Thursday, November 24, 2005

Jesus Bowl Sunday

I will be writing my thoughts on the season of Christmas in the future. For now, suffice it to say our family has struggled with the reality of what the season actually it, what it came from and what it claims to be. We have thus decided to try and distance ourselves from the celebration as much as possible. I found the following article to be a great metaphor concerning the season. I would love to hear your comments.

This sign already gives us a picture into the future. Mr. Degenhart takes us there.

Jesus Bowl Sunday

Sunday, November 20, 2005

A Coin in the Middle of the Room

I received this small post in a email a friend forwarded to me from a friend of his who has been in dialogue with his father over the doctrines of grace. Notice I said dialogue, not debate. It is truly wonderful to hear of fathers and sons discussing these wonderful doctrines with both eager to understand the truth and set aside emotion. I asked if I could use this section, for it is a good illustration and maybe the Lord would see fit to use the same illustration through us in our conversation with others.

I had been reading the Scriptures for about three years when problems like the one you've presented started to multiply in front of me. Before that, it was easy to play "The Either-Or Game" and dismiss one side or the other in favor of the aspect I'd already learned and come to appreciate. Our dismissing of one element of truth usually happens when we trim it down to "make it fit" with another. In some cases, the Bible's teaching is so hacked and hewed when we've finished with it, that it is almost unrecognizable. With some, human responsibility can become 'no responsibility', and, with others, divine election becomes 'divine reaction'.

The history of doctrinal debate in the Church is chock full of examples where one party stood for one side of truth, and another group took the other side. Truth, like a coin held up in the middle of a crowded room for all to see -- some from a better angle than others, some at closer proximity than others -- then becomes the subject of intense debate between the cliques which have formed inside the room. One argues that 'heads' is revealed on the surface of the coin. Another, aghast on the other side of the room, reply that 'tails' is so obvious it cannot be missed, except by the totally blind! Precious few souls take enough time and effort to stand up and move through the crowd in order to acquaint themselves better with the coin. The crowd impatiently wonders why these meticulous few must disturb the room by moving around so much. "Just take one look at the coin, and you'll see what's on it! Besides, our forefathers have already told us what's on the coin, so you needn't really even look." Later, when those few eventually have an opportunity to speak, they confess their increasing conviction that the coin has BOTH a heads side AND a tails side. "What?! How absurd! That's impossible, irrational. Just look at the coin: how many images do you see?!" The ensuing din drowns out the voices of the few, and the crowd goes on debating, century after century, oftentimes the same points of doctrine.

More or less, that's the history of the Church in its' more controversial moments. In every age, men like Augustine and Aquinas and Calvin saw and confessed both sides, and were therefore misunderstood on all sides. They were repeatedly accused by one group of holding their opponents' error, and then accused by the other group of erring with the first group!

Anyway, for myself, I passed three or four years paring down certain doctrines to fit others. At the same time, however, I was moving slowly around the room in order to observe better this coin of such great importance. Slowly, observing the coin while listening to the people from this or that clique, I began to see the underlying pattern. Truth is two-sided from our human perspective -- a principle which touches nearly every doctrine revealed in the Scriptures. It is certainly NOT a grid through which to read the text of Scripture, but it IS a very helpful tool for understanding and interpreting the Scriptures. Once grasped and appreciated, it becomes much easier for the reader to move with the Sacred Text, wherever it might lead him. You'll be gloriously surprised at how easily things start to fall together, and how erstwhile problems begin to disappear.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Adrian Rogers, Paige Patterson and the upcoming Calvinism debate

I wanted to make just a few comments on 2 items that I read about this week. First, on November 15th Dr. Adrian Rogers went home to be with the Lord. Dr. Rogers was greatly used of God during his ministry. He was a gifted orator and a leader in the SBC, even elected president of the SBC on 3 different occasions. I recall meeting him at a couple of pastor's conferences when I was young in the faith and was in awe of this man. He had a gentle, yet somehow firm personality. I grew to disagree with the particulars of his preaching against the doctrines of grace over the past years, but always had respect for a man that labored hard over the inerrancy issue so many years ago. He is to be commended and remembered for how God used him in ministry. I will miss hearing his deep velvety voice, that many referred to when they called him "the prince of preachers". Today, we enjoy the some of thefruits of his and others labors in the SBC. I for one grew up in a SBC church with a father who is an SBC pastor and am truly thankful that my father stood shoulder to shoulder with men like Dr. Rogers. Truly, we should thank God for using men like Adrian Rogers to bring the SBC back out of the pit of liberalism. My sympathy is with the family in their loss and we look forward to being with Adrian around the throne when we will all be in the complete unity of the faith before our gracious God.

Second, I have heard the news concerning the supposed "debate"/ formal discussion/ speaking engagement/ etc. etc. between Drs. Mohler and Patterson. I welcome this. I also think it is great that it will be out in front of an audience. This is wonderful news. I know both men are gentlemen and that both seem to have the highest integrity, so it should be very cordial and should be very straight forward. I don't expect their minds to be changed, though I pray that Dr. Patterson would see the error in his doctrine. However, I hope it will be an example of how brothers in Christ should dialogue with one another in love and confront one another with the Scriptures, spurring one another on to the truth.

I can say that I have run across many men of God who have been an encouragement to men throughout the blogosphere. Even now there are issues that we disagree on, but they love me anyway and I love them and we continue to dialogue trusting that the same sovereign God that saved us and caused us to have some understanding of His electing grace towards us will also teach us in these other areas where we disagree. Our sanctification is at different levels. We were all saved at different times and out of different circumstances and from different backgrounds with different levels of biblical knowledge. Can we really expect every Christian to be completely on the same page? I don't think so. However, I do expect that every Christian should be moving in the same general direction: holiness and sound doctrine. Can I get an amen?!!

Something Funny

I linked this years ago to our church links because a friend liked it so much. There are a lot of redneck jokes that I get since I am the only one from our assembly who lives in South Carolina. But, I'm pretty happy to be a part of the Confederacy:) I proudly fly my rebel flag from my front porch and park my cars in the front yard, along with several broken ones in the back (tongue in cheek).

Anyway with this handy link, all your favorite websites can instantly be read in redneck, jive, Elmer Fudd, etc. The list goes on. It can be extremely funny. Check it out for yourself. Enjoy it with the relatives this coming week.

CLICK HERE to read this here blog in the redneck dialect.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

My Thanks to Douglas Bond

My thanks go to Douglas Bond for a wonderful tale. We just finished up the first installment of Douglas Bond's Crown and Covenant series. This first book is called Duncan's War. We have been reading it to the children in the evenings. Duncan is just a young lad and one of the bairn (that's Scottish for children) of Sandy M'Kethe. The year is 1666 and the English have decided to oppress the Scottish Covenanters, those famous believers who held fast to Christ and His Kirk.

Duncan, though just a boy is taught many a lesson of how to trust in God, though his passions are clearly pointing him to trust in his own strength and emotion. His father, a godly man is not fond of war, but has no problem in taking up his claymore to fight off some dragoons who are torturing and about to kill an old man, who happens to be a friend to him. In doing so, much happens that brings the English to come and seek to destroy the Covenanters in the little village that Duncan lives in and in the surrounding areas. His father is captured by the English during one of the battles and it is up to Duncan to rescue his father. This is Duncan's War.

I won't tell you everything, just in case you might want to read it. Beware, it is filled with Scottish lingo. There's even a glossary at the back in case you don't ken (that's Scottish for "know") what the writer is talking about. It also helps to have a good Scottish accent when reading to the kids:) We are eagerly awaiting the next installment, King's Arrow and then the final volume, Rebel's Keep. These three volumes are available from our bookstore. Though they are fiction, they are filled with accounts of real battles from history and real historical figures who "overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death." If you or your children like G. A. Henty, let me recommend the Crown and Covenant Series to you.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Heads up on a new video critique of Dispensationalism

I just finished up a book that I picked up at the apologetics conference last month. It is titled "Dispensationalism-Rightly Dividing the People of God?". This book is written by Keith Mathison and published by Presbyterian and Reformed in 1995. I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It is written in such a way that gets to the main points of dispensationalism and is easy to read. Many of the conclusions Mathison brings out I have come to and many he clarified for me. I would highly recommend it for anyone interested in the subject. You can pick it up at our bookstore by clicking the icon above.

I also wanted to let you know about a new video in the works. I spoke with Jerry Johnson (co-author of the Amazing Grace DVD) this week. He is in the process of researching the subject and the Apologetics Group is in process of putting together a script for a new video on dispensationalism titled, "The Late Great Planet Church". I am sure it will be a video that will pick a lot of fights, but I hope God will use it in such a way as He has the Amazing Grace DVD.

Finally, be on the look out within the next month for our new video, "Marks of a Cult", also by the Apologetics Group.

Eschatology continues.........Daniel 9

Well, I said I would try to get some of the info from my Daniel study up from chapter 9. I have been delayed:) Even now, I am a bit sick, but God is good in His providence to allow me opportunity to blog. With that in mind, I believe that during some of my study and past experience that Daniel chapter 9 is a critical hinge for those who are dispensationalists. They say this because they do not see a continuous flow of the true Israel throughout the Old and New Testament. They see Israel as distinct from the church. I may use another post to comment on my understanding of that later. Suffice it to say, that I believe there is natural or national Israel. This is the nation composed in the Old Testament and even into the New Testament. National Israel was comprised of believers and unbelievers. This was also true in Daniel's time as well. Second there within the bounds of national Israel was a remnant, True Israel. This is the distinction that Paul makes in Romans 9-11. The unbelieving Israelites were "cut out" and the Gentiles (of which I am one), were grafted into the olive tree. Therefore, Gentile believers enter into the kingdom of God just as Jewish believers: by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. They are both put into the vine of the Lord Jesus Christ by His sovereign will.

However, in Daniel 9 we see that Daniel is not including Gentile believers, but is confessing his sin and the sins of his people (the nation Israel). The prophecy concerning the 70 weeks is that which centers around his people (national Israel) & the holy city, Jerusalem (vs. 24). The 70 weeks are literally 70 7's. In the law of Moses every 7th year was considered a sabbath and every seventh day was considered the Sabbath. Also we will note the Leviticus 25 points out to us the year of Jubilee, which was a picture of redemption. There would be seven 7 year sabbaths occurring before the year of Jubilee in which slaves would be freed, debts eliminated and a celebration. That would be after a period of 49 years. Daniel's prophecy gives us a complete picture of redemption found in the Messiah, for his prophecy equals 490 years.

Let us note 6 things that are to be accomplished in the 70 weeks.

  • To finish the transgression

  • Remember that Daniel has been engaged in prayer is confession of Israel’s sin. This is concerning time to finish their transgression. God has been patient with this people, but there will come a time when their sins will come to the full, just as God did with the Amorites (cf. Gen 15:16). Thhis is the time of the rejection of the Messiah and their cries for the crucifixion of the Christ, in which they called down a curse upon themselves and their children. Thus Jesus upon His going to the cross told the women not to weep for themselves, but for their children, because of the judgment that would fall upon them.

  • To make an end of sins

  • The Hebrew word used here is chatham and means, “to seal up sin”.It carries the idea of "reserving their sin for judgment". God even gave them a generation to repent. But they continued in their sin and continued to persecuted the followers of the Messiah.

  • To make reconciliation for iniquity

  • The Hebrew word here is kaphar and means, “atonement”. Only one atonement can be in view here. It is the death of Christ. Christ is the one in view. While verse 24 speaks of the results of the 70 weeks, the continuing verses speak to how these things are accomplished.

  • To bring in everlasting righteousness

  • The Bible teaches us in numerous places that Christ brings to those who are His everlasting righteousness. Let us see just 2 examples.

    Hebrews 10:14, “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.”

    Hebrews 9:12 “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.”

  • To seal up vision and prophecy

  • Again the Hebrew word used here is the same as before chatham . The stem indicates that it is Christ who puts His seal on prophecy. He is the One who fulfills the prophecies presented here and throughout the Old Testament. In other words, Christ authenticates the prophecies concerning the Messiah.Look at these passages:

    Luke 24: 25 Then He said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 "Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?" 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

    Luke 24: 44 Then He said to them, "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me." 45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. 46 Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 "and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 "And you are witnesses of these things.

  • And to anoint the Most holy

  • This is not a reference to the Temple. All of this passage concerning the 70 weeks are about the Messiah. He is the central character. The things to be accomplished in verse 24 are pointing to the Messiah. Is it Christ’s baptism? Some say it is His baptism when He is presented as Messiah. This may be true. Anointing in the Old Testament happened usually prior to one ascending to the throne. However, it could also speak to His coronation at His ascention, when He went to His Father and received His kingdom (cf. Dan. 7:13-14). Jesus is also referred to that Holy thing or holy one in regards to Gabriel's words to Mary in Luke 1:35.

We are then told specifically when these 70 weeks are to begin. Remember that Daniel has been studying Jeremiah and has come to the conclusion that Jeremiah declared that the people would be in bondage in Babylon for 70 years and Daniel knows that the time is near for their release. Now he hears the time that the 70 weeks will begin. From the time of the command to restore and build Jerusalem till Messiah the Prince will be 7 weeks and 62 weeks. This is 7x7=49 and 62x7=434, for a total of 483 years. This decree is not the decree we read about form Cyrus in Ezra 6-7, for that decree was the release of the Jewish people, not a command to rebuild Jerusalem.

This is the command of Artaxerxes in Neh. 2:1-8. It seems this is the indication of the separation of weeks. Thus it is possible that the 7 weeks refers to the troublesome times of rebuilding Jerusalem (ie. 49 years). This did happen in the times of Nehemiah (SEE Neh. 4:1-18). This occurred in the year 457 BC.

The next 62 weeks are clearly to lead up to the time of Messiah. This is quite possibly the time of His baptism. This would be when His ministry would begin openly as the Messiah. These 62 weeks may also be closely connected with the time that there were no prophetic words from the Lord (ie. The inter-testament time).

We will notice that the results of the 70 weeks are not a part of dispensational theology, for verse 26 tells us that the Messiah is cut off after the 69th week. If He dies after the 69th week, but not in the 70th week, then one is clearly going outside the text for an interpretation. I believe the 70th week continues from the 69th. For Christ arrives at His baptism being about 30 years old and we can count the years of His ministry by the feasts that are mentioned. Therefore, we conclude that His ministry was 3 1/2 years. This is important in regards to the following verses. Messiah is not cut off (killed) for Himself, but for His people. The word used for cut off is karath. It means, “to cut, cut off, cut down, cut off a body part, cut out, eliminate, kill, cut a covenant”. Quite literally Jesus was killed and in His death He confirmed a coveant with "many".

Now, I must confess the only parts that give me difficulty are the parallels of verses 26 and 27. First let me say that we are told of the judgment upon Jerusalem. that is clear. Notice that it is the people of the prince who is to come who will destroy the city. We know from history that this refers to the Romans. Some will say that verse 27 then points back to the prince of verse 26. However, we will note that the prince is not the subject and that he is merely mentioned in a phrase. If they wish to point back to that phrase, they must point to the people of the prince.

Verse 27 tells us that "he" will confirm a covenant with many for one week (7 years) and in the midst of that week he will bring an end to sacrifices and offerings. Well, I really am not familiar with where Antichrist is to make such a covenant, unless someone points specifically to this verse. However, the Old and New Testament is clear. Christ confirmed a covenant with many. The Scriptures are full of evidence. Before quoting some of them, let me note that though the sacrificial system went on for 40 more years after His death, it became Satanic in the fact that it was no longer valid. The writer of Hebrews warned his hearers to beware of returning to such things for they would be trampling under their feet the blood of the Son of God. Jesus caused that system to cease. Let us note the many verses that speak to Christ's confirmation of the covenant:

Luke 1: 68 "Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited and redeemed His people,69 And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of His servant David,70 As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, Who have been since the world began,71 That we should be saved from our enemies And from the hand of all who hate us,72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers And to remember His holy covenant,73 The oath which He swore to our father Abraham:74 To grant us that we, Being delivered from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear,75 In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.76 "And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways,77 To give knowledge of salvation to His people By the remission of their sins,78 Through the tender mercy of our God, With which the Dayspring from on high has visited us;79 To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace."

Hebrews 7: 22 by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant.

Isa 42:6 "I, the LORD, have called You in righteousness, And will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, As a light to the Gentiles,

Isa 53:11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities.

Isa 55:3 Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you--The sure mercies of David.

Jer 31:31 "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah--32 "not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD.33 "But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.34 "No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, `Know the LORD,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."

Jer 32:40 `And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me.41 `Yes, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will assuredly plant them in this land, with all My heart and with all My soul.'42 "For thus says the LORD: `Just as I have brought all this great calamity on this people, so I will bring on them all the good that I have promised them.

Eze 16:60 "Nevertheless I will remember My covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you.61 "Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed, when you receive your older and your younger sisters; for I will give them to you for daughters, but not because of My covenant with you.62 "And I will establish My covenant with you. Then you shall know that I am the LORD,63 "that you may remember and be ashamed, and never open your mouth anymore because of your shame, when I provide you an atonement for all you have done," says the Lord GOD.'"

Mt 26:28 "For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

Ro 15:8 Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers,9 and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written: "For this reason I will confess to You among the Gentiles, And sing to Your name."

Ga 3:13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"),14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.15 Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man's covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it.16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, "And to seeds," as of many, but as of one, "And to your Seed," who is Christ.17 And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect.

Heb 6:13 For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself,14 saying, "Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you."15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.16 For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute.17 Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath,18 that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.

Heb 8:8 Because finding fault with them, He says: "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah----9 "not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the LORD.10 "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.11 "None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, `Know the LORD,' for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.12 "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more."13 In that He says, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

Heb 9:15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.16 For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.17 For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives.18 Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood.19 For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people,20 saying, "This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you."

Heb 9:28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.

Heb 10:16 "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,"17 then He adds, "Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more."18 Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.

Heb 13:20 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

The truth is that Anti-Christ is never mentioned as confirming a covenant with God’s people. However, the Messiah is constantly affirmed in both testaments that He is the one confirming the covenant. Christ is the one who causes the sacrifices to cease. This happened in the midst of the final week. This is in fact His crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection. The final destruction of Jerusalem is seen past the 70 weeks until the consummation is poured out on the desolate. This speaks of the destruction of the temple by the Roman armies.

Some will ask me when I think the 70 weeks ended. No doubt you've been wanting to hear that as well. To be perfectly honest, I don't know what the particular event would be, but I have some thoughts. It could be when Peter was sent to Cornelius, he being the first named Gentile that the gospel went to after Christ's ascention. Remember that the disciples were to begin in Jerusalem and then make their way into Judea and Samaria and the utter most parts of the earth. However, it may be safer to assume that at the stoning of Stephen we see the utter rejection of the message of the gospel. While many of the same men from the Sanhedrin were involved in the death of Christ, these same men put to death Stephen after a glorious exposition of the Scriptures and a stinging indictment of them and their sin. Stephen's account also gives us an insight into Christ standing to received Him and leads into the dispersion from Jerusalem and the conversion of the apostle Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles. I think this event is a more likely candidate.