Staff's ROD

Our 13th and last emphatic belief is "those who are more interested in the return of Christ, rather than the returning Christ, are to be avoided."  A short review of the history of reprobates should prove this point.

 

In December of 999 AD, a great frenzy spread across Europe – the end of the world was less than 1 month away. Churches were flooded with confessions and possessions, debts were forgiven, prisoners freed, and merchants refused payments for goods. Many of the sick begged to be placed outdoors to see Christ's descent from heaven. Pope Sylvester II held a mid-night mass at St. Peter's in Rome, the supposed last one ever to occur on earth, and in the moments before midnight, as the church bells sounded, enemies embraced each other with the kiss of peace. But nothing happened.  The aftermath left behind a wake of disillusionment, especially when churches refused to return people's possessions.

 

In 1843, William Miller from Pittsfield, MA, a captain in the War of 1812 and self-taught Bible scholar, preached the imminent return of Christ across the United States.  Using Daniel's prophecy of 2300 days, Miller predicted Christ's return on March 21, 1843 by arguing that all mentions of days in all prophecy meant 'years'.  After the date came and went, he adjusted it to March 21, 1844 by correcting a 1-year mistake. His ever-fervent teachings impacted the Northeastern US, with his ardent followers selling homes and businesses, and leaving crops in the field to 'flee Sodom'. The second date likewise was uneventful.  Miller's unphased followers audited his calculations, found another error, and set another date (Oct. 22, 1844).  Obviously, that didn't pan out – but Adventism was born.

 

Some were embarrassed and gave up, but not all. Ellen G. White had an answer:  Jesus did return in 1844, but invisibly. (Her "visions" helped reinvigorate their members.) Jonas Swendahl also had an answer: 1844 was the beginning of the last generation and predicted Christ's return in 1874. While him and his date were forgotten, a zealot out of the Covenanters Reformed camp from Allegheny, PA, one Charles Taze Russell, was influenced by Swendahl and joined the movement. He came up with a date of 1914, but this and other differences led him to split from the Adventists and launch Zion's Watchtower.  His followers were to leave their churches and fellowship together. All churches were considered apostate, but God had provided a new channel for their instruction, Zion's Watchtower Tract Society, which in turn became known as the Jehovah's Witnesses.  The date of 1914 was changed to 1925, 1941, and 1975.

 

Jesus plainly said, Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

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Our 12th emphatic belief is "that the historic (not dispensational) pre-millennial eschatology is an acceptable alternate view." Why would we make such an allowance? And why not allow dispensationalism?

 

First, let's understand the differences between historic and dispensational premillennialism.  In the Reformed camp, both the a-mil and historic pre-mil were accepted views, differing only on their interpretation of two (2) end-time passages (Rom 11:26 all Israel; Rev 20:2-7 thousand years). Such a relatively minor disagreement does not serve to overthrow the vast majority of agreement between the two positions, nor warrant ecclesiastical separation among the already few faithful who defend the doctrines of grace.  Dispensational pre-mils employ strictly literal interpretations to arrive at their conclusions of multiple eras yielding differing plans of salvation, while the church is a mere parenthesis until God gets back in the game with National Israel, refitted with a new temple, sacrifices and offerings, Levitical priests, etc.

 

Quoting George E. Ladd in The Meaning of the Millennium: Four Views, he writes: "[Historic pre-mil] is the doctrine stating that after the second coming of Christ, He will reign for a thousand years over the earth before the final consummation of God's redemptive purpose in the new heavens and the new earth of the age to come."   Whereas dispensationalism employs a strictly literal hermeneutic, our historic pre-mil brethren "identify the church as spiritual Israel. A vivid illustration is found in Romans 9:24, where Paul talks about us whom He has called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles."  Mr. Ladd points out that Paul cites Hosea 2:23, a passage "which refers to a literal, national Israel, [yet] Paul deliberately takes these two prophecies about the future salvation of Israel and applies them to the church, [which consisting] of both Jews and Gentiles, has become the people of God.  The church is spiritual Israel ..."

 

Second, there is some tradition that our early church fathers such as Irenaeus, Polycarp, Justin Martyr and Papias (a disciple of the Apostle John) appear to have held pre-mil views (hence the term, 'historic'). More modern proponents include Dr. John Gill, Charles Spurgeon, Francis Schaeffer and Gordon Clark.  If some of these names surprise you, it's because they did not suffer their eschatology to eclipse their soteriology

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Our 11th emphatic belief states our position "in a gospel millennium (or, A-millennial) view of the end-times". This view precludes a glorious future for National Israel, rejecting the idea that Jesus will return to rule from Jerusalem just like other kings and rulers do – without the church, which will be raptured up to heaven.  A key phrase used to justify this view is Romans 11:26a, which says and so all Israel shall be saved.  Doesn't that support some sort of national restoration, and a comprehensive salvation, for the Jews? 

 

Let's think about that some more.  Which Jews would be saved: every single Jew since Abraham, including Israel's wicked Kings and Judas? Those in existence only when Jesus returns? In Romans 2:28 the Apostle distinguishes two types of Jews: those outward in the flesh, and the inward Jew circumcised in heart. The elect Jews are true Israel, just as elect Gentiles are the Israel of God. He repeats this truth in Rom. 9:6-8 and 11:2.

 

Also, what does and so mean?  Most read it as if though it says, "and then", as if Paul means a time frame; however, in the Greek, and so means "in this manner".  What manner is that?  The one Paul described in Romans chapters 10 and 11, where he also told us which Israel is in view.

 

A key conclusion of Romans 10 is that most Jews of yesterday and today are not saved.  God's reason as to why they aren't right with Him stems from their absence of faith in Christ, and not their lack of election. These zealous but unsaved Jews are ignorant of Christ and His righteousness.  You must confess Christ to be saved, and to confess Christ, you have to hear about Him.  Although the Jews heard God's Word, God promises that the Gentiles will end up finding God, which should provoke ethnic Jews to seek Him.  Yet, there is an ever-present condition of God's promised hand of wrath against National Israel.  The reader is left with a large paradox at the end of Romans 10; namely, how can His wrath be upon the Jews after the flesh all day long, yet also declare they'll be provoked to jealousy unto salvation?  This is the big mystery that ought to be in our minds as we enter into Romans 11.

 

Romans 11 can be summarized as follows.  In wrath, God blinded the non-elect Jews eternally and irrevocably; however, there is still a tiny remnant according to the election of grace at this present time -- neither visible nor (yet) saved.  When the Jews rejected the Messiah, the gospel went forth boldly to the Gentiles, which is a glorious for them.  Gentiles partake of the same salvation the elect Jews of old enjoyed, with all its rich blessings.  Gentiles are not graft into the Old Covenant, nor into National Israel, but into Jesus Christ, Who is the holy Root.  Thus, God is saving all of His elect, the true spiritual Jews, and only them. This is how God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all, where all refers to Jews and Gentiles.  Learn more at HoldingFast.net/End-Times, or read O. Palmer Robertson's The Israel of God for a more comprehensive treatment.

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Our 11th emphatic belief states our position "in a gospel millennium (or, A-millennial) view of the end-times". This is an historic position held by the church for millennia but has wavered in and out of favor depending on current world events. So what is it, and why do we hold it emphatically?

 

Millennium means a period of 1,000 years and refers to 6 verses in Revelations 20, correctly regarded as referring to the time of the end. People are pigeonholed in a prophetic position based on their perspective of this period.  John's apocalypse is consistent with God's other prophetic passages, mixing literal and spiritual; and thus 1,000 years refers to the entire NT period, when Christ will build My church. The Reformers (Calvin, Luther, Knox, Zwingli, etc.), Louis Berkhof, Matthew Henry, and J. Gresham Machen held this position.  So did Clement (c. 90), Barnabus (c. 100), Justin Martyr (c. 160), Irenaeus (c. 180), and Augustine (c. 413). Watch "About The Millennnium" at the Holding Fast series in Revelation, or read A.A. Hodge's chapter on eschatology for helpful a-mil expositions.

 

We don't believe something because a multitude does, but because it has Scriptural warrant.  Rev. 20:1-6 represents a scene in heaven, and makes no mention of the Jews, of an earthly and national kingdom, nor of the land of Palestine, as the place where Jesus will rule. Jesus introduced the concept of a first and second resurrection when He said the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live (the 1st resurrection, of a dead spirit in salvation) ... and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation (the 2nd resurrection, of the body). Furthermore, the kingdom of God is spiritual and universal.  Jesus said the kingdom of God is within you, and He told Pilate my kingdom is not of this world. Paul wrote that God hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son and that the Lord will preserve me unto His heavenly kingdom.  Jesus told Nicodemus except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.  All of that combined strongly indicates a kingdom not made of this current order.

 

Young people taught a pre-mil view comfortably stray from their religious upbringing, because when Christ returns, they miss a few rewards but get a second chance. Instead, it's judgment day with no second chance. 

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Our last review summarized all 18 requirements for elder from Titus and 1 Timothy.  This article focuses on the particulars of our 10th emphatic belief that church leaders are to be married men with children in subjection, and women cannot be ordained as pastors, teachers or deacons.

 

First, let's look at the marital requirements for elder.  20 out of 21 translations render the Greek aner as husbandand simply put, a single man cannot be a husband.  This is not optional, as Paul uses the word must which is the same must Jesus uses in John 3, ye must be born again.  A man cannot qualify even if he is a "one woman man in his heart", as some try to render it.  Further, he is to be the husband of one wife, which rules out a divorced man, as well as a divorced-and-remarried man. (This does not dismiss an Elder who loses his wife to death while in office.) 

 

That he must be married with children is reinforced when Paul says he is one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (for if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)  A man cannot have a house, so to speak, without children; nor does it refer to a man's spiritual house, as Paul reserves that for the church of God.  The man's family is his first pastorate.  If he cannot take moldable human clay from infancy to adulthood, producing children subject to authority, how will he handle hardened sinners coming to faith in the church? God gives the church clear proof of whom He approves.  In fact, seminaries only produce a man apt to teach while ignoring the other 17 requirements.

 

"Wait, wasn't the Apostle Paul a single man?  He referred to himself as an Elder."  There's three problems with that: (i) Paul is an Apostle first and foremost, holding a higher office than Elder; (ii) Paul himself is telling us that Elders must be married, thus ruling out any comparison to himself; and (iii) I've documented nine (9) reasons why Paul likely was, in fact, a married man.  You can read that here. Assoc. Prof. Denny Burk likewise lists seven (7) reasons why he believes Paul had been married. 

 

That women cannot be ordained officers is made clear when Paul writes, I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. Find more resources on this topic here.

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Our 10th emphatic belief states "that the Bible provides clear but strict rules for identifying and ordaining church leaders (married men with children in subjection; no women pastors, teachers or deacons)".  This week, we simply supply the Biblical data behind this strong stance, which is increasingly at odds with common church practices these days.

 

Quals per Tit. 1:6-9

Quals per 1Tim. 3:1-7

Reasons Given

Blameless (twice)

Blameless

As the steward of God

Husband of one wife

Husband of one wife

 

 

One that ruleth well his own house

 

Having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly

Having his children in subjection with all gravity

For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?

Not selfwilled

 

 

Not soon angry

 

 

 

Patient

 

Not given to wine

Not given to wine

 

No striker

No striker

 

 

Not a brawler

 

Not given to filthy lucre

Not greedy of filthy lucre

 

 

Not covetous

 

A lover of hospitality

Given to hospitality

 

A lover of good men

 

 

Sober

Sober

 

Just, Holy

 

 

Temperate

Vigilant (Temperate); of good behavior

 

Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught

Apt to teach

That he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.

 

Not a novice

Lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil

 

Must have a good report of them which are without

Lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil

 

wives must be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things

 

Legend: Black = 1 mention, Red = 2 or more mentions given, Yellow Highlight = Reason given, Bold italic = Several of these!

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Our 9th emphatic belief states "that psalms, hymns and spiritual songs should be used to regulate our worship, and to distinguish our gatherings from the world."  We also take exception to WCF's suggestion of exclusive Psalmody (WCF chapter XXI, para V), as noted by the phrase, "singing of psalms with grace in the heart".

 

We at Mission Bible Church employ what is known as the regulative principle of worship, meaning we allow Scriptures to regulate how we worship God.  If you've done any reading through the OT, Israel fell into great troubles with God when they messed up worship.  It's no different in the NT, as a review of the seven churches of Revelation reveals. This particular point of doctrine relates to music, which is always a touchy area.

 

Basically, we take Eph. 5:19 and Col. 3:16 as our guidance for music in worship, both of which instruct us to sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. We understand these to be three different types of music, and not only referring to Psalms, as some try to interpret it.  Psalms are to be sung by the congregation, because they're divinely inspired pieces of music.  (This should also include the song of Moses in Exodus 15, Deborah's song in Judges 5, as well as one in Habakkuk 3.) Why wouldn't we want to sing God's Words back to Him?

 

God also writes, sing unto the LORD a new songno less than six (6) times.  It was John Murray who won the day in a debate over exclusive Psalmody by asking, "Can I not sing in the name of Jesus Christ, Who was not known by that name in the OT?"  Hymns are traditional songs that glorify God, are time-honored, and have an external focus. Bernard of Clairvaux, Isaac Watts, John Newton, Horatius Bonar, and Martin Luther are a few men who wrote timeless hymns of praise to God our Saviour.  Spiritual songs are noted by their use of personal pronouns (I, me, my), being more testimonial and inward focusing.  Such belong to Fanny Crosby, John Peterson, Ira Sankey, and other authors of "hymns for informal worship".

 

It is hard to write a doctrinally sound piece of music that the congregation can sing.  We thank the Lord for the Trinity Hymnal.

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Our 8th emphatic belief states that "in the New Covenant, we walk by faith in God's promises, not by Moses' law".  This is a point of contention we have with some of the language in the Westminster Confessions, which repeatedly speaks of the law as the believer's binding rule of life (WCF XIX.6; LC Q# 93, 97; SC #40).  By "law", they mean "moral law", an extra-biblical term.  When the Apostle Paul speaks of "the law", he means "Moses' covenant".  This seems like hair-splitting, but God's Word informs us directly as to our rule of life, and we seek to use His language. 

 

We can't call the law our rule of life. The law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did. The promise to Abraham was not through the lawbut through the righteousness of faith. In fact, if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise. Paul boldly states that the law is not of faith, and that the law is not made for a righteous man. 

 

You probably know that by grace are ye saved through faith, that both Jews and Gentiles are justified by faithwe have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand and are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. It was unbelief, a life void of the rule of faith, which condemned many Jews, who sought righteousness not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law.

 

In addition, we are sanctified by faith in Christ Jesus, who is made unto us sanctification.  Consider Hebrews 11's list of Old Testament saints who lived victoriously by faith. When New Testament (NT) believers in Galatia started to revert to Moses' covenant, Paul asks are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? 

 

The Bible tells us our rule of life: we walk by faith and not by sight.  Paul, expert in Moses' law, said the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.  If ever there was a place to say, "Christians live by the law", he would have said so.  We live by faithstand by faith, and walk by faith. You will not find these phrases in the NT: "live by law", "stand by law", or "walk by law". Of course, if you preach this, men will accuse you of antinomianism (just like Paul was).  As we said before, we do not make void the law by faith, but establish it. 

 

Christians ask, "What would Jesus do?", not Moses.

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Our 7th emphatic belief states "that any teaching aiming to destroy the role of the law of God is incorrect."  This point addresses antinomian accusations before we get to our 8th point, which we explain next week.  So what is antinomianism?

 

Anti means 'against', and nomos refers to the law; hence, it is a system of teaching dismissing God's law from any role in a believer's life. Webster's dictionary defines it as "one who holds that, under the gospel dispensation of grace, the moral law is of no use or obligation because faith alone is necessary to salvation."  It is closely related to easy-believism (i.e., just believe in Jesus, no need to repent), but it is the total opposite of legalism.  What is at issue is the role of God's law for NT Christians.

 

The Bible is clear a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ. We are saved 1,000% by God's grace plus zero works.  This is the doctrine of justification.  The law (i.e. the Mosaic covenant) cannot save, as it was never designed to do so.  God through Paul wrote the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane.  The law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did.

 

He also asks, Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law. Believers "establish" (lit, cause to stand) the law by telling others how comprehensive it truly is, reaching into men's hearts and thoughts.  Believers see it, fear, and obey; unbelievers don't.

 

However, when you preach and teach this, you'll be accused of promoting a lawless lifestyle – just like the Apostle was (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say, Let us do evil, that good may come)!  No, true believers have a new-found fear of God and His righteous statutes, finding repentance a sweet and needful thing in their life.  The process of sanctification begins after their new birth.  They know they can't keep God's commandments perfectly, but it is their goal, and they agree with God that He is right. The Psalmist cries, O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes! Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments. Their enlightened eyes know the law is our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, and they're happy for it.

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Our 6th emphatic belief states "that dispensational teaching, though containing much truth, fails to fully mesh significant doctrines of Scripture, particularly viewing some Old Testament Prophecies as unfulfilled".  What is dispensationalism, and why is it incorrect?

 

Dispensationalism divides redemptive history into distinct epochs, breaking up the unity of the covenant of grace. It holds that there are two parallel people of God (Israel, the church), with necessity of faith in Christ diminished for the Jews.  Many of the early dispensationalists (Scofield, for example) were Presbyterian, and Presbyterians as recent as James Montgomery Boice held to dispensational characteristics, such as prophecies fulfilled in the nation of Israel in 1948.  Scofield's KJV Reference Bible affected Presbyterians and Baptists alike.  Scofield clearly disagreed with the Westminster Confession on the covenant of works and grace. Consider this comment from his reference Bible out of John 1:17 (as cited from puritanboard.com): 

 

"As a dispensation, grace begins with the death and resurrection of Christ, Rom. 3:24-26 4:24,25. The point of testing is no longer legal obedience as the condition of salvation, but acceptance or rejection of Christ, with good works as a fruit of salvation, Jn 1:12,13; 3:36; Mt 21:37; 22:24; Jn 15:22,25; Heb 1:2; 1 Jn 5:10-12. The immediate result of this testing was the rejection of Christ by the Jews, and His crucifixion by Jew and Gentile, Acts 4:27. The predicted end of the testing of man under grace is the apostasy of the professing church °".  

 

Dispensationalism teaches God has a different plan of salvation for each dispensation.  Though verses are cited, this is wrongly dividing the word of truth. Compare this with the WCF VII. 5-6 (back page).

 

And what of Israel and the alleged unfulfilled land promises?  Joshua wrote the Lord gave unto Israel all the land which He sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein. And the Lord gave them rest round about, according to all that He sware unto their fathers: ° There failed not ought of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass (Josh 21:43-45; cp Neh 9:7-8). Yet, there remains a Jewish remnant according to the election of grace.

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