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Will animals be in heaven?

Will animals be in heaven?                                                                   By Jack Kettler                                     

What do the Scriptures say about animals in heaven? Related to this, will you see your pet dog or cat in heaven? A word of caution for those having lost a pet. Due to an emotional factor, your emotions can easily affect your interpretation of the Scriptures. Because of emotions, it is easy to read things into Scripture that are not there.

This study is not about eschatological views; nevertheless, it is somewhat unavoidable when seeking an answer to the main question. The astute reader will notice how the timing of the millennium will change how the main question is answered.

Millennial passages:

“And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4)

“And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox… They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:7, 9)

“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, saith the LORD.” (Isaiah 65:25)

A question of timing:

A premillennialist would place these three passages on this earth during the millennium prior to the second, second coming of Christ. Note: in premillennialism, Christ comes at the beginning of the millennium and again at the end of the millennium prior to heaven. Thus, there are two-second comings in premillennialism, which is problematic.

Isaiah 2:4, in particular, cannot be talking about a future literal millennium. If so, then when Isaiah says, “neither shall they learn war any more” is not true. At the end of the premillennial literal millennium prior to heaven, there will be war again in Satan’s final revolt. If the millennial reign of Christ is prior to the “new heaven” and “new earth,” then the premillennialist can find no support from the Isaiah passages for animals in heaven since they would be prior to heaven.   

In contrast with the premillennial view, the above passages from Isaiah are pictures of the “new heavens” and the “new earth” as understood by non-premillennialists. For example, the amillennial and postmillennial views both place the millennium during the church age and consequently give support for the belief that animals will be in heaven. The following commentary entry provides support that Isaiah’s prediction will find fulfillment in the “new heavens” and “new earth.”

Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges on Isaiah 65:25:

“25. A last feature of the new earth is the peace, which shall reign in the animal world. See on Ch. Isaiah 11:6-9, from which this verse is quoted. The second and fourth lines are cited literally from Isaiah 11:7; Isaiah 11:9, the first is a condensation of Isaiah 11:6-7 a. The only clause not represented in the original passage is the third line: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat an allusion to Genesis 3:14.” (1)

The next two passages from Isaiah tie Isaiah’s thoughts together with 2:4, 11:7, 9, and 65:25, thus finding fulfillment in “the new heavens” and “the new earth” rather than of literal future millennium prior to heaven.

“For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” (Isaiah 65:17)

From Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers on Isaiah65:17:

“(17) Behold, I create new heavens . . .  The thought reappears in many forms in the New Testament—verbally in 2Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1, substantially in the “restitution of all things” (Acts 3:21), in the “manifestation of the sons of God” (Romans 8:19). The “former things,” the sin and sorrow of the past, shall then fade away from the memory of God’s people, absorbed in the abounding and everlasting joy.” (2)

“For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain.” (Isaiah 66:22)

Barnes’ Notes on the Bible how Isaiah’s words are permanent and abiding:

“For as the new heavens and the new earth – (See the notes at Isaiah 65:17).

Shall remain before me – They shall not pass away and be succeeded by others. The idea is, that the state of things here described would be permanent and abiding.

So shall your seed and your name remain – (See the notes at Isaiah 65:15)” (3)

The New Testament likewise looks for “new heavens” and a “new earth,” rather than an earthly millennium.

“Nevertheless, we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (2Peter 3:13)

John, in his revelation, concurs with Peter.

“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.” (Revelation 21:1)

God’s concern for animals is seen in the following passages:

“And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you; and with every living creature that is with you–birds, livestock, and all wildlife of the earth that are with you–all the animals of the earth that came out of the ark.” (Genesis 9:9-10)

“A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.” (Proverbs 12:10)

“Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?” (Luke 12:6)_

Luke 12:6, in particular, may have relevance to the main question. Consider the Greek:

Thayer’s Greek Lexicon

STRONGS NT 1950: ἐπιλανθάνομαι

ἐπιλανθάνομαι; perfect passive ἐπιλελησμαι; 2 aorist middle ἐπελαθόμην; the Sept. often for שָׁכַח; to forget: followed by the infinitive, Matthew 16:5; Mark 8:14; followed by an indirect question. James 1:24; in the sense of neglecting, no longer caring for: with the genitive, Hebrews 6:10; Hebrews 13:2, 16; with the accusative (cf. Winers Grammar, § 30, 10 c.; Matthiae, § 347 Anm. 2, ii., p. 820f), Philippians 3:13 (14); with a passive signification (Isaiah 23:16; Sir. 3:14 Sir. 32:9 (Sir. 35:9); Wis. 2:4, etc. (cf. Buttmann, 52 (46))): ἐπιλελησμένος forgotten, given over to oblivion, i. e. uncared for, ἐνώπιον τοῦ Θεοῦ before God i. e. by God (Sir. 23:14), Luke 12:6. ((From Homer on.))” (4)

Comments:

If Thayer is correct on ἐπιλανθάνομαι then God’s care for the sparrows is ongoing, they are not forgotten or uncared for.

If the Scriptures surveyed so far take place in a future literal millennium, it could be concluded that there will be no animals in the “new heaven” and “new earth.” However, if the Scriptures surveyed thus far are a portrayal of heaven, then yes, there is Scripture support for the idea of animals being in heaven. The non-premillennialist position also has to be qualified by asking the question, are the passages in Isaiah literal or figurative. For example, the phrase “the wolf and the lamb shall feed together” is metaphorical, which does not necessarily take away from a literal understanding. However, a number of commentators see some of Isaiah’s phraseology to be figurative, and in which case, the main question still cannot be answered with certainty.

In the next verse from Romans, can the word creature or creation include animals?

“Because the “creature” [many translations use creation] itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” (Romans 8:21)  

 Calvin’s Comments on Romans 8:21:

“21. Because the creation itself, etc. He shows how the creation has in hope been made subject to vanity; that is, inasmuch as it shall sometime be made free, according to what Isaiah testifies, and what Peter confirms still more clearly. It is then indeed meet for us to consider what a dreadful curse we have deserved, since all created things in themselves blameless, both on earth and in the visible heaven, undergo punishment for our sins; for it has not happened through their own fault, that they are liable to corruption. Thus, the condemnation of mankind is imprinted on the heavens, and on the earth, and on all creatures. It hence also appears to what excelling glory the sons of God shall be exalted; for all creatures shall be renewed in order to amplify it, and to render it illustrious.

But he means not that all creatures shall be partakers of the same glory with the sons of God; but that they, according to their nature, shall be participators of a better condition; for God will restore to a perfect state the world, now fallen, together with mankind. But what that perfection will be, as to beasts as well as plants and metals, it is not meet nor right in us to inquire more curiously; for the chief effect of corruption is decay. Some subtle men, but hardly sober-minded, inquire whether all kinds of animals will be immortal; but if reins be given to speculations where will they at length lead us? Let us then be content with this simple doctrine, — that such will be the constitution and the complete order of things, that nothing will be deformed or fading.” (5)

Does Romans 8:21 and the word “creation” include animals? Humanity sinned by a rational choice, and this rationality is part of God’s image in humankind. Animals do not have rationality, and therefore, cannot sin. If left there, the passage does not support animals in heaven. However, if Paul includes the larger creation as being under the curse because of man’s sin, then yes, when the creation is redeemed, the animal and plant kingdom will experience the removal of corruption, a renewal, and would most certainly include them.  

In closing to look at the question of seeing your pet in heaven:

Pets in Heaven? The Bible Answer Man by Hank Hanegraaff:

“Scripture does not exclusively tell us whether our pets will make it to heaven. However, the Bible does provide us with some significant clues that animals will inhabit the new heaven and the new earth.

First, the Garden of Eden was populated by animals, thus there is a precedent for believing that Eden restored will also be populated by animals.

Furthermore, the Scriptures — from first to last — suggest that animals have souls. Both Moses in Genesis and John in Revelation communicate that the Creator endowed animals with souls (see Gen. 1:20, 24; Rev. 8:9). Throughout the history of the church, the classic understanding of living things has included the doctrine that animals, as well as humans, have souls.

Finally, while we cannot say for certain that the pets we enjoy today will be resurrected in eternity, I am not willing to preclude the possibility. Some of the keenest thinkers — from C.S. Lewis to Peter Kreeft — are not only convinced that animals in general, but that pets in particular, will be restored in the resurrection.

Dr. Kreeft, for example, is convinced that animals will exist throughout eternity. “Are there animals in Heaven? The simplest answer is: Why not? How irrational is the prejudice that would allow plants (green fields and flowers), but not animals into Heaven.” Regarding pets, he writes: “Would the same animals be in Heaven as on earth? ‘Is my dead cat in Heaven?’ Again, why not? God can raise up the very grass; why not cats? Though the blessed have better things to do than play with pets, the better does not exclude the lesser.”

One thing is certain: Scripture provides us with a sufficient precedent for suggesting that animals will continue to exist after the return of our Lord. Isaiah 11:6-9 provides a particularly stirring image.” (6)

Concluding thought:

After the Second coming of Christ, the animal world will experience restoration and will return to their original creative state. Therefore, there will be animals in the new creation. As much as many would like to believe our pets would be there, it would be going beyond what is revealed in Scripture to say definitively yes. However, with God, all things are possible.

“To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29)

Notes:

1.       John Skinner, Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, Isaiah, vol. 2, Volume 20 of (Cambridge University Press, 1898), e-Sword version.

2.      Charles John Ellicott, Bible Commentary for English Readers, Isaiah, Vol. 4, (London, England, Cassell and Company), p. 573.

3.      Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Isaiah, Vol. 7, p. 1545.

4.      J. H. Thayer, The New Thayer’s Greek English Lexicon, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers), p. 240.

5.      John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries, Romans, Volume XIX, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House Reprinted 1979), p. 305.

6.      Hank Hanegraaff, The Complete Bible Answer Book, (printed in China, Thomas Nelson), p. 548-549.

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: www.TheReligionThatStartedInAHat.com

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The Second Coming of Christ as seen in the Scriptures

The Second Coming of Christ as seen in the Scriptures                                 by Jack Kettler                                     

The “Second Coming” of Christ as seen in the Old Testament:

The Old Testament Scriptures do not directly mention the “Second Coming” of Christ as such.

Regarding Christ’s “First Coming,” you have prophetic examples like:

“Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 3:1)

Also:

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.” (Malachi 4:5)

The following limited survey of Old Testament texts deals with the final consolation of Israel at the end of redemptive history followed by the eternal peace of God’s rule. These Old Testament Scriptures, while not meaning the “Second Coming,” per se find their fulfillment in the Messianic hope realized at the “Second Coming.”

“That the Lord your God will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the nations where the Lord your God has scattered you.” (Deuteronomy 30:3) (High lightning emphasis mine)

“And King Solomon shall be blessed, and the throne of David shall be established before the LORD forever.” (1Kings 2:45)

“For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.” (Job 19:25)

“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 sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto 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 hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. Be wise now therefore, O ye kings be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” Psalm 2:1-12

“All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. For the kingdom is the LORD’S: and he is the governor among the nations.” (Psalm 22:27-28)

“The LORD shall reign forever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the LORD.” (Psalm 146:10)

“He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4)

“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 they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” (Daniel 7:13-14)

“I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will be your destruction!” (Hosea 13:14)

“And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Haggai 2:7)

“And thou, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.” (Micah 4:8)

“And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea and from the river even to the ends of the earth.” (Zechariah 9:10)

“For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place, incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 1:11)

“But who may abide the day of his coming? And who shall stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap.” (Malachi 3:2)

Comments:

As seen, the nature of the Old Testament portrayals of the “Second Coming” is somewhat different from the New Testament descriptions. As previously noted, the words “Second” or “First” coming do not appear in the Old Testament. Instead, the Old Testament depicts the “Second Coming” as the final hope of Israel’s restoration with God’s rule being undisputed and continuing forever. In addition, in the above Scriptures, the “First” and “Second” coming of Christ is pictured eschatologically as one event wherein the Messianic hope is inaugurated.

The “Second Coming” of Christ as seen in the New Testament:

The following New Testament Scriptures take for granted the fact of the “First Coming” of Christ. Believers in the New Testament are reminded to be watchful and look forward to the event of the “Second Coming.”

“For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” (Matthew 16:27)

“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” (Matthew 24:42)

“And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” (Luke 1:33)

“Jesus saith unto him, if I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me.” (John 21:22)

“And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:10-11)

“But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” (1Corinthians 15:23)

“And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30)

“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?” (1Thessalonians 2:19)

“And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.” (2 Thessalonians 2:8)

“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:13)

“So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Hebrews 9:28)

“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

“Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.” (James 5:7)

“And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.” (1John 2:28)

Comments:

Like the Old Testament, the New Testament does not use the exact wording of the “Second Coming” of Christ. The closest wording to that is “he appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Hebrews 9:28).

Importantly, Luke notes, in his gospel, chapter 1:33, “And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom, there shall be no end,” in which the unification of the Church and believing Israel in Christ happens. See Romans 11:11-31.

Most certainly, Luke in 1:33 is making identification with Jeremiah 23:5:

“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.” (Jeremiah 23:5)

For additional Old Testament cross references to Luke 1:33, see also; 2 Samuel 7:13; 2 Samuel 7:16; Psalm 89:4; Psalm 89:36; Psalm 89:37; Isaiah 9:7; Isaiah 16:5; Daniel 2:44; Daniel 6:26; Daniel 7:14.

As Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible explains Luke 1:33:  “And he shall reign over the house of Jacob … Not over the Jews, the posterity of Jacob, in a literal sense; but over the whole Israel of God, consisting of Jews and Gentiles. For as his father David reigned over the Idumeans, Syrians, and others, as well as over the house of Judah and Israel, so this his son shall reign over both Jews and Gentiles: his kingdom shall be from one end of the earth to the other, even over all the elect of God; who in successive generations call themselves by the name of Jacob, and surname themselves by the name of Israel, of whatsoever nation they be; and this reign of his shall be

for ever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end; referring to Isaiah 9:7 see also Daniel 2:44 Daniel 7:14 he shall reign in the hearts of his people here unto the end of the world; and with his saints a thousand years in the new heavens and new earth; and with them to all eternity, in the ultimate glory.” (1)

To maintain Biblical Orthodoxy, one must not abandon the physical literal “Second Coming” of Christ. Mockers or those that have abandoned Orthodoxy say:

“And saying, where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” (2Peter 3:4)

Matthew Poole’s Commentary explains Peter well:
And saying, Where is the promise? Questioning or denying the great truths of the gospel, thereby to encourage themselves in walking after their own lusts.

Of his coming; viz. Christ’s, mentioned 2 Peter 3:2. Possibly these scoffers might drop the name of Christ by way of contempt, not vouchsafing to mention it, as the Jews did, John 9:29; q.d. [from the Latin quasi diat: as if one should say] Where is the promise of his coming whom you expect?

His coming, to judge the world; q.d. His promised coming doth not appear, the promise of it is not fulfilled.

For since the fathers, who died in the faith of Christ’s coming, and had the promise of it,

fell asleep; i.e. died; the usual phrase of Scripture, which these scoffers seem to speak in derision; q.d. It is so long since the fathers fell asleep, (as you call it), that it were more than time for them to be awakened, whereas we see the contrary.

All things continue as they were from the beginning of the

creation; i.e. the world continues to be the same it was, and hath the same parts it had; we see nothing changed, nothing abolished, but still nature keeps its old course. Thus they argue, that because there had been no such great change, therefore there should be none; because Christ was not yet come to judgment, therefore he should not come at all; not considering the power of God, who is as able to destroy the world as to make it, nor the will of God revealed in his word concerning the end of it.” (2)

 What do we find in the confessions and catechisms that are necessary to maintain Biblical Orthodoxy?
Westminster Larger Catechism Question 56:

Q. 56. How is Christ to be exalted in his coming again to judge the world?

A. Christ is to be exalted in his coming again to judge the world, in that he, who was unjustly judged and condemned by wicked men, shall come again at the last day in great power, and in the full manifestation of his own glory, and of his Father’s, with all his holy angels, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, to judge the world in righteousness.

 Belgic Confession Article 37:

“Our Lord Jesus Christ will come from heaven, corporally and visibly, as He ascended, with great glory and majesty.”

 Free Reformed Churches of North America:

19. CHRIST’S SECOND COMING

“The Bible directs us to expect our Lord Jesus Christ to come again (Acts 1:11; 1 Thessalonians 4:16). He will come with the clouds of heaven. He will come as the One risen and ascended and exalted in majesty. Jesus’ Second Coming will be in marked contrast to His first coming, which was in humiliation. The majesty of His divinity will no longer be laid aside. We shall see Him as He is, majestic, glorious and adorable.

Christ’s Second Coming is to be followed directly by the final judgment. For many the Day of the Lord will be darkness and not light (Amos 5:18). Only those who by a true faith have become righteous in Christ can and may face the great white throne without terror.

The sacrifice of Christ is the object of our faith. The Second Coming of Christ is the object of our longing. We look back in faith to the crucified Saviour; we look upwards in love to the living Saviour; we look forward in hope to the glorious Redeemer.

This looking forward in hope is not of minor importance. Without this expectation we are not believers. We are saved by hope (Romans 8:24). In looking forward we look not only to the Second Coming itself, but also to the events associated with it – the resurrection of the dead, the general judgment and the acquittal and acknowledgment of the believers. Above all, we look forward to the day when “at the Name of Jesus every knee shall bow … and … every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (see Philippians 2:10, 11). “Maranatha” (1 Corinthians 16:22).”

 In closing:

 The Old Testament depicts the “Second Coming” as the final hope of Israel’s restoration with God’s rule being undisputed and continuing forever.

 Two additional Old Testament references pertinent to the “Second Coming:”

 “The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; According to all that thou desiredst of the Lord thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not. And the Lord said unto me, They have well-spoken that which they have spoken. I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.” (Deuteronomy 18:15-18)

 Also:

 “And he took up his parable, and said, Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes are open hath said: He hath said, which heard the words of God, and knew the knowledge of the most High, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open: I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth. And, Edom shall be a possession, Seir also shall be a possession for his enemies; and Israel shall do valiantly. Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion, and shall destroy him that remaineth of the city.” (Numbers 24:15-19)

 The New Testament because of additional revelation in redemptive history, and with specificity that is more precise looks to Christ’s “Second Coming” as the full inauguration of Messianic rule that was hoped for in the Old Testament. At this time, Israel will “hearken” to the Messiah, and His full “dominion” will be implemented among the nations for eternity.

 “To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29)

 Notes:

 1.       John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, Luke, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), 2011, p. 33.

2.      Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible, 2Peter, Vol. 3, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985), p. 925-925. Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: www.TheReligionThatStartedInAHat.com

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He is Risen!!!

He is Risen!!!                                                                                               by Jack Kettler

“And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.” (Matthew 28:5-7)

What follows is an unconventional resurrection devotional. A list of cross-references will help fill out the Resurrection story. The cross-references will be followed by a commentary exposition, then a historic sermon on the Resurrection, and then an entry by one of Protestantism’s most renowned theologians. Concluding the devotion will be selective quotes regarding Christ’s Resurrection.

Cross References:

“For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matthew 12:40)

“From that time on Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and that He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” (Matthew 16:21)

“Sir,” they said, “we remember that while He was alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’” (Matthew 27:63

“But he said to them, do not be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here! See the place where they put Him.” (Mark 16:6)

“But God raised Him from the dead, releasing Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for Him to be held in its clutches.” (Acts 2:24)

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Resurrection:

“28:1-8 Christ rose the third day after his death; that was the time he had often spoken of. On the first day of the first week God commanded the light to shine out of darkness. On this day did He who is the Light of the world, shine out of the darkness of the grave; and this day is from henceforward often mentioned in the New Testament, as the day which Christians religiously observed in solemn assemblies, to the honour of Christ. Our Lord Jesus could have rolled back the stone by his own power, but he chose to have it done by an angel. The resurrection of Christ, as it is the joy of his friends, so it is the terror and confusion of his enemies. The angel encouraged the women against their fears. Let the sinners in Zion be afraid. Fear not ye, for his resurrection will be your consolation. Our communion with him must be spiritual, by faith in his word. When we are ready to make this world our home, and to say, it is good to be here, then let us remember our Lord Jesus is not here, he is risen; therefore, let our hearts rise, and seek the things that are above. He is risen, as he said. Let us never think that strange which the word of Christ has told us to expect; whether the sufferings of this present time, or the glory that is to be revealed. It may have a good effect upon us, by faith to view the place where the Lord lay. Go quickly. It was good to be there, but the servants of God have other work appointed. Public usefulness must be chosen before the pleasure of secret communion with God. Tell the disciples, that they may be comforted under their present sorrows. Christ knows where his disciples dwell, and will visit them. Even to those at a distance from the plenty of the means of grace, he will graciously manifest himself. The fear and the joy together quickened their pace. The disciples of Christ should be forward to make known to each other their experiences of communion with their Lord; and should tell others what God has done for their souls.” (1)

Death and Resurrection of Christ: a sermon by C. H. Spurgeon:

Matthew 28:6-7

He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.…

“Lend me your imaginations for a minute, while I endeavour to picture a scene. Christ had paid the price — the full price: that price was presented before the Father’s judgment-seat. He looked at it, and was content. But as it was a solemn matter, it was not hurried over. Three days were taken, that the ransom-price might be counted out; and its value fully estimated. The angels looked, and admired. The “spirits of the just” came and examined it, and wondered, and were delighted. The very devils in hell could only express their satisfaction by biting their iron bonds, and sullenly keeping silence, because they had not a word to speak against the sacrifice of Christ. The three days passed away, and the atonement was fully accepted. Then the angel came from heaven — swift as the lightning flash — he descended from the spheres of the blessed, into this lower earth, and he came into the prison-house, in which the Saviour’s body slept; for, mark, His body had been kept in the prison till God ratified His atonement and accepted it — He was lying there a hostage for His people. The angel came, and spake to the keeper of the prison, one called Grim Death, and said to him, “Let that captive go free.” Death was sitting on his throne of skulls, with a huge iron key at his girdle of iron: and he laughed, and said, “Aha! thousands and thousands of the race of Adam have passed the portals of this prison-house; but none of them have ever been delivered. That key has been once turned in its wards by destiny; and no mortal power can ever turn it back again, and draw the bolts from their resting places.” Then the angel showed to him Heaven’s own warrant, and Death turned pale. The angel grasped the key — unlocked the prison door, and stepped in. There slept the Royal Captive — the Divine hostage. And the angel cried, “Arise, Thou Sleeper! Put off Thy garments of death. Shake Thyself from the dust, and put on Thy beautiful garments.” The Master arose. He unwound the napkin, and laid it by itself. He took off His graveclothes and laid them by themselves, to show He was in no hurry, that all was done legally, and therefore orderly. He did not dash His prison walls aside to come out; but came out by legal process, just as He had entered in. He seemed to express Himself as Paul did, “No, verily, let them come themselves, and fetch Me out.” So was the Master set at liberty — by heaven’s own officer, who came from heaven to give Him just liberty — God’s proof that He had done all that was necessary. Thou Lamb of God! I see Thee rising from Thy tomb in splendour ineffable, dazzling the eyes of the guards and making them flee away in terror. And when I see Thee risen from the dead, I see myself accepted, and all Thy dying redeemed people fully delivered.” – C. H. Spurgeon (2)

The Resurrection of Christ: A Historical Fact by B. B. Warfield:

“It is a somewhat difficult matter to distinguish between Christian doctrines and facts. The doctrines of Christianity are doctrines only because they are facts; and the facts of Christianity become its most indispensable doctrines. The Incarnation of the eternal God is necessarily a dogma: no human eye could witness his stooping to man’s estate, no human tongue could bear witness to it as a fact. And yet, if it be not a fact, our faith is vain, we are yet in our sins. On the other hand, the Resurrection of Christ is a fact, an external occurrence within the cognizance of men to be established by their testimony. And yet, it is the cardinal doctrine of our system: on it all other doctrines hang.

There have been some, indeed, who have refused to admit the essential importance of this fact to our system; and even so considerable a critic as Keim has announced himself as occupying this standpoint. Strauss saw, however, with more unclouded eye, truly declaring the fact of Christ’s resurrection to be “the center of the center, the real heart of Christianity,” on which its truth stands or falls. To this, indeed, an older and deeper thinker than Strauss had long ago abundantly witnessed. The modern skeptic does but echo the words of the apostle Paul. Come what may, therefore, modern skepticism must be rid of the resurrection of Christ. It has recognized the necessity and has bent all its energies to the endeavor.

But the early followers of the Savior also themselves recognized the paramount importance of this fact; and the records of Christianity contain a mass of proof for it, of such cogent variety and convincing power, that Hume’s famous dilemma1 recoils on his own head. It is more impossible that the laws of testimony should be so far set aside, that such witness should be mistaken, than that the laws of nature should be so far set aside that a man should rise from the dead. The opponents of revelation themselves being witnesses, the testimony of the historical books of the New Testament if the testimony of eyewitnesses is amply sufficient to establish this, to them, absolutely crushing fact. It is admitted well-nigh universally that the Gospels contain testimony for the resurrection of Christ, which, if it stand, proves that fact; and that if Christ rose from the dead all motive for, and all possibility of, denial of any supernatural fact of Christianity is forever removed.

Of course, it has become necessary, then, for the deniers of a supernatural origin to Christianity to impeach the credibility of these witnesses. It is admitted that if the Gospel account be truly the testimony of eye-witnesses, then Christ did rise from the dead; but it is immediately added that the Gospels are late compositions which first saw the light in the second century—that they represent, not the testimony of eye-witnesses, but the wild dreams of a mythological fancy or the wilder inventions of unscrupulous forgery; and that, therefore, they are unworthy of credit and valueless as witnesses to fact. Thus, it is proclaimed, this alleged occurrence of the rising of Jesus from the dead, is stripped of all the pretended testimony of eye-witnesses; and all discussion of the question whether it be fact or not is forever set aside—the only question remaining being that which concerns itself with the origin and propagation of this fanatical belief.

It is in this position that we find skepticism entrenched- a strong position assuredly and chosen with consummate skill. It is not, however, impregnable. There are at least two courses open to us in attacking it. We may either directly storm the works, or, turning their flank, bring our weapons to bear on them from the rear. The authenticity of our Gospels is denied We may either prove their authenticity and hence the autoptic character of the testimony they contain; or, we may waive all question of the books attacked, and, using only those which are by the skeptics themselves acknowledged to be genuine, prove from them that the resurrection of Christ actually occurred. 2

The first course, as being the most direct, is the one usually adopted. Here the battle is intense; but the issue is not doubtful. Internally, those books evince themselves as genuine. Not only do they proclaim a teaching absolutely original and patently divine, but they have presented a biography to the world such as no man or body of men could have concocted. No mythologists could have invented a divine-human Personality —assigned the exact proportions in which his divinity and humanity should be exhibited in his life, and then dramatized this character through so long a course of teaching and action without a single contradiction or inconsistency. That simple peasants have succeeded in a task wherein a body of philosophers would have assuredly hopelessly failed, can be accounted for only on the hypothesis that they were simply detailing actual facts.

Again, there are numerous evidently undesigned coincidences in minute points to be observed between the book of Acts and those Epistles of Paul acknowledged to be genuine, which prove beyond a peradventure that book to be authentic history. The authenticity of Acts carries that of the Gospel of Luke with it; and the witness of these two establishes the Resurrection.

But, aside from all internal evidence, the external evidence for the authenticity of the New Testament historical books is irrefragable. The immediate successors of the apostles possessed them all and esteemed them as the authoritative documents of their religion. One of the writers of this age (placed by Hilgenfeld in the first century) quotes Matthew as Scripture: another explicitly places Acts among the “Holy Books,” a collection containing on common terms the Old Testament and at least a large part of the New: all quote these historical books with respect and reverence. There is on external, historical grounds no room left for denying the genuineness of the Gospels and Acts; and hence, no room left for denying the fact of the Resurrection. The result of a half-century’s conflict on this line of attack has resulted in the triumphant vindication of the credibility of the Christian records.

We do not propose, however, to fight this battle over again at this time. The second of the courses above pointed out has been less commonly adopted, but leads to equally satisfactory results. To exhibit this is our present object. The most extreme schools of skepticism admit that the book of Revelation is by St. John; and that Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, and Galatians are genuine letters of St. Paul.3 Most leaders of anti-Christian thought admit other epistles also; but we wish to confine ourselves to the narrowest ground. Our present task, then, is, waiving all reference to disputed books, to show that the testimony of these confessedly genuine writings of the apostles is enough to establish the fact of the Resurrection. We are even willing to assume narrower ground. The Revelation is admitted to be written by an eye-witness of the death of Christ and the subsequent transactions; and the Book of Revelation testifies to Christ’s resurrection. In it he is described as One who was dead and yet came to life (ii. 8), and as the first-begotten of the dead (i. 5). Here, then, is one admitted to have been an eye-witness testifying of the Resurrection. For the sake of simplifying our argument, however, we will omit the testimony of Revelation and ask only what witness the four acknowledged Epistles of Paul-Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, and Galatians bear to the fact that Christ rose from the dead.

It is plain on the very first glance into these Epistles that they have a great deal to say about this Resurrection. Our task is to draw out the evidential value of their references.

We would note, then, in the first place, that Paul claims to be himself an eye-witness of a risen Christ. After stating as a fact that Christ rose from the dead and enumerating his various appearances to his followers, he adds: “And last of all, as unto one born out of due time, he appeared to me also” (1 Cor. xv. 8) . And again, he bases his apostleship on this sight, saying (1 Cor. ix. 1), “Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord?” His “sight” of the Lord Jesus was, therefore of such a kind that it constituted a call to the apostleship. It was not, then, a simple sight of Jesus before his crucifixion: as is also proved from the fact that it was after all the appearances which he vouchsafed after his resurrection to his other followers, that Paul saw him (1 Cor. xv. 8). It remains true, then, that Paul claims to be an eye-witness of the fact that Christ had risen. It will not do to say that Paul claims only to have had a “theophany” as it were-a “sight” of Christ’s spirit living, which would not imply the resurrection of his body. As Beyschlag has long ago pointed out, the whole argument in 1 Cor. xv being meant to prove the bodily resurrection of believers from the resurrection of Christ, necessitates the sense that Paul, like the other witnesses there adduced saw Christ in the body. Nor is it difficult to determine when Paul claims to have seen Christ: it is admitted by all that it was this “sight” that produced his conversion and called him to the apostleship. According to Gal. i. 19 both calls were simultaneous.

Tracing his conversion thus to, and basing his apostleship on, the resurrection of Christ, it is not strange that Paul has not been able to keep his Epistles from bristling with marks of his intense conviction of the fact of the Resurrection. Compare, e.g., Romans i. 4; iv. 24, 25; v. 10; vi. 4, 5, 8, 9 10, 11, 13; vii. 4; viii. 11, 34; x. 7, 9; xiv. 9. We cannot, therefore, without stultification deny that Paul was thoroughly convinced that he had seen the risen Jesus; and the skeptics themselves feel forced to admit this fact.

What, then, shall we do with this claim of Paul to be an eye-witness? Shall we declare his “sight” to have been no true sight, but a deceiving vision? Paul certainly thought it bodily and a sight. But we are told that Paul was given to seeing visions-that he was in fact of that enthusiastic spiritual temperament-like Francis of Assisi for instance-which fails to distinguish between vivid subjective ideas and external facts. But, while it must be admitted that Paul did see visions, all sober criticism must wholly deny that he was a visionary. Waiving the fact that even Paul’s visions were externally communicated to him and not the projections of a diseased imagination, as well as all general discussion of the elements of Paul’s character, this visionary hypothesis is shattered on the simple fact that Paul knew the difference between this “sight” of Jesus and his visions, and draws the distinction sharply between them. This “sight” was, as he himself tells us, the last of all; and the only vision which on our opponents’ principles can be attributed to him, that recorded in 2 Cor. xii is described by Paul in such a manner as to draw the contrast very strongly between his confidence in this “sight” and his uncertainty as to what had happened to him then. Of course, no appeal can be properly made to the “false” history of the Acts; but, if attempted, it is sufficient to say that according to Acts Paul saw Jesus after this sight of 1 Cor. xv; but that this was in a trance (Acts XXii. 18 ff.),.), and in spite of it the sight of 1 Cor. xv was the “last” time Jesus was seen. In other words, Paul once more draws a strict distinction between his “visions” and this “sight.”

It is instructive to note the methods by which it is attempted to make this visionary hypothesis more credible. A graphic picture is drawn by Baur, Strauss, and Renan,, of the physical and psychological condition of St. Paul. He had been touched by the steadfastness of the Christians; he was deeply moved by the grandeur of Stephen’s death; had begun to doubt within himself whether the resurrection of Christ had not really occurred; and, sick in body and distracted in mind, smitten by the sun or the lightning of some sudden storm, was prostrated on his way to Damascus and saw in his delirium his- awful self-imagined vision. It would be easy to show that the important points of this picture are contradicted by Paul himself: he knows nothing of distraction of mind or of opening doubts before the coming of the catastrophe (cf. Gal. i. 13 ff.). It would be easy, again, to show that, brilliant as it is, this picture fails to account for the facts, notably for the immense moral change (recognized by Paul himself) by which he was transformed from the most bloodthirsty of fanatics to the tenderest of saints. But, it will be sufficient for our present purpose to not only that all that renders it plausible is its connection with certain facts recorded only in that “unbelievable” history, the Acts. We find ourselves, then, in this dilemma: if Acts be no true history, then these facts cannot be so used; if Acts be true history, then Paul’s conversion occurred quite otherwise; and again, if Acts be true, then so is Luke’s Gospel; and Acts and Luke are enough to authenticate the resurrection of Christ. In either case, our cause is won.

In regard to this whole visionary scheme we have one further remark to make: it is to be noted that even were it much more plausible than it is, it still would not be worth further consideration. For, Paul believed in the fact of the resurrection of Christ not only because he had seen the Lord, but also on the testimony of others. For, we would note in the second place that Paul introduces us to other eye-witnesses of the resurrection of Christ. He founded his gospel on this fact; and in Gal. ii. 6 ff. he tells us his gospel was the same as was preached by Peter, James, and John. Peter, James, and John, then, believed with the same intensity that Christ rose from the dead. We have already seen that this testimony as to John at least, is supported by what he himself has written in the Apocalypse. In consistency with the inference, again, Paul explicitly declares in 1 Cor. xv. 3 ff., that the risen Christ was seen not only by himself but by Cephas, James, and indeed all the apostles; and that, more than once. Even more: he states that he was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, the most of whom were still living when Paul wrote this letter, and whose witness-bearing he invokes. Here, Paul brings before us a cloud of witnesses.

In respect to them the following facts are worth pointing out. These witnesses were numerous; there were at least five hundred of them. They were not a mere unknown mob: we know somewhat of several of them and know them as practical men. The most of them were still living when Paul wrote, and he could appeal to them to bear testimony to the Corinthians.

The result of all of which is that this notice in 1 Cor. is equivalent to their individual testimony. Paul is admitted to be a sober and trustworthy writer; this Epistle is admitted to be genuinely his; and he here in a contemporary document challenges an appeal to living eye-witnesses. He could not have made this confident appeal had not these men really professed, soberly and earnestly, to have seen the risen Christ. We have, then, not only Paul claiming to be an eye-witness of the Resurrection; but a large number of men, over two hundred and fifty of whom were known to be still living when he wrote. We have to account not for the claim of one man that he had seen Jesus alive after he- had died, but for the same claim put in by a multitude. Will any arguing that Paul sometimes saw visions serve our purpose here? And there is still another point which is worth remarking. The witnesses here appealed to are the original disciples and apostles of our Lord. From this, two facts follow: the one, the original disciples believed they had seen the risen Lord; and the other, they claimed to have seen him on the third day after his burial (1 Cor. xv. 4). This, according to Paul, is certain fact.

Then note once more, in the third place, that this testimony (as already pointed out) was not only absolutely convincing to the Apostle Paul, but it was so also to the whole body of Christians. Not only did Paul base the truth of all Christianity on the truth of this testimony, and found his conversion on it; but so did all Christians. He could count on all his readers being just as firmly persuaded of this fact as he was. To the Corinthians, Galatians, Romans-this is the dogma of Christianity. When Paul wishes to prove his apostleship to the Corinthians or Galatians he is not afraid to base it on the therefore admitted fact of the resurrection of Christ (1 Cor. ix. 1; Gal. i. 1): when he wishes to make our justification seem sure to the Romans, he appeals to Christ’s resurrection in its proof (Rom. iv. 24, 25). These are but specimens of his practice. Both purposed and incidental allusions are made to the Resurrection through all four of these Epistles of such character as to prove that it was felt by Paul that he could count on it above all other facts as the starting-point of Christianity in the minds of his readers. Whether he is writing to Corinthians, Galatians, or Romans, this is alike true. Now, consider the force of this. In some of these churches, it is to be remembered, there were dissensions, divisions, parties arrayed in bitter hostility against one another, parties with contumely denying the apostleship, or discarding the leadership of Paul. Yet all these parties believe in the resurrection of Christ: Paul can appeal to all alike to accept a doctrine based on that. It is to his bitterest opponents that he will prove his apostleship by claiming to have seen the risen Lord. It is plain, then, that the resurrection of Christ was in Paul’s day deemed a primordial, universal, and essential doctrine of Christianity.

Again, some of Paul’s readers were far removed from credulous simplicity. There was a party in the Corinthian Church, for instance, who, with all the instincts of modern philosophical criticism, claimed the right to try at the bar of reason the doctrines submitted to their acceptance. They could not accept such an absurdity as the resurrection of the bodies of those who slept in the Lord: “If the dead be raised, With what body do they come?” was but one of their argumentative queries. The same class of difficulties in regard to the resurrection of men, as would in modern times start up in the minds of scientific inquirers, was evidently before their minds. Yet they believed firmly in the resurrection of Christ. When Paul wishes to argue with them in regard to our resurrection, he bases his argument on the therefore common ground of the resurrection of Christ. It is plain, then, that unthinking credulity will not account for the universal acceptance of this doctrine: men able and more than willing to apply critical tests to evidence were firm believers in it.

And still again, one of these letters is addressed to a church with which Paul had no personal connection. It was not founded by him; it had never been visited by him; it had not before been addressed by him. There were those in it who were opposed to his dearest teachings: there were those in it who had been humble followers of Christ while he was still raging against his Church. Yet, they all believed as firmly as he did in the resurrection of Christ. He could prove his doctrines to them best by basing on this common faith. It is plain, then, that this doctrine was not of late growth in the Church; nor had its origin from Paul. It had always been the universal belief in the Church: men did not believe it because Paul preached it only, but they and Paul alike believed it from the convincing character of the evidence. When had a belief, thus universally accepted as a part of aboriginal Christianity in A.D. 58, had an opportunity to mythically grow into being? And, if it grew, what of the testimony of those over two hundred and fifty still living eye-witnesses to the fact?

Here we may fitly pause to gather up results. It seems indisputably evident from these four Epistles of Paul: First, That the resurrection of Christ was universally believed in the Christian Church when these Epistles were written: whatever party lines there were, however near they came, yet did they not cut through this dogma. Second, That the original followers of Christ, including his apostles, claimed to be eye-witnesses of the fact of his resurrection; and, therefore, from the beginning (third day) the whole Church had been convinced of its truth. Over two hundred and fifty of these eye-witnesses were living when Paul wrote. Third, That the Church believed universally that it owed its life, as it certainly owed its continued existence and growth, to its firm belief in this dogma. What has to be accounted for, then, is: 1. Not the belief of one man that he had seen the Lord, but of something over five hundred. 2. Not the conviction of a party, and that after some time, that the Lord had risen, but the universal and immediate belief of the whole Church. 3. The effect of this faith in absolutely changing the characters and filling with enthusiasm its first possessors. And 4. Their power in propagating their faith, in building up on this strange dogma a large and fast-growing communion, all devoted to it as the first and ground element of their faith.

There are only three theories which can be possibly stated to account for these facts. Either, the original disciples of Christ were deceivers and deliberately concocted the story of the Resurrection; or, they were woefully deluded; or the Resurrection was a fact.

I. The first of these theories, old as it is (Matt. xxviii. 11 ff.), is now admitted on all sides to be ridiculous. Strauss and Volkmar, for example, both scorn it as an impossible explanation. We may, therefore, pass it over in few words. The dead body of Christ lying in his grave ready to be produced by the Jews at any moment, of itself destroys this theory. For we must remember that the belief in the Resurrection dates from the third day. Or, if the body no longer lay in the grave, where was it? It must have been either removed by their enemies, in which case it would have been produced in disproof of the Resurrection; or stolen by the disciples themselves. We are shut up to these two hypotheses, for the only possible third one (that the body had never been buried but thrown upon the dunghill) is out of the question, eye-witnesses expressly witnessing, according to Paul, that it was buried ( 1 Cor. xv. 4 f.)..). No one will so stultify himself in this age as to seriously contend that the disciples stole the body. Not only is it certain that they could not possibly have summoned courage to make the attempt; but the very idea of Christianity owing its life to such an act is worse than absurd. Imagine, if one can, this band of disheartened disciples assembled and coolly plotting to conquer the world to themselves by proclaiming what must have been seen to be the absurd promise of everlasting life through One who had himself died-had died and had not risen again. Imagine them not expecting a resurrection nor dreaming of its possibility, determining to steal the body of their dead Lord, pretend that he had risen, and, then, to found on their falsehood a system of the most marvelous truth-on this act of rapine a system of the most perfect morals. Imagine the body stolen and brought into their midst-who can think they could be stirred up to noble endeavor by the sight? “Can a more appalling spectacle be imagined,” exclaims Dr. Nott, “than that of a dead Christ stolen from his sepulcher and surrounded by his hopeless, heaven-deserted followers? And was it here, think you, in this cadaverous chamber . . . in this haunt of sin, of falsehood, of misery, and of putrefaction, that the transcendent and immortal system of Christian faith and morals was adopted? Was this stolen, mangled, lifeless corpse the only rallying point of Christians? Was it the sight of this that . . . fortified,, and filled with the most daring courage, the most deathless hopes, the whole body of the disciples?” Well have our opponents declared this supposition absurd. Christ rose from the dead, or else his disciples were a body of woefully deluded men.

II. Then, will this second theory meet the case? Is the admitted fact that Christ’s earliest followers were all convinced that he rose from the dead, adequately explained by the supposition that they were the victims of a delusion? We must remember that the testimony of eye-witnesses declares that Christ rose on the third day; and that we have thus to account for immediate faith. But, then, there is the dead body of Jesus lying in the grave! How could the whole body of those men be so deceived in so momentous a matter with the means of testing its truth ready at their hand? Hence, it is commonly admitted that the grave was now empty. Strauss alone resorts to the sorry hypothesis that the appearances of the risen Christ were all in Galilee, and that before the forty days which intervened before the disciples returned to Jerusalem had passed, the site of the grave (or dunghill) had been wholly forgotten by friend and foe alike. But, there is that unimpeachable testimony of eye-witnesses that the appearances began on the third day; and the equally assured fact (Rom. vi. 4; 1 Cor. xv. 4), that the body was not thrown on a dunghill but that there was a veritable grave. So that the empty grave stares us still in the face. If Christ did not rise, how came the grave empty? Here is the crowning difficulty which all the ingenuity of the whole . modern critical school has not been able to lay aside. Was it emptied by Christ’s own followers? That would have been imposture, and the skeptics scorn such a resort: moreover, the hypothesis that the apostles were impostors has been laid aside already (in the preceding paragraph). Was it, then, emptied by his enemies? How soon would the body have been produced, then, to confront and confound the so rapidly growing heresy! Or, if this were not possible, how soon would overwhelming proof of the removal of the body have been brought forward! Then, how was that grave emptied? Shall we say that Jesus was not really dead, and reviving from the swoon, himself crept from the tomb? This was the hypothesis of Schleiermacher. But not only is it in direct contradiction with the eye- witness testimony (1 Cor. xv. 3; 2 Cor. v. 15; Rom. xiv. 9, et saepe), which is explicit that Christ died; but it has been felt by all the leaders of skeptical thought to be inadequate as an explanation. Strauss has himself executed justice on it. It not only casts a stigma on the moral character of our Lord; but it is itself laden with absurdity. “It would have been impossible thus to mistake a wounded man, dying from exhaustion, for the Messiah of Jewish expectations, or then to magnify this into a resurrection from the dead.” A dying man in hiding, the center of Christianity’s life! This fill with enthusiasm and death-defying courage the founders of the Church! Besides all which, the hypothesis makes the apostles either knaves or fools, neither of which, as the skeptics admit, is possible truth. Hence, they themselves unite with us in rejecting as wholly absurd this dream of Schleiermacher. Once more, then, how can we account for the empty grave? We hazard nothing in asserting that this one fact is destructive to all the theories of Christ’s resurrection which have been started in the nervous effort to be rid of its reality. That empty grave is alone enough to found all Christianity upon.

But, suppose for a moment, we assume the impossible, and allow to Strauss that the site of the grave was already lost. What then? The disciples were still convinced that Christ had risen. How shall we account for this invincible conviction? The only possible resort is to the worn-out vision- hypothesis. Renan draws a beautiful picture of Mary Magdalene in her love and grief fancying she saw her longed-for Lord; and a not so beautiful one of the abject and idiotic credulity of the disciples who believed her, and then, because they believed her, fancied they had seen him themselves. But will all this fine picturing of what might have been, stand the test of facts? That grave stares us in the face again: if the body was still in it, there was no place left for visions of it as living and out of it; if not in it, how came it out?

But laying aside this final argument as premised, even then the theory cannot stand. 1. There was no expectation of a resurrection, and hence no ground for visions. So far we can go here. Could we appeal to the Gospels we could go farther and show that the disciples had lost all heart and “so far was their imagination from creating the sensible presence of Jesus, that at the first they did not recognize him.” Renan gains all the facts on which he founds his theory from the Gospels: let him be refuted from the same records. How could Mary Magdalene’s own mind have created the vision of Jesus when she did not recognize him as Jesus when he appeared? 2. There was no time for belief in the Resurrection to mythically grow. That well-established third day meets us here. And within forty days the whole Christian community, over five hundred in number, not only firmly believed in the Resurrection, but believed, each man of them, that he had himself seen the Lord. We must account for this. 3. These five hundred are too many visionaries to create. Was all Palestine inhabited by Francises of Assisi? What might be plausibly urged of Paul or Mary loses all plausibility when urged of all their contemporaries. And thus, we cannot but conclude that all attempts to explain the belief of the early followers of Christ in his resurrection as a delusion, utterly fail. If it was not founded on fraud or delusion, then, was it not on fact? There seems no other alternative: eye-witnesses in abundance witness to the fact; if they were neither deceivers nor deceived, then Christ did rise from the dead.

We must not imagine, however, that this is all the proof we have of that great fact. We have been only very inadequately working one single vein. There is another very convincing course of argumentation which might be based on the results of the resurrection of Christ-in transforming those who believed in it-in founding a Church. And, then, there is that other form of argument already pointed out which consists in the not very difficult task of vindicating the authority of our Gospels and Acts, or of the account included in them. Taking all lines of proof together, it is by no means extravagant to assert that no fact in the history of the world is so well authenticated as the fact of Christ’s resurrection. And that established, all Christianity is established too. Its supernatural element is vindicated its supernatural origin evinced. Then, our faith is not in vain, and we are not still in our sins. Then, the world has been redeemed unto our God, and all flesh can see his salvation. Then, the All-Wise is the All-Loving, too, and has vindicated his love forever. Then, the supreme song of heaven may be fitly repeated on earth: “Worthy is the Lamb that hath been slain to receive the power, and riches, and wisdom, and might, and honor, and glory, and blessing.” Then, we can know that nothing can separate us from his love-that even death has failed in the attempt; and that it is thus given to mortals to utter in triumph the immortal cry, “Death is swallowed up in victory!”

Notes

1. Enquiry Concerning Human Understandings, sec. 10 (1894, p. 115f.)..). “No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the face which it endeavors to establish.”

2. Still a third method of procedure would be to waive all questions of the authenticity of the Gospels, and examine into the origin and trustworthiness of the triple or double tradition embodied in the three Synoptists or any two of them. Satisfactory results may be reached thus

3. Such individual extremists as Bruno Bauer, Pierson, and Loman need not be here taken into account.” (3)

 Resurrection Quotes:

 “Jesus’s resurrection is the beginning of God’s new project not to snatch people away from earth to heaven but to colonize earth with the life of heaven. That, after all, is what the Lord’s Prayer is about.” – N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church

 “If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead.” – Timothy Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism

 “Life [had] replaced logic.” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

 “He, the Life of all, our Lord and Saviour, did not arrange the manner of his own death lest He should seem to be afraid of some other kind. No. He accepted and bore upon the cross a death inflicted by others, and those other His special enemies, a death which to them was supremely terrible and by no means to be faced; and He did this in order that, by destroying even this death, He might Himself be believed to be the Life, and the power of death be recognised as finally annulled. A marvellous and mighty paradox has thus occurred, for the death which they thought to inflict on Him as dishonour and disgrace has become the glorious monument to death’s defeat.” – St. Athanasius, On the Incarnation

 “I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me. How? Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it. Everyone was beaten, tortured, stoned and put in prison. They would not have endured that if it weren’t true. Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world-and they couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks. You’re telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years? Absolutely impossible.” – Charles Colson

 “The victory was sealed at an empty tomb. Therefore, we must remember that the remaining battles are victory concluding, not victory in question.” – Craig D. Lounsbrough

 “And he departed from our sight and we might return to our heart, and there find Him. For He departed, and behold, He is here.” – St Augustine

 “The Resurrection, and its consequences, were the ‘gospel’ or good news which the Christians brought: what we call the ‘gospels’, the narratives of Our Lord’s life and death, were composed later for the benefit of those who had already accepted the gospel. They were in no sense the basis of Christianity: they were written for those already converted. The miracle of the Resurrection, and the theology of that miracle, comes first: the biography comes later as a comment on it. Nothing could be more unhistorical than to pick out selected sayings of Christ from the gospels and to regard those as the datum and the rest of the New Testament as a construction upon it. The first fact in the history of Christendom is a number of people who say they have seen the Resurrection. If they had died without making anyone else believe this ‘gospel’ no gospels would ever have been written.” – C.S. Lewis

 “After death something new begins, over which all powers of the world of death have no more might.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 “The cross of Christ only triumphs in the breast of believers over the devil and the flesh, sin and sinners, when their eyes are directed to the power of His Resurrection.” – John Calvin

 “Christ the Lord is risen today; sons of men and angels say. Raise your joys and triumphs high; sing, ye heavens and Earth reply.” – Charles Wesley

 “What happened on that day (of Easter) became, was and remained the centre around which everything else moves. For everything lasts its time, but the love of God – which was at work and was expressed in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead – lasts forever. Because this event took place, there is no reason to despair, and even when we read the newspaper with all its confusing and frightening news, there is every reason to hope.” – Karl Barth

 “Belief in the resurrection is not an appendage to the Christian faith. It is the Christian faith.” – George Carey

 “Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded his empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for him.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

 In closing:

 He is Risen, and God’s people say, He is Risen Indeed!

 “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

 “To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29)

 Notes:  1.      Matthew Henry, Concise Commentary, Matthew, (Nashville, Tennessee, Thomas Nelson), p. 1549.

2.      C. H. Spurgeon, Death and Resurrection of Christ: a sermon, The Biblical Illustrator, Electronic Database.

3.      B. B. Warfield, The Resurrection of Christ: A Historical Fact, published in The Journal of Christian Philosophy, vol. III., 1884, pp. 305-318.

 Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: www.TheReligionThatStartedInAHat.com

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Test the Spirits

Test the Spirits                                                                                             by Jack Kettler                                     

Scripture commands believers to be on guard against those who pervert the faith. These warnings will be the focus of this study.

Why is this important? We learn the fountainhead of these warnings when God spoke to Moses:

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3)

The matter is of such importance that the Apostle John leaves the church with this warning:

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try (test – δοκιμάζω) the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” (1John 4:1)

Some translations use the word “try.” “Test” is a better translation of the Greek word δοκιμάζω. An excursion into the Thayer’s Greek Lexicon will be helpful.

From Thayer’s Greek Lexicon on δοκιμάζω:

“STRONGS NT 1381: δοκιμάζω

δοκιμάζω; (future δοκιμάσω); 1 aorist ἐδοκίμασά; passive, (present δοκιμάζομαι); perfect δεδοκίμασμαι; (δόκιμος); the Sept. chiefly for בָּחַן; as in Greek writings from (Herodotus, Thucydides), Xenophon, and Plato onward, to try;

1. to test, examine, prove, scrutinize (to see whether a thing be genuine or not), as metals: χρυσίον διά πυρός (Isocrates, p. 240 d. (i. e. Panathen. § 14); ad Demon., p. 7 b. (here Bekker βασανίζομεν); the Sept., Proverbs 8:10; Sir. 2:5; Wis. 3:6; ἄργυρον, Proverbs 17:3 (cf. Zechariah 13:9)), 1 Peter 1:7; other things: Luke 12:56; Luke 14:19; 2 Corinthians 8:8; Galatians 6:4; 1 Thessalonians 2:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; τά διαφέροντα, Romans 2:18; Philippians 1:10 (others refer these passages to 2; see διαφέρω, 2 b.); men, 1 Timothy 3:10 (in the passive); ἑαυτόν, 1 Corinthians 11:28; 2 Corinthians 13:5 (cf. ἐξετάζειν ἑαυτόν, Xenophon, mem. 2, 5, 1 and 4); Θεόν, Hebrews 3:9 (R G, from Psalm 94:9 (); on the sense of the phrase see πειράζω, 2 d. β.); τά πνεύματα, followed by εἰ whether etc. 1 John 4:1; followed by indirect discourse, Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 3:13; Ephesians 5:10.

2. to recognize as genuine after examination, to approve, deem worthy: 1 Corinthians 16:3; τινα σπουδαῖον ὄντα, 2 Corinthians 8:22; ἐν ᾧ δοκιμάζει for ἐν τούτῳ, ὁ δοκιμάζει in that which he approves, deems right, Romans 14:22; δεδοκιμάσμεθα ὑπό τοῦ Θεοῦ πιστευθῆναι τό εὐαγγέλιον we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the business of pointing out to men the way of salvation, 1 Thessalonians 2:4; our οὐκ ἐδοκίμασαν τόν Θεόν ἔχειν ἐν ἐπιγνώσει they did not think God worthy to be kept in knowledge, Romans 1:28. (On δοκιμάζω (as compared with πειράζω) see Trench, § lxxiv.; Cremer, under the word πειράζω. Compare: ἀποδοκιμάζω.)” (1)

Nineteenth-Century commentator, Charles Ellicott, is superb in his handling of the passage from 1John 4:1.

From Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers on 1John 4:1:

“IV.

 NOT ALL SPIRITS ARE THE RESULT OF THE SONSHIP: NECESSITY OF EXAMINING THEM (1John 4:1-6).

(a)The difference among spirits (1John 4:1).

(b)The measure (1John 4:2-3).

(c)The encouragement (1John 4:4).

(d)The condemnation (1John 4:5).

(e)Inference and conclusion (1John 4:6).

The mention of faith in 1John 3:23 had reminded St. John of the danger of intellectual, as well as of moral error. The mention of God’s Spirit at the conclusion of the last paragraph gave him a form in which to clothe the discussion of truth and falsehood in its human manifestations. By “spirits” he means those tendencies towards good and evil (here especially with regard to thought and opinion) which may be considered as coming from the supreme power of God, on the one hand, and from the inferior power of the devil, on the other. Into the question what these influences are, whether, like the Holy Spirit, they are personal or not, he does not enter. Where one quality, or opinion, shows itself in different individuals, he identifies it and calls it a spirit. Religious fervour might take a form quite antagonistic to the real will and law of God. For Christians there was but one standard by which to measure all claims on their religious allegiance: confession that the man Christ Jesus was the Word. All that demurred to that plain fact, and the loyalty implied by it, belonged to the spirit of antichrist. His hearers, however, if he understood them rightly, need not fear. By virtue of their adherence to the truth, God was in them. In Him they had conquered the spirits of the world, and had but to claim their victory. The false teachers might be known, and must be condemned by the savour of the world that was in their method and their message, and by their popularity with what was opposed to God. The Apostles and those who taught with them could confidently before God put forward the grand claim that theirs was the spirit that came from Him, because they had held undeviatingly to the truth as manifested in Jesus.

(6 a.) (1) Beloved. — Whenever St. John uses this word, he has a strong and earnest exhortation in hand. (Comp. 1John 3:2-21; 1John 4:7.)

Try the spirits.—Comp. 1Corinthians 10:15; 1Corinthians 11:13; 1Corinthians 12:10; Ephesians 5:10; 1Thessalonians 5:21. It is most important to notice that this examination of truth and error is inculcated on all alike, not merely on an ordained and materially separate class.

Prophets, in the New Testament, preach rather than predict. (Comp. 1Corinthians 14:1-4; 1Corinthians 14:24; Ephesians 4:11.)

Are gone out into the world, either “from us,” or else “have appeared in order to give their message.” (Comp. John 6:14; John 16:28; John 18:37.)

(6 b.) Comp. 1Corinthians 12:3. The real humanity of the Saviour is the truth here specially emphasised.

(2) Jesus Christ is taken to imply all His history. (Comp. 1John 3:23, and 1John 4:6.)

Come is used of Christ in St. John’s language for His mission and manifestation. (Comp. John 5:43; John 6:14; John 7:28-29; John 8:42; John 16:28; John 18:37.)

(3) Every spirit that confesseth not.—There is a curious old reading mentioned by Socrates, the historian, viz., “every spirit that destroyeth” (or, dissolveth) “Jesus Christ.” It is, however, evidently a gloss, written against the Gnostics, which crept into the text. It is clear that this verse presupposes an evangelistic presentation of Christ before refusal to confess His historical person could be made. (Comp. 1John 2:18.)

(6 c.) This consolation is in the same manner as that in 1John 2:12, and is introduced by the same endearing phrase. He is sure they have held to the truth, and have the Sonship. (Comp. 1John 3:1-2; 1John 3:13-14.) God is in them, and therefore the victory is already theirs. Although they may still have to struggle, they have only to claim Christ’s strength, and they have won. In making their choice between light and darkness, love and hate, good and evil, God and the devil, they became of the victorious party.

(4) Them—i.e., the antichrists, the false prophets, the spirits that are not of God. (Comp. 1John 2:13-14.)

He that is in the world—i.e., “the prince of this world,” the devil.

(6 d.) As usual, a contrast. The reason of their success is at once, their distinguishing mark and their condemnation. (Comp. John 8:37; John 8:43; John 8:47; John 18:37.)

(5) Hearing them. — This implies listening with attention and pleasure.

(6 e.) (6) We are of God. — The first side of the antithesis repeated, after St. John’s manner, with a difference, we being substituted for ye, and meaning “the Apostles and those who taught with them.” St. John feels the grave duty, in condemnation of Cerinthus and other opponents, to assert the genuine truth and divine authority of the apostolic gospel. There could be no spiritual pride in this; it was a conscientious obligation. God spoke in them, and their loyalty for bade alike disclaimer and accommodation. (Comp. John 18:37.) When heretics said, “Christ ought to have said this or that,” the Apostles had only to reply, “But He did not say it.”

Hereby know we. — The criterion here is much the same as in 1John 4:2-3, but regarded from a different point of view: attention to false innovators, or faithful adherence to the Jesus Christ of history.” (2)

In essence, a decision must be made as to what spirit is influencing a prophet, apostle or teacher. Is it the Holy Spirit, or a lying spirit?

The next two entries from the book of Deuteronomy provide valuable insight on how this verdict is accomplished: 

“If a prophet or dreamer of dreams arises among you and proclaims a sign or wonder to you, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deuteronomy 13:1-3)

Deuteronomy 13 reflects to the First Commandment in Exodus 20:3.

“But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.” (Deuteronomy 18:20-22)

Deuteronomy 18 introduces the test of accuracy in predictive prophecy.

“Then the LORD said unto me, the prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart.” (Jeremiah 14:14)

Jeremiah’s test is one of truth-telling. The false prophet lies in God’s name as the serpent did to Eve in Genesis 3:4. 

“Beware of false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.” (Matthew 7:15)

Matthew’s warning is not to be deceived by the outward appearance of the false prophets.

For example:

“And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” (2Corinthians 11:14)

In addition, Paul warns the elders in Ephesus that:

“I know that after my departure, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.” (Acts 20:29)

The apostle Paul agrees with the warning that we see from the apostle John in 1John and exhorts the church in Thessalonica to:

“Test all things; hold fast what is good.” (1Thessalonians 5:21)

How is this testing done? The “test” can be called the Berean test.

“These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” (Acts 17:11)

The Scriptures were the standard. A departure from the Scriptures was a departure from the truth.

The danger of being deceived is a burden Paul had in his love for the church. He cites an example of what happened in the churches in Galatia:

“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.” (Galatians 1:6-7)

Paul warns the Corinthian Church:

“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.” (2Corinthians 11:13)

In Corinthians, Paul introduces a new category, which is one of “deceitful workers;” or persons whose work is to cheat and mislead, even claiming apostleship.  

The apostle Peter adds false teachers to list of deceivers:

“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.” (2Peter 2:1)

John says this to the church at Ephesus:

“I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars.” (Revelation 2:2)

The apostle John adds false apostles to the list of deceivers.

In closing:

“Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God. And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” (1John 4:2-3)

Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible on 1John 4:2, 3 will be an appropriate close to this study:

“Hereby know ye the Spirit of God … This is a rule by which believers may know whether a man professing to have the Spirit of God, and to be called and sent by him and whether the, doctrine he preaches, is of him or not:

every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh,

is of God; or of the Spirit of God; that is, every doctrine which carries this truth in it; or every man that owns, and professes, and publishes this doctrine concerning Christ, is on the side of God and truth; and which contains several articles in it, respecting the person and office of Christ; as that he existed before he came in the flesh, not in the human nature, or as man, or as an angel, but as the Son of God, as a divine person, being truly and properly God; so that this confession takes in his divine sonship, and proper deity, and also his true and real humanity; that the Messiah was incarnate, against the Jews, and was God and man in one person; and that he was really man, and not in appearance only, against the heretics of those times: and it also includes his offices, as that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ, the Messiah, which the Jews denied, and that he was the anointed prophet, priest, and King; and so is a confession or acknowledgment of all the doctrines of the Gospel, which came by him, as a prophet; and of his satisfaction, sacrifice, and intercession, as a priest; and of all his ordinances and commands as a King; and that he is the only Saviour and Redeemer of men. Now, whoever owns and declares this system of truth, “is of God”; not that everyone that assents unto this, or preaches it, is born of God; a man may believe, and confess all this, as the devils themselves do, and yet be destitute of the grace of God; but the spirit, or doctrine, which contains these things in it, is certainly of God, or comes from him; or whoever brings these truths with him, and preaches them, he is, so far as he does so, on the side of God and truth, and to be regarded.

And every spirit that confesseth not, … The proper deity and sonship of Christ, his true and real humanity, and his Messiahship; or any of his offices, doctrines, and ordinances; or his satisfaction and righteousness; or that peace, pardon, justification, life, and salvation, are by him; all which are meant by what follows,

that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh: this clause is left out in the Ethiopic version, and that without hurting the sense, since it is easily supplied from the preceding verse; and the Alexandrian copy, and the Vulgate Latin version, only read “Jesus”: and the latter reads the whole thus, “and every spirit that dissolves Jesus”; that separates the two natures, human and divine, in him, and makes two persons of them; or denies either of them, either that he is truly God, or really man, or denies him to be Jesus, the Saviour; who, as much as in him lies, destroys his person, office, and work, and makes void his obedience, sufferings, and death:

is not of God; neither he nor his doctrine are of God; his doctrine cannot come from God, being contrary to the word of God; and he himself is neither born of God, nor on his side.

And this is that spirit of antichrist: who is against Christ, or opposes himself to him; as he who denies his sonship, his deity, his humanity, his offices, and his grace, manifestly does; every doctrine that is calculated against these truths is the spirit and doctrine of antichrist:

whereof you have heard that it should come, and even now already is it the world; in the false teachers, the forerunners of antichrist; See Gill on 1 John 2:18.” (3)

“To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29)

Notes:
1.       J. H. Thayer, The New Thayer’s Greek English Lexicon, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers), p. 154.

2.       Charles John Ellicott, Bible Commentary for English Readers, 1John, Vol.8, (London, England, Cassell and Company), p. 487.

3.       John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, 1John, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), 2011, p. 78-79. Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: www.TheReligionThatStartedInAHat.com

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Inmillennialism: Redefining the Last Days  

Inmillennialism: Redefining the Last Days                                 A Review by Jack Kettler

Inmillennialism: Redefining the Last Days

By Michael A. Rogers

McGahan Publishing House (2020)

Michael A. Rogers Bio:

Rogers holds a BS in electrical engineering from Auburn University and an MS in Telecommunications and Information Systems Management from Christian Brothers University in Memphis, TN. He worked as an Alabama Power Company engineer and as a Systems Development Manager for Memphis Light, Gas, and Water. He was ordained to the gospel ministry in 1990 by Grace Chapel Primitive Baptist Church in Memphis. He has served as pastor of Caraway (AR) Primitive Baptist Church and Grace Covenant, a Primitive Baptist Church in Gadsden, AL. He and his wife Betty live in Opelika, AL, and are Hopewell Primitive Baptist Church members. His book, “Inmillennialism: Redefining the Last Days,” is a finalist for the Southern Christian Writers Conference 2021 Notable Book Award.

What others are saying:

“This book must take an important place in the literature concerning the kingdom of God, the manner of Christ’s coming at the ‘end of the age,’ and the nature of the blessed hope.” – Tom J. Nettles, Ph.D. Former Professor, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“Inmillennialism is superior to the existing prophetic systems because it rests on simple contextual analyses and is more complete.” – Doug Albertson. Executive Director, African Canadian Continuing Education Society

“I came away from reading Inmillennialism with a fresh sense of God’s providence, the power of God’s grace in the Person and work of Jesus Christ, and a deeper understanding that this world is headed toward that time when the Prince of Peace reigns in the hearts of all men and rules over all the nations.” – Wade Burleson. Pastor, Historian, Author

A Review:

Rogers uses an introductory analogy between Copernicus and Ptolemy’s view of the solar system to illustrate his Inmillennialism model in contrast with other eschatological prophetic models, and it will be a helpful distinction for many.

There are many important subjects in the book. One example is, explaining the Greek use of Parousia (presence) and Erchomai (coming) and clears up confusion on the uses of these two words.

Rogers does a remarkable job explaining what is known as “cosmic collapse imagery” in explaining how Jesus answered his disciples’ questions about the end of the world, making it understandable how the apocalyptic imagery is used.

Rogers shows how the idea of eschatological gradualism is essential for understanding the present reign of Christ in 1 Corinthians 15:25.

In addition, Rogers convincingly places the accounts of the ten virgins and the separation of the sheep and the goats at the end of the Mosaic age in the 1st Century instead of at the end of time at the Second Coming of Christ. Thus, eliminating the need to separate Matthew’s account into a 1st Century account ending at Matthew 24:34 and then transitioning in Matthew 24:35, leading to the Second Coming account with a new division starting at Matthew 24:36.

In this reviewer’s opinion, the most important part of the book is Rogers’ correction of the errors made by James Stuart Russell in the book on the Parousia. Rogers corrects Russell’s errors yet keeps his basic interpretive model intact. Roger’s work will no doubt be invaluable and prevent many from slipping into a hyper or a full preterism model.   

There are many helpful eschatological charts throughout the book. Maybe Rogers already has. In case not, Rogers should develop a PowerPoint of these eschatological charts. Their illustrative and explanatory power was significant.  

After forty years of studying eschatology, Roger’s book is eye-opening and breaks fresh ground. If the reader of this review is a student of eschatology, this book should be purchased.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

“To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29)Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: www.TheReligionThatStartedInAHat.com

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A Look Communion, a brief overview

A Look Communion, a brief overview                                                             by Jack Kettler                                     

What is Communion? In this primer, consider the significant differences on the topic of communion. As a disclosure, this writer is coming from the Reformed/Presbyterian perspective.

Communion:

In brief, communion takes place in Christian worship, where the bread and wine are consecrated and distributed to the congregants.

Five Differing views:

Undoubtedly, many will disagree with the five groupings and the brief definitions for each group listed. The definitions are from online public sources. For a more detailed definition, the reader should consult the actual Churches themselves for this.

The Roman Catholic View:

“Transubstantiation is, according to the teaching of the Catholic Church, the change of the whole substance of bread into the substance of the Body of Christ and of the whole substance of wine into the substance of his Blood.” – Wikipedia

The Eastern Orthodox View:

“Eucharist (from the Greek εὐχαριστία, or eucharistia, meaning thanksgiving or giving thanks) is a holy mystery (or sacrament) that is celebrated during the Divine Liturgy within the Orthodox Church where the consecrated bread and wine, through the power of the Holy Spirit becomes the Precious Blood and Body of Jesus Christ, that is consumed by prepared Orthodox Christians. Other names for the Eucharist include: the Holy Gifts, Communion, and the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ Orthodox Christians believe that the Real Presence of God (not merely a sign) is present after the consecration of the Gifts.” – OrthodoxWiki

The Lutheran View:

“Lutherans believe that the Body and Blood of Christ are truly and substantially present in, with and under the forms of consecrated bread and wine. The Lutheran doctrine of the Real Presence is also known as the sacramental union. Lutherans use the term ‘in, with, and under the forms of consecrated bread and wine’ and ‘sacramental union.’” – Wikipedia

The Zwinglian Memorial View:

“The Zwinglian view is called the ‘memorial’ view. And as I said, Christ is not present in the elements either literally or spiritually. In the Zwinglian view, the Lord’s Supper communion is a commemoration of the death of Christ. The partaker is simply reminded of the benefits of redemption and salvation brought about in Christ’s death.” – Quora

The Reformed View:

“In Reformed theology, the Lord’s Supper or Eucharist is a sacrament that spiritually nourishes Christians and strengthens their union with Christ. The outward or physical action of the sacrament is eating bread and drinking wine. Reformed confessions, which are official statements of the beliefs of Reformed churches, teach that Christ’s body and blood are really present in the sacrament, but that this presence is communicated in a spiritual manner rather than by his body being physically eaten. The Reformed doctrine of real presence is sometimes called mystical real presence or spiritual real presence.” – Wikipedia

Summary of the five views on communion:

·         Transubstantiation – Roman Catholic (formulated by Thomas Aquinas)

·         Real Presence, celebrated during the Divine Liturgy – Orthodox (some church fathers)

·         Real or Sacramental union – Lutheran Churches (Martin Luther)

·         Real Spiritual Presence – Reformed and Presbyterian Churches (John Calvin)

·         Memorial – Baptist, and Mennonite Churches (Ulrich Zwingli)

The view of John Calvin in more detail:

“The rule which the pious ought always to observe is, whenever they see the symbols instituted by the Lord, to think and feel surely persuaded that the truth of the thing signified is also present. For why does the Lord put the symbol of his body into your hands, but just to assure you that you truly partake of him? If this is true let us feel as much assured that the visible sign is given us in seal of an invisible gift as that his body itself is given to us.” – Institutes

What does the Scripture say? Some of the key texts appealed too in the context of the debate on the body and blood of Christ in communion. 

“Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’” (Matthew 26:26 ESV)

“And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, ‘Take; this is my body.’” (Mark 14:22 ESV)

“And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’” (Luke 22:19 ESV)

“The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” (1Corinthians 10:16 ESV)

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (1Corinthians 11:23-25 ESV)

Literal or metaphorical? Two problems for the literal or real presence view.

First: Does Christ’s body take on elements of omnipresence, or is His human nature absorbed into the divine nature with the real corporal presence view? If Christ’s body appears all over the world during communion services, surely this would confirm the suspicion of the confusion of Christ’s two natures. In the early church, a heresy promoted an incorrect understanding of Christ’s humanity. It was the heresy of Docetism, which comes from the Greek verb δοκεῖν dokein, “to appear,” or “to seem.” According to Docetism, Jesus only seemed or appeared to have a human body.

The above objection regarding omnipresence and Christ’s human nature becoming divine is similar to the prayers offered to human saints who are in heaven. Do the resurrected saints take on attributes of God, namely, omnipresence? Without becoming omnipresent, how could they hear many prayers from different times and places? Christ, in His two natures, which includes His body, is now “seated at the right hand of God.” See Ephesians 1:20.

Faithful to the Scriptures, the Council of Chalcedon 451A.D. in its creedal statement, in essence, says, Jesus Christ is at the same time fully God and fully man. The real corporal presence view undercuts and confuses the two natures of Christ when communion is practiced. Therefore, it is incorrect.

Another question raised, do we take the passages literally that say, “this is my body,” when Luke seems to add a qualification saying, “Do this in remembrance of me” Luke 22:19. Doing this in remembrance mitigates against a literal view by an appeal to the memorial aspect of communion. Therefore, the “is” must figurative and spiritual. It is no different from when Jesus said, “I am the vine,” (John 15:2) or “I am the door” (John 10:7).   

Second: Is this cannibalism?

In Matthew 26:26 Jesus was with the disciples at the “last supper” in which He said, “Take, eat; this is my body.”

Is there another portion of Scripture that will shed light on the literalness of the passage?

While not talking about the Lord’s Supper, Jesus, in John’s gospel, provides an interpretive key and explains what eating His flesh and drinking His blood meant and an error in reasoning among some disciples.

On the surface to some, Jesus’ saying was scandalous. His teaching seemed to imply cannibalism.

From Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, we learn more about this:

“The Jews therefore strove among themselves … Fell to cavilling and disputing one among another; some understanding Christ, and others not; some being for him, and vindicated what he said; and others being against him, and who were the majority, objected, saying how can this man give us his flesh to eat? Which is to be understood, not physically, but as morally impossible and unlawful; since, with the Jews, it was not lawful to eat the flesh of any creature alive, and much less the flesh of man; for the Jews understood Christ of a corporeal eating of his flesh, being strangers to a figurative or spiritual eating of it by faith, in which sense he meant it.” (1)

John records the words of Christ:

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh. The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, how can this man give us his flesh to eat? So Jesus said to them, truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:51-54 ESV)

Some of the disciples took the word of Christ literally, as seen from the next passage:

“When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” (John 6:60 ESV)

At the time of Christ’s teaching, some disciples forsook Him because of their incorrect literal understanding.

Jesus defuses this false idea about literally eating His flesh and blood when He said:
“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” (John 6:63 ESV)

In John 6:63, Jesus qualified His seemingly controversial saying by appealing to the spiritual nature of His Words. What is more, if the text on the Lord’s Supper is literal, why was there no protest from the faithful disciples? The words “Take, eat; this is my body” and “…unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” must be spiritual.

From Barnes Notes on the Bible, this is borne out:

“The flesh – Your carnal views and desires, and the literal understanding of my doctrine. By this Jesus shows them that he did not intend that his words should be taken literally…

They are spirit – They are spiritual. They are not to be understood literally, as if you were really to eat my flesh, but they are to be understood as denoting the need of that provision for the soul, which God has made, by my coming into the world.” (2)

The Apostle John’s words must undoubtedly influence how we understand the other gospels and a proper understanding of “Take; this is my body.” To ignore John is to ignore the broader context of Scripture. A literal interpretation of the Lord’s Supper is the result of over compartmentalizing the text.

The Roman Catholic view and cannibalism:

Roman Catholics who take a literal interpretation of the passage have had to explain why the Eucharist is not cannibalism. This question is fair and is raised by many non-believers. So much so that the question has been addressed. For one example, see The Eucharist & Cannibalism by Michael Foley

In most cultures, there are long-standing taboos against cannibalism. Therefore, the passage is not literal, but one of Jesus using a figurative metaphor to elucidate the spiritual nature of His body and blood in communion.

Biblical examples that imply cannibalism and by deduction condemn it: 

In the following passages Leviticus 26:29; Deuteronomy 28:53-57; Jeremiah 19:9; Lamentations 2:20; Ezekiel 5:10, the horrors of God’s judgment is seen. The result at times of God’s judgment is witnessed in the eating of human flesh of Israelite children when, for example, a city was under siege.

For example, consider Jeremiah’s rhetorical question: 

“Look, O Lord, and see! With whom have, you dealt thus? Should women eat the fruit of their womb, the children of their tender care…?” (Lamentations 2:20 ESV)

In addition, from a rabbinic commentary on cannibalism:

“With regard to humans: Although [Genesis 2:7] states: “And the man became a beast with a soul,” he is not included in the category of hoofed animals. Therefore, he is not included in the [above] prohibition. Accordingly, one who partakes of meat or fat from a man – whether alive or deceased – is not liable for lashes. It is, however, forbidden [to partake of human meat] because of the positive commandment [mentioned above]. For the Torah [Leviticus 11:2] lists the seven species of kosher wild beasts and says: “These are the beasts of which you may partake.” Implied is that any other than they may not be eaten. And a negative commandment that comes as a result of a positive commandment is considered as a positive commandment.” – Rabbi Eliyahu Touger’s translation of part of Ma’achalot AssurotChapter 2

Old Testament Roots of communion:

The “cup of blessing,” in which thanks are offered during the Passover remembrance in the Seder. The Seder is where each adult diner drinks four cups of wine, representing aspects of the redemption of the Israelites from slavery under the Egyptians by the blood of the Passover lamb.

In Christian communion, the red wine symbolizes the blood of Christ, who was the Passover lamb, and who redeems us from the slavery of sin.

If the comparison of Passover and Communion is all that is said scripturally, then this would lend support for a purely memorial understanding of the Lord’s Supper. While not devoting time to raising questions about the purely memorial view, let it be noted that because of Christ’s divine nature, Christ must be spiritually present in communion because of His omnipresence.   

In closing, selections from the Westminster Standards: 

Westminster Larger Catechism: Questions 168-170:
Q. 168. What is the Lord’s Supper?

A. The Lord’s supper is a sacrament of the New Testament, wherein, by giving and receiving bread and wine according to the appointment of Jesus Christ, his death is showed forth; and they that worthily communicate feed upon his body and blood, to their spiritual nourishment and growth in grace; have their union and communion with him confirmed; testify and renew their thankfulness, and engagement to God, and their mutual love and fellowship each with other, as members of the same mystical body.

Q. 169. How hath Christ appointed bread and wine to be given and received in the sacrament of the Lord’s supper?

A. Christ hath appointed the ministers of his word, in the administration of this sacrament of the Lord’s supper, to set apart the bread and wine from common use, by the word of institution, thanksgiving, and prayer; to take and break the bread, and to give both the bread and the wine to the communicants: who are, by the same appointment, to take and eat the bread, and to drink the wine, in thankful remembrance that the body of Christ was broken and given, and his blood shed, for them.

Q. 170. How do they that worthily communicate in the Lord’s supper feed upon the body and blood of Christ therein?

A. As the body and blood of Christ are not corporally or carnally present in, with, or under the bread and wine in the Lord’s supper, and yet are spiritually present to the faith of the receiver, no less truly and really than the elements themselves are to their outward senses; so they that worthily communicate in the sacrament of the Lord’s supper, do therein feed upon the body and blood of Christ, not after a corporal and carnal, but in a spiritual manner; yet truly and really, while by faith they receive and apply unto themselves Christ crucified, and all the benefits of his death.

 Westminster Confession Chapter XXIX Of the Lord’s Supper: I. Our Lord Jesus, in the night wherein He was betrayed, instituted the sacrament of His body and blood, called the Lord’s Supper, to be observed in His Church, unto the end of the world, for the perpetual remembrance of the sacrifice of Himself in His death; the sealing all benefits thereof unto true believers, their spiritual nourishment and growth in Him, their further engagement in and to all duties which they owe unto Him; and, to be a bond and pledge of their communion with Him, and with each other, as members of His mystical body.

II. In this sacrament, Christ is not offered up to His Father; nor any real sacrifice made at all, for remission of sins of the quick or dead; but only a commemoration of that one offering up of Himself, by Himself, upon the cross, once for all: and a spiritual oblation of all possible praise unto God, for the same: so that the popish sacrifice of the mass (as they call it) is most abominably injurious to Christ’s one, only sacrifice, the alone propitiation for all the sins of His elect.

III. The Lord Jesus has, in this ordinance, appointed His ministers to declare His word of institution to the people, to pray, and bless the elements of bread and wine, and thereby to set them apart from a common to an holy use; and to take and break the bread, to take the cup, and (they communicating also themselves) to give both to the communicants; but to none who are not then present in the congregation.

IV. Private masses, or receiving this sacrament by a priest, or any other alone; as likewise, the denial of the cup to the people, worshipping the elements, the lifting them up, or carrying them about, for adoration, and the reserving them for any pretended religious use; are all contrary to the nature of this sacrament, and to the institution of Christ.

V. The outward elements in this sacrament, duly set apart to the uses ordained by Christ, have such relation to Him crucified, as that, truly, yet sacramentally only, they are sometimes called by the name of the things they represent, to wit, the body and blood of Christ; albeit, in substance and nature, they still remain truly and only bread and wine, as they were before.

VI. That doctrine which maintains a change of the substance of bread and wine, into the substance of Christ’s body and blood (commonly called transubstantiation) by consecration of a priest, or by any other way, is repugnant, not to Scripture alone, but even to common sense, and reason; overthrows the nature of the sacrament, and has been, and is, the cause of manifold superstitions; yes, of gross idolatries.

VII. Worthy receivers, outwardly partaking of the visible elements, in this sacrament, do then also, inwardly by faith, really and indeed, yet not carnally and corporally but spiritually, receive and feed upon, Christ crucified, and all benefits of His death: the body and blood of Christ being then, not corporally or carnally, in, with, or under the bread and wine; yet, as really, but spiritually, present to the faith of believers in that ordinance, as the elements themselves are to their outward senses.

VIII. Although ignorant and wicked men receive the outward elements in this sacrament; yet, they receive not the thing signified thereby; but, by their unworthy coming thereunto, are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, to their own damnation. Wherefore, all ignorant and ungodly persons, as they are unfit to enjoy communion with Him, so are they unworthy of the Lord’s table; and cannot, without great sin against Christ, while they remain such, partake of these holy mysteries, or be admitted thereunto.

 “To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29)

 Notes:

 1.       John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, John, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), 2011, p. 226.

2.      Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, John, Vol. 1 p.1153.

 Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: www.TheReligionThatStartedInAHat.com

For more research:

Short Treatise on the Lord’s Supper by John Calvin:

https://www.the-highway.com/supper1_Calvin.html

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Does Romans 13 on submission contradict other portions of Scripture?

Does Romans 13 on submission contradict other portions of Scripture?      By Jack Kettler

“For rulers are not a terror to good works, but the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he, beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.” (Romans 13:1, 3-4)

The purpose of this study is to provoke thought and debate. Many questions will be asked to accomplish this:

Is the state ruler always the minister of God for good? Also, does the ruler continually execute wrath upon him that does evil?

Some governments like China forcibly make women kill their unborn children through abortions. Other governments, like in America, teach damnable lies to young children about sex, genders, and practices.

Is it a contradiction to say that a government is doing good and opposing evil when it is practicing evil and persecuting good?

What does Isaiah say about this?

“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20)

If Christians willingly submit to wicked lies, is not this a violation of Isaiah’s teaching? The astute reader should see the problem between Isaiah 5:20 and Paul’s understanding in Romans 13:1-4.      

For example, consider a modern-day contemporary understanding of Romans 13:

According to Rev. John E. Warmuth, a Lutheran pastor from Wisconsin, in his online sermon, Romans 13:1-10 OUR ULTIMATE OBEDIENCE IS TO GOD:

“One of the oddities I find in all of this, concerns Adolf Hitler.  He was certainly not a God-fearing man. Yet he had a favorite section of the Bible which happens to be our text, Romans 13:1-10.  It may have been the only part of the Bible he liked.  I think we can understand why, too.  At first these verses appear to give validity to his totalitarian type of governing.  Hitler read those words to mean the people of Germany owed him ultimate allegiance and obedience no matter what, and whatever peoples he conquered would owe him that, too. 

What Hitler did not see in these words, however, is that they point out OUR ULTIMATE OBEDIENCEIS TO GOD.  While it includes submission to governing authorities as well as love for our fellow man, the emphasis in these verses is that OUR ULTIMATE OBEDIENCE IS TO GOD. Notice the repeated phrases “authority. . . God has established,” “authorities. . . have been established by God,” “rebelling against what God has instituted,” and “he is God’s servant,” all of which point to God as the ultimate authority.  All earthly authorities come from God the ruler of all.  And the ultimate Authority says we owe obedience to the earthly authorities he allows to have authority here.  Why?

First, it is simply because God says so.  That should be reason enough.  We want what God wants so we submit to them.  Christians in the Roman Empire were to submit to the ungodly pagan Emperors and yes, the people of Germany were to submit to the authority of Hitler.”

Warmuth’s interpretation is typical of many contemporary interpretations of the subject, yet false. As will be seen, the section of Romans 13 on submission contains clear examples of exceptions to unlimited authority.     

Romans 13:1, 3-4 teaches that believers submit to rulers who punish evil. Hitler was a promoter of evil deeds and persecuted the righteous. How can anyone maintain that Hitler punished evil as a minister of God? When Hitler had Christian pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer arrested and murdered, was he a minister of God for good? Was Hitler a minister of God for good when he had six million Jews murdered? These difficult questions cannot be brushed away.

The danger:

Are believers unwittingly calling rulers who promote evil as good? Is an individual who says Hitler punished evil when he punished good in reality fall under the woe Isaiah 5:20?

Warmuth and others like him are trapped in a contradiction and violating Isaiah’s woe.

Paul says in Romans 13 because the magistrate does good and is a terror towards evil-doers, does one owe them obedience. Hitler did not meet the standards of Romans 3:1, 3-4. To call him a minister of God for good is outrageous. Good for what? Does keeping the trains running on time like his tyrannical Italian partner Mussolini make them good rulers?

The obedience to a magistrate is conditioned upon three things that are inescapable in the text:

·         For [because] rulers are not a terror to good works, but the evil. (verse 1)

·         For [because] he is the minister of God to thee for good. (verse 3)

·         For [because] he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. (verse 4)

These three passages have conditions in them that qualify submission. How can a Christian say that Hitler was not a terror to good works or that he executed wrath on him that doeth evil when he murdered Jewish people in contradiction to verse 4? 

As said, those advocating submission to Hitler based upon Romans 13 are caught in a contradiction with other portions of Scripture, namely, Isaiah 5:20.

The Protestant Reformation would never have happened, given the interpretation of submission to wicked rulers advocated like Warmuth. Warmuth did say that the ultimate authority of obedience is to God. God raised Pharaoh up and had Moses and Israel resist him. How can the example of Pharaoh and Moses in the book of Exodus be brought into harmony with Romans 13? 

How does a Hitler-like ruler get into power?

“And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding.” (Daniel 2:21)

It is indeed true that it is God who places a Hitler-like ruler in power. God has His reasons, and without knowing the mind of God, man cannot know, see (Deuteronomy 29:29).

A Biblical pattern of resistance to ungodly rulers:  

In the book of Judges, God allowed enemies of Israel to reign over them due to their unfaithfulness. Then God would raise up a judge to deliver His people from having to submit to ungodly rulers like the Philistines.

The question that needs to be asked:

Is the pattern seen in the book of Judges contradictory to modern-day interpretations of Romans 13? Because of Israel’s unfaithfulness, God brought foreign tyrants to oppress His people in order to bring them to repentance. Then God raised up His judges to resist, not submit to the Philistines and others.

Are there contradictions in Scripture? God forbid, absolutely not! Therefore, modern-day interpretations of Romans 13 that call for submission to a Hitler-like figure are false given the pattern in the book of Judges and Pharaoh and Moses’ account. Therefore, it can be said that particular individual magistrates can be resisted if violating the conditional clauses in Romans 13:1, 3-4. 

Moreover, to call a Hitler-like ruler good would be in violation of Isaiah’s woe in 5:20. Paul and Isaiah do not contradict one another? The examples are seen in the book of Judges also do not contradict Paul in Romans 13. That is where the virtually unlimited submission view of Romans 13 ends up contradicting other Scriptures.

Today God raises pastors up instead of the Old Testament judges to call wicked magistrates to repent from political lies and other forms of wickedness.

A contemporary example of Godly resistance: 

In California, John MacArthur, Grace Community Church pastor, refused to submit to government lies about the China virus scam-demic and opened God’s Church from the lockdown mandate.  

Christians are not to submit to political lies any more than theological lies. A lie is a lie and must be resisted and rebuked. 

Hypothetical question with echoes of reality:

A criminal gang seizes the government’s control by taking over the White House and murdering everyone in it. Subsequently, the criminal gang declares themselves to be the government. In this scenario, does a Christian, according to Romans 13, have to submit? If so, would the actual legitimate government have to submit, or could they plan to retake the government? If the legitimate government, after its overthrow, be allowed to resist, why should Christians be forced to submit to a lawless criminal gang that declared themselves to be a government?

As a necessary brief aside: 

Today, Christians in America, the people find themselves at the precipice in light of the wicked gang of globalists that have overthrown the legitimate government. Under the form of government enjoyed in America is a social contract form of government, which involves the consent of governed. The consent of the governed hinges upon free and fair elections. Under the contract theory, if the government cannot guarantee this, no longer is obedience required.

More importantly, the Bill of Rights is understood to mean that “Rights” come from God and are inalienable and cannot be taken or rescinded. Under the Constitution of the United States, sovereignty resides in the people as the ultimate authority. The people contracted with their elected representatives to preserve this agreement. Under this system, rulers who attempt to revoke God-given rights are tyrants and to be resisted.  

Therefore, “…That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness….” Thomas Jefferson

Back to the theological issue at hand, consider John Calvin’s view on rulers:

In a commentary on the Book of Daniel, Calvin observed that contemporary monarchs pretend to reign “by the grace of God,” but the pretense was “a mere cheat” so that they could “reign without control.” He believed that “Earthly princes depose themselves while they rise up against God,” so ‘it behooves us to spit upon their heads than to obey them.’”

Is Calvin, when saying, “…it behooves us to spit upon their heads than to obey them,” in violation of Romans 13? Not at all. Calvin’s view of the separation of powers is also seen in his view of the Church government, which likewise separates Church power from the state.

Does a Christian always have to submit to a church? No, but some conditions must be met before a church membership covenant or civil social contact may be dissolved.   

The Marks of a True Church:

1.      The gospel is preached

2.      The sacraments are administered biblically

3.      Church discipline practiced 

Marks of the God-ordained State:

1.      God’s ministers are ordained and not a terror to good works.

2.      Continual executing wrath against evil-doers.

3.      Because of fear of God’s ministers, evil is deterred.

In God’s plan of redemption, which entity is higher, the church or state?

When the state, like the church, loses the marks of legitimacy, the believer is free from submission and may seek a church that is faithful to Scripture. Likewise, a citizen is free from statist authority when that authority becomes an agent of evil. The state, like a church, can lose its authority.  

Consider Presbyterian founder John Knox and the state:

In Scotland, John Knox challenged the civil authorities’ who were influenced by the corrupt church of his day by holding services on weekdays to counter what the Romanist priests spoke about on Sundays. His rebuke to England in (1554) led to the development in theology known as resistance to tyrants. He defended the common people’s right and duty to resist if State officials ruled contrary to Scripture. Knox even said, “Resistance to tyranny is a duty to God.” It seems that Knox contradicts Romans 13 if an unlimited view of submission to the government is taken. If there are limits on the application to Romans 13, then Knox was justified. If not, then Knox is wrong and must be judged as misinterpreting Scripture. 

Thankfully, Knox saw that obedience in Romans 13 is conditioned. John Knox made this clear in his tirade against tyrants. See, The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women. Knox believed in resistance to wicked rulers. Would Knox have worn a mask in worship if Queen Mary had decreed it? It is commonly known that Knox was an opponent and antagonist of the Queen. If John Knox was in violation of Romans 13, should he be excommunicated by the Presbyterians in absentia, a Latin term for absent?    

Would the Protestant Reformation ever have happened given certain interpretations of Romans 13?

Martin Luther opposed the Pope of Rome and the worldly princes who carried out the Pope of Rome’s wishes. Was Luther in violation of Romans 13? If consistent, modern-day interpreters like Warmuth would have condemned to founding father of America and submitted to and backed King George.    

 In conclusion:

Reformation-era Scotsman George Buchanan has a solution to the proper interpretation of Romans 13:

“Paul, then, is not concerned here with those who act as magistrates but with magistracy itself, that is, with the function and duty of those who are set over others; and he is not concerned with any particular type of magistracy, but with the form of every lawful magistracy. His argument is not with those who think that bad magistrates ought to be restrained, but with those who reject the authority of all magistrates….In order to refute their error Paul showed that magistracy is not only good but also sacred, the ordinance of God, indeed, expressly established to hold groups and communities of men together in such a way that would recognise the blessings of God towards them and refrain from injuring one another.” (1)

The idea that Paul is speaking of is how the magistracy should be, not how a magistrate may be. God ordains the magistracy. This does not mean that a wicked ruler like Hitler cannot be resisted.  

Buchanan’s understanding of Romans 13 absolves itself of contradictions with other Scriptures.

Historical examples of civil disobedience by Christians:

1.      William Tyndale, the English translator of the Bible, was condemned as a heretic, tried and executed in 1536.

2.      John Bunyan, a Nonconformist clergyman who was arrested for preaching without a license and failing to attend the Church of England, wrote Pilgrim’s Progress in his jail cell.

In almost every place where the Reformation had success, there was some form of civil disobedience or armed rebellion:

1.      Spanish Netherlands: Battle of Leyden, 1574 [The Dutch led by William the Silent won their independence as the United States of the Netherlands].

2.      Sweden: Gustavus Vasa broke Sweden off from Denmark and established the Lutheran church in 1527.

3.      Denmark: The Protestant party of the nobility overthrew the Catholic dynasty in 1536.

4.      Germany: Martin Luther was protected by the Duke of Saxony against the political and military power of Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor. The Peace of Augsburg of 1555 established the ruler’s religion in the German states. The Counter-Reformation led to the Thirty Years War. The Peace of Westphalia (1648) ratified the Peace of Augsburg.

5.      Switzerland: Cantons established Protestantism by vote of the community.

6.      Scotland: John Knox openly defied the authorities by holding services on weekdays to refute what the priests preached on Sundays. His Admonition to England (1554) developed a theology of resistance to tyranny. He upheld the right and duty of the common people to resist if state officials ruled contrary to the Bible. [“Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God”] (2)

Does the reader agree with or reject these examples?

Romans 13:1-4 properly understood does not command virtually absolute obedience to wicked rulers by contradictorily saying that, for example, in the case of Hitler, he was a minister for good.

Romans 13:1, 3-4, and Isaiah 5:20 are not contradictory. Paul’s argument in Romans 13 is qualified. Paul’s qualification can be understood that a magistrate who does evil and does not execute wrath against evil-doers is doing good would fall under Isaiah’s woe. Hopefully, Christians will rethink erroneous ideas about submission to wicked rulers.  

The common person and Christian pastors can call ungodly rulers to repentance and resist unlawful decrees.

“For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.” (1 Corinthians 15:25)

Christ is reigning now. How can Christ’s progressive reign be completed when believers are to remain subjugated to wicked magistrates? The thunder of John Knox is needed! 

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

“To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29)

Notes:

1.      George Buchanan, A Dialogue on the Law of Kingship Among the Scots, ed. Roger Mason, p. 113; 121.

2.      Francis Schaeffer: Vol. 5, A Christian Manifesto; Chapter 7: The Limits of Civil Obedience, (Westchester, Illinois, Crossway Books), pp. 467-474. Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: www.TheReligionThatStartedInAHat.com

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Decisional Regeneration

Decisional Regeneration                                                                            by Jack Kettler                                     

What is decisional regeneration? Is it biblical?

First, what is decisional regeneration?

Decisional regeneration is the teaching that a person must make a conscious decision to accept Christ. They are usually characterized by praying a sinner’s prayer, walking down a church aisle, raising a hand, thus signifying by a public action for what is necessary to be converted or regenerated by the Holy Spirit.

Second, is this methodology biblical? In this overview, this question will be answered in accordance with the consideration of Scripture. Does regeneration or conversion happen by following a formula? Can a formula cause God to act? If so, is this saying that a formula causes the Holy Spirit to react according to a methodology? Can the soul winner’s formula bind God and cause Him to act?

Others have advocated formulas like this, such as the Roman Church in its doctrine of transubstantiation and baptismal regeneration when priests pronounce the rightly worded formula. As a result bread, and wine is transformed into Christ’s actual flesh, and blood, and the water used in baptism causes God to respond with a regenerative action.

It is admitted that God is sovereign and freely acts in accordance with His will. God can indeed act in the regeneration of a sinner at the time of a humanly directed formula if He wills. Disagreeing with decisional regeneration formulas certainly is no way diminishes the need for public confessions of faith. Usually public expressions of faith are witnessed in church membership vows and not forsaking the assembly of the saints. See Hebrews 10:25.     

It is altogether too common, to observe those who have followed the formula and never demonstrated any indication of a changed life or soon falling away. For example:

“As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.” (Matthew 13:20-21 ESV)

At times in formulistic revivalism, sufficient warnings are given warning those walking the aisle that they need to bring forth the fruits of repentance, which is good. See Matthew 3:8. 

If Christ is in an individual, there will be some evidence of a changed life. Exceptions to this would be regeneration immediately prior to death.

“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.” (1 John 2:19 ESV)

“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:22-23 KJV)

The evidence contrary to decisional regeneration is the biblical teaching that humankind is dead in sin and trespasses, and no individual is able to exercise faith in Christ apart from His redeeming grace. Following a formula can no more convert an individual than using a formula or visualizing can make a person monetarily rich, AKA, Napoleon Hill’s “Think & Grow Rich” philosophy. Hill is often credited with being the father of the “name it and claim it” theology.

The issue of grace plus works is an issue of utmost importance. That is why questioning formulistic methodology is not being contentious, but instead is an issue of growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord. The Christian should always be on guard against allowing a bad theology of works or human merit to enter into the life of the church.
“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen.” (2Peter 3:18 KJV)

 In a similar vein, Paul and Jude tell the church:  “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2Timothy 4:3-4 ESV)

“But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.” (Titus 2:1 ESV)

“Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” (Jude 1:3 ESV)

Consider the following Scriptures that confirm that God’s grace does not follow a formula in the regeneration of a sinner. In addition, these Scriptures indicate that God works first in a sinner’s heart, before a response by an individual.

“And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.’ (Deuteronomy 30:6)

“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you and heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)

“And I will give them and heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.” (Jeremiah 24:7)

“Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.” (2Corinthians 3:3)

“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” (Ephesians 2:1)

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” (Titus 3:5)

“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.” (Hebrews 8:10)

“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them.” (Hebrews 10:16)

The Holy Spirit gives life. The verb tenses in the above passages that have been underlined are action verbs on God’s part. For example, “I will,” “And you hath he quickened,” “God will.” In the above passages, God’s actions result in a change in a man’s nature. See again Ephesians 2:1.

The conversion formula or method does not square with the above Scriptures in which God gives life to those dead in sin, thus, bringing them to life. The unconverted sinner is incapable of any meritorious work. Specifically, this methodology would make salvation dependent upon making a decision. Does walking aisle, repeating a formulistic prayer trigger God into action? If a person’s conversion is closely tied to a public formulistic conversion event, it must be asked, when did the conversion really take place? Before or after walking the aisle?

If conversion happens after following a formula, the works of a man enter in, a heresy:

To be consistent with the above Scriptures, one can argue that the real conversion happened before following the formula. Following the formula was a result of the conversion, not vice versa. Moreover, this issue is one of grace versus works. In this light, there is nothing trivial at all about questioning formulistic methodology.

Believers are to guard against false doctrine:
“Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.” (Acts 20:28-30 ESV)

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:6-9 ESV)

 As noted, it can be argued by some that the above disagreement with decisional regeneration is quibbling about petty issues; all that is important is saving souls. Many people will testify that their conversion happened at an evangelistic meeting where formulistic conversion preaching was used. While this argument may seem to have some weight, it is a surrender to pragmatism and unsound doctrine in violation of the Pauline exhortations from Timothy and Titus. Is gospel preaching going to be reduced to a sales presentation, or going through the numbers to get responses?  

 Also, elements of emotionalism are used in formulistic evangelism. Emotionalism at these events usually involve testimonies and musical performances. While in and of themselves, these things may be permissible. However, to use them to stimulate the emotions in order to gain a response like walking the aisle can be dangerous and produce results that not reflect a true conversion at all.

 Moreover, formulistic revival methodology, when used outside the church, is even more problematic. Where does the responder go for spiritual growth after walking the aisle at a crusade meeting? What is the theology of the counselors at the crusade meetings that talk with the responders? This is not a trivial issue. This writer has firsthand experience and has seen Roman Catholics and other sectarians used in large crusades as counselors.       

 In closing:  “If you were to do a survey of church history, reading books and documents from the first century all the way to the early nineteenth century, you would find no mention of “decisions for Christ.” Similarly, one would find no reference to the altar calls, which are the culmination of every modern evangelistic crusade. Those elements, which are found in nearly every evangelical church today, were inventions generally attributed to evangelist Charles Finney who lived from 1792 to 1875. He emphasized the need for a decision, usually made by “coming forward” to approach the altar. Becoming a believer became synonymous with making a decision and proving that decision by taking physical action. It is important to note that this system is foreign to the Scriptures.” – Tim Challies, November 24, 2004, Decisional Regeneration. See the link below.

 It is hoped that this study will cause contemplation and refinement of revival meetings, leading to a preaching methodology that is faithful to Scripture. 

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17 ESV)

 Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: www.TheReligionThatStartedInAHat.com

For more research:

Decisional Regeneration by James E. Adams

https://www.the-highway.com/Decisional_Regeneration.html

Decisional Regeneration by Tim Challies

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The “Already but not yet” motif

The “Already but not yet” motif                                                                     by Jack Kettler                                     

What does the “already but not yet” eschatological motif mean?

Explanatory Quotations:

“The theological concept of “already” and “not yet” was proposed by Princeton theologian Gerhardus Vos early in the 20th century, who believed that we live in the present age, the ‘now,’ and await the ‘age to come.’” – Wikipedia

“The theological concept of “already but not yet” holds that believers are actively taking part in the kingdom of God, although the kingdom will not reach its full expression until sometime in the future. We are “already” in the kingdom, but we do “not yet” see it in its glory. The “already but not yet” theology is related to kingdom theology or inaugurated eschatology.” – ‘Answers’ as quoted at the monergism web site.”

The idea of “already but not yet,” teaches that the kingdom of God will not reach its full manifestation until the second coming of Christ. Nevertheless, there are aspects of the kingdom that are a present reality. Said another way, there are present and future aspects of the kingdom of God. We have salvation now, but still await glorification that happens in the resurrection at the end of redemptive history.

It may be asked, what is inaugurated eschatology? Inaugurated eschatology is used to describe the view that the kingdom of God was established at the death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus brought the kingdom of God, which has both present and future realities. In the Old Testament, Israel was a type of the kingdom inaugurated by Christ. The kingdom from the 1st century onward incorporates the church into itself as a central reality. This reality does not dismiss the future conversion and re-graphing of Israel into the New Covenant. See Romans 11:26 and the future conversion of Israel.

In the Old Testament, there are aspects of this “already but not” yet motif. In Psalm 97. it is declared that the “Lord reigneth.” The full reign of God will not happen until the end of history when His foes are forever banished.

Looking at the Scriptures:

In the Old Testament, God’s reign is on the earth:

“The Lord reigneth; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof. Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne. A fire goeth before him, and burneth up his enemies round about. His lightnings enlightened the world: the earth saw, and trembled. The hills melted like wax at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.” (Psalm 97:1-5 KJV)

Daniel pictures the kingdom and its growth:

“As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.” (Daniel 2:34-35 ESV)

The kingdom has come:

“But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” (Matthew 12:28 ESV)

The kingdom of heaven will grow in history:

“He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” (Matthew 13:31-32 ESV)

The kingdom of God will grow in history:

“And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” (Mark 4:30-32 ESV)

The kingdom is not far away:

“Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” (Luke 17:20-21 ESV)

Not yet is everything in subjection:

“You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet.” Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.” (Hebrews 2:7-8 ESV)

 A present reality:

“For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.” (1 Corinthians 15:25 ESV)

The Mediatorial Reign of Christ:

Christ’s reign is described as the mediatorial reign. What is the mediatorial reign of Christ? When does this mediatorial reign take place?

The mediatorial reign of Christ is present now as noted by the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary:  “25. must—because Scripture foretells it.

Till — There will be no further need of His mediatorial kingdom, its object having been realized.

Enemies under his feet—(Luke 19:27; Ephesians 1:22)” (1)

To add to this:
“Christ sustained and exercised the function of mediatorial King as well as of Prophet and Priest, from the time of the fall of man, when he entered on his mediatorial work; yet it may be said that he was publicly and formally enthroned when he ascended up on high and sat down at the Father’s right hand (Psalms 2:6; Jeremiah 23:5; Isaiah 9:6) after his work of humiliation and suffering on earth was “finished” and until his Second Coming.” – Wikipedia

 In closing:

 From Anthony Hoekema, The Bible and the Future regarding the fruits of the “already”:

“We may say that in the possession of the Spirit we who are in Christ have a foretaste of the blessings of the age to come, and a pledge and guarantee of the resurrection of the body. Yet we have only the firstfruits. We look forward to the final consummation of the kingdom of God, when we shall enjoy these blessings to the full.” (2)

 The mediatorial reign of Christ is ongoing during church history and is another confirmation of the “all ready” motif. How so? To be in Christ is to be part of His Kingdom. To enter into the kingdom involves repentance and faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior.

 Our benefits now in Christ, “the already”:

 “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” (Romans 8:14-17 ESV)

 The “already” and “not yet” motif helps us understand the death and resurrection of Christ. Christ has delivered us from power by sin and death and has now empowered us to live a life where we no longer practice sin. We now live with the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.

 Finally, because of the “not yet,” the church must still pray:

Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth,
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
The power, and the glory,
For ever and ever.
Amen. Matthew 6:9–13

Notes:

  1. Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, Commentary on the Whole Bible, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan, 1977), p. 1222.
  2. Anthony Hoekema, The Bible and the Future, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans), p. 67.

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: www.TheReligionThatStartedInAHat.com

For more research:

Messiah the Prince; or, the Mediatorial Dominion of Jesus Christ.

BY WILLIAM SYMINGTON, D.D., https://www.covenanter.org/reformed/2017/8/15/messiah-the-prince-or-the-mediatorial-dominion-of-jesus-christ

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The Time is at Hand

“The Time is at Hand”                                                                                          by Jack Kettler                                     

What does the Lord mean by phrases such as “the time is a hand,” “must shortly come to pass,” and “I come quickly” in the book of Revelation? The Greek words used in the texts that will be under consideration in this study. Three of the words, in particular, are tάχει, ταχύ,and ἐγγύς.

Our study will explore how these words are used in the New Testament and what they mean. The study will serve as a brief introduction to preterist eschatology.

Definition of preterism:

Preterism, a Christian eschatological view that interprets some or all prophecies of the Bible as events, which have already happened. – Wikipedia

First New Testament entry:

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly (tάχει) come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John.” (Revelation 1:1 KJV)

Strong’s Lexicon:

soon

tάχει (tachei)

Noun – Dative Neuter Singular

Strong’s Greek 5034: Quickness, speed, hastily, immediately. From the same as tachus, a brief space, i.e. in haste.

Sample of a parallel passage to see how τάχει is used:

Acts 22:18 N-DNS

GREEK: ἔξελθε ἐν τάχει ἐξ Ἰερουσαλήμ

NAS: out of Jerusalem quickly, because

KJV: and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem:

INT: go away with speed out of Jerusalem

Second New Testament entry:

“Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand (ἐγγύς).” (Revelation 1:3 KJV)

Strong’s Lexicon:

near

ἐγγύς (engys)

Adverb

Strong’s Greek 1451: Near. From a primary verb agcho, near.
“And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand (ἐγγύς).” (Revelation 22:10 KJV)

Sample of a parallel passage to see how ἐγγύς is used:

John 6:4 Adv.

GREEK: ἦν δὲ ἐγγὺς τὸ πάσχα

NAS: the feast of the Jews was near.

KJV: of the Jews, was nigh.

INT: was moreover near the Passover

Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance:

at hand, near, nigh, ready.

From a primary verb agcho (to squeeze or throttle; akin to the base of agkale); near (literally or figuratively, of place or time) — from, at hand, near, nigh (at hand, unto), ready.

Third New Testament entry:

“Behold, I come quickly (ταχύ): hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” (Revelation 3:11)

Strong’s Lexicon:

soon.

tαχύ (tachy)

Adverb

Strong’s Greek 5035: Quickly, speedily. Neuter singular of tachus, shortly, i.e. without delay, soon, or suddenly, or readily.

Sample of a parallel passage to see how tαχύ is used:

Matthew 28:7 Adv.

GRK: καὶ ταχὺ πορευθεῖσαι εἴπατε

NAS: Go quickly and tell His disciples

KJV: And go quickly, and tell his

INT: And quickly having gone say

Additional Scriptures where these Greek words appear:

“And he said unto me, these sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly (τάχει) be done.” (Revelation 22:6)

“Behold, I come quickly (ταχύ): blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.” (Revelation 22:7)

“And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand (ἐγγύς).” (Revelation 22:10)

“And, behold, I come quickly (ταχύ); and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” (Revelation 22:12)

“He which testifieth these things saith, surely I come quickly (ταχύ). Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20) (Underlining emphasis mine)

From the three parallel passages listed, the Greek words tάχει Acts 22:18, ἐγγύς John 6:4, ταχύ Matthew 28:7 convey an imminent, not a distant futuristic meaning.

Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers from the 19th century regarding tάχει admits that:

“Shortly. — On this word much controversy has turned. Its force, “speedily,” affords a groundwork, and, it must be admitted, a plausible one, to the preterist school of interpreters, who hold that the whole range of Apocalyptic predictions was fulfilled within a comparatively short time after the Apostle wrote.” (1)

Ellicott is one of the few commentators who favors a futuristic interpretation for the above phrases and Greek words that acknowledges that there is a non-futuristic (preterism) interpretation available. 

Now an in-depth survey on how the Greek words in these imminent time texts, plus some additional New Testament variants are used is in order.

From James Glasgow’s The Apocalypse:

Various Intimations of a Speedy Coming of Christ Were Fulfilled in the Beginning of the Gospel Age.

“These are expressed principally by the words ἐγγύς and ταχύ in the Revelation, and ἐγγίζω in the Gospels and Epistles. I shall exhibit a few examples:

Matt. 3:2; 4:17; 10:7: “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” — ἤγγικεν.

Matt. 26:45: “The hour is at hand” — ἤγγικεν.

Mark 1:15: Luke 10:9, 11: “The kingdom of God is at hand” — ἤγγικεν.

Mark 14:42: “He that betrayeth me is at hand” — ἤγγικεν.

Luke 16:8: “The time draweth near” — ἤγγικεν

Luke 21:20: “The desolation thereof” (of Jerusalem)” is nigh” — ἤγγικεν.

Rom. 13:12: “The day is at hand”— ἤγγικεν.

Heb. 10:25: “Ye see the day approaching” — ἐγγίζουσαν.

James 5:8: “The coming of the Lord draweth nigh” — ἤγγικεν.

1 Pet. 4:7: “The end of all” (Πάντων — of the spiritually dead in the previous verse) “is at hand” — ἤγγικεν.

Matt. 26:18: “My time is at hand” — ἐγγύς.

Luke 21:31: “The kingdom of God is nigh at hand” — ἐγγύς.

Phil. 4:5: “The Lord is at hand” — ἐγγύς.

Rev. 1:3: 22:10: “The time is at hand” — ἐγγύς.

The examples now given relate principally to time; but the words in more than forty instances refer to place and denote immediate contiguity.

So ταχύ and cognates may be exemplified:

Luke 14:21: “Go out quickly into the streets” — ταχέως.

Luke 16:6: “Sit down quickly” — ταχέως.

John 11:31: “She rose up hastily [quickly]” — ταχέως.

1 Cor. 4:19: “I will come to you shortly.” — ταχέως

2 Thess. 2:2: “That ye be not soon (ταχέως) shaken” — ταχέως.

2 Pet. 1:14: “Shortly (ταχινή) I must put off this tabernacle.”

John 13:27: “That thou doest, do quickly” — τάχιον.

Acts 12:7: “Rise up quickly” — ἐν τάχει.

Rom. 16:20: “God shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly” — ἐν τάχει.

Matt. 28:7: “Go quickly (ταχύ) and tell His disciples.” — ἐν τάχει.

John 11:29: “She rose quickly” — ταχύ.

Rev. 1:1; 22:6: “Things which must shortly come to pass” — ἐν τάχει.

Rev. 2:16: “I will come to Pergamos quickly” — ταχύ — in the Neronian persecution.

Rev. 3:11: “I come quickly” — ταχύ: viz. on Jerusalem.

Rev. 11:14: “The third woe cometh quickly” — ταχύ — in three and a half years.

Rev. 22:7, 12, 20: “I come quickly” — ταχύ.

If we are content to be guided by the Scripture usage of the words, the truth of the section will be at once established.

But many are not disposed to acquiesce in this. They prefer their pre-formed theories, — as that the Lord has never yet come again since His ascension, and consequently that the various promises of coming quickly meant that He would not come for at least 1870 years, and perhaps not for an indefinite number more. This applies both to pre-millenarians and post-millenarians, though from different standpoints — so very non-natural is the principle of scriptural interpretation which multitudes dogmatically lay down, and so purblindly do they adopt a position which charges the apostles either with error or with deception. Nothing can be taught more plainly in human vocables, than the apostles (as well as John the Baptist and Jesus Himself), in such places as those cited, taught that His coming after the ascension was to be expected quickly (ταχύ), in the plain meaning of that term.” (2)

Conclusions:

If taken at face value, the passages in Revelation are speaking of something that was to take place soon, not the distant future. The imminent return of Christ that we see in the Revelation passages are events that were to happen quickly. The words soon and quickly do not make sense if not taken literally. Consult any thesaurus for synonyms of these words. If quickly, shortly do not mean what they say in their everyday usage, what do they mean? If these words do not mean what they say in everyday usage, what about other words in the Bible? As in this case, a non-literal use of these words is destructive of language. John uses apocalyptic imagery in his Revelation; however, Revelation 1:1, and 1:3 is ordinary language and would not fall under the rules for interpreting the apocalyptic genera of literature.

The only reason not to take these words literally comes down to forcing a different meaning in order to justify an unnatural or, as James Glasgow notes, a pre-formed theory. These texts, if taken literally, support the idea that the book of Revelation is historically fulfilled prophesy, except for the final two chapters, which pictures the new heaven and new earth and literal physical second coming of Christ. See Revelation 1:1, 3 and Revelation 22:6, 10. To echo James Glasgow, do these Greek time text words mean that John’s prophecy in Revelation will not happen for over 2000 years and counting.

Additionally, consider how the Apostle John in 22:10 is told: “…seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.” Compare Revelation 22:10 with Daniel 12:4. Daniel is told to “shut up the words and seal the book.” Daniel’s prophesy deals with the coming of the Messiah. See Daniel 9:24-27. The fulfillment of Daniel’s prophesy would happen in approximately 500 years. Daniel is told to “seal the book,” and John is told, “seal not…the prophecy” of this book. These two commands are exact opposites, proving that John’s Revelation was to be fulfilled shortly in the first century. The biblical conclusion is that the texts of Revelation show quite literally, “The time is at hand” 1:3, and “…which must shortly be done,” and “Behold, I come quickly” 22:6. 

The prophecies in Revelation were fulfilled during the “Great Tribulation” of 70 A.D., involving the destruction of Jerusalem. Bluntly stated, these imminent passages are either true or false. The overwhelming evidence from the New Testament usage is that tάχει, ταχύ,and ἐγγύς, and their variations are imminent when understood in their plain literal sense. Moreover, the reading of these fulfilled prophecies in Scripture is most edifying as with other fulfilled prophecies.  

Objections:

First:

If most of the prophecies of John’s Revelation are already fulfilled, does not this make the book useless for Christians of later centuries? This is a bizarre objection. Would not this objection apply to other prophecies in the Old Testament that is fulfilled like the first coming of Christ? Fulfilled prophecies about Christ are faith-building. If John’s Revelation is fulfilled prophecy, how could it not be the same as other fulfilled prophecies like the virgin birth?   

Second:

In general, modern scholarship places the date of the composition of the Book of Revelation around 90-110 A.D. If so, this would necessarily invalidate a First Century fulfillment of the prophecies of John’s Revelation.

However, the pendulum swings. Today, more scholars are taking a second look and placing the date of the writing of Revelation before 70 A.D., during the persecution of Nero. It should be noted that throughout church history, variations of preterism have always existed. With that said, preterism is not some new innovative doctrine. As the pendulum swings, preterism in its various forms is making a resurgence.  

As the pendulum swings, modern scholarship is looking again at the dating of Revelation. For example:

John A. T. Robinson, in his Redating the New Testament, makes the following points:

“It was at this point that I began to ask myself just why any of the books of the New Testament needed to be put after the fall of Jerusalem in 70. As one began to look at them, and in particular the epistle to the Hebrews, Acts and the Apocalypse, was it not strange that this cataclysmic event was never once mentioned or apparently hinted at (as a past fact)?” p. 10.

“One of the oddest facts about the New Testament is that what on any showing would appear to be the single most datable and climactic event of the period as the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70  is never once mentioned as a past fact. . . . ‘The silence is nevertheless as significant as the silence for Sherlock Holmes of the dog that did not bark’” p. 13.

“It is indeed generally agreed that this passage must bespeak a pre-70 situation. . . . There seems therefore no reason why the oracle should not have been uttered by a Christian prophet as the doom of the city drew nigh.” pp. 240-242. (3)

John A. T. Robinson was a bishop of the Church of England. He was also a lecturer at Trinity College, Cambridge, and later Dean of Trinity College.

An argument from silence generally is invalid, but not always, and in Robison’s example of “Sherlock Holmes and the dog that did not bark.” The silence of the dog in a police investigation can be powerful evidence, much like the silence of an alarm system not working. Likewise, Robison drawing attention to the New Testament documents not referencing the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. is weighty and significant. The fallacy of an argument from silence is really against and argument from ignorance, which Robison’s argument has no part. 

Robinson uses evidence from the New Testament itself, and historical information outside of the Scriptures to argue for an early dating of John’s Revelation. Robinson makes the case that the fall of Jerusalem is not mentioned anywhere in the New Testament. He sees this as an indicator that Jerusalem’s destruction happened after the New Testament was completed. Robinson’s argument is monumental and should be considered. With his book, Robinson has brought new respectability to proponents of an early pre-70 A.D. date for the writing of the New Testament. 

* See links below for a detailed discussion regarding evidence for arguments for a prior to 70 A.D. date to John’s Revelation. The fact is there have always been advocates for an early date for John’s Revelation in church history are seen in the links below.

Notes:

  1. Charles John Ellicott, Bible Commentary for English Readers, Revelation, Vol.8, (London, England, Cassell and Company), p. 533.
  2. James Glasgow, The Apocalypse: Translated and Expounded (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1872), p. 59-61.
  3. John A. T. Robinson, Redating the New Testament, (Louisville, Kentucky, Westminster John Knox Press, reprinted 1977), pp. 10, 13, 240-242.

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: www.TheReligionThatStartedInAHat.com

For more research:

*

REVELATION’S EARLY DATE (1) https://postmillennialworldview.com/2015/06/10/revelations-early-date-1/

 REVELATION’S EARLY DATE (2) https://postmillennialworldview.com/2015/06/12/revelations-early-date-2/

 Apocalypse: Early Date Advocates https://www.preteristarchive.com/BibleStudies/ApocalypseCommentaries/Dating/Early/index.html

 Recommended Reading:

 Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation

Institute for Christian Economics, Tyler, TX

 Oswald T. Allis

Prophecy And The Church

Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Company, Phillipsburg, New Jersey

 Gary DeMar

Last Days Madness

American Vision, Powder Springs, Georgia

 R. C. Sproul

The Last Days According To Jesus

Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI

 Francis X Gumerlock

The Day and the Hour

American Vision, Powder Springs, Georgia

 James Stuart Russell

The Parousia

Baker Books, Grand Rapids, Michigan

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