Paul's Passing Thoughts

The Gospel of Sovereignty? Romans Series Interlude: Predestination, a Potter’s House Journey; Part 7

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on February 9, 2016

Originally posted June 30, 2014

HF Potters House (2)

sov·er·eign·ty [sov-rin-tee, suhv-] noun, plural sov·er·eign·ties.

1. the quality or state of being sovereign.

2. the status, dominion, power, or authority of a sovereign; royalty.

3. supreme and independent power or authority in government as possessed or claimed by a state or community.

4. rightful status, independence, or prerogative.

5. a sovereign state, community, or political unit.

“The sovereignty of God” is a phrase that we hear often in Christian circles; in fact, it is a subject that dominates Christian discussion in our day. Moreover, it is an attribute of God that Christians make intrinsic to the gospel itself. In my contention against progressive justification in our day, the argument I hear most is, “You don’t understand the sovereignty of God.”

And no wonder, one of the premier evangelicals of our day, John MacArthur Jr., had this to say in a message titled, “An Explanation of the Sovereign Gospel.”

So we know it has been laid upon us to be faithful in our evangelistic responsibility. At the same time, sometimes we struggle with this reality of divine sovereignty and what it is that we can do when everything is predetermined by God and worked by the Holy Spirit.

Well, the simple answer to the question is God has not only ordained whom He will save, but He has ordained that we in our faithful evangelism would be the means by which He would save His own. To be useful to Him is the purpose in the fulfillment of His sovereign plan, to be an instrument that He can use, to be a vessel unto honor, fit for the Master’s use. To be obedient because that brings, of course, blessing, reward in this life and eternal reward as well (Grace Community Church | Romans 9-11 | September 03, 2011).

Of course, if God has predetermined who will be saved, and uses our evangelism to carry that out, our obedience to evangelism must be preordained as well. As discussed in a previous lesson in this series, this necessarily requires the redefining of the words “obedience” and “reward” as well as many other words and the normative understanding of them. But the main point I want to make here is MacArthur making salvation synonymous with sovereignty which is defined as CONTROL.

Herein is the problem: the word “sovereign” does NOT mean “control,” it means that one has the right to have authority in a given jurisdiction. Even some among the Reformed admit this:

What does it mean to say that God is sovereign? The refrain has become so common, almost clichéd, in Reformed writing and preaching that it sometimes slips away from the reader or listener without lodging meaning in the mind. Worse, we typically hear the phrase to mean something it doesn’t. When Christians affirm that “God is sovereign,” they often mean “God is in control.” Paul Tripp, for example, wrote in his excellent book Lost in the Middle that “God truly is sovereign . . . there is no situation, relationship, or circumstance that is not controlled by our heavenly Father.”

The problem is that the English word sovereignty does not mean control. The U. S. government is sovereign within American territory, but that doesn’t mean the government controls everything within American borders or causes all that happens. If you look up sovereignty in the dictionary you’ll not find control in the definition—nor even as a synonym in a thesaurus.

Sovereignty means “rightful authority.” A dictionary gives “supreme rank” as one definition, and a thesaurus lists jurisdiction and dominion as synonyms. The doctrine of God’s sovereignty tells us God is the rightful ruler of the universe. He has legitimate claim to lordship. His government is just. In fact, justice is defined as his rule. God’s sovereignty doesn’t tell us whether God does in fact rule—just that he ought to, and that we should acknowledge his rule and obey it. (Is “Sovereign” the Best Descriptor for God? Paul D. Miller).

Miller goes on to say…

Once again, it is true God is sovereign. It’s also true he’s in control of everything that happens and he causes all that happens. But that is the doctrine of God’s providence, not his sovereignty.

Does God CAUSE everything to happen? Perhaps, but that’s not what providence means either.

prov·i·dence [prov-i-duhns] noun

1. the foreseeing care and guidance of God or nature over the creatures of the earth.

2. God, especially when conceived as omnisciently directing the universe and the affairs of humankind with wise benevolence.

3. a manifestation of divine care or direction.

4. provident or prudent management of resources; prudence.

5. foresight; provident care.

First, the word “sovereign” appears nowhere in the Bible which should give people pause in regard to the frivolousness of its use in Christian circles. Secondly, it does NOT mean, control, preordination, or predetermination. Certainly, if God wanted to control everything, He could, but does He? Did God know sin was going to come into the world? Yes, so why didn’t he prevent it beforehand? The best answer points to the importance of freewill. God did not cause sin by not preventing it. God tempts no one with sin and is not the creator of evil (James 1:13-18).

When the attributes of God are considered (most theologians name 21 different attributes), absolute deterministic control is not one of them. Even with said attributes, God at times chooses to forfeit the attribute for a period of time. Therefore, if God is predeterminist, He wouldn’t always necessarily choose to predetermine. Some attributes of God are temporarily mutable, and others are NOT ever mutable. An immutable attribute of God is His love towards mankind for all the living. Clearly, an example of an attribute that God has temporarily suspended at times is omniscience:

Genesis 18:20 – Then the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, 21 I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know.”

Mark 13:32 – But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

Also, yes, in regard to some things God is immutable, but in contrast, he can be persuaded by prayer:

Isaiah 38:1 – In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him, and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: Set your house in order, for you shall die, you shall not recover.” 2 Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, 3 and said, “Please, O Lord, remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

4 Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah: 5 “Go and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will add fifteen years to your life. 6 I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and will defend this city.

2Chronicles 16;12 – In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet. Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the LORD, but only from the physicians (NIV).

We have established that sovereign would be the wrong word to describe God as causing all that happens, and those things being according to His desired will. It has also been mentioned that the word “sovereign” is not in the Bible. Even if sovereign did mean that all things are predetermined according to God’s pleasure, would it be correct to make that part and parcel with the gospel as most do in our day? Below is yet another version of the infamous Cross Chart that can be applied to this question:

Chart A

The Problem is defining the gospel according to God’s sovereignty as opposed to God’s love and the good news thereof. Why would the idea that God preordained people to hell be good news? This also speaks to man’s worth. Did Christ die for humanity because it has some kind of worth to God? We can again utilize the cross chart for this question:

Chart B

To the extent that man has worth, the gospel gets smaller and God’s grace, and the degree of His sacrifice are diminished. A gospel based on the sovereignty of God must completely eliminate man altogether, and John Immel’s point made in this year’s TANC conference is well taken: it eventually boils down to Man having no right to exist.

All of this greatly hinders the proper answering of questions people have about the Bible. Take note of John Piper’s answer to the question, “Why was it right for God to slaughter women and children in the Old Testament? How can that ever be right?”

It’s right for God to slaughter women and children anytime he pleases. God gives life and he takes life. Everybody who dies, dies because God wills that they die.

God is taking life every day. He will take 50,000 lives today. Life is in God’s hand. God decides when your last heartbeat will be, and whether it ends through cancer or a bullet wound. God governs.

So God is God! He rules and governs everything. And everything he does is just and right and good. God owes us nothing.

If I were to drop dead right now, or a suicide bomber downstairs were to blow this building up and I were blown into smithereens, God would have done me no wrong. He does no wrong to anybody when he takes their life, whether at 2 weeks or at age 92.

God is not beholden to us at all. He doesn’t owe us anything.

Now add to that the fact we’re all sinners and deserve to die and go to hell yesterday, and the reality that we’re even breathing today is sheer common grace from God.

I could make the question harder. As it was stated, it doesn’t feel hard to me, because God was stated as the actor.

My basic answer is that the Old and New Testaments present God as the one who has total rights over my life and over my death.

“The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). How he takes away is his call. He never wrongs anybody.

~ Ask Pastor John | Desiring God .org | February 27, 2010

In essence, you see the mentality in this answer that man does not have the right to exist, and has no worth. Yet…

Malachi 3:17 – They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him.

John Piper has been called out many times publicly for making these kinds of statements in regard to tragedies, but no one seems to understand the ideology behind such statements. Some also notice tacit acceptance of terrorism as well, and the lack of justice in the institutional church for those who have been abused speaks for itself. If the president of the flagship seminary in service to the largest denomination in the world thinks that “One man’s terrorist is another man’s patriot,” what are we to expect?

When one thinks of life past the fatalistic prism of the “sovereign” gospel that saturates today’s church and reads the Bible in the same thinking way, much better answers evolve. Unfortunately, life teaches us that terrorists cannot be reasoned with. I heard a retired high-ranking military official state this week that the only way to deal with terrorists is to eliminate them. Keep in mind, this is because they do not value mankind or life because of the same presuppositions that we are discussing.

When Israel was getting ready to enter the Promised Land, it could very well be that God knew certain cultures in the area would continually harass Israel and were completely unreasonable while having no regard for life. Israel’s lack of obedience in following God’s command to completely wipe out certain cultures came back to bite them for hundreds of years—even until this very day. These were cultures very much like ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria who are presently wreaking havoc in the Middle East and mercilessly slaughtering thousands. These people, unfortunately, cannot be negotiated with.

Lastly, another problem with a gospel that is based on deterministic fatalism follows. There is only one person spoken of less in our day than the Holy Spirit: Satan. The Bible warns us throughout to be aware of the devil’s schemes, and that he “deceives” the world. Why would this be relevant and how do you “deceive” someone who is already preordained for eternal punishment? The Bible continually places blame on Satan for leading people into condemnation.

In the final analysis, a “sovereign” gospel devalues prayer, God’s promises, evangelism, sin, justice, hope, life value, future reward, and the belief that what we do in this life is relevant. I have come to believe that people will perish because we have been neutralized by ignorance:

Ezekiel 3:16 – And at the end of seven days, the word of the Lord came to me: 17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 18 If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. 19 But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul. 20 Again, if a righteous person turns from his righteousness and commits injustice, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die. Because you have not warned him, he shall die for his sin, and his righteous deeds that he has done shall not be remembered, but his blood I will require at your hand. 21 But if you warn the righteous person not to sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live, because he took warning, and you will have delivered your soul.”

John MacArthur claims that Christians should take part in God’s “sovereign” plan, and therefore find blessings in being obedient to evangelism. I have heard this same take from people who equate freewill with an unsovereign gospel/false gospel. Again, God’s “sovereignty” is the attribute that primarily drives the gospel and not love. But the following is irrefutable, such obedience must also be preordained and not really of our own volition. Furthermore, the reward is invalid as well.

I have also come to believe that there are no paradoxes in God’s election. I believe the confusion can be eliminated, and people motivated to labor in God’s ministry field with zeal. But I believe the study will be very hard work.

Nevertheless, let us begin it posthaste.

12 Reasons Why…

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on August 17, 2015

With football season upon us there is a new meme that has been circulating Facebook recently.  You might have seen it.

 

12 reasons

Obviously, this is meant to be a passive/aggressive criticism of those who use these same excuses for not going to church.  And as usual, it gets its share of “likes” and positive comments and “amens” all around.

So, with one of our topics being all the issues wrong with the institutional church, and with our focus being that of home fellowships, and because I have a tendency to be a trouble-maker, I decided to take the above idea and run in a different direction with it.  For your consideration, I am pleased to present to you:

12 reasons why attending a sporting event is better than attending church.


  1. The coach isn’t going to kick you out of the stadium for being critical of his play-calling.
  2. The only people asking you for money are the workers at the concession stand, and at least you get a snack and a cold beverage in return.
  3. You are surrounded by total strangers, but most people will interact with you like you’ve been lifelong friends.
  4. Those same people won’t judge you for what you’re wearing.
  5. There’s no “fan covenant” to sign where you agree to support the team no matter what.
  6. Nobody is going to question your team loyalty if you show up to the stadium late or not at all.
  7. Group participation is not only allowed but encouraged!
  8. You don’t have to worry about the coach showing up at your house the next day asking you why you weren’t at the game.
  9. You don’t have to worry about the coach getting on the P.A. system to bad mouth the season ticket holders who missed last week’s game.
  10. If you get to the stadium early, that’s ok. There’s most likely several parties already going on in the parking lot, and they won’t mind if you crash in, even if you didn’t bring a dish to pass.
  11. If there is ever a team scandal, the coach doesn’t blame the fans for it.
  12. You can be fairly certain that no one will ever tell you that the outcome is pre-determined!

 

Of course, if you have any others that you care to add, you are welcome to do so!

Andy

Acts 10: Reformed Theology and the Problem With Cornelius

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on March 19, 2015

Originally posted October 3, 2012

I was asked recently what I thought the primary key to discernment is. I answered this way: one of the major keys is daily Bible reading. If nothing else, read through the Scriptures and get a general idea of what is going on.

When you do that, you discover that things you hear from the pulpit may need a little bit more consideration and thinking.

We know the Reformed drill. Man is totally depraved. He can’t do anything to merit salvation. You’re either chosen, or not chosen. We can’t do anything to please God—all of our works are as filthy rags before God, and so forth.

So, as you are taking my advice, drinking some morning coffee and reading through Acts 10, you’re stopped dead in your tracks and immediately realize why Luther hated reason so much.

We read the following there:

1 At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. 2 He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. 3 One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!”

4 Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked.

The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. 5 Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. 6 He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.”

Um, is it just me, or does this kinda throw a monkey wrench in the whole “all of our works are filthy rags before God” routine? Now, heretics like Paul David Tripp would quickly step forward and say, “That text needs to be seen in its gospel context.” Oooookay. So, somehow, in the “gospel context,” “memorial” really means “filthy rags.” Right.

Furthering the complexity leading to a need for more consideration is the question of whether or not Cornelius was officially saved when the angel made this statement.

Watch out for neatly arranged theological systems. Especially Reformed ones.

And read your Bible daily.

paul

How Close Are We? An Apostolic Call to Discernment in the Last Days

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on March 9, 2015

Blog Radio LogoListen to audio or download file: How Close Are We? An Apostolic Call to Discernment in the Last Days 

Good evening and welcome to False Reformation Blog Talk Radio. I’m your host, Paul Dohse. If you would like to join the discussion tonight and add to what we’re learning, as you can see on your screen there, the number is area code (347) 855-8317. And remember to mute the speakers on your laptop or PC so that we don’t get annoying feedback. And, by the way, if you want to ask a question or comment on a previous show, that’s all right. It doesn’t necessarily have to be on point. When I answer, I’ll say, “Hello. You’re on Blog Talk Radio. What is your comment and question?” Just start talking. Identifying yourself is optional. And also, if you want to shoot me an e-mail during the show, I have my e-mail right here in front of me if you want to send me a little message. Maybe a question, maybe you don’t want to call in, but you have a comment or question. That would be mail@ttanc.com. And per the usual, we’ll be checking in with Susan towards the end of the show and see what her input is as well.

Well, tonight we’re going to ask the question, “Are we in the last days?” And also an apostolic call to discernment. So that’s what we’re going to look at tonight, a little bit of Bible prophesy, actually a lot. And starting out, let’s talk about the fact that the Christian landscape is indeed pretty interesting, if not confusing. As you’re driving around, you can’t help but to notice all of the different churches everywhere with all kinds of different names. If you’ve ever been in a Christian bookstore, good grief, just a lot of different stuff in there. Summaries and comments of friends of mine on Facebook reflect the kind of confusion and questions bouncing around in our heads. One friend of mine recently posted a note on Facebook that said, “Doesn’t anybody have any discernment anymore?” Another friend of mine wrote an e-mail recently in the same tone of exasperation. I just do not understand why theologians today are always looking for a new twist rather than a true interpretation of each passage, just allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture. Yet another friend showed frustration at God himself and asked, “Why can’t God make things simple? Why is everything so confused?” So what’s the deal? How can there be so many takes on, as Jude puts it in his letter, the one faith delivered to the saints?

Well, I’m here to tell you that God is not a God of confusion. Perish the thought. Neither does God want us to be confused about the above questions. God doesn’t want us confused. The Reformed crowd, some guy in the Reformed crowd actually wrote a book recently entitled Perplexity, and one of the theses of the book is that we’re just pathetic, totally depraved, confused people, and perplexity is to be expected. In a way in the book he says that us being perplexed gives glory to God because it makes us needy and dependent and always going to him for the answers and not anything we could figure out, God forbid, so our perplexity in essence gives glory to God. Nothing could be further from the truth. God is not a God of confusion. He does not want us confused. And of all books, tonight we’re going to see in the Book of Revelation where that’s verified, in fact, that God is very plain in the Book of Revelation and, in fact, does not want us to be confused about anything.

True, there are things that are just God’s mysteries and I’m not sure if we ever will know them. But the fact is that one of the verses – one of my favorite verses in the Bible is Deuteronomy 29:29. Let me paraphrase it for you. Let me give you the gist of it: Yeah, there are mysteries, and those belong to God, but as far as stuff we can know, which is really the vast majority of Scripture, we’re responsible to learn those things to be good disciples, to be good learners and apply those things to our lives. God doesn’t want us to be confused about not only the questions we just looked at in our introduction. He wants us to understand – oh, and this is a big focus tonight. He wants to understand the landscape that we are dwelling in and why things are the way they are. Tonight we will look at what the Scripture says in regard to these vital questions. But first in order to understand the landscape of our day, we need to understand where we are at in the scheme of history. Why? That is the prism that the Scriptures use to describe what we should expect and look for in this time and therefore not be surprised or confused about it.

Things happen for a reason. This is helpful in figuring out life, and John Immel brought this up in the first conference. Again, let me give you like a thumbnail. In one of John’s talks, he talked about the fact that people don’t just do things. Their actions are driven from their logic. You can push the easy button and say, “Oh, well. They’re just nuts. They’re just crazy.” That’s very rare. When people do things, it flows from something, primarily logic. And, by the way, our Paul’s Passing Thoughts moderator has made a page there on the widget on paulspassingthoughts.com where we have posted John’s first session of the 2012 TANC Conference, and I recommend you go there. It’s real good basic things that Christians need to know in really building a decent foundation for their worldview.

So God doesn’t want us confused about what’s going on in our world and especially the Christian realm. So not only that, the Scriptures also outline a course of action as well. So we’re not only to know what’s going on in our realm, we, you know, he not only wants us to know, understand what’s going on. He also wants us to know what to do about it, and we’re going to talk about that tonight as well.

So let’s start out in Hebrews 9:26, and I’m going to read Hebrews 9:26, and here it goes: “For then he would have had to suffer,” that is Christ, “repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all,” listen, “at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” So let me ask you a question. Are we in the last days, and how do we know? Because of some book someone wrote? No, we know that we are in the last days because Hebrews 9:26 says the last days are marked by the coming of Christ to die for our sins. What we are going to see is that the coming of Christ in the flesh to die for the world plays in a specific time period that has a beginning and an end. Then we are going to look at the characteristics that come with this age.

Before we go on, we see that this age is marked by the first appearance of Christ of as a man. It is the last age among ages since ages is in the plural. All of the major and the most used versions along with the Greek Interlinear reflects this. This is also reflected at the beginning of Hebrews as well in the first chapter, first couple of verses. Here’s how it reads: “Long ago at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son, and he appointed the heir of all things through whom also he created the world.” The beginning of this specific time period is open for debate. Really, you could make an argument for the beginning of the Lord’s ministry being his baptism by John, the resurrection, the ascension or Pentecost. However, it is clear that the beginning is sometime during the coming of Christ and his ministry through the disciples who later became the apostles. It doesn’t much matter where it begins. We know for certain that we are in that time period.

Now, next, this specific time period has its specific end. Let’s look at that. So first, we’ve looked at the fact that the second coming of Christ marks the last days. So, yes, we know that we’re in the last days. You say, “Well, that’s a long last days. That was like 2,000 years ago.” Well, true. We are in the last days. We just don’t know how long the last days are going to last. And as we’re going to see, what is huge in understanding Bible prophecy and also really a big chunk of justification is the fact that the age that we are in now which is actually the time of the Gentiles and the tribulation period is very distinct.

Okay. Let’s look at the fact that the time period that we’re in now will have a specific end. The end is determined by the total gathering of all those God has foreknown. Actually, long story short, the complete bringing in of gentile believers and Jewish believers during a very specific time period in the Bible called the Times of the Gentiles. So let’s read Second Peter 3:3-10. Here we go. “Knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.” Stop right there. I wrote a post on this last week. A lot of people distort the Scriptures because – well, see where it says following? That’s probably better “obey.” The Bible has a lot to say about the definition of the flesh and what causes us to sin. It’s sin within the flesh, and as Christians, we have a choice. We can obey what the Bible describes as sinful desires or we can just obey, period, what pleases the Lord. Sometimes desire goes along with that and sometimes it doesn’t, but what’s interesting is – and, by the way, sanctification is just like a wide open frontier for Christianity. It really is. But what’s interesting is the Bible gives us the wisdom for building godly desires into our life. Christians are to learn to love and to learn to hate. We’re to learn to cling to what is good and despise or ignore that which is evil. So basically, it’s like relationships in general. If you want to be indifferent to somebody and don’t really want to care for them that much, what do you do? You ignore them. Christ said where your heart is, your treasure will be there also or your treasure will be where your heart is or vice versa. What we make our treasure, what we make a priority in our life is the beginning or the focal point. Desires will follow. You can phrase it like this if you want to: Right doing leads to right feeling, if we’ll read Philippians chapter 4.

So people twist Scripture. People won’t respond to the truth because they’re obeying their own sinful desires, and if they obey Scripture, that’s going to be an about face from following the sinful desires that they want to follow. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? Forever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation. For they…” Look at this. “For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of the water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word, the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the Day of Judgment and destruction of the ungodly. But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient towards you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief,” all right? Note that. “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.”

Notice we have two separate events here: the last days and the day of the Lord. And the day of the Lord isn’t literally one day. The day of the Lord is really the tribulation period. It’s what it is. We’re in the last days now. The tribulation period is the day of the Lord. The present age will continue until all that God foreknew are saved. The way Peter puts it, the Lord is patiently waiting for all of his children to be saved, not willing that any perish. Others mistake this for the Lord being slack or he is not coming back at all because it’s been so long or it’s been such a long time since Christ came.

Another text that speaks the difference between the last days and the day of the Lord is Second Thessalonians 2:1-7, so let’s read that. “Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness,” actually that’s the man of anomia or antinomianism in English.” is revealed, the son of destruction.” And what I want to make you note here, when you’re reading your Bible, take notes of phrases like “the rebellion.” Notice the definitive, the rebellion. What’s that? Don’t overlook those phrases, the rebellion, the son of destruction. Those phrases are keys to understanding your Bible.

“So the son of destruction who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship so that he takes his seat in the temple of God proclaiming himself to be God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you, I told you these things? Watch and you know what is restraining him now.” So the Thessalonians had been taught that something is specifically restraining events or else the Antichrist would already be revealed and doing his thing, and the rest of it says, “So that he may be revealed in his time.”

So this is another key that I just want to throw in here as an aside. Predestination in the Bible is really more along the lines of God’s intervention. I’ve come to believe that what a lot of people refer to as predeterminism is really God intervening in free will. God guarantees, God made a plan for the salvation of man and a happy eternal ending. God isn’t the cause of what evil men do, but he does intervene to guarantee a certain ending. So the more I look at these issues and study these issues, really, the more I don’t see very much predeterminism on the part of God. And besides that, predeterminism is just old shoe. We are taught that predeterminism and determinism is a rarity with the Reformers. Not at all. From the cradle of civilization until now, all there has been is determinism. What is actually unique – and this is where we need to change our thinking, what is actually unique is the idea of free will. And that primarily came about not until after the Enlightenment. Before then, determinism either by God or the forces that are was a given.

So what we want to do here is we want to back up a little bit. We want to look at something in this Second Thessalonians 2:1-7. We want to look at this word “temple.” When we see that word – and I did an interesting word study on this today. When we look at that word “temple,” we primarily think the whole big Temple Mount, the second temple and that huge thing, Temple Mount, The Court of the Gentiles, the actual temple itself in the middle of all that. Well, this is a word that’s used widely through the – I think 39 times in the New Testament. But for the most part, the word means the Holy of Holies. For the most part – like, for instance, I remember Zachariah who got struck with blindness and they were wondering what’s taken him so long to come out of the temple. Well, where was Zachariah? He was in the Holy of Holies doing the Day of Atonement thing where I guess they tied a rope around their ankles so if they did something at least a little bit wrong, they would have to them out of there, and they would have to do this certain kind of washing of the whole body and everything before they went in there. But primarily this word refers to the Holy of Holies. Notice you can see that right here in Second Thessalonians 2:1-7, this son of destruction god, the Antichrist who will oppose all and exalt himself against every so-called god or object of worship so that he – listen, he takes his seat in the temple of God proclaiming himself to be God. Well, we know from other Scriptures where specifically does he take his seat. It’s in the Holy of Holies. So you see that? So that refers primarily to the Holy of Holies.

Now, what’s my point in bringing this up? Well, we don’t know how long – we know that we’re in the last days. Fair enough. And what we’re going to look at next is the fact that the return of Christ for us in this time period is marked by an imminent return of which we don’t know the day, and it’s a meeting of Christ in the air, which is totally different from his visible Second Coming. So what’s my part in bringing up the temple? Well, there’s this big question. We know that one of the things that, you know. Okay, there’s really very few signs that we’re near to the end of this age and the day of the Lord. One of the primary signs, of course, needed to be Israel becoming a state again. But then the question becomes how long is Israel a state? So there are very few signs because how long is Israel a state before God actually comes back? I mean, Christ’s return is, you know, the Bible says in a day that we think not. So if you want a valid sign, one of the very few valid signs that there are is look around if there’s a general attitude that the Lord is not coming back, and if he is, it’s going to be a long time. That’s as good a sign as any that we’re near. But at any rate there’s this whole conversation about the building of the third temple because obviously in the Book of Revelation, which is the day of the Lord, obviously, there needs to be this third temple that’s built so everybody is looking for this third temple. And as you know, the Muslims have built this big, gaudy, ugly thing called the Dome of the Rock right on top of where the actual temple was and the Holy of Holies on the Temple Mount in the overall Court of the Gentiles.

So how is this all going to take place? We know that Jews are preparing for it, and there’s all of this conversation about, you know, is there going to be an earthquake that’s going to destroy the Dome of the Rock? And, you know, what’s going to happen? Well, this is key. When it gets right down to the nitty-gritty, and we’re going to be reading – let me see here. We’re going to be reading in Revelation 11 very shortly. Let me start by saying this. When it gets right down to the nitty-gritty, all this temple needs to be is a fancy tent because you remember the tabernacle in the wilderness and how that was all set up to be mobile and everything? This is actually what’s referred to – and as we’re going to see in Revelation 11, we’re going to see the Ark of the Covenant come out of the temple which is more than likely than not the temple in general but the actual Holy of Holies. Well, hold, you know, stop the tape. In the second temple, the Ark of the Covenant wasn’t even in the Holy of Holies to begin with. So look, there doesn’t need to be some big highcaflutin temple built, and the Dome of the Rock doesn’t have to be moved. All it needs to be technically is the Old Testament tabernacle. And guess what? The old covenant tabernacle was what? Mobile. Okay? It wasn’t in any specific place. The Holy of Holies to be the Holy of Holies doesn’t have to be exactly where the Holy of Holies was on the Temple Mount.

And you say, “Well, what about the Court of the Gentiles and all that?” Well, let’s read in the Book of Revelation. “Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, ‘Rise up and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there.'” Remember the altar of incense and all of that? The table of shewbread and all of that was outside the Holy of Holies. So measure that. So we’ve got the altar here and those who worship there. Verse 2: “But do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months.” This whole business with “and they” you’re saying, “Oh, so there won’t be a Court of the Gentiles associated with the temple because the gentiles are going to trample the holy city for 42 months.” No. Remember this encompasses what Jesus called the time of the Gentiles. That’s what that’s referring to.

So what’s my point? There’s not going to be a Court of the Gentiles in the tribulation third temple. Don’t measure it. Leave it out. It’s given to the gentiles. So there isn’t going to be a Court of the Gentiles. I present to you that this temple can be an elaborate tabernacle like was in the wilderness, and they can park that puppy anywhere they want to and do their thing. It may not even be on the Temple Mount. And if you look at all of that, if you look at diagrams and everything, the Court of the Gentiles was huge. Depending on what scholar you talk to, you’ve got Solomon’s porch, and all of that stuff is all around the Court of the Gentiles. So that’s my point there.

Now, I want to make another point in Revelations 11. Okay, to kind of drive a stake in that point, do we need to look for some kind of earth-shaking event where it paves the way for the Jews build this temple? No. I mean, the Jews could be up and running with the tabernacle set up next year. There’s just not much standing in the way. I’m sure if they go that route, it’s going to be a very nice tabernacle, this, that and the other, but with the building capabilities that we have today, they could build a pretty nice tabernacle in a couple of months, that is, if they haven’t already built the parts and they’re laying around somewhere in Israel as we speak. So that’s the point there.

But let’s keep on reading in the Book of Revelations. You note that, but he says, “Do not measure the court outside the temple. Leave it out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city,” watch this, “forty-two months.” That’s three and a half years. “And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days clothed in sackcloth.” Note, watch what the Holy Spirit does in writing the Scriptures. This is so deliberate. He specifies a three-and-a-half-month period two different ways: 42 months and 1,260 days. Is that clear enough? Any questions?

Then he goes on to say, “These are two olive leaves and the two lamp stands that stand before the Lord of the earth, and if anyone will harm them, fire pours out of their mouth and consumes their foes.” So you’ve got these two witnesses witnessing in Jerusalem in the first three and a half years of this seven-year period. So this desolation of the Holy of Holies takes place right after the end of their ministry. And so basically, at the beginning of the tribulation period; it lasts seven years. But at the very beginning of the tribulation period, first you’ve got the rider on the horse that’s got a bow, no arrows. But what you’ll notice about the opening of the seven seals, what you’re going to notice there is right away it’s a big “Uh-oh.” The world pretty much knows the gig’s up, and then – so right after that it’s a long, terrifying seven years. So these guys are prophesying and preaching in this first three and a half years. And if anybody hassles them, fires comes out of their mouth and consumes their adversaries. If anyone would harm them, this is how he is doomed to be killed, pretty plain. They have the power to shut the sky that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood and strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they desire. Does all this sound familiar? Very much like the plagues when Moses extracted the people out of Egypt.

And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottom of the pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt. So we have symbolically – see – look, you know, when the Bible wants something to be symbolic, notice how the Bible tells you it’s symbolic. See that? The street of the great city. What’s the great city? Well, it’s symbolically called Sodom and Egypt. Okay. It’s symbolically called that, but where is it? Watch the following words. “Where their Lord was crucified.” Any questions?

Look, the Book of Revelation isn’t hard to understand. Don’t let anybody fool you. Read the Book of Revelation and just let the words say what they say. It’s not hard. You don’t need these so-called scholars to tell you what your own Bible says. All of this stuff with Christian academia and the seminaries and all these guys with six [SOUNDS LIKE 0:43:56], several titles after their name, you know what it reminds me of? It reminds me of – you watch the State of the Union address, and then you’ve got these talking heads telling you what the President said as if you’re too stinking stupid to know what the guy who just gave the speech was saying. And during the elections when you’re watching the conventions, same thing. Somebody will give a speech, and then the stinking talking heads would tell you what the guy just said. It’s the same thing. Somebody pick up a Bible, read it and just interpret the words. Andy is going to be talking a lot about this in this year’s conference coming up, but I’m really looking forward to all of that.

Now, Verse 9: “For three and a half days, some from the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze upon their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb. And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry and exchange presents because these two prophets had been a torment to those who dwell on the earth.” So these guys are laying down these plagues all over the earth. The whole earth sees them lying in the streets of the Jerusalem, and the [UNINTELLIGIBLE 0:45:41] also aware that the water being turned to blood in Georgia is because of these two yayhoos that are wreaking havoc in Jerusalem. There’s only one way all of this can be possible, and that’s satellite technology, satellite TV. So here you have the Bible speaking to future technology.

All right, Verse 11: “But after the three and a half days, a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood up on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them.” I imagine. And that will be on satellite TV. It will be very interesting to hear what the talking heads and the spin doctors, how they spin all that deal. Yeah, whether it be Tom Brokaw or whoever, right? Yeah, tell us what we just saw there. “Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, ‘Come up here!’ And they went up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies watched them.” So basically, you have this resurrection of these two guy take place, and the whole world is watching. And if they thought they were in deep doo-doo at the beginning of the day of the Lord, now they know things are really getting intense. “And at that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell.” So there’s an earthquake. And  check this out, 7,000 people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to God in heaven. So there’s this earthquake right after these guys are resurrected, and everybody sees it. There’s this giant earthquake; 7,000 people are killed, and guess what? A whole bunch of people give their life to the Lord.

Okay. So verse 14: “The second woe has passed; behold, the third woe is soon to come.” Verse 15: “Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.'” Stop right there. Susan and I talked about this, Potter’s House, last Sunday, God’s kingdom is not on the earth. Gospel contemplationism is not manifesting a gradual dominion of God’s present kingdom on earth by the Holy Spirit because of collective gospel contemplationism. No, teachings like that are what makes John Piper, et al, the flaming heretics that they are. Notice that the kingdom of God is not presently on earth, and that’s key.

Verse 16: “And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, ‘We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign. The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for the rewarding your servants…'” Those two deals right there are critical to understanding justification. You have the dead that are going to be judged, and you have the rewarding of your servants. You got that? For all practical purposes that’s the difference between justification and sanctification. Those who are justified will not be judged. Depending on what they’ve done in their sanctified lives, they will be rewarded.

“The prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the world.” 19: “Then God’s temple,” listen. Check this out, verse 19: “Then God’s temple in heaven was opened.” Basically, the front doors of the temple weren’t open or the drapes or whatever. It’s the Holy of Holies that’s open. Then God’s temple right there, the rendering of the temple there refers to God’s Holy of Holies. God’s Holy of Holies in heaven was open and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple or the Holy of Holies. That’s where the Ark of the Covenant was. It wasn’t in the temple proper. It was in the Holy of Holies. So basically, there were flashes of lighting, rumbles, peals of thunder and earthquake and heavy hail.

So why do you see so much symbolism of angels in the tabernacle in the Old Testament? Because again, read the Book of Revelation. So we have God wanting to make Israel back in that day a holy nation of priests, and the Israelites don’t do so well in holding up their end of the bargain, so God makes the new covenant. But what we have here in the Book of Revelation – and this is why there is so much angelology in the Old Testament and the giving of the book of the covenant on Mount Sinai and all that apocalyptic scene there where you have the angels accompanying God when he came down on Mount Sinai because in the Book of Revelation God comes in and he enforces that original covenant that he wanted to with Israel. He enforces it, and in the process a lot of Jews get saved and probably gentiles too. But as mentioned in a few places in the Bible, the angels are the enforcers of the covenant, and that’s what they’re going to do. They come in. The angels come in, and they say, “We’re here to do business, and whether the world likes it or not we’re ushering in God’s kingdom. His covenant with Israel will stand,” and so on and so forth. So that’s Revelation 11. I hope we learned a few things breezing through that chapter, and I hope that I made the points that I wanted to make there.

So let’s move on. So the end of the last days will be preceded by the full gathering of God’s children and precedes the appearance of the antichrist and the day of the Lord according to the apostle Paul. Also, the end of the last days’ time period will end with an unexpected resurrection of many believers that are still alive. So let’s look at this, First Corinthians 15:52: “Paul said, ‘Behold, I tell you a mystery…'”

Oh, and we’re going to get into – okay, one of the points that I didn’t make in Revelation 11, before we move on, is here’s the thing that you want to know in the Book of Revelation. You notice three and a half years this, three and a half years that the antichrist will do what he does right smack dab in the middle of the tribulation period. The first three and a half years are the tribulation. The last three and a half years are the great tribulation. Here’s my point. The time that we’re in now, the return of the Lord is imminent. In the Book of Revelation nothing is imminent. If you aren’t part of the rapture and you’re in the tribulation period, when you see Israel sign their covenant of death, as Isaiah put it, a covenant of death that will not stand, when you see the Antichrist make the covenant with Israel, you will be able to go to your calendar and via your understanding of the Book of Revelation, which will read just like the headlines during that time, you will be able to go to your calendar and mark the very day that Christ splits the sky open and comes down with myriads of warrior angels. You’ll be able to mark the day. We’re not in those days. Christ said that no one knows the day that he will return for his gathering, what the first century saints knew as the gathering. It’s imminent, a time when we think not. Over and over and over again in the New Testament it said that Christ will come like a what? Thief in the night. The difference between the last days that we’re in and a separate tribulation period is as plain as the nose on your face. The Book of Revelation is just time-stamped. Everything is time-stamped. All through the Book of Revelation, it tells you exactly when what is going to happen, specifically how many people die in the events and so on and so forth. So Paul said in First Corinthians 15:51 and 52, “Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all die, but we shall all be changed in a moment in the twinkling of an eye at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.” And then we’ve got – so this happens in the twinkling of an eye. We’re not all going to die and we’re, you know, this is the rapture, okay? And this is very different from in the Christ and the second coming splitting the skies open and coming down to earth to subdue the earth with myriads of warrior angels and like one of them slew 20,000 Assyrians. So as far as the earth goes and the army, good luck with that.

Anyway, let’s go on to John 21:18-23. “Christ said to his disciples, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.’ This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God, talking to Peter. And after saying this, he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who had been reclining at the table close to him and had said, ‘Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?’ When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, what about this man?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!’ So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not going to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not going to die, but, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?'” This is a reference to the rapture. Peter didn’t like the news that he got from Christ and basically what he’s asking Christ, “Well, what about John? Is he going to die like me, or is he going up in the rapture?” Christ pretty much said, “You worry about your own business that you’re called to do for me and follow me.”

So let’s look at 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17. “For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord,” so this is a Revelation that they got directly from the Lord, “that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and then the sound, the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.” So do I think that when the rapture happens that it will be accompanied by this huge trumpet blast that the world will hear? Probably.

Continuing on: “Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.” You see where this is a sudden catching up of up in the clouds are those who are alive. They’re resurrected up with the Lord. Now, when the Lord returns in the Second Coming, he doesn’t take anybody up with him. He comes down and sets up his kingdom on earth, so nobody goes up. There’s only a coming down. The rapture in the last days, at the end of the last days that we’re in, that’s a going up. When Christ comes and returns to the earth, nothing is going up. It’s all coming down.

Also keep in mind that this resurrection, otherwise known as the rapture, is what we call imminent. I’ve mentioned that several times. In other words, it is likely to occur at any time without warning. Watch this, Acts 16:1, 6 and 7: “So when they had come together, they ask him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom of Israel?” Now, this right before he ascended and, he had been teaching them for something like 40 days, privately, I believe, something like that. And notice that when they say, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” Notice that Jesus doesn’t say, “Dude, what did we just get done talking about all these days? What are you talking about?” So he said to them, “It is not for you to know the times of the seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.” So the day is not known. In the Book of Revelation, again, the day is known. All through the Book of Revelation, the days are spelled out in no uncertain terms. In case you missed it, the Holy Spirit says three and a half years two different ways–42 months and 1,260 days. He does everything but write it on a chalkboard for you and bring it down.

So the Lord restores the kingdom to Israel at the end of the day of the Lord. The beginning of the day of the Lord marks the end of the last days. Christ also states the following in Matthew 24:36-44: Christ said, “But concerning that day and hour, no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. As it were in the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as it was in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away. So will it be, the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.”

So what we have, we have perfect imagery here. We have the rapture. People are working in the field. One is taken. The other is left. Then we’ve got just like it was in the day of Noah. Life was going on per the normal marrying, giving [UNINTELLIGIBLE 1:07:19], business as usual, life as usual. Then it starts raining, and everybody goes, “Uh-oh.” So it’s the same kind of deal. Everybody knows it’s the beginning of the end. So the whole issue of imminence separates the last days in the day of the Lord and because if I’m a believer in the day of the Lord otherwise known as the tribulation period, I know exactly when the Lord is coming back to the day. And let me demonstrate that. Let’s go to Daniel 9:27, and I’ll read that as well. And it says: “And he shall make a strong covenant with many for a week, a week, seven days, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering.” So in Daniel 9:27 what we have here is weeks of years. So one week is actually seven years, and for half of the week, he shall put an end to the sacrifice and offering. So for the second half of the week, he puts an end to the offering. That’s when he goes into the Holy of Holies and proclaims himself as God. “And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.”

The tribulation period has designated times and not much on the imminent side is going on during this time. If I’m a believer during that time, I know that the Lord’s return is seven years from the date of a treaty made with Israel by the Antichrist and from several other Scriptures and three and a half years from the abomination of desolation spoken of in Second Thessalonians 2:4. So basically, if you’re living during the tribulation period, when you see the abomination of desolation, you can go to your calendar and recalculate and say, “Yup, three and a half years from now is that date right there.” Basically, you’ll be able to mark the very day that the Lord is going to split that sky open and come down with his angels to subdue the earth and do what the disciples asked about before he ascended and once again establish the kingdom of Israel.

Now, we’re not even going to get in tonight how the Lord decided to do a seven-year tribulation that goes back to the Lord warning Israel in the original covenant that they would be punished, I believe, times seven for violations of the Sabbaths. And I believe what they violated was every seven years they were supposed to give the land a rest. They didn’t, so he warned them that if they did that that they would be punished seven times over. Anyway, all of that calculates out to 490 years before the transgression is finished. And if you follow that in the timeline, it’s 490 years from the time that God makes the decree to the time that the Messiah is cut off. Well, if you do the calculation, it’s 483 years. It’s 490 years to “finish the transgression.” You calculate everything out until the beginning of that 490 years to when Messiah is cut off. It’s 483 years. So there are seven years missing. So you can study all of that on your own, or if you want to, I can send you the information mail@ttanc.com. Actually, I think we did a Potter’s House on that that I can send you, but listen, here’s the point I want to make. It all fits together. Forty-two different authors, a Scripture that’s written over a collective time period of 1,600 years, and it all fits together perfectly.

So let’s move on, shall we? I’ll try to hurry up and finish up here so we have time to take some calls if there are any and see if Susan has any input on all of this. So there you have it. This is the age that we’re living in, the last days. So what does the Bible say these days will be like? What should we expect?, well let’s go to 2 Timothy 4:2 and 3. Now we’ve talked about the days that we’re in. They’ve been identified. Now we’re going to look at what they’re like and what we should do about it, so Second Timothy 4:2 and 3. This is from the NIV. Paul said to Timothy, “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit,” their own – what? There it is again, desires. “They will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”

Men will not only be seekers of a truth rather than the truth. They will not tolerate sound doctrine. When you go into a teaching situation in many cases, they just aren’t going to reject your teaching. They aren’t going to tolerate you, and really some of us here have had our share of the horror stories. Really, in the age we live in, there are three kinds of churches–churches that are driven to follow the truth at all costs, churches that will follow the truth as long as it doesn’t cost them anything, and churches that the apostle Paul said would be indicative of the age. They seek a truth that feeds the evil desires of their heart with a rabid intolerance of truth tellers.

Now, let’s go to 1 John 2:16. Here’s what John said. “Dear children, this is,” what? “This the last hour.” Was he saying it was the last hour they were going to be there way back when he wrote this? Of course not. Again, we see we’re in the last days. And as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. So these last days that we’re in are going to be marked by the Antichrist. Well, you know, what is an Antichrist? Well, 1 John tells us specifically what an Antichrist is. There will be many who deny that Jesus Christ came in the flesh or that he was truly man.

Hey, I got an e-mail from a lady who goes to a conservative evangelical church, like all of them are New Calvinist, but she said, “Hey, Paul. The guy was teaching that the flesh that Christ was in was a different kind of flesh that we’re in.” And if you know what New Calvinists believe about justification and what Old Calvinists believes about justification but don’t know that’s what they believe, they don’t know that that’s what their daddy, John Calvin, actually believed, it makes sense that that would be the case. And I’m not going to get down the rabbit track with all of that, but just put it this way. I was not surprised that that was taught in her church.

So primarily, an Antichrist – and remember, the Antichrist is also called the man of Anomia. But apparently, whoever this guy is, he will be antinomian and he’ll also specifically deny that Christ came in the flesh. So those are antichrists. There’s going to be a bunch of those guys around. You see the reference here to the future day that will be the time when the antichrist appears, but the apostle says many of his forerunners will be active in this age. As a matter of fact, it’s how we know that we’re in the last stage. Incredibly, the apostle was saying many antichrists will mark this age.

Now let’s go to 1 John 4:1. I’ll read that for you. “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” So now we have many false prophets even way back then when 1 John. So John is running down the list here. First, he says many antichrists. Now he’s saying many false prophets. This is a different group than what John spoke of earlier. There are also many false prophets in our age. Many antichrists and many false prophets will mark the age we live in.

Additionally–we’re not done–there are also many false apostles among them. Turn with me to Second Corinthians 11:13. “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising then if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.” Okay. So should we assume that this masquerade is like a really bad acting job? I think we do assume that. I contend that no, these are not bad acting jobs. Christ said that in this age, the deception will be so deep that even God’s elect will be deceived, if that were possible. Revelation 2:2 also speaks of false apostles, and there was even a problem with fictional letters being sent out as if the apostles telling the saints that they missed the rapture. That’s 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3. So in the 1st century, there were these guys writing letters. They were even writing letters and saying Paul wrote them. They’re not much different from bogus translations of the Bible like the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New World Translation and so on and so forth. It’s kind of the same thing.

So in the New Testament of the 27 books that make up the canon, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, 1 and 1 Thessalonians, Hebrews, 1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2 and 3 John, Jude deal primarily with error and false teaching as a theme. All other New Testament book contain portions that deal with false or erroneous teachings. In Revelation chapters 2 and 3 of the – about the seven churches, five of the letters contain and tolerate false teachers and are warned by Christ accordingly. So five of the seven letters, there’s a huge problem with heresy being tolerated and heresy being in the churches. As a matter of fact, the specific charge is that they tolerated false teaching. Really, when it gets right down to the nitty-gritty, only one of the seven churches were commended by Christ. The 1st century church, always looked at as the ideal model, was entrenched in constant, vicious warfare to protect the truth. When the disciples asked Jesus what the sign of the end of the age and his coming was going to be, the first thing that he said was what? “Be not deceived.”

Well, maybe things have gotten better since then, right? Not according to the apostle Paul and what he promised Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:1-5. Paul said, “Mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.” What are the last days? This time period that we’re in. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful – oh man, Susan and I were talking about this the other day, the ugly spirit of unthankfulness. Unthankfulness is going to mark this age. What else? Unholy. Friends, remember to be thankful. Don’t take God’s graces for granted. Count your blessings one by one. One of the few good sanctification songs that – no matter what’s going on in your life, and I know life can be very hard, but always look for the good in the land. So they’re going to be unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – look at this, having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

So there’s going to be many antichrists, many false prophets, many false apostles. They won’t tolerate sound doctrine. They’re going to be self-loving, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. And it’s all going to be wrapped up in this wrapper: having a form of godliness but denying its power.

Listen to these so-called pastors running 99% of the churches out there in our day. We can’t change. We don’t change. “Pastor” James MacDonald wrote a post that went viral on the Internet. He is resigned from fixing people. We hear of this all the time. I get sent articles by my readers all the time where you have these, especially in women’s ministry, people aren’t fixable. Don’t waste your time fixing stuff. Good news for tired mommies: Stop trying to fix yourself. Stop trying to be better. Stop trying to fix your children. Just show them Jesus, and God is going to do whatever he’s going to do. Paul said have nothing to do with them.

Now, again Paul says in Second Timothy 3:13: “While evil men and impostors will grow from bad to worse, deceiving itself.” This was all going on big time in the 1st century. And guess what. That was 2,000 years ago. And the apostle Paul said it’s not going to get better; it’s going to get worse. You got that? So think of this whole package. Do I need to go through this whole big list in this whole show being run by many antichrists, many false prophets, many false apostles? And this has been progressively getting worse for 2,000 years. Now listen to me. Let me throw a shout-out to the few guys I know of out there that have pulled their family out of the institutional church and are teaching their family at home. I know it’s tough, but you’re doing the right thing. What you saw in the institutional church that caused you to do what you did was not your imagination. If we believe Scripture, it was not your imagination.

Once you view the present Christian landscape through Scripture, it’s not very confusing at all. The church was engulfed in warfare for the truth from its conception, and the powers of darkness have had 2,000 years to perfect their schemes. Neither have they retreated. Hardly. However, I am not challenging you to pass judgment on anybody. I am challenging you to be a Berean like those talked about in Acts 17, the ones that the Holy Spirit called honorable. The Bereans would not even give the apostle Paul a pass without searching the Scripture to confirm what he’s teaching.

And let me tell you something. Thinking about tonight, you look at all of this, the Gospel Coalition and Together for the Gospel and all of these New Calvinist networks and all this stuff, these huge conferences that are going on, all of these books that are being written, this whole idea that there are awesome teachers hanging on trees everywhere, not reality. Just not reality, not even close. These are the days of Noah. And what’s glorious, we have the opportunity to find people like-minded who believe and understand what the Bible is saying about the days that we’re in, and we have an opportunity to gather each other together in our homes and fellowship together and have beautiful rich fellowships amongst people who really love the Lord and look forward to his coming as the days grow near and so on and so forth. But somehow, we want to spend all of our time scraping around in the junkyard of the institutional church finding something worth praising. Why do we want to do that? Why do people want to save Augustine’s institutional church? Why do they want to do that? It was hard enough in the 1st century keeping error out of the home fellowships. So we should not give any teacher in this age a pass on what they teach. Christ made it clear that the way of destruction in this age would be a wide road while the way of life would be narrow.

I was once sitting in a Sunday school class where the teacher made this statement: “You need to run to the bookstore and get this book.” And we got way too much of running down to the bookstore to buy this book and the other book and people running down the aisles and doing their Baptist absolution and all this, that and the other, way too much of that going on. Listen, I don’t run to any teaching. I move in slowly with binoculars while hiding behind rocks and trees as I go, and you should too. Why are there so many denominations, as I am closing here, okay? Why are there so many denominations, –isms and teachings represented in these pithy book covers? Because we live in an age that will not tolerate sound doctrine. There is no middle ground in this world. You either stand with darkness or you stand with light. The choice is yours.

Now, with that said, I’m not seeing our Susan calling in, and we have about 25 minutes left in the show. No callers and I don’t see Susan calling in. We do have a pretty hefty listening audience, and I’m thankful for that. I would be probably very nervous to teach a Sunday school that large. And a lot of people are coming to the archives at Blog Talk False Reformation, and I appreciate that as well. If there’s any way that I can do better here or if you have any recommendations at all, again, mail us at mail@ttanc.com. And blessings to everybody listening tonight, and go with God and have a wonderful, thankful, God-pleasing week. And we’ll see you next Friday at 7:00. God bless.

Helping Tim Challies and Other Calvinists with Evangelism

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on January 29, 2015

ChalliesYesterday, I was sent the following article about Calvinist evangelism written by blogger Tim Challies: How To Offend a Room Full of Calvinists. Miffed by the suggestion that somebody knows better than me how to offend Calvinists, I immediately read the article.

Apparently, according to Challies, Calvinists get offended when people suggest that their soteriology hinders evangelism.  According to Challies, the argument goes like this:

Many people are firmly convinced that there is a deep-rooted flaw embedded within Reformed theology that undermines evangelistic fervor. Most blame it on predestination. After all, if God has already chosen who will be saved, it negates at least some of our personal responsibility in calling people to respond to the gospel. Or perhaps it’s just the theological-mindedness that ties us down in petty disputes and nuanced distinctions instead of freeing us to get up, get out, and get on mission.

Protestants en masse think Calvinism’s greatest sin is weak evangelism, and of course, that makes them very angry because it’s supposedly the last criticism standing. I could start with the fact that Calvinism is works salvation under the guise of faith alone, or progressive justification, or salvation by antinomianism. Pick one; any of the three will work. But I have a mountain of data on that subject already; let’s do something different. Yes, let’s use Challies’ own words in the post to refute his argument. Before we call on Challies to refute his own protest, we will address his take on church history.

We go to history to show that the great missionaries, great preachers, and great revivalists of days past were Calvinists, and that Reformed theology was what fueled their mission… There are only so many times I can point to Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield and the Great Awakening, or William Carey and the great missionary movement of the nineteenth century, or Charles Spurgeon and the countless thousands saved under his ministry. Sooner or later I have to stop looking at my heroes and look to myself. I can’t claim their zeal as my own. I can’t claim their obedience as my own.

In the post, Challies argues that we know that a straight line can be found from Reformed theology to evangelistic zeal because of history. Supposedly, Calvinists throughout history were driven directly by this deterministic gospel to reach thousands. It is very interesting when you consider the examples given which will aid in making my point.

The Great Awakening had absolutely nothing to do with Reformed soteriology. We should know this as a matter of common sense to begin with because the Holy Spirit doesn’t colabor with a false gospel. The Great Awakening was fueled by the ideology of the American Revolution and was expressed to a great degree in churches, especially among African Americans. Fact is, guys like Edwards and Whitefield then got on their horses and rode around the countryside bloviating and taking credit for the freedom movement tagged with “The Great Awakening” nomenclature.

Fact is, the Great Awakening was a pushback against the Puritan church state driven by Reformed soteriology that came across the pond as a European blight on American history. I would liken Challies’ assessment to our present President taking credit for things he is against when the results are positive.

What about Spurgeon? That example is just too rich because it makes the last point for me. Spurgeon, who once said Calvinism was no mere nickname but the very gospel itself, was the poster boy for getting people to come to church in order to get them saved. That’s important, hold on to that because it’s our last point.

But before we get to the last point, let’s look at the major point: Challies argues against the idea that fatalism hinders evangelism, and then confesses that he doesn’t evangelize like all of the great Calvinists in history because of…fatalism. Calvinism doesn’t cause fatalism resulting in lame evangelism, but Challies doesn’t evangelize because of fatalism.

After all, if God has already chosen who will be saved, it negates at least some of our personal responsibility in calling people to respond to the gospel… We go to the pages of Scripture to show that God’s sovereignty and human responsibility are not incompatible, but that people truly are both free and bound, that God both chooses some while extending the free offer of the gospel to all.

So why does Challies not evangelize according to him? First, because he just doesn’t, but secondly, he is responsible:

It is my conviction—conviction rooted in close study of God’s Word—that Calvinism provides a soul-stirring motivation for evangelism, and that sharing the gospel freely and with great zeal is the most natural application of biblical truth. But it is my confession—confession rooted in the evidence of my own life—that my Calvinism too rarely stirs my soul to mission. The truths that have roared in the hearts and lives of so many others, somehow just whisper in me. The fault, I’m convinced, is not with God’s Word, or even with my understanding of God’s Word; the fault is with me.

He is responsible, but not often stirred. And what’s his solution? There isn’t one, it is what it is; he is responsible, but not called to evangelism. No corrective solution is offered in the post. Why not? Because, as he said, we are responsible, but unable. Responsibility and inability are not incompatible. So, Calvinism doesn’t hinder evangelism, but if you don’t evangelize, there is no solution. Others did it, and you don’t, the end.  Well, I suppose that approach doesn’t prevent evangelism either!

And funny he should cite Edwards. Susan is doing a session on Edwards for TANC 2015 and is studying his sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. She approached me and wanted to discuss something about the sermon that she was perplexed about. Edwards spent the better part of an hour addressing the total hopelessness of man and his likelihood of ending up in an eternal hell, but in the end offers no counsel on how to escape. Why? Because if God is going to do something, he is going to do it, and man is responsible either way.

This now brings us to the final point with a bonus; we are going to help Challies with his evangelism shortcomings. There is, in fact, a solution for Tim’s lack of evangelistic zeal. He doesn’t properly understand Calvinism and its history. This isn’t about saving Tim from the false gospel of Calvinism, this is about being a good evangelist in the context of Calvinism. If I can’t save a Calvinist, I can at least teach them how to be a better Calvinist. Really, it’s disheartening when Calvinists don’t properly understand Calvinism.

This is how we will help the Challies. We will bring him back to the historical significance of Spurgeon using some of his own observations. First, let’s get a lay of the land; how does true Calvinistic evangelism work? First, it is the “sovereign” gospel which means the subject must not be told that they have a choice. This is some fun you can have with Calvinists. Ask them if they tell the recipients of their gospel message that they have a choice. Most will avoid answering because they don’t want to admit the answer is, “no.” By their own definition, that would be a false gospel speaking to man’s ability to choose God.

Secondly, if God does do something, if “the wind blows,” that puts the subject in two categories according to Calvin: the called and those who persevere.  The called are those that God temporarily illumines, but later blinds resulting in a greater damnation. Those of the perseverance class are the truly elect. So, the “good news” is that you have a chance to make it. But, if you don’t make it according to God’s predetermined will, your damnation is greater than the non-elect. God has either chosen you for greater damnation or the jackpot, but I guess it’s worth a try if God so chooses.

But hold on, and this is huge: all of that can be bypassed by Calvin’s “power of the keys.” What’s that? If you are a formal member of a Reformed church, and the elders like you, whatever they bind on earth is bound in heaven and whatever they loose on earth is loosed in heaven.

Furthermore, according to Calvin, sins committed in the Christian life remove us from salvation, but membership in the local church and receiving the “impartations of grace” that can only be found in church membership supply a perpetual covering for sin. And here is the crux: one of those “graces” is sitting under “gospel preaching” of which Spurgeon was chief. In one way or the other, Spurgeon sold this wholesale and the results speak for themselves.

See, the solution for Challies is simple.  There is a solution for the disobedience he himself is responsible for: simply invite people to church in order to “get them under the gospel.” And that often looks like this…

Or perhaps it’s just the theological-mindedness that ties us down in petty disputes and nuanced distinctions instead of freeing us to get up, get out, and get on mission.

Problem solved. That’s how Calvinism is a straight line from its theology to evangelism—you are saved by being a formal member of a Reformed church, and your salvation is sustained by remaining a faithful member of that church and obeying everything the elders tell you to do and think. But let’s not call it intellectual rape, let’s call it “keeping ourselves in the love of Jesus.” Let’s call it “preaching the gospel to ourselves every day.” Let’s call it “being faithful to the church every time the doors are opened.” Let’s call it “putting ourselves under the authority of Godly men.” Let’s call it “trusting God with our finances.”

You’re welcome Tim, glad I could help.

paul

%d bloggers like this: