95 THESES AGAINST DISPENSATIONALISM – Part 9

This is part 9 of analysis of the 19th century theological invention known as dispensationalism. Part 8 can be imagesfound here: http://defendingcontending.com/2014/01/18/95-theses-agai…onalism-part-8/  Following are the next ten theses from the NiceneCouncil.com’s concise but thorough examination of the critical errors with the theological system known as dispensationalism. Dispensationalism is, like most other systems, not comprised of a monolithic group who all believe alike. So please bear in mind this series in not an attack on any person, but an examination of a system.

71. Despite the dispensationalists’ claim that their so-called literalistic premillennialism is superior to the other evangelical millennial views because Revelation 20:1-6 is one text that clearly sets forth their system, this view imposes the literalistic system unjustifiably and inconsistently on the most symbolic book in all the Bible, a book containing references to scorpions with faces like men and teeth like lions (Rev 9:7), fire-breathing prophets (Rev 11:5), a seven-headed beast (Rev 13:1), and more.

72. Dispensationalism’s claim that Revelation 20:1-6 is a clear text that establishes literalistic premillennialism has an inconsistency that is overlooked: it also precludes Christians who live in the dispensation of the Church from taking part in the millennium, since Revelation 20:4 limits the millennium to those who are beheaded and who resist the Beast, which are actions that occur (on their view) during the Great Tribulation, after the Church is raptured out of the world.

73. Despite the dispensationalists’ view of the glory of the millennium for Christ and his people, they teach, contrary to Scripture, that regenerated Gentile believers will be subservient to the Jews, as we see, for instance, in Herman Hoyt’s statement that “the redeemed living nation of Israel, regenerated and regathered to the land, will be head over all the nations of the earth…. So he exalts them above the Gentile nations…. On the lowest level there are the saved, living, Gentile nations.”

74. Despite dispensationalism’s claim that the Jews will be dominant over all peoples in the eschatological future, the Scripture teaches that “In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrians will come into Egypt and the Egyptians into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians. In that day Israel will be the third party with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, ‘Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.’” (Isa. 19:23-25).

75. Despite dispensationalism’s “plain and simple” method that undergirds its millennial views, it leads to the bizarre teaching that for 1000 years the earth will be inhabited by a mixed population of resurrected saints who return from heaven with Jesus living side-by-side with non-resurrected people, who will consist of unbelievers who allegedly but unaccountably survive the Second Coming as well as those who enter the millennium from the Great Tribulation as “a new generation of believers” (Walvoord).

76. Despite dispensationalists’ claim to reasonableness for their views, they hold the bizarre teaching that after 1000 years of dwelling side-by-side with resurrected saints who never get ill or die, a vast multitude of unresurrected sinners whose number is “like the sand of the seashore,” will dare to revolt against the glorified Christ and His millions of glorified saints (Rev 20:7-9).

77. Despite the dispensationalists’ fundamental principle of God’s glory, they teach a second humiliation of Christ, wherein He returns to earth to set up His millennial kingdom, ruling it personally for 1000 years, only to have a multitude “like the sand of the seashore” revolt against His personal, beneficent rule toward the end (Rev 20:7-9).

78. Despite the dispensationalists’ production of many adherents who “are excited about the very real potential for the rebuilding of Israel’s Temple in Jerusalem” (Randall Price) and who give funds for it, they do not understand that the whole idea of the temple system was associated with the old covenant which was “growing old” and was “ready to disappear” in the first century (Heb 8:13).

79. Contrary to dispensationalists’ expectation of a future physical temple in the millennium, wherein will be offered literal animal blood sacrifices, the New Testament teaches that Christ fulfilled the Passover and the Old Testament sacrificial system, so that Christ’s sacrifice was final, being “once for all” (Heb 10:10b), and that the new covenant causes the old covenant with its sacrifices to be “obsolete” (Heb 8:13).

80. Contrary to dispensationalism’s teaching that a physical temple will be rebuilt, the New Testament speaks of the building of the temple as the building of the Church in Christ, so that “the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord” (Eph 2:21); the only temple seen in the book of Revelation is in Heaven, which is the real and eternal temple of which the earthly temporary temple was, according to the book of Hebrews, only a “shadow” or “copy” (Heb 8:5; 9:24).

The World a Sorry Comforter

The World a Sorry Comforter

George Mylne, 1871

The Preacher speaks of some who “had no comforter,” because, as we infer that they sought comfort wrongly — on earthly, and not on heavenly grounds. And so it is too often with the bereaved — people try to cure their broken hearts with human remedies, the quackery of the world, which mocks the patient, and does not heal him. And thus, when sorrow comes, mourners are urged to seek their consolation in worldly pleasure, and to drown their recollections for a season, only to return more bitterly at last. They might as well expect a cure from sheer intoxication — as banish sorrow thus!

“Miserable Comforters” are they who recommend such remedies to distract your grief. Pleasure can only make a man forget his sorrows; and as waters wear the stones by ceaseless droppings — so a continuous round of pleasure may in time induce complete oblivion.

Yet this, to say the least, is a dishonorable way of stifling sorrow — advisedly I use the word. It does dishonor to the dead, that you must needs forget him, and for his memory substitute the theater, the race-course, or the whirling dance. Could he but know the fact, or tell the feelings of the eternal world — would he commend your conduct, or consider it a compliment to be banished thus from mind? Through pleasure you may try to forget your friend. The giddy spectacle, whatever it may be, hides him from view. It must be so. Such objects are not transparent, but opaque, with their many sorts of deadening influences.

Not so the atmosphere of God’s grace. Its clear expanse forms no impediment to vision — quite the reverse. It gives you objects to survey, as clear as itself. It invites you to fix your eye on Jesus, Himself the Sun of that clear medium — Himself the object to bring out its properties. This will hide nothing from your view, that may be safely looked upon. It hides, indeed, objects of earthly vanity, as they again obscure the Cross. But it enables you to see more clearly, as you ought to see, all lawful objects of consideration. It enables you to weigh their consequences, discern their right proportions, and look upon them as they are looked upon by God. May you thus bear your sorrow honorably, and know the dignity of sanctified distress!

It is also dishonoring to yourself not to confront your sorrows like a man. It implies a lack of courage, the absence of proper self-command. There is something wrong, you may be sure — for is it correct, is it manly, thus to cheat the soul, to hide yourself behind some passing vanity, rather than face the sober truth? It proves you lack a higher principle, the muscles and sinews of a braver purpose, a mind nerved against unworthy refuges, a buoyancy to rise above the wave.

Yet I mean not Stoicism — encasing the mind with adamant, suppressing sensibilities, ignoring natural affection — its ground of resignation fatalism, unconscious or avowed; a dogged resolution to suffer on; a sullen tribute to some principle of harm — too blind to trace, too proud to own, the hand of the Almighty. Stoicism is not courage! There is nothing noble in its composition. It is rather cowardice, making its would-be hardiness a refuge for its lies. It dares not see affliction in its proper light.

Oh no! the strength of which I speak is something higher. It has no place whatever in the natural man. It is the offspring of saving grace. It brings its powers and its consolations from another world.

In some there is a way of sorrowing, nor seeking its distractions in the world, nor yet hardening itself in stoicism; feeding in calmness on its sensibilities, clothed in the mantle of a mournful dignity, attending to life’s duties with self-denying purpose, exhibiting a quiet resignation to the blow. Yet it lacks the principle of God’s grace, the principle of glad compliance with the will of Heaven; sorrowing, yet able to rejoice, distressed yet cheerful; not merely saying, “This is a grief — and I must bear it!” (Jeremiah 10:19), but counting it a privilege to feel a Father’s Hand — rising above the instrument, to see a Father’s Love, serene in the resilience of grace. It is thus the bread of bitterness is turned to sweetness, and the path of sorrow trodden with unfaltering steps, because of consolations that the world knows nothing of, and because the everlasting arms are underneath — surely, sweetly, sensibly.

Thus fortified and taught, a man may look bereavement in the face, undaunted. No need has he to seek a refuge in the world, and drown his sensibilities inpleasure. He has no need to arm himself with stoicism. He meets affliction not as a foe, but as a friend — the bearer of a message from the Lord. To turn from facing it, would be to scorn its mission, to hide himself from God.

Yet trust not in any power of your own. Would you do honor to yourself aright, you must have engrafted spiritual principle, engrafted courage — a self within, entirely distinct from what by nature bears the name — a New Creation in heart and mind — in principle and powers (2 Corinthians 5:17). May you thus be qualified to have a true respect for self, and have a self worthy to be respected!

But, most of all, to seek your comfort in the world is most dishonoring to God. Man was intended to hold communion with His Maker, in Him to find his consolation — -to have his Maker for his friend. But Adam fell, and, with the fall, there came a sad estrangement between him and God — an estrangement, shared by all his posterity down to the present hour. And thus, my friend, why don’t you take your sorrows to the Lord? Because you are estranged from Him. Conscious of sin, you sullenly avoid your Maker — and seek your comfort in the world.

And is it to be always so — that God, the kindest and the best, should be a cipher to your sorrowing heart — that He alone should be the subject of studied disregard? Perhaps this sad bereavement was sent to teach you better things — to show you where true comfort is to be found — and make you see your danger, if you treat your Maker as a thing of nothing, and systematically pass Him by.

Hasten to be wise. Hasten to be childlike with the Lord. Hasten to be at peace with Him through a Savior’s Blood. Hasten to regard Him as your Comforter — to treat Him as your friend.

And as the world can give no real consolation — then as little can we gain by borrowing its grief. “The sorrow of the world works death” (2 Corinthians 8:10). And this it does in many ways. It means that we grieve, irrespectively of God — that we sorrow without a comforter — that our sorrow is indulged in to satiety — that our sorrow is pent up within the breast without a safety-valve — -that we sorrow with nothing to relieve it — -that our mind is fixed on its own distress — -that we have nothing to break the continuity of wearying thought. Such sorrow wearies the flesh — it dries the bones (Proverbs 17. 22), secretly undermines the health, openly shows upon the countenance, induces gradual decay — and thus, eventually, works death!

How many, hence, have died of broken hearts! How many have committed suicide! And all, because they had no real Comforter! Had they only been at peace with God — had they only confided to Him their sorrow — their grief would have found an outlet, and their life would have been saved. And then they might have said, “I shall yet praise Him who is the health of my countenance, and my God” (Psalm 42:11).

Ask the physician, and he will tell you how sickness is often averted by a peaceful mind. Can they but avert the sickness, the patient lives. And what will keep from sickness, like a mind at peace with God? Contrast with this a broken heart — and from what does it proceed? From some hidden canker left to prey upon the mind, unchecked, unremedied — some wound unmollified with ointment (Isaiah 1:6) — some worm that feeds upon the root, sapping the constitution, eating out the stamina of life!

Such is the sorrow of the world. I beg you, Mourner, give not way to it. Before morbid feelings root themselves eradicably — bestir yourself. Shake off theviper which would eat into your heart. Awake to consciousness and healthful thought. “Is any afflicted — Let him pray!” — thus says the Scripture (James 5:13). Let him speak to God — to Him, unfold his grief. This at once unfolds the spring which opens the safety-valve, and lifts the sluice of healthy sensibilities. You are “afflicted” — then speak to God in the attitude of humble prayer. At any rate, my friend, speak to God. Catch not infection from the world — which is sorrow unto death.

The sorrow of the world works death in yet another form. Instead of leading you to God, it takes you further From Him — further from grace — further From Christ — further from hope — further from eternal life! Instead of softening the heart — it hardens. It engenders a deadened spirit, a conscience not awake to suitable impressions — it paves the way for death — death here, and death hereafter! Then take a lesson, Mourner, if such is your temptation. Shun worldly sorrow, which eats as a canker! Seek peace. Seek sweet serenity. Seek life for soul and body in the simple remedy of Christ — the balsam of the soul.

Biblical Christianity vs. Roman Catholicism

There will always be, until the Lord returns with a triumphant shout and the sound of trumpets (1 Thess 4:16), people who confuse one false religion or another for the biblical faith Creator God revealed to us in His Scriptures and His Son. To help us keep in focus some of the essential differences between biblical Christianity and one of the largest, widely accepted false religions in the world, here is a handy chart comparing 9 facts of the faith as taught by the Bible and the Roman Catholic Church. An extract is below, to give you a preview.

I thought I would add to this a bit with a wonderful quote from a book I read last week:

“Now where the Scripture has not a Mouth to speak we must not have an Ear to hear.”
Thomas Patient, The Doctrine of Baptism and the Covenants. 1654 A.D.

Slide 1

God’s Moral Law

This post is a quiz! Most Christians acknowledge a moral law at work in all men, seeing this in myriad places vU2zJin Scripture – most explicitly, perhaps, in Romans 2: For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them.

Here’s the quiz: Where is the moral law defined in Scripture and when was it given to man? Please reason your answer to this two-part question with the Word of God. The goal here is to stir our thinking and draw us to Scriptures, not relying solely on what men have taught us.

I’ll tell you what think after some of you answer. Have fun!

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Thanks to all who participated! It’s not likely what you will read next will satisfy everyone, but please read carefully and seek to understand what is written.

One of the problems we must all acknowledge is that the Bible does not provide a definition of “God’s Moral Law”, nor does it use that term in describing it. This is where many presuppositions come into play.

Three statements for your consideration: 1) There is a moral law from God that has been written on every soul, leaving no person with an excuse to claim he did not know. 2.) This moral law was given to man at the Fall, not at Creation. 3.) This moral law shines through the Decalogue, is not defined nor contained in the Decalogue.

As for the first point, I think the citation from Romans 2, above, proves that well enough. Those who want to argue against this point will have to be very calm and biblical to be heard. As for the second point, consider the biblical record: before the Fall, Adam and Eve had fellowship with God and knew the goodness of God. It was not until after Adam sinned that they had knowledge of both good and evil (Gen 3:7 and 22). As Paul wrote in Romans 7, knowledge of the law (here, he is talking about the Decalogue, which applied the Moral Law to the Hebrews) brings knowledge of sin. Adam knew not sin until he sinned. Since he sinned, he had need of the Moral Law. God wrote His Moral Law on Adam’s soul and Eve’s when He banished them from the Garden.

Thirdly, the Moral Law of God shines through the Decalogue, which applies that Law to the Hebrews, wrapping it in ceremonial language that applies to them alone. If one looks at the biblical context and direct biblical commentary about the Decalogue, there is no reason to claim those “tablets of testimony” as binding on all men everywhere. The 17th century theologian John Owen observed this in his Works, 22:215:

The nature of the decalogue, and the distinction of its precepts from all commands, ceremonial or political, comes now under consideration. The whole decalogue, I acknowledge, as given on mount Sinai to the Israelites, had a political use, as being made the principal instrument or rule of the polity and government of their nation, as peculiarly under the rule of God. It had a place also in that economy or dispensation of the covenant which that church was then brought under; wherein, by God’s dealing with them and instructing of them, they were taught to look out after a further and greater good in the promise than they were yet come to the enjoyment of. Hence the Decalogue itself, in that dispensation of it, was a schoolmaster unto Christ. 

But in itself, and materially considered, it was wholly, and in all the preceptive parts of it, absolutely moral. Some, indeed, of the precepts of it, as the first, fourth, and fifth, have either prefaces, enlargements, or additions, which belonged peculiarly to the then present and future state of that church in the land of Canaan; but these especial applications of it unto them change not the nature of its commands or precepts, which are all moral, and, as far as they are esteemed to belong to the Decalogue, are unquestionably acknowledged so to be.

I share Owen’s basic point, but differ in some details. What we see in Exodus 20 is not equal to the moral law, but communicates that law in the context of the covenant God made with Israel. I think there are “prefaces, enlargements, or additions, which belonged peculiarly to” Israel in the 2nd through 5th and the 10th  words of the tablets. Read what is recorded in Ex 20 and compare it to Deut 5 and ask yourself if what Owen and I say is true. Then realize that God’s Moral Law must be discerned by careful reading, studying and prayer. Failure to do this has caused many to blithely assume the Decalogue is equal to God’s Moral Law (something first proposed by a Roman Catholic in the 12th century). The difficulty in interpreting and applying the Decalogue as God’s Moral Law can be seen in the last 1,000 years of church history.

If there is interest, I would be willing to post a four page article I wrote last year as a result of studying this question in context of how the 1689 London Baptist Confession addresses it.

95 THESES AGAINST DISPENSATIONALISM – Part 8

This is part 8 of analysis of the 19th century theological invention known as dispensationalism. Part 7 can be imagesfound here: http://defendingcontending.com/2014/01/18/95-theses-agai…onalism-part-7/  Following are the next ten theses from the NiceneCouncil.com’s concise but thorough examination of the critical errors with the theological system known as dispensationalism. Dispensationalism is, like most other systems, not comprised of a monolithic group who all believe alike. So please bear in mind this series in not an attack on any person, but an examination of a system.

61. Despite the dispensationalists’ teaching that “Jesus will come in the air secretly to rapture His Church” (Tim LaHaye), their key proof-text for this “secret” coming, 1 Thess 4:16, makes the event as publicly verifiable as can be, declaring that he will come “with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God.”

62. Contrary to dispensationalism’s doctrine of two resurrections, the first one being of believers at the Rapture and the second one of unbelievers at the end of the millennium 1007 years after the Rapture, the Bible presents the resurrection of believers as occurring on “the last day” (John 6:39-40, 44, 54; 11:24), not centuries before the last day.

63. Contrary to dispensationalism’s doctrine of two resurrections, the first one being of believers at the Rapture and the second one of unbelievers at the end of the millennium 1007 years after the Rapture, the Bible speaks of the resurrection of unbelievers as occurring before that of believers (though as a part of the same complex of events), when the angels “first gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up” at the end of the age (Matt 13:30b).

64. Despite dispensationalism’s commitment to the secret Rapture of the Church by which Christians are removed from the world to leave only non-Christians in the world, Jesus teaches that the wheat and the tares are to remain in the world to the end (Matt 13:), and he even prays that the Father not take his people out of the world (John 17:15).

65. Despite the dispensationalists’ emphasis on the “plain interpretation” of Scripture (Charles Ryrie) and the Great Tribulation in Matthew 24, admitting that Christ was pointing to the stones of the first century temple when He declared that “not one will be left upon another” (Matt 23:37-24:2), they also admit inconsistently that when the disciples asked “when shall these things be?” (Matt 24:3), Matthew records Christ’s answer in such a way that He presents matters that are totally unrelated to that event and that occur thousands of years after it (Bible Knowledge Commentary).

66. Despite the dispensationalists’ commitment to so-called literalism in prophecy and their strong emphasis on the Great Tribulation passage in Matthew 24, they perform a sleight of hand by claiming that when Jesus stated that “this generation will not pass away until all these things take place” (Matt 24:34), He did so in a way inconsistent with every other usage of “this generation” in Matthew’s Gospel (e.g., Matt 11:16; 12:41, 42) and even in the immediate context (Matt 23:36), so that “this generation” can somehow point thousands of years into the future “instead of referring this to the time in which Christ lived” (Walvoord).

67. Dispensationalism’s teaching of the rapid “national regeneration of Israel” during the latter part of the seven-year Tribulation period (Fruchtenbaum) is incomprehensible and unbiblical because the alleged regeneration occurs only after the Church and the Holy Spirit have been removed from the earth, even though they were the only agents who could cause that regeneration: the institution of evangelism on the one hand and the agent of conversion on the other.

68. Contrary to dispensationalists’ view of the mark of the beast, most of them seeing in the beast’s number a series of three sixes, the Bible presents it not as three numbers (6-6-6) but one singular number (666) with the total numerical value of “six hundred and sixty-six” (Rev 13:18b).

69. Contrary to many dispensationalists’ expectation that the mark of the beast is to be some sort of “microchip implant” (Timothy Demy), Revelation 13 states that it is a mark, not an instrument of some kind.

70. Contrary to dispensationalists’ belief in a still-future geo-political kingdom which shall be catastrophically imposed on the world by war at the Battle of Armageddon, the Scriptures teach that Christ’s kingdom is a spiritual kingdom that does not come with signs, and was already present in the first century, as when Jesus stated, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst” (Luke 17:20-21).

The Road to Emmaus

The biblical passage in Luke 24 known as the Road to Emmaus is – like many passages – twisted and misused, Emmaussometimes innocently, many times intentionally. There is a mystical three-day retreat called The Walk to Emmaus (also known as Chrysalis) that was modeled after the Roman Catholic retreat known as Cursillo, which started in Spain in 1949. These two retreats are like identical twins – not the same, but very much alike. And both are embraced by a wide range of churches – including Methodist, Episcopalian, Lutherans, Presbyterian, and Baptist.

You can read about The Walk to Emmaus here: http://emmaus.upperroom.org/ Their FAQ are most informative, and all copyrighted. Here’s another web site where a Baptist who attended one of these retreats discusses the event and explains why evangelicals should not participate.

All that background to bring your this – a wonderful sermon from the text of Luke 24:13-35, wherein we are reminded that the Lord opens eyes to see truth, that seeing is not believing, and that those who are given sight and hearing will respond to the Savior. Pull up your chair and give a listen – you will be glad you did.