May 14, 2015

Eschatology Between the Extremes

Background

Bible students (as all reformed Christians are) must be careful to distinguish among New Testament prophetic references to ”coming” (Greek: parousia) –– whether applicable to the end of the age in which they were written, or applicable to the end of the world at the end of time.1 That is, whether the correct interpretation of each prophecy is in the past or in the future, with respect to us in the present. Prophecies, by definition, of course apply to what was then the future at the time they were prophesied; the question is: whether they were fulfilled in our past (already), or are still in our future (not yet).

The destruction of the city of Jerusalem and the Jewish temple in 70 AD was clearly the fulfillment of the Lord’s prophecy rendered in the Olivet discourse of Matthew 24 during the time of His humiliation. The desolation of the temple capped off the end of the old covenant age. Those were “…the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled” (Luke 21:22) 2. After having ascended to the right hand of God the Father almighty, the Lord’s “coming” of which He foretold was not in Person but via the Roman armies, in judgment against apostate Judaism including those who called so vehemently for His crucifixion (Luke 23:21). It was the sign of His exaltation; the vindication of His identity as Christ, just as He had foretold before being condemned to death (Matthew 26:64; Mark 14:62).

There can hardly be any doubt that the book of Revelation was written prior to 70 AD, as from our historical perspective, the events which happened then manifestly align with the things signified to John in the Apocalypse shortly before they were to take place (Revelation 1:1; 22:6). The questionable “evidence” of a quote attributed to church father Irenaeus simply does not sustain a later date of its writing, which has been propounded as the majority report.3

Even so, the 1st coming of Christ and His finished work on the Cross in 30 AD is the pivotal focus of all of Scripture. Our glorified Lord’s reign has continued since His Ascension, well beyond 70 AD to the present day, unless the “millennium”4 (the time of Messianic reign) was only 40 years. The Lamb of God rose from the dead 3 days after His crucifixion; 40 days after that the Son of Man ascended (“…came up to the Ancient of Days…” per Daniel 7:13 [NASB]) and has been reigning ever since. This selfsame divine Person (“…and His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” –Isaiah 9:6), the King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ, is reigning now! He will continue to reign in heaven and by His Spirit in His people until “…the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet. -1 Corinthians 15:24-25. The 2nd coming of the Lord which will happen then (the end of time) is still in our future.

The invisible “coming” of the Son of Man in wrathful judgment upon that wicked generation in 70 AD is certainly a frequent prophetic reference in Scripture as an outworking of the signal events of 30 AD; nevertheless “…it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” -1 John 3:2. A few verses earlier John exhorted believers to abide in the Lord with perseverance, so as not to be ashamed before Him at His coming (1 John 2:28). This is a clear reference to the yet to be fulfilled final judgment at the 2nd coming, when everyone must give account personally (cf Romans 14:10-12).

The Extremes

Rather than studying to arrive at an interpretive understanding of Bible passages according to context in light of the full counsel of Scripture, one extreme school of thought automatically relegates all “coming” passages to a preterist (fulfilled in our past) interpretation. At the other extreme, another school of thought presupposes “coming” passages to have a futurist (still in our future) interpretation. The all-preterist system can be called pantelism5; the hyper-futurist hermeneutic is adhered to in the system commonly known as dispensationalism.

Dispensationalism, considered to be “losing steam” more and more in recent decades, was propagated with the publication of the Scofield Reference Bible at the beginning of the 20th century. It refuses to accept at face value the text of Matthew 24:34: “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.” The events including the “great tribulation” (Matthew 24:21) and the coming of the Son of Man in judgment to destroy the temple (Matthew 24:30), which happened leading up to and in AD 70, are among “all these things” spoken of by our Lord in the text. Furthermore, dispensational futurism does not allow for the many time texts such as “soon”, “at hand”, “near”, “coming quickly”, etc., employed throughout the New Testament, to apply according to the standard usage of those terms. Rather, almost 2,000 years (so far) are arbitrarily added to the interpretations in order to keep the occurrence of the predicted events in our near future. This provides for a continuingly impending end times perspective that may be sensational, but it just doesn’t make good sense. Besides, any interpretation that makes the text to have been meaningless or misinforming to the original audience must be rejected.

Pantelism may be seen as an overreaction to dispensationalism. Pantelism presupposes that all prophetic passages must have a preterist interpretation, inclusive of references to the resurrection of the body and the final judgment. With pantelism, the end of the old covenant age was the consummation of all things, and we are in the eternal state now. According to this thinking, the Lord’s still future descent from heaven (when the dead rise and the living are caught up together with them in the clouds) written of in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, which corresponds to His Ascension depicted in Acts 1:11, somehow already happened and was not a physical event. There is a variety of explanatory particulars amongst the system’s adherents as to how that is reconciled with the Lord’s clearly physical Ascension, when the angels testified that He will come “in just the same way” (Greek hos tropos) as he was seen taken up.

Even recognizing the eschatology of the New Testament as predominantly preterist, elevating the events of 70 AD over and above the events of 30 AD in their redemptive-historical significance is problematical to say the least. Denial of the future, bodily 2nd coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to physically resurrect the dead and eternally judge all who ever lived puts pantelism outside the bounds of Christian orthodoxy.

While the outright erroneousness of both of these extremes may be apparent to seasoned students of Scripture, many of today’s Christians have grown up under dispensationalist teaching, which has been popularized in the modern culture by best-selling books and movies such as the “Left Behind” series. Others, who have become disenchanted with dispensationalism, may have been swayed by pantelism as a seemingly logical alternative; but while pantelism eviscerates the interpretive errors of dispensationalism, the arbitrary misconceptions inherent in pantelism are just as bad to the other extreme, and even worse.

Context Not “Consistent”

The interpretation of any particular passage of Scripture is informed by the context, over and apart from the understanding gleaned from the usage of similarly framed wording in a different context. To presume otherwise leads unswervingly to a fundamental misunderstanding of the Bible, which is certainly not so simplistic as to apply the same meaning for a word or phrase every time it is used. The same word(s) or phrase(s) may have differing meaning, usage and interpretation in different instances, dependent upon the context. This simple hermeneutical principle may seem to be very basic and easy to understand, yet the failure to grasp it, or to override it with a presupposition of forced “consistency” has become a stumbling block to deriving sound, balanced counsel from God’s word, which unavoidably leads to one erroneous extreme or another.

As noted above, in the Olivet discourse of Matthew 24, the Lord foretold in verse 34 that “all these things” would take place before the passing away of the generation then living. So contextually “all these things” must apply to those stated in the preceding verses of that discourse. This does not mean, however, that whenever the Lord spoke, sentences preceding must necessarily be interpreted according to a subsequent statement. There is no such viable application of “consistency”, yet it is claimed to hold by some interpreters of the passage in Matthew 16 beginning with verse 24 where the Lord’s “take up your cross and follow Me” teaching is recorded. In this passage, Jesus encourages His disciples to self-denial through sufferings, by comparing worldly afflictions with eternal life (cf Romans 8:18), and associating material gain with loss of immortal soul. In that context, v. 27 sets forth the weighty consideration of His (2nd) coming to judge all men at the consummation of the kingdom: “For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.” Then, in v. 28 which follows, he assures them that His coming into His kingdom will be manifest before some of them die: “Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”

He does not give His disciples any time frame for the final judgment at His 2nd coming, which we know from other passages of Scripture is at the end of time, but He foretells that some of them standing there would see the outworking of the Son of Man’s (1st) coming in His kingdom in the fullness of time and history, the kingdom announced by John the Baptist in the spirit of Elijah. The reference of v.28 to the Lord’s near term “coming” (as a sign of the ascended Son of Man in heaven per Matthew 24:30) does not automatically mean that His coming referred to in v. 27 was also near! The Lord was teaching His disciples that at the end of time (cf 1 Cor. 15:24), He shall come with final reckoning, in His Father’s glory with His angels; and that while some of them were still alive, He was to come in the power of the kingdom of His mediatorial reign with the destruction of Jerusalem which was fulfilled in 70 AD.

What awesome encouragement! Not only that all things will be set right by the Lord in the end, but that the process of putting all enemies under His feet (cf 1 Cor. 15:25) was at hand, and some standing there would live to see the powerful manifestation of it. Presumptuously absorbing v. 27 in with the interpretation of v.28, causes a drastic missing of the mark. There is no sound reason why both verses, even though adjacent to each other, must together be preterist, or futurist for that matter. Indeed hyper-futurists have an insurmountable problem with the clearly indicated time frame of verse 28. On the other extreme, to preterize v. 27 further exacerbates error when it is then assumed that nearly identical wording in Matthew 25 (v. 31) must also have a preterist interpretation. Thus error spreads like gangrene, and the only thing that is consistent is the predetermined interpretations of those who refuse to let Scripture speak for itself.

Notes

1 What was the “age to come” for the New Testament writers is the age we are living in now, the gospel age, the new covenant age which began as the old covenant age passed away. The New Testament was written in the “last days” of the old covenant. We won’t be in the eternal state until the end of the present age which will be the end of time & history.

2 The Lord here references Old Testament prophecies of the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, most notably Daniel 9:26 .

3 For a thorough, scholarly exposition in support of a pre-70AD date for the composition of the book of Revelation see Kenneth L. Gentry’s Before Jerusalem Fell.

4 The millennium is a reference to “a thousand years”, mentioned in Revelation 20 as the period of Christ’s interadvental reign. Postmillennialism (that the Lord’s 2nd Coming must be after His Messianic reign) is assumed here. Amillennialism is technically postmillennialism as far as timing; differing in the expected nature of the millennium. Premillennialism (that the Lord’s 2nd Coming must be before the millennium to set up His reign on earth) is the view routinely adopted by dispensationalists.

5 The term pantelism (from the Greek words for “all” and “fulfilled”) was coined by C. Jonathan Seraiah, who has written an excellent refutation of the viewpoint (see The End of All Things: A Defense of the Future). The label pantelism (instead of hyper- or consistent preterism) is a neutral term that does not use the pejorative “hyper” prefix nor define non-pantelist preterism as somehow “inconsistent”.

Here is an excerpt from a review of Pastor Seraiah’s book which is highly recommended: This book is a rich source of solid, confessional, biblical theology on important issues such as Christ’s resurrection and the believers’ resurrection, the Second Coming, final judgment, and the renewal of heaven and earth. Readers will be enlightened by his chapters on end-time views in historic Christianity, the development of the creeds, and the importance of God’s final triumph over sin and its consequences.

December 20, 2014

The End of the Last Days of the Former Ages

NounEnd [​end]
-the point in time at which something ends;
-the concluding parts of an event or occurrence​;
​-the state of affairs that a plan is intended to achieve and that (when achieved) terminates
 behavior intended to achieve it​
 
In Acts 2:17ff the apostle Peter declares the fulfilment of what was uttered by the prophet Joel​: “And in the last days it shall be, God declares…”. The events foretold happened in those “last days.” The spectacular fire baptism by the Holy Spirit, daughters prophesying, etc. along with all the cosmic judgment language depicting the then at hand destruction of old covenant Israel all happened then, and is now over and done with. Your daughters are not prophesying any more, for example. As those last days ended and are in our past, I believe that we are not now still living in the last days.
 
Amillennialists such as James White maintain a concept of “this age, and the age to come”, that this age we are living in now is a continuation of the “last days” spoken of by the apostles, and the age to come is the hereafter, i.e. final glory. Surprisingly, postmillennialist Ken Gentry agrees that the last days, which began in the first century, continue through now and on into the future, which understanding requires that the “last days” have now lasted for approximately 2 millennia, so far. One wonders if Dr. Gentry, who anticipates a long period of Christian prosperity before the second coming, assumes that the “last days” will be in effect all that time until then. That there will be a triumph of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ manifesting in time and history should be the Christian’s faithful hope, according to His word; but it is a result of His first coming which ended the last days of the old covenant. “In that He says, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away” (Hebrews 8:13).  
 
The patriarchal age was from Adam to Moses, the old covenant age was until Christ. Christ brought in the new creation, such that Dr. White’s “this age” was actually the old covenant age, which was passing away when the New Testament was written; and his “age to come” is actually the here & now of the new covenant, the Messianic reign of the Lord Jesus Christ, the millennium of Revelation 20, the new Jerusalem, the new heaven & earth (in an already/not yet sense). Final glory is not an age in time & history, rather it comes after the end of the ages for us. The end of the ages for the New Testament writers was then.

​The Greek word aion is commonly translated as world, as in Hebrews 11:3 which the NKJV renders: “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” The Greek word there translated as worlds is aionas (plural of aion). This passage describes our faith in the providence of God in the works of creation. However aion can also mean “age”, and application of the wrong connotation can be the cause of considerable misunderstanding.

The apostle Paul, in referring to the old covenant, wrote “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come” (1 Corinthians 10:11). While Jesus’ first advent marked the beginning of the new covenant age, the old covenant age was finally swept away in AD 70. There was a transitional period of about 40 years (a generation) from AD 30 to AD 70 in which the two ages co-existed. Those were the “last days”. It was towards the end of this period when the apostle Peter wrote “The end of all things is at hand…” (1 Peter 4:7).
 
The writer of Hebrews confirmed this in contrasting the types & shadows of the old covenant with redemption through the blood of Christ: “For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer Himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then He would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself (Hebrews 9:24-26).
 
​Jesus Himself mentioned the ages when he said “And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come” (Matthew 12:32). Surely the age He distinguished as “this age” had to be the age of the law, under which He was born and was ministering; while the “age to come” was a reference to the gospel age which He came to bring in. The “age to come” as a reference to the final state makes no sense because at that point everyone’s state is fixed and it is too late for repentance and forgiveness for any sin.
 
Here’s Matthew Henry’s commentary on the unpardonable sin passage: What the sentence is that is passed upon it; It shall not be forgiven, neither in this world, nor in the world to come. As in the then present state of the Jewish church, there was no sacrifice of expiation for the soul that sinned presumptuously; so neither under the dispensation of gospel grace, which is often in scripture called the world to come, shall there be any pardon to such as tread underfoot the blood of the covenant, and do despite to the Spirit of grace: there is no cure for a sin so directly against the remedy. 

Even so, in Luke 20:34-36 Jesus says “The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage. But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage. Neither can they die any more, for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.” The KJV properly renders aion as “world” in each instance where it appears in this passage, which is obviously preferred over “age” as in modern translations (see NKJV).

We must let context determine the correct connotation of words for sound interpretation of God’s infallible word. The sooner Christians embrace by faith that we are living under the better blessings of the new covenant age as distinct from the last days of the old covenant, which have ended, the sooner we will put off the expectation of defeat; and, walking by faith and not by sight, will trust, obey, pray, think and act accordingly towards advancing the kingdom of our reigning King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ, towards that end. Amen.

[See Overview and Pilgrimage tabs above for graphical representations of the two-age model, with commentary beneath each]
September 29, 2014

The Last from the Past

Adjective: last [last, lahst]
occurring at or forming an end or termination
 
Adjective: past [past, pahst]
gone by or elapsed in time
 
“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son…” (Hebrews 1:1)
 
A video presentation by a prominent creationist ministry, which promotes a biblical view of the earth’s age over and against the uniformitarian “millions of years” view, takes in to account the catastrophic effects of the global flood as recorded in the book of Genesis. However, the impact of the otherwise excellent production is weakened as the presenter states that today’s secular scientists whom disregard Scripture’s record of the Genesis flood are examples of the “scoffers” which the apostle Peter wrote would come in “the last days” (cf 2 Peter 3:3-6). The devastating problem with this statement is that the inspired apostle wrote those words in the 1st century when the last days of the old covenant were at hand; so that the last days referred to were then, not now.
 
This is a major interpretive error made by modern-day Christians, which has become well ensconsed in many hearts and minds, especially with the high volume of book sales along with seminary teachings by authors and professors based on the misapplication of the past to our present and near future. It is as if someone was to write in broad, non-specific terms about the last days of the current U.S. federal administration which (thankfully!) are nearing, and someone were to read it two thousand years or so from now assuming the dynamics of the situation described to be directly applicable to them there and then, when in actuality the relevance is to us here and now.
 
When it comes to the Holy Bible which is the word of God, surely there is far-reaching application as well as eternal truth to be gleaned, but the correct interpretation must be gathered based upon the historical context and the understanding of the original audience. The last days from two thousand years ago cannot be the same last days today, or they would not have been the last days then. The realization that the “last days” were in the past, and that much of Bible prophecy (not all!) was fulfilled in the 1st century is key to sound discernment of the Scriptures.
 
Holy writ indeed informs us that the Lord Jesus Christ is reigning now. Peter also quoted Psalm 110:1 and said Jesus is exalted at God’s right hand (position of authority), to rule from the Majesty on High (cf Acts 2:34-36; Hebrews 1:3). Jesus Himself said, just prior to His ascension, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18)Hence, He is now King at God’s right hand, just as the Psalm prophesied. The apostle Paul further expounded that He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death (1 Corinthians 15:25-26). This has not happened yet, and of course we cling to the blessed hope of the resurrection of the body when the end comes and Jesus returns in final judgment and to usher in the eternal state. Until then, the almighty, Triune God we serve is certainly to be victorious in time and history. 
 
So the Messianic kingdom has already been established, i.e. we are in the “millennium” now. The last days of the old covenant, including the great tribulation prophesied in Matthew chapter 24, were the days leading up to and including the destruction of the temple, the city of Jerusalem and apostate Israel when the Son of Man “came” with judgment in A.D. 70. “The last days” are now in the past, and followed from the work that He “finished” in A.D. 30 (cf John 19:30). The once for all sacrifice of the Lamb of God has superceded the old system of animal sacrifices, and now its up to the church, with steadfast faith in the power of the Holy Spirit, to look forward to and work towards the building of the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven… for, also as it is written, the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14).
 
The effectiveness of biblical apologetics as well as the fruitfulness of Christian reconstruction efforts will be greatly increased by our faithful witness to the truth that the last days are in the past. The long haul to triumph will likely extend beyond the relatively short lifetimes of those of us alive today; there’s no time to waste. Let’s get busy using our talents in good and faithful service to our King (cf Matthew 25:23), leaving an example for future generations to follow. Keep the faith. Stand strong in the Truth. The worst is past and the best is yet to come.
 
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).
January 4, 2014

New Heavens and a New Earth (and a Book Review)

Nounepiphany [ih-pif-uh-nee]
1. A divine manifestation
2. A moment of sudden understanding or revelation

We should all be on a quest to grow in grace through the renewing of our minds, seeking increased understanding of the pure, precious and perfect word of God. It is an amazing blessing when He embeds in us the zeal for such an effort, the reward of which can nearly amount to an ongoing epiphany. As we humble ourselves and faithfully ask for God the Holy Spirit of Truth to guide us in the Way, fervent study of the Scriptures transforms us wonderfully. Not to say that true Christians cannot legitimately arrive at differing interpretations of holy writ but submitting to the Bible as a whole, beyond one’s systematic presuppositions, is essential to correctly perceive its teaching and be enlightened thereby.

Matthew 24 Fulfilled by John L. Bray includes personal testimony of the author’s journey through his changing perspectives on eschatology. A verse by verse commentary on our Lord’s teaching in what is commonly called the Olivet discourse as delineated in the “little apocalypse” of Matthew chapter 24, it is not so technical as to exclude the Christian layperson from appreciating it. The volume very effectively incorporates the parallel gospel accounts as well as cross references from the Old Testament in the discussion. Perhaps the most valuable benefit of the work is the extensive bibliography. Multitudinous and sundry resources are not only cited but quoted copiously, several of which are older and out of print or otherwise obscure to today’s inquiring minds. That it is available in PDF makes it even more of a worthy addition to one’s library, since in that format the many works referenced can be bookmarked for instant retrieval. With the support of these many well-known older writers, including John Owen and Milton Terry, as well as many not so well-known older and newer ones, Bray ably presents the preterite perspective (he informs us that “preterist” is the noun whereas “preterite” is the adjective) of the “end times” teaching of the Bible. The preterite perspective takes Christ at His word when He said “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.” (Matthew 24:34), indicating that everything He had foretold up to that point in​ His discourse would have a near term fulfillment, certainly within the lifetimes of some of those who were alive at that time. It does not attempt to apply any etymological alchemy to alter the time frame as stated, in order to accommodate ​a preconceived ​​futurist interpretation of the prophesy.

Having completed this comprehensive study, I am more convinced than ever not only of the complete fulfillment of the entirety of Matthew 24, but also that the references to “new heavens and a new earth” in Isaiah 65:17 and elsewhere foretell of the present gospel age and not the eternal state hereafter. Isaiah 51:16 says “And I have put My words in your mouth; I have covered you with the shadow of My hand, That I may plant the heavens, lay the foundations of the earth, and say to Zion, ‘You are My people.’ “ which refers not literally to the physical creation 3,000 years earlier but symbolically to the establishment of old covenant Israel; the very same “heavens and earth” that would pass away in A.D. 70 as foretold by Jesus in the Olivet discourse (Matthew 24:35) and subsequently also by Peter in his second epistle: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.” (2 Peter 3:10). It h​as become​ clear to me that Peter referred not to a physical destruction of the universe at the end of time but to that cataclysmic event of the Lord’s coming in judgment in those “last days”. The apostle then goes on to tell his 1st century readers “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (2 Peter 3:13), which was couched in the same symbolic language to represent the establishment of the new covenant, having done away with the old. The critical thing to understand is that while this prophecy was near in the future for those old covenant Jews who recognized the Messiah’s first advent and were converted, we are now looking back on it with joy as new covenant Christians born/reborn and living under the new covenant, in the “new heavens and earth” of this gospel age. When Jerusalem was destroyed, the temple and its ordinances, which were types and shadows, were done away with. This happened within the generation of the original hearers of the prophecy. Since then the church is the new dwelling place of God, and we now worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. The new covenant church is the new bride of the Lamb, the new Jerusalem, a new heaven and a new earth (cf Revelation 21:1).

No doubt this is a radical shift in perspective from the futurist mindset pervading the church today, which pushes already fulfilled prophesy into the “not yet” of our future. The Bible says nothing about a rebuilt physical temple despite the popularity of dispensational premillennialism. The modern mindset seems to have developed a natural aversion to the preterite understanding of Bible prophecy, and embracing a biblically sound, historical viewpoint requires a prayerful focus on determining what sayeth the Scriptures rather than expecting them to validate preconceptions made popular by the rise of dispensationalism only since the 19th century. While the tide of eschatological consensus may be turning, a remaining obstacle to a hermeneutically sound, historical understanding of Scripture is the fear of going too far so as to depart from orthodoxy traditionally adhered to by the church (and some do!). In that regard let me hasten to affirm that there will be one great, final, visible, glorious, personal Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (cf 1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians 15), to coincide with universal, physical resurrection and judgment. This blessed hope is cherished even as we find that Scripture teaches there are also other ways in which He comes. Read Matthew 24 Fulfilled (only $8.95 in PDF) which compellingly exonerates the preterite perspective of Bible prophecy, going no further than where it can be exegetically shown to apply. As John L. Bray did at the end of that work, I herewith quote what Dr. Milton S. Terry (1898) wrote in his book Biblical Apocalyptics:

…it is important to observe that the preterist and historical method of interpretation followed in this volume conserves the substance of every fundamental doctrine of the Gospel of Christ. It may helpfully modify some current conceptions of “the great and notable day of the Lord,” for it treats the imagery of collapsing skies, and falling stars, and sounding trumpets, and dissolving mountains, and great white throne, and scores of similar figures of thought as expressing great realities, but not spectacular physical phenomena. Our interpretation no more denies or sets aside the doctrines of eternal judgment, of heaven and hell, of resurrection of the dead, and the coming and kingdom of Christ than does the refusal to affirm the literal “fire and brimstone” of future retribution deny or invalidate the doctrine of eternal reward and punishment beyond this mortal life.

Nearly nineteen centuries of the manifested power and glory of Christianity in the world ought to have thrown some light on the nature of the coming and the kingdom of Christ. It can scarcely be a question among intelligent believers in Christ that the beginning of the era of our Lord and Saviour was the most signal and significant epoch in the history of mankind. It marked a “fullness of times,” a crisis of ages. The exact point of transition from the old to the new may be with many an open question. But whether we place it at the birth of Jesus or at the time of ​His crucifixion, when ​He cried, “It is finished,” or at ​His resurrection, or at ​His ascension, or at Pentecost, or at the fall of Jerusalem, the great commanding fact is still before us that the manifestation of the Christ, with which all these events must ever appear in vital relation, opened a new era in human civilization.

We now submit the thought that these nineteen centuries of Christian light and progress are relatively but the misty morning twilight of the great day of Christ. It may be that ​He must reign a thousand times a thousand years before he shall have put all his enemies under his feet (1 Cor. xv, 25).

The coming of Christ in ​His kingdom and power and glory is not one instantaneous act or event. It is a long-continuing process comprehensive of ​His entire work both of redemption and of judgment. He comes in the power of his Spirit to convict the world respecting sin and righteousness and judgment (John xvi, 8); ​He comes in like manner to forgive the sins of the penitent and to lead the disciple into all the truth; ​He comes and is present wherever two or three are gathered together in ​His name. He has been coming through all the Christian centuries to receive unto ​Himself the faithful souls who have looked for ​His heavenly appearing and glory (John xiv, 3; xvii, 22–24). As truly as Jehovah came of old in the clouds of heaven to execute judgment on the Egyptians (lsa. xix, 1), so did the Son of man come in the clouds and with the angels of ​His power to execute judgment on the great city that was guilty of ​His blood and drunken with the blood of ​His saints and martyrs. He sitteth at the right hand of Power and sendeth forth continually ​His innumerable company of angels to minister for them that shall inherit salvation. Such triumphal administration of judgment, mercy, and truth has been, is now, and shall for ages be the work of ​His Messianic reign. And in full accord with these revelations of ​His power and glory we cry out with the Hebrew psalmist:

The Lord cometh, H​e cometh to judge the earth:
He shall judge the world with righteousness,
And peoples with ​His truth.

And we also respond with the Christian apocalyptist: Amen: come, Lord Jesus.

Just like in the days of Noah when the entirety of the evil society of mankind was destroyed, the wicked generation of apostate Israel was obliterated along with all the elements of the old covenant “heavens and earth”. My constant prayer is for a clearer, more widespread understanding of Messianic prophecy and its historical fulfillment. Recognition of this revealed truth leads ​immediately​ to the question, “How then should we live?”. Fresh understanding and appreciation of our blessed position in Christ is critically significant for a more positive outlook and a more practical application of the gospel in the everyday life of Christians and the church in the new covenant here and now. We are not on a sinking ship where it is futile to polish the brass; that’s how it was for old covenant Israel in the years just prior to A.D.70. We are the church militant in the Kingdom of Christ which has come in power and glory, which must grow until it fills the earth. God’s people just need to be enlightened and exhorted to greater faith and obedience; perhaps the first step in that direction is for the scales to fall from our eyes.

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. (Habakkuk 2:14)

August 15, 2013

Where’s the Outrage?

The recent internet news story about the U.S. Treasury running a $98 Billion deficit in July 2013 yet the national debt stayed exactly at $16,699,396,000,000 (just below the latest “legal limit”), goes to show that this illegitimate, corrupt federal administration does whatever it wants, even blatantly “cooking the books” right in front of incredulous eyes. Well, at least of those of us who have eyes to see. Unequal weights and unequal measures are both alike an abomination to the LORD (Proverbs 20:10). Alas, the lamestream media has taken the term “in the tank” to an amazing level, and its a septic tank that’s full and needs to be drained.
 
This issue of the national debt may seem inconsequential in the absence of a free press that actually investigates and reports the news; nevertheless it is crucial to the economic survival of this nation as we have known it. Its safe to say that we would not be in as ridiculous of a deficit situation now if Romney had been elected; as a sound business man if nothing else, he would have at least begun to turn around the fiscal skyrocket to oblivion. While I do not decry the choice of my Christian brothers & sisters who did not vote for Romney on a conscience basis, there are other abominations that have encroached upon us which even McCain’s election in 2008 may have avoided, most notably that “same-sex marriage”, the ultimately moronic oxymoron, could have been denied Supreme Court support without Kagan and Sotomayor. Notwithstanding ballot fraud, ingrained class/race propaganda and rampant ignorance, those of us who voted for both McCain and Romney, besides feeling the need for extra cleansing, are left with the fact that God’s will has been, is and always will be done.
 
With the USA going down in financial flames amid cultural chaos, how then should we live? …a rhetorical question without an easy answer beyond the basics according to God’s will, prayerfully, as best we can determine from His word… I suppose we ought to, in the words of Jesse Jackson, “keep hope alive”, while qualifying the object of that hope of course. Now I really need cleansing having quoted him; may as well quote Obama while I’m at it: “god bless planned parenthood”… its hard to imagine that even his god could bless planned parenthood.
 
The dreadful state of the union is made out by so-called progressives to be success, only hampered by conservatives clinging to their religion who are “racists”, “homophobes”, “xenophobes”, etc. What’s left of the country many of us grew up in by 2017 may be presided over by Hillary Clinton; America: the land of the spree and the home of the slave. Nevertheless there is no darkness greater than the grace of Jesus. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this (Isaiah 9:7).
 
So let us not be embittered, but rather comforted that God is in sovereign control of all things. We submit ourselves to His timetable according to His will, even when the wicked are allowed to outwardly prevail, knowing that all things work together for our good and His glory. We pray for empowerment to stand uncompromisingly on the truth of His word in every area of life, with love for the lost and with faith in the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Keep fighting the good fight, keep the faith, and finish the race (cf 2 Timothy 4:6-8).
 
O Lord of all the earth, be the stability of our times, our abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge. Let the righteous flourish among us, and let there be those who fear You in our land, while the sun endures, throughout all generations; that peace may abound, and the children yet to be created may praise the LORD. We ask it all in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
 
America the Beautiful
Words by Katharine Lee Bates,
Melody by Samuel Ward

O beautiful for spacious skies, 
For amber waves of grain, 
For purple mountain majesties 
Above the fruited plain! 
America! America! 
God shed his grace on thee 
And crown thy good with brotherhood 
From sea to shining sea! 

O beautiful for pilgrim feet 
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat 
Across the wilderness! 
America! America! 
God mend thine every flaw, 
Confirm thy soul in self-control, 
Thy liberty in law! 

O beautiful for heroes proved 
In liberating strife. 
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life! 
America! America! 
May God thy gold refine 
Till all success be nobleness 
And every gain divine! 

O beautiful for patriot dream 
That sees beyond the years 
Thine alabaster cities gleam 
Undimmed by human tears! 
America! America! 
God shed his grace on thee 
And crown thy good with brotherhood 
From sea to shining sea! 

O beautiful for halcyon skies, 
For amber waves of grain, 
For purple mountain majesties 
Above the enameled plain! 
America! America! 
God shed his grace on thee 
Till souls wax fair as earth and air 
And music-hearted sea! 

O beautiful for pilgrims feet, 
Whose stem impassioned stress 
A thoroughfare for freedom beat 
Across the wilderness! 
America! America! 
God shed his grace on thee 
Till paths be wrought through 
wilds of thought 
By pilgrim foot and knee! 

O beautiful for glory-tale 
Of liberating strife 
When once and twice, 
for man’s avail 
Men lavished precious life! 
America! America! 
God shed his grace on thee 
Till selfish gain no longer stain 
The banner of the free! 

O beautiful for patriot dream 
That sees beyond the years 
Thine alabaster cities gleam 
Undimmed by human tears! 
America! America! 
God shed his grace on thee 
Till nobler men keep once again 
Thy whiter jubilee!

Detroit, Michigan, USA


My zeal has consumed me, because my enemies have forgotten Your words. (Psalm 119:139)

April 3, 2013

Dead or Alive

The proverbial “Wanted…” poster from the American “wild west” aptly describes the spiritual state of each and every human being created by God. That is, you are either dead to the Triune God and therefore self-centered; or you have been made alive by the power of the Holy Spirit in Christ Jesus to the glory of the Father. Let me explain. We don’t start out with a “clean slate”. Since Adam & Eve, humanity is fallen. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Borrowing a term from information technology, it can be said that spiritual death is our “default” state of being. The standard theological terminology for this includes unregenerate; unconverted; dead in trespasses and sins. Conversely when one is made alive by the grace of God (cf Ephesians 2:1), that person is given new Spiritual life, and then said to be regenerate; converted; born again. This is the first resurrection (Revelation 20:5). Everyone will be raised from physical death on the last day, but only those who have had a part in the first resurrection will enter into the heavenly rest of eternal life. Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3).

Almighty God, our Creator Who is blessed forever, has decreed these and all things according to the pleasure of His will and for His glory; He has revealed them to us in His word, the Holy Bible. Do you believe this? Well that depends on whether you are dead or alive. In fact, that is how you can know your spiritual state, if you embrace God’s word or not. But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9-10). True Christians are those who have been made alive to the living God, those who bear the name of Jesus Christ… as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:12-13). Indeed, the Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God (Romans 8:16).

All of God’s creation and creatures, made for His glory, are under His sovereign control since before the foundation of the world. Those who would be quickened from the fallen state of spiritual death to new life in Christ Jesus was divinely predetermined in eternity past. This is a great act of mercy because no one deserves to be so saved. Without God acting first, salvation cannot be simply chosen by us, nor can it even be earned. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:8). It should be obvious that no one who is spiritually dead is able to make a decision to be spiritually alive, just as that is confirmed by the obvious fact that not everybody is saved. This is known as the doctrine of election. So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy (Romans 9:16). Throughout history and continuing to the end of time God calls to Himself His people to pass from death into life.

The bounty hunters of the American pioneer towns were the agents for bringing in those wanted by the law. Analogously, God uses the preaching of His word by His people to lost (dead) souls as the means ordained to be instrumental in the Holy Spirit’s work of bringing many to be saved (alive). This miraculously transformational work which the LORD brings to pass in His own good time according to the purpose of His will is irresistible and undeniable to those so called. All people everywhere are in fact commanded to repent and believe this gospel, and everyone is likewise responsible to throw themselves upon God’s mercy and be saved, but some remain in proud rebellion against God’s word. These whom are passed over for salvation are vessels of God’s wrath, and most importantly, only salvation wrought by the Spirit of God delivers souls from an eternity of misery in Hell which is called the second death, when — after we die physically — it is too late to be saved. Therefore behold, now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2)!

Our God and our Father, we pray that You will continue to let Your glory unfold mightily in the advancement of Your kingdom here on earth, by the individual conversion of many lost souls whom are dead in trespasses and sins, to be made alive by Your grace through faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed in Your word, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Let Your word go forth in power as Your people are made zealous for sharing these truths with the lost, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us (Acts 17:27), that they would search the Scriptures to see if these things are so, that they may be spared from Your just wrath and given the gift of faith that they may inherit eternal life. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent (John 17:3). Amen.


But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
To Him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. (2 Peter 3:18)

September 23, 2012

Wayward Worldviews & Political Persuasions

world·view  (wûrld vyoo)
noun  1. The overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world.

          2. A collection of beliefs about life and the universe held by an individual or a group.
[thefreedictionary.com]

To begin with, the only worldview that can account for morality is the Christian biblical worldview. God almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, in Whom all truth and logic inheres, has revealed Himself through the Incarnation of the Son, and by the Spirit inspired Scriptures. Also, in creating mankind in His image, God embedded our ability to reason according to and by the standard of His immutable nature. So there is special revelation which brings Christians near to God, as well as general revelation which leaves all without excuse for not acknowledging Him. There is no explanation for rational thought itself, let alone morality, outside of the Triune God of Scripture.

Therefore the atheist cannot logically make a claim as to whether or not anything is “right” or “wrong”, because he has no standard to appeal to. If we are just masses of protoplasm that randomly evolved from slime, what difference does anything make? In that worldview, we are only instigated to do whatever we do by “survival of the fittest”. What’s right for you may be wrong for me; what’s offensive to you may be my cup of tea. Why can’t someone just take another life if they find it convenient and choose to?  Ridiculous?  Absolutely!  In the absence of the fear of God, there is nothing to constrain one’s disposition to man. There are other such wayward worldviews as are common to fallen mankind, which contrast starkly with the Christian worldview of creation under God’s law. Along with the atheist, adherents to these worldviews willfully reject God by replacing Him with something else that they look to for their identity and values.

One particularly vehement and deeply ingrained example of a sociopolitical persuasion is the “racial” (more properly termed ethnic) worldview, held by segments of society separating themselves, for example as Blacks, or Italians, or Jews, or Latinos, etc., etc. or even “White supremacists” — which indicates that such distinctions need not only be applicable to “minority groups”.  Hitler’s Third Reich was based on a worldview of Germans as the “master race”.  In this country, where a war was fought 150 years ago to abolish slavery, the Black worldview today most powerfully epitomizes a “racial” state of mind, not just manifested by Black TV, Black History Month, Congressional Black Caucus, etc., but even to the point of distinguishing a “Black Liberation Theology”. While many U.S. citizens no longer define themselves primarily by ethnic heritage, there are many that remain first and foremost not Christian, nor American, nor even  just a man or a woman; but rather identify  themselves above all else as Black.  Accordingly, a common set of values within this group (not from the external standard of any “higher authority”) is propagated — all-too-typically to include a perpetual victimhood mentality and unwavering allegiance to the Democrat party so that there is a non-negotiable commitment to blindly support the presidency of Barack Hussein Obama aka Barry Soetoro, no matter how questionable his eligibility, qualifications, competency or character; or even how unmitigated of a disaster for the nation as a whole he has proven to be. Ridiculous? Absolutely!

The effect of this racial worldview is to lead us away from being one nation under God, towards dependency on an increasingly tyrannical federal government. The most aberrant aspect of it is that it flies in the face of the fact that there is only one “race”, the human race!  We are all descendent from Adam, and from Noah. What we have is different people groups and combinations of physical characteristics, genetically distinguished by the amount of melanin in the skin and other physical traits. The concept of separate “races” as in different species or “kinds” among people is the pernicious thinking of the evolution worldview, which is where the idea of “racism” comes from. The institution of slavery in the new world was a scourge justified by that mindset. Jim Crow in the American south reinforced it with the “little dab ‘ll do ya” theory to perpetuate segregation. Thus developed a mixed “class” of people who went from being called “mulattoes” to “quadroons” to “octaroons”; to “colored”, to “negro” to “black” to “African-American” — a hyphenated term which doesn’t seem to have stuck any better than any of the others, bringing the preferred nomenclature back to “Black”, no matter the broad range of actual skin shades of persons so culturally distinguished. Ridiculous? Absolutely!

Some had hoped for a “post-racial” era to be ushered in by Obama’s election, but instead his presidency has been an extremely divisive influence on this nation. Rather than providing leadership towards unity, seeking common ground to achieve bipartisan objectives, this president’s m.o. has been to ramrod his extreme leftist policies down everyone’s throat, if not by partisan power then by executive order. The net effect has been polarized political discourse, worsened congressional gridlock, heightened ideological animosity, and greater enmity between people groups. On top of that the democrat controlled senate even rejected the president’s own budget, such that this administration has not even gotten a budget passed in over 3 years. Still, in spite of the worst economic record conceivable by a president in a single term — the highlights of which are a $6 TRILLION increase in national debt and sustained unemployment above 8% (conservatively estimated) — the “race”-based block of voters continues to support Obama. Ridiculous? Absolutely!  We might hopefully assume that there will be at least some attrition by citizens within this group who wake up from a parasitical dependency on government, and from the false hope that government can provide societal utopia for them or anyone else. As Margaret Thatcher once said, “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”

These dynamics are clear indications of the abhorrent nature of sin in a fallen world. A people group enslaved, brutalized and hanging from trees like “strange fruit” is the imagery of the horrific history which this nation carries as baggage to this day, even after the election of a person with brown skin to the highest office in the land. I remember my dad, who had dark brown skin, telling me the story of how (some time in the 1940s I presume) he stepped into a facility where there was a job opportunity fair of sorts, and immediately over the loudspeaker, the facilitator broadcast the words “I can’t do nothin’ for you”. No one can deny the horrible wickedness of colonial slavery and its enduring effects that no man nor war could simply “abolish”.  Indeed the emotional scars of institutionalized persecution are deep and long lasting, and such wounds can never be healed but by the grace of God. Martin Luther King had the dream that one day people would not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. He never dreamed that the content of their character would be based on the color of their skin. While the civil rights movement in the USA made profoundly positive strides, politically; now nanny-statism threatens to reverse the progress of liberty, as government oppression and citizen dependency is just a different form of slavery.  Here’s the bottom line: notwithstanding all human causes and effects, the changing of hearts and minds, spiritually, is in the purview of the sovereign Spirit of God alone. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come (2 Corinthians 5:17).

The evil one, satan (name intentionally not capitalized), our adversary from the beginning, who is the devil, fosters the locking in of the racial worldview and hatred for those who dare to think outside of that box. It is a bitter irony that those who to this day self consciously subscribe to the black democrat dependency group-think may believe that they are “keepin’ it real”, when in fact they are suppressing the truth in unrighteousness by perpetuating the great deception of “racial” pigeonholing. There are those of us who have both African and European ancestry who are 50 cents away from having a quarter, and just want the economy to improve and opportunities to increase, for freedom and liberty to prevail as the gospel spreads; not for citizens to be controlled and provided for by big government. So its not just “white people” or “the rich” who are against Obama and the historically demonstrated ills of socialism, which pit the people against each other by “class” and by “race”. We as a nation desperately need to get past all that, and it is only possible when eyes are opened to see that there is no pain, no hate, no envy, no fear, no heartache, no wickedness, no nothing beyond the healing grace of Jesus… that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:4). What all of mankind and creation desperately need and groan for is reconciliation with God, to enable living according to His purpose; with forgiveness, respect and love for one another as all likewise bearers of His image. All people of all persuasions are called to repent and believe the gospel. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life.


But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
To Him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. (2 Peter 3:18)

 

August 25, 2012

Chronology, Creation and Compromise (includes a Movie Review)

The year is 1890 and Bible professor Russell Carlisle (D. David Morin) has written a new manuscript entitled “The Changing Times.” His book is about to receive a unanimous endorsement from the board members of the Grace Bible Seminary until his colleague Dr. Norris Anderson (Gavin Macleod) raises an objection. Dr. Anderson believes that what Carlisle has written could greatly affect the future of coming generations. Using a secret time machine, Anderson sends Carlisle over 100 years into the future, offering him a glimpse of where his beliefs will lead.

As is obvious from the above plot description appearing on the back of the DVD case, the movie Time Changer (a Rich Christiano film) is a work of fiction. Absent of high-budget special effects, and with a Christian theme, it has not reached anywhere near popular blockbuster status. Nevertheless, the film makes the enduring case for steadfast adherence to the authority of the Word of God. Carlisle’s manuscript makes a plea for morality and righteousness but begs the question, “By what standard?”. Anderson objects to the teaching of the law apart from the law-Giver, of preaching morality apart from the authority of the Word of God. After finally submitting to Anderson’s insistence, Carlisle travels to the future where he sees the disastrous results of mankind’s rejection of the infallible standard of righteousness, the Lord Jesus Christ. Apart from Him no one is righteous, no – not one. In one scene, Carlisle tells a hot dog snatching girl that it is not right to steal, and the girl responds “Says who?”.

In another scene in the movie Carlisle, in the future (the year 2000), perceived that he was in the “end times” and commented that therefore Jesus must be coming shortly to “set up His kingdom on earth”. This of course is indicative of a premillennial view of eschatology (end times). To anyone reading this blog who is at all familiar with eschatology, it must be apparent by now that I embrace a postmillennial view, which is that the return of the Lord Jesus (“the second coming”) will take place after His kingdom has been well established here on earth during this present age. While premillennialism does not detract from the excellent message of the film, the eschatological viewpoint of Christ returning a “millennium” before the final judgment, with the resurrection of believers when He comes, and then another resurrection of unbelievers at the end of His earthly reign is a problematical interpretation of Scripture mainly because it is out of accord with biblical chronology.

A greatly overlooked passage of Scripture which presents us a timetable of end time events is 1 Corinthians 15:25-26: For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. The context is Christ’s reign in heaven, which is where He sits at the right hand of Majesty on High since His ascension. Death is destroyed (general resurrection) at the end – at the last day – in a moment, the twinkling of an eye (1 Corinthians 15:52), not a prolonged drama for 1,000 years. So all of the enemies of the Lord Jesus Christ and His church are being put under His feet, and then comes the end, when death is destroyed. “The logic of Paul is inescapable” as per respected theologian B.B. Warfield. Other key texts of Scripture teach one particular day of resurrection/judgment for all which takes place when Jesus comes back (cf Acts 17:31; Acts 24:15 ).There will be a day of resurrection/judgment for ALL men – when Jesus comes (Matthew 25:31 ff). Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth — those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation (John 5:28-29). Notwithstanding that it may be the most widely held eschatological perspective in the church today, it can reasonably be said that the premillennial view of the book of Revelation is chronologically untenable based on unavoidable presuppositions derived from the full counsel of Scripture.

There is much more that can be said about end times chronology and the difficulties presented by the book of Revelation which is apocalyptic literature rendered in signs & symbols (the “first resurrection” of Revelation 20 is symbolic of spiritual regeneration!), but let us turn our chronometers from the end back to the beginning — to the book of Genesis and the creation account. Here we have clear-cut historical narrative, presenting the account of the magnificent work of almighty God creating all things ex nihilo (out of nothing) in six literal (24-hour) days. This is wonderful truth for the believer. Indeed the pattern for the days and weeks of our lives were thereby established. Our God is an awesome God! Just as we believe steadfastly in the virginal birth and bodily resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, we hold to a “young earth” as plainly depicted in the earliest history recorded in Genesis 1-11. We believe God’s word is inerrant and infallible, and we stand by its irrefutable truth as interpreted from the original language text in accordance with well established and scholarly accepted grammatical-historical methodology.

The compromise comes in by what I call the 3 Ws. That is, when a professing believer is either weak, wanting or wicked. The attack on God’s word is from the outside, in the form of the secular/humanist religion of evolution. Under the flag of so-called “science”, millions of years is presented for injection into the Bible’s chronology of creation. The weak accept it to avoid ridicule, or to get along. They fear men more than they fear God. The biblical worldview of others is compromised as they are wanting for a proper defense of the faith, and are overwhelmed by not having an answer to ungodly dogma presented as accepted fact. The wicked trample on the blood of Jesus, accepting the concept of death and sin before the fall, which overturns the gospel, promoting that lie to lead others astray. Make no mistake about it beloved, this is a foundational issue. Abortion, homosexuality, racism, adultery, broken families, attacks on the institution of marriage, and all such perverse problems are the symptoms of the undermining of the authority of God’s word.

So where do we go from here? Well first of all, if you have swallowed the wicked lie of evolution in any way, shape or form then I urge you to vomit it up and spit it out. Hold fast to your faith, and don’t be afraid to speak up. What position does your local church take on the inerrancy of God’s word? Have they compromised on the creation account of the Bible? Take heart, eyes are being opened, minds are being renewed. God is giving zeal for His Truth to His people, and help is available! Go to the AnswersInGenesis website where you can arm yourself with reliable information and resources. Another excellent website is the Institute for Creation Research. Get yourself a copy of The Beginning of the World – A Scientific Study of Genesis 1-11 by Dr. Henry Morris (remember Kindle Edition books are less expensive and readable on any PC or MAC with the free reading app). Stay tuned for more…

Let us pray that things don’t have to get much worse before God’s church arises to insist that the Bible is authoritative for all of life, from beginning to end.


But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
To Him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. (2 Peter 3:18)

 

August 11, 2012

HIStory, the Here & How, and the Hope of Heaven

Some time around 1,982 years ago the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ ascended with the clouds of heaven up to the Ancient of Days (cf Daniel 7:13). Having been conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary, He left the glories of heaven and came to this sin-cursed earth, took on flesh and lived a sinless life — obedient unto death, even death on a cross. What a miracle of love: God became a man! That part of the blessed work of redemption, as determined since before the foundation of the world by intraTrinitarian Covenant (pactum salutis) was accomplished in the fullness of time, in accordance with divine decree. Christ came forth, to faithfully perform the atonement for the sins of His people, as typified in the old testament, by perfect righteousness and substitutionary propitiation; as He proclaimed upon the cross, “it is finished.”

The third day thereafter He rose from the dead, and that calls for a never ending chorus of hallelujahs. It behooves us not only to learn and study the terminology used to expound upon the revealed Word of God, but also to rejoice and to faithfully receive and meditate upon the blessed historical truth of the Holy Spirit inspired Scriptures. Worthy is the Lamb of God Who was slain. All praise and glory to God Who is blessed forever, amen.

With the glorified God-Man reigning at the right hand of Majesty on High, the Holy Spirit, Who proceeds from the Father and the Son, regenerates sinners to new life in Christ Jesus; comforts, counsels and empowers His people, and seals us for the day of redemption. How then should we live? Never forget that we’re now spiritually alive and well, with the Spirit Himself dwelling within us. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ (Ephesians 2:13). Therefore not only are you a part of His body which is a living temple, but also your body itself is a temple! Mindful of being thus set apart as Holy, we pray for God’s will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. We are no longer slaves to sin, but rather bond servants of Jesus Christ. Let us go forth, not on our own strength, but abiding in Him, obeying His commandments. This indeed is a most gracious gift from above. For the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control (Galatians 5:22-23).

In light of all this, zeal for God’s glory ought to burn within us, as the Holy Spirit quickens us and fans the flames within our souls! Indeed man’s chief end is to glorify God, and how better to effectuate that purpose than to bring every thought, word and deed captive to Christ. His kingdom is advancing on earth, and we are the instruments. Onward Christian soldiers! Away with the all-too-typical attitude of the church at large today, that our tickets are punched for heaven so lets just get by until the end. No, no, no! People are perishing — where is your heart for the lost? Secular humanists are promoting their agenda more desperately than ever (without even realizing that their efforts are akin to spitting into the wind) — where is your respect for God’s law?  The anti-God forces are fervently promoting compromise of His word — where is your steadfastness in the truth? What, its not “cool” to stand on the timeless, true Word of God? Are you worried about how you are seen by the world’s eyes? Well I’m here to tell ya – it’s God’s eyes that count. For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14). That’s in the Bible. Nevermind the news propaganda nor the latest political campaign lie — where is your faith?  OK so you went to Chick-Fil-A on appreciation day, you do well — but is that the extent of your activism? Bottom line is whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Now zealous exhortations notwithstanding, you can’t just go out and win arguments by yelling louder and being meaner than ungodly adversaries. We are the church militant, but our weapons are not carnal. We must overcome evil with good, hate with love. You’re absolutely right to think that you can’t do that. As a matter of fact, Jesus said “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). What does that mean? Well it means what it says, apart from Christ and His indwelling Spirit you can do NOTHING… but with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).

Let us close with the comforting contemplation of hearing those words “well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23), after having lived a life dedicated to the glory of God, in His service towards the advancement of His kingdom. We may not see the fruition of a return to foundational principles in this country during our lifetimes, but it will happen. Not only here but all the nations shall be blessed, in the Seed of promise which is Christ Jesus. While we may be long gone from this place, having shuffled off these mortal coils; the triumph of the sovereign, enthroned Lord Jesus Christ and His church over all opponents in time and history is inevitable. Then comes the end, when all things shall be made new. No more sorrow. No more pain. No more sin. This is our blessed hope of glory, when we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is (1 John 3:2).

 

July 17, 2012

Hard Pressed, Hemmed In, and On The Horns…

Christian Americans know that this nation has fallen disastrously far from the biblical principles of it’s founding, and is reaping the results of the continuing failure to acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We also know beyond any doubt that He Who ascended to the right hand of God the Father almighty is the One to Whom every knee shall bow. Standing on the timeless, true word of God we know that just as the promise of the Messiah (the Seed of the woman in Genesis 3:15) came to pass in the fullness of time, He shall come again, with glory, to judge both the living and the dead. Hallelujah. But lets not get ahead of ourselves. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet (1 Corinthians 15:25). Many of us overlook this critical revelation.

We are hard-pressed on every side in this time and place because we are in the period of advancement of the kingdom of God, and the age-old battle rages on. Our Lord Jesus Christ reigns in heaven even now, as the sovereign Holy Spirit calls the Father’s children to covenant in the invisible church, to be living stones in a living temple, built upon the chief Cornerstone. While this is an indescribably blessed status for us to have, it puts us at enmity with our own flesh, the seed of the serpent, and the world (culture) that we are still smack dab in the middle of. The secular humanist forces have been doggedly advancing their anti-god agenda here in the United States of America, a nation founded as a constitutional republic under God.

We are hemmed in by wickedness in high places. Big bankers control the political process so that the two-party system is a stark reality, and we are limited to a choice of either one or the other in electing leaders, especially for the highest office in the land. A complicit major media, along with an electorate that is largely ignorant and gullible, helps maintain the status quo. Any candidate who is not a puppet for the system is systematically excluded. Of course our ideal candidate is a bonafide, born-again Christian whose faith is not separated from his politics, and who has biblically informed positions on all the issues. Let us continue to pray and work for such even as we realize that there is no one so qualified in the running at present. The closest we have come to a realistic alternative to the status quo is Ron Paul, a professing Christian whose positions at least consistently align with the U.S. Constitution. He would end all unjust wars and foreign entanglements and cut a TRILLION dollars in government spending. Now that’s real change. Ron Paul has been the Christian’s best hope by far for election to the office of President of these United States.

We are on the horns of a dilemma as the fat lady appears to be clearing her throat and getting ready to sing the end of the Ron Paul revolution. Let’s see what happens at the Elephant Convention, and hold fast with prayerful hope for what would be no less than miraculous at this point. Even so, its time to square up to the consideration of an Obama vs Romney race for President. First of all, as difficult as it is to do, we must face the fact that once the opposition nominee is officially determined, there is no viable third option. Careful, prayerful consideration has led me away from vowing to cast a write-in, or determining to opt out with a no-vote. There shall surely come a day when Christians will no longer be bound by the cords of the wicked, but for now we are indeed hemmed in (see above).

Yes, it is a sad state of affairs when Christians must vote for the “lesser of two evils” who is an adherent of Mormonism, a religion which teaches the abominable blasphemy that Jesus and Satan are brothers. Yet, with a clothes pin on our noses if necessary, we must vote for Romney because any other vote, or a no-vote, is effectively a vote for Obama, who is undeniably proven to be an unmitigated disaster. Obama’s particular anti-American deception and destructiveness must be cut short. For the sake of damage control alone, Obama has got to go. Without going into a lengthy political analysis, lets just look at life and death: Romney says he is now pro life; Obama has proven to be unswervingly pro murder. Romney favors repeal of Roe v Wade; Obama glorifies it. Romney agrees with parental consent; Obama eschews it. Romney has been on record supporting de-funding of Planned Parenthood; Obama reveres it. Romney is not in favor of embryonic stem cell research; Obama aggressively supports it. Romney has promised to scrap obamacare which if left unfettered, only the Lord knows how many will be harmed.

He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8). Remember this: we are not violating or compromising our commitment to scriptural doctrine by making a practical political choice in voting, and we should not equate the two. Voting for Romney against Obama is not making a compromise to nor an endorsement of Mormonism. This election is just one battle in a long-term war. If we insist on writing-in someone or voting for a 3rd party candidate who we know will not win, we are only contributing to losing this battle for whatever its worth, and each and every battle makes a difference. Likewise, the only statement a no-vote makes is that Christians have a lack of political clout. We cannot keep ceding battle victories to the greater evil without things continuing to get worse and worse. We are not compromising biblical standards by not letting idealism deter us from the realistic political action we need to take for the greater good.

George Bush prevailed over Al Gore by a mere five hundred-something votes in Florida, giving him the electoral total for victory. If only 500-some-odd more Bush votes had been no-votes or gone to a 3rd party candidate instead, we would’ve had Al Gore for President. Something to think about as we bite the bullet and vote for Romney this year.

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
To Him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. (2 Peter 3:18)

 

July 3, 2012

Government, Gospel and God’s Glory

A famous quip made by the 40th President of these United States which hit home and rings true today is “Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.” [listen] Previously having served as the 33rd Governor of California, it was Ronald Reagan who also astutely observed that “As government expands, liberty contracts.”

Indeed an out of control government, having undergone unprecedented expansion, now presents a practically insurmountable fiscal problem for this once prosperous nation, while personal freedom gives way to statist control. The highlight of the Obama economic record is a 43% increase in the Federal Debt which stands at an unspeakable $15.2 TRILLION, and all the so-called “stimulus” government spending has completely failed. Regardless as to whether this is a case of good intentions combined with pathetic incompetence; misguided ideology mixed with power-hungry narcissism; all Bush’s fault; or worst case – deliberate “Cloward-Piven Strategy”, it is undeniable that individual rights, which come from God, have correspondingly suffered and necessarily erode under bigger and more intrusive government.

So what is the solution? Even the limited government model established for our nation by its founders was and is dependent on the gospel of Jesus Christ. Everything is dependent upon, contingent to, defined by, and judged according to the gospel. The word gospel literally means “good news”. The gospel is really good news because it is the solution to a much bigger problem that all of mankind faces: the problem of sin. Why is sin such a big problem? Because it cannot be tolerated by our creator God, Who is infinitely holy and the sovereign judge of all. So why did God permit sin to come into the world? I’ll tell you exactly why: for His glory. Life is not about the ordinances of men. No matter what political philosophy is en vogue, all is meaningless outside of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Its just so, you must know.

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15)
By this gospel you are saved…that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time…(1 Corinthians 15:2-6).

Glory, glory and hallelujah for the Holy Bible which is the word of God. It affirms that Jesus Christ is God. The Holy Spirit inspired Scriptures are to be believed, as His word carries both instruction and authority for every area of our lives. We stand uncompromisingly on the authority of the Word of God! Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Pontius Pilate, when staring right into the face of Truth personified, pondered, “What is truth?”. We know Who the Truth is and we stand for Him even unto death. Jesus prayed to the Father for His disciples (and us), “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” (John 17:17), which confirms that the Word of God – both the eternal Word Himself as well as the canon of Scripture (the Holy Bible) – is Truth. Amen!

If you don’t have the Bible, GET IT.

If you have the Bible, READ IT.

If you read the Bible, BELIEVE IT.

If you believe the Bible, LIVE IT.


But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
To Him be glory both now and forever. Amen. (2 Peter 3:18)

 

June 28, 2012

Perplexed but not driven to despair…

No doubt blogs are all abuzz today with banter about the supreme court decision to uphold the legislation commonly known as obamacare. What shall we say then?  It is indeed disappointing that this atrocious health-care mandate would even be considered to be “constitutional”.  The U.S. Constitution restricts the federal government to specifically enumerated powers which do not include providing/managing medical insurance coverage… end of story. But in the hoodwinked world of politics, it played out on a stage reminiscent of the high places in Israel of old where they worshiped their idols. Should we have even gotten our hopes up? Public officials who understand and abide by the principles of Constitutional government are few and far between — Ron Paul is the only one I can think of offhand who has been consistent in that regard. In a political environment where a presidential candidate of his caliber is “unelectable”, what should we expect from the “high court of the land”?

In 1973, in the infamous Roe v. Wade pro-abortion decision, seven justices ruled that women could kill their pre-born babies.  50+ million such babies have been brutally murdered since then, because of “choice”.  Since it’s already ok to choose to murder pre-born babies for whatever reason, then stealing from people (and calling it a tax) to regulate healthcare, or in the future – by precedent – for whatever reason, is just another action towards the repeal of God-given rights (first life, now liberty)… but “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked…” (Galatians 6:7).

Not only will this flawed law raise taxes, kill jobs and increase our already unsustainable national debt, but insult is added to injury by the vote of John Roberts, a Bush appointee and heretofore respected judicial constructionist. It goes to show that the influence of the powers that be are deep and wide. But there is no darkness greater than the grace of Jesus! Too many Christians are focused on the “conservative right” political platform instead of a biblical world view.  “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). Jesus told his disciple, “…you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).

So we need to get even deeper than “grass roots”… “The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8). Don’t support candidates for public office who don’t take their oath seriously (believe it or not they all take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution). The fight against obamacare now shifts to the halls of congress where for the most part the only option is either donkey or elephant dung. But Jesus’ disciples were dealing with an even more putrid scenario: Caesar was on the throne and tyranny was well established; yet Rome fell and God’s kingdom increases.

Press on, beloved, stay strong in the faith. Even now in this postmodern era, as hearts & minds are changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit we will prevail.

June 25, 2012

Best Laid Plans and Righteous Resources

In entering the blogosphere I am acutely aware of the Lord’s mighty hand on all things. Indeed He has brought about a confluence of circumstances leading me to establish this new blog, as I have become more and more zealous for the advancement of the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ in the here & now, and being on the “other side of the hill” so to speak, while living in a country that has regressed so far from the soundness and respectability of its founding documents which are based on biblical principles. The FaithFacts website has an excellent section on The Bible and Government which delineates this relationship. It is absolutely crucial that Christian Americans be aware of the revisionist bastardization of history that has been ubiquitously propagandized so as to impugn the motives of the earliest settlers of this nation who were Christian evangelicals! The postmodern “progressive” (actually regressive) agenda would have us forget that the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence acted on behalf of their posterity, “and for the support of this Declaration with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.” Beloved, though our weapons are not carnal, and we fight not against flesh & blood, the kingdom of our Lord encompasses every area of life and we must be similarly dedicated, faithful and prayerfully confident to prevail.

To that end let me heartily recommend some resources to start. As victims of public schooling, many of us have been taught many erroneous things about the European explorers of the new world (Christopher Columbus et. al.), as well as the “Indians”, the Pilgrims and the Puritans, etc. so as to denigrate our nation’s founding, even to the point that the chief executive of these United States has stated that we are “no longer a Christian nation”. Do a phrase search of the Bible for “all the nations” to see how the regressives are going the wrong way…  (not only this nation, but Yahweh told Abraham that “…in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed…” [Genesis 22:18]).

Which leads me to the first recommended resource: Berean Bible Study Freeware, aka BerBible, available here. Get the Free Bundle with ESV, NASB, KJV, and other Bibles (about 10 MB).

Secondly, there is a 4-sermon series recorded by Pastor Joe Morecraft III in mp3 format that comes on a CD for only $5 titled “Ideas Have Consequences”, available here. The promo says it all:  Watching the news or observing the American culture begs the question, “What went wrong?”.  We were founded as a Christian nation, fleeing persecution, and now we cannot pray in public or speak out against wicked behavior without being persecuted or even prosecuted.  Listen to these lectures filled with historical facts and presentations of attitudes of another era and you will understand “what went wrong”.

Thirdly, a book titled “The Light and the Glory” by Peter Marshall and David Manuel, subtitled “Did God Have a Plan for America?”. Here is the editorial review: For those of us who, like the authors, have been exposed mostly to the secular accounts of this period of American history, the information presented becomes a revelation of very great magnitude. … This book is important. I would that every professing Christian read Gods Holy Bible and this book. There are, of a surety, better and more comprehensive histories than this, but I would recommend none more highly to introduce the student to our Christian American roots as pertains to our beginnings on these shores. — Christian Forum Book Review. This book is available from amazon.com. Also let me take this opportunity to advise that many books are available in Kindle format at significantly lesser cost, and they can be viewed on any computer with the free Kindle reading app.

Lastly, a new friend of mine has recommended “Paradise Restored” by David Chilton, available as a PDF for free online here. Not having read it yet myself, but familiar with Chilton’s work (“Days of Vengeance”), and with the subtitle of “A Biblical Theology of Dominion”, I recommend “Paradise Restored” unhesitatingly. I also highly recommend my new friend Publius Huldah’s blog, accessible from the blogroll at the right or here… and I close with this as stated there (extrapolated from Galatians 3:28):

“There is no such thing as Jew & Greek, slave & freeman, male & female, black person & white person; for we are all one person in Christ Jesus.”

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
To Him be glory both now and forever. Amen. (2 Peter 3:18)

June 24, 2012

Is this Your Religion?

Puritan Audio Devotional: Is this your religion?

J.A. James, challenging

Play Audio!    Download Audio

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June 24, 2012

Great Searchings of Heart

Great Searchings of Heart

James Smith, 1856

Being called upon to attend an association of churches during the past week, I was painfully affected by the fact, that out of more than twenty churches — only four could report an increase of numbers during the last twelve months, and that increase was small. Yet, in every church the gospel is preached, and in most, if not all, prayer-meetings are held. What is to become of the world, thought I, if things go on thus? What will become of our own beloved land?

The population is increasing, souls by millions are perishing, and the gospel seems to have lost its power! The churches decrease. What a solemn, what an alarming fact! About three thousand sermons had been preached, about three thousand children had been taught in the Sabbath-schools, a great number of Bibles, tracts, and religious periodicals had been circulated — and yet the majority of the churches had decreased! Surely this is enough to make one weep, lie low before God, and ask, “Show us why you contend with us.” Three questions arose in my mind, and have been exercising my thoughts since. Let me invite you, my fellow-Christian, to attend to them with me.

First, Is there not a cause? Surely we cannot ascribe our present languishing condition wholly to the sovereignty of God. In Old Testament times the Lord laid the blame on his people, and asked, “Have you not procured this unto my yourself?” And again, by another prophet, “Is the Spirit of the Lord straitened? Are these the things He does?” Do not my words do good to him whose ways are upright?” Many similar portions may be remembered by the reader, if he is familiar with the Scriptures.

In the New Testament, the apostle James tells us, “You have not — because you ask not; or because you ask amiss, that you may consume it on your lusts.” Surely there is some worm at the root, that causes the plant of God’s right hand planting to wither. There is some wedge of gold and Babylonish garment hidden in some Achan’s tent, which causes Israel to turn their backs on their enemies. Yes! There must be a cause. We have the same gospel to preach which the apostles had. We have the same promises of success. We have the same kind of people to address. Yet they were successful; they turned the world upside down; they triumphed in Christ, and spread abroad the savor of his knowledge in every place.

But what are we doing? Where are our triumphs? We decrease; what is the cause? Let us then inquire,

Secondly, Can we ascertain the cause? Methinks we may, if we are hearty in our desire, and are willing to dig deep enough. It does not seem to lie on the surface; let us therefore plough up the fallow ground, and look deeper. God said that he would search Jerusalem, as with candles, and punish the men that were settled on their lees.

Let us who preach, look at our preaching, and ask: Do I preach Christ enough? Is Christ crucified, and Christ glorified — constantly kept before the people? Do I, in my ministry, exalt and extol him? Is it my delight to proclaim Him . . .
in the glory of His person,
in the merit of His blood,
in the riches of His grace?

Do I present Him to my people as the only Savior to be trusted, and the great example to be copied? Do I preach Christ plainly, with deep feeling, and with a hearty desire that my hearers may believe in Him and live? Do I aim at the immediate conversion of every soul that hears me, travailing in birth for souls until Christ is formed in them?

Do I honor the Holy Spirit in His Divine personality, office, character, and gracious work? Do I preach, impressed with the thought, that unless the Holy Spirit accompanies the Word with His power —
no dead sinner will be quickened,
no undecided hearer will yield to Jesus,
nor will the Lord’s people be revived or comforted?

Do I realize that it is personal, heartfelt, believing prayer, that brings down the power of the Spirit, which alone can render the Word effectual? And do I in private, among my people, in the pulpit, and even while preaching — endeavor to bring down the Spirit by such prayer? Do I strive to impress upon my people, the necessity of incessant prayer for this invaluable blessing, and set them an example by cultivating such a spirit of prayer? Am I an example to my people of . . .
deadness to the world,
zeal for the Lord’s glory,
devotedness to the Lord’s work, and
burning desire to bring souls to God?

And let the brethren who are HEARERS examine themselves on this point also. Brethren, much depends on you. A praying, zealous, lively, working church, must be successful. We fear that many of you do not realize the value of the immortal souls around you as you should. You do not aim constantly at bringing souls to God, as if it was the first and grand object of your life. Souls are dropping into Hell around you — but where is your feeling? Souls are hardening in sin under the preaching of the gospel — but where is your concern? You know that though Paul preaches — yet without the power of the Spirit of God, no saving effect would be produced — and yet you hear sermon after sermon, without pleading with God for His Spirit to come down! You hear of the low state of the church, you talk of the low state of the church — but where are your tears? Where are your wrestlings with God? Where is your deep and heart-affecting concern? How few of you feel as if you could not live if the cause of God did not prosper? and yet this is how every one of us should feel. Ah, my brethren, I think a little examination will lead us to discover how we have grieved the Spirit, and why our churches are in the state they are! There is a cause — let us search it out, and then let us inquire,

Thirdly, Can we remove it? Are we willing to make the effort? Are we right heartily desirous to witness the change? If we are, let us ascertain what part we have had, in causing the Spirit to withdraw.

What sins do we indulge?

What duty do we omit?

What wrong feelings do we cherish?

What improper principles do we hold?

What unhallowed spirit or temper do we give way to?

There is some special cause in every one, though there may be a general cause spreading over the whole church.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life!” Psalm 139:23-24. Let then our pastors, elders, deacons, and private members, commence the work of self-examination at once, and let us be impartial in the work . . .
sparing no sin,
tampering with no lust,
listening to no temptation.

But let us make thorough work of it. Let every sin we detect be confessed over the blood of atonement; let us . . .
deplore
it,
grieve
over it,
seek the pardon of it, and
pray for grace at once to depart from it!

Let us humble ourselves before God. The guilty should confess, and the confession of guilt should lead to deep humiliation before God. Brethren, let us lie low. Let us abhor ourselves, and repent in dust and ashes. O for humbling grace from God, for I fear most of us think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think!

Let us plead with God in earnest prayer for deeper sanctification, for greater spirituality, that, like Jesus, our Master, it may be our food and drink to do the will of God. How little we resemble him, who left us an example that we should follow His steps!

A worldly church can never be really a spiritually prosperous church. As our land, in a spiritual sense, is like what Israel’s land was once in a literal sense, when for three years and six months there had been no rain, so that dearth and death were the characteristics of the country — let us, like Elijah, go up to the top of Carmel, and like him, determine never to leave our post until the Lord sends down revitalizing rain upon the earth. He is saying to us, “Ask the Lord for rain in the spring, for he makes the storm clouds. And he will send showers of rain so every field becomes a lush pasture. For I will pour out water to quench your thirst and to irrigate your parched fields. And I will pour out my Spirit.” (Zechariah 10:1, Isaiah 44:3).

Remember, O remember, that the energetic prayer of the righteous man avails much! Who shall say how much? God is still love. We have his promise. He is on the throne of grace. He bids us to come to it boldly. He asks us to prove Him, by penitence, reformation, and prayer. (Mal. 3:10, 13.) He is true to His word. He will show himself faithful. He never did say to the seed of Jacob, “Seek me in vain,” and He never will. It is still true that every one who asks aright — receives; he who seeks in faith — finds; and to him that knocks with importunity — the door of Heaven’s storehouse is opened. Let us ask, seek, and knock, then, that our joy may be full.

O that I could write something that would touch the hearts of the Lord’s people, and stir them up! O that the Lord would use my pen to awaken concern, quicken desire, and lead to hearty wrestlings for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit! Nothing will do but this. Without it we are like Samson, who lost his locks on Delilah’s lap! We may go out and shake ourselves, we may make a stir — but we shall accomplish nothing! There can be no substitute found for the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in the church.

He is the only giver and nourisher of spiritual life. He is the only efficient teacher of the ignorant. He is the only life of the church. O that God, even our own God, would at once give us anew this great blessing, that we may see a great and glorious revival of pure and undefiled religion! O to see thousands pierced in the heart, led to the Savior, and introduced into the church! O to hear the dear name of Jesus sounded forth by the tongues of millions of ransomed sinners, brought by the promised Comforter to know, love, and serve him! Lord Jesus, pour out the ever-blessed Spirit, to sanctify the church, to gather together into one your scattered people, and fulfill the largest promises of the everlasting covenant! Amen.

June 24, 2012

Church Victory

Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3…