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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

What Happens To Believers Who Die During the 1,000 Year Reign of Christ?

What happens to aged believers during the 1,000 year reign of Christ upon the earth? Do they die? Go to heaven? 1. Rev. 20:14 says that death is not destroyed until the end of the 1,000 years. There is no reason why physical death can't exist on the planet during Christ's reign. A Christian doesn't become instantly holy the moment Christ reigns in his heart, so there's no reason why the earth would become instantly perfect physical the moment Christ visibly reigns from Jerusalem 2. So people still die during the 1,000 reign. The world is a tremendously better place during the 1,000 years, but it still isn't a perfect world. One of the minor prophets predict that nations like Egypt or Ethiopia will still rebel from time to time (Zechariah 14:16-19). These are not symbols, any more than the Messiah being born in Bethlehem was a symbol. 3. Those who die as unbelievers will be raised and judged at the end of the 1,000 years. Revelation 20:13. 4. What happens to believers who grow old and die during that time? The Bible doesn't say straight out. So dogmatism is not justified. 5. However, there is no need for them to go to heaven, since Christ has already returned to the earth. 6. God has directly transformed mortal believers into their immortal bodies before. God did that to Enoch and to Elijah, both of whom were translated into glory without dying. Their examples might be why some people make the educated guess that an aged believer would transform directly into their glorious new bodies, at some point in time

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Other Preacher At Lynchburg

While waiting at Georgetown College during my daughter's tutoring appointment, I read a fascinating little book titled "The Other Preacher At Lynchburg", by Dr. John Killinger. Killinger was an extremely liberal pastor who lived and worked in Lynchburg during the early 1980s. The book is an expose' against Jerry Falwell. I never especially liked Falwell at the time, and the more we learn as years go by, the more I never want to be like him. But I also thought that it's easy to make one's self look good, if you pit yourself against an obnoxious colossus, and that's what Killinger's book does. It is basically a self-flattering book by a man who calls himself a Christian, but based on the pillars of Christian orthodoxy was not one

Should You Get a 3-Day Vacation and a Plaque For Highest Number of Baptisms?

I misread a date, and as a result missed going to a evangelism conference with a friend. But my friend thinks maybe I should be glad I didn't go. According to him, they gave out applause, prizes and plaques to the preachers whose churches had baptized the greatest number of people. One preacher even got a three-day vacation stay at a resort! My friend is right, I would have sat there feeling appalled. Beside the fact that preachers often aren't the ones who actually led the particular people to Christ (more likely it was the believers in the congregation), whoever heard of rewarding preachers for baptisms like they were Kroger managers breaking quarterly sales goals? These convention was handing out plaques, while Paul in 1st Corinthians was saying that he and Apollos were nothing. Huge disconnect there between Scripture and practice.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Circularity of Calvinist Teachings on Assurance.

This from Arminian Perspectives blog:

"So for Calvin and Piper, confidence of perseverance is tied up in being regenerate, and it is not at all clear how one can be sure she is regenerate unless she perseveres (to the end) in the faith (a problem of circularity that effectively kills assurance). So the bigger problem for Piper is that he cannot be sure that he will wake up every morning as a believer because his faith may, in fact, be spurious. The only way that he can have confidence that his bedtime faith is not spurious and that he will wake up each morning as a [true] believer is if he in fact wakes up each morning as a [true] believer. So he can have no real confidence at all that he will wake up tomorrow morning, or any other morning, as a believer. In short, he is guilty of wishful thinking and nothing more. Again, the main problem for Piper is how he can know that he is even going to bed a true believer and not a deluded hypocrite. There is simply no way to be sure of this if Calvinism is true."

I entirely agree with this blogger. There is a great deal in Reformed theology that destroys any possibility of assurance of your own right standing with God. You cannot make perseverance in faith a condition for assurance of your own salvation, since there is no way for you to know whether you will in fact keep on believing twenty years from now. You cannot make the cross a basis for assurance, since Christ only died for the elect, only God knows who the elect are, and you might be a deluded victim of what Calvin called "false faith" -- a false, non-saving faith that so closely mimics real faith that it is impossible for the person himself to tell them apart. The effect of Reformed doctrine in this area is to promote mystical and moral subjectivism -- I must be one of the elect because I had an experience, and because I am acting good today.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

John Fletcher's Chronic Confusion

I have been reading selected works by John Fletcher, John Wesley's close associate. I am amazed how confused he was about salvation by grace. Instead of recognizing that the Bible sometimes spoke of eternal life by law and in other places spoke of eternal life by grace (with the first being impossible for any sinner to attain), Fletcher and Wesley habitually compounded grace and law into one. So if a Bible passage spoke of eternal life by doing good -- say, Jesus' instructions to the rich young ruler who didn't think he was a sinner, or Paul's words about attaining eternal life through continuously doing good from Romans 2 -- they always assumed that these were talking about the Gospel! They seem completely blind to the fact that the Old testament Law also offered eternal life, on the condition of perfect obedience. As a result of their partisan biases and poor interpretive principles, Wesley and Fletcher confusedly mingled passages together that should have been kept distinct, like yoking a donkey to an oxen. Paul was clear that salvation was by faith from first to last (Romans 1:17). In their obsessive anxiety over the sin of lawlessness (which they called antinomianism), they ignore legalism. They preached that you started off your initial salvation by faith, but you attain final salvation by good works. But many of their opponents were hyper-Calvinists like the Rev. John Gill, so that made Wesley and Fletcher look better in contrast. Thy assumed that any time the Bible promised eternal life, it automatically was talking about the Gospel, and because of that fundamental error, they ended up preaching salvation by works.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Mental Illness

There is a great deal of personality dysfunction that is rooted in foolish heart-attitudes. Bitterness, for example, warps the personality. Arrogance leads to violence. Just taking a pill isn't going to cure these things. Only repentance will work. But what about the unseen world? Messing around with the occult opens the mind up to demons. Demons are real, and they cause distortions of the mind and of moral desires and choices. The Gerasene demoniac would not have cut himself, or lived among the tombs, or been maniacally violent, except for his demonic possession. As soon as Christ cast out the evil spirits, his bizarre behaviors ceased. But thirdly: as long as our minds (which are spiritual, and not caused by our brains) are bonded to our bodies, then the sickness of our bodies can impact our minds. The Biblical doctrine of the fallenness of nature, combined with the Biblical view of man as a single, unitary being, means that there is such a thing as mental illness. The skeptic H.L. Mencken once wrote that for every complicated problem there is a simple, easy solution that is invariably wrong. We pastors often fall into this trap. We need to remember there are three possible explanations for mental dysfunction, and possibly a combination of all three. Sinful heart attitudes are one. Spiritual warfare is a second. Biological breakdown is a third. All three are real, and it isn't easy to discern what's going on. We should beware thinking in a simple-minded way.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Jealousy In the Ministry

I am reading a really good book on the life and ministry of Francis Schaeffer, but in the middle of it I felt convicted. There are Christian ministers I admire, and Schaeffer was one of them. But I can be so easily tempted to cross a line, from feeling inspired by someone else's example, to feeling jealous of their achievements. God created the scope of Schaeffer's work for him. I should not compare myself to the scope of his accomplishments, or anyone's accomplishments. Sometimes ministers are held up to young Christian men with the idea that we should drive to imitate them. Billy Graham, Francis Schaeffer, D.L. Moody, John Piper, it could be anyone. It is good to see what was admirable about other ministers, and try to imitate their virtues. It is not good to covet the scope of their influence or breadth of accomplishment. It just now occurs to me that some of those judges in the book of Judges -- the ones you learn almost nothing about, or who judged for only short periods of time -- might turn out to have been better judges than the well-known ones like Gideon.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Why Orderly Bible Preaching Is Better Than Topical Messages.

Expository Bible preaching grates against the consumer tastes of our age. The expository preacher presents God's Word in an orderly way, explains the meaning, and then applies. Bible exposition presents the Bible in this way: "Life is about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The Bible is the only way God has given us so that we can savingly know Him. This book is God's unique Word. So, not only will this book give you answers, it will also challenge you to ask different questions." Bible exposition respects the authority of God's Word. The consumer mentality says, "No, life is about me. Life is about my issues, my questions, my needs. And I define my own needs. Don't tell me to stand before the Bible as if I will ever answer to it. It's job, and your job, is to please me. So I will go hear someone who will speak to my issues, with the entertainment factor I enjoy, giving me answers that I like.", And so our topical series are tailored to suit that spirit. As a result, our people are spiritually weak, sick, and many are unconverted. Topical preaching is sometimes good for pulpit counseling, or when there's been a crisis in the community. But the difference between expository preaching and typical topical preaching is like the difference between whole-grain bread and Pop-Tarts. People like Pop-Tarts. Yes, there is some nutrition in a Pop-Tart. But whole-grain bread is better, if long-term health and vitality is your goal. The apostle Paul said, "I have not withheld from you the whole counsel of God."

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Trimming Down the Blog

What I've chosen to do is trim out a lot of old repetitive, or poorly-written posts from over the years, but leave better ones in place. I like my writing less as I go backward in time, but some of the old posts have been helpful to people (judging by the number of hits, and feedback I've received over the years). I plan to start a new blog that will be devoted to Bible helps and commentary, in contrast to this one which tends to be topical and more dealing with controversies. So I'll leave this one up, and add to it from time to time. Once I have the new website going, I'll let people know. If you wait until you're perfect to do something, you'll never to do anything.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

An Improver Vs. A Gadfly

Don't make it your ambition to be an organizational gadfly! Gadflys zip around, looking for places to land so they can bite or sting. I remember an outdoor pool at a farmhouse where we once stayed for vacation when I was a kid. It was right next to a horse pasture, and when the horses were grazing nearby, these horrible looking, hairy black horse-flies would try to land on us and bite us. We had to duck underneath the water to avoid them. That's the gadfly -- the chronic critic. People duck to get away from you, if they see you coming. People who are bright and analytic can be tempted to become gadflys, because they can see problems before other people do, or at least verbalize the complaints that others just dully feel. This is a pride trap, because you can make yourself feel like you're really something by constantly catching other people in their foibles. Gadflys seldom have a well-thought-out plan for positive reform. They just sting away at the faults of others, and make themselves feel smarter because they point their fingers better. Criticism, not as an emotional attribute but as a function of reason, is a necessary part of clear thinking. If we can't compare and contrast between bad, good, better, and best, nothing improves. But criticizing simply because it delights us is a strange, offensive form of self-indulgence.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A True Church

There is an important difference between being a true church and being a mature church. The classic (and Biblical) definition of a church is the place where the Gospel is preached truly, the ordinances are celebrated truly, and spiritual-life training is happening. There are dozens of other problems that can plague a church, including indifference to the world, indifference to the poor, and indifference to local and global multiplication. And they are problems that all deserve fixing. But a true Christian church is just those three basic things. God has not given us the authority to add element upon element to the meaning of "true church" as a way of creating shame. That's no better than those who deliberately create shame and fear by preaching that only the totally-sold-out-to--Jesus are really born again.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Christianity Is NOT "Nothing But Grace"!

Christianity is NOT "all grace, nothing but grace", used by worldly Christians as a justification for walking in sin. Titus 2:11-12 tells us that God's saving grace instructs us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires, and to live sensibly, righteously, and godly in this present age. Godliness and righteousness in the Bible are defined by moral law. That means that God has imposed moral law -- commandments, not suggestions -- over us, governing our lives. Law-keeping is not legalism. Law-keeping for saving grace is legalism; law-keeping as the expression of love for God and neighbor is Christianity. The cure for religious legalism is not religious immorality!

Monday, January 07, 2013

A Good Article On Family-Integrated Church Movement (From A Reformed POV) This writer pinpoints the key problems I have with the movement.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

We Need A New Generation of Persuaders!

Older Christians are shocked by how permissive the younger-than-35 generation has become, as revealed by this latest presidential vote. I am convinced that one reason the younger generation has become OK with homosexuality, gay marriage, abortion, marijuana use, etc., is because of the rise of Libertarian philosophy. The further West you move in the U.S., the more Libertarian the country becomes. Secondly, the Christian churches have done almost nothing, in an orderly way, to persuade young people of the truth of the Bible or the need for faith. Our U.S. churches have wasted 30 years on idiocy like Pensacola Revivals, Brownsville Revivals, seeker-preaching, and other shallow fads. We preach Christ as the Great Facilitator of our lives as our lives already exist -- only the "Young, Restless, and Reformed" seem to be preaching for conversion. We need a new generation of Josh MacDowells, C.S. Lewises, Francis Scheffers, and Tim Kellers, who can build a persuasive pathway from where the <30 are, to where the Lord is; and others who will teach the Bible's absolute authority over every aspect of life, including social morals.