Sat, Jan 7th - 7:12PM
Problems With Dispensationalism
Consider a few problems with the dispensational interpretation of Scripture:
-The Bible does not say that world conditions will or must progressively go from bad to worse before the rapture, and the alleged signs of the second coming or signs of the end times have no Scriptural basis. For example, where does the Bible say that the establishment of the modern nation of Israel relates to the second coming or the end or fulfillment of "the times of the Gentiles?" Many Bible prophecies that are being applied to the second coming are fulfilled prophecies (e.g., Return from Babylonian captivity, destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, etc.). Many insist on interpreting every passage of Bible prophecy to be a literal narration of end time events regardless of context and setting. Many twist and distort facts and Scriptures to make every current event fit the mold of pet theories about the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Many theories and predictions are the result of cross referencing unrelated passages of Bible prophecy. When someone makes a ministry of making predictions and one or some of his predictions prove to be correct it is often assumed that this puts him and all his teachings above scrutiny. This certainly is not rightly dividing the Word of God. (II Timothy 2:15)
-Matthew 24 is a prophecy about the end of the Jewish world which centered on Jerusalem and the temple (Destruction of Jerusalem 70 AD); consider the context and setting. (Matthew 24:1-3) There were many deceivers who claimed to be Christian (saying that Jesus is Christ), and there were many false prophets and false messiahs in the years and decades preceding the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. (Matthew 24:4-5, 11, 24; Romans 16:17-18; II Corinthians 11:13-15; Titus 1:10) Wars, famines, and pestilences characterized the years preceding the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. (Matthew 24:6-7) Matthew 24:14 was fulfilled before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. (Romans 10:18; Colossians 1:6, 23) “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken.” (Matthew 24:29) Matthew 24:29 uses an Old Testament figure of speech for national disaster. (Consider Isaiah 13:10; Ezekiel 32:7; Joel 2:10; 3:15) There were survivors of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD; thousands were taken captive, many of whom were sold into slavery. (Matthew 24:22, 40-41) Matthew 24:15 is an obvious reference to the earthly temple in Jerusalem then in operation. (Compare Hebrews 9:11-12, 24-25) In 66 A.D., Roman forces surrounded Jerusalem and made a thrust up to the temple walls and then withdrew for no apparent reason, and then the Christians in Judea fled to the mountains as instructed. (Matthew 24:16) Matthew 24:15-16 refers to the prophecy of the seventy weeks in Daniel 9:24-27. Calculating a day for a year (Ezekiel 4:6) means that 69 weeks (62 + 7) is 483 years, which would bring us to the year Christ was baptized and began His public ministry. (Daniel 9:25) Christ was crucified about 3 1/2 years later; in other words, "in the midst of the week" He was "cut off." (Daniel 9:26,27) "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression...." (Daniel 9:24) Note that Stephen emphasized how Israel's response to God revealed character, and his death led to a persecution and a dispersal of Christians from Jerusalem. (Acts 7:51-53; 8:1-4; consider Matthew 23:33-36) "And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week...." (Daniel 9:27) Cornelius was converted about four years after the crucifixion of Christ, and until his conversion the preaching of the Gospel was limited to Jews, Jewish proselytes, and Samaritans who kept the Mosaic Law. Before Cornelius became a Christian it had not been revealed that Gentiles were to be received into the church as Gentiles and did not have to first become Jews in order to become Christians. (Acts 10:1-48; 11:18) “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” (Matthew 24:34) “This generation” is obviously not a reference to some distant future generation, and Jerusalem was destroyed within the lifetime of people then living. (Matthew 24:34; compare Matthew 11:16; 12:39; 17:17; 23:36; etc...)
-II Timothy 3:1-13 is not a description of world conditions during the end times. The term "last days" refers to the Christian era, and it should be noted that all the New Testament references to “last days” were written before 70 AD. (II Timothy 3:1; Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:16-21; Hebrews 1:1-2; II Peter 3:2-3) Paul’s instruction “from such turn away” indicates that the previously described conditions existed at that time. (II Timothy 3:5)
-The argument for a completely literal hermeneutic is self-defeating as those who use this argument to prove dispensationalism also teach that some parts of the Bible are figurative, allegorical, or typical. For example, dispensationalists argue for a literal interpretation of every detail of the Book of Revelation but do not themselves interpret everything in Revelation literally. Also consider: How can we put the second coming of Christ before the Millennium without doing violence to the connection between the nineteenth and twentieth chapters of Revelation? If Revelation 20:4 speaks of a literal bodily resurrection then why did John specify that he "saw the souls?" What is the basis for insistence that the Millennium has to be a literal one thousand year period? (Consider II Peter 3:8)
-“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14) Matthew 7:13-14 is descriptive, not prescriptive. In the context of the time few Jews would recognize Jesus and many would be destroyed in the destruction of Jerusalem. (Luke 19:44)
-“Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” (Matthew 21:43) Dispensationalism says that God is working through two distinct bodies of people, natural Israel and the Church, to fulfill His purposes concerning the second coming and the Millennium, and that the goal of the Church is to be raptured in a premillennial second coming, and God's plan for natural Israel is the establishment of an earthly kingdom after the second coming. As a result of the teaching that Jewish priority and privilege is perpetual the question of whether a Gentile could be a Christian without first becoming a Jew was one of the great issues of the first century. Christians were unfairly judging one another on the basis of the observance or neglect of circumcision, the seventh-day Sabbath, Jewish holidays, dietary restrictions, and other aspects of the Old Covenant that separated or distinguished natural Jews from Gentiles; those laws were based on principles and truths that did not change, but their application changed under the New Covenant. (Consider Matthew 5:17; Romans 3:31) The real issue was whether anyone could really be considered a Jew without first becoming a Christian; the Church is a continuing body in the Old Testament and the New Testament and the New Testament Church is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy concerning Israel. (Acts 2:16-21; 15:15-17; Romans 2:28-29; 9:6-8; Galatians 3:7,16-19,24-29; 4:21-31; Hebrews 10:15-17; 12:22-24; I Peter 2:9) Natural Jews were and are being saved individually, but the Bible does not say that natural Israel will be saved as a nation. (Romans 11:1-2, 5) God’s covenant with natural Israel was a conditional covenant. (Deuteronomy 4:23, 26-27; 28:15, 49-53; Jeremiah 31:36; Micah 3:9-12) The Old Testament requirement of the obedience of faith and genuine repentance removed Israel as a special nation, as natural Jews as a people cast off God’s Word for their human traditions and rejected Christ. (Numbers 15:30-31; Matthew 15:1-9; 21:43; John 8:33-44, 47)
-The second coming of Christ will bring the sudden destruction of the heavens and the earth, not the establishment of an earthly kingdom. (II Peter 3:10-12)
-There will be a general resurrection of the dead. (Matthew 5:29; I Corinthians 15:26,51-55)
-Dispensationalism promotes a neutrality or isolation that rejects or prevents interaction between Christianity and culture. It encourages believers to withdraw from society and be neutral as a result of preoccupation with speculations about things which they obviously do not and cannot know. (Matthew 5:13-16; Acts 17:6-7; 26:18; note that Christ came to destroy the works of the Devil – I John 3:8)
-Jesus Christ is the present ruler of the earth and the end will come after He has destroyed all dominion, authority and power (Acts 2:32-35; 1 Corinthians 15:24-26; Hebrews 1:13; 10:13; consider Acts 17:6-7)
-Dispensationalism contradicts Scriptures on the growth of the kingdom. (Psalm 2:8; 22:27; 47:9; 72:11; 86:9-10; Daniel 2:35, 44; Isaiah 9:7; 11:9; 66:23; Matthew 13:31-33) Note that if you plant seeds in your garden or field and then later look at the seeds or watch your garden or field at any one particular point and time between planting and harvest it might appear that nothing is happening, and this is also true of the Christianisation of the whole world. (Matthew 13:31-33; Mark 4:26-28; Luke 17:20)
-Christians are commissioned to convert nations as well as individuals. (Matthew 28:18-20; Revelation 15:4; note that when Christianity has dominance it will be by consent – Luke 17:20-21)
-Dispensationalism limits the scope of the Gospel. (John 3:16-17; 12:32; Romans 5:15-21; I Timothy 2:1-6; I John 2:2; 4:4; Revelation 5:9; 7:9; 14:6)
-Scriptures present the Church as victorious while dispensationalism sees a mere remnant of believers remaining when Christ returns. (Matthew 16:17-19; John 12:31; 16:7-11; Luke 10:17-19; Acts 26:16-18; II Corinthians 10:3-5; Colossians 1:13-14; I John 4:4)
Mon, Jan 2nd - 5:58PM
The New Age Movement
“The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) The New Age Movement is not new; it is actually a revival of ancient pagan religious practices, traditions, and concepts. The New Age Movement is a religious and social movement comprised of various groups and individuals who share beliefs in various combinations of Gnosticism and occultism.
The New Age Movement is a religious worldview that is alien and hostile to Christianity, and in the Twentieth Century the New Agers (as they are now called) became extremely zealous in their efforts to deal with Christianity and Judeo-Christian values, especially since WWII. Their efforts have included attempts to make evangelism a crime, legislation against Christian activities and Christian organizations, and attempts to require Evangelicals to accept unbelievers, heretics, sexual perverts, and other infringements on doctrinal beliefs and standards within their organizations. They have manipulated news and entertainment media, religious radio programs and religious telecasts, and public education.
How should Christians respond to the New Age Movement? It is important that Christians counter falsehoods by declaring the truth using scriptures and logic (and not opinions). Relativism, inaccurate historical events which they accept, and their worldview need to be disproven, and the Scriptural identity and description of God, Jesus, and the gospel need to be clarified in contrast to New Age beliefs. Showing and proving the accuracy and reliability of the Holy Bible is essential. It is also important to recognize individual New Agers as individuals. A New Ager is deceived but being a New Ager doesn’t necessarily mean that he is evil; for example, many New Agers have goals that Christians should also work toward but for different reasons. Individual New Agers are at various stages and levels of experimentation and New Age teachings. Intercessory prayer is essential. Christians should also be encouraged to participate in community affairs and take a stand on important issues to counter the influence and effect of the New Age Movement.