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Course Spotlight: Speaking in Tongues

The focal point of the Pentecostal movement is its emphasis on speaking in tongues, or “glossolalia”—a term derived from the Greek words for “tongue” and “speaking.” But just what does the Bible mean when it mentions speaking in tongues? Is it identical to what happens in the modern charismatic movement?

Course Spotlight From Acts of the Apostles (Unit 1) The Church Begins

Digging Deeper: A Lesson from Barabbas

Author: Mr. Kenneth Frank | Faculty in Theology, Living Education


Estimated reading time: 7 min. 44 sec.

Did you know that many people of first-century Jerusalem demanded the release of an insurrectionist against the Roman Empire named Barabbas in exchange for the Son of God?

The Four Gospels describe Pilate’s attempt to set Jesus free from the charges brought against Him by the hysterical populace through a customary Passover release of one prisoner. Pilate offered the people the choice of Jesus or Barabbas. Without hesitation, the people chose Barabbas over Jesus. Only days before they had welcomed Jesus riding into Jerusalem with Hosanna (“save, we pray”) (John 12:12-16). This Digging Deeper explores this troubling account to illustrate an important spiritual lesson for Christians.

All four Gospel writers record this incident: Matthew 27:15-26; Mark 15:6-15; Luke 23:17-25; John 18:39-40. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia notes that “Matthew calls him ‘a notable (i.e. notorious) prisoner’ (Matthew 27:16). Mark says that he was ‘bound with them that had made insurrection, men who in the insurrection had committed murder’ (Mark 15:7). Luke states that he was cast into prison ‘for a certain insurrection made in the city, and for murder’ (Luke 23:19; compare Acts 3:14). John calls him a ‘robber’ or ‘brigand’” (John 18:40) (e-Sword 13.0).

Who was Barabbas?

John Lightfoot in his Commentary on the Gospels records that Barabbas was a common name in the Jewish Talmud (Bible Analyzer 5.4.1.22). The Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible, edited by Merrill C. Tenney, adds further: “The name Barabbas may simply be a conventional proper name. It is found as the surname of several rabbis” (Zondervan Publishing Company, 1976, p. 472).

The Preacher’s Complete Homiletical Commentary, edited by Joseph S. Exell, proposes a derivation of this criminal’s name: “Barabbas.—’Son of Abba,’ i.e. Son of Father (so-and-so). The name would originally be given to one who was the son of some Rabbi who had been known in his locality as Father (so-and-so). Not unlikely Barabbas would thus be a person of respectable parentage, though for long he had gravitated toward the lowest stratum of society (Morison)” (e-Sword 13.0). The respectful title “father” was sometimes applied to mentors and teachers (2 Kings 2:12; 5:13; 6:21; 13:14).

Barabbas’ description as “notable” in Matthew 27:16 means he was distinguished in either great virtues or great crimes; in his case, he was infamous. Daniel Whedon in his Commentary on the Old and New Testaments paints this picture: “As a fierce and brave Jewish patriot, he had become notable or famous among the populace. He was, perhaps, like Robin Hood among the old English, hateful to the government but popular with the masses” (e-Sword 13.0).

No ordinary villian

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 8, edited by Frank E. Gaebelein provides the Greek word used in our Gospels to describe Barabbas as: “…no ordinary villain but a lestes (cf. Mark 15:7; Luke 23:19; John 18:40). Although lestes can refer to a robber (as perhaps in John 10:1), it more probably refers to insurrectionists (cf. 26:55; John 18:40); and Josephus constantly uses it of the Zealots. Neither theft nor violent robbery was a capital offense, but insurrection was. Revolts and bloodshed fostered by guerrilla action were common (cf. Jos. Antiq. XVIII, 3-10 [i. 1], 60-62 [iii. 2]; Luke 13:1), and Barabbas had been caught. In the eyes of many of the people he would not be a ‘notorious’ villain but a hero” (Zondervan, 1984, p. 568-569).

Barabbas may have been a Zealot, as described by The Expositor’s Dictionary of Texts, edited by W. Robertson Nicoll and Jane T. Stoddart: “There was a fierce and defiant Home Rule party in Judea whose unresting aim was to drive the Roman garrison from the Holy Land. Their chosen name was that of Zealots, because of their unquenchable zeal for the restoration of the Jewish Dominion. Out of their ranks came one of Christ’s disciples, Simon Zelotes, whom Jesus taught a wider truth and, a better way than his fiery heart had at first conceived” (Bible Analyzer 5.4.1.22).

The Expository Notes of Dr. [Thomas L.] Constable describes Barabbas: “He was a famous prisoner but not necessarily one that the Jews regarded as an undesirable character. On the contrary, he had evidently been leading an insurrection against the Roman government as a freedom fighter (cf. Mark 15:7; Luke 23:19; John 18:40). His guerrilla actions were fairly common then. [Note: Josephus, Antiquities of . . ., 18:1:1.]  Many of the Jews would have viewed Barabbas as a hero rather than as a villain. He was more of a messianic figure, in the minds of most Jews, than Jesus was” (e-Sword 13.0).

Political rebel for the Son of God

The Fourfold Gospel by J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton provides a possible historical background to this insurrection: “Josephus tells us that there had been an insurrection against Pilate’s government about that time caused by his taking money from the temple treasury for the construction of an aqueduct (The Antiquities of the Jews, 18.3.2). This may have been the affair here referred to, for in it many lost their lives” (BP Bible 0.5.3.1).

Insurrection was a serious crime against the state. The New Bible Dictionary, edited by J.D. Douglas notes that Barabbas was: “A bandit (John 18:40), arrested for homicidal political terrorism (Mark 15:7; Luke 23:18+)” (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1965, p. 132). Barabbas was such an insurrectionist, yet Jesus was falsely accused of this crime by the Jews (Luke 23:2). Pilate later realized that Jesus was innocent (Luke 23:22) and that for envy the Jews had accused Him (Matthew 27:18). The chief priests and elders had persuaded the Jerusalem crowd to demand Barabbas’ release and Jesus’ death (Matthew 27:20).

When the overexcited Jews demanded Barabbas’ freedom instead of Jesus’ they preferred the political rebel and nationalist hero over the Son of God. Fausset’s Bible Dictionary explains that Barabbas (son of the father) was a ” … contrast to the true Son of the Father! The Jews asked the murderous taker of life to be given as a favor to them (it being customary to release one prisoner at the passover), and killed the Prince of life (Acts 3:14-15)” (e-Sword 13.0)!

The New Bible Dictionary, edited by J.D. Douglas offers an intriguing spiritual note to this story: “The priests, possibly taking up an initial demand from his [Barabbas’] supporters (cf. Mark 15:8), engineered a movement for his release to counter Pilate’s intended offer of that of Jesus (Matthew 27:20; Mark 15:11) – and Barabbas became an exemplification of the effects of substitutionary atonement” (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1965, p. 132). The College Press Explanatory Notes by Rhoderick D. Ice explains further: “Some have made him a ‘symbol’ of the guilty human race which is set free from punishment by the substitution of the innocent Christ” (e-Sword 13.0).

Barabbas: A type for mankind

This takes our brief study to a deeper level. Barabbas committed treason against the Roman Empire and Pilate the governor. Each of us, in his or her way, has committed high treason against the Governor of the universe by our sins (Romans 3:23). Accordingly, we brought the death penalty down upon our heads (Romans 6:23). We are helpless and hopeless in ourselves to find deliverance from this undesirable fate.

In His love for humankind, God sent His only begotten Son to earth. As part of His preaching, Jesus announced His coming substitutionary death during His earthly ministry (John 12:32). He suffered vicariously for all humanity. His disciples did not understand what He meant. Only after His death, as the apostles and early Church of God began to digest this tragic account did they realize the full spiritual significance of His death (John 12:16). Jesus’ resurrection from the dead confirmed God’s redemptive plan to forgive humanity and instead offer them life – even life forevermore (1 Corinthians 15:22).

Jesus died in our place, as surely as He died in Barabbas’ place (Romans 5:7-8; Galatians 6:14). Each of us deserves the death penalty. Jesus became our substitutionary atonement to release us from our sins and enable us to be reconciled to God with the hopeful prospect of eternal life. In this way, Barabbas was a type of every sinner who has been redeemed by God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

We do not know what happened to Barabbas after Jesus was exchanged for him. Nonetheless, Barabbas serves as a type of every sin-laden human who deserves death but through repentance and confession of sin has been released, rescued, and redeemed by the Savior of the world instead.


Ken Frank

Kenneth Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA and attended Ambassador College, graduating in 1973. He served in the Canadian ministry from 1973-1999, after which he returned to the USA to pastor churches in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina for 15 years. Having earned a BA degree from Ambassador College he later earned a MA degree from Grand Canyon University before being assigned to the Charlotte office to teach at Living University, now Living Education. Currently, he teaches the Survey of the Bible course to the on-campus students and writes the Digging Deeper column for our online Bible study program. He is married, has four children, and seven grandchildren.

Assembly Summary: Church Administration—The Story in Stats

Author: Juliette McNair | Student, Living Education Charlotte 2021


Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 57 seconds. 

“I would like to talk today a little about something I’ve been a part of for some years.” Mr. Rod McNair has worked as the Assistant Director of Church Administration (CAD) since 2005. He began, “I thought maybe the best way to do it is to tell the story in statistics.”

“What is our mission in CAD?”

The Church’s main goal is to preach the Gospel to the world (Matthew 28:18-20). But the second primary aim is to feed the flock. In John 21:15-17, Christ commanded Peter three times to care for His flock. Mr. McNair pointed out two different words are used in this passage for “feed” and “tend.” The Greek word, bosko, means to pasture or feed,and poimaino, means to rule or govern. The mission of CAD is “to serve the ministry of God’s flock in fulfilling the second commission of the Church, feeding the flock by providing coordination, communication, and administrative support.”

0

Genesis 6:5-8 is the account of how Noah “found grace in the eyes of the LORD” in a wicked world. He was a “preacher of righteousness” (1 Peter 2:5), yet not one person was called and baptized through his ministry. Mr. McNair asked the students, “What was the first statistic? How many coworkers did Noah have?” He pointed to a single number projected on the whiteboard behind him. “Zero… We may get discouraged. But as we go through the statistics, I think it’s good to keep things in perspective.”

In an Assembly last semester, Mr. McNair discussed the Festival Office. Today, two other major components of CAD were covered: Tomorrow’s World presentations and local ministry and churches.

Tomorrow’s World Presentations

In years past, Mr. Armstrong went on preaching campaigns in cities all over the country, speaking at convention centers or large venues. These programs were advertised in advance, with titles such as, “A Voice Cries Out.” In 2006, in LCG, several ministers proposed having pastors speak at local presentations. Since then, a system was developed for planning TWPs. Mr. McNair showed the students the chart that displays the process. At least eight weeks are required to coordinate the topic, time, venue, brochures, and invites for the meetings.

2.0%

To date, 30,164 people have attended 1,195 presentations in the U.S and around the world. In the U.S.A, about two percent of invitees attend. Outside America, 4.2 % of invited people attend. “It does seem to be that our people in this country are less interested in the message than people overseas.” The top two topics requested from attendee surveys are prophetic topics (40-50% of requests) and the Holy Days (30%). Many who call and write Headquarters believe Tomorrow’s World is purely a media effort. “The presentations show we are friendly, warm, and welcoming. They show we are a Church.”

Local Ministry and Churches

There are 398 congregations worldwide. Over 160 of these are in the U.S.A. Last year, there were about 2,600 people under the age of seventeen in the Church—out of an average total of 12,000 members. “We do have a lot of older people, but we also have an awful lot of young people—about 20%.” Since 1999, 5,950 people have been baptized. Mr. McNair mentioned, “Those are not all people who have grown up in the Church… There are still people being called today. There is still Work to be done.”

5, 986    

There are 5,986 prospective members, baptized members, and Church youth in the U.S, compared with 6,417 in ninety-one other countries. “Does this tell you anything about how God has blessed the U.S. materially—with the freedom of religion, the freedom of expression, and the ability to do the Work—with the ability to be the engine of the Work? What a blessing that God has allowed us to do the Work in this country… And it shows that we have a responsibility.” 116 brethren are “scattered members.” These are brave members who stand alone in their countries as pillars for the truth.

“… providing for the needs.”

Since 2004, the Personal Correspondence Department has responded to 56,000 emails, calls, or letters. There are twenty volunteers who transcribe sermons for the hard of hearing—thirty-six deaf members receive these transcriptions. The transcriptions are translated into nine languages.

Feeding the Flock

Matthew 24:45-47 is the account of the “faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season….” God commissioned the Church, like that servant, to feed and care for His household. Mr. McNair concluded, “If we put our focus and our attention on being a part of preaching the Gospel to the world and also supporting the back-end of what happens to people once they do come, God is going to give us so many more opportunities in the future, because we’ve been faithful with these very tiny opportunities.”


This post is part of our new series of student-written content for LivingEd-Charlotte. These summaries cover topics originally presented by our faculty and guest speakers in our weekly Forum and Assembly. For more Assembly-related content check out our Second Thoughts posts.

Forum Summary: Develop the Superpower of Deep Work

Author: Juliette McNair | Student, Living Education Charlotte 2021


Estimated reading time: 4 minutes.

Mr. Josh Lyons is the assistant pastor for three congregations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Mr. Lyons grew up in South Carolina and went to the College of Charleston. He graduated with a Master’s degree in accounting in 2010. Growing up in the Church, he attended Living Youth Camp for several summers as a camper, counselor, and staff member.

“Decisions you make in early adulthood cast this long shadow… And they’re not easy to change.”

Mr. Lyons described “an early life crisis” he experienced in his senior year of college. He was rethinking pursuing a career in accounting. “I knew I had invested a good bit of time and money, and I was thinking, Is accounting really for me?” He prayed about it and considered going into counseling. He applied and was accepted to a college program for counseling when he happened to speak with Mr. Jerry Ruddlesden, who advised him to apply for the accounting position at Headquarters. After an interview, he was hired directly after graduating. “Looking back, it was so clear that God showed me what path to take… When you’re in these moments, sometimes, you sincerely just don’t know where to go.” Mr. Lyons studied to get his Certified Public Accountant degree and had only just taken the exam in 2017 when Mr. Weston asked him to work in the ministry.

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.”

– Psalm 143:8 (NIV)

“I’d like to transition and talk about a skill—something I’ve tried to implement. I’ve come to think it’s almost like a superpower.” In his book, Deep Work, Cal Newport explains how society is losing its ability to work, study, think, and read deeply. Newport wrote, “The ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. As a consequence, the few who cultivate this skill, and then make it the core of their working life, will thrive.” Using Deep Work as a reference, Mr. Lyons gave the students six practical steps that would help them develop the skill of doing deep work in their lives.

“Do as little shallow work as possible.”

Shallow work is defined as logistical, easy-to-replicate tasks. Writing emails, setting up a printer, or getting office supplies fall into this category. Mr. Lyons told the students to recognize that shallow tasks, while necessary, do not add value. Shallow work should be limited or batched together to be taken care of all at once.

“Ruthlessly block distractions.”

At one point in his talk, Mr. Lyons admitted, “While I was here [writing] my speech notes, I went and checked my email… I forced myself to put a confession here… I wrote, ‘Literally, while my cursor was here in my notes, I checked my email and totally didn’t need to. Bad.’” To do deep work, phones should be silenced, email alerts turned off, and any distractions removed.

“Block out chunks of time.”

The mind must focus for a substantial period of time to really do deep work. Ideally, up to three or four hours should be set aside to concentrate on a task. Mr. Lyons explains he likes to use the morning to write commentaries and prepare sermons without interruption. Devoting a substantial chunk of time to a task allows the mind to dive deep into one’s work.

“Go to a good location.”

Mr. Lyons mentioned the library at his college was an exceptional place to study and focus. “The library was so nice it almost made you want to study. Almost.” Libraries are quiet, and convenient corners scattered around can provide an ideal environment to focus on a task. A good location promotes deep work.

“Learn to love deep work.”

“It’s satisfying to reach our potential.” Deep work is valuable, meaningful, and rare—it is rewarding to produce quality work that others can’t necessarily replicate. “Adding value is satisfying.” Mr. Lyons encouraged the students to learn to love doing difficult, deep work because it is rewarding.

“Be intentional to improve your ability to do deep work.”

Deep work isn’t a habit, it is a skill. Newport wrote, “The ability to concentrate intensely is a skill that must be trained.” This ability isn’t picked up overnight. It is like a conditioned mental muscle that must be purposefully developed.

“If there is any one ‘secret’ to effectiveness, it is concentration.”

– Peter Drucker

Whether in one’s profession, education, or Bible study, concentration brings success. “Deep work,” Mr. Lyons pointed out, “is really about doing something to a depth of difficulty that stretches us to push us out of our comfort zone to make progress.” In a world full of distractions, Mr. Lyons inspired the students to develop the superpower of deep work.


This post is part of our new series of student-written content for LivingEd-Charlotte. These summaries cover topics originally presented by our faculty and guest speakers in our weekly Forum and Assembly. For more Assembly-related content check out our Second Thoughts posts.

Course Spotlight: The Death of James

We know from secular history that James died a martyr. Exactly how that happened is unclear, as there is more than one account describing his demise.

Course Spotlight From The General Epistles: (Part 1) The Letters of James and Peter

Digging Deeper: The Superscription on the Cross

Author: Mr. Kenneth Frank | Faculty in Theology, Living Education


Estimated reading time: 7 min

Did you know that, when Jesus was nailed to a Roman cross, a placard called a superscription was placed over His head with the accusation laid against Him?

This sign is mentioned by all four Gospel writers and yet the words expressed differ one from another. You may wonder why they are different, how they can be reconciled, and what is the significance of this detail about Jesus’ crucifixion. This Digging Deeper will delve into this matter to reconcile our four accounts and explain the spiritual significance of this inscription.

Historical sources inform us that a placard naming the charge against a person to be crucified (who was called a cruciarius) was inscribed on a white tablet with red or black ink letters and hung around the person’s neck as they carried the cross beam to the crucifixion stake. According to John 19:19, Pilate wrote this superscription to be affixed to the cross. Matthew 27:37 says it was placed over Jesus’ head. Since the crucifixion was a public display, its purpose was to deter on-lookers from crimes against the state.

Historically, this sign above the cross has been called the superscription, inscription, or the title on the cross. Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines superscription as: “That which is written or engraved on the outside, or above something else” (e-Sword 13.0). The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, edited by James Orr, explains the various biblical terms for this inscription: “The fullest description is that of Mark, ‘the superscription of his accusation’ (ή ἐπιγραφὴ τῆς αἰτίας ἀυτοῦ, epigraphḗ tḗs aitı́as autoú) (Mark 15:26). Matthew calls it more briefly ‘his accusation’ (τὴν αἰτίαν αὐτοῦ, tḗn aitı́an autoú) (Matthew 27:37), while Luke styles it merely ‘a superscription’ (epigraphē) (Luke 23:38). In the Fourth Gospel it is called a ‘title’ (τίτλον, tı́tlon) (John 19:19)” (Ibid.).

The words of the superscription differ among the four Gospels:

“This is Jesus the King of the Jews” (Matthew 27:37)

“The King of the Jews” (Mark 15:26).

“This is the King of the Jews” (Luke 23:38).

“Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” (John 19:19).

The Scofield Reference Bible Notes (1917 Edition) reconciles these differences simply: “These accounts supplement, but do not contradict one another. No one of the Evangelists quotes the entire inscription. All have ‘The King of the Jews.’ Luke adds to this the further words, ‘This is’; Matthew quotes the name, ‘Jesus’; whilst John gives the additional words ‘of Nazareth'” (e-Sword 13.0). Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words adds that: ” … the variation serves to authenticate the narratives, showing that there was no consultation [collusion] leading to an agreement as to the details” (Ibid.). Compiling the various Gospel accounts, this superscription read “This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”

Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers explains these differences further: “But in part also they may reasonably be ascribed to the natural variations sure to arise even among eye-witnesses, and à fortiori among those who were not eye witnesses, as to the circumstantial details of events which they record in common. On grounds of ordinary likelihood St. John’s record, as that of the only disciple whom we know to have been present at the crucifixion (John 19:25), may claim to be the most accurate” (e-Sword 13.0).

A superscription in three languages

A display of the original language letters of these superscriptions is available to us. Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible illustrates the original languages:

In Hebrew – ΕβραΐϚι:

ישוע נצריא מלכא דיהודיא

In Greek – ΕλληνιϚι:

ΙΗΣΟΥΣ Ο ΝΑΖΩΡΑΙΟΣ Ο ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΕ ΤΩΝ ΙΟΥΔΑΙΩΝ

In Latin – ΡωμαΐϚι:

IESUS NAZARENUS REX IUDAEORUM (e-Sword 13.0).

The difference in phrasing may in part be due to the arrangement and translation of words from these three different languages. Necessarily, the superscription must have been sizeable to contain the total content. A Dictionary of Christ and the Apostles, edited by James Hastings, explains why it was displayed in more than one language: “The three languages of the τίτλος—Hebrew (i.e. Aramaic), Latin, and Greek—represent, as Westcott remarks, the national, the official, and the common dialects respectively. The true reading, therefore, preserves the more natural order. Bilingual and trilingual inscriptions such as this were naturally common in the East under the Roman Empire” (e-Sword 13.0). Another explanation declares the three languages were those of religion (Hebrew), of empire (Latin), and of intellect (Greek). Hebrew was the local language of the Jews, Greek was the universal tongue of the eastern Roman Empire, and Latin was the official language of the Roman government.

“I have written what I have written.”

The College Press Bible Study Textbook hypothesizes why Pilate directed these words to be affixed to Jesus’ cross (John 19:19-22): “Pilate may have ordered it nailed to His cross to clear his record with Caesar, since the basic charge of blasphemy for claiming to be the Son of God would not interest Roman jurisprudence” (e-Sword 13.0). The Jews condemned Jesus for blasphemy (Matthew 26:65). However, they did not have the authority to execute Jesus without Roman permission. They laid the political charge of insurrection on Jesus when they presented Him to Pilate. Being Roman governor, it was Pilate’s responsibility to investigate. He knew it was out of envy they falsely accused Jesus (Matthew 27:18). Pilate pronounced Jesus an innocent man (John 19:4, 6). The Jews in turn tricked Pilate into condemning this innocent man (John 19:12). Pilate had already been in trouble with the Roman emperor so he did what was expedient for his career by handing Jesus over for crucifixion.

The Jews wanted to change the superscription wording to state that Jesus claimed to be King of the Jews (John 19:21). Jesus never made such a claim. From his earlier conversation with Jesus, Pilate learned that Jesus was not threatening the Roman Empire when He explained ” … My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence” (John 18:36 KJV). Others claimed Jesus’ kingship for Him (John 12:13). Inadvertently, Pilate formalized Matthew’s theme that Jesus was the King of Israel – i.e., He was the prophesied Messiah from the Hebrew Bible. Pilate publicized that the Jews had killed their King. Out of spite and revenge, he humiliated the Jews for their forcing him to concede to Jesus’ death. The Jews wanted Pilate to anathematize Jesus through the crucifixion. Instead, his inscription endorsed Jesus’ kingly office. Like Balaam, Pilate in effect blessed Jesus when the Jews wanted him to curse Him instead (Numbers 24:10).

Jesus of Nazareth: King

It is pertinent that when Jesus was born, Gentile wise men who traveled to the Holy Land to worship Him asked, “Where is He that is born king of the Jews? (Matthew 2:2). During Jesus’ trials, Pilate, a Gentile Roman governor, proclaimed by this superscription “This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Pilate ennobled Jesus to the rank of King of the Jewish people. More broadly speaking, Jesus is not merely King of the Jews but the Lord of the universe and King over all humanity (Matthew 28:18; Revelation 17:14).

To bring our study to a close, a comment by J.M. Gibson in The Preacher’s Complete Homiletical Commentary, edited by Joseph S. Exell, summarizes the spiritual meaning of this superscription: “A better inscription for the cross the Apostles themselves could not have devised. ‘This is Jesus,’ the Saviour—the Name above every name. How it must have cheered the Saviour’s heart to know that it was there! ‘This is Jesus, the King,’ never more truly King than when this writing was His only crown. ‘This is Jesus, the King of the Jews,’ despised and rejected of them now, but Son of David none the less, and yet to be claimed and crowned and rejoiced in, when at last ‘all Israel shall be saved’” (e-Sword 13.0).


Ken Frank

Kenneth Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA and attended Ambassador College, graduating in 1973. He served in the Canadian ministry from 1973-1999, after which he returned to the USA to pastor churches in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina for 15 years. Having earned a BA degree from Ambassador College he later earned a MA degree from Grand Canyon University before being assigned to the Charlotte office to teach at Living University, now Living Education. Currently, he teaches the Survey of the Bible course to the on-campus students and writes the Digging Deeper column for our online Bible study program. He is married, has four children, and seven grandchildren.

Assembly Summary: Three Life Principles for Success

Author: Juliette McNair | Student, Living Education Charlotte 2021


Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 9 seconds.

Mr. McNair introduced Mr. John Strain to the students, “Please help me welcome Mr. John Strain, the pastor of the Charlotte congregation.” Mr. Strain began, “It occurred to me last evening that I got to speak with you at the beginning of the school term… I mentioned at the very beginning that your time here would go rapidly. I would like to talk a little about what you are going to do now when this nine-month program is ended.”

Richard Driehaus was a businessman and philanthropist who became a leader in the investment management industry. He built an extremely successful investment advisory firm, which currently manages 13.5 billion dollars in assets. He also created the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation and the Richard H. Driehaus Charitable Trust. On March 9, Driehaus died of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 78.

Three Keys for Success

When Mr. Strain read Driehaus’s obituary, he appreciated the three principles Driehaus told the magazine, Chicago, he had learned early in life: “You have to continue to learn your whole life, you have to be responsible for your own actions, and you have to give back.” In his assembly, Mr. Strain encouraged the students to practice these three keys in their lives as they move forward after Living Ed.

Life-Long Learning

Continue to learn. First, Mr. Strain advised the students to continue learning in their chosen, specialized vocation. Many professional positions today have options for Continuing Education and/or requirements for current certification of skills every year or two.  As a marketing specialist with IBM, Mr. Strain had to regularly renew certifications to verify his knowledge in his developing industry. “We should all strive to be good at what we do for a living.” Those who are masters at their job become what Mr. Strain’s son calls, “Untouchables.” These are the people who can pick their assignments or who are assigned tasks that solve problems on specific projects. Mr. Strain quoted his brother: “You shouldn’t want to be average. Being average means you’re the best of the worst and the worst of the best.” Ecclesiastes 9:10 reflects this value. Homemaking is a multi-faceted vocation—a homemaker is a cook, teacher, money manager, hostess, and much more. “In my opinion,” Mr. Strain said, “that should be considered a profession.” Another area of learning is general education. Reading is one of the best methods of life-long learning—historical accounts and biographies of notable people in history can teach readers valuable lessons.

“As young adults, it’s pretty much a given that you are going to have to make big decisions. Quite frankly, it was probably a big decision to come here.”

Be responsible for your own actions. “All too many people go through life viewing themselves as victims. All people are victimized to some degree by the world into which they are born but being a victim of an unfortunate circumstance doesn’t negate one’s responsibilities, actions, reactions, and choices. Mr. Strain noted, “We should all be evaluating what might be the results and consequences of our decisions.” He recommended the students use a “T-chart” when making decisions. The pros and the cons of an action are placed on both arms of the T, and each factor is weighted. Then, the advantages and disadvantages of the decision can be more objectively examined. With decisions that are not clear-cut in terms of right or wrong, Mr. Strain advised the students not to ask the wrong question: Is this okay? Instead, he told them to ask themselves, Is this wise? Consider 1 Corinthians 10:23, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful [expedient]….” Christians should accept responsibility for their choices.

“Use your opportunities to give back….” 

Give back. “Giving back is not limited to those who are wealthy.” God’s firstfruits will have great opportunities to serve in the Kingdom, but Mr. Strain encouraged the students to give back now in three specific ways. First, he told the students to conduct themselves as Christians. “Wherever we go, we all have the responsibility to be a light and an example.” Secondly, “Serve the local congregation.” Finally, “Continue to support the Work.” At Living Ed, the students have done this directly, working in the different departments at Headquarters. As the students move on, Mr. Strain said, “You can pray, tithe, and serve based on your knowledge of what is being done here.”

Mr. Strain concluded his talk on Richard Driehaus’s three principles for success: “Looking back, things are much more condensed, because time passes rapidly… You have had a nine-month taste of true Christian culture—a streamlined education in theology and truth. As you go forward, think about how things are done at headquarters. Headquarters is not perfect, but it is where Christ is working and leading.” With just four weeks of classes left, the students are near the end of the Living Ed program. “I wish you, in your last few weeks, great success in what always turns out to be a busy few weeks—but not too busy to have fun.”


This post is part of our new series of student-written content for LivingEd-Charlotte. These summaries cover topics originally presented by our faculty and guest speakers in our weekly Forum and Assembly. For more Assembly-related content check out our Second Thoughts posts.

Forum Summary: The Habit Way

Author: Juliette McNair | Student, Living Education Charlotte 2021


Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 50 seconds

Mr. Brandon Fall pastors six congregations in Idaho, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington. “It’s good to be here with you. I pastor the American Northwest, but we’re right in transition to move to the Mountain States—Wyoming—later this month.” After this move, Mr. Fall will be responsible for ten congregations across Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Montana, and Alaska.

“Parlez-vous Anglais?”

Several years back, Mr. Fall and his wife flew from Los Angelos to Paris to keep the Feast of Tabernacles in France. They had made plans to meet friends in Paris with whom they could drive to the Feast site. Mr. Fall was following behind their car on a freeway when their friends ahead suddenly merged onto an offramp towards a different freeway. Mr. Fall managed to merge right also, but at the last second, their friends switched lanes again, back onto the highway. There was a car in the lane to the left of him, and it was too late for Mr. Fall to get over. They had no choice but to take the exit. They were on their own in a foreign city, and Mr. Fall said the extent of his French was, “Parlez-vous anglais?”  Do you speak English?

“It’s so easy to get off the path if you haven’t systematically planned.”

The Church, beginning with the time of the Apostles (Acts 19:9,23), has served as the center for learning the Christian way of life. The purpose of Living Ed, outlined on lcgeducation.org, reflects this: “Systematic training in the knowledge and understanding of the Way of God.” Using the book Atomic Habits by James Clear as a reference, Mr. Fall spoke to the students about establishing a deliberate way of life by harnessing the power of tiny, daily habits.

Daily habits make up one’s way of life. “Every action you take,” Mr. Fall said, “is a vote for the type of person you become.” In Matthew 6:33-34, Christ defined a Christian’s ultimate goal—to be in the Kingdom of God. But He then said, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Mr. Fall said, “You focus on the Kingdom of God by focusing on the here and now.” Small habits are like compounding interest over time—their value builds. “Let’s zero in on three practical steps to implement the way of small habits.”

The Way of Small Habits

Don’t focus on motivation. Focus on changing habits. “If we’re at the mercy of how we feel, and if we don’t feel motivated, what are we going to do then?” Rather than depend on motivation, Mr. Fall encouraged the students to install habits that become part of their identity. “What we do reinforces our identity and our path.” 2 Corinthians 4:16 reads, “Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” Daily habits, like prayer or Bible study, renew a Christian’s identity and keeps them in God’s way. “When we install a habit, we no longer need willpower to continue, so our limited willpower can be used to install a new one.”

Establish the pattern. Clear wrote, “A habit must be established before it’s improved.” People who want to change their lives often envision a complete transformation. But to install a habit, Mr. Fall explained, one must set a pattern first—even if it means starting small. Atomic Habits contains an example of a man who wanted to lose 100 pounds. For two months, he went to the gym and exercised for five minutes. The pattern was established after a few weeks, and he began to stay longer and exercise. He accomplished his goal by establishing a rock-solid pattern.

Track your progress. “A habit tracker provides psychologic feedback of accomplishment.” Mr. Fall recommended the students build a habit tracker, with which they can check off the habits accomplished every day over a month. He explained tracking one’s progress brings satisfaction and builds momentum. Moses wrote, “The days of our lives are seventy years… for it is soon cut off, and we fly away… So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:10-12). Habit tracking also instills awareness of the passage of time and the value of every day.

“Living Ed students, you have a path in your life. You’re learning the way of God.” Mr. Fall concluded his talk, “You can have great intentions, but if you don’t have intentional habits, it’s so easy to get lost in Paris.” Daily, atomic habits can establish a Christian’s way of life and keep them from accidentally merging off the right highway.


This post is part of our new series of student-written content for LivingEd-Charlotte. These summaries cover topics originally presented by our faculty and guest speakers in our weekly Forum and Assembly. For more Assembly-related content check out our Second Thoughts posts.

Course Spotlight: 2 Peter and Jude Comparison

The epistles of 2 Peter and Jude share many common themes. View the comparison between each epistle and identify the key concepts!

Course Spotlight From The General Epistles: (Part 2) The Letters of John and Jude

Assembly Summary: Five Ways to Manage Stress

Author: Juliette McNair | Student, Living Education Charlotte 2021


Estimated reading time: 4 minutes.

Mr. Ron Poole is the area pastor for several congregations in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia. Mr. Frank introduced him to the students, “Mr. Poole lives not too far from us here, but he’s a busy man. Mr. Poole, it’s all yours.”

“How many of you have had an encounter with a snake?” Most of the students raised their hands, and Mr. Poole recounted an experience. He and some other young men were paddling down the Saluda River. With three adults weighing down their canoe, the water level was only three or four inches below the edge of the boat. He said, “I look over to the right, and here comes a snake swimming towards the canoe.” The young guys yelled and slapped the water, trying to scare it away, but it kept racing closer. Mr. Poole considered leaping out the other side and letting the snake have the boat it so badly wanted, but they finally frightened it away with their paddles.

Fight or Flee?

The human body is equipped with a chemical “alarm system” designed to deal with short-term emergencies. Mr. Poole explained how a hormonal surge in the brain’s hypothalamus increases the heart rate and blood circulation, mobilizing energy in the body and enabling a person to react quickly to danger. He said, “But when that same stress response keeps firing day after day, it can put the body at risk.” The constant influx of these stress hormones in the body weakens the immunes system and degrades one’s psychological state. Mr. Poole pointed out short term stress is not the problem. Prolonged stress—distress—is the issue. While college life may be considered a great time of life, Mr. Poole said, “We tend to ignore the pressure during this period.” Missed due dates, incomplete work, and lack of engagement in class are all signs of stress that need to be relieved.

How to Reduce Stress

The motto of Living Education is “Building a Godly Foundation.” Mr. Poole said, “I want to encourage you to build on that foundation to help you relieve the stress in your life.” The students received five keys to reducing stress.

“Read more.” In a study done at Seton Hall University in 2009, researchers found that just thirty minutes of reading lowered a stressed student’s blood pressure as effectively as yoga or humor. Another study found the habit of reading lowers one’s mortality risk by twenty percent. He advised the students to take time to search out positive reading material. “Reading gives muscle to the memory and keeps the mind young.”

“Unplug from technology.” While modern technology can make life easier, Mr. Poole said, “Too often, it creates more stress.” Teens who are addicted to the internet are more likely to experience depression and anxiety. At Hasselt University, researchers found that a three percent increase in neighborhood “greenness” increased children’s IQ score by an average of 2.6 points. Mr. Poole recommended the students unplug from their devices and spend time in the natural world.

“Stay positive and forgive others.” Mr. Poole said the major cause of stress is relationships. Even in extremely stressful situations, Paul kept his focus on God and helping others (2 Corinthians 11:23-28). Mr. Poole said, “Christ taught us to forgive others even as He was being crucified.” A positive and forgiving person manages their stress more effectively.

“Plan your routine.” Another simple way to prevent stress is to plan your day the night before. Mr. Poole used the Sabbath as an example. When small decisions—like what you will wear and what you need to bring to services—are made beforehand, many little stresses are eliminated and the Sabbath becomes more rewarding. “Preparation helps you to be ready for life’s daily opportunities.”

“Don’t be pulled in by the world.” “It seems we can’t escape from stress… Forty million adults [in the U.S.] have an anxiety disorder.” Mr. Poole reminded the students that Christians should go to God with their stresses. “We recognize the way of life God affords us brings a tremendous level of peace.” 1 John 2:15-17 contains the “world’s advertisements” that keep Christians from focusing on their primary goals in life. While Christ said the hearts of men would fail them at the end of the age (Luke 21:25-26), Mr. Poole warned the students not to be pulled in by the world—so they can face the difficult future with faith, not failing hearts.

Manage Your Stress

“You, young people, will move on to help lead the Church in the future… We need you to have cool heads. We need you to keep your feet firmly on the ground, on the firm foundation you’re building on. It is up to you. You must manage your stress level. As you do, you’ll reserve the hormones for the next time you walk upon a snake.”


This post is part of our new series of student-written content for LivingEd-Charlotte. These summaries cover topics originally presented by our faculty and guest speakers in our weekly Forum and Assembly. For more Assembly-related content check out our Second Thoughts posts.