Wednesday, December 31, 2008

conforming

It is not enough for people to simply hear what they want to hear, rather, they must conform to what God commands. ~ C. Matthew McMahon, A Heart for Reformation.

HT:DC

another old people joke

I'm reading old people jokes for some reason and this one struck me as being demonstrative of typical communication between people of all ages.

Three old guys are out walking.
First one says, ‘Windy, isn’t it?’
Second one says, ‘No, it’s Thursday!’
Third one says, ‘So am I. Let’s go get a beer.’

At least the three were friends; it seems this level of listening is even more common between those criticizing each other.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

old people humor

An elderly couple had dinner at another couple’s house, and after eating, the wives left the table and went into the kitchen.
The two gentlemen were talking, and one said, ‘Last night we went out to a new restaurant and it was really great. I would recommend it very highly.’
The other man said, ‘What is the name of the restaurant?’
The first man thought and thought and finally said, ‘What is the name of that flower you give to someone you love?
You know… The one that’s red and has thorns.’
‘Do you mean a rose?’
‘Yes, that’s the one,’ replied the man. He then turned towards the kitchen and yelled, ‘Rose, what’s the name of that restaurant we went to last night?’

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jesus in contrast

As I was catching up on some reading yesterday I found the typical Rick Warren hate/criticism stuff. The most recent triggers being his discussion with Melissa Etheridge and his accepting the invitation to pray for Barack Obama. As always, I'll preface this with the obligatory "I am not a Purpose Driven Fan".

To start with, most of the assaults were simply ignorant or angry - these I summarily dismiss. Others were thoughtful but sounded like, "if I were Warren, here's what I would have done." These caused me to think what I would do in Warren's position. Then it occurred to me that while it is good to ask ourselves what we might do in these situations, I wonder why we do that in regard to the likes of Warren rather than Jesus. I guess because we can conclude that we can be right in contrast to the Warren but not right when we come up different than Jesus. It seems to me that honest introspection regarding life's situations can be good but the bulk of the Warren (and others) analysis flows from a very wrong heart.

Coincidentally, I also read Luke 15 yesterday. It took much longer than I expected to cover the first three verses (Lk 15.1-3). As I read I was struck with Jesus' reply - a parable. Here is a crowd in need. All of these sinners gathered around and he tells some kind of story about a runaway son ... or is it the loving father? My thoughts were that He should have shared the message of the cross. He should confront their sin. He should explain who He was and their need for him. Yep - that's what I would have done.

Then I thought, no, that's not right, he needs to confront those religious leaders. Where do they get off being critical of Him?

And as I pondered this I had to remember this was Jesus and that He was right. I realized that what He said to whom He said it at the time He said it in the way that He said it was perfect. This caused me to look deeper into the parable. It is wonderful. Jesus is clearly not on the side of the sinners but He more clearly not on the side of the false leaders. In this parable He confronts both groups but is most clear in regard to the the elder brother who represents those that claim to follow the rules yet fail in love and relationship.

Notice that the sinners were attracted to Him while the religious were offended. This is a common theme (Luke 7& 19, John 3-4, cf Mt 21.31). Do we condone the sinner? Absolutely not, these are in desperate need. But we must confront the religious and I have to say that much of what I read against the likes of Warren is religion speaking. Rick Warren is not Jesus but neither are those critical of him. Would I do things different than Warren, yes? But then God hasn't chosen to place me in the position of Warren - and I'm sure there's a reason for that. And quite possibly because I would do things different than Warren.

So the bigger question is if I'm doing what I should be doing where God has placed me? Likely not but hopefully some. One thing I'm pretty sure of is that what He isn't calling a lot of people to do is to be critical of Warren and others.

Monday, December 29, 2008

age to come

The central and simple message of the New Testament is that the promised age to come has dawned, the promised victory over what has emptied life of meaning and filled it with confusion and dismay has been won. . . . Were it not for the resurrection, Paul suggests, abandoning ourselves to a life of empty party-making and a fatalistic sense of doom would be quite logical.

There is no hope in ‘this age.’ It lies under the judgment of God. It is all, despite its brilliance, now dying. It has no future. It can offer many pleasurable experiences, many momentary distractions, but it is doomed. It has no long-term future and can offer no meaning besides what it manufactures for the moment, which is as fleeting as the morning mist. ~ David F. Wells, The Courage to Be Protestant

HT:FE

Sunday, December 28, 2008

the gospel

In Death by Love, Mark Driscoll paints this clear picture of the Gospel based on 1 Cor 15.1-4:

The gospel is continual, in that we must continually be reminded of it; proclamational, in that it must be preached to us often, including preaching it to ourselves; personal, in that we must personally receive it in faith; essential, in that we must continually cling to it alone for the assurance of our salvation; central, in that it is the most important truth in all the world; eternal, in that it is passed on from one generation to the next without modification by religion; Christological, in that it is about the person and work of Jesus Christ alone; penal, in that the wage for sin - death - was paid; substitutional, in that Jesus' death on the cross was literally in our place for our sins; biblical, in that it is in agreement with and the fulfillment of all Scripture; and eschatological, in that the resurrection of Jesus reveals to us our future hope of resurrected eternal life with him.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

joy over satan

Mark Driscoll provides these four practical steps to continue walking in joy over Satan and demons. It's not about a formula but the steps are worth heeding.

  • Jesus is your shield. The psalms often speak of God as our shield; remaining under Jesus Christ is your only place of safety. Therefore, the key is to walk continually and closely with Jesus, and if you should stray from under his shield to return quickly in repentance.
  • Continue in fellowship with faithful Christians who love Jesus and who will speak with you as hones friends. You will be a blessing to them as you share the things that Jesus has taught you, and they will be a blessing to you by speaking loving truth into your life and praying for you. It is no coincidence that Jesus was most tempted by Satan when he was alone. If you become isolated from God's people, you are leaving yourself open to spiritual attack. Therefore, remain actively involved in Bible-based, lovingly honest, accountable relationships, because it is indeed not good to be alone.
  • Do note be unduly fearful of Satan or demons. Satan is called a serpent, and demons are like snakes. They are dangerous only if you pick one up or provoke one to bite. Jesus' perfect love and kingdom victory on the cross are sufficient for you to overcome excessive fear of Satan and demons.
  • Pray offensively for protection and wisdom before the demonic attacks come. Too often, Christians pray defensively only when trouble comes. Reference; Psa 18; 27; 31; 35; 83; Mt 4.4-10.

calvin mask

In preparation for John Calvin's 500th birthday on 10 July, I'm sure you will want to get an early start cutting out your very own Calvin mask.

HT:FS

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Friday, December 26, 2008

redemption

Jesus died for our freedom ... the following is from Christ on the Cross by Mark Driscoll.

Redemption is synonymous with being liberated, freed, or rescued from bondage and slavery to a person or thing. ... The prototype for redemption is not the pagan slave market, but rather the deliverance of God’s people from slavery and tyranny under Pharaoh also known as the Exodus. There, God liberated His people but in no way paid off the satanic Pharaoh but rather simply crushed him. Exodus 6:6 “Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment.”Other verses providing the Exodus as the prototype of redemption include Exodus 15:1-18, Deuteronomy 7:8 and 15:15, 2 Samuel 7:23, 1 Chronicles 17:21, Isaiah 51:10, and Micah 6:4.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

o come

I've been loving the music of Josh Garrels ... here he is with Trace Bundy singing O Come O Come Emmanuel.


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conscience

They are certainly entitled to think that, and they're entitled to full respect for their opinions, but before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience. ~ Atticus Finch, in "To kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee

jesus christ is born

Sheri Carr wants us to Go Tell It On the Mountain.



Peter Cockrell encourages us with the following:

’Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated, ’God with us’ —Matthew 1:23

Oswald Chambers - My Utmost For His Highest;

His Birth in History. “. . . that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God ( Luke 1:35 ). Jesus Christ was born into this world, not from it. He did not emerge out of history; He came into history from the outside. Jesus Christ is not the best human being the human race can boast of— He is a Being for whom the human race can take no credit at all. He is not man becoming God, but God Incarnate— God coming into human flesh from outside it. His life is the highest and the holiest entering through the most humble of doors. Our Lord’s birth was an advent— the appearance of God in human form.

His Birth in Me. “My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you . . .” (Galatians 4:19 ). Just as our Lord came into human history from outside it, He must also come into me from outside. Have I allowed my personal human life to become a “Bethlehem” for the Son of God? I cannot enter the realm of the kingdom of God unless I am born again from above by a birth totally unlike physical birth. “You must be born again” ( John 3:7 ). This is not a command, but a fact based on the authority of God. The evidence of the new birth is that I yield myself so completely to God that “Christ is formed” in me. And once “Christ is formed” in me, His nature immediately begins to work through me.

God Evident in the Flesh. This is what is made so profoundly possible for you and for me through the redemption of man by Jesus Christ.

Kim Riddlebarger add some technical information to clarify what's going on here.

From the Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 14

35. What is the meaning of “conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary?”

That the eternal Son of God, who is and continues true and eternal God,[1] took upon Himself the very nature of man, of the flesh and blood of the virgin Mary,[2] by the operation of the Holy Spirit;[3] so that He might also be the true seed of David,[4] like unto His brethren in all things,[5] except for sin.[6]

[1] Jn 1:1-4, 10:30-36; Rom 1:3-4, 9:5; Col 1:15-17; 1 Jn 5:20; [2] Mt 1:18-23; Jn 1:14; Gal 4:4; Heb 2:14; [3] Mt 1:18-20; Lk 1:35; [4] 2 Sam 7:12-16; Ps 132:11; Mt 1:1; Lk 1:32; Rom 1:3; [5] Php 2:7; Heb 2:17; [6] Heb 4:15, 7:26-27

36. What benefit do you receive from the holy conception and birth of Christ?

That He is our Mediator,[1] and with His innocence and perfect holiness[2] covers, in the sight of God, my sin,[3] wherein I was conceived.[4]

[1] 1 Tim 2:5-6; Heb 2:16-17, 9:13-15; [2] Rom 8:3-4; 2 Cor 5:21; Gal 4:4-5; 1 Pt 1:18-19; [3] Ps 32:1; 1 Jn 1:9; [4] Ps 51:5

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

jesus verses santa

Compare and contrast Jesus and Santa ...

bad news, santa is coming

I tried to resist posting this because so many others already have but I can't help it, this video by John Piper is excellent. Bad news - Santa Claus is coming to town. Good News - Jesus Christ laid down His life for His sheep and we can freely come to Him.

christmas sadness

3132425149 Ed0A0Be5C9

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christlessness

There really is no place for Christ in many people’s Christianity. Their faith is not actually in Christ; it is in Christianity and their ability to live it out. This kind of ‘Christianity’ is really about shadow glories of human knowledge and performance. It does not require the death to self that must always happen if love for Christ is going to reign in our hearts. ~ Paul David Tripp, A Quest for More

HT:FE

sexists

If you are a sexist, click here to see the story of the perfect couple.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

grace

Jesus has all authority (Mt 28.18) yet in this age we see the Devil at work everywhere. We are faced with two kingdoms in conflict but soon one will come to an end when Jesus returns in His glory. Until then, the authority of the Kingdom of God invading the earth is seen only by faith (Eph 1.17-23).

By grace we are citizens of His Kingdom. We no longer obey Satan's orders, satisfy his desires, or live as his captives. We are children of the light. Yet many are still captive to the Dragon and rebel against God and His people.

What are we to do? Live in a worthy manner (Col 1.10-14) and receive His grace that comes through His victory on the cross for us. His light must shine through us to a lost and dying world so that by grace, in this time of travail, more would enter into the rest of His Kingdom.

hell yes

This Chrismahanukwanzakah for Virgin Mobile video reminded me of why I stopped reading some emergent blogs. Not all, but some began leaning toward universalism. Some have even redefined love and then redefined God in light of that. It simply got to be too much of an aberration - perhaps heresy. I opted to find food elsewhere.

Before I go on, here's the video.



The video has nothing to do with hell, it just reminded me that the folks I reference above are on a bad path. They rightly question the nature of hell, atonement, wrath, etc., because there are so abuses of these concepts. But they have some wrong premises so their logic takes them off course. Conversely, Martin Downes confronts some wrong notions about hell but does so in a Scriptural rather than romanticized manner.

Many suggest hell is being by yourself for ever or a separation from God. Downes points us to an R.A. Finlayson's quote.

Hell is spending eternity in the presence of God. Heaven is spending eternity in the presence of God, with a mediator.

The reason we think of hell as separation from God is due to verbiage such as Jesus' "depart from me" (Mt 7.21-23; 25.41). But isn't God omnipresent (1 Ki 8.27; Jer 23.23-24)? We cannot escape God (Psa 139.7-10; Amos 9.1-4; Acts 17.24-28). so how do we reconcile that? Throughout Scripture sinners are sent from God's presence (Gen 4.14, 16; Jer 7.15; 15.1; 23.39; 52.34; 2 Kin 17.18-23). Isaiah clarifies that it is our iniquities that separate us from God (Isa 59.2).

Downes suggests that we should not play these against each other. We need to think about God's spatial and God's relational presence. Certainly we agree that being in His presence is not a matter of geography (John 4:20-24). Why then do we imagine that if we are commanded to depart from God's presence, it is in a spatial manner? It is not. We cannot physically go somewhere He is not. Instead, God hides His face from us (Isa 59:2; cf. Num. 6:25).

The summation Downs presents is powerful. Using the Westminster Larger Catechism Q29.

Q. 29. What are the punishments of sin in the world to come?

A. The punishments of sin in the world to come, are everlasting separation from the comfortable presence of God, and most grievous torments in soul and body, without intermission, in hell-fire forever. (emphasis added)

Hell is not spatial separation from God, it cannot be because God is omnipresent. No, Hell is separation from the comfortable presence of God. It is the unshielded experience of the presence of God in his holiness and just wrath, and the absence of his mercy and grace.

Excellent! Thanks be to God that He provided a mediator.

This is where those emergent friends I mentioned earlier get it and yet do not get it. They rightly understood that hell is really not a spatial separation from God. But they somehow wonder if the wrath of God is love. They sadly posit that hell may be a place where people suffer because they are wondering how God could still love them. No, hell is a place where an unrighteous being is being eternally seared without insulation by the presence of The Righteous One. There is no restorative work (as some presume) in hell. It is terminal eternal.

my eye

The eye with which I see God is the same with which God sees me. My eye and God's eye is one eye, and one sight, and one knowledge, and one love. ~ Meister Eckhart, Sermon IV

clarifying free will

I'm often amazed at the drive of the defenders of "free will". I love many "Arminians" but the logic escapes me in addition to what I see as the Scriptural gap. I find that the issue typically boils down to one of defining terms. Once we define the term free we find that they really do not mean free, that they agree with me, and then these wonderful friends of mine become frustrated with themselves. Ultimately throwing up their hands and they say something to the effect of, "yeah, well, we're still free to choose." Then I chuckle.

Here is A.W. Tozer from God's Pursuit of Man.

God has made us in His likeness, and one mark of that likeness is our free will. We hear God say, "Whosoever will, let him come." We know by bitter experience the woe of an unsurrendered will and the blessedness or terror which may hang upon our human choice. But back of all this and preceding it is the sovereign right of God to call saints and determine human destinies. The master choice is His, the secondary choice is ours. Salvation is from our side a choice, from the divine side it is a seizing upon, an apprehending, a conquest of the Most High God. Our "accepting" and "willing" are reactions rather than actions. The right of determination must always remain with God.

God has indeed lent to every man the power to lock his heart and stalk away darkly into his self-chosen night, as He has lent to every man the ability to respond to His overtures of grace, but while the "no" choice may be ours, the "yes" choice is always God's. He is the Author of our faith as He must be its finisher. Only by grace can we continue to believe; we can persist in willing God's will only as we are seized upon by a benign power that will overcome our natural bent to unbelief.

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christmas wonderment

I hope the wonderment of Christmas is still there for you ...

“The idea that God, if there is a force of Logic and Love in the universe, that it would seek to explain itself is amazing enough. That it would seek to explain itself and describe itself by becoming a child born in straw poverty, in shit and straw…a child… I just thought: “Wow!” Just the poetry … Unknowable love, unknowable power, describes itself as the most vulnerable. There it was. I was sitting there, and it’s not that it hadn’t struck me before, but tears came streaming down my face, and I saw the genius of this, utter genius of picking a particular point in time and deciding to turn on this.” ~ Bono

HT:JD

Monday, December 22, 2008

the gospel by keller

The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time. It undermines both swaggering and sniveling. I cannot feel superior to anyone, and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone. I do not think more of myself nor less of myself. Instead, I think of myself less. ~ Timothy Keller

HT:JH

Sunday, December 21, 2008

new friend

Laura dropped by so I visited her blog Changing Lenses for A Better View. Here's a great quote and a funny video. I love both.

In the perspective of every person lies a lens through which we may better understand ourselves. ~ Ellen J. Langer


Saturday, December 20, 2008

born in bethlehem

Third Day ... Born in Bethlehem ...

the good doctor on righteousness

"Christians are people who have been declared righteous by God, who know that justification is by faith only, and that God 'justifieth the ungodly' (Romans 4:5). They believe all Paul's arguments in the first five chapters of Romans. This is how Christians think of righteousness; not little details here and there but this whole matter of their standing before God and the declaration of God that He "accounts" them as righteous.

Not only that, Christians believe that they have been clothed with the righteousness of Jesus Christ, that God has put this "robe of righteousness upon them" (Isaiah 61:10). They know they have been born again, 'born of the Spirit'. They now belong to the realm of righteousness, whereas before they did not.

Here is a man who has a conception of righteousness; he wants to be rid of everything that is wrong; he wants to be wholly right, he is interested in holiness.

Do you see the point? The righteous are unconcious of their righteousness. That is the glory of their whole position. I trust I am making this clear to you. Christians are righteous in themselves because they have been brought into the kingdom of God and the realm of righteousness".

Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones ~ Romans: Exposition of Chapter 14:1-17 - Liberty and Conscience

HT:DB

Friday, December 19, 2008

god for us

God is the one Being in the entire universe for whom self-centeredness, or the pursuit of his own glory, is the ultimately loving act. For him, self-exaltation is the highest virtue. When he does all things ‘for the praise of his glory,’ he preserves for us and offers to us, the only thing in the entire world, which can satisfy our longings. God is for us, and therefore has been, is now and always will be, first, for himself. I urge you not to resent the centrality of God in his own affections, but to experience it as the fountain of your everlasting joy. ~ John Piper

HT:SOS

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

the gospel of the kingdom

The task of God’s people is to make known the good news of God’s renewed reign over the entirety of creation. Christ’s kingly authority extends over the whole world. God’s mission is equally comprehensive: to embody the good news that Jesus again rules over marriage and family, business and politics, art and athletics, leisure and scholarship, sex and technology. Since the gospel is a gospel of the kingdom, that mission is as wide as creation. ~ Michael Goheen and Albert M. Wolters, Creation Regained

HT:OFI

remember - this is in regard to the Gospel of the Kingdom not the Gospel of the Cross.

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love to christ

In vain do we seek to awaken our churches to zeal in evangelism as a separate thing. To be genuine it must flow from love to Christ. It is when a sense of personal communion with the Son of God is highest that we shall be most fit for missionary work, either ourselves or to stir up others. ~ Archibald Alexander

HT:RV

god's feminine side

Here's the preview to Rob Bell's recent Nooma | 021 ,,, She.



I like Jerry Hillyer's response to those who cannot imagine God's feminine side.

I think the reason some are afraid of a ‘feminine’ [and there's a big difference between saying 'feminine God' and 'female God'] God is because we haven’t been properly instructed in Scripture. Truth be told, those who think God looks (or acts or is shaped) like a man have a woefully inadequate understanding of God who is Spirit. Truth be told, those who think God looks (or acts or is shaped) like a woman have a woefully inadequate understanding of God who is Spirit. Truth be told, those who cannot imagine God as either, both, and neither have a woefully inadequate picture of the Holy God who will not be limited by the imagination that he built within us in the beginning. Why is this so hard to understand?

What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

the two age model

The following are some key points regarding the two age model as proffered by Kim Riddlebarger.

Biblical Texts Which Speak of “This Age”

  • Matthew 12:32 - There is no forgiveness for blasphemy against the Holy Spirit
  • Matthew 24:3 - The end of the age will be preceded by signs
  • Matthew 28:20 - Christ will be with us until the end of the age
  • Luke 18:30 - There are material rewards given to us in this life
  • Luke 20:34 - The people of this age marry and are given in marriage
  • Mark 10:30 - The present age is an age of homes, fields, and families
  • Romans 12:2 - We are not to be conformed to the pattern of this world (age)
  • I Corinthians 1:20 - Philosophy is the wisdom of this age
  • I Corinthians 2:6-8 - Wisdom and rulers are of this age
  • II Corinthians 4:4 - Satan is the god of this age who has blinded the minds of men and women
  • Galatians 1:4 - The present age is evil
  • Ephesians 1:21 - Christ reigns in present age
  • Ephesians 2:2 - The ways of this world (age) are evil
  • I Timothy 6:17 - Those who are rich in this age, are not to hope in their wealth for the next
  • Titus 2:12 - We are to live Godly lives in the present age
In every instance the qualities associated with “this age” are temporal in nature. These texts describe the
present course of history before the return of Christ and are things which pass away at his return.

Biblical Texts Which Speak of the “Age to Come”

  • Matthew 12:32 - No forgiveness for blasphemy against the Holy Spirit
  • Matthew 13:40 - The weeds will be thrown into the fire
  • Mark 10:30 - Eternal life as a reward
  • Luke 18:30 - Eternal life as a reward
  • Luke 20:35 - No marriage or giving in marriage
  • I Corinthians 6:9-10 - Evil doers will not inherit the kingdom of God
  • I Corinthians 15:50 - Flesh and blood will not inherit the kingdom of God
  • Galatians 5:21 - Those who live evil lives will not inherit the kingdom
  • Ephesians 1:21 - Christ will reign in age to come
  • Ephesians 5:5 - Immoral people will not inherit kingdom of God
  • I Thessalonians 2:12 - We are encouraged to live lives worthy of the kingdom
  • II Thessalonians 1:5 - Faith will count you worthy of the kingdom of God
  • I Timothy 6:19 - The coming age has life that is truly life
  • II Timothy 4:18 - The Lord will bring us to kingdom of God
In marked contrast to “this age” the qualities assigned to the age to come are all eternal (or non-temporal)
in nature. These references are clearly describing the future eschatological state of believers (and non-
believers if you factor in the references to judgment).

The Line of “Demarcation” Between the Two Ages

  • Matthew 13:39 - The harvest is the end of the age, and the angels are the harvesters
  • Matthew 13:40 - The weeds will be burned in the fire at the end of the age (judgment)
  • Matthew 13:49 - The angels will separate the wicked from the righteous

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burger king

I found this video fascinating. Some were moved with compassion and thought Burger King used poor judgement if not arrogance. I can see how that may be possible but my take was more fascination with what I interpreted as fascination by those in the video. I am reminded of the things we so often take for granted - ranging from material goods to communications to concepts and worldview. I found this a good reminder that in many ways it is I that is the odd one out.

great salvation

From In Christ Alone by Sinclair Ferguson:

"Before all time; prior to all worlds; when there was nothing "outside of" God Himself; when the Father, Son, and Spirit found eternal, absolute, and unimaginable blessing, pleasure, and joy in Their holy triunity -- it was Their agreed purpose to create a world. That world would fall. But in unison -- and at infinitely great cost -- this glorious triune God planned to bring you (if you are a believer) grace and salvation.

This is deeper grace from before the dawn of time. It was pictured in the rituals, the leaders, and the experiences of the Old Testament saints, all of whom longed to see what we see. All this is now ours. Our salvation depends on God's covenant, rooted in eternity, foreshadowed in the Mosaic liturgy, fulfilled in Christ, enduring forever. No wonder Hebrews calls it "so great a salvation" (Heb. 2:3).

Early in your Christian life, you thought salvation was "great," didn't you? Do you still think about it that way today?"

HT:CL

holiday checklist

Here's your holiday checklist "courtesy of Paul T. Apostle (1 Thes. 5:12-22)" via David Rudd.

Holiday+Checklist

Monday, December 15, 2008

who is deceived?

In Rev 20.1-4, Satan is bound so that he might not deceive the nations. At the end of the thousand years he is once again release to deceive culminating in a great revolt and a final judgement.

Now, for the pre-millennialists in the crowd, if the thousand years begins after the second coming, who are those that are deceived and revolt?

Bear in mind, the amillennial view is that there are not people in unresurrected bodies on earth after our Lord's return (Mt 13.37-43; 24.30-31; and 25.31-46). This age has come to an end at that point. All things fallen and temporal have now passed. Those who belong to Christ have been raised to resurrection life and those not His sent into the fires of eternal judgment.

It is because of this perspective that the amillennialist would insist that the pre-millennialist is suggesting a second fall. To my understanding, the pre-millennialist gets around this through a rigid interpretation of Re 20.5 ... overlooking Jn 5.24-25 that tells us the first resurrection is at conversion.

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the end of the age

The harvest of wheat will be the end of the age (Mt 13.39-40, 49-50). Premillennialists argue that this judgment occurs at the end of the millennial age. As I understand it this would require two resurrections separated by a one-thousand-year period. But Mt 25.31-32; cf. Mt 13.40-43 interpreted literally indicate that judgement occurs at the time of our Lord's return. As I read it, the resurrection (1 Co 15.35-57; 1 Thess 4.13-5.11; 2 Thess 1.5-10), the restoration of all things (2 Pet 3.3-15), and the judgment occur at the same time (chart here).

Add to that resurrection of the just (Rev 20.4-5 with Jn 5.24-25) and the unjust (Dan 12.2; Jn 5.29; Acts 24.15; and Rev 20.12).

All of this will be in the future (2 Thess 2.2) and sudden (1 Thess 5.2). Here our sinful nature will be destroyed (1 Cor 5.5) and all will be made new (Ro 8.21; 2 Pet 3.10) at that last trumpet (1 Cor 15.52).

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

christmas classics

Album+CopyIn case you still haven't found the perfect gift for that special someone in your life, I invite you to consider From Us to You by Vince & Sarah Palin-Black. As I understand it you can get a free download each day but after Christmas these will only be available on iTunes for $.99 ... hurry now to avoid the download rush. Here is yesterday's and today's links.

god is not like us

John Piper declares that God isn't grateful - at least not in the sense that we expect it to be expressed. Lk 17.7-10 indicates that the master does not thank the servant when the servant does what is expected. Instead the servant should be grateful to simply be a servant invited to serve at the master's table. I can see how some may construe this to be a negative image but I don't see it. While I believe He is pleased when we honor Him, my attitude is sheer joy just in the ability to serve the Almighty God.

Friday, December 12, 2008

charts i like

Michael Patton is a sharp guy when it comes to a lot of stuff. In his post Where I Stand On All Things a couple of months ago, he asked his readers to place seven "issues" on the chart below.

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The issues along with Patton's placement of them are as follows (with 1 = essential for salvation, 2 = essential for orthodoxy, etc.):

1. Belief in the full deity of Christ - 1
2. Belief in sola fide (belief that salvation is by faith alone, without the addition of any works) - 2
3. Belief in the existence of God - 1
4. Belief in the pre-tribulational rapture of the Church -4
5. Belief that the witch of Endor saw the Spirit of Samuel, not a demonic representation (1 Sam. 28:15) - 5
6. Belief in inerrancy (that the Bible does not have any errors in doctrine, history, or science - 3
7. Belief that believers, upon death, go to directly into the presence of Christ, not into a state of spiritual unconsciousness until the resurrection (i.e. you deny soul-sleep) - 2

As simple as that seems I couldn't do it. Not because I didn't know what I thought of the issues but I couldn't connect with Patton's categories. I tend to prefer Michael Wittmer's approach found in his interview with Justin Taylor to categorize Christian beliefs. Plus I do better with the fewer categories as follows:

(1) what they must believe
(2) what they must not reject
(3) what they should believe


Dsb,+What+Christians+Believe

1. Belief in the full deity of Christ - 1
2. Belief in sola fide (belief that salvation is by faith alone, without the addition of any works) - 2
3. Belief in the existence of God - 1
4. Belief in the pre-tribulational rapture of the Church - oops, need a category for "wrong".
5. Belief that the witch of Endor saw the Spirit of Samuel, not a demonic representation (1 Sam. 28:15) - and one for "I don't know".
6. Belief in inerrancy (that the Bible does not have any errors in doctrine, history, or science - 3
7. Belief that believers, upon death, go to directly into the presence of Christ, not into a state of spiritual unconsciousness until the resurrection (i.e. you deny soul-sleep) - 3

What about you? Which chart do you like? Do you have a better approach? And how do you see these seven issues?

need motivation?

Here it is, the ultimate movie motivation speech.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sunday, December 07, 2008

substitution

The concept of substitution may be said, then, to lie at the heart of both sin and salvation. For the essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man. Man asserts himself against God and puts himself where only God deserves to be; God sacrifices himself for man and puts himself where only man deserves to be. Man claims prerogatives which belong to God alone; God accepts penalties which belong to man alone. ~ John Stott, The Cross of Christ

fred thompson on economy

Happy Holiday season from Fred Thompson ... 'nough said ...

boss or father

How can the inner workings of the heart be changed from a dynamic of fear and anger to that of love, joy, and gratitude? Here is how. You need to be moved by the sight of what it cost to bring you home. The key difference between a Pharisee and a believer in Jesus is inner-heart motivation. Pharisees are being good but out of a fear-fueled need to control God. They don’t really trust him or love him. To them God is an exacting boss, not a loving father. Christians have seen something that has transformed their hearts toward God so they can finally love and rest in the Father. ~ Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God

HT:OFI

Saturday, December 06, 2008

context

Prodigal Jon writes this interesting piece in regard to sports myths Christians like.

1. Saying you love Jesus after a big win is always a good thing.

If you're neighbor came over one day and asked you "Hey, your lawn looks great! What's your secret?" and you replied, "Well, first I'd like to give praise to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Without Him grass wouldn't even exist!" What would happen? Even if you followed up with, "I use a weed and feed every March and August and spray for grubs in July", would your neighbor even be listening anymore? Chances are he'd be so caught off-guard by your impromptu confession of faith that he'd be backpedaling faster than an all-pro cornerback in man-to-man coverage.

Like it or not, context IS important. Yes truth is always truth, but context matters. Plus, there's also something to be said for respecting the reporter who is trying to do their job and actually answering the question you were asked. I'm not saying athletes should never bring faith into the conversation, I'm just saying there's more to sharing your faith than saying Jesus' name whenever a microphone is shoved in your face. Too often it comes across as nothing more than a cheesy soundbite, and for every Christian who hears it and pumps their fist in approval, there's probably 50 other folks who roll their eyes and change the channel.

Apply how you like ...

Friday, December 05, 2008

logos

Logos for Mac is now shipping! Now there is no excuse to look up the verses. This is a complete revolution in Bible study on the Mac!

:-)

And don't miss that 25% discount in December with coupon code Christmas08.

as much or more?

Mike Wittmer asks, "How long can we practice Christian ethics and enjoy Christian conversation once we have given up our quest for the 'right interpretation of Scripture'? Can we live Christianly if we do not believe Christianly?" I think not at all. What do you think?

Wittmer's corresponding anecdote is all too familiar.

This week I had a conversation with a friend who is somewhere in the Emergent field. At one point in our discussion he said, “You probably aren’t going to like this, but I value the conversation more than being right.”

What troubles me about his comment is the phrase “more than.” If “conversation” reflects the ethical, relational side of the Christian faith and “being right” stands in for doctrine, then he essentially said that he values ethics more than Christian doctrine.

This snapshot crystallizes the problem I have with my Emergent friends. I do not understand why my friend did not stop at “as much as.” We all agree that Christian ethics matter as much as doctrine, for faith without works is dead. But once we say “more than,” we open ourselves to false beliefs that will destroy not only the Christian faith, but eventually the Christian ethics that my friend so wants to protect.

for men for christmas

I think men are supposed to watch this ... beware of the doghouse.


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chocolates for the elect

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In celebration of John Calvin's 500th birthday, these irresistible chocolates are being made available.

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

what child

R. Fowler White writes the following in response to "what child is this?"

He is the Son of God who became a servant of God that we who were servants of sin might become sons and daughters of God. He is the Child who was born to make us heirs of His Father.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

days left

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Somehow my birthday slipped by last week and I failed to number of days (Psa 90.10). So that I might have wisdom (Psa 90.12), I'm doing that now.

As of 20 November 2008, I have lived 17166 days. If I live until 70, I have only 8401 left. If I am very fortunate, I will live 12054 more days. Statistics however predict 9497.

amilchart

This is it - the last thing I needed to sway me to amillennialism ... a chart. The decoder ring I have indicates that the chart is communicating that the resurrection of the dead, the final judgement, the cosmic renewal, etc. will all be at one time, i.e., the day of the Lord - Jesus' return! Cool ... that dog will hunt.
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the fall of a nation

While Geoff and I discuss the concept of the role of government in abating global evil, John Piper points to what I think is the real and more fundamental issue with the US government.

We have built no temple but the Capitol. We consult no common oracle but the Constitution.

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

suffering

We have to learn to climb the hill called Calvary, and from that vantage-ground survey all life’s tragedies. The cross does not solve the problem of suffering, but it supplies the essential perspective from which to look at it. ~ John Stott, The Cross of Christ

first wife and mother

In my opinion, good news out of the Obama camp ... Michelle Obama, an accomplished woman by any standard, "... will devote herself first and foremost to being the wife of the President and the mother of their children. She is willingly and eagerly choosing the role of "First Mom." She will not practice law and she will not be actively involved in policy development ..." This of course comes not without controversy but from my point of view, I like it.

Monday, December 01, 2008

death by love

Deathbylove1Because no one is born into this world with a theology, each generation must rediscover the truths of Scripture for itself. In doing so it must labor to connect the unchanging answers of God's Word with the ever-changing questions of its culture. Sometimes this project is successfully undertaken, and the result is a glorious resurgence of a faithful and fruitful Christian church. Sometimes this project is unsuccessfully undertaken, and the tragic result is false teaching that renders the church impotent to see the power of the gospel unleashed because she either has a false Jesus or is embarrassed by the real one. ~ Mark Driscoll in the preface to Death by Love

implications of amillennialism

I love Anthony Hoekema's summary of the implications of amillennial eschatology [emphasis mine].

1) What binds the Old and New Testaments together is the unity of the covenant of grace. Amillennialists do not believe that sacred history is to be divided into a series of distinct and disparate dispensations but see a single covenant of grace running through all of that history. This covenant of grace is still in effect today and will culminate in the eternal dwelling together of God and his redeemed people on the new earth.

2) The kingdom of God is central in human history. That kingdom was predicted and prepared for in Old Testament times, was established on earth by Jesus Christ, was extended and expanded both in New Testament times and during the subsequent history of the church, and will finally be consummated in the life to come.

3) Jesus Christ is the Lord of history. This means that all of history is under Christ’s control and will ultimately prove to have been subservient to his purpose. We must therefore be concerned not just with enjoying the blessings of our salvation but also with joyfully serving Christ as Lord in every area of our lives.

4) All of history is moving toward a goal: the total redemption of the universe. History is not meaningless but meaningful. Though we are not always able to discern the meaning of each historical event, we know what the ultimate outcome of history will be. We eagerly look forward to the new earth as part of a renewed universe in which God’s good creation will realize finally and totally the purpose for which he called it into existence: the glorification of his name.

All this implies that regarding world history, amillennialists adopt a position of sober or realistic optimism. Belief in the present rule of Christ, in the presence of God’s kingdom and in the movement of history toward its goal is accompanied by a realistic recognition of the presence of sin in this world and of the growing development of the kingdom of evil. Amillennial eschatology looks for a culmination of apostasy and tribulation in the final emergence of a personal Antichrist before Christ comes again. Amillennialists do not expect to see the perfect society realized during this present age.

Yet, since we know that the victory of Christ over evil was decisive and that Christ is now on the throne, the dominant mood of amillennial eschatology is optimism — Christian optimism. This means that we view no world crisis as totally beyond help and no social trend as absolutely irreversible. It means that we live in hope — a hope that is built on faith and that expresses itself in love.

Amillennial eschatology, therefore, gives us a realistic, yet basically optimistic world-and-life view. It is an eschatology which is exciting, exhilarating and challenging. It is an eschatology which gives us an inspiring vision of the lordship of Christ over history and of the ultimate triumph of his kingdom.

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amillennialism and the tribulation

Randy Noblog recently asked about amillennialism and the tribulation. Here's what I found. Regarding the period of tribulation, Amillennialism does not see this as a future period. Amillennialism is not entirely united regarding the proper interpretation of the tribulation (just as Dispensational Premillennialism is not united on the timing of the Rapture relative to the Tribulation). Two interpretations worth considering are:

1) the Tribulation was something that took place during the time this letter was written (compare Rev. 1:9; 2:9,10,22)

2) the Tribulation is characteristic of all life in the millennium.

In both cases, Amillennialism agrees with the Post-Tribulational-Rapture Dispensational view that Christians must endure the Tribulation.

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future eschatology

Anthony Hoekema writes that amillennialism affirms the following in regards to future eschatology:

1. The “signs of the times” have both present and future relevance. Amillennialists believe that the return of Christ will be preceded by certain signs: for example, the preaching of the gospel to all the nations, the conversion of the fullness of Israel, the great apostasy, the great tribulation and the coming of the Antichrist. These signs, however, must not be thought of as referring exclusively to the time just preceding Christ’s return. They have been present in some sense from the very beginning of the Christian era and are present now. This means that we must always be ready for the Lord’s return and that we may never in our thoughts push the return of Christ off into the far-distant future.

Amillennialists also believe, however, that these “signs of the times” will have a climactic final fulfillment just before Christ returns. This fulfillment will not take the form of phenomena which are totally new but will rather be an intensification of signs which have been present all along.

2. The Second Coming of Christ will be a single event. Amillennialists find no scriptural basis for the dispensationalist division of the Second Coming into two phases (sometimes called the parousia and the revelation), with a seven-year period in between. We understand Christ’s return as being a single event.

3. At the time of Christ’s return, there will be a general resurrection, both of believers and unbelievers. Amillennialists reject the common premillennial teaching that the resurrection of believers and that of unbelievers will be separated by a thousand years. They also reject the view of many dispensationalists that there will be as many as three or four resurrections (since, in addition to the two resurrections just mentioned, dispensationalists also teach that there will be a resurrection of tribulation saints and a resurrection of believers who died during the millennium). We see no scriptural evidence for such multiple resurrections.

4. After the resurrection, believers who are then still alive shall suddenly be transformed and glorified. The basis for this teaching is what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52: “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed” (NIV).

5. The “rapture” of all believers now takes place. Believers who have just been raised from the dead, together with living believers who have just been transformed, are now caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thess. 4:17). That there will be such a “rapture” the Bible clearly teaches. But I have put the word rapture between quotation marks in order to distinguish the amillennial conception of the rapture from the dispensationalist view. Dispensationalists teach that after the rapture the entire church will be taken up to heaven for a period of seven years while those still on earth are undergoing the great tribulation.

Amillennialists see no scriptural evidence for such a seven-year period or for a transference of the church from earth to heaven during that period. Risen and glorified bodies of believers do not belong in heaven but on the earth. The word translated “to meet” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 (apantesis) is a technical term used in the days of the New Testament to describe a public welcome given by a city to a visiting dignitary. People would ordinarily leave the city to meet the distinguished visitor and then go back with him into the city. On the basis of the analogy conveyed by this word, all Paul is saying here is that raised and transformed believers are caught up in the clouds to meet the descending Lord, implying that after this meeting they will go back with him to the earth.

6. Now follows the final judgment. Whereas dispensationalists commonly teach that there will be at least three separate judgments, amillennialists do not agree. The latter see scriptural evidence for only one Day of Judgment which will occur at the time of Christ’s return. All men must then appear before the judgment seat of Christ.

The purpose of the final judgment is not primarily to determine the final destiny of men since by that time that final destiny has already been determined for all men except those still living at the time of Christ’s return. Rather, the judgment will have a threefold purpose: First, it will reveal the glorification of God in the final destiny assigned to each person; second, it will indicate finally and publicly the great antithesis of history between the people of God and the enemies of God; and third, it will reveal the degree of reward or the degree of punishment which each shall receive.

7. After the judgment the final state is ushered in. Unbelievers and all those who have rejected Christ shall spend eternity in hell, whereas believers will enter into everlasting glory on the new earth. The concept of the new earth is so important for biblical eschatology that we should give it more than a passing thought. Many Christians think of themselves as spending eternity in some ethereal heaven while the Bible plainly teaches us that there will be a new earth. When the book of Revelation tells us that the holy city, the new Jerusalem, will come down from heaven to the new earth (2 1:2), that God will now have his dwelling with men (21:3) and that the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the new Jerusalem (22:3), it is teaching us in figurative language that in the life to come heaven and earth will no longer be separated but will have merged. In the final state, therefore, glorified believers will be both in heaven and on the new earth, since the two shall then be one.

When one keeps the vision of the new earth clearly in mind, many biblical teachings begin to form a significant pattern. As we have seen, the resurrection of the body calls for a new earth. The cosmic significance of the work of Christ implies that the curse which came upon creation because of man’s sin (Gen. 3:17-19) shall some day be removed (Rom. 8:19-22); this renewal of creation means that there will indeed be a new earth. The Bible also contains specific promises about the new earth. We have already looked at Isaiah’s prediction of the new earth in 65:17 (see 66:22). Jesus promised that the meek shall inherit the earth (Mt. 5:5). Peter speaks of new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness shall dwell (2 Pet. 3:13). And the elders and living creatures whom John sees in the heavenly vision recorded in Revelation 5 sing a song of praise to the victorious Lamb which includes these words, “You have made them [those whom you purchased with your blood] to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:10, NI V).

In the light of biblical teaching about the new earth, many Old Testament prophecies about the land of Canaan and about the future of the people of God fall into place. From the fourth chapter of the book of Hebrews we learn that Canaan was a type of the Sabbath-rest of the people of God in the life to come. From Paul’s letter to the Galatians we learn that all those who are in Christ are included in the seed of Abraham (Gal. 3:29). When we read Genesis 17:8 (“And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land of thy sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God” [ASV]) with this understanding of the New Testament broadening of these concepts, we see in it a promise of the new earth as the everlasting possession of all the people of God, not just of the physical descendants of Abraham. And when, in the light of this New Testament teaching, we now read Amos 9:15 (“And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be plucked up out of their land which 1 have given them, saith Jehovah thy God” [ASV]), we do not feel compelled to restrict the meaning of these words to national Israel and the land of Palestine. We understand them to be a prediction of the eternal dwelling of all God’s people, Gentiles as well as Jews, on the new earth of which Canaan was a type. Amillennialists therefore feel no need for positing an earthly millennium to provide for the fulfillment of prophecies of this sort; they see such prophecies as pointing to the glorious eternal future which awaits all the people of God.

When premillennialists therefore charge amillennialists with teaching a future kingdom which is only spiritual and which has nothing to do with the earth, they are not representing the amillennial view correctly. Amillennialists believe that Old Testament prophecies which predict that the land of promise shall be the everlasting possession of the people of God, that the wolf shall dwell with the lamb and that the earth shall be as full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea, shall be fulfilled not just for a thousand-year period but for all eternity! This interpretation, we believe, gives us a richer, wider and more relevant understanding of those prophecies than that which restricts their meaning to a description of an earthly millennium which shall precede the final state.

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inaugurated eschatology

Anthony Hoekema writes that amillennialism affirms the following in regards to inaugurated eschatology:

1. Christ has won the decisive victory over sin, death and Satan. By living a sinless life and by dying on the cross as the sacrifice of atonement for our sin, Christ defeated sin. By undergoing death and then victoriously rising from the grave, Christ defeated death. By resisting the devil’s temptations, by perfectly obeying God, and by his death and resurrection, Christ delivered a deathblow to Satan and his evil hosts. This victory of Christ’s was decisive and final. The most important day in history, therefore, is not the Second Coming of Christ which is still future but the first coming which lies in the past. Because of the victory of Christ, the ultimate issues of history have already been decided. It is now only a question of time until that victory is brought to its final consummation.

2. The kingdom of God is both present and future. Amillennialists do not believe that the kingdom of God is primarily a Jewish kingdom which involves the literal restoration of the throne of David. Nor do they believe that because of the unbelief of the Jews of his day Christ postponed the establishment of the kingdom to the time of his future earthly millennial reign. Amillennialists believe that the kingdom of God was founded by Christ at the time of his sojourn on earth, is operative in history now and is destined to be revealed in its fullness in the life to come. They understand the kingdom of God to be the reign of God dynamically active in human history through Jesus Christ. Its purpose is to redeem God’s people from sin and from demonic powers, and finally to establish the new heavens and the new earth. The kingdom of God means nothing less than the reign of God in Christ over his entire created universe.

The kingdom of God is therefore both a present reality and a future hope. Jesus clearly taught that the kingdom was already present during his earthly ministry: “But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Mt. 12:28, NIV). When the Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God was coming, he replied, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, `Lo, here it is!’ or `There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you” (Lk. 17:20-21). But Jesus also taught that there was a sense in which the kingdom of God was still future, both in specific sayings (Mt. 7:21-23; 8:11-12) and in eschatological parables (such as those of the Marriage Feast, the Tares, the Talents, the Wise and Foolish Virgins). Paul also makes statements describing the kingdom as both present (Rom. 14:17; 1 Cor. 4:19-20; Col. 1:13-14) and future (1 Cor. 6:9; Gal. 5:21; Eph. 5:5; 2 Tim. 4:18).

The fact that the kingdom of God is present in one sense and future in another implies that we who are the subjects of that kingdom live in a kind of tension between the “already” and the “not yet.” We are already in the kingdom, and yet we look forward to the full manifestation of that kingdom; we already share its blessings, and yet we await its total victory. Because the exact time when Christ will return is not known, the church must live with a sense of urgency, realizing that the end of history may be very near. At the same time, however, the church must continue to plan and work for a future on this present earth which may still last a long time.

Meanwhile, the kingdom of God demands of us all total commitment to Christ and his cause. We must see all of life and all of reality in the light of the goal of the redemption not just of individuals but of the entire universe. This implies, as Abraham Kuyper, the renowned Dutch theologian and statesman, once said, that there is not a thumb-breadth of the universe about which Christ does not say, “It is mine.”

This total commitment further implies a Christian philosophy of history: All of history must be seen as the working out of God’s eternal purpose. This kingdom vision includes a Christian philosophy of culture: Art and science, reflecting as they do the glory of God, are to be pursued for his praise. The vision of the kingdom also includes a Christian view of vocation: All callings are from God, and all that we do in everyday life is to be done to God’s praise, whether this be study, teaching, preaching, business, industry or housework.

A common source of tension among evangelicals today is the question of whether the church should be primarily concerned with evangelism or social and political action. A proper kingdom vision, it seems to me, will help us to keep our balance on this question. Needless to say, evangelism — bringing people into the kingdom of God — is one of the essential tasks of the church. But since the kingdom of God demands total commitment, the church must also be vitally concerned about the implementation of Christian principles in every area of life, including the political and the social. Evangelism and social concern, therefore, must never be thought of as options between which Christians may make a choice; both are essential to full-orbed kingdom obedience.

3. Though the last day is still future, we are in the last days now.

This aspect of eschatology, which is often neglected in evangelical circles, is an essential part of the New Testament message. When I say, “we are in the last days now,” I understand the expression “the last days” not merely as referring to the time just before Christ’s return, but as a description of the entire era between Christ’s first and second comings. New Testament writers were conscious of the fact that they were already living in the last days at the time they were speaking or writing. This was specifically stated by Peter in his sermon on the day of Pentecost when he quoted Joel’s prophecy about the pouring out of the Spirit upon all flesh in the last days (Acts 2:16-17). He was thus saying in effect, “We are now in the last days predicted by the prophet Joel.” Paul made the same point when he described believers of his day as those “upon whom the end of the ages has come” (1 Cor. 10:11). And the Apostle John told his readers that they were already living in “the last hour” (1 Jn. 2:18). In the light of these New Testament teachings, we may indeed speak of an inaugurated eschatology, while remembering that the Bible also speaks of a final consummation of eschatological events in what John commonly calls “the last day” (Jn. 6:39-40, 44,54; 11:24; 12:48).

The fact that we are living in the last days now implies that we are already tasting the beginnings of eschatological blessings—that, as Paul says, we already have “the first fruits of the Spirit” (Rom. 8:23). This means that we who are believers are to see ourselves not as impotent sinners who are helpless in the face of temptation but as new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), as temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19) and as those who have decisively crucified the flesh (Gal. 5:24), put off the old self and put on the new (Col. 3:9-10). All this involves having an image of ourselves which is primarily positive rather than negative. It also involves seeing fellow Christians as those who are in Christ with us and for whom we should therefore thank God.

4. As far as the thousand years of Revelation 20 are concerned, we are in the millennium now. Earlier in the chapter evidence was given for the position that the thousand years of Revelation 20 extend from the first coming of Christ to just before his Second Coming, when Satan will be loosed for a short time. The amillennial position on the thousand years of Revelation 20 implies that Christians who are now living are enjoying the benefits of this millennium since Satan has been bound for the duration of this period. As we saw, the fact that Satan is now bound does not mean that he is not active in the world today but that during this period he cannot deceive the nations — that is, cannot prevent the spread of the gospel. The binding of Satan during this era, in other words, makes missions and evangelism possible. This fact should certainly be a source of encouragement to the church on earth.

Amillennialists also teach that during this same thousand-year period the souls of believers who have died are now living and reigning with Christ in heaven while they await the resurrection of the body. Their state is therefore a state of blessedness and happiness, though their joy will not be complete until their bodies have been raised. This teaching should certainly bring comfort to those whose dear ones have died in the Lord.
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iron hand

"Terrorism should be struck down with an iron hand." ~ Hema Malini

Now there's a thought ...

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reftagger