The Church; the Final Transition


Where is the Church today in the flow of Scripture and the flow of history?  Is the Church in her final transition? If so, what does that mean?

The passing of age-to-age; epoch-to-epoch is marked by unequaled,   transformational events. These are “the divine method of action as major dispensational changes have been wrought—such changes [that] inaugurate and necessitate a whole new order and relationship between God and man.”[ii]

Recall that God took seven days to create the cosmos. There were seven features to the Noahic Covenant, seven attributes to the Abrahamic Covenant, seven features to the Palestinian (Land) Covenant, seven features to the Davidic covenant.

The last three of these covenants secure God’s eternal, unconditional promised “blessing for Israel through all time and eternity.”[iii]

“Seven stupendous age-transforming events [which] serve as a cleavage between the Mosaic age of law to “the present age of grace.”[iv] Nothing could be the same after them.

  1. The death of Christ
  2. The resurrection of Christ
  3. The ascension of Christ
  4. The advent of the Spirit at Pentecost
  5. The revelation of a new divine age and purpose (birth of the Church)
  6. The Jews and Gentiles equal entities of divine grace
  7. The dispersion of Israel over the earth.

There are also seven titanic, transcendent world-transforming prosecutions which progress through, and separate the intercalary age[v] or age of grace, and bring the age of the Gentiles to a final horrific end. These are:

  1. Christ’s taking the Church home to himself
  2. Seven years of tribulation
  3. The glorious jesusonwhitehorsereturn of Christ as Conqueror, Judge, and King
  4. The judgment of Israel
  5. Israel established in the Promised Land and the new covenant
  6. The judgement of the nations
  7. Satan bound during the 1,000 years of the Millennial Kingdom

There are yet another group of seven. These mark the transition between the Millennial Kingdom and eternity:

  1. Satan released from the abyss for the final battle
  2. The final rebellion of the nations with Satan leading
  3. The passing away of the old heaven and earth
  4. The Great White Throne judgment of the nations
  5. Creation of the New Heaven and a New Earth
  6. The descent of the New Jerusalem from heaven
  7. Christ’s surrenders his role as corporeal (earthly) intercessor

History is at an end.

Christ surrenders His intercessory earthly rule and is inaugurated into His eternal role as King of kings and Lord of lords—the Alpha and Omega.

[i] This article is excerpted from Lewis Sperry Chafer’s Systematic Theology, Vols. 7 &8, “The Eternal Kingdom of Christ Incarnate” (Grand Rapids; Kregel Publications/Dallas Theological Seminary).

[ii] Ibid., 350.

[iii] Ibid.,

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Church age

Does Man Have Freewill or Are We Predestined?

FreeWl-PrDstI want to state at the start that the Bible is clear that all religions do not lead to God or heaven. Jesus declared “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6).

Of course a person can choose not to believe the Bible is true and the Word of God and that Jesus died for their sins. That is a person’s “freewill” decision.

Clearly man has the ability to choose and to reject.  Nonetheless that does not mean a man’s will can countermand God’s Sovereign will.

What God Knows

Does God know what will happen before it happens?  If so, is that because He can see into the future or does God control events?  Or is it both . . . or neither?

What God Did

Intriguing questions to be sure, so necessarily a good starting point is to examine God’s Word as did the Bereans (Acts 17:10-11)[i].

Then the King will say to those on His right, “Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world (Mt. 25:34).

You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. . . . If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. (John 15:16-19).

For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said,

As I swore in My wrath,
They shall not enter My rest,”

although His works were finished from the foundation of the world (Hebrews 4:2-3).

[Jesus who was] delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of [d]godless men and put Him to death (Acts 2: 23).

Js Pilate

For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur (Acts 4: 27-28).

Repent therefore and be converted, for the blotting out of your sins, so that times of refreshing may come from [the] presence of the Lord, and he may send Jesus Christ, who was foreordained for you, . . . (Acts 3:19-20; Darby).

For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. . . . (Romans 8:29-30).

To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen  according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure. (1 Peter 1:1-2)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, . . . (1 Peter 1:1-3).

. . . but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. 20 For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you 21 who through Him are believers in God . . . (1 Peter 1:19-21).

. . . we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory . . . (1 Cor. 2:7).

just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved (Eph. 1:4-6).

In Him [Christ] also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, . . . (Eph. 1:11).

All who dwell on the earth will worship Him [Christ], everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain (Rev. 13:8).

The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will wonder when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come (Rev. 17:8-9).

There are many more verses throughout the Gospels the Epistles which speak of “the elect” of God.  So what the Bible clearly teaches is God has predestined those who would trust Christ for their salvation in this life and eternity.

Why Are Some Men Lost

Why are some men saved and why other men lost?  The reason “according to Augustine is that God predestined some men to eternal life . . . they do so on God’s choice—not their own.”[ii]

God could have chosen to save no one.  Thus the salvation of even one person is due to the mystery of God’s sovereign grace.  This is the doctrine of double predestination.

Paul wrote to the church at Rome:

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways . . . For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen (11:33-36).

But what of man’s will?  Is man then just an automaton?  Empirically that is not the case because many, many reject Christ’s free salvific gift.

I believe it is the case that man’s freewill is not mutually exclusive of predestination.  “God’s predestination does not mean that we cannot make free will choices.  God predestines in and through our choices because God is all-knowing and all-powerful.  He knows what we will do because he knows all things.  He cannot not know all things.  So, whatever you choose to do out of your own free volition is known.  But his knowing doesn’t mean you don’t freely choose.”[iii]

The human mind is finite and God’s mind is infinite so it is no wonder there is much in the Bible that is a mystery to us.  Nevertheless it is critical to accept the plain meaning and truth of God’s Word and not allegorize it or twist it to mean something its author did not.

“Mysteries are forced upon us by the facts of God’s Word; we are not inventing them ourselves. Since His written revelation teaches concepts that appear to be mutually exclusive, we must realize that with God both truths are friends, not enemies. In God’s higher rationality, things that we think must be either-or can in reality be both-and [emphasis mine].”[iv]

[i] All Scripture taken from the NASB version unless noted.
[ii] Erwin Lutzer, The Doctrines That Divide (Grandrapids: Kregel Publications, 1998), 158.
[iii] Matt Slick, “If Predestination Is True, Then How Can There Be Free Will?” Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry (CARM);
[iv] Ken Boa, “Divine Sovereignty vs. Human Responsibility,”



Jesus’ Inside the Park Homer

First Base5_jesus-crucifixion

When we speak of the key elements of the Gospel account what are we signifying? I mean what are the essentials?

Do we believe that Christ’s death on the cross was salvific for all mankind? After all, did not Jesus proclaim “Teltelestai;”. . .  “It is finished”?

The second part of verse 30 tells that “He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” Obviously that means Jesus’ body died, but was that all?

Let’s consider this more closely.

The cross was a horrendous way to die—it was designed to be. Consider that while Jesus was on the cross; as bad as the torturous pain and anguish were, especially with the torture of having to try to pull yourself up to breath and then sliding back down the coarse surface of the beam—there was something much, much, much worse going on.

That was the Father’s Wrath. Jesus was suffering ultimate torment for each person’s sin that ever lived or ever will live. He was suffering the Father turning his back on Jesus until this terrible task was completed; until every sin was “paid in full” (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34; NASB).

Though Jesus’ dying was a necessary condition for our atonement, his death in itself was not sufficient to cover our sins. The Catholic Church’s crucifix still has Christ hanging on the cross. Jesus has not even been buried!

Although it was a necessary condition that Jesus dies for every man who ever lived or whoever will live, it was not a sufficient condition for the salvation of all men.

In other words, though Jesus death was necessary for you to be saved. Nevertheless it was not sufficient to save you until you make the choice[i] to fully trust Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

Thus when Jesus cried out it is finished he declared that our sins had been paid for. Our debt was paid in full! Think of it like a gift card. However you cannot obtain the free gift until you redeem the card.

But is that the full package? No, there’s more.

Second Basemartin-resurrection-morning-new-image-smallest

The narratives in the Gospels tell us Christ is risen. In Matthew’s account we read,

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you (vv 5-7).

John gives us the first promise of the resurrection of Christ’s Church:

Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14:1-3).

Although Jesus’ death provided a way of salvation for mankind, death had not been conquered. Jesus’ resurrection, however, conquered death. Because death could not keep Jesus in the grave, the grave also cannot ultimately hold those who have trusted in Christ alone as Savor and Lord (John 14:6).

It is the case then that the Bible also promises that because Christ was resurrected, we too will be resurrected to be with Him. When Jesus Christ returns for His Church scriptures proclaim we will be taken up to be with Jesus in our glorified bodies.

 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? (1 Cor. 15:53-55).  See also Acts 2:24; Romans 5:10, 21; 1 Cor. 15:54-55; Heb. 2:14.

Paul is actually quoting from the Old Testament passage in Isaiah 12:8 where it state that God “will swallow up death for all time.”

In Paul’s letter to the church at Thessalonica he again affirms this:

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17; see also 1 Tim. 6:13-15).

This makes it very clear that those that have died and those who still are alive when Christ takes His Church home will be resurrected (or raptured), because Jesus Christ was first resurrected. This is The Blessed Hope (Titus 2:11-14).

If that is not enough Christ tells us in Revelation 20:6

Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

Third Base627427bc05bfd61647ca0bc4e82f8592

As Christians we celebrate the advent of God coming to dwell with man at Christmas. Our second High Holy Day is what most people call Easter.[ii] I prefer Resurrection Day; the day Jesus rose bodily from the grave.

Good Friday is the day Christ was crucified and is celebrated by some churches.

“That greatest of all events, really, in the life of our Lord, the culminating event, the triumphant finale to His life on earth is probably the most neglected event in the life of Christ.”[iii]

Jesus alluded to his ascending back to the Father right after his resurrection. When Mary recognized Jesus at the tomb “Jesus said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God (Jn 20:17).’”

The actual event is recorded by Mark and also by Dr. Luke:

 So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God (Mark 16:19).” “And He [Jesus] led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them.  While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven (Luke 24:50-51).”

The Ascension marked the conclusion of Jesus’ earthly work. When Jesus departed he opened the door for the Holy Spirit. The Spirit couldn’t fully come until Jesus left. Furthermore “the ascension really is an incredibly important event, the culminating reality of His entire life and ministry. . . . He is the one and the only one who having accomplished our redemption was received back into heaven.  This is the final divine affirmation, stamp of approval on His ministry.”[iv]

AscendedWhen Jesus ascended to heaven His divine attributes and glory were restored fully. He was no longer confined to His corporeal nature or limitations; Christ was again fully glorified.

In his High Priestly Prayer in John 17:4-5 Jesus prayed “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do.  Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”

The Base Ball Analogy

The earth is our Home Base. Satan threw Jesus a curve (he thought) which he smacked hard off the wall, but it was not an over-the-wall homer.

When Jesus died on the cross, Satan’s team thought they had won. But Jesus was just rounding first base.

The resurrection was second base, but Jesus wasn’t done yet. He hung around for forty days, putting the final touches on the foundation of what would be His Church. He was driving for third base.

Then Jesus ascended back into heaven; to the Father. That was third base, but Jesus didn’t stop at third, he rounded third driving for Home Base. That will be the “New Heaven and a New Earth (Rev. 21:1).baseball

[i] Theologically it is, in fact, the Holy Spirit that calls and draws each person to Christ. There is nothing, nothing, we can do on our own to reach God.

[ii] The word “Easter” most probably comes from the pagan name Ishtar, the Mother of God and Queen of Heaven.

[iii] John MacArthur, “What the Ascension Accomplished,”

[iv] Ibid.

How to be a Muslim-Brought to You by the D.O.E.

Ablin252520mo252520leading252520blind252520-252520false252520prophet_thumb25255b125255ds I just posited in my most recent CrossChek post “Islam is Satan’s magnum opus of false religions.”

The creeping political correctness of the past seventy years has softened up the American cultural values so that our guiding principles are being stood on their heads.

While the upper echelons of academia are virtually totally corrupted, I am somewhat dismayed at the extent K-12 is exposed.

Exemplar of this cultural vicissitudinous degradation is the Islamic propaganda being fed our children through the public school systems in the name of tolerance.

What are these teacher thinking??


The Staunton VA work sheet is especially troubling. To become a Muslim one has only to recite the Shahada. This work sheet gets the student writing it in Arabic.

Can there be anyone on this planet who think “Islam is a religion of peace” after watching the news night, after night?  I guess so.

As Blaise Pascual wrote

There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God the Creator, made known through Jesus Christ.


Blind Sided

Islam is Satan’s magnum opus of false religions. Satan knows he has already lost the war, but he battles on to take as many down to the pit with him as he can.

One would think anyone with a modicum of common sense and intellectual integrity could not possibly be fooled by this venomous, homicidal, bloody religion; Islam. Clearly that is not the case, but why?

Let’s see what the God of the Bible has to say about why the world is so blind to false religions and Islam’s bloody dogma in particular.

Paul in his letter to the church at Corinth told them “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving.” That seems pretty clear and straight forward. But who is this god of the world?

Paul’s full passage in this letter states:

[Since] we received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.                2 Corinthians 1:1-4

This Pauline Epistle, like all epistolary writings in the Bible is written to followers of Jesus Christ.

Essentially Paul is saying that as Christians, justified by Christ, and indwelt with His Holy Spirit we no longer walk in the ways of the world. It is the Spirit which allows us to understand the truth of the Word of God–our eyes are no longer veiled.

Those who are perishing do not understand; cannot understand what the Bible teablindsidedches (v 3). Additionally verse 4 tacitly tells us that not only is the gospel message veiled, but the unbelievers minds are blinded to truth, but vulnerable to the lies of the world.

So when the god of the world; Satan, tells some of these people to strap bombs on their children to kill Jews, to execute Christians, blow up Christian Churches, rape non-Muslim women, mutilate the genitals of little girls, take six year old girls for wives–they simple follow blindly along.


 The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater that its idea of God.  Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God.                                                                                      A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy

The Exemplar

In Matthew 28 Jesus charged His Church with “making disciples?”  What is Jesus’ paradigm for discipleship?  Matthew 28 is the common passage looked to for missions and for the directive for evangelism.  Yet Jesus said nothing about “evangelizing” the world or making converts.  His carefully chosen words are make disciples.

The 21st Century church like the legalistic rich young ruler (Luke 18: 18-24) thinks it is our decision to “chose” Jesus; coming on our terms, not willing, in truth, to pay the cost.  However, it is Jesus who does the choosing, not us (Col. 3: 12; 1 Pet. 2:9).  It seems to be the case that the paradox of Jesus’ free gift of salvation and the total cost of following Him; the real cost of discipleship is totally misconstrued.

The Problem

The apostles themselves fought a never-ending battle against doctrinal error, heretical teachings, and false teachers.  A study of the apologetic nature of the epistolary literature of the New Testament reveals this.  Century after century “the Church” has continued to drift from the foundation laid by Christ and the apostles.

Forgotten Worship

Man was made to commune with God in obedience to Him.  Adam communed with God face-to-face (Gen. 3: 8a).  The richness of that communion before the Fall can only be imagined.

Since the Fall, our ability to worship God has been obscured.  The farther down the historic road the church travels, the muddier our image of true worship and God becomes.

Why is this so?  Serving Christ should be our primary goal in life.  Nevertheless, according to pollster, George Barna,

When you ask believers to identify the single most important thing they hope to accomplish without suggesting any particular possibilities, only . . . (20 percent) mention anything directly related to spiritual outcomes. . . . Three out of five adult Christians we surveyed told us they want to have a deep commitment to the Christian faith, but they are not involved in any intentional effort to grow spiritually (italics mine).[1]

Stated differently, 80% of believers have no thought of anything spiritual regarding the most important thing they hope to accomplish in life and 60% have no strategy to grow spiritually.

The epigraph by Tozer neatly sums up the challenge of the church in the twentieth century flowing into our millennia as well.  Tozer’s perspicacity of the dilemma of the church in his era is needed more so in our milieu:

We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God.  This is true . . . of the company of Christians that comprises the Church.  Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God, just as her most significant message is what she says about Him or leaves unsaid, for her silence is often more eloquent than her speech.  She can never escape the self-disclosure of her witness concerning God (italics mine).[2]

What is the mental image of God today’s church sustains?  What is our idea of God?  What indeed is our witness concerning God?

The no nonsense answers to these questions are eloquently illuminated by Tozer in this passage:

The most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God, just as her most significant message is what she says about Him or leaves unsaid, . . . (emphasis mine).  brkn-cross

The God the world sees through Christianity is weak, bland, and unconvincing and the image portrayed from our pulpits is sterile.  As Tozer posits, what speaks the loudest is what is not said and what is not done.

Christians today follow Christ with their lips; not with their lives.  Therefore, the self-disclosed witness concerning the God proclaimed now is not the God Paul worshiped and died for.  Our god is the god of “The Rich Young Ruler.”  That is to say, he is a false god, nothing but a cold, dead idol!

Postmodern Plague, Modernity Lost

Friedrich Nietzsche and his atheistic philosophy have negatively impacted cultures worldwide.  While many were responsible for stoking the flames of postmodernism, one could assert that Nietzsche poured on the gasoline.  Colson and Vaughn tell of Nietzsche’s parable of the madman seeking God in the marketplace screaming, “I seek God!  I seek God!”  Heckled by the marketplace crowd, he glowered at them crying, “We have killed him [God]—you and I. . . . how have we done this?  How could we swallow up the sea? . . . What will we do as the earth is set loose from its sun?”[3]

Colson goes on to explain that, “Nietzsche’s point was not that God does not exist, but that God has become irrelevant. . . . God is dead not because He does not exist, but because we live, play, procreate, govern, and die as if He doesn’t.”[4]  Modernity took its last gasp as the tsunami of postmodernism and deconstructionism sucked her down, capsizing the church along with the culture.

Culture and Christians alike are now firmly mired in the age of postmodernism or deconstructionism.  A fairly long word, “deconstructionism”; chiefly it is “a form of hermeneutics, of interpreting a text.”[5]  However, deconstructionism has big arms and embraces many philosophical “isms.”  It “embraces conventionalism . . . all meaning is relative . . . [it embraces] perspectivalism . . . all truth is . . . [based on] one’s perspective . . . [it embraces] semantic progressivism . . . a text can always be deconstructed.”[6]  It embraces even more, but these will suffice to affirm these “isms” are why effective apologetics and committed disciples are crucial today.

These are the last days, very likely near the end.  When one looks at the spectrum of spiritual warfare arrayed against the church today it becomes clear the church of Christ must immediately return to its biblical mandate to “make disciples” modeled in Scripture.  Genuine Christians need to stop merely paying lip service to spiritual development and begin to take their discipleship seriously.

The Cost of Discipleship

Christians understand that we “are saved through faith . . . it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2: 8, 9).  It is indeed a free gift; nevertheless, paradoxically it costs us our lives.  But why not—it cost Jesus His life.  God’s grace is never cheap.

Over seventy years ago, Dietrich Bonhoeffer penned the following:

Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church.  We are fighting to-day [sic] for costly grace. . . . Cheap grace means grace as a doctrine, a principle, a system. . . . [here] the world finds a cheap covering for sins; no contrition is required, still less any desire to be delivered from sin.  Cheap grace therefore amounts to a denial of the living Word of God, in fact, a denial of the Incarnation of the Word of God.[7]

This singular quote affirms and intensifies Tozer’s assertions.  When the church denies the living Word of God, the world “hears” what we preach.  Christians soak up the same anemic message about God and hence the Word is denied in our lives too.  The world observes our lives and sees no distinction.

Follow Our Leader

It is time to band together as brothers and sisters in Christ and recapture the spirit and truth of bona fide worship by recapturing the “awe and fear of God.  Then using the paradigm given by Christ in The Holy Scriptures we can begin to learn the meaning of discipleship and making disciples:

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matt. 28: 19, 20).

The first phrase and last phrase are a kind of parenthetical promise enfolding His command.  “All authority in heaven and on earth” has been given to Him.  That is a lot of power.  That tells us God is the power behind this promise and behind this segment of the command.

The second segment in the last sentence Christ tells us, “Behold” that is, check it out; “I am with you always.”  That would be forever.  If He is “with us always,” He will definitely be with us to “the end of the age” when He will return to take His Bride, the Church, home.

There are a number of verbs in the Matthew 28 passage, but not all are in the imperative.  That is, not all are commands.

  1. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations. He does not mean to “get decisions” or merely evangelize people.  When a person apprehends the free gift, he is instantly justified.  But building disciples is a process running concurrently with his sanctification and with the help of the church and other Christians.
  2. Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. Endemic of building disciples is doctrinal knowledge.
  3. Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Each of us is to be baptized as a public sign of our new relationship with God.  This should be indicative of our comprehension that while Christ’s atoning gift was apprehended at no cost, our lives now totally belong to our Messiah who purchased them.

There is only one imperative verb in Matthew 28:19 and that is make disciples.  We often talk about the importance of the last words of someone in death’s throes.  Well this is the last command Christ gave to His Church before His ascension; His last words before leaving this earth.  Why isn’t the Church obeying it?

To put it another way, the battle was won from the foundations of the earth.  Why run the wrong way with the ball?  Why are we so timorous?  True worship means laying down one’s life for Christ, in death, if needs be; but more so in life.  It is our lives the world scrutinizes.  Scripture is the fount of power the Christian draws on.

John 4: 24 declares to us, “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.  The word spirit in this passage is pneúma.  Which in this context “means [someone] with a sincere mind, [someone] with a sincere heart, not with mere external rites” (italics mine).  In the oft too comfortable and familiar passage in Romans 12: 1, Paul admonishes us to, “present [our] bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”

“Sacrifice” as used here is employed metaphorically.[8]  The Christian is not a sacrifice offered on an alter, but the life he lives should be sacrificially given in service for God’s glory.  That is, service acceptable to God.  That is worship pleasing to God.  This is not speaking of the “professional” pastor or someone in full time ministry.  Paul is speaking of every Christian in every vocation.  This is not “rocket surgery.”  If the believer’s life is lived with this deportment it is worship!  True believers should live a radically committed life for Christ.  After all, He was radically committed to live for us . . . and to die for us.

Nevertheless, while Christ’s earth-shaking sacrifice on the cross shattered sin’s grip on humanity, His death on the cross was not His ultimate deed.  His preeminent act was eternally annihilating death by the Resurrection thus shredding Satan’s title deed for mankind.  The power and the miracle of the Resurrection are second only to God’s act of Creation.  Understand—God received nothing!  He did it all for us; for me and you—that’s radical!

[1].George Barna, Growing True Disciples (Colorado Springs: Waterbrook Press, 2001),  34, 35.
[2].A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1961), 2.
[3].  Charles Colson, Ellen Santilli Vaughn, Kingdoms in Conflict (co-published by William Morrow and Zondervan Publishing House, 1987), 181.
[4]. Ibid.    
[5]. Norman Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Apologetics, adapted (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1999), 192.
[6]. Ibid., 192,193.
[7].Dietrich Bonhoffer, The Cost of Discipleship (New York: Collier Books, 1937), 45, 46.
[8].Spiros Zodiates, ed., The Complete Word Study Dictionary New Testament, adapted (Chattanooga: AMG Publishers, 1992), 746.

The Replacement Theology Bait & Switch

Since the creation of the world, God’s Word has been distorted and twisted.  As one line in Don Francisco’s song Adam, Where are You proclaims, “But the master of deception now begins with his dissection of the Word”

This is a re-post from a pastor friend, Steve Meyer.  His blog is Reaching Higher With Meyer

If you saw the word “Israel” in a sentence, but then someone tells you to replace the word with the word “church” in your mind every time you see it, isn’t that an attempt to change the meaning of the sentence?

Here’s a simple example:

“I am going to Israel on Sunday.”

If I wrote this straightforward sentence and you did the word replacement in your mind like I described above (Israel –> church), do you think the intended meaning would change?  Am I going to travel to the nation of Israel on Sunday, or actually am I just going to church on Sunday?

Wouldn’t confusion be the result of allegorizing literally written words?  Why would I write the statement one way and then subsequently make you change what it means in your mind…actually overriding the written words?  And if I am the writer of the sentence and I didn’t want you to do this replacement, but someone else came along and told you to do it anyway, you think intended meaning would potentially get messed up?

Remember, the Lord is ultimately the writer of the Bible…so it’s written perfectly!

So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.  But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” (2 Pet 19-21)

Thus does Replacement theology (also called Supersessionism, Fulfillment or Expansion Theology)…a false teaching running rampant in “Christian” circles today.  Amillennialism, Postmillennialism, Preterism, Dominion Theology, Kingdom Now Theology fall into this camp as well…that is, dispensing of God’s literal future promises to Israel.

Look at the New Covenant for example – who is this covenant made with?  What do you do with this passage…perhaps replace some words?  If you think Israel is not part of God’s future and glorious plan – that is exactly what you wrongly do with it.

Look at the actual text:

Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, When I will effect a new covenant with the house of Israel [bold mine] and with the house of Judah; not like the covenant which I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; for they did not continue in My covenant, and I did not care for them, says the Lord.

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days [bold ed.], says the Lord: I will put My laws into their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen, and everyone his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all will know Me, from the least to the greatest of them. “For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more (Jer 31:31-34; Heb 8:8-12).

By the way, for those who think the fulfillment of this happened in the past with Israel…can you tell me exactly when it literally occurred?  It never did!  It is dishonest to even try to say that it did.

Israel only became a nation again in 1948.  It would have had to be fulfilled post that date, May 14, 1948, because it was not previous to the Babylonian destruction of Israel in 586 B.C.  The OT writers make that crystal clear, post-destruction, that they are awaiting the fulfillment of the New Covenant which God made with His people in Jeremiah 31:31-34 (see the book of Daniel chapter 9 for details, written somewhere between 540 and 530 B.C.).

Additionally, the nation NEVER possessed the full allotment of land promised to her by the Lord (Gen 15:18-21), as per the Abrahamic Covenant.  The Abrahamic Covenant and the New Covenant will be fulfilled simultaneously (see Rev 20).  Look at a map and plainly see that Israel NEVER possessed her Promised Land…

If you attempt to assert the New Covenant is already fulfilled, you are proving the point of this post.  You are spiritualizing words in order to assert a position that the biblical text does not support.
[Furthermore] you are going against the literal words and promise of God.  And that goes directly against another strong and literal promise made to Israel by the Lord in Deuteronomy 7:9, “Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments.”

Be very careful how you handle God’s Word. Your eternity is on the line!  Don’t get duped like many do in a bait-and-switch scenario.  The Lord would never play this game with us…NEVER!  Can you imagine if God did that with our Savior; gave us One and then swapped Him out with another?  May it never be…and it will NOT occur!!!

Deuteronomy 4:2
“You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it”

Proverbs 30:6, Rev 22:15
“Do not add to His words or He will reprove you, and you will be proved a liar.” “Outside [of the New Heaven and Earth] are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.”

Revelation 22:18-19
“I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.”

So you might ask…how does the Church fit into the New Covenant then? Great question!  Ephesians 1:13-14 has the perfect answer…

Ephesians 1:13-14
In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

Those saved in the Church Age have a down payment.  They are partaking in advance of blessings to come upon the future fulfillment of the New Covenant.  True Christ-follower’s have a guaranteed pledge of our inheritance, with a view towards the complete redemption of God’s own possession.  This is based on the authority of the full canon of Scripture.

The literal fulfillment of the New Covenant will occur at the 2nd Coming of Christ, when His Kingdom will literally be set up on earth (see Rev 20).  “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne” (Matt 25:41).

Now, to the extent of the Holy Spirit ruling and reigning in the Church Age saints’ personal temple…that is a spiritual blessing beyond comprehension.  But to set up God’s Kingdom in a mystical sense and forgo a literal one, this based conceptually on the Spirit’s indwelling, especially when both the Old and New Testaments promise a literal Kingdom on earth.

And the true Christ-follower should be wrestling with this, as this is one of the specific roles of the Holy Spirit (John 16:13-14) with whom he or she is indwelled.  True children of God are actually sealed by the Spirit of God for the day of the Lord’s redemption (Eph 4:30); which is actually when the New Covenant will be fulfilled.

Add in this fact: every single promise about Christ’s 1st coming was literally fulfilled.  So why then would a person spiritualize any of God’s promises about His 2nd Coming and allegorize a literally described future Kingdom to come on earth?  On what basis would you even do it?  And honestly, why would you do such a thing, and by what authority?

Spiritualizing Scripture is very dangerous, with catastrophic results if you are doing so in error.  The last exhortation in God’s Word warns specifically against this.  Please be very, very careful!

And lastly, and maybe most importantly, this is what God directly says about this matter, through very possibly the greatest Christian that ever lived.  By the way, the apostle Paul was also Jewish…

Israel Is Not Cast Away (Rom 11:1-27)
I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He?  May it never be!  For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.  God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew.  Or do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel?  “Lord, they have killed Your prophets, they have torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they are seeking my life.”  But what is the divine response to him?  “I have kept for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”  In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice.  But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.

What then?  What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened; just as it is written,

“God gave them a spirit of stupor,
Eyes to see not and ears to hear not,
Down to this very day.”
And David says,

“Let their table become a snare and a trap,
And a stumbling block and a retribution to them.
“Let their eyes be darkened to see not,
And bend their backs forever.”

I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they?  May it never be!  But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous.  Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be!  But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them.  For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?  If the first piece of dough is holy, the lump is also; and if the root is holy, the branches are too.

But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you.  You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.”  Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either.  Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.  And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.  For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree?

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; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written,

“The Deliverer will come from Zion,
He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.”
“This is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins.”

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