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

 

Living in Light of Two Ages

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Tuesday
Oct092007

Come Out of Her, My People! Revelation 18:1-17

Revelation%20--%20vision%20of%20John.jpgThe Twenty-Fifth in a Series of Sermons on the Book of Revelation

The harlot Babylon has seduced the kings of the earth with her wealth, power and beauty.  John is now given a glimpse of the future, when Babylon the Great will come to her appointed end.  Indeed while heaven celebrates Babylon’s fall into ruin, the nations will weep and mourn.  For the kings of the earth have committed spiritual adultery with the harlot, and her destruction will bring them to ruin as well.  But the declaration that God’s judgment is coming upon Babylon is also intended to serve as a warning to all of God’s people–flee from the evil city before it is too late.

We now turn our attention to Revelation chapter 18 and the account of the reaction from heaven and the earth to the news of the destruction of Babylon the Great.  Recall that in Revelation 17–our text last time–Babylon the Great is depicted as the great prostitute and harlot who seduces the kings of the earth, who commit spiritual adultery with her, which is idolatry.  The great city, as John calls the harlot, sits on many waters and rules over the kings of the earth, having seduced them with of the allure of her wealth and beauty.  Because of her seductive ways, the nations, kings and people who serve her, also serve her master, the beast.  John has depicted the harlot as a woman riding upon the beast, which, in apocalyptic symbolism, indicates that the harlot does the bidding of the beast and that the two of them–the beast and the harlot–have forged an unholy alliance.

As we have seen throughout the past few sermons in our on-going series on the Book of Revelation, the destruction of Babylon the Great occurs as a direct result of the seventh bowl judgment which God pours out upon the earth at the end of the age.  The bowl judgments are the third and final cycle of judgment found in the Book of Revelation.  They are connected to the time of end and are far more intense than all the other judgments, extending to all of the earth and to all of its inhabitants.  When the bowl judgments have run their course, John says, God’s wrath is complete.  And yet, God’s people are spared from his judgment because they are sealed with the name of Christ.  But all those who worship the beast and his image, including those who have taken his mark so as to buy and sell, or to avoid persecution, will bear the full fury of God’s wrath. 

We have seen how the sixth bowl judgment (the demonic deception and gathering together of the nations at Armageddon to wage war on the church) and the seventh bowl judgment (the destruction of Babylon) both occur at the time of the end, when Jesus Christ returns to judge the world, raise the dead and make all things new.  This is, as we have been pointing out, a very powerful argument against all forms of premillennialism.  Premillennialism holds that Jesus Christ returns to earth and then establishes his millennial kingdom, before judging the world when the thousand years are over.  But throughout this book, John teaches that judgment day occurs when Christ comes back–not a thousand years later.

To read the rest of this sermon:  click here   

Tuesday
Oct092007

Number 27 Must Wait

Do%20It%20for%20Joe.jpgWell that was a bummer--spanked hard by the Indians. 

Torre will be gone, who knows about Mo, Posada and A-Rod.  But since the Yankees have gone 3-14 in the play-offs the last three years, I guess its time for a change.  Yankees' fans expect to win.  With those players, with that payroll, you expect them to win.  They should win.  And they didn't.

The reality is that there's no shame in losing to the team with baseball's best record (the Indians).  No current team in baseball has gone to the play-offs even two years in a row--the Yankees have gone twelve times in a row.  But still, its not enough . . .  Steinbrenner wants that 27th world series title before he turns the reigns over to his sons.  As they say, he's the Boss.

You baseball fans know full well what's wrong with the Yankees.  Pitching, pitching and more pitching.  When your play-off starter for games one and four of a five game series has an ERA of over 18.00, you are gonna lose.  Plain and simple.

So, the season's over.  No more box scores. No more games.  I'm bummed.  I can't wait till March 2008, when pitchers and catchers report and we start all over again!  Until then, it will be one wild and woolly off-season.   

 

Monday
Oct082007

The Kingdom on Earth? Now? Obama Thinks So . . .

Obama.jpgI don't discuss politics much on this blog, but when a presidential candidate tells us that electing him to office might just bring about the kingdom on earth, it merits a response. 

When politicians say stuff like that, they have now ventured into the realm of eschatology, and bad eschatology at that!  Trying to make the point that the democrats don't have to take a backseat to the Republicans when it comes to matters of faith, Barak Obama decided to turn preacher--a temptation which gets the better of far too many a politician.  According to an article on CNN.com (Click here: CNN.com - CNN Political Ticker Obama: GOP doesn’t own faith and values «)

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"During the nearly two hour service that featured a rock band and hip-hop dancers, Obama shared the floor with the church's pastor, Ron Carpenter. The senator from Illinois asked the multiracial crowd of nearly 4,000 people to keep him and his family in their prayers, and said he hoped to be `an instrument of God.'

`Sometimes this is a difficult road being in politics,' Obama said. `Sometimes you can become fearful, sometimes you can become vain, sometimes you can seek power just for power's sake instead of because you want to do service to God. I just want all of you to pray that I can be an instrument of God in the same way that Pastor Ron and all of you are instruments of God.'

He finished his brief remarks by saying, `We're going to keep on praising together. I am confident that we can create a Kingdom right here on Earth.'"

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There's nothing worse than a politician in a pulpit or a preacher confusing the gospel with political activism.  Its just as bad when Republicans do it as when the Democrats do it. 

Christian worship is a divine service of word and sacrament.  God comes to his people to visit us with salvation, to speak to us from his word, to strengthen our faith through the sacraments, to reaffirm his covenant promises.  Christian worship is to be conducted by a minister of the gospel, called for that very purpose.  Such worship is to be supervised by elders who are supposed to make sure the minister is fulfilling his calling.  When these elements are present (the word properly preached and sacraments properly administered), you can be sure that the kingdom of God is present. 

No political pep rally and no amount of political activism will ever "bring about the kingdom" on this earth.  This is a bad example of an over-realized eschatology and an all too secularized understanding of the kingdom.  Didn't Jesus say something about his kingdom being "not of this world?"

Its painfully clear that those politicians who dare to motivate potential voters in a so-called "evangelical" church with the promises that the "kingdom might come" if they are elected to office, have accomplished nothing but demonstrating how little they truly know about the kingdom of God. 

It is also painfully clear that any church which allows them to do this hasn't got a clue about the biblical meaning of the "evangel."  A church which lets a politician into their pulpit during worship is sowing to the flesh, not to the Spirit.

Monday
Oct082007

Academy Lecture Posted

Man%20of%20sin.gifThe most recent Academy lecture has been posted on the Christ Reformed webpage (Friday, October 5).  The lecture is entitled "The Man of Lawlessness:  Nero?  The Pope?  Or Someone Yet to Come?"  Click here: Christ Reformed Info - MP3's and Real Audio (of Academy Lectures)

Saturday
Oct062007

Who Said That?

question%20mark.jpgWho Said That?

"As long as I wear it once on TV, we can charge it off."

You guys know the drill.  Leave your guesses in the comments section.  Please no google searches (or other forms of cheating)

Thursday
Oct042007

So, We Have An Image Problem . . .

George%20Barna.jpgAccording to a recent article @ Time.com, Christianity has a serious image problem (Click here: Christianity's Image Problem - TIME).  Based on Barna research, Christians are often perceived as too political, too hypocritical and far too judgmental towards homosexuals.

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"Barna polls conducted between 2004 and this year, sampling 440 non-Christians (and a similar number of Christians) aged 16 to 29, found that 38% had a `bad impression' of present-day Christianity. `It's not a pretty picture' the authors write. Barna's clientele is made up primarily of evangelical groups.

Kinnaman says non-Christians' biggest complaints about the faith are not immediately theological: Jesus and the Bible get relatively good marks. Rather, he sees resentment as focused on perceived Christian attitudes. Nine out of ten outsiders found Christians too `anti-homosexual,' and nearly as many perceived it as `hypocritical' and `judgmental.' Seventy-five percent found it `too involved in politics.'

Not only has the decline in non-Christians' regard for Christianity been severe, but Barna results also show a rapid increase in the number of people describing themselves as non-Christian. One reason may be that the study used a stricter definition of `Christian' that applied to only 73% of Americans. Still, Kinnaman claims that however defined, the number of non-Christians is growing with each succeeding generation: His study found that 23% of Americans over 61 were non-Christians; 27% among people ages 42-60; and 40% among 16-29 year olds. Younger Christians, he concludes, are therefore likely to live in an environment where two out of every five of their peers is not a Christian.

Churchgoers of the same age share several of the non-Christians' complaints about Christianity. For instance, 80% of the Christians polled picked `anti-homosexual' as a negative adjective describing Christianity today. And the view of 85% of non-Christians aged 16-29 that present day Christianity is `hypocritical—saying one thing doing another,' was, in fact, shared by 52% of Christians of the same age. Fifty percent found their own faith `too involved in politics.' Forty-four percent found it `confusing.'"

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I wonder if this would still be the case if Christian preachers emphasized what Francis Schaeffer once called "true truth," i.e., that it is far more important that Christianity is true than it is that Christianity is useful.  How many of those who thought Christians were too judgmental have ever heard a sermon in which law and gospel were properly distinguished?  How many have ever heard that Christ's death is absolutely sufficient to save even the worst of sinners and that his blessed righteousess will cover them on the day of judgment?  My guess is that not one of those who thought Christianity was too political has ever heard someone explain the two kingdoms from a Reformed perspective.

Seems to me that what the church is missing is the kind of stuff we've been emphasizing on the White Horse Inn for years (Click here: The White Horse Inn: Know What You Believe & Why You Believe It).

1).  An emphasis upon Christianity's unique truth claim

2).  A proper distinction between law and gospel (as set forth in classical covenantal/Reformed theology)

3).  Justification by an imputed righteousness received through faith alone 

4).  A proper distinction between the two kingdoms

Recovering these emphases would go a long way toward fixing our image problem! 

Far more important, this will help recover the prophetic quality of true evangelical preaching and which is so often absent from the pulpit.  We reap what we sow.

 

Thursday
Oct042007

The Perils of Finding a Minister on Craig's List

Pastor%20Rip%20Off.jpgIt seems like bizarre clergy stories come in bunches.  This one may just take the cake.

According to an article on Katu.com (a TV station in Portand, OR), Shawn Sonnenschien and his fiance Kitty, wanted to get married but didn't have a pastor.  So, they found a minister who advertised her services on Craig's List.  The wedding went off as planned, but the newlyweds were surprised that their 75 or so guests left so few presents.  The couple dealt with their disappointment just fine, until they realized that their guests had planned all along to give them gift cards from Home Depot to help the newlyweds complete repairs to their home.

Turns out that the guests were quite generous.  The problem was that minister-ette they hired to do their ceremony had swiped all the gift cards!  Surveillance tapes at the local Home Depot showed the rent-a-reverend cashing them in (Click here: Reverend accused of stealing couple's gift cards | KATU - Portland, Oregon | Local & Regional).

OK, no more of these for a while . . . 

Thursday
Oct042007

Upcoming Academy Class -- "The Man of Lawlessness: Nero? The Pope? Or Someone Else?"


man%20of%20sin%20full%20cover.jpgOur next Academy lecture will deal with Paul's mysterious "man of lawlessness" in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12.  Preterists see this as already fuflilled.  Historicists identify this figure with the papacy.  Dispensationalists see this as a future antichrist betraying Israel in a rebuilt temple.  Reformed amillennarians tend to see this image as an ever-present threat, culminating in a final Antichrist.

If you live in the Southern California area, we invite you to join us this coming Friday (October 5,) for this, the second in a four part series of lectures entitled "Eschatology and the Antichrist."

As always, the lecture is free of charge, begins @ 7:30 p.m. and is followed by a time for Q & A.

Come out and join us!  It would be great to meet you.

For more information or access to MP3 and Real Audio files of past lectures, Click here: Christ Reformed Info - Schedule of Academy Classes and Author's Forums.

Wednesday
Oct032007

Priest's Revenge Backfires

Suing%20his%20church.jpgRemember the Seinfeld episode in which Jerry decides to heckle a woman while she's at work because the same woman had heckled him on stage the night before?  The moral is "how would hecklers like it, if they got heckled?"

Here is a case of a priest who played someone's phone message complaining about his sermon to the entire congregation.  "How would you like it if I turned the tables and complained about your complaint?" 

The man in question (Angel Llavona) didn't like it one bit.  Llavona had complained about his priest's sermon, leaving a message on the priest's answering machine.  "Father Rios, this is Angel Llavona. I attended mass on Sunday and I have seen poor homilies, but yesterday broke all records."  The priest was a tad miffed, so the next Sunday he played Llavona's phone message to the assembled congregation (which just happened to include Mr. Llavona).  Rios then asked the congregation, "what should we do?  Should we send him (Mr. Llavona) to Hell or to another Parish?"

Not surprisingly, Mr. Llavona is suing the priest and the diocese for emotional distress from embarrassment and humiliation. (Click here: Priest's response to criticism leads to lawsuit :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Metro & Tri-State).

The moral to the story here is "don't publicly humiliate those who complain about your preaching."  Or at least make sure they are not in the congregation when you do!

All kidding aside, this is one of the reasons why we in the Reformed tradition have elder visits (the elders come and visit church members), so that if the preaching is not meeting the needs of the congregation it can be discussed privately and dealt with by those elders who are responsible for overseeing the work of their pastor. 

Wednesday
Oct032007

Top 50 Evangelical Authors

ECPA.jpg

According to the ECPA, here's a list of the current top 50 "best-selling" evangelical authors (Click here: ECPA E-LINK).  A list like this tells us a great deal about the state and health of American evangelicalism.

Alcorn, Randy C.
Alexander, Shaun
Arterburn, Stephen
Beers, Ron
Bell, Rob
Blackaby, Henry T.
Brunstetter, Wanda E.
Chapman, Gary
Cloud, Henry
Colbert, Don
Collins, Brandilyn
Dekker, Ted
DeMoss, Nancy Leigh
Dungy, Tony
Eggerichs, Emerson
Eldredge, John
Ethridge, Shannon
Feldhahn, Shaunti
Gregory, David
Hagee, John
Heavilin, Marilyn
Henderson, Dee
Hybels, Bill
Jakes, T. D.
Jeremiah, David
Kilgore, Kay Wheeler
Kingsbury, Karen
LaHaye, Tim
Lewis, Beverly
Lucado, Max
MacArthur, John
McGraw, Robin
Meyer, Joyce
Miller, Donald
Moore, Beth
Oke, Janette
Omartian, Stormie
Osteen, Joel
Piper, Don
Rice, Helen Steiner
Rivers, Francine
Rosenberg, Joel C.
Shepherd, Sheri Rose
Strobel, Lee
Warren, Rick
Weaver, Joanna
Wick, Lori
Yancey, Philip

Novels, fluff, counseling, and "how to" stuff clearly dominates.  MacArthur and Strobel seem to be the only exceptions.