Ekklesia – The History of Israel & The Church

Speakers Edward Nelson, MDV and Dr. Alexander “Sasha” Bolotnikov introduce you to the parallel history of Christianity and Judaism from the time of the apostles to our day. Each session reveals a message that is vital for today.

 1. The Dawn of Christianity: Jews and Gentiles

As the church begins to form, it is arises from the fulfillment of the promise given to first Adam, then Abraham and then Israel—a nation brought out of Egypt, which is comprised of both ethnic descendants of Abraham and Egyptians who abandoned the gods of Egypt for the God of Israel.

In the first session of this series, Pastor Ed Nelson shows us how the promise unfolded.

The Lamb Slain from the Foundation of the World

A cultural clash as great as that between Pharaoh and Moses occurs in the Roman Empire in the 1st century. Many today believe the clash was between Jews and Christians. However, the disagreements between some Jewish sects and the Jews who believed in Jesus was a mere disagreement in comparison to the clash with Greco-Roman culture. What impact did this culture have upon Christianity’s development?

This is a topic upon which Dr. Alexander (Sasha) Bolotnikov applies his expertise.

Beloved Ephesus : Was Christianity a New Religion?

2. The Spread of Christianity

In our previous session, Pastor Ed Nelson and Dr. Alexander B0lotnikov laid the foundation for the dawn of Christianity. In the these two presentations, our presenters team up to show what motivated the spread of Christianity.

What was it that lit the fire beneath the Jewish believers in Jesus? It was the covenant!

The Covenant between God and Man

Pastor Ed Nelson explores the covenant made with Israel at Mount Sinai and who the covenant was made with. Was it a contract? Were only descendants of Abraham included?

Paul’s Mission

Dr. Alexander Bolotnikov uncovers the historical facts behind how Christian communities sprang up across the Roman empire. Paul’s mission comes into focus within the culture of the Jewish diaspora. Without understanding the opposing Pharisaic views to how gentiles could become Jews, it is easy to reach inaccurate conclusions.

3. Smyrna: The Parting of Ways Begins

We learned in our previous two sessions that God made a marriage covenant with Israel at Mt. Sinai—a covenant that Israel was to share with the whole earth. After Calvary, the apostles were excited to share the good news of the covenant fulfilled. This is why Paul always went first to synagogues. When a city had no synagogue, he found ways to connect with the gentiles.

As anti-Jewish attitudes arose within Roman culture and persecution of all who believed in only one god began to rise, Christians began discussing how to create a separate identity from Jews. Steps began which would lead to Christians adopting pagan rituals and Roman traditions. Discover the historical significance of Smyrna and the warning found in the book of Revelation for this church.

Israel and Pagan Practices

Pastor Ed Nelson leads us through the lessons we must learn from Israel at the border of Canaan. The admonition Christianity failed to listen to as it entered into its Smyrna period led to a parting of the ways. A warning still goes out to us today.

The Parting of the Ways

What happened when Christianity became tired of being different and being persecuted? Dr. Bolotnikov explains the significance of the destruction of the Temple and how persecution arose for both Jews and Christians because of their common rejection of emperor worship.

4. The Era of Compromise: Christianity and Paganism

We learned in our previous sessions that God made a marriage covenant with Israel at Mt. Sinai—a covenant that Israel was to share with the whole earth. After Calvary, the apostles were excited to share the good news of the covenant fulfilled. This is why Paul always went first to synagogues. When a city had no synagogue, he found ways to connect with the gentiles. However, belief in one God was a threat to the empire. This led to persecution.

Tired of persecution, the early church accepted the conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine with rejoicing. However, was Constantine’s adoption of Christianity truly a blessing? Discover the ramifications of merging church and state. Are there lessons for our faith in America today?

Solomon’s Compromise

Pastor Ed Nelson shares the parallels between Solomon’s life and Christianity’s merger with the idea’s promoted by Constantine.

The Era of Compromise

While the time of Smyrna is one of persecution, hidden movements are at work, which are leading Christianity toward a compromised system of worship. Dr. Alexander Bolotnikov traces the political movements that led to compromise.

5. An Unholy Alliance: Christianity and the Roman Empire

We have been exploring the era of compromise. During this span of about 200 years, Christianity gradually adopted the negative attitude toward Jews seen in the pagan society surrounding them. As they did so, they lost the awareness of what was pagan and what was harmonious to God’s covenant with His people. Now we are moving toward the era in which union between civil power and church would become the status quo. It’s the era in which the term heretic applied to anyone who didn’t conform.

Jeroboam and the Divided Kingdom

Pastor Ed Nelson explores the parallels between Ahab and his marriage to Jezebel and what took place in the Christian church. Two traits can be seen: 1) blending worship, and 2) shaping religion for political expediency.

The Unholy Alliance Begins

Dr. Alexander Bolotnikov covers the political movements which ultimately led to the church wielding absolute power over religious thought. The church fathers abandon scripture as the ultimate guide to truth in exchange for that which they can deduct through reasoning and logic.

6. Thyatira: Christianity’s Darkest Hour

Christianity forms into a weapon used across Europe as the inquisitions of the church begin. Trace the start of the violence perpetrated in the 1400’s, discover the root and mission of the inquisitions, and find where biblical Christianity was gathering strength outside the movements of the church.

Ahab, Jezebel and Elijah

More is written about the reign of Ahab than any of Israel’s other kings. Repeatedly, God seeks to win Ahab’s heart. We’ll see by the end of Pastor Ed Nelson’s presentation that Ahab, Jezebel and Elijah still speak to us–even as their story tells us about Thyatira’s condition.

From Christianity to Christendom

Dr. Alexander Bolotnikov continues covering the shift from scripture-based Christianity to reason-based Christianity. By the end of this session, you’ll understand why Christianity became a political entity, Christendom, exhibiting the characteristics of every other kingdom the world has ever seen.

7. Sardis: The Church Needing Resuscitation

Our speakers continue their coverage of Thyatira as it participates in an unholy alliance, learning the deep things of Satan, rather than drinking deeply of the word of God.

Last night we learned that the church focused on defining heresies so they could be eliminated. The primary goal is to become unified in one view. Unfortunately, this view is based upon philosophy not scripture. What happens when scripture is rediscovered?

The Lost Book of the Law and Reformation of Josiah

Somehow the Torah disappeared for a time. We can assume Hezekiah had the Torah for he sought to bring about reforms. However, between his death and the crowning of the child, Josiah, at 8 years of age, the Torah disappeared. What happened when it was rediscovered? We’ll learn this in Pastor Ed Nelson’s presentation.

The Darkest Hour

The church appears to be thriving. Yet, history proves that it’s filled with vice and corruption. Dr. Bolotnikov pulls the curtain aside to give us a view of the machinations of church leaders in Western and Eastern churches.

8. Sardis: Appearance of Life

We’ve learned over the past several nights about the church’s plunge into darkness. God condemns the church for tolerating Jezebel. We’ve also discovered that the church’s plunge into idolatry is comparable to that experienced by Israel. Both occurred due to lack of knowledge of the Torah.

The True Witness pronounces that this church is dead, even though it seems to very much alive. Yet there are voices that begin to arise. What is their role? We’ll learn more about their importance as we consider the role of the prophets in Israel.

The Role of Prophets in Israel

What was the purpose of a prophet? How could you know if you were listening to a true prophet? This is the topic Pastor Ed Nelson covers in this session.

Luther: The Dawn of the Reformation

Martin Luther discovers a Latin Bible chained to the monastery wall. It’s a discovery that will lead to confrontation. Dr. Alexander Bolotnikov explores Luther’s key role in the reformation across Europe.

9. Sardis: Struggle over Way of Salvation

We learned that Martin Luther’s translation of the German Bible from the original languages was only possible for two reasons. Greek manuscripts for the New Testament flooded into the West because of the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman empire. This led the Catholic scholar Erasmus to produce a Greek-based text.

The second contribution came from the Jewish community, which was open to sharing its knowledge of Biblical Hebrew. As soon as printing made it possible, the Jewish community began printing its holy texts, known as the Tanakh. However just as Jews began to support Christianity and to accept Jesus as their Messiah, they found themselves betrayed by the Inquisition. Tortured into confessing to false conversions, they were burned at the stake and their property confiscated.

The Role of the Priest in Israel

The role of the priesthood caused major division during the reformation. Pastor Ed Nelson turns to the Bible to find answers.

Reformers: Is Salvation an Entitlement or a Privilege?

How humanity is saved becomes the core struggle between Catholic theologians and Protestants. Dr. Alexander Bolotnikov shares the inconsistencies on both sides.

10. Sardis: The Thief

Last night we learned about several core issues raised by the reformation.

  • Was the mass essential to salvation?
  • Was the priesthood supposed to include all believers or just those specially ordained by the church.
  • Should the Sabbath be restored to the 7th day or should Sunday continue to be observed by Christians?

Tonight, our speakers will be touching on other issues which the reformation raised.

Israel and Apocalyptic Prophecy

There are 4 primary ways the apocalyptic books of Daniel and Revelation are interpreted. Which is the most consistent with everything in Scripture? Pastor Ed Nelson shares why interpreting prophecy so it meets our desires, rather than harmonizing with the entire word of God leads to ruin.


Protestant Reformers: Their Conflicting Theologies

Martin Luther, John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingle and Jacobus Arminius are just four of the reformers who disagreed on whether or not the church should adhere to various traditions. Dr. Alexander Bolotnikov puts the differing theologies which arose among the protestant reformers into perspective and shows how the preference given to the New Testament over the ‘Old’ led to much confusion.

11. Sardis & Philadelphia:

One Church Struggling to Live. One with Brotherly Love

On Tuesday night, we learned the importance of at least two things.

First, apocalyptic prophecy should be interpreted in a way that embraces all that Scripture has to say on a topic. We can expect any system of interpretation to follow a logical sequence as well.

Second, theology must also do the same. The testimonies of Jesus’ disciples cannot be understood without their connection with the passages they quoted from the Hebrew scriptures. Because many reformers ignored this background, they espoused many theological positions that were as dark as those of the church they left.

The Seal, the Law and the Judgment: Ezekiel 8 & 9

Not only did the church of Philadelphia have brotherly love, it was motivated to call the world to recognize the impending judgement. Pastor Ed Nelson shares the message that began to go out during the great revival that spread across the world in the late 1700s and early 1800s.

The Counter Reformation, Antichrist, and Futurism

As the Reformation appears to be bringing life, the counter reformation finds Catholic theologians using scripture to argue against reformation positions. This is Dr. Alexander Bolotnikov’s focus in this presentation.

12. Philadelphia and Laodicea: Historical Significance

Last night we learned that God has a seal—the Sabbath. When we recognize the Sabbath, we are also recognizing His covenant with us.

We also learned more about the two primary methods used in the Christian church today to interpret apocalyptic prophecy. Futurism remained primarily a Catholic interpretation until John Nelson Darby united it with dispensationalism.

At around the same time, William Miller found in historicism a logical sequence of events. While his conclusion that apocalyptic prophecy pointed to the return of Jesus to cleanse the earth at the end of the 2300 day time prophecy, his basic method still stands up to close scrutiny.

The Church of Philadelphia

In his first session on this 12th night, Dr. Bolotnikov’s topic is “The Church of Philadelphia.” He explores the positive things which arose during this time in church history, as well as the challenges this church faced.

The Last Church in the Historical Timeline

In this presentation, Dr. Bolotnikov shows the parallels between Laodicea and the first church of Ephesus, as well as many other truths vital for the final generation to grasp.

Note: The live stream dropped, so there are two videos. We apologize for the missing segment. If you have questions, please contact us. Dr. Bolotnikov enjoys the opportunity to clear up any confusion.

13. Philadelphia and Laodicea: Parallels with Israel

Last night we learned more about the church of Philadelphia and how the message God gave it paralleled that of the second church, Smyrna. We also learned that this is the only Church that doesn’t receive correction.

We went on to learn what Laodicea’s calling is—to give the Three Angel’s message. This message is a final call back to the “Everlasting Gospel”—to recognize God as Creator, and to return a pure faith—the faith of Jesus. The sign that Laodicea has listened to God’s counsel is a people who have the faith of Jesus and keep all the commandments of God.

The Release from Captivity and the Temple

By the end of Pastor Ed Nelson’s first session on the final night for Ekklesia, you’ll discover there are an amazing set of parallels between this time in Israel’s history and the experience of the church of Philadelphia.

John the Baptist and the Elijah Message

In Pastor Ed Nelson’s final session in this series, you’ll learn what Elijah, John the Baptist and the final church of Laodicea have in common. You’ll understand there’s always grace, even when impending judgment is the warning.