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Suffering, Affliction, Regrets — and the Larger Perspective

September 11, 2019 Leave a comment

Continuing through the collection of free used books received, I’ve started reading Richard Baxter’s The Godly Home —  a recent publication with modernized language and introduction by J.I. Packer, covering a portion of Baxter’s Christian Directory from the 17th century.  Even in the current form, it’s not always the easiest to follow, as it describes situations unfamiliar to us, in the Puritan-era writing style (wordiness).  This selection from his larger work includes chapters on marriage, children, family worship, and several other topics — Baxter’s wisdom and guidance to Christian laypeople regarding their daily life and life decisions.  As a guide to those facing such decisions it excels, well describing the hardships to be experienced from a wrong choice, descriptions of the experiences that others have had to “learn the hard way.”

A sampling from the first chapter, Directions About Marriage:

If you should marry one who proves to be ungodly, how exceeding great would the affliction be!  If you loved such persons, your soul would be in continual danger by them; they would be the most powerful instruments in the world to pervert your judgements, to deaden your hearts, to divert you from a holy life, to kill your prayers, to corrupt your lives, and to damn your souls.  If you should have the grace to escape the snare and save yourself, it would be by so much the greater difficulty and suffering since the temptation is greater.  What a heartbreak it would be to converse so nearly with a child of the Devil; it is like living forever in hell.  The daily thoughts of it would be a daily death to you.

Another short sample, a description of an ungodly person:

To habitually prefer things temporal before things spiritual in the predominant acts of heart and life is the certain character of a graceless soul.

Thus is the ideal (Baxter’s “Directions About Marriage”), and when followed to prevent poor life-decisions, all is well.  Yet as I have observed, in the Christian life and experience in this fallen world, those who “get it right” and make wise relationship choices on the front end will experience some other type of suffering and disappointment later in life—perhaps with children, or health, or financial or many other possibilities.

But what about those on the other side, who have already made poor decisions?  Here we must turn to other wise counsel, regarding the sovereignty of God.  Ed Welch in Depression: Looking Up From the Stubborn Darkness (see this previous post), well stated an important point to continually remember:

Although life before a sovereign God assures us that God is in control, accomplishing His good plans even through our poor choices, it is easy to lose sight of this reality.  When we do, we can feel as if an unwise decision has forever doomed us to a path that is second best. … in view of God’s sovereign control, God will accomplish His purposes in our lives even when we make decisions we later regret.

Indeed, when the Bible speaks of “all these things,” or “in all things,” and the trials and tribulations of the Christian life, those trials can include the problems noted above that may come to those who at least have their “relationship-act together”; yet for some the trial does include relationship difficulty, even within marriage.  Here I also recall the great application from past Tabletalk devotionals, in this previous post, and relating to the “day to day” life experienced by Abraham and Sarah, by Isaac and Rebekah, and then Jacob.

Another book I’m reading ties into this in a rather unexpected way:  The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien  (a past Kindle deal); this book’s main focus is on Tolkien’s letters as related to his writings of The Hobbit and then the Lord of the Rings.  I first read it 15-20 years ago from the library, but through the years since and the maturing process of life, I now notice another aspect brought out: Tolkien’s own personal trials and difficulties in the day to day of life, during the years while he was still (slowly) writing the Lord of the Rings.  The letters reveal a life with its share of great afflictions and trials—along with hope, the times of looking beyond the present life to the glory yet to be revealed.

In a letter from August 31, 1938, he even notes that he had come close to a breakdown:

I am not so much pressed, as oppressed (or depressed).  Further troubles which I need not detail have occurred, and I collapsed (or bent) under them.  I have been unwell, since I saw you—in fact I reached the edge of a breakdown, and was ordered by the doctor to stop short.  I have done nothing for a week or two—being in fact quite unable.

Elsewhere, in writing and providing wisdom to one of his then-young adult sons regarding marriage (from the human side of events), he offered this:

Only a very wise man at the end of his life could make a sound judgement concerning whom, amongst the total possible chances, he ought most profitably to have married! Nearly all marriages, even happy ones, are mistakes: in the sense that almost certainly (in a more perfect world, or even with a little more care in this very imperfect one) both partners might have found more suitable mates.

And to another son during the son’s experiences in World War II:

If you cannot achieve inward peace, and it is given to few to do so (least of all to me) in tribulation, do not forget that the aspiration for it is not a vanity, but a concrete act.

As I’ve seen before, so again: a complete, well-rounded perspective regarding life in this fallen world requires multiple inputs, and truth, love, and encouragement come to us in many different ways, including from reading many different books and even types of books.

Preterist-Historicist Prophecy, and Another Variation of Imminence (Reading Andrew Bonar)

May 26, 2015 1 comment

Reading Andrew Bonar’s Redemption Drawing Nigh (see this previous post), brings out the interesting viewpoints of the early Reformed Historicist approach to prophecy.

In my series through the history of premillennialism, I noted the development of Protestant premillennialism and its historicist view, as a reaction to Roman Catholicism. The Bonar brothers are included within this time period of historicism; early futurist writers such as S.R. Maitland had appeared not long before this point (see this 1834 work from Maitland), but the futurist historic premillennial view would develop throughout the later 19th century. Still, reading Andrew Bonar is helpful for understanding that historicist position, while recognizing differences from my own generally futurist view.

While considering the Olivet discourse text, Bonar presents his understanding in a way that at least makes sense for overall general truth and application: the historicist view really combines a preterist approach to the first part of Matthew 24 – judgment upon Jerusalem in AD 70 as the fulfillment of the first part (up through verse 14), followed by a general historicist view for the rest of church history until Christ’s Return. According to this view, “The Tribulation of Those Days” began at 70 A.D. and continues up until Christ’s return. Bonar was not concerned with any specific dating scheme, apparently not interested in trying to come up with a time period of 1260 years (for the 1260 days spoken of in scripture), but was content to simply see the entire age, from shortly after Christ’s First Coming until the Second Advent, as the overall tribulation.

Certainly the application is there, and the truth in history, regarding this as a general truth, even if not the primary meaning of the actual text.  First, Bonar notes the history of the Jews since 70 A.D. as a continuing tribulation:

it is necessary to notice that the days of Israel’s tribulation began in Jerusalem’s destruction, but did not end there. Far from ending there, it was only then they commenced; and for eighteen centuries they have continued—the sea of their calamities at one time sinking into a comparative calm, and at other times lashed into furious storms. It will appear beyond doubt from Luke xxi. 25— 27, that our Lord’s view of the “ Tribulation of Those Days” stretched over all that space of many centuries, during which Israel’s land has been trodden down and meted out, and the people a by-word among the nations.

Bonar further saw both a “great outburst” at the beginning point, and a yet future equivalent greater storm outburst within this overall Tribulation era.  As elsewhere in this book, Bonar is especially interested in showing the characteristics of this age up to the time of Christ’s return, as disproving the then-dominant view of a post-millennial return.  The point is well-taken, regarding what scripture has to say concerning this era — as quite the opposite from what the postmillennial view expects to occur in our history.

even as the first burst of the storm was terrific, so shall the last hour of it be, ere its strength is spent. And we can quite understand two individuals describing the same storm, the one dwelling on its first outburst, the other on the appalling scene at its close; while both say with equal truth that never was there such a storm as that which they described. … Century on century of trouble; deep calling unto deep; the roar of a storm never lulled into calm: such is his view of the days that precede his Coming. He tells of no Millennial rest before He comes. Nay, he puts that out of the question by saying, “ Such shall be the season of trouble, and immediately after . . . the sign of the Son of man.”

Another interesting point here, regarding imminence.  Futurist historic premillennialism recognizes a future 3 1/2 year tribulation period just prior to Christ’s return, and as such, recognizes (in contrast with pre-tribulational dispensational premill) that certain events must occur first, prior to Christ’s return: especially the rule of antiChrist over at least a certain part of our world and the persecution of Jews as well as Christians (especially with reference to the Middle East and possibly the geographical region of the ancient Roman Empire), and the (future) antiChrist setting himself up as god in a temple that apostate Jews will yet construct in Jerusalem.  This view can be taught from the New Testament scriptures, the basic point that the apostles and early church did not really hold to an “any moment” coming of the Lord but recognized certain events that must occur before He returns.

Yet the Reformed historicist view sees a symbolic interpretation of the antiChrist and the abomination of desolation (reference 2 Thess. 2), as having already occurred in the first century. Thus Bonar wrote as one who believed in an “any moment” coming, in the sense that Christ’s return is the “next event” (since we are already in the Tribulation).  Consider this explanation of “near” in Matthew 24: This expression means it is near, in the sense of being at the threshold, without declaring that it shall immediately enter, or come in. No other event is to be looked for amid that tribulation but the Coming of the Lord to end it.  Also:  Though the Temple perish (“these things,” ver. 6), yet to you has dawned a better hope. The very ruin of that Temple is to you a pledge of the Coming of Him that is greater than the Temple. “ Your redemption draweth nigh,”—is in full prospect on the horizon.

The beginning of chapter 10 well sums up this perspective of imminence, something to note as quite different from the futurist HP view of the earliest church fathers plus the view of many of today’s historic premillenialists:

PROPHECY is now in such a state of fulfillment that there is no event whatever remaining to be accomplished of which we could positively say, “That event must yet occur before the Son of man appears.” We are living in an age of the world when every hill is passed up which the Church had to climb ere it came in full sight of the plain along which shall come the Son of man in his chariot of glory in an hour when we think not.

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Old Testament Saints and the Holy Spirit

October 27, 2014 13 comments

From basic dispensational teaching I heard that — per John 7:39 and later references to Christ sending the Holy Spirit (Pentecost) – Old Testament saints were regenerated but did not have the permanent indwelling Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit only came upon them from time to time, for special empowerment, whereas we now have the permanent indwelling.  Yet I wondered about it, as something that didn’t make sense: how could people be regenerated and yet NOT have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit? In daily Bible reading of the Old  Testament, we come across so many descriptions of believers who have “a different spirit” and a relationship to God in so many ways like ours.  John 3 tells us that OT believers were regenerated, as this was something that Nicodemus was expected to already know as a present reality, and Luke 1 and 2 (the birth narrative) include many references to godly people and the Holy Spirit present in their lives, before Christ’s birth.

As I’ve recently learned, the Protestant/Reformed understanding is that OT saints had the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the same salvific relationship to God (their understanding on the hope of what God would accomplish; and Christ’s work on the cross is applied to those who lived before Calvary).

The following posts from David Murray’s blog address this very question, of the difference between the Old and New Testament indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Regarding the original idea above (OT believers regenerated but didn’t have the indwelling Holy Spirit) I especially appreciate his point in the first post, that if Old Testament ‘believers’ believed by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit but kept believing without the indwelling work of the Holy Spirit, then Old Testament believers were not as depraved as we are, as they did not need the ongoing indwelling work of the Holy Spirit. (And in some ways, this debate really is a debate about the nature of human depravity in the Old Testament. Could anything less or other than the indwelling of the Holy Spirit keep a believer believing, repenting, hoping, obeying, etc?)

I also find helpful the analogy of the sponge with a water dropper, versus a sponge with a pressure washer. The difference in the Holy Spirit experience of OT and NT believers is one of degree and extent, not of quality or type. The OT believers had a small amount to sustain them in their personal lives, but after Pentecost the Holy Spirit flows out in excess, giving believers greater joy that overflowed and led to great missionary zeal and desire to share the gospel with unbelievers – and the amazing (humanly speaking) spread of the gospel during the 1st century and beyond.  As shown in the many quotes in the last post linked above, many commentators throughout history, as far back as Augustine and including also the Reformers as well as 19th century preachers including J.C. Ryle, have affirmed this as well, that OT believers did have the indwelling Holy Spirit, and the difference between then and our age post-Pentecost is one of degree and extent.

As a side note here, I find it interesting that this same difference of degree between the OT and NT — of the great spread of the gospel in the NT – is said by amillennialists to be the result of a supposed “binding of Satan” allowing the gospel to spread unhindered. Yet as premillennialists have pointed out, what really hinders or allows the spread of the gospel is the Holy Spirit – as evidenced in the book of Acts, where the Holy Spirit did not allow Paul to travel east to Asia or Bithynia (Acts 16:6-7). Understanding the difference between the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in Old and New Testament times (the water dropper versus the pressure washer) fits the biblical data much better, both in relating to the OT saints continually sustained by God and His presence, as well as the results of the great spread of the gospel that began at Pentecost.

Historic (Classic) Premillennialists: Free Online Books

August 20, 2013 18 comments

Update (addition) to the resources listed here:  an online discussion group for Historic (Classic) Premillennialism.

Barry Horner, in Future Israel and other writings (see page 5 here and page 14 here) has mentioned several names of classic (Judeo-Centric) historic premillennialists.  The list mentioned by him, and mentioned elsewhere in connection with Horner’s work, includes well-known preachers such as Charles Spurgeon and J.C. Ryle, and many others as well:  Adolph Saphir, David Baron, Andrew and Horatius Bonar, Robert Murray M’Cheyne, George N.H. Peters, Nathaniel West, Henry Grattan Guinness, B.W. Newton, S. P. Tregelles, Joseph Seiss, and Charles Simeon. These men lived and wrote during the 19th and early 20th century, and much of their work is now available in the public domain, free in online and e-book format.

See this previous post for many available works from Adolph Saphir and David Baron.  The following is a links-reference to the many available works by these other Christian premillennialists, as well as a good resource from a 20th century writer, Robert D. Culver.  Note that many, but not all, of the titles here relate to prophecy and premillennialism.  Google Play is one of the formats available, but for those desiring e-pub or PDF format, note that Google Play includes options to download e-pub and/or PDF formats available for many of the titles.

Robert D. Culver (1916-) :  Daniel and the Latter Days (1954)

Andrew Bonar (1810-1892):

Horatius Bonar (1808-1889):

Volume 1 (1849)
Volume 2 (1850)
1854 
1855
1857
1858
1864
Volume 19 (1867)
Volume 23 (1871)

J.C. Ryle (1816-1900):


George N.H. Peters (1825-1909):

Nathaniel West (1826-1906):


Henry Grattan Guinness

Joseph A. Seiss  (1823-1904):


 Benjamin Wills Newton (1807-1899)

Many of the titles are tracts less than 50 pages.  Full-length books include:

Tracts relating to eschatology:


Samuel Prideaux Tregelles (1813-1875)


Alexander Keith (1791-1880)


Websites:

Orthopraxy and Orthodoxy: Practical Christian Living AND Doctrinal Worldview Instruction

April 24, 2013 6 comments

For today, a follow-up to the Jerry Bridges conference post, concerning what is taught in the local church:  the balance between sanctification / practical Christian living, and discipleship & instruction in the Christian worldview.  As noted in the previous post, Bridges emphasizes holiness and sanctification — which is fine so far as it goes, provided we keep a balance that includes strong doctrinal teaching.

As an example:  in the Saturday night message Jerry Bridges favorably presented the story of a pastor who had been asked when he was going to do a sermon about homosexuality.  The preacher’s response was that he had no plans to do so, since he didn’t have any homosexuals in his audience, at his local church, and so homosexuality wasn’t a relevant topic for that congregation.

Yet as I’ve learned in the last few years — from listening to the preaching of John MacArthur, S. Lewis Johnson, Dan Phillips and others — a local church should also be instructing the people regarding biblical and real-life issues and a proper Christian worldview. A disciple is simply a student, so true disciples are learning not just orthopraxy, how to walk and grow in their personal sanctification, but orthodoxy.   After all, none of the individuals attending that local church may be homosexual, but in our increasingly anti-Christian society it is increasingly likely that the people in the local church may have at least some contact with others who are either homosexual or who advocate homosexuality.  Ironically, the morning brunch Q&A at that same conference included several questions from people about this very topic, including how to respond to others who favorably discuss homosexuality.

The discipleship part of a local church involves equipping the saints to understand the issues, to really understand the biblical response to said issue and not be led astray by the clever arguments put forth in the secular media.  This is also why John MacArthur occasionally delivers very good messages regarding the Christian and voting in political elections, and why preachers do, at least some of the time, teach concerning the issues of the day.

Even in S. Lewis Johnson’s day 20+ years ago, when the homosexual agenda in society was not nearly so advanced as today, he addressed the topic in this message, noting the purpose of such a message:

The reason I want to do this is because many of us, I’m sure, are not acquainted with some of the sophisticated arguments that have been advanced, by some thinking people even, to support the idea that homosexuality is a legitimate style of life.  We’ll talk more about the details of it, but it is possible to defend this in way that would be confusing for the general evangelical, and difficult to counter so far as many of us are concerned, because we haven’t even bothered to discover the reasons why homosexuality is presented as something like a third sex by the homosexual populous.

As I am now listening to S. Lewis Johnson’s 1 Corinthians series (1994), I especially see how a preacher can directly teach about current social issues and our worldview, in an actual expository verse-by-verse Bible book series.  Now in 1 Corinthians 6, it is interesting to hear SLJ address social issues still with us: our litigious society of lawsuit-happy people; homosexuality; and the 1990s ecumenism of the Evangelicals and Catholics Together movement – and all in one message expositing 1 Corinthians 6:1-11.

Psalms and Hymns: Confusing the Covenants and Testaments

October 11, 2012 Leave a comment

Recently a preacher, talking about church hymns, referenced an early hymn writer (perhaps Isaac Watts; or someone else from that time period) who argued for hymns beyond the words of the Psalms–by reasoning that the Psalms were “Old Covenant” and thus were limited in worship, because in singing only the Psalms we could not express the great New Covenant / New Testament truths about Jesus, including His name, and the greater truths we now have in this age.

That statement struck me as a bit off, as a misunderstanding of the definitions of the Old and New Covenants, which are not the same as the Old and New Testament of the canon of scripture.   After all, the New Covenant is mentioned in the Old Testament (Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36), and the Psalms are not the Old Covenant (that is the Mosaic law of the Pentateuch, and not even all of those five books); and the Psalms have a great deal to say concerning New Covenant and New Testament ideas.  Rather than having “old covenant” content, the Psalms specifically include several references to the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants, while also referencing the doctrines of the kingdom (the idea of royalty, and the Lord God as King), creation, and many other Christian beliefs and concepts.  A recent Dr. Reluctant post addresses the specific error of conflating the Old/New Covenant with the Old/New Testament.  Here I especially note point 3:

When one reads about the contrasts between the “first covenant” and the “new covenant” in Hebrews it is clear that the former is equated with Moses’ Law (Cf. Heb. 7-10), which is inferior to the “better covenant” (7:22) and is “growing old and is ready to vanish away” (8:13).  This type of language cannot be used of the relation of the Old Testament books to the New Testament books.

Looking further into the Psalms and music issue, though, I found some interesting articles, both from the perspective of Psalms-only and a more moderate view that includes Psalms as well as hymns that strive to reflect scriptural language.  Yet here too, often the references were to “New Covenant” hymns as contrasted with “Old Covenant” Psalms.  I also observe that the Psalms-only advocate, as in this article, a review and criticism of Iain Murray’s work about hymns, shows greater understanding of what the Psalms contain and the problems that come from not using the Psalms as hymns  – along with proper use of the terms:

While the Psalter is not exhaustive in telling us everything in the Old or New Testament, neither are uninspired hymnals. In fact the Book of Psalms is far richer, better and more doctrinally complete, and balanced than any modern hymnal. Hymn writers historically have avoided the judicial aspects of God’s character in favor of love and heavenly bliss. They have avoided the important imprecatory aspects of praise which, contrary to Murray, is not inappropriate in the New Covenant era. Hymns do not contain warnings against trusting in princes (Ps. 146:3-4) and they certainly do not focus on the doctrine of creation in a manner that approaches the Psalter (e.g. see Ps. 146:6). Hymnals do not contain the many antitheses between the righteous and the wicked that are found in the Psalter. Neither do they contain such amazing statements about God’s holy law as found in Psalm 119. Such examples could be multiplied extensively. …  Even if a humanly produced hymnal contained no unorthodox doctrines, it still would be grossly unbalanced theologically by emphasizing popular doctrines while ignoring the less popular teachings.

Another article takes a more moderate position (include Psalms along with newer music, with the emphasis on music that closely agrees with scriptural language), and mentions the importance of progressive revelation.  Yet this work shows a few misunderstandings and misuse of the terms “covenant” and “testament,” as in this paragraph:

In addition to their pre-Christian stance of anticipation, the Psalms frequently reflect the struggle of faith that the OT saints had due to the seeming conflict between the promises of God and the reality of his providence.  On the one hand, God had promised the nation that they would have a king and a land. Yet in reality, they often had ungodly kings and at one point were removed from the inheritance during the exile. Thus the Psalms are full of the cry, “O Lord, how long?”And the cry largely goes unanswered. To sing only the Psalms without updating them with the Christological solution is to say that we are still living under Old Covenant conditions.

Does this author really think that in our New Covenant era believers know nothing of the Psalmist’s experience:  ungodly kings (rulers), and the “seeming conflict between the promises of God and the reality of His providence”? The New Testament writers themselves describe similar conditions of hardship and persecution, submitting to ungodly rulers, and still awaiting Christ’s return to fulfill what was not done at the First Coming (reference Acts 1:6; 3:20-21; 26:6-7; 1 Cor. 15:23-25).  In Revelation 6:9-11 (as explained in Revelation 4:1, this is in the section of things yet to be), the souls who had been slain for the word of God are still crying out, “how long?” and here again, in a New Testament book, in the New Covenant era, we find again the spirit of the imprecatory Psalms: the righteous rejoicing over the judgment done to the wicked.

I find that, ironically, it is the CT non-premillennial view that tends to find more division between the Old and New Testament and more tendency to misuse the terms covenant and testament.  After all (as in the above example), when people think that everything Christ set forth to do was accomplished at His First Coming, and we are now either living in the kingdom (amillennialism) or going to bring the kingdom into the world gradually before Christ’s return (postmillennialism), the result is a much sharper distinction between the “Old Covenant Church” experiencing struggles of faith and conflict between promises and reality, versus our golden, glorious triumphant age of the Church.

Also ironically, it is really the biblical dispensationalists, understanding the importance of the unconditional biblical covenants set forth in God’s word (the Abrahamic, Davidic, and New Covenants), who see the overall unifying theme of scripture: the Kingdom of God as that one uniting theme throughout, God’s Divine Purpose, including the work to be accomplished by Christ at His First AND Second Coming. Such emphasis brings about the understanding of the difference between the terms Old and New Covenant, and Old and New Testament.

Great Free Resources From Christian Ministries: To Your Doorstep

September 22, 2011 2 comments

Nowadays so much material is available online, through email newsletters, online PDF files, and downloadable MP3 sermons.  But I still prefer hardcopy print material mailed to me, as something more portable to carry around with me and read while away from the computer.

Here are some great free resources, hard-copy material to your home:  CDs of audio material, devotionals, magazines, and newsletters.

1.  The GTY mailing list monthly offers:  monthly offers to your mailbox.  Some are CDs of sermons, but often books or even Bibles are offered.

2.  From ICR.org, the devotional

booklet “Days of Praise” and quarterly magazine “Acts & Facts.”  The daily devotionals come in three-month sets, along with the magazine.

Days of Praise Devotional
3.  5 DVD set of all of S. Lewis Johnson’s sermons in MP3 format.
Send an email to:  webmaster “at” believers-chapel.org

Include your name and mailing address, and it will be forwarded to the Chapel.  I just received my set, a week after requesting it.

S. Lewis Johnson DVD case

4.  Spurgeon literature, from Bath Road Baptist Church:
Email:   info “at” bathroadbaptist.com
http://www.bathroadbaptist.com/contact-us/

5.  Free Grace Broadcaster: a booklet sent every few months, which contains writings –on a theme each issue –by noted Christian authors of the past including Spurgeon, Pink, Octavius Winslow and Thomas Brooks.
Email to: chapel “at” mountzion.org and request a paper copy sent quarterly.
Here is their main website:   http://www.chapellibrary.org/broadcaster/

6.  Levitt Letter Monthly Newsletter:  Newsletter from a Messianic Jewish organization
Fill out the form to request a hardcopy newsletter mailed to you.

7.   Voices For Christ website:
4,600 sermons available online, from various speakers (a few from S. Lewis Johnson, plus many others)
Website lists all speakers (note:  not all are Calvinist or dispensational):
Free CDs or DVDs are available on request, including a set of 6 DVDs containing all 4,500.
Email:  info “at” voicesforChrist.org

Is Eschatology A Third Order Doctrine?

June 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Concerning the relative importance of eschatology, as compared to the so-called second-order doctrines of baptism and the Lord’s table, S. Lewis Johnson expressed this point well:

Did you know that the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ is mentioned over three hundred times in the New Testament?  Now there are three hundred and something chapters of the New Testament.  In other words, in every chapter proportionately in the New Testament, we have some reference to the second coming of the Lord Jesus.  There are some of the epistles who specifically have not just one but more than one reference to the second coming in those epistles.

We have the second coming mentioned three hundred and eighteen times.  We have baptism, or we have the doctrine of baptism. mentioned only nineteen times in seven epistles.  In other words, the Second Advent should have a great deal more emphasis in our Christian thought and life than the doctrine of water baptism.  Yet observe the importance that the churches attach to baptism.

We have entire denominations called Baptist churches.  We have large denominations calling themselves, Baptist churches. . . . Did you know that there are over 20 different kind of Baptists?  But now how many denominations do you know that are named the Lord’s coming denomination, or the Second Advent denomination?  We do have the Seventh Day Adventist, but then they mixed up the truth with error in their title:  The Seventh Day Adventist.  And did you know that we have Seventh Day Baptists?  We have a denomination of Baptists that call themselves Seventh Day Baptists.

Did you know that the Lord’s Supper is mentioned six times in the New Testament, but it is not in twenty of the twenty-one epistles of the New Testament.  Not mentioned, and there are some groups that make a great deal over the Lord’s Supper.

The second coming of the Lord Jesus ought to enlarge in our Christian thinking.  I have wondered if the church is not making the same mistake about the second coming that the Jews made about the first coming—not all the Jews, but some of the Jews.  They did not make very much of the suffering and the cross and the literality of the first coming texts.

The earliest Christians made a great deal after they learned the truth of the suffering, the cross and the second coming of the Lord Jesus, and it seems to me that today we may be possibly, possibly erring a little too much by making a whole lot over the first coming and sometimes de-emphasizing the reigning, the crown, the literality of the second coming of the Lord Jesus.

Categories: Uncategorized

The Earthquake in Japan: How Short is Our Interim of Grace

March 14, 2011 Leave a comment

Amos 3, in verses 4 – 6, puts forth three sets of “before” and “after” events.  The first one shows the “before” — when it is time to avert disaster.  The second phrase shows the “after” when the event has passed and the opportunity missed:

Before:  ​​​​​​​​Does a lion roar in the forest, when he has no prey?    — No, the lion keeps quiet until he finds his prey.
After:   Does a young lion cry out from his den, if he has taken nothing? — By now the lion has caught the prey

Before:  ​​​​​​​​​Does a bird fall in a snare on the earth, when there is no trap for it?
After:  Does a snare spring up from the ground, when it has taken nothing?

And more clearly in verse 6,
Before:  Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid?
After: Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it?

The personal application is clear.  As S. Lewis Johnson observed in this Amos message, sometimes in our lives we have opportunities to do certain things.  Then come seasons in our lives of lost opportunities, for the things we wish we had done.  In between, we live in this interim of grace, before judgment has fallen.

Early Sunday morning as I began my Bible reading time, the sun was shining so brightly, and what it represented came to me so clearly: this is still the day of grace, the time to seek the Lord.  As the song goes, “His mercies are new every morning,” and “great is Thy faithfulness.”

It was hard to believe, looking at the sun shining so brightly and calmly here, that calamity had struck another part of the world — so remote, and surely things here continue the same as always (the common thought that such things can never happen here).

But that terrible earthquake is surely just as much a reminder of our sovereign God and His mighty power, so terrible to behold.  For many thousands of people in Japan, their day of grace has ended, their time of opportunity gone.  This earthquake also is a reminder of the dreadful judgment certain to come to the whole world, that this interim of grace has an end — when the grace of God finally ends and wrath comes to the lost instead.  We presume on God’s grace if we continue to think things will just go on as always.

It seems also that we are getting a preview of things to come, as described in Luke 21:25-26:  the nations distressed, in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves.

New Blog Feature — Our Blessed Hope

November 5, 2010 Leave a comment

I’ve just added a new feature to this blog — and a spin-off to a second blog, Our Blessed Hope.

At least a few times a week, the new category “Our Blessed Hope” will feature select quotes from several Christian names, including Charles Spurgeon, J.C. Ryle, Horatius Bonar, and others — concerning  eschatology, prophecy and its right interpretation, the future for Israel, the premillennial return of Christ, and more.

See the first post, C. H. Spurgeon:  Jesus the Ruler Over His People Israel,  as a sample, the first in this series.

Or stop by the new blog, a site dedicated to these quotes:

http://ourblessedhope.wordpress.com/