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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”.
May 16 2010

Good Bible Teacher Syndrome

by randy

The modern view of church as a preaching platform has a serious retardation effect on our perception of the Lord’s Day. It also effects those in search for a church and is no wonder folks can spend years as nomads, never settling down.

What do I mean by this? For many, church is merely a place where individuals meet to hear a sermon. It is manifested when people ask questions like, “how was church today?” and expect an answer concerning the sermon.  When this mindset is amplified, a good church is judged by the preaching skills of the primary pastor.  While there are elements of truth to this, church is more than a sermon and a good church should initially be judged by her doctrine.

As I have later embraced all of the means of grace, the Lord’s day has become much more enjoyable and conducive for worship. I no longer judge a good day at church by the 45-minute sermon.  If the Lord’s day is an objective day of worship set apart by God and the church you attend honors this day then there can never really be a bad day of Church.

As long as church in the minds of men is centered around any one man apart from the person of Christ it will always continue to be a hit or miss experience.

In case you missed my subtle use of the word “experience,” yes- I meant to use it along with all of its subjective individualistic baggage. The church at large has already done away with the objective view of the Lord’s day. It’s no wonder we join all of society and seek out personal experiences in worship as well.

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)

Mar 19 2010

Why we are baptizing our children.

by randy

In the covenant of grace God promised that he would be God to both Abraham and to his children (Gen 17:7).  The sign and seal of this covenant was marked by the rite of circumcision (Gen 17:11; Romans 4:11). The cutting rite of circumcision indicated the need for cleansing in the hygienic act of the removal of the foreskin of the flesh (Col 2:11).  In the fulfillment of this covenant, called the New Covenant, the promises were no longer limited to the blood line of Abraham (John 3:16; Romans 11:15). Gentiles were grafted in as the people of God and made partakers of these promises as well (Romans 11:17; 1Pet 2:6-10).  The promises to the people of God and to their children were not revoked as some Christians teach today.

The book of Acts emphasizes the fulfillment of these promises and states, “For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself (Acts 2:39).”  The scriptures teach that households of believers are Holy (1 Cor 7:14; Acts 11:14; 16:15; 16:31; 18:8) and much like the seed of Abraham, also partake of the benefits of the covenant (Gal 3:29). In the new administration of the covenant, baptism replaces circumcision and pictures a literal cleansing (1Pet 3:21), “the putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism (Col 2:11-12).”  In the words of our Catechism- baptism is a holy ordinance instituted by Christ, wherein the washing with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, does signify and seal our ingrafting into Christ, and partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace, and our engagement to be the Lord’s.

Mar 14 2010

Christian Liberty and Drinking Alcohol

by randy

Can the Christian drink? The scriptures answer with an astounding “NO” if the intent is drunkenness or communion in the world’s drinking parties (1 Peter 4:2-4).  In fact I would submit that there are many so called Christians in danger of not inheriting the Kingdom of God because of a failure to distinguish so called Christian liberty from an excuse for sin (Gal 5:19-21).  Do not mistake me for saying that fermented drink, made by God, is wrong or sinful. Quite the contrary, it is made by God to be enjoyed.

“Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!” they say from their pulpits across the nation. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom and false humility, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.  They are after-all based on human commands and teachings (Col 2:20-23).  This all to often characterizes the fundamentalist preaching that adds to the conscience- man made laws and commands absent from scripture.

Some have argued that the American culture of drinking has rendered alcohol sinful. But drunkenness, drinking parties and consciences who are stumbled over wine are not foreign to the culture set in scriptures.  Paul even tells us that if wine makes a brother stumble it should be avoided (Rom 14:21). This did not stop our savior from making wine (John 2:1-11) or commanding its use in his feast (1 Cor 11:25-26).  In fact the scriptures are full of commands and celebrations that make use of wine and strong drink even in worship. Take for example Deut 14:26, “and spend the money for whatever you desire-oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household.”

Some have attempted to argue that the wine in those days was actually grape juice or some watered down equivalent.  This is a gross historic fallacy that can be refuted even in light of scripture.  Lets not forget the rebuke to those at the Church in Corinth for getting drunk off of the communion wine (1 Cor 11:21-22).  It is the aged fermented wine (Luke 5:39) also described in vivid detail concerning the Kingdom blessings (Is 25:6) that men are rightfully to enjoy.

There is no universal command to avoid wine or strong drink.  In fact, select groups that did abstain were worthy of mention as acting differently than the accepted biblical practice. For example those under the nazarite vow (Numbers 6:2-6) and John the Baptist (Luke 1:15).  Interestingly, in contrast to John the Baptist Jesus did come eating and drinking and his doing so resulted in many falsely calling him a winebibber and glutton (Luke 7:33-35).

In the final analysis we must be able to distinguish between the use and abuse of fermented drink. While scriptures contain strong warnings concerning the abuse of wine (Prov 23:21, 30; Deut 21:20; Eph 5:18; 1 Tim 3:8; Titus 2:3) they also contain strong warning concerning sexual perversion.  We do not however condemn all sexual activity, only its abuse.  While any of God’s gifts can be abused, we must avoid the ascetic temptation to deem them as evil.

I will conclude with an excerpt from G.I Williamson’s “The Westminster Confession of Faith for Study Classes” (pg 195) who concludes:

  1. that God alone has legitimate authority over the conscience,
  2. that his Word alone is the rule thereof,
  3. that the doctrines and commandments of men which are either contrary to or additional to God’s Word in respect to worship have no authority to bind the conscience,
  4. that to permit the conscience to be bound by such is sin, betrayal of true liberty of conscience, and a denial that God alone is one’s Lord, and
  5. that Christian liberty must be distinguished from antinomianism (which means “freedom to sin”).
Mar 9 2010

The Modern Evangelical’s Invisible Foundation

by randy

Modern evangelicals accuse Reformed Christians of following men.  Ask any modern evangelical and they will tell you that their Christianity is built on nothing but the Bible alone.  It is, however, their ignorance of the history of American evangelicalism that creates this false sense of independence.  It can be easily pointed out that their faith stands on the invisible foundation of America’s 19th century sectarians.  While they do read their Bible, they do not read it alone.  They read through the hidden lens of men like Darby, Scofield, Finney, Wesley and others who have in recent days come up with novel ideas in their interpretation of scripture, eschatology, soteriology, pneumatology and more.  These views, passed down via oral tradition and modern Christian culture serve as an invisible filter to every Christian who thinks they stand alone.

The Christian who holds to the historic faith recognizes that he stands on the shoulders of giants.  He boasts that God is sovereign over history, and that history has helped to shape the church.  He does not claim that he or his church have arrived at their own interpretation of scripture without the aid of those in the past.  Instead he rejoices that his rich faith is the result of the doctrinal battles fought by men throughout history.  He can identify with men such as Augustine, Luther, John Calvin, Francis Turretin, John Owen, Charles Spurgeon, Johnathan Edwards, the puritans and more…  It is the faith that is aware of its historic context and unstated assumptions that is better equipped to distinguish between truth and error.

Find me a Church or Christian that boasts in her non-denominational status and I will show you a Church and a Christian who is ignorant of her invisible foundation!

Feb 12 2010

Christian Liberty as the Basis of Christian Vocation

by randy

The doctrine of Christian Liberty (Inst. 111, 19) forms the appendix to justification, and without it there cannot be the “right knowledge of Christ, or of evangelical truth, or of internal peace of mind.” But when this doctrine is mentioned there are two violent reactions: some, “under the pretext of liberty, cast off all obedience to God, and precipitate themselves into the most unbridled licentiousness; and some despise it, supposing it to be subversive of all moderation, order and moral distinctions” (par. 1). These are the reactions of the worldling and the ascetic. Calvin is equally opposed to these two evils, worldliness and world-flight. This, however, does not make him a middle-of-the-roader in the sense of one who wants his cake while he eats it. Calvin did not straddle issues, but his balance is scriptural, and he goes as far as the Word goes.

In its essence, of course, Christian liberty is spiritual. It consists of freedom from the bondage of the law and restoration to voluntary obedience to the will of God. Since we are free from the law as an instrument unto salvation, we respond as children to the service of God with joy and alacrity. Liberty is enjoyed in the way of faith and it ought to animate us to virtue, but slavish minds, who would use it to fulfill the lusts of the flesh, have no part in it.

Since Paul makes all external things subject to our liberty (Rom. 14:14), there is nothing unclean in itself, provided we use our freedom before God and not before men. God’s good gifts are abused if they are too ardently coveted, too proudly boasted, and too luxuriously lavished. However, unto the pure all things are pure, but all that is not out of faith is sin, and “unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure: but even their mind and conscience
is defiled” (Titus 1: 15) .

The Christian, who is God’s freeman, uses this world in faith, that is, in obedience to the commandments of God unto his glory. He must observe moderation lest he abuse God’s good gifts; he must be patient and submissive when deprived of earthly blessings. He is called to exercise love and forbearance in the use of his liberty, so that his neighbor may be edified. But since the things of this world are not sinful in themselves he may possess them, but must guard
against being possessed in the process. The pursuit of cultural achievement and the attainment of wealth are not evil in themselves; the enjoyment of food, drink and luxury are not to be despised or condemned, but God’s curses fall upon the rich because they are immersed in sensual delights and their hearts are inebriated with present pleasures while perpetually grasping for new ones (Inst. 111, 19, 9 & 111, 6-10). In his meditation upon the future life Calvin says we must learn to despise this present world because it draws us away from our calling. In that sense the things good in themselves become evil to us; hence we must learn to look upon all things in the light of eternity.

Here is the crux of the matter. This is the decisive issue! For Calvin one’s cultural striving is good or bad, depending upon one’s faith. All that is not out of faith is sin. All apostate culture is selfseeking in which man saves himself by his works and exalts his own glory. But the doctrine of justification by faith with its appendix of Christian liberty sets man free to serve God in his cultural calling. Abraham Kuyper, in his Stone Lectures, signalizes this point when he reminds us that it was this liberation of the medieval man from the burden of gaining salvation by works that set free the energy and interest which produced our modern world of science, industry, and invention. For, by Calvin’s emphasis on the proper use of this world, the gaze of the believer was directed to this beautiful cosmos in which God calls us to be his cultural agents, and to have dominion over the earth, to replenish it, and to cultivate the ground.

(The Calvinistic Concept of Culture, Henry Van Til)

Feb 10 2010

Calvary Chapel Misquotes the Bible for the Sake of Tradition

by randy

Here is an example of the heir (Chuck Smith’s son in law) of Calvary Chapel selectively quoting the bible in order to support his Arminian doctrine of man’s sovereignty.  Broderson quotes Matthew 11:23 as a proof text that God’s desire for Chorazin and Bethsaida to repent “failed”. Yet he misses the context of Matthew 11:25 that it was purposely hidden from them for God’s good pleasure. A perfect example of proof texting and failing to read the context that follows. Oops!

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The entire audio commentary of Calvary Chapel’s “Pastor’s” Perspective.

Jan 20 2010

Late Great Planet Church: Against Dispensationalism

by randy

Late Great Planet Church.