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Dr. Bill Barrick’s Creation Seminar

May 29, 2013 3 comments

Linked at the Domain For Truth blog is another instructive lecture series from Dr. Bill Barrick:  a four-part series plus two Q&A sessions done at Central Seminary earlier this year for the 2013 MacDonald Lectures.

As usual Dr. Barrick provides many quote-worthy observations, especially concerning the mirror-image of the Biblical accounts of the beginning and the end, something I observed previously here (the Masters Seminary audio lecture Kingdom of God series), with many good points regarding the link between creation and eschatology.  The hermeneutics is a crucial point, and Barrick continues to uphold the underlying importance of biblical creation – biblical authority and inerrancy.  As he also points out, what we think about the past directly affects how we understand and what we believe concerning the future events revealed in God’s word.

A few excerpts from the first lecture:

Think about it.  If it really took millions or billions of years to create the First heavens and the First Earth, how long will we have to wait for the New Heavens and Earth after the old is destroyed?  Are you willing to wait millions and billions of years for the New Heavens and New Earth to evolve like the First one?  If God can create the second one instantaneously, why not the first? … Any time we start messing with either end of that entire structure of scripture, it affects the other end. Whether we reject the future prophecies — if we do that, then why would we accept the past, history?  If we reject the past history, why would we accept the future prophecies?

And

What kind of Bible does your ministry depend upon? Think about it. A trustworthy Bible, or an untrustworthy Bible? A Bible you can believe about creation the same as you can believe about salvation? How important is the Bible to your ministry? As soon as we start denying either end of the spectrum here we’ve looked at, in this overall and overarching theme that runs through the Bible, as soon as we start messing with either the eschatology, the future things, or the protology, the first things, we begin to destroy the Bible.  So if the Bible is significant to your ministry, why work to destroy it?  Because if you destroy it, then there’s no more foundation for the ministry you perform, for what you’re doing.  How can you tell people, ‘Thus says the Lord’, if you say, ‘well I only accept that when the Lord says such and such, but when the Lord says this, I don’t accept it.  I don’t care if God wrote it with His finger on the tablet of stone on Mt. Sinai that He created the heavens and earth and all that is in them in six days, I don’t believe that.  But I believe God over here when He says this.’ How can we pick and choose that way? How can we treat the Bible so casually?

What kind of God do we serve if we feel free to contradict what He Himself wrote on a stone tablet on Mt. Sinai?  Can we really say with Paul then, ‘let God be true and every man a liar’?  Are we instead saying, ‘oh, let modern science be true and let God be a liar when it comes to creation?’  It affects the character of God.

The second session, The Historicity of Adam, addresses an issue apparently of great discussion today within Seminary circles, and one he later addressed at the 2013 Shepherds’ Conference.   An additional reading source mentioned here:  Creationist Bill Cooper’s (1995)  “After the Flood: The early post-flood history of Europe”  (online text available here), which traces all European nations back to Japheth.

I’m still going through the series, and highly recommend it as well worth listening to.

Supersessionist Fascination with the Holy Land, and Israel’s Great Future

May 24, 2013 2 comments

Another true and timeless quote from Alva McClain’s “Greatness of the Kingdom” (p. 253):

some of the most incorrigible opponents of a millennial religious center in Jerusalem, at the same time have an untiring enthusiasm for “trips” to the Holy Land here and now.  Surely it is a great privilege to walk where the Son of God once lived, suffered, and died. If this be so, how much more wonderful it will be to go there when He is once more there in visible manifestation and glory.

In recent months I have observed this very phenomenon: a church pastor —  strong supersessionist (no future for Israel), Amillennial Preterist, old-earth creationist — who yet shows “untiring enthusiasm” in sharing pictures from his trip to the Holy Land last year.  Such interest has even resulted in a lengthy Sunday School series for the main adult Sunday School class, complete with slides, diagram drawings and general geography and archeology sessions, and such trivia as the size of Jerusalem (in acres) at various times in biblical history. (Among the trivia: Jerusalem was 44 acres in size in Jesus’ day.)  The lessons go into all the details in the biblical accounts of how the men in Hezekiah’s day affected the water supply, and other basic information that I tend to think of as appropriate for general, secular education.  Certainly geography and archeology of the Holy Land is of some interest, even to natural man, as something concrete and part of our natural world.  Yet where is the spiritual content of such a series, in light of the massive biblical revelation?

The biblical references in this series are basic and well-known to serious students of God’s word, but such a topical series comes across as disappointingly shallow.  Consider the great depth and riches of what God’s word has to say regarding Israel (past, present and future): the great biblical covenants (especially the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants), and (as especially brought out in Alva McClain’s great work) the beginnings and details of God’s Mediatorial Kingdom in Israel, in Old Testament History and Prophecy.  Then Israel’s apostasy and what that actually meant: not that the nation itself was completely cut-off and divorced from God, but that judgment fell on particular generations – and yet, as SLJ observed:

There are people who look at the Old Testament and say, ‘All fulfilled, of no real use to us today.’ That, the apostles would have been strongly against, for that was their Bible. And all that they taught they related to the Old Testament teaching. In fact, the epistle to the Romans is really nothing more than an Old Testament theology written in the light of the coming of Jesus Christ and the fulfillment of those promises in Him. The Jews have a future. Their place in the program of God in the present time is similar to that of a train which is passed onto a siding — the purpose of God has passed them by, not because they have no future but because they did not believe.

Also the prophecies regarding Israel’s present condition, such as the prophecies of Balaam, and especially of Hosea (Hosea 3:4-5):

For the children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or household gods. Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the Lord and to his goodness in the latter days.

Oh the great riches in God’s word concerning Israel past, present, and especially future in the kingdom of God upon the earth, as described in so many passages of scripture, the Old Testament prophecies as well as great references in the gospels and New Testament passages.  Yet, as Alva McClain observed over half a century ago (that which is still true) some professed believers rigorously oppose the idea of God having anything future to do with Israel, and yet they are content with and even have unending enthusiasm for trips to the Holy Land.  Many of us have never had opportunity to visit the physical sites of the Holy Land, and perhaps never will get that opportunity in this life, yet we can dig into the treasures of God’s word regarding the nation Israel, and God’s purposes for Israel and the Gentile nations in the future Kingdom of God upon the earth. Indeed, “how much more wonderful it will be to go there when He is once more there in visible manifestation and glory.”

Was It Really The Same Group? The Triumphal Entry and the Crucifixion

May 21, 2013 Leave a comment

It’s a popular saying and idea, that it was the same crowd that cheered Christ at His triumphal entry, that later called for His crucifixion.  I think of the line in a Christian song (Star of the Morning, Leon Patillo), “the same ones who cheered, yelled ‘Crucify!’”  I recently read a Spurgeon sermon that echoed this thought:

You must not imagine that all those who strewed the branches in the way and cried “Hosanna,” cared about Christ as a spiritual prince! No, they thought that He was to be a temporal deliverer, and when they found out afterwards that they were mistaken, they hated Him just as much as they had loved Him and, “Crucify Him, crucify Him,” was as loud and vehement a cry as, “Hosanna, blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord.”

But was it really the same people? The gospel accounts indicate very large numbers of people in total (as do other historical records describing the yearly Passovers in Roman times).  Luke 23:27 mentions “a great multitude” of the people who followed Him, mourning and lamenting – the people Jesus told to “weep for yourselves” as He prophesied of the coming judgment upon Jerusalem.

S. Lewis Johnson (gospel of John series) goes into more careful analysis of what was really going on:

First of all, emotional enthusiasm for Jesus Christ is far different from earnest faith in Him.  Now the people who cried out, “Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord,” were likely to be people who had some attachment to the Lord Jesus.  It is not they who later on say, “Crucify Him, crucify Him,” as some Bible teachers have suggested.  As you look at these accounts carefully it’s evident that those who were shouting this were those who were familiar with His ministry from the Northern part of the land.

Continuing, Dr. Johnson points out the shortcoming of emotional enthusiasm, which is different from “earnest faith”:

 As I said earlier, the provincial recognition, however, did not carry national assent.  So they were shouting out of a failed and incomplete understanding of the Lord Jesus.  Later on, those in the city who were antagonistic to Him would be crying out, “Crucify Him, crucify Him.”  But one thing you can say is this, that emotional enthusiasm is far different from earnest faith.  And while it’s not they who say later, ‘Not this man should be delivered, but Barabbas.’  It is, however, one of those very men who stood around the coals of fire and when asked by a little girl, ‘You’re one of them, are you not?’  He said, ‘I am not.’

Persecution and Suffering for Righteousness Sake: Not Just Burning at the Stake

May 15, 2013 3 comments

A nominal Christian friend is impressed by the stories of the martyrs who were burned at the stake (past and present situations), and objects to hearing fellow believers talk about the persecution we experience in America:  “that’s not really persecution.”  He was okay with the description found in verses in 1 Peter (ESV), which describe the less dramatic and non-bloody “suffering for righteousness,” but insisted that “suffering for righteousness” is not the same as persecution and thus we shouldn’t say we are experiencing persecution.

I see his point, but would say that the difference is one of degree, not of different words such that only martyrs are persecuted and the rest of us do not experience persecution. Also, if only those who die for their faith experience persecution (and only them), what does one do with 2 Timothy 3:12?  Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.  Of course that does not mean that only those who die for the faith are the ones who live godly lives. After all, in the preceding verse Paul described past persecutions – events certainly greater than what most Americans today experience, but since Paul was still alive and writing about them, it was persecution of the non-bloodshed type.

In thinking further about this, I came across this great commentary from Spurgeon:

In olden times they did it by burning, torturing and tormenting Christians, making them suffer all kinds of indescribable agonies. But that method did not work, so the devil now adopts other measures. He found that the more he oppressed them, like Israel in Egypt, the more they multiplied—so now he acts in another fashion. How does he do it?   Not exactly by open persecution, but “the offense of the Cross” shows itself, sometimes, by private persecution.

You do not, all of you, hear of the persecution that is going on with regard to the Lord’s people. Every now and then things of this sort come to my notice, though you may not know of them. How many drunk husbands there are who persecute their wives almost incessantly because they cleave fast to God? How many a young man, how many a young woman is there who is called to suffer persecution from father and mother and sister and brother, for Christ’s sake? Persecution is not over—it works slyly and comes not out openly before the world. It comes not out into Smithfield, as it did of old, though there may be many a house in the neighborhood of Smithfield that reeks with it. It comes not out in an honest garb, but watches for its prey in a covert way. It is not the lion, but the prowling jackal, though it is as wild and as ravenous as ever.

Spurgeon’s Sermons in the Book of Job

May 9, 2013 3 comments

Common teaching through the book of Job, at churches with superficial teaching, may include pointing out the general and obvious teaching in Job: the legalism of Job’s three friends, assuming that Job is suffering because of his wickedness, along with general observations about how Job at the end intercedes for his friends, like how Christ intercedes for us.

But for real depth and meat in the book of Job, I have recently been finding many great treasures there, from a handful of Spurgeon sermons.  As mentioned here previously, Spurgeon was a textual preacher, who preached more in some books than others.  Spurgeongems.org reveals that Spurgeon preached 99 messages from texts in Job, and from 34 of the 42 chapters.  Three of these I have read recently, in Spurgeon’s volume 7 of sermons (#352, #404  and #406).  The book of Job, and sermons from it, provides such variety and material for our lives: the proper times of celebration, suffering, hope, God’s Divine Purpose, and prayer.

See this previous post for Spurgeon’s interesting “Merry Christmas” sermon from Job 1.  Sermon #404, from Job 42 (Job’s prayer for his friends) is a convicting one about intercessory prayer and its importance in our lives as well as in those we pray for:

 You and I may be naturally hard, and harsh, and unlovely of spirit, but much praying for others will remind us we have, indeed, a relationship to the saints, that their interests are ours, that we are jointly concerned with them in all the privileges of Grace. I do not know anything which, through the Grace of God, may be a better means of uniting us, the one to the other, than constant prayer for each other. You cannot harbor enmity in your soul against your Brother after you have learned to pray for him!

Sermon #406 is another excellent one, this time looking at God’s Divine Purpose: Job 23:13 — But He is of one mind, and who can make Him change? And whatever His soul desires, that He does. Here Spurgeon considers God’s great sovereign purposes, from the little details and our individual lives, to the big picture, even including His divine purpose for the nations:

 To enlarge our thoughts a moment, have you ever noticed, in reading history, how nations suddenly decay? When their civilization has advanced so far that we thought it would produce men of the highest mold, suddenly old age begins to wrinkle its brow, its arm grows weak, the scepter falls, and the crown drops from the head, and we have to say, “Is not the world gone back again?” The barbarian has sacked the city, and where once everything was beauty, now there is nothing but ruthless bloodshed and destruction! But, my Brothers and Sisters, all those things were but the carrying out of the Divine Plan! …

And so has it been with the race of men—Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Greece, and Rome have crumbled, each and all—when their hour had come, to be succeeded by a better. And if this race of ours should ever be eclipsed, if the Anglo Saxons’ boasted pride should yet be stained, even then it will prove to be a link in the Divine purpose. Still, in the end His one mind shall be carried out; His one great result shall be thereby achieved. Not only the decay of nations, but the apparent degeneration of some races of men—and even the total extinction of others—forms a part of the fixed purpose of God!

Equality AND Submission: S. Lewis Johnson on Feminism and the Trinity

May 4, 2013 3 comments

From my recent studies with S. Lewis Johnson through the Gospel of John, and now 1 Corinthians 7, a good point often made by SLJ:  equality and submission co-exist within the same relationship.

1 Corinthians 7:1-7 tells us that equality exists between men and women in the marriage bed.  We find a parallel of both equality and submission within the Godhead: the Father and Son are equal, of one substance, both fully God – and yet at the same time the Bible also tells us that the Son is submissive to the Father.

S. Lewis Johnson’s observations here concerning feminism, submission and equality:

Now, we’ve had a lot of talk in our day about feminism, and it’s still going on and it has been introduced into evangelicalism.  And so today we have evangelicals who — or we have individuals who claim to be evangelicals — and I’m not denying that some of them are; maybe many of them are — who insist that what we think of as the biblical teaching of the relationship between man and wife has been patriarchal and contrary both to the Bible and to what it ought to be in society.  They have insisted that when we say that a woman is to be submissive to her husband and the husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church, we forget that, let’s just talk about the submission.  When it says that the woman is to be in submission to her husband; that’s contrary to equality.  In other words, you cannot have equality if you have submission.

Now, other evangelicals who are not feminist evangelicals have tried to point out that in the Bible there is a recognition of equality and submission as being in harmony.  For example, they’ve often pointed to 1 Corinthians chapter 11 where the apostle says:  “Now I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ and the head of the woman is the man and the head of Christ is God.”

Well, now we know that our Lord and the Father are equal.  And yet there is a submission of the Son to the Father.  We do not have any problem with that because if we felt that the Son was not equal to the Father in his being, then we wouldn’t have a divine Trinity; we wouldn’t have Christianity because Christianity must have the doctrine of the Trinity or else there’s no Christianity.   That’s why it’s always a test of faith to ask if an individual receives the Orthodox teaching concerning the Trinity, because only then do you have Christianity.  Those who suggest they are three people in the Godhead but they are not equal in power and authority and so forth are not Trinitarians.  But Christian theology is built around the Trinity.  But in the Trinity, in the time of our Lord’s mediation specifically, there is submission on the part of the Son of God but there is equality all the time.

So it’s not true to say that equality and submission cannot go together.