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Jun 23 2010

Captivity or Prosperity for our Children?

by randy

The loss or captivity of our children is in fact often a sign of a cultural curse. The Lord promises “it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God” (Deut. 28:15), then “you shall beget sons and daughters, but they shall not be yours; for they shall go into captivity” (Deut 28:41), and “your sons and your daughters shall be given to another people, and your eyes shall look and fail with longing for them all day long; and there shall be no strength in your hand” (Deut 28:32). No strength in our hand–what a telling expression. Though our children have avoided the relatively easy captivity of Assyria or Babylon, where one’s loyalties tend to become very clear, they have fallen headlong into the far subtler captivity of modernity–individualism, egalitarianism, rationalism, sentimentalism. And our eyes “look and fail with longing for them all day long.” Notice, though, the promise for faithfulness and imagine its cultural consequences: “He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers. And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live” (Deut. 30:5-6).
(Douglas Jones, Revitalizing Reformed Culture)

When we look to the promises concerning our children, we must remember that this really means looking to Christ, the one in whom all the promises of God are “yea” and “Amen.” the promises are not understood rightly if we understand them in separation from the person of Christ. We look to Christ because the Scripture tells us that in Him “all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us” (2 Cor. 1:20). The importance of this should become obvious when we consider the details of covenant nurture below. But for the present, if we treat our covenant relationship with the person of Christ as impersonal, this will necessarily corrupt our application of the covenant relationship we have with our children. This is how covenant nurture deteriorates from following Christ into following the instructions on child-rearing paint-by-numbers kit. Simply “following the procedures” is not covenantal faithfulness.

So we look to Christ in the promises. But what is the content of these promises of God with regard to our children? God’s promises to parents are ably discussed elsewhere in this volume, and so I will limit my references to them to just this paragraph. God promises that the children of his servants will continue (Ps. 102:28). He says he will show mercy to thousands of generations of those who fear Him (Deut 5:9-10). Our God keeps covenanted mercy over the course of thousands of generations (Deut. 7:9). God promised that in the days of Messiah He would bless us, our children, and our grandchildren forever (Ezek. 37:24-26). According to Isaiah, we will no longer bring forth children for trouble (Is. 65:23). And our Lord’s mother knew that the Son she bore was not to be the one in whom all generational blessings cease, but rather the one in whom all generational promises are fulfilled (Lk. 1:48-50). These promises are important to mention here because we face the constant temptation to have faith in our faith instead of having faith in God who promises Christ to us and to our children.
(Douglas Wilson, Covenant Nurture: Faith at Work through Godly Parenting)

Both quotes from their respective essays in Benjamin K. Wikner’s, “To You and Your Children.”

Jun 23 2010

Chuck Smith, Calvary Chapel & the end times fascination

by randy
Chuck Smith END TIMES Cover

This little known book written by Chuck Smith and published in 1978 reflects the end times obsession prevalent amongst modern evangelicals. The book predicts that a rapture will take place before 1981 whereby all Christians will disappear off the face of the earth. The book was taken off the shelves shortly after 1981 and was swept under the proverbial carpet. Attached are some quotes from the book.

Some dispensationalists view Jesus’ words whereby he stated, “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place” as a reference to the generation that sees Israel restored in 1948. However, in the context of Luke 21 the disciples asked Jesus about the destruction of the temple (v. 7). Jesus tells them what to look for and assures them that it will take place in their generation (v. 32) as it did in 70AD.

According to the dispensationalist interpretation and usage of the date 1948, Smith calculates the end to be no later than 1981. If we allow him to move Israel’s restoration to a future date in Israel’s timeline (1967) and use the same math, the end should have been only 19 years later (2000). Both of these dates have passed without any signs of a rapture.

This one is particularly funny. Normally Smith provides proof texts when he makes statements like, “The bible says…” but here no footnote is given. Can someone fill me in where the Bible makes mention of the federation of European nations? Sounds like someone has confused their newspaper for their bible.

Obviously the day is coming pretty soon since barcodes and UPC scanners are becoming popular in….grocery stores??!!!

I’d like to know what farmers are interested in shaving off thousands of a second from their branding process. Today, laser beams are so popular that kids and professors alike use them for things like laser tag and pointing at things. I guess lasers are pretty cool, but I’m not quite sure where they fit into eschatology.

Sadly modern evangelicals are doing the same sort of speculation with newer technology such as RFIDs, Smartcards, etc.. Kim Riddlebarger provides a much more reasonable, historic and biblical interpretation in his short blog post, “666 and the Mark of the Beast.”

The back cover of Chuck Smiths book:

Jun 21 2010

Calvary Chapel Distinctives: Church Government

by randy

This is my summary and response to the “Church Government” chapter in Chuck Smith’s book, “Calvary Chapel Distinctives.”


Chuck Smith begins this chapter by stating, “the New Testament doesn’t give a clear definitive statement of God’s preference for church government (pg. 17).” He claims that we find three basic forms of church government in scripture. These three forms are the bishop run (episkopos), the elder run (presbyteros) and the congregational rule.

It is the bishop run and elder run church that Smith claims can be found in the New Testament. He believes that the presence of both forms of government in the NT pose a problem. In his own words, “These two forms of government, by their very nature, seem to clash. Is the church to be led by the bishop, or by the board of elders? Is it the episkopos or the presbyteros? These divisions are so pronounced that today we have two denominations representing both sides of the issue…The fact that they both exist shows that there isn’t a clear definitive teaching about the correct form of church government. Both sides can present a valid case for their point of view (pg. 18).”

A fourth option is then presented. Smith uses the prophet Moses as an example of this type of rule. God spoke directly to Moses concerning the direction of the nation and Moses relayed that to the people. Here Chuck Smith begins to define his understanding of the “Moses model” of church government.

In the Moses model there were elders, however the elders were there to support Moses, not rule on the same level with him. Smith uses the example from Exodus 18:13-27 where when an issue too difficult for the elders was brought to them, “Moses would then go to God [directly] to get clarification on the issue (pg. 20).” It is this form of government that Chuck Smith believes should be implemented in the church today. He explains, “Also, like Moses, within the church we have a Board of Elders who are there to pray with us and support us in seeking the Lord’s leading for the church (pg. 20).”

Elders are viewed as a sort of advisory board whereby they recognize the Pastor’s position of authority and support him through prayer and by providing biblical advice. He says, “It’s necessary to have godly men who recognize that God has called and ordained you as the pastor of the church. Men who will work with you and support those things that God is directing you, as the pastor, to implement within the church (pg. 21).” While he insists the elders should not be, “yes” men, they should recognize the authority God has given the senior pastor. While the senior pastor may delegate certain decisions to the board, the senior pastor maintains the right to override those decisions as he and the Lord sees fit.

Smith explains that this allows the senior pastor to really care for the sheep as opposed to the presbyterian (elder) or congregational model of church government where a pastor is only one of many decision makers. He says that the presbyterian and congregational pastor is a sort of hireling who must do things to appease the will of others in fear of loosing his job. A hireling is less concerned with caring for the flock and doing what is right than he is with giving the multitudes what they want so that he may keep his position (pg. 23).

Concerning the qualifications of an elder and those in church leadership, Smith does not believe that there is anyone who is blameless apart from Christ. Smith says, “So the key qualification for a pastor or leader in the church is to be “in Christ Jesus” and, in this state, blameless (pg. 24).” He does not believe in taking the word blameless from the pastoral epistles in any literal sense (pg. 25).

In conclusion Smith states that the form of church government he created was “more of an episkopos [bishop] form (pg. 26).” He states earlier that it is a modified form of the Moses model (pg. 20).


Part I: Concerning the “clash” between the word ‘bishop’ and ‘elder’

This is a wonderful example of how an external supposition imposed on scripture effects its interpretation. Smith not only starts with the stated presupposition that scripture is not clear, but he also makes the assumption that scripture contradicts itself in this regard. He claims that the mere presence of both words ‘presbyteros’ (elder) and ‘episkopos’ (bishop) in scripture present a problem. Because he believes that scripture is allowed to contradict in this area he denies his responsibility of doing the hard work to properly exegete the text.

Lets adopt Jesus’ supposition that, “the scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35)” and try to make sense of this in a few short paragraphs.

It is true that both words ‘elder’ and ‘bishop’ occur in scripture, but if we are to do justice to the text we must allow the context of scripture to define its own terms. Smith does the very thing he warns against in the prior chapter (pg. 10) by looking to the so-called “failed church of history” in obtaining the definition of the word ‘bishop.’ Lets attempt to use scripture to define our terms.

The word ‘elder’ and ‘bishop’ both occur in the book of Acts. In fact, the words occur together. In Acts 20:17 Paul addresses the Ephesian elders. Later while addressing these elders he exhorts them in verse 28 by saying, “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.” The word overseer is the same word for ‘bishop.’ Paul in his address to the elders calls these same people ‘overseers’ or ‘bishops.’ The two words are used interchangeably to refer to the same group of people (the elders). There are other places in scripture we can refer to for help on the issue as well.

Titus 1:5-7 makes the same association between elders and bishops:

For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;”

Thomas Witherow in his classic work, “The Apostolic Church: Which is it?” says concerning this text, “This passage strongly confirms the truth of the supposition already made, that the two offices were identical. It appears that Paul left Titus behind him in Crete to ordain elders in every city. To guide him in the discharge of this duty, the Apostle proceeds to state the qualifications of an elder. No private member of the Church was eligible to that office except he was a man of blameless life, the husband of one wife, and had obedient children; ‘for,’ says he, ‘ a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God.'” He goes on to say, “that the term elder, used at the commencement, is exchanged for the term bishop in the conclusion, while the same office-bearer is spoken of.”

There are several other passages of scripture that reveal the same. I have attached this portion of Witherow’s work in the event one is interested in the full exposition. It is clear that the terms ‘elder’ and ‘bishop’ are used interchangeably, they do not clash nor do they contradict. In fact, the term ‘bishop’ is often translated ‘overseer.’ This translation is likely a more appropriate definition of the term considering the context. If they were in opposition to each other then we would do well to declare Paul a schizophrenic and excuse the rest of his writing since he often makes mention of the two words when referring to the same office. An elder is held to a higher standard because he is an overseer or ‘bishop.’ I can use the two words in the same sentence to refer to the same office without contradiction. A bishop is not to be defined as an ecclesiastical pope of some sort, instead it is the specific term for his joint responsibility as an elder, to oversee.

Part II: Concerning the qualifications of an elder or church leader

Perhaps Smith does believe Paul to be a schizophrenic or at least confused since he explains away the qualifications of the elder from the Pauline epistles as well. Rather than citing the biblical qualifications of an elder, Smith explains that Paul’s use of the word “blameless” can’t possibly mean anything significant. Smith declares that there is no man who is blameless. His assertion is that a man can only be blameless in Christ, and so the qualification of an elder is one who is in Christ, or in other words a Christian.

It is clear by the context of Titus 1 that Paul is not simply trying to make the point that an elder must merely be a Christian, only to be found blameless in Christ Jesus. In his use of the word “blameless” Paul is declaring that the office of an Elder, especially those who teach, is a position worthy of double honor (1Tim 5:17) and as such requires a lifestyle that reflects this higher standard. Smith must teach this watered down view of blamelessness in order that he might justify his actions in ordaining and overlooking the sexual sins of pastors in the Calvary Chapel movement. See the Christianity Today article, “Day of Reckoning.

If blamelessness is defined as, “anyone in Christ” then it qualifies a repentant Christian who has committed adultery for the pastorate. The objection is, “who can prove that he has not genuinely repented or that he is not a Christian forgiven by God (and thus blameless)?”

While we do rejoice any time a fallen saint has been restored to full fellowship, that fact alone does not qualify a man for office. Ultimately, this objection does not properly distinguish between forgiveness and the consequences of sin. Children may repent after disobedience, but that does not relieve their parents of the duty to discipline them appropriately. A murderer may truly repent, but he nevertheless must be punished for his crime. A man can get drunk on a bottle of wine or overdose on drugs and then repent, but the physical consequences of the latter will be far more devastating and lasting than the former. Just as this objection fails to distinguish forgiveness from the consequences of sin, so it also fails to see that repentance is a necessary requirement for office, but is not in itself sufficient for office. 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 require far more of a man than mere repentance (Hagopian, “Covenant Succession and Church Leadership”).


The New Testament clearly lays out a model for church government. There is no biblical warrant for Smith’s definition of the word bishop whereby a prophet like Moses alone hears from God (Heb 1:1). It is abundantly clear that scripture calls for a plurality of elders. The council of Jerusalem of Acts 15  demonstrates the role of elders and even the need for an Apostle to be accountable to others in matters pertaining to doctrine and church function. While I believe to have sufficiently refuted Smiths suppositions, I admit I have not laid out the entire case for church government. I would recommend Thomas Witherows book “The Apostolic Church: Which is it?” for further study. Chuck Smith makes no attempt to appeal to scripture in this chapter, nor does he present any valid argumentation. He quickly discredits the authority of scripture by declaring it to be broken, or to “clash” and makes room for his own pragmatic advice. This is a pattern throughout his book.

He was quick to raise pragmatic arguments against the Presbyterian model of government by calling the Presbyterian pastor a hireling. It is remarkable that he does not even accurately represent the Presbyterian position and fails to mention the practical pitfalls of the so-called “Moses model” that breeds an authoritarian, cult like rule that results in the disastrous fruit of what Christianity Today documented in its article called, “Unaccountable at Calvary Chapel.” Even if this was indeed the model represented in the book of Exodus, it is clear that Chuck Smith is no modern day prophet like Moses. It would be better stated that Moses is Christ’s archetype and the elders of the church are to collectively appeal to his (Christ’s) leading, especially as revealed in scripture, as the only head of the Church.

As the founder of the Calvary Chapel movement, this chapter serves as an embarrassment to all Calvary Chapels everywhere. While he clearly demonstrates his ignorance of scripture, his low view of its unbroken nature will continue to prevent him from doing the due diligence required to dig deeper and study to show himself approved unto God, a workmen who needeth not be ashamed. Based on his performance in this chapter and the assumptions revealed, I would not trust this man in any explanation of scripture or fair treatment in any matter of faith.

Jun 17 2010

Calvary Chapel Distinctives: God’s Model for the Church

by randy

This is my summary and response to the “God’s Model for the Church” chapter in Chuck Smith’s book, “Calvary Chapel Distinctives.”


Chuck Smith points out that church history has proven to be a tragic failure (pg. 9). There have been many horrible things done in the name of Jesus Christ under the banner of the Church. Even less than sixty years after the church was established we find gnostic heresy creeping in, the establishment of a priesthood and the establishment of “church organization,” all of which, “Jesus expressed His displeasure with.” Smith states, “For the most part, the church had failed by the end of the first century (pg. 10).”

Smith then draws a parallel between church history and fallen man, “so you can’t look at church history and find the model for the church, just like you can’t look at the history of mankind and find God’s divine intention for man.”  Therefore, “The divine ideal is found in the book of Acts (pg 10).” He also states, “Looking at the book of Acts, I believe we see the church as God intended it to be (pg. 11).”

The reason Chuck Smith believes this to be the case is because throughout the book of Acts we continually find people being led by the Holy Spirit. He cites at least a dozen examples of people being led by the Holy Spirit. He also tells us that Acts 2:42 contains four basic functions of the early church: “Continuing steadfast in the apostles doctrine, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer.” Smith states that if these four elements are instituted God will meet every other need (pg. 11).

Smith indicates that denominations who lose focus on these four elements tend to focus on Church growth and various other programs instead. He finds the early church making the same church growth strategy mistake in the book of Acts. They implemented a failing benevolence program for the widows (pg. 13).


Chuck Smith makes the claim (A) that horrific things have occurred under the guise of the church throughout history, including several churches in the book of Revelation. He inappropriately draws the unrelated conclusion (B) that we cannot look anywhere else but the book of Acts for our model. It is this church that he states serves as the divine ideal (pg. 10). Then he later states that other denominations and churches have wrongly followed the failing book of Acts strategy of Church growth in their “benevolence program for the widows (pg. 12-13).”  This chapter serves as an excellent exercise for someone learning to identify logical fallacies and contradictions.

Not only does he plainly insist the church failed in the first century contrary to Jesus’ words that, “the gates of Hades would not prevail against it (Matt 16:18),” but Smith also insists the book of Acts church was the divine ideal despite later acknowledging it made mistakes we shouldn’t follow either. I’m at a loss for words.

Furthermore, can someone explain why, if the book of Acts serves as the divine ideal for the church must we derive our formulation of church government from the Moses model in the book of Exodus (pg. 20)? I do not want to get ahead of myself considering the chapter on church government is next; but the book of Acts does contain several specific examples of church government.

We have a congregational election for the deaconate, initiated by the elders, in Acts 6. We have the elders teaching and formulating doctrine. We have a model for dealing with doctrinal disagreement amongst elders in Acts 15; note: even the Apostles were not exempt from being subject to the council of elders. Now if we make the assumption that the early church DID have a clear model for church government, believe that scripture doesn’t contradict itself, and acknowledge the other books of the bible, then we can very easily formulate a biblical model for church government! I’ll save that discussion for the next chapter.

In this and prior chapters Smith is also guilty of proof-texting. Proof-texting is the assumption that acceptable doctrine is only found in concise, ordered, statements or verses in scripture. A Jehovah Witness might attempt the proof-texting fallacy to discredit the doctrine of the trinity by asking, “where in scripture does the bible say God is a trinity.” Unless the Christian is allowed to tie together various principles and truths throughout all of scripture, proving the trinity by proof-texting is an impossibility. There is no one concise verse that says it all.

Chuck Smith assumes the proof-texting method when he chooses one book out of 66 for his church model. He also proof-texts by pointing out the four foundational elements of the church from Acts 2:42. By finding one verse that contained several points, he fallaciously adds credibility to his “book of acts only” ecclesiology. What is interesting from those “four foundational elements that guarantee God’s blessing” is that they list only one of two sacraments; baptism is missing. It is also missing the singing of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. One must admit from the context that Luke never intended Acts 2:42 to be an all inclusive four keys to the ideal church. One would do better to take Acts 2:42 and the many directives for worship found in between Genesis – Revelation as a whole.

It becomes apparent very quickly that though Chuck Smith identifies the book of Acts as “God’s divine ideal” there is absolutely nothing from it that he uses as his model. The chapter in this book serves absolutely no purpose at all except to convince an uncritical audience of a meaningless idea that Calvary Chapel is a continuation of the first century, book of Acts church that stands above and outside of history as the only non-tragic church to have ever existed.

A short comment on Chuck Smith’s statement, “so you can’t look at church history and find the model for the church, just like you can’t look at the history of mankind and find God’s divine intention for man.” This comment displays the myopic nature of modern evangelicalism. If we allow scripture to define the history of mankind then yes, it clearly states God’s divine intention for man. Similarly, if we allow scripture to define the history of God’s people then it has much to say concerning the model for the church as well. For the Christian, history is not a separate, secular, entity. True history finds its epistemological value in scripture.

Chuck would have us stand on his shoulders rather than acknowledge the rich biblical scholarship of the historic church at large. I think I sense a new pope emerging.

Jun 15 2010

Calvary Chapel Distinctives: The Call to Ministry

by randy

This is my summary and response to the “The Call to Ministry” chapter in Chuck Smith’s book, “Calvary Chapel Distinctives.”


This chapter highlights Chuck Smith’s view of what it means to be “called to ministry” and how to know whether such calling applies to you. Smith builds his thesis on the premise that the call to ministry is not a matter of profession, but of calling. Therefore, the minister must know whether or not he is indeed called. He follows that if one is indeed called, the desire to preach the gospel and serve the flock of God will so well up inside of you that you will view the act of ministering as a matter of “necessity” or obligation, not as a mere option. He follows that even in difficult times when you may be tempted to give up ministry, the vision for serving the Lord will continue burning in your heart. “So,” he says, “it takes a sense of calling (pg. 4).”

Smith goes on to describe what true Christian ministry looks like. The word “minister” means servant and true Christian ministry is a life of serving others. He emphasizes the difficulty it may entail financially, the thankless nature and the temptation to grow bitter. We must remember that we are ultimately serving the Lord.

Lastly, Smith also states that those called to ministry must also be committed to God’s word, believe the Bible to be inspired and always be studying it; as he says, “the learning process is never ending (pg. 8).”


As I read this chapter I really did agree with much of what he said. However, I was left wondering why he never used the pastoral epistles which were written to deal with this very topic. There are objective, scriptural, qualifications for an elder. Why doesn’t Chuck cite them? Scripture also  indicates the Church’s role in nurturing, identifying, examining, laying hands on and sending out the future minister. Why does Chuck choose the individualistic approach instead? Smith mentions none of these things and over-emphasizes a, subjective, internal call. In building his case he quotes several verses out of context: “the bible tells us to make our calling and election sure” and “no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God (pg. 3)…”

Later, Chuck Smith privies us to an alarming conversation in which he had with “God” during a period of internal strife. Smith indicates that God had a real conversation with him in which he told Chuck Smith to, “quit your griping” and just serve (pg. 7). It becomes apparent that the internal calling that Smith seems to advocate is more than a passionate desire for sharing the gospel. God communicates extra-Biblical directives to Chuck Smith. The internal call and mystical nature of God speaking becomes Smith’s standard for discerning the will and call of God. We will see that his view manifests sour fruit throughout his life and ministry.

You may think I am being harsh, drawing inaccurate conclusions or being too critical in my assessment of this chapter. However, it has become clear throughout the history of Calvary Chapel that Chuck Smith has no concern for the Biblical qualifications of elders or pastors. In 2007 Christianity Today published an article concerning the moral decay of Calvary Chapel. We find therein a statement from Chuck Smith concerning the reinstatement of several pastors who have committed sexual sin. Smith says he practices restoration and that pastors who have been restored to ministry after sexual sin have gone on to run successful ministries (Rob Moll, Christianity Today, “Day of Reckoning“). Christianity Today documents several situations where this has been the case as well as other alarming words from Chuck Smith.

Smith’s failure to use scripture to formulate his understanding of “calling” has resulted in quite the catastrophe for Calvary Chapel. No surprise considering the chapter seems to encourage the lone-ranger, individualistic, be led by the “spirit,” self evaluation mentality. We’ll see in later chapters that this mentality coupled with a pseudo-episcopal (bishop) form of church government (pg. 26) actually results in a pope more powerful than Rome. One who stands apart from and cannot be contained by scripture OR history.

Jun 13 2010

Calvary Chapel Distinctives: Preface

by randy

This is my summary and response to the “Preface” chapter in Chuck Smith’s book, “Calvary Chapel Distinctives.”


The preface sets out the purpose of the book: to layout those distinctives that make Calvary Chapel unique amongst other Bible-believing churches. Smith’s claim is that the Calvary Chapel movement has found a unique balance between two kinds of churches on completely opposite ends of a spectrum. There are churches who emphasize the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but do not have a strong emphasis on the teaching of the word of God. There are other churches who have a strong emphasis on teaching the word of God but do not believe the gifts are for today.

Smith makes the statement, “And so it’s important to understand the Biblical principles that make up the picture of why God has allowed us to exist and grow (pg. 1).” The assertion is that the variety of churches that exist in this world exist to appeal to folks of differing personalities. “God, desiring to reach and bless all kinds of people, seems to enjoy having a wide variety of churches so that everybody’s needs might be met, from the highly emotional to the very formal, and all those in between (pg. 2).” Calvary Chapel finds a balance somewhere within this spectrum. The purpose of this book and these distinctives: to declare, establish and make known Calvary Chapel’s position within the body of Christ.


Smith seems to presuppose the idea that there is no right or wrong way, or that we cannot know for sure. Therefore, God’s reason for a lack of clarity in certain areas is to allow folks of differing personalities to fit in somewhere. In other words, we’ll never know the truth and distinctions exist for man to decide what he likes best. This underlining theme justifies the establishment of a church based on “good” ideas and personality instead of scripture.

Throughout the book we will see two conflicting themes. On the one hand, Chuck Smith claims to only take a stand on the essentials, those areas where scripture speaks plainly (pg. 107). On the other hand, he admits at times that the distinctions aren’t always based on scripture. Sometimes, he plainly chalks it up to personality, experience, or good reasoning. We find this theme particularly in the chapter pertaining to church government. Smith states, “We recognize that the New Testament doesn’t give a clear definitive statement of God’s preference for church government (pg. 17).” Yet, Calvary’s government is a distinctive.

The idea that there is no correct or clear teaching in a particular area (non-essentials), it divides, isn’t important or that those areas are subject to the emotions, personalities or the whims of man is the plain and simple fruit of the post-modern era. Not surprising considering Calvary Chapel was born in the culmination of it, the heart of the hippy movement.

Chuck Smith also begins a nasty habit of finding balances between false dichotomies. In other words, he proposes two opposing options in which neither accurately represent the whole. By reducing the options to two purposely flawed possibilities, he easily leads the unsuspecting reader to agree with his “balanced” approach.

Be on the look out for these things as you read through this book.

May 30 2010

Jesus Christ is the Father’s “Yes.”

by randy

…Another way to frame the issue is to ask what change has occurred, with the coming of Jesus Christ, to the covenantal sanctions supplied by the Lord to His people Israel in the Old Testament? The limits of this essay permit only a brief, introductory suggestion in answering this important question. That suggestion is to point the reader to the apostolic confession in 2 Corinthians 1:20: “For all the promises of God find their ‘Yes’ in Him. That is why it is through Him that we utter our ‘Amen’ to God for his glory.”

In Jesus of Nazareth, the promises of God and the fulfillment of their related obedience are united. He is the Mediator of the covenant, in whom is fulfilled everything written about the Messiah in the law, the prophets, and the psalms (Lk. 24:44). All the covenant promises given to Abrahm and his descendants find fulfillment in this Seed (Gal. 3:16). As the ultimate content of all the Old Testament promises, Jesus Christ is the Father’s “Yes.” As the Head and Savior of the church, He conducts the church’s responsive “Amen.” The believing “Amen” of all our prayers and petitions-including our prayers for our baptized children-is established by the person and work of Christ. Expressing continuity between the New Testament church and the Old Testament people of God, the hebrew word amen conveys the idea of firmness and reliability, and the utterance of ‘Amen’ in public or private worship after prayers and thanksgivings expresses confidence in the faithfulness of God and the certainty of His promises.  It is, in short, the voice of faith, setting to its seal that God is true (Jn. 3:33).
(Kloosterman, To You and Your Children [Wikner], pg. 56)

May 28 2010

Galatians and the Christ of the Covenants

by randy

As I read through the book of Galatians recently the continuity of the covenants has become more apparent. In fact, in this letter Paul makes the case for covenant theology! Many view the book of Galatians as Paul’s condemnation of the Law given to Moses. But is he condemning the Law (given by God), or is he condemning the improper use of the law as a means of salvation? Clearly it is the later. Paul is condemning an improper use of the law that was even unorthodox for OT Jews in Mosaic times.

Galatians 3:16-17 explains that one successive covenant does not annul the prior. That is, the covenant given to Moses does not annul the promises made to Abraham and his descendants. This confirms the unity of at least the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants. Paul writes to the Galatians as a sort of clarification in this regard. In essence Paul is writing to correct an improper view of the law, to do so he clarifies the unity of the covenants. The promise given under a prior covenant can not be annulled by the succeeding. Paul makes the conclusion that the law given was therefore given not to save, but as a tutor. Paul’s logic to make this case IS the continuity of the covenants and God’s promises. If even a human covenant can not be added or removed from, how much more God’s (Gal 3:15)?!

According to Paul, looking to the law as salvation is another Gospel. If Paul calls this another Gospel, it could never have been preached even in OT times. Paul is not criticizing the orthodox view of the OT because the OT never preached salvation by works. It preached salvation by a future redeemer (Gal 3:21-22). Paul is condemning #1) a false view of the law but also #2) a view that was never biblical even in OT times. On the contrary, dispensationalists view the book of Galatians as a condemnation of the law in general.

Galatians does not condemn the law.  Galatians proves that the OT view of the law was never intended as salvific. The “New Gospel” Paul was accusing the Galatians of embracing was indeed new even in the context of orthodox Judaism. The gospel we are to believe in, is the same gospel preached to Abraham, Moses and David. It is fulfilled in Christ and the promises are ours by faith. Paul applies the promises of the Abrahamic covenant to NT Christians today and includes the gentiles who have been grafted in. This here speaks of unity!

May 24 2010

15 Signs That You Might be a Modern Evangelical

by randy
  1. Everytime Israel is in the newspaper your Pastor finds a way to fit it into prophecy.
  2. Even though Jesus made wine (John 2:1-11) and drank wine (Luke 7:33-35) you are certain that if anyone else does the same, they are in sin.
  3. You refer to worship as the singing portion of church.
  4. You speak of worshiping in spirit and truth as a 50/50 balance.
  5. Five days you work, the other two are set apart for running errands.
  6. You partake of communion at home sometimes.
  7. At church, every song consists of seven words repeated eleven times over.
  8. You often tell people with certainty that God told you something, and it’s not something found in scripture.
  9. You use, “Jesus is coming back soon” as an excuse sometimes.
  10. You don’t think doctrine is important. All we need is love.
  11. You can’t imagine how someone could be saved apart from praying the sinners prayer.
  12. You’ve been baptized more than once and might do it again.
  13. You see nothing wrong with listening to a sermon online instead of going to church.
  14. You consider it somewhat worldly to have any other “non-spiritual” interests or hobbies.
  15. You do not fit into any other category but “Bible believing Christian”.
Mar 29 2010

The Millennial Reign of Christ

by randy

Dispensationalists who hold to the pre-millennial reign of Christ also believe that during his reign on earth he will re-establish and take pleasure in animal sacrifices.  Considering the book of Hebrews and the sufficiency of Christ’s atonement; you might wonder, “how on earth could anyone come to a bizarre conclusion like that?”

Dispensationalism takes Old Testament prophecies out of context and attributes them to a future third temple (Ezekial 43). Unfortunately for them, verses 18-21 can not be ignored. So what do they do?  They roll with the punches and make room for a post-calvary neo-levitical sacrificial system that God somehow still takes pleasure in.

Add a little smoke, a couple mirrors, some wool to pull over the sheep’s eyes and you’ve got a millennial kingdom with sacrifices that don’t conflict with the once for all sacrifice of Chirst…  or do they?

Dispensationalists use a clever little argument to justify their post-Christ sacrificial system.  First they quote Hebrews 10:4 to rightfully establish that even the mosaic sacrifices did not take away sins.  Then they quote Hebrews 10:3 to establish that the sacrifices served as a reminder of sins and pointed forward to Christ. Next comes the smoke and mirrors. They say, “Just as the sacrifices under Mosaic law looked forward to the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ, the millennial sacrifices look backward, memorializing the same event.”

Here’s the problem.  Even though the mosaic sacrifices did not take away sins, they were still categorized as sin offerings (Hebrews 10:18). Likewise, even though a dispensationalist will argue that the millennial sacrifices do not take away sins and merely point backwards to Christ, they must admit that Ezekiel still categorizes these sacrifices as offerings for sin (Ezekiel 43:19).  Anyone notice a problem?!  The book of Hebrews still establishes that, “there is no longer any offering for sin.”

According to the book of Hebrews, a re-establishment of the Levitical sacrificial system is considered heresy.  Yet this NEW doctrine, dispensationalism, established in the 19th century and invented in America has been and still is taught by men today.  As their own saying goes, “if it’s new it’s not true, and if it’s true it’s not new.”

Here are some quotes by dispensationalists:

“In this section we are dealing with the worship in the temple. The sacrifices offered will be memorial in character. They will look back to the work of Christ on the cross, as the offerings of the Old Testament anticipated His sacrifice… At this point we must answer a major question: Since all the sacrifices of the Old Testament were fulfilled in Christ, why are they restored again during the Millennium?” (“Thru the Bible Volume III”, J. Vernon McGee pg 520-521)

“Even as we have our communion service in remembrance of what Jesus did in his death for our sins, so when sacrifices are re-instituted in the kingdom age, they will not be for the purpose of putting away sin, but they will be memorial offerings by which we will be reminded of that sacrifice by which the sins were put away and we will be looking back at the cross and the sacrifices that was made there by Jesus Christ.” (Ezekiel 40-48 (1979-82 Audio), Chuck Smith, Start: 22:40  End: 27:45)