Social Network Links
Search the Riddleblog
"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources


Living in Light of Two Ages



Kline Lectures on MP3!

Kline%202.jpgHere is an absolutely great resource!  There are MP3's covering three of the courses the late Dr. Meredith Kline taught in seminary--Kingdom Prologue, Old Testament Exegesis, and Old Testament Prophets.  Back in the day, I had Kline for all three of these courses, and I am still mining the gold from his books and lectures.  How great to hear him lecture again!

I cannot recommend this highly enough.  Click here: Between Two Worlds: Kline Lectures.


Ken Jones Discusses Jeremiah Wright and Others

Iron%20sharpens%20iron.jpgken%20jones.jpgMy good friend and White Horse Inn compatriot, Rev. Ken Jones, was recently on Chris Arnzen's "Iron Sharpens Iron."

Ken discusses Jeremiah Wright and other crossless/Christless preachers.  The interview can be found here:


Tonight's Author's Forum with David VanDrunen

van%20drunen.jpgDavid%20VanDrunen.jpgDon't forget tonight's Author's Forum @ Christ Reformed Church in Anaheim.  Our guest is Dr. David VanDrunen from Westminster Seminary California.  Dr. VanDrunen will discuss his recent book, A Biblical Case for Natural Law.

The Academy begins @ 7:30 PM, admission is free, refreshments will be served, and there will be plenty of time for discussion.   For more information, Click here: Christ Reformed Info - Schedule of Academy Classes and Author's Forums

If you live in So Cal, come on out and join us! 


The Canons of Dort, First Head of Doctrine, Article Seventeen

Synod%20of%20Dort.jpgArticle 17: The Salvation of the Infants of Believers

Since we must make judgments about God's will from his Word, which testifies that the children of believers are holy, not by nature but by virtue of the gracious covenant in which they together with their parents are included, godly parents ought not to doubt the election and salvation of their children whom God calls out of this life in infancy.


Because of human sin, and the fact that the guilt of Adam’s sin is imputed to all of his descendants, unspeakable tragedies occur.  Ours is a sinful and fallen race.  We are weakened in body because of the inherited corruption passed down to us from our first father.  Furthermore, we are subject to the sinful actions of our fellow sinners.  Because we are under the curse, we will all die.  As one of the sages of popular culture puts it, “nobody gets out of here alive.”  

One of the worst consequences of the Fall is the death of a child.  It is bad enough that children, now grown, must bury those who brought them into the world, and who have cared and provided for them.  It is even worse when parents are forced to bury a child who never lived to adulthood.  If such a tragedy is not a graphic picture of the reality which is the imputation of Adam’s sin to all his progeny, then I don’t know what is.

Having raised the brutal reality of the consequences of original sin (guilt, death, and final judgment), the authors of the Canons have also spoken of election (the exercise of God’s mercy) and reprobation (the exercise of God’s justice).  

But at this point, the Canons address the very difficult subject of what happens when infants and small children of believers die in infancy, or in their youth, without ever having made a public profession of faith in Jesus Christ.  Are we to consider such children as elect (and saved)?  Or as reprobate (and lost)?  Even framing the question like this makes us shudder, but it is a question we have all asked (if the truth be known), and the Canons do not shirk from answering it.

While most American evangelicals can fall back upon their Pelagianism and argue for the innocence of such children, we have already seen that the Scriptures do not allow us such an unbiblical escape.  If the Bible is clear about anything, it is clear that our children–however precious they are to us–are sinful from the time of  their conception (Psalm 51:5; 58:3).  Like their parents, they are by nature, children of wrath, and therefore subject to the curse, which is death (Romans 5:12).  

Despite the widely accepted American dogma of an “age of accountability”–that unspecified moment when children supposedly become responsible for their sins, and for any possible rejection of Christ–there is no such doctrine taught anywhere in Scripture.  Sadly, this unsupported dogma holds out the false promise of a salvation apart from Christ, and sets out the false hope that should our children die before they reach the age of accountability, they will automatically go to heaven, because they are “innocent” and never needed saving.

Realizing the myth of human innocence under any circumstances, the Canons point us to an even better source of comfort–not the supposed innocence of our children, but to the merciful God, who in Jesus Christ, provides the means of salvation for all of his elect, including the children of believers.  God’s grace may even extend to all those who die in infancy, but since Scripture is silent on this matter, and all we have is human opinion, we’ll leave that discussion for another time, as the Canons themselves wisely do.

According to the apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 7:14), the children of believers (even if only one parent is a Christian) are holy.  They are “set apart” through the faith of a one believing parent, so that all promises made by God to his people under the covenant of grace apply to them.  If we are believers in Jesus Christ, without hesitation we affirm that our children are members of the covenant of grace, the promises of which are signed and sealed unto them though baptism.  As Christian parents, the Canons direct us to find comfort in the tragic case of the death of a child, in the fact that all of the promises of the covenant center in God’s unconditional promise, “I will be your God, and you will be my people.”  We need not count upon the false hope of the innocence of our child to save them.  No, we count on something much, much, greater–the mercies of God in Christ!  

It is because God is absolutely faithful to his covenant promises, and not because our children are somehow “innocent,” we can be confident that those children of believers who die in infancy are indeed numbered among the elect, and go to heaven when they die.  The Canons wisely counsel us not to doubt the election of such children, but to be absolutely confident of being joined with them eternally in the “age to come.”  Why?  Because of God’s covenant promise!  God's grace in Christ trumps human sin.

The promises God makes to us under the covenant of grace give us wonderful comfort in the darkest of moments.  These same promises remind us that God is gracious, and that death and the grave do not have the final word.  God will raise all his own from the dead, ensuring that all his people will one day bask in their promised inheritance together–the children with their parents–as they enjoy their eternal Sabbath rest in the presence of the Savior.

While the promise never removes the pain of death--this side of Christ's second coming--it certainly gives us a sure and certain hope.  Far better to count on the blood and righteousness of Christ, than on the supposed “innocence” of those we love.  And this is why we make our judgments from Scripture, where we find far better promises and a much greater hope.   For it is Scripture which promises us, that should our children die, they are even now beholding the face of that one who redeemed them with his precious blood.


Some Interesting Links . . .

Links.jpgA congressman steps up and signs the petition to keep "Issues, Etc." on the air.  He states, "here I stand, I can do none other."  Good on him!   Click here: Save the LCMS!: Congressman John Shimkus Signs Petition to Bring Issues Etc. Back 

Here's an Imam who probably needs "re-training" like the Saudi's want to do with 40,000 of their own Imams.  He preaches that all non-Muslims (infidels) are to be subject to execution and rape at the hands of the faithful.  What is worse, he's preaching this from his Mosque in London.   Click here: - Report: Non-Muslims Deserve to Be Punished - International News | News of the World | Middle East Ne

Boy, do we live in weird times.  Here's a church (a UCC, of course) pursing a criminal complaint against a Christian woman who was protesting their upcoming homosexual festival.  The ground of their charge of criminal mischief is that the woman anointed the church with cooking oil (thereby damaging church property), presumably to bind Satan so as to keep the festival from occurring.  This is wrong (and weird) on so many levels.  Click here: Church pursues felony over anointing with oil

This is remarkable news.  Popular dispensational author Joel Rosenberg recently reported on the spread of Christianity throughout the Middle East.  If Rosenberg is correct--and much of his information comes directly from Christian leaders throughout the region--thousands of Muslims are coming to faith in Christ.  The cross always triumphs over the crescent!   Click here: THE JOSHUA FUND: THE BIG (UNTOLD) STORY IN THE MIDDLE EAST: Muslims converting to faith in Jesus Christ in record


Amillennialism 101 -- Jesus Christ: The True Israel

Israel.jpgJesus Christ: The True Israel

If we stand within the field of prophetic vision typical of Israel’s prophets after the exile and captivity, and with them we look to the future, what do we see?  Israel’s prophets clearly anticipate a time when Israel will be restored to its former greatness.  But will that restoration of the nation of Israel to its former glory mirror the days of the monarchy?  Or does the monarchy itself point us to the monarch?

Such a prophetic vision includes not only the nation, but the land of Canaan, the city of Jerusalem, the throne of David, as well as the temple in Jerusalem.  Since the nation had been divided and the people were hauled off into captivity in Babylon some five centuries before the coming of Jesus, the magnificent temple destroyed and the priesthood gone, such prophetic expectation related to Israel’s future quite naturally spoke of a reversal of fortune and the undoing of calamity which had come upon the nation.  

But with apostolic hindsight Peter speaks of how “concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories.  It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.” (1 Peter 1:10-12).

In Isaiah 41:8-9, the prophet spoke of a future restoration of Israel in these terms.  “But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend; you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, `You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off.'”  The same promise is reiterated in the next chapter of Isaiah (42:1-7), when the LORD declares of his servant, “I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations”( v. 6).  Isaiah continues to speak of this servant in chapters 44 (vv. 1-2) and 45 (v. 4).

Dispensationalists, given their so-called "literal hermeneutic," are bound to interpret such passages literally, thereby assign the fulfillment of these prophecies of Isaiah to a future earthly millennium in which Israel co-exists with Gentiles under the reign of the Davidic king (See Walvoord, The Millennial Kingdom, 302-304; and Pentecost, Things to Come, 503-508).   In effect, this amounts to the restoration of the monarchy as Jesus takes his place on David's royal throne and rules the nations from this restored Israel.

But is this how the New Testament interprets these messianic prophecies regarding the servant of the Lord?  Who is this servant of the Lord?  It is the nation of Israel, or is it Jesus, Israel’s Messiah?

In order to answer this questions, we must see that the gospel writers interpret these prophecies from Isaiah as fulfilled in the messianic mission of Jesus.    First, in Matthew 12:15-21, for example, when Jesus withdrew from the crowds who had followed him, Matthew reports that this event fulfilled what had been spoken in Isaiah the prophet.  This event serves to demonstrate that Jesus is the true servant of the Lord.

Second, as Jesus cast out demons and healed the sick, Matthew saw in this the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecies of a suffering servant who would take upon himself our infirmities and carry our diseases (Matthew 8:17 with Isaiah 53:4).

Third, in Luke’s gospel, Luke speaks of both Israel (cf. Luke 1:54) and David as the servant of God (Luke 1:69).  Yet in Acts, Luke pointedly speaks of Jesus as the servant of God (Acts 3:13).  After his crucifixion, God raised Jesus from the dead so that people everywhere might be called to repentance (3:26).

Fourth, when the Ethiopian eunuch hears a reading from Isaiah 53:7-8 and asks Philip about whom this prophecy refers, Luke tells us that Philip informed the Ethiopian that this passage does indeed refer to Jesus (Acts 8:34-35).

But this is not all that is in view here.  In Hosea 11:1, Hosea predicted a time when “Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.”  But in Matthew 2:15, the evangelist tells us that Hosea’s prophecy was fulfilled when his parents took Jesus to Egypt to protect him from Herod’s “slaughter of the innocents” (Matthew 2:3-18).  Yet, after Herod had died, God called Jesus and his family to return to Nazareth.  Matthew takes a passage from Hosea, which clearly refers to Israel, and tells his reader that this passage is now fulfilled in Jesus Christ!  He does this to prove to his largely Jewish audience that Jesus is the servant of the Lord, foretold throughout the Old Testament (especially Isaiah).

By now it should be clear that according to many New Testament writers, Jesus is the true servant, the true son and the true Israel of God.  Recall too that it was Isaiah who spoke of Israel and the descendants of Abraham as the people of God.  It as through the seed of Abraham that the nations of the earth would be blessed.  

Therefore, even as Jesus is the true Israel, he is the true seed of Abraham.  This is the point that Paul is making in Galatians 3:7-8, when he says “know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.  And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, `In you shall all the nations be blessed.'”  

Paul’s words here, are important for several reasons.  First, Paul tells us that Abraham believed the very same gospel that he preached to the Gentile Galatians.  There has only been one plan of salvation and one gospel from the very beginning.  This, of course, raises very serious questions about the dispensational notion of “clearly distinct” redemptive purposes for national Israel and the Gentiles, as is evident when Paul goes on to say in Galatians 3:29, that “if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.”  

Second, the one gospel promise from the very beginning of redemptive history is that the true children of Abraham, whether they be Jew or Gentile, are heirs of the promise, if they belong to Jesus Christ, the true seed of Abraham.  But as Robert Strimple points out, an important word of clarification is certainly in order.  “We [amillennarians] say: `Yes, the nation of Israel was the people of God in the old covenant.  Now in the new covenant the believing church is the people of God.’  And thus we quickly run past (or we miss the blessed point entirely) the fact that we Christians are the Israel of God, Abraham’s seed, and the heirs to the promises, only because by faith, we are united to him who alone is the true Israel, Abraham’s one seed.”  (See Strimple, “Amillennialism,” in Bock, ed., Three Views of the Millennium and Beyond, 89).

The ramifications for this upon one’s millennial view should now be obvious.  If Jesus is the true Israel of God, and if the New Testament writers apply to Jesus those Old Testament prophecies referring to Israel as God’s son or servant, then what remains of the dispensationalist’s case that these prophecies remain yet to be fulfilled in a future millennium? They vanish in Jesus Christ, who has fulfilled them!

For more information, Click here: Riddleblog - A Case for Amillennialism - Understanding the End


Tabletalk (from Ligonier) on the Three Forms of Unity













The latest edition of Tabletalk magazine from Ligonier Ministries is hot off the press.  This month's issue (April 2008) is devoted to the Three Forms of Unity, and includes articles by some folks you may know.

You can preview the issue (April 2008) here.   Click here: Ligonier Ministries | Tabletalk Magazine .

If you haven't already subscribed, you ought to consider it. 


"All That Is Written in the book of the Law" -- Joshua 8:25-30

Joshua%20Conquest.jpgThe Eleventh in a Series of Sermons on the Book of Joshua

This is about as good as it gets.  In many ways, the events recorded at the end of Joshua chapter 8 are the high water mark of Old Testament redemptive history.  At long last, the people of Israel  have entered the promised land.  The Israelites have conquered the Canaanite cities of Jericho and Ai.  They have arrived at the city of Shechem in the valley between Mount Gerazim and Mount Ebal, and they have built an altar on Mount Ebal just as Moses had told them to do.  And there, in the very heart of that good land flowing with milk and honey which God had promised to give them, Israel renewed the covenant God had made with them more than forty years earlier in the barren wilderness at Mount Sinai.  This is truly a high point in redemptive history. 

But such moments are fleeting, sad to say, as the story of redemptive history is mostly downhill from here on.  At this moment in the story of redemption, Israel is obedient unto the Lord and therefore will receive great blessing.  But when Joshua eventually dies and Israel enters that period of biblical history known as the time of the judges, the people of God will forget YHWH and his law, and will do what is right in their own eyes.  Human obedience to the law is not only external and fleeting, but our good works can never remove our guilt before God.  Nor can the covenant God made with Israel and the revelation of his law on two stone tablets change the sinful human heart.  At our best moments, we fall far short of those things God demands of us under the law.  Looking back upon this period from the perspective of the coming of Jesus Christ, Paul tells us in Galatians 3 that all of these Old Testament events were intended to drive the people of God to faith in Jesus Christ, the greater Joshua.  And as we read in Hebrews 10, all of the wonderful things we read about in Joshua chapter 8 are mere shadows of good things yet to come, namely the blessings of the New Covenant, blessings we enjoy as a result of Christ’s saving work.

 Our current series on Joshua is part of a larger series entitled “I Will Be Your God and You Will Be My People.”  Throughout this larger series we have been working our way through the story of redemption, focusing on the history of the covenant of works and the covenant of grace as they unfold throughout redemptive history.  In this series so far we have covered the ground from Genesis 1:1 through the first eight chapters of Joshua.  We will now work our way through the rest of Joshua and the Book of Judges.

Recall that Israel had entered the land of promise under the leadership of Joshua, the covenant mediator who had taken the place of Moses.  Israel defeated two significant enemies before the nation marched to the place Moses had told them to go in Deuteronomy 27:4-5.  This covenant renewal ceremony on Mount Ebal was in many ways the theological climax of the entire Book of Joshua.  The people had entered the promised land, YHWH had given them the victory over their enemies, and the nation was obedient unto the Lord.  The people basked in the blessings of God and the nation renewed their covenant with YHWH.  But while all of this is good and entitles the nation of Israel to material blessings from the Lord (the land and its bounty, protection from enemies, and so on), it also hides the fact that the human heart is full of sin, and all those countless Israelites renewing the covenant need a Savior who can deliver them from the guilt and power of sin.  This is why Israel’s priests offer repeated sacrifices for sin, while the author of Hebrews reminds us that all of this is type and shadow, pointing us ahead to the reality, who is Christ.

To read the rest of this sermon, click here


Author's Forum With Dr. David VanDrunen, This Coming Friday, April 4


Join us at our next Author's Forum on Friday April 4 at 7:30 p.m @ Christ Reformed Church.   Dr. David M. VanDrunen will be our guest author and lecture on his recent book A Biblical Case for Natural Law.

This monograph is for Christians who are perplexed about the biblical standing of natural law. It offers an explicitly biblical defense for the existence and practical importance of natural law. If natural law is taught in Scripture, it should certainly be affirmed in Christian theology. The Studies In Christian Social Ethics and Economics series compiles topical studies of issues in Christian social ethics and economics integrating biblical studies, theology, economics, political theory, history, and various Christian traditions as centered in the Scriptures. The primary objective is to bring practitioners in these fields together to focus on the implications and applications of Christian social ethics in the church and society.

Dr. David M. VanDrunen is the Robert B. Strimple Professor of Systematic Theology and Christian Ethics. Dr. VanDrunen is a minister of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and a licensed attorney in the state of Illinois, began teaching at Westminster Seminary California in 2001. Prior to this, from 1999–2001, he served as a pastor of Grace Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Hanover Park, IL. Currently he serves on the OPC’s Committee on Christian Education and Subcommittee on Ministerial Training. His present research interests include the doctrines of justification, natural law, and the two kingdoms.

The 2004 recipient of the Acton Institute’s Novak Award, he is the author of A Biblical Case for Natural Law and Law and Custom: The Thought of Thomas Aquinas and the Future of the Common Law, and editor of The Pattern of Sound Doctrine: Systematic Theology at the Westminster Seminaries: Essays in Honor of Robert B. Strimple.  His scholarly articles have appeared in the Journal of Law and Religion, The American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, Calvin Theological Journal, Journal of Church and State, The International Journal of Systematic Theology, The Journal of Markets and Morality, and The University of British Columbia Law Review.


Academy Lecture Posted--Such as It Is

World%20of%20Difference%20samples%20cover.jpgThe audio from Ken Samples' Academy lecture has been posted on the Christ Reformed website.  Click here: Christ Reformed Info - MP3's and Real Audio (of Academy Lectures)

Ken's first lecture is entitled: "The Imago Dei:  A Reflection of God."

 Please note:  The audio quality of this lecture is very poor.  There was a technical problem (now corrected).  Our humble apologies--except to those of you who complain about free lectures!