Matthew 24:34 – The Olivet Discourse continued (Part 2)

Alas, I approach the text which makes preterists squeal with glee and Pre-mil’s faint with the malady of exegetical psychosis. Or perhaps I am being  a tad melodramatic. I am referring to the ‘this generation’ of Matthew 24v34.  I now endeavour to interpret this statement: “Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things happen” (Matthew 24:34).

Now, it’s important to note that preterists do not interpret consistently…. If we use the term ‘literal interpretation’ in a South African context. Since they wish to interpret ‘this generation’ literally’ but not verse 30; which talks about the confusedphysical Christ coming on the clouds of heaven with great glory. Either one is figurative, and the other literal or visa versa. However, should we use the phrase ‘naturally’ (in USA ‘literally’) we may then have a meaningful discussion.

Now either ‘the clouds of heaven with glory’ or ‘this generation’ must have a natural meaning which allows for the harmony of Scripture (a vital hermeneutical principle). I think that the argument that ‘clouds of heaven with glory’ have another meaning besides what it appears to mean to modern audiences is a weak one, a discussion which I shall go into another time (No, I don’t ignore that this is prophetic/apocalyptic literature). However, I think there is interesting evidence to suggest that ‘this generation’ has another natural meaning.

Christ starts off verse 34 by saying “Truly I tell you”, which suggests that what He is about to say has special significance. Then comes those words ‘this generation’, which will not pass away until all the things Christ has been speaking about occur. Now some would say this refers to the fall of Jerusalem, when Christ would reappear to usher in the end of the world (age). However this appears to be a bad interpretation of these words since two sentences later He says that He doesn’t know when these things will occur (v36).

What seems more reasonable is to say that ‘all these things’ refers to the events of v4-28, but this does not mean Christ’s coming would happen immediately after. Calvin says, “Christ uses a universal term, but does not apply His words in general to all the afflictions of the Church, but simply teaches that in one generation events would establish all He has said” (Book 3; pg 97). Problem with this is, I am not sure why is shouldn’t include everything up to v31.

So here my long rant about ‘natural’ interpretation comes in. What if ‘this generation’ has another meaning? Notice how this term is used in the Old Testament to describe a type of person:

The Generation of the righteous” Ps 14:5

The generation of those who seek Him” Ps 24:6

Ah! Tyrell, but these are all verses referring to those who are good. Well let’s look further….

“Guard us from this generation” Ps 12:7

The generation of His wrath” Jer 7:29

If this is the meaning, then Jesus is saying ‘this generation, this type of person, will not cease until His words are fulfilled. It may be relevant to now notice Christ’s words earlier (23v35) when He said to the people whom He was speaking to “you killed Zechariah”, such a statement shows the unity of the ‘race/generation’ through the years.

Mounce points to the nature of multiple fulfillments: He shows that the ‘abomination of desolation’ was fulfilled by the antiochus-epiphanesdesecration of Antiochus Epiphanes, and another by the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman armies . “In a similar way, the events of the immediate period leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem portend a greater and more universal judgement at the end of the time.” Thus the text would says ‘right up till all these things happen there will be people of this type, who rejected Christ while He lived on earth’

So either way, the decision must be made, but it must be known, even if ‘this generation’ meant the generation alive at the time of Christ, that need not mean that the distress must end in Christ’s time, but ‘all these things’ must occur in that time, the ‘second coming’ itself, only occurring when the Father knows it will (v36), thus ending the distress.

A Christian Response to Rising Islam- Pt 1 (Alternative title: Forgotten Truths on Prayer)

Let me say by way of introduction, that I am not advocating the authenticity or the reliability of the above Youtube clip. If you read my previous posts you will know I am not a fan of shoddy scholarship or fringe academia. However, let’s assume hypothetically that what the clip suggests is legitimate, and in fact we all should know, even from a Aaaaah! It's too scary!conservative look at facts that Islam is a rising issue, and is growing rapidly- whether it an eschatological terror such as the clip suggests, I am not so sure (I have my reasons for not expecting much from Islam with regards to future world history, and no I am not post-mil… yet).

However this clip did lead me to ask some questions which had already been lurking in my heart. Question 1: what are we to do with regards to growing parts of the kingdom of darkness (i.e. Islam); Question 2: Why is the church not as effective as it has been at times historically, where are the preachers like Whitefield, Spurgeon, Owen, Edwards (to name a few), and of course the apostles, who really rocked the world for the cause of Christ?

Allow me to answer each in turn.

1)     Well, to the above clip, some might suggest that Christians need to have more children, now while I agree with the mandate to ‘go forth and multiply’ (I will not discuss that here, perhaps when I do multiplying of my own one day I’ll feel more inclined to defend this position), I don’t think this is the answer to the problem, firstly because there is no assurance that your children will be Christian (sorry federal headship friends), and secondly because we wrestle not against flesh and blood (Eph 6:12).

My intention hear is not to discuss missions and evangelism (while I believe this is a major, if not the primary answer to the problem), this should be obvious to any Christian reading the New Testament  and any Christian who attends a Church where the biblical mandate to evangelize locally and globally is faithfully taught. I do feel however that as ‘modern’ Christians, we have shunned certain of the Psalms which are there to teach us to pray, more specifically the imprecatory (vengeance) psalmse obvious to any Christian reading the New Testament  . I was recently alerted to this when I read an article by James Adams on this topic.

Listen to this excerpt from that article:

‘The petition, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” often, overlooked as merely  introductory, is really pivotal. Here Christ teaches us to pray for the victory of His kingdom. Can we truly utter this prayer without perceiving that our request involves the complete overthrow of Satan’s kingdom and all his followers? Martin Luther, that great disciple of Christ in prayer, pointed out that when one prays, “Hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done,” then he must put all the opposition to this in one pile and say: “Curses, maledictions and disgrace upon every other name and every other kingdom. May they be ruined and torn apart and may all their schemes and wisdom and plans run aground.”’

Notice Psalm 83 (Adams does this way better than I will here).  The psalm starts with a desperate cry for help (v1) then in v2-8 the enemy is identified. Then in the third part of the Psalm we see prayers of vengeance against the enemies of the Lord (v9-15). Finally, in v16-18 we are given the sacred purpose of all the prayers of justice: “Cover their faces with shame so that men will seek your name, O Lord. May they ever be ashamed and dismayed; may they perish in disgrace”.

I think part of the problem is that we have become so accustomed to having our prayers revolve around ourselves, selfishness is not the wayour feelings, our agenda, our trials (which have a rightful place); so that any prayer with God’s glory as the final end and major theme seems odd. But is this not what our prayers should revolve around, should we not pray, thy Kingdom come? Should we not pray ‘God save the Muslim world, and if its not your plan to save, then halt spread of error?’ Should we not pray this about Mormons and Jehovah’s witnesses? I am not advocating some hyper-charismatic stronghold binding, neither is Adams.  What I am calling for is a return to the full teaching of prayer we have in Scripture. Men, pray against the pornography industries, women pray against those magazines which perpetuate a false self-image…. Get my drift?

Well, these are just my thoughts, again let me encourage you to read the article.  Stay tuned for my answer to the second question.

Matthew 24:1-3 – Olivet Discourse continued… (Part 1)

Mathew 24’s first two verses begin by describing a comment Jesus made about the incredible stones with which theLooking at the Temple from the Mount of Olives temple was made, this comment then triggered the rest of the discourse. The disciples probably thought that Christ would be impressed, as they were, by the beautiful stones, but instead He goes on to predict that this temple they admired so much was to be destroyed- Christ invites them to consider ‘all these things’  and then went on to predict the total destruction of the entire temple. The point of the discourse is to explain how these believers should continue to live godly lives amidst the troubles to come.

My intention is not to focus on the first two verses, except for my above comments. The verse which interests me and has much significance with regard to eschatology is verse 3, “As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. ‘Tell us,’ they said, ’’when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age’.(NASB)”

Both Matthew and Mark tell us that Jesus was seated on the mountain; Mark says that they were opposite the temple. Most likely the view helped remind the Disciples of Christ’s words (there is a break between verse 1-2 and verse 3).  Now what I believe occurs in this text, is that the disciples ask Jesus two questions. The time when all this would happen, and what the sign of your coming and of the consummation of the age would be. It appears the disciples thought these two events to be closely connected.

Just to comment on the word ‘coming’ in ‘sign of your coming’. The word παρουσια (coming), is found four times in Matthew (v27, 37 and 39) and nowhere else in the Gospels. The term has the idea of ‘being present, presence’[i] and thus ‘coming’. The Technical Use of the Terms in Hellenic Greek was for the visit of a ruler[ii], and it becomes the usual word in the epistles for the ‘coming’ of Jesus at the end of the age. Important to note, the other Gospels have the question about ‘when these things will be’ but only Matthew refers to Jesus’ coming.

Interestingly the phrase, consummation of the age is found five times in Matthew (13:39, 16:27, 24:31, 25:31) with age being the correct translation as opposed to world.

Its the end of the world!!!I don’t think we should be to suspicious regarding the connection of the two questions in the mind of the disciples, as Leo Morris points out, “ …. It was an age when all sorts of speculations about the Last Things were in vogue…[iii]” Something like the destruction of the temple would surely bring up issues of Last Things.

We know that Christ’s prediction in 24:1-2 was fulfilled in A.D. 70 when the Romans attacked Jerusalem and destroyed the temple. However, there are some interesting contrasts in the chapter which also suggest two questions. For example:

Firstly in verses 3-34 Jesus talks about various sign, and even tells the disciples to pay close attention to the so that they would know how to respond to them (v6, 14, 15-18, 23, 29, 32). Furthermore v34 says that these events will occur within ‘this generation’[iv]. In distinction to this Jesus specifically says that no one knows when this will occur (V36, 42, 44). Logically two events must be spoken of if one response is to flee the city (v16) and the other response is to continue to serve faithfully (v46). In addition it would be odd to say that a number of signs suggest the nearness of the events, and that they should cause some kind of action (v14, 16, 33), and at the same time say that the ‘day and hour’ no one knows, not even the Son of God, or the angels. Is the point of this so that the disciples can know the week or month, but not the specific day or week? I would say that this is an unnatural reading of Just smooth over the differencesthe text, a way of reading which, as one author puts it, ‘smooths over huge differences between the relative ease with which the occurrences if the two events can be predicted’.

I would love to spend more time here, but this is enough for now. Many questions are still unanswered, but this is at least the beginning of my dealing with verse 3.

[i] Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament

[ii] The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament

[iii] Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew. PNTC. Pg 596.

[iv] I am open to the possibility that this is not to be taken as referring to the generation of Jesus’ audience, but my beginning point will be to assume as much, till a study of this text is made later in this series.

The Olivet Discourse – Matthew 24

It has been on my mind for awhile to deal with the whole issue of eschatology, and to be honest, as I approached the issue, I began to realize how little I understand. The more I read various views (which initially seemed rather convincing) the more I began to realize that none really answers all the questions satisfyingly. So although I have gained a greater appreciation of the various view’s attempts to harmonize the Scriptures and their theology, I believe Can't get across so easyI have been plunged into an ocean to vast to traverse. So without going into the idea that Eschatology’s seemingly illusive nature might have something to teach us (perhaps God did not intent the issue to be clear), allow me to begin my public processing of the issue.

I intent to, over the next bit of time, go over these issues, starting as far away and moving inwards with relevant source material, today starting a commentary of Matthew 24, which I believe to be the furtherest yet still specific point from which to broach the subject at hand. I must say, some of my thoughts have been provoked by a good friend’s honest and earnest approach to this subject.

So without further chit-chat: My introduction to the Olivet discourse (Matthew 24)

This is one of the last major teachings Christ gives His disciples, and deals mostly with judgment and the behavior expected of a Christian during this time of judgment. The problem in this text (which we will face) is that some of what Jesus says refers to the destruction of Jerusalem, and some of what He says refers to His coming at the end of the age (or so I will argue). As one commentator points out, the first coming of the Messiah to suffer was hard to conceive, thus we should not doubt that since He came literally to suffer, He will also literally come in person as well, to reign.

Jerusalem A.D 70We may also say that there is a unity between the two judgements in mind (of Jerusalem and at the end of the age) in a theological sense, and thus some of what Jesus says may apply to both. The first of these judgements, which involves the destruction of Jerusalem, is a result of the rejection of His earthly ministry by the Jewish people. The second judgement is about what will follow the preaching of the gospel to the world. However I am cautious to approach these chapters with the assumption that everything in it applies to only one of these judgements (scholars seem to vary vastly on which part applies to which).

The mixing of prophecies leading up to the events of A.D. 70 and those which apply to the end of the age make this a difficult passage to interpret. Matthew also shares much in this passage with Mark and Luke, yet also has large variations.

Some commentators (and dear friends I have) understand the entire discourse to refer to a single event. They would End of the agesay that Jesus is excepting His return within a few years, and that the judgment of Jerusalem is but a part of the judgment on the whole world. However, the language used appears against this: As opposed to teaching that He would be coming soon in glory, Christ appears to be discouraging this idea (v6, 8, 14 and 23-28). Furthermore we should not forget the fact that He said He did not know the date of His return (v36). If He did not know it, how could he affirm so confidently that it would happen within a few years?

Sorrow and Sin

One of the fascinating and sometimes rather painful aspects of the Christian life is that of ‘defeat through triumph’. It is something I am learning more and more. In times of utter defeat against the lusts of my flesh and the assaults of the enemy it is helpful for one to run to Scripture, especially portions like Psalm 51. When we sin, and feel far from God we often foolishly feel like doing something to impress God- maybe I should fast to show God I am sorry, maybe I should read more Scripture to demonstrate my desire to change, maybe I should cry when I repent and work myself up emotionally a bit more… you name it… None of these things are wrong in and of themselves.

Surly fasting is good and right, and a spiritual discipline to be used in praying more earnestly and seeking the Lord’s face, and Scripture is vital to our sanctification (John17:17), and clearly tears of genuine repentance are good to see so long as they are a sign of what is happening inwardly (2 Cor 7:8-11). Notice though these things are all good in their place, but they do not earn favor with God. Listen to David as he Prays in Psalm 51:16, “For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering”… David realized that these things are pointless in trying to manipulate God into thinking we are ‘really really sorry this time’. But notice what David goes on to say in v17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise”. It is this attitude that shows a real sorrow over sin, and I don’t think it is something that is temporal, by that I mean, we don’t just feel this way for a moment, but the Christian life is one of contrition and brokenness. Blessed are the poor in spirit said Christ, blessed are those who mourn (Matthew 5:3-4)… I could go on.

Someone may say to me, ‘But Tyrell, look this spirit of brokenness and contrition is a work, it is something we are expected to do.” That is an interesting point and in answering it gives us some wonderful and terrible (in the sense of terror inspiring, I wanted to write ‘terrorful’) insights: Notice the words of Hebrews 12v17, “For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.” Notice how even with an appearance of contrition, that being tears, there is no genuine repentance. This is because ‘repentance’ is a gift from God (Acts11:17). Perhaps you find yourself not mourning over sin, one reason may be that like Esau, you have not been granted repentance, you wish to flee from the fire to come like the Pharisees who ran to John the Baptist, but you do not wish to have your evil nature changed, it is God’s wrath you fear, not your wicked nature you hate. Oh that you would throw yourself on the mercy of God and beg Him to remove the mask of your sin and show you how abhorable it truly is.< But perhaps you are a believer and thus have been granted repentance, well to you, know that to be in such a state that one is not wounded to the heart by sin, is a very serious place to be, a place where security of Salvation may be a fact, but assurance of Salvation cannot be had. Mortify the flesh by the Spirit (Romans 8:13). Set your mind on heavenly things, be meditating day and night on the Lord, be sure that you are fighting all sins in your life, and not just those that trouble you. Know that He will complete that good work which He began in you because you are Christ’s (Phil 1:6).

A Friendly Discussion on Preterism (Part 2.1)

The Time Texts: The Crux of Preterism

R.C. Sproul says that “the central thesis . . . of all preterists is that the New Testament’s time frame references with respect to the parousia point to a fulfillment within the lifetime of at least some of Jesus’ disciples.[i]” The majority of preterist books I have come across devote much of their argument to these “time texts”, and the interpretation of them makes it necessary for what was prophesied in the N.T. eschatological texts to have a first century fulfillment. If we can show that these texts are better understood within the futurist understanding, preterism as a system will have lost much of its support. To begin the challenge I will address the two prominent “time frame” references, and why preterists fail to properly interpret these texts. The first I will discuss in this paper, and the next in the following article.

After declaring the birth pangs, the hard labor of tribulation, and the coming of the Son of Man, Jesus declares in Matthew 24:34, “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” With regards to this text, I had a dear friend recently say, “I’m just saying what I read in the passage”. Listen to popular preterist proponent Gary Demar’s discussion on “this generation:”

The texts that govern the timing of the Olivet Discourse prophecy – Matthew 23:36 and Matthew 24:34 – makemount-of-olives it clear that Jesus was speaking of the events leading up to and including the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 . . . If people fail to recognize the timing of these events set by Scripture and the historical context of Jesus’ words, they will always be led astray by those who keep insisting that it’s our generation that living in the end times.[ii]

Preterists regard their interpretation of “this generation” in the Olivet Discourse as the undefeatable Goliath of their system. However, is their interpretation the most persuasive given the usage and context of the term in Matthew’s Gospel? I don’t think so. Remember when we interpret a word/phrase, we need to go and see how the author uses that phrase elsewhere, to get a better understanding. The preterist is using the historical-grammatical hermeneutical principle of ‘Reading carefully and normally’ to come to their understanding, however they are ignoring two other principles which are: “Context determines meaning’ (in this case the book of Matthew) and ‘Word Study’.

The classic futurist interpretation is that this verse speaks of a future generation, or time. The classic preterist interpretation is that this verse speaks of a past generation, or time. I think that both of those views fail to take into account a number of vital interpretational factors.

How does Matthew use the phrase “this generation”? Is that a reference to a time frame, say 40-80 years? Surly this would be my conclusion if my only interpretational principle was to read ‘normally and carefully’(note that I don’t think preterists apply this same principle in a few verses time, since ‘suddenly the coming on the clouds’ is all cryptic and metaphorical to them, but I will deal with this issue in a later paper). I don’t think that this is a reference to time at all.

Rather than quantitative (time on earth), it is a qualitative use of the phrase (describing people with specific spiritual characteristics). The phrase ‘this generation’ is being used in a critical sense towards a group of people, namely, the Israelites who rejected the Messiah.

Wailing WallIf we understand this term as descriptive of those in ethnic Israel who reject Messiah (which has continued since the first century) not only are we within the bounds of the usage of “this generation” in Matthew, but this interpretation also fits best with both the immediate context and the whole of Scripture. (I am in the process of writing an article which addresses this Matthews use of this phrase and the Jewish understanding of ‘Corporate Solidarity’)

The expectation of salvation and restoration of ethnic Israel runs through Bible. It’s a common theme in the Old Testament (Ezekiel 36:22-38), right after the resurrection of Jesus (Acts 1:6-8), and in Paul’s teachings. The Apostle writes, “For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (Romans 11:25). The theme of the restoration of Israel is important in the Olivet Discourse. Just before the Discourse in Matthew, Jesus announces to “this generation”: “For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'” (Matthew 23:39 emphasis added).

“This generation” will pass away, but this has not yet happened as there are still unbelieving Israelites. But a time will come when there will be no more unbelieving Israelites who reject Messiah. Those Israelites who remain will see their Messiah when they declare, by His sovereign grace, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” The Lord will “come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob” (Romans 11:26). But all the events Jesus outlined in the Olivet Discourse must be fulfilled before this occurs (cf. Zech 12).

This interpretation of “this generation” fits much better with Matthew’s usage, with the immediate context of the Olivet Discourse, and the whole counsel of God. So ironically, preterism’s chief text turns into solid support for both futurism and the coming restoration of ethnic Israel when Christ returns.

[i] R.C. Sproul, The Last Days According to Jesus, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998) 25.

[ii] Gary DeMar, End Times Fiction, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2001) 114.

A Friendly Discussion on Preterism (Part 1)

From the outset let me say that I have dear friends and brothers who are fellow Christians and labourers for Christ who hold to a preterist position. The point of my articles is to engage myself on these doctrines. However it is not to prove that my partial preterist friends are heretics, they are much loved brothers. Furthermore the aim of these articles will not be to cause division, an individual who divides over eschatology (which remains within orthodox Christianity) is a divisive man who should be avoided. I have and always will recommend people to partial preterist churches, even though I disagree with them on this issue.

This first article is just to give a brief breakdown of the terms used and the two camps.Following from this the doctrine will be engaged.

Normally when people talk about eschatology (doctrines of the end times) generally they are defined by their millennial position (premillennialism, amillennialism, or postmillennialism). However the question we will be discussing here is ‘Are you a preterist or a futurist?’ The argument is really about when the prophecies of the Olivet Discourse in the Gospels (Matthew 24-25, Mark 13, and Luke 21) and the book of Revelation are fulfilled.

The term preterism is from the Latin (praeter) which means “past.” Preterists suggest that the above mention eschatological texts are really prophesying the events of the destruction of the temple and the city of Jerusalem. Preterismpreterism-70ad says that, these prophecies were fulfilled in the Roman siege and destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. At this point let me say that there is a difference between partial and full preterism. Full (or hyper) preterists believe that all of the prophecies regarding the second coming of Christ, most significantly the “resurrection” of believers, were fulfilled in the first century. Partial preterists hold that the majority of what is declared in the book of Revelation (and the Olivet Discourse) was fulfilled in the first century, yet there remains a future judgment, a resurrection of the dead, and a bodily return of Christ. Preterists theologians which I will be engaging are only from the partial preterist camp. Generally, both partial preterists and futurists see full preterism as outside the realm of “the faith” in accordance with Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 15.

Futurism (which I hold to) posits that the main eschatological texts of the New Testament prophesy about the events surrounding the return of Christ which will complete history. Many eschatological positions are within futurism, their common link is that the Olivet Discourse and book of Revelation will principally be fulfilled in the future.

To put it in a nut-shell: Preterism is the system of interpretation that understands the Olivet Discourse and the book of Revelation to primarily prophesy the events surrounding the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, which is in the pastFuturism is the system of interpretation that understands the Olivet Discourse and the book of Revelation to primarily prophesy the events surrounding and including the second coming of Christ, which is still in the future.

When mere wonder (how we feel about God) becomes idolatry.

It has come to my attention lately that this whole issue of theology and doctrine being bad is again an issue, Post-moderns who seem to only read a bit of early Christian writing and have not followed the historical debate in the 19th century regarding the idea of doctrine, have made the same mistakes as passed liberals and critiqued theology instead of bad theology.

Ironically, whenever some wishes to critique theology (or ideology) they knowingly, or unknowingly, slip in their own theology (or ideology). Theology my friends in inescapable, the only question is, do you have good theology or bad theology.

chastepI read one ‘emergent’ writer lately who says, “However, our form of following Jesus (even within Christianity) differs largely.” His entire article went on to try and dichotomize theology (propositional truth about God) from God Himself, appealing to the supposed good of deconstructionism as well as the fact that there is such a plurality of beliefs within Christianity, thus implying that we can be sure of nothing .

Consider the following story:

“That guy sure is taking long to come back to us, I wonder what he is going to say?”… “I’m not sure Yougerosh Christoneth, but all I know is he could be dead, and we are stuck here, we can’t know for sure if he is coming back, and if he even has anything worthwhile to say when he does” grumbled Emerilech Deconstrucarach, “Come let us make our own idea of G-D, after all its about the wonder right, it’s about the experience” Emerilech continued.

So Relatinobeth then told all the people to take off their gold rings (and assorted other jewelry) and to join him in forging ahead, in trying what is new, its adventure, its extreme, watch and learn.

Relationobeth formed it into a huge ‘Golden Calf’ and said, “here, this is your god which brought you out of Egypt”

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, “Go down at once, for your people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves.

“They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them. They have made for themselves a molten calf, and have worshiped it and have sacrificed to it and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!’ ”

aThe Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, they are 1ban obstinate people.[i]

Forgive my attempt at bringing an ancient story into modern times. But the questions it raises are important. Why couldn’t the Israelites decide how they would worship God? What made their way wrong? After all it isn’t about creeds but deeds right (translated: It isn’t about faith but works right)? They were just caught in the blissful rapture of what they thought god was to them, they didn’t care about the theology of it all! Who cares what the second commandment says, there are plenty nations around us who do it this way, why can’t we!

‘Concepts create idols; only wonder comprehends anything.’ – St. Gregory of Nyssa. Really? Well Gregory is old and it does say saint before his name.

An Idol is “an object (not necessarily three dimensional) which has been formed to resemble a person, god, animal, etc.—‘likeness, image’[1]” When one abandons doctrine and Theology as it is given in the Holy Scriptures and attempts to worship just a thing that’s out there, and its so wondrous, one forms a idol, a picture inbelief ones mind of what God is, or righty it should be written of what g-d is (since in this persons mind he has not been revealed).

When you say to your loved one, “I love you but I don’t know why” you are not being complimentary, this is not a good thing to say. You say I love you since you have won my love, because of who you are…. (followed by a list of propositional truth about the person”

Maybe the apostle John highlighted this aspect the best, “We love, because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19). What do you mean God loved us? Well the doctrine of election tells us what John means, the doctrine of reprobation, atonement, the incarnation, the hypo-static union, all of soteriology and hamartiology and and and…. It all expounds to us the Love of God, and thus once I grasp these things my love grows more full, my wonder more rich as God allows me to see glimpses of His glory in a language I understand.

Friends remember:    “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.

[1]Louw, Johannes P. ; Nida, Eugene Albert: Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament : Based on Semantic Domains. electronic ed. of the 2nd edition. New York : United Bible societies, 1996, c1989, S. 1:64

a Acts 1:7

b John 5:39; Acts 17:11; 2 Tim 3:16

[2] New American Standard Bible : 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA : The Lockman Foundation, 1995, S. Dt 29:29

1 Lit go down

a Ex 32:4, 11; Deut 9:12

b Gen 6:11f

a Ex 20:3, 4, 23

b Ex 22:20; 34:15; Deut 32:17

1 Or These are your gods

c 1 Kin 12:28

a Num 14:11–20

1 Or a stiff-necked

b Ex 33:3, 5; 34:9; Is 48:4; Acts 7:51

[i] New American Standard Bible : 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA : The Lockman Foundation, 1995, S. Ex 32:7-9

Zeitgeist, Davinci, Judas Scrolls and the Hostile Mind!

Yesterday I was reflecting on the series of attacks against Christianity that have occurred lately, not from the ex5inside as with the ‘emergent heresy’ (you can define that however you want to… or can you?), but from the secular world. Things like the ‘Divinci Code’, ‘Epistle of Judas’ and the new ‘Zeitgeist’ dvd which is doing the rounds. I have had to face the reality of these things since my concern is not only to be aware of them for the protection of God’s flock, but also so that I myself am confident that I have a well though through defended/defendable belief, I noticed the terrible academic work done on these three things. Dan Brown is no historian, this he admits, people who are getting excited about the epistle of Judas are suddenly forgetting all methods of testing ancient documents and those who promulgate the ‘Zeitgeist’ film appear to have never read any of the ancient mythologies for themselves.

I wondered to myself, do these people realize that what they are doing is essentially lying? Or is it by accident? Perhaps the ‘Discovery channel’ is not aware of how ancient documents are tested, perhaps Dan Brown really has no idea of how the Cannon was formed and what happened at the Council of Nicaea, perhaps the Zeitgeist guys never read the sources of ancient mythology, maybe they just read extracts of articles made up by people with a hatred for Christianity. This may be the case, however, it may not be the case, maybe all or some of these people are purposefully trying to attack and destroy Christianity using lies and false or half-baked information.

Romans 1v18 speaks about how people ‘suppress the truth in unrighteousness’. Paul goes on in verse 21 and 22 to explains For even though they knew God, they did not 1honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools (NASB).”As I went about to study these three things which the world so quickly grasps, as if they themselves are revealed by God, I saw how mind blowingly inaccurate, unacademic and unfounded they all are. This article is not to explain how I came tofantasy-tower that conclusion on all three, scholars far smarter than I have already done this and it is beyond the scope of this blog. However, the question I ask is what motivated people to do this? My answer is the same as Paul’s, they want to suppress the truth in their unrighteousness. How I pray and so should all Christians, that these people are just mistaken and it is not an active desire to mis-lead that motivates them.

Christians must heed this warning and not make the same mistake, we are to be vigilant, prudent, and thoughtful, we should never attempt to discredit others based on false or half information, we must not be swung with every fad or new heresy that comes along like the people of the world are. This is one of the effects the doctrine of election has, it causes churches to have rigorous thought, and careful thinking (not the point of the doctrine, but a great effect).

I wrote this thought and present it, because I think Christians need to know what they are up against… People who will believe anything, so long as they don’t have to admit that there is a Lord, the man Jesus Christ, whom they should worship and obey.

1 Lit glorify

Why Celebration for the Reformation?

So, today was the day… 31 October 1517, Martin Luther challenged the tyrannical religo-political system of the Catholic Church. As I considered why I celebrated the fact that God raised a man up like Luther, I thought of the far reaching effects of the reformation on everyday life and modern civilization… Ideas have consequences and the recapturing of the Gospel as it is found in the Holy Bible had far reaching effects in our world.

To name a few…

The Reformation became one of the roots of Democracy, though Luther or Calvin did not see this at the time, many historians today attribute, as least in part, the Reformation for democracy. Some seeds can be seen in Calvin’s dislike for a monarchy, where too much power is placed in one mans hands.

Public education also came to the fore. Luther wanted there to be public schools in Germany where children had to attend and learn more then just the fundamentals of the Faith, but also literature and culture. Knox and Calvin made the move to have educated clergy in churches. Edward VI of England, the Protestant King, set up 30 grammar schools, a movement which continued after his rule.

The influence on literature was remarkable, Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, Luther’s German translation of the Bible and King Henry’s King James Bible (which is sill the best selling book of all time), where all milestones in the French, German and English languages respectively. I could go one naming many other books that arose out of the Reformation which impacted and made language what it is today.

The Reformation influenced Art even more then it did language and literature; architecture, sculpting, painting etc. all were significantly advanced by the Reformation

Men like Pascal, who was a noted mathematician, physicist and inventor, and is considered one of the great religious thinkers of Western civilization. He believed that one should come to faith in God through Faith alone in Jesus Christ. We could name many other men like John Locke, Oliver Cromwell etc.

The protestant Reformation helped along many philosophies as well as the advancement of science, because it stressed individual thought and personal Faith. Ironically the advancement it allowed eventually led to rationalism which often tries to deny the God and Gospel which led to its development.

Elizabeth I the devoutly protestant queen (who was initially persecuted for her faith), brought England into what has become known as the ‘Golden Age’ of British History.

The Reformation led to woman’s Suffiridge (although this was instilled in the New Testament, it was again realized by men who were influenced the Reformers, however many still tried to suppress women using unbiblical and inconsistent theology). Ironically when women received this freedom, they sometimes took it too far to the point of confusing roles with equality with regard to function in the Church.

Other effects were the ‘Protestant Work Ethic’ which caused the prosperity of modern Europe and America. Emancipation Acts, started by William Wilberforce, the Calvinist politician from Britain. The abolishment of Child labor… I could go on and on.

Today in South Africa we are talking about moral renewal, and the truth is, we can not have moral renewal without the foundation on which to build it… and before you start talking about tolerance, remember the whole idea of ‘Tolerance’ is a child of the Reformation, particularly the Baptists… The truthful Gospel of Jesus Christ proved to be amazing in it’s impact on society, but as the Enlightenment hit, and people started becoming post-Christian we have noticed the beginning of the fall of society.

The greatest effect of the Reformation, besides all these other wonderful things, was the discovery that one can know that they are going to heaven, and that by Faith alone, in Christ alone, because of His grace and not your ability to be good, as we read in the Scripture, all of this to the Glory of God alone. I would forgo all other benefits if It was only this beautiful, liberating, courage-producing, love-creating truth-Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin, that I may be the Righteousness of God in Him, because the just shall live by faith (Romans 1:17).