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"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources

 

Living in Light of Two Ages

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Thursday
Dec042008

The Canons of Dort, Second Head of Doctrine, Refutation of Errors, Article Five

Synod condemns the error of those . . .

V Who teach that all people have been received into the state of reconciliation and into the grace of the covenant, so that no one on account of original sin is liable to condemnation, or is to be condemned, but that all are free from the guilt of this sin.

For this opinion conflicts with Scripture which asserts that we are by nature children of wrath.

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This error is yet another fruit of the governmental theory of the atonement as championed by many Arminians. The Arminian Articles of 1610 put it this way: “Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, died for all men and every man, so that he hath obtained for them all, by his death on the cross, redemption and the forgiveness of sins; yet no one actually enjoys this forgiveness of sins except the believer.”

This gets us right back to the root of the whole problem--the nature of God’s justice, as well as the design of the atonement.  For the Arminian, the atonement reconciles entire the world to God, redeems the world unto God, and provides for the forgiveness of sin for each and every person who has lived in each and every age.  Even the guilt of original sin is supposedly remitted!

But under the terms of the Arminian doctrine, the atonement--while having the potential to save everyone--saves not one particular individual.  Indeed, countless millions of those whom Christ has reconciled, redeemed, and forgiven, will perish anyway--and this despite the fact that all of this has been done for them freely by Christ. 

On the Arminian scheme, people do not perish because of their guilt before God--this has been removed by Christ's death--but because they used their freewill to reject what was done for them.  So, to put it another way, people suffer the consequences of their own actual sins, as well as for the sin of unbelief.  This makes unbelief that one sin which Christ's death cannot remit.  It seems to me that this is the one sin which actually condemns us (if Arminianism be consistent).

This scheme is passed off as supposedly magnifying God’s love, justice, and fairness to his creatures.  Theoretically, no one is left out.  Those who suffer eternal loss do so because they choose not to believe, and thereby exclude themselves from the benefits of Christ's death.  No one is unjustly punished for the sins of another.  And God is not being unfair, since everyone is potentially reconciled, redeemed, and forgiven.  Men and women perish eternally, not because they are guilty, but because they choose not to believe.

The problem with this is that this entire scheme is a gigantic mirage, even though biblical texts are actually cited by the Arminians.  As we have seen, what does the Arminian do with John 10 and 17, Ephesians 1 and 2, Romans 8:28-30, and a host of other such passages, which do indeed teach that God’s saving operations are directed to the specific individuals whom he does intend to save?  There are no texts
anywhere in the Bible which teach an impersonal and generic plan of redemption!  And what about all of those texts we have already covered which teach that even after the death of Christ, we are still by nature children of wrath, and therefore subject to the just condemnation of God (i.e. Ephesians 2:1, 6; Colossians 2:13)?

But wait a minute, the Arminian will plead! What about 2 Corinthians 5:19 and Romans 5:18-19, where Paul supposedly clearly teaches that Christ’s death remits all sin, without exception?

Let us look at these in some detail.  In 2 Corinthians 5:17 and following, Paul writes, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” To start with, the passage is referring to those who are “in Christ.”  They participate the new creation, that is, in the age of salvation brought by Christ.  Those in Christ no longer belong to the old age—the age of works righteousness, they belong to the new age of resurrection life.  Says Paul in v. 18-19, “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” 

If by “the world”, Paul means each and every person who has ever lived in each and every age, why are any lost, since their sins are not counted against them?  Where in this text does Paul speak of the atonement in Arminian terms—God potentially reconciles all people, provided they believe? Paul says God has reconciled us!

This becomes especially clear in the latter part of the verse (and also in verse 20) when Paul connects God’s reconciliation in Christ with preaching: “entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”  If you are in Christ, you are reconciled.  If you are not in Christ, you are not reconciled.

How would the command to “be reconciled” make any sense on the Arminian scheme, since supposedly this has already been done for everyone without exception.  Paul’s command should be “choose not to be unreconciled!!!”  The particular nature of Paul’s words are very clear in verse 21. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  Note again the particular language that the apostle uses. God made Christ to be sin for our sake—i.e., the elect, those chosen in Christ, not generically for the world.  And note carefully, we became the righteousness of God in Christ. Again this passage clearly teaches that Paul has in mind a specific group that are reconciled in Christ, and that the message of reconciliation is to be proclaimed to all, since as you may recall, God has connected the ends—the salvation of his elect—with the means, the preaching of the gospel.

The Arminian notion that this passage teaches a universal remission of sin is simply not here.

Paul also says in Romans 5:18-19 that “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.” 

First, the text clearly teaches something that is completely foreign to the Arminian scheme, namely that the actions of one [obedience or disobedience], whether that be Adam or Christ [on behalf of the two covenants and eschatological ages they represent], can be imputed or reckoned to another.  This is a death blow to the Arminian system which has argued that such representation is “unfair” and “unbiblical.”

The passage also teaches that through the one man’s disobedience, “the many” were made [declared] sinners. That is, through Adam’s act of disobedience, the many—all those represented by Adam under the covenant of works and who are enslaved under “this age”—were made, or better, declared sinners. This is also fatal to the Arminian notion of individual responsibility with no corporate solidarity.  The passage also teaches that through one act of sin all people were condemned, which is yet another problem for the Arminian conception of the justice of God!

Who is in view, then, when Paul says that through the obedience of one there was now life for all and righteousness for the many?  The answer is simple.  Paul is speaking in terms of two covenants.  The first is a covenant of works in which Adam represents all men and women without exception.  The second is a covenant of grace, made with Christ on behalf of the elect.  The “all" here is simply referring to all those in Christ.  If not, we have a universal justification of all men and women who have ever lived, in each and every age, without exception!  If the Arminians are correct, people are then lost and punished eternally after they have been justified.  That makes no sense.

The Arminian interpretation of these passages undoes the force of Paul’s analogy between Christ and Adam as the federal heads of two distinct covenants.  Thus the Arminian notion of a universal remission of original guilt is not found in Romans 5:12-19 either!

Therefore, the authors of the Canons are correct to assert that the Arminian “opinion conflicts with Scripture which asserts that we are by nature children of wrath.”

Thursday
Dec042008

Potential URC Church Plant in South Orange County

If you live in South Orange County (San Clemente/Dana Point/San Juan Capistrano) and would like to see a URC congregation planted there one day, a core group is forming with the goal of beginning the work of church-planting.

Here's the announcement from the consistory of the Oceanside URC.

Dear co-laborers in southern California,
The consistory of the Oceanside URC is convinced that south Orange County (San Clemente/Dana Point/San Juan Capistrano) needs a confessionally Reformed congregation. Over the past 6 months we have discussed, prayed, studied, and developed a plan to explore gathering a core group. With that in mind we have commissioned Jon Moersch, who recently sustained his candidacy exam, to do this work. We ask two things of our fellow churches of Classis Southwest: 1) to pray for a core group to develop in this area, and, 2) play an active role by directing any people you know in south Orange County who are not members of a Reformed congregation to check out our website: http://southocreformed.blogspot.com/

Wednesday
Dec032008

"The LORD Raised Up a Deliverer" -- Judges 3:7-11

The Fifth in a Series of Sermons on the Book of Judges

Within one generation of the death of Joshua, the nation of Israel is already well-down the road toward full-blown apostasy. That first generation of Israelites born in the land of Canaan did not know YHWH or the great things he had done for Israel. They had not been instructed (catechized) in the great truths of the covenant and therefore were left defenseless against the whiles of their pagan neighbors. And as the Canaanites, who had once been booted from the land, began to return, the people of Israel became more and more like the Canaanites–worshiping Canaanite gods–Baal and Ashtoreth and engaging in all kinds of pagan practices. It was not long before the people of Israel began to do what was right in their own eyes–which meant they no longer regarded the law of God as their teacher of sin and rule of gratitude. And so as a direct consequence of Israel’s unbelief and disobedience, God will bring down the covenant curses upon his disobedient people. When he does, the people of Israel will cry out to him for deliverance.

We return to our series on the Book of Judges, which is part of a larger series “I Will Be Your God and You Will Be My People.” We have been working our way through the unfolding drama of redemption–especially focusing upon the history of the covenants. As we have seen in our study of the opening section of Judges (1:1-3:6), this book describes Israel’s history from the time the death of Joshua (and Israel’s failure to drive out the remaining Canaanites from land and off the frontier), until the time of the monarchy (Saul and David). This period of Israel’s increasing unbelief and disobedience stands in sharp contrast to Israel’s high-water mark in redemptive history, when the people entered Canaan under Joshua and lived well under the blessings of the covenant God had made with them at Mount Sinai. As Israel’s sin increases, the need for a Messiah becomes that much clearer.

The era of the judges is especially important to us in terms of practical application. Having settled in the promised land, the people of Israel were surrounded by various pagan peoples and were continuously tempted to intermarry with pagans and adopt their religious practices in direct and willful violation of the law of God. We too live at a time when we are surrounded by pagans and false religion. Many of our young people feel the same pull away from Christ and his church. Thus Israel’s struggle to remain faithful to the covenant along with the nation facing the consequences for their disobedience to the law of God, becomes a graphic object lesson to us when we seek to do what is right in our own eyes. God’s ways are always best, even when we can’t see that to be true.

To read the rest of this sermon, click here

Tuesday
Dec022008

Cool! An Amillennial Eschatology Chart!

Scott Clark recently posted this.  This chart illustrates the concurrent events associated with the Second Advent of Christ.

Apparently, Dr. VanDrunen drew this in class, and Brian Lund (a student) did the rest.

How can we ever hope to convince dispensationalists if we don't have our own chart?

Well, now we've got one!

 

Tuesday
Dec022008

Paedo-Credo Baptism Debate

Dr. David VanDrunen from Westminster Seminary California, recently debated Dr. Thomas Schreiner (Southern Seminary) on the proper subjects of baptism--infants or believers?  The debate was sponsored by Grace Reformation Church in Woodland, CA

Here's Dr. Schreiner's case for believer's baptism: http://www.petrik.com/GRC/02%2020081121_Credobaptism_Dr.ThomasSchreiner.mp3

Here's Dr. VanDrunens case for infant baptism: http://www.petrik.com/GRC/03%2020081121_Paedobaptism_Dr.DavidVanDrunen.mp3

Here's the Q & A. http://www.petrik.com/GRC/04%2020081121_Baptism_Forum.mp3

 

Monday
Dec012008

The First Day in Advent--Is Your Advent Calendar Stocked and Ready?

It is that time of the year again, December 1, 2008, the first day of Advent.

That means it is time to post the picture of the original version of the "Lutheran" Advent calendar (now an annual event here @ the Riddleblog) along with the easy "how to" instructions so that you can make your very own version.

Its pretty simple, really. You make a trip to Bev-Mo, you get a sharpie and some cardboard, and a nice wood or plastic case big enough for 25 twelve oz. (or more) bottles.

Its as easy to make as counting to twenty-five.  But you can't cheat or rush things.  Only one window per day!

Monday
Dec012008

"You Must Remember" -- Jude 5-25

Here's the link to Sunday's sermon on Jude (the second in a two-part series).

http://links.christreformed.org/realaudio/KR20081130-Jude.mp3

Sunday
Nov302008

Who Said That?

"The way forward for theological education will be deeply interfaith, or it will fail.  The fact is our lives are now interfaith, in bone-deep ways.  We live in interfaith families; we eat Middle Eastern food for lunch, kosher for dinner. ... We have hymns on our iPods, yoga mats in our backpacks, Torah prayers by our bedsides. "

OK . . . Who said that?  Leave your guesses in the comments section below.  Please, no google searches.  The whole point is to guess!

Friday
Nov282008

Proof that the Pope Is All Law and No Gospel

This just confirms my deepest suspicions . . .

Politicians have learned that all-too important lesson not to be photographed in certain situations--like Michael Dukakis doing the head-bob with the tanker's helmet, or John Kerry in his blue sani-suit crawling through the Space Shuttle mock up.

Theologians probably ought to take note of this principle.  It may have seemed like a good idea at the time . . . but the Pope with a cop's hat?  Not a good idea.

Wednesday
Nov262008

Have a Blessed Thanksgiving!

Wishing you and yours a very happy, healthy, and blessed Thanksgiving!

The Prayer for Thanksgiving (approved for use in the forthcoming URCNA Hymnal):

Our Sovereign God, who created all things for your pleasure and who gives to all life, breath, and every good thing, we praise you for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life. For rain and sunshine, in abundance and in lack, we acknowledge that our times are in your hands. You supply all of your creatures with your good gifts: the just and the unjust alike. Nevertheless, we especially give you praise for the surpassing greatness of your saving grace that you have shown to us in Christ Jesus our Savior. For our election in him before the foundation of the world; for our redemption by him in his life, death, and resurrection; for our effectual calling, justification, sanctification, and all of the blessings of our union with him, we give you our heartfelt thanks. And we look with great anticipation toward that day when you will raise us to life everlasting, glorified and confirmed in righteousness, so that we may sing your praises without the defilement of our present weaknesses, distractions, and sins. As you have served us with these gifts, we ask that you would give us grateful hearts so that through us you may serve our neighbors. In the name of Jesus Christ our Savior, Amen.