Monthly Archives: June 2015

HELL NO!

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Hell No
by Dr. Christopher Cone
Satan’s encounter with Eve in the Garden is fascinating and very important for us to understand. His temptation of Eve, recorded in Genesis 3, represents several firsts:
hell
It is the first instance of an epistemological alternative to God’s design. Satan offers to Eve a different way to have God-like knowledge. Satan argues that God is actually deceiving Eve into ignorance by keeping her from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Satan’s plan was both clear and appealing: Be like God by the assertion of your own will, and be free from God’s restrictive design. Declare your independence from God by doing it your own way – the result will be the same.

Satan’s temptation of Eve is also the first instance of a hermeneutic alternative to God’s design. Satan’s temptation of Eve was the first recorded instance of a non-literal interpretation of God’s word. Satan asks Eve, “Has God said…?” and then proceeds to distort what God had actually said (3:1). In contrast, Genesis 1-12 represents roughly 2,500 years of history, and during that time, of the roughly 31 references to God speaking, this is the only instance (besides Eve’s fumbling in response to Satan’s challenge) in which God’s word isn’t taken at face value.

These two firsts are hugely significant for how we think, how we know, and how we understand God’s word. But there is another important first: the dialogue between Satan and Eve represents the first denial of God’s judgment. In Genesis 2:17 God had warned Adam that if he ate the fruit from this particular tree (all the rest were permissible, but Adam was not allowed to eat from this one) in that day (Heb., b’yom) he would die. Well, we know the rest of the story: Adam and Eve ate, and Adam lived to be 930 years old before he died (Gen 5:5). Did God mean what he said, or was Satan actually right? According to Paul in Romans 5:12, through Adam death spread to all (Gr. pantes) men – even those who are still alive and have not yet experienced physical death. The death promised in Genesis 2:17 was not physical death – that was promised in Genesis 3:19 (“…to dust you shall return”). The death God promised Adam is the same death Paul described in Romans 5. The condition of that “spiritual death” is that we were enemies of God (5:10) who were condemned (5:18).

Satan simply and straightforwardly denies what God had promised: “You shall surely not die” (Gen 3:4), Satan said. But what happened? Romans 5 explains that all died “spiritually” (meaning they became enemies of God and were condemned), and Adam and Eve did indeed die physically, as God directly intervened to ensure that fate (Gen 3:22-24).

Through the years there have been echoes of Satan’s denial of God’s judgment – most recently by men such as Henry Emerson Fosdick and Rob Bell. These men deny God’s right to judge through the consequences of hell, because it is outside of their expectations for God’s character. The essential premise of these contemporary denials is simply that a “good” God could not possibly condemn a person forever. But we find many examples in Scripture where God makes judgments that just don’t generally match what we might tend to do. So we have a choice. We can argue that God must fit our own moral sentiments, or we can take Him at His word, and discover who He describes Himself to be.

Before presupposing (based on sentiment) that God shouldn’t have a hell, perhaps it would be better to avoid the Satanic temptation to deny God’s prerogative and promise to judge. God did promise death. Not only that, but He promised a second death – the lake of fire (Rev 20:14-15, Gr. limne tou puros). This concept was first discussed in the final verse of Isaiah (66:24), and was later reiterated by Christ Himself in Mark 9:47-48 (where the Gr. gehenna is used).

Satan’s epistemology was a lie. The knowledge Eve gained by following it brought only death. Satan’s hermeneutic maneuver was a lie. It didn’t bring clarity to God’s word, instead it brought deception and confusion. Likewise, Satan’s prescribed personal eschatology – his claim about Eve’s future ­– was also a lie, and was disproven directly by God’s own actions. Satan’s lies are just as destructive today as they were then.

Of course the Biblical teaching of hell, death, judgment, and condemnation are awfully distasteful if we misunderstand God’s sovereign rights as the Creator – when we so disregard His holiness that we feel He has no right to make demands of that which He has created. But let’s look at things from God’s point of view (i.e., the view He revealed in Scripture) and we draw a different conclusion – a conclusion, by the way, He never asks us to like, but one He demands we understand.

In so doing, we can understand the great power of His grace, His love, His compassion. As Jesus said, “…he who is forgiven little loves little.” We need to realize of what great offenses we have been forgiven, and the kind of love with which we ought to respond, and what is really at stake in our lives and the lives of others.
– See more at: http://www.drcone.com/2014/10/30/hell-no/#sthash.YxlNrkP3.dpuf

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“What is Progressive Dispensationalism?”

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Question: “What is Progressive Dispensationalism?”

Answer: In order to present progressive dispensationalism, it is first necessary to understand what traditional dispensationalism is. According to Charles Ryrie, author of the book Dispensationalism, there are three primary principles of dispensationalism:

1) The Church and Israel are distinct and separate. Israel was not absorbed into the Church (which began on the Day of Pentecost, Acts 2). Promises made specifically to Israel in the Old Testament that have not been fulfilled will still be fulfilled to the nation of Israel. These promises are not to be spiritualized or assumed they now apply to the Church. For example, in the Abrahamic Covenant, God promised to Abraham that a large section of land in the Middle East would belong to Abraham’s descendants. This is yet to be fulfilled, but will be in the future, in the 1,000-year kingdom that Christ will rule over.

2) God’s purpose in all that He does is to bring glory to Himself. Other theological systems would say that all God does is to bring about the salvation of mankind, but this simply cannot be true, for there are many things that God has done that have no effect on the salvation of mankind.

3) A literal or normal hermeneutic is to be used for interpreting all of Scripture, including unfulfilled prophecy. Hermeneutics defined is “the method used for interpreting Scripture.” Using a literal or normal hermeneutic means simply that you read and understand the Bible text in a normal sense. You understand the words of Scripture in a normal sense with their normal meanings. This does NOT mean you ignore figures of speech. Figures of speech are also part of normal interpretation. A modern-day figure of speech is “it is raining cats and dogs outside.” Anyone would recognize this as a figure of speech and understand that what is meant is a very heavy rain. Figures of speech are important because dispensationalism is often wrongly criticized for using a literal hermeneutic. It is wrongly stated that dispensationalism takes figures of speech literally.

Figures of speech are accounted for in normal interpretation. Another theological system uses a dual hermeneutic for interpreting Scripture, where a literal or normal hermeneutic is used for all of Scripture EXCEPT prophecy. For unfulfilled prophecy, an allegorical hermeneutic is used. Normal meanings of words are ignored, and the words of prophecies are “spiritualized.” An example of an allegorical hermeneutic or spiritualizing would be that the future 1,000-year kingdom spoken of in Revelation 20:1-6 would NOT be understood to be a literal 1,000-year reign of Christ on earth. Instead, it is treated as a kingdom that is happening now, and the reference to 1,000 years represents a long period of time, not a literal 1,000-year period.

Different theological systems always differ in the way they interpret Scripture (they differ by their hermeneutic). Progressive dispensationalism is held by those who believe that the normal hermeneutic held by traditional dispensationalists should be slightly modified. Progressive dispensationalists hold to what they describe as a “complimentary hermeneutic.” This hermeneutic is BASICALLY the same as that held by traditional dispensationalists, BUT progressive dispensationalists come to different conclusions than do traditional dispensationalists.

The greatest debate between those who hold to traditional dispensationalism and those who hold to progressive dispensationalism concerns the issue of David’s throne. In the Davidic Covenant, God promised David that he would never permanently cease to have a descendant sitting on the throne. Although there have been times prior to Christ’s coming—and presently there is no one sitting on David’s throne as king over the kingdom—this promise to David will be ultimately fulfilled by God when Jesus Christ returns to set up and rule the kingdom on earth (Revelation 19:11 – 20:6).

The debate is this: progressive dispensationalism says that Christ is right now at this present time sitting on David’s throne and ruling. Progressive dispensationalists do not deny a literal 1,000-year kingdom that Christ will rule over. But they say that He is already sitting and ruling on David’s throne. This is known as “already but not yet.” Jesus is already on David’s throne but has not yet completely fulfilled the promise of God to David for a descendant to sit on his throne. Central Bible texts for this issue are Psalm 132:11; Psalm 110:1-4; Acts 2:30; and Acts 3:19-22. Traditional dispensationalists hold that, although Christ is sitting at the right hand of the Father and is obviously ruling, this does not mean that He is sitting on the throne of David. They say that progressive dispensationalism assumes too much. Jesus can sit on a throne and rule now and not be sitting on the throne of David.

This has been very brief. Though progressive dispensationalism is relatively new (probably less than 15 years old), volumes have been written on the subject.

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“Who are the New Calvinists, and what are the beliefs of New Calvinism?”

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Question: “Who are the New Calvinists, and what are the beliefs of New Calvinism?”

Answer: New Calvinism is not a new branch of theology or a denomination. Rather, it is a “revival” of sorts—a revival of traditional, “old” Calvinism. The movement is sweeping through American evangelical churches of all denominations, attracting young people from Free Church, Episcopal, Independent, Presbyterian, and Baptist churches alike. The Gospel Coalition, started in 2007, is the national network for the New Calvinist movement.

Calvinism promotes the authority of Scripture and the doctrines of God’s sovereignty, the total depravity of man, and predestination. These biblical doctrines are proving attractive to many in the younger generation today, and churches in the Reformed tradition are seeing a general increase in numbers. Thus, the influence of “New Calvinism.”

The resurgence of Calvinism might seem surprising, given the popularity of the feel-good, bubbly theology of health-and-wealth preachers and books such as Your Best Life Now. However, the New Calvinism could also be seen as a theological corrective to errant doctrine—the pendulum is swinging back to a more biblical approach. Young people who have grown up in an increasingly secular culture are looking for churches teaching the “meat” of the Word (Hebrews 5:14) instead of seeking to entertain them. In the process, they are rediscovering many biblical truths about God, salvation, and grace.

Contributing to the “newness” of New Calvinism are “seeker-friendly” styles of worship, an openness to dialogue with other Christian traditions, and an embrace of continuationism. Given the diversity of the various churches embracing New Calvinism, it comes as no surprise to discover the emphasis is less on the finer points of theology and more on engaging contemporary society. Mark Driscoll, a pastor identified with the movement, says, “New Calvinism is missional and seeks to create and redeem culture.” Driscoll is somewhat vague on some theological issues. In a recent interview, he suggests that some issues need not be fought over “because bigger things are at stake, such as the evangelizing of lost people and the planting of missional churches.” Flexibility, he says, should be allowed in “spiritual gifts, baptism, communion, worship styles, Bible translations and sense of humor.”

Some see two factions emerging from within New Calvinism: the New Puritans and the New Calvinists. The New Puritans focus on the sovereignty of God in salvation and are identified with Driscoll and John Piper. The New Calvinists focus on the sovereignty of God over creation and are identified with Tim Keller and Gabe Lyons.

One criticism of New Calvinism—usually coming from traditional Calvinists—is that it’s not really Calvinism. Just accepting the five points of Calvinism does not a Calvinist make. It is suggested that some New Calvinist teachings on infant baptism, covenant theology, and the continuation of the miraculous gifts of the Spirit are out of step with the Reformed tradition.

There are many good aspects of the New Calvinism, including its emphasis on the fundamentals of the faith and its ability to attract young people into the church. It remains to be seen whether this new movement will prosper and flourish and have a major impact on postmodern society.

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Does God reveal things through dreams and visions?

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Q:
Does God reveal things through dreams and visions?
A:
The Bible indicates that God revealed His will to selected people through dreams or visions in Scriptures such as Genesis 37:5-10; 1 Kings 3:5-15; Daniel, chapters 2 and 7; Matthew 1:20; 2:13,19; and Acts 10:9-16; 16:9.

God may communicate through dreams or visions even today, but we need to carefully check any such guidance we receive with Scripture and godly counsel to be sure it is from the Lord. Anything which contradicts Scripture is not from God. Our minds and even Satan are capable of producing great deception in such subjective areas.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 shows that God has revealed His will to us primarily through His Word. It says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

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ADOPTION

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ADOPTION.

ADOPTION is that privilege, bestowed upon those who are united with Christ, and justified by faith, by which they are admitted into the family of God, adopted as his children, and made joint heirs with his own Son.

In the strict sense of the word “Son,” this title can be given only to the Eternal Son of God, who is the only begotten of the Father (John 1:14), and is exclusively “the effulgence of his glory, and the very image of his substance.” (Heb. 1:3).

But others are called participatively sons of God, as probably the angels (Job 1:6; 38:7), as Adam (Luke 3:38), and as Israel (Ex. 4:22; Hosea 11:1; cf. Rom. 9:4). The sonship of angels and of Adam, manifestly proceeds from their creation by God in his image, and likeness. That of Israel, however, is to be ascribed to the typical relation which that nation occupied to the true people of God. The application to Christ in Matt. 2:15, of the sonship declared of Israel in Ex. 4:22, and Hosea 11:1, together with the adoption to which Paul refers, Rom. 9:4, shows, that Israel’s sonship, like Israel’s election, was but a type, the fulfillment and reality of which were to be found only in the antitype. So far as Israel itself was concerned, the title could mean no more, than that that nation had been chosen by God to be outwardly his people, the depository of his holy oracles, and the means through which his salvation would come to man. John 4:22.

The sonship ascribed to the believer in Christ, will be best understood by considering its gracious origin, its peculiar nature, and the wondrous blessing which it confers.

I. Its Gracious Origin

1. It is not due to any natural relation, either originally possessed, or restored through justification.

2. Nor does it arise from any new image or likeness of God, which has come through regeneration.

3. It is the simple gift of God’s love to those who by faith are brought into union with his proper Son.

4. It is an act originating entirely in the good pleasure of God. Eph. 1:5.

5. It is due, meritoriously, only to the work of Christ. It could be founded thus upon nothing else.

6. It is conferred like justification upon all who by faith receive Christ. John 1:12.

7. It is bestowed at the beginning of the Christian career, when there could be no ground for supposing it due to the character or acts of the recipient.

II. Its Peculiar Nature.

If what has been said shows that the gift of sonship to the believer is a gracious act of God, that fact will appear more plain as we study the peculiar nature of that sonship.

1. It is an act by which God chooses to take those who are not his children, and to make them such by adopting them into his family. Because of this they “are no more strangers and sojourners, but ye are fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” Eph. 2:19.

2. As they are united in this sonship with his own Son, who “is the image of the invisible God, the first born of all creation,” (Col. 1:15), “the beginning of the creation of God.” (Rev. 3:14), so does their sonship partake of the nature of his not in its divine relations, but in those by which he is also, even in that human nature, the Son of God. Luke 1:35.

3. It is an everlasting sonship; because its continuance depends not upon what they do, and are, but upon what he has done, and is.

4. It is one in which Christ Jesus “is made unto us wisdom from God and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” 1 Cor. 1:30. Thus are all their deficiencies removed and exchanged for the glory of his abundant fulness.

5. It is one in connection with which is fulfilled the prayer of Christ, “that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in us; . . . . “that they may be one, even as we are one; I in them, and Thou in me, that they may be perfected into one.” John 17:21-23.

6. To such a perfection of sonship do they consequently attain, that not of, nor through themselves, but solely through Christ Jesus, do they thus become “partakers of the divine nature,” (2 Pet. 1:4), attaining as near as creatures may, to the position and character of proper sonship to God.

III. Its Wondrous Blessings.

The blessings connected with this sonship are scarcely less wonderful than is its nature.

1. Intimate fellowship with Christ and God. “Wherefore,” says the apostle, “thou art no longer a bond servant, but a son.” Gal. 4:7. “No longer,” said Jesus, “do I call you servants; . . . but I have called you friends.” John 15:15.

2. The guidance of the Holy Spirit; “as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.” Rom. 8:14.

3. The witnessing presence of the Holy Spirit: “the Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are children of God.” Rom. 8:16.

4. The conscious recognition in our hearts of God’s relation to us as Father. “God sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” Gal. 4:6; also Rom. 8:15.

5. “If children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ.” Rom. 8:17.

6. Unknown glory in future likeness to Christ: “it is not yet made manifest what we shall be. We know that, if he shall be manifested, we shall be like him.” 1 John 3:2.

7. The inheritance includes all things: “he that overcometh shall inherit these things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” Rev. 21:7; cf. 1 Cor. 3:21-23.

IV. It Differs From Justification.

It has been contended that “adoption cannot be said to be a different act or grace from justification.” [Dabney’s Theology, p. 627.] “It appears to me,” says Dr. Dick, [Lect. 73, Theol., vol. 2, p. 224,] “to be virtually the same with justification, and to differ from it merely in the new view which it gives of the relations of believers to God, and in the peculiar form in which it exhibits the blessing to which they are entitled.” Turretine says also, “that adoption is included in justification as a part which, with the remission of sins, constitutes this whole blessing; nor can justification be distinguished from adoption, unless so far as it is taken strictly for the remission of sins; whilst in its own formal conception it includes also acceptance unto life which flows from the imputation of the righteousness of Christ.” Turretine’s Theol., B. 16, c. 6, sec. 7.

The position taken by these writers is a contrary extreme to that which some have held, viz.: that justification consists only of pardon. It is not to be doubted that justification is more than this, and includes restoration to the favor of God, and to eternal life. But these might have been bestowed without conferring upon the justified the peculiar blessings contained in Adoption. “Adoption,” says Buchanan [on Justification, p.262], “is distinct in some respects from justification. For although both denote a change in relation, it may be affirmed that, according to Scriptures, pardon, acceptance, and adoption, are distinct privileges, the one rising above the other in the order in which they have been stated; — that if it be conceivable that a sinner might have been pardoned, without being accepted to eternal life, it is equally conceivable that he might have been both pardoned and accepted, without being adopted as a son; — and that, while the first two first properly belong to his justification, as being both founded in the same relation,–that of a Ruler and Subject,–the third is radically distinct from them, as being founded on a nearer, more tender, and more endearing relation,–that between a Father and his Son.”

Dabney argues that there is no difference between the two because the “instrument is the same–faith–and because the meritorious ground of adoption is the same with that of justification, viz.: the righteousness of Christ.”

But these facts, which are admitted, are due to another, which is that the faith by which we are justified is one which secures to us union with Christ. It would not necessarily follow that this union confers upon us only a single blessing or a number of blessings which may be combined together under one name. We can only learn this by examination. If, therefore, it shall appear that there are distinctions between the accompanying blessings, to the extent that these exist must those blessings be regarded as different.

That there are distinctions appears to be plain from the following considerations:

1. The Scriptures speak separately of justification and adoption, and do not state that the latter is, in whole, or in part, the same as the former.

2. Justification is ascribed to the righteous character of God as it formal ground. In it he is only gracious in accepting and providing a substitute. Adoption is expressly referred to the love of God. 1 John 3:1. The fact that these cannot be interchanged, and justification referred to love, or adoption to justice, shows a decided distinction between them.

3. While there is a change of relation in each of them, in justification it is a change of relation to the law, and only through that to the lawgiver and judge; in adoption it is a change of relation to the family of God and thus to God as the Father.

4. While faith is that through which each is attained, in justification it is a condition precedent to a forensic act which we are assured that God will do because of righteousness as well as faithfulness (1 John 1:9); while in adoption it is merely receptive of Christ, securing that union through which the paternal love of God flows freely on no other ground than faithfulness to his promises.

5. The act of justification is never ascribed to the Son, and is seen to be plainly a prerogative of the Father as God; but it is said of the Son that “as many as received him, to them gave he the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name.” John 1:12. In some sense, therefore, which is not true of justification, adoption is connected as a gift with the Son as well as the Father.

The above considerations are sufficient to show that there is a real basis of distinction between Justification and Adoption, and that the latter is not included in the former. They are separate effects which flow from the union with Christ attained through faith; because of which we are made partakers of all the benefits of his meritorious work. Justification is one of these; and by it we obtain pardon, and favour with God, which is eternal life. Adoption is yet another which confers upon us the especial privilege of children and heirs of God. It is no more to be confounded with justification than is sanctification, which is also an effect of the same union with Christ, for, although its distinctions are not so many, nor so broad, yet to the extent that they exist, they are as real.

“This closer and more endearing relation to God, which is constituted by Adoption, is necessary, in addition to that which is included in our Justification, to complete the view of our Christian privileges, and to enhance our enjoyment of them, by raising us above the spirit of bondage which is unto fear; and cherishing the spirit of adoption whereby we cry, Abba, Father. It is necessary, also, to explain how the sins of believers are not visited with penal inflictions, properly so called, but are nevertheless treated in the way of fatherly chastisement; and, still further, to show that the kingdom of heaven hereafter will not be bestowed as wages for work done, but as an ‘inheritance,’ freely bestowed, on those, and those only, who are ‘joint heirs with Christ.’” Buchanan on Justification, pp.263, 264.

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2 Corinthians 1:3-5, Encouragement

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2 Corinthians 1:3-5, Encouragement
by Matt Slick

“Blessed by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.”

Introduction

When life is tiring, when you are struggling with your sin, when family members aren’t saved, when bills aren’t paid, when school is difficult, when work is exhausting, when your health is failing, when your loved ones are hurt, when the future is unsure, and when a good friend leaves, it is easy to be discouraged.

Discouragement is a thief. It steals your vitality, your zeal, your joy, your peace, and your contentment. If discouragement dwells long with you, its friends will soon join. Their names are fatigue, hopelessness, despair, self-pity, depression, doubt, and bitterness. Sometimes, discouragement can be so strong that you even don’t want to go on living.

Discouragement is dissatisfaction with the past, distaste for the present, and distrust of the future. It is the result of blindness. It is ingratitude for the blessings of yesterday, indifference to the opportunities of today, and insecurity regarding strength for tomorrow. It is unawareness of the presence of God, unconcern for the needs of our fellow man, and unbelief in the promises of His Word.

If we have nothing to rely on, or we forget our blessing and look to our circumstances, then that is when discouragement begins to take hold. Instead, what we need is encouragement. We need hope and peace and the knowledge that the Lord knows our troubles has great concern and compassion for us and is not leaving us unloved or uncared for.

Keeping your eyes on Jesus is the best way to be encouraged. In Him you can have comfort and peace and encouragement. You need to find Him and His words, and by faith rest in Him.

Be encouraged because God is a God of mercy and comfort. Verse 3. Blessed by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort
God is called the Father of Mercies.
In the Greek the word “mercy” is oiktirmos. It means compassion, pity, mercy. And, it is something that is felt in the heart. In God’s very heart, He feels mercy toward you.
He is the author of mercy. His mercy toward you brings salvation, the forgiveness of sins and deliverance from eternal damnation… and this, because of Jesus, because of His sacrifice, because of His shed blood for you.
God is the God of mercy: Psalm 86:5, “You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you.”
The word in Greek for “comfort” is paraklesis. It means, exhortation, comfort, and encouragement.
In fact, a form of this word, parakletos is used for the Holy Spirit. That is why the Holy Spirit is called the Comforter in the KJV in John 14:26: “But the Comforter, [which is] the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
In the NASB the word is rendered “Helper.”
All this shows you that God is a God of Comfort, of exhortation, and of encouragement.
All comfort comes from God who is the God of comfort, of mercy, and love.
It isn’t an angel, or a cosmic force, a pill, psychotherapy, or a quick and clever slogan that warms your heart and lifts you up. It is God.
But you may ask, “How is the Comfort received from God?”
By faith – because God says He is the God of comfort, then you need to believe it and act upon it; that is, you need to trust Him and receive His comfort as He provides it.
From others – God uses His people to comfort you. When you have a problem doesn’t the Lord send someone with an encouraging word, a helping hand, or a shoulder to cry on.
Through His word – reading and hearing – The words of God are beautiful and there for our instruction and encouragement.
By the Holy Spirit. He is called the Comforter. He indwells you.
Take encouragement because God is there in your afflictions. Verse 4 – “who comforts us in all our affliction . . . . so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
Affliction (NASB) (“trouble” in the NIV) in the Greek is the word is thlipsis. It can be translated as tribulation, trouble, anguish, persecution, burden, and, of course, affliction.
Afflictions come in all different shapes and sizes.
Sickness, financial difficult, loss of a loved one, an unsure future, an auto accident. But also, and this is something very important, affliction occurs in the heart in that place where we get frustrated, confused, and hurt.
Why do we have afflictions?
Because we live in a fallen world.
And it takes a world with trouble in it to train Christians for their high calling as children of God, and to carve upon their souls the features of the face of Christ.
James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (NIV)
So then, afflictions are a way of making you better. And that is how they should be tackled: as the testing and strengthening of your faith — through the comfort and mercy of Jesus.
You don’t have to worry whether or not He is going to take care of you. He already has, (THE CROSS), He is currently doing so, and He will continue to care for you. After all, aren’t you more valuable than sparrows and He cares for them.
YOU SHOULD BE ENCOURAGED BECAUSE YOU CAN BE INSTRUMENTS OF COMFORT TO OTHERS. Verse 4 ” . . . so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
This glorifies God — to comfort others.
Being used by God makes you feel good – that isn’t the only reason to help someone, but it does feel good when the Holy Spirit uses you to do good.
You need to praise God that you have even had afflictions so that you can be able to help others.
How many of you, because of a trial, have been able to help another better because of that trial?
You see, God does not comfort you to make you comfortable, but to make you comforters.
Lighthouses are built by ship-wrecked sailors. Roads are widened by mangled motorists. Hospitals are built by those who were sick. Where nobody suffers, nobody cares. When you suffer you learn to care. That is why God does not comfort us to make us comfortable, but to make us comforters.
But don’t forget, He suffered first…..
You should be encouraged because the comfort you receive from God comes through Jesus. Verse 5. “For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.”
This means that all comfort, encouragement, and hope that you receive through people, through the Word, or through circumstances are filtered through Jesus.
Therefore, the comfort is pure, good, and right.
It is received by faith.
Where our sufferings are abundant, so is our comfort.
This comfort is a spiritual comfort – received by faith, by active choice.
Conclusion

Encouragement is something that belongs to you as a Christian. You do not have to live in a world of hurt and doubt. You don’t have to live alone. You don’t have to weep in solitude. You have the body of Christ to lift you up. You have the Word of God to teach you. You have the Holy Spirit indwelling in you who warms your soul.

You have the God of encouragement waiting to show you His mercy and love.

But you need to trust. You need to remember the Lord’s blessing. You need to depend on Him. You need to keep your eyes on Jesus and Him alone.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” (Matthew 11:28).

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Dominion Theology

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Dominion Theology

from Dr. Gasry Gilley

There is a movement about that is casting a long shadow for its size. It is known by different handles such as reconstructionism, kingdom theology, theonomy, and dominion theology, and it is a curious blend of Reformed/Calvinist theology and Charismatic influence. While there are relatively few who would call themselves reconstructionists, a number of the movement’s ideas have infiltrated the thinking and actions of many believers, often without them knowing it. The movement is led by such theologians as Rousas J. Rusdoony; Gary North; Ray Sutton; Greg Bahnsen; David Chiltion, and by Charismatic leaders such as Earl Paulk. But their ideas are often reflected by non-reconstructionists such as Pat Robertson, John Whitehead, Franky Schaeffer, and even Jerry Falwell.

A DEFINITION

Dominion theology (the belief-system behind the reconstructionist movement) teaches that through the coming of Christ the believer has dominion over every area of life. We are now in the Kingdom of God (note the similar view of the Kingdom that the Vineyard movement takes, as well as the plethora of Christian songs being written implying that we are in the Kingdom at the present time) and as a result we should be reigning with Christ over the earth as Rev 5:10 says. The question is when will we reign. If the Kingdom is on earth now then we should have dominion now! Right? Don’t many of us proclaim this thought when we sing the popular Charismatic song “Majesty” which invites us to, “Come glorify Christ Jesus, the King,” after all, “Kingdom authority flows from His throne unto His own.” With this authority from the King we are to reclaim the earth for Christ, not just spiritually, but socially, economically (it is no accident that one of the reconstructionist’s organizations is called, The Institute for Christian Economics) and politically. The dominion of the earth is accomplished not only through prayer and evangelism, but through the political process, and social reformation. Christ will not return to earth until the church has accomplished this task.

THE DOCTRINES

More specifically, what does Dominion Theology teach? Here are the highlights:

The OT Law is our rule of life for today. Although DT teaches that keeping of the Law is not a condition for salvation, it is a condition for sanctification.

In addition, the OT Law is to govern over society as well. Since we are called to subdue the earth (Gen 1:28), God’s Law should rule (or dominate) all aspects of society. This view is known as theonomy (or God’s law), and is described by Greg Bahnsen as, “The Christian is obligated to keep the whole law of God as a pattern for sanctification and that this law is to be enforced by the civil magistrate” (Theonomy p34). This would mean that Christians would be obligated to keep the whole OT Law except in a case in which the NT explicitly cancels a command, such as the sacrificial system.

A central piece of DT is its belief in covenant theology. As a result it makes no distinction between the church and Israel. However DT goes beyond traditional covenant theology and teaches that the church is to be governed by the same laws, is subject to the same curses, and is promised the same blessings as Israel.

DT teaches a high level of social and political activism. If the Kingdom of God is to gradually take dominion over the earth, it only makes sense that Christians should be attempting to change society through the changing of laws and through social action.

Followers of DT, like many Charismatics, especially the Latter Rain movement, looks for a great end time revival in which the masses will turn to Christ. As a result DT does not believe in the rapture. The world should be, and is becoming, a better place through the efforts of Christians.

As with many others who follow the teachings of George Ladd, DT believes that we are in the Kingdom age, but the Kingdom in another sense is yet to come. We are in the Kingdom, and have Kingdom authority, but on the other hand, we are ushering in the Kingdom through our efforts. “The Kingdom is now, but not yet,” is a popular slogan.

DT is postmillennial. It is believed that as a result of the reconstruction of society by Biblical principles that the final aspect of the Kingdom of God will be established on earth. Christ cannot return until a certain amount of dominion is achieved by the church. It is believed that the curse will slowly be removed as the world is won over. Even disease and death will be all but eliminated before Christ returns to the earth.

DT is preterist in its interpretation of prophecy. This means that they teach that virtually all prophecies which most Christians believe are still future, have in fact been fulfilled already, mainly between the years A.D. 30 and 70. In David Chilton’s book, Days of Vengeance he says that the book of Revelation , “Is not about the Second Coming of Christ. It is about the destruction of Israel and Christ’s victory over His enemies” (during the first century) (p43).

DT uses an allegorical hermeneutic, especially in reference to prophecy. So we find that the Great Tribulation took place at the fall of Israel in A.D. 70; the Antichrist refers to the apostasy of the Church prior to the fall of Jerusalem; the Beast of Revelation was Nero and the Roman Empire, etc.
AN EVALUATION

Space does not permit a detailed critique of DT (see Dominion Theology: Blessing or Curse? by Thomas Ice and H. Wayne House if deeper study is desired). However, we would like to comment on the most important distinctive of DT — its belief in theonomy. DT teaches that Christians are under the Law as a way of life, and are obligated to ultimately bring the world under that Law. This concept is based on several passages. First, Gen 1:28 commands Adam to subdue the earth. Adam lost his ability to do so to Satan as a result of sin. The church should now be in the process of reclaiming from the devil what Adam lost. You will note a hint of the Spiritual Warfare movement here (see our paper Vol I #6-8). Secondly, the Great Commission (Matt 28:19-20) commands the the followers of Christ to disciple all nations, which we are told, goes beyond personal salvation and sanctification to the reformation of society.

Finally, Matt 5:17-19 is the passage upon which the system hinges. DT claims that the word “fulfill” actually means “confirm.” Thus Christ did not in any sense fulfill, or complete, or do away with the Law, rather he confirmed it as our rule of life today. It should be mentioned at this point that the normal and best translation of plerosai is “fulfill” not “confirm.” Besides this however, we have the weight of the NT teaching concerning the Law. The epistles clearly teach that believers are no longer under the Law of Moses (Rom 6:14; 7:6; 8:2-4; Gal 3:24,25; 5:18) having been set free from that bondage to serve under grace and the law of Christ (Gal 6:2).

And besides, if the Christian is still under Law why do we not keep the OT ceremonial laws? DT’s answer is that the Law was divided into three sections: civil, moral and ceremonial. The ceremonial law, it is claimed, has been fulfilled by Christ and is no longer incumbent upon the believer, but not so the moral and civil parts of the law. Therefore, we are to live under the moral law and seek to establish, in our society, the civil system of OT Israel. The problem with this view is that nowhere in the Bible is the Law broken into these three sections, this is something invented by men. Whenever the Law is mentioned the Scriptures are speaking of the whole Law as a unit. The Jews were as obligated to keep the sacrificial system and commandments concerning food and dress (ceremonial law) as they were the Ten Commandments (moral law). If the NT says that Christ fulfilled the Law, and that as Christians we are no longer under the Law, it means the whole Law. Church age saints are no longer obligated to any aspect of the OT Law. No one has the right to arbitrarily claim that we have been set free from some of the Law (the parts we don’t like) but that the rest of the Law is obligatory. Either the believer has been released from the whole Law (Rom 7:4,6) or none of it. As Thomas Ice reminds us, “The Law of Moses was given to a specific people (Israel), to be followed in a specific location (the land of Israel), to deal with their specific situation. Therefore, the Law cannot simply be obeyed today by the Church, as was expected of Israel when it was given to that nation” (Biblical Perspectives Vol II #6). On the positive side Ice comments, “Paul teaches in Galatians 3 and 4 that Christ has set us free from the bondage of the Law, not so that we can be lawless as the Reconstructionists insist, instead, so that we can walk in the newness of the motivation of the Holy Spirit” (Ibid p2).

APPLICATION

What negative effects are the teachings of DT having on evangelical Christianity today. We would mention several:

Reconstructionists teach that the mission of the church goes beyond the spiritual transformation of individuals to a mandate to change society. For Christ to be pleased with Christians they must become political and social activists. We must change the laws of the land, gear up to elect Christians to office, and generally seek to take dominion over our world and bring it under the Law of Moses. We see the influence of this thinking even in those who may know little about DT: James Dobson, Larry Burkett, The Christian Coalition, Pat Robertson, Promise Keepers, Charles Colson and the Evangelicals and Catholics Together document, Operation Rescue, are but a few of the evidences that reconstructionist thinking is beginning to dominate the evangelical world.

Motivation for godly living, based upon the blessed hope: the return of Christ (Titus 2:16), is replaced with the task of restructuring society. This is a task that may take thousands of years, even by the DT’s own admission.

If we are in the Kingdom of God now then the Charismatics are right to teach that health and prosperity is the right of believers today. This is why “Reconstruction” Calvinists and “Kingdom Now” Charismatics have formed at least a loose unity — they both have the same world view. They are not looking for Christ to return and set up His Kingdom, they are attempting to set it up for Him

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