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

 

Living in Light of Two Ages

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Sunday
Oct122008

"The Wisdom from Above" -- James 3:13-4:3

Here's the link to this morming's sermon on the Book of James.  This is the seventh in our current sermon series @ Christ Reformed Church.

http://links.christreformed.org/realaudio/KR20081012-James.mp3
Friday
Oct102008

Tonight's Academy Class

Tonight's lecture is entitled, "The Basic Elements of New Testament Escahtology."  This is the next lecture in my on-going series entitled Amillennialism 101.

The lecture begins @ 7:30 PM is is followed by a time for Q & A.

For more information about the Academy (@ Christ Reformed Church) Click here: Christ Reformed Info - Schedule of Academy Classes and Author's Forums

Thursday
Oct092008

The Canons of Dort, Second Head of Doctrine, Article Eight

Article 8: The Saving Effectiveness of Christ's Death

For it was the entirely free plan and very gracious will and intention of God the Father that the enlivening and saving effectiveness of his Son's costly death should work itself out in all his chosen ones, in order that he might grant justifying faith to them only and thereby lead them without fail to salvation.  In other words, it was God's will that Christ through the blood of the cross (by which he confirmed the new covenant) should effectively redeem from every people, tribe, nation, and language all those and only those who were chosen from eternity to salvation and given to him by the Father; that he should grant them faith (which, like the Holy Spirit's other saving gifts, he acquired for them by his death); that he should cleanse them by his blood from all their sins, both original and actual, whether committed before or after their coming to faith; that he should faithfully preserve them to the very end; and that he should finally present them to himself, a glorious people, without spot or wrinkle.


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Since the authors of the Canons have noted that the death of Christ is designed by God to satisfy the demands of his holy justice on behalf of his elect, and since the Canons have also pointed out that sinners cannot believe the proclamation of Christ crucified unless they are given the gift of faith through the preaching of the gospel, it is now important to tie these two things together. 

In article 8, the authors state that the cross was ordained by God for the express purpose of actually redeeming the elect, those chosen by God in Christ from before the foundation of the world.  There is not a hint anywhere in Scripture that it was God's intention to make everybody savable, if only they use their free will and natural ability to come to Christ.

As the Canons put it, “For it was the entirely free plan and very gracious will and intention of God the Father that the enlivening and saving effectiveness of his Son's costly death should work itself out in all his chosen ones, in order that he might grant justifying faith to them only and thereby lead them without fail to salvation.” 

In the Reformed understanding of the plan of redemption, God has decreed to save his elect in Christ, then in the fullness of time God sent Jesus Christ to accomplish what was necessary for his elect to be saved.  Jesus came to die for their sins, thereby satisfying God’s justice.  Jesus also fulfilled the law during his messianic mission, so that the elect can be provided with a perfect righteousness of Christ.  And then Scripture teaches that God sent the Holy Spirit to call all those whom God has chosen and for whom Christ has died, to come faith and repent of their sins through the proclamation of the gospel.

From the Reformed perspective, the father graciously elects in Christ, the son redeems those whom the father has chosen and the Holy Spirit calls those whom the father has chosen, and for whom the son has died to faith.  There is a wonderful and perfect biblical symmetry here.  The inter-Trinitarian covenant of redemption made in ages past, in which the father elects Christ to be the mediator of the covenant of grace comes to fruition in time and space with Christ dying for God’s elect, and the Spirit calling all those whom God has chosen to faith in Christ without fail. 

This inter-Trinitarian covenant is seen in John 17, where Jesus repeatedly speaks of those given him by the father before the world began, and the Trinitarian nature of redemption is clearly spelled out by Paul in Ephesians 1:3-14 (cited in the previous article).

Again, far from being an invention of the Reformed, this wonderful biblical symmetry is spelled out by Paul in the first chapter of Ephesians.  Election is said to be “in Christ,” thereby accomplished before the foundation of the world.  According to Paul it is in Christ’s work for us during his earthly ministry that we have redemption and the forgiveness of sins, and through the shedding of his blood God’s justice is fully satisfied.  Then, at a particular point in time, believers are called to faith through the Holy Spirit, they believe the gospel, and they are sealed by the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption.
 
It is from this biblical theme of redemption decreed, accomplished and applied that the Reformed tradition develops the idea of "irresistible" grace, which simply means that all of God’s elect will eventually come to faith.  The term “irresistible” grace is, unfortunately, a bit misleading.  The term is intended to convey the idea that the elect cannot resist the call of God, when the elect do in fact resist.  Many of us “resisted” the call of God for a time.  This is why it is better to replace the term "irresistible grace" with the term, "effectual calling." 

While we resist the call of God because we are sinful, nevertheless, through the gospel, the Holy Spirit sovereignly changes us from people who are dead in sin, into people who are alive in Christ.  Once made alive, we then believe and embrace the Savior through faith, receiving the forgiveness of sins and eternal life.  But until we do come to faith, we resist the call of God.

This, then, is why the authors can state without equivocation that “it was God's will that Christ through the blood of the cross (by which he confirmed the new covenant) should effectively redeem from every people, tribe, nation, and language all those and only those who were chosen from eternity to salvation and given to him by the Father; that he should grant them faith (which, like the Holy Spirit's other saving gifts, he acquired for them by his death); that he should cleanse them by his blood from all their sins, both original and actual, whether committed before or after their coming to faith; that he should faithfully preserve them to the very end; and that he should finally present them to himself, a glorious people, without spot or wrinkle.” 

God elects in Christ.  Christ dies for God’s elect.  The Holy Spirit then applies the merits of Christ to all those, but only those, whom God has chosen, and for whom the son has died.  Not only do we have the Trinitarian symmetry, we also have the so-called "five points" of Calvinism. 

Total depravity refers to the effects of the fall and is manifest in our inability to come to faith, apart from a prior work of God on our behalf. 

We have unconditional election—God choosing to save a multitude so vast that no man can count them. 

Then there's limited atonement—or better "particular redemption," as Christ comes to die for those for who the father has chosen by satisfying God’s anger toward their sins. 

Irresistible grace (effectual calling) is simply the idea that those whom the father has chosen, and for whom the Son has died, will be called by the Holy Spirit through the gospel to faith n Christ. 

Finally, there's the doctrine of perseverance.  Those whom God has chosen, for whom the Son has died, and who the Spirit has called to faith, will be kept [or preserved] by the Spirit until the day of redemption. 

Therefore, our salvation is clearly Trinitarian in its design and execution.

Thursday
Oct092008

Bishop Thomas Weeks III and Other Interesting Stuff from Around the Web

"Bishop" Thomas W. Weeks III--already twice divorced, including a nasty split from Pentecostal evangelist wife Junita Bynum on the grounds of domestic violence, and this after dropping over a million bucks on their wedding, televised live on TBN--is trying to arrange what he calls a "Holy hook-up."  Yup, he's looking for wife # 3, and will feature his search on an upcoming episode of his "reality" show.  Says Weeks, "it is going to be a very tasteful, five-star presentation.”  This guy has absolutely no shame.  Oh, and by the way, good luck to the next Mrs. Weeks.   Click here: Bishop Weeks recasts his 'Holy Hook Up' | ajc.com

From the Rodney King "why can't we all just get along?" file.  The local Roman Catholic diocese of Orange hopes that a "blessing of the waves" ceremony at the US Surfing Championships will bring increased tolerance among the various local religions.  Muslims, Mormons, and Jews, all participated in the service.  The Muslim cleric thought it was a great idea, but none of the local confessional Protestant churches, apparently, were represented.  Confessional Protestant Churches have no disdain for surfing, but we do have an open disdain for goofy ecumenical services like this one.  Click here: News from The Associated Press 

What happens when you have fifteen cats, a storage shed, and a large artillery shell?  Obviously, the cats were plotting something nefarious and were busted before they could pull it off.  Click here: 15 Cats, Large Artillery Shell Found In Storage Unit - Local News Story - WMUR Manchester

California might have its problems, but this is not one of them!  Click here: FOXNews.com - Teen Wakes to Find Snake Wrapped Around Neck, Biting Her Arm - International News | News of the Worl

Wednesday
Oct082008

"Did God Reject His People?" -- Romans 11:1-15

The Twenty-Eighth in Series of Sermons on Paul's Epistle to the Romans

When the apostle Paul stated in Romans 10:1 that it was his heart’s desire and prayer to God for his fellow citizens of Israel to be saved, the question of Israel’s place in the future course of redemptive history was clearly on his mind.  Paul’s poignant question which opens Romans 11, “did God reject his people?” clearly indicates the apostle’s anguish regarding the future of his people, the Jews.  Recall that Paul is answering a series of questions raised by the fact that the gospel went first to the Jew and then the Gentile.  Since Israel rejected the gospel, Paul must answer the question as to whether or not God rejected his people.  Why has Israel come under God’s curse?  Will there be a distinct role for national Israel in the future?  And if so, what is the nature of that role?  Does a future role for ethic Israel mean that there will be a future earthly millennial age upon the earth in which will Israel figure prominently?

We now begin a what amounts to a two-part sermon as we work our way through Romans 11.  As I mentioned last time, the difficultly in preaching through Romans 9-11 is that these three chapters are one extended argument.  To preach on it in small segments as we must do because of time constraints makes it difficult to see the big picture Paul is setting forth.  In this sermon we will tackle the first 15 verses of Romans 11, and Lord willing, we will pick up where we left off in the next sermon and complete our survey of this very interesting section of Romans.

The question of Israel’s role in the present age (the messianic age) also raises the question about the possibility of a future millennial age.  The vast majority of premillennarians and postmillennarians contend that in this passage Paul teaches that not only is there a role for national Israel in God’s future redemptive purposes, but that this role for Israel entails a future earthly millennium.  According to amillennarians, however, Paul does not specifically address the subject of a millennium in Romans 11.  But Paul does speak directly to the subject of the future role of Israel in God’s redemptive purposes, the only place in Scripture where he explicitly does so.  Although Paul does not tell us when the things mentioned in this passage will come to pass, he clearly links them to Israel’s eschatological fullness and to the end of the age.  Although amillennarians disagree among themselves about whether or not Israel does have a future place in redemptive history–some say Israel does have a role (Geerhardus Vos, David Holwerda and Cornelis Venema), while some say there is no distinctive future role for ethnic Israel (Calvin, William Hendricksen, Anthony Hoekema and Bob Strimple)–neither camp sees this issue as determinative of one’s millennial view.  While some post-holocaust Jewish writers, as well as certain evangelicals, have argued that denying a place for a distinct future for ethnic Israel and equating the church with Israel is at the root of contemporary anti-Semitism, it must be pointed out that even those Reformed amillennarians who do not see a distinct future for ethnic Israel, have held out the likelihood of the conversion of large numbers of ethnic Jews to Christianity before the return of Christ.

To read the rest of this sermon, click here

Tuesday
Oct072008

The Evils of Worldliness and Other Interesting Stuff Found on the Web

Pope Benedict XVI speaks out against the pursuit of wealth and success as a life goal.  Fair enough.  This is a biblical issue, and certainly ought to be a subject for reflection and study by Christians.  But don't you just love it when the Pope criticizes wealth and worldliness and is then pictured holding a solid gold staff and wearing vestments dripping with jewels and garish embroidery.  Click here: BBC NEWS | World | Europe | Pope criticises pursuit of wealth

Poor Cardinal Newman. . .  He's finally granted sainthood.  But there's nothing left of him to re-bury in his new "saintly" grave except the four red tassels from his cardinal's hat.  I hate it when that happens.  Click here: Red tassels are only remains of saintly cardinal - Times Online 

So what would you do if your employer required you to sit through a Buddhist enlightenment session?  And no, this is not a hypothetical question.  Click here: Top insurer forces employees to study Buddhist teachings

Andy (our Aussie Shepherd) goes into hiding every Sunday morning when we leave for church--he knows he's got a few hours to spend in confinement and he misses us.  Maybe we should add a "Woof `n' Worship" service so he can come to church with his family.  Click here: Woof and worship: Church welcomes pious pets - Salt Lake Tribune

Monday
Oct062008

Televangelist . . . Heal Thyself! And Other Interesting Stuff from Cyberspace

I noticed that our friend John Hagee underwent major open-heart surgery.  We should all wish Hagee well, and pray for his recovery.  But it might also be worth noting that Hagee's surgery raises a question or two about someone who practices "Divine healing" and who then tells people who are not healed that they either don't have enough faith, or that they have unconfessed sin their lives.  When Hagee discovers that he has heart disease, it is interesting that he doesn't rush to Oral Roberts or Benny Hinn, he goes to the hospital.  Hmmm . . .  Click here: Evangelist John Hagee recovers from heart surgery - CNN.com 

Speaking of televangelists and faith-healing, Time Magazine has an interesting article on how the "name it and claim it" theology, led many folk to "claim the American dream" in the name of Jesus, and then buy a house they could not afford, trusting that God would give them financial gain because they sowed a financial seed into someone's so-called ministry.  Click here: Maybe We Should Blame God for the Subprime Mess - TIME 

WorldNetDaily is at it again, pushing a video which tells us why we as Christians should be celebrating Yom Kippur and the Feast of Tabernacles, just as Jews do.  Sorry to break it to you, but Jesus has finished his redemptive work, fulfilling all of the Old Testament types and shadows.  It always amazes me that some dispensationalists get so caught up in typology they miss the obvious.  Oh, that same video also claims to reveal the day (but not the year) the Lord will return.   Click here: Find out why Feast of Tabernacles is not just for Jews

Having owned a Christian Bookstore, I know how tough this issue can be.  A Lifeway Christian bookstore carries the magazine GospelToday.  But when an issue featured a woman minister on the cover, the bookstore kept it under the counter.  Now some CNN columnist is blasting them for doing so.  Boy, I don't miss those days at all.  Virtually everything you sell in a Christian bookstore offends someone!  Let me just say, running a Christian bookstore for many years was great training to be a pastor!  Click here: Commentary: Christian bookstore's shameful actions - CNN.com 

Sunday
Oct052008

Who Said That?

"One of the lessons I learned from the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden is that our first ancestors chose to be human rather than to live forever.  They chose a sense of morality, a `knowledge of good and evil,' rather than immortality.  They spurned the Tree of Life, which would have given them eternal life, in favor of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which gave them a conscience.  As compensation, God gave humans, who now shared with Him the ability to know good from evil, the gift of His own divine power to create new life.  We cheat death, not by living forever, but by bearing, raising, and educating children to keep our souls, our values, and even our names alive.  One generation, scarred and often embittered by experience, gives way to another, born in innocence and hope.  Like the good shepherd He is, God shows His love for us by enabling us to create new life."

Leave your guess in the comments section below.  Please no google searches or cheating.  The whole point is to guess, not look up the answer!

Sunday
Oct052008

Academy Lecture Posted -- "Amillennialism 101"

 

Here's the link to this past Friday's Academy lecture, "These Things Were Foretold" (Part 2).  I'm continuing my series "Amillennialism 101."  In this lecture I deal with prophecies regarding the future restoration of Israel, and what is known as "prophetic perspective."

Here' the link.  http://links.christreformed.org/realaudio/A20081003-Amillenialism.mp3

Sunday
Oct052008

"It Boasts of Great Things" -- James 3:1-12

Here's the audio of the sixth sermon in my current series on the Book of James.

http://links.christreformed.org/realaudio/KR20081005-James.mp3