Category Archives: Bible

Thanksgiving

“…because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Romans 1:21

We are a week away from Thanksgiving. For some time now Thanksgiving has been perhaps my favorite Holiday. The reason for this is because of its purpose. We set aside an entire day for the purpose of being thankful. I saw a sign on a church marquee this last week that I thought was truly great. “Thanksgiving is not just a day, it is a lifestyle.” If there is one thing that should exemplify the life of a Christian it is an attitude of thankfulness.

How important is thankfulness? Well in Romans 1 the Apostle Paul gives one of his more well known discourses on the problem that man faces. In Romans 1 we see this large list of sins that are evidence of man’s hostility toward God. The entire last section of the Chapter is a listing of the many evils and wicked acts that men do which further drive them away from the glory of God. The amazing thing about this though is what the cause of this alienation is.
Romans 1 tells us plainly that all men everywhere know who God is and what His invisible attributes are, and yet man in his pride refuses to honor and glorify God and almost in passing Paul tells us that they refuse to give him thanks. The great cause of sin and wickedness in the world is a lack of thankfulness. Everything we are and everything we have is a direct result of the benevolence and kindness of God, and yet the natural tendency of man is to want to glory in ourselves, and in doing this we alienate ourselves from God.

Paul tells us that this lack of acknowledgement of God and this refusal to give thanks causes man to grow futile in all his thoughts. A life that does not revolve around thankfulness to God is a life of futility. Today there are so many ideas that are considered wise in the eyes of the world that the Scripture clearly calls futility. The primary reason for this is that man is in general a most un-thankful creature.

The result of this un-thankfulness is a mind that continues in hostility with God. The way Paul discusses it in this passage is by telling us that their foolish hearts are darkened. Futility of thought is sadly far to prevalent. Men profess themselves wise, and all the while they are fools. Ultimately this delusion comes back to man’s lack of thankfulness.

So this coming Thursday when the Turkey is being carved and the family is gathered around the table make sure that your thankfulness is not merely an event for that day alone. Resolve to have a heart of thankfulness in everything you do. A thankful heart is a heart that acknowledges God and all that God has done, and it is also the heart that recognizes that God is in control and He will lead us exactly where we need to be.

Post Election Thoughts

November 8th seems like yesterday. It was a truly glorious day. The election results poured in throughout the day and as the night went on it became more and more obvious that a huge change was sweeping over the nation. The Clinton agenda suddenly had a huge wrench thrown into it. Republicans were celebrating, and Democrats were weeping and I was ecstatic, because finally things were going to change.

Well, November 8th was not yesterday, I am speaking about November 8th, 1994. For the first time in 40 years the Republicans had taken control of the House of Representatives, and pushed back against the heavy handedness of Bill Clinton’s first couple of years in office. Newt Gingrich came up with an idea and a plan, or as we know it the Contract for America and a sense of disgust with the status quo dominated the election cycle and the Republicans picked up 54 House Seats and 9 Senate Seats, and created a change in tone for then President Bill Clinton.

Sadly, Bill Clinton learned a lesson from that early setback, and the GOP did not. The GOP found themselves in a position of authority over the Congress, and rather than put a halt to the corruption and scandal that resides where power sits they adopted it and made it their own. Very quickly they betrayed the people who had put them in these positions of authority and there was no way to tell the difference between them and the people they replaced.

What I remember most about this 1994 election was how excited I was at the prospects of things improving, but like many others I found myself distraught and disgusted with business as usual politics. This repeated itself in the 2000 Presidential Election when the whole nation was brought to its knees in the long Bush v. Gore ordeal. And I will admit, I slept less during those nights than normal, because I was deeply concerned with the outcome. But then it ended, and my man was at the helm, and of course things were going to change…but once again nothing changed.

Psalms 146 gives us a much more Biblical outlook on how we should view these elections:

1 Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD, O my soul!
2 While I live I will praise the LORD;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
3 Do not put your trust in princes,
Nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help.
4 His spirit departs, he returns to his earth;
In that very day his plans perish.
5 Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help,
Whose hope is in the LORD his God,
6 Who made heaven and earth,
The sea, and all that is in them;
Who keeps truth forever,
7 Who executes justice for the oppressed,
Who gives food to the hungry.
The LORD gives freedom to the prisoners.
8 The LORD opens the eyes of the blind;
The LORD raises those who are bowed down;
The LORD loves the righteous.
9 The LORD watches over the strangers;
He relieves the fatherless and widow;
But the way of the wicked He turns upside down.
10 The LORD shall reign forever—
Your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the LORD!

Trump, Clinton, The GOP, the Democratic Party are all temporal institutions, and while we should remember our duty to pray for these individuals and leaders that they would rule wisely and rule well in the fear of the Lord, we must never place our trust in these men, or these institutions. It is the Lord who rules and reigns, and His Kingdom is a Kingdom whose increase will know no end.

So yes, rejoice if your candidate was victorious bask in the glory of the victory, but remember their plans perish with them. Go ahead and mourn and lose a little sleep when your guy or your gal loses, but remember this, if your trust is in the plans, policies or person at the head of the ticket rather than in the Lord God who made heaven and earth, you are just going to repeat this cycle again and again. Learn to put your trust in the Lord who reigns forever and ever.

Praise the Lord.

Christian Interventionism

Doctrine of the Lesser MagistratesThere is an interesting story in the news right now out of the State of Kentucky.  The Rowan County Clerk, Kim Davis, who objects to gay marriage for religious reasons, asked the U.S.  Supreme Court on Friday to grant her “asylum for her conscience.”  Since the Supreme Court ruling in the Obergefell case Davis stopped issuing all marriage licenses.  Two gay couples and two straight couples sued her, arguing that she must fulfill her duties as an elected official despite her personal Christian conviction. A federal judge ordered Davis to issue the licenses and an appeals court upheld that decision.

County Clerk Davis, however,   has continued to hold firm and will not issue the marriage licenses.  Her attorney, Jonathan D. Christman, with the Christian law firm Liberty Counsel, wrote the court. He compared it to forcing a person who objects to war into the battlefield, or forcing a person who opposes capital punishment to carry out an execution.

“That searing act of personal validation would forever, and irreversibly, echo in her conscience — and, if it happened, there is no absolution or correction that any earthly court can provide to rectify it.”

Now I do not know how this case will turn out.  I have my suspicions and I am not optimistic, but there are a few things I find interesting.

First, there are some who think Clerk Davis should just resign, well, she is not going to do that.  Davis has said she will not resign from her $80,000-a-year job, and vowed that she will never license a same-sex marriage. She has turned couples away for two months, in defiance of a series of court orders.  She can’t be fired because she is an elected official.  The only thing that can be done to remove her is to impeach her.  Well, that is probably not going to happen, because the majority of the legislature in her state agree with her.  Last week the Republican Head of the Senate spoke at a rally in her defense.

Pastor Toby Sumpter prayed that God would give us thousands more men and women with courage and conviction like this.  I have to echo this prayer.  Davis is doing nothing more than putting into practice the Christian Doctrine  of the Lesser Magistrate.  One of the issues that confronts us as we enter into an America of ever increasing tyranny is what can we do? Are unjust or immoral actions by the government simply to be accepted and their lawless commands obeyed?

I know this kind of action troubles some of you, but I would like to recommend a great little book on the subject.  Matthew Trewhella’s “The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrates.”

https://lessermagistrate.com/lesser-magistrates-book/

Pastor Trewhella shows how Americans can successfully resist the Federal government’s attempts to trample our Constitution, assault our liberty, and impugn the law of God. The doctrine of the lesser magistrates declares that when the superior or higher civil authority makes an unjust/immoral law or decree, the lesser or lower ranking civil authority has both the right and duty to refuse obedience to that superior authority. If necessary, the lower authority may even actively resist the superior authority. Historically, this doctrine was practiced before the time of Christ and Christianity. It was Christian men, however, who formalized and embedded it into their political institutions throughout Western Civilization.

Sadly most Christians know nothing about proper Christian resistance.  We need to keep County Clerk Davis in our prayers and pray that God would show us mercy by raising up many more like her!  May God have mercy on our nation.

 

Affirming Sin!

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Deception is the greatest tool of the devil.   Revelation 12 describes the Great Red Dragon who deceives the entire world.   We know this initial deception was the one that took place in the Garden in Genesis 3.   But the devil continues his attempts at deception even today.   What is truly despicable though is how little it seems he has to work to do so.   We live in a day where man is all too eager to allow himself to be deceived by lies.   The truth can be staring a person in the face and they will cling to a lie no matter how absurd.

A recent example of this is the recent story in the news titled:  Growing Number of California Churches Believe Homosexuality not Sinful.   According to the article “More than 800 Christian churches in California affirm and support gay members, a number that has risen 50 percent since 2005, according to the latest survey from gaychurch.org.”  The deception that is involved in this story is a pretty clear example of a self inflicted wound.

The Bible is not very ambiguous when it comes to the issue of Homosexuality. There are many who would like to make it seem as though it is, but there is not one iota of evidence that the Bible anywhere encourages, supports or affirms homosexual behavior.   1 Corinthians 6 is absolute in its affirming that homosexuals will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.

Gaychurch.org is the organization that is the source of this information.  I decided to visit their site, and read some of their material.   One of the pages that can be linked to is a page called “Homosexuality and the Bible.”   A question they ask on that page is “Are Homosexuals condemned to Hell?”  This question is one of those questions that is important to ask, however, the answer that is given shows a complete lack of understanding of the way that God’s grace works.   Let me explain:

The following is an excerpt from the article titled “Are Homosexuals condemned to Hell?”

When I was “coming out,” most in the church believed that homosexuals were condemned to Hell. Because of this, I too struggled with this concept and wondered if my very salvation was in peril. After all, I had no one else telling me anything different. My heart was telling me that God loved me ‘just as I am’ yet the Church was telling me something entirely different. Which was right?

Not wanting to lose my salvation over my sexual orientation, I started my journey here to find God’s truth and will for my life. Aware that my own biases would probably cloud my judgment, I decided to start my search using the worst possible scenario. That being the premise that the “anti-gay” contingent was correct and that homosexuals were destined for Hell. If I could find any way to Scripturally back this premise, then I had determined in my mind that I would accept this as the truth. After all the weight of the Church stood behind this idea and I surely didn’t want to risk my relationship with God. No matter the personal cost.

After much thought, I came up with only two possible scenarios that would support this notion.  The first is that salvation is reserved for a select group of people, and that homosexuals are somehow excluded from this group. The second possibility is that homosexuality is such a terrible and perverse sin that salvation is beyond our grasp. On the flip side, if neither of ideas could stand up to Biblical scrutiny, then there is nothing left to support the notion that salvation hasn’t been extended to everyone – including the gay community!

OK, before answering this answer I would like to quote a Bible verse.   1 Corinthians 6:9-11 reads:

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

Clearly from this passage we can see that Homosexuals are excluded from the Kingdom of God.  However, and this is critically important, so too are fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, thieves, coveters, drunkards, etc…What is so different about the way the Gaychurch.org crowd is going about their argument is they are pretending that one can have a relationship with God and yet not have God change their life.

Read the following statement and see that I have made it not about homosexuality but about being a thief, and see if it makes any sense at all.

When I was “coming out,” most in the church believed that thieves were condemned to Hell. Because of this, I too struggled with this concept and wondered if my very salvation was in peril. After all, I had no one else telling me anything different. My heart was telling me that God loved me ‘just as I am’ yet the Church was telling me something entirely different. Which was right?

Not wanting to lose my salvation over my kleptomania, I started my journey here to find God’s truth and will for my life. Aware that my own biases would probably cloud my judgment, I decided to start my search using the worst possible scenario. That being the premise that the “anti-theft” contingent was correct and that thieves were destined for Hell. If I could find any way to Scripturally back this premise, then I had determined in my mind that I would accept this as the truth. After all the weight of the Church stood behind this idea and I surely didn’t want to risk my relationship with God. No matter the personal cost.

After much thought, I came up with only two possible scenarios that would support this notion.  The first is that salvation is reserved for a select group of people, and that thieves are somehow excluded from this group. The second possibility is that thievery is such a terrible and perverse sin that salvation is beyond our grasp. On the flip side, if neither of ideas could stand up to Biblical scrutiny, then there is nothing left to support the notion that salvation hasn’t been extended to everyone – including the thieving community!

This argument is ridiculous.   Of course, stealing is a wicked and a perverse sin.   No one expects that a person will continue to steal once he has been saved.  But for some reason, the homosexual denies the power of God’s grace.  They want to proclaim that God changes lives, but they don’t believe in the actual change.

Do we affirm thieves?  Do we affirm adulterers?  What about liars and drunks?   No, or at least we shouldn’t.  We should call them to the cross of Christ where they set aside those besetting sins and call them to look to Jesus.   One of the problems of the Affirming movement is they believe that people are identified by their sin.   To identify yourself by your sin is to completely miss the idea of the Grace of God.

1 Corinthians 6 begins with the command to be not deceived? Well, any movement that attempts to affirm people in their sin, rather than in the grace of God is using the devils playbook. They are engaging in the worst kind of deceit. The deceit that claims that God didn’t really say exactly what God said. This “Affirming Movement,” has exchanged the truth of the Word of God for a lie, and they have done it in such a way that actually attacks and slanders the true Church of Jesus Christ. Our friends and family members who have been ensnared by the Sin of Homosexuality do need our compassion, however, what they do not need is a lie that pretends to be sanctioned by God.

Homosexuality is a sin, but Jesus came to forgive sinners. Jesus told the woman caught in the very act of adultery to go and sin no more. Her past was a life of adultery. Her future was identified by who she was in Christ. Don’t be deceived into allowing the lies of the affirming sin movement to rob you of the glorious future that Christ has for those who are His.

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Ducks, Homosexuals, and Cowards!

phil-robertson-p11 Well, the Duck Dynasty issue has certainly grabbed a hold of the interest of a lot of people. Some have called it a free speech issue, and I guess to some degree that is accurate, but far more important than free speech, this seems to me to be an issue of the credibility of the Word of God.

If you are not aware, Phil Robertson said something so shocking that the A&E Network suspended him. What was the shocking and unbelievably crass thing that Phil Robertson said that got him in so much trouble? Well this Huffington Post Headline summarizes the issue better than anything I have read on it. “’Duck Dynasty’ Star Phil Robertson Makes Anti-Gay Remarks, Says Being Gay Is A Sin.”

What is Shocking and unbelievable is that anyone who has ever read their Bible could possibly think otherwise. News flash – Adultery is a sin. Is this shocking? No. Murder is a sin. Again there is no shock and awe when the obvious is stated. Then again, adultery and murder are not sacraments of Modern American Christianity.

I have dealt with the issue in the past, but the fact that Homosexuality is a sin, is irrefutable. Is it a far worse sin than the many other sins that haunt the American Church? No. But, It is the only one that attempts to justify it and make it o.k. by creating special interest groups.

If you have a friend who is involved in the sin of adultery and you tell this friend to repent and come back to Christ are you accused of hating him? Maybe sometimes, but all Christians are aware that to call some one back from danger and to tell them to repent is not hatred, in fact it is the only loving thing a person can do.

Homosexuality, at least the way it is treated in today’s church, seems to be the exception to this rule. If you tell someone there is healing in Jesus, and that Jesus forgives even homosexuality well, that is just being a hater and being judgmental. So rather than risk offending the person we coddle them. We patronize them and contrary to all Scripture, we tell them that Homosexuality is different. God made you that way after all. Well, to say that is to run contrary to the teaching of the Word of God.

One of the quotes that people are dredging up to demonize Phil Robertson is the following: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers — they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.” Apparently this quote is so off the chain, because Phil is judging who goes to heaven and who does not. Well, l hate to shock people, but other than maybe a Louisiana slant to the passage this quote is from the Bible. It is from Paul’s letter to the Church at Corinth where he warns them to not be deceived. You see Corinth had a lot of the same problems we have in the Church today. They prided themselves on their open and accepting ways, and Paul let them know that what they were doing was practicing a wicked type of self deception.

Please note, Phil, quoting Paul, did not only condemn the homosexuals, he condemned the greedy, the idolatrous, and the adulterers. Why is it that we don’t have special interest groups clamoring around Adulterers of the World? Well I definitely have my theories, but let me say it plainly. Phil Robertson Is a Christian man who has flaws, but he also loves people enough to tell them the truth even if it costs him. The accusation that when a person speaks the Word of God without apologies is that his speech is hateful. How hateful? I saw Phil being linked with the likes of Hitler for his statements today. I know, we Americans love to engage in hyperbole. but what is amazing is so called Christian people are coming down on Phil for quoting the Bible and they are comparing him to Adolph Hitler. Be careful what you get angry at.

I guess it you are the so called victims in a society you can get away with making wicked comparisons. Well Christians, Jesus said if the world hated him they would hate you as well. Does the world swoon over your every word or are you hated for the sake of Christ’s words?

Speak up for truth and it is likely you won’t be invited to certain functions. But Jesus said if you were ashamed of Him before men, he would be ashamed of you before His Father.

I am glad that Phil Robertson is not ashamed of the Word of God.  I am also pleased that he loves people enough to proclaim God’s Word without reservation. even when it is about issues that some people consider off limits. In doing this he is being accused of being a bigot and an unloving person. I say what he is doing is putting love to action. To quote the Word of God is not too hate. The most pathetic people in this contest are the ones who claim the name of Christ but are not willing to follow its commands. They are nothing more than pretenders and cowards. They claim to love, but by their actions they show themselves to be nothing more than cowards and wimps.

Revelation 21:7-8 says that “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. 8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

All of the sexually immoral will take part in this second death. Phil Robertson unashamedly proclaims this when he quotes Paul in 1 Corinthians. It is common today to leave the homosexuals off this list, after all, how can you judge someone for who they love? Well, if the Bible is your standard, you will realize that is not the question. The question is why are you apologizing for or “correcting” God’s Word? The answer is that you are either an unbeliever or a coward, and if you read the above passage you will realize that your fate is the same.

May we all be given a strong dose of the courage of Phil Robertson, along with the love of our fellow man to show them that Jesus Saves from all sin.

What the Bible says about Homosexuality

Go out and start the Homosexual, Adultery, or Murderers Club

Homosexual Lies and Mistruths

We live in an age of lies. Not just homosexual lies. We hear lies from the time we are very small and by the time we are of the age where we should know better we are desensitized to the truth. This should not be so stunning to us. After all, our politicians, both Democrat and Republican have made their careers through lying. It’s ok though, because these lies are something we have agreed to accept. Every 4 years, every 2 years, or every 6 years, depending on the office they are campaigning for, they shell out the same old lies-and when we elect or re-elect them we give tacit agreement to the game.

I can think of countless examples of lies we have grown to embrace, but what makes me most sad is that the people who should stand for the truth, the Church of Jesus Christ, have embraced their own set of lies.

Our Foundation: Sola Scriptura

Christians are supposed to be a people of the Book. One of the cries of the Protestant Reformation was “Sola Scriptura.” By this it was meant by Scripture alone can we arrive at truth. After all it is God’s Word, as found in the Bible that we can know truth. Jesus prayed in His high priestly prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth.”

Theological debate and argument are fairly common place amongst Christians. There are arguments about all kinds of things. However, there are certain areas and topics where the Bible has spoken as clear as can possibly be. It is true that you may have disagreement amongst people as to whether or not Jesus rose from the dead, but the argument is not truly a Biblical argument, because the Bible clearly says that Jesus rose from the dead. One of these people is arguing from a non-Biblical viewpoint, and those who claim to hold the Bible as a standard should easily know with whom to side.

Homosexuality SinThe above argument is of course very simple, but we see similar things all the time. I use for example the idea of Christian homosexuals. There are some who say that there is no contradiction between the two. I do not doubt their sincerity, however, I can assure you they did not reach their conclusion from the Word of God. The Word of God, clearly and without any equivocation states the Biblical position in 1 Corinthians 6, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”

Why do I single out homosexuality of all the sins listed in the above text? Well, last I checked, there were no Christian fornication advocacy groups. There were no groups going around claiming that drunkenness was their special gift from God. There are no churches that minister specifically to the extortioner. Now, I may be wrong. With the growing perversions and delusions of many American Christians there actually may be a Christian Adultery Club, but I think any Biblically minded person will realize that Christians do not condone or advocate adultery.

Such Were Some of You

Please note, I am not saying that anyone who has committed any of these sins is lost. What I am saying is if a person continues to identify himself, or herself by their sin they have a problem. “Such WERE some of you, but you were washed you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of God.”

David was a man after God’s own heart and yes he committed adultery and murder. But David confessed his sin, and repented. He did not embrace his sin and call it his gift from God. He did not go out and start the Covenant Adultery and Murderers Club. And when Nathan the prophet told him that He was the man, David did not respond with, “don’t judge me buddy.”

The Scripture is clear, all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. And Christ Jesus died as a propitiation for our sin. One of the things we must continue to do, however, is to confess our sins. We are promised that He is faithful and just to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we embrace our sins instead of the cross then it is apparent who we are.

What We Need

We need to stop lying to ourselves and embrace the truth of God’s Word. Abortion is a national sin, the nation is being judged for it. Homosexuality and homosexual acceptance are national evils. The fact that there are so few willing to speak the truth of God’s word about the issue is evidence of God’s continued judgment upon us.

Christians need to repent of their idolatry of reputation and conformity and let their mind be transformed by the washing of the Word of the Lord. Until this happens we will continue to walk in darkness. May the truth of the Word of God give us strength and the boldness to declare it to a world that loves the lie more than the truth.

The Gap Solves Everything??

Literal Interpretation vs. Convenient Gaps

Arguments over eschatology often culminate when one party says to the other, “Brother, just read the Bible.” For whatever reason the person who says this usually believes that this statement scores him an automatic point. I agree that the Bible must be our ultimate source when we are discussing doctrines, however, how a person reads the Bible then becomes a very important matter.

There are some Christians who claim to be strict literal interpreters of the Scripture and yet how they define literal is very selective in deed. One of the areas where supposed literal interpreters of the Bible like to play carefree with the facts is in that area of Biblical interpretation that deals with time. A few examples should illustrate what I mean.

  • The early chapters of Genesis can be embarrassing when compared with the discoveries of modern science, so we will place a gap of indeterminate length between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2.
  • Jesus only seemed to say that he would be “coming soon.” Soon is not a term that has anything to do with length of time, but means that His coming could be at “any moment.” So soon in reality means immanent.
  • In Daniel’s vision of the “70 Weeks,” the time table that the text brings us is long since over with, but the “strict literalists” again find a gap of indeterminate length between the 69th and 70th week.
  • This generation in Matthew 24:34 does not mean. this generation it means…and there is a long list of corrections to what Jesus said so that are able to save Jesus from an embarrassing “false prophecy.”
The Gap Solves Everything??

The Gap Solves Everything??

Hal Lindsey begins his “Late Great Planet Earth.” with a comparison between Biblical Prophets and other so called predictors of the future. The # 1 criteria he lists is that the prophet of God must be 100% correct. If they are not, then they are not a Biblical prophet. He then shows how famed astrologist Jeanne Dixon fails the test of a true prophet. I am in no way defending Jeanne Dixon, but Hal seems to be operating with a stacked deck.

If I predicted that the Chicago Cubs would win the World Series next year, and I staked my entire reputation on that prediction, who would let me get away with inserting a gap of indeterminate length between my prediction and the someday future fulfillment? I don’t think anyone would let me have a pass and yet many of the “most respected” voices of Biblical prophecy want us to believe this is the way the Bible is written.

I do know there are difficult passages in the Bible that are not always the easiest to interpret, however, when the Bible speaks in terms of time, we don’t have to make excuses for the supposed mistakes. It is amazing, when we let the Bible actually mean what it says, how much clarity there is.

One of the scenarios I listed above is Daniel’s 70 weeks. I have read all kinds of fascinating and inventive scenarios regarding Daniel’s 70 weeks. But what is at the heart of all of them is the idea that in order for Biblical Prophecy to be fulfilled accurately one of those Gaps of indeterminate length must be inserted between the 69th and 70th week. Rather than strengthening one’s belief in Biblical prophecy such an interpretive scheme actually undermines one’s believe in the clear meaning of the text.

The events spoken of in the vision of Daniel’s 70 weeks were all fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus Christ. I will write about this a little bit more in my next entry.

A Couple Dispensational Problems

The essence of dispensationalism, then, is the distinction between Israel and the Church. This grows out of the dispensationalists’ consistent employment of normal or plain interpretation, and it reflects an understanding of the basic purpose of God in all His dealings with mankind as that of glorifying Himself through salvation and other purposes as well. —    Charles C. Ryrie, Dispensationalism Today

In the above quote Charles Ryrie, a leading dispensationalist expresses his view that the key tenant of Dispensational theology is the distinction between Israel and the Church.   What is really interesting about this “distinctive” doctrine, is that prior to the 19th century it was unheard of any where in Church history.

Keith Mathison in his excellent book on Dispensationalism, titled “Dispensationalism: Rightly Dividing the People of God?” says:`“The early church fathers are almost unanimous in their identification of the church and Israel.   One example will suffice.  Justin Martyr (A.D. 110-165) is often quoted by dispensationalists attempting to prove the history of premillennialism.   He (Martyr) was a premillennialist, but he was certainly not a dispensationalist.   In chapter 135 of his Dialogue with Trypho, Justin writes, “As therefore, Christ is the Israel and the Jacob, even so we, who have been quarried out from the bowels of Christ, are the true Israeliteic race.   Here is Justin, a gentile church leader speaking to Trypho a Jew, and claiming that the church is the true Israel.”

Dispensationalists in their attempt to to defend the historic standing of their position, equate dispensationalism with pre-millennialism.  But the two are not the same, and dispensationalism is definitely the new kid on the block.  I did a paper a few years ago where I listed five specific views that dispensationalists hold that separate them from not only historic premillennialism, but historic Christian teaching in general.   I will discuss a couple of those here.

First,    dispensationalism teaches that God has two distinct programs in history.  One is for Israel and one for the church.   As I mentioned earlier the distinctive doctrine of dispensationalism is the distinction between Israel and the church.  How God deals with these two groups of people in history is a consequence of this distinctive view.

J. Dwight Pentecost, a leading dispensationalist, in his book “Things to Come,”  says that the church is made up of the “heavenly people of God.”   Clarence Larkin, says “The Church is not the old Jewish dispensation in another form.  It is an entirely new thing.   It is not mentioned in the Old Testament, and was unknown by the Old Testament prophets.   It was first revealed by Christ and was future in His day.”  You may be familiar with Clarence Larkin’s as he is one of the first to make all the elaborate end times charts.

Probably the most influential of all the purveyors of dispensationalist doctrine was Cyrus I. Scofield.  In his notes on Romans 11:1 he wrote,“The Christian is of the heavenly seed of Abraham (Gen. 15:5-6; Ga. 3:29), and partakes of the spiritual blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 15:18), but Israel as a nation always has its own place, and is yet to have its greatest exaltation as the earthly people of God.”

Not only is this position that God has different plans for Israel and the Church theologically dangerous it is also deceitful.   If by “Israel,” they mean national, unbelieving, political Israel, and by “the Church,” they are referencing believers, then obviously we are dealing with two distinct groups of people,  But the historic position of the Church of Jesus Christ has always made this distinction.

Both Scripture and the historic Church teach that all believers in all ages have one God, one Savior, and Lord Jesus Christ.   There is only one way of salvation, and only one eternal destiny.   The believers of all ages are one body and not two.   They are one bride not two.

Secondly, dispensationalism teaches that the church and the church age is a “mystery.”  What they mean when they say this is that there were no Old Testament prophecies about the Church.  You can briefly summarize that position by saying that “prophecy is for Israel.”

I mentioned Clarence Larkin earlier as the guy who drew all the prophecy charts.  One of his drawings  is attached here.  The drawing is called “The Mountain Peaks of Prophecy.”  Larkin says of this drawing, “The Old Testament prophets spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:19-21).  They did not understand what they prophesied.  (1 Peter 1:10-12.)   They believed that their prophecies as Christ were all to be fulfilled as His first coming.  This accounts for why the people of Christ’s day looked for Him to set up a “temporal kingdom.”  They did not see that this dispensation was to intervene between the cross (The sufferings of Christ), and the crown.  (The Glory that should follow) (1 Peter 1:11).  The prophets saw the events they foretold as separate peaks of one great mountain.”

Notice in the drawing there is a large “Valley of the Church,” which none of the prophetic vision is able to glimpse.  According to Larkin, Pentecost, and dispensational theology the Church  is never spoken of in the Old Testament.   Pentecost says, “It is unrevealed in the Old Testament.”

Let me be clear, like their distinctive teaching about Israel and the Church this teaching too is novel.  Scripture and historic Christian teach both contradict this view.   Dispensationalism, identifies the birth of the church at the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2, and yet in Acts 3:24 we read “and all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days.”

The idea that the Old Testament prophets foresaw nothing of the Church age is not only preposterous, it has done great damage to the church in terms of her mission, and her calling.  If the Old Testament does not speak to the church, then where, and how does the church understand obedience?  Remember we don’t become a kingdom of priests without obedience, and what exactly is it that we are supposed to obey.  According to the dispensationalist more than three fourths’ of the Bible just does not apply.

Star of David

The Question of Israel

“I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:3 NKJV

The above verse or variants of this verse are often quoted by well meaning Christians as reasons that we must support Israel. By Israel they are usually speaking of the country in the middle east that was established in 1948. According to this way of thinking, nations rise and fall based on the way they treat this little country. If you dare speak out against this position you are accused of opposing God’s “chosen people.”Star of David

It is my contention that this is not at all what the above passage is about. Modern day Israel, it is assumed, is fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament. It is my belief that this confidence is misplaced.

First let’s look at it from just basic human understanding, and then we will go to the Bible. Modern Israel is not in anyway, a godly nation. The vast majority of Jews are atheists, and secularists. The laws of Israel are perhaps the most liberal in the entire region. Yes it may be called the holy land, but in truth the land is distinctively un-holy.

Now let’s look at some Biblical evidence. First off, we have to answer the question what is Israel and how is it used in the Bible? The first appearance of the word Israel occurs in Genesis 32:28. Jacob, the son of Isaac, was returning to his homeland after a long period away. He had left his home because he was in fear for his life at the hand of his brother Esau. Jacob had deceived his father and received the blessing that Isaac thought he was giving to Esau, and Jacob had earlier purchased Esau’s birthright for a bowl of beans. In doing these things Jacob was living up to his name. He was Jacob, a supplanter or a deceiver.

Jacob was convinced that Esau was going to kill him. On his return journey he hears a rumor that Esau is coming, and he is sure that Esau wants to kill him. At night when Jacob is sleeping he is attacked by a ferocious stranger who attacks him and does battle with him. It is likely that Jacob thought it was Esau who was attacking him, and he fought for his life. During this combat the man touches Jacob on his hip and cause great pain and dislocates the hip. Jacob then realizes that this is no ordinary man that he is fighting and hangs on to him asking him for a blessing? The Angel who is combating him asks him a question, and that question is “What is your name?”

Unlike today this is not so simple a question. Names carry with them meaning. They are thought to represent the character of the named. Jacobs name, as we have discussed means supplanter or deceiver. Jacob has spent his whole life living up to his name. And now this Angel is asking Him who he is. Of course the angel already knows this, but it is his intention that Jacob must speak his name. When Jacob does answer it is a form of acknowledgement and repentance and the angel then changes his name. Again going back to the names having meaning, this Angel changes the name of Jacob to Israel which means “Prince with God.” So the deceiver, the supplanter has now been changed, he is now a Prince with God. This name was a spiritual name. It represented Jacob’s victory over a life of deception. He was given a new name, thus he was a new creature.

Israel, who was formerly called Jacob then with his sons moved to Egypt because of a famine in the land of promise. Joseph, as we know, had been sold by his brethren into slavery and had been raised to the position of Prime Minister in Egypt. The only person in all Egypt who had more power than Joseph was Pharoah himself.

What I would like to do is see how the Bible views Israel. Israel is mentioned over 2,500 times in the Bible, so I won’t be able to cover every single reference, but I would like to get an overall picture and see if we can draw some sort of conclusion.

Let’s start with how Israel is viewed in the Old Testament

First Israel is identified as God’s son, and specifically His first born.

These families and people are the literal physical descendants of Israel
Exodus 1:1-7 Now these are the names of the children of Israel who came to Egypt; each man and his household came with Jacob: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah; Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin; Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher. All those who were descendants of Jacob were seventy persons (for Joseph was in Egypt already). And Joseph died, all his brothers, and all that generation. But the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them.
Later in the book we see that the entire nation is now referred to as Israel. The Israelites, literally “heirs of Israel,” have now become a nation. And in Exodus 4, the nation is referred to as God’s son and as his first born. Remember the first born is the heir.
Exodus 4:21-23 And the LORD said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do all those wonders before Pharaoh which I have put in your hand. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Israel is My son, My firstborn. So I say to you, let My son go that he may serve Me. But if you refuse to let him go, indeed I will kill your son, your firstborn.”’”
Now who else in the Bible is referred to specifically as God Son, and who is the heir of all the promises of God.

Second, Israel is identified as a vine.

Psalms 80:8 You have brought a vine out of Egypt;
You have cast out the nations, and planted it.

This passage speaks to the fact that God had brought Israel from Egypt and “planted” her in the promised land. There are numerous other references in the Old Testament where Israel is referred to as a vine, or the language of a vineyard is used in referring to Israel.

Hosea 10 speaks of the vine of Israel which is planted in luxury, but that rather than turning to God because of their blessing they further embrace idolatry.

In Isaiah chapter 5 we read the account of the Vineyard. This vineyard was planted to yield grapes, but instead the vineyard yielded wild grapes. Isaiah then details what will happen to this vineyard. It will be dug up and destroyed. In verse 7 Isaiah
identifies the vineyard as Israel.

For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel,
And the men of Judah are His pleasant plant.
He looked for justice, but behold, oppression;
For righteousness, but behold, a cry for help.

In Ezekiel 15 God speaks regarding the vine that he will make the land desolate.

“Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Like the wood of the vine among the trees of the forest, which I have given to the fire for fuel, so I will give up the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will set My face against them. They will go out from one fire, but another fire shall devour them. Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I set My face against them. Thus I will make the land desolate, because they have persisted in unfaithfulness,’ says the Lord GOD.”

Third, we see Israel identified as “The Descendents of Abraham.”

Isaiah 41:8 “But you, Israel, are My servant,
Jacob whom I have chosen,
The descendants of Abraham My friend.

This title “Descendent of Abraham,” is meant to draw our attention to God’s original dealings with Abraham in Genesis 12.

“I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Fourth, Israel is identified as the Servant of God. We have the above verse from Isaiah 41:8 but we also have Isaiah 42:1-3 and Isaiah 49:3.
Isaiah 42:1-3 “Behold! My Servant whom I uphold,
My Elect One in whom My soul delights!
I have put My Spirit upon Him;
He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.
2 He will not cry out, nor raise His voice,
Nor cause His voice to be heard in the street.
3 A bruised reed He will not break,
And smoking flax He will not quench;
He will bring forth justice for truth.

Isaiag 49:3 “And He said to me,
‘You are My servant, O Israel,
In whom I will be glorified.’

Well by now I would hope we can see where I am going with this.

In the Old Testament Israel is identified as Gods Son, as a vine, as the seed of Abraham, and as God’s servant. True there are other characteristics that Israel is identified with, but I want to take a moment and discuss a basic hermeneutical principle. Hermeneutics is the Science of Interpretation. When reading the Bible there are a few rules that we should follow when reading to make sure we get the proper meaning of the text. One of the most important rules is that we use the New Testament to Interpret the Old. It is very important that we don’t reverse this. The Old Testament is the Shadow the New Testament is the fulfillment.

Jesus told the two men on the road to Emmaus that “these” (the law and the prophets) “are they that speak of me.” It is very important that we understand when reading the Bible, Old and New Testament alike, that it is about Jesus.

With that in mind, how does the New Testament help us understand these Scripture in regard to Israel?

First let us look at Matthew 2:13-15:
Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.”
When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”
Not only does God refer to Jesus as his son in the following passage, but he also takes the prophecy in Hosea 11:1 which was spoken of the nation of Israel and applies it to Jesus Christ. Christ becomes the fulfillment of the Hosea prophecy. We begins to see that Christ is the new Israel that fulfills the promises to Israel.
In Matthews Gospel, the author goes into great detail to show that Jesus is actually retracing the steps of ancient Israel, showing that he is the fulfillment of these Israel prophecies.
Israel, after leaving Egypt crossed the Red Sea. 1 Corinthians 10:1-2 calls this their Baptism.

Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,
In Matthew 3, which is right after the account of Jesus Birth and his early life, and his “calling out from Egypt.” We read the account of Jesus Baptism.

After Israel’s baptism at the Red Sea, they then go into the Wilderness for 40 years of wandering and trials. Reading through this account we see that these 40 years are marked by continual murmuring, complaining, and idolatry. After Jesus Baptism in the Jordan he goes into the Wilderness to be tempted of the devil. While there he is tempted three specific times, and in answering each temptation he quotes from the Book of Deuteronomy which is the Book that was given unto Israel while they were in the wilderness.

Israel the nation went to the Mount of God at Sinai where he revealed His Law unto them. Jesus, after his overcoming of the tempter in the wilderness also went to a Mountain. In Matthew 5-7 we read the account of the “Sermon on the Mount.” The sermon on the mount was not an overthrowing of God’s law given on Sinai, but a practical explanation of the law.
We have already seen that Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecy regarding Israel being God’s Son. In Matthew 12:15-18 we see Jesus specifically fulfilling the prophecies regarding Israel as God’s servant.

But when Jesus knew it, He withdrew from there. And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all. Yet He warned them not to make Him known, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:
“Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen,
My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased!
I will put My Spirit upon Him,
And He will declare justice to the Gentiles.
He will not quarrel nor cry out,
Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets.
A bruised reed He will not break,
And smoking flax He will not quench,
Till He sends forth justice to victory;
And in His name Gentiles will trust.”
Jesus applies the prophecy of the Vine to himself in John 15:1 in a very unique way. Not only does he identify himself as the vine he calls Himself the True vine. The implication is that in contrast to Israel, which became unfaithful and incurred the judgment of God, Jesus remains faithful and thus fulfills Israel’s calling to be the vine of God.

Lastly in Galatians 3 Jesus is identified as the seed of Abraham.
Galatians 3:16-17 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ. And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect.
As Israel is identified as God’s son so is Jesus. 2 Peter 1:17
As Israel is identifies as the vine, so is Jesus. John 15:1
As Israel is identified as the seed or descendant of Abraham, so is Jesus.Galatians 3:16

Israel was one man and his heirs became a nation, Israel, so to Jesus, the new Israel, is one man and his heirs are also Israel. According to Galatians 3:26-29 if you belong to Christ then you are Abraham’s seed.

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

… and Justice For All

As mentioned in the previous post, our Pledge of Allegiance ends with the line, “and liberty and justice for all.”   One of the particularly disturbing aspects of our pledge is that though we learned it in grade school,  most Americans have a warped understanding of liberty and  as we will see today, perhaps even a more warped view of justice.

 

A basic definition of justice is “the act of being just or fair.”   This definition is lacking in that it does not deal with the question of what is just nor of what is fair.     Justice, you see, must be defined in terms of a system of ethics.

 

It should be obvious, but the ethics taught by Jesus and the Bible are very different from the ethics espoused by most moderns.   Since that is true, the justice that the Bible demands must be very different from modern conceptions of justice.   A prime example of this can be seen in the recent debates and discussion over same sex marriage.  It has been claimed over and over by certain individuals that this issue of same sex marriage is an issue of equal justice for all.

Marriage is perhaps the oldest institution known to mankind.   Marriage was established in the 2nd Chapter of Genesis:

22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”

24  Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

God established marriage, and in doing that He also defined marriage.   Marriage is the joining of a man and a woman and the two becoming one flesh.   The idea that two men can marry one another, or two women can marry one another is not an expansion of marriage, but a perversion.    Any society that perverts God’s law must also of necessity pervert God’s justice.

Now I can see and understand how unbelieving pagans would try and make this issue about justice, but what really is disturbing is when professed believers make the same claim.   It becomes apparent that their view of justice has been shaped more by the world than by the Word of God!

True justice, at least according to the Bible, is not possible when God’s law is rejected as the standard for a people.   We live in a society that see’s injustice everywhere.   This is not by accident.   Two thousand years ago an angry mob in Jerusalem had justice standing in their very midst and cried out, “We will not have this man to rule over us.”  We may look aghast at them, but in a very real sense we have done the same thing in our churches and in our nation when we disregard the law of God in exchange it for natural law or so called common sense.   Every law system has a different view of justice.

The justice that is brought about by a society that embraces same sex marriage and the justice that brings about reconciliation with Christ the King are two different justices.   When we say and justice for all we must make sure we identify whose justice we are seeking.