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

 

Living in Light of Two Ages

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Wednesday
Jan212015

A Christian Jihad? Self-Defense as a New Crusade?

What do you do if you are a Christian living in an area now overrun by ISIS (say in Lebanon, Syria, or Iraq)?

According to just war theory, and at least one traditional Christian view of self-defense, one option is joining a local militia of your countrymen (or your ethnic minority, as typical in that region), take up arms, and defend the lives of your family and neighbors.  ISIS constitutes a threat real and serious enough that this may be necessary, if fleeing the area is not possible.

But some Christians facing this threat are now calling for a distinctly "Christian" militia to wage a "holy" war on Islam as a means of self-defense.  A Christian Call for Jihad.  Here is a "rubber hits the road," situation, if I've ever seen one.

While I am more than willing to cut much slack to those whose very lives are endangered by ISIS Islamists, I cringe at the sentiments spelled out by the embattled leaders of those calling for a Christian Jihad, and a new crusade as a form of self-defense.

True love is never settled by compromise, but through bloodshed. Christ said,  “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13) And the Christian militias who have risen up to fight the torrent of the Islamic sword that seeks to destroy their friends, their brethren, these are the ones who exemplify this eternal passage in the purest fashion.

These Christians are part of The New Militia, or the militia that foreshadows The New Crusade that is to come, in which Christendom will revive and destroy the enemies of God and the haters of the Cross, and establish the holy light over the wretched shadow of Satan’s darkness.

The Christian militias in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and other lands inflicted by the violent inflictions of Islam, are truly pioneers that cause us to foresee the advent of the most holy Crusade, in which nations of mighty Christendom will revive themselves, pick up the Cross and with Christ as their General, destroy the armies of the Antichrist.

One of the fighters mentioned in the article states,

I want to say also that the first enemy of us, isn’t Islam, the first enemy for us is the weak Christians that do not have the courage enough to spread the Bible

The Creed of these "Christian fighters" is chilling

Awaken, holy Christendom!
Blossom with your beautiful pedals in the spring of the holy fray!
Take your inheritance, O holy Christendom,
From the pagans who stole it away!
Conquer with Cross and Sword!
Fight for Heaven and Your Lord!
Drive out the Muslim!
Drive out the Sodomite!
Drive the devils away with all your might!
With zeal we fight for God
And all the saints of holy martyrdom
For the blood of glorious martyrs
Awaken, O Christendom

Islamic efforts to restore the Caliphate, now give rise to a call for a counter-balancing Christendom, in which all enemies of General Jesus have been defeated.  "If they want their caliphate, we'll have our renewed Christendom."  Sadly, the argument has emotional legs given the fact that modern national borders (Syria, Iraq and Lebanon) were arbitrarily drawn by the victors after World War One.  The modern national boundaries which matter to us, are virtually meaningless to people whose historic ties and ideological roots go back to their ethnic communities, and to those two religious-political empires which for centuries waged war upon each other.  

No doubt, the problems here are deep and beyond an immediate solution, but calls for a restored Caliphate or a renewed Christendom, only guarantee continuing violence and bloodshed.

Very bad things often happen when people find themselves in dire straights--the threats these Christians face real and unlike anything I'll ever likely face.  But when a legitimate case for armed self-defense is transformed into a call for a "Holy War" and a "New Crusade," it is apparent that the two kingdoms have been hopelessly confused, and the situation illustrates that until NATO and/or the UN can restore the peace, the temptation to wage war and kill your enemies in the name of Jesus will surely continue.

Self-defense and protection of your neighbor is required in the face ISIS-led bloodshed.  But Jihad, "Holy War" and a restored Christendom have little to do with legitimate self-defense.

Tuesday
Jan202015

So, What Does Your Cat Really Think of You?

Several recent studies of the manner in which cats relate to humans (like purring and rubbing on our legs), confirms what some of us have suspected all along . . .  Cats manipulate us, and they really don't like us.

Your Cat Really Doesn't Like You

 

Tuesday
Jan202015

"My Father Is Still Working" -- John 5:1-18

The Sixteenth in a Series of Sermons on the Gospel of John

You would imagine that if someone who had been lame (and an invalid) for thirty-eight years was miraculously healed, there would be great rejoicing.  You might also imagine that the man who was healed, as well as those who witnessed the healing, would be praising God for his mercy and compassion.  Yet when Jesus heals such a man in Jerusalem, the man directs those persecuting Jesus (the Jewish religious leadership) where to find him, and says not a word in gratitude or thanksgiving for all that God had done.  And then those who witness their own Messiah healing the sick as a sign that the long-expected messianic age was now underway, accuse Jesus of being a law-breaker for healing this man on the Sabbath.  But such a sad state of affairs is what we find in our text.  Human sin is not only the root cause of all our sickness and suffering, but such sin blinds us to the grace of God and causes us to hold fast to our own humanly devised traditions and self-righteous judgments.  Here we begin to see what Jesus meant when he said people love darkness rather than light because our deeds are evil.

We are continuing our series on the Gospel of John and we have made our way as far as John 5.  The scene now shifts from Galilee back to Jerusalem when Jesus returns the city to celebrate a feast of the Jews.  Although Jesus was not truly honored by the Galileans while in Galilee (they did not truly understand who he was, nor what he came to do) nevertheless, they gladly welcomed back the miracle-worker who had created such a stir through his signs and wonders in Jerusalem and in Galilee.  Jesus was Israel’s Messiah who came to usher in a new age of salvation from the guilt and power of sin–the signs and wonders were proof.  But the Jews throughout Judea and Galilee, it seems, were not concerned with the question as to whether or not Jesus might be the long-expected Messiah.  As we have seen, to this point in John’s Gospel, the Jews do not seem very concerned with the reality that human sin was the reason for the diseases and demons which plagued them.  They cannot see beyond the effect to the cause.

As the knowledge of Jesus’ miracles spread throughout both the Galilee and Judea, so too did the size of the crowds who followed him, as well as the scrutiny of his ministry by the Jewish religious leadership.  This becomes clear as we look at the structure of these early chapters of John, where we see two important things beginning to emerge.  The first thing to notice is that Jesus performs signs and wonders to confirm his identity as Israel’s Messiah and the Son of God, who, as his miracles attest, is that one promised throughout the Old Testament.  Jesus does not perform signs and wonders to create faith or attract crowds–although, we have seen, large numbers of people begin following Jesus for all the wrong reasons.  The miracles confirm faith and the truth of the word our Lord preaches.  Yet, those who are in need seek Jesus because they are desperate, not because they care about Jesus’ true identity.

Although Jesus has performed many miracles which are not reported, John has recounted three of these miraculous signs so far, two in Galilee (Jesus turning water into wine in Cana, and Jesus healing the Galilean official’s son) and one in Jerusalem (when Jesus cleansed the temple).  In John 5, John recounts a fourth sign–the healing of a lame man in Jerusalem.  All told, there will be seven of these signs in John’s Gospel, symbolic of Jesus’ entire messianic mission and only representative of the large number of miracles which Jesus performed, and which John says cannot be counted.

To read the rest of this sermon:  Click Here

Monday
Jan192015

This Week at Christ Reformed Church (January 19-25)

Sunday Morning (January 25):  Rev. Andrew Compton will be preaching.  Our Lord's Day worship service begins at 10:30 a.m.

Sunday Afternoon:  Rev. Chris Coleman will be conducting our afternoon catechism service, which begins @ 1:15 p.m.

Wednesday Night Bible Study (January 21, 2015)I am continuing my series "run through Romans" and we are working our way though Romans 12.

The Academy:  The Academy will resume on January 30, 2015, when we return to our study of Michael Horton's The Christian Faith.  We will pick up where we left up previously--chapter eight, p. 278, and Michael's discussion of the Holy Trinity.

For more information and directions, check out the Christ Reformed website:  Christ Reformed Church

 

Sunday
Jan182015

"The Prophetic Word" -- 2 Peter 1:12-21

Here's the audio from this morning's sermon:  Click Here

Sunday
Jan182015

This Week's White Horse Inn

Greater Than Moses

This week on the White Horse Inn we are continuing our study of the Book of Hebrews, focusing on chapters three and four. We are joined once more by Dennis Johnson and Zach Keele. Dennis Johnson is Professor of Practical Theology at Westminster Seminary California, and Zach Keele is the pastor of Escondido Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

Join us this week as we discuss the nature of new covenant religion and the status of those in Christ. Why does the author of Hebrews react so strongly to the idea of going back to old covenant practices? Why is the Mosaic covenant superseded now that Christ has come? On what basis should we reject old covenant worship as obsolete? While Moses was, in fact, the spokesperson for God, God himself has become the mediator of a new and better covenant that takes away the sin of the people. Join us as we continue to look at the superiority of Christ from the Book of Hebrews on the White Horse Inn.

Click Here

Friday
Jan162015

Friday Feature -- I'd Love to See Their Reunion Tour

But there won't be a Sonseed reunion tour because none of the folks in this video would now admit to being in this video.  This is what happens when you mix CCM, American religion, and 80's music--the worst of all three.

Notice too, this video has nearly eight million YouTube views.  There are a slew of parody videos as well.  Watching Sonseed is like slowing down when passing a serious car accident.  You just can't help yourself.

Even worse, can you go all day without catching yourself humming the tune?

Wednesday
Jan142015

The Fast Food Object Lesson

No doubt, many of you have seen the clever display in Dr. Jaqueline Vaughn's chiropractic office:  Two Year Old Fast Food

To make a point about the importance of good nutrition, Dr. Vaughn purchased a McDonald's cheeseburger and a Taco Bell chicken taco in early 2013.  Despite being left on display in her office for nearly two years, there is no mold, no smell, and no noticeable deterioration in either the burger or the taco.

The intended lesson for Dr. Vaughn's patients is that fast food is bad for you because of the preservative chemicals in it.

But might we draw a completely different conclusion from the same display?  If the chemicals in a McDonald's cheeseburger and a Taco Bell chicken taco have preserved them from decay for nearly two years, why won't those preservatives do the same for those who eat this stuff?  Is it not possible that eating fast food, along with the preservative chemical additives, will actually preserve the innards of those who eat it?  Look what the chemicals did for the cheeseburger and taco!  Not quite the message that Dr. Vaughn intended.

Meanwhile, I am downing my daily nutri-bullet concoction for lunch, wishing it were a McDonald's cheeseburger or a Taco Bell chicken taco.

Tuesday
Jan132015

The Sad Tale of the Rise and Fall of the Oral and Richard Roberts Empire

There was a time when Oral Roberts was world famous, and he and his son Richard regularly hobnobbed with the likes of Elvis Presley.  What has happened to the Roberts empire since the glory days of the 1980s? 

Oral Roberts died in 2009, while son Richard still presides over what is left of the massive empire built by his father (Oral Roberts Ministries).  Long since forcibly removed from control of the university his father founded in Tulsa (ORU), an older, paunchy Richard Roberts is still on television, but now languishes in televangelist obscurity on small, late-night cable channels.

Here's the whole sad story of the decline of the Roberts family empire--an object lesson about the long-term consequences of the prosperity gospel, and family-run "ministries," which are actually tributes to their founder, and an unbearable burden to their less-capable children.

The Sad Decline of Oral and Richard Roberts.  The essay is a good read, and reminds us of the fading glory of those monuments built to ourselves out of pure self-interest.

Tuesday
Jan132015

"The Man Believed the Word" -- John 4:43-54

The Fifteenth in a Series of Sermons on the Gospel of John

It was not all that long ago (the 1980-90's) when many Christian leaders told us that in order for Christianity to survive in the modern world, it must be presented as a religion of signs and wonders.  In an age of science and skepticism, these Christians argued, the best way to overcome secularism and unbelief is to do what the early church did, perform signs and wonders to prove that Christianity is worthy of consideration.  In fact, we worship not far from the church (the Anaheim Vineyard) where the modern signs and wonders movement was launched (the “third wave”).  Why mention this?  At the end of John 4 (vv. 43-54) we discover that Jesus performed signs and wonders to confirm his messianic mission and to demonstrate that he was the Son of God who was fulfilling Old Testament prophecy.  But, as we will see, Jesus did not perform miracles to attract followers and large crowds.  He did not perform signs and wonders to create faith.  Whenever people flock to Jesus because they think he is a miracle-worker who can help them, his miracles actually become an obstacle to genuine faith in God’s word of promise spoken by Jesus.

As we continue our series on the Gospel of John we come to the final section of John 4, and the account of Jesus returning to Galilee when he heals an unnamed Galilean official’s son.  Before we turn to the details of the passage and the healing which took place, there is one matter we need to address.  Since this account sounds very much like the healing of the centurion’s servant as recounted in Matthew 8:5-13, critical scholars claim that what follows in John 4 is a reference to the same event.  Critical scholars assume that John’s Gospel was not written by John (the disciple) and therefore does not contain eyewitness testimony.  So, in their view, the author of John read or was familiar with the healing of the centurion in Matthew’s account, took it as his own and modified it (garbling it in the process), and then sticks it here in John’s Gospel to make a theological point.

When I speak of critical scholars I am referring to those who assume that miracles are impossible, and that the gospels do not describe factual events and really do not need to.  The Gospels are essentially a group of “Jesus stories,” which reflect more of what the author of John thought and believed about Jesus, than what actually happened in Galilee when Jesus arrived there after returning from Jerusalem.  To the critical mind what matters is the point of the story and the experience we derive from retelling it, not whether the events described therein actually happened.  So, if you have two miracle stories in the New Testament which sound alike, critical scholars jump to the conclusion that you have two versions of the same story–the version in John’s Gospel may get the details wrong, but is inserted at this point in the Gospel to beef up the narrative and create drama as the story takes Jesus back into the Galilee region.

What critical scholars refuse to consider is that everything we have read in John so far has the ring of truth about it (the places John mentions are real places which can be located on both ancient and modern maps, the historical events fit at the right time and place as John recounts them, etc.).  John himself tells us in the last two verses of his Gospel that “this is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.  Now there are also many other things that Jesus did.  Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”  Critical scholars act as though such declarations are not important, or even that someone else (who was not an eyewitness) can write this gospel in John’s name and falsely make the claims we have just read, and supposedly such practice was commonplace.

To read the rest of this sermon, Click Here

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