Daily Archives: June 4, 2014

Questions about the Church: What Is the Church Age? Where Does the Church Age Fit in Biblical History?

 

An “age” is an historical period of time or an era. Some historians divide human history into many epochs and name them according to their defining characteristics: Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Middle Ages, Modern Age, Postmodern Age, etc. Biblical history, too, can be divided into different eras. When those divisions emphasize God’s interaction with His creation, we call them dispensations. More broadly, biblical history can be divided into two periods, roughly following the division of Old and New Testaments: the Age of the Law and the Church Age.

The Church Age is the period of time from Pentecost (Acts 2) to the Rapture (foretold in 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18). It is called the Church Age because it covers the period in which the Church is on earth. It corresponds with the dispensation of Grace. In prophetic history, it falls between the 69th and 70th weeks of Daniel (Daniel 9:24–27; Romans 11). Jesus predicted the Church Age in Matthew 16:18 when He said, “I will build my church.” Jesus has kept His promise, and His Church has now been growing for almost 2,000 years.

The Church is composed of those individuals who have by faith accepted Christ Jesus as their Savior and Lord (John 1:12; Acts 9:31). Therefore, the Church is people rather than denominations or buildings. It is the Body of Christ of which He is the head (Ephesians 1:22–23). The Greek word ecclesia, translated “church,” means “a called-out assembly.” The Church is universal in scope but meets locally in smaller bodies.

The Church Age comprises the entire dispensation of Grace. “The law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). For the first time in history, God actually indwells His creatures, permanently and eternally. In other dispensations the Holy Spirit was always present and always at work, but He would come upon people temporarily (e.g., 1 Samuel 16:14). The Church Age is marked by the Holy Spirit’s permanent indwelling of His people (John 14:16).

Scripture makes a distinction between the nation of Israel and the Church (1 Corinthians 10:32). There is some overlap because, individually, many Jews believe in Jesus as their Messiah and are therefore part of the Church. But God’s covenants with the nation of Israel have not yet been fulfilled. Those promises await fulfillment during the Millennial Kingdom, after the Church Age ends (Ezekiel 34; 37; 45; Jeremiah 30; 33; Matthew 19:28; Revelation 19).

The Church Age will end when God’s people are raptured out of the world and taken to be with the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:51–57). The Rapture will be followed in heaven by the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:6–9) as the Church, the Bride of Christ, receives her heavenly reward. Until then, the Church carries on in hope, exhorted to “stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Salvation: What Was the Old Testament Way of Salvation?

 

How people were saved during the time of the Old Testament is a confusing question to some. We know that, in the New Testament era, salvation comes by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (John 1:12; Ephesians 2:8–9). Jesus is the Way (John 14:6). But, before Christ, what was the way?

A common misconception about the Old Testament way of salvation is that Jews were saved by keeping the Law. But we know from Scripture that that is not true. Galatians 3:11 says, “Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’ ” Some might want to dismiss this passage as only applying to the New Testament, but Paul is quoting Habakkuk 2:4—salvation by faith, apart from the Law was an Old Testament principle. Paul taught that the purpose of the Law was to serve as a “tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24). Also, in Romans 3:20 Paul makes the point that keeping the Law did not save either Old or New Testament Jews because “no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law.” The Law was never intended to save anyone; the purpose of the Law was to make us “conscious of sin.”

If the Old Testament way of salvation was not keeping the Law, then how were people saved? Fortunately, the answer to that question is easily found in Scripture, so there can be no doubt as to what was the Old Testament way of salvation. In Romans 4 the apostle Paul makes it very clear that the Old Testament way of salvation was the same as the New Testament way, which is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. To prove this, Paul points us to Abraham, who was saved by faith: “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness” (Romans 4:3). Again, Paul quotes the Old Testament to prove his point—Genesis 15:6, this time. Abraham could not have been saved by keeping the Law, because he lived over 400 years before the Law was given!

Paul then shows that David was also saved by faith (Romans 4:6–8, quoting Psalm 32:1–2). Paul continues to establish that the Old Testament way of salvation was through faith alone. In Romans 4:23–24 he writes, “The words ‘it was credited to him’ were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.” In other words, righteousness is “credited” or given to those who have faith in God—Abraham, David, and we all share the same way of salvation.

Much of Romans and Galatians addresses the fact that there is only one way of salvation and only one gospel message. Throughout history people have tried to pervert the gospel by adding human works to it, requiring certain things to be done to “earn” salvation. But the Bible’s clear message is that the way of salvation has always been through faith. In the Old Testament, it was faith in the promise that God would send a Savior someday. Those who lived in the time of the Old Testament looked forward to the Messiah and believed God’s promise of the coming Servant of the Lord (Isaiah 53). Those who exercised such faith were saved. Today we look back on the life, death and resurrection of the Savior and are saved by faith in Jesus Christ’s atonement for our sins (Romans 10:9–10).

The gospel is not an exclusively New Testament message. The Old Testament contained it as well: “The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: ‘All nations will be blessed through you.’ So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith” (Galatians 3:8–9, quoting Genesis 12:3).

As early as Genesis 3:15, we see the promise of a coming Savior, and throughout the Old Testament there are hundreds of promises that the Messiah would “save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21; cf. Isaiah 53:5–6). Job’s faith was in the fact that he knew that his “Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth” (Job 19:25). Clearly, Old Testament saints were aware of the promised Redeemer, and they were saved by faith in that Savior, the same way people are saved today. There is no other way. Jesus is “ ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:11–12, quoting Psalm 118:22).[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Topical Bible Questions: What Does the Bible Say about Brokenness?

 

In this world, broken things are despised and thrown out. Anything we no longer need, we throw away. Damaged goods are rejected, and that includes people. In marriage, when relationships break down, the tendency is to walk away and find someone new rather than work at reconciliation. The world is full of people with broken hearts, broken spirits and broken relationships.

“The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). There is something about reaching a breaking point that causes us to seek the Lord more sincerely. King David was once a broken man, and he prayed, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me … The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:10, 17). There are some things in our lives that need to be broken: pride, self-will, stubbornness, and sinful habits, for example. When we feel our brokenness, God compensates: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit” (Isaiah 57:15).

The Bible says that God breaks those who are proud and rebellious. The mighty Pharaoh set himself against God, but God broke him and freed His people from bondage and shame. “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high” (Leviticus 26:13). God punishes all those who proudly resist Him. “My servants will sing out of the joy of their hearts, but you will cry out from anguish of heart and wail in brokenness of spirit” (Isaiah 65:14).

To us, broken things are despised as worthless, but God can take what has been broken and remake it into something better, something that He can use for His glory. Broken things and broken people are the result of sin. Yet God sent his Son, who was without sin, to be broken so that we might be healed. On the night before He died, Jesus broke the bread and said, “This is my body, which is broken for you.” He went all the way to Calvary to die so that we can live. His death has made it possible for broken, sinful humanity to be reconciled to God and be healed. Without the broken body of Jesus, we could not be made whole. “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).

Only when we surrender to Christ can we be restored and transformed. Such surrender requires a brokenness on our part (Luke 9:23). Romans 6:1–14 describes how believers become dead to sin and alive to God in Christ. Claim the promise that cannot be broken: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). “A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.… The Lord redeems his servants; no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him” (Psalm 34:19–22).

Jesus viewed all things in the light of eternity, and so should we: “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:2–3).

God draws us, He calls to us. He longs for us to come to Him so He can heal us. Often, we are unable to hear His call because we’re so busy with other things—our lives, our families, our work, our own problems and unhappiness. Sometimes we must be broken before we realize our need. And our deepest need is to be reconciled to God. Only then can we be made whole (Matthew 5:5).

The solution can never come from our own efforts or striving, but comes only from Him. Only when we recognize our need for God are we able to take our eyes off ourselves and focus them on God and Jesus Christ. Only when we stop thinking about ourselves and start thinking about what Jesus did for us can we begin to heal. Only when we admit our need and ask God into our life, can God begin to make us whole. Only when we confess that we are broken can God make us into what He wants us to be. Once we let go of self and place God at the center of our lives, everything else falls into place (Matthew 6:33).

During the final week of Jesus’ life, He was eating a meal, and “a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head” (Mark 14:3). The woman’s action of breaking the alabaster jar was symbolic of a couple of things: Jesus would soon be “broken” on the cross, and all who follow Him must be willing to be “broken” as well. But the result of such costly brokenness is beautiful, indeed.

Surrender to God and allow Him to make you whole, to give your life meaning, purpose and joy. Trust Him. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Responding to Pastor Danny Cortez: Preparing for the Tsunami

 

Over the course of the next few years we will experience a tsunami of  compromise and change relating to homosexuality, marriage, and a plethora of related concepts within what was formerly known as evangelicalism.  Holding to a consistently biblical and historical view of sexuality, gender and marriage will become more and more rare, and those who do so will be marginalized in the extreme.  Just look across the Atlantic at European nations such as Sweden to see the reality headed our way: the clear suppression of specifically Christian viewpoints on moral and ethical issues by official policies and agencies.  Those who do not see the intimate relationship between our ability to define sin and the proclamation of the gospel will find excuses to get around the problem, excuses already being offered by “gay Christianity” and its promoters such as Justin Lee, Matthew Vines, and scholars such as James Brownson.  The totalitarians on the left are happy with such compromisers, as they have nothing to fear from them.  But those who will not join in the movement will find themselves marginalized in all aspects of our culture.

On this edition of the Dividing Line I took the time to review key elements of Pastor Danny Cortez’s emotional explanation to his congregation regarding his “change of mind” regarding homosexuality.  There was nothing new in his comments: Brownson, Ken Wilson, and others had pronounced all these arguments before him, and with far more clarity.  But to watch a congregation split by its pastor’s “change of mind,” when we have so often examined, and found deeply wanting, the arguments he puts forward, is deeply concerning.  My hope is that by examining these arguments again we can, at the very least, fulfill our role as salt and light, and that the Lord will encourage His saints in their prophetic role.

Here is the audio player for the show:

Here is the YouTube link:

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Only In Theology/ Biblical Studies Can Someone Without Any Actual Training Be Deemed an Authority

Zwinglius Redivivus

10445918_734145336647595_8942248391676557461_nBecause, absurdly, it is falsely believed that everyone’s opinion on the Bible or on theological matters is the same as everyone else’s.  That’s just rubbish and frankly it’s stupid and sickening.

Go, ask a biologist how they would feel if a person completely lacking anything beyond a college degree (and that not even in the field of biology) wrote a book on biology, and was actually taken as an authority on the subject afterwards.  Go ask a physician the same question, or a chemist, or a lawyer, or a pediatrician, or any professional and you will get the same disdainful response: such an author is arrogant and has stepped outside the bounds of propriety.  And those who take such a person as an authority are equally foolish.

RHE has the right to write whatever she wants.  But when she does, people with actual training in the field not only have…

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Do The Math!

“Read the Bible, witness the contradictions. The devil kills ten. God kills millions. You do the math.” Matthew Chamberlain

God kills billions not millions. The Scriptures reveal that He is the ultimate Judge. Every human being will die because He proclaimed the death sentence on the entire race. It is His Word that says “the soul that sins shall die.” Do the math. Ten out of ten die, and our death is proof that in His eyes the best of us are wicked criminals, justly deserving capital punishment. 

But He is also “rich in mercy,” willing to forgive, and He proved His great love for us by suffering on the cross and defeating death. If you want to live see http://www.needGod.com 

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The Case for the Reliability of the New Testament (Free Bible Insert)

 

The Case for the Reliability of the New Testament (Free Bible Insert)I’ve written quite a bit about the reliability of the New Testament eyewitness accounts in Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels and at ColdCaseChristianity.com. I believe there are many good reasons to accept the Gospels as eyewitness accounts, and I’ve focused on four characteristics of reliable eyewitness testimony to demonstrate the trustworthy nature of the Gospels. In an effort to summarize the case for the New Testament in a different way, I’d like to offer the following brief outline:

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Islamic Militants Kill 80 Christians in Bloody Attack in Nigeria

I Am Not Ashamed Of The Gospel Of Christ!

nigerian-gunmen

3 June 2014 (Voice of the Persecuted) Our Nigerian correspondent has confirmed another brutal attack by Boko Haram Islamic militants near the Cameroon border. They invaded Attagara village in Gwoza, a Local Government of Borno State killing over 80 Christians. The insurgents came in military Helux, disguised as Nigerian Military. They called the Christians to the church premises where over 45 Christians assembled, believing they were military personnel. Unfortunately all were killed at the church compound.

According to an eye witness demanding anonymity, a group of the insurgents overcame 30 nursing mothers and killed 17 of the children. “I saw it with my eyes”, the witness said. “But some of the women that were carrying females babies were not killed”, they added.

Another source who narrowly escaped, blamed the Military for negligence alleging that it was a deliberate attempt to wipe out the Christian community. “How can insurgents…

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Five Common Characteristics of Churches That Survived a Near Death Experience

 

My latest book is about churches that died. In Autopsy of a Deceased Church, I wrote about issues that led to the demise of several congregations. Recently, however, I wrote a blog post about churches that have dreamed again. These congregations experienced dramatic reversals, from decline to vibrant health. In that post, I asked leaders of churches to share with me stories about churches that have dreamed again. I was amazed and overwhelmed at the responses.

From Near Death to Health

As I read about these churches, and even watched some videos about their stories, I was reminded again of how God often does a great work of revitalization. Among the most amazing stories were those of churches that were truly near death. The members were on the precipice of deciding to close the doors.

Instead of closing the doors, however, the churches went in the opposite direction. They became vibrant congregations of hope and growth.

Looking for Patterns

I isolated those stories of “near death” churches to see if I could discover common patterns. Although no two churches were identical, they did take similar paths.

Keep in mind that these are not just churches that moved from slight decline or steady decline to growth. These are the churches that were just a few months away from closing their doors. Today they are alive and well.

What are the common paths they followed? I found at least five.

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All You Need to Help People Rethink Abortion Is Clarity on These Three Questions (Video)

 

Scott Klusendorf spoke on “How to Make the Case for Life in a Post-Christian Culture” as part of Impact 360’s speaker series, and it’s a great video to watch and pass on to others. Here’s the encouragement Scott gives at the beginning:

When it comes to an issue like abortion or an issue like killing embryos for medical research, many of you feel that you’ve been dropped into an environment where you’re in way over your head, you’re outgunned, and you wonder if you have what it takes to be a faithful witness for Jesus Christ on a key human rights issue of our day….

I want to talk today about how we bring moral clarity on an issue like abortion when we’re in a culture that thinks truth can’t be known on it. And I want to focus our attention on three questions in particular. And my contention is that if you have clarity on these three questions, you will be equipped to engage on this issue.

You don’t need a Ph.D. in philosophy, you don’t need a master’s degree, you don’t even need a bachelor’s degree, I don’t even care if you have a high school degree. If you have clarity on these three questions, I’m convinced God can use you to start a conversation….

These are the three crucial questions Scott clarifies in the video:

1. What is the unborn?
2. What makes us valuable as human beings?
3. What’s our duty in all of this?

 

If you enjoyed this, I also recommend Jay Richards’s Impact 360 talk on “How to End Poverty in Ten Tough Steps.” All of the videos of their past speakers are available here.

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4 Questions to Ask Before Joining a Church

I’ve been asked this question many times not just through my Practical Shepherding website, but even more recently in my own church by visitors. It is a common scenario. You move to a new area. You get find your new residence and job. You get the kids enrolled in school. Where you settle in a local church often becomes a longer, more drawn-out task.

After checking out all the churches you desire to visit, here are four questions to ask yourself as you narrow the search to make a decision.

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Sanctification and Giving Up

 

All believers experience spiritual frustration. We desire to live lives that are obedient to our Lord and that grow in likeness to His life of humble service (Mark 10:45). But anyone who is a believer for very long discovers that failure is common. Those who take 1 Peter 1:15 seriously (“be holy for I am holy;” see also 2 Cor. 7:1) and who do not think of themselves more highly than they ought to think (Rom. 12:3), know that they are far from what they ought to be. Transformation into His image (Rom. 8:29, Col. 3:10) never seems to happen quite fast enough.

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“Den of Wolves” film to expose Word of Faith teachings

den_of_wolvesA new film documentary, Den of Wolves, will chronicle the teachers and the theology of the Word of Faith Movement/Prosperity gospel. It’s always shocking to hear these teachings straight from the horses’ mouths. Here is the movie trailer:

Worldview Weekend Radio: Topic: “The Stranger” documentary put out by the radical “Evangelical Immigration table”

Worldview Weekend Radio:
Topic: “The Stranger” documentary put out by the radical “Evangelical Immigration table” is to be screened in thousands of U.S. churches in what Brannon describes as an attempt to further the agenda of the globalist, communist, communitarian, big government, social justice advocates that are behind amnesty legislation. Brannon plays a few sound clips from the documentary that includes a Southern Baptist pastor giving the impression that anyone opposed to amnesty does not want people coming to America or to Christ because they are different from themselves. Brannon explains how he believes racism is a charge being leveled against those that do not support the liberal legislation bill that would cost $512 billion in additional government programs, a government identification card for every American and lower the wages of many Americans. Topic: Hear a Southern Baptist Pastor on this documentary imply that unless we pass an amnesty bill many people will not hear the gospel and go to hell. Why does Brannon say this statement not only is manipulation but calls into question God’s sovereign providence, implies the Holy Spirit only convicts sinners that live in the United States and implies that Christians in other parts of the world are not qualified at presenting the gospel to unbelievers. Topic: We take your calls.
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Yes, We Affirm the Inerrancy of Experience

In days gone by a church or denomination or Christian ministry would have a statement of faith. Core beliefs held to were listed, so that people knew where they stood. These may not be so much in vogue nowadays, but if they still are, they may not look like most of the older ones.

For example, most of the older ones began with a statement about the authority of Scripture, one that featured a high view of the Bible, and/or even mentioned the inerrancy of Scripture. Well, a lot of that has now changed. You see, most churches today – whether they actually state it or not – would have high on their lists the inerrancy of experience.

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The Harlem Shake & Modernism is Today’s Pragmatism: Pride, Pragmatism, and Profit: The Three Snares That Have Compromised Evangelicalism (Part Three)

In this program Brannon explains the danger of pragmatism which is the only philosophy that originates in America. Most churches and much of evangelicalism is committed to pragmatism and Brannon explains the dangerous consequences. Click here to watch now on demand.

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