Preterism

The EFCA Turns Away from Premillennialism

The EFCA Turns Away from Premillennialism

On the afternoon of June 19, 2019, the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA) voted to remove the word “premillennial” from their statement of faith. As one who has attended EFCA churches in the past, I feel a deep sense of sadness at the decision. I believe this removal of the word “premillennial” takes the EFCA in an unacceptable direction.

I believe that the members voting in favor of removing “premillennial” from their statement of beliefs made their decision the basis of three false assumptions.

What Difference Does It Make?

What Difference Does It Make?

During the past year, I have written many articles defending my belief in premillennialism, which is the belief that Jesus will return to earth after a literal seven year tribulation, destroy the armies arrayed against Jerusalem, and rule the world for a thousand years seated on the throne of David.

At this point you may be asking, “What difference does it make?” After all, many pastors who deny these things preach the Gospel and expound the Word with great conviction. Does it really matter if they deny Israel’s place in future biblical prophecy or regard the book of Revelation as having little relevance for us today apart from the final two chapters? Yes, it absolutely matters.

In Defense of Biblical Prophecy

In Defense of Biblical Prophecy

While most Christians agree on the fulfillment of prophecy relating to Jesus’ first coming, such harmony quickly disappears when one turns to prophecies related to His return to earth.

As one who has spent much time in the midst of the fray, I can attest to the pressing need to defend all that we hold dear. Attacks against our beliefs in the rapture, a literal tribulation, the second coming, Jesus’ reign seated on the throne of David, and the eternal state not only come from outside the church, they also emanate from Bible-believing pastors, writer, and teachers.

From Patmos With Love

From Patmos With Love

Believers who do not know how to defend the message of the book of Revelation can become easy prey for those who seek to rob them of its message of comfort and hope.

Why do I make such a seemingly outrageous clam?

It’s because even some pastors of Bible-believing churches relegate much of the book of Revelation to allegory.

3 Reasons Why Israel is Vital to our Future Hope

3 Reasons Why Israel is Vital to our Future Hope

Those who have followed my blog know I often write about Israel’s continued place in God’s prophetic program.

Why do I do this? Why not just write about the signs and our immanent hope in Jesus’ return as I often do? Why defend Israel’s place in God’s prophetic program?

It’s precisely because our expectation of Jesus’ soon return is so important that I defend Israel’s future role in prophecy.

7 Ways Amillennialism Negates God’s Promises to Israel

7 Ways Amillennialism Negates God’s Promises to Israel

Although Israel miraculously emerged as a nation seventy years ago fulfilling many biblical prophecies, many today still reject the idea that God will keep His promises to restore a kingdom to His people. Those who hold to this this position, often referred to as amillennialists, see no future for Israel in God’s prophetic program.

It has long been my contention that in their quest to negate God’s promises to Israel, amillennialists glorify the church rather than Jesus. They make God’s future kingdom all about what the church does by making life better in our current world. Can you see how over time this might open the door to socialism as a way to accomplish this?

5 Ways Amillennialism Distorts the Biblical Worldview

5 Ways Amillennialism Distorts the Biblical Worldview

This is my third article on how an amillennial view of Scripture can, over time, open the day to Socialism. I’m writing in response to an article depicting how socialism is gaining a foothold in many churches across the United States.

Please note I am not saying all amillennialists are Socialists, certainly not. My point is that churches with a long history of amillennialism and its accompanying worldview seem to be much more susceptible to a Marxist way of thinking.

I believe this is because they distort the biblical worldview in a number of ways:

5 Key Errors of Preterism

5 Key Errors of Preterism

Why am I writing about preterists? It’s because their beliefs are growing in popularity and causing much harm in the body of Christ! My purpose is to point out the errors of this false teaching.

Preterists teach that all biblical prophecy has been fulfilled; this includes Matthew 24 as well as the entire book of Revelation. They claim all these things happened before and during AD 70 when Titus and the Romans destroyed Jerusalem. They believe Jesus returned as the city fell thus fulfilling His promise to return to the earth.

Does God Keep His Promises?

israeli-flag “Israel’s future guarantees our salvation.” (Amari Tsarfati, prophecy speaker)

In other words, if God can break His covenant with the likes of Abraham, Jacob, and David, what does that say about His promises to us? If God does not keep His covenants with Israel, what does that say about His character, His faithfulness to us as New Testament believers?

Do you see the implications? Refuting those who claim God replaced Israel with the church is not merely some meaningless squabble among theologians. It’s so much more than that! The debate has far reaching implications impacting where we put our hope each day as we step out of bed.

Refuting those who claim God replaced Israel with the church is not merely some meaningless squabble among theologians.

Because God is trustworthy, our hope in His promises remains secure. Eternal life is a done deal for those in Christ.

Why, however, are we so confident that God’s promises to Israel remain in effect?

It Begins with a Question

I like to begin the defense of Israel’s continuing place in God’s program with the question the disciples asked Jesus just before He ascended back into heaven, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” Earlier, such kingdom hopes led to arguments among the disciples as to which of them would have the greater positions of honor in Israel’s restored kingdom (Mark 10:35-40). Although such arguing seems to have ended, they clearly expected to soon be a part of this glorious realm.

Jesus replied, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.”  Jesus did not contradict or refute the premise of their question that He would restore Israel someday. Instead, He simply told the disciples they could not know the timing of this restoration as it was something the Father alone had determined “by his own authority.”

Why Would They Ask Such a Question?

The confidence of the disciples regarding a future kingdom raises certain questions in my mind. After watching the Jewish leaders reject Christ and demand His crucifixion, what made the disciples so confident the Lord would restore the kingdom to these very same people? Why did the disciples think Jesus would soon initiate a glorious restoration for the very same people whose rejection had led to Him being mercilessly mocked, scourged, whipped, and nailed to a cross?

Many people in the history of the church certainly used this behavior on the part of the Jews to justify their belief God had forever rejected Israel. But the not the disciples, the ones who watched their fellow Jews reject Christ and witnessed His suffering. They remained confident of the Lord’s intention to still give Israel an amazing kingdom in spite of her recent condemnation of her Messiah.

Why So Confident?

Why were the disciples so sure of this after all they had witnessed?

The Old Testament prophets provide us with the answer. After His resurrection, Jesus spent time explaining to His disciples how He fulfilled Old Testament prophecies (Luke 24:25-27; 44-47). With all this recent insight from their Master regarding how He fulfilled Old Testament prophecy, the disciples still believed the Lord would restore Israel as a nation.

Either they were still terribly confused and had not at all understood Jesus’ recent teaching, in which case the Lord surely would have corrected them as He had done earlier (John 14:8-9); or, they based their question on what Jesus had recently taught them regarding how He fulfilled prophecy.

I believe the disciples correctly understood Jesus’ teaching on how He fulfilled Old Testament Scripture for both His first and second coming. They assumed the Lord would one day restore the fortunes of Israel because that is precisely what Jesus taught them after His resurrection.

The Grand Story of the Old Testament Prophets

The Old Testament prophets tell a grand story; one I am sure Jesus repeated to His disciples after His resurrection. It is a story of great hope for the people of Israel revealed in the midst of their rebellion and impending judgment for their sins.

The prophet Zephaniah, for example, not only warned of imminent disaster upon Judah but also prophesied of a glorious future for the nation, “At that time I will bring you in, at the time when I gather you together; for I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes, says the Lord” (3:20). The disciples used the same terminology as Zephaniah in their question to Jesus in Acts 1. Could the Lord have quoted this same verse to them before His ascension? I believe that is highly likely.

The Lord, in no uncertain terms, declared through the prophet Jeremiah that Israel would always remain a nation in His sight.[i] If the sun comes up tomorrow morning, Israel remains a country before the Lord. If we see the moon or the stars tonight, Israel still exists. Based on this passage alone, it’s easy to understand why the disciples expected to see a restored Israel even after watching the Jews reject and crucify the Savior. Perhaps Jesus discussed these verses from Jeremiah with His disciples after His resurrection. That would explain their continuing hope for Israel’s restoration.

Many more such passages from the Old Testament prophets could be quoted with promises of a future restored kingdom for Israel. Those who seek to replace Israel with the church ignore many great promises from the Old Testament regarding Israel as well as the Apostle Paul’s clear denial that God had rejected His people Israel (Rom. 11:1).

Our security rests in God’s faithfulness; He is a covenant keeper. That’s why we regard Israel’s hope as the guaranty of our hope.

Our security rests in God’s faithfulness; He is a covenant keeper. That’s why we regard Israel’s hope as the guaranty of our hope. He will keep His covenants with Israel despite their rebellion and sin. His covenant with Abraham in Genesis 15 was unconditional; it never depended on the worthiness of his descendants to inherit the Land and still does not.

In the same way, our salvation never depended on us nor will it ever depend on our behavior! God will keep His promises to Israel and to us. It’s impossible for God not to keep His Word regarding the future of His people.

He is faithful forever!

[i] Jeremiah 31:35-36

 

 

Why Does It Matter?

IMG_3515 Do you remember the song Alfie from 1966 and its famous question: “What’s it all about?” I recently asked similar questions in regard to my writing: “Why does it matter?”

Why did I start a blog? Why do I seek to add followers to my blog so publishers will notice me? Why do I want to write a book about our thrilling hope? Why?

The Lord refreshed my purpose earlier this week as I read the teaching of a popular viewpoint regarding future things, one that teaches Jesus returned to earth in AD 70 as promised in Matthew 24 and in Revelation 19-20. As I read how they see all New Testament prophecy as having been fulfilled in the first century, the Lord stirred my heart. How dare they distort our hope of resurrection described in 1 Corinthians 15 into something spiritual rather than physical? How dare they twist God's Word in such a way?

In 1 Corinthians 15:19 Paul said, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” What I read earlier this week puts all our future expectations back into this life. Take away our future hope of being forever changed as described in I Corinthians 15:42-54 and we are indeed as Paul described, “most to be pitied.” All we are left with is making the most of this life, just as with everyone else around us. Take away our expectation of the future physical resurrection promised in 1 Corinthians 15 and we have no more hope than the atheist walking next to us on the street.

So why do I write? My writing stems from a passion that we as believers be focused on our joyous hope for eternity as well as this life. I need this. I sense others need this as well. Our hope is certain; we will be changed to be like Jesus and spend a joyous eternity with Him!!

I write because of two powerful forces working today to draw all our attention to this life.

First, the errant teaching of many directs our hope to the things of this life. Many today even proclaim that Revelation 21-22 has been fulfilled (or is currently being fulfilled) in a mysterious symbolical or spiritual way. Can you see how such an allegorical view of Revelation obscures the essence of our eternal hope leaves us with so little hope beyond this fleeting moment of time? Can you see how this robs us of joy regarding eternity?

Scripture tells us that as believers, we are “joint-heirs” with Christ (Rom. 8:17, KJV); we will reign with Jesus in His kingdom (Rev. 20:6). Those who deny the Lord His rightful place as future King over all the earth transform this thrilling hope of reigning with Christ into something rather stale by comparison. Where is the hope of reigning with Christ if that equals our current existence where we suffer, grow old, get sick, and die? Is our fleeting earthly life really the full extent of what it means to reign with Christ?

Secondly, the silence of our churches regarding our thrilling hope emphasizes this life over our hope for eternity. Many churches today scarcely mention our hope of eternity apart from a quick comment here and there about eternal life. The church I grew up devoted entire weeks to prophecy conferences. Now, the details of our hope are scarcely mentioned, if at all, from our pulpits.

It’s great to hear sound biblical teaching on marriage, good parenting, stewardship, and godly living. This is needed. Without a two-world perspective, however, these things quickly become our hope rather than Jesus' appearing.

The danger arises when we focus our hope on temporal results where so many factors, including the sinful choices of ourselves and others, negatively impact the outcomes we so greatly desire. The New Testament teaches believers to expect trials and difficult times in this life (James 1:2-3; 1 Pet. 1:6, 4:12-13). If our ultimate hope is in this life, we will be sorely disappointed. Our hope dashed with each painful trial.

I am writing because so many of the voices we hear today keep our hearts earthbound with messages that inspire hope for only this life, this fleeting moment of time.

Our best life is not now, but the silence of so many churches regarding our eternal joy proclaims that exact message loud and clear.

My desire in all my blogging and writing is to draw our attention away from the fleeting realities of this life to the eternal realities of heaven. I am not sure where this path will lead. All I can do is follow the Father’s call that I sense in my heart and leave the end result with Him