Archive for June, 2009

The Mystery of Prayer

Okay, Lord. If You are going to be calling her home to you, would you please allow her to open her eyes and be able to look at me – focused – so that I can say good-bye, knowing that she will have heard me?

Continue Reading June 26, 2009 at 8:38 PM

I’m Moving It

Hey Everyone,

Because there is so much to deal with in areas like Eschatology, Dispensationalism, etc., I’ve created another Blog that will host those types of topics.  You can view that Blog here at www.bibleandeschatology.wordpress.com

So, from here on out, anything that fits into the biblical world of Eschatology or Dispensationalism will be posted to that Blog.  This one will have other theological topics.

Thanks!  You people are swell!

June 26, 2009 at 5:28 PM

Still MORE Problems with Dispensationalism, Part 3 – Yee Haw!

Most people who are anti-Semitic do not even think they are and believe they are simply “defending God.” These people need to ask themselve why they hate the Jewish people so much.

Continue Reading June 25, 2009 at 6:23 PM

Problems with Dispensationalism, Part 2 (God’s Sovereignty)

One of the constant hammerings that Dispensationalism takes is the charge that it impugns God’s sovereignty.  It apparently does this in a number of ways, but chiefly, it is alleged that Dispensationalism teaches that man has continually thwarted God’s plans.  Here is a quote from Bernie Gillespie’s site, in which he wrote an article about what he believes to be the problems with Dispensationalism:

[Dispensationalism] impugns the sovereignty of God. It teaches that most all of God’s plan(s) to save Mankind failed because it was thwarted by human inability. That’s why dispensationalism teaches that the Church age was a surprise to the prophets. They did not anticipate that when Israel failed to receive Christ that God would turn to the Gentiles. The truth is, the Old Testament does teach that salvation would come to the Gentiles. And the failure of Israel was not a surprise to God, but on the contrary, totally expected. He anticipated all Humanity to fall short of His glory. That is why He determined to the save the world, both Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male and female, in and through Jesus Christ.”(1)

Of course, the tragedy here is that nowhere does Dispensationalism advocate that God has failed…ever.  Mr. Gillespie makes the same mistake others have made by assuming that God’s plan always equals His salvation.  Gillespie also assumes that he is correct in understanding God’s current dealings with Israel; that God has completely and forever rejected them and in its place, created the Church.  This is incorrect and what it says by implication is that God did fail.  Even though He created the nation of Israel, and made many promises to them that He said He would never break, it would appear as though He did break those promises, because according to the Covenant Theologian, Israel failed, so God with finality did what He said He would never do; gave them up.  Mr. Gillespie’s sentiment with respect to God and Israel is incorrect.  Paul makes this perfectly clear in Romans 9 – 11; something that Covenant Theologians have a very difficult time explaining. 

Gillespie further confuses the issue with his apparent limited understanding of the Church, believing as he does that the Church was actually revealed in the Old Testament.  He believes this because as he points out, the prophets knew that the gospel would eventually be extended to the Gentiles.  The truth of the matter though is actually different than what Mr. Gillespie believes.  The “mystery” of the Church in its entirety was revealed in the New Testament by Paul.  Gillespie is taking two completely different topics (1. the gospel to the Gentiles, and 2. the Church) and treating them as if they are one and the same, however, he has not shown that they are one in the same.  That is because he cannot, since Scripture is clear that any aspect of the Church was revealed only by Paul and no one before him.  

On the plus side, Gillespie is correct when he states that “the Old Testament does teach that salvation would come to the Gentiles.”  Certainly there is no question about that, nor should there be.  That is plain from numerous places in Scripture (cf. Genesis 8:20-21; 14:18; 17:4; 22:18; Leviticus 19:33ff; Jonah 3:1; Genesis 17:4; 22:18; Psalms 2:8; Isaiah 42:1, 6; 49:6; cf. Romans 11:1ff; Ephesians 2:11ff).  This in no way coincides with the revelation of the Church. 

Not one of the Old Testament prophets knew of this entity called the Church, nor did they know how the Church was designed to work spiritually.  Paul is the one who claims to be the revealer of that mystery (cf. Ephesians 3:1-6).  He makes special mention of the fact that “This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel,” (Ephesians 3:6). 

In the verse immediately prior to the one quoted, referring to this same mystery, Paul unequivocally states, “the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit,” (emphasis added).  Here then, we see that Gillespie is in disagreement with Paul.  While Paul would agree that the prophets foretold of the extension of the gospel to Gentiles, he would unequivocally disagree that these same prophets knew of the Church.  In fact, there is no reason to believe that the prophets understood that the gospel would be offered to Gentiles outside of Israel.  That was being done then, in essence, though in a very limited fashion.  Since Israel was supposed to be the light of the world, it is natural to conclude that these prophets likely thought in terms of a greater number of Gentiles coming to salvation through the nation of Israel.  They had no idea that God’s plans and purposes included a new entity called the Church.  None whatsoever.

Because of the obvious nature of Paul’s claims, it is difficult to understand how Mr. Gillespie (or anyone else for that matter), would arrive at the conclusion that one of the main issue at hand between Covenant Theology and Dispensationalism has to do with the gospel being extended to the Gentiles.  This is simply not the case in God’s sovereign plan.  The gospel was always intended to be extended to Gentiles, as stated.  The mystery that Paul reveals goes much further than simply the gospel being extended to the Gentiles, in which this new entity called the Church, would be composed of Jewish and Gentile individuals as fellow heirs, outside of the nation of Israel.  This is all part and parcel of God’s sovereignty.  He will accomplish His purposes in all of His Creation.

This leads us to this extremely important point.  Based on the fact that God is sovereign and according to the passages like Deuteronomy 32:39; Job 42:2; Psalm 2; 22:27-28; Proverbs 16:9; 19:21, and a host of others, God will bring about His purposes, it stands to reason then that man has two choices.  They are 1) to voluntarily, with fear and humility bow to God, delivering to Him all that you posses, and all that you are in order for His will to be accomplished in and through you, or 2)  resist God, attempting to keep for yourself all that you possess, and all that you are, but His will is still going to be accomplished through you, whether you like it or not.

I believe this is of supreme importance.  God’s will is going to be completed and we can be carried along by the scruff of our necks, kicking and screaming, all the while thinking that we are our own person.  We can do that, or we can humbly submit to Him, so that we are lining ourselves up with His will.  In doing the latter, we place ourselves in the place of blessing God has allotted for us.

All the people who choose hell as their final destination by ignoring God’s saving grace, still do God’s will, though they may think that they are doing their own.  This was the case with Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar and countless other individuals who believed that they lived their life, doing what they wanted to do, accomplishing what they wanted to accomplish.  This is actually the furthest thing from the truth.  God used them for His purposes and plans.

Everyone who has ever lived, is living or will ever live, does what God wants them to do.  This is not mere “puppetry,” absolving man from any responsibility for his crimes and sin.  This is God’s sovereignty in action, fully in control of all aspects of His entire Creation.  How could it possibly be otherwise, if we are going to say that God is sovereign?

Each person has a choice, but the choice is not whether they will or will not do God’s will.  The choice is how will they do His will?  Will it be done while all the time believing that they control their own destiny, or will be done with the heart that is glad to give up their own life in order that His will be done in and through them knowingly?

No one is in reality their own god, even though they may come to believe it.  God’s purposes will not falter or fail.  His sovereignty has always been on display, but the problem is that some simply do not recognize this truth.

This will all be made clear for each and every individual – whether spirit being, or human being.  All will acknowledge that God is fully and absolutely sovereign, by Himself, with no one who has ever been, or will ever be a threat to His sovereignty.

Dispensationalism has no problem whatsoever understanding that God is fully sovereign over everything which He created.  This is overriding truth and highest purpose of all that He accomplishes.  His sovereignty is what Creation was made to recognize and understand.  It is in voluntarily recognizing and understanding His sovereignty that glory is given to Him.

May we endeavor to glorify Him more and more each and every day while we live.  May we seek His face, in order to understand the comprehensive quality of His sovereignty.  May we glorify Him through our adoration of Him, because He is sovereign.

God reigns.  He reigns supreme.  He will always reign supreme.  There is no other that deserves our love, our adoration and our worship.  He is God, the Sovereign Most High.  Holy is His Name and may He receive blessing and honor from all that we do, think and say.

(1) http://www.inchristalone.org/PDFiles/Everlasting.PDF

June 25, 2009 at 9:28 AM

Revenge of the Fallen

The new Transformers movie – Revenge of the Fallen – is very reminiscent of the biblical imagery first found in Genesis 6, regarding the Nephilim. The last book of the Bible, Revelation, includes descriptions of the final battle, which is won by Jesus Himself as He returns to this planet. While the fight is never over for the Transformers, this is not the case for Christians because of God. The victory is His and He, through our union with Him, shares it with us.

Continue Reading June 24, 2009 at 2:08 PM 2 comments

The Problem with Dispensationalism? Part 1

I’ve been doing a great deal of research for an upcoming book I’m writing concerning various views of Dispensationalism.  What is absolutely amazing to me is how often people misrepresent not only aspects of Dispensationalism, but misunderstand what people like Ryrie, Chafer, Walvoord and of course Scofield and others have said.

I went to one site today and it was anti-Dispensational in many ways.  However the most intriguing aspect of the site was when a line of text that connected to the cursor which said, “Premillennial Dispensationalism is a False Religion.”  Wherever you moved the cursor, that line of text would follow.

I’m used to being referred to as a heretic, etc.  However, if people really understood Dispensationalism, as opposed to commenting or critiquing it based on their misconceptions, there would be much less vitriol spewed from those who are opposed to Dispensationalism.

I’ve decided to take a few Blogs and post some of my thoughts regarding some of the misconceptions and misrepresentations that I’ve run across either in books or here on theh ‘Net.

In this Blog, I’m going to take up the alleged problem regarding salvation as understood by Dispensationalism.

The specific charge is that Dispensationalism teaches two methods of salvation.  This is based primarily on two things:

  1. one note from Scofield’s Study System Bible on John 1:17
  2. the naming of the Dispensation of Grace, which seems to suggest that grace was not involved (as much, or at all), in previous Dispensations.

Regardless of how often Scofield’s note has been clarified, for some it just doesn’t matter.  Dispensationalism is now accused of “hiding” itsreal meaning, under a blanket of subterfuge.  Sadly, this is essentially the only note that Scofield wrote that was questionable.  His entire body of work (not only in the remaining notes and articles found within the 1909 edition of the Scofield Study System Bible), but all told, clearly indicate Scofield’s believes regarding grace and salvation. 

Ryrie has tried his hand at clarifying, as has Walvoord, as has Chafer and others, yet the failure to understand persists.  This same situation exists regarding the Dispensation of Grace.

Because it is named thusly, it appears to say that no grace (or much less) was available in previous Dispensations.  This is patently untrue.  However, rather than present the same arguments that have been presented by others in attempts to help those with a lack of understanding understand, I’m going to try a different tact.  I am going to take a quick look at Covenant Theology and see where we end up.

Covenant Theology has at its core, two specific covenants (some opt for three).  They are:

  1. The Covenant of Works
  2. The Covenant of Grace

It is also understood that theologians like Berkhof break these covenants down into subdivisions so that by the time he is done, there are actually four or five covenantal parts he relates to various aspects of Scripture.

Be that as it may, for the Covenant of Works, the belief is that Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden and given one rule.  It was that rule that had to be obeyed.  Failure to obey would cost them eternal life.  Berkof also states that though there is no explicitly stated reward (eternal life), it is implied in the covenant.

First of all, it is not universally agreed that this was a covenant at all.  A conditional covenant (which is what Covenant Theology teaches), has TWO parties to the covenant.  Also in a conditional covenant is such that BOTH parties are given the opportunity to agree or disagree.  This is the case when Moses presented the aspects of the Law.  In the book of Exodus 19-24, we see the entire process, which covers numerous chapters.  It is essentially a ceremony and it ends with the opportunity of the Israelites to agree or disagree with the tenets of the covenant.  They did so, and Moses sprinkled them with blood.  The people had said “Everything the LORD has said we will do,” (Exodus 24:3b).    Immediately after this, Moses wrote down everything the Lord had said.  This clearly a covenant.

The situation with Adam and Eve was not a covenant, but simply a rule that God gave to Adam.  It was no different than a parent setting down the rules for their child.  A rule does not a covenant make.

But for the sake of argument, let’s say that Covenant Theology is correct and this was a Covenant of Works.  In that case, according to Covenant Theology, Adam and Eve were required to earn their salvation.  Did you catch that?  Adam and Eve needed to gain salvation through their own work.  Interestingly enough, this is the exact same charge that Covenant Theology directs at Dispensationalism; that Dispensationalism teaches two methods of salvation.

So the question really becomes whether or not Adam and Eve actually had to earn their salvation at all?  Let’s see…Adam and Eve were given instructions about what to do in the garden, to subdue the earth and have dominion over it.  They were also told to avoid eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

The Covenant Theologian states that they disobeyed God by eating the forbidden fruit, and because of that, they lost their chance at eternal life.  So because of their failed effort here, they lost out.  It was truly based on work.  Covenant theologians such as Berkhof and Shedd believe that this was a one of a kind test that required work on the part of Adam and Eve.  Immediately after this, God instituted grace, from that point onward, which of course led up to the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

However, if we look closely at Adam and Eve, I would submit that while they did disobey, the reason they disobeyed was due solely to their lack of belief.  In other words, at first, they believed that God was truthful regarding the forbidden fruit.  Their belief in His Word of truth kept them from transgressing His law.

Then Satan comes along and gets them to doubt God’s stated Word.  They caved in and wound up disbelieving God’s spoken Word.  The One who had created all, and cannot lie, was now being called a Liar by Satan.  This was believed by Adam and Eve.  Because their belief was no longer based in God and His Word, the action of disobedience was simply a natural outworking of their lack of faith in God’s Word.

The sin of disobedience then, was the result of their lack of faith.  James makes this clear in James 1:15 “Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.

Eve lusted after the fruit, then wound up following the desire that lust produced.  The outward sin was a foregone conclusion, because it had begun within.

So in actuality, Dispensationalism believes that Adam and Eve sinned because the faith (or belief)  they had in God had been questioned, and their allegiance changed from God to Satan.  That was actually the sin and it went to its natural conclusion.

Yet, there is no doubt whatsoever that within Covenant Theology, the Covenant of Works is just that; salvation is based on human effort.  After this, things changed so that grace became the essential principle since.

Because Dispensationalism chose the name the Dispensation of Grace for the time of Christ, it appears implicitly stated that grace was absent prior.  This is not at all true, and all that is required is to read notes and articles in Scofields Study System Bible, as well as Chafer’s and Ryrie’s books on salvation, and grace.  Beyond that, Chafer’s Systematic Theology makes it absolutely clear what his beliefs are regarding grace, and salvation.

In spite of the charges put forth by Covenant Theology, it would appear that two methods of salvation, are clearly taught within that system, as opposed to Dispensationalism.

Dispensationalism does not, nor has it ever taught two methods of salvation. 

Next up, we will discuss the actual various meanings of the Dispensations (as opposed to what Covenant Theology believes they stand for).

June 23, 2009 at 11:56 PM 4 comments

The Many Faces of Anti-Semitism

What I cannot help but notice is that in some ways, the Church is going backwards.  Years ago, around the 10th century A.D., the Catholic Church was the leader in the Crusades that were taking place.  They believed (and still believe) that the Roman Catholic Church was God’s Church on planet earth.  No other denominations or protestant churches would be considered.

Because of the Catholic belief (adopted through Augustine) that the Church replaced Israel (due to their rejection of the Messiah), it followed that the Church (as the Roman Catholic Church) took on the unfulfilled promises as well as authority that Israel possessed, but forfeited.  Because of this authority, the Catholic Church saw (and sees) itself as Christ’s arm of judgment on the earth.  This then produced many policies in which thousands were brutally tortured and/or killed for their defiance of the Catholic Church.  This was only one of the factors which led to the Reformation.

However, during these Crusades, anti-Semitism ran amok.  The Jewish people were blamed for “killing” Christ, even though the Romans played an equal part, making everyone – Jewish and Gentile – guilty of the offense.  The Jewish people were hounded, told to give up Judaism, forced to “become” Christians and those who did not were summarily killed.  Even Hitler believed in his twisted way that he was a Christian and because of that, had the power to do what the Catholic Church had done during the Crusades.  This belief, affirmed by Darwinism, which came on the scene at that time, provided Hitler with the necessary fodder to forumulate his opinion that Jews were less than human.  Apparently, Hitler never saw the discrepancy with stating he was a Christian, while fully involved in occult practices and anti-Semitism to boot!

So how does this tie in with what is being stated in this post?  Simply this…because of the errant views of the Catholic Church, which wrongly believed that they had replaced Israel as God’s chosen “nation,” anti-Semitism became an accepted norm.  Because of the power of the Papacy, as it was aligned with the state, it was difficult, if not impossible to stand against the church’s policies without danger of being executed for it.  If the reader doubts this, all that is necessary is to read through a copy of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.

Because of the erroneous policies of the Catholic Church regarding their alleged position of authority, along with other intolerable and abominable doctrines such as indulgences, things eventually came to a head.  Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the Wittenberg Door and the Reformation had begun.  Many like Luther put up a good struggle against the Catholic Church, in which it was hoped that they would modify their heretical doctrine of salvation by grace and works.  The purchase of indulgences was one such aspect where it was taught that by placing money in the church’s coffers, a soul would fly free of purgatory.

Ultimately, the struggle continued long and hard, eventually necessitating people like Luther, Calvin and others to pull away from the Catholic Church.  Other denominations sprung up, like Lutheranism.  The main difference between Lutheranism and Catholicism (as well as other denominations that came into being during that time) was the disagreement over the doctrine of salvation.  Catholicism essentially kept theirs and it should be noted that people are still encouraged within Catholicism to make a financial offering to the Catholic Church, creating less time for the penitent to remain in purgatory.

The one major thing that did not change after the Reformation was the Catholic Church’s view of Eschatology.  It was still believed that the Church had replaced Israel and the Church now had the authority that Israel once had.  That viewpoint has carried over to today, through Covenant Theology, Reformed Theology, Preterism and Replacement Theology.  All of these viewpoints arrive at their conclusions because they allegorize Scripture.  Rather than understanding the Bible in its most basic, plain sense, an allegorical interpretation is preferred; one which states that with the rejection of Jesus as Messiah, God finally decided to push Israel off the table, forever.  His new favored “nation,” the Church, is what He deals with now and there will be no other entity.

Because of the continuation of this erroneous viewpoint, anti-Semitism is again on the rise.  I personally, have spoken to Jewish believers who hate their own people; the Jews.  While they want to evangelize them, they roundly condemn them for what is happening in the Middle East.  To these folks, the Jews of Israel are the problem and as long as they remain in that area geographically, there will be no peace.  This sound uncannily like many Arab leaders who have denounced the Jewish people for decades, however have come out with even stronger attacks in recent times.

I would agree with the individual who stated:

In the Torah and the from Old Testament prophets, we are told of the Throne of David and we can read of the prophecies of Messiah who will rule the world from Jerusalem. There in lies the origin of anti-Semitism; it is the desire to block the future world rule of God through Judah, the Royal House of Israel, and the Throne of David.”1

This is really it in a nutshell.  THE reason for the anti-Semitism that has been with us since the beginning of the nation has to do with the forthcoming reign of the Jewish Messiah, Jesus Christ.  Satan has pulled out all the stops to keep this from happening and even if he is not able to keep it from happening, he will still continue to fight against Jewish people because his hatred of them is so deep.  Since Jesus – a Jewish man by birth – came from the tribe of Judah, from within Israel and it is this same Jesus who is not only Messiah to Israel, but Savior to Gentiles, is there a greater reason for Satan’s hatred?  This was foretold by God way back in Genesis 3!

People believe that the Jewish people of today living in Israel are usurpers.  They live where they do not belong.  Since it is believed by many that the Church has replaced Israel, then they really have no right to be there!  What needs to be asked is this:  Would God allow any Christian to harbor hatred against any person or group of persons?  The obvious answer is a resounding “no!” yet this is exactly what has been done and continues to be done against Israel today.  The excuse is that Christian Zionists (those Christians who support Israel’s right to exist), harbor hatred against the Arab world.  This is absolutely not the case.  All people – Jewish and Gentile (including Arab) need salvation and that salvation comes only through Jesus Christ’s atonement on Calvary’s cross.

Anti-Semitism is Obvious:  The difficulty though is that the amount of ire, vitriol and abject hatred for the Jewish people is what tells the story.  Here are just a few quotes from top Arab officials and clerics who not only denounce Israel and Jewish people, but as you can easily see, have no love for them whatsoever:

  

“Israelis are apes and pigs” – Lebanese Cleric Fathi Yakan: Whoever Disputes Hizbullah’s Victory over the Descendents 
of Apes and Pigs Has Mental AIDS (2006)

“I was dreaming a beautiful dream, which I hope will come true, and that we all agree upon it. I dreamt that we are the Arab Islamic States, not just Egypt, Lebanon, and Palestine. I was truly dreaming that we are the Arab Islamic States. Get a map of the Arab homeland, and erase the borders.
“Four conditions of the fatwa in order to kill an Israeli, one must make sure that he is a Jew, an Israeli, and that he is between 21 and 54 and if she is a woman, she must be between 21 and 34.” – Egyptian Cleric Safwat Higazi Explains His Fatwa, in 2006

Gholam-Ali Haddad ‘Adel: “The Muslims throughout the world say: Stop your support for Israel, or else don’t expect any kind of peace or reconciliation with the Islamic world.”

The real tragedy is that we are seeing and hearing this kind of thing more and more routinely and some of it is coming from the Church itself! We can be assured of the fact that not only will anti-Semitism grow as we move closer and closer to the time of the Tribulation, but it will become much more vitriolic and volatile. Sadly, it will also become much more acceptable.

Christians have no excuse. Israel has every right to protect itself from the onslaught of the terrorism she faces in many forms every day. If modern day Israel since 1948, is a fulfillment of Jeremiah 32:37-41, Ezekiel 20:34; 35:17-19; 36:33-35; 37:10-14; Isaiah 35:1-2; Micah 7:8-11; Amos 9:14-15 and many other Scriptural references, then anyone who stands against Israel is in effect standing against God Himself. That includes anyone who believes they are Christian.

There is nothing in Scripture which indicates that God is done with Israel.  Quite the contrary.  God has called Jewish people back into the land that He gave them.  He will bring all of His plans for Israel to fruition, in His time and in His way.  He will do this for the sake of His Name, because it is His Name that has been ridiculed by the nations because of Israel’s waywardness.  But it is up to God to deal with Israel.

People who harbor anti-Semitism against the Jewish people had better realize what they are up against.  They need to ask themselves why they hate Jewish people.  There is NO good reason for hating anyone and certainly no good reason to hate a group of people because of their gender, race or culture.  God will bring His plans to completion where Israel is concerned, regardless of who it is who attempts to stop Him.  God is sovereign.  He is fully sovereign and it is His sovereignty that will ultimately bring Him glory.

In the end, everyone will do God’s bidding.  They will either do it voluntarily, or they will do it against their will, but they will bow to His authority, His sovereignty and in so doing, will bring Him the glory He so richly deserves.

Before you leave, take our POLL.

1 (from http://israelsmessiah.com/anti_semitism/spiritual_hatred.htm)

June 23, 2009 at 1:36 PM 2 comments

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