Errors of Premillennialism


I thought I would take some time and look at some errors of which are found in the end time teachings which are commonly called “Premillennialism”. This teaching is common among Western Evangelicals and often involves some sort of “rapture”. 

1 )It Attacks Some of Christ’s Redemptive Work

One of the notable achievements of Christ’s redemptive work was to break down the middle wall of partition between the Jews and Gentiles (Eph. 2:14). Judaistic Premillennialists attempt to prove that this wall will again be raised. By perpetuating the distinction between Jews and Gentiles, they deny this accomplishment of Christ either completely or as being temporary in nature. It is well nigh incredible that Christians do this, but the facts cannot be denied.

The work of Christ also abolished the law. In order for Christ to become our high priest, the Mosaic law had to be set aside. The main reason for this is that the law confined this office to descendents of Levi and Aaron, whereas Christ was from Judah (Heb. 7:11-14). A restoration of the law of Moses and its animal sacrifices, as many Premillennialists teach, is another very serious attack on the redemptive work of Christ, and His continuing high priesthood.

2)It Makes the New Covenant Future with the Jews

The eternal priesthood of Christ and our salvation are closely related to the new covenant. Dispensationalists and many other Premillennialists deny that Christ established the new covenant of Jeremiah 31 at His first advent. But the law of Moses was set aside in order for Christ to become our high priest. And the law of Moses is the heart of the old covenant. This means that the old covenant was abolished. Then either the new covenant was established at Christ’s first advent, or we Christians are operating without a covenant.

3)  It Exalts the Old Testament Above the New Testament

That Premillennialism depends too much on the Old Testament is recognized by most. But this is the reverse of what is proper and correct. The New Testament is a fuller, more complete revelation than the Old. The New explains the Old. The Old is full of types and shadows (Heb. 8:5), whereas the New contains the realities. If Old Testament prophecies are explained in the New Testament, the explanation given in the New Testament takes precedence over any interpretation one might consider or give to the Old Testament record. But Premillennialists often refuse to accept New Testament interpretations. They continue to insist that their interpretation of Old Testament prophecy is correct, even when the New Testament says otherwise.

The following are but a few of the many examples which could be cited in this connection. Amos prophesied that at some future time the “tabernacle of David” would be raised up (Amos 9:11-12). James clearly interprets this as applying to the Gentile converts which were accepting Christ through the labors of Paul and others (Acts 15:13-18). But Premillennialists refuse to accept this plain statement by James, placed in the Bible by inspiration. By one means or another, it is claimed that it applies to a future age.

Dispensationalists and many other Premillennialists refuse to accept the New Testament teaching that the Abrahamic covenant has its fulfillment in Christ, rather than through those who are racial descendents of Abraham and Jacob. Paul contends, “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ” (Gal. 3:16). According to this inspired statement, individual descendents of Abraham have no promise based solely on their descent from Abraham. The promise is to Christ. Thus, only as one believes into Christ does the promise take him in. Unbelieving Jews have no promise.

Premillennialists are likely to be literalists, but the Bible itself, and the New Testament in particular, spiritualizes the Abrahamic covenant. Paul argues that there is no longer “Jew nor Greek, … And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:28-29). Those who attempt to maintain the Old Testament distinction between Jews and Gentiles do so at the expense of denying or twisting the intent of New Testament inspiration. A Gentile Christian is just as much a descendent of Abraham, insofar as God is concerned, as those who are genetically descended from Abraham.

This leads to the further conclusion that the Church is the Israel of the New Testament.

4)  It Reflects on the Importance of the Church

Dispensationalists contend that the Church is an after-thought of God. They say that no Old Testament prophecy foretold of the Church, and that God instituted it because Christ was unable to establish an earthly kingdom during His first advent. This makes the Church a substitute for what God really wanted. Other Premillennialists may not reflect on the Church quite to this degree, but there is a tendency to exalt the millennium age above the Church age. To show that the Old Testament does speak of the Church, two passages which have been discussed in this chapter are again mentioned.

Chapters 8-9-10 of the Hebrews epistle definitely state that the new covenant of Jeremiah 31 was functioning at the time that letter was written. It was Christian believers who were receiving the sanctifying grace made possible by the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. This does indeed speak of the Church. Therefore, when Jeremiah prophesied of the new covenant, he was prophesying of the Church. The prophecy of Amos regarding the raising up of the tabernacle of David (Amos 9:11) does refer to the activity of the Church according to the New Testament (Acts 15:13-17).

In the New Testament, the fact that Jesus died for the Church (Acts 20:28; Eph. 5:25-27) is some indication of its importance to God and Christ. Christ died for no other institution. For this reason no other institution can have the meaning to God that the Church does. But all Premillennialism causes the Church to stand in the shadow of the so-called millennium. This is not the way it should be. Any doctrine that reflects on the Church is reflecting on Christ’s prized possession—His bride.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism


I am going to attempt to blog my way through the Shorter Westminster Catechism.

For those who do not know what the Shorter Westminster Catechism  is a catechism that was written in the 1640s by English and Scottish divines (Theologians). The assembly also produced the Westminster Confession of Faith  and the Westminster Larger Catechism. The three documents are considered by many Protestants to be the grandest doctrinal statements to come out of the English Reformatation.

The purpose of the WSC is to educate lay persons in matters of doctrine and belief. The Shorter Westminster Catechism is in a simple question and answer format to facilitate memorization. Typically, parents and the church would use the shorter catechism to train their children in the ways of the Lord. New converts are also given the Shorter Westminster Catechism as well as the Confession of Faith and Holy Scriptures to study.

Let’s start with the first question of the Catechism.

Question 1: “What is the chief end of man?”

Answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

John 17:22,24 “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”

Romans 11:36 “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”

1 Corinthians 10:31 “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

 

Soli Deo Gloria,

+MTM

Jesus calls for a new birth


“Not everyone who claims to be a Christian really is. Unbelievers do make false professions of faith in Christ, and people who are not truly Christians can be deceived into thinking they are.

That might have been taken for granted a couple of decades ago, but no more. The cheap grace and pseudo faith of a distorted gospel are ruining the purity of the the church. The softening of the New Testament message has brought with it a putrefying inclusivism that in effect sees almost any kind of positive response to Jesus as tantamount to saving faith. Christians today are likely to accept anything other than utter rejection as authentic faith in Christ. Modern day evangelicalism has developed a large and conspicuous fringe, embracing even those whose doctrine is suspect or whose behavior indicates a heart in rebellion against the things of God.

The gospel Jesus proclaimed did not foster that kind of gullibility. From the time He first began to minister publicly, our Lord eschewed the quick, easy, or shallow response. He turned away far more prospects than he won, refusing to proclaim a message that would give anyone a false hope. His words, always tailored to the individual’s needs, never failed to puncture an inquirer’s self righteousness, unveiled wrong motives, or warned of false faith or shallow commitment.”
The Gospel according to Jesus page 43

During this Christmas season can you and I take a step back from the stresses of the season and ask ourselves if we are truly serving Christ? Are we really serving Him in a way in which that most glorifies His name? Or are we just serving Him with our lips?

Merry Christmas,

+MTM

 

 

 

Idols


“David Powlison writes:

… that most basic question which God poses to each human heart: “Has something or someone besides Jesus the Christ taken title to your heart’s functional trust, preoccupation, loyalty, service, fear and delight? Questions . . . bring some of people’s idol systems to the surface. ‘To who or what do you look for life-sustaining stability, security and acceptance? . . . What do you really want and expect [out of life]? What would [really] make you happy? What would make you an acceptable person? Where do you look for power and success?’ These questions or similar ones tease out whether we serve God or idols, whether we look for salvation from Christ or from false saviors.”

Do we really have faith in God or do we place our hope in our idols?

Are we loyal to anything more than Jesus?

Is our faith reflected in our charity?

MTM

 

John Calvin on evangelism


“It ought to be the great object of our daily wishes, that God would collect churches for Himself from all the countries of the earth, that He would enlarge their numbers, enrich them with gifts and establish a legitimate order among them.”     -   John Calvin

 

One of the most common charges raised against those who practice Calvinism or Reformed Theology is that it is not conducive to fueling a long term passion for missions and evangelism. Views of John Calvin’s attitudes towards outreach have ranged from hearty on the positive side to opposition on the negative side. Some go so far as to say that he is the father of the missionary movement.

To get Calvin’s views on evangelism correct, we must to look to and understand what Calvin wrote on the subject. Most of his views can found in Institutes of the Christian Religion.

Here is a list of six reasons for evangelism according to John Calvin;

1) God commands us to do so.

“We should remember that the gospel is preached not only by the command of Christ but by His urging and leading.”

2) We want to glorify God.

“True Christians yearn to extend God’s truth every where so that God may be more glorified.”

3) We want to please God.

“It is a sacrifice well pleasing to God to advance the spread of the Gospel.”

4) We have a duty to God.

“It is very just that we should labor to further the progress of gospel.”

5) We have a duty to fellow sinners.

“Our compassion should be intensified by knowing that God cannot be sincerely called upon by others than those to whom, through the preaching of the gospel, His kindness has been known.”

6) We are grateful to God.

“We owe it to God to strive for the salvation of others.”

May the Lord turn our hearts towards the spreading of the Gospel

+MTM

On the Puritan family


“A holy family is a place of comfort, a church of God…Oh that God would stir up the hearts of people thus to make their families as little churches, that it might not be in the power of rulers or pastors that are bad to extinguish religion, or banish godliness from the land.” -Richard Baxter

 

The Christian’s relationship with his family is inseparable from personal sanctification, according to the Puritans. The Scriptures set for the ways in which we are to live righteously, and since the Bible takes great pains to tech how parents and children should relate to one another, these relationships are an index of sanctification. So it is of primary importance that Christians recognize that holiness begins at home and then extends to all of life.

Puritan pastors spent much time teaching fathers how to exercise spiritual leadership in the home. They also advised Christian mothers of their role in the biblical pattern, and they taught children to show proper respect for parents in service to God. In this family emphasis, they aimed to follow only the Bible, for, as they said, the Bible presents the family as the fundamental unit of human history.

Although much of the writing about Puritan ideas of child-rearing seems familiar with us, some of their ideas were revolutionary at the time. Here are just a few of their contributions that promoted biblical child rearing:

  • Child-rearing begins at conception: Prospective parents had two major tasks before a child was born. First, they were to pray daily for the salvation of their child, since the child was conceived in sin. They also were to pray daily for the protection of both mother and child.
  • Mothers have the major role in caring for newborns: The Puritans stressed that a mother’s responsibilities included breastfeeding, which ought not to be delegated to a midwife or nanny.
  • Baptizing infants is part of parents’ covenant obligation to God: Puritan child rearing was rooted in the conviction that children belonged to the covenant God makes with Believers, evident in baptism, which, being a sacrament, is a visible sign and seal of God’s invisible grace.
  • Children must be trained early in the nurture and admonition of the Lord: The salvation and godliness of children is the main purpose of their education.
  • Family worship is the most powerful means for child-rearing: Puritan families gathered for worship once or twice a day.

[Taken from Living for God's glory: An Intro to Calvinism by Joel Beeke pages 333-340]

Chosen by God by RC Sproul part 3


After a month or so away from “Chosen by God” by Sproul, it’s time to jump back on the Predestination train.

“Predestination seems to cast a shadow on the very heart of human freedom. If God has decided our destinies from all eternity, that strongly suggests that our free choices are but charades, empty exercises in predetermined playacting. It is as though God wrote the script for us in concrete and we are merely carrying out His scenario.

To get a handle on the puzzling relationship between predestination and free will, we must first define free will. That definition itself is a matter of great debate. Probably the most common definition says free will is the ability to make choices without any prior prejudice, incineration, or disposition. For the will to be free it must act from a posture of neutrality, with absolutely no bias.

On the surface this is very appealing. There are no elements of coercion, either internal or external, to be found in it. Below the surface, however, lurk two serious problems. On the one hand, if we make our choices strictly from a neutral posture, with no prior inclination, then we make our choices for no reason. If we have no reason for our choices, if our choices are utterly spontaneous, then our choices have no moral significance. If a choice just happens, it just pops out, with no rhyme or reason it, then it cannot be judged good or bad. When God evaluates our choices, He is concerned about our motives. 

The second problem this popular view faces is not so much moral as it is rational. If there is no prior inclination, desire, or bent, no prior motivation or reason for a choice, how can can a choice even be made? If the will is totally neutral, why would it choose the right nor the light? It is something like the problem encountered by Alice in Wonderland when she came to a fork in the road. She did not know which way to the turn. She saw the grinning Cheshire cat in the tree. She asked the cat, “Which way should I turn? ” The cat replied, “Where are you going?” Alice answered, “I don’t know.”,”Then,” replied the Cheshire cat, “it doesn’t matter.”

We must reject the neutral will theory not only because it is irrational but because it is radically unbiblical.

Christian thinkers have given us two very important definitions of free will. We will consider first the definition offered by Jonathan Edwards in his class work, “On the Freedom of the Will.”

Edwards defined the will as “the mind choosing”. Before we ever can make moral choices we must first have some idea of what it is we are choosing. Our selection is then based upon what the mind approves or rejects. Our understanding of values has a crucial role to play in our decision-making. My inclinations and motives as well as my actual choices are shaped by my mind. Again, if the mind is not involved, then the choice is made for no reason and for no reason..

A second definition of free will is “the ability to choose what we want/” This rests on the important foundation of human desire. To have free will is to be able to choose according to our desires. Here desire plays the vital role of providing a motivation or a reason for making a choice.

Edward’s Law of Choice is this, “The will always chooses according to its strongest inclination at the moment.” This means every choice is free and every choice is determined.”

(paragraphes from pages 52-54)

This issue of free will is certainly a very powerful and debated issue within the Christian Church.

I would like to know your thoughts on the matter.

(If you choose to do it, although you could just be predestined to do it).

Soli Deo Gloria,

+MTM

Lessons from the Amish part 2#


After visiting the local Amish Community a couple of weeks ago I thought I would blog about some of the lessons from their devotional book, “In Meiner Jugend”.

“In Meiner Jugend” is a devotional that contains both the German and English texts for the following:

  • The Dortrecht Confession 
  • The Apostles Creed 
  • Rules of a Godly Life 
  • Selected prayers from Christenpflicht 
  • Selected hymns from the Ausbund 
  • Various formularies for baptism 
  • Various formularies for marriage

After reading the section “Rules of a godly life” I thought it would be beneficial to share with you my dear readers some of the wisdom of the Ana-Baptists and Amish.

Part 2: Concerning your words

7) When you are in need of good advice, do not seek first someone prominent who is highly esteemed, but go instead to someone who has had experience in the matter in which you seek advice. Otherwise if some esteemed person in authority gives you advice and you do not follow is because you do not think it is good advice, you may anger him and thereby make him your enemy.

8) If someone with good intentions has given you advice which failed, do not blame him. For even good advice often fails, and there is no one on earth who can tell what the future holds. No person is wise in everything, or has enough foresight. Nor should you scoff at the advice of lesser men if they have your welfare at heart.

9) Do not make fun of another’s weaknesses, but think of your own shortcomings, (Galatians 6). We all have our faults and there is no one of whom it is not said, “Oh, if only this were not!” Either we are, or have been, or can become what another is. For this reason, have patience and sympathy with your neighbor’s weakness and frailty. And yet, do not be a hypocrite by condoning him in his sin, or neglecting brotherly reproof and admonition.

But if you do wish to rebuke him, be careful to bring your reproof at a suitable time. For to rebuke others at the wrong time will do more harm than good, especially f the rebuke is too sharp and not tempered with meekness. A reproof is like a salad, in which one should use more oil than vinegar.

10) Make a habit of not replying to the words of others or to pass judgement unless you have first listened and understood well what they are saying to you.

11) You cannot have disputes and strife with your fellow humans and still stand in peace with God. If you love God, you will also love your neighbor according to God’s will, who has commanded it.

12) Patiently bear your cross and do not complain to anymore. Fr your enemies may rejoice and other people will only think less of you in you complain.

13) Consider him a friend who privately rebukers you of your faults. It is a pitiful situation indeed if a man has no one who dares correct him when he has need of it. For if he is not rebuked, he may conclude in his own mind that he has no faults and thus continue in his sins to his own destruction, whereas by a friendly reproof he mighty be turned away from sin. 

Everyone most certainly needs correction at times. For as the eye sees all and seeks improvement of all yet cannot see itself or better itself, so by our very nature we are partial to ourselves and cannot see our own shortcomings and defects as easily as we can see those of other people. 

If you cannot bear to be corrected, then never do anything wrong. 

 

Not matter what strain of the Christian faith one might be from there is tremendous wisdom in the lessons of the plain clothes wearing people of the Amish Community.

I hope summer is treating you well,

+MTM

 

 

 

 

 

Lessons from the Amish


This past week I had the joy of being able to spend some time in the local Amish Community.

The Amish families that live in the community run a country store and in their store there is a small book shop. I am addicted to books so I picked up a couple of books.

One of the books I picked up was a small devotional book called “In Meiner Jugend”, remember the Amish people are German speakers.

“In Meiner Jugend” is a devotional that contains both the German and English texts for the following:

  • The Dortrecht Confession 
  • The Apostles Creed 
  • Rules of a Godly Life 
  • Selected prayers from Christenpflicht 
  • Selected hymns from the Ausbund 
  • Various formularies for baptism 
  • Various formularies for marriage

After reading the section “Rules of a godly life” I thought it would be beneficial to share with you my dear readers some of the wisdom of the Ana-Baptists and Amish.

Part Two

Concerning Your Words

1) Think that for every idle word you speak you must give account thereof in the day of judgement (Matthew 12:36). “In the multitudes of words, there wanteth not sin” (Proverbs 10:19). So try to avoid idle talk and let your speed be deliberate, of few words, and truthful. COnsider beforehand if what you are about to say is worth saying. Practice saying much in few words. Never state anything as true and authentic if you do not know for certain that it is so, and rather remain silent than to say something which may be false otherwise of no value.

For when it once becomes known that you have no conscience against lying, no one will believe you even when you are speaking the truth. If however you love the truth, your words will be believed above the oath of a liar.

2) If you desire to be cheerful among honest friends, take care that your joy be not contrary to Christian love, nor to purity and respectability. Refrain therefore from rude insults and mockery that respectable people would be ashamed to hear. First, because such lewd words are an open testimony of an impure heart. “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). Secondly, smutty jokes and foul speech smooth the road to shameful conduct.

Indeed, you may say, “One has to have something to relate when in company with his friends to pass the time and to delight each other.”

That is a wretched excuse! First of all, such mirth is clearly forbidden in God’s Word. “Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not fitting, ” says the holy Apostle Paul-we must avoid them. Secondly, such lewd speech provokes the wrath of God (Ephesians 5:4,6). Through suchlike evil talk and vain mirth the Holy Spirit is grieved (Ephesians 4:29-30).

The tongue is the glory of man and the crown of all the members of the body. Shall a person then use it for obscenity? When the tongue is corrupt it defiles the whole body, filling it with unrighteousness (James 3:6).  For this reason , loathe every kind of filthiness and let your speech be always pleasant and upbuilding, so that those who hear it may be bettered thereby. Use your tongue to admonish the sluggard, to instruct the ignorant, and to comfort the sorrowing. God will increase His gracious gift to you accordingly.

3) Take special care to refrain from the vulgar, light minded, grievous and shameful misuse of the holy name of God. It is certain proof of a frivolous, impious and ungodly character to habitually profane the name of God with swearing. Yes, it is also evident that he who constantly swears seldom speaks the truth. For if he has no scruples against the misuse of God’s name, why should one suppose that he has a conscience against lying?

4) Be not too ready to believe everything you are told, and do not repeat everything you hear. Otherwise, you will quickly lose your friend and gain an enemy. If you thus hear a complaint against someone or other, be sure to investigate the circumstances and only then give your criticism or opinion.

5) Confide to no one your personal secrets unless you have beforehand thoroughly proved him. Here is a way to test I’m and learn to known him: confide to him some matter of small importance, and thus learn to know him without risking harm to yourself. For if he keep the secret to himself, it is an indication that he is to be trusted confidences. Nevertheless, don’t tell your friend everything, for if you should chance to fall out with him, he will use his knowledge to your harm.

6) Do not speak evil of your friends. Rather, speak well of them in all that is praiseworthy.If they are at fault, keep it to yourself, for slander and scornful gossip are poison and a ruination to any friendship.

In the next blog I will finish of the rest of the points.

I hope you enjoy,

+MTMImage

God’s sovereignty and the problem of evil


I am blogging my way through the book “Chosen by God” by R.C. Sproul.

This blog is going to look at the chapter in the book that deals with the subject of “God’s sovereignty and the problem of evil.”

“Surely the most difficult of all is how can evil coexist with a God who is both altogether holy and altogether sovereign. I am afraid that most Christians do no realize the profound severity of this problem. Skeptics have this issue the “Achilles’ heel of Christianity.”

 

The most common solution we hear for this dilemma is a simple reference to man’s free will. We hear such statements as, “evil came into the world by man’s free will. Man is the author of sin, not God.”

 

Surely that statement squares with the biblical account of the origin of sin. We know that man was created with a free will and that man freely chose to sin. It was not God who committed sin, it was man. The problem still persists, however. From where did man ever gain the slightest inclination to sin? If he was created with a desire for sin, then a shadow is cast on the integrity of the Creator. If he was created with no desire for sin, then we must ask where that desire came from.

 

The mystery of sin is tied to our understanding of free will, man’s state in creation, and God’s sovereignty. The question of free will is so vital to our understanding of predestination that we will devote an entire chapter to the subject. Until then we will restrict our study to the question of man’s first sin.

How could Adam and Eve fall? They were created good. We might suggest that their problem was the craftiness of Satan. Satan beguiled them. He tricked them into eating the forbidden fruit. We might suppose that the serpent was so slick that he utterly and completely fooled our original parents.

Such an explanation suffers from several problems.

 

In spite of this excruciating problem we still must affirm that God is not the author of sin. The Bible does not reveal the answers to all our questions. It does reveal the nature and character of God. One thing is absolutely unthinkable, that God could be the author or does of sin.

 

We know that God is sovereign because we know that God is God. Therefore we must conclude that God foreordained sin. What else can we conclude? We must conclude that God’s decision to allow sin to enter the world was a good decision. This is not to say that our sin is really a good thing, but merely that God’s allowing us to do sin, which is evil, is a good thing. God’s allowing evil is good, but the evil He allows is still evil. God’s involvement in all this perfectly righteous. Our involvement in it is wicked. The face that God decided to allow us to sin does not absolve us from our responsibility for sin. 

 

When we consider the relationship of a sovereign God to a fallen world we are faced with basically for options:

1) God could decide to provide no opportunity for anyone to be saved.

2) God could provide an opportunity for all to be saved.

3) God could intervene directly and insure the salvation of all people.

4) God could intervene directly and insure the salvation of some people.

 

All Christians immediately rule out the first option. Most Christians rule out the third. We face the problem that God saves some and not all. Calvinism answers with the fourth option. The Calvinist view of predestination teaches that God actively intervenes in the lives of the elect to make absolutely sure that they are saved. Of course the rest are invited to Christ and given an “opportunity” to be saved if they want to. But Calvinism assumes that without the intervention of God no one will ever want Christ. Left to themselves, no one will ever choose Christ.”

[paragraphs taken from pages 28-36]

     This is one of the great truths about Reformed Theology; My salvation is not based upon something I did or did not do. My salvation is secure in what Jesus did when He paid for my complete and absolute salvation by the shedding of His blood, and even though sin entered into the world, it entered because it was allowed by God the Creator. 

Every inch in the universe belongs to Christ

The universe is yours O Christ!

 

   +MTM 

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