Jesus Christ Is Lord

That every knee should bow and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father!

Posts Tagged ‘Premillennial Dispensationalism’

Addressing The False Dispensational Interpretation Of 2 Thessalonians 2:6-8

Posted by Job on March 19, 2013

First off, allow me to be fair and state that not every dispensationalist adheres to this error. However, the wishful interpretation of this text is common among premillennial dispensationalists who believe in the pretribulation rapture. Now this is not intended to be a denial of the rapture doctrine. I was raised to believe in the rapture, and I am perfectly willing to adhere to this doctrine again the very instant that someone shows me justification for it in the Bible. Now to the text:

“And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth [will let], until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:”

Now for some following verses, because, well, I like them.

[Even him], whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Many rapture teachers frequently use this text as evidence for the rapture of the church. The teaching is that the “until he be taken out of the way” refers to the Holy Spirit’s presence being removed from the earth when the church that is indwelled by the Holy Spirit is raptured away. And – as the teaching goes – without the salt and light that is the church on the earth that acts as a restrainer against evil, the world will slip into evil chaos and great tribulation.

Now two problems with this “Holy Spirit being absent from the world during the great tribulation doctrine” are as follows:
#1. The “tribulation saints” that will be converted during this time (according to the rapture teachers) will somehow experience new birth without the Holy Spirit to accomplish it, and will also brave the vicious persecution of the anti-Christ without the ministry of the Holy Spirit to give them courage and comfort.
#2. A somewhat bigger problem than #1 … as the Bible makes it clear that God’s Spirit is what sustains creation and holds it together, were the Holy Spirit to be removed from the earth at any time, it would disintegrate into nothing quicker than an instant.

So while demonstrating how that doctrine is unworkable when measured against clear Biblical teachings is one thing, I was always unable to arrive at what the text actually meant until now, upon listening to this sermon by R. A. Hargrave, when he preached on the issue of the total depravity of man. Pastor Hargrave shared that it was God’s common grace that withheld man in his fallen condition from becoming as evil as he should, and this evil being reflected in the works of man’s hands, meaning the conditions of the cultures and societies of the nations. He went on to state that in the last days, during the great tribulation, God would remove this restraining influence and mankind would indeed reveal his true wicked nature. And lest there was any doubt, Pastor Hargrave specifically referenced that text.

This also should make one remember Jesus Christ’s prophecy concerning the timing of His second coming: “But of that day and hour knoweth no [man], no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noe [were], so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” of Matthew 24:36-39 and a similar passage in Luke 17:26-30, except that text to the Noah reference adds: “Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed [them] all.”

Now I have heard it asserted many a time that these texts do not refer to the societal conditions, but rather the fact that Jesus Christ’s coming will catch people completely by surprise. Of course, those who believe in doctrines that deny the literal millennial reign of Christ and instead teach that human conditions will improve as a result of the church’s increasing its influence on the world – postmillennialism especially – have an interest in downplaying the implications of Matthew 24:36-39 and Luke 17:26-30. However, of all the ways to illustrate the point “my return will catch you by surprise”, Jesus Christ chose the days of Noah, where the Bible says that “the wickedness of man [was] great in the earth, and [that] every imagination of the thoughts of his heart [was] only evil continually” and “the earth is filled with violence through them.” And to the wickedness of the days of Noah, the Luke text adds Sodom and Gomorrah, which the Bible frequently uses as a metaphor for the depths of the human sin condition.

So, the fact that the Noah reference is repeated twice and the Sodom and Gomorrah is added to it makes it very difficult to claim that Jesus Christ was only referring to the suddenness of His appearance and not the condition of mankind when He comes again. The reason is a core rule of hermeneutics: we have to consider what the words meant to when the original audience heard them. Jesus Christ was speaking to Jews for whom “the days of Noah” and “as it was in Sodom and Gomorrah” were most definitely references to the human condition. So for Jesus Christ to use both of those (in the Luke version) very strong references to the wicked state of humanity without meaning anything by it would have only resulted in confusion and unintended meanings by the hearer, and it also makes very real the charge that Jesus Christ was trying to confuse and mislead the hearers on purpose (totally different from His parables, whose interpretations were simply hidden from people, not trying to trick or confuse them).

But 2 Thessalonians 2:6-8 makes the references to Sodom and Gomorrah and the days of Noah clear. That passage most clearly refers to the last days, the time of the second coming of Jesus Christ, as such is what the entire chapter was about, and it states that the common grace of God that is restraining evil will be removed, which will allow the mystery of wickedness to work its iniquity until it results in the personification of human evil in the form of the anti-Christ (actually the beast). This will result in the last days being a time akin to the days of Noah (wickedness on a global scale) and Sodom and Gomorrah (wickedness on a local scale), so the Luke text in particular reveals the comprehensive encompassing scope and penetration of evil. In this way, it forms a curious parallel with how Luke spoke of the spread of the gospel in Acts 1:8 from Jerusalem (evangelism on a local scale) to the uttermost parts of the earth (the global reach of the great commission).

Now one may ask how this pervasive evil will be possible when the church is present sharing its witness to the world. To answer:
1. We must be humble. It isn’t our witness or example to the world that restrains evil, but rather it is God.
2. Go back to the 2 Thessalonians 2 passage to verse 3: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for [that day shall not come], except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.” And incidentally, yet another parallel to Matthew 24 and 2 Thessalonians 2 that makes the postmillennialism doctrines even more untenable is Matthew 24:10-12’s “And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” The more modern translations render verse 10 to be “At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another” and “At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other”, and the reference to false prophets in verse 11 is obvious. Because of the great falling away, there simply won’t be very many of us left.
3. Please recall that the original Reformers referred to the righteous in the Old Testament, chiefly Israel, as the church of the Old Testament. So in the days of Noah, Noah and his family were the church of that period. Yet the presence of Noah and his being a preacher of righteousness did not stop the globe from descending into evil. And while Lot was most certainly no Noah, even in his “Laodicean” state of worldly compromise he was nonetheless the church of Sodom and Gomorrah, and his presence did not result in ten righteous people being in that city. So though God commands His church to be salt and light into the world, the reason for this is to glorify God, not to influence the world for the better. The world will remain wicked and in rebellion against God and His Son Jesus Christ, and this will be demonstrated when God removes His restraining Hand and allows the world to be exposed for what it is right before His Son returns so that it will be judged.

Now my suspicion is that the real reason why this text is interpreted erroneously by many is the desire for the church to escape persecution. However, this ignores that when the church endures persecution until the very end, God is glorified. We know this from the example of Job, the oldest book in the Bible. God told Satan that Job would remain in the faith no matter what torments Satan aimed at him, and when Job did so God was glorified. So we saints should be after doctrines that result in God’s glory and not our own comfort. We should also avoid doctrines that exaggerate our own power and importance, such as the claim that our presence on the earth is what keeps it from falling into chaos. Or that the Holy Spirit is on the earth only because we are here (clearly contradicted by Genesis 1:2, which states that the Holy Spirit was on the earth long before humankind even existed to make up a church in the first place).

Also, Revelation 13:7 states that the anti-Christ will make war against the saints and overcome them. Matthew 24:22 states that it will only be for the sake of the church that the days of the great tribulation will be cut short. Is our desire to avoid glorifying God by suffering persecution so great that we ignore what the Bible clearly teaches? One of the ways that dispensationalists who have this aberrant and false teaching concerning 2 Thessalonians 2 deals with those texts is claiming that they refer to Israel and not the church, and to the 144,000 Jews and those converted by them. As evidence of this, they correctly note that Jeremiah 30:7 refers to the great tribulation as the time of Jacob’s trouble. However, such teachings ignore that the church is grafted into Israel, and moreover that the combination of born-again Gentiles and believing Jews constitutes spiritual Israel, true Israel, or Israel of God according to Galatians 6 and Romans 9-11. (Yes, some dispensationalists deny this, and even go to the point of claiming that the new covenant is not the one that currently exists with Christ and the church, but is one that Christ will make during the millennium with natural Israel, showing that many dispensationalists are more rabbinic Jews than Christians or even Messianic Jews). This means that Jacob’s trouble is our trouble!

Again, this is not intended to be a broadside against dispensationalism and rapture teachings entirely, especially the partial rapture teachings for which Revelation 3:10 and the typology of Enoch and Elijah can be used to support, as well as perhaps the mid-tribulation rapture teachings. (Note that neither the mid-tribulation rapture or partial rapture doctrines make the totally heretical claim that the Holy Spirit will be removed from the earth.) However, it is incumbent upon the adherents to the rapture and other premillennial dispensational teachings to avoid false teachings that tickle the ears, provide false comfort, and glorify man in the place of God.

Ultimately, however, these debates are intramural in nature between Christians. Regardless of one’s eschatological beliefs, being born again means ultimately going to heaven, whether the route is being raptured before the tribulation or being beheaded by the anti-Christ during it. When the redeemed are in heaven, no one will care one bit about who was wrong and who was right concerning eschatological doctrines. And even more so, it will be totally irrelevant to those who are unsaved. Rapture, no rapture, if you have not repented of your sins and believed the gospel of Jesus Christ, your eternal fate is the same as that of those of Sodom and Gomorrah and the days of Noah who did not escape the wrath of God but perished. And the horrible ends of their earthly lives was nothing compared to the eternal torment of the lake of fire that is in store for these wicked sinners.

So now is the time to make sure that you do not share their fate if you have not already. Repent of your sins and believe upon the risen Lord Jesus Christ today! You can do so by:

Following The Three Step Salvation Plan

Posted in anti - Christ, antichrist, Bible, Christianity, endtimes, eschatology, false teaching, pretribulation, prophecy, rapio, rapture, rapture mentioned in bible | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

An Issue For Rapture Believers: Will The World Know That You Are Gone?

Posted by Job on January 2, 2011

It is the Christmas – New Year season, which means time for certain Christian broadcasters to air their cache of rapture/endtimes movies. Though I turned away from advocating a belief in the rapture a few years ago, I have never declared the doctrine to be clearly false and stated that its supporters are knowingly adhering to a false doctrine. (Now I should point out that some doctrines by some rapture/premillennial dispensational advocates are abominable heresies, but it appears that few pastors who teach the rapture and even fewer Christians who believe in it consent to them, and many of them are not not aware that these strange, outlandish doctrines exist.)

However, for those who do believe in the rapture, consider the “Left Behind” movies (and similar ones that were made before and since, not to mention a large number of novels) that depict this mass panic that grips the world upon the disappearance of a significant percentage of the world’s population, and that this panic is exploited by the one world government and the anti-Christ. First off, the “global hysteria” doctrine appears nowhere in the Bible, but appears to be based entirely on assumptions. Of course, it is very logical, but God’s works – and not just miracles – often exist outside of the boundaries of human logic. Second, the idea that the global hysteria will cause the one world government, one world religion and the rise of the anti-Christ is problematic, because – according to a literal reading of Revelation that assumes a literal timeline  (the preferred hermeneutic of rapture adherents) the beast does not truly take power until halfway through the seven years. This contradicts popular rapture movies, which show the beast taking over – and in many depictions taking over a pre-existing political/military/economic/religious apparatus – almost immediately after the rapture as a direct response to the global emotional trauma and economic, political, etc. upheaval that it causes.

However, Christians who adhere to this doctrine should consider the opposite perspective: after the rapture, will the world even know that you are gone? Will they miss you? Consider three angles to this question.

1. According to every single survey on religious attitudes and beliefs, the vast majority of Bible believing Christians, whether evangelical, fundamentalist or traditional, do not lead lives that distinguish them from non-Christian people. Every ounce of data exists shows that these Christians exhibit no outward evidence of their faith other than showing up to church on Sunday. Almost none of the fruit-bearing that the New Testament speaks of is present in the lives of such Christians, many of whom do not even so much as invite their neighbors or co-workers to church on Sunday or into their homes for Bible study. So, were the rapture to occur, what is it that would make people notice that it is a rapture of Christians, as opposed to just a bunch of random people going missing? More to the point, if you personally were to be raptured, would most/half/any of the people who know you consider that it might be because you are a Christian?

2. Related to 1, minority of Christians that adhere to the rapture belief only believe in a partial rapture, stating that not all born again believers who will eventually enter heaven will be raptured, but only those who are counted most faithful and fruitful. This view has its advantages, as it does deal with the various Bible references to believers who will be alive and suffer during the great tribulation. (The “complete rapture” believers who espouse such doctrines as the persecuted believers are those who will be converted after the rapture – such as by the 144,000 Jews – do so despite a ton of logical consistencies in this belief, such as the Bible evidence in places such as Romans 10 that it takes an believer’s preaching the gospel to convert an unbeliever, and also that conversion cannot take place without the Holy Spirit, which many/most “complete rapture” adherents believe will leave the earth with the church at the time of the rapture.) It also appears to be the view among the rapture adherents that makes the best use of scripture, including Jesus Christ’s promise to the church in Revelation 3:10, “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.”

But if this doctrine is true, then only a small percentage of the members of Christian churches and megachurches will be raptured. Instead of the practically empty churches that you see depicted in many of these rapture movies, instead, most or nearly all of these churches will be mostly filled with believers that are lukewarm (i.e. the Laodicea church) or possess varying degrees of the ills identified by Jesus Christ in the other 6 churches. If Revelation 2 and 3 are a guide and should be interpreted literally and mathematically, only 1 out of every 7 Christians will be raptured, and (again using the Laodicea example) virtually none of those will be in the churches that show outward signs of piety (i.e. large size, huge amenities, middle/upper class congregants taught by eloquent erudite pastors with huge support staffs, etc). Again, now this is not to say that these people won’t be saved and ultimately wind up in heaven, but rather that they won’t be raptured. And since the vast majority of people who regularly, faithfully attend Bible-believing churches and even perform good works won’t be raptured because Jesus Christ will “have something against thee” (His common rebuke to 5 of the 7 churches, to all but Philadelphia and Smyrna, and it is pointed out that Jesus Christ didn’t promise to keep Smyrna from great tribulation but rather to strengthen them as they endure it!), how will this be recognized as “a Christian rapture”? Especially since many of the left behind will in fact be Christians who adhere to the complete rapture doctrine, and may likely be ones who deny before the media and the world that a “Christian rapture” occurred because they will (truthfully I might add!) state that if there was a rapture of the entire church, they would have been included! Again, if it is only a partial, seemingly random number of Christians raptured, other explanations for their disappearance may abound, and the continuing presence of born-again Christians will be the main enabler of those alternate explanations.

3. This is somewhat related to the prior point. Consider the great falling away that the Bible states will happen before the return of Jesus Christ. If this is applied to the larger rapture doctrine framework, it fits the teachings of a lot of dispensationalists that the information to the seven churches in Revelation were of 7 church ages, which the last age being the Laodicea one. If the church falls into widespread apostasy similar to that of Old Testament Israel (which was a type that pointed to the church in many respects) just before the northern and southern kingdoms fell to Assyria and Babylon, then whether the issue is a full rapture or a partial one, there will be very few Christians to be taken up in the rapture indeed.

4. Consider that the Bible speaks of a strong delusion being sent by God in the endtimes that will cause people to believe a lie. If this can be interpreted with respect and applied to the rapture, it can either be in terms of 3.) the great apostasy resulting in a very tiny legitimate church when the rapture occurs or the fact that when the rapture occurs, people will delude themselves, lie to themselves about these missing persons in the first place. Many have interpreted this to believe that the strong delusion will cause people to deny the rapture and contrive other reasons for the disappearances (including alien abductions according to one such movie), but it is very plausible that the delusion will be of the nature that denying that the raptured souls ever existed in the first place, something that many in the mental health profession would describe as a trauma-induced dissociation as a coping mechanism.

Add it all up and Christians who believe in the rapture must challenge and question the idea popularized by so many rapture teachers that we are so precious, beloved and important to the world that our presence will cause a worldwide turmoil of the people of this world. Of course, it strokes our own egos and vanity to regard ourselves as being so important … how once we are gone, the world will literally go down the tubes because we will no longer be around to be police officers, bankers, teachers, spouses, parents, community leaders etc., and that people of the world will be so frightened, grief-stricken and left leaderless and impoverished by our loss that they will obviously turn to the anti-Christ and his system!

Wow. Think how that sounds. Think of how that sounds to Jesus Christ, the One who came not bragging about Himself, but who emptied Himself, made Himself of no reputation, humbly submitted Himself to the Will of the Father, and suffered the humiliation and torment of public rejection and public execution. When Jesus Christ died and returned to heaven, the world continued. But we are so important than when we depart this earth, the world spins out of control?

Also, it rejects a key thing about what Jesus Christ teaches about the church: we are not loved, cherished, exalted, embraced, even liked by the world. Instead, we are despised, hated and rejected by it. The world hates, persecutes and rejects us just as it does to our Head and Master, Jesus Christ. If we are Christ’s own body, how can the world love us while hating Christ? If the world hates Jesus Christ because His light exposes that the world’s deeds are wicked, then how on earth can the earth love our light?

Again, we are beloved, treasured and adored by God. We were important enough to God that He sent His only Son for us, and we were important enough to Jesus Christ that He obeyed and died for us. But the world views us as precisely the opposite. The world’s father is not God but Satan, the prince of the power of the air, the same who was a murderer from the beginning and the truth is not in him, the same dragon who persecutes and afflicts the church.

So have no prideful delusions of our own importance, or of anyone loving and treasuring us but God. If the rapture doctrine is true and the event does occur, when it happens, rather than being driven to anguish and grief over our no longer being present, the world will rejoice and say “Good riddance … now we can REALLY get on with what we need and want to do!”

Any false notions otherwise are the product not of honest Bible study and interpretation but of human pride. Well please recall that pride comes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. This includes the fall of Satan, and the fall of Adam as well. Do not walk in their ways, but instead in the ways of Jesus Christ, who humbled Himself, lowered Himself, gracefully accepted His hard task, and never at any point deluded Himself about how hated and despised He was, not only by His own people, but even by one of His very own twelve that betrayed Him!

As Jesus Christ is our Master, those who adhere to the rapture doctrine must take a step back from what is commonly being taught and instead seek interpretations and applications of this doctrine that is consistent with the teachings of our Master and honors our Master.

If Jesus Christ is not your Master, then Satan is your master. If that is the case, when judgment day arrives, you will receive from Jesus Christ, who is Lord, the same punishment that Satan receives, which is eternal destruction in a lake of fire with no hope whatsoever of reprieve. Please turn away from your sins and submit to Jesus Christ as your Master. Do not delay, but do it quickly, for why would you wish to delay such a blessed thing as entering into the Kingdom of Jesus Christ? What is it that the world offers to make any delay worthwhile?

Follow The Three Step Salvation Plan Today!

 

Posted in Bible, Christianity, evangelism, false doctrine, false teaching, Russia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

On The FBI Arresting The Hutaree “Christian” Militia Because They Made Threats Against Muslims

Posted by Job on March 29, 2010

First, allow me to say that nothing in the Bible justifies having a “Christian” militia. Quite the contrary, when Peter assaulted the Jewish temple guardsman who came to arrest Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ rebuked Peter, healed the man whose ear Peter cut off, and told Peter “he who lives by the sword dies by the sword.” The early church faced severe persecution, with the Roman Empire killing millions of Christians over 300 years, yet never at any time was there an armed resistance against the persecution. Those people took the words of Jesus Christ literally when He said that those who would be persecuted for His sake would be considered blessed, and followed the example of Peter and John who considered it a blessing and honor to be counted worthy to suffer mistreatment for Jesus Christ’s Name.

And it goes without saying that threatening violence against a Muslim or anyone else is – as this Hutaree “Christian” militia allegedly did –  clearly incontrovertibly a sin. People like this have to realize that Jesus Christ began His ministry during the time of armed uprisings by Jews against a very evil, tyrannical Roman government. (However, it should be noted that had the Jews not taken up arms against the Romans, the Romans would have generally left them alone.) The Jews were looking for a political messiah to defeat the Romans and re-establish a sovereign, Davidic kingdom. Many false messiahs promising just that came, and many followed Jesus Christ hoping that He was a messiah of that sort. They even mistook the miracles that Jesus Christ performed as evidence that He would use power from God to defeat the Romans.

However, when Jesus Christ made it known that His mission was not to establish an earthly kingdom, many lost interest and followed others, the ones who Jesus Christ referred to as “thieves and robbers”, which in the vernacular of the day referred to the seditious false messiahs leading rebellions. Jesus Christ repeatedly and consistently told His followers that it was wrong to rebel against Rome (especially violently) and that was what the significance of issues like paying taxes to Rome were all about. Later, Paul wrote Romans 13 about submitting to Rome as opposed to rebelling against them, and Peter wrote that Christians should pray for their leaders rather than rebel against them. And in the Olivet discourse, Jesus Christ told His followers not to defend Jerusalem from the attacking Romans, but instead to flee.

Needless to say, Jesus Christ’s words were rejected. He who came in the Name of God they did not follow, but those who came in their own name, including the false messiahs, they followed. This pattern of rejection of the true Messiah and His spiritual message and their embrace of false messiahs who offered a message of this world (i.e. political liberation, which included many economic benefits as well) was best symbolized when the Jews demanded that Pontius Pilate release the seditious murderer Barabbas – one of those involved in the violent liberation movements – in the place of Jesus Christ. By continuing to reject Jesus Christ and follow such people in their violent uprisings against Rome (they failed to listen to not only Jesus Christ but to even secular and Jewish leaders like Josephus and Yochanan ben Zakkai), the Jews brought the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD upon their nation, which resulted in the death of over 1 million Jews and the destruction of the temple (which fulfilled the near term “this generation” prophecies of the Olivet discourse). And in 132 AD, still following false messiahs like Simeon bar Kochba who promised that God would use them to defeat the Roman Empire, the Jewish liberation movement suffered their final defeat by the Romans, who burned what was left of Jerusalem to the ground, renamed it, and made it a capital crime for any Jew to re-enter the city. So, no Jewish liberation projects would exist for over 1700 years until 1897 when Theodor Herzl formally created the Zionist movement (although pre-Zionist movements had existed since at least the French Revolution).

So, by forming “militias” and certainly by threatening Muslims, these people do nothing but reject anything resembling the true literally interpreted teachings of the New Testament. By doing so, they reject Jesus Christ for Barabbas, and for that matter Jesus Christ for the Jews who delivered Christ to the Romans to be killed, and had Barabbas released in His stead. So let it be clear … the teachings of the New Testament and the unfolding of history (not only Jewish history, but the violent, failed “revolutions” of certain Anabaptist and Donatist Christian groups, as well as the violent death of the very vicious Ulrich Zwingli) supports nothing of the kind.

Still, we must wonder why it took mere threats against Muslims to bring the FBI down against these people. Unless, of course, they had evidence that these groups were going to act on their threats. So far, the FBI has everything sealed. Right now, a lot of LEGITIMATE Christians and a lot of conservatives are wondering about the double standards … why were these “Christians” arrested when other groups – including Muslims – who make similar threats all the time go free? I do not deny that there is not some element of this going on, or that the Obama administration does not have a propaganda motive to do this shortly after the passage of health care legislation and during the rise of the Tea Party movement and things of that nature. So, this is as good a time to go after conservative anti-government groups as any, and this provides fodder for anti-Christians who have long wanted the government to start ramping up their activities against Christians, starting with illegitimate Christian movements but only until going after their real targets – legitimate Christians – can be justified.

However, we must have the ability to acknowledge that in general, if armed groups make threats, the government shouldn’t just sit around and wait for them to act on their threats. (For instance, “making terroristic threats” is indeed a crime.) So, the issue should be whether the threats against Muslims made by these groups were legitimate. If the government doesn’t reveal the nature of these threats the way that they did with the many Muslim terror suspects that they have arrested, then that is indeed a cause for concern. Especially since “making terroristic threats” is a common offense, so common that a lot of people don’t even know that it is illegal.

Now as a Christian, my position is always going to be not to make terroristic threats. It is not only a sin in and of itself, and it is also against a legal code that does not cause Christians to violate scripture, which makes it also a sin by violating Romans 13. However, Paul according to the Acts narrative asserted not only his Christianity, but also asserted his Roman citizenship when it was in the interests of the gospel of Jesus Christ to do so. Now again, though this Hutaree group is not a legitimate Christian outfit, as a law abiding citizen of this country I am curious as to precisely what it was that made the FBI go after this group of people making terroristic threats while ignoring the many others. We do have a right to know precisely such a thing, and it is in our interests to pursue these rights to their fullest extent. The reason is that Jesus Christ commanded us to discern the times, and if these charges against the non-Christian Hutaree militia are spurious or are evidence of clear double standards, legitimate Christians can use it to take note of the times that we are entering.

Christian militia group arrested, allegedly threatened Muslims, Hamas-linked CAIR plays victim card

P.S. I purposefully resisted making an issue of the Hutaree militia’s premillennial dispensational beliefs. The reason is that I am 100% certain that there are very many legitimate Christians who are dispensationalists. The Hutaree group is not a legitimate Christian group. So, associating legitimate Christian dispensationalists with people like the Hutaree militia that have rejected the true teachings of Jesus Christ while adopting some themes or ideas … how is that different from associating Christians with Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, or, say, Muslims who affirm the virgin birth? Now though I am no longer a dispensationalist, I am not going to use this as an excuse to go after Christians who are.

Now so-called Christians who use their dispensationalist beliefs in a manner like John Hagee (who demanded that George W. Bush attack Iran to “defend Israel”, and gave one of his many failed prophecies that the attack would happen before the end of Bush’s presidency with the rapture to occur soon after) and to whip up a fearful frenzy and hatred against Muslims that may lead to threats and violence … THOSE associations (between one false Christian who rejects the Bible but finds dispensationalism useful like Hagee and another) I can countenance, though I will not pursue them myself at this time. The issue is not differing views on eschatology, but those who accept the teachings of the New Testament versus those who reject it. Using premillennial dispensationalism to have your feet in both camps (meaning the church and the world) is what leads to stuff like this. However, this is by no means limited to premillennial dispensationalism. After all, Ulrich Zwingli, who massacred members of his own Bible study because they refused to join his church-state, was an amillennialist.

Update: Confederate Yankee says that the FBI claims that the militia was plotting to kill police officers. That angle is repeated here. Confederate Yankee is skeptical, but his reasoning for being skeptical – that police officers represent the local and not federal government – is wanting.

Posted in Bible, Christianity, false doctrine, false religion, false teaching, Jesus Christ | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 42 Comments »

A Question For Premillennial Dispensational Rapture Believers Focused On Israel: How Long Is A Generation?

Posted by Job on September 25, 2009

For those who believe in the rapture and also believe that the modern state of Israel is the fulfillment of Bible prophecy and a sign that the end of the church age is at hand and the great tribulation draws nigh, I must ask you: how long is a generation? This is relevant because premillennial dispensationalists have seized upon the “this generation shall not pass until all these things are fulfilled” statements of the Olivet discourse endtimes prophecy of Jesus Christ (Matthew 24:34, Mark 13:30, Luke 21:32) to assert that the the great tribulation will start within a generation of 1948 when Israel became a nation again.

Now first, this poses a problem. Finding a Bible prophecy that would support the idea that Israel would re-established as a nation in the year 1948 is difficult to support. I will say categorically that no such prophecy exists in the New Testament, and it takes very creative interpretations to support the existence of such prophecies in the Old Testament. Further, the fact of Israel’s being established as a nation in 1948 is not something that was declared or revealed by God through a Christian prophet or by an angel delivering a message to a Christian. So, the basis of Israel’s existence as a nation does not come from any divine authority, not the Bible or any prophetic utterance!

Now this has nothing to do with the debate on whether Israel has the right to exist. Instead, it has everything to do with the beginning of the prophetic calendar with respect to this nation. If the great tribulation must happen within a generation of Israel’s being established as a nation, on whose authority did this event happen in 1948? Why, not God’s authority, BUT BY THE AUTHORITY OF THE UNITED NATIONS! Indeed, by man’s authority. Where it was AN ACT OF GOD that declared Israel’s status as a nation at the time of the Exodus, it was AN ACT OF MAN THAT AS FAR AS WE KNOW HAS NEVER BEEN CONFIRMED BY GOD TO THE CHURCH that declared Israel to be a nation in 1948. And it is the height of irony that many of the very same people who consider the United Nations to be a tool of the coming anti-Christ (but not America, even though America is a charter member, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, and the U.N. headquarters is in America, and America is the #1 source of funds for this body, no America is “a Christian nation” with Christian – actually most freemason, deist, unitarian, and enlightenment rationalist – founding fathers!) accept the UN’s testimony that Israel is again a nation rather than God’s, and start their prophetic clock based on Israel’s the date of recognition by the same anti-Christ UN!

But alas, that is another issue altogether. But let us take for granted that the U.N. was acting on God’s behalf and doing God’s will, and that their recognition of Israel in 1948 happened according to God’s providence. (I readily admit that there is much precedent for such a thing happening all over the Bible. The key difference: those things were declared as such by prophets and were able to be verified as fulfilled prophecies. For instance, the prophets gave the exact time that the Jews would remain in Babylon AND the name of the king who would free them. It is because of the precise and literal nature of these fulfillments that God-hating atheists claim that said prophecies were written after the fact.) If that is so, when does the generation time clock expire? How long is a generation?

Now this issue has gotten some premillennial dispenationals into trouble. First premillennial dispensationals went by the modern western idea of a generation – 20 years – and stated that the great tribulation would begin by 1968. After it did not, it was revised to the older and better – but still worldly and western – idea of a generation, which was 40 years. So, it was stated that the great tribulation would start in 1988.  An example of this trouble:

“Only if the Bible is in error am I wrong, and I say that unequivocally.  There is no way Biblically that I can be wrong; and I say that to every preacher in town. ( Edgar Whisenant, 88 Reasons Why the Rapture is in 1988).”

But even calling a generation 40 years is wrong, because it is not the Biblical definition. So the question must be asked: what is the Biblical definition of a generation? The answer: there isn’t one. At least, not one that can be described in a hard fast set number of years. Example: consider the time that Israel spent in Egypt, a period of about 400-440 years. According to Genesis 15:15-17, that was four generations! Genesis 15:16 in particular: “But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.” So in this instance, a generation would have had to have been at least 100 years, possibly longer.

So does that settle it? Well, no. The Bible also speaks of the time spent by Israel wandering in the desert as a generation See Numbers 32:13 and more specifically see Psalm 95:8-11 “Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work. Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.”

So obviously a Biblical generation does not refer to any fixed period of time. Some Bible scholars have tried to resolve this by claiming that a generation refers to everyone living during a period of time. When the last person who was alive during that period dies, then the generation ends! Well, Bible examples make that problematic. For one, when the Israeli exodus generation passed, Joshua and Caleb were still alive. Further, to use the preterist/amillennialist view, there were most certainly still Christians alive after the generation or age of which Jesus Christ was addressing in the Olivet Discourse ended in 70 A.D., as they included none other than the apostle John! In addition to John, it is well known that the many Jewish Christians did not die during the Roman siege of Jerusalem, but remembered the warnings of Matthew 24-25 and similar, obeyed Jesus Christ and fled, many of them taking the gospel with them. We know this because the refusal of Jewish Christians to die defending Jerusalem (and yes, the fact that the Jewish Christians were told to leave Jerusalem and obeyed doing so should give modern dispensationals who put so much modern emphasis on that city some pause!) was one of the primary reasons why Jewish Christians were made the scapegoat for the destruction of the nation, expelled from the synagogues, and ostracized by the Jewish people a few decades later.

Now there are some who refer to a generation as an age, specifically an age in salvation-redemptive history. That is consistent with the idea that the sojourn in the desert constituted a spiritual age, as did the end of the Jewish age with the destruction of the second temple in 70 A.D. Regarding the latter, the church age had not yet started when Jesus Christ spoke for He had not yet gone to the cross, resurrected, ascended, and sent the Holy Spirit. However, that still leaves the problem of the four generations in Egypt! Had it been referred to by scripture as a single generation, it would have been easy to harmonize that reference with the generation in the desert and the generation of the time of Jesus Christ’s first advent as major periods in salvation history. However, it does not, so we cannot.

Thus, the conclusion must be reached is that there is no way to know how long a true generation is, that is one that fits Biblical and prophetic purposes. For that reason, we should respect Matthew 24:36, Matthew 25:13, Mark 13:32, and perhaps best Acts 1:7, which reads “And he [Jesus Christ] said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” Thus, even if the creation of Israel in 1948 was the beginning of the generation that will include the great tribulation, none of us has any idea how long that generation shall be. Instead, only the Ancient of Days, God the Father Himself, knows! So, it is best for Christians to be content with the duty of comfort ourselves with and sharing with others the gospel of Jesus Christ! Repent sinners for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!

The Three Step Salvation Plan

Posted in Christianity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

How Does Premillennial Dispensationalism And Covenant Theology Interpret The Parable of the Tenants In The Vineyard Matthew 21:33-44?

Posted by Job on August 26, 2009

The parable of the tenants of the vineyard of Jesus Christ is as follows.

Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons. Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.

The Word of God for the people of God, praise be to God.

Now, this is a parable that should cause trouble to both covenant theology and premillennial dispensationalism. First, regarding covenant theology “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” has to point to a clear distinction, a clear demarcation between Israel and the church. Further, the fact that there were 12 apostles does so as well. The 12 apostles clearly supplant the original 12 tribes of Israel. It is the apostles and prophets that are called the foundation of the church, not the patriarchs of the 12 tribes, and even Moses is only included in the church’s foundation inasmuch as he is a prophet. Further, when Jesus Christ stated that he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John the Baptist, whom Jesus Christ called the greatest of prophets (meaning greater than Moses) then the church age prophets would have been greater than the Old Testament prophets. Now, it is true that there is one people of God; one elect people, and further that everyone in this elect group was justified by the work of Jesus Christ. However, this group does not only include Israel and the church. It also includes Seth, Enoch, Noah, Job, Melchizedek, Jethro/Reuel, the Queen of Sheba, and many others that cannot be called “Israel” in any sense. Just as Job and the Queen of Sheba were most certainly not Israelites, having no part in the Sinai covenant or Abraham’s lineage, the Israelites are certainly not part of the church. Also: the Bible makes it clear that everyone who is in the universal, invisible church, the actual body of Christ, is born again and thus heaven bound. It is self-evident from scripture that every Israelite was not and is not heaven bound. Yet, covenant theology maintains that “Israel was the church of the Old Testament” because covenant theology was created to support the concept of the state-church where everyone in a given jurisdiction was initiated into by paedobaptism (infant baptism) as opposed to a confession of faith and subsequent believer’s baptism (which is the method that the Bible actually commands and gives examples of whereas there is not a single instance of paedobaptism recorded or commanded in scripture despite the best attempts of paedobaptists to claim that the command “believe and be baptized and you will be saved, you and your house” to the Philippian jailer justifies this doctrine, ignoring the critical “believe” portion of the formula which precludes sprinkling babies) and state church advocates openly acknowledged that not everyone in these churches was born again, that only the ecclesiola within the ecclesia (the hidden invisible smaller subset within the larger church) was going to heaven. Keep in mind: there was never any denial that the state church was one where people were joined to by compulsion (with death or banishment to those who refused) and was maintained not for political purposes but because of the belief that a single religion was necessary for political and cultural unity and stability, not for religious reasons. So, with the need to maintain such political-religious institutions, the notion that baptizing unregenerate and non-elect infants into the church was the same as circumcising non-elect Jews under the old covenant was a natural progression. However, once one actually obeys James 4, Romans 12:1-2, John 14-17 and learns from the typology of the sacrificial system (where it wasn’t even lawful to use tools to cut the stones for the altar or else the altar would be rendered ritually impure by the tools and the hands that used them … the seed of the “by the gracious work of God and not the works of men” doctrine) and removes the holy sanctified church from the unholy and defiled state and larger society, the whole “Israel is the church of the Old Testament” idea falls apart, and the concept of the theocracized government and culture with it.

Now for premillennial dispensationalism. The first servant rejected by the tenants was Moses, which happened when Israel refused to enter Canaan, choosing to believe the evil report over the good report of Joshua and Caleb. The second servant rejected by the tenants was Samuel when Israel asked for a king. Then Israel – or at least the northern kingdom – rejected the line of David. The subsequent servants rejected were the prophets who warned Israel of their apostasy and called them to repent, but ultimately were not heeded. And finally, Israel rejected the Son Jesus Christ. Now a key here is this portion: “When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.” Please note that while Jesus Christ did not emphasize their interpretation, He did not deny it either. Rather, He assented to it, and moved on to the main point that He was trying to make. Yet the Holy Spirit inspired Matthew to recall and include this answer – which was in no way wrong – for a reason. The destruction of the wicked men who rejected the Son of God was a reference to the destruction of the Jewish temple and the nation in 70 A.D., a topic that Jesus Christ gave more detailed attention to in the Olivet discourse. (While I am not a preterist – whether partial or full – this is the portion of “this generation” of Matthew 24:34 and similar that was fulfilled in 70 A.D. Of the range of meanings of “genea”, it cannot mean “nation or race” for the Jewish nation will never be destroyed, and whether it means “age” or “generation” is of no consequence, as the Jewish age did come to an end at 70 A.D., and it happened within that generation, the people living in that time.)

And this brings us back to “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” What of the premillennial dispensationalists calling “replacement theology” an evil, anti-Semitic heresy? Who was the kingdom of God taken from but the Jews? Who was it given to but the church? In particular, this is a problem for the premillennial dispensational “Jewish millennium” doctrines, which states that after the church age ends, a newer, better Jewish age will begin with Jesus Christ ruling from the Jewish temple, the sacrificial system and priesthood reinstituted (which completely rejects or ignores virtually everything in the book of Hebrews), and all nations and people serving Israel. If the kingdom of God was taken from Israel, then the millennium will not be Jewish but Christian, and Jews will participate only inasmuch as they become Christians and join the church.

Premillennial dispensationalism, however, rejects this and states that the millennium will be one of Messianic Judaism (or what Messianic Judaism is fast becoming, see exhibit 1 and exhibit A, exhibit B and exhibit C and exhibit D and many more!) and not Christianity hence the true Messianic age. In that case, what does that make the church age? A type or foreshadowing of the Messianic dispensation? If that is true, what does that make Old Testament Israel? Premillennial dispensationalism makes Israel the center of God’s salvation-historic plan, and the church goes from the mystery planned but kept secret from the foundation of the world that the prophets spoke of whose true nature will not be revealed until the seventh trump sounds in Revelation to being a “make-work keep busy project” between the two Israel ages, and Christianity becomes an inferior and temporary – though suitable for Gentile purposes – form of the true eternal revelation and religion, which is Judaism. This rejects even the Suffering Servant songs of Isaiah, which states that rather than Israel being the center of God’s salvation-historic plan, the purpose and role of Israel in redemption was transferred to the Son of Israel Jesus Christ, which in these days is accomplished by the Body of Jesus Christ, which is the church.

Now of course, Paul the Benjamite did say that God has not cast aside His people and that all Israel will be saved after the times of the Gentiles are done. However, a contextual reading of Romans (and everything else that Paul wrote, not to mention everything else that Peter, James, John, Luke, Jude, the writer of Hebrews etc. wrote) makes it clear that all Israel will be saved by virtue of hearing the gospel, which means that all Israel joins the Gentiles in the church to form one new man. Premillennial dispensationalism does give a plausible explanation for why the millennium will be a Jewish one: the church will have been raptured. This allows premillennial dispensationalism to interpret the Kingdom of Heaven parables to refer to the Jewish nation during the millennium as opposed to the church age. (Seriously, that is what this system teaches. So, “the pearl of great price” under this system does not refer to either a man giving up everything – his old nature – to become saved or Jesus Christ’s lowering Himself and going to the cross to redeem the church, but rather the Jewish remnant during the great tribulation.) So, while it is possible that Paul’s prophecy “all Israel will be saved” will occur during the millennium, the idea that it will happen with the restoration of the Jewish kingdom directly conflicts with Jesus Christ’s statement that the kingdom was taken from the Jews and given to another nation (the church) and its fruits. Indeed, “all Israel shall be saved” will be counted as the fruits of the church.

The bottom line: Jesus Christ specifically stated that the kingdom was transferred from the Jews to the church, and this message was modeled by His choosing 12 apostles to replace the original 12 patriarchs of Israel, and it was repeated by the writers of the New Testament. Though the Bible does say “all Israel will be saved”, at no point does it say that the kingdom (meaning the focus of God’s economy, the people of God, the people that give God prayer, worship and praise that He accepts, and the people that God works through to carry out His purposes) would be transferred back to Israel. No scripture text that can be interpreted as claiming that the kingdom would revert from the church back to Israel can be found in either the Old or the New Testament, and no doctrine based on scripture can be formed to even explain why this will have to take place. Now the kingdom was taken from Israel first for their breaking the Sinai covenant terms in Deuteronomy (read first where Deuteronomy predicts that this will happen, and second where Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and other prophets state that the old covenant was broken and will be replaced) and second for their rejecting Jesus Christ. The new covenant will not be broken and the church will not and cannot reject Jesus Christ because of A) the promises of the new covenant and B) the church is Jesus Christ’s own Body and as such is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and God the Father, and no part of the Godhead can reject or be divided against Himself. So, the only way that the kingdom of God can revert back from the church to the Jews is the rapture of the church. With the church out of the picture (meaning out of the way) things can simply revert back to how they were in the Old Testament, right? Pardon me, but that would mean rejecting the cosmic effects of the incarnation, the cross of Jesus Christ, and the resurrection. Like time itself, salvation history only goes forward, it cannot go back. Moreover, the book of Hebrews describes the ultimate relevation of God to be through Jesus Christ by way of His incarnation, cross work, resurrection, and return. Premillennial dispensationalism makes the salvation of Israel during a second age of grace the ultimate revelation of God, and removes Jesus Christ’s own Body in order to facilitate it!

It really is no surprise that premillennial dispensationalism is so attractive to Messianic Jews who want to retain the essentials of their old system. It treats the church age as just an interstitial intermediary between the first Jewish age and the second Jewish age, and further one that happened not because it was God’s plan and the climax of His salvation plan all along, but only as punishment for the Jews for first failing to keep the Torah and second for failing to accept Jesus Christ. Once these errors are atoned for, things go right back to where they should have been all along! Further, premillennial dispensationalism re-instates the wrongheaded ideas about the millennium/Messianic age that Jesus Christ corrected! This is probably the one good point that the amillennialists do make: that the Jews in the time of Jesus Christ were expecting a political liberator and ruler who would usher in the Messianic age and institute a global Jewish theocracy and a time primarily for the benefit of Jews, not the God-man Saviour who would usher in an age of grace for the benefit of all nations. The Jewish religion still teaches the error of the Pharisees and Sadducees to this day, and premillennial dispensationalism – which includes most strands of Messianic Judaism – tells them that they are right about everything save the timing.

The core of premillennial dispensationalism is that God ceases dealing with His temporary vehicle the church and begins dealing with the Jews anew. However, unless premillennial dispensationalists can identify a part two of the parable of the tenants that describes when this will happen (and more importantly, how and why such a thing will happen in a manner that makes it consistent with New Testament doctrines and promises) this area of their doctrine is Biblically unjustified. Premillennial dispensationalism teaches that their doctrines concerning the millennium allows for the fulfillment of all the promises made to Abraham, David and Israel under the old covenant. However, in order to accomplish this, their doctrines require breaking the promises made to the church under the new covenant!

So, just as the parable of the tenants is very problematic for covenant theology by declaring an explicit distinction between the church and Israel, it is even more so for premillennial dispensationalism by explicitly proclaiming that with regards to their place in God’s economy, just as the the second temple could not match the glory of the first (for it did not include the ark of the covenant with the rod that budded or the tablets of the law), for the Jews the former things are no more, and their only place in the latter things (which are greater than the former because the latter is founded on better promises, bought with the Blood of Jesus Christ and hence incorruptible) will be inasmuch as their place is found alongside the redeemed and grafted in Gentiles in the church.

Posted in Bible, Christianity, Jesus Christ | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Will The Holy Spirit Be Taken From The Earth During The Great Tribulation?

Posted by Job on May 2, 2009

Many premillennial dispensational pastors teach that during the time of the great tribulation, the Holy Spirit leaves earth along with the church. Now consider this. As God is a spirit (John 4:24), the Holy Spirit is the presence of God. For God’s presence to be removed from the earth during the great tribulation or at any other times causes real problems, because God sustains and directs creation, which cannot operate without God’s presence and involvement. (The idea that God accomplished creation and left it to itself without His needing to operate, sustain, or otherwise be involved in it is theological liberalism at best and deism at worst.)

But apart from the larger question of precisely how creation will be sustained and operated for seven long years with God’s presence absent from it, there is the issue of salvation. Can anyone name a premillennial dispensationalist who denies that people will be saved during the tribulation? That would be very difficult, because Revelation does make reference to Christians that will be martyred after the time that according to this doctrine the church will have been raptured, and this is so for both the pre-tribulation and mid-tribulation rapture believers. First off, for this to even happen will mean that Jesus Christ’s promise concerning the Holy Spirit of John 14:16-18, that He will not leave us comfortless (meaning that the presence of God will never leave the church) would be broken. So … if John 14:16-18 can be violated, even for a time, then what secures John 3:16 and the other promises of God to the church? 

But again, back to salvation. The Bible explicitly teaches that the Holy Spirit is what accomplishes salvation. The Holy Spirit not only draws the sinner and convicts the sinner of unrighteousness, but the Holy Spirit actually accomplishes rebirth. This must be the case, for salvation is quite literally a miracle, and all miracles are the work of the Holy Spirit. No miracles cannot occur without the presence, moving and working of God. But if the Holy Spirit is removed from the earth, how can salvation occur? Who will draw sinners? Who will convict sinners of unrighteousness? Most important: who will perform the miraculous work of regeneration, of new birth? 

Recall what Jesus Christ told Nicodemus in John 3:5-8, which is that salvation, new birth, is impossible unless someone is born again, and born again can only occur by water and spirit, which is the Holy Spirit. But to repeat, if the Holy Spirit has been taken from the earth, how can the rebirth, the salvation that can only occur by the Holy Spirit occur?

There is only one explanation. It is the doctrine that salvation is not the work of the Holy Spirit, but rather of human decision, of free will. Now claiming that it is totally or completely free will is Pelagianism, or shall we say hyperArminianism. The mainstream orthodox free will doctrine is that the work of the Holy Spirit empowers a free will decision to accept or reject Jesus Christ. An extension of this is foreknowledge, which states that God from His timeless perspective knows in advance who will accept and reject Him, so He elects those who will – or in truth have already – elected Him, and places them in human history in situations where they will hear the gospel. (In other words, God loves us because we first loved Him.)

Now the free will doctrine which states that the job of the Holy Spirit is to empower human decision is necessary to reconcile decision soteriology with what the Bible actually says. However, we see that this really is merely a cover, an exterior. At the heart of this doctrine is that salvation is completely the work of human decision, and that the Holy Spirit is not necessary at all. That is why it is so easy for the very same free will Christians to declare that salvation is made possible by the Holy Spirit’s overcoming the effects of the fall long enough to empower man to make a free will choice to immediately turn around and assert that during the tribulation, the Holy Spirit is gone and yet people will still be saved!

This makes the work of the Holy Spirit to draw, convict, and actually accomplish new birth a mere technicality to free will salvation, an accessory if you will, that while very useful can be discarded if need be, such as during a crisis. And during the great crisis for humanity and creation that is the great tribulation, the presence of the Holy Spirit for those being saved is no more necessary than is the presence of a second lung or kidney. It is nice to have, but ultimately you can get along without it. After all, you still have the other lung or kidney, right? Well, it appears that with free will doctrine, one lung or kidney is God (the Holy Spirit) and the other lung or kidney is human initiative, human decision, human righteousness and self – worth, human works. It is interesting that in a crisis, God is the one which is declared to be superfluous, not truly necessary for life, and therefore sacrificed, while our human freedom, what is truly valued and important above all else, are the horns of the altar to which we hold fast to (see 1 Kings 2:27-34). Perhaps, then, life as a slave or in an authoritarian culture (please recall that Christianity was birthed in the authoritarian, fascist Roman Empire which had no respect for individual rights or freedoms except for that of a privileged few, and most early converts to the religion were noncitizens and slaves!) is better suited to creating a mindset conducive to Christianity than previously thought. After all, the Declaration of Independence was written by a deist, not a Christ.

According to all Biblical evidence including the words of Jesus Christ Himself, the idea that salvation can occur without the Holy Spirit is severe error, a rejection of a truth plainly taught in scripture, and also attributing the work of the Holy Spirit (salvation) to another, giving another credit for what God does. (However, it is not blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, the unforgivable sin, which Jesus Christ states is attributing the works of the Holy Spirit to Satan. Giving the glory for the work of the Holy Spirit to man is a sin, but quite different than attributing salvation to being the work of Beelzebub.) So is the idea that the church will be left without its Comforter, the Holy Spirit. So, what does that mean for this doctrine? 

I suppose that the rapture doctrine itself can be salvaged for those who choose to adhere to it. However, one simply cannot claim that there will be no Christians afterwards, as the Bible clearly contradicts it … saints will be martyred during the tribulation according to Revelation and the Olivet discourses.  One also cannot claim that the “tribulation church” or the “tribulation saints” will be there without the Holy Spirit, as Jesus Christ said that such a thing would never happen. And one cannot claim that the “tribulation saints” will consist of a single person born again while the Holy Spirit is removed. 

So, the only way to salvage the rapture doctrine is to abandon the claim that the Holy Spirit will be taken from the Earth during the great tribulation, or at any other time that the church will be on the earth or that people will be added to the church. While this is certainly possible, the question must be asked  A) where this “the Holy Spirit will be removed from the earth during the tribulation” doctrine came from and B) why it was embraced. Why did not these people, these great pastors, theologians, and eminent Bible scholars, simply ask: without the Holy Spirit how can anyone be saved and “how can any Christian endure daily life, let alone tribulation and martyrdom, without the ministry of the Comforter?”

Now the doctrines of God are supposed to be the head of all doctrines of Christianity and the focus of our faith. We are supposed to look at every doctrine and ask “How is God working in this? How does this glorify God? How does this accomplish God’s purposes? Where is God in this story”? That this “the Holy Spirit will be removed from the tribulation church” doctrine has been able to gain such unqualified support in huge swaths of evangelical Christianity shows that this is not the case. In it, God and His workings are not necessary to bring about conversion, to seal believers, to preserve them in the faith. Man is able to accomplish these things, to save himself, minister to himself, and persevere in the faith himself, without God’s help. Oh what a great, glorious, marvelous, fantastic, mighty to contemplate and behold, inherently virtuous thing this man must be! But if this was the case, then why did Adam, who knew not original sin, fall?

Instead, this shows that for so many premillennial dispensational Christians, the head of their doctrines are not the doctrines of God, but rather the doctrine of the rapture and the doctrine of human decision. Now the Gospel of John depicts the sin sacrifice of God’s own Word on the cross as the climaxing event of human history, the ultimate act of revelation and self – disclosure to creation. Premillennial dispensationalism, on the other hand, places the rapture of the church as the climax of human history, and the cross as merely being an event that leads to it. Why? Because the cross was about God, Jesus Christ. The rapture, meanwhile, us about the church. The cross is about people. Saved people, yes, but still people. The rapture is about US.

Which means, of course, that Christianity basically becomes about the desire to be raptured. Being raptured becomes our hope, our motivation, the main priority. And that explains so many of the strange actions in these last days. For example: our relationship with the Jews and Israel. The ingathering of Jews to Israel and the rebuilding of the temple is the main priority because of its importance to the rapture. So, Christians are required to deny the fact that Jesus Christ replaced Israel and fulfilled Israel’s mission in salvation and world events within Himself. Even further, Christians are required to pretend that modern Judaism is just another godless religion, no different from Islam, and pretend that there is any precious difference between a government and society  based around modern Judaism – a theocracy – and a similar Hindu or Muslim nation like India or Turkey. It has even reached the point where leading pastors can openly advocate dual covenant theology, that there a superior path to salvation for Christians and an inferior, harder, but still attainable and valid path of salvation for Jews, without causing a ripple of controversy. And it has reached the point where investing an incredible amount of resources to lending political and financial support to a theocracy who denies Christ and works to continue and further the denial of Christ by as many people as possible has taken priority over actually doing what Jesus Christ told us to do, which was the Great Commission. Again, where not one scripture can be honestly interpreted in a way that would command Christians to support the modern political state of Israel, the primary thing that Jesus Christ told us to do, evangelize, gets neglected. Why? Because evangelizing the world – the one thing that Jesus Christ actually said would bring about His return – is not as important as ingathering and protecting Jews in Israel, because obeying the commands of Jesus Christ has to take a backseat to getting raptured as soon as possible. So, given the choice between giving money to Israeli causes knowing full well that the Israeli charities forbid evangelizing Jews and also helping to rebuild the temple takes priority over obeying the commands of Jesus Christ by, say, making a concerted effort to evangelize the Palestinians. Why? Because though obeying God by evangelizing the Palestinians is nice and all, I would rather support the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (which adamantly opposes converting Jews to Christianity) and help breed heifers for the new temple (never mind that Hebrews stated that burnt offerings went away with Jesus Christ). Why? Because while obeying God is a good thing and all, supporting anti-missionary organizations and building a temple that rejects the work of Jesus Christ helps me by speeding up the rapture and getting me out of here faster, and pursuing my own interests takes priority over the commandments of God!

So, it is apparent: doctrines of man, and particularly of man’s inherent righteousness and ability to do good works apart from God, including pursue his own interests, and of the rapture,  which provides a doctrinal construct to pursue these things, are at the head of this particular strand of premillennial dispensationalism, and not the doctrines of God. So the question is: does this go as far as being another gospel? Is it another gospel?

This is a question that we must ask Reformed pastors who believe in the rapture as do Albert Pendarvis and John MacArthur. Such people state that salvation and perseverance of the saints are impossible without the Holy Spirit, that free will, human initiative, is impossible in these matters. If that is the case now, how can it be the case after the rapture? Reformed evangelical pastors emphasize grace. But how can the grace of God by which salvation and perseverance is only possible through the ministry of the Holy Spirit no longer be necessary after the rapture? Reformed evangelicals also assert sola scriptura. Well, can any sola scriptura Reformed evangelical who believes that the Holy Spirit will be removed from the earth and the tribulation church following the rapture show where it states or even implies in scripture where it is so? I dare say that the scriptures that Reformed evangelicals use to support cessationism, a doctrine about which I am very doubtful, make a much stronger case. 

Now my position is that the position that the church will be raptured, whether pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, or post-tribulation (before the final bowl judgments) by itself is not. However, the position that the Holy Spirit will be removed from the earth during the great tribulation is another gospel, because it teaches that man can save himself and can persevere in the faith by himself without needing God to perform – or so much as even aid – either. That is a strong delusion, and from such a false gospel, I urgently beg, entreat, plead, and in the Name of Jesus Christ pray that you will turn away.

Posted in Christianity, Jesus Christ | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments »

Whither The Promise of God That Israel Would Always Be A Nation?

Posted by Job on January 5, 2009

To the post Do Evangelical Christians Consider The Plight Of The Palestinians? I received an excellent reply which asked to justify my comments in light of Jeremiah 31:35-36:

I don’t have time to write a long comment, but one bit struck me:

Even if we accept the Old Testament version of events as history (which of course the Palestinians, being neither Jews or Christians, are not obliged to), that version tells us that the nation of Israel ceased to exist in 586 BC.

Contrast this to Jeremiah 31:35-36:

This is what the Lord says, he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar– the Lord Almighty is his name: “Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,” declares the Lord, “will the descendants of Israel ever cease to be a nation before me.”

Are these two statement compatible?

My reply: the modern definition of “nation” and what the Bible means when it uses the term are not always one and the same. Further, there seems to be a common occurrence of merging the related but not identical promises to Abraham given in Genesis 12:1-3 and Genesis 15:18-21. Jeremiah 31:35-36 references one but not the other.

So here is my response to the very legitimate question of the promise of Israel’s always being a nation made by God, and I would appreciate responses. When making them, please note two things:

1. I do not oppose the existence of the modern nation – state Israel and I am fully aware of modern Israel’s obligation to defend itself from many enemies (including but certainly not limited to Hamas, Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad, the PLO, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia etc.) that are committed to its destruction.
2. Though I reject premillennial dispensationalism, I acknowledge the historical legitimacy of other forms of premillennialism, and I do not subscribe  to amillennialism, preterism, covenant theology, nor do I subscribe to replacement theology in its classic sense..

Well, statement two is incompatible with history. Israel lost control of their land in 586 BC, not long after its writer Jeremiah urged the southern kingdom to submit to Babylon. And about 700 years later Jerusalem was burned to the ground and the Jews were scattered into a diaspora. So, statement two would have to be “never except for a huge gap between 586 BC and 1948 AD, and especially between 132 AD and 1948 AD.”

So the only way to reconcile Jeremiah 31:35-36 with the rest of Biblical revelation and of history is to conclude that it did not refer to the physical nation or land of Israel, but the people of Israel. And to confirm that, go to Exodus. The Exodus account is clear: Israel became a nation when God brought them out of Egypt. Yet they did not possess the land of Israel until after 40 years in the wilderness. Again, they were a nation, but wandering in the wilderness and not in Israel.

So Jeremiah 31:35-36 was a promise that the natural seed of Abraham would always exist as a people. That promise is true, and evidence of that is the discovery of Jews who can trace their bloodline in such exotic places as Ethiopia and India. But making the claim that it refers to Jews always living in and controlling the land of Israel would be hard to reconcile with the facts of history.

This is more so when you consider the nature of the Sinai covenant, especially as spelled out in Deuteronomy. The Sinai covenant was not unconditional as was the covenant that God made with Abraham or the Davidic Messianic covenant. The Sinai covenant was conditional. Which meant that for the nation of Israel to remain in the land of Israel (for the people of Shem to dwell in the tents of Canaan, remember Noah’s famous curse against the son of Ham, as the land of Israel is actually the land of Canaan, the Jebusites built Jerusalem if I am correct) and to continue to control Israel, it had to keep the Sinai covenant.

We know that Israel did not keep the terms of the covenant, and that is why 586 BC happened. Make no mistake, and the Old Testament prophets declared, that the falling of the northern kingdom to the Assyrians and the southern kingdom to the Babylonians was the result of Israel’s breaking of the old covenant. And this same Jeremiah that you quote spoke of a new covenant.

Israel’s living in and controlling the land of Israel was tied to the Sinai covenant. Again, the book that best spells this out is Deuteronomy, written by the leader of the nation of Israel at the time, Moses, who himself never set foot in the land of Israel.

Premillennial dispensationalism tries to get around the fact that Israel broke the terms of the conditionial Sinai covenant by claiming that it was the unconditional covenant with Abraham that gave Abraham’s descendants eternal control of the land of Israel. However, http://www.gotquestions.org/Abrahamic-covenant.html does an outstanding job of exposing this false belief. It is based on inappropriately joining Genesis 15:18-21 and Genesis 12:1-3 together. Genesis 15:18-21 simply promises land to Abraham and his descendants. We know that this promise was fulfilled, as Abraham’s descendants were given the land of Israel. That was not what Jeremiah 31:35-36 was referencing.

Genesis 12:1-3 is the unconditional covenant that makes promises to make Israel into a nation. That was what Jeremiah 31:35-36 was speaking of. And why did Jeremiah write Jeremiah 31:35-36? To address people who claimed that the fall of Judah to Babylon meant that God was breaking the Abrahamic covenant. Jeremiah was reminding Israel that the Abrahamic covenant meant that the natural children of Israel through Isaac would always exist as a people, not that they would always live in and have control of the nation of Israel. Again, continued living in and controlling the nation of Israel was conditioned on keeping the Sinai covenant.

Now interpreting scripture with scripture is a legitimate way to interpret the Bible, so adding Genesis 15:18-21 to Genesis 12:1-3 or even using one to interpret the other would appear, in isoloation, to be valid. The problem is that Genesis 12:1-3 and Genesis 15:18-21 do not appear in isolation. We have to consider those two statements in the context of the rest of the Bible. The issue with modern premillennialism (which, yes, does differ from historic premillennialism) is not so much that people add those two promises to Abraham together, but rather that in doing so they reinterpret or outright ignore/reject other parts of the Bible, especially the Sinai covenant, its conditional nature, and basically everything that happened after 721 BC when the northern kingdom destroyed Assyria. Interesting thing about the northern kingdom’s tribe of Dan … they never at any time kept the Sinai covenant. The book of Judges reveals that the tribe of Dan fell into apostasy immediately after Israel possessed the land. Do you know the result of that? The tribe of Dan is not listed among the 144,400 in Revelation. They are replaced by elevating the half tribes of Joseph to two full tribes. If that doesn’t prove that God was serious about the Sinai covenant, I do not know what does.

But dispensational premillennialism teaches that 721 BC was the start of Israel merely being punished for breaking the Sinai covenant, and in 1948 the punishment was over. As a matter of fact, Paul Meier, who wrote “The Millennium” series of books that – among other things – promotes Bible codes, claimed that the punishment for breaking the Sinai covenant was only the 60 year captivity in Babylon, and what happened to Israel thereafter was actually Israel being punished because most of them refused to return to Israel but stayed in Babylon. Well, Meier’s argument breaks down when you consider that A) not all of Israel was sent to Babylon, but that the poor was left behind and B) it completely ignores the northern kingdom.

And that is yet another problem. Dispensationalism starts by referring to all of Israel, then it shrinks to just the two tribes that made up Judah, then it enlarges to include all of Israel again. Why? Because if you don’t shrink it to include Judah, then you will have to deal with the fact that the 10 northern tribes were not restored to all of Israel, only the two southern tribes were. The land formerly occupied by the 10 northern tribes basically went to the SAMARITANS. (Of course, the later books of the Old Testament reveal that the Samaritans included natural descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and that is why they figured so prominently in the gospels and Acts, to the point of Jesus Christ making the special effort to reveal Himself to the Samaritan woman at the well. But they were not Jews or considered to be part of the nation of Israel in any sense.) But now, it has to be expanded to all of Israel so that the descendants of those who returned from Babylon can stake a modern claim to the land given to all 12 tribes.

So we have to points of contention that are critical to premillennial dispensationalism. First is the combination of Genesis 12:1-3 and Genesis 15:18-21 when later Biblical revelation (not to mention historical events) doesn’t support it. Second is willfully misusing the term “nation” in Genesis 12:1-3 and in other relevant places to be the modern meaning of “nation – state”, a combination of a land and a government. Genesis 12:1-3, Jeremiah 31:35-36, Exodus, etc. do not use that definition, which is western. When the relevant Bible passages say “nation”, they are referring to a PEOPLE, such as a tribe (or confederation of tribes) or ethnic group, people united by common lineage. Now the epitome of the modern definition of “nation” is America, which is not defined by a single ethnic group, people group, or lineage but is an amalgamation, and indeed the people who are actually indigenous to our nation – state are a tiny part of the population and have very little – if any – power in it. So, the “nation” of America (out of many, one, e pluribus unum, tons of different races, nationalities, ethnic groups etc. combining to make one entity that is defined by a political entity and a land mass) and the “nation” of Israel (which literally means the natural genetic descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob/Israel and exists no matter which political entity they reside under or where they live whether it be in Egypt/Alexandria, Canaan, Babylon, the Greek Empire, New York City/Miami, Mumbai) are direct contrasts with each other. It is one of the classic divergences between what the Bible meant to its original hearers when it was written and what it means to contemporary audiences (especially those in the west, who are completely influenced by the western – Roman! – notions of nation – state and city – state and empire – state that often contain many races and ethnic groups as opposed to the east and other parts of the world where tribes and such still very much exist and influence thinking, even in the cases of tribes that are in the same basic ethnic or racial group … if you doubt that do an Internet search on “Rwanda genocide”).

Now I should point out that I disagree with some of the older fashioned amillennialist sorts, the line of thinking in a lot of conservative Roman Catholic and mainline Protestant circles that opposes the existence of the state of Israel. I have no problem with Israel’s existence, especially when you consider that Jews do in fact need a place of last resort that they can flee to because of persecution and other crises, and no other country on the world want that place to be their own country. (I personally wouldn’t mind that country being America, but I am not a democratic majority.) And if you look at current events in Europe, its allowing itself to be Islamized and assent to sharia law, it does appear that many Jews may have to leave that continent for Israel in the near future. So yes, I can say in a very real way that I do support Israel and the Jews. I am merely pointing out that the existence of Israel is a very bad deal for the Palestinians, who are in a tough spot that cannot be resolved with either politics or military force. People who use questionable premillennial dispensational assumptions to support Israel’s simply crushing the Palestinians beyond doing what is necessary to defend themselves (and I do agree by the way that Israel’s bombing and invading Gaza is a legitimate and perhaps necessary measure to stop being pelted with rockets) are ignoring that fact.

Bottom line: it was the Sinai covenant that allowed Israel to live in Canaan under God’s protection, not the Abrahamic or Davidic covenants. And the Sinai covenant was broken by Israel. If it hadn’t been, then Israel wouldn’t have fallen to Assyria and Judah wouldn’t have fallen to Babylon. That was precisely what the Old Testament prophets and the Chronicler addressed … people who were claiming that God had forsaken His promise to Israel. They replied “God didn’t forsake us, but we forsook God” and then took them right back to Exodus, Leviticus, and especially Deuteronomy (which is precisely why liberal scholarship denies that Deuteronomy was written by Moses, but was instead written during the exile, and the rest of the Old Testament edited to reflect it as a way of Judaism’s “covering its bases” to account for its defeat by Babylon).

Posted in Christianity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Premillennial Dispensationalism Effectively Claims That The New Covenant Has Not Yet Arrived (Which Means We Are Still Under The Old)!

Posted by Job on July 27, 2008

Utterly lifted from Soli Deo Gloria.

Dispensationalism Today, Yesterday and Tomorrow: Part (6)

The 6th essay by Grover Gunn on the topic of dispensationalism. Previous posts an be found here: Part (1) – Part (2) – Part (3) – Part (4) – Part (5) –

The New Covenant, Part One

Before discussing the new covenant, I would like to review the basic distinction between dispensationalism and Reformed theology.

This basic distinction revolves around the concepts of unity in reference to God’s people and continuity in reference to God’s program.

First, according to Reformed theology, the people of God in all ages are in union with Christ and are therefore together united in the universal church, which is the Body and Bride of Christ. According to dispensationalism, only those who are saved between the Pentecost of Acts 2 and the end time rapture are in the universal church.

In other words, Mary, the mother of Jesus, will be in the Bride of Christ, but Joseph her husband who died before Pentecost will only be a guest at the wedding of the Lamb. Also, John the Apostle will be in the Body of Christ in eternity, but not John the Baptist. According to dispensationalism, the Old Testament saints who died before Acts 2 are not to be made perfect together with the New Testament saints (compare Hebrews 11:39-40), but are instead to remain spiritually inferior throughout eternity, never being in the Body and Bride of Christ.

Second, according to Reformed theology, the New Testament church is a continuation of the Old Testament program and is directly rooted in the Old Testament covenants. According to dispensationalism, the New Testament church is a parenthesis in the program begun in the Old Testament, not a continuation of the program. They continue the Old Testament program in a future Jewish millennium that is a glorified extension of the Davidic national kingdom and the Mosaic ceremonial laws.

 

Let us now go on with our examination of the dispensational theory by looking at the dispensational teaching on the new covenant.

Since those twenty-seven books of Scripture that were written after the life of Jesus are named the New Testament or covenant, one would expect that all Christians would uncompromisingly acknowledge the Christian nature of the new covenant. Such an acknowledgment, however, is not easy or simple for the consistent dispensationalist. As it turns out, when the dispensationalist tries to bend Scripture to fit his system, the Biblical data on the new covenant is among the most stubbornly unyielding and uncooperative. Dr. Charles C. Ryrie says the following about dispensational interpretation of the new covenant:

Although the new covenant is one of the major covenants of Scripture, a clear statement of its meaning and of its relationship to the [dispensational] premillennial system is needed. Even among [dispensational] premillennialists there seems to be a lack of knowledge concerning this covenant.1

[Dispensational] premillennialists are divided into three groups as far as their interpretation of the new covenant is concerned. This does not evince weakness, for not one of the views contradicts the system.2

The classic passage on the new covenant is Jeremiah 31. Please take note:Jeremiah is an Old Testament prophecy, and dispensationalists teach that no Old Testament prophecy can refer directly to the New Testament church. Dispensationalists interpret Jeremiah 30 and 31 as referring to their futuristic tribulation period which is to occur after the rapture of the church and to their Judaistic millennium.3 The “time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7) is identified with the seven-year tribulation period, and the new covenant of Jeremiah 31 is viewed as a millennial blessing upon Israel. According to Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost:

This covenant must follow the return of Christ at the second advent.4

This covenant will be realized in the millennial age.5

Regardless of the relationship of the church to the new covenant as explained in these three views, there is one general point of agreement: the new covenant of Jeremiah 31:31-34 must and can be fulfilled only by the nation Israel and not by the Church.6

According to Dr. John F. Walvoord,

… the [dispensational] premillennial position is that the new covenant is with Israel and the fulfillment in the millennial kingdom after the second coming of Christ.7

The [dispensational] premillennial view, though varying in detail, insists that the new covenant as revealed in the Old Testament concerns Israel and requires fulfillment in the millennial kingdom.8

According to Dr. Charles C. Ryrie,

… it can be shown that the period of the new covenant is millennial.9

Also, Jeremiah’s new covenant prophecy is to be made “with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah” (Jeremiah 31:31), and dispensationalists teach their strong dichotomy between Israel and the church.

In other words, what has a prophecy for Israel to do with the New Testament church in a direct and primary sense? Nothing, says the consistent dispensationalist. So, for the consistent dispensationalist, the new covenant of Jeremiah 31 must be for the Jewish millennium and not for the church age. For the new covenant to be fulfilled in and by the church would be to abrogate the new covenant with Israel and to alter its most essential meaning and intention.10 The significance of this point can be seen in the following quotation by Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost:

If the church fulfills this covenant, she may also fulfill the other covenants made with Israel and there is no need for an earthly millennium.11

According to Dr. Ryrie:

If the church is fulfilling Israel’s promises as contained in the new covenant or anywhere in the Scriptures, then [dispensational] premillennialism is condemned.12

We have seen that dispensationalists interpret the Old Testament data on the new covenant as referring solely to the nation Israel in a future millennium. When one comes to the New Testament data on the new covenant, this dispensational theory encounters some critical complications.

For example, in Hebrews 8:6-13, the inspired writer called Christ “the mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises” and then quoted extensively from the Jeremiah new covenant prophecy. In Hebrews 10:14-18, the inspired writer quoted from the Jeremiah new covenant prophecy in an argument for the discontinuation of animal sacrifices in the church age. This indeed is ironic, for the dispensationalist refers this Jeremiah new covenant prophecy instead to a Jewish millennium in which animal sacrifices are renewed!

In Hebrews 12:22-24, several Old Testament concepts, like Mount Zion, Jerusalem, the blood of Abel, and the new covenant, are applied directly to the Christian. In 2 Corinthians 3, Paul called himself and Timothy “ministers of the new testament.” As if to remove any doubt about which new covenant he was referring to, Paul in verse 3 mentions the Jeremiah new covenant concept of writing on human hearts (Jeremiah 31:33). When Christ inaugurated the Lord’s Supper, He said, “This cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:20). What did the Jewish disciples associate with this statement? Undoubtedly they related it to Jeremiah 31. What other new testament (i.e. covenant) were they aware of?

Surely you can now see that the consistent dispensationalist has a problem with the new covenant. According to a consistent application of basic dispensational assumptions and the dispensational hermeneutic, the new covenant of Jeremiah 31 is for Israel in a Jewish millennium, not for the New Testament church in the church age. Dispensationalists are divided among three suggested solutions to this serious problem in their system.

Let us begin by examining the theory most consistent with dispensational assumptions, the theory of Drs. Lewis Sperry Chafer and John F. Walvoord, the first two presidents of Dallas Theological Seminary. This theory asserts that there are two new covenants in Scripture, one for Israel and one for the church.

If a new covenant passage relates to Israel, then the passage is referring to the Jewish new covenant of the Jewish millennium. If a new covenant passage relates to the New Testament church, then the passage is referring to the Christian new covenant of the church age.

The following quotations by Drs. Chafer, Walvoord, and Pentecost respectively further explains the two-covenant view:

There remains to be recognized a heavenly covenant for the heavenly people, which is also styled like the preceding one for Israel, a “new covenant.” It is made in the blood of Christ (cf. Mark 14:24) and continues in effect throughout this age, where as the new covenant made with Israel happens to be future in its application. To suppose that these two covenants — one for Israel and one for the Church — are the same is to assume that there is a latitude of common interest between God’s purpose for Israel and His purpose for the Church.13

[Dispensational] premillenarians are in agreement that the new covenant with Israel awaits its complete fulfillment in the millennial kingdom. However, there exists some difference of opinion how the new covenant relates to the present interadvent age. …

The point of view that holds to two covenants in the present age has certain advantages. It provides a sensible reason for establishing the Lord’s supper for believers in this age in commemoration of the blood of the covenant. The language of 1 Corinthians 11:25 seems to require it: “This cup is the new covenant in My blood: this do, as often as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me.” It hardly seems reasonable to expect Christians to distinguish between the cup and the new covenant when these appear to be identified in this passage. In 2 Corinthians 3:6, Paul speaking of himself states: “Our sufficiency is of God: who also made us sufficient as ministers of a new covenant.” It would be difficult to adjust the ministry of Paul as a minister of the new covenant if, in fact, there is no new covenant for the present age.14

This view holds that there are two new covenants presented in the New Testament; the first with Israel in reaffirmation of the covenant promised in Jeremiah 31 and the second made with the church in this age. This view, essentially, would divide the references to the new covenant in the New Testament into two groups. The references in the gospels and in Hebrews 8:6; 9:15; 10:29; and 13:20 would refer to the new covenant with the church, Hebrews 8:7-13 and 10:16 would refer to the new covenant with Israel, and Hebrews 12:24 would refer, perhaps, to both, emphasizing the fact of the mediation accomplished and the covenant program established without designating the recipients.15

This theory is a pristine and pure application of the dispensational dichotomy between Israel and the church, but it requires amazingly strained exegesis to reconcile it with the Scriptural data. A closer examination of the New Testament passages on the new covenant will naturally show the artificial nature of this two-covenant theory.

Some of New Testament data on the new covenant not only relates a new covenant to the church but also clearly relates the Jewish Jeremiah 31 new covenant to the church.

One such passage is Hebrews 8:6-13: – 6  But now hath He obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also He is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.
7     For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.
8     For finding fault with them, He saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. …
13     In that He saith, A new covenant, He hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.

According to the two-covenant interpretation, the “better covenant” of verse 6 is the church new covenant but the “new covenant” of verses 7-13 is the Jewish new covenant for the millennium. Proponents of this view point out that the text never specifically equates the “better covenant” with the “new covenant” of verses 7-13. This is supposed to be a strong argument from silence. They argue that the writer of Hebrews quoted the Jeremiah new covenant passage to prove that the Mosaic covenant was temporary but that he did not intend to leave the impression that the “better covenant” of verse 6 is the new covenant mentioned in the quotation from Jeremiah.16

According to the dispensational understanding of prophecy, the church age is an unforeseen parenthesis in the prophetic program between the sixty-ninth and seventieth of the seventy weeks of Daniel 9. Therefore it would have been impossible for Jeremiah to have foreseen the church new covenant. The new covenant prophesied by Jeremiah must take effect in the millennium after the yet future seventieth week (i.e., the tribulation), not in the unforeseen church age between weeks sixty-nine and seventy.

The two-covenant theory dispensationalists are correct that the author of Hebrews would not have taught a church fulfillment for Jeremiah’s new covenant prophecy if he had been a consistent dispensationalist. If, however, the author of Hebrews had held to the two-covenant theory, he could have avoided any confusion by calling the Mosaic covenant the first covenant, the church new covenant the second covenant, and the Jewish millennial new covenant the third covenant. The author of Hebrews instead in Hebrews 8:7 called the Mosaic covenant the first covenant and the Jewish new covenant the second covenant. Assuming the author of Hebrews was a two-covenant theory dispensationalist, we could speculate that he did not count the church new covenant in his calculations, even though he had mentioned it as the “better covenant” of verse 6, because of its parenthetical nature.

The new covenant of Jeremiah 31 is also quoted in Hebrews 10:14-18: – 14 For by one offering [God] hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
15     Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before,
16     This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;
17     And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.
18     Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.

Here the author of Hebrews is quoting the Jeremiah 31 new covenant prophecy as the climax of his argument for the discontinuance of the Levitical sacrifices in the church age and as a divine witness to us (i.e. to Christians, not to millennial Jews). Strangely, the two-covenant theory dispensationalists relate the above passage not to the church new covenant but to the Jewish millennial new covenant which will be in effect when, according to many dispensationalists, the Levitical sacrificial system will be reinstituted.

Dr. Walvoord explains that “the new covenant with Israel not only anticipated the abrogation of the law but also the end of Mosaic sacrifices as a basis for forgiveness.”17

Is he saying that the Old Testament Levitical sacrifices were a basis for forgiveness but that the millennial Levitical sacrifices will not be a basis for forgiveness? Then in what sense were the Old Testament sacrifices a basis for forgiveness? The blood of bulls and goats never took away sins (Hebrews 10:4). Dr. Walvoord himself, in defending millennial sacrifices, goes on to say, “The millennial sacrifices are no more expiatory than were the Mosaic sacrifices which preceded the cross.”18

Another interesting and relevant passage in Hebrews is Hebrews 12:22-24:- 22  But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
23     To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
24     And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.

This passage is full of references to the Old Testament: Mount Zion, the sprinkled blood of sacrifice, the blood of Abel and the new covenant. Are we to say that in this context, the author of Hebrews was not referring to the new covenant spoken of in the Old Testament? Yet these verses also are addressed to the Christian and apply this new covenant to the Christian. Dr. Walvoord stresses that the word translated new in this passage is nea, a Greek word meaning recent. Therefore, he says, “Reference is apparently to the covenant with the church and not to Israel’s new covenant.”19 Dr. Walvoord is correct in arguing that the new covenant of Hebrews 12:24 applies to the Christian but wrong in arguing that this is not the same new covenant spoken of in Jeremiah 31.

Bernard Ramm has said that the interpretation of the book of Hebrews which does not apply the new covenant to the church, but which instead applies it to a Judaistic future, is an “oddity in the history of the exegesis of this book.”20 Elsewhere he has said,

The New Covenant is one of several items discussed in Hebrews all of which are realized in the Church and the present age. That Christ is our Moses, our Aaron, our Sacrifice, the strict literalists readily admit. To isolate the New Covenant and forward it to the millennium is to disrupt the entire structure of Hebrews.21

There are New Testament passages outside of the book of Hebrews that also show the error of the two-covenant theory.

For example, in 2 Corinthians 3:6, the apostle Paul called himself and Timothy “ministers of the new testament [i.e. covenant]” In this passage, Paul makes reference to the Jeremiah 31 concept of writing on human hearts (Jeremiah 31:33). In 2 Corinthians 3:3, Paul spoke of the Corinthian Christians as being human letters, “written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart.” Paul then contrasted his ministry of the new covenant with the old Mosaic ministration that was “written and engraven in stones” (verse 7). This is an application of not just a new covenant but the Jeremiah 31 new covenant to the church and the church age.

Christ also mentioned a new covenant when He instituted the Lord’s Supper: “This is My blood of the new testament [i.e. covenant], which is shed for many” (Mark 14:24). Moses also had spoken of the “blood of the covenant” at the inauguration of the old covenant (Exodus 24:8). Surely the disciples would have recognized that Christ was instituting a second covenant to replace the Mosaic covenant, whose many types He was fulfilling. Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost has pointed out the following:

In its historical setting, the disciples who heard the Lord refer to the new covenant in the upper room the night before His death would certainly have understood Him to be referring to the new covenant of Jeremiah 31. … Since the disciples would certainly have understood any reference to the new covenant on that occasion as a reference to Israel’s anticipated covenant of Jeremiah, it seems that the Lord must have been stating that that very covenant was being instituted with His death . …22

This close association of the Lord’s Supper to Jeremiah’s new covenant with Israel may explain why E.W. Bullinger, the father of ultra-dispensationalism, taught that the Lord’s Supper is a Jewish ordinance that has no place in the Christian church.23

The two-covenant theory, the most consistent theory dispensationally, is the most difficult to defend Scripturally. Therefore, it has not received widespread acceptance among dispensationalists. For example, the popular dispensational writer Harry Ironside has said:

It were folly to speak of a new covenant with the Church, when no former covenant has been made with us. In the case of Israel and Judah it is different. They entered into the covenant of works at Sinai.24

John F. McGahey in his doctor’s dissertation at Dallas Theological Seminary came to the following conclusion:

Consequently, it has been established that there is no warrant in Scripture for maintaining that there are two new covenants. It has been evident from this study that the theory of the two new covenants was born of controversy rather than strong exegesis. For it appears that it was manufactured to avoid the assumed conclusion that to relate the church to Israel’s new covenant necessitated that church fulfilling the promises given to Israel under that covenant.25

*to be continued

Dispensationalism: The New Covenant, Part One

*also see: Dispensational Pre – Tribulation Rapture Christians Will You Go To The Third Temple In Jerusalem And Pray?

End Notes

Charles Caldwell Ryrie, The Basis of the Premillennial Faith (Neptune, N.J.: Loizeaux Brothers, 1953), page 105.
Ibid., pages 106-107.
H.A. Ironside, Notes on the Prophecy and Lamentations of Jeremiah “The Weeping Prophet” (Neptune, N.J.: Loizeaux Brothers, 1906), pages 146-166; Charles Caldwell Ryrie, The Basis of the Premillennial Faith, pages 108-114; John F. Walvoord, The Millennial Kingdom (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1959), pages 481, 183-184, 210-211, 258-259; J. Dwight Pentecost,Things to Come (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1958), pages 120-121.
Pentecost, Things to Come, page 120.
Ibid., page 121.
Ibid., page 124.
Walvoord, The Millennial Kingdom, page 209.
Ibid., page 210.
Ryrie, The Basis of the Premillennial Faith, page 111.
Ibid., pages 105-106.
Pentecost, Things to Come, page 116.
Charles Caldwell Ryrie, “The Relationship of the New Covenant to Premillennialism” (unpublished Master’s thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1947), page 31. Quoted in William Everett Bell, Jr., “A Critical Evaluation of the Pretribulation Rapture Doctrine in Christian Eschatology” (dissertation, School of Education of New York University, 1967), pages 178-179. In Dr. Ryrie’s book The Basis of the Premillennial Faith, the word condemned is changed to weakened.
Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, 8 volumes (Dallas: Dallas Seminary Press, 1948), 7:98.
Walvoord, The Millennial Kingdom, pages 218-219.
Pentecost, Things to Come, page 124. Also, compare Walvoord, The Millennial Kingdom, page 214.
Walvoord, The Millennial Kingdom, pages 216-217.
Ibid., page 217.
Ibid., page 312.
Ibid., page 218.
Bernard Ramm, “Christ and Aaron,” Eternity, 13:18, May 1962. Quoted in Bell, “A Critical Evaluation of the Pretribulation Rapture Doctrine in Christian Eschatology,” page 182.
Bernard Ramm, Protestant Biblical Interpretation: A Textbook of Hermeneutics(Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1970), page 264.
Pentecost, Things to Come, page 126.
John B. Graber, “Ultra-Dispensationalism” (dissertation, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1949), pages 36-37. Mr. Graber defines an ultra-dispensationalist as “any student of Scripture who places two dispensations between Pentecost and the end of the church age” (page 6). These two dispensations involve “the Pentecostal apostolic church of the book of Acts and the mystery Pauline church of the prison epistles” (page 6). According to Mr. Graber, dispensationalists and ultra-dispensationalists use the same hermeneutic but differ only in the interpretation of certain passages. For example, ultra-dispensationalists believe that Joel 2:28-32 was fulfilled at Pentecost and dispensationalists do not. Since Joel 2 is a prophecy about Israel and since Joel 2 was fulfilled at Pentecost, the ultra-dispensationalist does not believe that the church age began at Pentecost because of the dispensational dichotomy between Israel and the church (pages 88-89). In its extreme form, ultra-dispensationalism teaches that the church was not formed until after Acts 28. This means that the only Scripture directly relevant to the church are those Pauline epistles written after Acts 28 (page 32). Mr. Graber makes the following statements:  

“… it is admitted by both premillennialists and amillennialists that the root of their difference lies in the method of Biblical interpretation. Such, however, is not the case in the systems of dispensationalism and ultra-dispensationalism. In the final analysis, the validity of ultra-dispensationalism must be examined on the basis of its exegesis of various passages of Scripture upon which the system claims to rest” (page 1).

“The distinction between dispensationalism and ultra-dispensationalism is not one of kind but one of degree” (page 7).

Ironside, Notes on the Prophecy and Lamentations of Jeremiah “The Weeping Prophet,” page 163.
John F. McGahey, “An Exposition of the New Covenant” (dissertation, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1957), page 262. Quoted in Bell, “A Critical Evaluation of the Pretribulation Rapture Doctrine in Christian Eschatology,” page 189.

Posted in Christianity | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

 
%d bloggers like this: