Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Gospel of the Kingdom: What about Israel?

"Your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven".

“…they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?"
He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority”

The teaching of “replacement theology” is not new. It was stirring in the very early years of the church and it is possible that the book of Romans was written to address this issue with the climax of Paul’s argument coming in chapters 9-11 and particularly in chapter 11.

“Did God reject His people? NEVER!!!”

Romans was written to a church that had for a time been made up totally of gentile believers after all Jews had been forced out of Rome by the emperor Claudius. When Nero came to power he allowed the Jews to return, and Jewish believers had difficulty being accepted back into a church that considered their exile had been evidence that God had forsaken the Jews.

The idea that the church has replaced Israel as God’s people because of Jewish disobedience is categorically refuted by Paul in Romans. When he wrote NEVER in Romans 11, the word used was the strongest possible negative exclamation available to him in the Greek language (meganoita!).
Paul also clearly attacks the smugness of those who considered themselves as being those people who had allegedly replaced Israel in God’s affections. (“Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either”).

While Romans addresses a very early incarnation of “replacement theology” there can be no doubt that it is a belief system that refuses to go away, and it is widely held today; despite the historically unprecedented “resurrection” of a long dead nation (Israel) and its language (Hebrew) only 50 years ago.

Why should there be such contention over Israel and its continuing role in God’s purposes? Why are so many determined to dismiss Israel’s relevance despite the events of recent history in which a nation, totally dead and gone as a political entity, returned against the odds to become one of the world’s most powerful military forces; and to become a nation constantly at the centre of world attention. Has there ever been a time since 1948 when Israel, a tiny nation, has not been in the news? Would there be such a continuing obsession with a mere political entity, no matter how unlikely the renewed existence of that entity after 2000 years may seem?

In a previous post I addressed the matter of the “millennium” in Old Testament prophecies. Almost every Old Testament prophet foretold of a time when the nations would be ruled by a King from the throne of David in Zion. The issues of Israel’s continuing importance and the rule of this King are very much linked. It is therefore not surprising that “replacement theology” often goes hand in hand with “amillennialism” - a theology that denies the literal earthly reign of Christ after His return.

Israel is very much tied up with end time events and Satan knows that. He thought he could prevent fulfilment of Gods purposes by leading men to crucify Jesus – but his “victory” was short lived. Satan knows that Gods plans for THIS creation are heading towards an earthly kingdom ruled by God’s Son from the throne of David. Satan knows that the establishment of that earthly kingdom begins with him (satan) being imprisoned and stripped of his deceptive power, and will end with him being thrown into the lake of fire. It’s not surprising that he would try to prevent the establishment of that kingdom by removing Israel. And its not surprising that he would cause so much confusion about the events that mark his final destruction.

I tend to think that Satan’s attempt to destroy Jesus was to prevent the establishment of the Kingdom of Israel under the rule of the Messiah. By killing the Messiah, Satan thought he could stop the kingdom. But God’s plan involved an unexpected twist. The Messiah would come twice, first as a sacrifice then secondly as King to rule over the nations from His throne in Zion.

Satan’s misunderstanding played right into God’s hands. Instead of destroying God’s plans, the death of Jesus FULFILLED them. Satan knows he can no longer prevent God’s Kingdom by destroying the King, so his attention becomes focused on the nation from which the King will rule over the earth.
By turning the church against Israel Satan is trying to kill two birds with one stone. It turns the church away from God’s purposes while trying to rid the world of Israel. The final part of that attempt will come when the beast launches a massive “final solution” to rid the world of both church and Israel.

Paul made it clear that Israel has not been replaced by anyone. There are many statements in Romans 11 that should dismiss any doubt about Israel’s continued importance to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob: the God of Israel.
But true to form, one of the clearest promises made specifically to Israel about its ongoing part in God’s purposes is most often quoted and applied to the church in a most inappropriate way.

“…for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable”. Instead of applying this to Israel, it is usually applied to disobedient “Christians” who still SEEM to be displaying Spiritual gifts. Implying that disobedient Christians can’t lose what they have been given – while Israel is portrayed as having lost their inheritance because of their disobedience. What a complete twisting of the context and the intended application of that promise regarding God’s relationship with Israel.

So what are we to do with Israel? Should Christians throw unconditional support behind the current political incarnation that goes by that name? Is that what God would have us do? Or does God require that we expect the same standard of righteousness that HE demands from His Israel?

It is clearly the latter - and the only way they can attain that standard of righteousness is through faith in His Son, their Messiah.

I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:

"The deliverer will come from Zion;
he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.
And this is my covenant with them
when I take away their sins."
Rom 11:25-27

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Question for My Beloved Calvinists

Another recommended article written by David Servant.

A Question for My Beloved Calvinists
by David Servant

Those who have been reading with me through the New Testament chronologically---by means of our daily emailed devotional that we call HeavenWord Daily---know that I am not a Calvinist. In fact, practically every time we happen upon one of the many passages of Scripture that contradict the doctrines of Calvinism, I point it out. Consequently, I've pointed out scores of scriptures that illustrate where Calvinism deviates from biblical truth.
For readers who may not know what Calvinism is, let me briefly explain. Calvinists believe that, in eternity past, God sovereignly selected some people to be saved, and thus He also sovereignly selected everyone else to be damned. At a pre-determined point during the lifetimes of those who are allegedly pre-selected for salvation, God draws them irresistibly, and they are born again. Calvinists also believe, and understandably so, that Jesus did not die for the sins of everyone. Rather, He only died for those whom He allegedly predestined for salvation. Finally, because Calvinists believe that salvation does not depend on any person's free will and only upon the sovereign decree and action of God, they also believe that no genuinely-saved person could possibly ever become unsaved. Once genuinely saved, people are guaranteed to be saved in the end, which is probably the most attractive element of Calvinism, and which may explain why some people readily embrace it. Once a person is convinced that he has been sovereignly pre-selected for salvation, he knows he has salvation "in the bag."
I would like to offer some food for thought for Calvinists, ending with a challenge, and at the same time fortify non-Calvinists from being persuaded by some common Calvinist arguments.

Full article is here:

Question for Calvinists

Friday, October 16, 2009

Arminianism vs. Calvinism: my unpolished personal view.

Leaving aside “Catholic” and “Orthodox” believers, there seems to be a tendency to try to divide the rest of the Christian world into two neat camps: Arminian and Calvinist.

Despite being A Christian since the mid 70s I didn’t become aware of Calvinism until about 4 years ago when I read the contributions of a Calvinist writer on a Christian forum. I was appalled by the beliefs he was promoting. However I had no personal contact with Calvinists until two years ago. At that time I started to do some research and I found it hard to believe that any professing Christian could hold to such an aberrant view God.

My introduction to Arminianism came through my being accused of being an Arminian. While I find Arminian doctrine to be much closer to the truth than that of Calvinism, there is still the fact that its adherents are devoted to, and prize, the theology of a man. It is my view that there would be NO Arminianism/Calvinism debate if importance was genuinely placed on Scripture alone – something that both sides ironically claim is the basis of their doctrine. I would more easily believe that was the case if the devotion to Arminius and Calvin (and the associated religious systems) were repented of and the labels dropped.

I’ve been frequenting “Arminian” blogs for a few months now and have appreciated the interaction I’ve had with several people on those blogs. But one thing I have repeatedly noticed is that so much of the disagreement between Arminians and Calvinists is often demonstrated through multi-syllabic theological terminology and theological ideas instead of through plain and simple application of scriptural revelation. The result of this is disagreement over differing ideas of man-made philosophical concepts rather than God’s revelation of Himself through His word.

Infralapsarian, Supralapsarian, supraduperlapsarian… all meaningless and worthless twaddle just like so much of the vain concepts that take centre stage in man’s theology. Most of them are merely intellectual sounding alternatives to that age old question of how many angels fit on a pin head.

Get back to the gospel people. Turn to God’s Word and not mans’.

Because there is too much reliance on human theology and wanting to identify with a label rather than with a lifestyle, “Faith” to many has become a matter of assent to a series of tenets Why not DEMONSTRATE the truths we believe rather than try to give a short cut by identifying with a theological system?

Surely this IS what Paul was writing about when he criticised some for saying “I am of Apollos or I am of Paul” Was Arminius or Calvin crucified for you?

I am definitely NOT a Calvinist (as if anyone would mistake me for one) and neither am I associated with any of the theological labels that others have tried to pin on me. In all my weakness, with all of my faults and despite stumbling many times – it is my desire to be nothing more or less than a disciple of Jesus.

All of the rest: the theological posturing and labelling, are dangerous distractions.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

"Why I am Not a Calvinist" by Dr Tim Pierce

The first three parts of a series being written by Dr Tim Pierce (a former Calvinist) on his blog.
I look forward to reading the next installments.

Why I am not calvinist part 1

Why I am not calvinist part 2

Why I am not calvinist part 3

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

God's Sacrifice

An article and a sermon from two different sources but addressing the same theme: the cross and the sacrificial crucifixion of Jesus.

Article from Judahslion blog
Behold the Lamb

Recorded Sermon from Art Katz
And they Crucified Him

What should be our response?

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Moving on from a Theological Rut

This blog was never intended to be a place where anyone and everyone could try to promote their questionable doctrines. Many other blogs allow (and some even encourage) the ongoing “Arminian/Calvinism debate” and the same old ground is trodden and the theological rut deepens.

I have made no secret that I detest the doctrines of Calvinism. They portray a god far different from the one true God revealed through scripture by the Holy Spirit. But constantly going over that same old ground, refuting the same old arguments and facing a barrage of the same old proof texts is clearly a waste of time and it distracts from things that are genuinely important. I will no longer give time to answering the same misrepresentations of the gospel presented by the same people over and over again. Therefore I will make more active use of the moderation options and will delete those comments that try to perpetuate the theological rut-digging.
That process has already begun – and if the writers of the comments I have deleted feel snubbed by not having their views addressed, I suggest they go back to the replies I gave to their earlier comments and see what I said about the very same views the first time they were expressed.

Before I move on from the matter of deleting comments; the following statement comes from a comment I rejected for the reasons stated above.

Paul G said: “Because you don’t believe or understand the doctrine of election, it ultimately forces you to trust and believe in your own TRUST and BELIEF and not in the finished work of Calvary.”

Firstly I have quite a good understanding of “election” as depicted in scripture. I also have a good understanding of the Calvinist doctrine of “unconditional election” – a doctrine that clearly contradicts God’s revelation given in scripture. But that is not the main part of the statement that I want to address.

Note the confusion in the latter part of the statement: the part that accuses me of trusting and believing in my “own TRUST and BELIEF and not in the finished work of Calvary”. Does Paul G trust in the finished work of Calvary? Is he not then trusting in his own trust in the finished work of Calvary? What makes his situation and his “trust” different to mine?

The difference is that the Calvinist doctrine of “unconditional election” effectively bypasses Calvary all together. It makes salvation the result of a pre-creation decree that determined which individuals were lucky enough to be saved. Therefore salvation has nothing to do with Calvary and Christ’s sacrifice and everything to do with having one’s name drawn out in god’s salvation lottery.

Paul closes his comment with the statement “Salvation is of the Lord” – and I totally agree. The disagreement is not with the source of salvation (the Lord), it is with the MEANS by which salvation is made available. Does that means reflect the character of God as revealed throughout scripture: does that means reflect His justice, His righteousness, His love and His mercy?

Debating Calvinists has never been my intention. My only interest in this matter has been to expose the evils of Calvinism’s doctrines. Those who choose to remain adherents to those false doctrines do so according to their own free will (ironically a free will many of them would deny having).

One of the most difficult experiences of the past few months has not been due to the response I've had from Calvinists. It has come from the reactions of some who deny being Calvinists who for some reason took offense when I drew attention to what Calvinism really promotes. To me this reveals a false sense of loyalty, an almost ecumenical approach that is willing to “agree to disagree” over important truths in order to maintain an appearance of peace.
Despite those difficult experiences, there have been indications that some have taken note and have realised for themselves how sinister the doctrines of Calvinism really are.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Millennial Questions

Here are a selection of questions “amillennialists” have asked me in their attempt to discredit belief in a literal millennial rule of Christ.


“Will immortal humans (the saved) live among mortal humans?”

Since the saved are changed at Jesus’ return and since the scriptures states clearly that the saints will rule with Him during the millennium it certainly seems that immortal humans will live among those unbelievers who are still alive after Jesus’ return
“While the redeemed live for the whole 1000 years will those not saved die?”

Yes there will be death during the millennium. Isaiah speaks of lives being extended at that time, but that sinner’s lives will be shortened. So there will also be sin in the earth during the millennium.
“I mean can someone explain to me what exactly is going on during this future 1000 year reign of Christ on earth?”

Christ is ruling over the earth in justice. Life is going on in a world that is totally just. There are many descriptions of this period scattered throughout scripture, in particular throughout the OT prophets.
“What is the purpose?”

Speculation alert: maybe it’s merely to show humanity what life can be like when true justice is applied and also that it’s NOT the devil making us do it – that mankind has ultimate responsibility to for his own actions. With the devil out of the way he can’t be blamed for man’s sin.

Also see:
Millennium: Failed Prophecies and Lost Faith

“Why does God continue the conflict between Himself and the devil for another 1000 years?”

He doesn’t. The devil is out of the way for those 1000 years. There is no conflict with the devil. The devil is released at the end of that time for a brief period. Again there is no conflict – when God determines that enough is enough, the devil is thrown into the Lake of fire.
The idea of conflict gives the impression of God struggling with the devil. There is no struggle. Satan is dealt with when and how God determines. Note that Satan’s imprisonment at the beginning of the 1000 years is carried out by an angel. God doesn’t even need to do that Himself. He sends a servant to do it.
“And seeing Jesus return according to prophecy, how can those still alive on earth not bow and put their faith in Him?”

1) Because mankind is rebellious and sinful.
2) Who says that the majority still alive on earth don’t immediately do that but later when complacency takes over they slip back to their old ways.
3) Those generations born during the Millennium have no prior knowledge of what the world was like prior to the rule of Jesus and will be ruled by the same passions that have affected mankind throughout history.
“How can MOST of the world be deceived after the 1000 years when they have had the wonderful loving most kind and gentle King Jesus leading humanity?”

Because mankind is sinful and selfish and doesn’t like being told what to do, even when it is in their best interests.
Judas lived with Jesus for three years. He saw the miracles and heard the teaching, yet he remained a thief and later betrayed Jesus.
“Do the wicked get raised before the millennium or wait till after the 1000 years?”

That is a question that is specifically and clearly answered in scripture. Read the sequence of events from Rev 19 onwards, and for the sake of this exercise assume that the millennium is exactly where scripture places it – in between the return of Jesus and the great white throne judgment.
“When the mortals see the righteous have been raised, won’t that bring conversion?”

Not necessarily. Some saw Lazarus raised from the dead and planned to kill him again! While resurrection has a much more glorious and permanent outcome than a mere raising from the dead, the heart of unrepentant man remains the same.
“If there are unbelieving mortals living on the earth during His reign do they have a chance to be saved and become immortal?”

I’m not aware that scripture makes this clear – but that does not nullify the reality of a literal 1000 year reign.
“Does Jesus return and then rule over this world as it is or does He make it perfect first?”

He starts ruling it as it is – I suppose that is why swords have to be beaten into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks (which scripture describes as happening when the Lord rules in Zion – as He does in the Millennium!)
“It seems the nations still exist during the 1000 years so do we go about and clean up the pollution and mess or do we wait until Jesus creates a new heaven and new earth after the 1000 years?”

People still have to live here for that 1000 years so it is likely that the earth’s mess is progressively cleaned up.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

When His Glory is Revealed.

I have often been accused of having a man-centred gospel; a gospel through which I thought I could save myself – all because I insist that faith and repentance were required conditions of man’s salvation. Many of those accusations have appeared in the comments on this blog and were made by those who insisted that God alone chose those individuals who would be saved.
Those same people follow a tradition that tells us billions of people will be thrown in hell with no chance of salvation entirely because God has not chosen them for salvation.
Somehow this “predestination” for damnation is all for God’s glory.
I know God’s ways are not our ways – but a God who needs to burn billions of people for eternity in order to bring glory to himself is less worthy of glory than a school yard bully who beats up kids half his size and half his age.

I wrote the article “God’s Glorious Gospel” when I was trying to find words to describe the incredible nature of the salvation God has provided. I realised how incapable I was of understanding the glorious nature and means of salvation sufficiently to put it into words.
However, one day the whole extent of what God has done (and is doing) will be completely revealed to those He has saved.
How much glory will He receive when the fullness of salvation is made known?

Two Creations

The current creation started with the heavens and the earth and climaxed with the creation of man.
God's new creation started with man and culminates with a new heaven and a new earth.

The first creation started with an environment suitable for man.
The new creation starts by making men suitable for an environment where he will live with God.