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


Living in Light of Two Ages



Dr. Phil, T. D. Jakes, and Other Stuff from Around the Web

Links%207.jpgWe often speak of the "Keswick Movement" on the White Horse Inn.  Here are a series of lectures detailing the history of the Keswick movement, along with an analysis of some of its weaknesses (h.t. Lee Irons).   Click here: Andy Naselli » Blog Archive » Keswick Theology

So, Rick Warren's Peace Plan version 2.0 is ready to go.  Warren tackles everything from spiritual emptiness to poverty.  I don't know much about how to fight world poverty, but I do know that the biblical solution to "spiritual emptiness" is word and sacrament--emphasis upon which is missing, of course, from Warren's cure for "spiritual emptiness."   Click here: Rebooting PEACE | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction

I hate the nanny state.  Here's another reason why.  Click here: Health and safety zealots tell youngster her 2ft paddling pool needs a lifeguard | Mail Online

Dr. Phil likes T. D. Jakes.  So Dr. Phil is helping Jakes get his own national T.V. talk show in the Fall.  Swell.  How will Jake's  version of modalism and his prosperity gospel help TV viewers?  I can just see Jakes now, walking back and forth, wiping his sweaty brow, ranting, "Viewer, Thou Art Loosed Loosed!"  "Reposition Yourselves."  Click here: Dr. Phil eyes Potter's preacher.


Must Reading -- Cornelius Van Til: Reformed Apologist and Churchman

Van%20Til.jpgAlthough this is a busy time of year for me, I was finally able to get to the one book I've been dying to read--John Muether's biography of Cornelius Van Til (John R. Muether, Cornelius Van Til:  Reformed Apologist and Churchman, P & R, 2008).

I won't bore you with another book review.  There are several outstanding reviews already.  But I will, however, exhort you to get this book and read it!  Thanks to John Muether, I was at long last able to connect a bunch of dots that I had never been able to connect before.  Not only that, this is a well-written and appreciative look at very complicated and important man.

There's a reason why this book was so helpful to me. Back in the day when I was making the difficult transition from  dispensational evangelicalism to Reformed theology, I'll never forget finding these ugly gray syllabi by some "Dutch guy."  The clerk at the venerable "Christian Discount Book Center" in Norwalk, CA. (which introduced countless Southern Californians to Reformed theology), told me this stuff was must reading.  I bought and read Van Til's Defense of the Faith, and came way with  far more questions than answers.  Van Til's Survey of Christian Epistemology was next.  Now, that was a tough read for a newbie.

To make a long story short, I ended up studying under John Warwick Montgomery (at the now defunct Simon Greenleaf School of Law) before attending the brand new Westminster campus in California in 1981 (at Montgomery's urging, by the way).   At Westminster Seminary California, I learned Van Til at the feet of John Frame.  Given my personal interest in Old Princeton (generally) and B. B. Warfield in particular, I found myself in an apologetic "no-man's land" of sorts.  I knew Warfield, Machen, and Van Til did not have an Arminian bone in their bodies.  Hence, Van Til's critique of Warfield struck me as odd.   I also knew that Montgomery's apologetic was more like Warfield's and Machen's than Van Til's.  I had read enough of Van Til to know that Frame had modified Van Til significantly.  Then, there was Francis Schaeffer.  Frame and Montgomery loved him (each with some methodological concerns).  But Van Til had grave reservations.  Confused?  I was.

I ended up teaching apologetics for a number of years at Simon Greenleaf with Montgomery, Walter Martin (a big fan of J. O. Buswell), Harold Lindsell, and of course, my dear friend Rod Rosenbladt.  Listening to these men talk about their personal affection for both Buswell and Gordon Clark (while dismayed about their "rationalism") was interesting.  Van Til was universally praised for his response to Barth, but his apologetic "under-appreciated" Christian evidences.

So with that bit of history and with my "unconnected dots" in mind, I ran into Muether's fine book.  Among the connections Muether made for me:

  • Why Machen hired Van Til for the new Westminster Seminary, if he opposed VT's apologetic methodology.
  • Van Til is an intellectual child of Geerhardus Vos, not A. A. Bowman, the idealist philosopher at Princeton. 
  • Why Van Til ended up in the OPC and not the CRC.
  • Why Van Til was nervous about Gordon Clark's greater allegiance to a broader evangelicalism than to a confessional Reformed church.
  • Why Van Til saw Barth's neo-orthodoxy as the greatest menace to Reformed confessionalism.  Much of what Van Til argued about Barth was vindicated, yet Van Til himself realized his short-comings in dealing with Barth.
  • Why was Van Til so put off by cultural engagement?
  • How could Van Til be a Kuyperian and defend antithesis, and yet take a different approach to common grace?
  • When I first heard it, Van Til's concern about confessional Reformed churches becoming enamored with a broader Reformed-evangelicalism struck me as hyper-critical.  Now, I think VT was absolutely correct!
  • Van Til's rejection of theonomy and postmillennialism, in light of professed theonomic support for Van Til's system.
  • Van Til's role (or lack thereof) in the Shepherd controversy. 
  • Van Til's worries about Schaeffer's alliance with evangelicals in the culture war.
  • Finally, while Van Til was a churchman, why did he (and those who are confessional) seem so out of place? 

 As I say, there is much here to think about.  That is why I urge you to read this book. 

And thanks to John Muether for connecting so many dots!


"A Refuge" -- Joshua 20:1-9

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

Just as he promised he would do, YHWH fought on the side of Israel.  After an extended military campaign, the armies of Israel wiped out two large Canaanite armies.  Joshua’s men captured thirty-one Canaanite cities, killing everyone in them including their kings.  At long last, God’s people dwell in peace in that good land God which had promised to give them.  But this comes only after Israel was delivered from four hundred years of bondage and slavery in Egypt, after entering into a covenant with YHWH at Mount Sinai, after wandering throughout the Sinai desert for forty years, after crossing the Jordan River on dry ground and then conquering Jericho, as well as defeating two large Amorite armies and a host of other Canaanite tribes.  In Joshua 11:23, Joshua simply says, “the land had rest from war.”  With these words, we have reached yet another turning point in the great redemptive drama.  The land once promised to Israel is now their home.  The promise has become reality.  We now shift from the account of battle (the Conquest) to a distribution of the spoils of war as YHWH gives his people legal title to the land.

We now fast-forward from the end of chapter 11 (where we left off last time), to verses 1-9 of chapter 20.  The reason for skipping so far ahead in our study of Joshua has to do with the structure of the book itself.  In Joshua 12, we find a detailed list of the thirty-one kings defeated by Moses and Joshua.  Chapters 13-21 contain a lengthy and very detailed description of how the land of Canaan was divided up among the various tribes of Israel and their families.  Understandably, most readers find themselves drawn to the dramatic first half of the book, while these detailed lists in the next section of Joshua are not as interesting.  The materials in these chapters are, in effect, legal documents (deeds), which ensure that the land of Canaan is properly distributed to each tribe jut as Moses commanded.  This entire section of Joshua stands as a glorious testimony to the fact that God is faithful to his promise and that he will give his people their inheritance.  If you have read through this section of Joshua, you know that preaching through these chapters would be like the reading of a will in which someone’s massive estate was divided up among family members.  Very important stuff.  But not very preachable.  So, we now fast forward to chapter twenty.

Although we are skipping over this lengthy description of the “divvying up of the land,” there are several important things mentioned in these chapters which are well-worth highlighting. 

The first of these is the mention of Joshua’s advanced age and a reference to several outlying areas still to be captured by Israel.  In Joshua 13:1, we read that “now Joshua was old and advanced in years, and the LORD said to him, `You are old and advanced in years, and there remains yet very much land to possess.’”  This is not merely a declaration that Joshua was old–by now that was certainly the case–this is also an important announcement to the people of Israel that there was still much to do.  In order for the people to possess legal title to the land, this must be done while Joshua, the covenant mediator, is still alive.  The armies of Israel must capture the remaining outlying areas and Joshua must apportion the land among the twelve tribes so that the promised inheritance is actually realized before he dies.

To read the rest of this sermon, click here


Who Said That?

question%20mark.jpg"I know, I know, it says in the Bible that homosexuality is an abomination. But isn’t that the same Bible that says you should stone to death heretics or anyone who doesn’t believe the same things you do? Isn’t that what we call terrorists, fanatics, or fundamentalists in another country?"

You know the drill.  Leave your guess in the comments section below.  Please, no google searches or cheating!


If It Must Stay in Vegas and Other Things from Around the Web.

links5.bmpIf you must "stay in Vegas" (in the literal sense, as in "you live there") then you'll be interested to know that the URC is opening a new church plant in your town.   Some very solid men will be handling pulpit supply.  For more information, Click here: URC Learning » Las Vegas worship services beginning June 1 has recently updated their section on law and gospel.  There's some great stuff here (Moo, Murray, Kline, Irons).  Click here: Monergism :: Law and Gospel

It is bad enough when the socialist wusses to the north (Canada) tolerate Sharia Law.  Now its in my own backyard--well not that close, but in my own county, at a state university.  Muslim students repeatedly threaten Jewish and Christian students, and none  of the "enlightened" university authorities (it seems) will do anything about it.  And this is where my tax dollars go?  Click here: Pajamas Media » UC Irvine Still Enforcing Sharia Law

Finally, be careful when people donate things to your church--especially trailers.  You might get a visit from the police and the haz-mat squad.  Click here: Meth lab accidentally donated to church | Yahoo! News | Local Breaking News from AZFAMILY.COM & KTVK 3TV - Arizona


The Canons of Dort, First Head of Doctrine, Rejection of Errors, Paragraph Six

Synod%20of%20Dort.jpgSynod condemns the error of those . . .

VI Who teach that not every election to salvation is unchangeable, but that some of the chosen can perish and do in fact perish eternally, with no decision of God to prevent it.

By this gross error they make God changeable, destroy the comfort of the godly concerning the steadfastness of their election, and contradict the Holy Scriptures, which teach that the elect cannot be led astray (Matt. 24:24), that Christ does not lose those given to him by the Father (John 6:39), and that those whom God predestined, called, and justified, he also glorifies (Rom. 8:30).


Another error associated with certain forms of Arminianism follows from the formulation of the dual decree described in refutation of errors, paragraph five.  In this case, the Arminian argues, God will never withhold his salvation from those who do indeed believe, repent, and live holy lives before him.   But since election is not absolute, and in this regard is only general and universal, there is no guarantee that those who are chosen by God will persevere in faith to the end, and therefore be saved. 

As we have seen, the argument runs as follows.  God has determined the plan of salvation, but has not chosen the specific individuals who are themselves to be saved.  Those who fulfill God's requirements are considered to be numbered among the elect.

The problem with this should be obvious.  Those who are presently in Christ, can take no comfort in the fact of their election, because there is absolutely no guarantee that they will remain in Christ until death.  This places the onus on the individual to persevere in the Christian life, and does not give the believer the comfort of knowing that it is Christ who is even now ensuring that the elect will persevere to the end and be saved (cf. Luke 22:32; 1 John 2:1-2).  

Scripture is crystal clear that Christ’s Spirit indwells us, and serves as a deposit guaranteeing that if we are in Christ at this moment, we will die in Christ.  As Paul says in Ephesians 1:13 ff:  “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”  When we believe, we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who seals us until the day of the resurrection. 

There is no evidence whatsoever found in Scripture which indicates that the Holy Spirit indwells us for a time and then leaves us if and when we commit specific sins, or if we cease to believe.  Yes, the Psalmist pleads "take not your Holy Spirit from me," (51:11). But this is expressing the fear of worried believer, and does not mean that God threatens such a thing. 

In fact, Peter declares (1 Peter 1:3-9),  "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,  so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,  obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls."

In fact, it would seem from Peter’s words (and from Paul’s comments cited above), that the reason we continue to believe is because the Holy Spirit does, in fact, ensure that we continue to believe!  In 1 John 2:1-2, the Apostle writes, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.  He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”  It is the one in whom we are chosen (Christ--Ephesians 1:4), who presently stands as our defense attorney when we sin.  He does not serve as a prosecutor!  

Arminianism, in all its forms, does great injustice to the present priestly work of Christ.  According to Arminianism, many for whom Christ supposedly dies, and for whom he is currently interceding, somehow manage to slip through his fingers, escape his grasp, fall away, and then suffer eternal loss.  The whole point of Christ’s present work as Advocate is that when we try and get away from God, it is Christ who keeps us in the fold.  The good shepherd will lose none of the sheep given him by the father (John 6:37; 10:29).  This is Jesus' promise to us!

Sadly, Arminianism robs the Christian of the comfort of assurance of salvation won for them by Christ, and  instead instills unnecessary fear and doubt in the people of God.


Eschatology Q & A -- "What About the Great Tribulation?"

eschatology%20q%20and%20a.jpgJeremy asks (July 29, 2006), “In the amillennial system, where does the tribulation fit in? Are we living in it now, or will it be a distinct time before the return of Christ?"


This is an important question for several reasons.  First, when most people think of the great tribulation, they are thinking of the dispensational idea that at (or about) the time of the Rapture, the world enters a seven-year period of tribulation in which the Antichrist comes to power after the unexpected removal of all believers.  The Antichrist then makes a seven-year peace treaty with Israel, only to turn upon Israel after three and a half years, plunging the world into a geo-political crisis which ends with the battle of Armageddon.  Dispensationalists believe this is a time of horrific cruelty and that only way to be saved during this period is to refuse to take the mark of the beast, and not worship the beast or his image.  The main problem with this interpretation is that it is
nowhere found  in Scripture.

A second reason why this question is important has to do with the rise of various forms of preterism (full-preterism, which is considered a heresy; and so-called “partial” preterism, which is not) which contend that Christ returned in A.D. 70 to execute judgment upon apostate Israel, the city of Jerusalem, and the Jewish temple and its sacrificial system.  Those who hold to the various forms of preterism believe that this great tribulation spoken of by Jesus (Matthew 24:21) has come and gone with the events associated with the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple by the Romans.

In light of the tendency to relegate a time of "great" tribulation to the distant past or imminent future, it is important to survey the biblical teaching in this regard.  As we will see, this time of “great tribulation” cannot be tied exclusively to the events of A.D. 70, or to the very end.  God’s people may face such tribulation throughout the entire time from Christ’s redemptive tribulation on the cross, until the end of the age.

Virtually all scholars agree that the basis for the three references in the New Testament to a “great tribulation” (Matthew 24:21; Revelation 2:22; 7:14) is Daniel 12:1, which reads: “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book.”

In Daniel’s prophecy not only  is this period of suffering tied to the time of the end (i.e., the mention of the general resurrection in vv.2-3), but the basis for the tribulation God’s people face is their covenant loyalty to God in the face of external persecution (by the state) and false teaching (from within) which causes the apostasy of many within the covenant community (cf. Daniel 11:30-39; 44; 12:10).

The same idea is found in the letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3.  Three of the churches mentioned (Ephesus, Sardis, and Laodicea) are suffering greatly, and two other churches are thoroughly compromised in their witness to Christ (Pergamum and Thyatira).  In the light of struggles these churches are experiences, in Revelation 2:22, we read “behold, I will throw her [the woman Jezebel] onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works.”  Here, “great tribulation” is meted out upon those in the church of Thyatira who delight in this woman's false teaching.  This, the text explains, is a time of "great tribulation" for unbelievers (apostates).

In Revelation 7:14, one of the elders tells John that “these [John sees] are the ones coming out of the great tribulation.  They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”  This refers to the faithful remnant across time who endured the persecution of the world and who have been put to death.  Having been given white robes, every tear is wiped from their eyes as they serve in the heavenly temple.  They hunger and thirst no more!

In both passages in Revelation then, the idea of a “great tribulation” refers to events occurring at various points between Christ’s own tribulation on the cross and the end of the age.  As Beale puts it, “the great tribulation has begun with Jesus’ own sufferings and shed blood, and all who follow him must likewise suffer through it.”  Beale goes on to say this is the point of passages such as Revelation 1:9 (where John states he is already a participant in tribulation because he follows Christ); Colossians 1:24; and 1 Peter 4:1-7, 12-13 (cf. G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 433-435).

While Jesus speaks of “great tribulation” in connection with the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple--the events of A.D 70 (Matthew 24:21)--in Revelation, John speaks of such periods of “great tribulation” as re-occurring throughout the course of this age, perhaps even intensifying at time of the end.

So, with that in mind, we are now in a position to answer Jeremy’s questions.

1).  "Where does the tribulation fit?"

 We may face tribulation at any point throughout the course of the interadvental age.  In the providence of God, we may even face a time of “great tribulation.”

2).  "Are we living in it now?"

Yes and no.  While we live in an age where unbelievers and government authorities will attempt to persecute us or deceive us, it is surely not right for me (in answering this question) to compare my current situation (indeed, my life-long situation), with a Christian who lives in Darfur, or in China, or in a Muslim nation.  Some of God’s people will face unspeakable rage and hatred throughout this period.  Some will be martyred, and many will live in depravation.  Others will be spared and prosper greatly.  The reason as to why one suffers and another does not, is to be found not in the worthiness of the individual Christian, but in the mysterious providence of God.

3).  "Will it be a distinct time before the return of Christ?"

 Not in the sense taught by dispensationalists who believe in a seven year tribulation which is tied to the fulfillment of Daniel 9:24-27.  I believe this to be a messianic prophecy already fulfilled in Christ.  But will there be increasing tribulation (both in intensity and frequency) before the time of the end?  I would say that is a real possibility, and that Scripture warns us that we may be called to suffer during a time of "great tribulation", while at the same time encouraging us with God's promise of all-sufficient grace under the most difficult of circumstances.  


"Klaatu Barada Nikto" and Other Stuff from Around the Web

Links6.jpgTalk about "Alien Righteousness"!  The Vatican has declared that it is acceptable for the faithful to believe in aliens and extra-terrestrials.  I wonder what Klaatu (Mr. Carpenter) and Gort (his robot) would say about that.  Click here: Enthusiasts say 'Amen' as Vatican allows alien belief -- --  

This is sad.  After an Israeli mayor decries Christian proselytizing, Israeli Jews gather around a bonfire and burn New Testaments.   Click here: Breaking News - JTA, Jewish & Israel News.  Makes me think of Romans 10:18-21.  Makes me hope for the day depicted in Romans 11:25-36. 

For those of us who grew up in the 60's, it was commonplace to speculate what life would be like in the year 2000.  Check out these predictions from 1961.  I'm still waiting for the 24 hour work week.  (You'll laugh--or wince--at the hokey ads).   Click here: Will Life Be Worth Living In 2,000AD?

It would figure that Dr. Clark would find this before I did--he's a huge stooge fan, as am I.  Finally, a stooge channel on the web!  My all-time favorite White Horse Inn prank was to play a short snippet from "Boobs in Arms" when the stooges manage to bomb themselves with laughing gas.  The White Horse Inn topic that night was the Toronto Revival, and the program opened to the sound of Moe, Larry, and Curly just plain cracking-up.  Priceless.  Click here: The Stooge Channel Video Channel | Veoh Video Network



"More Than Conquerors" -- Romans 8:28-39

romans%20fragment.jpgThe Twenty-Third in a Series of Sermons on Paul's Epistle to the Romans

When we step back from the details of Paul’s discussion of justification and sanctification in Romans 3-8 and look at the big picture, we see something that is truly amazing.  In Romans 4:5, Paul speaks of God justifying the wicked.  In Romans 5:1, Paul speaks of those same ungodly sinners having peace with God, because as Paul tells us in Romans 5:6, Christ dies for the ungodly, even while we were powerless to do anything to save ourselves.  Then, in Romans 6, Paul describes how justified sinners die with Christ in baptism and rise in him to newness of life.  In Romans 7, Paul describes an intense struggle with sin, both before and after conversion, while in Romans 8, Paul speaks of how sinners now walk in the Spirit and how God will redeem us as individuals, even as he redeems all of creation.  And now, at the end of Romans 8, Paul’s heart soars as he considers how these same ungodly sinners are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ.

We now wrap up our treatment of Paul’s discussion of justification and sanctification by turning to the final two sections of Romans 8, Paul’s discussion of the “order of salvation” in Romans 8:28-30, and the glorious doxology which ends this discussion in verses 31-39.  As we turn to the first part of our text, we need to keep in mind that although this 3 verse section of Romans is best understood as a continuation of the previous section (Paul’s discussion of the intercession of the Holy Spirit) these verses have played such a huge role in the Reformed tradition’s theological development, we will treat them separately before turning to the doxology which concludes the chapter.

In verses 28-30, Paul sets forth “the way the purpose of God is worked out in believers.”  Although Paul’s readers groan right along with the creation as they await personal and cosmic redemption, nevertheless in the midst of this groaning and suffering, we can take heart.  For we are not suffering at the hands of a cruel fate or random chance which are beyond God’s control.  Rather, we suffer because of the consequences of human sin and because of this sin, God has subjected creation to frustration.  But God is in control of all of these things even while we suffer and while creation groans.  Furthermore, God is directing all of history toward its appointed end.  Says Paul, both the suffering and groaning as well as the coming heavenly glory, come to pass because God has willed it to be so.  This is why we can take heart in the midst the suffering associated with life in this world.  The same God who brings all of this to pass as part of his decree, now tells us that he is working out all of this for our good.  God never promises us to keep us from suffering.  But God does promise that our suffering will be turned to our ultimate good, if not in this present evil age, certainly in the age to come when Christ’s eschatological glory is revealed.  While the mere thought of God’s sovereignty moves many Americans to question God’s fairness, Paul sees God’s sovereignty as a source of great comfort. 

This passage, along with others such as Ephesians 1:3-14 and I Corinthians 6:11, seems to describe a basic ordo salutis (order of salvation), in which salvation begins with God’s eternal decree which is executed in time through the administration of the covenants and is applied to individual believers at the time of conversion.  This, of course, is where the Reformed, Lutheran and Arminian theological traditions diverge, and this is why these verses are so important for us to understand. 

To read the rest of this sermon, click here 


The White Horse Inn on Video!

WHI%20Logo.jpgIf you haven't seen this, the recent "live" White Horse Inn taping in Oceanside was video-taped.

Lord willing, we may do this with all our future broadcasts.  Imagine actually seeing Rod's facial expressions while the Reformed talk about Romans 9!

Here's the link.   Click here: The White Horse Inn: Know What You Believe & Why You Believe It