Daily Archives: March 23, 2014

The Counterfeit Church and Its “Feel-Good” Gospel – Berit Kjos

DiscernIt

 The Counterfeit Church & Its “Feel-Good” Gospel 

By Berit Kjos ~ Updated on March 19, 2014

 “…if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:9-10

(Those are my Lord’s words, not mine! And I must follow Him!)

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Roma Downey’s contrary beliefs: “I think we all have a responsibility to see God in each other. That’s how I’ve raised my children – that no matter whose face they look into, they’re looking into the face of God, who’s in all of us.[1]

“An amazing thing is happening across the land. Jesus Christ is being ‘reinvented’… right in front of our eyes and hardly anyone seems to notice or care.”[2] Warren B. Smith, False Christ Coming

“The movie [Son of God] is cool, well made, gritty, authentic and emotionally connective,” said Roma Downey. “We wanted to make it…

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NTEB: New Noah Movie Has Very Little To Do With Biblical Account Of Flood

“There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.” Genesis 6:4,7

About the only thing this Noah movie seems to have taken from the Genesis account of the flood is they spelled Noah’s name correctly. Past that, it seems to be a free-for-all in the artistic license department. The bible tells us that God (who is never mentioned by Name in the movie) sent the flood because fallen angels had mated with human women and produced a demonic offspring known as Nephilim, (the Hebrew word for giants). But in this movie, the Nephilim are the ones helping Noah build the boat. Typical liberal nonsense of making the bad guys into good guys. Progressives love revisionist history.

Adding to the non-biblical nature of this movie, there is a running undercurrent of “green” propaganda from the “climate change” people – Foraging with one of his sons, Noah instructs, “We only collect what we need, what we can use.” A movie like this is designed to cast doubt on the accuracy and believablity of the bible as true and trustworthy.

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Hollywood Reporter: The narrative of the global flood that wiped out almost all earthly life is the original disaster story, one that’s embraced by most of the major world religions, which means that conservative and literal-minded elements of all faiths who make it their business to be offended by untraditional renditions of holy texts will find plenty to fulminate about here.

Already banned in some Middle Eastern countries, Noah will rile some for the complete omission of the name “God” from the dialogue, others for its numerous dramatic fabrications and still more for its heavy-handed ecological doomsday messages, which unmistakably mark it as a product of its time. But whether you buy these elements or not, this is still an arresting piece of filmmaking that has a shot at capturing a large international audience both for its fantasy-style spectacle and its fresh look at an elemental Bible story most often presented as a kiddie yarn.

One of the striking things about the Noah tale is that it presents a fallible Creator, one who admits to disappointments over shortcomings in the product of the sixth day of creation with the remark, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the ground, man and beast and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” The exceptions are middle-aged Noah (Russell Crowe), his wife, Naameh (Jennifer Connelly), and sons Shem (Douglas Booth), Ham (Logan Lerman) and Japheth (Leo Carroll), who are estranged from the rest of humanity and live apart from it, struggling to survive in forbidding surroundings. source – Hollywood Reporter

The post New Noah Movie Has Very Little To Do With Biblical Account Of Flood appeared first on Now The End Begins.

Authentic Fire – Chapter 8 Review

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afSpirit and Truth, Right Brain and Left Brain

Coming to chapter 8 of Authentic Fire, Dr. Michael Brown explains how charismatics and non-charismatics have something to offer the body of Christ. Rather than fighting, both groups will serve everyone better if they would seek to understand and learn from each other.  That way, both sides will glorify Jesus and touch a dying world [AF, 251]. 

While Brown acknowledges that he believes the Bible clearly affirms his position, charismatics and non-charismatics still have unique contributions to make. What may be one group’s strength, may be another’s weakness, and what may be one’s weakness will be the other’s strength. It is how God established the body of Christ to work together. As Paul wrote in Romans 12:4-5, there are many members, but not all members have the same function. So it is with charismatics and non-charismatics.

Take for instance…

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The False Teachers: Charles Taze Russell

A few weeks ago I set out on a new series of articles through which I intend to scan the history of the church—from its earliest days all the way to the present time—to examine some of Christianity’s most notorious false teachers. Along the way we will visit such figures as Arius, Pelagius, Fosdick, and even a few you might find on television today. We continue this morning with a false teacher whose name has been nearly forgotten even though his followers regularly knock on your door. He is Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

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What Is Dispensationalism and What Does It Have to Do with Lordship Salvation? – John MacArthur

 

One of the most confusing elements of the entire lordship controversy involves dispensationalism. Some have supposed that my attack on no-lordship theology is an all-out assault against dispensationalism. That is not the case. It may surprise some readers to know that the issue of dispensationalism is one area where Charles Ryrie, Zane Hodges, and I share some common ground. We are all dispensationalists.

Many people are understandably confused by the term dispensationalism. I’ve met seminary graduates and many in Christian leadership who haven’t the slightest idea how to define dispensationalism. How does it differ from covenant theology? What does it have to do with lordship salvation? Perhaps we can answer those questions simply and without a lot of theological jargon.

Dispensationalism is a system of biblical interpretation that sees a distinction between God’s program for Israel and His dealings with the church. It’s really as simple as that.

A dispensation is the plan of God by which He administers His rule within a given era in His eternal program. Dispensations are not periods of time, but different administrations in the eternal outworking of God’s purpose. It is especially crucial to note that the way of salvation—by grace through faith—is the same in every dispensation. God’s redemptive plan remains unchanged, but the way He administers it will vary from one dispensation to another. Dispensationalists note that Israel was the focus of God’s redemptive plan in one dispensation. The church, consisting of redeemed people including Jews and Gentiles, is the focus in another. All dispensationalists believe at least one dispensation is still future—during the thousand-year reign of Christ on earth, known as the millennium, in which Israel will once again play a pivotal role.

Dispensationalism teaches that all God’s remaining covenant promises to Israel will be literally fulfilled—including the promises of earthly blessings and an earthly messianic kingdom. God promised Israel, for example, that they would possess the promised land forever ( Gen. 13:14–17 ; Exod. 32:13 ). Scripture declares that Messiah will rule over the kingdoms of the earth from Jerusalem ( Zech. 14:9–11 ). Old Testament prophecy says that all Israel will one day be restored to the promised land ( Amos 9:14–15 ); the temple will be rebuilt ( Ezek. 37:26–28 ); and the people of Israel will be redeemed ( Jer. 23:6 ; Rom. 11:26–27 ). Dispensationalists believe all those promised blessings will come to pass as literally as did the promised curses.

Covenant theology, on the other hand, usually views such prophecies as already fulfilled allegorically or symbolically. Covenant theologians believe that the church, not literal Israel, is the recipient of the covenant promises. They believe the church has superseded Israel in God’s eternal program. God’s promises to Israel are therefore fulfilled in spiritual blessings realized by Christians. Since their system does not allow for literal fulfillment of promised blessings to the Jewish nation, covenant theologians allegorize or spiritualize those prophetic passages of God’s Word.

I am a dispensationalist because dispensationalism generally understands and applies Scripture—particularly prophetic Scripture—in a way that is more consistent with the normal, literal approach I believe is God’s design for interpreting Scripture. For example, dispensationalists can take at face value Zechariah 12–14 , Romans 11:25–29 , and Revelation 20:1–6. The covenant theologian, on the other hand, cannot.

So I am convinced that the dispensationalist distinction between the church and Israel is an accurate understanding of God’s eternal plan as revealed in Scripture. I have not abandoned dispensationalism, nor do I intend to.

Note, by the way, that Dr. Ryrie’s description of dispensationalism and his reasons for embracing the system are very similar to what I have written here. Some years ago he wrote, “The essence of dispensationalism, then, is the distinction between Israel and the church. This grows out of the dispensationalist’s consistent employment of normal or plain interpretation.” On these matters, it seems, Dr. Ryrie and I are in fundamental agreement. It is in the practical outworking of our dispensationalism that we differ. Dr. Ryrie’s system turns out to be somewhat more complex than his own definition might suggest.

The lordship debate has had a devastating effect on dispensationalism. Because no-lordship theology is so closely associated with dispensationalism, many have imagined a cause-and-effect relationship between the two. In The Gospel According to Jesus, I made the point that some early dispensationalists had laid the foundation for no-lordship teaching. I disagreed with dispensational extremists who relegate whole sections of Scripture—including the Sermon on the Mount and the Lord’s Prayer—to a yet-future kingdom era. I was critical of the way some dispensationalists have handled the preaching and teaching of Jesus in a way that erases the evangelistic intent from some of His most important invitations. I decried the methodology of dispensationalists who want to isolate salvation from repentance, justification from sanctification, faith from works, and Christ’s lordship from His role as Savior, in a way that breaks asunder what God has joined together.

Several outspoken anti-dispensationalists hailed the book as a major blow to dispensationalism. They wanted to declare the system dead and hold a celebratory funeral.

Frankly, some mongrel species of dispensationalism ought to die, and I will be happy to join the cortege. But it is wrong to write off dispensationalism as altogether invalid. My purpose is not to attack the roots of dispensationalism, but rather to plead for a purer, more biblical application of the literal, historical, grammatical principle of interpretation. The hermeneutic method that underlies dispensationalism is fundamentally sound and must not be abandoned. That is not the point of the lordship debate.

Who are dispensationalists? Virtually all dispensationalists are theologically conservative evangelicals. Our view of Scripture is typically very high; our method of interpretation is consistently literal; and our zeal for spiritual things is inflamed by our conviction that we are living in the last days.

How does dispensationalism influence our overall theological perspective? Obviously, the central issue in any dispensationalist system is eschatology, or the study of prophecy. All dispensationalists are premillennialists. That is, they believe in a future earthly thousand-year reign of Christ. That’s what a literal approach to prophecy mandates (cf. Rev. 20:1–10 ). Dispensationalists may disagree on the timing of the rapture, the number of dispensations, or other details, but their position on the earthly millennial kingdom is settled by their mode of biblical interpretation.

Dispensationalism also carries implications for ecclesiology, or the doctrine of the church, because of the differentiation between the church and Israel. Many dispensationalists, myself included, agree that there is some continuity between the Old and New Testament people of God in that we share a common salvation purchased by Jesus Christ and appropriated by grace through faith. But dispensationalists do not accept covenant theology’s teaching that the church is spiritual Israel. Covenant theology sees continuity between Jewish ritual and the New Testament sacraments, for example. In their system, baptism and circumcision have similar significance. In fact, many covenant theologians use the analogy of circumcision to argue for infant baptism. Dispensationalists, on the other hand, tend to view baptism as a sacrament for believers only, distinct from the Jewish rite.

So dispensationalism shapes one’s eschatology and ecclesiology. That is the extent of it. Pure dispensationalism has no ramifications for the doctrines of God, man, sin, or sanctification. More significantly, true dispensationalism makes no relevant contribution to soteriology, or the doctrine of salvation. In other words, nothing in a legitimate dispensational approach to Scripture mandates that we define the gospel in any unique or different way. In fact, if the same zealous concern for literal hermeneutics that yields a distinction between Israel and the church were followed consistently in the salvation issue, there would be no such thing as no-lordship soteriology.

What Is the Connection Between Dispensationalism and No-lordship Doctrine?

Yet the fact remains that virtually all the champions of no-lordship doctrine are dispensationalists. No covenant theologian defends the no-lordship gospel. Why?

Understand, first of all, that dispensationalism has not always been well represented by its most enthusiastic advocates. As I have noted, the uniqueness of dispensationalism is that we see a distinction in Scripture between Israel and the church. That singular perspective, common to all dispensationalists, sets us apart from nondispensationalists. It is, by the way, the only element of traditional dispensationalist teaching that is yielded as a result of literal interpretation of biblical texts. It also is the only tenet virtually all dispensationalists hold in common. That is why I have singled it out as the characteristic that defines dispensationalism. When I speak of “pure” dispensationalism, I’m referring to this one common denominator—the Israel-church distinction.

Admittedly, however, most dispensationalists carry far more baggage in their systems than that one feature. Early dispensationalists often packaged their doctrine in complex and esoteric systems illustrated by intricate diagrams. They loaded their repertoire with extraneous ideas and novel teachings, some of which endure today in various strains of dispensationalism. Dispensationalism’s earliest influential spokesmen included J. N. Darby, founder of the Plymouth Brethren and considered by many the father of modern dispensationalism; Cyrus I. Scofield, author of the Scofield Reference Bible; Clarence Larkin, whose book of dispensational charts has been in print and selling briskly since 1918; and Ethelbert W. Bullinger, an Anglican clergyman who took dispensationalism to an unprecedented extreme usually called ultradispensationalism. Many of these men were self-taught in theology and were professionals in secular occupations. Darby and Scofield, for example, were attorneys, and Larkin was a mechanical draftsman. They were laymen whose teachings gained enormous popularity largely through grass-roots enthusiasm.

Unfortunately some of these early framers of dispensationalism were not as precise or discriminating as they might have been had they had the benefit of a more complete theological education. C. I. Scofield, for example, included a note in his reference Bible that contrasted “legal obedience as the condition of [Old Testament] salvation” with “acceptance … of Christ” as the condition of salvation in the current dispensation. Nondispensationalist critics have often attacked dispensationalism for teaching that the conditions for salvation differ from dispensation to dispensation. Here, at least, Scofield left himself open to that criticism, though he seemed to acknowledge in other contexts that the law was never a means of salvation for Old Testament saints.

The maturing of dispensationalism, then, has mainly been a process of refining, distilling, clarifying, paring down, and cutting away what is extraneous or erroneous. Later dispensationalists, including Donald Grey Barnhouse, Wilbur Smith, and H. A. Ironside, were increasingly wary of the fallacies that peppered much early dispensationalist teaching. Ironside’s written works show his determination to confront error within the movement. He attacked Bullinger’s ultradispensationalism. He criticized teaching that relegated repentance to some other era.8 He condemned the “carnal Christian” theology that helped pave the way for today’s radical no-lordship teaching. Ironside’s writings are replete with warnings against antinomianism.10

Nondispensationalists have tended to caricature dispensationalism by emphasizing its excesses, and frankly the movement has produced more than its share of abominable teaching. Dispensationalists have often been forced to acknowledge that some of their critics’ points have been valid. The biblical distinction between Israel and the church remains unassailed, however, as the essence of pure dispensationalism.

In recent years, dispensationalism has been hit with a blistering onslaught of criticism, mostly focusing on dispensationalism’s love affair with the no-lordship gospel. Evidence of this may be seen in John Gerstner’s Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth: A Critique of Dispensationalism. Gerstner rightly attacks elements of antinomianism and no-lordship soteriology in some dispensationalists’ teaching. He wrongly assumes, however, that those things are inherent in all dispensationalism. He dismisses the movement altogether because of the shoddy theology he finds in the teaching of several prominent dispensationalists.

It is a gross misunderstanding to assume that antinomianism is at the heart of dispensationalist doctrine. Moreover, it is unfair to portray all dispensationalists as unsophisticated or careless theologians. Many skilled and discerning students of Scripture have embraced dispensationalism and managed to avoid antinomianism, extremism, and other errors. The men who taught me in seminary were all dispensationalists. Yet none of them would have defended no-lordship teaching.

Nevertheless, no one can deny that dispensationalism and antinomianism have often been advocated by the same people. All the recent arguments that have been put forth in defense of no-lordship theology are rooted in ideas made popular by dispensationalists. The leading proponents of contemporary no-lordship theology are all dispensationalists. The lordship controversy is merely a bubbling to the surface of tensions that have always existed in and around the dispensationalist community. That point is essential to a clear understanding of the whole controversy.

Thus to appreciate some of the key tenets of the no-lordship gospel, we must comprehend their relationship to the dispensationalist tradition.

Tritely Dividing the Word?

For some dispensationalists, the Israel-church distinction is only a starting point. Their theology is laden with similar contrasts: church and kingdom, believers and disciples, old and new natures, faith and repentance. Obviously, there are many important and legitimate distinctions found in Scripture and sound theology: Old and New Covenants, law and grace, faith and works, justification and sanctification. But dispensationalists often tend to take even the legitimate contrasts too far. Most dispensationalists who have bought into no-lordship doctrine imagine, for example, that law and grace are mutually exclusive opposites, or that faith and works are somehow incompatible.

Some dispensationalists apply 2 Timothy 2:15 (“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth ”— kjv , emphasis added) as if the key word were dividing rather than rightly. The dispensationalist tendency to divide and contrast has led to some rather inventive exegesis. Some dispensationalists teach, for example, that “the kingdom of heaven” and “the kingdom of God” speak of different domains. The terms are clearly synonymous in Scripture, however, as a comparison of Matthew and Luke shows ( Matt. 5:3 // Luke 6:20 ; Matt. 10:7 // Luke 10:9 ; Matt. 11:11 // Luke 7:28 ; Matt. 11:12 // Luke 16:16 ; Matt. 13:11 // Luke 8:10 ; Matt. 13:31–33 // Luke 13:18–21 ; Matt. 18:4 // Luke 18:17 ; Matt. 19:23 // Luke 18:24 ). Matthew is the only book in the entire Bible that ever uses the expression “kingdom of heaven.” Matthew, writing to a mostly Jewish audience, understood their sensitivity to the use of God’s name. He simply employed the common euphemism heaven. Thus the kingdom of heaven is the kingdom of God.

This tendency to set parallel truths against each other is at the heart of no-lordship theology. Jesus’ lordship and His role as Savior are isolated from one another, making it possible to claim Him as Savior while refusing Him as Lord. Justification is severed from sanctification, legitimizing the notion of salvation without transformation. Mere believers are segregated from disciples, making two classes of Christians, carnal and spiritual. Faith is pitted against obedience, nullifying the moral aspect of believing. Grace becomes the antithesis of law, providing the basis for a system that is inherently antinomian.

The grace-law dichotomy is worth a closer look. Many early dispensationalist systems were unclear on the role of grace in the Mosaic economy and the place of law in the current dispensation. As I noted, Scofield left the unfortunate impression that Old Testament saints were saved by keeping the law. Scofield’s best-known student was Lewis Sperry Chafer, co-founder of Dallas Theological Seminary. Chafer, a prolific author, wrote dispensationalism’s first unabridged systematic theology. Chafer’s system became the standard for several generations of dispensationalists trained at Dallas. Yet Chafer repeated Scofield’s error. In his summary on justification, he wrote,

According to the Old Testament men were just because they were true and faithful in keeping the Mosaic Law. Micah defines such a life after this manner: “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” ( 6:8 ). Men were therefore just because of their own works for God, whereas New Testament justification is God’s work for man in answer to faith ( Rom. 5:1 ).

Though Chafer elsewhere denied that he taught multiple ways of salvation, it is clear that he fixed a great gulf between grace and law. He believed the Old Testament law imposed “an obligation to gain merit” with God. On the other hand, Chafer believed grace delivers the child of God “from every aspect of the law—as a rule of life, as an obligation to make himself acceptable to God, and as a dependence on impotent flesh.”17 “Grace teachings are not laws; they are suggestions. They are not demands; they are beseechings, ” he wrote.

In Chafer’s system, God seems to fluctuate between dispensations of law and dispensations of grace. Grace was the rule of life from Adam to Moses. “Pure law” took over when a new dispensation began at Sinai. In the current dispensation, “pure grace” is the rule. The millennial kingdom will be another dispensation of “pure law.” Chafer evidently believed grace and law could not coexist side by side, and so he seemed to eliminate one or the other from every dispensation. He wrote,

Both the age before the cross and the age following the return of Christ represent the exercise of pure law; while the period between the two ages represents the exercise of pure grace. It is imperative, therefore, that there shall be no careless co-mingling of these great age-characterizing elements, else the preservation of the most important distinctions in the various relationships between God and man are lost, and the recognition of the true force of the death of Christ and His coming again is obscured.

No one denies that Scripture clearly contrasts law and grace. John 1:17 says, “The Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.” Romans 6:4 says, “You are not under law, but under grace.” So the distinction between law and grace is obvious in Scripture.

But grace and law operate in every dispensation. Grace is and always has been the only means of eternal salvation. The whole point of Romans 4 is that Abraham, David, and all other Old Testament saints were justified by grace through faith, not because they kept the law. Did the apostle Paul believe we can nullify the law in this age of pure grace? Paul’s reply to that question was unequivocal: “May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law” ( Rom. 3:31 ).

In fairness, it is important to note that when pressed on the issue, Chafer acknowledged that God’s grace and Christ’s blood were the only ground on which sinners in any age could be saved. It must be stressed, however, that Chafer, Scofield, and others who have followed their lead have made too much of the differences between Old and New Testament dispensations. Wanting to avoid what he thought was “careless co-mingling” of law and grace, Chafer ended up with an “age of law” that is legalistic and an “age of grace” that smacks of antinomianism.

Chafer himself was a godly man, committed to holiness and high standards of Christian living. In practice, he would never have condoned carnality. But his dispensationalist system—with the hard dichotomies it introduced; its “grace teachings” that were “suggestions,” not demands; and its concept of “pure” grace that stood in opposition to law of any kind—paved the way for a brand of Christianity that has legitimized careless and carnal behavior.

Chafer could rightly be called the father of twentieth-century no-lordship theology. He listed repentance and surrender as two of “the more common features of human responsibility which are too often erroneously added to the one requirement of faith or belief. ” He wrote, “to impose a need to surrender the life to God as an added condition of salvation is most unreasonable. God’s call to the unsaved is never said to be unto the Lordship of Christ; it is unto His saving grace.”23 “Next to sound doctrine itself, no more important obligation rests on the preacher than that of preaching the Lordship of Christ to Christians exclusively, and the Saviorhood of Christ to those who are unsaved.”

It is important to note that when Chafer wrote those things, he was arguing against the Oxford Movement, a popular but dangerous heresy that was steering Protestants back into the legalism and works-righteousness of Roman Catholicism. Chafer wrote,

The error of imposing Christ’s Lordship upon the unsaved is disastrous.… A destructive heresy is abroad under the name The Oxford Movement, which specializes in this blasting error, except that the promoters of the Movement omit altogether the idea of believing on Christ for salvation and promote exclusively the obligation to surrender to God. They substitute consecration for conversion, faithfulness for faith, and beauty of daily life for believing unto eternal life. As is easily seen, the plan of this movement is to ignore the need of Christ’s death as the ground of regeneration and forgiveness, and to promote the wretched heresy that it matters nothing what one believes respecting the Saviorhood of Christ if only the daily life is dedicated to God’s service.… The tragedy is that out of such a delusion those who embrace it are likely never to be delivered by a true faith in Christ as Savior. No more complete example could be found today of “the blind leading the blind” than what this Movement presents.

But Chafer prescribed the wrong remedy for the false teachings of the Oxford Movement. To answer a movement that “omit[s] altogether the idea of believing on Christ for salvation and promote[s] exclusively the obligation to surrender to God,” he devised a notion of faith that strips believing of any suggestion of surrender. Although the movement he opposed was indeed an insidious error, Chafer unfortunately laid the foundation for the opposite error, with equally devastating results.

The notion of faith with no repentance and no surrender fit well with Chafer’s concept of an age of “pure grace,” so it was absorbed and expanded by those who developed their theology after his model. It endures today as the basis of all no-lordship teaching.

One other particularly unfortunate outgrowth of Chafer’s rigid partitioning of “the age of law” and “the age of grace” is its effect on Chafer’s view of Scripture. Chafer believed that “The teachings of the law, the teachings of grace, and the teachings of the kingdom are separate and complete systems of divine rule.” Accordingly, he consigned the Sermon on the Mount and the Lord’s Prayer to the yet-future kingdom age, and concluded that the only Scriptures directly applicable to this age of grace are “portions of the Gospels, portions of the Book of Acts, and the Epistles of the New Testament”27 —the “grace teachings.” How does one know which portions of the Gospels and Acts are “grace teachings” meant for this age? Chafer was vague:

The grace teachings are not, for convenience, isolated in the Sacred Text. The three economies appear in the four Gospels. The grace teachings are rather to be identified by their intrinsic character wherever they are found. Large portions of the New Testament are wholly revelatory of the doctrine of grace. The student, like Timothy, is enjoined to study to be one approved of God in the matter of rightly dividing the Scriptures.

In other words, there is a lot of law and kingdom teaching mixed into the New Testament. It is not explicitly identified for us, but we can fall into error if we wrongly try to apply it to the present age. Scripture is therefore like a puzzle. We must discern and categorize which portions apply to this age and categorize them accordingly. We can do this only by “their intrinsic character.”

Chafer was certain about one thing: much if not most of Christ’s earthly teaching is not applicable to the Christian in this age:

There is a dangerous and entirely baseless sentiment abroad which assumes that every teaching of Christ must be binding during this age simply because Christ said it. The fact is forgotten that Christ, while living under, keeping, and applying the Law of Moses, also taught the principles of His future kingdom, and, at the end of His ministry and in relation to His cross, He also anticipated the teachings of grace. If this threefold division of the teachings of Christ is not recognized, there can be nothing but confusion of mind and consequent contradiction of truth.

Dispensationalists who follow Chafer at this point wrongly divide the Word of truth, assigning whole sections of the New Testament to some other dispensation, nullifying the force of major segments of the Gospels and our Lord’s teaching for today.

Which Gospel Should We Preach Today?

Not long ago I received a paper that has been circulated widely by a well-known dispensationalist. He wrote, “Dr. MacArthur was quite correct in titling his book The Gospel According to Jesus. The Gospel that Jesus taught in His pre-Cross humiliation, as Israel’s Messiah and to covenant people under the law was, for all intents and purposes, Lordship salvation.” But, he added, “Lordship salvation is based upon the Gospel according to Jesus, John the Baptist, and the early disciples. This Gospel is directed to the covenant nation of Israel.… The Lord Jesus’ Kingdom Gospel had nothing whatsoever to do with Christians, or the Church.”

The paper quotes heavily from Dr. Chafer’s writings, attempting to demonstrate that Jesus’ gospel “was on the level of the law and the earthly kingdom” and has nothing to do with grace or the current dispensation. The paper’s author notes that I wrote, “On a disturbing number of fronts, the message being proclaimed today is not the gospel according to Jesus.” To that he replies, “How blessedly true! Today we are to minister Paul’s ‘by grace are ye saved through faith’ Gospel … not the Lord Jesus’ Gospel relating to the law-oriented theocratic kingdom.”

He continues, “The convert via the Gospel according to Jesus became a child of the kingdom [not a Christian]. And divine authority will ever be the driving force in his heart—the indwelling Spirit writing the law upon his heart to enable him to surrender to the theocratic kingdom law, under his King.… [But the Christian] is not under authority, he is not seeking to obey—unless he is under law as described in Romans Seven. For him to live is Christ, and that life is not under authority.… Paul was offering an altogether different salvation.”

There, as clearly as can be stated, are all the follies that have ever defiled dispensationalism, synthesized into a single system. Blatant antinomianism: “the Christian … is not under authority, he is not seeking to obey”; multiple ways of salvation: “Paul was offering an altogether different salvation”; a fragmented approach to Scripture: “the Lord Jesus’ Kingdom Gospel had nothing whatsoever to do with Christians, or the Church”; and the tendency to divide and disconnect related ideas: “Today we are to minister Paul’s [Gospel] … not the Lord Jesus’ Gospel.”

Note carefully: This man acknowledges that Jesus’ gospel demanded surrender to His lordship. His point is that Jesus’ message has no relevance to this present age. He believes Christians today ought to proclaim a different gospel than the one Jesus preached. He imagines that Jesus’ invitation to sinners was of a different nature than the message the church is called to proclaim. He believes we should be preaching a different gospel.

None of those ideas is new or unusual within the dispensationalist community. All of them can be traced to one or more of dispensationalism’s early spokesmen. But it is about time all of them were abandoned.

In fairness, we should note that the paper I have quoted expresses some rather extreme views. Most of the principal defenders of no-lordship evangelism would probably not agree with that man’s brand of dispensationalism. But the no-lordship doctrine they defend is the product of precisely that kind of teaching. It is not enough to abandon the rigid forms of extreme dispensationalism; we must abandon the antinomian tendencies as well.

The careful discipline that has marked so much of our post-Reformation theological tradition must be carefully guarded. Defenders of no-lordship salvation lean too heavily on the assumptions of a predetermined theological system. They often draw their support from presupposed dispensationalist distinctions (salvation/discipleship, carnal/spiritual believers, gospel of the kingdom/gospel of grace, faith/repentance). They become entangled in “what-ifs” and illustrations. They tend to fall back on rational, rather than biblical, analysis. When they deal with Scripture, they are too willing to allow their theological system to dictate their understanding of the text. As a result, they regularly adopt novel interpretations of Scripture in order to make it conform to their theology.

A reminder is in order: Our theology must be biblical before it can be systematic. We must start with a proper interpretation of Scripture and build our theology from there, not read into God’s Word unwarranted presuppositions. Scripture is the only appropriate gauge by which we may ultimately measure the correctness of our doctrine.

Dispensationalism is at a crossroads. The lordship controversy represents a signpost where the road forks. One arrow marks the road of biblical orthodoxy. The other arrow, labeled “no-lordship,” points the way to a sub-Christian antinomianism. Dispensationalists who are considering that path would do well to pause and check the map again.

The only reliable map is Scripture, not someone’s dispensational diagrams. Dispensationalism as a movement must arrive at a consensus based solely on God’s Word. We cannot go on preaching different gospels to an already-confused world.[1]

 


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2000). The gospel according to the Apostles: the role of works in the life of faith. Nashville, TN: Word Pub.

Theology: THE FEAR OF THE LORD

SOME QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER

 

1. How do we acquire the fear of the Lord?

 

2. How can we learn to fear Him more, and fear Him in the proper sense?

 

3. How can we teach the fear of the Lord to children? To adults?

 

Definition: Most agree that it is a reverential fear — reverence — awe. The fear for life or pain is not involved generally. It is holding God with much respect. Jeremiah put it this way,

 

“Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O Lord; thou art great, and thy name is great in might. Who would not fear thee, O King of nations? For to thee doth it appertain, forasmuch as among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like unto thee.” Jeremiah 10:6,7

 

God is to be loved. Our earthly fathers were to be feared when we were in error, however when there was no error we respected them highly and enjoyed their love.

 

Natural man has no fear of the Lord. You can see this in many ways in our society, the television and the screen for example. They don’t care what they show or say about God. Indeed, they teach explicitly against the things of the Lord.

 

The printed page also pictures man’s lack of fear for God — the way they treat the Lord’s people — their rejection of God and His Word.

 

Many believers do not fear the Lord. You can see this in our society — the empty churches — especially on prayer meeting nights. In the lack of commitment to giving as they ought. In the needs of the missionaries. In the life style that many Christians live.

 

 

THE FACTS

 

1. Believers are to fear the Lord.

 

a. Leviticus 19:14,

 

“Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind, but shalt fear thy God I am the Lord.”

 

Can you imagine the lowness of a person that would trip a blind person?

 

b. Deuteronomy 8:6,

 

“Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him.”

 

They should fear the Lord in relation to the judgment that they face before Him. 2 Corinthians 5:10-11

 

2. The fear of the Lord is a very necessary part of our mental maturing process if we are to be men and women of God.

 

Proverbs 9:10

 

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”

 

This is reiterated in Psalm 111:10 also. Notice that if we fear the Lord we are only BEGINNING in wisdom.

 

3. What is the fear of the Lord? Proverbs 1:7

 

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

Notice that if we fear the Lord we are only BEGINNING in knowledge. We just saw that the fear of the Lord was the beginning of wisdom and now we see that it is the beginning of knowledge. It would seem appropriate for the student to begin to fear the Lord. The obvious truth that comes forth is that if you don’t fear the Lord, then you are neither wise nor knowledgeable. Is that something that you want to admit to?

 

 

Proverbs 1:29 mentions that we may choose not to fear the Lord, and hate knowledge — indeed it seems that if you hate knowledge you may opt for not fearing the Lord. “Because they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord.”

 

Proverbs 2:1-6

 

“My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the lord, and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.”

 

Here are some items to notice in relation to understanding the fear of the Lord.

 

Vs. 1 Receive the words of the writer. Hide his commandments with yourself.

 

Vs. 2 Listen to wisdom. Apply understanding to your heart.

 

Vs. 3 Cry after knowledge. Lift up your voice for understanding. (Ask for it I would assume.)

 

Vs. 4 Seek after wisdom as you would seek silver. Most today are totally into seeking gain — we should seek wisdom with such fervor. Seek after wisdom as if you were looking for hidden treasure. Have you ever watched one of those treasure search shows where they have gone looking for the lost treasure on a sunken ship in the far reaches of the world? They spend literally thousands of dollars searching for this treasure.

 

I saw a special concerning a supposed treasure buried in this country. There are several people that think they know where it is buried. They are digging deep holes in people’s lawns and pastures trying to locate this treasure. They think that the next hole is the place. Their entire being is taken up with this search.

 

 

God tells us to search for wisdom in this same manner. WOW. The neat part is that in verse six it says that God is the source of that wisdom and HE GIVES IT.

 

Vs. 5 Then You Will Understand The Fear Of The Lord, and find the knowledge of God.

 

Vs. 6 For The Lord Giveth Wisdom; Out Of His Mouth Cometh Knowledge And Understanding.”

 

It seems quite evident that to fear the Lord is a very wise thing to do.

 

SIDE BENEFITS TO THE FEAR OF THE LORD

 

1. We should hate evil. Proverbs 8:13 “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride, and arrogance, and the evil way, and the perverse mouth, do I hate.”

 

I made a comment in my college Genesis class once concerning the Homosexual community of San Francisco, CA. One of the students reacted in total disgust. His remedy was not acceptable, for he wanted to drop a bomb on the city, but his disgust for the sin was Right On.

 

Psalm 15:4 tells us to see vile as vile and not as acceptable. Hate Evil not watch it on TV. Hate Evil not participate in it. Hate Evil not help it along by condoning it. Hate Evil not teach or preach in a manner that would allow people to think it all right.

 

2. We can overcome evil in our lives by fearing the Lord. Proverbs 16:6

 

“By mercy and truth iniquity is purged;

and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.”

 

3. We can be kept from evil by fearing the Lord. Proverbs 19:23 “…he shall not be visited with evil.”

 

4. We can have a satisfied life. Proverbs 19:23

 

“The fear of the Lord tendeth to life, and he who hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.”

 

Proverbs 14:27

 

 

“The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.”

 

5. The fear of the Lord is the cure for envying sinners. Proverbs 23:17

 

“Let not thine heart envy sinners, but be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long.”

 

All the day long is quite a purposeful statement as well.

 

6. When linked with humility the promise is: Riches, honor, and life. Proverbs 22:4 “By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honor, and life.

 

7. It should give rise to praise and glorifying of The Lord. Psalm 22:23,

“Ye who fear the Lord, praise him; all ye, the seed of Jacob, glorify him….”

 

8. We will be watched over by God if we fear Him. Psalm 33:18, “Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon those who fear him….”

 

9 We will have no needs if we fear Him. Psalm 34:9, “Oh, fear the Lord, ye his saints; for there is no lack to them that fear him.”

 

10. We will be blessed if we fear Him. Psalm 115:13, “He will bless those who fear the Lord, both small and great.”

 

11. There is a lengthening of days for those that fear the Lord. Proverbs 10:27, “The fear of the Lord prolongeth days, but the years of the wicked shall be shortened.”

 

12. The woman that fears the Lord will be praised. Proverbs 31:30,

 

“Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain,

but a woman who feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.”

 

13. His mercy will be toward us. Psalm 103:11,

 

“For as the heavens are high above the earth,

so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.”

 

There are cases where man should just plain out and out fear the Lord. If the person is unsaved he should be in fear of his eternal soul. Luke 12:4,5

 

 

“And I say unto you, my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him who, after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.”

 

The Believer Can Fear The Lord Or — Fear Man.

 

The Believer Can Fear The Lord Or — Fear Circumstances. The Believer Can Fear The Lord Or — Fear The Devil.

God is our light, salvation and strength according to Psalm 27:1, thus why would we fear anything outside of Him?

 

The believer has due cause for concern if he is living in continued sin. Hebrews 12 mentions that the Lord will chasten if there is a need. This chastening can and does at extreme times go unto death. Acts five mentions the Ananias and Saphira sin unto death.

 

CONCLUSIONS

 

1. The fear of the Lord should bring us to fearlessness. The fear of the Lord should bring us to righteousness. The fear of the Lord should bring us to service. The fear of the Lord should bring us to a proper love for Him. The fear of the Lord should bring us to God in every way that He desires us to come to Him.

 

2. 2 Corinthians 7:1 mentions,

 

“Having, therefore, these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

 

“Perfecting Holiness.”

 

And to the above we might well add Psalm 86:11, “Teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth; unite my heart to fear thy name.”

And one more from Deuteronomy 10:12, “And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,”

I would like to mention a quote from A.W. Tozer’s “The Knowledge Of The Holy” pp 121-122. Take time to read it if you have the volume available to you.

I trust that you will not stop with this study of God but continue to “Acquaint Thyself With Thy God.”

This concludes our study of the Person of God. I trust that now that you have the knowledge, that if you haven’t already done so, you will get to KNOW your God.[1]

 


 

[1] Stanley L. Derickson Ph.D. B.A. DERICKSON’S NOTES ON THEOLOGY: A STUDY BOOK IN THEOLOGY.

Do Not Be Surprised… This ‘n’ That (21 March 2014)

 

  • So Mark Driscoll has (kinda, sorta) apologized for some of his recent shenanigans. In light of all the dialogue about this in recent days (and weeks and months), this article at The Cripplegate is a good read.
  • This is what can happen when you think God is talking to you.
  • Mysticism at Duke Chapel as visitors walk the labyrinth during Lent.
  • Elevation Church is building another huge campus. Whew! For a second there I was worried that it couldn’t get any larger.
  • Here’s part 7 of the Authentic Fire review.
  • Because your pastor isn’t really a pastor unless he’s willing to set himself on fire during his sermon.
  • I’ve not yet had a chance to read this full review of Tim Keller’s Center Church provided by Expositor’s Seminary, but I suspect it will be worth reading.
  • Here’s your weekly dose of adorable. If you OD, you can blame reader Rick.
  • If you don’t know the name of Leon Morris, you should.
  • Kevin DeYoung wrote this, so Carl Trueman wrote this.
  • Also, if you didn’t read this article by Carl Trueman regarding the Driscoll debacle when it was published last week, go read it now.
  • Let Him say when it is enough.
  • A debate about altar calls? Now that sounds like one worth listening to!
  • Bullying is never okay. Make sure you heard me on that. But, parents, if you want to ensure that your son is not bullied at school, here’s a tip: don’t send him to school with a My Little Pony lunchbox.
  • Westboro Church founder Fred Phelps has died.
  • Here’s Carl Trueman’s preface for the forthcoming book, Things That Go Bump In the Church.
  • How to identify genuine repentance (the link to this complete sermon can be found here): 

 

Source

Being A Good Servant of Jesus Christ

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know…

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