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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Baptist Sermon Notes in History

Since I maintain preaching without notes, sometimes I am asked about this from the Baptist historical angle. I am not aware of anything written specifically on this subject, but one can pick up bits and pieces about it when researching historical material. Also there are older folks who can recite their memories of it relating to their time and place.


Old-timers here (who are mostly gone now) have said the preachers did not use notes back in the early 1900s. I think this is pretty accurate for the times, though in some cases preachers may have used them and folks just didn't know it. I would guess that it became popular among the Missionary Baptists in Texas in the 1930s or so, and probably earlier for Southern Baptists. I think most Primitive Baptists do not use them to the present. A couple of MB preachers in our area who started preaching in the 1930s used notes. Their notes were published in print form. One lived 1891-1974 and the other 1901-1972. In these cases they were quite sparse, only a few sentences -- main points they wanted to get across. One might wonder whether they even looked at these in the pulpit. Quite possibly they were study notes rather than pulpit notes. They were not detailed outlines like many use today.


But I recall reading some early American and English Regular Baptists who even used full manuscripts at times. Z. N. Morrell mentions one Baptist in Texas in the mid 1800s who did so. This practice is something that has varied at different times in history. I have no doubt the Separate Baptists were one of the biggest influences against preaching from notes. Most of them believed in being led by the Spirit at the time and place of preaching for their thoughts and topic. Seminary training is one of the big contributors to the use of sermon notes.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Life that Sings

Psalm 104:33 I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.
Psalm 146:2 While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being.


I've heard the expression "the life that sings", but don't know the source. I'm thinking maybe a poem or book title. But I want to use it today as a metaphor for joyful and hilarious service to the Lord, as opposed to mere dutiful and mechanical service.

As with the hymn writer S. R. Penick, I hope I can truly say "My soul's delight has been to sing..." It wasn't always that way. I was raised in a home and family where singing was as essential as the the warp and woof of woven fabric. If there was a singing in the area, we would most likely be there participating. As a small child this was merely an unquestioned normal part of life. As I grew into a teenager I realized there were other things to do and that most other people were doing those other things. My life became not "a life that sings," but one that wanted to be somewhere else doing something else. Physically I was present; begrudgingly I was there. Finally a time came when the choice was mine, and I no longer attended and participated in singings. Then, with neither plans nor expectation, in a few short years my whole life changed. Like a boomerang I came back. I can't pinpoint a particular experience or trigger, but imperceptibly it all came back to me. I settled into "a life that sings" by choice, in exhilaration, and with love. I want these lines inscribed upon my tomb: "Here lies the dust of R.L.V., his spirit sings at home."

Every Christian is not a singer. Not only are there literal "lives that sing," but also spiritual lives that sing. That person may be tone deaf to earthly sounds of music, yet lives a life to joyfully and hilariously serve God. Not because he or she has to, but because they want to. Not just for duty, but for love.The "life that sings" is one that serves from a love springing deep within the heart. What duty is, the heart wants. We can and ought to be obedient children, faithful spouses, dutiful church members and sincere Christians. But does your life sing?

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.


Without love we are nothing. With love, the life sings.

Now shall my inward joys arise,
And burst into a song;
Almighty love inspires my heart,
And pleasure tunes my tongue.
(Isaac Watts)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The table of our Lord

HYMN 20, C. M.
The provisions of the table of our Lord.

Lord, we adore thy bounteous hand,
And sing the solemn feast,
Where sweet celestial dainties stand
For every willing guest.

The tree of life adorns the board
With rich immortal fruit;
And ne'er an angry flaming sword
To guard the passage to 't.

The cup stands crowned with living juice,
The fountain flows above,
And runs down streaming for our use,
In rivulets of love.

The food's prepared by heav'nly art,
The pleasures well refined
They spread new life through every heart,
And cheer the drooping mind.

Shout and proclaim the Savior's love,
Ye saints that taste his wine
Join with your kindred saints above,
In loud hosannahs join.

A thousand glories to the God
That gives such joy as this;
Hosannah! let it sound abroad
And reach where Jesus is.


Isaac Watts (1674-1748)
Hymns and Spiritual Songs, Book III, 1707

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tipping cows

"Some also argue that numbers are important because souls are important, but if you really care about souls, you’ll labor to make disciples, not to merely baptize unrepentant, salvation-ignorant people who do not understand the lifelong commitment they’re making." 

When I saw the title Ten Contemporary Sacred Cows that Need to be Tipped, I feared this was some young whippersnapper debunking fundamental truths Christians have held for centuries. I was pleasantly surprised. I highly recommend this to my readers.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Seeking the Old Paths

Jeremiah 6:16 Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. 

The old paths should be looked for.
The old paths should be asked for.
The old paths contain the good way.
The old paths should be walked in.
The old paths offer rest.

The Lord commanded this. The people, whether or not they stood and looked, did not walk therein and did not find rest for their souls. Neither would they heed God's trumpet (v. 17). There remained a certain fearful looking for judgment (vs. 15, 19).

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Frequency of the Lord's Supper

The Lord's Supper, also known as the Lord's Table and communion, is a supper meal instituted by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, to be repeated in remembrance of His death on our behalf. Because this is a continuing observance, the frequency of repetition is a source of discussion and debate. The Bible should be both the source of that discussion and the final arbiter of our decision.

The relevant texts are those on the origin of the Supper, those which discuss the theology of it (some of which are the same), as well as a few others which relate to the Lord's Supper in some way. The texts that I find related to the observance are the following:
Origin: Matt 26:26-30, Mark 14:22-26, Luke 22:14-30; 1 Cor 11:17-34
Related texts: Acts 2:42,46; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 10:16-21
Other texts: John 13:1-18; 1 Cor 5:7,11; Heb 13:10; 2 Pet 2:13; Jude 12

Some texts are straightforward and unquestionably foundational to the biblical doctrine of the Lord's Supper. Others are traditionally accepted, but may be questioned as to their relevance -- such as certain "breaking of bread" texts in Acts. Those I have listed as "other texts" are or may be related to the Lord's Supper, but seem to offer little or no detail (yet John 13 is related to the time of the institution of the Supper). Old Testament verses on the Passover are not listed, but are brought to bear by those who support annual observance at the Lord's table.

Command
The Lord's Supper is commanded. An inspection of the texts reveal imperatives such as: "Eat." "Drink." "This do." The synoptic accounts of the institution of the Lord's Supper contain and emphasize the Lord Jesus Christ's command to continue to observe this rite. Paul repeats it and expands on it, with teaching on the matter flowing from its observance in the Corinthian church.

Precept
The bread represents Christ's body, and the wine His blood. The observance is a  remembrance of the Lord's death until He returns. Contained within the precept itself is the idea of a continuing observance -- "till He comes." Unlike immersion, which is a one-time event, the repetitive nature of the Lord's Supper insures it will have a "frequency", whether or not this is connected to a specific frequency such as weekly, quarterly or annual. It will be observed "till He comes". How frequently is the question, which has been given numerous answers.

Example
There are few examples of observing the Lord's table in the New Testament. It was instituted by our Lord at the time of the Passover, and that record in the gospels gives us a look into what was practiced. Paul's instructions to the Corinthians gives some insight into what was taking place. Unless the "breaking of bread" passages refer to the Lord's Supper, there is no example of it in the book of Acts.

Passover
The institution of the Supper by our Lord at the time of the Passover may (and is used to) support the annual observance of the Lord's Supper. The Passover was observed annually by the Jews on 14 Nisan. Based on one's theory of the "three days and three nights", the founding of the Supper was on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Regardless, Jesus' institution of the Supper occurred in the middle of the week, and not on the first day of the week -- the most common time of observance in modern churches.

Acts 2 & Acts 20
"Breaking of bread" is possibly a reference to the Lord's Supper, and it is commonly viewed that way. I was taught that Acts 2:46 and Acts 20:7 meant the Lord's Supper. It is hard to become "unattached" to that way of thinking. Certainly bread was broken in the institution of the Lord's Supper and will be broken in its continued observance. Yet the communion consists not of bread alone, but the cup as well. No obvious communion passage mentions only the bread to the exclusion of the cup. "Breaking of bread" often means a common meal and not the Lord's Supper. Cf. Luke 24:30,35 and Acts 27:35, for example. I have trouble leaving the past teaching behind, but the context in Acts 2 and Acts 20 seems to be meal sharing.

Whatever happened in Acts 20:7 occurred on the first day of the week. This is the most cited reference for observing the Lord's Supper weekly. The Acts 2:46 reference, on the other hand, was to a daily occurrence.  If the Acts passages are not communion events, the case for annual communion around the time of Passover becomes stronger. If these are communion events, combined with institution midweek we find either the examples are contradictory or they need to be reconsidered and understood in a way that reaches agreement of the source material.

Reconciling the facts
If the Lord's Supper under Christ and His apostles was observed on a Tuesday evening, on the first day of the week, and daily, then what might that tell us? One way these various events might agree is that we should observe the Lord's Supper every time we meet. A comparison of the totality of gatherings of God's people recorded in the New Testament doesn't seem to support that conclusion. Several meetings have no evidence of the observance. Another way they might agree is that the Lord is telling us not to observe the Lord's Supper on a certain day, but that it  was a central part of the worship of the early church and that they thrilled to observe it frequently!

Conclusion
Unless and until I receive further light on the matter, I conclude that there is neither command, precept nor example that requires the Lord's Supper to be observed every time a church meets, weekly, monthly or annually -- that is, with any such exacting level of repetition. The command, precept and example, though, supports it being observed more rather than less. Jesus' words exude the imperative of command. Paul's word "often" cries out for frequent observance.

"as oft as ye drink it...For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord..." May we, by God's help, often "shew the Lord's death till He come."

Friday, April 20, 2012

Readings on the frequency of the Lord's Supper

The linked readings deal with the frequency of which the Lord's Supper is observed. I have divided the links into the following categories: annually, monthly, weekly, often, and daily. In some cases it represents only the practice of the author rather than a dogmatic position for which he stands. In other cases it may represent a plea for the Supper to be held at a certain time -- only weekly or annually, for example. I do not purport this be exhaustive view of all the frequencies used for the Lord's Supper. Other churches observe it quarterly or semi-annually (twice a year), and some may do so only randomly or seldom. A few Baptists hold it annually on 14 Nisan (Passover), but I found no online defenses of that position. It is worth noticing that those who maintain the same practice do not always conclude to do so for the same reasons. For example, some may deduce weekly communion because the Lord commands us to break bread every time we meet. Another may do so because they believe it should be observed every Lord's Day, while another may choose weekly communion simply because they think it should be done often. The linked articles represent various viewpoints that are solely those of the authors. This blog makes no endorsement of any of the linked sites. At the end I have included a brief reference to the Roman Catholic Mass because they are the only ones that I know that practice a version of communion daily. I do not recognize their practice as a valid representation of the biblical ordinance; neither would I of some of the other authors/churches whose views are linked. But the "frequency" discussion is an important one. That the majority of the readings favor or promote weekly communion is a reflection of the fact that weekly communionists are likely to be either more dogmatic or more zealous for their viewpoint.


Annually
Individual Preparation For The Lord’s Supper/ (Scroll down to "Why We Observe “The Lord’s Supper” Once a Year On The Tuesday Before Easter")
The Lord's Supper


Monthly
We Celebrate the Lord's Supper Frequently But Not Weekly
Worshipping through the Lord’s Supper: Frequency


Weekly
How Often Should a Church Take the Lord’s Supper?
How Often Should Christians Observe The Lord's Supper?
How often should we celebrate the Lord’s Supper?
Thoughts on Weekly Communion
Three Arguments for Weekly Communion


Often
How often should the Lord’s Supper-Communion be observed?
The Frequency of Communion Calmly Considered


Daily
The History of Daily Mass in the Roman Catholic Church

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The tongue, by Daniel Park

Proverb 15:2 The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.
In the preceding proverb we saw the tongue of the gentle person contrasted to the tongue of the harsh person.  In this proverb we see the tongue of the wise person contrasted to the tongue of the foolish person.  A foremost lesson to be observed is this: The wise man is in command of his tongue, but the foolish man is under the command of his tongue.

1. The wise man knows when to speak and when to be silent; but the fool speaks incessantly and never knows when to shut up.
2. The wise man knows what to say and what to leave unspoken; but the fool knows nothing and tells all.
3. The wise man’s tongue is his servant for imparting knowledge; but the fool’s tongue is his master for dispersing nonsense.
4. The wise man’s tongue is used for the benefit of his hearers; but the fool’s tongue uses him for the amusement of his hearers.

-- Let us all in this regard imitate Jesus Christ (Matthew 8:28): “And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”
– From Daniel E. Park, via Mike McInnis

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The synagogue of Satan

Rev. 2:9b I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.
Rev. 3:9   Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.


What do we know of the synagogue of Satan? As with the Nicolaitanes, there is plenty of supposition. John Gill believes they "were false Christians, nominal professors, and shunned persecution for the Gospel." Matthew Henry says that "the devil has his synagogue...Those assemblies which are set up in opposition to the truths of the gospel, and which promote and propagate damnable errors..." H. A. Ironside thought it referred "to the Judaizing movement that came into the church in the early centuries." In the IVP New Testament Commentary Series,  J. Ramsey Michaels wrote "that the synagogue of Satan consisted of Gentile Christians who had Judaized, that is, who adopted Jewish ways or even converted to Judaism, perhaps in order to avoid persecution by the Romans. These represent some of the more "sane" interpretations. (I ran across some really wild ones scattered across the internet.)

The specific term "synagogue of Satan" is used on two times in the Bible, both in the book of Revelation. From those passages we are able to learn:
1. The synagogue of Satan is an identifiable people known to the churches in Smyrna and Philadelphia.
2. The synagogue of Satan say they are Jews but are not.
3. The synagogue of Satan are liars.
4. The synagogue of Satan are blasphemers.
5. The synagogue of Satan were enemies of the churches.
6. The synagogue of Satan will be judged, will worship God in the presence of the Philadelphians, and will know whom God loves.



A good many take the synagogue of Satan to mean literal Jews in the flesh, thinking there may be some comparison  with John 8:33-45, where Jesus speaks of those who take pride in being Abraham's seed. He says they really are of their father the devil. Also compare verses such as Rom. 2:28-29; Rom. 9:6-8; Matt. 3:9; etc. This could be in view, as Paul demonstrates "he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart." But this is a theological and spiritual understanding held by the churches of God. Why would some Jews in the flesh outside the church claim to be spiritual Jews when they would have no reference point for such a claim? On the other hand, Gentiles who had passed through the churches and then embraced a sort of Judaism would have more reason to "claim" they are Jews, though they are not.


Regardless, the churches at Smyrna and Philadelphia had real enemies who made a false Jewish claims. These synagogues (assemblies) belonged to Satan and did his work. They opposed the churches of God. God knows what will come and will be with His people. In Smyrna He commands them to endure persecution, trials and tribulations. Be faithful even to the point of death. He who commands this is He who was dead, and is alive. Fear not! The church in Philadelphia must also suffer tribulation, but God has set an open door that no man can close. No not even those of the synagogue of Satan can do so. In the end these false assemblies will be humbled, and know whom Christ has loved and whom He has not.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Another missing person

77-year-old Billy Heartsill went missing around 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday in Butler County, Alabama. We don't know him, but know people who do. We hope he will soon be found. Those with any information are encouraged to contact the Butler County Sheriff’s Office at (334) 382-6521 or (334) 525-0361.  

Man with Alzheimer's missing in Greenville  

BCSO to continue search for man

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Depravity

"The depravity of the human heart is at once the most empirically verifiable fact and at the same time the most intellectually resisted." -- Malcolm Muggeridge (English journalist, author, and satirist)

Missing person

Jimmy Tidwell of Mt. Enterprise went missing in late February and still has not been found. Anyone with any information should contact the Rusk County Sheriff's Office at 903-657-3581. His picture can be found at both links below. 

Reward offered for info on missing Mt Enterprise man 

James Tidwell: Missing from Texas

Sunday, April 08, 2012

The Nicolaitanes

Revelation 2:6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.
Revelation 2:15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.


Who are the Nicolaitanes? Some ideas are:
1. A sect who followed the teachings of a man named Nicolas.
2. Those who believe in exerting hierarchical authority over the church/people/laity, from the meaning of the name “one who conquers the people.” The word Nicolaitanes (Greek: Νικολαΐ́της) is made up of Nikos/conquest, victory and Laos/people, with the ending making a proper name.
3. A sect named from the Greek word Nicolah (meaning "let us eat") who encouraged the eating of things offered to idols.


The second view is the one that I have heard most, but that is probably just my limited experience. From the information given in the Scriptures we cannot establish any of the preceding views. But we can gather the following:


1. The Nicolaitanes were an identifiable group/sect/people known to the churches in Ephesus and Pergamos.
2. The Nicolaitanes had doctrines and deeds known to the churches in Ephesus and Pergamos.
3. God hated the deeds and doctrine of the Nicolaitanes.
4. Those of Ephesus hated the deeds of the Nicolaitanes.
5. Those of Pergamos tolerated the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes.


Is it possible that we spend so much time and energy trying to identify exactly who these people are that we weaken or miss the clear point of the passages? God hates the deeds and doctrine of the Nicolaitanes!


We should not tolerate the things which God hates. We should hate what God hates and love what God loves.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Stars are angels

Rev. 1:20 The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.

Rev. 2:1, et al. Unto the angel of the church of....write...

Who are the ‘angels’ in Revelation 2-3? A common interpretation -- perhaps the most common -- is that the seven angels represent the seven pastors of each of the seven churches of Asia. Baptist, Evangelical and Protestant commentators provide some examples:

"The candlesticks represent the churches; the stars represent the messengers or pastors of the churches..." -- B. H. Carroll, The Seven Churches of Asia"
...the seven stars which John saw in Christ's right hand, represent the angels, or pastors of the seven churches of Asia, and in them all the pastors and ministers of the churches in all the periods of time until Christ's second coming." -- John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
“These messengers were probably the pastors of these churches or prophets through who the message was to be delivered to the congregation.” -- John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ
"With the meaning of the seven stars, that they are the ministers of the churches..." Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible
"But by Angel in this and all the other epistles written to the seven churches in Asia, we are to understand the episcopacy, presbytery, and ministry in each particular church, unto whom the charge, oversight, care and government thereof was committed by the Holy Spirit...So the word 'Angel' in all these seven epistles, is a noun collective, comprehending all the bishops and presbyters, called elders, in this Church of Ephesus, so in all other churches of Christ in Asia, and elsewhere." -- Hanserd Knollys, An Exposition on the Book of Revelation

The notion that angels represent pastors runs very deep in the mindset of many. But the deep-seated nature of that interpretation may disguise a lack of proof that pastors are angels or that angels are pastors.

Revelation 1:20 is "epexegetical" -- that is, it interprets itself; or (perhaps more technically) it is a verse in which the explanation or interpretation is supplied. John hears a voice, sees a vision. It is the Alpha & Omega, the beginning and the end, He who was dead and is alive forevermore. In the vision John sees Him -- the Lord Jesus Christ -- in the midst of seven golden candlesticks, holding seven stars in His hand. The vision ends with a command to write -- and an explanation of the mystery of the seven stars and seven candlesticks. The seven candlesticks are the seven churches of Asia to whom John is commanded to write. The seven stars are the angels of those seven churches. Now at once we must decide: has Jesus given the interpretation of the mystery, or has He only interpreted half the mystery and left the other half for us to decide? All seem to agree that the interpretation of churches is churches. Yet perhaps only a minority accept that Jesus's interpretation of stars as angels actually means the stars are angels. Some may accept angels on the surface. But rather than understanding angels as the spiritual beings we most commonly think of when we hear the word, they interpret them in regard to the basic meaning of the term -- a messenger. 

I believe the stars are angels:

1. Because of the interpretation of Jesus. If the stars are not angels, but rather pastors, that leaves the interpretation provided by our Lord as no interpretation or explanation at all. Stars are angels. Candlesticks are churches. The mystery is revealed. Or not?

2. Because the most common use of "angel" (Gk. angelos) means angelic/spiritual beings, ministering spirits. According a search engine I consulted (if done correctly), angel or angels occur 75 times in the KJV English version of the book of Revelation. 67 occurrences clearly refer to angelic beings. If 1:20, 2:1,8,12,18, 3:1,7,14 do not refer to angelic beings, they are exceptions to the rule throughout the book. Chapter 1 opens with an angel who is an angel. Chapters 2-3 do not clearly indicate any reason for a difference from the other usage throughout the book. The following chapters continually portray angels who are angels. It is unlikely that angel differs only in chapters 2-3, with no explanation. Everywhere in the book of Revelation the angels are angels.

3. Because the stars who are angels in Rev. 12: 3-9 are angelic spirit beings, not human beings. The dragon drew a third of the stars of heaven, verse 4. In verses 7 through 9 we find that the dragon is the Devil, and the stars are angels!

I do not believe the stars are angels who are angels who are pastors:

1. Because the interpretation breaks down. Rather than following the interpretation given by the Lord himself, one must continue on to reinterpret it. Jesus says the stars are angels. Men say the stars are pastors who are only called angels. If pastors are called angels here, we find no confirmation of it elsewhere in the Scriptures. Pastors/elders/bishops are not called angels in the Bible.

2. If the angels are pastors, the greetings/salutations of the letters to the seven churches of Asia are inconsistent with the greetings of other church letters found in the New Testament. No other New Testament church letter was written to the pastor alone. Rather, they were written to the church, i.e., the entire local congregation of saints in a particular place. Compare some of the salutations given by Paul in his letters: 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 1 Corinthians 1:1-2; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; and Philippians 1:1.

3. If the angels are single pastors the condition of these churches in Revelation is not consistent with the rest of the New Testament praxis. In Acts 20, for example, the church at Ephesus had several overseers/elders: Acts 20:17 “And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.” They were preaching/teaching elders: Act 20:28 "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood." During these days, there was a plurality of elders in every church (Acts 14:23). These elders were bishops, or overseers. Local assemblies in the Bible are consistently portrayed as led by elders, plural.

The popularity of the angel=pastor interpretation may arise for two main reasons: 1. The angels as pastors just "makes sense". Why would God send the message to the church to an angel? When Jesus's simple explanation of Rev. 1:20 finds hard ground, it is carried away and another substituted for it. 2. Familiarity and commonality breeds popularity. It is the interpretation we hear most; it is the interpretation we are taught. It "makes senses" and isn't challenged, so why should we seek another interpretation?

Does it make any sense that the Lord would address the letter to the church to "the angel"? Does it matter whether it does? The Lord said the stars are angels. The star is the symbol. The angel is the interpretation. Perhaps there is a lesson here to accept what the Lord says at face value even if it doesn't "make sense"!