95 THESES AGAINST DISPENSATIONALISM – Part 9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The World a Sorry Comforter

The World a Sorry Comforter

George Mylne, 1871

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Biblical Christianity vs. Roman Catholicism

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

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

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

Slide 1

God’s Moral Law

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

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

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

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

95 THESES AGAINST DISPENSATIONALISM – Part 8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Road to Emmaus

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

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

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

95 THESES AGAINST DISPENSATIONALISM – Part 7

This is part 7 of analysis of the 19th century theological invention known as dispensationalism. Part 6 can be imagesfound here: http://defendingcontending.com/2014/01/18/95-theses-agai…onalism-part-6/  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.

51. Contrary to the dispensationalists’ belief that Christ “withdrew the offer of the kingdom” and postponed it until He returns (J. D. Pentecost), Christ tells Israel, “I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it” (Matt 21:43) and “I say to you, that many shall come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom shall be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt 8:11-12).

52. Despite dispensationalism’s commitment to Christ’s atoning sacrifice, their doctrine legally justifies the crucifixion by declaring that he really did offer a political kingdom that would compete with Rome and made him guilty of revolting against Rome, even though Christ specifically informed Pilate that his type of kingship simply was “to bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37), leading this Roman-appointed procurator to declare “I find no guilt in Him” (John 18:38).

53. Contrary to the dispensationalists’ urging Christians to live their lives expecting Christ’s return at any moment, “like people who don’t expect to be around much longer” (Hal Lindsey), Christ characterizes those who expect his soon return as “foolish” (Matt 25:1-9), telling us to “occupy until He comes,” (Luke 19:13 ) and even discouraging his disciples’ hope in Israel’s conversion “now” by noting that they will have to experience “times or epochs” of waiting which “the Father has fixed by His own authority” (Acts 1:6-7).

54. Contrary to dispensationalism’s doctrine that Christ’s return always has been “imminent” and could occur “at any moment” (J. D. Pentecost) since his ascension in the first century, the New Testament speaks of his coming as being after a period of “delaying” (Matt 25:5) and after a “long” time (Matt 24:48; 25:19; 2 Pet. 3:1-15).

55. Contrary to dispensationalists’ tendency to date-setting and excited predictions of the Rapture, as found in their books with titles like 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon and Planet Earth 2000: Will Mankind Survive, Scripture teaches that “the son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will” (Matt 24:44), “at an hour which you do not know” (Matt 24:50).

56. Despite the dispensationalists’ frequent warning of the signs of the times indicating the near coming of Christ (Lindsey), their doctrine of imminency holds that no intervening prophecies remain to be fulfilled. Consequently, there can be no possibility of signs (John Walvoord); and as “there was nothing that needed to take place during Paul’s life before the Rapture, so it is today for us” (Tim LaHaye). Christ himself warned us that “of that day and hour no one knows” (Matt 24:36a).

57. Despite the dispensationalists’ claim that Christ could return at any minute because “there is no teaching of any intervening event” (John Walvoord), many of their leading spokesmen hold that the seven churches in Rev 2-3 “outline the present age in reference to the program in the church,” including “the Reformation” and our own age (J. D. Pentecost).

58. Despite the dispensationalists’ widespread belief that we have been living in the “last days” only since the founding of Israel as a nation in 1948, the New Testament clearly and repeatedly teach that the “last days” began in the first century and cover the whole period of the Christian Church (Acts 2:16-17; 1 Cor 10:11; Heb 1:1-2; 9:26)

59. Despite the dispensationalists’ claim that the expectation of the imminent Rapture and other eschatological matters are important tools for godly living, dispensationalism’s founders were often at odds with each other and divisive regarding other believers, so that, for instance, of the Plymouth Brethren it could be said that “never has one body of Christians split so often, in such a short period of time, over such minute points” (John Gerstner) and that “this was but the first of several ruptures arising from [Darby’s] teachings” (Dictionary of Evangelical Biography).

60. Contrary to the dispensationalists’ creation of a unique double coming of Christ—the Rapture being separated from the Second Advent—which are so different that it makes “any harmony of these two events an impossibility” (Walvoord), the Bible mentions only one future coming of Christ, the parousia, or epiphany, or revelation (Matt. 24:3; 1 Cor. 15:23; 1 Thess. 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thess. 2:1, 8; Jas. 5:7; 2 Pet. 3:4; 1 Jn. 2:28), and states that He “shall appear a second time” (Heb 9:28a), not that He shall appear “again and again” or for a third time.

Hell – Wrongly Presented

All You Want to Know About Hell  Hell

by Steve Gregg

a review by Stuart Brogden

From the not-so-fine folks at Westboro Baptist Church to Rob Bell, it seems that nearly everyone has an opinion about Hell and who will end up there. Steve Gregg’s book promises to tell us everything we want to know about the subject, claiming to present “three Christian views of God’s final solution to the problem of sin”. This leads the reader to expect a biblical defense and analysis of this topic. These three views are listed as the Traditional, Conditional, and Restorational views. I hope to show you how this works out so you can determine if this book will strengthen your faith in the biblical God.

The forward, ostensibly written by Gregg, reveals his bias early on as he asks the reader to conduct a thought experiment – If the Bible said nothing about hell, which of the three views would you expect God to choose based on what the Bible says about God; and then, “Based upon your character, which would you wish for Him to choose?” We will see this orientation repeated within this book – looking at creator God or some doctrine from a humanistic perspective rather than a biblical one. This is a recipe for trouble. The Introduction is a walk through various man-centered views about innocence and goodness and punishment, accompanied by the assertion that none of these three views about hell “denies any major affirmation of the gospel” (page 4). Prior to providing a summary of the three views, Gregg says, “I have come to believe that none of these positions can justly be called “heretical.” All are held by evangelicals who accept the authority of Scripture.” Gregg includes Roman Catholics, Christian liberals, and neo-orthodox within his overly broad category of “evangelicals” and he has a rather liberal view of “accepting the authority of Scripture.” This causes some of the author’s confusion on this topic. After describing these three views, he tells us his intention is not to promote any one view. The overviews provided in the Introduction include myriad proof-texts for each – a particularly unsatisfactory method of supporting a doctrinal position, as lack of context allows virtually any Scripture to be claimed by virtually anyone for virtually any argument. And a common thread throughout the book is one of questioning the traditional view.

One thing about our author which is very good – he is not blinded by what he was taught and does seek to prompt the reader to think about what he reads in Scripture. This is a good thing, one that I believe most folks pay little heed to. A case in point – many English Bibles carelessly use the word “hell” for the grave and for hell. The Apostles’ Creed doesn’t help in this particular case. We must be careful how we read.

Gregg starts off chapter 1 (page 17) saying, “Atheists find the doctrine (of hell) to be a strong deterrent to their belief in the God of Christianity.” Perhaps he meant to say that atheist claim this to be so, they hate God and will do what they can to judge the Judge of all creation. The truth about atheists is that they are dead in sin and unable to believe in Christ – unless the Spirit of God raise them up and give them faith. In his supposedly even-handed review of the Calvinistic view, Gregg actually ridicules it by describing this view of God as “a bipolar entity” who is “about equally divided between extreme love and extreme hatred”, and declare this not to reflect the biblical God (page 23). An honest reading of just about any book in the Bible shows the Creator, Sustainer, and Judge of all flesh as One Who saves whom He wishes and destroys whom He wishes. Romans 9 is a prime example of this dynamic picture of the only true God. Throughout this chapter our author portrays hell as the product of human thought, pulls Scripture out of context to make a point, and claims the Roman Catholic Church’s political campaigns known as the Crusades demonstrates how hellish Christians can be. Here’s that humanistic view – anyone who claims to be a Christian is to be accepted as one. Then, when some professing Christians do hellish things, we can drag the Bible through the mud with them. While any Christian is capable of doing pretty much any wicked thing, every true Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and not be at peace with sin. The decades-long Crusades do not represent Christians who got lazy and lapsed into sin. It was a deliberate series of acts that cannot be reconciled to Christianity, organized by a cult that has done more to kill Christians and keep the Bible locked up than the Muslims ever have.

In the last few pages of this chapter, titled, “Why Hell?”, Gregg (pg 47) claims “a punishment that never reaches an end can only guarantee that justice will never finally prevail. Unless the sinner’s sin actually deserves infinite punishment, such punishment must be inherently unjust.” In the next paragraph, Gregg notes that these points he just made “are the reasonings of mere men – but what other reasoning is at our disposal?” Yet on page 40, we were told the “approach that evaluates a teaching merely from the standpoint of human reactions to it is inferior, in that it is man-centered. To be authentic, Christian theology must be God-centered.” To this, all God’s children say a hearty AMEN! But, as I noted at the beginning, a humanist view pervades this book. He brings this chapter to a close observing that eternal punishment to satisfy God’s wrath is a “harder sell” than a hell that serves a redemptive purpose, then he quotes the liberal, Clark Pinnock: “The traditional view of the nature of hell does not cohere well with the character of God disclosed in the gospel.” If the character was only disclosed to us in “the gospel” (one cannot help but wonder if Mr. Pinnock knows the biblical gospel), then one might listen. But that’s not the case. The Christian accepts the Word of God as His wisdom revealed to us and we submit our minds to that, crying out to the Holy Spirit for understanding. We do not lean on our own understanding! Elsewhere Gregg acknowledges the notion that a creature sinning against an infinite Creator is viewed, by some, as justifying infinite punishment. He also mentions in his argument for the traditional view the reality that unredeemed sinners in hell do not stop sinning; therefore, their punishment doesn’t stop. Both of these aspects are worthy of consideration before one embraces a position promoted by a “Christian liberal.”

Gregg spills a lot of ink telling us that hell is not mentioned very much in Scripture and that hell was not a “front-burner” issue for the Savior or His apostles. “They must have found something other than terror to motivate them to obedience and service.” Our author laments gospel preaching that is basically a warning to escape the coming judgment of God – rightfully so, as that is not faithful preaching. The gospel is fundamentally about the redemption of sinners by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone – to be with Him forever on the new earth. Gregg is right (pg 61) to point out that repentance accompanies faith and should not be ignored in gospel preaching. Two pages later, he tells us of devout Christian man who testified that “he could not become a Christian (that is, he could not love God) until he actually came to disbelieve in the traditional doctrine of hell.” This is not the way a person is saved – this is the story of a man seeking a god made in his image because he does not like the God Who is. He quotes Pinnock again, propping up the notion that people must be convinced to save themselves, and then says “We must not allow pragmatism to drive our message. Our message must be the truth. Any deviation from what the Bible really teaches may produce undesirable and unforeseen consequences.” And yet he keeps on bringing up ideas and suggestions that God will not punish unrepentant sinners for eternity – sounding to me more like the serpent in the garden than a Christian theologian. And then he ends the chapter reminding us, “God alone is enough for those who seek and find Him.” AMEN!

Gregg’s personal bias shows forth in the chapter discussing Lazarus and the rich man, as he asserts (page 70) that the scene of demons emerging from the pit in Rev 9, 11, and 20 “is not properly identified with what we commonly think of as hell.” Two pages later we read, “Hades itself is destined to be cast into the lake of fire (Rev 20:14), so it obviously is not the same thing as the lake of fire.” Each of these scenes presents the abyss where demons come from and go back to – what I commonly think of as hell. I also see Revelation as a picture book of progressive parallel series of re-tellings of the church age, culminating with the return of Christ, the judgment of the people of earth, and the establishment of the new earth where He will reign with all the redeemed for eternity. Since John’s Apocalypse is apocalyptic literature, we need to see the word pictures as such and not take them literally. This helps one not fall into the problems that hound Gregg.

Chapter 5 is a word study on Gehenna and Aionios, and our author seems to be stuck in his literal interpretative mode, seeing this word refer to various places where people and trash were burnt, etc. and having trouble seeing that as a metaphor for the place where unrepentant sinners will be punished for eternity. Having previously told us, rightly, that a doctrine does not need to be repeated multiple times to be valid, Gregg now turns the other cheek and notes that Jesus spoke about hell very little. He sums up this teaching thusly (page 89): “We are told almost nothing about it (hell) in these places (the gospel accounts), except that bodies (footnote Matt 5:29,30; 18:9; Mark 9:43,45,47) can be thrown into “everlasting” and “unquenchable” fire there (footnote Matt 18:8; Mark 9:43,45,48), resulting in a fate worse than mere mutilation or martyrdom, involving the destruction of soul and body (footnote Matt 10:28).” He then laments that this does not seem to be enough detail or discussion about something as important as eternal punishment. If one has a biblical understanding of redemptive history, sees the curses in Deut 29 for anyone who fails to keep the law, grasps the picture of atonement, partially comprehends the holiness of God and His righteous hatred of sin, see how Christians are redeemed and rescued from the wrath of God by the Lamb of God – those few passages Gregg cited are more than adequate to show what will happen to all whose name is not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. The temporal references to punishment and fire are shadows of the eternal things they represent just as sure as the Levitical sacrifices were (Heb 8:5). It does the child of God no good at all to discount the seriousness of sin, making hell little more than a rehabilitation camp, and denigrating the perfection of Christ in the flesh and His atoning sacrifice for the elect.

In discussing the Greek word, aionios, Gregg again gets bogged down in literal, temporal uses and the definition that fits those circumstances – and then imposes that definition on the eternal, spiritual circumstances. This is done with the apparent aim of trying to show that eternal destruction means something less, something more bearable, something redemptive; something unbiblical. He rightly warns about the improper use of concordances, but (page 101) uses a footnote to tell us why we should not think of this Greek word as meaning eternal – because in 20 out of more than 320 uses it points to something in the past, but “rarely if ever to a limitless past.” More than 300 times the word indicates indefinite continuance, 20 times it points to the past. When it points to the past, it normally doesn’t mean limitless. So when this word points to the future and, in more than 300 instances, indicates indefinite continuance, we should think it doesn’t mean endless. It’s just not as explicit as Gregg would like it, not clear enough for those without spiritual eyes to see and believe.

Lastly, we’ll take a look at his defense of the traditional view – that hell is the eternal punishment of fallen angels and unrepentant sinners. He appears to have no problem with the idea that the soul of man is eternal. That’s his first point in defending this view. Next up is the nature of hell – fire can be figurative or literal, some think hell is simply being ignored by God (page 139). As noted above, we see both in what we are saved from and what demons and unredeemed are destined to suffer, those in hell are not separated from God, they are separated from everything except His wrath. And His wrath they will suffer under for an indefinite continuance – eternity. His 3rd point is that repentance will be unavailable in hell. How could there be, considering the judgment that determines destiny happens when man dies? Repentance is a gift from God to His redeemed – not something extended to those in hell. This is one reason unlimited atonement is wrong thinking – the blood of Jesus would not have been shed for anyone not predestined by God the Father and sealed by God the Spirit. The three holy persons of the Trinity are unified – why would they be at odds with one another in this greatest exchange? The 4th point is the right perspective that the saints’ joy in heaven (or the new earth) will not be affected or mitigated by knowledge of the damnation of the lost. Our joy will based on being with God, not on being forgetful of His justice on the wicked. There but by the grace of God go you and I.

In his cross-examination of this position, Gregg argues for temporal interpretations of passages such as Matt 3:10 & 12, insisting they are nor eschatalogical. But the student of God’s Word will know that many prophecies in the Old and New Testaments have a “near” and a “far” application – such as the famous citation in Matt 2:15, claiming Hosea’s prophecy for Jesus, that most certainly was written as a remembrance of the faithfulness of God in redeeming Israel from Egypt. And the same story of John the Baptist cited in Mark 3:10 is found in Luke 3, where verse 15 makes it clear that the winnowing John speaks of is eschatalogical. When Gregg discussed “the wages of sin”, he sides with liberals who think God would have spoken clearly to the ancient people if He intended them to know they might face eternal punishment (page 143). But the Bible tells us that, when Adam ate from the forbidden tree, his eyes were opened and he knew good and evil. From that point on, all human flesh knew right from wrong (Roman 2:12 – 15), just as Cain knew murder was wrong without ever being told. Do we believe the Word of God or a liberal that questions it? When the author ponders “the worm that does not die”, he argues that this is used to describe corpses – and corpses are not what traditionalists say are in hell. So Is 66:24 can’t be talking about hell. He skips right over Psalm 22:6 and Job 25:6 where man is called a worm – so we take our meaning from context and know that when the Bible refers to worms, it can mean men who are not corpses.

Once again, in his argument starting on page 178, Gregg acknowledges Revelation to be apocalyptic literature (page 179) and applies that to the “torment” described in Rev 14:10-11, but not so the “fire and brimstone”. He asserts (page 179) “However, “fire and brimstone” were previously seen in Revelation in connection with temporal judgment that are not associated with the lake of fire (Rev 9:17-18). He then quotes William Fudge, who was educated by the Church of Christ (at Abilene Christian College) and denies that man’s soul is immortal; because such a thing would require the traditional view of hell. The quote from Fudge: “It is not at all clear that Revelation 14:9-11 is even speaking about final punishment.” Let’s look at this passage and see. Here’s the cited text: Revelation 14:9-11 And a third angel followed them and spoke with a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he will also drink the wine of God’s wrath, which is mixed full strength in the cup of His anger. He will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the sight of the holy angels and in the sight of the Lamb, and the smoke of their torment will go up forever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or anyone who receives the mark of his name. Many people who see John’s Apocalypse in the idealist view see seven parallel and progressive retellings of the age between Christ’s two advents, with the end of this age being told several times – including the end of chapter 14. Read the balance of this chapter and it becomes clear we’re reading the end of the age and doom that awaits all who worship not the God of heaven and earth.

He continues to claim the temporal judgments, such as what God poured out on Sodom and Gomorrah, mean that references to them and the use of similar terms (like fire and brimstone) must not be eternal. But we do see how temporal things are signs and types of eternal things (such as in Hebrews 9:1-10). And since we know that the soul of man lives forever (Gregg has pointed us to some of these, such as Dan 12:2-3), and since unrepentant sinners have sinned against the perfect, absolutely holy God, and they will not stop sinning once in hell, their torment will be eternal. And one last comment on this book, because it is as the preacher said in Ecclesiastes 12:12, there is no end to the making of many books, and much study wearies the body. Gregg quotes another liberal, as John Stott ended up, in observing that Rev 14:11 says “it is the smoke (evidence that the fire has done its work) which ‘rises forever and ever’” – in making the assertion that people are not punished “forever and ever”. It’s only the smoke of their “light and momentary” torment that produces smoke which “rises forever and ever”. Every camper knows that the only way smoke will continue to rise is if the fire continues to have fuel. Without fuel, the smoke will dissipate and slowly stop – it will not continue forever and ever. And since the Lord Jesus described hell (Mark 9:44, 46, & 48) as the unquenchable fire, where Their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. How much more clear can it be? Living man is described as a worm; in hell, the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched. And the smoke of that fire which is not quenched as it burns those who dieing do not die, rise forever and ever – as they never repent but keep on cursing God throughout eternity. This is the biblical truth of hell that soft-headed liberals cannot face.

Holy God redeems some and saves us “from the wrath to come” (1 Thess 1:10). Those for whom He did not shed His blood He will reject, telling them ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!’ On Judgment Day, those whose names are not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (which were written before the foundation of the world – see Rev 13:8) will look for a place to hide from the Lamb of God – but there will be no place to hide, no deed done in darkness that will not be revealed. Just as Satan and his demons are thrown into the lake of fire, where they will be tormented day and night forever and ever (Rev 14:10), so will all those who were not predestined to eternal life be cast into the lake of fire. The Bible calls this “the second death” (Rev 14:14). Revelation 20:15 tells us And anyone not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. Contrary to the question Gregg would to plant in our minds, in this one passage of God’s holy Word we see that those whose names are not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life are thrown into the lake of fire, the same place Satan and his demon are thrown, where they all will be tormented forever – and the smoke of their torment will go up forever and ever. This is the second death that all men deserve. This is the wrath of God from which we who are in Christ Jesus are shielded (Romans 8:1). This is the doom that awaits all who do not believe and will not repent.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is all about Him. It is a reminder that all men have rebelled against Holy God and all deserve His wrath. But the Lord Jesus has gone before us – the Law-giver became the Law-keeper on the account of the Law-breakers. He has surrendered His perfect life as an atonement for people of every nation, tribe, and tongue – all those whose names were written in the Lamb’s Books of Life before He founded the world. We have a surety that cannot be taken from us – there is, therefore, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. And since there is no other name on earth or in heaven by which man must be saved, all those who do not place their faith and trust in Him, who do not repent daily and seek to honor Him will suffer the just reward for the sin they carry in their flesh as children of Adam and the sin they commit in their bodies because they are slaves to it. There is a penalty to pay and if Christ has not paid your debt, you will suffer for eternity racking up a bill that will never be marked, “PAID IN FULL!” Therefore, believe on Jesus, repent and seek Him while is it yet today!

Hell is not part of the gospel. The Bible does not give us a lot of details on hell, just as does not give a lot of details on heaven or the new earth, which will be the eternal home for Christians. That doesn’t mean these issued are unimportant, but it means they are not of first priority. “What I must do to be saved?” That is the question which must be answered. That is why the gospel is of first importance. We should not argue secondary issued with those who are “outside the camp”. They need to believe in Jesus, not figure out hell. We who are in Christ are to never stop growing in faith and knowledge of Him. All else is secondary. Think on heavenly things – that is where we are seated with Christ at this moment!

The Judgement Seat of Christ

Oh that God would break our hearts for the reality that eternity is closer than we wish to imagine! Our churches are being crushed under the weight of worldliness and a desire to please man instead of Jesus Christ. Too many are not just guilty of watching the Bride of Christ being assaulted, but are guilty of being involved with the assault and then want to still claim to be a “Christian.” May God have mercy on us for such arrogant thinking that is only taking people to hell!

95 THESES AGAINST DISPENSATIONALISM – Part 6

This is part 6 of analysis of the 19th century theological invention known as dispensationalism. Part 5 can be imagesfound here: http://defendingcontending.com/2014/01/18/95-theses-agai…onalism-part-5/  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.

41. Despite the dispensationalists’ claim that the descendents of the patriarchs never inhabited all the land promised to them in the Abrahamic covenant and therefore, since God cannot lie, the possession of the land by the Jews is still in the future; on the contrary, Joshua wrote, “So the LORD gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it… Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass” (Joshua 21:43,45).

42. Despite the dispensationalists’ so-called literalism demanding that Jerusalem and Mt. Zion must once again become central to God’s work in history, in that “Jerusalem will be the center of the millennial government” (Walvoord), the new covenant sees these places as typological pointers to spiritual realities that come to pass in the new covenant Church, beginning in the first century, as when we read that “you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Heb 12:22; cp. Gal 4:22-31).

43. Despite the dispensationalists’ fundamental theological commitment to the radical distinction between “Israel and the Church” (Ryrie), the New Testament sees two “Israels” (Rom. 9:6-8)—one of the flesh, and one of the spirit—with the only true Israel being the spiritual one, which has come to mature fulfillment in the Church. (The Christian Church has not replaced Israel; rather, it is the New Testament expansion.) This is why the New Testament calls members of the Church “Abraham’s seed” (Gal 3:26-29) and the Church itself “the Israel of God” (Gal 6:16).

44. Despite the dispensationalists’ claim that Jews are to be eternally distinct from Gentiles in the plan of God, because “throughout the ages God is pursuing two distinct purposes” with “one related to the earth” while “the other is related to heaven” (Chafer and Ryrie), the New Testament speaks of the permanent union of Jew and Gentile into one body “by abolishing in His flesh the enmity” that “in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace” (Eph 2:15), Accordingly, with the finished work of Christ “there is neither Jew nor Greek” in the eyes of God (Gal 3:28).

45. Contrary to dispensationalism’s implication of race-based salvation for Jewish people (salvation by race instead of salvation by grace), Christ and the New Testament writers warn against assuming that genealogy or race insures salvation, saying to the Jews: “Do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you, that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham” (Matt 3:9) because “children of God” are “born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12b-13; 3:3).

46. Contrary to dispensationalism’s claim that “the Church is a mystery, unrevealed in the Old Testament” (J. D. Pentecost), the New Testament writers look to the Old Testament for its divine purpose and role in the history of redemption and declare only that the mystery was not known “to the sons of men” at large, and was not known to the same degree “as” it is now revealed to all men in the New Testament (Eph 3:4-6), even noting that it fulfills Old Testament prophecy (Hos 1:10 / Rom 9:22-26), including even the beginning of the new covenant phase of the Church (Joel 2:28-32 / Acts 2:16-19).

47. Despite dispensationalism’s presentation of the Church as a “parenthesis” (J. F. Walvoord) in the major plan of God in history (which focuses on racial Israel), the New Testament teaches that the Church is the God-ordained result of God’s Old Testament plan, so that the Church is not simply a temporary aside in God’s plan but is the institution over which Christ is the head so that He may “put all things in subjection under His feet” (Eph 1:22; 1 Cor. 15:24-28).

48. Contrary to dispensationalism’s teaching that Jeremiah’s “New Covenant was expressly for the house of Israel … and the house of Judah” (Bible Knowledge Commentary)—a teaching that is due to its man-made view of literalism as documented by former dispensationalist (Curtis Crenshaw) and the centrality of Israel in its theological system—the New Testament shows that the new covenant includes Gentiles and actually establishes the new covenant Church as the continuation of Israel (Luke 22:20; 1 Cor 11:25; 2 Cor 3:6).

49. Contrary to dispensationalism’s claim that Christ sincerely offered “the covenanted kingdom to Israel” as a political reality in literal fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies (J. D. Pentecost), the Gospels tell us that when his Jewish followers were “intending to come and take Him by force, to make Him king” that he “withdrew” from them (John 6:15), and that he stated that “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting, that I might not be delivered up to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm” (John 18:36).

50. Despite the dispensationalists’ belief that Christ sincerely offered a political kingdom to Israel while he was on earth (J. D. Pentecost), Israel could not have accepted the offer, since God sent Christ to die for sin (John 12:27); and His death was prophesied so clearly that those who missed the point are called “foolish” (Luke 24:25-27). Christ frequently informed His hearers that He came to die, as when He said that “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matt 20:28;) and Scripture clearly teaches that His death was by the decree of God (Acts 2:23) before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). Thus, dispensationalism’s claim about this offer implicitly involves God in duplicity and Christ in deception.

The Papacy

A few years back, a dear friend who has since ceased his war with the flesh commented to me that he did not papacyunderstand why anyone would call himself a protestant. The Reformation was over – what were we protesting? I implored him to consider the Council of Trent – nothing therein has been retracted. And therein, all who believe in salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone are considered heretics and beyond “salvation” – according to Rome.

In this book, written in the mid-19th century, J.A. Wylie examines the history of the papacy, the dogma of the papacy, the genius and influence of the papacy, and the policy and present prospects of the papacy – all in little more than 300 pages.

As did most reformers, Wylie considered the papacy to be a work of Satan and man. He portrays Satan as the master deceiver and gives us this look at how he worked in the Roman Catholic Church over the years. Here are three short excerpt from this valuable work, which can be read in its entirety here. Let each man who claims Christ stand on the Word of God alone and may God keep us from error.

This antagonist Satan could confront with but his old policy. That policy took a new form, to adapt itself to new circumstances: its edge was finer, its complications greatly more intricate, and its scale of operation vastly larger; still it was the old policy, radically, essentially unchanged, beneath its new modifications and altered forms. Satan presented over again to the world the COUNTERFEIT; and he succeeded once more in persuading the world to accept the counterfeit and to banish the real. The great primal truth of God’s unity and supreme and exclusive government was supplanted in the old world by the device of making men adore inferior deities, not as God, but as representatives and vicegerents of God. So in the modern world the leading Christian truth respecting Christ, and the oneness of his mediation, has been supplanted by the device of other mediators, and of another Christ,–Antichrist. Popery is the counterfeit of Christianity,–a most elaborate and skilfully contriven counterfeit,– a counterfeit in which the form is faithfully preserved, the spirit utterly extinguished, and the end completely inverted. This counterfeit Church has its high priest,–the Pope,–who blasphemes the royal priesthood of Christ, by assuming his office, when he pretends to be Lord of the conscience, Lord of the Church, and Lord of the world; and by assuming his names, when he calls himself “the Light of the World,” “the King of Glory,” “the Lion of the tribe of Judah,”[1] Christ’s Vicar and God’s Vicegerent. This counterfeit Church has, too, its sacrifice,–the mass, which blasphemes the sacrifice of Christ, by virtually teaching its inefficiency, and needing to be repeated, as is done when Christ’s very body and blood are again offered in sacrifice by the hands of the priests of Rome, for the sins of the living and the dead. This Church has, moreover, its Bible, which is tradition, which blasphemes the Word of God, by virtually teaching its insufficiency. It has its mediators,–saints and angels, and especially the Virgin; and thus it blasphemes the one Mediator between God and man. In fine, it blasphemes the person and the office of the Spirit as the sanctifier, because it teaches that its sacraments can make holy; and it blasphemes God, by teaching that its priests can pardon sin, and can release from the obligations of divine law. Thus has Popery counterfeited, and, by counterfeiting, set aside, all that is vital and valuable in Christianity. It robs Christ of his kingly office, by exalting the Pope to his throne; it robs him of his priesthood in the sacrifice of the mass; it robs him of his power as Mediator, by substituting Mary; it robs him of his prophetical office, by substituting the teachings of an infallible Church; it robs God the Spirit of his peculiar work as the sanctifier, by attributing the power of conferring grace to its own ordinances; and it robs God the Father of his prerogatives, by assuming the power of justifying and pardoning men.

In the second place, the pontiffs claimed to be the successors of the apostles. This was a more masterly stroke of policy still. To the temporal dominion of the Caesars they added the spiritual authority of the apostles. It is here that the great strength of the Papacy lies. As the successor of Peter, the Pope was greater than as the successor of Caesar. The one gave him earth, but the other gave him heaven. The one made him a king; the other made him a king of kings. The one gave him the power of the sword, the other invested him with the still more sacred authority of the keys. The one surrounded him with all the adjuncts of temporal sovereignty,–guards, ambassadors, and ministers of State,–and set him over fleets and armies, imposts and revenues; the other made him the master of inexhaustible spiritual treasures, and enabled him to support his power by the sanctions and terrors of the invisible world. While he has celestial dignities as well as temporal honours wherewith to enrich his friends, he can wield the spiritual thunder as well as the artillery of earth, in contending with and discomfiting his foes. Such are the twin sources of pontifical authority. The Papacy stands with one foot on earth and the other in heaven. It has compelled the Caesars to give it temporal power, and the apostles to yield it spiritual authority. It is the ghost of Peter, with the shadowy diadem of the old Caesars.

We take first the doctrine of infallibility. Can anything be conceived more fitted to crush all intellectual vigour than such a doctrine? As an infallible Church, Rome presents her votaries with a system of dogmas, not a few of which are opposed to reason, and some of them even to the senses. These dogmas are not to be investigated; the person must not attempt to reconcile them to reason, or to the evidence of his senses; he must not attempt even to understand them; they are simply to be believed. If he demands grounds for this belief, he is told that he is committing mortal sin, and perilling his salvation. Here is all action of the mind interdicted, under the highest sanctions. The person is taught that he cannot commit a greater crime than to think; that he cannot more grievously offend against his Creator than by using the powers his Creator has endowed him with. Thus, while the first effect of Christianity is to quicken the intellect, the first effect of Romanism is to strike it with torpor. She inexorably demands of all her votaries that they denude themselves of their understandings and their senses, and prostrate them beneath the wheels of this Juggernaut of hers. While the Protestant is occupied in investigating the grounds of his creed, in tracing the relations of its various truths, and in following out their consequences, the mind of the Roman Catholic is all the while lying dormant. As the bandaged limb loses in time the power of motion, so faculties not used become at length incapable of use. A timid disposition, an inert habit, is produced, which is not confined to religion, but extends to every subject with which the person has to do. His reason is shut up in a cave, and infallibility rolls a great stone to the cave’s mouth.

LOST – The Holiness of God in Churches

Preaching about the love of God as if He is like the friendly grandfather is a false gospel. God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life is a false gospel. The true gospel is one that exalts the holiness of God, the supremacy of Jesus Christ, and the total depravity of every person who has ever lived.

95 THESES AGAINST DISPENSATIONALISM – Part 5

This is part 5 of analysis of the 19th century theological invention known as dispensationalism. Part 4 can be imagesfound here: http://defendingcontending.com/2014/01/18/95-theses-agai…onalism-part-4/  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.

31. Despite the dispensationalists’ strong commitment to the “plain interpretation” of Scripture (Charles Ryrie) and its dependence on Daniel’s Seventy Weeks as “of major importance to premillennialism” (John Walvoord), they have to insert into the otherwise chronological progress of the singular period of “Seventy Weeks” (Dan 9:24) a gap in order to make their system work; and that gap is already four times longer than the whole Seventy Weeks (490 year) period.

32. Despite the dispensationalists’ commitment to the non-contradictory integrity of Scripture, their holding to both a convoluted form of literalism and separate and distinct dispensations produces a dialectical tension between the “last trumpet” of 1 Cor. 15:51-53, which is held to be the signal for the Rapture at the end of the Church Age, and the trumpet in Matt. 24:31, which gathers elect Jews out of the Tribulation at the Second Coming (Walvoord). Dispensationalists, who allegedly are ‘literalists,’ posit that this latter trumpet is seven years after the “last” trumpet.

33. Despite the dispensationalists’ desire to promote the historical-grammatical method of interpretation, their habit of calling it the “plain interpretation” (Charles Ryrie) leads the average reader not to look at ancient biblical texts in terms of their original setting, but in terms of their contemporary, Western setting and what they have been taught by others — since it is so “plain.”

34. Despite the dispensationalists’ confidence that they have a strong Bible-affirming hermeneutic in “plain interpretation” (Charles Ryrie), their so-called literalism is inconsistently employed, and their more scholarly writings lead lay dispensationalists and populist proponents simplistically to write off other evangelical interpretations of Scripture with a naive call for “literalism!”

35. Despite the dispensationalists’ attempts to defend their definition of literalism by claiming that it fits into “the received laws of language” (Ryrie), However, subsequent to Ludwig Wittgenstein’s studies in linguistic analysis, there is no general agreement among philosophers regarding the “laws” of language or the proper philosophy of language (Crenshaw).”

36. Despite the dispensationalists’ claim to interpret all of the Bible “literally”, Dr. O.T. Allis correctly observed, “While Dispensationalists are extreme literalists, they are very inconsistent ones. They are literalists in interpreting prophecy. But in the interpreting of history, they carry the principle of typical interpretation to an extreme which has rarely been exceeded even by the most ardent of allegorizers.”

37. Despite the dispensationalists’ claim regarding “the unconditional character of the [Abrahamic] covenant” (J. Dwight Pentecost), which claim is essential for maintaining separate programs for Israel and the Church, the Bible in Deuteronomy 30 and other passages presents it as conditional; consequently not all of Abraham’s descendants possess the land and the covenantal blessings but only those who, by having the same faith as Abraham, become heirs through Christ.

38. Despite the dispensationalists’ necessary claim that the Abrahamic covenant is unconditional, they inconsistently teach that Esau is not included in the inheritance of Canaan and Abraham’s blessings, even though he was as much the son of Isaac (Abraham’s son) as was Jacob, his twin (Gen 25:21-25), because he sold his birthright and thus was excluded from the allegedly “unconditional” term of the inheritance.

39. Despite the dispensationalists’ claim that the Abrahamic covenant involved an unconditional land promise, which serves as one of the bases for the future hope of a millennium, the Bible teaches that Abraham “was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Heb 11:10), and that the city, the “new Jerusalem,” will “descend from God, out of Heaven” (Rev. 21:2).