Apocalyptic Righteousness – [VIDEO]

What kind of righteousness have we been brought into in Christ? In this segment Reggie probes the nature of Israel’s righteousness “in That Day”, and… by extension… our righteousness now.

From the Saturday night Bible Studies, this Session was on Isaiah 17.

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“Never Again”

The following was commentary on THIS article:

When the general boasts that the IDF is sufficient guarantee that the nation will “never again” suffer another Holocaust, it is nothing new. But surely there is a tragic prophetic irony to be detected when he unconsciously casts the ill-fated promise in the very language of scripture (“no weapon or intent formed against you will prosper”). Whether secular or religious, it is this deep humanism, by no means peculiar to Israel, that condemns the favored nation to another and another, simply because it is the object of God’s special election.

Isaiah shows that the source of Israel’s continued calamity lies in their failure to say that “there is no hope” (Isa 57:10). The eschatological metaphors of birth and resurrection find their fulfillment in one place only, “at the end of their power” (Deut 32:36; Ps 102:13, 17, 19-20; Dan 12:7). This is the message of Jacob’s trouble; and the church that does not know this principle for itself cannot be to Israel what it must in that hour or in any other. The great need of our time is for the church to know God as “the God who raises the dead,” since nothing less is required for barren wombs to give birth and for the dead to live and bear fruit unto God.

More than the content of creeds based on NT revelation, this is the root principle behind what Paul calls, “the mystery of the faith.” Many know the creed that do not know the mystery of the faith, and therefore the God of the faith. This was the basis of Jesus’ reprimand of Nicodemus. Not that Nicodemus had access to any particular verse that said a person must be born again, but it was expected this “teacher in Israel,” should have well observed that if a nation is moribund and dead apart from the regenerating Spirit of God, could it be any different for the individual? If a nation will born in a day at the end of an ultimate travail, and sprinkled with clean water at the end of a final desolation unto death, how can it be otherwise for the individual?

Whether for a nation or an individual, God is not truly known until He is experimentally known as “the God who raises the dead.’ As for the nation, so for the individual, the curse of the transgression must continue to threaten until the kingdom of God is made personal and experiential in true spiritual birth and resurrection. Whether it is created by the Word or by adversity, this kind of resurrection / spiritual birth comes only out of what we might call, ‘the crisis of the Word,’ since true and irreversible resurrection comes only at the end of power, the death of carnal confidence. Anything less or other is tragically “short of the glory of God.”

In this sense, Christ is the end (goal) of the law, because the law was given, not to strengthen humanism, but to destroy all hope and therefore all boasting. Christ is the end of the law, precisely because He is the revelation at the end of the veil, which is to say, the end of strength.

Therefore, the question of the modern state is not whether it is a miraculous fulfillment of prophecy. We would all say, “much every way!” The question is rather what will will it take to bring the final death stroke to the invincible resilience of humanism. More than any particular sin, God is at war with humanism. If He will not forever suffer it in His nation, He will not suffer it in His church. That is why judgment must begin at the house of God (1Pet 4:17).

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“They Were Longing for a Better Country, A Heavenly One”

I was attending a class at my church last night, led by a 90+ year old mighty man of God, who happens to believe in a pre-Tribulation rapture. During the class, he drew our attention to Hebrews 11:8-16:

[8] By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. [9] By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. [10] For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. [11] And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. [12] And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.

[13] All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. [14] People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. [15] If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. [16] Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

He used this passage to show that Abraham understood that the promises of God would be fulfilled in Christ, and in the heavenly Jerusalem.

I think there is some support for the view that Abraham saw “the big picture”. In John 8:56, Jesus himself said that Abraham “saw (my day) and was glad”. But is it reasonable to conclude that Abraham understood the entire fulfillment of God’s promise of the land to be about a “heavenly country”, as Hebrews 11:16 could be read? (forgive me for going back to square one for the moment) I find great difficulty in imagining that Abraham is asking about a “heavenly country” in Gen 15:8 when he asks God “how can I know that I will gain possession of it?” And in Genesis 15:18, when God refers to “this land”, He gives some very specific boundaries. It seems very clear that the promise at least included the physical land.

When attempting to reconcile this with Hebrews 11:10, do we take the “city with foundations” to mean earthly Jerusalem? If so, how do we take the phrase “heavenly country” in verse 16, which seems to refer very explicitly to the heavenly Jerusalem of Revelation?

What could be more “heavenly” than a country whose inhabitants transcend death and inherit God Himself?

That this should be in a literal Land that is inherited “forever” is no contradiction at all.

Even if we discover by ‘progressive revelation’ that the Land will someday be transcended by a new heavens and earth, this does not make the thousand year reign of Christ on earth, or the promise of an eternal inheritance of the Land any less heavenly. For Abraham to regard the promise as “heavenly” certainly need not imply that he understood the distinction that was not clearly revealed until Rev chapters 20-23. It is edifying, however, to consider how remarkably the language of Hebrews anticipates the more developed revelation that we see written several years later by John on Patmos.

Abraham well enough understood the hope as entirely heavenly, meaning miraculous and eternal, transcending of all present limitations. Even when Paul will say “eternal in the heavens” (2Cor 5:21), he is not contrasting this to a real location on earth. This should be admitted even by those who deny a millennium, since even they recognize a new heavens and earth. So even such language as “eternal in the heavens” is not set in opposition to existence on real terra firma, even if it’s the ‘new’ earth of Rev 21:1. See what I mean?

All’s to say, it is not necessary to suppose that Abraham would have understood the distinction between the millennium and the eternal state for him to conceive of the inheritance as heavenly. With you, I don’t think he saw the distinction of Rev 20-21. If he did, it is certainly not recorded. Even so, promise of unending inheritance of a Land, together with all all your children in perfect communion with God, how do you get more heavenly than that?

I think we are creating distinctions between earthly and heavenly that never existed in the Hebrew mind. When the writer of Hebrews (I’m sure Paul), speaks of earthly, he means carnal and temporal, NOT the tangible ‘good’ creation of God that was corrupted by sin and death. Remove the sin and death and make the inheritance indestructible and eternal, and you’ve got heavenly.

In the Beloved, Reggie

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The Waters of Shiloah vs The Waters of “The River”

You rightly point out that the comparison between the stream and the river [in Isaiah 8:6-8] is a comparison between kingdoms and the nature and disposition by which they rule, as seen in 2Sam 22:3-4 & Ps 72:4, 6, as gentle and just, as over against the arbitrary will of unjust man. The principles by which the two kingdoms are regulated are decisive for peace or wrath, not only ultimately, but all along the way. So if one will not choose the slowly / gently flowing waters of Shiloah, the peace of divine rule, then the overwhelming waters of the great river, Euphrates will flood all the Land (wrath). We were just talking about this in our last two Saturday evening sessions.

As noted by Kimchi’s commentary, the Davidic throne, for all its weaknesses and deficiencies, is the one sanctioned and ordained by God and the Word of prophecy. Thus, to cast off that kingdom to form another was no small thing, even from the inception of the division.

In Isa 7-8, the very survival of David’s line, and therefore the promise, was in great jeopardy, as the confederated kings of Syria and Israel had conspired to set a puppet king upon the throne of Judah. All seemed bleak and hopeless, but Isaiah showed unwavering faith in the impregnability of the unconditional promise made to David that also guaranteed the ultimate, if not always the immediate, future of Jerusalem, as the eternal city of the great King, the divinely established centerpiece and symbol of the kingdom of God promised to come on earth.

This unconditional promise to David’s seed does not guarantee temporal peace to his natural descendants but eternal peace to his spiritual descendants, that is, to all the spiritual seed of the greater David (see Ps 89). Nor does the certainty of the continuance and preservation of David’s natural line according to the flesh secure against disaster. Obviously, the sure survival of David’s seed does not guarantee individual election, or we might say, ‘personal regeneration’. What it does guarantee is a corporate election that in turn guarantees preservation of the line of the physical line of promise until the “Seed” (personal) should come.

In Him is the promise made sure to all His spiritual seed (corporate), not only of the Jew but of all the seed of true, Abrahamic faith. But even after the personal Seed has come in the twofold nature of Christ, the promise is short of complete fulfillment until Christ is formed in the Jewish survivors of the unequaled tribulation, so that now, all of the nation, as born in one day, can inherit the Land forever, because of an everlasting righteousness from which they will not again go back, because it is not theirs but God’s. That is the mystery and the glory of the New Covenant. The New Covenant is NOT a new start; it’s a new nature!

Israel’s hope, the divine guarantee of a New and Everlasting Covenant, is based on the hope of a spiritual resurrection that must precede the national and bodily resurrection. It is based on the predetermination of God to raise, quicken, and transform what has first been brought down and emptied of its own power.

This raising up by the Spirit depends on nothing of man but on ‘the God who raises the dead’. It is not based on any righteousness, merit, or ground of standing in the fallen and corrupt creature but in God’s own righteousness alone, as perfectly realized only in His uniquely begotten Son.

The incarnation and the New Covenant in Jesus’ blood means that, from the beginning, the only righteousness that God can accept is His own. This righteousness that belongs to God alone is mediated by faith alone, not as its cause but its instrument, since it too is no less a gift, lest any man should boast.

Israel’s hope, the hope of a New Covenant that is sure and everlasting and because it does not depend on man (as foreshore in Abraham’s deep sleep) is based on the God who raises the dead, as He quickens at once and in one day the surviving remnant that will know Him, one and all, from that day and forward. How shall this be? Like all heirs of the New Covenant, they will be born of the Word of God and therefore in union with His divine nature. What then of the danger of falling?

How will “all Israel”, from the least to the greatest, be secure from lapsing and exposing themselves again to curse and exile? How indeed! It because of the New Covenant, which imparts the divine nature. Only because of an everlasting righteousness that is not one’s own can “all Israel” be assured of an abiding righteousness that will not fade or fail, so that now, at last, they can inherit the Land forever, so that “never again” will the children of wickedness afflict them as before (2Sam 7:10; Amos 9:15).

To live in this now revealed, New Covenant is to be in the unconditional, everlasting covenant of peace and righteousness, despite all present dangers, because it is to be on the resurrection side of the promise, as raised up and seated with Him in His triumphant Ascension over all principality and power.

The gospel reveals this everlasting life as no longer waiting for the age to come, as the Jew would see it on the other side of the great transitional day of the Lord. Rather, the powers of that still coming age have arrived in the presence and resurrection power of the Spirit, albeit only in part, as first fruits, earnest, and seal of all that remains.

The conditions and warnings, the danger of apostasy, and the necessity of perseverance in faith cannot defeat the New Covenant. All these very real perils only prove and find out whether the faith by the which we overcome is indeed ‘born of God. It must be so, because it is an inviolable divine principle that “whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world” (). The faith of God’s elect must necessarily overcome, precisely because ‘whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world’. That is what all that comes against our faith is ordained to find out. Only by this rule is our overcoming not credited to anything as generated by ourselves but the unmixed gift of grace, so that to Him alone be all glory.

The proof and evidence of all is perseverance in true holiness, not by mere human resolve, but by the power and resilience of His indwelling life, the life of the resurrection. Those who have this life are partakers of His divine nature, the indwelling seed of the woman, the evidence of reality being that inviolable principle of both nature and the Spirit that the seed will necessarily produce fruit (in some real measure) “after its own kind”.

I like the way you paired Ps 46:2-5 with the slow and un-overwhelming, but ever faithful stream of Shiloah is being made a symbol of that spiritual stream of endless divine life that makes glad the heavenly city (comprised of all His saints, that will, of course, first be realized and vindicated here on earth before it’s heavenly counterpart comes down onto the new earth). Never saw that connection but must imagine that that’s exactly what the Psalmist had in mind in his comparison.

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Dispensationalism and the Reversal of Pentecost

If we can interpret and establish Rom. 11:15 “……what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?” to be the same time that the “dead in Christ” are raised, then is it settled that there can be no pre-trib rapture, since the resurrection of the “dead in Christ” is, by all accounts, the rapture, which is, of course, contemporaneous with the resurrection?

We can establish that the national resurrection / birth of the beleaguered nation takes place at the moment of Christ’s return (Isa 66:8; Eze 39:22; Zech 3:9; 12:10; Mt 23:39; 24:30; Lk 21:24; Acts 3:21; Ro 11:25-26; Rev 1:7; 11:2 et al.) But even after we prove the intersection between the national resurrection of the nation and personal resurrection of the saints, we have proven nothing against the rapture, at least not to their peculiar kind of thinking. Let me explain why.

They are instant to grant that Israel’s experience of tribulation ends in national resurrection at the return of Christ, which is simultaneous with the resurrection of OT believers and the martyrs of the tribulation who will come to faith AFTER the rapture. According to their view, everyone saved before Pentecost and after the pre-tribulational rapture belong to a distinct people of God, separate, not only from unbelieving Israel, but even from the regenerate saints of Israel who died before Pentecost, with those who come to faith after the rapture, thus dispensationalism’s famous theory of ‘two peoples’ of God. These groups are thought to belong to different economies or dispensations, thus the term, dispensationalism.

According to pre-tribulational dispensationalism, God’s “foretold” prophetic program for Israel is resumed only after the present ‘mystery’ dispensation (parenthesis / intercalation) that ends with the rapture. Recognizing that the books of Daniel and Revelation depict saints in the tribulation, so-called ‘church saints’distinguished from so-called ‘tribulation saints’. The former are removed by secret translation before the tribulation can begin. They acknowledge that the national resurrection of Israel comes with the end of the times of the gentiles and the sudden regeneration of the nation that Ezekiel and Hosea represent as a resurrection and Isaiah will depict as the moment of birth (Isa 66:8; Eze 37; Hos 6:2). Scripture is clear that the national rebirth or resurrection of the nation is contemporaneous with the post-tribulational resurrection of ‘those who sleep in the dust of the earth’ (Isa 26:16-21; Dan 12:1-2; Job 14:14 with 1Cor 15:52 & Job 19:25-27 with Zech 14:4, 7-9). This does not stop their theory because they simply assign the post-tribulational resurrection of OT saints to another dispensation that begins after the church has been removed. That is to say that saints who died before Pentecost do not go up in the rapture but continue to sleep in the dust of the earth for seven more years.

In contrast to God’s prophetically foretold purpose for Israel, it is believed that the church occupies an entirely distinct and completely un-foretold dispensation that was a mystery in other ages, the so-called, ‘church age’. Of course, we believe this is a complete misinterpretation of what Paul means by his use of the term, ‘mystery’. He is not using the term to dissociate the new revelation that has come to light in Christ from what stood written in the prophets. On the contrary, what has come to light in the gospel, though hidden until the appointed time of revelation, was fully foretold. That was the hallmark of its authenticity and verification that makes the world accountable (Acts 26:22; 1Cor 15:3-4 with Ro 16:25-26; 1Pet 1:11). That something has been newly revealed or brought to much fuller light, does not necessarily mean that it is newly existent. For example, the mystery of Christ and His pre-existence and co-eternality in the Godhead has come to much greater light since the revelation of the gospel. You see the point. I believe the same could be said of the church. It could not have been conceived as the body of Christ prior to the revelation of the mystery of Christ and the gospel, of course, but this does not mean that the church had no prior existence before Pentecost, as believed by dispensationalists.

Dispensationalists believe the mystery is the church as a new organism that has nothing to do with what was foretold in prophecy. Only after God’s mystery program for the church has been completed with the rapture does the focus turn again to God’s prophetic program for Israel (their words). Then begins the Day of the Lord, which they make to include the entirety of Daniel’s last week (another untenable claim). All who are saved after the rapture belong to another, completely distinct people of God. Not only the redeemed of Israel, but all who come to faith after the rapture, and all from among the nations that will be saved throughout the millennium, are NOT to be reckoned as belonging to the body of Christ, which belongs distinctly to the interim between Pentecost and the pre-tribulational rapture.

Dispensationalists will be the first to tell you that unless the body of Christ is restricted to those who are indwelt by the Spirit between Pentecost and the rapture, the case for a pre-tribulation rapture falls apart. Indeed, if the saints depicted in the tribulation in Daniel and Revelation belong to the body of Christ, then the conclusion cannot be avoided that the church is in the tribulation. Therefore, dispensatinalists would probably have no problem acknowledging that ‘life from the dead’ for national Israel coincides with the resurrection of Daniel and all the saints who died either before Pentecost or after the rapture. They know there is a spiritual resurrection of Israel at Christ’s return to establish the kingdom, they just don’t think this interferes with the inferences that they have built around the presupposition that the church, by definition, cannot be in the tribulation. That is what they do. They define the church out of the tribulation by a definition that was unknown until it was first proposed by John Nelson Darby as a break through insight from his sick bed in 1836.

Pre-tribulationists view the time between Pentecost and the rapture as ‘the dispensation of the church’ (the so-called, ‘the church age’). This is based on the belief that the church did not exist in the OT. They will cite Mt 16:18. “Upon this rock, I will (future tense) build my church.” They will point out that only with the pouring out of the Spirit (after the glorification of Jesus as Messiah; Jn 7:39) did the Spirit begin to baptize believers into the newly revealed body of the one new man. We take great exception to this view, but there are many besides dispensationalists who believe (I think incorrectly) that Pentecost was the ‘birthday’ of the church. But quite apart from that discussion, here is what is especially obnoxious to their system: It is the radically baseless inference that they haste to draw from 2Thes 2:7. The restrainer is held to be the Holy Spirit and His removal permits the Antichrist to be revealed. That is not the only interpretation for the identity of the restrainer, but even if it is allowed (though I do not allow) that the restrainer is the Holy Spirit, it would not necessarily follow that when He is withdrawn from His ministry of restraining evil, every believer who is indwelt by the Spirit is also taken away.

This is an inference based on a presupposition that leads to absurd conclusions. Those who take this view do not blush to call this event “a reversal of Pentecost” (Walvoord and many others). I call it a ‘retraction’ of Pentecost, because that’s what the theory implies. They argue that since the Holy Spirit did not indwell saints before Pentecost (on the contrary, saints were indwelt by the Spirit), He will no longer indwell those who come to faith after the rapture. They will be born again but not indwelt (how is that?). Tribulation believers will sustain a relation to the Spirit that they assume (I think falsely) existed before Pentecost. It is believed (quite incorrectly) that the Holy Spirit did not indwell believers before Pentecost. Until Pentecost, He only resided “with” them. This view is built on what can be shown to be a faulty interpretation of Jn 14:17.

The two pillars of dispensationalism that are indispensable to its defense is first the doctrine of imminence and secondly their definition of the church as restricted only to this age. The second pillar is based on two principle presuppositions that are essential to its support: 1). Their own new view of Paul’s use of the term, mystery as applied to the new revelation by the Spirit, and 2), their view that Holy Spirit’s indwelling is restricted to saints living only between Pentecost and the pre-trib rapture. Touch either one of these pillar points and the whole edifice of modern dispensationalism starts to crumble. But that is only if one knows their own system well enough to know what is absolutely necessary to its support.

Most who embrace the pre-trib theory (with its doctrine of an any moment return and new and novel ecclessiology) might give pause if they only knew what the academic defenders of their position must teach in order to hold the system together, things so obnoxious to the normal believer as the thought that none of the righteous who died before Pentecost can participate in the marriage supper of the Lamb. Why? Because it is believed that no one living before Pentecost can belong to the body of Christ. All the righteous of the older dispensation continue their sleep in the dust of the earth for an additional seven years. This is clear from Dan 12:1-2 and a number of other scriptures that show that the resurrection of the OT faithful takes place only AFTER the tribulation at the time of Israel’s deliverance. Not only so, but Jesus said that those who would believe on Him would be raised, not at an undisclosed, pre-trib rapture, but ‘at the last day’ (Jn 6:39-40, 44, 54; 11:24; 12:48).

Such observations may not dissuade those who have deeply imbibed academic dispensationalism, but few things could be more obnoxious or theologically untenable to the average believer than the imaginative notion that the Spirit who has been once and for all given (as based on the once and for all glorification of Jesus; Jn 7:39), that His indwelling presence should also be taken away at the rapture, so that He will no longer indwell those who become saints after the rapture. Not only does this so-called ‘reversal of Pentecost’ obtain throughout the last seven years of this age. By the same principle, all who come to faith all throughout the millennium cannot be indwelt by the Spirit. He is with them but not in them, because that distinction is what makes the body unique to this dispensation. Believest thou this? Such is the price of consistency.

This is a point where they stand most to be embarrassed. For the sake of those who might give pause, love bids that we endeavor to educate the unwary of what the academic defenders of dispensationalism admit to be necessary to support the doctrine of an imminent, and therefore pretribulational rapture.

Not only was the Spirit given on the basis of Jesus’ once and for all glorification, which can NEVER be reversed, but as you so well asked, “how will the outpouring / baptism of the Spirit that will come to the penitent Jewish survivors ‘in that day’ NOT also baptize them into the body of Christ?” Exactly! How can the Spirit not put one in the body in that day no less than this? How can one be in Christ and not be in His body? And how can the Spirit who will be poured out upon the the penitent Jewish survivors of tribulation produce a lesser result than Pentecost, particularly when Pentecost was the first fruits of that which is to come? How is it that He baptizes believers now into the revealed body of Christ but He will not do the same for those who receive the ultimate promise made to Israel? Absurd! Not only is this poor eschatology; it is disastrous theology! It belies a terribly deficient understanding of the inward working and abiding union of the Spirit as the basis of that union with the divine nature that is salvation. And, though impossible apart from the cross and resurrection of Jesus, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is certainly NOT something that began only after the cross, as witness Jesus’ reprimand of Nicodemus for not recognizing that just as a nation cannot be born apart from the Spirit, neither can a person, and so on we could go in demonstrating by many scriptures and evidences too plain to dispute that the Spirit of Christ indwelt, not only the prophets (1Pet 1:11) but all the children born of the Spirit (Gal 4:29 etc.), but that’s another discussion, albeit a needful one.

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