1 John 3:16

"By this we perceive the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren."

Monday, 31 May 2010

Good Works

Good works that glorify God are the goal of God’s redemption. To claim to be saved by faith and not exhibit good works is contrary to salvation’s purpose and is a lie (1 John 1:5-6). Good works are not what we do to try to achieve acceptance with God, but a fruit of the love which He sows in our heart when He saves us. Peter wrote:

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood and holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show the praises of him that called you out of darkness into His marvellous light… having your life style honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak evil of you, they may by your good works, which they shall see, glorify God in the day of visitation. (1 Pet 2:9, 12).

All the apostles wrote on the importance of good works in our lives. A person who claims to be a Christian should be careful to exhibit good works with zeal. Zeal is important. Not just good works, but zealous and industrious in good works. If we claim to be a Christian and are lazy or dishonest, or who do not care for our family and for others in the church, we are self-deceived. We can see in Paul’s writings that good works are the purpose of our salvation, as this glorifies God:

Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity and purify to Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak and exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise you. (Titus 2:14-15).

Being redeemed from all iniquity does not just mean that we are forgiven, but that we no longer commit iniquity. He saves us from our sins, not in our sins. (Matt 1:21) Good works are the opposite of the hedonistic life styles that are prevalent in the world. Good works are shown by our commitment in using our time fruitfully in serving and not squandering it on self-pleasing.

Redeeming the time for the days are evil. (Eph 5:16).

The life of Christ in us is shown by the way we spend our time. We want to make use of our time, to take every opportunity to be fruitful in Christ. We have too much to live for in Christ to be half-baked and sluggish. Diligence and zeal are fruits of the life of Christ in us. Where they are absent there is no godly life.

God is not unrighteous to forget your labour of love, which you have showed toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints and do minister. (Heb 6:10).
Love labours. Where there is no labour there is no love of Christ within the heart.

God not only gives us grace through salvation, but also rewards the work which His grace produces in us. He will not reward works of law, but He will reward works of grace. This verse also says we show love toward God by serving His saints. This is how Paul remembered the Thessalonians:

Remembering without ceasing your work of faith and labour of love and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thes 1:3).

Faith puts us to work. Love will lead us to labour. Hope will give us endurance to keep on. The fruit of the Spirit causes us to serve, zealously. If this is lacking in our life, then is Christ in us? In all of this we are serving Jesus: “In as much as you have done this to the least of these My brethren, you have done it to Me.” (Matt 25:40).

The Cretians are always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in faith…They profess to know Him, but in works they deny Him, being abominable and disobedient and to every good work reprobate. (Titus 1:12-13, 16).

Laziness and disobedience are a denial of Christ. Paul also spoke about the type of widows the church should support. He said they must have lived their lives in good works, or they should not be supported by the church. We should not support lazy people. It is wrong to give things freely to people who do not work.

But she that lives in pleasure is dead while she lives. And these things charge, that they may be blameless. But if any provide not for his own and especially for those of his own house, he has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel.

Let a widow not be taken into the number under 60 years old, having been the wife of one man, well reported of for good works; if she has brought up her children, if she has lodged strangers, if she washed the saints feet, if she relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work. (1 Tim 5:6-10).

Paul also described the life of those who do not exhibit good works. He said idle people who talk and gossip and who just go about visiting people for no purpose have already turned aside to Satan:

And they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not. I would that young women marry, bear children, guide the house, give no occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. For some have already turned aside after Satan. (1 Tim 5:13, 15).

This does not mean that women cannot be educated and have jobs outside the house. Paul is saying that all of us should use our lives fruitfully in service. When we educate ourselves and go into a career, we should also use our skills to serve. In this passage there is a progression from being idle, to being a gossip and finally to being in opposition to the things of God.

Now we command you, brethren, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from every brother that walks disorderly and not after the traditions which you received from us.

For you know how you ought to follow us: for we did not behave disorderly among you; neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to you. Not that we have not power, but to make ourselves an example to you to follow us. For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should they eat. (2 Thes 3:6-10).

Any pastor who does not walk as Paul did is a false pastor, namely, pastors who go from house to house giving false messages and receiving offerings from the people. We met a “missionary” who went on two short trips in one year and none the next year and said, “Prayer is very important.”. By this he meant having a late bath in the morning, reading the newspaper and a bit of prayer. Paul said every leader and every Christian must work:

Let him who stole steal no more: but rather let him labour with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needs. (Eph 4:28).

Paul served the church as Jesus served. Though Jesus knew the Father had committed all things into His hands, He took a towel and clothed Himself in servant’s clothes of those days and washed the disciples’ feet (John 13). We hear people saying it would be a disgrace for us as bishops to do this in our culture. The culture then was no different in this respect. If Jesus as Lord can do that, how much more should we serve one another in love?

Sunday, 30 May 2010


Where the love of God is there will be fruit in godliness. Godliness means exhibiting the qualities of Godlikeness. This is what it means to be led by the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is seen in us. It is not our fruit, but His fruit working in and through us to others. Godliness means we act and behave as God would, because we are His children and are like Him.

We are what we do, not what we merely “believe”. “The devil believes and trembles”, meaning his believing does not transform his life (James 2:19). Worship refers to the way we live. Paul said, “Do not be conformed to this world, but offer your bodies as a spiritual service of worship.” (Rom 12:1-2). This means worship is what we do with our body. If we count God as worthy it is shown by how we live.

In 1st Timothy, godliness is mentioned nine times. Paul told Timothy to keep godliness at the forefront of his message in ministry. The gospel must produce godly living in people, or our ministry is vanity. Doctrines that tickle the ear, to attract members and promise them power and prosperity and that do not produce godliness, are false teachings. Many teach pointless doctrines that do not equip people in sound faith and a moral life that glorifies Christ.

As I besought you to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that you might charge some that they teach no other doctrine, neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do. Now the end of the commandment is love out of a pure heart and of a good conscience and of faith unfeigned: from which some having swerved have turned aside to vain jangling. (1 Tim 1:3-6).

Our goal is not that people might be happier, or more fulfilled, but that we all might live a godly life. This leads to genuine happiness. “…But godliness is profitable for all things, having promise for the life that now is and for that which is to come.” (1 Tim 4:8). The opposite doctrine is that gain is godliness: “…Men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.” (1 Tim 6:5).

The goal of our preaching is that we and others should “lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” and not be caught up in fruitless debates, disputes and harshness of spirit, laziness and gossip (1 Tim 2:2). Speculations about doctrine are fruitless, unless our study produces godliness.

“But refuse profane and old wives' fables and exercise yourself rather to godliness.” (1 Tim 4:7). Self-fulfilment and self-actualisation are not the purpose of our ministry, but godliness. We must get our minds off what we can get from God and allow God to transform our lives.

All sound doctrine produces godliness, which is seen by our works. These are not works of the law, but works of faith. “We are created in Christ Jesus for good works, which He has before ordained, that we should walk in them.” (Eph 2:10). Works of the law are those we do to be accepted. Works of faith are the fruit of His Sprit working freely in our life. He that does not have works of faith does not know God.

Godliness is our life style. We reflect the attributes of God in kindness, tender-heartedness, forgiving others, ease with which we can be entreated, industriousness, usefulness, cooperativeness, love, mercy, honesty, straight forwardness, not double tongued, nor proud, deceitful, tempered, bitter or self-centred.

If any man teach otherwise and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ and to the doctrine that is according to godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing…(1 Tim 6:3-4).

Doctrines about miracles, that do not produce these qualities in us, are not of God. What fruit does our teaching produce in our life and in the lives of those who hear us? Does our teaching work, in the godly or biblical sense?

Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, love, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strife.

And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle to all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will. (2 Tim 2:22-26).

Saturday, 29 May 2010


Children need love, knowledge of the word of God, discipline and educational training suited to their skills. Parents must be in agreement as one team, or the children will see the division and hypocrisy, or manipulate one parent against the other to get their own way.

Love means that the parents live according to the will and word of God. If we love our children we obey the scripture. Our life is the example the children need. We teach them with our life. He who pleases himself in the decisions he makes in life, rather than lives from the love of the Lord, hates his children. Love also means the parents are present with their children and do not delegate them to others while they spend their time selfishly.

Teaching the word of God to our children is crucial. It is one of the most common commands in the scripture concerning family. Final responsibility rests with the father to ensure this is done effectively. Deut 6:5-9 told the Hebrew to teach their children the word of God diligently at every opportunity, daily (Deut 32:46-47, Josh 4:5-7).

The Hebrew word for diligently means to carefully explain so that the children understand the real meaning of God’s word and that it sinks into their heart. This is the responsibility of the family, not of the church or school. The children must know the word of God, know what it means and know how to apply it in their life. Bible story books are not sufficient for this. They must be carefully taught from the scriptures.

Children need discipline. “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Pr 22:6). The Hebrew for train means to narrow the path. We train them diligently in the right path to take, by blocking the wrong paths so they must go the right way. We have to be present with them to do this. It is a 24/7 task. Absentee parents do not love their children.

This takes patient effort on the part of parents. It is easier to relax watching the football and not get up to correct your child when he or she needs it. He who spares the rod hates his child (Pr 13:24). The child must know the cost of disobedience. His soul must be delivered from hell (Pr 23:14).

Discipline must not be abusive. It must not be done in anger, but in self-control, for the child’s good, not for our own satisfaction. It must not wound the child’s body in any way. It must be consistent, not allowing one thing one day and something different on another day. Alternatives to the rod are harmful. The rod is quick and is then over. Emotional discipline is abusive. Sanctions are drawn out. The Bible not surprisingly is correct in its prescriptions.

We must know what our children are doing at any time and who they are with. We should not allow them to have as friends other children whose families do not hold the same values as us. “Evil associations corrupt good manners.” (1 Cor 15:33). This is not optional. As sure as night follows day, whether we like it or not, bad influences will corrupt children. We are not smarter than God.

This is not unnecessarily shielding the child. The child should be nurtured at a young age until he or she has the maturity to make the right decisions. Teenagers generally cannot make right decisions, because they do not have the life experience. We can destroy them by giving them too much freedom too early.

We do not make a person swim in the sewage to make them immune to disease. Neither should we allow children to mix with immoral people to teach them how to handle the world. Train them with godly influences and when they grow up they will not depart from them.

There should be communication, happiness, love and light heartedness in the home. There should be sports, entertainment and time spent with the children showing them home and life skills. There should be open communication so children can know why we think the way we do. This enables them to grow in understanding of life. Families should talk about issues together, so children learn how to think and express themselves.

Children must be taught the work ethic from an early age. They should help in the house and work diligently at school and in sports. They should be taught to show genuine respect to elders and to others, not answering back. They must be taught not to lie. This is not only godly, but will keep them out of trouble later in life. They must see in us the right example of integrity. Our word must be true in money and in everything we say, or children will know we are hypocrites and this will harm their faith.

None of this has to do with legalism, but is the fruit of the love which God gives the born again believer. Faith works by love. When Christ lives in us, we care about others and we do what is right for them according to the scripture (Gal 5:6).

Friday, 28 May 2010


If love is following God’s word, then how does this work out in our marriages and families? When we love the Lord we follow His word. This is not legalism. We are not doing this to be saved, but because the Lord’s love is in our heart. It starts with the matter of who we should marry. The Bible says we should marry in the Lord and not to be unequally yoked with an unbeliever (1 Cor 7:39, 2 Cor 6:14).

It is good to get to know the person before we agree to marry them. We should be aware of what they are truly like and whether the Lord is first place in their life. We should also choose a hard working person. Eleazer prayed for a wife for Isaac, that it would be the woman who drew water for all the camels (Gen 24:18-20). This was a considerable amount of work. He was not interested in a lazy girl. A lazy person does not love the Lord.

Love and companionship are important in a relationship. We should marry someone we can be friends with, with whom we like spending time. We should have similar life goals, or at least both desire to go in the same direction in life. This does not mean we should have the same skills, character or professions, but we should have the same overall goals in the Lord. We must be able to work as a team.

In marriage one is not greater than the other. Husband and wife work as a team. This means love and respect from both towards each other. The Bible says man is the head of the house, which means he has final responsibility before the Lord (Eph 5:23). This headship is to serve, love and care for his family in a responsible manner. He has no right to harm physically or mentally abuse his wife or children. He must give his life for his wife, which means gently care for her and love her dearly (Eph 5:25).

The woman should have an agreeable attitude and not be contentious. A contentious woman with an argumentative spirit is a great burden to any person. The Proverbs say it is better to stay in the corner of the roof than to dwell in a wide house with a contentious woman (Pr 21:9). The contentious woman destroys her house with her own mouth and ruins her marriage and family (Pr 14:1, Pr 31).

Both husband and wife should learn not to want their own way, but the Lord’s way. They should yield to each other so the Lord’s will is done in their lives. There is no reason why two people who love the Lord should break up and divorce. The claim of “irreconcilable differences” should not arise when two people yield their own desires to the will of Jesus. “A cord of three (Jesus, husband and wife) cannot easily be broken.” (Ecc 4:12).

“For this reason shall a man leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and the two shall be one flesh.” (Gen 2:24). Any husband and wife who allow their parents to control their family are under the devil’s yoke. The husband is the head of the house, not his or his wife’s parents. Their parents should support and show a godly example in all things, but they must not usurp authority.

We should listen to our parents, respect and honour and love them and follow godly advice, but not allow them to rule over our family. If any of our extended family requires us to go against the counsel of God’s word we must rather obey the scripture regardless of the outcome. Put God and His word first at all times. This biblical truth is not altered by any person’s culture.

There should be healthy sexual expression in a marriage. Both husband and wife should seek to please each other and not demand from each other (Pr 5:15-21, 1 Cor 7:3-4). Sex is honourable in a marriage and there should be no taboos, restrictions, traditions or laws hindering it (Heb 13:4). The ceremonial restrictions in the Law of Moses have no legalistic application to Christian marriages. What counts is love. Love does not seek its own, but seeks the other person’s good.

The Song of Solomon describes love in marriage relationships. The song is about a woman whom Solomon wanted in his harem. The woman however had a true love who was a simple shepherd man. She did not want to be included in the vanity of Solomon’s riches and meaningless sexual relationships. The song expresses sex, friendship and love in marriage. We should marry for love.

Divorce is permissible if one partner forsakes the marriage covenant through infidelity, abandonment or life threatening abuse to spouse or children (1 Cor 7:15). In such cases the believer is permitted to remarry, but there should be counsel from godly elders who honour the scriptures. The Lord does not permit divorce and remarriage on any other basis (1 Cor 7:10-11). However, divorce and remarriage is not the unforgivable sin.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

The Church

A humanist will claim to have values, but not a commitment to a church, or to the scriptures. When we have God’s love, these are two things that we have a commitment to. John said, “We know we have passed from death to life because we love the brethren.” (1 John 3:14). God makes us part of His family. Jesus said,” My mother and My brethren are those who hear the word of God and do it.” (Luke 8:21).

This means we are committed to fellowship (Heb 10:25). The church is the pillar and ground of truth (1 Tim 3:15). It is where we heard the message of our salvation. Some parents, or grandparents, leave the church when they are offended. How can we love our children, when we devalue before them what is most important? How can we have love when we leave because of offence? Love does not do that.

Jesus said, “He who does not gather with Me, scatters.” (Matt 12:30). The body increases in love, as every one supplies their part (Eph 4:16). “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it.” (Eph 5:25). Paul said, “Let no man trouble me, I bear in my body the marks (wounds of serving) the Lord Jesus.” (Gal 6:17). He showed his love for the Head of the church in heaven, by serving His body on earth. If we do not serve the body, we do not love the Head.

Hezekiah was a godly king of Judah, but his lack of care for the future of others revealed his lack of love. Recklessly, he showed Babylonian leaders the defences of Jerusalem. Isaiah rebuked Hezekiah, saying after Hezekiah died, Babylon would invade Jerusalem. Unbelievably Hezekiah’s response was, “The word of the Lord is good and thankfully it will not happen in my time.” (2 Kings 20:18-19).

After this warning Manasseh was born to Hezekiah. In Hezekiah’s last 15 years he raised the worst king in Israel or Judah’s history (2 Kings 21:11-12). Because of Manasseh’s wickedness the warning of the prophets came to pass: the Babylonian exile, when two thirds of the population of Jerusalem died. Hezekiah could not care less, though in the end Manasseh was saved. Many today live like this.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010


So how does the love of God play out in the values that we hold? Church is a good place to start. Some people who claim to have good values are not active members of a church. Since the 1960’s, in Western nations, many people began to neglect church. We thought that we did not need it to live good lives. As a result of this, moral, family and social values have been steadily eroded.

In Australia, in the 1960’s, most people we knew went to church. On Sundays most shops were closed, so workers could be free to attend churches with their families. We are not advocating a legalistic view of the Sabbath day, but an awareness of the most important values. If people in a society do not put God first, there is no hope for their future.

Today the bottom line is often the dollar. There has been a sharp increase in divorce and with that, an increase in the number of dysfunctional children, bringing down education levels and increasing crime. Abortion levels have sky rocketed where values are increasingly self-centred. In the 1960’s the sexual revolution meant people started to cohabit without marriage. This has since developed into an acceptance of homosexuality and an increasing tolerance of paedophilia.

The biggest enemy to society is not terrorism, but its own decadence. There is no need to be fatalistic about this. This is not a sign of the end of the world. Decadence has been turned around in the past and it can be turned around again. It will take the involvement of Christians. Instead of withdrawing, Christians must stand up to promote godly values without apology.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010


Jesus gave us one commandment. It is not kept through fear as we try to meet a standard of holiness. It is kept in response to Him freely accepting us. It is kept through the knowledge of Jesus Christ, the filling and empowerment of the Holy Spirit and the gift of faith. Jesus commanded us to love because through Pentecost He has freely enabled us and because He gave His life as an example.

Love shows by example. The Father showed us His love by giving us His Son. But love can only work because He gets inside of us and changes our nature. We do not love Him because we are good, but because He gave us new life through the gospel.
We love Him, because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19).

If you love Me, keep My commandment. This is My commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you. (John 13:34).

But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherishes her children. So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted to you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because you were dear to us. For you remember brethren, our labour and travail…(1 Thes 2:7-8).

Everything Paul taught stemmed from this love which worked in him (2 Cor 5:14). He said that the purpose of our instruction is love, a pure conscience and un-pretended faith (1 Tim 1:5). Jesus’ love purifies our heart and causes us to act in a godly manner that builds others up. In doing this, not one jot of the law passes away, but all is fulfilled in the New Covenant.

What does God’s love look like? Firstly, He loves the unworthy. “Christ died for the ungodly.”(Rom 5:6). We do not love someone for what we can get from them. We love, not because our love changes people, but because God’s power can change anyone. The love of God is unconditional. This is what changed us.

Israel turned from God after receiving such kindness in election. Yet God did not give her up. They had become worse than a prostitute. In this filthiness and failure God said, “Therefore, behold, I will allure her and bring her…and it shall be in that day that you shall call me Ishi (husband).” (Hos 3:14, 16). This is speaking about the New Covenant. This is the kind of unconditional love that the New Covenant puts within us.

Hosea said Israel shall abide many days without a king and priest. This was written in the 8th Century BC, long before the exile to Babylon. Hosea said, “Afterward shall the children of Israel return and seek the Lord their God and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days.” (Hos 3:5).

Jeremiah repeated Hosea’s prophecy (Jer 50:1-6, 20), stating that Israel would seek David when Babylon fell. That is, scripture says that Hosea was referring to the return from Babylon, which led to the coming of Jesus and God’s love restoring His remnant in the New Covenant. See also Jer 29:10-14, 30:9, 24, where seeking David, return from all the nations and the latter days, all refer to Judah’s return from captivity after the fall of Babylon.

Love is active. Jesus said, “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay his life down for his friend.” (John 15:13). James also said, “If we say, God bless you and do not help with the things that are needed, it is useless.” (James 2:15-16). John said, “Let us love not in word, but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:18).

By this we perceive the love of God, because He laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for our brethren. But whoever has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need and shuts up his compassion from him, how does the love of God dwell in him? (1 John 3:16-17).

Love is not high minded of itself. Though there are differing roles, our position is not our identity. Our identity is that we are freely accepted by the blood of Christ alone. We do not flaunt our position, but use it to serve, just as Jesus washed the disciples’ feet (John 13:14).

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains and have not love, I am nothing.

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor and though I give my body to be burned and have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love envies not; love vaunts not itself, is not puffed up, does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…(1 Cor 13:1-8).

This is the end of the commandment, the great ambition: not to do great things for God, but to love one another, as He has loved us. Love never fails. The right hand (charisma) can do much good for people in God, but the left hand (character), if not grounded in love, can wipe it all out and bring it all down.

He that loves his brother abides in the light and there is no occasion of stumbling in him. (1 John 2:10).

Esteem each other better than ourselves and care for other people’s affairs and not just our own. (Phil 2:2-4).

Add to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things be in you and abound, they make you that you shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ…as long as you do these things, you shall never fall. (2 Pet 1:6-10).

We do not do these things by ourselves, but allow Jesus Christ to live His life in us. We do them by His grace, as we give all diligence to it.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Christian Life

Through Jesus Christ the love of God is placed within us by the Holy Spirit (Rom 5:5). We have been delivered from the law that we might be free to walk in love towards God and toward others. This is the nature of the New Covenant. Instead of living by reference to a religion, a tradition, or a legal code, Christ lives His life in and through us as a free gift. As we walk in His faith, we experience the fruit of His love.

In this chapter we see what this love looks like, what it means in our daily lives and what its values are as the scripture portrays it. After a look at love itself, we will see how loves works in the following areas of our daily Christian lives:

• Family.
• Godliness.
• Good works.
• Christian giving.
• Involvement.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

The World to Come

The book of Revelation speaks of the New Heaven and New Earth to come, the eschaton, the future that the prophets spoke of and that Israel was expecting. Christ is the eschaton and in Him we have already entered the future state with Israel. His kingdom, Christ in us and in the church, is the first fruits (Rom 8:23). We will discuss this in the next chapter.

We wish to quote this statement from John Calvin again, because it sums up what we are saying:

Here the world to come is not that which we hope for after the resurrection, but that which began at the beginning of Christ’s kingdom; but it will no doubt have its full accomplishment in our final redemption (resurrection). (Calvin, Commentary on Hebrews 2:5).

When we know that we are in His kingdom now, we partake of it now and we expect to see the Lord reign now and we do not just wait until His Second Coming.

In the 17th Century John Owen spoke to the British parliament about the New Heaven and New Earth. The sermon was called, The Advantage of the Kingdom of Christ in the Shaking of the Kingdoms of the World. You can read it on www.ccel.org/ccel/owen. Owen is often considered to be the best English speaking theologian in history. In this sermon he taught what we are teaching in this chapter.

Owen gave an a-millennial scenario of the kingdom of Christ and said that in the centuries to follow He will bring in a very large harvest of souls in world missions. Owen challenged the British parliament to get out of their selfishness and become interested in the things of Christ, or be set aside by Christ.

Owen’s work had a very significant influence on the years that followed, as Christians laboured in missions, politics and education to impact the world. Owen’s views became the bedrock of Christian and political development in early America, making it a nation with the purpose of reaching the world with the gospel. Owen’s vision of the future was fulfilled exactly as he set it out 400 years ago.


In this chapter we have seen the Idealist interpretation of the book of Revelation. As a school of thought, idealism claims the Revelation has no exact historical application, but covers themes that relate to Christian life. The book depicts the reign of Christ over the nations. This reign is also depicted in Psalms 2, 22 and 110, as well as in Isaiah, Daniel and all of the prophets.

During this reign Satan is bound, meaning that he is under the complete dominion of Christ, but is released seasonally to gather Christ’s enemies against Him. This results in their destruction and the continued victory of Christ and His church in history, as God gathers in His elect from the four winds. At the end of the current church age the devil shall be cast into the lake of fire.

Eschatology is simple. It is one thing: Jesus came to establish the New Covenant that has its climax in His Second Coming and the resurrection of our body. This is all that there is to eschatology. There is no Jewish state.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

God Has Chosen

God has chosen to glorify Himself through the circumstances of this life so that in the midst of this world, we can come to see His immeasurable love towards His people and the multitude of His kindnesses and deliverances through Christ.

God has chosen that in weakness His strength is made perfect (2 Cor 12:9-10). The thorn in Paul’s flesh was the Jews who buffeted him wherever he went, as they rose up persecution against him. The reign of Christ did not mean that Paul would not suffer, but it did mean that Christ would never fail Paul.

Paul said it is given to us not only to believe on Christ, but also to suffer with Him (Phil 1:29). This suffering is persecution for the gospel. Those who come against Christ come against His people. God did not say that He would prevent this, but He did promise that it would turn to glory for those who are His people. If we say that this suffering shows the devil is not bound, we not understand God’s ways.

God gave Pharaoh a kingdom to bring Him glory by the deliverance of a slave nation. God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and Shechem and allowed Abimelech to prosper until Shechem was judged. When Abimelech’s work was done, a woman dropped a millstone on his head (Judges 9:53). God uses all manner of people and prospers them until His work is done. “In a great house there are vessels of honour and vessels of dishonour.” (2 Tim 2:20).

God is over all. Everybody, including Judas Iscariot, serves His glory. Isaiah said, “I bring forth evil and good, light and darkness”, but He tempts no man (Is 45:6-7, James 1:13). He brings down one kingdom and sets up another, but He is never the author of sin. Satan is bound, but God employs Him at His will until He has finished gathering in His elect.


So what do these Old Testament prophecies about the glory of the New Age mean? Most people see one of three options:

1. They are either about the gospel age we are now in.

2. Or about a future 1,000 year reign of Christ after a resurrection of the church.

3. Or about a coming New Earth and New Heaven in eternity.

The prophecies refer to the gospel age which started when the kingdom of Christ began 2,000 years ago, the age of the gift of the Spirit and continue in eternity when Jesus hands over the kingdom to the Father at the end of this world.

Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. (Is 43:19).

There is no prophecy in the Old Testament about Jesus returning to reign in a physical Jerusalem at the end of this age. Neither is there in the New Testament. The Jews expected it at His first coming, based on a syncretised understanding of scripture. Jesus made it clear that their expectations were entirely wrong because they failed to understand the scriptures.

New Creation

The new age began with the coming of Christ 2,000 years ago. The old order of the Old Covenant was taken away and God made all things new in Christ. This is what He meant when He said that He makes a New Heaven and a New Earth. The New Covenant is so distinct from the Old that it is a complete renovation of all things in Christ.
If any man be in Christ he is a New Creation, old things have passed away, behold all things are become new and all things are of God…(2 Cor 5:17-18).

We can miss this because even though we are born again, we are still trained to think in Old Covenant terms. The book of Hebrews shows the perfection, completeness and rest that are already in Christ. In Him we have already entered the Promised Land. Blindness to this fits in well with a wrong view of sin and spiritual warfare. If we think that we have not yet overcome sin then we still await the rest. If Christ has not yet conquered all powers, then we view rest as future.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Satan Loosed

The long suffering of God means that He waits and deals with man in the right season as He works out His salvation. In Revelation 20 Satan is depicted as let loose for a season. He gathers the people against Christ but then fire comes down from heaven and destroys them. Revelation 20 is not a chronological series of events. It depicts themes, one after the other in picture form.

The loosing of Satan shows how God allows him to perform certain functions in the nations. At various times in history Satan is allowed to gather the goats (the unclean, unbelievers) together against the gospel and God finally judges in favour of His church. It is the Psalm 2 scenario. Satan puts out the garbage, as it were. God organises all that Satan does. There is coming a time when Satan will be cast into the lake of fire at the end of the world.

Subject to Vanity

Why has God not yet put all enemies under the feet of Christ, since Christ rules over all already? It is timing. God has chosen to save His elect out of the world while the curse remains. He has “hidden His pearl (church) in the field (world)” (Matt 13:34), so He gets the glory and not us.

He has chosen to allow the curse to be a catalyst in showing us the vanity (meaninglessness) of life without Him, as His Spirit draws us and the rest of His people to eternal life:

For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who has subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (Rom 8:20-21).

His voice shakes the nations, meaning He brings down the pride of men and reveals the meaninglessness of our ways. All that we trust in and give our souls to collapses. This is a kindness from God, so that we may look beyond this life to Him. This is an ongoing work of Christ throughout our ages as Christ reigns. He brings down kingdoms and establishes His gospel in our hearts.

Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith…might be found to praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, you love…with joy unspeakable and full of glory. (1 Pet 1:6-8).

Yet Once More

Whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, Once more I shake not the earth only but also the heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifies the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.

Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and fear. (Heb 12:26-28).

This is referring to the time that God shook Mount Sinai when the first covenant was made:

And mount Sinai was altogether on smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire. And the smoke ascended as the smoke of a furnace. And the whole mountain quacked (shook) greatly. (Ex 19:18).

God came down on Sinai and shook the mountain. When Hebrews 12 says, “Once more I shake not only earth, but also heaven.” it is speaking about the institution of a second Covenant. The first shaking is the first covenant. The second shaking is the second covenant. This second shaking is a removal of an Old system and an installation of the New. It refers to the putting away of sin in Christ and the bringing in of unconditional faith, righteousness and eternal life.

Heb 12:26-28 quoted Hag 2:5-7. Haggai was speaking about the New Covenant and the Gentile church that would come to Christ. He said that God established the first at Sinai, but will shake the earth once more. Haggai was referring to the New Covenant being established by Christ. This shaking has nothing to do with the Second Coming of Christ. It is referring to the time of “reformation” from the Old system to the New Covenant (Heb 9:10).

The book of Hebrews is about the removal of the Old Covenant and the establishment of the New. The rituals, types, shadows, the temporary, the unsatisfactory, the things that have no life, no substance, are shaken and removed, that that which is solid (Christ and His substance and fulfilment) may remain in the New Covenant. This is the intended meaning of Heb 12:26-28. It refers to the atonement of Christ, His ascension and the sending of the Spirit at Pentecost.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Nations Brought Down

Therefore Your gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring to You the forces of the Gentiles and that their kings may be brought. For the nation and kingdom that will not serve You shall perish; yes, those nations shall be utterly wasted. (Is 60:11-12).

Remember that these Servant songs are not addressed to the city of Jerusalem under the Old Covenant, but are addressed to Jesus who rules over New Jerusalem. He is the Servant of the Lord whom the Spirit is addressing through Isaiah. Down through the centuries this text has been fulfilled over and over again and will be until the Lord returns and hands this kingdom to the Father.

“For the nation and kingdom that will not serve You shall perish…” The Roman Empire, the Holy Roman Empire, the Mongols, Hitler and Communism all perished as world rulers. Every nation or ideology that rises up against the King of kings will in God’s time be put down and wasted. The gates of hell shall not prevail against the church.

Today one third of the world’s population claims to be Christian, twice as many as any other religion. Kings and millions in many nations have turned to Christ in different epochs through the ages. We do not see a negative future. We see China, the Middle East, Europe and India opening wide to the gospel. We see renewal in America. We see Africa and South America influencing the world with the gospel. No nation can close itself to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We do Not Rule

We are not saying that church leaders rule. Jesus rules. He rules through the church, but according to His will and plan, not according to our ambitions or wisdom. We are not speaking of a theocracy, where a Christian nation rules. God does not make covenants with nations today. The days of theocracy finished with Israel. We are now in the New Covenant. There is one king: Jesus Christ.

The church is not God’s government on earth. A nation whose leaders turn to Christ is not the government of God. No Christian nation runs God’s plan, or has any monopoly over God. Christ is the governor and no one else. He reigns in the hearts of His people, the church and He reigns over all flesh and over all powers.

Not Glory Theology

We are not teaching triumphalism. There will always be evil on the earth during the reign of Christ. As Psalm 2 states, the heathen will rage. The book of Revelation describes those inspired by Satan who will come against the Lord’s purposes, such as “Gog and Magog” (Rev 20:8).

This has nothing to do with the attack of Gog and Magog against Israel fulfilled in the Intertestamental period (Ezek 38:2). See historical commentaries for details. Josephus claimed this was the attack of the Scythians, meaning northern tribes. Meshech and Tubal lay between the Euxine and Caspian Seas (Barnes Commentary). They were known as savage people.

In Revelation Gog and Magog are symbolic of God’s enemies. They come against the Lord and His anointed throughout the generations. In all this Christ reigns. “He shall laugh them to scorn and have them in derision.” (Psalm 2). The Father could put all down any time it pleased Him. But He will not do this until the end. The Father has not called the church to put Satan down. He has already done this in Christ.

Why does God allow evil to continue? Evil is the result of man’s sin. He allows it to continue for several reasons. First, the Bible says He is long suffering. He does not bring judgement quickly. He is not willing that any should perish (2 Pet 3:9). This does not mean that He will save everyone. It means that He is patient and kind and He waits for His elect.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Daniel 9

Daniel 9 is written about the return of the Jews from their captivity in Babylon and from the surrounding nations, to Jerusalem. Daniel received a message from Gabriel that explained that this return was to prepare the Jews for the coming of Christ and the salvation of the elect of Jacob in the ongoing New Covenant.

Daniel was shown that this New Covenant would be fulfilled within 490 years. He was given the time period of 70 weeks. There is broad agreement that each day of these 70 weeks represents one year. See Ezek 4:5-6, where Ezekiel lay on his side one day for each year of the sins of Jerusalem and Israel. God said, “I give you a day for a year.”. So 70 weeks is 490 years.

This time period fits in with the Intertestamental period after Daniel and before Christ came. The 490 years began when King Cyrus of Persia gave the command for Jerusalem to be rebuilt for the Jews to return and was completed when Jesus came to put away sin, fulfil prophecy, receive His coronation and give the Holy Spirit.

Seventy weeks are determined upon your people and upon the holy city, to finish the transgression and to make an end of sins and to make reconciliation for iniquity and to bring in everlasting righteousness and to seal up the vision and prophecy and to anoint the most Holy. (Dan 9:24).

Dan 9:27 mentions the last week (7 years), in which the covenant was confirmed and sacrifice ended. There are three main views on this verse:

1. Some say that this 7 year period was prophetic of the Roman General Titus who destroyed the temple in 70AD, ending temple sacrifice.

2. Dispensationalists say that this is a period of 7 years that today is still future, in which the antichrist will reign before the Second Coming of Christ. This means that almost 2,000 years are inserted between the 69th week and the 70th week.

3. The 7 year period was the time in which Christ ministered and when He made an end of sin on the cross He put away sacrifice. That is, there is no gap between the 69th and the 70th weeks.

It is clear that Daniel is referring to the coming of the New Covenant and the destruction of Jerusalem soon after the 70 weeks had finished. We speak of this later. Daniel continued in chapter 9 by saying that the people of the prince who is to come (Rome) shall destroy the city and the sanctuary (temple).

To agree with the Dispensationalist view that the 70th week is still in the future and will be fulfilled by an antichrist figure just before Christ’s Second Coming, there has to be a gap (of almost 2,000 years so far, maybe more if it continues to delay) between the 69th week and the 70th week.

Daniel does not say anything about this gap. It is not hinted at anywhere in the book of Daniel. This is the point. The whole system of Dispensationalism depends on this gap. Without this gap in Daniel 9 Dispensationalism cannot stand. Therefore, Dispensationalism depends on what the scripture does not say. This is not a good basis for end-times speculations.

This whole hermeneutical framework is built on one supposition. Because Darby and others in the 19th Century began to take a negative view of history, they decided that Jesus could not be reigning now, but must reign when He returns. They then went about to redefine all the traditional views on the texts that we have looked at, to fit this new supposition.

Writing in the 19th Century, when this shift in view began to take shape, Charles Spurgeon said:

It would be easy to show that at our present rate of progress the kingdoms of this world never could become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ. Indeed, many in the Church are giving up the idea of it except on the occasion of the advent of Christ, which, as it chimes in with our own idleness, is likely to be a popular doctrine.

I myself believe that King Jesus will reign and the idols be utterly abolished; but I expect the same power which turned the world upside down once will still continue to do it. The Holy Ghost would never suffer the imputation to rest upon His holy name that He was not able to convert the world. (From the jacket of Paradise Restored, by David Chilton.).

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Coronation Psalm

When God extends the influence of His Son and grace in the earth He makes His people willing in the day of His power. The times of refreshing and revival are in His hands. Psalm 110 is another coronation psalm. According to Hebrews 1 this coronation took place at Christ’s ascension when He sat down on the Father’s right hand. Christ sits on the throne of David today, not when He returns.

The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I make Your enemies Your footstool. The Lord shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion: Rule in the midst of Your enemies. Your people shall be willing in the day of Your power…

The Lord has sworn and will not repent; You art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. The Lord at Your right hand shall strike through kings in the day of His wrath. He shall judge among the heathen, He shall fill the places with the dead bodies; He shall wound the heads over many countries. He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall He lift up the head. (Psalm 110).

Here is Christ’s reign, again in the midst of His enemies. His reign through the nations is for the purpose of the gospel, to save, to build His church. Therefore, His priesthood and his throne go together, throughout the earth.

The Son of Man

Dan 2:34-35 portrays the throne of Christ beginning after His resurrection in the days of the fourth beast, the Roman Empire. The coronation occurred when Jesus ascended on a cloud to the Father in heaven. It is at this point that Daniel said that the saints reigned with Christ, as depicted in Revelation 20.

I saw in the night visions and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven and came to the Ancient of days…and there was given Him dominion and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations and languages, should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion… and judgement was given to the saints of the most High…(Dan 7:13-14, 22).

When Jesus said to the High Priest that he would see the Son of man come in His glory, He was referring to this passage in Daniel (Matt 26:64). The cloud depicts His ascension to rule. Both the gift of the Spirit at Pentecost and the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple would be visible signs of that rule, that the Stone that the builders rejected had become the head of the corner.

Jesus’ coronation is recorded in Heb 1:8-12. It is said there that His rule would be over heaven and earth and that He will roll kingdoms up as a blanket during this age (vs. 12). These verses depict His rule over kingdoms during our time. Kingdoms are represented in scripture by terms such as heaven and earth, stars and moon (Is 13:10, 13, 24:23, 51:6, 60:19). Christ reigns over kingdoms, shaking the nations as He gathers out His elect in this church age.

Daniel 2

Daniel 2 records Nebuchadnezzar’s vision of a beast, representing world empires in the days of Israel. In the vision the gold head was Babylon, the silver arms and chest was Persia, the bronze thighs Greece and the iron legs Rome. The beast had feet of iron mixed with clay.

The clay (from which Adam was made) represents man. It meant that the beast stood on feet of clay and would be brought down. It also referred to the lack of unity in the Roman Empire. The vision shows a rock cut out without hands that smites the image on the feet and then fills the earth.

“Upon this rock I will build My church.” (Matt 16:18). This is the rock: Jesus and His kingdom and authority. Jesus was likely referring to this passage in Daniel when He spoke to Peter about this, as Jesus’ kingdom was often spoken of in terms of Daniel’s vision.

You saw till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay and brake them to pieces…and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. (Dan 2:34-35).

Daniel said that the stone was the kingdom of God. A straight forward reading of Daniel shows that Christ came in the days of Rome and by His blood obtained our eternal life. He ascended and from heaven His gospel rule goes to all nations, from sea to sea. This occurred after Christ’s first coming, as He said, “I will build My church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”.

Gap Theology

Dispensationalists agree that there is a chronological fulfilment of the parts of this vision, from Babylon to Persia, then to Greece and Rome. However, they then put a gap (which is now almost 2,000 years) until the last part of the vision is fulfilled, i.e. the feet of iron and clay and the stone cut our without hands that smites the image on the feet.

Dispensationalism teaches that the stone smiting the image is Christ’s second coming, at which time His kingdom shall come and then fill the earth. To achieve this view of the text, Dispensationalism must have this gap between the legs and the feet and look for a fulfilment of the feet in the days that they believe Jesus will return.

Thus in the 1980’s the feet were said to be the European Union, which had ten member states (ten toes). It was claimed that the Union was the resurrected Roman Empire, the beats of the Revelation whose fatal wound was healed. But Europe now has many more than 10 member states, so new speculations have arisen in more recent years.

The question is does Daniel 2 say directly or indirectly that there should be a gap or thousands of years between the legs and the feet? The answer is no. There is not even a hint in Daniel 2 that this gap exists. The clear intention of the whole book of Daniel is to show that Christ shall come with God’s kingdom, His salvation, just as John the Baptist also said, “The kingdom of God is at hand.”.

Monday, 17 May 2010

His Government

Isaiah depicts the Son born, to bring a great light to the Jews. His redemption again is depicted in terms of the joy of a great harvest, or spoil of war. The oppressor and yoke of enemy nations poetically depict the curse of the law, which Jesus breaks by setting us free from sin. The Son also receives a kingdom upon the throne of David that is everlasting.

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them has the light shined…according to the joy in harvest and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For You have broken the yoke of his burden and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor…

For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom, to order it and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. (Is 9:2-7).

There is no mention that the kingdom of Christ should be delayed until some future period of earth. He comes, He is born, He sets us free, He receives His kingdom, He orders the world upon the throne of David and His government continues to increase throughout the world, through the gospel.

Passages like this lend themselves to a post-millennial view: a growth of gospel influence around the world until Christ returns. They also lend themselves to an a-millennial view: Christ reigning from heaven as His rules the nations and sends forth His word of salvation and peace. But there is no mention of Jesus ruling on earth for 1,000 years.

Imagine the difficulty that a pre-millennial pastor has in his Sunday service: “Good morning church. Jesus has saved us but the antichrist rules until His Second Coming. Until then all we can do is hide out and await a better day.” A better gospel is, “Good morning church. Jesus died for our sins and reigns in heaven. The world will come against us, but God’s will prevails. He will give us the victory through Jesus Christ.”.

The Glory to Follow

Psalm 22 describes His kingdom. It begins after His sufferings and extends throughout all the earth through the gospel. There is no gap before His kingdom begins. The writer of the book of Hebrews explained that this is fulfilled by Christ in the church age, when Christ declares praise amongst His brethren from the heathen nations (Heb 2:12):

They part My garments among them and cast lots upon My vesture…I will declare Your name to My brethren…praise Him; all you the seed of Jacob…For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither has He hid His face from Him...All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindred of the nations shall worship before You.

For the kingdom is the Lord’s: and He is the governor among the nations…They shall come and shall declare His righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that He has done this. (Ps 22:17-31).

God has not despised the afflictions of Christ, but He heard His prayer on the cross. Hebrews 1 and 2 go through this in detail. Christ receives a kingdom after His cross and He brings salvation to the ends of the earth, by virtue of His sufferings, His gospel and through the Spirit of God. This is the message of all the prophets. They speak of the Gentiles flowing into Christ’s kingdom during this current age.

Lift up Your eyes round about and see…Your sons shall come from far and Your daughters shall be nursed at Your side…the abundance of the sea shall be converted to You, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto You…

For in My wrath I smote You, but in My favour have I had mercy on You. Therefore Your gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring to You the forces of the Gentiles and that their kings may be brought. For the nation and kingdom that will not serve You shall perish; yes, those nations shall be utterly wasted. (Is 60:4-12).

This is the Spirit of God speaking to Christ through Isaiah. God smote Him for our sin, as Isaiah 53 describes. In this passage in chapter 60 the Spirit speaks of the Gentiles coming to Jerusalem, but this Jerusalem is Jesus Christ and His church. This is the New Jerusalem, having been renewed in the blood of Christ.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Covenant in Christ

We will now look at Isaiah 65. Just as with the parables that Jesus used, this parable also has a main point to which all the particulars relate. The subject of Isaiah 65 is that the sinners of Israel (not all of Israel) will be destroyed, while God brings in the elect of the Gentiles.

Paul went through this in detail in Romans 9 to11, taking his sources from Isaiah 65 and other Old Testament passages. Paul spoke of God judging some of Israel, while calling the remnant and of joining to them the Gentiles. He quoted directly from Isaiah 65 and said that this is fulfilled in the gospel age.

Isaiah 65 starts with:

I am sought of them that asked me not: I said, ‘Behold Me. Behold Me’, to a nation that was not called by My name. (Is 65:1).

We cannot read this without being moved by the heart of God’s kindness that is shown here. Imagine the creator and ruler of the universe calling to us like this! Paul quotes this verse directly in Rom 10:20 and refers to the same concept as he discusses Israel and the Gentiles in Rom 9:24-26, 30.

Isaiah 65 shows that while the Jews who reject Him would be starved of spiritual nourishment, the Gentiles whom He calls would be given it. Jesus used this language in John 6 to describe eternal life. Amos also speaks of this famine for the word of God (Amos 8:11).

Behold My servants shall eat and drink, but you shall be hungry and thirsty. (Is 65:13).

The theme of Isaiah 65 is stated again in vs. 15, “For the Lord God shall slay you and call His servants by another name.”. In Romans 11 Paul addressed this theme of the reprobate Jews stumbling and the elect Gentiles being grafted in.

Isaiah 65 shows that we Gentiles and the elect Jews are saved because of Christ, “As the new vine is found in the cluster and one says, ‘Destroy it not, for a blessing is in it’, so will I do for My Servant’s sake, that I may not destroy them all.” (Is 65:8). This is the vine that we are grafted into (Rom 11:24).

Then Isaiah depicts our redemption in Christ:

And I will rejoice in Jerusalem and joy in My people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. There shall not be there an infant of days, nor an old man that has not filled his days: for the child shall die a hundred years old; but the sinner being a hundred years old shall be accursed.
And they shall build houses and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of My people and My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.

…And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, says the Lord. (Is 65:19-25).

All these blessings begin in Christ. He has wiped away every tear. We have been to Christian funerals which are a genuine celebration, not in hype, but a genuine work of the Holy Spirit. We do not sorrow as the world does (1 Thes 4:13). “Oh death where is your sting, O grave where is your victory?” (1 Cor 15:55). Christ’s redemption brings us real joy now, or we do not have it. We are not saying that we do not sorrow, but somehow God works in our hearts through His Son to take it away.

Isaiah then pictures the redeemed living a long time. He says that we shall build houses and enjoy them and that our days shall be as the days of a tree, meaning we will long enjoy God’s blessing (Is 65:21-22). Sinners are accursed. They are outside, as Revelation 21 depicts. This is not just when the kingdom is handed to the Father in eternity, but it is a reality of the church now. No person can pass into the church of Jesus Christ (into His body) without been cleansed in His blood by the Holy Spirit.

The long age, houses and trees all depict in human terms peace with God and the blessings of the New Covenant that will endure, in this age and in eternity with the Father. They are not like Old Covenant blessings, which require constant sacrifice. This is an eternal covenant in one sacrifice. These terms mean that sin has been forever put away in Christ. This is the difference between the covenants that the prophets pointed to and the way that the book of Hebrews interpreted these passages (Heb 10:4-9).

The wolf and lamb speak of former enemies, Jew and Gentile, united in Christ. Instead of food laws to separate Jew and Gentile, we eat together at one table of the Lord (Eph 2:15). Satan eats dust, as the New Testament epistles depict. We look at this in detail in the chapter on spiritual warfare. Satan is bound for the redeemed in Christ, until the end of this church age when he shall be cast into the lake of fire.

God says it in these pictorial terms to make it simple to understand. It is a parable, just like Jesus used. Isaiah concluded with the summary of his theme; “My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. (Is 65:22) We cover Is 65:17 further below and in the next chapter.

John Calvin said in a nut shell what we are saying here. He was speaking about the world to come. To Calvin this is our redemption in Christ, which began at Pentecost but has its final expression at the end of the church age at the resurrection of the body.

Here the world to come is not that which we hope for after the resurrection, but that which began at the beginning of Christ’s kingdom; but it will no doubt have its full accomplishment in our final redemption (resurrection). (Calvin, Commentary on Hebrews 2:5).

Isaiah 65 depicts the gospel age we are now in, which has its final expression in the resurrection of the body at the Second Coming of Christ. Jesus referred to Isaiah 65 in His parable of the vineyard; the vineyard would be taken from the Jews and given to another nation. Isaiah 65 is about the New Covenant. Jeremiah and all the prophets stated how these passages are to be interpreted: “Behold the days come when I make a New Covenant…not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers.” (Jer 31:31-32).

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Christ’s Coronation

Concerning when the kingdom of Christ shall be and when His coronation in that kingdom was, we now look at Psalm 2. Remember that the kingdom of Christ is the millennium. Psalm 2 describes this millennium and Christ’s coronation after His resurrection. We will quote the whole Psalm, as it so well depicts the age in which we now live:

Why do the heathen rage and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder and cast away their cords from us. He that sits in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall He speak to them in His wrath and vex them in His sore displeasure.

Yet have I set My King upon My holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the Lord has said to Me, You are My Son; this day have I begotten You. Ask of Me and I shall give You the heathen for Your inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.

Be wise now therefore, O you kings: be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry and you perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him. (Psalm 2).

This Psalm is not about David’s coronation. It is about the reign of Christ. David never expected to reign over the uttermost parts of the earth or receive the nations of the heathen for his inheritance. This Psalm is about the reign of Christ from sea to sea.

He shall have dominion also from sea to sea and from the river to the ends of the earth. (Ps 72:8).

The scripture is full of passages like this. They are not describing the world to come, but the world which is now, when people will still oppose the rule of Christ. Texts in the prophets such as “the lamb shall lie down with the lion” and “they shall beat their swords in ploughs” relate to our current gospel age.

His Redemption

Before we look at Isaiah 2 (and chapter 65 further below) we need to realise that Isaiah uses parables. These are parables of Christ’s kingdom, just as the parables that Jesus used. They use terms familiar to human existence, to help us to understand His redemption plan. They are not meant to be literal.

The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall come to pass in the last-days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.

And many people shall go and say, Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways and we will walk in His paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

And He shall judge among the nations and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into ploughs and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (Is 2:1-4).

This is speaking of the kingdom of Christ set up in the last-days of the Old Covenant age. When Isaiah wrote this, it was still about 600 years away. The passage speaks of the Gentile nations coming to the Lord and of His gospel going out from Zion and Jerusalem, which means from Christ’s kingdom.

It also says that Christ will reign among the nations. He brings down one nation and lifts up another as He establishes the gospel message throughout the earth. As nations come against the Lord and His gospel, He rebukes them in His time and brings peace and periods of establishment for the church. Just as in Psalm 2, we see Christ ruling not in the next world, but in the presence of His enemies.

This is redemption peace. It is more than physical peace. It is peace that passes all understanding, which Jesus gives and is greater than worldly peace (Phil 4:7). It is resurrection peace, given at Pentecost, with the Spirit within us. It is a fruit of the Spirit. Those who walk in this peace are children of God (Matt 5:9). “The fruit of righteousness is peace.” (Is 32:17). Whenever a nation serves the Lord this is what we have.

This peace in Isaiah 2 was fulfilled in the birth of Christ:

Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying, blessed be the Lord God of Israel. For He has visited and redeemed His people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David. As He spake by the mouth of His holy prophets, which have been since the world began.

That we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all that hate us, to perform the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to our father Abraham. That He would grant to us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our life. (Luke 1:67-75).

As Isaiah also said of Christ’s reign:

And all Your seed shall be taught of the Lord and great shall be the peace of Your seed. In righteousness shall You be established. You shall be far from oppression; for You shall not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near You. Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by Me: whosoever shall gather together against You shall fall for Your sake. (Is 54:13-15).

Speaking of the church, Haggai said:

The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, says the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, says the Lord of hosts. (Hag 2:9).

Regarding the gospel, Zechariah says:

And He shall speak peace to the heathen: and His dominion shall be from sea even to sea and from the river even to the ends of the earth. (Zech 7:10).

His peace conquers the world:

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33).

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, give I to you. (John 14:27).

This peace is spoken of throughout God’s word as a New Covenant blessing (John 20:19, 21, 26, Acts 10:36, Rom 5:1, 10:15, 14:17, 15:3, 16:20, Gal 5:22, 6:16). Brothers in Christ from different tribes and nations are one nation in Christ and fight each other no more:

But now in Christ Jesus, you who sometimes were far off are made near by the blood of Christ. For He is our peace (between Jew and Gentile), who has made both one and has broken down the middle wall of partition between us, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of two one new man, so making peace. (Eph 2:13-15).

These New Covenant blessings go on into eternity. The peace that Isaiah speaks of in Is 2:4 climaxes as Christ hands His kingdom to the Father at the end of this church age. However, there is no mention in any of the prophets of a 1,000 year reign of Christ on earth. In prophetic language Jerusalem and Zion speak of Christ’s rule, not of an earthly Jewish kingdom. (See our chapter on Israel where this is shown in detail.)

The rest of Isaiah 2 depicts the judgment upon Israel, including its destruction in 70AD, after the New Covenant has been established in Christ. Compare Is 2:19-21 with Luke 21:20-26, 23:30 and Rev 6:16, 9:6.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Christ Reigns

We are now living in the age of the kingdom of Christ. Jesus spoke of His sufferings and the glories that would follow (Luke 24:26). Paul spoke in his day of the ages to come in which He would show us the riches of His grace (Eph 2:7). Jesus spoke of the church which He would build (Matt 16:18). John the Baptist spoke of the kingdom which was at hand (Matt 3:2).

Daniel spoke of the rock cut out without hands that would then fill the earth (Dan 2:33-35). Isaiah spoke of the increase of His government, of which there would be no end (Is 9:7). Habakkuk spoke of the glory of the knowledge of the Lord covering the earth like the waters cover the sea (Hab 2:4). Revelation spoke of His rule amongst all nations. This is the time we are living in now, the kingdom of Christ.


Dispensationalism puts all this off until the Second Coming of Christ. It says that all these glorious scriptures are for the reign of Christ in Jerusalem when He returns. It says that now we are getting ready for the antichrist to rule. It sees things as getting progressively worse. We can do nothing but prepare for the end. “Store up food for the Great Tribulation”, as mid-trib’ or post-tribulationists put it.

The negativity of Dispensationalism makes it damaging. Dispensationalism became popular after the French Revolution, after modern industrialization resulted in poor urban social conditions and after the American Civil War. These events disturbed the earlier optimism of post-millennialism. The view changed to see mainly evil and that the world would only get worse.

If we look down through the ages since Paul we also see something different. Yes we see the evil, but we also see the gospel prevailing over the earth, just as Jesus said. We also know that the Father has not changed. The nations still belong to His Son and always will. God is not going to enthrone His Son on the throne of David when He returns. He has already enthroned His Son.

However, this negative view has caused the church to withdraw from society, instead of seeing the world as ruled by Christ. In the last 100 years many Christians have largely stayed out of government, out of universities and out of the media, or at least not tried in any significant way to change them. This negative behaviour is self-fulfilling. The next generation is almost bereft of godly society as a result. This is not fulfilling Christ’s mission.

F. W. Newman, a colleague of Darby, described the negativity of Darby’s Dispensationalism, “The importance of this doctrine is that it totally forbids all working for earthly objects distant in time.”. (Cited in Christian Zionism, Stephen Sizer.)

When one young man sought Darby’s advice on whether he should do further studies in mathematics, Darby answered, “Such a purpose was very proper, if entertained by a worldly man. Let the dead bury their dead; and let the world study the things of the world…such attitudes cannot be eagerly followed by the Christian, except when he yields to unbelief.”. (Cited in Sizer.)


As new Christians we were taught that Henry Kissinger was the antichrist. He would take over either the United Nations or the European Union and enter a peace treaty with Israel before the Great Tribulation would start. We were told that the Second Coming of Christ would occur in a few years time. Friends we know left university, messing up their lives. In Thessalonica they left their jobs for the same reason and Paul wrote to correct them.

Dispensationalism produces a crippling fatalism. We think that there is no point to striving, that prophecy must be fulfilled and we do not stand against the falling away of the “last-days”. We think there is nothing that we can do: “These are called the signs of the times.”. It is claimed that Israel becoming a nation is a sign of the end. Our attitudes and actions have been predetermined by a false view of scripture.

This is harmful to Christian influence in the world. Christians who should be active are not. Earthquakes, famines and evil in the world are not a sign that Jesus is coming in our generation. These things have been going on for 2,000 years and morality has been much worse in earlier generations. Besides, this view of signs is taken from an incorrect understanding of Matthew 24, which we speak on later.


We have spoken to church leaders who said they know that what is taught on last-days is probably not true, but that it is good for making converts. They said it excites people. But when the people realize that what they were told is wrong they “backslide”. Our Christian life must be built on genuine repentance that comes from God. Whether Jesus is coming tomorrow or in 1,500 years should not make any difference to the way we live. Why would anyone fear the last-days, if they had a relationship with God?

It is thought by some that today the antichrist may be the leader of Iran. It is reckless to make speculative interpretations of scripture. In every generation there are figures who oppose the gospel, but the Bible gives no basis to speculate about the end. Every generation that has done this has been wrong.

Some have said that the Second Coming will not take us unaware, meaning we will know when the event is about to occur by that which precedes it (1 Thes 5:1-8). Firstly, Paul was not referring to the Second Coming in that text. Secondly, when we are living for Christ we are always ready. That does not mean that we know the season that it will occur. The Bible says that that season is in the Father’s hands and is not for us to know (Acts 1:6-8).

Jesus said “occupy till I come.” (Luke 19:13). Jesus said His kingdom is like leaven that fills the whole lump of dough (Luke 13:20-22). This means we are supposed to have influence in the world.

It was claimed that Jesus will come by the year 2,000, since it would then be 6,000 years after Adam was made, when we would enter the last 1,000 years, the Sabbath millennium. The Bible does not say this. This is an allegory from Genesis 1, not intended by scripture. God said that His promises to Abraham and His seed would last for 1,000 generations (1 Chron 16:15). If literal, that is 40,000 years. If symbolic, it is also a long time.

We must recover the view of former generations of Spirit filled believers who laboured in faith, martyrdom, theology, evangelism, mission, government, education and science, etc, to hand down to the generations that followed a blessing that we still enjoy. We are living on the fruit of earlier generations. It is time to change our outlook, so we can be a blessing to those who follow, if the Lord tarries.
We are not permitted to speculate on His coming. We are instructed to occupy. Let us be obedient servants.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

The Resurrection

Here we discuss the doctrine of the resurrection. This is derived mainly from the book of Daniel, Jesus teaching in the Gospel of John and Paul’s teaching. Revelation depicts this doctrine in symbolic form. What did Jesus and Paul teach concerning the two resurrections? How do these relate to the millennium?

Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ and shall reign with Him a thousand years. (Rev 20:6).

Through the first resurrection saints reign with Christ. Through the first resurrection we enter into the kingdom of Christ. Both the believers on earth and those now in heaven are reigning with Christ through being partakers in the first resurrection. What is this first resurrection? Jesus spoke of two resurrections. The first resurrection Jesus spoke of was the new birth:

…He that hears My word and believes on Him that sent Me, has everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death to life…The hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father has life in Himself; so has He given to the Son to have life in Himself. (John 5:24-26).

In these verses Jesus spoke of the new birth, being raised from death in sin to life. He said, “The hour is coming and now is…” Jesus came to usher in His kingdom and the new birth. His kingdom was at hand, coming and was already here, about to be fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost. In this resurrection we have already passed from death to life. It is now, through the hearing of faith, not in the future (Rom 10:17). This is the first resurrection. Those who are born again reign with Christ:
…much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. (Rom 5:17).

Paul also described the first resurrection in Ephesians:

And you has He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins…But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath made us alive together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved). (Eph 2:1-5).

The Second Resurrection

Going back to John 5, Jesus goes on to describe the second resurrection:
(The Father) has given Him (Jesus Christ) authority to execute judgement also…for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice and shall come forth; they that have done good, to the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, to the resurrection of damnation. (John 5:27-29).

This speaks of the judgement at the end of the world. This hour is in the future. The dead bodies shall rise from the graves, both the just and the wicked in the same hour. There is no gap between the resurrection of the just and of the wicked. They are both in the same hour. The resurrection of the body at the last day is also spoken of by Jesus in another place:

Martha said to Him, I know that he (Lazarus) shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life: he that believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this? (John 11:24-26).

It is claimed that John 11 pre-figures the bodily resurrection at the end of the world. Martha said that she knew that Lazarus would rise on the last day. Jesus said that He is the resurrection, meaning both that in Him is eternal life for those who believe and also that He is the one who will give life to our bodies on the last day.

The last day is distinguished from the term last-days, or latter days. The terms last-days and latter days were used by the prophets concerning the end of the Old Covenant era. Peter confirms this is Acts 2 where he refers to Joel’s last-days being fulfilled at Pentecost. The last day is the bodily resurrection at the end of the world. We do not know when this will be and it has no direct relation to the term last-days.

In John 11 Jesus said two things about the second or the bodily resurrection. He said that the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then He said those who are alive and believe in Him will not die. This is exactly what Paul said.

For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord shall not go before them which are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thes 4:15-17).

Paul said he was passing onto the church of the Thessalonians what Jesus had given the apostles. This is what Paul means by the term the word of the Lord. He meant what Jesus had said in the flesh when on earth. Paul referred to the word of the Lord in his epistles, e.g. with regard to divorce in 1st Corinthians 7 and the Lord’s Supper in 1 Cor 11. 1 Cor 15:1-7 is another example of Paul referring to New Testament scripture already in existence.

In 1st Thessalonians Paul was referring to John 11. The dead in Christ rise first, then we which are alive in Christ are changed and join the others in the air, i.e. we do not die. Paul did not speculate when this would be. He did not even state the season. He did not say it was near at hand. In fact he said it was not at hand. We discuss this in another chapter.
In 1st Corinthians 15 Paul spoke of this again and the context intimates that Paul saw it as far off:

Then comes the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father…the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. (1 Cor 15:24, 26).

Paul said that Christ would reign until the end, when the kingdom would be handed to the Father at the resurrection of the dead. He is speaking here of the resurrection of the body. Paul did not say when this would happen. He did not say he was expecting it soon. This passage speaks of the end of the world, as does Rom 8:19-25, Heb 2:8-10, as does also the last chapter of the book of Revelation.

Some might ask, “How do we know when Revelation is symbolic and when it is literal? How do we know that the first resurrection is about new birth and that the second is about the body?”. We know by what the rest of scripture teaches. The epistles teach that the new birth is the first resurrection and the physical resurrection of the body occurs after the reign of Christ. The Revelation does not add any new doctrine to the epistles.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Revelation 20

The only reference to a millennium in the scripture is in Revelation 20. Before looking at this we need to see what the Revelation is about. It is about Jesus Christ, who is the spirit or theme of prophecy (Rev 19:10). Jesus Christ is the fulfilment of the millennium in Revelation 20. The first verse of the Revelation tells us how the book is to be interpreted:

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to Him, to show to His servants things which must shortly come to pass and He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John. (Rev 1:1).

“Signified” interpreted from the Greek means symbolize. Jesus said that God the Father gave Him the Revelation and that He then gave it to John by means of symbolism. Different books of the Bible are written in different forms, or genre. Genre refers to the kind of literature. Some scripture is narrative, other parts are poetic. Each genre has its own principles of interpretation.

Scripture’s Genre

We know that poetry has distinct guidelines in interpretation. The Revelation is a particular kind of genre known as apocalyptic. This means it is symbolic prophetic scripture. Portions of Daniel are the same and portions of Ezekiel, for example, where wheels and other images are used to portray ideas.

Historical narratives are written in literal form. It would be wrong to interpret them symbolically. The miracles of Jesus in the Gospels are historical narrative. They actually happened in history. There are poetic devices used in the Psalms and the prophets. These are not literal. They use images such as fire, storms and the earth passing away, as images to portray judgement or destruction.

There are also idioms used in various places that are not literal. We use them in English today, such as, “He would have bent over backwards to help me.”. This means that he would do anything to help. It does not mean that he literally bent over backwards. This shows that we may read statements in the Bible without being aware of their idiomatic purpose in early Hebrew thought.

We are supposed to interpret scripture by its plain intention. If the intention of the genre is that we interpret it literally, then that is what we must do. If it is the intention of the genre that we interpret it symbolically, then it would be wrong to interpret it literally.


Revelation is the apocalyptic genre. It uses images to relay meaning. Images of beasts portray meaning about the nature of fallen man. Numbers are used to portray meaning. The 12 elders signify completion. The 144,000 portrays the completion of the elect, the church of Jesus Christ. Every image in Revelation has theological significance in relation to Jesus Christ and His victory and kingdom.

When we come to the 1,000 year reign of Christ in Revelation 20 the principle is the same. We do not suddenly change the clear stated intention of the symbolism in Revelation when we get to chapter 20. The number 1,000 is a symbol that represents the totality of Christ’s reign.

In the Old Testament the number 1,000 is employed the same way. “One shall put a thousand to flight.” This is not a literal number. It simply means many. Literalism is a fault of Dispensationalism. Literalism means interpreting texts literally when that is not the plain intention of the passage. Literalism is also a Western thinking fault. It is not the intention of the Hebrew mindset.

The Old Testament says that, “God owns the cattle on a thousand hills.” (Ps 50:10). This is not a literal number. The statement shows the Lord’s ownership of all the earth. It is the same as saying, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness (contents) thereof.”. When the Bible states how many died in a battle or how many were saved on the Day of Pentecost then those numbers are literal, because they are historical statements.

Millennium is Now

The millennium in Revelation 20 signifies the reign of Christ. The 1,000 years is a symbol for the totality of His reign, power and sovereignty. The Revelation depicts a doctrine that had already been taught in the epistles. His reign is now, not when He returns at the end this world. Paul described the reign of Christ:

Then comes the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign, till He (Father) has put all enemies under His (Christ) feet. (1 Cor 15:24-25).

Dispensationalism says that the rapture is to occur before Christ comes to reign in Jerusalem. This means that the resurrection is before the reign of Jesus. But 1 Cor 15:24-25 shows the opposite. Paul said that Christ reigns before the resurrection. Jesus reigns until death is placed under His feet.

The resurrection occurs at the Second Coming of Jesus. Therefore, Paul said that Christ reigns in heaven before the Second Coming, not on earth after His Second Coming. The millennium is symbolic of Christ’s current reign. It is not a literal number of years. We do not know when it will end. We do not know when Jesus will come. That is in the hands of the Father.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Pre-Tribulation Rapture

The pre-tribulation rapture theory teaches two things: that there shall be a Great Tribulation just before the Second Coming of Jesus; and that the church shall be raptured (taken out of the world) just before that tribulation, or mid way through the tribulation. Some believe that the “overcoming saints” shall be raptured, but less victorious believers shall be purified in the tribulation.

This pre-trib’ theory also holds that there are two different resurrections of the body. The church shall be resurrected (raptured) first, before the return of Christ and the wicked dead shall be raised up second, after the millennial reign of Christ in Jerusalem. This means that there is a 1,000 year gap between the bodily resurrection of the church and the bodily resurrection of the wicked.

Here are two theories that the early church fathers did not believe. First, the early fathers did not believe in two separate bodily resurrections, one before and one after a 1,000 year reign of Jesus in Jerusalem. Second, the pre-tribulation rapture is not mentioned by any church father and is not mentioned anywhere in church history, until the year 1830.

The idea of two separate resurrections with a long gap of years between them appears in Babylonian teaching and then in Persian Zoroastrian chiliasm, but not in Christian teaching until Montanism and then inconsistently in Justin Martyr in the 2nd Century.

This “pre-tribulation rapture” teaching did not occur in church history until 1830. Edward Irving translated a document into English, which was first written by a Franciscan Priest named Francisco Ribera (1537-1591). This document proclaimed the millennial theory, that Jesus was coming to reign for a 1,000 years in Jerusalem. Irving and John Darby then began to teach this in the UK.

Also, a young girl in Scotland associated with Irving’s ministry, named Margaret McDonald, gave a “tongues and interpretation” saying that the rapture of the church would occur before the Great Tribulation, after which Christ would come to reign in Jerusalem.

From 1830 John Darby began to popularize the teaching. Darby was Cessationist and claimed that he found this teaching in Bible study and did not get it from the Scotland manifestation. However, the pre-tribulation rapture doctrine is not mentioned in scripture once. There is not one scripture passage that we can turn to that directly teaches this.

Monday, 10 May 2010


Paul constantly battled against the encroachment of both pagan and Jewish ideas. After the first apostles passed on, pagan ideas in the church increased. Many of the converts to Christ in the 2nd Century were Greek and were formerly Platonists. They believed that they would win more Greeks if they presented Christianity as a higher form of Platonism, i.e. a fulfilment of their own cultural values.

Thus they brought former Greek ideas into the church and mixed them with the gospel. These early fathers in the church taught that the flesh must be denied. They then led people away from truth with false revelations, including visions of Mary. This led people into asceticism and Mary and saint worship (idolatry). The early church was Hellenized, which means it became Greek in culture.


In the 2nd Century Montanism arose. This was a cultic Christian group with some false prophets. They followed several of the Jewish Apocryphal books, adopting from these ascetic and Zionist ideas. They were therefore a pagan/Christian mix. Some of their women would not marry, or would deny their husbands, a similar problem to that which Paul addressed in 1st Corinthians 7.

They had some false prophecies, believing that their tongues and interpretations were inspired on the level of scripture and a continuation of scriptural revelation. They believed that Jesus was going to return in their time and set up His kingdom in a city in Asia Minor. They adopted a form of Zionism known as chiliasm, or more commonly known today as millennialism, i.e. that Jesus was returning to rule in an earthly kingdom.

Early Church Fathers

We can see where the roots of millennialism came from, which began to affect Christians in the 1st and 2nd Centuries. Because early Greek Christians liked asceticism they were drawn to the Zionist ideas of the Essene and other Jewish sects. They developed teaching on “end-times” and millennialism that was not in accord with the mindset of the Hebrew prophets and early apostles.

The earliest church fathers were not millennial. The Didache of around 97AD did not teach a near Second Coming of Christ, but an age of gospel outreach to the end of the earth. The Epistle of Barnabas around 98AD declared an age of dominion for the church in all the world. Clemet of Rome about 99AD declared the same, as did the Pastor of Hermas in 100AD, Ignatius in 107AD and Papias in 145AD.

In 150AD we see millennialism in some of the writings of Justin Martyr, a converted Greek philosopher, where in other passages he spoke against it. In 165AD Tatian was strongly anti millennial, as was Athenagoras in 183AD. Iranaeus in 185AD was millennial in some parts of his writing, but not in other parts. Clement of Alexandria in 190AD and Caius of Rome in 210AD were strongly anti millennial.

We can go on with many cases. It is wrong to say that the early church fathers believed in a return of Christ to reign in Jerusalem. It is also wrong to say that they believed in a very soon return of Jesus. They believed in a period of time, the church age, in which Christ would reign over the nations from heaven and the gospel would go to the ends of the earth.

There is a claim that the church initially held to a pre-millennial view and changed to a-millennialism in 4th Century after Constantine gave the church political power. This theory does not account for the Jewish/pagan roots of pre-millennialism, or the church fathers well before Constantine who opposed it.