Friday, July 11, 2008

Clement of Alexandria on Daniel's 70 Weeks

I would not say I am in complete agreement with Clement, yet I think his view is pertinent to recently espoused views.



Clement of Alexandria (AD162)


On the 70 weeks of Daniel finding fulfillment in AD 70


“From the captivity at Babylon, which took place in the time of Jeremiah the prophet, was fulfilled what was spoken by Daniel the prophet as follows: “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people, and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to seal sins, and to wipe out and make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal the vision and the prophet, and to anoint the Holy of Holies. Know therefore, and understand, that from the going forth of the word commanding an answer to be given, and Jerusalem to be built, to Christ the Prince, are seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; and the street shall be again built, and the wall; and the times shall be expended. And after the sixty-two weeks the anointing shall be overthrown, and judgment shall not be in him; and he shall destroy the city and the sanctuary along with the coming Prince. And they shall be destroyed in a flood, and to the end of the war shall be cut off by: desolations. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week; and in the middle of the week the sacrifice and oblation shall be taken away; and in the holy place shall be the abomination of desolations, and until the consummation of time shall the consummation be assigned for desolation. And in the midst of the week shall he make the incense of sacrifice cease, and of the wing of destruction, even till the consummation, like the destruction of the oblation.” That the temple accordingly was built in seven weeks, is evident; for it is written in Esdras. And thus Christ became King of the Jews, reigning in Jerusalem in the fulfillment of the seven weeks. And in the sixty and two weeks the whole of Judaea was quiet, and without wars. And Christ our Lord, “the Holy of Holies,” having come and fulfilled the vision and the prophecy, was anointed in His flesh by the Holy Spirit of His Father. In those “sixty and two weeks,” as the prophet said, and “in the one week,” was He Lord. The half of the week Nero held sway, and in the holy city Jerusalem placed the abomination; and in the half of the week he was taken away, and Otho, and Galba, and Vitellius. And Vespasian rose to the supreme power, and destroyed Jerusalem, and desolated the holy place. And that such are the facts of the case, is clear to him that is able to understand, as the prophet said.” - (Stromata – Book I Chapter 21, The Jewish Institutions and Laws of Far Higher Antiquity Than the Philosophy of the Greeks)


Labels: , , , ,

Friday, June 27, 2008

Pious Porn


BigChurch.com is a social networking site aimed to lure in single Christian adults. Its claim to fame is to provide a place where like minded people can meet and form relationships. It claims a half a million members and joining is free.


“Meet people who share the same Spiritual Beliefs as You”, it proclaims on its homepage.


There is also the well known Biblical passage from Gen 2:24:
“A man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh”

For the convenience of the user, there is a ‘Bible Search’ function where users can easily access a favorite Scripture passage from the online library. One testimonial proudly declares the sites results in her life,

“I feel like my prayers of finding a respectable man have been answered! Thanks BigChurch!

All of this may seem somewhat on the tactful fringe of what or how a good Christian should meet fellow believers of the opposite sex. But with technology being as it is and many solid Biblical friendships are in fact formed via the internet, I wouldn’t condemn the idea all together. I would have many reservations about suggesting a ‘single’ brother or sister to use such a site. Nevertheless, on the surface, it looks to be dedicated to its claims. As with all things, especially as pertained to the internet, things are not always as they seem. It all boils down to the bottom line, and that line in this particular instance belongs to a group that is opposite the worldview proclaimed by Bigchurch.com; Penthouse Media Group Inc. In 2004, PMG was facing bankruptcy with large amounts of dept. The loss of newsstand revenue too the ominous presence of internet porn, PMG was bought by a group of investors headed by a man named Marc Bell.[1] As PMG begins to reinvent itself, it has created or purchased many social networking sites including BigChurch. After years of producing faith and family destroying materials via the printing press and video, PMG seems to be advocating the slogan; If you cant beat em’ join em’! PMG seeks to rename itself as Friendfinder Networks Inc. later this year to tone down its past history among those who may seek to spend their money elsewhere, but don’t be deceived! Its intentions are the same. Exploitation and gross sin are its products. Among the other social sites it operates listed in Newsweek magazine are subjects that I will not mention. Disgusting and revolting to say the least. The world is knocking at our door Christians, and the complacent will be steam rolled into sin. The roots of sin begin small, and often its only a click away. You cant tell me the desire to lure those from BigChurch to another cross linked social site is not in the intentions of the PMG who actively seek to promote their sinful lusts. They will prey upon the ususpecting user and flame his curiosity. It is our duty to be aware and actively seek the wolves among us and expose them for what they are. The money generated from BigChurch goes directly into the development of things the Christian finds revolting to the Gospel.


BigChurch is a big lie.

True today as it was when it was uttered:
16“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. Mat 10:16 NASB




[1] Jennifer Ordonez, Penthouse Going Pious?, Newsweek magazine, 5-19-08

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Shack


“This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress did for his. It’s that good!” Eugene Peterson


The above review is what prompted me to read William P. Young’s The Shack when a friend at work offered it to me. Unfortunately, for those looking to read a fictional story with the foundation of solid, Biblical doctrine like Pilgrims Progress (although PP is more of an allegorical story than The Shack, it is fiction nonetheless) will be shaking their heads and wondering where we are headed theologically in America. This simple look at this book is not intended to be exhaustive, but I felt like it deserves some criticism, not only to the author, but to the supposed positive response of American Christendom.

The basic story is about a man named Mac and his journey to faith, much like Christian’s in John Bunyan’s work. A stark and important difference is Christian carried upon his back the burden of his sins. Mac, on the other hand carries ‘the great sadness’ upon his soul. The Great sadness is brought about by the kidnapping and murder of one of his children, a young girl named Missy. While tragedy in our lives can and does draw us closer to God, here sin is replaced as a driving factor for reaching out to the Lord. The premise of tragedy drawing men to God by itself is not the problem. In that drawing, we eventually find ourselves at the foot of the cross with nothing of our own but our transgressions toward a Holy God. Mac on the other hand finds himself alone with his sadness in a small shack, the presumed place of Missy’s death, with God. He carries his sorrow and regrets about Missy’s disappearance and God is there reasoning with him about just how things really work (theology per W.P. Young). There is no overbearing burden of sin on Mac’s part. In fact, the word sin (sinfulness) is only used once during the books long sections of dialog between Mac and God.

Mac eventually finds himself on the judgment throne, that’s right, on it not before it. He is judging the world and the God who created it. Another troubling doctrine that flows from The Shack is the nature of God Himself. God the father is a large black women. running around cooking up Mac’s favorite meals. Her first appearance goes like this;

"...the door flew open, and he was looking directly into the face of a large beaming African-American woman. Instinctively he jumped back, but he was too slow. With speed that belied her size, she crossed the distance between them and engulfed him in her arms……”

I don’t know the intentions of the author, but I pictured in my mind Aunt Jemima! The God who is not to be made in the image or the likeness of man looks just like Aunt Jemima, this is quite a picture don’t ya think?

She hustles around saying things like;

“Well Mackenzie, don’t just stand their gawkin’ with your mouth open like your pants are full,…….”

In explaining her appearance to Mac, she says;

Mackenzie, I am neither male nor female, even though both genders are derived from my nature. If I chose to appear to you as a man or a woman, it is because I love you. For me to appear to you as a woman and suggest that you call me Papa (Mack’s’ wife, Nan’s name for God) is simply to mix metaphors, to help you from falling back into your religious conditioning.”p93

Mac’s ‘religious conditioning’ (Historical teachings of the church and her Biblically based creeds) is formal training in a seminary earlier in his life. I’m pretty sure there are a few things God the Father will set straight as pertains to our religiousness and Church-isms when the day comes. One thing I do not think we will see is God personified as a large black woman named ‘Papa’. I dare to think the depths of the doctrine of God that are yet un-mined have anything to do with a total reversal of what is means to describe the nature of God. Truly, we would have to recondition the theology as we have known it for some 2000 years. It is also pertinent to mention that most theological heresies begin with a redefining of the nature of God. Mr. Young has definitely done that here.

God the Father is not the only personage represented by human form to Mack. The complete trinity is here together in the Shack. Jesus is depicted as a Middle Eastern man with a big nose and the Holy Spirit is portrayed as a kind of shape shifting oriental women whose main attribute is her creativity. You could almost say she is creativity personified.

The Shacks words on this new trinity;

"When they finally stopped giggling, the large woman... said, 'Okay, we know who you are, but we should probably introduce ourselves to you. ...you could call me what Nan does: Papa.'... “'And I,' interrupted the man, who looked to be about in his thirties.... 'I am Hebrew....' “Mack was suddenly staggered by his own realization.
“Then, you are....” “'Jesus? Yes....'
"Mack stood dumbfounded.... Just as he was about to crumple to his knees, the Asian woman stepped closer and deflected his attention.
'And I am Sarayu [the Holy Spirit, Creativity].' she said... "Thoughts tumbled over each other as Mack struggled to figure out what to do.... Since there were three of them, maybe this was a Trinity sort of thing.... 'Then,' Mack struggled to ask, 'which one of you is God?'” “'I am,’ said all three in unison.'” Pp86-87


Papa speaks of Jesus in this manner:
“Although by nature he is fully God, Jesus is fully human and lives as such. While never losing the innate ability to fly [as he does in fact do in the story], he chooses moment-by-moment to remain grounded. That is why his name is Immanuel, God with us, or God with you, to be more precise.’
‘But what about all the miracles?............Doesn’t that prove Jesus was God-you know, more than human?’
‘No, it proves Jesus is truly human’.
‘What?’
Mackenzie, I can fly but humans cant, Jesus is fully human. Although he is also fully God, he has never drawn upon his nature as God to do anything. He has only lived out of his relationship with me, living in the very same manner that I desire to be in relationship with every human being. He is just the first to do it to the uttermost-the first to absolutely trust my life within him, the first to believe in my love and goodness without regard for appearance or consequence’.
‘So when he healed the blind?’
‘He did so as a dependent, limited human being trusting in my life and power to be at work within him and through him. Jesus, as a human being had no power within himself to heal anyone’.pp99-100

This understanding leaves out what is a neglected doctrine of the church and this proves it is surly neglected. No where is there portrayed the victorious Christ on His throne. Instead, Jesus is like you and me, he is forever man. As well, we humans are reasoned to be limited by our own misconceptions of what relationship with God is. This relates back to our ‘religious conditioning’. We are limited in power and deed because of our lack of relationship with Papa, brought about by our past conditioning. Now I am all for questioning or beliefs. Personally, I came from growing up in the Mormon Church and had to ditch the convictions of my youth. The difference I think is that I learned the Truth before I could recognize the error. That’s not the case in The Shack. Mac is encouraged to ditch his religious conditioning so he could learn the truth from experience in relationship. I understand this formula may not fit in every situation, but it does however pose a red flag. It reminds me of the what Jehovah's Witnesses request of those they teach.

The Shacks salvation is relationship with God, and it is always different than what we have perceived by our Christian heritage.
Here is Jesus talking about what it means to be ‘Christian’.
"Those who love me come from every system that exists. They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims.... I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa, into my brothers and sisters.”
‘Remember, the people who know me are the ones who are free to live and to love without any agenda.’ pp182

There would be no problem with God calling for Himself a people from the likes listed above; in reality that’s exactly what He does. The problem here, and it seems to be a big one, is that God doesn't desire them to be Christian. In today’s world, the word is used loosely no doubt, but historically, the term ‘Christian’ was born out of intense persecution of the early followers of Christ. Its true definition can not be replaced. The term Christian has its antichristian baggage for sure, but historically, and most important, Biblically has no substitute.
The Shack’s gospel has no sin, no guilt, no judgment, only love and relationship. That is The Shack’s version of salvation in a nut shell. To go along with the theme of reconditioning, the book also condemns the intuitions of the Earth, including the church. I suppose Paul must have been wrong as well as he labored to establish the churches throughout Asia Minor. He purposefully laid out instructions to those who were in charge of their respective churches. Paul laid an inspired, definite order and structure within the churches. In The Shack, authority is a man made misconception.

Mac grills Jesus on the subject:

"Why would the God of the universe want to be submitted to me?"
"Because we want you to join us in our circle of relationships," answers "Jesus.” pp145



Other doctrinal issues arise from The Shack, such as:
Contact with the departed;
Mac views Missy, his daughter playing and frolicking around, all the while conscience of her daddy’s presence yet she cannot see him.

Also, Papa is particularly fond of everyone equally. Only the positive attributes of the person are recognized by Papa. No mention of their sin and failures. Guilt and remorse over our sin is not part of The Shacks Christian.
Papa shares the scars of crucifixion along with Jesus as he was a participant at the cross. This brings up issues with the Biblical view of substitutionary atonement, without which we have no salvation.

After reading The Shack, the review that prompted me to do so comes into new light.

“This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress did for his…………….”

The Shack's Gospel is a progressive Gospel. Truth is relative and the old truths need updated.

The Shack presents to modern man a message that fits his world view, rejecting a world view that changes modern man.

If a friend offers up this book to you, do him a favor and politely suggest Pilgrim's Progress that is referenced within the review on the cover. He will be better served a meal that truly can bring life to the dead.
*******EDIT 7/9/08********
This is an interesting article I found on 'The Shack"

Labels: , ,

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Rev 20 Part IV


THE

Revelation
of Jesus Christ
Chapter 20
Part IV
(VS 11-15)

11Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. (NASB)

The arch Dragon is laid to waste and now the Great Throne of God , unabated, appears before His Creation. Heaven and Earth are said to retreat as a non-participant as the unbridled Devine Glory is revealed, yet they fled not. The universe of creation has no where to escape the Presence of God.
Moses Stuart writes……
“The fleeing away of the Heaven and Earth is a poetic portraiture of the effects of the divine presence. Even the natural creation shrinks back with awe and seeks to hide itself…..”

Throne’ is used some 37 times in John’s Revelation, mostly describing God the Father. Here it is used uniquely as it is called the Great White Throne. Christ is elsewhere depicted as riding on a white cloud, or a white horse.

31“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32“All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. (Mat 25:31-33 NASB)

Paul writes Timothy and boldly declares the name of Him who sits on the Throne.

1I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: (NASB)

Clearly then, this throne is occupied by the Messiah-King, triumphant over all.
Both of these texts not only show that it is Christ, but as well the events that He brings with His return- the final judgment.


12And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. 13And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. 14Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.(NASB)

All those who have drawn a breath, great or small now stand before the Judge. The books are opened that tell the tale of each ones offences against God.
They are judged according to their deeds, giving the impression of various degrees of punishment. Mankind is not saved by works, yet he is damned by them. The Book of Life is opened to reveal the names that are not in it. The consummation of God’s sovereign and ultimate power culminates as He prepares to righteously judge mankind. All possible locations are exhausted our their dead, leaving no man out. Christ and His salvation of the elect is made complete as He brings judgment upon the wicked. The 2nd death, known only to those outside God’s Grace, is defeated and cast away forever.

The Apostle Paul writes…….
The last enemy that will be abolished is death. (I Cor 15:26 NASB)

The second resurrection-judgment is complete as God’s Kingdom moves to the immortal.


Comparison Summary of Revelation 20

After-millennium events:

1) Rebellion
2) Battle assembly
3) Enemy promptly destroyed
4) Resurrection
5) Judgment


Pre-millennialism:

All the above mentioned events occur post-tribulation and usher in the millennial reign of Christ. The thousand years is followed by yet another series of the same stated events.

Jay Adams writes……….
“……unique factors are repeated precisely at both the beginning and at the end of the thousand years. Do you not begin to wonder whether the millennium and the church age are distinct periods of time after all?”


Post-millennialism:

Progressive spread of the Gospel and subsequent growth of the church brings along the events described above. Most post-millennialists agree with the Amillenialist that the church age corresponds with the millennium. The actual beginning of the millennium may vary depending on the post-millennial subscriber. Still others have a literal thousand year reign as do the pre-millennialists following a cataclysmic clash of good and evil. The difference being of course Christ reigns from Heaven as His people successfully evangelize the world, thus bring about the events as stated above.

Amillennialism:

For this group, the millennium equals the Church era. They are one in the same. Satan being bound and the Gospel is freely preached and accepted throughout the world. No longer is God’s Grace limited to a tiny area of land, or a designated ethic group. The Kingdom of God is stretched to encompass the whole world as He calls for Himself a people from every tribe, nation and tongue. The promise to Abraham is initiated as all the families of the Earth are blessed through the faithfulness of his Seed. Following the church age, the events described above occur, the Lord returns to rapture those that remain on Earth while simultaneously resurrecting the dead (both those who died in Christ and those who did not), and all are judged before the Throne of the Christ.

Labels: ,

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Rev 20 Part III

THE
Revelation
of Jesus Christ
Chapter 20
part III
(VS7-10)



7When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, 8and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore.(NASB)

Satan Freed
John moves us from the upcoming current events of his time to the far distant future at the closing of the millennial age. No matter what the millennium 'is' in its form and essence, the events stated here take place after the 1000 years. God's sovereignty is once again stressed as He releases Satan to perform his evil assembling. God's releasing is not arbitrary or capricious; rather it’s intentional and deliberate. The picture of Satan being in a prison brings much confusion to the nature of his incarceration. The text clearly indicates the ceasing of specific actions as the strong man is bound. Upon his release, he begins the same activity he was prohibited from carrying out during his imprisonment. The release from prison and the exercised act of deceiving the nations are integrated. One action prevented the other. Previously in redemptive history, mankind outside of God’s revealed covenant was ignorant of God and doomed in the grasp of the Dragon and his deceptions. The millennial incarceration opens up the nations to the influence of the Holy Spirit as He calls for Himself a people from every tribe, nation and tongue. Satan's prison was NOT having the ability to deceive the nations. This ability was taken from him as sovereignly as it is given back to him. God releases him to deceive the nations once again. The completed number of the elect has been reached. All the sheep have herd the voice of the Shepard and responded. The myriads upon myriads have dinned at the table of the Lamb and are in full covenant with their sovereign Lord. Satan’s gathering takes place in the four corners of the Earth, a place already combed over by the Spirit of God as He drew for Himself a people ransomed by the slain Messiah.
(Matthew 24:28)

Gog and Magog
There is much written about John's Gog and Magog and speculation as to who they are. John is again borrowing from the Old Testament and its imagery to portray an event. This is not the same battle that Ezekiel spoke of where the enemies of God are defeated with bows, arrows and the like. John is using a common phrase derived from Ezekiel known to his readers. The word nations lean to a corporate snap shot of those outside God's elect. The phrase Gog and Magog intensifies the phrase to a dreaded, fearful, powerful enemy of God.
The rabbinical writings used the names Gog and Magog to describe their foes, all and anyone that opposed those who were servants of the Lord. It would be similar to our modern use of the term 'terrorist'.

Concerning Gog and Magog, W. Barclay writes:
.....here we come on a picture which is etched itself deeply, if mysteriously, on Jewish thought, the picture of Gog and Magog. We find it first in Ezekiel 38 and 39. There Gog of the Land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and of Tubal, is to launch the great attack upon Israel and is to be in the end utterly destroyed. It may be that originally Gog was connected with the Scythians whose invasions all men feared. As time went on, in Jewish thought Gog and Magog came to stand for everything that is against God. The rabbis taught that Gog and Magog would assemble themselves and their forces against Jerusalem, and would fall by the hand of Messiah.

John is drawing upon existing motifs all ready established in Jewish and Biblical literature. Terms that express a fearful enemy that is opposed to all things good. Gog is grammatically the same as the nations Satan has deceived. The words are interchangeable. The deep emotional meaning of a fierce enemy of God and His people could not be provoked by the word nations alone. They stand in apposition to each other, describing the direct brash challenge against the Lord.

A couple points to think about for those who see the battle of Ezekiel 38 and 39 as one and the same as our text here in Revelation 20.

1) Gog in Ezekiel is completely destroyed before the Kingdom age. Revelation's Gog is done away with after the 1000 years. All sorts of textual juggling is needed here to explain this simple observation. Do we reverse the sequence in Ezekiel or in Revelation? Is Gog revived for another complete annihilation?

2) Gog’s war machines in Ezekiel are swords, bows, arrows and clubs made from wood that serve as fuel for 7 years. Following John’s battle in Revelation the Book of life is read and all mankind, living and dead are judged. The consummation of Kingdom is completed. (I am taking the liberty here and assuming there will be no need for 7yrs of fuel)

3) Many modern day prophecy gurus claim Ezekiel’s battle is unfolding before the 20th century church and proclaim the weapons of Ezekiel’s day culminate in modern weaponry. Thomas Ice writes….”Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Ezekiel spoke in a language that the people of his day could understand. If he had spoken of MIG-29s, laser-fired missiles, tanks, and assault rifles, this text would have been nonsensical to everyone until the 20th century.”
[1] Hitchcock adds………”This modernizing of the weapons is not spiritualizing the text but rather understanding God’s Word in its historical context in light of its original audience.”[2]
Ezekiel writes to an audience that can relate and understand the text, yet the true meaning is disguised from those whom it is intended? The battle makes sense to original readers, yet it does not to the 20th century? The Holy Spirit spoke in a language understandable to all save for the ones it speaks of? Nonsensical indeed! To Ice and Hitchcock, God indeed works in mysterious ways, literally. Revelation lists no specific weapons, only that they gather to make war and are defeated quickly without a raging battle.
4) John's Gog comes from the four corners of the Earth, not a single geographic location (modern day Russia).

These points should emphasize that John’s Gog is not Ezekiel’s Gog specifically, and any literal use of Ezekiel 38 and 39 to embellish Revelation 20 is merely a modern day misuse of an ancient prophecy.


9And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them. (NASB)

The Beloved City
We are faced now with determining whether or not this is a literal reference to Jerusalem.

Literal
1) An ad90 authorship requires this prophecy to be a rebuilt Jerusalem, which it now is. The present Jerusalem stands mostly in unbelief, but it does stand and is a large part in the premillennial-dispensational system.

2) The beloved city as a phrase is no where else used in Scripture, but is close to several other affectionate descriptions of Judaism’s Holy city in the Bible. It is however used frequently in extrabiblical literature.

Figurative
1) The destruction of Jerusalem in chapter 19 is God’s judgment upon a covenant breaking people who rejected God as their King and Lord. The spiritual dwelling place of God is now in the hearts of His people and requires no more a physical place to reside as Covenant Lord. Outside the dispensational-premillennial understanding of John’s Revelation of Christ; there know where exists any evidence of the Jerusalem temple regaining its centrality to the unwinding of Redemptive History. In fact, the Scriptures speak loudly to the contrary.

2) Can literally the number of both the Saints and the Satanic hordes actually fit into the area described in the Dispensational-Premillennial systems? The text speaks of the ‘number of them is like the sands of the seashore’ (vs8), and the hordes being summoned from the four corners of the Earth. The literal picture here means basically a whole bunch of folks! Will the land around Israel hold such a group?

3) The phrase ‘the camp of the saints’ used here is parallel to the beloved city. Both are describing the same thing in different terms that are equally important and in fact, interchangeable. They both refer to God’s covenant people in unique stages throughout Redemptive History. The camp of the saints of course would reflect God’s people post Egyptian bondage in route through the wilderness. One might ask how would this fit into dispensational-premillennialism? Do we now need a rebuilt ‘Camp of the Saints’ as well? The beloved city describes Gods people as settled in the land w/ Jerusalem (Temple) as its center. The common factor between the two terms is those who are in covenant with the covenant Lord.

God’s people are being described by John with endearing terms that have been used throughout Redemptive History. The ‘Camp of the Saints’ and the ‘Beloved City’ are simply; ‘believers’. They are the object of Satan’s attack, no matter where they are.


Fire from Heaven
The consummation is in full swing, Christ returns to execute judgment on all outside the camp. The sentence of God's wrath falls upon the unregenerate that are united against the church. The unregenerate hordes prepare to wage war on the church by surrounding her but are consumed as they gather. They prepare for battle and surround the Saints, only to be devoured by fire. No chest deep bloody battle as we had in the judgment of the Harlot in chapter 19. The only death and destruction that happens here comes from heaven as the Messiah-Warrior ends the revolt before it takes shape and begins to judge all mankind.

10And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (NASB)

The rebellion of Satan is squelched. He is not bound and imprisoned in the Abyss, only to be released after a set time. He is not to roam the Heavens nor the Earth freely or under restriction. He is sentenced to the Lake of Fire, forever and ever. God’s Kingdom is rid if its arch nemesis and will now enjoy itself in full communion with its Sovereign Lord of the Covenant.




[1] Mark Hitchcock & Thomas Ice, The Truth Behind Left Behind: A Biblical view of the End Times (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Press, 2004), p47.
[2] Mark Hitchcock, Iran: The Coming Crisis-Radical Islam, Oil, and the Nuclear Threat (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Press, 2006) pp186,187

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Life Happens.........



Well, its been a spell since I have posted so I should at least explain some of what has been going on in my world.

Nothing exciting, at least not the excitement that I prefer.
Nothing but life, and then more life, with an extra helping of life on the side, topped with a little red life on top.
In fact, I still have plenty of life going on as I type. Some of life has subsided, some has not. I have had lots of life taken away, and some of life restored. I have finished part of life, yet still have lots of life left to do. A little life, sometimes, goes and goes and goes........a long way.


OK, now that’s that out of the way. For the moment, I do in fact feel better about life. After all, if I didn’t have any, I would probably be bored..........................


I was celebrating finishing a little of life last Thursday by reading my friend Tim Brown's blog. It seems he indeed has a much larger helping of life to deal with then I. After all, I have not been falsely accused of mistreating my children. Thank you Tim for the message the other day. I appreciate it. We will talk soon. You and your family are of course in my prayers.
As I was trying to catch up on my pal from the East via the Clay Pot, I noticed I had been 'tagged' quite some time ago. I think it was Feb 2. I will comply and respond below.

My reading has been in a holding pattern. I did reread Gentry’s 'Beast of Revelation', per our discussion last fall with my super-blogin buddy, Gordan. I came away from the book thinking that the use of Church Tradition as an iron clad argument for dispelling an early date of John's Revelation is not nearly solid enough to in fact reject the early date. Sure, the preterist needs an early date, or his argument is void. But so what? If I am saved by Grace through Faith, I need the Bible to be the Word of God. I don’t believe because I want too, or because it fits my subjective desires, nor do I believe its true because belief is enough, whether its true or not. I believe because of proof. The late date tradition is one that may be the majority view in our day, but an objective look at the statements of those gone before us shows me that a case for an early date is just as viable as one for a late date within patristic evidences. Can you be a futurist and hold to an early date? Sure. Does that make it true? No, not in the least. You could not however hold to a late date, and be a preterist. Does that make a preterist understanding wrong? Of course not.

The basic premise of whether a system needs a specific date or not, is not a positive or negative for its ultimate truth, unless the record of the event it self records a date within it. Example: The Torah says it was written primarily by Moses. The document would be false if found to have been written by priests in the Babylonian captivity per the Documentary Hypothesis supporters.
Or the events within the narrative contradict other known events. Neither of which we find in the Bible. Fortunately, we have events described in John's unveiling. In fact, the very name dispels John as the unveilee. It is Christ that is unveiled, the events are described are His revealing. The question then becomes, who is He revealing Himself to?

Anyway, enough jibber jabbering.

TAGGED:

Like I said, my reading has been limited. I can’t really use Gentry as I already read it. So, I had to dig around in my head to remember what I was reading way back when. I came up with two books.

I was reading Gordan's book last summer for about 30 minutes a day during my lunch break. The reason I bought the book was not only because the blogfamous Gordan wrote it, but because of the great big Navy Submarine emblem on the cover. My dad was a submariner' and he was very proud, as I am of him, for his service beneath the dark waters of the Sea. He passed away right at 1 and a half years ago and quite frankly, that’s when 'life' as I know it now began. I can not describe how I feel now that he is gone. It is not a fleeting feeling of subjectiveness. It is a full blown feeling that has objectively changed me. I am different. Mostly in a negative way, at least inside and probably more than I know, on the outside. I am different and I really can not think of way my new psyche is good. I suppose I should keep searching.

Anyway, I don’t mean to get all weirded out. But then again, most of us don’t ever really mean too. Left is a picture of my dads boat. The USS Trutta 421. I can almost see him there.

Back to the fast paced, edge of your truck seat kind of fiction from the mind of a noble and fearless man;

Page 123, 4th sentence down through the next 3 reads:

Mark felt like he had just gone to sleep.
"No kidding? Is my mom on the phone up there?"

The second book I started actually restarted from exactly 2 years ago but not making it to my self imposed re-start cut off page.
(Half way) Gimme a break, notes excluded it is still over 600 pages! Some prolegomena!

Reformed Dogmatics; Prolegomena Vol I, Herman Bavinck (1854-1921), 2003 by the Dutch Reformed Translation Society, Baker Academic Grand Rapids MI






Page 123, beginning with the 4th complete sentence through the next 3:
"Theology arose, not from within and for the church and for the purpose of training its ministers, but prompted by and in opposition to the attacks aimed at Christianity. Naturally, knowledge of pagan philosophy was needed for such rational activity. Actually theology originated with the help of and in alliance with philosophy."



With that, I will select my taggees’. Both of which I am sure, have lots of life as well so no hurry after all it has taken me a month to even know I was tagged! (page 123 of the current books you are reading, recite the 4th sentence down, three sentences in a row.)

One is my good friend and Sunday School teacher, Chuck Kiser.

Second, my friend Brady Owens from Texas.

I would include my good friend, Clinton Briar but I think he has given up on trying to convince blog-spot that he is not a spammer! I know you’re not a spammer dude, know matter what Blog-spot says!

Thanks Tim, for luring me away from 'life'! Albeit just for a few moments!

See you all soon.



-Vassal of the great King-

Labels:

Monday, December 04, 2006

Letters from the other side




Let your loved ones know how much you really care!

Order yours today!

http://www.postrapturepost.com/





I really wonder who is to blame?



My wife and I have often been meet with the phrase "you don't believe in the Rapture!", by friends (which means their system that goes along with it and not necessarily the event itself, i.e. the resurrection). It seems orthodox is measured by the Rapture. If you have accepted Jesus and you await the Rapture, you know enough to lead a flock. I bet some circles would accept modalism before they would a non-secret rapturist.





May the Lord grant His people discernment and a desire to rightly divide His Word.





I will continue with new posts around Christmas, check back then!!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Rev 20 Part II



THE Revelation of Jesus Christ
Chapter 20
Part II
(VS 4-6)

Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

The thrones are sat upon by those to rule and reign with Christ. But who are on these thrones?

Speaking to Peter;
28And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Matt 19:28 (NASB)

The enthronement of Jesus was an integral part of His ministry. The way to the throne culminated at the cross with the subsequent exaltation to the right hand of the Father. Jesus inherited His Kingdom as a result of His triumph over God’s probation tree as the second Adam (see Tim Brown’s commentary on “Psalm 2”). It is believed Peter was martyred between the years AD 65- AD 67 under Nero. The plain (but necessary) reading would put Peter on one of these mentioned thrones here in Rev 20. Judging apostate Israel as the city of Jerusalem was trampled under by its own people first, and then ultimately destroyed by Titus and his armies in AD 70.

Paul gives some insight to the thrones as well by including the Saints.

2Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? 1 Corinthians 6:2 (NASB)

Never the less, we can not precisely know the judges and the judged, other than the righteous in Christ stading in authority over the wicked of the world.

Continuing in chapter 20, there are two lines of thinking that will both be covered from an amillennial perspective; the text reads;

And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God……...(and they came to life)


If we narrow it down to only those who have in fact became martyrs in the mentioned manner, decapitation, we would I think be missing the point1. Most commentators see this as not just a description of the martyrs, but would include all who have died in Christ.
Regardless, it is the souls that are seen here coming to life, as opposed to the ‘bodies’. This event is described as the ‘first resurrection’. Since John says that those who participate are blessed and holy, and it is the souls that come to life and not the bodies, we have two possibilities as to the meaning of the ‘First Resurrection’.

1) The reference here is speaking of those who have been raised spiritual in Christ. The regeneration by the Spirit is said to quicken the soul. Paul uses similar language when describing our new birth.

4But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together £with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

Paul very obviously uses a simile that speaks of our conversion as being ‘made alive’. He as well goes a step further by saying we are raised up with Christ in the heavenly places. Clearly, resurrection type language indeed can be used in conjunction with conversion.

The most glaring passage that would lend this 'first resurrection' to a sinner’s conversion comes from the same author as the text under review. In John chapter 5, Jesus gives an analogy between the ‘two’ resurrections. One spiritually as a sinner is saved, and another general and physical in nature.

24“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.
25“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.
26“For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; 27and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. 28“Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, 29and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment. John5:24-29 (NASB)

Jesus uses contrasting metaphors to differentiate the events. The tense in verse 25 is present, they are presently experiencing eternal life as they have been raised from death to life. The use of 'is coming' and the present tense of ‘and now is’, qualifies this first resurrection as spiritual one upon belief and repentance in line with both Ephesians 2 and Revelation chapter 20. Beleivers from then forward are included as having eternal life, and yet still obtaining it; an 'all ready, not yet' theme is introduced. The correlation should become more defined as we continue along in John 5. The exclusiveness of the first resurrection is merged into the physical resurrection in verse 28 only to be separated out again, as those who herd unto eternal life, will inherit that life. All who did not hear the voice unto life, will hear it unto judgment. The first resurrection is simply the selective conversion of the sinner, and the second is general and bodily. The thrones occupied by those who have been made alive by the Spirit would not only have the Saints reigning in the Heavenly realm, but lend credence to the rule of the Christian on Earth. Those of a dominion flavor would indeed lean in this direction.

2) The souls that come to life relate simple to those who have experienced regeneration, and upon death they are immediately ushered into the presence of the Lord. They came to life upon death. Absent from the body, present with the Lord. These ‘myrters’ upon death enter into their position of reigning with Christ. More specifically within the context of the passage (those who hold an early date for the Revelation) of the myrters ruling and judging the 12 tribes of Israel as they are dispersed umong the nations. (Mat 19).

11 It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; 12 If we endure, we will also reign with Him;
2 Tim 2:11-12a (NASB)

This understanding is simply to die is gain as the believer experiences no soul sleep; instead he is whisked into the presence of the Lord to rule and reign with Him for ‘a thousand years’.

those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand;

Also of chapter 20, we find reference to the preceding ‘Beast’, thus tying us to a sequenced event directly following chapter 19.

5The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed.

The rest of the dead would be the unbelievers who will be raised bodily unto judgment at the consummation.

This is the first resurrection. 6Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

The first resurrection referring back to the ‘New Birth’ in conversion or the position with Christ of the person upon natural death. The blessedness of the participants of the first resurrection stands in contrast to the final judgment (2nd death). Those who are born twice, die once. Those who are born once, die twice.

1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:1 (NASB)

The reign of the redeemed is not limited to 1000 years, yet is limited until the general bodily resurrection and final judgment of all men. The thousand years simply means a really long time, a time that is inaugurated at the enthronement of King Jesus, and lasts until the consummation of all things.








Footnotes:

1) Chilton here interestingly relates the term for beheading to John the Baptist specifically. He and those OT prophets he represents.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Rev 20 Part I


THE Revelation of Jesus Christ
Chapter 20
part I

Undoubtedly this chapter is the most controversial in the entire Bible. But is it really that complicated? Is there really an elaborate scheme waiting to be unwrapped? Or is the text a lot simpler than modern prophecy writers would have you to think? As Scripture as our key to unlock scripture, lets take a look at The Revelation of Jesus Christ as given to the Apostle whom He loved.

1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;
Rev 20:1-2 (NASB)

The word THEN1 will suggest a succession of the previous events from chapter 19. The white horse rider defeating Antichrist and the False Prophet is then understood chronological just prior to chapter 20. The contention of a preterist understanding of Revelation would be the preceding event was not the second coming, rather it was the conclusion to the judgment coming of Jesus against an apostate people who were cut off as the Gospel went out to the entire world. The ‘THEN’ is a natural progression from the preceding passages. The angel is not specifically said to be Christ but the authority he has is seen from his possession of the keys. Rev 1:18, Christ “has the keys of death and Hades”. Chapter 3:7, He “has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens”. The forth example from Revelation of keys we find a stark contrast to the references of Christ (or His entourage 20:1). In chapter 9:1, Satan is said to have fallen to Earth like a star from heaven and “a key to the bottomless pit was given to him”. The identity of the ‘star’ historically has been thought to be Satan, Mohammad, or even, according to the Church of Rome, the star was Martin Luther! Satan is the point I think, and that the authority of the keys were not naturally possessed; rather they were given to him. They were not his own but had to be given to him.
Along with the keys of power and authority, the Angel of Revelation 20 carried a chain in which exercise His authority as He laid hold of the Devil and bound him for a thousand years.
We are told Satan is bound and if we were to stop here, we might indeed have an idea of a physical wrapping up of Satan with the chains that are brought by the Angel. Instead, the text is conveying a lesson through the use of common, understandable terminology. Satan would be bound, not bound to the point of a non consequential existence, but rather bound from specific activities as we will see in verse 3.
The question then becomes is this an event that remains years, or even centuries into our future?
Some would say yes, it is clear by looking around at our wicked world that Satan is clearly not bound. Even the Scripture declares, “Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (I Pet 5:8).

These things are certainly true; we live in a world awaiting judgment for its wickedness. Satan indeed employs his fallen hordes to wage war on God’s people. Let’s look for a moment, into the Scriptures to determine the timing of this event, as we do, some things should as well become clear as to its nature.

21 "When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are undisturbed. 22 "But when someone stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away from him all his armor on which he had relied and distributes his plunder
Luke 11:21-22 (NASB)

The strong man is pictured as Satan and He who is stronger is Christ. Matthew records these words of Jesus;

29 "Or how can anyone enter the strong man's house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.
Matt 12:29 (NASB)
The strong man is bound and his house is plundered. The realm of Satan has been attacked by one with authority and power and he has suffered lose to his domain as his possessions are plundered. This is not an event yet to take place, Christ in His incarnation assumed the role as the desolator of Satan’s kingdom in His Earthly ministry.

28 "But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
Matt 12:28 (NASB)

The point Jesus labored was that the Kingdom had arrived and as proof that Satan had been bound, He cast out demons. This is a blatant claim to His Divinity, demons have been cast out, Satan has been bound, and therefore the Kingdom has come and He is the One to sit on its throne.
We can find assurance in our understanding as this is a prominent theme in the ministry of our Lord as something that He was to accomplish by His first coming.

17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name." 18 And He said to them, "I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning.
Luke 10:17-18 (NASB)

The very same John who penned the passage under review, recorded this in his Gospel;

31 "Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.
John 12:31 (NASB)
Jesus hints at the idea when Peter confesses Him by the power of the Holy Spirit.

I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.
Matt 16:18 (NASB)

The building of the church meant all peoples, every where.
As we think of these things, we might wonder that since this is such a major doctrinal change, moving the events of this chapter to our past from the future, the Biblical evidence should indeed come through out the New Testament by multiple writers. And indeed it does.
Paul as well carries this doctrine into his letters to the churches.
15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.
Col 2:14-15 (NASB)

The writer of Hebrews weighs in.

14 Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,
Heb 2:14 (NASB)

We can be assured that at the first coming of Christ, the Devil was bound as Christ won the victory over the cross, leaving Satan helplessly impotent to stop the spreading and success of God’s Kingdom. This brings us to ‘how long’.

and bound him for a thousand years;

If Christ bound Satan in the first century, we have some problems as we are 1,936 years past the destruction of Jerusalem, and 1,976 years the other side of Calvary. But lets simply look at the Biblical evidence and see how the number ‘thousand’ is used. First, we need to remember that this is the only book of the Bible that mentions this period of time, in fact, chapter 20 is the only chaptes in this book that this 1000 year period exists. We can hold these thousand years as wooden literal, as do the premillennialists and some postmillennialists. Or, we can see this number as a literal symbol of a very large number, or in this instance, a very long period of time.
“When this number (10) is cubed, it becomes the ultimate symbolic number of quantitative perfection.”(R. Bass Jr.)

Lets look at the Scripture to see how different phrases with the number 10 cubed (a ‘thousand’) apply to the above quote and its subsequent use in Revelation 20.

9 "Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments;
Deut 7:9 (NASB)

Surly God will extend His faithfulness to the 1001 generation.

10 "One of your men puts to flight a thousand, for the LORD your God is He who fights for you, just as He promised you.
Josh 23:10 (NASB)

Would it be possible that a thousand and one be put to flight? Absolutely! To take this number and force it to mean ‘no less’ or ‘no more’ would be a hermeneutical travesty, as well it would be in our next passage also.
7 A thousand may fall at your side And ten thousand at your right hand, But it shall not approach you.
Psalms 91:7 (NASB)

And again from Isaiah

23 And it will come about in that day, that every place where there used to be a thousand vines, valued at a thousand shekels of silver, will become briars and thorns.
Isaiah 7:23 (NASB)

Is not the wooden literal meaning of these passages to take the numbers symbolically? If we take into account the nature of apocalyptic literature as related to Biblical poetry and imagery, the answer is as obvious as the day is long.
(see also Ex 20:6; Deut 1:11,32:30; Jos 23:10; Job 9:1; Ps 50:10, 84:10,90:4,105:8; Ecc 7:28; Isa 30:17; 60:22; 2 Pet 3:8)

In the context of the New Testaments usage of the binding of the strong man, we have also gleaned from those passages what in fact happens as a result of Satan’s binding.
3and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.
Rev 20:3 (NASB)

The ‘abyss’ is literally the ‘the bottomless pit’, ‘the deep’.

We think of a place such as this as being a place where Satan is rendered inapt to carry out his activity in the world. But he is not placed in the lake of fire as were the beast and the false prophet, which comes later. Yet in the abyss, he is specifically kept from the stated activity. The text clearly points out; “not deceive the nations any longer”.

Up until now, very small amounts of the world’s population were recipients of God’s covenant of Grace. God had called out for Himself a specific people through the descendants of Abraham. He brought this ethic people to a very small sliver of land that ultimately all the peoples of the Earth would be blessed. God indeed was going to bless all nations by calling for Himself a people from every tribe and tongue. Jesus spoke of the “sheep of another fold” that He would bring to Himself and make one people from the two folds. The gentiles would here and believe.
When speaking of this passage, David Chilton writes; “Before the coming of Christ, Satan controlled the nations; but now his death-grip has been shattered by the Gospel, as the good news of the Kingdom has spread throughout the world. The Lord Jesus sent the Apostle Paul to the Gentiles nations ‘to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, in order that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in me’.”2 (Act 26:18)

Olive branches being grafted in, as the fruitless branches were being broken off and burned. No longer could Satan keep the peoples of the world from being drawn into the family of God. The Gospel intrinsically has the power to over come the sin blinded minds of the world. Satan has been defeated, and the promise to Abraham was a reality.
Footnotes:
1 Although, there remains some objection to asserting this claim in conjunction to this type of literature. A chronological sequence by using the strict sense of 'then' and related words could be dangerous. In this case however, it seems to relate back to the previous events in chapter 19 but remains considerably less than dogmatic.

2 David Chilton , after suffering a heart attack and subsequent coma, converted to full preterism and thus denied the historic Christian faith. Full preterism is considered a dangerous heresy by changing the nature and timing of the resurrection. This doctrine alone is not the extent of its reach. Other major concerns arise, such as the doctrine of justification, from this heresy. Never the less, Chilton wrote all his major works from an orthodox preterist position and I believe insight can be gained through them.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

II Peter 2 and Universal Atonement


II PETER 2



1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.
2 Peter 2:1 (NASB)


This passage was used by a friend as proof against the reformed understanding of soteriology, so I want to examine the reasons for further exegesis of this passage than that of what might be called “a plain reading interpretation”.

For example; the plain reading might be understood by saying the following: “The false teachers denied Jesus who had redeemed them with His blood”; equaling, Universal Atonement. Or, “They lost their salvation even though Jesus died for them on the cross”; equaling, Unsecured salvation.


These types of interpretations present us with the need to exegete the passage further. This need arises because of the obvious contradictions that the above understanding would indeed cause with other areas of Scripture. The result of a universal atonement meaning of this verse devastates’ other areas of basic Christian theology. I will try to explain.


Even the most hard core libertarian free will advocate believes that the benefits of Christ’s atonement do not take effect until the person “accepts Christ”. In other words, the tenants of the atonement, i.e. propitiation (to turn aside wrath), ransomed or redeemed (payment of penalty), Expiation ( covering of sin) and reconciliation (satisfaction for sin or satisfied after being wronged enabling parties to unite) are not applied to the sinners account until that sinner exercises faith, repentance, and belief in Jesus (the Calvinist simply believes this happened at the cross and the very blood of Jesus guarantees the sinners conversion in the fore mentioned manner), any way, as concerning this text as being used to advocate a general atonement you have the participants actions as clues to the meaning. That is, you have false teachers who were never in the family of God, never “accepting Jesus”, in fact, the text says they did just the opposite, they denied Him. If the word bought here means, “bought redemptively with His blood” these benefits of this ‘buying’ were not applied to their account because they DENIED Him instead of “accepting Him”. They secretly came into the church for the whole purpose of expounding false doctrine. It isn’t that they were saved, and then they were not saved. They never were, they were false and never were true believers, only in the church for the sole purpose of destroying it. Surely they were tares among the wheat. If they never were part of Christ’s true church, they never would receive the previously discussed benefits of the atonement. This is very important to understand. Also, they were destroyed by judgment as stated in the passage. If a general atonement is meant in this passage, than all the passages that teach eternal security would have to be reinterpreted (John 3:36; 5:24; 6:39; 10:28-29; Rom. 8: 38-39; Eph. 1:13-14). Then you have some being ’owned receptively’ yet are later destroyed. Even further in this passage the text proves this. In verse 9, Peter says God knows how to rescue His own from temptation. He knows how to rescue His own, yet the false teachers are destroyed because they were not then, nor never were “His own”. In the end, this passage MUST mean something totally different then “bought = all benefits of Atonement” in order to flow with the continuity of Scripture as a whole, even if the person exegeting does in fact believe in a general atonement, this verse does not support his theology, and in fact, contradicts. For these very reasons, further study of the verse is needed to discover the possible meanings other than that of a universal atonement. Please understand, I am not saying that the Bible does not teach a universal atonement (when you know I believe it indeed doesn’t) I am simply trying to show that this verse cannot be used in support of a general atonement and if it is, it causes far more troublesome reverberations to the holder of eternal security that it does to the particular redemptionist.


I believe further enquiry of two keys words within the text should bring about a couple of interpretative possibilities.

First, the Greek word for bought, agorazo, in its usage in the NT means to buy or purchase an object. It portrays actual possession and ownership of the object paid for. The owner of said object has complete authority over as he exerts his ownership. A few instances, agorazo is used to reference individuals rather than objects (I Cor7:23). At first glance, these two seem to be synonymous with the meaning of the verse we are exploring. But, as I hope we shall see, they are similar yet vastly different. The important thing to remember is that this word conveys complete ownership, which again would bring into question the redeeming of these individuals with blood, bringing about all the factors of the atonement to the individual, and than ultimately destroying them for their sin. This same word, used in a salvific sense is changed to its variant of exagorazo, which means the “ransoming out of something” (Gal. 3:13; 4:5). Yet, its New Testament usage for conveying acquirement of an object is agorazo, which is what is used in this passage under scrutiny. So how can these false teachers have been owned by the
Sovereign, yet destroyed for their heresies? I hope to show this below. 1

The second word that requires our attention, despotes is the word translated master in the NASB and lord in most others. It is used else where in the N.T. depicting a master over his servants or slaves. If, in this text it means “Jesus Christ” it would be unique in that regard as it is not used else where to signify Jesus. Although, master or lord in its ultimate sense is the one with supreme authority and this is in fact Jesus, so that is a violable possibility indeed and we will return to that possibility below.


But false prophets also arose among the people,

Peter here is describing the rise of false prophets in times past of the Jewish nation. Moses gave qualifications of a prophet and warned the people that some would speak in the name of the Lord without being from the Lord.

Deut 13:1-3 (NASB)
1 "If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, 'Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,' 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

Deut 18:20-22 (NASB)
20 'But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.' 21 "You may say in your heart, 'How will we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?' 22 "When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.

just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies

To Peter and his readers, false preachers and teachers were nothing new. So it was in the days of old, so it is in Peter’s day. The world is constantly seeking to sneak in and destroy the family of God. (see also Jude 4, Act 20:29-30) The key part of this passage is in the ‘secret ness’ of the false teachers. There was no regenerate heart of a Christian, accidentally teaching incorrectly but rather they were engaged in deceit and wickedness, acting covertly and where never part of the family of God. They were deceptive and sought to supplant the truth with false doctrines.


even denying the Master who bought them


Possibility #1a

As we look at the controversial section of this passage lets not forget Peter’s use of Jewish history, particularly the Pentateuch of Moses and how he has in fact already referenced it in verse 1a. Also note worthy is that Peter is the Apostle to the Jews as stated by Paul in Gal 2:7-8.
With this in mind, as well as the opening verse of Peter’s first letter, we can determine that at least some if not all his readers were Jews.

The second letter is linked to the first by way of 2 Peter 3:1

2 Peter 3:1 (NASB)
1 This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you, in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder,

To a Jewish mind, and Peter’s continual reference to the Torah, it is very possible that Peter’s intention once again is likening the false teachers of his day to those of Moses’. As the children of Israel were redeemed from Egypt they were said to be ‘bought’ by God the Father. Peter may simply be saying that these false teachers were teaching heresies denying God who bought them as a people. Meaning the Jewish nation as a whole as being purchased by God as His own.

Ex 15:16 (NASB)
16 "Terror and dread fall upon them; By the greatness of Your arm they are motionless as stone; Until Your people pass over, O LORD, Until the people pass over whom You have purchased.

But, we know that from this people who were purchased as God’s own in the Old Testament, only a small portion of them, called a remnant, were actually saved redemptively. So you have a people purchased out of Egypt who not all are saved. So you have these Jews, who Peter refers to them as being ‘bought’, yet they are not in the ransomed group of regenerate believers, rather they are ravenous wolfs seeking to destroy. We know this is possible because Paul tells us that not all Israel is of Israel and His purpose of election does not save everyone.

Romans 9:6 (NASB)
6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel;

So basically I am saying that despotes hear means Yahweh of the Old Testament and being bought is another way of addressing a Jew and identifying him as someone who has not embraced the Messiah but rather have set out to destroy those who have. The possibilities of this could have support lent to it from the various other texts that speak of the Judizers who pervert the Gospel.


Possibility #1b

Gnostics as well might be the root cause of these heresies. They rejected the God of the Old Testament as creator of the universe had a tendency to antinomianism perverting the grace of God by seeking out desires of the flesh and relishing in them (the rest of the chapter lays out this proposal). This to me is a better possibility then that of the focus being Judaizers, yet these Gnostics could have been Jews or Gentiles. But the point being that they were visible members of the New Covenant community (church) yet they were never apart of God’s invisible church or the true covenant members who had received the New Birth and resurrection of life into the New and better Covenant. They were the tares among the wheat.


Possibility #2

This possibility has to do with Jesus as the focus of the word despotes (master/lord). As mentioned above, this would be the only place where despotes is used in the New Testament to signify Jesus Christ.
Let’s assume it is in fact Jesus Christ. As Christ set out to accomplish His work on the cross, the work that was delegated from before the very foundation of the world, the rule and governing of all things was in sight. A significant aspect of His resurrection and ascension is that He is seated at the right hand of the Father, ruling with all power and authority. Allot of commentators today give Christ authority over only His church, but I believe, and will try to show He in fact has authority of all of creation.

First, let’s look at the great Commission in Matthew 28

Matt 28:17-20 (NASB)
17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. 18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

Jesus states “All authority over heaven and earth”. Some attribute Jesus as Heavenly King yet Satan is the god of this world. Christ stated this after His resurrection and just before His heavenly enthronement to the right hand of the Father. This great event, spoken of by the Profit Daniel as well gives us insight to the kingship of Christ over creation.

Dan 7:13-14 (NASB)
13 "I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. 14 "And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one

This is the very event spoke of Jesus on the Mount of Olives as recorded in Matthew 24,(Luke 21, Mark 13)

30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory (KJV)

The Son of Man is in Heaven enthroned with all power and authority. Anticipating the cross, and subsequent Ascension to the Father as heir of all things, Jesus says in John 17:1-2, a passage that indeed fits the motif of His authority as a result of His finished work of redemption.


1Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, 2even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life.


Notice something very important here, Jesus has been given all authority by the Father, here and in the previously looked at passages, yet separated from all things (including all men every where) are those whom He has been giving to redeem. This is very important. God the Father, as a result of the finished work of God the Son incarnate, gave Jesus all power and authority over all things, yet He as well gave Him a remnant to redeem and bestow His Sovereign Grace upon from which He will loose none. This shows the act of Atonement brought about ownership of all things and all people, yet only atoning for the sins of those given Him to redeem by the Father. This aspect of the ministry of Christ is often doctrinally passed over. Among the great doctrines associated with the passion of Christ, this one should be the over arching theme by way of the enthronement and kingship earned by His obedience at God's probation tree.


Conclusion

Taking this passage to show universal atonement, yet holding on to a secure salvation is problematic indeed. The typical Baptist once saved always saved-universal atonement type theology is rendered faulty by anything greater than a cursory look at the above passage. Although some may take issue with my proposals, they are far more viable then a simplistic reading of the passage. To be fair, the 5 point Armenian will have the lest problem with this verse, yet as we understand, this verse must be looked at within the complete confines of the Scripture.


Foot Notes
1) The Greek word agorazo in this section is adapted from a word study done by Clinton Briar.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Gospel according to Abraham

As we have been looking at and comparing the covenant structure of the Ancient Near East to the Biblical text we have found similarities that show the important context and mindset of the fathers of faith that lived so long ago. But none of which speak louder or proclaim the Gospel message as does the following text from Gen 15 and a look ahead to a greater revealing of the binding subject from Gen 22.

My intent is to shed light on what is a obscure and very neglected event in redemptive history found in the life of Abram as God made covenant with him, by His own choosing, to glorify Himself in the promises thereof.


Abram Promised a Son Gen 15:1-18 NASB

1After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying,
“Do not fear, Abram,
I am a shield to you;
Your reward shall be very great.”

2Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will You give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3And Abram said, “Since You have given no offspring to me, one born in my house is my heir.” 4Then behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.” 5And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness. 7And He said to him, “I am the LORD who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess it.” 8He said, “O Lord GOD, how may I know that I will possess it?” 9So He said to him, “Bring Me a three year old heifer, and a three year old female goat, and a three year old ram, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, and laid each half opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds. 11The birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away.

12Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him. 13God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. 14“But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions. 15“As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age. 16“Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.”
17It came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces. 18On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying,
“To your descendants I have given this land,
From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates:


Covenant Structure:

We again find aspects of our presupposed structure of ancient treaties between a vassal and a suzerain. I will list them as they are found in the text.

Vs 1A PREAMBLE:
The Lord by His Word introduces Himself to Abram with power and dread (do not fear)

Vs 1b BLESSINGS:
He tells Abram of the blessings of faithfulness as He calms Abrams fears from His presence

Vs 2-6 STIPULATIONS:
The actual agreement, or action promised is given to the vassal.

Vs 7-8 HISTORICAL PROLOUGE:
Yahweh proclaims the historical past to the vassal Abram as proof of the Suzerains’ Faithfulness to the vassal in their past relationship. By doing so, proof was laid of the Great Kings Faithfulness to come.

Vs 11-12 COVENANT RATIFACATION:
This previously uncovered aspect of the Covenant structure deals with the ratification of the contract. The blood of the blood oath if you will. In times past, after the contract with all its parts were finished, in order to seal the agreement, a sacrifice was made in the fashion we see here. The ANE’ern culture used mostly puppies and dogs with the colt of a donkey being used in covenants of higher status or importance. Here, Abram was given instructions to use the animals acceptable to Yahweh in the years to follow after the Law was given to Moses, thus mirroring the Levitical system of atonement. The act of splitting the animals is where we get the word covenant, literally meaning ‘to cut’ (berith) a covenant. In the pagan cultures as well as the Hebrews, the animals were lined up in the form of a passage, with the participants enter circling the pieces of the slain animals swearing there own disembowelment if they break covenant with the opposite party as they went through the rite of passage. Abram entered into this dreadful scene by way of a deep sleep where great darkness once again fell upon him as Yahweh entered into a solemn oath of death, if He were to break covenant with His vassal. This ‘way’ of death brought great terror upon Abram as he witnessed this Theophic death march by the Great King, who had called Abram out of the land of Ur.

Vs 13-16 STIPULATIONS cont.:
Abram is reminded of the covenant being ratified. Remember, this chapter began as Abram was questioning Yahweh’s promise of descendants made earlier.

2 And I will make you a great nation,
And I will bless you,
And make your name great;
And so you shall be a blessing;
3 And I will bless those who bless you,
And the one who curses you I will curse.
And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”
Gen 12:1-3 NASB


In chapter 15:13 Yahweh says, “know for certain your descendants will…….”, ‘descendants’ means a ‘son’. So Yahweh here is restating verse 4b; ….but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.” So ‘descendants’ mean a ‘son’, and a ‘son’ means ‘descendants’ or ‘nation’. But we will see, the promise moves from the singular to the plural back to the singular and ending in the plural, all within this covenant.

Vs 17: Witness’
Yahweh enters in the death march as a smoking fire pot or oven and a torch. Within the structure of the treaty, it was sometimes practiced to call the oven and torch as witness’s where a sacrifice would not be made as witness to the blood oath aspect of the covenants participants. Here, Yahweh evokes both the sacrifice and the witness’s in one eerie ceremony. Also, as pointed out about the Levitical animals being used here by Yahweh with Abram, the smok from the oven symbolizes the cloud-pillar as well the torch shows the fiery pillar that stood watch as Yahweh’s legs as a witness before the people of Israel. As pointed out by many commentators of the reformed tradition, Abram is a by stander as Yahweh alone binds Himself to the blood oath. The ramifications of this act are monumental indeed. Here God swears as His own witness, binding the curses upon Himself, as if He could die. The powerful ANE’ern custom is provoked by Yahweh to show His sovereignty in bringing about the promise. In the times of antiquity, after a battle, as the defeated troops returned home the path was leaden with the bodies of the slain war machines. Both men and beast were arranged to allow the troops to pass through the death trail as a right of passage to come home in defeat. At the end of the death passage, a curtain with a ritual sprinkling was performed as they passed through the veil, cleansing them from the battle. All these images are present here in this powerful display of the promise to come. Later, after the promised son was granted, Yahweh gives further insight in Gen 22 that indeed sheds light on His own death march here in Chapter 15. The symbolism is rich as Isaac, Abrahams only son climbed the hill with the wood upon his back to the mount of ratification. Abraham remember this event in chapter 15 as he sought to obey the command of the very Suzerain-Lord who had bound Himself to His own death if He failed to bring about the promise. Here in chapter 22, Yahweh stops the killing of the promised son and it is proclaimed that the Lord will provide. He will follow through with His oath and He leaves us a blood smeared image of the promise fulfilled in Isaac, and the residual promise to all the peoples of the Earth through Christ, who bore the wood upon His back to the place where the Lord will provide.

Conclusions:

We see here that not only was Yahweh binding Himself upon His own death if He breaks the covenant, but in fact we see that in order to keep the very promise He made, He must die.

As Yahweh passed between the pieces, it was a vivid symbol of the death march by Christ as He endured the curse and walked the way of death in our steed. The promise ratified becomes the reality of the curse upon His own shoulders to bring in the blessing of all the families of the Earth through Abrahams seed.


Covenant made, covenant keep, all by our Suzerain-Lord, as He made the promise as the Great King, and in time became the Vassal to fulfill His own blood oath that all men will be drawn into the ever lasting covenant of grace, bound as aires to the Vassals faithfulness, and sealed with His presence, forever.