The Struggle with Living Out the Christian Faith.

This is a reprint of a survey done by the Barna Group


America may possess the world’s largest infrastructure for nurturing human spirituality, complete with hundreds of thousands of houses of worship, thousands of parachurch organizations and schools, and seemingly unlimited products, resources and experts.

Yet, a new study from the Barna Group identifies an underlying reason why there is little progress in helping people develop spiritually: many churchgoers and clergy struggle to articulate a basic understanding of spiritual maturity. People aspire to be spiritually mature, but they do not know what it means. Pastors want to guide others on the path to spiritual wholeness, but they are often not clearly defining the goals or the outcomes of that process.

The research was conducted by Barna Group in partnership with Living on the Edge (www.livingontheedge.org) and included a nationwide, random sample of adults and a similar national survey among Protestant pastors, exploring definitions of, perceptions about, and perceived barriers to spiritual maturity. 

Five Challenges

The study showed five significant challenges when it comes to facilitating people’s spiritual growth.

  1. Most Christians equate spiritual maturity with following the rules.

One of the widely embraced notions about spiritual health is that it means “trying hard to follow the rules described in the Bible”81% of self-identified Christians endorsed this statement, and a majority agreed strongly (53%). Even among those individuals defined by their belief that salvation is not earned through “good works,” four out of five born again Christians concurred that spiritual maturity is “trying hard to follow the rules.”

  1. Most churchgoers are not clear what their church expects in terms of spiritual maturity. 

An open-ended survey question asked churchgoers to describe how their church defined a “healthy, spiritually mature follower of Jesus.” Half [50%] of churchgoers simply said they were not sure, unable to venture a guess regarding the church’s definition. Even among born again Christians – that is, a smaller subset of believers who have made a profession of faith in Christ and confessed their sinful nature – two out of five were not able to identify how their church defines spiritual maturity. Among those who gave a substantive response, the most common responses were having a relationship with Jesus (16%), practicing spiritual disciplines like prayer and Bible study (9%), living according to the Bible (8%), being obedient (8%), being involved in church (7%), and having concern for others (6%).

  1. Most Christians offer one-dimensional views of personal spiritual maturity. 

A second open-ended question probed self-identified Christians’ personal definition of what it means to be a healthy, spiritually mature follower of Jesus, regardless of how they believe their church defines it. One-fifth [20%] of self-described Christians were unable to offer an opinion. Other identified elements included: relationship with Jesus (21%), following rules and being obedient (15%), living a moral lifestyle (14%), possessing concern about others (13%), being involved in spiritual disciplines (13%), applying the Bible (12%), being spiritual or having belief (8%), sharing their faith with others (6%), and being involved in church activities (5%).

Born again Christians were similar in all respects to self-described Christians except they were more likely to mention having a relationship with Jesus (30%) as the sign of spiritual maturity. Further reflecting a lack of depth on the subject, the open-ended questions typically produced, on average, just one response from survey respondents, despite the fact that interviewers repeatedly probed for additional or clarifying comments.

  1. Most pastors struggle with feeling the relevance as well as articulating a specific set of objectives for spirituality, often favoring activities over attitudes.

The research among pastors highlighted several inter-related challenges. First, while nearly nine out of 10 pastors said that a lack of spiritual maturity is the most significant or one of the largest problems facing the nation, [yet only] a minority of pastors believe that spiritual immaturity is a problem in their church. A second challenge is that only a minority of churches has a written statement expressing the outcomes they are looking for in spiritually mature people. A third challenge is that pastors often favor activities over perspectives in their definitions of spiritual maturity. Their metrics for people’s spirituality include the practice of spiritual disciplines (19%), involvement in church activities (15%), witnessing to others (15%), having a relationship with Jesus (14%), having concern for others (14%), applying the Bible to life (12%), being willing to grow spiritually (12%), and having knowledge of Scripture (9%).

  1. Pastors are surprisingly vague about the biblical references they use to chart spiritual maturity for people.

One of the reasons churches struggle with making disciples may relate to the lack of clarity that pastors have about the underlying biblical passages that address the process of spiritual maturity. This is most clearly reflected in the huge proportion of pastors who give generic responses when asked to identify the most important portions of the Bible that define spiritual maturity. In fact, one-third of pastors simply said “the whole Bible.” Other generic responses included “the gospels” (17%), the New Testament (15%), and Paul’s letters (10%).

[In reality it is discipleship]

In all, the survey showed that three-quarters [75%] of pastors gave some type of generic answer to this query. In addition, one out of every five [20%] pastors gave a semi-generic response, such as “Romans” or the “life of Christ.”

As for verse-specific responses (mentioned by just one-fifth [20%] of pastors), the most common passages included: Galatians 5, John 3:16, Ephesians 4, Matthew 28, and Romans 12:1-2. Just 2% of pastors specifically identified the Galatians 5 passage relating to the “fruits of the Spirit,” which includes love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control. Theme specific answers represented just 7% of responses, including the Sermon on the Mount, the Great Commission, the Great Commandment, and the Beatitudes.

Five Opportunities

The research also identifies a number of opportunities that can be leveraged to address the problems related to spirituality maturity.

  1. Christians and pastors have clarity about the major boundaries that must be addressed to tackle the problem.

What are the perceived reasons that people do not grow spiritually? Self-identified Christians were asked about the obstacles they experience while pastors were queried to see how well they understand the barriers facing their congregants.

Church leaders believe the three primary obstacles to people’s engagement are lack of personal motivation (32%), other competing obligations and distractions (26%), and lack of involvement in activities that nurture growth (19%).

In this respect, they do not seem too far off in their perceptions. Born again Christians identify distractions (24%), lack of motivation (20%), and lack of involvement (13%) as challenges they face, even if two of the three are mentioned less frequently by adults than pastors. Born again Christians, however, are more likely than pastors to identify sinful behaviors and habits as tripping them up (14% of believers versus 8% of pastors).

  1. While most Americans are relatively content with their spirituality “as is,” millions aspire to grow spiritually.

Most adults think of themselves as both spiritually healthy as well as spiritually satisfied, which is both a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge is that most people’s satisfaction can lead to complacency. One opportunity is to connect with the 18 to 20 million Americans who describe themselves as spiritually unhealthy or as dissatisfied with their personal spiritual maturity.

Still, a majority of adults say they are “completely” (14%) or “mostly” healthy when it comes to spirituality (40%); nearly two-thirds of Americans describe themselves as “completely” (22%) or “mostly” satisfied with their spirituality (43%). The opportunity among these individuals is to help them move beyond complacency and embrace a deeper understanding of spiritual growth.

  1. Compared to older believers, Christians under the age of 40 are less satisfied with spirituality and less “rule oriented.”

Young Christians show signs of spiritual openness that older adults do not. People under the age of 40 are different than those Christians over 40 by being less satisfied spiritually and also rating their spiritual health less favorably. In addition, the generational difference over rule-following was striking: most Elders (ages 63+) and Boomers (44 to 62) strongly endorsed the spiritual metric of rule-following (66% and 56%, respectively); however, fewer than half of Busters (25 to 43) and Mosaics (18 to 24) embraced this view (45% and 33%). Among the young, this signals a dangerous propensity to rethink the Bible’s standards, but it also shows unique responsiveness to grace and forgiveness.

  1. Pastors realize they need more help when it comes to assessing spiritual health.

Just 9% of clergy said they were completely satisfied with their ability to measure and assess the spiritual health of their congregation. Still, few pastors (8%) were expressly dissatisfied, leaving a majority of leaders moderately satisfied. Perhaps churchgoers would become less complacent about self-evaluation as pastors embrace more effective forms of evaluation for their congregations.

  1. Pastors tend to be harder on themselves than are congregants.

About 1 out of 10 pastors said the church itself was a barrier to people’s growth, while none of the churchgoers offered a similar critique. Similarly, when asked to rate the church’s ability to help people grow spiritually, pastors were significantly less likely (6%) than churchgoers (33%) to give the organization high marks, reflecting the fact that pastors are often their own toughest critics. The opportunity is to forge a greater sense of partnership and mutual esteem between leaders and laity to address the challenges, to work against self-deception in the process, and to craft deeper, more appropriate routes to spiritual maturity.

Implications

David Kinnaman, President of the California-based research firm, directed the research project. He pointed out several implications of the study:

“America has a spiritual depth problem partly because the faith community does not have a robust definition of its spiritual goals. The study shows the need for new types of spiritual metrics. One new metric might be a renewed effort on the part of leaders to articulate the outcomes of spiritual growth. Another might be the relational engagement and accountability that people maintain. Of course, spirituality is neither a science nor a business, so there is a natural resistance to ascribing scientific or operational standards to what most people believe is an organic process. Yet, the process of spiritual growth is neither simplistic nor without guidelines, so hard work and solid thinking in this arena is needed.”

“As people begin to realize that the concepts and practices of spiritual maturity have been underdeveloped, the Christian community is likely to enter a time of renewed emphasis on discipleship, soul care, the tensions of truth and grace, the so-called ‘fruits’ of the spiritual life, and the practices of spiritual disciplines. [Kinnaman errs here.  What he misses is that without discipleship there will be no spiritual maturity, fruits of the spirit, etc.] A related challenge is that as spiritual formation becomes ‘trendy’ it will inevitably become ‘watered down’ with products that over-promise or are simply counter-productive. Leaders have to take on this issue more effectively, and part of that task is weeding out the good from bad.”


Research
This report is based upon nationwide telephone surveys conducted by The Barna Group with random samples of adults, age 18 and older, and Protestant clergy. The survey among adults was conducted in August 2008 among 1005 adults randomly selected from across the continental United States. The maximum margin of sampling error associated with the aggregate sample is ±3.2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. The survey among pastors included 611 clergy, with a maximum margin of sampling error of ±4.0 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. Statistical weighting was used to calibrate the sample to known population percentages in relation to demographic variables.
“Born again Christians” are defined as people who said they have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today and who also indicated they believe that when they die they will go to Heaven because they had confessed their sins and had accepted Jesus Christ as their savior. Respondents are not asked to describe themselves as “born again.”
The Barna Group, Ltd. (which includes its research division, The Barna Research Group) is a private, non-partisan, for-profit organization that conducts primary research on a wide range of issues and products, produces resources pertaining to cultural change, leadership and spiritual development, and facilitates the healthy spiritual growth of leaders, children, families and Christian ministries. Located in Ventura, California, Barna has been conducting and analyzing primary research to understand cultural trends related to values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors since 1984. If you would like to receive free e-mail notification of the release of each new, bi-monthly update on the latest research findings from The Barna Group, you may subscribe to this free service at the Barna website (http://www.barna.org). Additional research-based resources, both free and at discounted prices, are also available through that website.
© The Barna Group, Ltd, 2009.

The Seven Hebraic Feasts and their Relationship to Prophecy

In Leviticus 23, we find that the Festivals of the Lord were appointed times established as yearly rehearsals that taught both historically and prophetically the whole plan of God concerning the coming of the Messiah and the redemption of Israel and the Church.

The first four feasts have been fulfilled and the Jewish community celebrates them historically.  They are Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits and the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost.  These four Spring Feasts are considered to be an interrelated whole where Pentecost is the completion of the process begun at Passover.

  • Passover – pictures the death of Jesus Christ
  • Feast of Unleavened Bread – pictures the burial of Jesus Christ
  • Feast of First Fruits – pictures the resurrection of Christ
  • Pentecost – pictures the descent of the Holy Spirit & the birth of the Church

biblical-holidays

While the first four Festivals occur in close proximity, an entire season passes before the Fall Feasts begin.  This long period represents the dispensation of grace that we now live in.  The last three feasts (Trumpets, Atonement and Tabernacles) are celebrated in the Fall season and are yet to be fulfilled so they remain prophetic in nature.

  • Feast of the Trumpets – pictures the Rapture of the Church
  • Feast of Atonement – pictures the Second Coming of Jesus Christ
  • Feast of Tabernacles – pictures the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ

The final three feasts are also known as Rosh HaShanah (Feast of the Trumpets), Yom Kippur (Feast of Atonement), and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles).
The Feast of Trumpets may soon find its prophetic fulfillment.  Here are some reasons why the Rapture may occur during this Festival:

  • All the Spring Feasts were fulfilled at Christ’s first coming, and on the exact day of the feast.  All the Fall Feasts picture the Second Advent, and the Feast of Trumpets is the first of the fall feasts, picturing the Rapture.
  • The Feast of Trumpets is when the “last trump” of the Rapture of 1st Corinthians 15:52 is blown (also see 1 Thess. 4:16).
  • The Feast of Trumpets is known as the Wedding of the Messiah, and the Church is the Bride of Christ, and the Rapture is when the Church is caught up to heaven to be wed with Christ.
  • The Feast of Trumpets happens on the “new moon”, which is 29.5 days after the last one, meaning it might occur on the 29th or 30th day, nobody knows for sure.  “Of that day or hour no man knows” is an expression referring to this feast, and thus, the Rapture.
  • “Of that day or hour no man knows, but my Father only” is an expression used by a groom when asked when his wedding will be.  He says this because it is his Father that will tell him when his preparations on the bridal chamber are completed and it is time.  Again, the wedding pictures the Rapture.
  • The “Open Door” of the Rapture is a symbol of the Feast of Trumpets.  “Thus says the Lord GOD: The gate of the inner court that faces east shall be shut on the six working days; but on the Sabbath day it shall be opened and on the day of the new moon it shall be opened”.
  • There are seven days of awe in between the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement.  These picture the seven years of Tribulation.  Atonement pictures Satan being defeated and cast away at the end of the Tribulation.  If you add the two-day Trumpets feast, and the Day of Atonement, the 7 days of awe are “ten days of tribulation” which might be referred to in Revelation 2:10.
  • In the Jewish Wedding, the groom comes for his bride “like a thief in the night” to take (seize / Rapture) her away and into the bridal chamber for the bridal week at his father’s house.
  • The Feast of Trumpets is also known as the coronation of the Messiah, when He will start reigning as king, thus the beginning of the “Day of the Lord”, which includes the Tribulation.

Israel Targeted

The following is an excerpt from my soon to be released book Collision Course: Abraham’s Dual Lineage; Legacy to a Fallen World.


Israel is a tiny egalitarian island in the midst of a sea of murderous, tyrannical, and barbarous Islamic pagans.  Their singular aim is to rule the entire world by first annihilating all those of Hebrew descent, then Christians or anyone failing to embrace Islam.

Why is this so?  Where did this stated hatred of Jews and anyone non-Muslim come from?  Did this hate begin with the man Muhammad or from elsewhere?  Why has Islam been able to reignite itself so powerfully?  Why now?

A Voyage Through Time                                                       

Americans under the Obama regime were unarguably living under the most corrupt government in our nation’s history.

Globally despotic governments are flexing their muscles—China, North Korea, Russia, and Iran.  The institution laughingly called the United Nations is quiet except for its unanimous anti-Semitic rants against Israel.  “Despite the massive number of tragic deaths and collapse of rule of law in countries such as Syria, Iraq Sudan, and Libya, only Israel is obsessively indicted again and again and again, always with the assumption that the Jews are to blame for everything.”[i]

The Middle Eastern countries are on fire with a ruthless hatred of Jews and Christians with Iran and ISIS thugs the lead arsonists.  All over the globe Islam, despite its lawless atrocities, is given a virtual pass on honor killings, rapes, murders, and terrorisms.

What in the world is going on?!

Transcendent Conflicting Forces

We recognize there are two transcendent, conflicting authorities in this world.  They are evidenced by good and bad.  We see them every day of our earthly lives, the virtuous versus the evil, wickedness in opposition to righteousness, betrayal as opposed to loyalty, truth contrasted with deceit, the divine compared to the demonic, and Godliness versus the Satanic.

God is The Transcendent Divine Being who created all things (Isaiah 40:21-22).  The opposing evil authority is Satan, a created spirit being who has no power over God.  Satan chose from the beginning to rebel against God, yet from before creation was defeated at the Cross (Colossians 2:14-15).

We see these antithetical, superior powers looking back through history.  Most importantly for us in the here and the now we see them in current events.  The real question is, “Do we merely “see” daily pedestrian events or are we aware enough to comprehend their direction toward God’s divine goal?”

Here’s what I mean.  I don’t mean to sound heartless, but some tragedies are all too familiar events.  For example a man kills several people in a hold-up.  This is tragic, heartbreaking; but it is not an earthshaking event and its impact is confined to a “small locale.”

A second example is similar.  Again a man kills multiple victims.  But this man is flying a plane into a building.  Both the people in the plane and the building die.  Even so if it involved only one small plane and one building perhaps it is an accident and nothing exceptional.  But flying two jet liners into the World Trade Center, killing thousands becomes something that is not a commonplace mundane killing.

As we now know that event on September 11, 2001 was the reigniting of a volcano lying more or less dormant with only relatively small eruptions since the defeat of the Mohammedans in the fifteenth century.  What we then see is the Mohammedan religion or Islam against the rest of the world—Islam versus the “Jew pigs,” infidel Christians, and all non-Muslim people.

This is a divine collision course instituted in the Bible—surely you saw it?  No?  Not to worry.  We are going on a voyage that will hopefully illuminate the links in the chain of scripture alongside the links of temporal history and the events prophesied to finish out time.

Man Rejects the Garden Path

It is impossible for us to envision the elation, joy, and ecstasy Adam and Eve must have enjoyed communing with God one-on-one, actually walking with the God of Creation, seeing Him every day.  Can you imagine seeing the face of God and experiencing Him in a one-on-one relationship, literally walking and talking with Him face-to-face?  It is unfathomable to us that name the name of Christ.  It is an unimaginable event, virtually incomprehensible for us living in the fallen world of today.

In spite of God’s perfect Creation and man’s ability to daily communion with God and the indescribable beauty of the New Creation, man chose his own way and rebelled against God. Man’s Original Sin in the Garden set the course of man irreversibly and was the beginning of an ever-widening breach between God’s Way and man’s way, between faith-fulness and faith-lessness, and ultimately between life and death.

Some years back Don Francisco released Adam Where Are You which musically proclaims the genesis, the beginning—and the Fall; the beginning of the end:

Rulers of a kingdom, full of joy — never marred by any pain,
The morning all around them seems to celebrate the life they’ve just begun;
And in the majesty of innocence the king and queen come walking in the sun
But the master of deception now begins with his dissection of the Word

And with all of his craft and subtly the serpent twists the simple truths they’ve heard,
While hanging in the balance is a world that has been placed at their command
And all their unborn children die as both of them bow down to Satan’s hand. . . .

It will be evident as our voyage continues that this is the way of God and the way of man.  God magnanimously extends His bountiful grace and man choses his own way.

Inevitably compelling questions flow from the account of man’s fall.  “Was God unable to stop Adam and Eve from rebelling?”  “Is Satan more powerful than God?” The Westminister Confession of Faith’s eloquent response asserts that “God was pleased, according to his wise and holy counsel, to permit, having purposed to order it to his own glory.”[ii]  Genesis begins with the New Creation, hope, and life.  But the over-arching précis of God’s sovereign plan is encompassed in the words of Joseph to his brothers; you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good (viz. Gen. 50:20).

In Genesis 3: 15 we discover the first Messianic prophecy regarding the seed of Woman and the coming Redeemer and Messiah.  The word seed in the original language is both masculine and singular.  Nevertheless the word seed is multifaceted and in the original Hebrew text it is zerá:

The term in Gen. 3:15 has enormous implications. It is clearly singular, not plural, indicating that the entire line of descendants from our first parents is being treated as a unit. The word is flexible enough to mean one person (Christ), who represents the entire human race, mankind in general (italics mine).[iii]

The import of this is not restricted to only the Old Testament discourse.  Paul speaks of it to the Galatian church when he declared:

Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise (3: 16-18; italics mine).

God’s curse promised enmity as well.  That is, a deep seated animosity between the woman and her tempter; the seed of the woman and the seed of the tempter; the collective descendants of humanity and the followers of Satan.  But it is also the case that the meaning of seed refers to specific individual descendants of the woman.  In the prophetic oath known as the Adamic Covenant God declared:

And I will put enmity between you and the woman [between Satan and God’s creation, man], And between your seed [Satan’s] and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.” [Satan will ultimately be crushed by Christ, but Satan will injure and mar God’s Son corporeally and His Creation] (Gen. 3: 15; NASB).

The animosity prophesied in chapter three catapults into reality in chapter four with the murder of Abel by his brother Cain—Cain the wicked seed and Abel archetypical of the righteous seed.  The offspring of Satan are those people who reject God by faith.  I think the case can be made that the word “seed” is also a general referent to the “offspring of evil” and the “offspring of good.” God created all things perfectly; however creation since the Fall has been allowed to deteriorate under Satan’s curse.  “The Lord’s curse turns its direction from the serpent to the evil power that animated it”[iv]—Satan.

Additionally Sir Robert Anderson tells us, “Genesis introduces us to the dramatis personæ of the sacred volume, and gives us insight into its plot and purpose.  There we have the record of the Creation and the Fall, the judgments of the Flood, the apostasy and scattering of the descendants of Noah, the call of Abraham, and the . . . promise of the ‘seed of woman,’ and in the typology of the book we have the prophecy and the pledge of Redemption.”[v]


[i] Joseph Klein, “Israel Braces for Propaganda Assault by the U.N.” (Frontpage Mag, June 16, 2015).

[ii] Westminister Confession of Faith, 26.

[iii] Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, NASB, exec. ed. Spiros Zodhiates, “Lexical Aids to the Old Testament,” Strongs # 2233, 1723.

[iv] Michael Rydelnik, The Messianic Hope (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2010), 139.

[v] Sir Robert Anderson, The Coming Prince, 80.

dscpshp
 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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Biblical “Last Days” Timetable

Bodily Resurrections & Judgments (Grk. anastasis-to make to stand, or rise up; érerseōs-to wake up, reanimation from the dead; exanástasis-to rise up)

The resurrection of Christ is the ultimate salvific doctrine of Christianity (1 Cor. 15:3, 13-19). It is the basis of our salvation and our hope for time and eternity. The resurrections and judgments are necessarily essentially concomitant.

Christ’s resurrection is both a necessary and sufficient condition for our resurrection for seven reasons:[1]

  1. Because of Who He Is
  2. Fulfills the Covenants (Abrahamic & Davidic)
  3. The source of resurrection life
  4. The source of resurrection power
  5. Makes Christ Head over all things to the Church
  6. By justification (only the justified are resurrected with Him)
  7. Christ was the First-fruits

The following table shows the variant views of the timing of the resurrections:

VIEWS CONCERNING LAST THINGS [2]

last-things-chart

The most biblically sound is the Dispensational Premil. view. The rapture is inclusive of the resurrection of the Church age saints in this paradigm. The rapture and the resurrection of the “dead in Christ” are virtually, if not actually, simultaneous (1 Thss. 4:16)[3].

last-days-timelineThe Church, both the dead and the living, have already been taken up with Christ. What is called the first resurrection is the resurrection of the tribulation saints—those that died or were martyred during the tribulation. There will be no other kingdoms are left on earth at this time—only the Millennial Kingdom exists.

Judgments[i]

At the rapture Christ will judge His Church for their sanctified works. This is the Bema Seat judgment, a judgment of rewards, not punishment.

At the Lord’s Second Coming (“The First Resurrection”)[ii] three judgments take place.

  1. The judgment of the Gentiles
    1. Those who made it through the tribulation alive
      1. The righteous (sheep), in their earthly bodies will go into the Millennial Kingdom
      2. The unbelieving will go into eternal punishment.
    2. The judgment of Israel
      1. Those who made it through the tribulation alive
        1. The righteous in their earthly bodies will enter the Millennial Kingdom
        2. The secular/rebellious “will be cut off.”
      2. The judgment of Old Testament and tribulation “saints”
        1. Those who “lived by faith” and died prior to the “new covenant in Christ”
        2. Those saints who died during the tribulation either naturally or were martyred.

At the conclusion of the Christ’s reign He will preside over three post Millennial judgments.

  1. Satan and his demonic minions[iii]
    1. Judged by Christ and Christ’s Church
  2. The judgment of all creation
  3. The passing away of the cursed creation
  4. The Great White Throne Judgment
  5. All the unsaved from all ages

All are thrown into the Lake of Fire



[1] Lewis Sperry Chafer, ST vol.5, v, vi.

[2] Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology, adapted, 383.

[3]  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.

[4] Adapted from Paul Benware’s, Understanding End Times Prophecy (Revised), (Moody Publishers, 2006).

[5] The First Resurrection is exclusive of the rapture/resurrection of the Church. All involved in the “First Resurrection” are believers, but not part of the Church.

[6] Benware calls this a staged judgment. At the mid-point of the tribulation Satan and his demons are barred from the heavenlies and confined to earth. At the start of the Millennium the Devil and his toadies are chained and imprisoned in the Abyss. Lastly after the post Millennial he joins the already exiled Antichrist and the false prophet in eternal banishment to the Lake of Fire.

Studying the Bible for Real Truth

Intro

The Bible is an enigma; a mystery. Written so a child can understand it—yet portions of it are argued by studied scholars!

Everyone comes to the Bible with preconceived ideas and beliefs.  That is why it is so important to learn to interpret the Bible correctly; realizing we cannot comprehend everything.

Why is the Bible important?   

God revealed Himself to us three different ways:

  • General or natural revelation

God is revealed in the world; the cosmos.

“. . . since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what  has been made, so that people are without excuse” (Rom.1:19-20).

  • Special revelation reliabilty-of-the-bible

Special revelation, God’s Word reveals God’s salvific plan.  Thus it is absolutely critical that we rightly divide the Word. Everyone comes to the Bible text with presuppositions; stuff we’ve assumed, heard, or sang.  Nevertheless there is overwhelming manuscript (Mss) evidence to support the biblical inerrancy.  Also the error rate for all these manuscripts is about 2% and these are only copyist errors and do not effect meaning.

The Bible is God’s revelation not God’s riddle

  • Bodily revelation

His Son, Jesus Christ, Emmanuel.

God came to earth as a man.  He came, lived, and died as one of us.

Literal, Historical, Grammatical Method

The basis for sound Bible interpretation is known as the literal, historical, grammatical method of interpretation of scripture.

By literal we mean we believe the bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible, and authoritative word of GOD to be taken at face value unless there is compelling reason to do otherwise (usually indicated by the context of the passage).

Historical means that each passage must be put into its proper historical setting. We must grasp the thoughts, attitudes, customs, and feelings prevalent at the time of writing.[1]

Lastly grammatical means that words are given meanings consistent with their common understanding in language.  What does the text say? What does it mean grammatically?  What category of literature is it (poetry, narrative, historical, etc.)?

A text without a context is a pretext.

The Process

A quick note: In the following segments of the Bible interpretation process there is necessarily a certain amount of overlap between the segments.

  • Observation
  • What is historical context?
    • What was the time period God was addressing?
  • Who was the audience?
    • Were they Hebrews, Romans, Gentiles, pagan, the Church, or leaders of the Church?
  • Who was the author?
  • Why was it written? What are the facts?
    • What problem or issue was the writer addressing?
  • What are the theme and the key message?
    • Was the theme God’s discipline of Israel or songs of praise to God?

The quality of your interpretation always depends on the quality of your observation.

  • Interpretation
  • What is the author really saying? Getting the meaning the author poured into the text, NOT putting our own meaning into it.
  • Ask what the text says, before you ask what it means.
  • Don’t allegorize or spiritualize the text:

When the literal sense makes good sense, seek no other sense, lest you end up with nonsense

  • Sensus unum—there is only one meaning; one correct interpretation to the text.
    • If two people have opposite interpretations to a passage, both could be wrong, but both cannot be rightonly one can be correct!
  • There can be multiple applications to the text.

 Structure

  • We err greatly if we approach the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation and everything in between, with the same set of reading expectations for
  • the distinct books.
  • The Books of Moses (the Pentateuch) read markedly different than the poetic genre of Psalms. The books of Kings are demonstrably different than Paul’s letters to the Church.
  • The Bible is a library of 66 books covering an entire range of literary genres, or categories, including:
    • History
    • Poetry
    • Biography
    • Narrative
    • Inspirational
    • Prophecy
  • Application
  • Are the passages applicable today in our culture?
  • Are they meant for the Church?
    • Note: the Church has not replaced Israel.
  • Are they meant for Israel?

Is the segment studied prescriptive for us or merely descriptive?

Example: God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, his only son (Gen. 22).  Clearly this account just describes the event and it is not meant for any other time or place.  Indeed this is a “type” of what God would do by sending Jesus to die for us.


[1] Marriage between brother and sister and cousin was necessary in the immediate post-creation era to populate the earth.  Eventually it slowly became censured for most cultures.