Friday, June 30, 2006

1689 LBC does teach Regeneration before faith

I made a brief comment for a person questioning where the London Baptist Confession teaches being born again before faith. I thought I might post this simple response and see if there are others who agree. This also is in part a refutation of this guy Charles over at the flyswatter, who obviously follows Bob Ross blindly.....ah, the blind leading the blind.......that ditch is up ahead guys.

There are two sections that seem to deal with this topic.


Paragraph 1. Those whom God hath predestined unto life, He is pleased in His appointed, and accepted time, effectually to call,1 by His Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ;2 enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God;3 taking away their heart of stone, and giving to them a heart of flesh;4 renewing their wills, and by His almighty power determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ;5 yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace.6
1 Rom. 8:30, 11:7; Eph. 1:10,11; 2 Thess. 2:13,14
2 Eph. 2:1-6
3 Acts 26:18; Eph. 1:17,18
4 Ezek. 36:26
5 Deut. 30:6; Ezek. 36:27; Eph. 1:19
6 Ps. 110:3; Cant. 1:4

Paragraph 2. This effectual call is of God's free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man, nor from any power or agency in the creature,7 being wholly passive therein, being dead in sins and trespasses, until being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit;8 he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it, and that by no less power than that which raised up Christ from the dead.9
7 2 Tim. 1:9; Eph. 2:8
8 1 Cor. 2:14; Eph. 2:5; John 5:25
9 Eph. 1:19, 20

Paragraph 3. Elect infants dying in infancy are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit;10 who works when, and where, and how He pleases;11 so also are all elect persons, who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.
10 John 3:3, 5, 6
11 John 3:8

Paragraph 4. Others not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit,12 yet not being effectually drawn by the Father, they neither will nor can truly come to Christ, and therefore cannot be saved:13 much less can men that do not receive the Christian religion be saved; be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature and the law of that religion they do profess.14
12 Matt. 22:14, 13:20,21; Heb 6:4,5
13 John 6:44,45,65; 1 John 2:24,25

13 John 6:44,45,65; 1 John 2:24,25
14 Acts 4:12; John 4:22, 17:3

I use the bold for emphasis. Notice Paragraph 4 and why the non elect are not born again or effectually called.

Second, Chapter 20, Paragraph 4. Although the gospel be the only outward means of revealing Christ and saving grace, and is, as such, abundantly sufficient thereunto; yet that men who are dead in trespasses may be born again, quickened or regenerated, there is moreover necessary an effectual insuperable work of the Holy Spirit upon the whole soul, for the producing in them a new spiritual life;8 without which no other means will effect their conversion unto God.9
8 Ps. 110:3; 1 Cor. 2:14; Eph. 1:19,20
9 John 6:44; 2 Cor. 4:4,6

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Comments on the Founder's Blog concerning Ergun Caner

I made a few comments in regards to the Caner/Caner/White/Ascol debate. Truly it is incredible to me that Ergun has not specifically been called a liar. Rather the tone has been far more gentler. James White has simply referred to his statements as falsehoods.

Over and over James has been patient, a thing which I believe is in order for the man of God. Yet, I have not seen a serious call of repentance to this man for his sinful behavior in this matter (ie. his tone, demeanor, lying, and disregard for mutual respect for a man made in the image of God and, at this point a am careful to use the term fellow brother in Christ).

I posted a comment on the Founder's blog in light of this and it was removed by the administrator. Here is the comment.

Brother Tom,

Well, I finished reading the second set of emails from James' website and to be perfectly honest, and this is after serious consideration, it is obvious that you are dealing with someone who is openly sinning. That's right. I read over and over as James was bold, yet mild is simply stating that Ergun was promoting "falsehoods". How about plain out lying? Should we not call him to repentance for his lying and for his improper character? I mean, if "Christian Genltleman" is anything like what he is living, then, pray tell, what is a lost gentleman?

Remember the words of the apostle John, ""But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

I do not say this hastily, but Ergun Caner is a proud, arrogant man and his sin is all over him and apparent to everyone. It maybe that he is not yet fully converted.......I don't know, but it is apparent that he needs to hear the true gospel of grace and that may just happen in this debate.

So be encouraged brother. We will pray for you and ask God to grant Dr. Caner true repentance in this area.

Was that too harsh from their point of view? Seriously, the fact that men in the position that Dr. Caner occupies is held to a high standard or at least should be, not only in doctrine, but in character. He is to be above reproach. I also noticed that Nathan White's comments, which happened to be just above mine were also deleted. Maybe it's because he feels the same way. I would love to know what was said.

However, following my post was this comment by Sean:

We need to be careful about the speech on these postings. We do not have the right to question Dr. Caner's salvation. This is going too far. Let's heed James' warning in Chapter 3 about taming the tongue and seek to possibly correct a brother in love without making claims upon his eternal salvation. That is God's perogative alone, not ours.

Sorry Sean, but the Scripture speaks very clear to the manner in which Dr. Caner has conducted himself and seems unwilling to be corrected. Therefore, what am I to make of John's words in Revelation. Mind you, we are not talking about him lying and then repenting, we are talking about a pattern of it and it goes further.

Later on we were informed by Deb, who attends Liberty University that:

he prides himself on being popular with his students, and goes to enormous lengths to keep it that way. A friend of mine told me of a friend of his who hangs out with Dr. Caner outside of school, who was very impressed by the fact that he uses curse words on a regular basis, because it shows that he's not as "uptight" as some of the other professors. (Note: I do NOT condone the behavior of a Dean of a Seminary who has a potty mouth)

She said this in the context of speaking about Dr. Caner using the word "pimp" in addressing the issue of Dr. Falwell promoting the debate.

Again, what does this tell us concerning, not a novice in the faith, but a man who has been trained and professed faith in Christ? Does this look like being conformed to the image of Christ? I am not his judge and thankfully he is not mine, but honestly, someone should hold the keys of the kingdom before him and administer some discipline, if nothing else. So much for it being a good thing that TRBC is in the SBC.

In the end, I think I was merely saying what everyone else is thinking:)

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Greatest Untapped Evangelistic Opportunity Before the Modern Church

I thought I might share this with you and see what you think concerning this. I think this is more in line with my thinking. May God grant us fathers and mothers who are serious about teaching our children to love the Lord our God with all their hearts, mind, soul, and strength and to love their neighbor as themselves. May the heart of our evangelism be a deep love for our God the Lord Jesus Christ and may our affections not be spent upon another.

The Greatest Untapped Evangelistic Opportunity Before the Modern Church
By Scott BrownI believe that we are involved in the greatest evangelistic opportunity before the church today. I am talking about the salvation of millions of children under the evangelistic and discipleship ministry of fathers and mothers in the home. This is not the only mission field, but it is perhaps the most neglected mission field before the church in our day.The Bible calls fathers to preach the gospel to their children every day, when they "sit in their house, when they walk by the way, when they lie down and when they rise up" (Deuteronomy 6:7). This kind of instruction gives children a true understanding of the gospel.
Consider the Evangelistic Impact
Think of the evangelistic impact this would have in our generation. It is a father's calling in life to pass on the knowledge of God to the next generation. A father is commanded to expose his children day after day, to the greatness of God, the perfections of His ways, and the great stories that explain the character and nature of God. Daily, he praises God with hundreds of words and practical principles. Day after day, his children observe him as he personally delights in the Word. They watch him as he places himself under its wonderful teaching. They see how their daddy is comforted and confronted by it and is changed before their eyes. They see how good and mighty God is and how foolish it is to turn away from Him. They have seen, time after time, how their father might have been discouraged or confused, but the lamp of the Word made everything clear.This kind of earthly father stands with his Father in Heaven and calls out, "Today if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion" (Hebrews 3:7-11).He cries out, day after day, explaining the principles and stories that glorify the kindnesses of God, His wrath toward sinners, and His vanquishing power over all things.Under this kind of loving and happy ministry, the children hear the whole counsel of God from Genesis to Revelation. They see the flow of history from God's perspective. They hear of the great doctrines of the faith which have sustained humble people from one generation to the next. They observe the mighty hand of God working against all human odds. They see the beginning and the end of history and where they themselves stand in its stream. They know who wins the battle. They know that nothing can stand against the Lord.How different this is, compared to sending them to an evangelistic crusade or a concert to see if they might be saved. Often a young person will go to a Christian concert and walk down the aisle or make a profession of faith, without really being saved. They might go forward because they had an emotional response or a guilty conscience or because a friend went down. But it was not because they really understood the gospel. This is why so few who "make decisions" at evangelistic meetings ever continue in a normal Christian life. One reason is that they never had the kind of background understanding of sin or repentance or the specifics of the life they were turning toward. They were like the seeds that fell on the shallow soil, which sprouted up and died away because they had no root in themselves.This is why we have so many young people walking down aisles thinking they have been saved, when in fact they just took a walk. They really had no idea what they were doing, or what the call really was all about. We have many people in our churches who "walked an aisle,' "accepted Christ into their hearts," but never really understood much about the context and content of the Gospel. For many, the Gospel has often been trivialized and reduced to "accepting Christ".A detailed understanding of the Gospel is exactly what a daily diet of a father's Gospel-teaching gives. It gives both the context and content that is necessary to become a true follower of Christ.Also, consider how different this is compared to sending them to Sunday school class and youth group once per week to see if they might be saved. If a father engages his children in gospel teaching six days a week for eighteen years, there will be 5,616 opportunities to speak of the goodness of God. If he sends his child to Sunday school for eighteen years, there will be 936 opportunities for him to hear of the goodness of God. If they go to Sunday school for a lifetime (to age 70) they will only have 3,640 opportunities. This means that God would have a father give his child more teaching by age eighteen, than he will get in the modern church in a lifetime.But if these children had been under the daily evangelistic and discipleship ministry of their fathers, they would more likely understand why they had given their hearts to the Lord. They would have understood the love of God in all of its detail.
Rebellion against God's Clear Commands to Fathers
God has not commanded fathers to send their children to concerts and evangelistic crusades where they only get a small understanding of the gospel. He has commanded that they would be teaching their children and caring for their souls diligently day by day. The sad reality of fathers' lives in modern churches is that they are satisfied with Sunday schools and concerts and evangelistic crusades (which are never mentioned or encouraged or commanded in Scripture), but they reject God's undeniable commands to personally teach their children daily. This is outright rebellion against the Lord and against His clear commands.Unfortunately, the rebellion continues because they usually feel like they are faithful fathers — especially when compared to their Christian brothers and their pastor. Fathers often feel great about doing something that has no basis in scripture, while neglecting to do what is commanded.
Dumbed Down Fatherhood
Fathers often feel great about it because they define exemplary fatherhood as going to the kids' recitals and games and getting them into a good Sunday school or youth group.In order to rescue this lost generation of children in Christian homes from hell, we must first help fathers understand what God has commanded. We must speak clearly of what God has commanded so that they do not miss this opportunity.I am trusting God in prayer for a revival that reverses the current trends regarding the loss of our young people to the devil.
Wake Up! We ARE Losing the Next Generation
Observations and data from many different sources is proclaiming the fact that we are losing the next generation.Researcher George Barna believes that if current trends in the belief systems and practices of the younger generation continue, that in ten years, church attendance will be half the size it is today (Revolution by George Barna).Dawson MacAlister, national youth ministry specialist, says that 90% of kids in active high school youth groups do not go to church by the time they are sophomores in college (The Present Future by Reggie McNeal, Jossey-Bass).Data from the Southern Baptist Convention indicate that currently we are losing 70-88% of our youth after their freshman year in college (T.C. Pinkney, Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, Nashville, Tennessee, September 18, 2001). Pinkney reported that 70% of teenagers involved in church youth groups stop attending church within two years of their high school graduation. See also the 2002 Southern Baptist Council on Family. Pinkney reported the 70% figure, while the Southern Baptist Council on Family Life reported that 88% of the children in evangelical homes leave church at the age of 18.Thom Rainer, professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary launched a survey that he hoped would tell him if people understood the gospel. He surveyed asking the following question: "Do you know for certain that if you die today, what would you say to God if He asked you why He should let you into His heaven?"The following percentages of people answered in a way that would indicate they were born again:Those Who Understand the Gospel by Age Group

Born before 1946 65%
Born between 1946 and 1964 35%
Born between 1965 and 1976 15%
Born between 1976 and 1994 4%

(Source: The Present Future by Reggie McNeal.)A growing number of people are leaving the institutional church, either never making a confession of faith or giving up on it.
Consider the Enormous Leverage of Fathers for Evangelism
The Baptist Press reported that if a child is the first person in the household to become a Christian, there is a 3.5 percent probability everyone in the household will follow. If the mother is first, there is a 17 percent chance everyone else in the household will follow. If the father is first, there is a 93% probability that everyone else in the house will follow.
Pray for an Uprising of Men
I believe that a recovery of biblical fatherhood is the greatest and most neglected evangelistic opportunity in the church today. It is not the only legitimate evangelistic opportunity, but it is the most neglected. Imagine an uprising of men who preach the gospel daily to their children.While the church in the twenty-first century is losing the next generation of children to worldliness, we are encouraging fathers to return to the biblical role of the head of the household to preach the gospel and to make disciples of all of the children in the household. We are also encouraging church leaders to have the courage to cancel the programs which steal the father's Creation-order role and to instead put their energy into fulfilling the clear commands of God for fathers.We pray that these children who hear and believe the gospel will be living demonstrations of the Abrahamic covenant as they fan out all over the globe to spread the gospel of the kingdom, in order that... "your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you" (Genesis 28:14-15).What kind of evangelistic effort will stem the tide? Look to the simple commands and practices that Scripture presents.We must preach the gospel to everyone in our households and give them every detail by providing them a thousand reasons to believe.Please pray that we fathers would not miss the greatest untapped evangelistic opportunity before the church today. Let it be said of this generation of fathers that they did their part to fulfill the Great Commission.Psalm 22, that great Messianic prophesy, shows us the glory of salvation from one generation to the next. The suffering Messiah, who said, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" also sings praises for the salvation of "all the families of the nations," "a posterity who will serve Him," and who will declare it to those "who are yet to be born."
All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before You. For the kingdom is the Lord's and He rules over the nations. All the prosperous of the earth shall eat and worship; All those who go down to the dust shall bow before Him, even he who cannot keep himself alive. A posterity shall serve Him. It will be recounted of the Lord to the next generation, they will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born, that He has done this." (Psalm 22:27-31)

The Woes of Matthew 23 Part 4

Matthew 23
27  "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness.
28  "Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
29  "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous,
30  "and say, `If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.'
31  "Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.
32  "Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers' guilt.
33  "Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?
34  "Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city,
35  "that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.
36  "Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.
37  "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!
38  "See! Your house is left to you desolate;
39  "for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, `Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!'"

Well, it has been some time.  I have been busy tearing out the old ceramic floor and putting down a new ceramic tile floor in the kitchen, the final application of grout sealer to be applied tomorrow.  Praise the Lord!  Also, I have been all over the state of North Carolina from Charlotte, to Durham, Raleigh, to Wilmington and down through South Carolina all the way to Augusta Georgia over the past few weeks.  We have had several birthdays and completed a few books with the family of which I will try to recommend for your reading.

But for now, we will make an effort at finishing up Matthew 23.  In doing so, I’ll let you know that I began an introduction to the book of Revelation this morning at Heritage Community Church.  I may post some of my notes or thoughts in the days ahead, since I feel they might be of some value in helping others understand why I believe what I believe and the reasons why.  With that in mind, we will finish up the last 2 woes of the chapter, which are so intimately connected to the discussion found in Matthew 24, that to disregard them and assume they are speaking to thousands of years into the future is quite simply to miss the entire point of the passage, the context that it is set in and it is to make the Lord Jesus Christ a liar and a false prophet.  However, we know that He is the Truth and is indeed the Son of God.
Jesus concludes with two final woes.

The Seventh Woe
Verses 27 and 28 speak of Tombs that are in order, but filled with the stench of death.  The Jews were known to mark graves in those days.  They would do this in order that they might make someone aware of the sight of a grave and thus keep them from making themselves unclean and defiled (Numbers 19:16).  They would do this with a simple solution made of lime or chalk and water.  This would produce a white-colored “paint”, which they would mark the grave with.

This was done often since the rain would eventually dull the color and, for the most part, remove it.  It is noted that every February they would do this and at various times when they repaired some of the roadways.  

These tombs also “appeared beautiful” from a distance.  This was in part due to the incredible whiteness.  We note something of that effect today.  We have great monuments that are erected within cemeteries that are beautiful to look upon and even have wonderful epitaphs written on them, yet just underneath they house the rotting corpse, filled with the stench of death.  As John Gill so vividly portrayed that last part,

“worms and rottenness, which arise from the putrefied carcasses, and are very nauseous and defiling.”

Truly the Pharisees were guilty of such a cover up.

They were not guilty, in many cases, of committing physical adultery, and yet were committing it constantly within their hearts.  They were not guilty in many cases of actually committing murder and yet they hated their brother.  They were those who honored God with their lips, but their hearts were far from Him.  They wore the outward attire of righteousness without the inward manifestation of justification.  How sickening it is to us when we see such hypocrisy.  What must it be like for the Lord of glory to witness it?

Jesus thus concludes that the Pharisees have pretended to be clean.  They have outwardly kept themselves from what was considered to make one unclean, but they have taken no heed to deal with their morbid, stinking, and wicked hearts.  Instead they have thrown the whitewash upon themselves and boasted in their ceremonies and religious practices as that which makes them clean.  If we could be very clear here it is though they have taken a bottle of perfume and a can of paint to a pile of dung and sought to make it into something beautiful.  Such was not the case, and Christ exposed them once again and pronounced judgment upon such hypocrisy.

Verse 28 tells us what we already know ourselves and that is the Pharisees were looking for and audience of men, rather than living Corem Deo (before the face of God).   Jesus mentioned that they had their reward in that.  How men spoke of them was their reward.  The praise and pats on the back they received were reward enough for their hypocrisy.  Yet, in appearing righteous before man, they were full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.  The term full here, gemw, speaks of being full to the point of swelling out.  The term for lawlessness is anomia, from where we get our word antinomian, and speaks of transgression, or violating the law or even without law.  These who were the teachers of the Law of God and who claimed to understand and obey it the most were in fact guilty of openly sinning against God and then covering up that sin with the fig leaves of their own system of religion, rather than the righteousness of the gospel that comes through Jesus Christ.  No, they rejected God’s means of righteousness and chose, like their fathers, to knit the apron of self-righteousness, which became hypocrisy.

This will inevitably lead to the eighth and final woe.

The Eighth Woe

If we haven’t sensed the tremendous condemnation that Jesus has placed upon the Pharisees and scribe and in general those that they have led, then we certainly will understand it in this final woe from the lips of Christ.  The hypocrisy found in the final verses of chapter 23 makes the others pale in comparison.

First we will note that these men and their fathers engaged in building certain edifices over the graves of their ancestors, namely righteous men, the prophets.  They are not faulted for building such structures.  This is not what Christ’s condemnation is towards, but we will see it is the attitude with which they build them that evidences their hypocrisy.

I do find John Gill to be very helpful in describing some of the structures and to whom they were made.  The Jews made a distinction between the grave and the building.  They would speak of burying in a hole with digging and what took place above the hole as the building.  This is probably where the distinction of graves and sepulchres come in.

Listen to some of these that Gill references in his commentary:

“and these edifices which they built over the graves of some of their prophets, and righteous men, were very grand and beautiful. The Cippi Hebmici furnish us with many instances of this kind: in Hebron, in the land of Canaan, which is Kirjath Arba, is the cave of Machpelah; in which were buried the fathers of the world, Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Leah; and over it is a wonderful, hanw, "and beautiful" building and it is the building of David the king; and opposite the city, in the mountain, is a beautiful building, and there was buried Jesse, the father of David the king: in the way from Hebron to Jerusalem, is Chalchul, where Gad, David's seer, was buried; and Tekoah, where Isaiah the prophet was buried, and over him a "beautiful" structure: at the Mount of Olives is a beautiful fabric, which they say is the sepulchre of Huldah, the prophetess; at the bottom of the mount is a very great cave, attributed to Haggai the prophet, and in the middle of it are many caves; near it, is the sepulchre of Zechariah the prophet, in a cave shut up, and over it is han hpyk, "a beautiful arch," or vault of one stone: between Rama and Jerusalem are caves ascribed to Simeon the just, and the seventy (elders of the) sanhedrim: at Rama, Samuel was buried, also his father Elkanah, and Hannah his mother, and in a cave shut up, and over the cave buildings: at Cheres, which is Timnath Cheres, in Mount Ephraim, are buried Joshua the son of Nun, and Nun his father, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and over them are trees. At Avarta is the school of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar the priest, and Eleazar is buried upon the mountain; and below the village, between the olive trees, Ithamar, and over him a large monument: at the barns is a temple of the Gentiles, with a vault and a cave, where they say are buried seventy elders. At Belata, a village about a sabbath day's journey from Shechem, Joseph the righteous was buried: at Mount Carmel, is the cave of Elijah the prophet, and there was buried Elisha, the son of Shaphat the prophet: at Jordan was buried Iddo the prophet, and over it is a great elm tree, and it is in the form of a lion; and there was buried Shebuel, the son of Gershom, the son of Moses, over whom is a great oak tree: at Geba, in Mount Lebanon, is buried Zephaniah the prophet, in the middle of a cave shut up. On a mountain, a sabbath day's journey from Zidon, Zebulun was buried, in a beautiful vault; at Cephar Noah, was buried Noah the just; and at Kadesh Nephtalim, Barak the son of Abinoam, and Deborah his wife, and Jael; and at Timnath, Shamgar the son of Auath, over whom are two marble pillars. At Cephar Cana, is buried Jonah, the son of Amittai, on the top of a mountain, in a temple of the Gentiles, in a "beautiful" vault: at Jakuk, was buried in the way, Habakkuk the prophet; and at the north of the village of Raam, was buried Obadiah the prophet: at Susan the palace, was buried Mordecai the Jew, and over him a beautiful stone statue; and on it written, this is the sepulchre of Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a man of Jemini; and near the river Hiddekel, Ezekiel the prophet was buried. In this account, many things may be observed, which confirm and illustrate the words of the text. And certain it is, that it was accounted very honourable and laudable in persons, to beautify the sepulchres of the patriarchs and prophets.”

Again, they engaged in memorials for those in their history who were remembered for their faith in God.  That is a noble thing.  But it is what comes from their hearts that is wicked.  Christ says that while they do these things they say, `If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.'  They actually think they are different from their fathers before them who murdered the prophets.  They think that if they had been living in the days of the prophets that they would not have rose up against them and murdered them.

Jesus tells them clearly that that they are witnesses against themselves.  How can that be?  What is He implying?  He calls upon them to fill up the measure of their fathers’ guilt.  Throughout the Scripture it is clear that God waits for man’s guilt to become full before He exercises judgment upon them.  We recall in Genesis 15:16 that God would allow the children of Israel to suffer in the land of Egypt in order that He might deliver them to come against the Amorites, when their iniquity was complete.  We read in the book of Revelation 14:14-20 that the angel there thrusts in his sickle to exercise judgment because the grapes are ripe (they are full).

Jesus clearly is calling for them to go ahead and show themselves for who they really are, not what they say they are.  He calls them vipers…..snakes.   John the Baptist used the very same terms to apply to them.  They are those who have been addressed as having Satan as their father, that old serpent, and they are indeed referred to as his offspring.  You can really sense the hatred they must have of Christ at this point.  

Then He throws a bombshell on them.  How can you escape the condemnation of Hell?  This is not the term Hades or the grave that is so often translated at hell, but rather geenna, the future place of fire and destruction.  What is said is so incredibly terrifying that I tremble even as I write this.  He is setting their hearts towards to be hard.  Just as He did with Pharaoh (Rom. 9), He does with these wicked hypocrites.  There will be no escape for them from what is about to take place as they seek the death of the Son of God and of his apostles and followers.  They will fulfill the predestined plan of God, just as Peter will clearly point to in his sermon in Acts 2 and Jesus makes them well aware that they will be held responsible for their actions as well.

They think that judgment will not fall on them because of the sins of their fathers, yet judgment will fall on them because of their fathers’ sins and because of their own.  Their fathers sinned in rejecting the prophets of God and they have an even greater sin in that they are rejecting God’s own Son.

Therefore, Jesus says to them to kill and crucify and persecute those who are sent unto them:  prophets, wise men and scribes, in order that they may receive the judgment that has been withheld until the measure of iniquity are filled up.  You might want to read the post I had from Daniel 9 to draw a conclusion to this, for it is one of the things spoken of in the 70 weeks prophecy.  These things will evidence that they are worthy of punishment and in fact will bring what Jesus says, “that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.”

Jerusalem and its leaders will suffer judgment at the hands of God for the deaths of all the prophets, from Abel to Zechariah, which covers the entire Old Testament.  This should be worth noting that it is possible that Jesus specifically addresses the issue of what would be considered the canon of the Old Testament, from Genesis to 2 Chronicles (the chronology of the Old Testament).  Not only this but they will fill up the measure by crucifying the Messiah and persecuting and seeking to destroy His followers.  In the end, they are no different from their fathers.  Had they been alive when the prophets before came, they would have join in unison with their wicked fathers before them in desiring their deaths.

Then notice verse 36:

“Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.”

The term genea is used here for generation.  Many will try and sidestep the context here in order to place Matthew 24 thousands of years into the future.  They will say that this refers to the race of Jews.  Personally, I find that laughable, since the entire context has addressed a specific people at a specific time in history and in light of the biblical, prophetic texts of Daniel and other passages, this is the fullness of time, not only for the coming of the Messiah, but also for the filling up of iniquity by the Jewish nation.  The context is so clear that you must distort it in order to have this mean race rather than refer to what is obviously being said.
Then we come to verse 37.  This verse is so often quoted out of context by “free-willers” that frankly I am amazed when I meet others who actually quote it in context.  Jesus has just lambasted the Pharisees and condemned them from everything from taking advantage of the poor and widows to killing the prophets God sends to them and now as He is closing out His condemnation says, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!”  He lumps Jerusalem in as the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her.  He has just made the connection of the leaders with the people that they lead.  He then states that He wanted to gather those who were under these wicked men, but the leaders were not willing.  The issue has nothing to do with “free will”.  Rather it has to do with the fact that these men simply desired to keep their power over their little flock and were simply un-willing to submit themselves to God Himself.  

Notice also, that it says nothing about Christ desiring to gather these men He has just stood in condemnation against.  Instead, He was desirous of gathering people who were under them, but they were not willing that He do so.  Did that stop Christ from gathering those He sought?  Absolutely not.  The indictment is clearly against these hypocrites from attempting to put themselves between Christ and those they were leading.

Notice the concluding remarks for they are introductory to Matthew 24.  Jesus closes with “See! Your house is left to you desolate”.  This is very interesting in light of where they are.  We will note that they are about to depart the Temple (24:1).  So it seems abundantly clear that Jesus’ reference to “your house” refers to the Temple itself and so we find Him immediately after this encounter leaving this great edifice that is currently under construction and funded by Herod.

It is amazing to see Jesus speaking of the temple now and calling it “your house”.  No longer is it spoken of as the house of God, but He puts it upon them as theirs.  Why?  They have rejected the reality of which the Temple was merely a type.  Let’s recall the words of Christ,

But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.
Matthew 12:6

Here the one that the Temple, in essence, foretold of standing in it.  He is greater than the type for He is the fulfillment of it and yet these men are like those spoken of in the book of Hebrews who would rather hold onto the types, symbols, and shadows rather than embrace the reality.  So He says that their house is now desolate.  Remember this is only a few days before He fulfills the prophecies of Daniel concerning His confirming the covenant and cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease (9:26-27).  The Temple has served its purpose and now it has been rendered desolate, though the sacrificial system will continue on for another 40 years, it will be Satanic, rather than God honoring, for it will be serving to count the blood of Christ as a common thing.  Therefore, Ichabod is written over the door and the Master leaves heading for the Mt. of Olives and a discussion of how these things will take place.  Thus the greatest desolation is the removal of Christ’s presence from the Temple.

One thing to remember is that this was the last thing on the disciples mind.  They had no idea that Jesus was indicating a judgment upon the Temple, as well as, the Pharisees and scribes.  Like so many things, it didn’t even show up on their radar.

Christ’s final statement have caused many to wonder if somehow he is referring to a time in the future where He will return and the Jews will say these words, as in pre-millenialism or dispensationalism.  I don’t think that is the case.

Obviously they do see Him when He is crucified.  That is beyond dispute, however, there maybe spiritual implications to this as well.  First we will note that they have heard Christ’s words, they have witnessed His miracles, they have been humiliated by His wisdom and yet they proceed against Him with a hard heart of unbelief.  They will now face what Matthew Henry refers to as judicial blindness.  They will not see Him as Messiah.   They will not perceive Him to be the Son of God.  They will forever view Him as a mere man………until He comes again and they are brought forth from their graves to stand before Him in judgment.  At that point, they will stand beside millions, both saved and lost to proclaim that He indeed is Lord and they will bless Him (Phil. 2:9-10).

Indeed there is a day of reckoning, not only for the Pharisees and the scribes, but for you and I as well.  May we not find ourselves with a hard heart of unbelief as these men did, but may the Lord be merciful to us in spite of ourselves for His great name’s sake.

Thus the conclusion of the woes of Matthew 23 pronounced by our Lord Himself and we will be reminded that the judgments are to come upon “this generation” (vs. 36).  I will attempt to begin posting thoughts on Matthew 24, I hope, this week along with periodic  posts concerning our study in Revelation.