Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Dispensational deficiencies

Before I go into this critique, I need to mention the positive side of this belief system. Of all the belief systems that I have critiqued, I have the most in common with Dispensationalism. In fact outside of my Baptist identity, the dispensational system is the one, which I hold to the most and I do not mind the label dispensationalist. So let me go on to present that which I agree.

1. I believe the Bible is to be interpreted literally (historical grammatical method)
2. I believe in seven dispensations (Garden, Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, grace, Millennia)
3. I believe that Israel and the church are to be interpreted as distinct from each other.
4. Before the New Heavens and New Earth their will be a 1000 year reign of Christ.
5. I believe in a 7 year tribulation period
6. I believe in a pre-tribulation rapture
7. I hold to a mild form of Calvinism (3 point)
8. I believe that the regenerate man has 2 natures; the Old (carnal) and the New(spiritual).
9. The Christian is not sanctified through following the law, but through faith resulting in the fruits of the spirit.
10. Man consists of a body, soul, and spirit.
11. The Nation of Israel was prophesied to undergo turmoil and to be regathered as it was this century.
12. I believe in the antichrist, the beast and the great whore of Babylon
13. I believe they will be easily defeat by Christ with the breath of his mouth
14. I believe the Temple will be restored ( and enchanced) during the millennium
All these points I agree to and would defend.

However as with all other systems of theology, man-made doctrine has a way of creeping in. Therefore, I wanted to critique dispensational theology just as stringently as other systems which I critiqued. (Calvinism, Wesleyanism, Campbellite etc.)

The Old Testament still speaks to Christians
Most dispensationalist make the dispensational periods divided into walled off blocks arguing that the previous dispensation had been done away and therefore irrelevant. In fact some ministers, such as John MacArthur will not preach the Old Testament from the pulpit. They argue that their duty is to simply preach the New Covenant.
This is a fallacy, the Bible is a living and abiding word.
1Pe 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
No page of the Bible was meant to gather dust
Act 20:27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
This fallacy eventually grew into the doctrine of hyper-Dispensationalism. This doctrine, eventually was defeated by fellow dispensationalist H. A. Ironside. Thankfully, progressive dispensationalist like Craig Blaising have offered up a view of the dispensations were they build on to one another building their focus upon their fulfillment in Christ. Unfortunately some aspects of this new system have tied themselves more into covenant theology. Which I would never endorse.

Jesus reigns
One core tenet in dispensational theology, which I hold to, is that Jesus is not reigning upon the earth. Yet at the same time, dispensationalists go further to say that Jesus is not reigning from the Davidic throne. However Jesus reigns as king in heaven and is already reigning on the earth though all things have not yet been subdued by Him. (1Cor. 15:28)
Rom 1:3 Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;
Rom 1:4 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:
Mar 16:19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
Eph 1:20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
Eph 1:21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
Eph 1:22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
Christ shall not subdue everything until the Second Coming but it is important to remember that reigns.
We are responsible to follow Kingdom Law.
We are under Jesus authority
Some dispensationalist have argue that as a result of the doctrine of the church being born at Pentecost, that The gospels are not written authoritatively for the church age and therefore only for the Jews in the millennial kingdom.
Act 28:30 And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him,
Act 28:31 Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things, which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.
1Jo 2:3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
1Jo 2:4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
While I agree with Dispensationalist that that Kingdom is distinct from the Church we have to understand that there is one Gospel.
Gal 1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
The dispensational emphases upon proper division of the word of God have much strength. Yet at times extreme Dispensationalism can lead to heresy. The idea that there are two separate gospels, one of grace and another of the Kingdom results in dividing the one true gospel of Christ, which is perversion.
Gal 1:6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
Gal 1:7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

Jesus started the local church
One of the hardest problems dispensationalists have had is their interdenominational nature. If they had stuck literal interpretation over the traditions of reformed theology they would have a proper ecclesiology to perfect their theology.
This causes a great deal of confusion whatever we find in tradition that we don’t see in the Bible finds it’s way back to gnosticism.
Why on earth do most Christians think that Christ did not start His own church?
The Bible even says it!
Mat 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Pentecost advocates blindly argue that this an esoteric statement. But Jesus said He would send His Spirit, The Holy Spirit, not himself spiritually!
Joh 16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
So honestly the idea that Christ built the church spiritually is anti-trinitarian. ( the idea itself! Don’t be offended.) He made the church literally, he referred to it as such.
Mat 18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
Mat 18:18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Mat 18:19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
Mat 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
We see Jesus refers to the apostles and gives them directions in how to follow the church. That’s right, even the apostles submitted to the authority of the local church. What else could it be? It could not be Pharisee Israel or the gospel could not be preached. It couldn’t be the universal church because how could you gather them together? It was obvious that Christ had already created the church and it was local.
Over 95% of the references to the word ecclesia are admittedly to referring to particular local churches. The other handful of verses may appear to be the universal church or they may appear to be the generic church model.
For instance if you heard a history teacher discussing the “Model T” car, they would not be talking about all model Ts, they would simply be talking about the idea or model of this car. When I refer to “the dog” I am not talking about a particular dog nor all dogs, but the general idea of a dog. So I believe when we discuss “The church” in the New Testament.

Our Faith does not justify, it is the righteousness of Christ.
Rom 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
Rom 3:21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
Rom 3:22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
Rom 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Rom 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Rom 3:26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
Rom 4:6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,
Rom 4:10 How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.
Rom 4:11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:
Phi 3:8-9 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
Sadly there are a few Dispensationalist (though not all) who argue that we are not justified by the righteousness of Christ but the righteousness of our own faith.
As evangelicals we must be careful not to elevate faith over the work of Christ. Millions of souls are separated from Christ because they have religion based upon their work of Faith.
Saving faith is not a work but instead a doorway or key to gain access to the righteousness of God. We must be careful not to exalt faith to be work, otherwise we end up with cheap legalism. Whereby people believe that they have earned salvation by belief.

Jesus saved Israel
Luk 2:29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:
Luk 2:30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
Mat 27:50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.
Mat 27:51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
Mat 27:52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
Mat 27:53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
1Pe 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
1Pe 3:19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
Eph 4:8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
Eph 4:9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
Eph 4:10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
Joh 20:16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.
Joh 20:17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
Heb 2:14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
Heb 2:15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
Rev 1:17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:
Rev 1:18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

Jesus condemns the lost over their sins

I have listened to some dispensationalist specifically on the radio, argue for “easy-believism” in an awkward way, in the since that faith is the only measure which Christ will judge the world.
This makes God’s Judgement arbitrary since some people may not have heard the gospel and argue innocence in the form of this.
However my understanding of the scriptures is clear.
The Lost will be condemn by there is works
Rev 20:12-14 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
The saved may be saved by grace, but their works will still be judged
2Co 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

Though it is not part of our Justification, repentance is essential to complete the process of salvation
Luk 13:5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
Act 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.
Jam 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
1Co 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
1Co 6:10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
1Co 6:11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
Several Dispensationalist argue that repentance is part of the gospel of the Kingdom. Now I must say that not all Dispensationalist have this view and the greatest correction has come from Dispensationalist John MacArthur. If we have been saved we will be born again and therefore we will repent from our sins.

The Spirit still gives gifts
The idea that was an extra dispensation of spiritual gifts is a profound error. It is Paul more than anyone who taught spiritual gifts and it was Paul who was the Apostle of the age of grace.
1Co 12:4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
1Co 12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
1Co 12:11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
1Co 12:12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
When we look at this passage the gifts of the spirit are given to members of the local church and the discussion is over the local church and not the apostles as many dispensational cessationist argue.

1Co 12:15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
1Co 12:16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
1Co 12:17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?
How could certain gifts be “sign gifts” and dissected from the body of Christ? Does this mean that God has made churches incomplete?

1Co 13:10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
1Co 13:11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
1Co 13:12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
Dispensationalist cessationist, prefer to argue that the gifts ceased at the closing of the canon. Yet even as a Apostle Paul did not consider himself to have this vision. The only thing more enlightening would be the second coming of Christ.

Jesus will save the Tribulation Jews. (They will not save themselves)
Many argue that the Jews in the Tribulation period will have to work their way to heaven through martyrdom. But you see this idea robs Israel of salvation. Jesus is the savior
Rom 10:1 Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
Rom 10:2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
Rom 10:3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
Rom 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
Gal 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
Gal 2:21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
God loves the Jews and He wants them to be saved by God’s grace as well.

There will be one body everlasting.
The point of the Great White throne of Judgement to me is to finish Christ work of reconciliation.
While we have different dispensations we all have people who are created in the image of God. Therefore we all have equal standing with him.
Rom 11:21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.
Rom 11:22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
Rom 11:23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.
Rom 11:24 For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?
As we can see there is one saved tree and one body which we will all dwell in.
Dispensationalism has launch many advances for Christianity in terms of biblical studies. Yet if we focus on dispensational division to the point where forget our prior commitment to literal interpretation, we are doomed to commit error and eventually false teaching.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Why be critical?

When I look at different belief systems and I critique them many Christians get offended.

How can I go to somebody and show them the love of Christ if i am judging them?

Essentially we all want love others and Christians want to show the love of CHrist.

But what is Judgeing and what is love?

We have entered a time of ignorance.
We must remember that what you don't know can kill you.
Millions wil have horrible lives and even worse eternity because they chose the life of a fool.
The fool is one who lives as if there is no God.(Psalm 14)

How do we help people?
Is it by helping people feel good for a minute or a life time.
A drug dealor can potentially help you feel really good for a little while.
I (a preacher) can potentially help you feel really good for all eternity.

If I love someone I may or may not say sweet words. But I will help you if you are in true need and give you godly advice.
not because of me but Christ working in me.

How do we judge people. I convicted that we should not be hard on people but able to forgive and forget. We do not need vengeance upon people.

But I do believe in tough love.

Homosexual rights advocates think they love homosexuals.
They tell them they are born that way and that they need to get married to a homosexuall in that lifestyle for the rest of their lives.

Statistically most homosexuals(definitely men at least) are the bi-products of child molestation. As little children they were tortured and destroyed by evil sex crazed monsters.
Most of these young men were robbed of every ounce of dignity. So much so, that they could not even look at themselves in the mirror be assured of their ability to be men. So they masquerade as sex objects to run away from the guilt. They are then enslaved to live lifestyles that blaspheme themselves, their families, and a just God who will be force to poor out his wrath upon them if there is no repentance toward God and Faith toward Christ. Not to mention lifestyles in which they usually will not live past the age of 50 and will be tempted to become the vampires that tortured them in their youth.

It is not judgemental in our culture to encourage them in this slavery and rush them head long on into death and damnation.

Yet it is condemning to offer them freedom......

As I wrote in my philosophy of freedom.
The word of God might condemn us. But if we follow it, then we will be set free.
People like freedom.

When I attack sin, I am offering freedom.
To set a captive free you break their shackles.
This could be very painful.

But the pain will be worth freedom.
Ask any refugee.
In Christ