Puritan Gems

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Modern Church Lexicon

I have been building this list slowly for a few weeks now. Feel free to add more...

Christmas – A holiday that is so important to families that, if it falls on Sunday, we should cancel church services.

Church – A community of people whose sole purpose to meet each others felt needs.

Communion – A meal that you can take by yourself that heals you.

Doctrine – An unimportant part of Christianity that should be avoided because it causes division and denominations.

Evangelism – Methods that are used to get people to an altar to repeat a prayer. Success depends on finding out what unchurched sinners really want in a church.

Faith – Something that man obtains by his own virtuous resources. If you have enough of it, you can make God do anything.

God – A powerful Being who loves everyone just the way they are, and has a wonderful plan for their life. He was mean and wrathful in the Old Testament, but got wiser and mellowed after His Son was killed.

Guilt – A harmful feeling that people need to overcome. The church should help.

Holy Spirit – Something that you should try to get after you get saved. Some denominations are totally filled with it, while others only have a little bit.

Jesus – A Divine person (or mode) that died in order to show us the way of salvation. Through his death, we can have better relationships, better sex, more money, and an all around better self image.

Legalism – Any Commandment in the Bible that we don’t want to obey.

Man – All important being who was created so that God would no longer be lonely.

Money – The root of all evil. Send it all to a televangelist before it destroys you.

Pharisees – Jesus chastised them because they obeyed the Law.

Prayer – Placing a demand on one’s heart so that God is obliged to meet it.

Preaching – An optional part of worship that sometimes gets in the way of what the Holy Spirit really wants to do.

Sin – A bad habit that is caused by past hurts, poor emotional health, and low self-esteem. Behavior modification methods and therapy can help.

Worship – Something we do in church that helps us draw close to God. Choose the style that best suits you.

Friday, October 12, 2007

How to have fun with a KJV Only Advocate

Which translation is more accurate?

Numbers 11:12

"Have I conceived all this people? have I begotten them, that thou shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing father beareth the sucking child, unto the land which thou swarest unto their fathers?" (Numbers 11:12 KJV)

"Did I conceive all this people? Did I give them birth, that you should say to me, 'Carry them in your bosom, as a nurse carries a nursing child,' to the land that you swore to give their fathers?" (Numbers 11:12 ESV)

Numbers 23:22

"God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn." (Numbers 23:22 KJV)

"God brings them out of Egypt and is for them like the horns of the wild ox." (Numbers 23:22 ESV)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Why must there be a hell?

by Thomas Watson

"The wicked shall be turned into hell." Psalm 9:17

"How can you escape the damnation of hell?" Matthew 23:33

God has built hell built on purpose, for the damned to lie in. See the dreadfulness of that place! Hell is the epitome of misery! Besides "the punishment of loss," which is the exclusion of the soul from the gloried sight of God, which some think is the worst part of hell--there will be "the punishment of sense."

In hell there will be a plurality of torments:

There will be the "chains of darkness." 2 Peter 2:4.

There will be the "never-dying worm." Mark 9:48. This is the worm of conscience.

There will be the "lake of fire." Revelation 20:15. Other fire is but 'painted fire'--compared to this.

This house of hell is haunted with devils! Matt 25:41. Anselm says, "I had rather endure all torments, than see the devil with bodily eyes." Such as go to hell, must not only be forced to behold the devil--but must be shut up with this lion in his den! They must keep the devil company! This red dragon is full of spite--and will spit fire in men's faces!

The torments of hell abide forever! "The smoke of their torment ascends up forever and ever." Rev. 14:2. Time cannot finish hell. Tears cannot quench hell. Mark 9:44. The wicked will always live in the fire of hell--but never be consumed. After they have lain millions of years in hell, their punishment is as far from ending, as it was at the beginning! If all the earth and sea were sand, and every thousandth year a bird should come, and take away one grain--it would be a long time before that vast heap would be removed! Yet, if after all that time the damned might come out of hell--there would be some hope; but this word FOREVER breaks the heart!

If anyone should ask, where is hell? I wish he may never know experimentally. "Let us not so much," says Chrysostom, "labor to know where hell is--as how to escape it."

Why must there be a hell? Because there must be a place for the execution of divine justice. Earthly monarchs have their prison for criminals--and shall not God have his? Sinners are criminals, they have offended God. It would not be consistent with His holiness and justice--to have His laws infringed, and not inflict penalties.

How does it seem to comport with God's justice--to punish a sin committed in a moment--with eternal torment?

1. Because there is an eternity of sin in man's nature. They will continue to sin in hell. "Men gnawed their tongues in agony and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done." Revelation 16:10-11

2. Because sin is "committed against an infinite majesty," and therefore the sin itself is infinite, and proportionally the punishment must be infinite.

3. Because a finite creature cannot satisfy infinite wrath, he must be eternally paying what he can never pay.

"Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath!" 1 Thess 1:10

What infinite cause have they to bless God--who are delivered from hell! Jesus Christ suffered the torments of hell in His soul--that believers should not suffer them. Oh, how should we bless God to be preserved from the wrath to come!

It may cause more thankfulness in us, to realize that most people go to hell when they die. To be of the number of those few who are delivered from hell--is matter of infinite thankfulness. "Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Matthew 7:13-14

"Divide the world," says one, "into thirty-one parts, nineteen parts of it are Jews and Turks, and seven parts are heathen; so that there are but five parts of professing Christians--and among these, so many deceived Papists on the one hand, and so many formal Protestants on the other--that we may conclude that the major part of the world goes to hell.

Scripture compares the wicked to "the mire in the streets." Isaiah 10:6. Few precious jewels are in the street--but you cannot go a step without meeting with mire! The wicked are as common as the dirt in the street! The devil has most of the harvest--and God has only a few gleanings. Oh, then, such as are delivered from hell, have infinite cause to admire and bless God. How should the vessels of mercy run over with thankfulness! When most others are carried as prisoners to hell--they are delivered from the wrath to come!

How shall I know if I am delivered from hell?

(1) Those whom Christ saves from hell--He saves from sin. "He shall save His people from their sins." Matthew 1:21. Has God delivered you from the power of corruption, from pride, malice, and lust? If He has delivered you from the hell of sin, He has delivered you from the hell of torment.

(2) If you prize, trust and love Christ--you are delivered from hell and damnation. "There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1. If you are in Christ, He has put the garment of His righteousness over you--and hell-fire can never singe it!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Death A Blessing To Godly Men

From Solitude Sweetened by James Meikle - 1730-1799

Why so much complaint of death? It is true, death is the fruit of sin, for by sin, death came into the world. But it is also true, that death is the finisher of sin to the godly—for by death sin shall be cast out forever. Sin, conveyed to us in our conception, is so interwoven with the human frame, that the tie must be dissolved between the soul and body, before a full and final separation can take place between the soul and sin. Who then, would fear the furnace, which is only to consume the dross, that the gold may come forth without alloy? What candidate for heaven would be averse to lay down mortality—in order to take up immortality; to put off this corruptible body—in order to put on incorruption? to have his body sown in dishonor—in order to be raised in honor and glory; and to have the soul dislodged from his body—that sin might be dislodged from his soul?

Why, then, should I be displeased at such a glorious exchange? To lay down frail flesh, feeble nature, all my lusts and passions, all my occasions and temptations to sin, all my infirmities and imperfections—and to be clothed with perfect beauty and eternal glory—should rather transport than perplex me. Why tremble at the ghastly gloom, that shall beam into a boundless noon; or startle at the dark step that shall usher me into eternal day? If my separation for a few years from my friends, issues in uninterrupted communion with God, is not the change most happy? If my distant views, and dim glances of the land afar off, and the King in his beauty, pass away—that the nearest approaches, most steady views, and brightest visions, may eternally take place—am not I a gainer to the highest degree?

Then, Lord, take away the sting of death, and at your appointed time, through faith, I shall fly into death's arms, not dismayed at his cold embrace—but burning with a heavenly desire to be forever with the Lord—which is far better than all the happiness of crowns and thrones below.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Sensible Sinners

"Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" (Romans 7:24)

"They who are not sensible of their misery cannot truly look to God for mercy; for it is the very notion of divine mercy, that it is the goodness and grace of God to the miserable. Without misery in the object, there can be no exercise of mercy. To suppose mercy without supposing misery, or pity without calamity, is a contradiction: therefore men cannot look upon themselves as proper objects of mercy, unless they first know themselves to be miserable; and so, unless this be the case, it is impossible that they should come to God for mercy. They must be sensible that they are the children of wrath; that the law is against them, and that they are exposed to the curse of it: that the wrath of God abideth on them; and that he is angry' with them every day while they are under the guilt of sin.—They must be sensible that it is a very dreadful thing to be the object of the wrath of God; that it is a very awful thing to have him for their enemy; and that they cannot bear his wrath. They must he sensible that the guilt of sin makes them miserable creatures, whatever temporal enjoyments they have; that they can be no other than miserable, undone creatures, so long as God is angry with them; that they are without strength, and must perish, and that eternally, unless God help them. They must see that their case is utterly desperate, for any thing that any one else can do for them; that they hang over the pit of eternal misery; and that they must necessarily drop into it, if God have not mercy on them." - Jonathan Edwards

Monday, May 14, 2007

God's Word, a Priceless Treasure

But he answered, "It is written, "'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" (Matthew 4:4)

"Doctrine isn't important. Just love Jesus." This is the mantra of the modern church as it marches toward cultural irrelevance. The irony is that those who promote this viewpoint are actually trying to become more relevant to the culture, apparently by imitating it. In the end, however, these churches are guilty of the same error that liberal churches are guilty of, denying the authority, inerrancy, and sufficiency of the Word of God.

How so? Most of the people that I come into contact with who deny
Huss Burned at the stake
the importance of sound doctrine would be appalled at such a charge. "Of course we believe the Bible is God's Word", they would claim. Be that as it may, do they really know what the Bible is worth? How is it that a Christian can sit in the pews of a Bible believing church for years on end and have no more knowledge of Scripture than the day he first entered the door? I dare say that if these same people were told of a vast treasure of gold and silver that would be given to them freely, they would pursue it with all that was in them to the ends of the earth. Do they really believe that "The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces"? (Psalms 119:72). Do they really believe that the Bible has "words of eternal life" (John 6:68)? Perhaps they do believe, but like most of us, they tend to take things for granted. Perhaps it is just too easy to go to a bookstore and buy a Bible for $1.50 (or write to the Gideons and get one for free). Perhaps the blessing of a low price has dulled our senses to the Bible’s true worth.

Let me stress that I am referring to those true churches who claim to believe the entire Word of God. The liberal and "emergent" churches will have to answer for their own folly. Even in todays Bible-believing churches, the Bible has been replaced with pop-psychology, biblical truth has given way to vague biblical "principles", and the gospel has been overshadowed by therapy. This is the problem with trying to achieve Christian "unity" at the expense of sound doctrine. When doctrine is removed from the church, it has to be replaced with something. As a result, true Christian maturity has become all too rare. As one writer put it, "if lambs never grow into sheep, something is manifestly wrong with the diet they’re being fed." (See The Perpetual Kindergarten).

The prophets, apostles, and martyrs of ages past knew the value of God's word. They knew nothing of a doctrinally neutral form of Christianity that is so prevalent today. They considered heresy to be worse than death, and sound doctrine to be of more value than their own life. The very doctrines that we sneer at today were doctrines that these great men purchased by having their flesh fed to wild beasts, or having it broiled in burning flames. O that we may once again come to realize the treasure that God has given us, that we may study it as if we really believed that they were the Words of Eternal Life, more precious that silver and gold.

For More Information, See The Forbidden Book (DVD)

Friday, May 04, 2007

Elements of the True Gospel

“In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.'" Now John wore a garment of camel's hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father,' for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. "I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."” (Matthew 3:1-12)

We are living is a day of robust evangelistic zeal combined with little evangelistic know-how. Just consider the well-meaning but fallacious website 1-888-NEED-HIM. The visitor to the site is asked “Why Am I Here?”, “How Do I Beat This Loneliness?”, “What Makes My Life So Hard?” and “Where is That One Special Relationship?” The answer presented to these questions is, of course, Jesus Christ. However, there is an important element missing from this gospel presentation: a presentation of the gospel.

Promising a Jesus who died on the cross to free us from all of our temporal problems is a tantamount to selling a false bill of goods. There is nothing in the Bible that guarantees a life that isn’t hard. In fact, Jesus warned that "…In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33). While the gospel cannot be set into a simple formula, it must be pointed out that the true gospel message, like the one John the Baptist preached, consists of the following essential elements.

1.) Man’s Sinfulness.
John the Baptist’s message was one that was universal, because it dealt with a universal problem: SIN. John didn’t just preach a message of warm fuzzy promises to the “lonely” or to those who had a hard life. He wasn’t concerned with whether or not the people in his audience had found “that one special relationship”. He did not promise his listeners a better earthly life, or encourage pop-psychological remedies for their temporal problems. He dealt with the issue of man’s sinfulness, preaching to “Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region” (Matthew 3:5-6), the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matthew 3:7), and even King Herod (Mark 6:8), using the law to expose their sinfulness. He was not concerned with removing the sinner’s feelings of guilt, but instead poured it on. “You brood of vipers!” he warned (Matthew 3:7). (That’s not being very sensitive to the needs of sinners for comfort, is it?) This was a message for the lonely as well as the popular, the rich as well as the poor, and the prince as well as the pauper. (See Galatians 3:28). If we haven’t made the sinner aware of his sinfulness, we have not evangelized.

2.) God’s Judgment.
John’s presentation of the Good News did not shy away from the bad news. “Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Matthew 3:7). The modern consensus is that “love” is a better starting point for the gospel than wrath, yet John makes no mention of God’s love. In fact, not one apostle used the love of God as a tool for evangelism. God’s love in the Bible is presented only to converts, never to the unsaved. Solomon tells us that “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom…” (Proverbs 9:10). It was for this reason that Paul, the greatest human evangelist who ever lived, shares his method for converting sinners. “Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others…” (2 Corinthians 5:11). While I don’t necessarily promote all out “hellfire and brimstone” preaching, the modern church could certainly use some of that. If we haven’t brought the unsaved sinner to the knowledge of the Doctrine of Eternal Hell, we have not evangelized. The Good News is only good in light of the bad news.

3.) A Call to Repentance.
The term “repent” is fast becoming obsolete in the church of today, as we seek more modern “methods” of evangelism. Notice that John the Baptist did not ask anyone to raise their hands, nor did he close his message with an altar call. He did not ask anyone to repeat a prayer, nor did he persuade any of his listeners to “make decisions for Christ”. He did not try to build anyone’s “self-esteem” or encourage them to deal with their “emotional health”. His request was simple. “Repent… Bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:2, 8). He knew that the Holy Spirit, working in the life on an unbeliever, would cause them to be painfully aware of their wickedness and their hopelessness without a Savior. They would become as Job, who said “therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:6). After all, what was the purpose of Christ but to call “sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32)? If we haven’t called sinners to repent of their sin, we have not evangelized.

4.) A Promise of the Kingdom.
While it is extremely important to let the sinner know what he is being saved from, John also made it clear what they were being saved to. “…the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). John didn’t promise his listeners a better earthly existence. He did not tell them that their finances and relationships would improve. John was fixed on eternity. He was in agreement with Paul, who considered “that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18). It’s not that the Bible is devoid of earthly blessings, but that these are irrelevant to the Gospel message. The true gospel message deals with escape from eternity in Hell in order to obtain an eternal inheritance in the kingdom of Heaven. All else is in inconsequential in comparison, and any earthly blessings that God gives to His children are “icing on the cake”.

5.) A Confidence in the Message Itself.
Because John was sound in his theology, he was able to preach the true gospel message and then leave the results to God. John was not concerned with “church growth”. The fact is that most of the people he preached to did not convert, but these perceived “failures” did not cause John to seek better “techniques”. Very few of the Judaists came to Christ. An even smaller percentage of the Pharisees did. King Herod most certainly did not. In any case, John’s message was consistent, because he was confident that God’s Word “shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11). John did not try to make the message "more relevant". He did not have to attend seminars because he church didn’t grow enough. He didn’t seek out new-fangled evangelistic methods because the Pharisees rejected his message. He simply accepted the fact that “Salvation belongs to the LORD!” (Jonah 2:9).

Of course, the central element of the true gospel is the work of Christ (Matthew 3:11-12). It is this type of gospel presentation that can give the modern church a much needed revival. Let us pray for revival, as well as an attention to sound doctrine and expository Bible preaching that can bring it about.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Abraham’s Covenant Fulfilled In His True Seed

"And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, "May no fruit ever come from you again!" And the fig tree withered at once... Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits.” (Matthew 21:19, 43)

Are Premillennialists interpretations “literal”?

One common argument among premillennialists is that they take Bible Prophecy more “literally” than their Amillennial and Postmillennial counterparts. We saw in the previous post how consistent they are with their literalism. Over at the Pulpit Magazine End Times Q and A, Nathan Busenitz refers to the Abrahamic Covenant as the sticking point which demands premillennialism. He writes,

“God’s unconditional covenants with the nation of Israel are irrevocable …at the end of the day – without overwhelming evidence to the contrary — I’m left with no other choice than to believe that God will do exactly what He said He would do in the Old Testament, in exactly the way He said He would do it.”

First of all, God does not make “unconditional” covenants. Rather, biblical covenants have ethical stipulations, such as “walk before me, and be thou upright” (Genesis 17:1). That said, Nathan’s argument is a classic case of not being able to see the forest for the “fig tree”. While God promised to make Abraham the father of “many nations” (Genesis 17:4-6), premillennialists limit this to just one nation, that being “Israel after the flesh”. While Scripture declares that the Abrahamic Covenant would be a blessing to “all the families of the earth” (Genesis 12:3), premillennialists limit this to a 10 mile strip of real estate in the middle east. In doing so, Premillennialism, especially the Dispensational variety, pits Scripture against Scripture. While the Bible identifies the true seed of Abraham as Christ and those of the Christian Faith (Galatians 3:7,16), premillennialists reserve covenantal blessings for those who reject Christ, being children neither of Abraham nor God, but of the Devil (John 8:39-44).

Has the Abrahamic Covenant been fulfilled? Yes. According to the Scriptures, the Abrahamic Covenant has been fulfilled, both physically and Spiritually.

"And now I am about to go the way of all the earth, and you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things that the LORD your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed. But just as all the good things that the LORD your God promised concerning you have been fulfilled for you, so the LORD will bring upon you all the evil things, until he has destroyed you from off this good land that the LORD your God has given you, if you transgress the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them. Then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and you shall perish quickly from off the good land that he has given to you." (Joshua 23:14-16)

We can see that God did fulfill the promise that He made to Israel concerning the land. However, we can also see that it was not “unconditional”. In addition, it can be shown that all of the Old Testament Covenants contained the promise of a new and better Covenant, and the Abrahamic Covenant is no exception (see Genesis 22:7,15-18 and compare Galatians 3:7-9; 15-16; 28-29). It is Christ who is the culmination of all Old Testament Covenants. He is the “seed of the woman” in the Adamic Covenant (Genesis 3:15), the lifeblood from man in the Noahic Covenant (Genesis 9:5), the seed of Abraham (Genesis 22:18), the spotless Passover Lamb of the Mosaic Covenant (Deuteronomy 15:19-23), the heir to David’s throne (2 Samuel 7:12-16), and the sole mediator of the new and better covenant (Hebrews 9:15), “so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance”. There is no Covenant without Jesus Christ, and there never has been.

By focusing this strictly on the land of Canaan instead of Christ, premillennialists have actually made God’s promise to Abraham a failure. God clearly promised that Abraham and his seed after him would have “everlasting possession” of this land (Genesis 17:7-8). They were to have it “forever” (Genesis 13:15), yet as of right now, they do not have possession of all this land. The very definitions of “everlasting” and “forever” do not allow for a postponement. As Gary DeMar points out, imagine if God decided to “postpone” the Noahic Covenant during “the church age”. He could then wipe out the entire human race with a flood and claim that His “everlasting covenant” (Genesis 9:16) was “postponed”. After all, if premillennialists are correct, God didn’t show Noah the “church age”.

Is it proper to interpret the Old Testament with the New Testament?

Nathan Busenitz objects to using the New Testament to interpret the Old. He writes,

“if you take the verses at face value (just accepting what they say, and what their original audience would have understood them to say), it naturally leads to premillennialism. This is, in fact, how the Jews themselves have historically understood these passages.

So I think it’s a little dishonest (not intentionally, of course) for amillennialists to contend that they are the ones actually taking the OT prophecies at face value. Historically speaking, that is just not defensible.”

Does it really matter how Jews would have historically understood a passage? There are many passages of Scripture that they clearly misunderstood, while Christ and his Apostles illuminated the true meaning as inspired by the Holy Spirit. (For a few examples, see Mark 9:11-13, John 5:46, Luke 6:2-5, Galatians 3:16). Proper interpretation of the Old Testament required a Divine and Supernatural Light, the kind that Peter obtained when He confessed Christ as the Son of the Living God.

“And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 16:17)

In contrast, the Christ rejecting Judaists were blinded (Matthew 11:25-26; Matthew 13:13-16). So yes, postmillennialists interpret the Old Testament in light of the New, rather than follow the “blind guides” of historic Judaism (Matthew 15:14). We need not apologize for this, as even the prophets did not have full insight into the mysteries of God's Kingdom (see Matthew 13:17).

Did the church age end in 1948?

Another common inconsistency among premillennialists concerns the alleged “stopping of God’s prophecy clock”. In an attempt to defend the importance of modern Israel in Bible prophecy, Nathan writes, “The premillennial position asserts that, in keeping with OT prophecy, God will bring the nation of Israel back to her land. Though the nation will be established in unbelief, she will one day return to embrace her Messiah”. I didn’t get a chance to ask him how “God bring[ing] the nation of Israel back to her land” (presumably in 1948) could be “in keeping with OT prophecy”, since he had already explained the mysterious gap in Daniel 9:24-27 by suggesting that the OT prophets did not see the “mystery of the church age”.

In the end, premillennialists claim to “believe that God will do exactly what He said He would do in the Old Testament, in exactly the way He said He would do it.” As a postmillennialist, I believe that God did exactly what He said He would do in the Old Testament, in exactly the way He says He did it in the New Testament, and exactly WHEN He said He would do it.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Past Fulfillment of Ezekiel’s War

In the recent Q&A Endtimes Discussion over at Pulpit Magazine, premillennialists such as Nathan Busenitz took a stab at some of the questions in my previous post. One of the items that consistently came up concerned some to the prophecies in the latter portion of Ezekiel. Are the fulfillments of these prophecies in the past, or are they yet future?

Premillennialists try to connect the “Gog and Magog” invasion of Revelation 20:7-8 with the “Gog and Magog” battle in Ezekiel Chapters 38 and 39. It is clear that the battle in Rev. 20 (if a literal battle) occurs after the “millennium”. However, making the battle in Ezekiel 38 and 39 occur at this time introduces some major difficulties for “literalists”.

A common myth surrounding this battle is that it describes a future invasion of Israel by Russia. However, the guesswork involved in such exegesis becomes obvious under any objective examination. Just read any premillennial commentary on Ezekiel 38 and 39 from 1950 to 1990. One common identification of Gog and Magog occurs, the Soviet Union. The collapse of this “great red enemy from the north” in 1991 saw premillennialists scrambling to revise their interpretation (something that they seem to have to do every ten years or so). According to most commentaries since then, Gog and Magog are now “Russia and the Arab Confederacy”.

So where do they get Russia from in this prophecy? David Chilton, citing Ralph Woodrow, explains:

“…the expression Gog and Magog does not, and never did, refer to Russia. That has been entirely made up from whole cloth, and simply repeated so many times that many have assumed it to be true. Ostensible reasons for this interpretation are based on a peculiar reading of Ezekiel 38:3, which speaks of “Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal.” The word chief is, in the Hebrew, rosh; some have therefore translated the text as “Gog, the prince of Rosh.” Rosh sounds something like Russia; therefore Gog is the prince (or premier) of Russia. Unfortunately for this ingenious interpretation, rosh simply means “head” or “chief”, and is used over 600 times in the Old Testament — never meaning “Russia.”

Those who hold that “Gog” (a name supposedly derived from Soviet Georgia, since they both start with a “G”!) is the Soviet Premier generally make the further claim that “Meshech” is really Moscow, “Tubal” is Tobolsk, and “Gomer” (of Ezek. 38:6) is Germany. This is doubtful. ‘Moscow’ comes from the Muscovites and is a Finnish name. Moscow was first mentioned in ancient documents in 1147 A.D., when it was a small village. Some think Tubal means Tobolsk, but this is only a similarity in sound. Tobolsk was founded in 1587 A.D. Some think Gomer [Ezek. 38:6] means Germany. It is true the words ‘Gomer’ and ‘Germany’ both begin with a ‘G.’ So does guess-work.”

The fact that premillennialists rely on such a sloppy handling of Scripture only scratches the surface of their dilemma. Both Nate and Hampton must abandon their “literal” interpretative methods to push this war into the future. Hampton writes that “Israel will use these spoils (of the Gog and Magog war) as an energy source and that it will last for 7 years”.

Actually, that is not what the text says. Ezekiel 39:9-10 tells us that Israel will burn Gog’s wooden war weapons, “shields and bucklers, bow and arrows, clubs and spears”. Not to mention the fact that ALL of Gog’s soldiers are on horseback (Ezekiel 38:4), and that one of the reasons that Gog invades Israel is “to seize spoil and carry off plunder…livestock and goods” (Ezekiel 38:12-13).

According to Ezekiel, there will be a return to the “weak and beggarly elements” of the Jewish sacrificial system after the Gog and Magog battle. This will include circumcision “in heart and flesh” (Ezekiel 44:7-9), use of ancient Jewish currency (Ezekiel 45:10-16), as well as “burnt offerings, grain offerings, and drink offerings, at the feasts, the new moons, and the Sabbaths, all the appointed feasts of the house of Israel… sin offerings, grain offerings, burnt offerings, and peace offerings” (Ezekiel 45:17). In an attempt to explain these sacrifices without debasing Christ’s “once for all” sacrifice, Nathan Busenitz explains:

“Citing Fruchtenbaum on the millennial sacrifices:

What will be the purpose of these sacrifices in light of Christ’s death? To begin with, one must remember that the Mosaic sacrificial system did not remove sins (Hebrews 10:4), but only covered them (the meaning of atonement in Hebrew). It served as a physical and visual picture of what the Messiah would do (Isaiah 53:10–12). The Bible commands the Church to keep the Lord’s Supper as a physical and visual picture of Christ’s work on the cross. In the Millennial Kingdom God will provide for Israel a physical and visual picture of Messiah’s accomplishment on the cross. For Israel, however, it will be a sacrificial system instead of communion with bread and wine. The purpose of the sacrificial system in the kingdom will be the same as the purpose of communion: in remembrance of me.”

Once again, this flies contrary to the explanation given in the Scriptures themselves. Ezekiel clearly tells us that the purpose of these sacrifices and offerings is “to make atonement on behalf of the house of Israel.” (Ezekiel 45:17). Nothing is said here about a “memorial sacrifice”. (Why will we need a memorial if Christ is physically sitting on His throne in Jerusalem?)

Obviously, all of these events occurred before New Testament times. Ezekiel’s war saw it fulfillment in the 2nd Century BC, when the Scythians were defeated by Judas Maccabeaus. (See Jay Rogers Article)

So what of the battle after the Millennium? We can see the John consistently refers to Old Testament imagery in writing His Apocalypse. We see the “tree of life, which is in the paradise of God” (Rev. 2:7), "Balaam" (Rev. 2:14), "Jezebel" (Rev. 2:20), etc. Gog and Magog are no different.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Endtimes Questions for Dispensationalists

I’ll continue with my Ten Commandments series later, but for now…

Many of you know that John MacArthur raised a few eyebrows at the 2007 Shepherd’s Conference by suggesting that all true Calvinists should be “Premillennial”. He objected to the way that Amillennialists in particular have a tendency to “spiritualize” certain passages.

I have great respect for Dr. MacArthur, and I really appreciate the way he handles the No-Lordship heresy and other issues. However, I vehemently disagree with his eschatological views. There is a discussion on Pulpit Magazine (Dr. MacArthur’s blog). I asked some questions that I have been longing to ask him. We’ll see where it leads.

I did a long blog series on eschatology from November 13 through December 20. I am also aware that there are a few Premillennial Dispensationalists who stop by here occasionally. As a postmillennialist, I have a boatload of questions about the “literal” interpretation of premillennialists (especially of the Dispensational variety). Feel free to tackle some of these. However, I do request either direct answers or full quotes if you use other sources. Please don’t give an answer like “You should read Dwight Pentecost’s Things to Come. He answers this question”. If so, then please provide his answer.

· Why is the “1,000 year reign” mentioned only in Revelation 20, the most “symbolic” book in the Bible?

· Since we are discussing “literal”, why not start with the time frame references? What does “shortly” mean (Revelation 1:1)? How about “near” (Revelation 1:3)? How about “about to” (Revelation 3:10)? What about “this generation” (Matthew 24:34)?

· Why were the First Century Churches of Asia concerned with 21st Century events? Why would Jesus promise to deliver the First Century Church of Philadelphia from events that none of them would ever live to see (Revelation 3:10)?

· How many resurrections will there be, and when will they take place? Why does Jesus have the righteous and the wicked being resurrected at the same time (John 5:28-29)? Why did Jesus say that the righteous would be resurrected “on the last day” (John 6:39-44)? What happened to that 1,007 year period after that?

· If 1 Thess. 4:17 is the pre-trib rapture, then that means that 1 Thess. 4:16 is a pre-trib resurrection, correct? Yet the “First Resurrection” of Revelation 20:4-5 includes “the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands.” Aren’t these supposed to be the tribulation saints? How can they have a part in the first resurrection if the first resurrection takes place before the tribulation even starts?

· Where does the Bible mention a Pre-Trib Rapture? How about a third coming of Christ? How about a 7 year tribulation period?

· Where does the Bible mention a third Jewish Temple?

· Where does the Bible say that Jesus will reign “on earth” for 1,000 years?

· If premillennialism is correct, then why does Ezekiel mention animal sacrifices after the “millennium” (after Gog and Magog – Ezekiel 45:18-25)? What is the purpose of these sacrifices? Ezekiel says that they will be "to make atonement on behalf of the house of Israel" (Ezekiel 45:17). Hasn't the work of Christ already done that?

· Is Matthew 16:28 the literal Second Advent, or should we understand it as something else? If the former, then are some of Jesus’ listeners still alive?

· In Isaiah 19:1, did Jehovah literal ride into Egypt on a cloud?

· Why did Peter say that Joel’s prophecy (Joel 2:28-32) saw it’s fulfillment on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:16-21)?

· Where does the 2,000 gap in Daniel’s 70 week prophecy come from (Daniel 9:24-27)?

· What kind of chain will be used to bind the angel Satan (Revelation 20:1-3)?

· Why did Jesus say that Judaists who rejected him were neither Abraham’s children nor God’s, but the Devil’s (John 8:39-44)?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Effectiveness of Biblical Grace

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:1-2)

This is a question that No-Lordship proponents refuse to answer. They think that they can live in the light of God’s grace and still walk in darkness. Biblical Grace trains “…us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12). Biblical Grace comes from God and makes us “worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power” (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12). Biblical Grace delivers us from the dominion of sin (Romans 6:14). Biblical Grace assures us that “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6-7). Biblical Grace is “with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible” (Ephesians 6:24). Those who claim to have this love and do not keep God’s Commandments are liars and the truth is not in them (1 John 2:3-4). Biblical Grace saves those who are “his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10). Biblical Grace is given to those whom “he chose…in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him” (Ephesians 1:2-4). Biblical Grace has “…all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8). “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) Otherwise, we have “receive[d] the grace of God in vain” (2 Corinthians 6:1).

Biblical Grace is not moral perfection, for such would have no need of Grace. Bibical Grace does result in sancification, regardless of how slow that sanctification may take place. Biblical Grace is effectual, accomplishing all of these things in those who are God’s. If one is not being sanctified, being trained by grace to renounce the devil and his works, he has not experienced the grace of God, but rather a grace that he has invented in his own vain imagination. The “grace” of No-Lordship proponents is not the biblical grace that comes from God, but a different sort that comes from there own human neurons. It is a cheap grace that winks at sin, does not lead to repentance or holiness, does not change the heart, and tries to mix the holy with the profane. Those who teach a lawless gospel know nothing of biblical grace, nor have they any knowledge of the new birth, without which no one can see the kingdom of God (John 3:3). Woe be to any minister who would pervert God’s grace into a license to sin. “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea.” (Luke 17:2)

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Free Grace or Cheap Grace?

A Refutation of the No-Lordship Heresy

"Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, 'We are delivered!'-- only to go on doing all these abominations?” (Jeremiah 7:8-10)

"If the professed convert distinctly and deliberately declares that he knows the Lord's will but does not mean to attend to it, you are not to pamper his presumption, but it is your duty to assure him that he is not saved. Do not suppose that the Gospel is magnified or God glorified by going to the worldlings and telling them that they may be saved at this moment by simply accepting Christ as their Savior, while they are wedded to their idols, and their hearts are still in love with sin. If I do so I tell them a lie, pervert the Gospel, insult Christ, and turn the grace of God into lasciviousness." - C.H. SPURGEON

The grace of God is an effectual grace, though while not given to us by means of any meritorious acts, it creates a new creature from the old and produces visible fruit. The process of sanctification may differ from saint to saint, but this process is inevitable for the true believer. However, by adopting the terminology of “free grace” to cover their heresy, the corrupt schoolmen of No-Lordship salvation have sunken to playing word-games. The “free” grace they promote is not only free in the sense that it is unearned, but also in the sense of its worthlessness. It is not the biblical, effectual grace, that being “the grace of God” which “has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12). Rather, their grace is of a cheap and unfruitful sort, proceeding from some vain “belief” that they have contrived of their own virtuous resources. This particular brand of belief is less profitable than that of devils, for at least the belief of devils causes them to tremble (James 2:19). In their warped theology, this self-constructed “belief”, even if just for a fleeting moment, is all that is necessary to allow one into the Holy Jerusalem. Repentance, Holiness, and even the new birth are optional items to be filed under the important but non-critical category of “discipleship”. In No-Lordship theology, the new creature may live in harmony with the old (2 Corinthians 5:17), and the fruits of the Spirit may be blended with the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-24).

“…they are working with an unbiblical notion of “grace.” Grace is not a liberal clemency or a passive indulgence that simply tolerates and coexists with sin. Divine grace doesn’t guarantee heaven in the afterlife while merely overlooking the evils of this life. Authentic grace is the undeserved favor of God toward sinners, delivering them from the power as well as the penalty of sin (Romans 6:14).” – John MacArthur

In contrast, the true religion, as given to us in the Holy Writ, gives serious warnings against such vain babblings. Christ was very clear that “…unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3). This is effectual, powerful, and life changing grace, bringing sinners out of the darkness and into the light (Ephesians 5:8). This grace requires more than just a mere profession or a taste of religion, for “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” (1 John 1:6). The ability to believe the truth is itself a gift from God (Acts 13:48; Phillipians 1:29), for “…no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” (1 Corinthians 12:3). The new birth is most necessary, for His mercy saves us “…by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” (Titus 3:5).

The Apostle Paul clearly emphasized the importance of his own sanctification, the lack of which would lead to his damnation. “…I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” (1 Corinthians 9:27). The grace Paul taught was neither a license for lasciviousness, nor was it meant to be “fire insurance for the wicked”. He warns believers in Corinth that “the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Do not be deceived” (1 Corinthians 6:9). Simon Magus “believed” (Acts 8:13), yet was unregenerate (Acts 8:20-23).

"Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46)

The new birth produces fruit, as God Himself promises “…I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” (Ezekiel 36:27). We must be careful not to impugn true converts who may not be as far along in their sanctification as others, but those of the true faith will strive for obedience and “the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14). This is discipleship, enabling true converts by the Spirit to persevere in the faith, as those who do not “were not of us” (1 John 2:19), for Jesus never knew them (Matthew 7:21-23). If God’s Spirit is in us, we will obey His statutes. In contrast, those who claim to know Christ but do not obey His commandments are emphatically called liars (1 John 2:3-4). The true gospel not only proclaims the goodness and mercy of God, but the severity of his wrath toward apostates. The meat of the gospel is to “repent” (Matthew 3:2), to “bear the fruits worthy of repentance” (Matthew 3:8), thereby fleeing “from the wrath to come”. (Matthew 3:7). Sanctification is not an option. Without repentance, there has been no conversion. Therefore, "…Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity." (2 Timothy 2:19). Jesus Christ is both your savior and your Lord, or He is neither.

There has been some question as to whether or not Sola Fide was taught or even properly understood by the early church fathers. For example, regarding Clement of Rome, it is true that he taught that we are “justified by our works, and not our words”, but this is not speaking of the means of justification, but rather the fruits (For no one actually taught justification by words). In this, he agrees with the inspired apostle James:

“So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe--and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness"--and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” (James 2:17-24).

Clement was clearly a proponent of Sola Fide, but he did not promote the dead faith and “easy-believism” of our modern antinomians. He writes, “We are not justified through ourselves, neither through our own wisdom or understanding or piety or works we have done in holiness of heart, but through FAITH."

In the end, the promoters of "No Lordship" salvation may have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof. From such, turn away (2 Timothy 3:5).

For More Information, see:

Apostasy from the Gospel by John Owen
Pursuing Holiness in the Lord by Jonathan Edwards
The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur

Monday, February 05, 2007

The End of the Wicked

“Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors!” (Psalm 73:18-19)

We are thankful to God for His patience, for indeed, “The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” (Psalm 145:8). Unfortunately the patience and longsuffering of God has been misinterpreted by some to be non-existence. Brian "Sapient" is one of the new, bolder atheists, in the proud and arrogant mold of Richard Dawkins. In fervent evangelistic zeal, Brian has issued a Blasphemy Challenge, especially targeting teens, in an attempt to get fellow atheists to “come out of the closet”.

It takes an especially confident infidel to present such a challenge. Per Mark 3:29, the costs of being wrong are great.

Do Brian or Kelly worry their rhetoric and antics might land them in hell?

"No, because hell doesn't exist," Kelly says.

Even if there was a one in a million shot that Hell existed, would they still be so unconcerned?

Brian's response? "That would stink, huh?"

I am optimistic that such a movement by these militant atheists will cause the church to return to Biblical preaching and faithful theological studies, realizing that the silly games they play won’t cut it anymore. However, from the other perspective, one has to wonder why this is referred to as a “challenge”, like it is some sort of sporting event or reality TV show. What exactly is the challenge? Can they prove that blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is forgivable in the next life? Will they offer evidence for these assertions? Do they intend to prove, after death, that they are not in Hell? They set their mouths against heaven, and give testimony of their own folly at the risk of their own soul. Indeed, their eyes have been blinded, as they have considered not their end.

O foolish humanist! Why will you hate your own soul? Though you may boastfully attempt to raise yourself above the throne of the God of Heaven, your pride is a chain that binds you into outer darkness. Though you may have thoughts of clothing yourself with resolution and firmness of mind, your courage will be as that of an infant when God’s wrath approaches. What will you do then? To whom will you appeal when the Most High laughs at your calamity, and mocks when your terror comes? Can your hands be strong when God thrusts you into everlasting torment? Repent, and flee from the wrath to come. Blasphemy is NOT a game.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Of Apes and Men

There is an increasingly popular defense of immoral behavior that is being pushed by certain groups. Studies have shown that certain bonobo chimps, in nature, participate in homosexual activity. Of course, this is set forth as evidence that homosexuality is natural. There are a multitude of directions that we can take with such a study, but the way that this study is presented raises serious questions concerning human ethics, especially in an atheistic worldview. Even if these apes are “genetically” homosexual (and that is doubtful at best), does that justify the same behavior in humans? The underlying assumption is, yes. Apes do it; therefore it must be a natural thing to do.

Michael Bronski, in his book The Pleasure Principle: Culture, Backlash, and the Struggle for Gay Freedom, writes, “Humans have created the myth that sexuality can be justified only by reproduction, which by definition limits it to hetero sex. But here is an animal society that uses homosexuality to improve its social life.” Clear enough? Atheists like Dawkins and Harris, in their struggle to justify the existence of morality, need to fret no longer. Bronski has solved the dilemma. Apparently man is to get his moral standards from bonobo apes.

First of all, it is clear from numerous studies that human homosexuality does NOT improve social life. Homosexuality destroys people. Homosexuals live shorter, less healthy lives. However, aside from these facts, we must deal with the question of ethics in general. Those who promote homosexuality based on the activities of bonobo chimps are quite selective in their ethical studies. Jane Goodall’s original studies of apes show that they participate in “warfare," "gang attacks," "killing and cannibalism". An article in Discovery Magazine shows that chimps exhibit “disturbingly high levels of battering, rape, sexual harassment, and murder”.

Now no sane person will pass a moral judgment on these apes for their horrendous behavior. After all, they are apes, and apes are going to do what apes are going to do. The quandary that non-believers face is when they wish to pass moral judgments on humans for similar offenses. How can this be? According to some in the world of Darwin, chimps share 98% of their DNA with us (though such claims really cannot be substantiated). If this be so, then where in the remaining 2% do we account for morality? To what biochemical process in the “evolution” of man can we attribute the rise of moral absolutes? Did these absolutes exist in our so-called “ancestors” (which we still haven’t found)? If so, when did our “closest relatives” lose them? In the end, an atheist cannot justifiably appeal to morality of any kind. At the very least, he must write off all behavior as the product of genetics, including atheistic pet peeves such as “homophobia” and “religion”.

So why is homosexuality morally wrong? The Christian worldview is clear regarding this issue.

“If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination…” (Leviticus 20:13)

Clear, simple, and straightforward. It is wrong because God said so. He alone is the standard of righteousness. Despite the best efforts by liberal theologians and their would-be super-exegetes, there is no getting around the Bible’s commandments regarding homosexuality. Homosexuality is a rejection of God, changing the truth of God into a lie.

“For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.” (Romans 1:26-28)

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

The good news is that there is forgiveness, even for the chief of sinners.

“And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11)

The moral choice is clear. Either we look to God’s Word as the final authority, or we live the life of apes, and simply do what apes do.