This is a message from the 2012 Shepherds’ Conference and delivered by Dr. Steve Lawson. The text is from 1 Corinthians 2.
This is a message from the 2012 Shepherds’ Conference and delivered by Dr. Steve Lawson. The text is from 1 Corinthians 2.
This is the final part of the analysis of the 19th century theological invention known as dispensationalism. Part 9 can be found here: http://defendingcontending.com/2014/01/18/95-theses-agai…onalism-part-9/ Following are the final 15 theses from the NiceneCouncil.com’s concise but thorough examination of the critical errors with the theological system known as dispensationalism. Dispensationalism is, like most other systems, not comprised of a monolithic group who all believe alike. So please bear in mind this series in not an attack on any person, but an examination of a system. I pray to God that this series has been received as an effort in being honest and humbler Bereans, examining a system beloved by many, but resting on the imaginations of men.
81. Despite the dispensationalists’ attempt to re-interpret Ezekiel’s prophecies of a future sacrificial system by declaring that they are only “memorial” in character, and are therefore like the Lord’s Supper, the prophecies of that temple which they see as being physically “rebuilt” speak of sacrifices that effect “atonement” (Ezek. 43:20; 45:15, 17, 20); whereas the Lord’s Supper is a non-bloody memorial that recognizes Christ as the final blood-letting sacrifice.
82. Despite the dispensationalists’ commitment to the Jews as important for the fulfillment of prophecy and their charge of “anti-Semitism” against evangelicals who do not see an exalted future for Israel (Hal Lindsey), they are presently urging Jews to return to Israel even though their understanding of the prophecy of Zech 13:8 teaches that “two-thirds of the children of Israel will perish” (Walvoord) once their return is completed.
83. Contrary to dispensationalism’s populist argument for “unconditional support” for Israel, the Bible views it as a form of Judeaolotry in that only God can demand our unconditional obligation; for “we must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29); and God even expressly warns Israel of her destruction “if you do not obey the Lord your God” (Deut 28:15, 63).
84. Contrary to dispensationalism’s structuring of history based on a negative principle wherein each dispensation involves “the ideas of distinctive revelation, testing, failure, and judgment” (Charles Ryrie), so that each dispensation ends in failure and judgment, the Bible establishes a positive purpose in redemptive history, wherein “God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him” (John 3:17) and “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.” (2 Cor 5:19a).
85. Despite dispensationalism’s pessimism regarding the future, which expects that “the present age will end in apostasy and divine judgment” (Walvoord) and that “almost unbelievably hard times lie ahead” (Charles Ryrie), Christ declares that He has “all authority in heaven and on earth” and on that basis calls us actually to “make disciples of all the nations” (Matt 28:18-20).
86. Despite the tendency of some dispensationalist scholars to interpret the Kingdom Parables negatively, so that they view the movement from hundredfold to sixty to thirty in Matt 13:8 as marking “the course of the age,” and in Matt 13:31-33 “the mustard seed refers to the perversion of God’s purpose in this age, while the leaven refers to the corruption of the divine agency” (J. D. Pentecost), Christ presents these parables as signifying “the kingdom of heaven” which He came to establish and which in other parables he presents as a treasure.
87. Despite dispensationalism’s historic argument for cultural withdrawal by claiming that we should not “polish brass on a sinking ship” (J. V. McGee) and that “God sent us to be fishers of men, not to clean up the fish bowl” (Hal Lindsey), the New Testament calls Christians to full cultural engagement in “exposing the works of darkness” (Eph 5:11) and bringing “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor 10:4-5).
88. Despite dispensationalism’s practical attempts to oppose social and moral evils, by its very nature it cannot develop a long-term view of social engagement nor articulate a coherent worldview because it removes God’s law from consideration which speaks to political and cultural issues.
89. Despite the dispensationalists’ charge that every non-dispensational system “lends itself to liberalism with only minor adjustments” (John Walvoord), it is dispensationalism itself which was considered modernism at the beginning of the twentieth century.
90. Despite the dispensationalists’ affirmation of the gospel as the means of salvation, their evangelistic method and their foundational theology, both, encourage a presumptive faith (which is no faith at all) that can lead people into a false assurance of salvation when they are not truly converted, not recognizing that Christ did not so quickly accept professions of faith (e.g., when even though “many believed in His name,” Jesus, on His part, “was not entrusting Himself to them.”—John 2:23b-24a).
91. Despite the dispensationalists’ declaration that “genuine and wholesome spirituality is the goal of all Christian living” (Charles Ryrie), their theology actually encourages unrighteous living by teaching that Christians can simply declare Christ as Savior and then live any way they desire. Similarly, dispensationalism teaches that “God’s love can embrace sinful people unconditionally, with no binding requirements attached at all” (Zane Hodges), even though the Gospel teaches that Jesus “was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine’” (John 8:31) and that he declared “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27).
92. Despite the early versions of dispensationalism and the more popular contemporary variety of dispensationalism today teaching that “it is clear that the New Testament does not impose repentance upon the unsaved as a condition of salvation” (L. S. Chafer and Zane Hodges), the Apostle Paul “solemnly testifies to both Jews and Greeks repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21).
93. Contrary to dispensationalism’s tendency to distinguish receiving Christ as Savior and receiving him as Lord as two separate actions, so that saving faith involves “no spiritual commitment whatsoever” (Zane Hodges), the Bible presents both realities as aspects of the one act of saving faith; for the New Testament calls men to “the obedience of faith” (Rom 16:26; James 2:14-20).
94. “Despite dispensationalism’s affirmation of “genuine and wholesome spirituality” (Charles Ryrie), it actually encourages antinomianism by denying the role of God’s law as the God-ordained standard of righteousness, deeming God’s law (including the Ten Commandments) to be only for the Jews in another dispensation. Dispensationalists reject the Ten Commandments because “the law was never given to Gentiles and is expressly done away for the Christian” (Charles Ryrie)—even though the New Testament teaches that all men “are under the Law” so “that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may become accountable to God” (Rom 3:19).”
95. Despite dispensationalism’s teaching regarding two kinds of Christians, one spiritual and one fleshly (resulting in a “great mass of carnal Christians,” Charles Ryrie), the Scripture makes no such class distinction, noting that Christians “are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you,” so that “if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him” (Rom 8:9).
“Dispensationalism has thrown down the gauntlet: and it is high time that Covenant theologians take up the challenge and respond Biblically.” — Dr. Robert L. Reymond, author, A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith
Excellent thoughts from a fellow pastor in Scotland, Jon Gleason. This certainly puts a new light on the church/state separation issue as well the issue of what the idolatrous Pharisees were doing in a vain attempt to trap Christ.
Originally posted on Mind Renewers:
This is a summary of a series of posts on “Passion Tuesday” — the Tuesday before our Lord’s crucifixion.
“Whose is This Image and Superscription?” — A coin in the British Museum shows clearly that the coin the Pharisees and Herodians brought to Jesus was an idolatrous coin, and Jesus used this fact to reveal their hypocrisy. (This article is also part of the “Bible in the British Museum” series.)
Misusing Matthew 22:21: “Render Unto Caesar” — Too often, modern applications of this passage miss the point. “As so often, when you ask the Lord a question, the answer turns out to be a claim on your life.”
“By What Authority?” — The Claims of Messiah — The first question of the day came from the chief priests and elders, the religious authorities. This post looks at the Messianic claims and actions of Jesus, the…
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Augustine is a man beloved by both Calvinists and Catholics. I dare most who read this blog can think of one or reasons we like him. How many of us are aware of the gross error he taught? Here’s a sample of why Rome loves this man.
Augustine of Hippo, did not shrink from giving a dogmatic basis to what had come to be the practice of the church, and even professed to find warrant for it in Scripture. “It is, indeed, better that men should be brought to serve God by instruction than by fear of punishment, or by pain. But because the former means are better, the latter must not therefore be neglected. Many must often be brought back to their Lord, like wicked servants, by the rod of temporal suffering, before they attain the highest grade of religious development. . . The Lord himself orders that guests be first invited, then compelled, to his great supper.” And Augustine argues that if the State has not the power to punish religious error, neither should it punish a crime like murder. Rightly did Neander say of Augustine’s teaching, that it “contains the germ of the whole system of spiritual despotism, intolerance, and persecution, even to the court of the Inquisition.” Nor was it long before the final step was taken in the church doctrine of persecution. Leo the Great, the first of the popes, in a strict sense of that term, drew the logical inference from the premises already provided for him by the Fathers of the church, when he declared that death is the appropriate penalty for heresy.
Once more, let us be just: the Roman Church is right in this conclusion if we grant its first premise, that salvation depends not on personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, as a result of which or in connection with which the Holy Spirit regenerates the soul immediately, but is to be attained only through the church and its sacraments— baptism accomplishing the soul’s regeneration, and this new life being nourished and preserved through the Eucharist and other sacraments. Granting this doctrine of sacramental grace, not only is Rome justified in persecuting, but all who believe in sacramental grace are wrong not to persecute. For if salvation is impossible except through the church and its sacraments, every heretic is, as Rome charges, a murderer of souls. Is it not right to restrain and punish a murderer? From this point of view it becomes the duty of the church to root out heresy at all cost of human life—to make the world a desert, if need be, but at any rate to ensure peace. And all persecutors have been half-hearted in the work except only Rome; she has had the courage of her accursed convictions. She alone has recognized that if you say A you must say B, and so on, to the end of the alphabet; that if you once begin to persecute you must not tremble at blood and tears, nor shrink from sending men to the rack, the gibbet, and the stake. The Inquisition is the perfectly logical, the inevitable outcome of Roman doctrine, and the entire system of persecution is rooted in this idea of sacramental grace.
From Henry Vedder’s A Short History of the Baptists
This is part 9 of analysis of the 19th century theological invention known as dispensationalism. Part 8 can be found here: http://defendingcontending.com/2014/01/18/95-theses-agai…onalism-part-8/ Following are the next ten theses from the NiceneCouncil.com’s concise but thorough examination of the critical errors with the theological system known as dispensationalism. Dispensationalism is, like most other systems, not comprised of a monolithic group who all believe alike. So please bear in mind this series in not an attack on any person, but an examination of a system.
71. Despite the dispensationalists’ claim that their so-called literalistic premillennialism is superior to the other evangelical millennial views because Revelation 20:1-6 is one text that clearly sets forth their system, this view imposes the literalistic system unjustifiably and inconsistently on the most symbolic book in all the Bible, a book containing references to scorpions with faces like men and teeth like lions (Rev 9:7), fire-breathing prophets (Rev 11:5), a seven-headed beast (Rev 13:1), and more.
72. Dispensationalism’s claim that Revelation 20:1-6 is a clear text that establishes literalistic premillennialism has an inconsistency that is overlooked: it also precludes Christians who live in the dispensation of the Church from taking part in the millennium, since Revelation 20:4 limits the millennium to those who are beheaded and who resist the Beast, which are actions that occur (on their view) during the Great Tribulation, after the Church is raptured out of the world.
73. Despite the dispensationalists’ view of the glory of the millennium for Christ and his people, they teach, contrary to Scripture, that regenerated Gentile believers will be subservient to the Jews, as we see, for instance, in Herman Hoyt’s statement that “the redeemed living nation of Israel, regenerated and regathered to the land, will be head over all the nations of the earth…. So he exalts them above the Gentile nations…. On the lowest level there are the saved, living, Gentile nations.”
74. Despite dispensationalism’s claim that the Jews will be dominant over all peoples in the eschatological future, the Scripture teaches that “In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrians will come into Egypt and the Egyptians into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians. In that day Israel will be the third party with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, ‘Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.’” (Isa. 19:23-25).
75. Despite dispensationalism’s “plain and simple” method that undergirds its millennial views, it leads to the bizarre teaching that for 1000 years the earth will be inhabited by a mixed population of resurrected saints who return from heaven with Jesus living side-by-side with non-resurrected people, who will consist of unbelievers who allegedly but unaccountably survive the Second Coming as well as those who enter the millennium from the Great Tribulation as “a new generation of believers” (Walvoord).
76. Despite dispensationalists’ claim to reasonableness for their views, they hold the bizarre teaching that after 1000 years of dwelling side-by-side with resurrected saints who never get ill or die, a vast multitude of unresurrected sinners whose number is “like the sand of the seashore,” will dare to revolt against the glorified Christ and His millions of glorified saints (Rev 20:7-9).
77. Despite the dispensationalists’ fundamental principle of God’s glory, they teach a second humiliation of Christ, wherein He returns to earth to set up His millennial kingdom, ruling it personally for 1000 years, only to have a multitude “like the sand of the seashore” revolt against His personal, beneficent rule toward the end (Rev 20:7-9).
78. Despite the dispensationalists’ production of many adherents who “are excited about the very real potential for the rebuilding of Israel’s Temple in Jerusalem” (Randall Price) and who give funds for it, they do not understand that the whole idea of the temple system was associated with the old covenant which was “growing old” and was “ready to disappear” in the first century (Heb 8:13).
79. Contrary to dispensationalists’ expectation of a future physical temple in the millennium, wherein will be offered literal animal blood sacrifices, the New Testament teaches that Christ fulfilled the Passover and the Old Testament sacrificial system, so that Christ’s sacrifice was final, being “once for all” (Heb 10:10b), and that the new covenant causes the old covenant with its sacrifices to be “obsolete” (Heb 8:13).
80. Contrary to dispensationalism’s teaching that a physical temple will be rebuilt, the New Testament speaks of the building of the temple as the building of the Church in Christ, so that “the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord” (Eph 2:21); the only temple seen in the book of Revelation is in Heaven, which is the real and eternal temple of which the earthly temporary temple was, according to the book of Hebrews, only a “shadow” or “copy” (Heb 8:5; 9:24).
George Mylne, 1871
The Preacher speaks of some who “had no comforter,” because, as we infer that they sought comfort wrongly — on earthly, and not on heavenly grounds. And so it is too often with the bereaved — people try to cure their broken hearts with human remedies, the quackery of the world, which mocks the patient, and does not heal him. And thus, when sorrow comes, mourners are urged to seek their consolation in worldly pleasure, and to drown their recollections for a season, only to return more bitterly at last. They might as well expect a cure from sheer intoxication — as banish sorrow thus!
“Miserable Comforters” are they who recommend such remedies to distract your grief. Pleasure can only make a man forget his sorrows; and as waters wear the stones by ceaseless droppings — so a continuous round of pleasure may in time induce complete oblivion.
Yet this, to say the least, is a dishonorable way of stifling sorrow — advisedly I use the word. It does dishonor to the dead, that you must needs forget him, and for his memory substitute the theater, the race-course, or the whirling dance. Could he but know the fact, or tell the feelings of the eternal world — would he commend your conduct, or consider it a compliment to be banished thus from mind? Through pleasure you may try to forget your friend. The giddy spectacle, whatever it may be, hides him from view. It must be so. Such objects are not transparent, but opaque, with their many sorts of deadening influences.
Not so the atmosphere of God’s grace. Its clear expanse forms no impediment to vision — quite the reverse. It gives you objects to survey, as clear as itself. It invites you to fix your eye on Jesus, Himself the Sun of that clear medium — Himself the object to bring out its properties. This will hide nothing from your view, that may be safely looked upon. It hides, indeed, objects of earthly vanity, as they again obscure the Cross. But it enables you to see more clearly, as you ought to see, all lawful objects of consideration. It enables you to weigh their consequences, discern their right proportions, and look upon them as they are looked upon by God. May you thus bear your sorrow honorably, and know the dignity of sanctified distress!
It is also dishonoring to yourself not to confront your sorrows like a man. It implies a lack of courage, the absence of proper self-command. There is something wrong, you may be sure — for is it correct, is it manly, thus to cheat the soul, to hide yourself behind some passing vanity, rather than face the sober truth? It proves you lack a higher principle, the muscles and sinews of a braver purpose, a mind nerved against unworthy refuges, a buoyancy to rise above the wave.
Yet I mean not Stoicism — encasing the mind with adamant, suppressing sensibilities, ignoring natural affection — its ground of resignation fatalism, unconscious or avowed; a dogged resolution to suffer on; a sullen tribute to some principle of harm — too blind to trace, too proud to own, the hand of the Almighty. Stoicism is not courage! There is nothing noble in its composition. It is rather cowardice, making its would-be hardiness a refuge for its lies. It dares not see affliction in its proper light.
Oh no! the strength of which I speak is something higher. It has no place whatever in the natural man. It is the offspring of saving grace. It brings its powers and its consolations from another world.
In some there is a way of sorrowing, nor seeking its distractions in the world, nor yet hardening itself in stoicism; feeding in calmness on its sensibilities, clothed in the mantle of a mournful dignity, attending to life’s duties with self-denying purpose, exhibiting a quiet resignation to the blow. Yet it lacks the principle of God’s grace, the principle of glad compliance with the will of Heaven; sorrowing, yet able to rejoice, distressed yet cheerful; not merely saying, “This is a grief — and I must bear it!” (Jeremiah 10:19), but counting it a privilege to feel a Father’s Hand — rising above the instrument, to see a Father’s Love, serene in the resilience of grace. It is thus the bread of bitterness is turned to sweetness, and the path of sorrow trodden with unfaltering steps, because of consolations that the world knows nothing of, and because the everlasting arms are underneath — surely, sweetly, sensibly.
Thus fortified and taught, a man may look bereavement in the face, undaunted. No need has he to seek a refuge in the world, and drown his sensibilities inpleasure. He has no need to arm himself with stoicism. He meets affliction not as a foe, but as a friend — the bearer of a message from the Lord. To turn from facing it, would be to scorn its mission, to hide himself from God.
Yet trust not in any power of your own. Would you do honor to yourself aright, you must have engrafted spiritual principle, engrafted courage — a self within, entirely distinct from what by nature bears the name — a New Creation in heart and mind — in principle and powers (2 Corinthians 5:17). May you thus be qualified to have a true respect for self, and have a self worthy to be respected!
But, most of all, to seek your comfort in the world is most dishonoring to God. Man was intended to hold communion with His Maker, in Him to find his consolation — -to have his Maker for his friend. But Adam fell, and, with the fall, there came a sad estrangement between him and God — an estrangement, shared by all his posterity down to the present hour. And thus, my friend, why don’t you take your sorrows to the Lord? Because you are estranged from Him. Conscious of sin, you sullenly avoid your Maker — and seek your comfort in the world.
And is it to be always so — that God, the kindest and the best, should be a cipher to your sorrowing heart — that He alone should be the subject of studied disregard? Perhaps this sad bereavement was sent to teach you better things — to show you where true comfort is to be found — and make you see your danger, if you treat your Maker as a thing of nothing, and systematically pass Him by.
Hasten to be wise. Hasten to be childlike with the Lord. Hasten to be at peace with Him through a Savior’s Blood. Hasten to regard Him as your Comforter — to treat Him as your friend.
And as the world can give no real consolation — then as little can we gain by borrowing its grief. “The sorrow of the world works death” (2 Corinthians 8:10). And this it does in many ways. It means that we grieve, irrespectively of God — that we sorrow without a comforter — that our sorrow is indulged in to satiety — that our sorrow is pent up within the breast without a safety-valve — -that we sorrow with nothing to relieve it — -that our mind is fixed on its own distress — -that we have nothing to break the continuity of wearying thought. Such sorrow wearies the flesh — it dries the bones (Proverbs 17. 22), secretly undermines the health, openly shows upon the countenance, induces gradual decay — and thus, eventually, works death!
How many, hence, have died of broken hearts! How many have committed suicide! And all, because they had no real Comforter! Had they only been at peace with God — had they only confided to Him their sorrow — their grief would have found an outlet, and their life would have been saved. And then they might have said, “I shall yet praise Him who is the health of my countenance, and my God” (Psalm 42:11).
Ask the physician, and he will tell you how sickness is often averted by a peaceful mind. Can they but avert the sickness, the patient lives. And what will keep from sickness, like a mind at peace with God? Contrast with this a broken heart — and from what does it proceed? From some hidden canker left to prey upon the mind, unchecked, unremedied — some wound unmollified with ointment (Isaiah 1:6) — some worm that feeds upon the root, sapping the constitution, eating out the stamina of life!
Such is the sorrow of the world. I beg you, Mourner, give not way to it. Before morbid feelings root themselves eradicably — bestir yourself. Shake off theviper which would eat into your heart. Awake to consciousness and healthful thought. “Is any afflicted — Let him pray!” — thus says the Scripture (James 5:13). Let him speak to God — to Him, unfold his grief. This at once unfolds the spring which opens the safety-valve, and lifts the sluice of healthy sensibilities. You are “afflicted” — then speak to God in the attitude of humble prayer. At any rate, my friend, speak to God. Catch not infection from the world — which is sorrow unto death.
The sorrow of the world works death in yet another form. Instead of leading you to God, it takes you further From Him — further from grace — further From Christ — further from hope — further from eternal life! Instead of softening the heart — it hardens. It engenders a deadened spirit, a conscience not awake to suitable impressions — it paves the way for death — death here, and death hereafter! Then take a lesson, Mourner, if such is your temptation. Shun worldly sorrow, which eats as a canker! Seek peace. Seek sweet serenity. Seek life for soul and body in the simple remedy of Christ — the balsam of the soul.
There will always be, until the Lord returns with a triumphant shout and the sound of trumpets (1 Thess 4:16), people who confuse one false religion or another for the biblical faith Creator God revealed to us in His Scriptures and His Son. To help us keep in focus some of the essential differences between biblical Christianity and one of the largest, widely accepted false religions in the world, here is a handy chart comparing 9 facts of the faith as taught by the Bible and the Roman Catholic Church. An extract is below, to give you a preview.
I thought I would add to this a bit with a wonderful quote from a book I read last week: