Category: General Theology

You Can’t Have a Post Tribulation Rapture

You Can’t Have a Post Tribulation Rapture

In Christian eschatology, the post-tribulation rapture doctrine is the belief in a combined resurrection and rapture of all believers coming after the Great Tribulation. This position is fundamentally flawed and, in my estimation, does not fit with the Bible.

 

  1. The Great Tribulation is a time of judgment and the true Church was judged at Calvary

12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. 14 For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.
Hebrews 10:12-13

One sacrifice for sin for all time…If your sin was paid for at the cross, it in manifestly unjust to pay for it again in the tribulation.

  1. The Tribulation is the “Time of Jacob’s Trouble” and Israel (Jacob) is not the Church

‘Alas! for that day is great, there is none like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s distress, But he will be saved from it.

Jeremiah 30:7

Quoting Got Questions Ministries, “In the previous verses of Jeremiah 30, we find that the Lord is speaking to Jeremiah the prophet about Judah and Israel (30:3-4). In verse 3, the Lord promises that one day in the future, He will bring both Judah and Israel back to the land that He had promised their forefathers. Verse 5 describes a time of great fear and trembling. Verse 6 describes this time in a way that pictures men going through the pains of childbirth, again indicating a time of agony. But there is hope for Judah and Israel, for though this is called “the time of Jacob’s distress” (NASB), the Lord promises He will save Jacob (referring to Judah and Israel) out of this time of great trouble (verse 7).”

The Tribulation is a time of purification for Israel during which the obstinately unbelieving will be destroyed leaving the faithful remnant to enter the Kingdom.

Ezekiel 37:21,22 Zephaniah 3:19,20 Romans 11:26,27

  1. The Church is not mentioned from Revelation 4-19

            There is not really much extrapolation needed here. If the Tribulation were, in fact, something the Church were expected to endure, surely the Holy Spirit would have warned us. I would go so far as to say that it requires a dismissal of logical inference to presume the Church will go through the Tribulation.

  1. Revelation 3:10 and tereso oras peirasmou

Tereso oras peirasmou (I will keep you from the hour of testing.) The hour of testing being referred to, here, is the Tribulation and it is Christ Himself who says that He will keep from the hour of testing.

  1. Wherefore comfort one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:18)

Where, exactly, is the comfort in facing the Tribulation?

  1. The Blessed Hope

The resurrection of those who have fallen asleep in Christ and their translation together with those who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord is the imminent and blessed hope of the church.

1 Thessalonians 4:16,17 Romans 8:23 Titus 2:13 1 Corinthians 15:51,52

  1. There will be a final judgment but the Tribulation is not it

There will be a final judgment in which the wicked dead will be raised and judged according to their works but this is not the tribulation period. Whosoever is not found written in the Book of Life, together with the devil and his angels, the beast and the false prophet, will be consigned to the everlasting punishment in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.

Matthew 25:46 Mark 9:43-48 Revelation 19:20 Revelation 20:11-15   Revelation 21:8

  1. Lastly, the final judgment for believers is the Bema Seat not the Tribulation.

Quoting Got Questions Ministries, “Romans 14:10–12 says, “For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. . . . So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God” (ESV). Second Corinthians 5:10 tells us, “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” In context, it is clear that both passages refer to Christians, not unbelievers. The judgment seat of Christ, therefore, involves believers giving an account of their lives to Christ.

The judgment seat of Christ does not determine salvation; that was determined by Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf (1 John 2:2) and our faith in Him (John 3:16). All of our sins are forgiven, and we will never be condemned for them (Romans 8:1). We should not look at the judgment seat of Christ as God judging our sins, but rather as God rewarding us for our lives. Yes, as the Bible says, we will have to give an account of ourselves. Part of this is surely answering for the sins we committed. However, that is not going to be the primary focus of the judgment seat of Christ.

At the judgment seat of Christ, believers are rewarded based on how faithfully they served Christ (1 Corinthians 9:4-27; 2 Timothy 2:5). Some of the things we might be judged on are how well we obeyed the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), how victorious we were over sin (Romans 6:1-4), and how well we controlled our tongues (James 3:1-9). The Bible speaks of believers receiving crowns for different things based on how faithfully they served Christ (1 Corinthians 9:4-27; 2 Timothy 2:5). The various crowns are described in 2 Timothy 2:5, 2 Timothy 4:8, James 1:12, 1 Peter 5:4, and Revelation 2:10. James 1:12 is a good summary of how we should think about the judgment seat of Christ: “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”

 

A Brief Intro to Prevenient Grace

A Brief Intro to Prevenient Grace

In response to some things I have seen on social media lately, I want to address Prevenient Grace. We will deal with three primary questions: What is Prevenient Grace? Is Prevenient Grace a biblical idea? Is Prevenient Grace distinctly an Arminian doctrine?

Let’s begin with a definition of Prevenient Grace. We will quote the definition found at Theopedia.

“Prevenient grace refers to the grace of God in a person’s life that precedes conversion (or salvation). The word “prevenient,” considered an archaic term today, was common in the King James English and simply means to “go before” or “precede.” Likewise, it is sometimes called “preventing” grace (from prevenient) with the same meaning.

  • In Reformed Theology, it is the particular grace which precedes human decision — a salvific grace prior to, and without reference to, anything we have done.
  • In Arminianism and Wesleyanism, it is a grace that offsets the noetic effects of the Fall, restores man’s free will, and thus enables every person to choose to come to Christ or not. There are two forms of this view:
    • Universal prevenient grace — This grace is extended to every person.
    • Individualistic prevenient grace — This grace is only extended to those who come under the intelligent hearing of the gospel, and not to every person.

We can see, already, that Prevenient Grace is a doctrinal position of both Calvinists (Reformed Theology) and our Arminian brethren. Permit me to expand for a moment on the Calvinist side of things: Prevenient Grace is, literally, grace that is preceding, but preceding what? This is actually the grace that we refer to as being irresistible. God, in an act of preceding grace, elects, calls, and regenerates those whom He has chosen.”

 

In Arminian Soteriology, Prevenient Grace is referred to in the F of the F.A.C.T.S of salvation. The Arminian Theologian would say that we are freed by the Grace of God to respond with an act of our own volition and “choose” to respond to the Gospel call.

 

The sad irony is that most of my teaching brethren do not know their theology well enough to realize that the two perspectives are so closely related that they are most likely two halves of the same sandwich…

 

In both Calvinism and Arminianism, saving grace is 100% a choice and act of God. In both cases Prevenient Grace precedes regeneration and justification. The major question, and point of disagreement, is the effect of Prevenient Grace on the will i.e. does Prevenient Grace restore man’s free will and thus allow said grace to be resisted or is Prevenient Grace irresistible as the Calvinist teaches.

 

As a Calvinist, I do not believe grace can be resisted. Since it is antecedent to salvation and a corollary of election, Prevenient Grace cannot be resisted.

 

Prevenient Grace is entirely Biblical and it is not a distinctly Arminian doctrine. For further study, I would refer you to the Foundations of Doctrine Series.

CBP Classic Study Bible Review

CBP Classic Study Bible Review

 

If you’re a Baptist, and chances are good that you are, you have probably heard of the Classic Study Bible albeit under its other name, the Old Scofield Bible. First published in 1909, the Scofield Reference Bible has been a mainstay in Baptist and other circles and for good reason; the Scofield and the Thompson Chain Reference, which came out around the same time, are the oldest “study” Bibles available and the longest currently in production. What sets the Scofield apart it that it was the first that offered commentary on the Bible.

I mentioned in a previous review that Church Bible Publishers (CBP) is an endeavor of the local church in Michigan and that they offer their Bibles at cost, which is a marvel in today’s money driven society. I have had a small amount of interaction with CBP staff and I found them to be knowledgeable, friendly, and generally seemed like the people you want to eat fried chicken with (It’s the official bird of Baptists, fried chicken). A note before we get into the review: CBP did not provide this Bible for review nor did they solicit a review; this is my own endeavor.

 

THE REVIEW

Translation Choice

CBP publishes in a single English translation, the King James Version (KJV). Even though I read other translations besides just the KJV, I am pleased to see CBP specialize in a single translation; I find it makes for better overall quality because you can focus on providing what customers need rather than vetting a translation. One point about the choice of KJV: Many people say that the KJV is not copyrighted in the US and so makes for a better translation choice. This is actually incorrect; The US honors the Crown Copyright in the United Kingdom (Elizabeth II currently holds the copyright and granted letters patent to Cambridge) even though to try to enforce it would be a logistical nightmare. When you see the term Authorised Version or Authorised King James Version, you see that because the Official King James Version is being used as is the case here.

Leather Cover

As was the case with the Thompson Chain that I reviewed earlier, the Classic Study Bible came to me in black ironed calfskin. There is an alternate choice of Top Grain Cowhide but, in my opinion, the calfskin is to be preferred. You may order in black, brown, burgundy, read, two-tone (black and brown) and thumb indexing is an option. I have no clue where CBP gets their leather but it is some of the softest most luxurious leather you will ever touch; I love the feel of it.

Two other publishers offer the Classic KJV Study Bible, Oxford University Press, the original publisher and copyright holder of the Classic KJV Study Bible and Barbour Books, neither of which offer calfskin. Barbour offers hardback and bonded leather while OUP offers bonded or Genuine Leather (read pigskin). That fact, alone, would be reason enough for me to endorse the CBP version over the others but lets continue.

Paper and Font

CBP offers a much larger font vs OUP and Barbour. OUP and Barbour use an 9-point font for the text and an 8-point for the notes while CBP offers the following for font size: Bible Text – 10 pt, Center Reference – 6-7 pt, Footnotes – 9 pt. I have both of the other versions and I can tell you with absolute certainty that this version will replace the other two.

CBP’s paper is bright white and very opaque making this Bible very easy to read indeed. The black is rich, deep, and bold and the red jumps off the page. Many publishers screw up the red and you end up with pink; I am happy to say that this is not the case here. The red is exquisitely done.

Sewn Binding

This is one feature that is non-negotiable for me; I live in Arizona and a glued binding would melt if I happened to forget it in my car. A sewn binding guarantees a lifetime of use and also guarantees that it will lay flat anywhere you open the text. The fact that CBP can deliver a sewn binding on every Bible they sell tells me that other publishers have no excuse.

Bonus Feature: Wide Margins

This is not advertised as a wide-margin edition but it has wide margins anyway. Why is this bonus feature important? It is in the margins that your Bible truly becomes yours. All of your study notes, perhaps some prayers and so on; it all goes here and makes your Bible uniquely yours. It is true that there are literally millions of Classic Study Bibles around the world, from all three publishers, but no two are identical and the wide margins guarantee that.

Important Features of the Classic Study Bible

Why do you want a Classic Study Bible? It offers you

  • An unparalleled, subject-based topical chain reference system that will enable you to follow major themes throughout the entirety of Scripture
  • Enlightening introductions, complete outline subheadings and a complete chronology for each book of the Bible
  • Illuminating, same-page explanatory notes
  • Comprehensive indexes to annotations and subject chain references which permit thorough topical study
  • A detailed study Bible concordance with integrated subject index and dictionary of Scripture proper names
  • 12 pages of accurate, full-color Bible maps (with index of places and natural features) that illustrate the biblical world

Final Thoughts

Buy this Bible. Do it today. If you have never seen the inside of a Scofield, you are missing out and that is irrespective of how you view Dispensational Theology. The Classic KJV Study Bible from CBP is the best edition of the Scofield Reference Bible that is available today. To say anything else is gilding the lilly.

 

Unmasking the Apocalypse Recording and Notes

Unmasking the Apocalypse Recording and Notes

https://soundcloud.com/user-138132460/unmasking-the-apocalypse

 

Text: Revelation 1:1-3

What is an apocalypse?

apocalypse/revelation

Greek: apokalypsis (Luke 2:32; Rom. 8:19; 16:25; Gal. 1:12) Using the roots apo (G0575), “from, away,” and kalypto (G2572), “covering, veil,” this word means “an uncovering, revelation, disclosure.” What is being disclosed was previously hidden. In the New Testament this word is typically used of spiritual things, such as visions (2 Cor. 12:1), spiritual truth (Luke 2:32), or eschatological events (Rom. 8:19; 2 Thess. 1:7; 1 Pet. 1:13). In these cases, what is revealed could be known only through supernatural disclosure. The entire Bible is God’s progressive revelation of who He is and how He is saving His people, and the Book of Revelation focuses on His final revelation when He returns to establish His eternal kingdom.

Why should I try to study Revelation? Isn’t it too hard to understand?

This is a very understandable and legitimate question. John gives a good clue in the first phrase, which introduces this book as “the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Revelation gives a unique picture of Jesus Christ, and the New Testament, really the entire Bible would be incomplete without it. In chapter 1, when we see Jesus’ appearance, it is a perfect exposition of the Old Testament. The Gospels describe Jesus’ life on Earth from four different viewpoints. The letters discuss the deep significance of the resurrected Christ and what he accomplished. But Revelation shows Jesus Christ from a new perspective: Here we see the most definitive picture of Jesus as Divine Son and Lord of the Church. When John saw him in this exalted state, he fell at Jesus’ feet as though dead (1:17).

As to whether or not Revelation is too hard to understand, bear this in mind:

  • We read Revelation according to the normal rules of language. Therefore, what appear to be metaphors or similes are just exactly that. If you understand the literary features of Revelation, you will be halfway to a correct understanding of the message therein
  • We read Revelation literally. That means, for example, when the book talks about locusts, it means exactly that; locusts not attack helicopters or other such nonsense.
  • Over half of Revelation refers back to the Old Testament. If you do not understand the Old Testament, correctly, you will never get Revelation right either.
  • God promises blessing to those who read the words of the Revelation (Ch 1 vs 3)

 

What does Revelation really unveil?

  • Revelation reveals Jesus as Divine Son and Lord of the Church
  • It reveals the nature of the Church through 7 types and what the end result will be for each church.
  • It reveals the Divine Judgment Machine and how God deals with a Christ rejecting world
  • The total triumph and finality of redemption is revealed including the final destruction of Satan
  • Lastly, the Kingdom is revealed.

Quoting John MacArthur on Revelation

“The book of Revelation contains truths that had been concealed, but have now been revealed. Though it nowhere directly quotes the Old Testament, 278 of its 404 verses refer or allude to Old Testament prophetic truth, and it amplifies what was only initially suggested in the Old Testament.

The Apocalypse reveals a great many divine truths. It warns the church of the danger of sin and instructs it about the need for holiness. It reveals the strength Christ and believers have to overcome Satan. It reveals the glory and majesty of God and depicts the reverent worship that constantly attends His throne. The book of Revelation reveals the end of human history, including the final political setup of the world, the career of Antichrist, and the climactic Battle of Armageddon. It reveals the coming glory of Christ’s earthly reign during the millennial kingdom, the Great White Throne judgment, and depicts the eternal bliss of the new heaven and the new earth. It reveals the ultimate victory of Jesus Christ over all human and demonic opposition. The book of Revelation describes the ultimate defeat of Satan and sin, and the final state of the wicked (eternal torment in hell) and the righteous (eternal joy in heaven). In short, it is a front-page story of the future of the world written by someone who has seen it all.

But supremely, overarching all those features, the book of Revelation reveals the majesty and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. It describes in detail the events associated with His second coming, revealing His glory that will one-day blaze forth as strikingly and unmistakably as lightning flashing in a darkened sky (Matt. 24:27).”

That last point, Children of God, is why we study Revelation- so that we might see Christ the Redeemer and Christ the Lord in all His glory and give Him the worship that is due Him.

Even a cursory glance through the book of Revelation reveals that Jesus Christ is its main theme. He is “the faithful witness” (1:5); “the firstborn of the dead” (1:5); “the ruler of the kings of the earth” (1:5); “the Alpha and the Omega”(1:8; 21:6); the one “who is and who was and who is to come”(1:8); “the Almighty”(1:8); “the first and the last”(1:17); “the living One”(1:18); “the One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands” (2:1); “the One who has the sharp two-edged sword” (2:12); “the Son of God” (2:18); the One “who has eyes like a flame of fire, and … feet … like burnished bronze” (2:18); the One “who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars” (3:1); the One “who is holy, who is true” (3:7); the holder of “the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens” (3:7); “the Amen, the faithful and true Witness.”(3:14); “the Beginning of the creation of God” (3:14); “the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah” (5:5); “the Root of David” (5:5); the Lamb of God (e. g., 5:6; 6:1; 7:9-10; 8:1; 12:11; 13:8; 14:1; 15:3; 17:14; 19:7; 21:9; 22:1); the “Lord, holy and true” (6:10); the One who “is called Faithful and True” (19:11); “The Word of God”(19:13); the “King of kings, and Lord of lords”(19:16); Christ (Messiah), ruling on earth with His glorified saints (20:6); and “Jesus … the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star” (22:16). The book of Revelation reveals the majesty and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ in song, poetry, symbolism, and prophecy. In it the heavens are opened and its readers see, as did Stephen (Acts 7:56), visions of the risen, glorified Son of God. (MacArthur NT Commentary)

Are those who read Revelation really blessed?

Yes, we are really blessed by reading Revelation. For starters, it is given for our comfort as we face a world that is falling apart, where wickedness abounds so much that even Sodom would blush with shame; Christ and His righteous will triumph. The spirit of lawlessness may kill the body (God will allow some to be martyred) but antichrist will never triumph over the Righteous Lamb and those of His Elect.

Remember that blessed does not simply mean happy, even though that is an acceptable and accurate translation of the word used here. It also means favorable circumstances granted by God and it also connotes having shalom (peace and wholeness) with God.

Beloved, the time is near. This is not kronos which is our normal method of keeping time; it is kairos, the age. John wrote well because we indeed are in last days and there is nothing left to be fulfilled; all that yet remains is for the Lord to consummate redemptive history and to deliver the Kingdom up to the Father.

 

Revelation Introduction and Outline

Revelation Introduction and Outline

 

Revelation Outline

Why Read Revelation?

“Why read this strange book? John gives a good clue in the first phrase, which introduces this book as “the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Revelation gives a unique picture of Jesus Christ, and the New Testament would be incomplete without it. The Gospels describe Jesus’ life on Earth from four different viewpoints. The letters discuss the deep significance of the resurrected Christ and what he accomplished. But Revelation shows Jesus Christ from a new perspective: as the mighty ruler of the cosmic forces of good. When John saw him in this exalted state, he fell at Jesus’ feet as though dead (1:17).

Although Revelation does not remove the mystery surrounding Jesus’ return and the end of the world, it does throw light on those events. It cannot be reduced to a mere timetable of events; it speaks lasting truths to every generation of readers. Revelation tells of Christ’s future triumph over all the evil in the universe. This crucial message of final hope was needed by its original readers in the first century and is still needed by us today.” —NIV Student Bible

Who wrote Revelation? John the Beloved Apostle (see Rev 1:1)

DATE: A.D. 96? There is some dispute about this though. From the Harper Collins Study Bible’s notes we learn “Many early Christian writers thought that Revelation had been written toward the end of Domitian’s reign (81–96 ce), but a few later writers thought that John had written a generation earlier, during the persecution that occurred in 64 under Nero (54–68 ce). Evidence supporting both dates can be found in the book. In favor of the earlier date, 11.1–3 suggests that the Jewish temple in Jerusalem (destroyed by the Romans in 70) was still standing when the book was written. Further, the code name of the beast in 13.18 is 666, widely thought to symbolize the name Nero Caesar. Other data, however, suggest a date late in the first century. For example, there are several allusions (13.3; 17.9–11) to the legend of Nero’s return, which circulated throughout the eastern Mediterranean during the two decades following his suicide in 68. Further, Revelation frequently uses “Babylon” as a code name for Rome (14.8; 16.19; 17.5, 18; 18.2, 10, 21), but the evidence suggests that Jews used this code name only after the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70.”

As a general rule, I favor the dating of approximately 96 A.D. We need to remember that there is, oftentimes, an already but not yet in prophecy. John certainly wrote to comfort Christians who were already under persecution but he also wrote to comfort those under persecutions yet to come.

The spiritual decline of the 7 churches (chaps. 2, 3) also argues for the later date. Those churches were strong and spiritually healthy in the mid-60s, when Paul last ministered in Asia Minor. The brief time between Paul’s ministry there and the end of Nero’s reign was too short for such a decline to have occurred. The longer time gap also explains the rise of the heretical sect known as the Nicolaitans (2:6, 15), who are not mentioned in Paul’s letters, not even to one or more of these same churches (Ephesians). Finally, dating Revelation during Nero’s reign does not allow time for John’s ministry in Asia Minor to reach the point at which the authorities would have felt the need to exile him.
THEME: The theme of the Revelation is Jesus Christ (Rev 1:1) in all His post-resurrection glory and majesty. He is presented in a threefold way: (1) As to time: “which is, and which was, and which is to come” Rev 1:4); (2) as to relationships–the churches Rev 1:9 through Rev 3:22), to the tribulation Rev 4:1 through Rev 19:21), to the kingdom Rev 20:1 through Rev 22:21); (3) in His offices–High Priest Rev 8:3-6), Bridegroom Rev 19:7-9), King-Judge Rev 20:1-15).

Christ is the central theme of the book, but all of the events move toward one consummation, the bringing in of the covenanted kingdom. The key-phrase is the prophetic declaration of the “great voices in heaven” Rev 11:15), lit, “The world kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ has come.”

 

Introductory Remark

The three major divisions of Revelation must be clearly held if the interpretation is to be sane and coherent. John was commanded to “write” concerning three classes of “things” Rev 1:19):

I. Things past, “the things thou hast seen,” i.e. the Patmos vision, Rev 1.1-20.
II. Things present, “the things which are,” i.e. things then existing–obviously the churches. The temple had been destroyed, the Jews dispersed: the testimony of God had been committed to the Churches (1Ti 3.15). Accordingly we have seven messages to seven representative churches, Rev 2.1 through Rev 3.22. It is noteworthy that the church is not mentioned in chapters 5 through 18.
III. Things future, “things which shall be hereafter,” lit. “after these,” i.e. after the church period ends, Rev 4.1 through Rev 22.21. The third major division, falls into a series of six sevens, with parenthetical passages, making, with the church division, seven sevens. The six sevens are:
(1) The seals, Rev 4.1 through Rev 8.1.
(2) The seven trumpets, Rev 8.2 through Rev 11.19.
(3). The seven personages, Rev 12:1-14:20.
(4). The seven vials (bowls), Rev 15.1 through Rev 16.21.
(5). The seven dooms, Rev 17.1 through Rev 20.15.
(6). The seven new things, Rev 21.1 through Rev 22.21.
The parenthetical passages are:

  • The Jewish remnant and the tribulation saints, Rev 7:1-17.
  • The angel, the little book, the two witnesses, Rev 10:1 through Rev 11:14.
  • The Lamb, the Remnant, and the everlasting Gospel, Rev 14:1-13.
  • The gathering of the kings at Armageddon, Rev 16:13-16.
  • The four alleluias in heaven, Rev 19:1-6. These passages do not advance the prophetic narrative. Looking backward and forward they sum up results accomplished, and speak of results yet to come as if they had already come. In Rev 14:1, for example, the Lamb and Remnant are seen prophetically on Mount Zion, though they are not actually there till Rev 20:4-6.The end of the church period Rev 2 through Rev 3.) is left as indeterminate. It will end by the fulfillment of 1Th 4:14-17. Revelation 4 through Rev 19 are believed to synchronize with Daniel’s Seventieth Week (Dan 9:24). The great tribulation begins at the middle of the “week,” and continues three and a half years Rev 11:3 through Rev 19:21). The tribulation is brought to an end by the appearing of the Lord and the battle of Armageddon Mat 24:29, 30; Re 19:11-21). The kingdom follows Re 20:4, 5); after this the “little season” Re 20:7-15), and then eternity.

    As we study Revelation we should bear in mind two important passages: 1Pe 1:12; 2Pe 1:20, 21. Doubtless much which is designedly obscure to us will be clear to those for whom it was written as the time approaches.

 

THEORIES OF INTERPRETATION: There have been many approaches to this book, but these can be divided into four major theories:

  • Preterist theory: All of Revelation has been fulfilled in the past. It had to do with local references in John’s day. It had to do with the days of either Nero or Domitian.
  • Historical theory: Fulfillment of Revelation is going on in history, and Revelation is the prophetic history of the church, according to this theory.
  • Historical-spiritual (Symbolic) theory: This theory is a refinement of the historical theory and was advanced by Sir William Ramsay. It states that the two beasts are Imperial and Provincial Rome. The point of the book is to encourage Christians. According to this theory, Revelation has been largely fulfilled and there are spiritual lessons for the church today. Amillennialism, for the most part, has adopted this view. It dissipates and defeats the purpose of the book.
  • Futurist theory: This theory holds that the Book of Revelation is primarily prophetic and yet future, especially from Revelation 4 on to the end of the book. This is the view of all premillennialists and is the view which we accept and present.

 

We should note that at least 10 Themes in Scripture find their consummation in Revelation

  1. The Lord Jesus Christ (Genesis 3:15)
  2. The church (Matthew 16:18)
  3. The resurrection and translation of saints (1 Thessalonians 4:13- 18; 1 Corinthians 15:51, 52)
  4. The Great Tribulation (Deuteronomy 4:30, 31)
  5. Satan and evil (Ezekiel 28:11-18)
  6. The “man of sin” (Ezekiel 28:1-10)
  7. The course and end of apostate Christendom (Daniel 2:31-45; Matthew 13)
  8. The beginning, course, and end of the “times of the Gentiles” (Daniel 2:37; Luke 21:24)
  9. The second coming of Christ (Jude 14, 15)
  10. Israel’s covenants (Genesis 12:1-3), five things promised Israel

Christ in Revelation

Revelation has much to say about all three Persons of the Godhead, but it is especially clear in its presentation of the awesome resurrected Christ who has received all authority to judge the earth. He is called Jesus Christ (1:1), the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, the ruler over the kings of the earth (1:5), the First and the Last (1:17), He who lives (1:18), the Son of God (2:18), holy and true (3:7), the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God (3:14), the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David (5:5), a Lamb (5:6), Faithful and True (19:11), The Word of God (19:13), KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS (19:16), Alpha and Omega (22:13), the Bright and Morning Star (22:16), and the Lord Jesus Christ (22:21).

This book is indeed “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:1) since it comes from Him and centers on Him. It begins with a vision of His glory, wisdom, and power (1) and portrays His authority over the entire church (2; 3). He is the Lamb who was slain and declared worthy to open the book of judgment (5). His righteous wrath is poured out upon the whole earth (6–18), and He returns in power to judge His enemies and to reign as the Lord over all (19; 20). He will rule forever over the heavenly city in the presence of all who know Him (21; 22).

The Scriptures close with His great promise: “‘Behold, I am coming quickly!’” (22:7, 12). “‘Surely I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (22:20).

 

Keys to Understanding Revelation

Key Word:

The Revelation of the Coming of Christ

The purposes for which Revelation was written depend to some extent on how the book as a whole is interpreted. Because of its complex imagery and symbolism, Revelation is the most difficult biblical book to interpret, and there are four major alternatives: (1) The symbolic or idealist view maintains that Revelation is not a predictive prophecy, but a symbolic portrait of the cosmic conflict of spiritual principles. (2) The preterist view (the Latin word praeter means “past”) maintains that it is a symbolic description of the Roman persecution of the church, emperor worship, and the divine judgment of Rome. (3) The historicist view approaches Revelation as an allegorical panorama of the history of the (Western) church from the first century to the Second Advent. (4) The futurist view acknowledges the obvious influence that the first-century conflict between Roman power and the church had upon the themes of this book. It also accepts the bulk of Revelation (4–22) as an inspired look into the time immediately preceding the Second Advent (the “Tribulation,” usually seen as seven years; 6–18), and extending from the return of Christ to the creation of the new cosmos (19–22).

Advocates of all four interpretive approaches to Revelation agree that it was written to assure the recipients of the ultimate triumph of Christ over all who rise up against Him and His saints. The readers were facing dark times of persecution, and even worse times would follow. Therefore, they needed to be encouraged to persevere by standing firm in Christ in view of God’s plan for the righteous and the wicked. This plan is especially clear in the stirring words of the epilogue (22:6–21). The book was also written to challenge complacent Christians to stop compromising with the world. According to futurists, Revelation serves the additional purpose of providing a perspective on end-time events that would have meaning and relevance to the spiritual lives of all succeeding generations of Christians.

Key Verses:

Revelation 1:19 and 19:11–15

“‘Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this’” (1:19).

“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God” (19:11–15).

Key Chapters:

Revelation 19–22

When the end of history is fully understood, its impact radically affects the present. In Revelation 19–22 the plans of God for the last days and for all of eternity are recorded in explicit terms. Careful study of and obedience to them will bring the blessings that are promised (1:3). Uppermost in the mind and deep in the heart should be guarded the words of Jesus, “Behold, I am coming quickly.”

 

Believer’s Baptism

Believer’s Baptism

We welcome Jordan Woods as a guest poster. Jordan will be sharing with us regarding Believer’s Baptism…

First we must start by defining what Believer’s Baptism is, Believer’s baptism (occasionally called credobaptism, from the Latin word credo meaning “I believe”) is the Christian practice of baptism as this is understood by many evangelical denominations, particularly those that descend from the Anabaptist and English Baptist tradition. According to their understanding, a person is baptized on the basis of his or her profession of faith in Jesus Christ and as admission into a local community of faith.

On the other side we have those that hold to infant baptism, otherwise known as paedobaptism. In this case parents of infants baptize their children as babies not on the basis of a confession of faith, but rather most paedobaptists see baptism as a sign of the new covenant and therefore baptize their infant children.

Why baptize? Well we see the first mention of baptism in the new testament in the case of John the Baptist and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ when John says 11 “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3:11-12 NASB

We get baptized as the first ordinance of two ordinances commanded and instituted in the Church by Christ Jesus Himself. (The other being the Lord’s Supper) Baptism itself is a symbolic act of us burying our old man and being raised new in Christ. Romans 6:4 brilliantly expresses this: “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” NASB

In Colossians 2:9-12 we see similar language again 9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, 10 and in Him you have been made [i]complete, and He is the head [j]over all rule and authority; 11 and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; 12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead” NASB

Common misconceptions can arise from the teaching of Believer’s Baptism such as does baptism save you? Do you have to continually be baptized? Does baptism forgive you of your sins? There are simple yet succinct answers to all of these questions, let’s tackle the first one.

Does the act of baptism save you? Absolutely not! Baptism is a symbolic act of burying our old self and being raised to new life in Christ but the actual act in and of itself has no saving power. As we are told in the Word of God “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 NASB So we see salvation itself is not an act in which we can accomplish rather it is by grace through faith ALONE. Nothing that we can do in and of ourselves can save us from the wrath of God to come!

Baptism is an act that should be done once a person has a genuine confession of faith. We do not want to prolong a baptism of a believer though we do want to make sure that their confession is genuine and that they understand the seriousness of the ordinance itself. Baptism should also only he done once in a lifetime as the act itself is not a saving, rather it is a proclamation of the Believer’s faith in Christ and their desire (that God placed within them) to endure with Christ until the end.

The only way one can be saved is by repentance and belief as Romans 10 says in verses 9-11 “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” NAS

In summary, baptism is a sacred ordinance of the New Testament Church and is what a believer should seek to do once he or she has made a confession of faith and desires to serve and obey Christ. I will close this with our Savior’s words in Matthew 28 verses 18-20 18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” NASB

Salvation and Dispensationalism

Salvation and Dispensationalism

We welcome, once again,  James D. Quiggle, ThM. who brings us an article correcting some misconceptions regarding salvation in Dispensational Theology. It is my hope that this article is helpful to you…

In the previous article, “Understanding Dispensationalism,” I promised to address the criticism that dispensationalism teaches different ways of salvation in each dispensation. This criticism comes from those following a view of Scripture known as Covenant Theology (CT). Covenant theology teaches that God interacts with human kind through various covenants, the most important of which are the covenant of works with Adam pre-sin, and the covenant of grace after Adam’s fall into sin. Understanding how dispensationalism and CT view the means of salvation, versus the basis of salvation, requires a little background information.

Both dispensationalism and CT believe in the apostolic and Reformation doctrine of salvation by God’s grace through the sinner’s faith in God’s testimony that Jesus Christ propitiated God for sin on the cross. Propitiation is a term that means Christ fully satisfied God for the crime of sin by suffering God’s wrath against sin while on the cross. Jesus suffered spiritually for sin (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) and he suffered physically for sin (“And bowing his head, he gave up his spirit”). His resurrection out of death demonstrated that he had fully paid the judicial debt for sin. Every person believing God’s testimony concerning the way (or means) to salvation is saved.

If, as is the case, both CT and dispensationalism believe Christ’s propitiation is the basis for salvation from Adam forward to the end of the ages, what is the difference between them regarding salvation? In the previous article I stated, “A dispensation is from God’s viewpoint an economy; from man’s, a responsibility.”[1] Those following Covenant theology believe the differing responsibilities in each dispensation are different ways of salvation. For example, the responsibility of the people in Noah’s time was “believe God’s warning of coming judgment and get in the ark to be saved.” This was not the same as Abraham’s responsibility (Genesis 12:1) or that of the Israelis under the law given through Moses (Exodus 19:8), nor in this New Testament dispensation (e.g., Acts 16:31).

Because the Dispensationalist teaches God changes the means in which he interacts with human kind, continuing some responsibilities, annulling others, and giving new responsibilities, CT believes dispensationalism teaches different ways of salvation. Covenant theology confuses the dispensational view of changes in man’s responsibilities toward God (changes God himself made) as teaching different ways of salvation. This is not what dispensationalism teaches (I will explain below). To understand we must first examine what CT does teach about salvation.

Covenant theology teaches that from Adam forward, salvation was “by grace through faith in Christ.”[2] What Covenant theology means by the phrase “faith in Christ” is that every person in Old Testament times, from Adam forward, was saved because they placed their faith in the yet-future coming Messiah. The covenant theologian believes “it was not mere trust or faith in God, or simple piety, which was required [for salvation] but faith in the promised redeemer, or faith in the promise of redemption through the Messiah.”[3] How did the Old Testament persons come to the conclusion that their salvation depended on belief in a yet-future coming Messiah? Not from the Old Testament Scriptures. Covenant theology says they had supplementary instruction from the prophets or divine illumination from God.[4] “Supplementary instruction” and “divine illumination” means “not written in the Scriptures.” These views, from Charles Hodge’s Systematic Theology, were stated in 1873, but continue to describe Covenant theology’s view of salvation today.

The Covenant theologian cannot demonstrate his salvation theology from the scriptures. If pressed, CT will point to a few verses, e.g., John 8:56; Psalm 16:11; Job 19:25–26; Genesis 3:15. But, how much did the Old Testament peoples understand? Even a prominent CT (J. Barton Payne) admitted limitations in Old Testament understanding: “That, to satisfy God, God must die, that men might inherit God, to be with God, was incomprehensible under the Old Testament seminal knowledge of the Trinity, the incarnation, and the crucifixion followed by the resurrection.”[5] The CT pointing to Genesis 3:15, often cited as positive proof of belief in a coming messiah, has grave difficulties: the verse does not mention a coming messiah and is never used in the Old or New Testaments regarding Christ or salvation in Christ.

Dispensationalism has always taught one way of salvation. C. C. Ryrie, 1995: “the basis of salvation in every age is the death [propitiation] of Christ.”[6] C. I. Scofield, 1890: “God’s grace to man is always based on the work accomplished by Christ in His death [propitiation] on the cross.”[7] What Scofield taught in 1890 is exactly what Ryrie taught one hundred years later. Although dispensationalism is accused of teaching a different way of salvation in every dispensation, dispensationalists have always taught the basis for salvation from Adam to the end of the ages is the propitiation made by Christ. What does change with each dispensation is the “content of faith” given to each dispensation. Within each dispensation past, present, and yet-future (except the eternal state, in which every human being is saved and glorified prior to entry), God gives mankind a “content of faith” through which a sinner by grace through faith is able to access salvation and bring glory to God.

The content of faith for every dispensation is always defined by God’s testimony. In the dispensation concerning Noah’s generation, the content of faith was to believe universal judgment was coming and build an ark to save those of mankind who would believe God’s testimony. In the dispensation of the Mosaic Law the content of faith was not bring a sacrifice in order to be saved. The content of faith under the Mosaic Law was faith in God’s testimony that repentance of sin with confession of sin and a proper sacrifice for sin would result in forgiveness of sin. Mechanically bringing a sacrifice did not save. What saved was faith in God through his testimony, faith which was accepted by God’s grace, faith that was revealed by doing the things God said to do by faith. Near the end of the Tribulation period, when the voices of the saved are almost silenced by persecution and martyrdom, God will give human kind the simplest content of faith: Fear God, and give glory to him” (Revelation 14:7). But the basis of salvation will be the same it was for Adam and Eve, Abraham and Moses, Peter and Paul, and you and me: Christ’s propitiation on the cross.

Christ’s propitiation-resurrection created a new dispensation, the age of the New Testament church, with a new content of faith: believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. For Hebrews and Gentiles practicing Judaism the content of faith changed from repentance, faith, and a proper animal sacrifice under the Mosaic Law, to saving faith in the one and only Savior Jesus the Christ. For the pagan Gentiles outside Judaism the content of faith changed from walk with and worship the God who created Adam and gave the Noahic covenant, to saving faith in the one and only Savior Jesus the Christ, e.g., Acts 16:30–31; 17:30–31. To be saved in the current New Testament church dispensation one must come to God with repentance and confession for sin with the proper sacrifice—Jesus crucified and resurrected—having faith in God’s testimony that Jesus is the only way to be saved in this New Testament church dispensation.

The dispensationalist’s changing “content of faith” approach to the sinner’s access to salvation is not a change in the basis of salvation. The basis of salvation in every dispensation from Adam forward is the propitiation of Christ, and nothing else. Although Christ’s propitiation for sin occurred at a particular historical moment, it was, is, and always will be the only efficient means of salvation. Ephesians 1:4 indicates that in eternity-past God decreed the Son’s propitiation to be the only means by which sinners can be saved, “God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world.” Therefore, because “God . . . calls the things not existing as though existing” (Romans 4:17), the historical act of Christ’s propitiation, which was decreed in eternity-past, is efficient for salvation from eternity-past through historical-present into eternity-future. By an eternal decree, the salvific benefits of Christ’s historical propitiation have been in effect from the moment God made the decree, which was before he created the universe. How those benefits are accessed is defined and described for the dispensationalist by the content of faith God gave sinners in each particular dispensation.

In the purpose of God the plan of salvation is the same in every dispensation: always by grace through faith in God’s testimony; always by application of Christ’s merit to the sinner’s spiritual need. The changing “content of faith” is a change in the processes by which salvation is accessed. But a change in the content of faith is not a change in God’s purpose and plans. The “content of faith” in each dispensation is always faith in God through his testimony, whatever that testimony might be for a particular dispensation. The plan of salvation has always been and will always be “God from the beginning chose you to salvation, by grace, in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth,” 2 Thessalonians 2:13, cf. Ephesians 2:8–9; 1 Peter 1:2. The truth through which sinners past, present, and future access the means of grace and the way of salvation was, is, and always will be God’s testimony concerning the particular content of faith given to them.

Looking to the one way in which God saves in every dispensation from Adam to the end of the ages, Ryrie has developed a dispensational definition of salvation:

The basis of salvation in every age is the death [propitiation] of Christ; the requirement for salvation in every age is faith; the object of faith in every age is God; the content of faith changes in the various dispensations.”[8]

Dispensationalism doesn’t depend on extra-biblical knowledge or unknown divine illumination to effect salvation in the Old Testament, as does covenant theology, but on faith in God through his testimony in the Scripture given to each dispensation. So, too, in the New Testament church dispensation and yet-future dispensations. There has been and will always be one basis of salvation: Christ; one requirement for salvation: faith, one object of faith: God.

 

[1] Charles C. Ryrie, Dispensationalism  (Chicago: Moody Press, 1995, Rev. ed.), 30.

[2] [http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/reformed-theology-covenant-theology/]; [https://www.gotquestions.org/covenant-theology.html].

[3] Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology (1873, Reprinted, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1981), 2:372.

[4] Ibid., 2:367.

[5] Ryrie, Dispensationalism, 114 (emphasis original).

[6] Ibid., 115.

[7] C. I. Scofield, Bible Correspondence Course (1890, Reprinted, Chicago, IL:  The Moody Bible Institute, 1960), 5:1244.

[8] Ryrie, Dispensationalism, 115 (emphasis original).

Understanding Dispensationalism

Understanding Dispensationalism

Guest Post by James D. Quiggle, ThM.

The concepts that make up dispensationalism are found in Scripture, and the core theological ideas that comprise dispensationalism have been around since apostolic days. The modern revival of dispensationalism began life as a prophecy movement in the late 1800s. Then, through the works of men such as Arno C. Gaebelein, C. I. Scofield, and later C. C. Ryrie, dispensationalism became a means of understanding the world as a household run by God. Dispensationalism is an organizing principle that gives a certain structure to the scriptures, and dispensationalism is the theology (study of God and Scripture) that derives from that certain structure.

Dispensational theology recognizes that God has worked out his purpose in the world in different ways at different times in the history of the world. This is not an unfamiliar concept. Hebrews 1:1–2, “Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son” (CSB[1]). So we see that God worked in many different ways to reveal himself in Old Testament days, and in these New Testament days he has revealed himself in his Son, Jesus Christ. So too has God used different ways at different times to work out his purpose in the world.

Dispensationalism identifies the different ways and times in which God is working in the world using the term dispensation. “A dispensation is a distinguishable economy in the outworking of God’s purpose.”[2] An “economy,” in the sense the Bible uses the word “dispensation,” corresponds to the more archaic use of the word, i.e., the management of household affairs. “Dispensationalism views the world as a household run by God. In His household God is dispensing or administering its affairs according to his own will and in various stages of revelation in the passage of time.”[3] Restated a little differently, “A dispensation is from God’s viewpoint an economy; from man’s, a responsibility.”[4]

The difference between the days of Adam, the days of Noah, and the days of Abraham provide an example of three dispensations. During the days of Adam, before his sin, human beings were responsible to worship God and obey his commandments (1:3–3:6). After his sin God gave humans new responsibilities (Genesis 3:7–8:14), to “walk with God,” Genesis 5:22. But as human beings turned away from God, 5:5, God began to work out his purpose through one person, Noah, and his family. The responsibility of human beings during the time of Noah before the flood was to believe God’s warning of coming judgment and get in the ark to be saved.

After the flood God gave human beings new responsibilities, Genesis 8:15–11:9. Then, as the world began to be repopulated, God began to manage the world through his relationship with Abraham (Genesis 11:10–Exodus 18:27); and then through Moses (Exodus 19:1–John 14:30), dividing the world’s peoples into two groups, Hebrews and non-Hebrews (i.e., Gentiles). The Gentiles would continue under the responsibilities of the post-flood covenant God made with humanity through Noah. The Hebrews would develop under the covenants with Abraham and Moses to the time of Jesus Christ, when both groups became responsible to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, Acts 3:38; 10:44–48; 16:31; 17:31.

So, a new dispensation begins when God takes action to change the way in which he runs his household by changing the responsibilities required of human beings. As another has said, “A new period (dispensation) always begins only when from the side of God a change is introduced in the composition of the principles valid up to that time; that is, when from the side of God three things concur:[5]

  1. A continuance of certain ordinances valid until then;
  2. An annulment of other regulations until then valid;
  3. A fresh introduction of new principles not before valid.

We see this, for example, by comparing the change in mans’ pre- and post-flood responsibilities; and the change in Israel’s responsibilities toward the Law of Moses before Christ came and after Christ was crucified, resurrected, and ascended. Today, in the current dispensation, both Jews and Gentiles are required to believe on Jesus Christ crucified, resurrected, and ascended for salvation from the penalty of due sin, and thereby receive eternal life.

There have been several dispensations in the history of the world since Adam was created. These are identified in various ways. I prefer to identify them by the prominent biblical person with which they began and ended. These are:[6]

Adam to Noah

Noah to Abraham

Abraham to Moses

Moses to Christ’s resurrection

Christ’s resurrection to rapture of the church

Rapture of the church to Christ’s second advent/Davidic-Messianic-Millennial reign

Christ’s Davidic-Messianic-Millennial reign to Christ the Judge at the Great White Throne Judgment (GWT)

The eternal state (God eternally face-to-face with saved mankind) following the GWT

Certain dispensations might also be defined in terms of the covenants God made with mankind’s representatives.

Adam to Noah (Adamic covenant)

Noah to Abraham, (Post-Flood Noahic covenant)

Abraham to Moses, (Abrahamic covenant)

Moses to Christ’s resurrection (Mosaic, Palestinian, Davidic, and New covenants)

Christ’s resurrection to rapture of the church (application of New covenant to individual Hebrews and Gentiles)

Christ’s Davidic-Messianic-Millennial reign (fulfillment of Abrahamic, Davidic, Palestinian, and New covenants toward national ethnic Israel)

Another way of identifying the dispensations looks like this:[7]

Name               Scripture                     Responsibilities                     Judgments

Innocency Genesis 1:3–3:6 Keep Garden

Do not eat one fruit

Fill, subdue earth

Fellowship with God

Curses, and physical and spiritual death
Conscience Genesis 3:7–8:14 Do good Flood
Civil Government Genesis 8:15–11:9 Fill earth

Capital punishment

Forced scattering by confusion of languages
Patriarchal Rule Genesis 11:10– Exodus 18:27 Stay in Promised Land

Believe and obey God

Egyptian bondage and wilderness wanderings
Mosaic Law Exodus 19:1–   John 14:30 Keep the law

Walk with God

Captivities
Grace Acts 2:1– Revelation 19:21 Believe on Christ

Walk with Christ

Death

Loss of rewards

Millennium Revelation 20:1–15 Believe and obey Christ and His government Death

Great White Throne Judgment

 

Most dispensationalists see seven dispensations, more or less as described in the table, above. The number of dispensations and the names are minor matters. Above the table I identified seven dispensations using the names of prominent Bible characters, and six using the covenants in Scripture. The number or names are not essential to dispensationalism.

What is essential to dispensationalism? Put another way, what is the sine qua non (a Latin phrase literally meaning “without which nothing”), what are the essential beliefs that identify dispensationalism from other theologies? Charles Ryrie has identified three essentials.[8]

  1. A dispensationalist keeps Israel and the church distinct.
  2. The distinction between Israel and the church is born out of a system of hermeneutics [method of interpretation] that is usually called literal interpretation, or historical-grammatical interpretation.
  3. The underlying purpose of God in the world is the glory of God.

The first principle of dispensationalism is to maintain the distinction between Israel and the New Testament church. By this principle the dispensationalist means God has a distinct purpose for national ethnic Israel and a distinct purpose for the New Testament church. Some theologies believe the New Testament church has replaced Israel in the plan of God, or superseded Israel in the plan of God, or that the New Testament church is “the continuation of Israel” in a new phase of its existence (the church is Israel).[9] While there is some overlap in God’s purpose for national ethnic Israel and the New Testament church—both, for example, will be present in the Davidic-Millennial Kingdom—each is a distinct entity and each has a distinct purpose in God’s plans.

 

Dispensationalism derives its view of Israel and the church by a method of interpretation usually known as the literal hermeneutic or the historical-grammatical hermeneutic. By these terms is meant the dispensationalist interprets the Bible according to the plain and normal sense of words and uses of language. For example, if I type “dog” or “cat,” the animal named appears in your mind’s eye. If I type “it is raining cats and dogs,” you do not picture dogs and cats raining down from the sky, but a rain so heavy no dog or cat would be caught outside—nor no sensible human. That is understanding words and language in the plain and normal sense. So, too, with Bible interpretation. Fire, for example, has a literal meaning, and it has a figurative (actually two figurative) meanings. Fire burns, consumes most things it burns, but may be also used to refine (smelt) metals. So the figurative meaning is judgment (consumes) or purification (refines). The literal hermeneutic is really an analysis of the historical circumstances of when the word was written and the people/culture it was written to, analysis of the grammar and syntax of the language, an analysis of the context of the passage in which the word is used, an analysis of the literary genre of the writing in which the word is used, a theological and doctrinal analysis of the passage, and comparing one’s result with other reliable commentators. The literal interpretation is really the “historical-cultural, contextual, lexical-syntactical, theological, and literary analysis” method.[10] But that is too long to say or write, so we will call it historical-grammatical interpretation, or, literal interpretation.

 

Dispensationalism views God’s purpose in the world as his own glory. God’s plan to save sinners is not God’s only program in the world, but only one means by which God will glorify himself. All the events of the created world are designed to reveal the glory of God. God has plans for the saved, sinners, holy angels, fallen angels, Israel, the church, those saved during the Tribulation, and those persons and angels entering the eternal age after the Great White Throne judgment (see Revelation 20–22). “The basic purpose of God in all His dealings with mankind is that of glorifying Himself through salvation and other purposes.”[11]

 

Some believe the dispensational arrangement of history teaches different ways of salvation in the several dispensational economies. I will address this criticism in a second article.

 

 

 

[1] Christian Standard Bible (Copyright, Lifeway Christian Resources, 2017).

[2] Charles C. Ryrie, Dispensationalism  (Chicago: Moody Press, 1995, Rev. ed.), 28.

[3] Ibid., 29.

[4] Ibid., 30.

[5] Erich Sauer, The Dawn of World Redemption (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1951), 194

[6] James D. Quiggle, Dispensational Eschatology, (CreateSpace, 2013), 3–4.

[7] Ryrie, Dispensationalism, 54.

[8] Ibid., 39–41.

[9] Samuel E. Waldron, MacArthur’s Millennial Manifesto, A Friendly Response (Owensburg, KY: RBAP, 2008), 7.

[10] Henry A. Virkler, Hermeneutics (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1981), 76

[11] Ryrie, Dispensationalism, 41.

Revelation Series: Bibliography and Recommended Reading

Revelation Series: Bibliography and Recommended Reading

Beloved, the following resources helped to shape the notes for out Revelation Study Series. Time invested in these resources will give you more insight into  Revelation.

 

The MacArthur New Testament Commentary

Moody Publishers/Chicago

© 1999 by John MacArthur

Used by Permission

 

Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Doctrine

Moody Publishers/Chicago

© 1986, 1999 by Charles C. Ryrie, PhD

 

NIV Study Bible, copyright © 1985, 1995, 2002, 2008, 2011 by Zondervan

NIV Archaeological Study Bible, ©2005 by Zondervan

 

Q&A notes are adapted from the NIV Quest Study Bible, copyright © 1994, 2003, 2011 by Zondervan

 

THE IVP BIBLE BACKGROUND COMMENTARY: New Testament

© 1993 by Craig S. Keener published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.

Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the New Testament

by Warren W. Wiersbe

© 1993 by Victor Books/SP Publications, Inc.

 

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown: Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (1871)

by Rev. Robert Jamieson, D.D. Rev. A.R. Fausset, A.M & Rev. David Brown, D.D.

Database © 2012 WORDsearch Corp.

 

The HarperCollins Study Bible, Revised Edition.

Copyright © 2006 by HarperCollins Publishers.

 

New Interpreters Study Bible

© 2003 Abingdon Press

 

 

The Open Bible®

Copyright © 1983, 1985, 1990, 1997 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

 

Preacher’s Complete Homiletical Commentary

© 2001 Baker Books

 

 

 

 

Jesus: The Most Excellent Name and His Superlative Name

Jesus: The Most Excellent Name and His Superlative Name

Philippians 2:9-11

For this reason, God highly exalted Him and gave Him the Name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth—and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

I have heard this passage quoted countless times and rightfully so; the Name Jesus is worthy to be bowed down to, worthy to be adored, to be exalted in exuberant song. It is the very best name there is. Or is it? Does Jesus actually have a better name than Jesus? IF He does, what is that name and why will we bow to it?

As it happens, there is a different name that all men will bow down before. It is a name that has belonged to Jesus since before time began. It was His name before His incarnation; before He condescended to come to this earth and allow Himself to be sacrificed for our sins, this name crowned Him in glory and this name arrayed Jesus in every superlative of majesty that you could ever possibly imagine if you had 1000 lifetimes and no limitations to the capacity of your mind. This name, that Jesus has had for all eternity, is the one before whom every knee will bow and it is the name that will cause every tongue to confess; this name is YHWH (Jehovah). Dear children, it is not simply that every knee bows before Jesus, nor is it the confession of lordship that glorifies the Father but it is instead the confession of the Name that glorifies the Father. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess, (don’t miss this) Jesus IS YHWH!

Isaiah 42:8 (ASV) “ I am Jehovah, that is my name; and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise unto graven images.”

Isaiah 43:11 (ASV) “I, even I, am Jehovah; and besides me there is no saviour.”

YHWH (Jehovah) in the Old Testament declares that He will never share His glory and that He alone is the savior. But in Acts, the Apostle Peter tells us that it is the name Jesus that salvation is found in. Is there a contradiction here? Does Peter contradict Isaiah? Nope. The Greek Iesus is the same as the Hebrew Y’shua and it is in that name that salvation is found. You might ask how on earth I figure that Y’shua is the name in which salvation is found. Well, Y’shua is the shortened form of Yehoshu’a (Joshua) and Yehoshu’a literally means YHWH is Savior. Isn’t that beautiful?

 

It is YHWH which is Christ’s most glorious Name. The very God who was blasphemed by our sin has put aside the offense and has redeemed us unto Himself. Stop for a minute and think about what this means because it means so much more than you don’t have to go to hell for eternity and it means so much more than you get to go to heaven. You get to be with YHWH and you get to be like Him, unable to die, unable to be diminished. Your eternity with YHWH will be in perfect communion; you will behold the One who loved you more than life and gave His to redeem yours. Standing face to face you will see YHWH on His glorious throne. Eyes that have never seen will behold the Lamb, ears that have never heard will behold the majesty of heaven’s symphony of praise, lips that have never spoken will resound the anthem of Christ’s amazing grace, and feet that have never walked will dance before the throne with all their might just as David did in the Old Testament. In that moment, when all who have ever lived see Jesus in all of the resplendent majesty of His person, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is YHWH and the whole world will glorify YHWH, some in judgment and some from an undeserved spot in heaven but we will all give Him glory forever and ever.

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