper headlines plastered sensational headlines about “The Wacko from Waco,” and went on to report that the “Bible Babble” he was spouting was ultimately responsible for the “massacre” of some eighty people, including women and children. 

David Koresh (Vernon Howell), the leader of the Branch Davidians, saw himself as “the Lamb” who was worthy to open the seven-sealed scroll which is mentioned in Revelation chapters 4 to 6.  He had taken the name “Koresh” from the Hebrew name of Cyrus found in Isaiah 45.  Since Cyrus was called the “annointed one,” or the “Messiah of Yahweh,” and since he was the one who conquered Babylon, he somehow or other concluded that God had called him to be a Messiah of the last days to conquer the modern-day Babylon. 

In passing, let it be noted that the Lord Jesus himself warned: “For many shall come in my name, saying, I am the Christ; and shall deceive many.” (Mat. 24:5).  This should not be taken lightly, because as I have often noticed, Christians can quote the words at the same time they raise their spiritual umbrellas and allow such warnngs to fall exclusively upon unbelievers. They seem to be convinced that they are immune to any sort of deception.  Would that it were true.  If it were, Jim Jones, David Berg, and David Koresh would have had no followers. 

The phenonmenon of mass hysteria that Cohn described in his book is one which calls for serious consideration.  Cohn not only acknowledged that mass deception was part of the human condition, but he thought that it could be mitigated.  He advocated further studies in psychology, anthropology, sociology, and history in order to provide more definitive solutions to the phenomenon (op. cit. p. 312). While his recommendation is not to be dismissed out of hand, I cannot help but think that in the light of the history of civilization, it might be asking too much to expect any such studies to come up with an effective and lasting solution.  I personally believe, as the Lord Jesus and his apostles taught, and like the Revelation also predicts, that mass deception and its deleterious effects will be around for a long time, growing in intensity even up till the time when the Lord himself returns .

However, the general characteristics of the phenomenon described by Cohn are worth summarizing and pondering.
 
Usually there is total commitment to whatever be the self-appointed leader’s interpretation of the Bible.
The general mental attitude is one which prohibits any challenge to the leader’s authority. 
Sometimes the leader claims “new truth” which can extend to new revelation over and beyond the Bible.
The leader uses social upheaval and relates what is happening in the world to the biblical prophecies connected with the “last days.” 
He also tends to foster a “we-they” dichotomy.  
          
The foregoing characteristics have been manifested in many of the Messianic movements down through the centuries, and as noted they have continued to be in evidence even in recent years.  One of the reasons they tend to be effective is because they carry elements of divine truth, and thus can be piggy-backed on smatterings of biblical knowledge. There is only one antidote to such extremes and that is to keep both feet solidly planted on the Word of God.  There is no substitute, for it is only by such recourse that believers can have their “senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Heb. 5:14).

A SHORT DETOUR

Having said what I have just said, I am obliged to mention that the possibility of people being deceived by utopian-type ideas is not limited solely to Christian people.   There have been and continue to be any-number of secular-political-millennial-type social programs up for grabs.  Whenever I hear about them, I almost involuntarily wonder about the age-old problem: “Who will control the controllers of these programs?”  The answer, as might readily be expected:  “Who else but the proposers themselves?”  The more I think about it, the more I am flabbergasted over the gullibility of people, even of so-called sophisticated people.  There are always some who seem to be willing to swallow any “new-old” social-political experiments which comes down the pike.  Why they do so of course is not unlike the dynamics of the characteristics just listed.  There are the proposer-leaders, who under the guise of being “scientists” and “philosopers,” convince politicians, and government officials that they have a plan to provide permanent solutions to all social ills.  I write these words during a presidential election in which one of the candidates was forever telling voters, “I have a plan, I have a plan!”  Need I remind my reader that during the last century, countless millions of people perished under the pipe-dreams of various kinds of totalitarian plans.  Moreover, the deaths were the consequences of the “well-intended” plans of benevolent dictators. 

For any who might be interested in counteracting the dynamics behind such “scientific” social experiments, which so often have insidious iatrogenic consequences, I would recommend the thoughtful reading of two books which, in years gone by, were instrumental in stretching my mind: (1) Richard Weaver, The Main-Spring of Human Progress, and (2) F. A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom. 

Self-evidently, “Scientific Socialism,” as it is euphemistically called, does seem to have an emotional appeal to Christians. What, it may be asked, could possibly be wrong with taking from the “Haves” and giving it to the “Have-nots?”  Would this not be an implementation of the Golden Rule?  Or, could it possibly be an infraction of the eighth commandment?  The problem is that ideas generally have consequences, and what appears on the surface as being a good idea might sooner or later produce iatrogenic consequences.  An iceberg might look beautiful, but it can be very dangerous, especially when it be realized that only one fifth of it is seen on the surface.  The main danger is in what is not seen.

While on the subject of recommending books related to this broad subject, let me mention two others I just finished: (1) The provocative collection of down-to-earth essays by Thomas Sowell, Barbarians inside the Gate, and (2) Daniel J. Flynn’s work, Intellectual Morons.  After reading Flynn, I couldn’t help but pity any society which would try, by government endorsement, to implement the ideas of people like Alfred Kinsey, Margaret Sanger, Michael Foucault, Betty Friedan, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Gore Vidal, Rigoberta Menchus, Paul Ehrlich, W.E.B. DuBois, Ayn Rand, Jacques Derrida, Leo Straus, and Herbert Marcuse.  If Flynn is right, many of our contemporary schools of higher learning have, in one way or another, come under the influence of one or more of these supposed icons of academic brilliance.  And if such be the case, there is real cause for concern.  The Prophet Isaiah had a timely word in this regard.  He wrote: “Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?” (Isa.2: 22). 

The preceding “short detour” seemed to be in order because all too often Christian people are frequently depicted as being pathetically gullible whereas the propensity toward deception is, as was stated earlier, indisputably part of the overall human condition.  The more secularly minded intelligensia might be reluctant to admit this common failing, but they have had a fair share of pie-in-the-sky-millennial-like programs which promise paradise, but as history records, have, more often than not, had disastrous results.  

BACK ON TRACK

The Revelation is indeed a fascinating book, but, as many would readily testify, it can also be a difficult book. On various occasions, I have taken informal surveys in churches, asking, “What is the most difficult book in the Bible?”  Every time I have done this, the response has always been the same: the Revelation!  In some of the discussions which followed, I occasionally heard comments that recourse to commentaries had not helped, and in certain cases had even added to the confusion.   In one of his sermons, Geoffrey of Auxere (12th Century) made reference to the “Blessed Jerome,” who declared that the Revelation, “not only has as many interpretations as it has words, but that the layers of its meaning exceed the numbers of its words as honey overflows the waxen cells of the richest comb.” (Jerome. Ep. 53:9, CSEL 54: 463). 

Similar sentiments have been repeated many times through the centuries.  How else can Luther’s negative attitude toward the book, and Calvin’s reluctance to write a commentary on its content be explained?  There are those who have gone to the extreme of concluding that the words in the book have no face value meaning at all, but depend on whatever the individual wants them to mean.  Curiously, such thinking has much in common with the contemporary literary theory known as deconstructionism, which allows students of the written word to read into texts privately discovered meanings.  This would mean that the language of the Revelation must be coded in such an esoteric manner that only the initiated  deconstructionist can unravel its ambiguities and subtle contradictions; not to forget its “meaningful silences.”  When someone asks, “What exists between the lines?” they need to be told, “blank spaces.” 

Let me add, that the thinking of modern deconstructionists should not be confused with that predisposition of mind that possesses eyes to see and ears to hear (Mat. 13:15; Rev. 2:11, et. al.). There might be difficulties in understanding every jot and tittle of the book, but pyschological idiosyncrasies cannot be allowed to determine meaning.  There exist difficulties even in the interpretation of parts of Paul’s epistles, but like the notes on a piano, the words in the Revelation, have fixed and definite meanings (2 Pet. 3:16).  Banging around on a keyboard might produce discord, but the effect is the result of an indiscriminate combination of notes and not the fault of the notes themselves.

In passing, admitting difficulties in understanding certain words and phrases has not prevented some scholars from acknowledging that the book, as a whole, is worthy of careful study. Richard Bauckham, a competent New Testament scholar wrote: “The Apocalypse of John is a work of immense learning, astonishingly meticulous literary artistry, remarkable creative imagination, radical political critique, and profound theology.” (The Climax of Prophecy: Studies on the Book of Revelation, ix).  He also added that the book embodies “a highly reflective vision of the impact of the divine purpose on the contemporary world.”  (Ibid, xiii).

I have come to agree with Bauckham’s assessment, but there was a time when Jerome’s misgivings might have been mine. I dare say that my earlier attitude finds an echo in the minds of most work-a-day-rank-and-file Christians. I remember well my frustrations.  By and large I could not make heads or tails of any of it.  However, as the years went by, certain factors worked to alleviate my frustrations.  Among these factors were insights from godly men who had given the book serious thought and study.  There was of course also the fact that I had grown in my own spiritual development, and in my overall general comprehension of Holy Scripture.  At the same time, this growth and greater discernment enabled me to weigh more carefully and appreciate more readily the literary contributions of scholars who had explored and expounded the book before me. If I were to recommend books which might be helpful, I would include: George Eldon Ladd, A Commentary on the Revelation of John, Leon Morris, Revelation, G. K. Beale, The Book of the Revelation, Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation, and G. R. Crow, The Lamb and the Book. The last one was written by a missionary, and I give it high marks, not only because it tends to be more practical, but also because it is less technical and easy to read.
TO BE CONTINUED:





Continued blessings.  Yours because His, Henry T. Hudson (Jn. 3:30)





 









                                  Pastor Hudson's new book



"Going beyond the common "text-in-context" approach to Paul's letter to Timothy, Dr. Henry T. Hudson introduces "pretext-and-subtext" into his exposition. He does this in order to bring home to the hearts of contemporary Christians what lay at the center of Paul's concern for the challenges that were before Timothy as he took over the leadership of the Church. Paul was in prison in Rome and was awaiting execution. The madman Nero was emperor. There were many false prophets abroad, and Christians everywhere were suffering persecution. Paul even told Timothy that "in the last days perilous times shall come." How would he then counsel him? He was, comparatively speaking, a young man. He was also afficted with frequent infirmities. Pastor Hudson explores what Paul wrote, and he does so, trying to enter into the mind and heart of Paul. He is of the opinion that what he wrote has pratical bearing for Christians facing the challenges of life in the twentieth century."





                 
                    Calvary Chapel was built by the congregation.

     The foundation was laid by our Lord.  The concrete, bricks, cinder  blocks, timbers and paint was done by the hands of His believers and in faith of a common goal to build a church where all were welcome who sought the truth of His Word.  The stained glass window to the   left was built by the brothers' Lefflers.  They had never done anything like this before, but they said they could and they did.

                      This was and is the spirit of Calvary Chapel.





                          "Thanksgiving" 2008...

                             The Hudson Family                      
    
Henry, Axle, Jake, Richard, Lexi, Matthew, Nancy,  Sophie, Bruce, Matthew, Sarah, Owen
                                                                    Amanada, Joan, Hope, Linda
                                                                       Shirley, Tiffany, Morgan

                                                            Sadly missing Jerry, Janaya, and David