Home > Bible Study, eschatology, Phil Johnson > Psalm 2, Eschatology, and Expository Preaching

Psalm 2, Eschatology, and Expository Preaching

The local pastor has often said that he learned a lot of his theology by encountering bad theology, through the process of learning how to refute it. He observed this in reference to someone in the Church of Christ, and proper understanding of salvation. In my own spiritual journey, I find how true this is — though in my case, with the local pastor’s own bad/weak theology. As I consider the words of scripture, and compare the local pastor to the teaching of more-learned pastors, I too can come to a better understanding of God’s word and recognize truth and error.

The most recent incident involves Psalm 2, a fairly short Psalm packed with lots of detail, the first of several Messianic psalms. After hearing some of the local pastor’s session through this Psalm at a recent Wednesday evening service, I listened to Phil Johnson’s sermon on this very Psalm, “The Rage of the Heathen Against a Sovereign God,” for good contrast. Interestingly enough, Phil began this sermon by commenting that he only had a half-day that Saturday to prepare a sermon, and thus he broke from his regular study series to do a shorter passage, and these are the times he often preaches from the Psalms. Then he delivered an excellent, expository verse-by-verse sermon, with great insights. Johnson notes the division of the Psalm into four sections: the words of the nation, followed by verses spoken by God in each of the three persons, a trinitarian Psalm in a sense. In this Psalm Johnson describes the doctrine of the eternal sonship of Christ, and properly addresses God’s sense of humor as a scornful derision, one that is not just humor for its own sake but that shows God’s sovereignty and scorn / pity towards the lost. He presents the fulfillment of the verses which apply to Christ’s crucifixion, and relates the present-day reality of lost man raging against God, something he experiences regularly with his blog and the hateful, blasphemous emails he receives from the “Internet infidels.” God’s sovereignty over mankind, as well as God’s mercy, that the very ones who rage against Him and hate Him, will be brought in to become His people, also come out in this sermon.

Contrast this with the typical pattern of the local pastor (and no doubt this applies to many local church pastors as well; so few pastors can really preach and teach at the level of Phil Johnson, John MacArthur, and others I’ve come to appreciate from the Master’s Seminary), a rambling that quickly goes off course, even way into left field in the pastor’s continual push for his preterist / amill eschatology — a preaching style that tends to gloss over the details of what a given text is saying, to casually say that it means one thing, when a careful exegesis of the text itself and in light of all other biblical texts, shows that that is NOT what the text is saying. This preaching, now that I can spot all the flaws, is in a way humorous (except that it can mislead others, alas) and certainly provides extra topic material, for blog entries as well as for further study of the real texts. Here, for instance, I learned that the pastor thinks the harlot woman in Revelation 17 is Israel; he stated his certainty on that point, though without giving further details or exegesis to prove that assertion. Considering that he also believes that Daniel’s 70th week was completed in the 1st century, and holds to the NCT (New Covenant Theology) construct that the church is the real Israel, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised — though again, this is a big leap from supposedly teaching about Psalm 2. This view completely misses the point of the events in Revelation — the Great Tribulation, the time of “Jacob’s trouble” also spoken of in Old Testament passages. He noted his uncertainty about Revelation 17 being a future event (using the word “if”), and maintains Israel in a permanently apostate condition, completely missing the fact of what Revelation is about, how God is going to bring great trouble on national Israel and save a large number of them. He mentioned the creature with ten horns and seven heads, but without any reference to the parallel passages in Daniel, which also help set the context of the scenes in Revelation. More could be said here, but this gives the general idea — and again reminds me why I often tune him out and read good Bible teaching instead.

Yet I can be thankful even for the bad teaching, in that it prompts me to look into a matter for myself — to find better material available online, such as the great expository, verse-by-verse preaching of the truly biblical preachers.

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