Saturday, December 26, 2009

There are tears on my inbox...

"...For God so loved the world, that He sent His only son, so that whomever [forwards religious emails] may not perish, but have eternal life..."



Just one thing - Jesus is never late - He is always there when you need Him.

Monday, May 18, 2009

My Eschatelogical Woes: The Rapture

I have finished with Matthew 24. So far I am in favor of a post-millennial view of revelation. There are several reasons why I like this view:
  • It places Christ on the throne now, giving Him the authority He claimed to have at the end of Matthew [Matthew 28:18]
  • It means that the church through Christ will ultimately prevail, making me an optimistic person in times of seeming hardship
  • If the church is to succeed, it will be with the gospel. This makes Pauls statement that the gospel is 'the power of God unto salvation' [Romans 1:16] is true, because people will be saved
  • It presents consistency between periods of time. A long period at revelation 20 rather than at the beginning of Revelation 4 ('thousand years'1 versus 'after this' [Rev 4:1])


I still have some issues and I am afraid that English translations of the bible are not quite what they should be. Either that or I need to improve my Greek. Probably both. What was really peeling my onion this week was the issue of the rapture. The rapture is not found in Matthew 24, but it is mentioned by Luke and Paul:

9And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes,11and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven."[Acts 1:9-11]


"16For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord." [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17]


This clearly speaks of a personal coming of the Lord. But wait... there is some devil in this detail. The very argument I use in Matthew 24 can be used against me: This passage is using personal pronouns. Now the dispensationalist will say: "You see that personal pronouns can be used with future intentions, since we know that Paul was beheaded, so he could not have been talking about himself." Well... not really. Personal pronouns are personal. But could this one be different from the usage in Matthew 24? Well, if it's the same we have a real hermeneutical problem, because in the one context we have Jesus speaking to His disciples on a hill, in the next we have Paul writing a letter to Thessonalica.

If I said "we humans landed on the moon" I would be correct in saying so, but to assume that I personally have landed on the moon would be a mistake in interpretation (as implied by the structure). Is that the case with the rapture? Do I convert to a premillenial view because a personal pronoun dictates that it must be a future 'we?' Well, no, that would be stupid because words start losing their literal meaning. The fact of the matter is that the 'we' is qualified as to whom it belongs: "who are alive [and] remain." This indicates that Paul himself didn't expect to see it, although it was probably his hope. His audience becomes the believers everywhere and everywhen. He even exorts us to 'comfort one another with these words (verse 18).' It is an instruction of hope, that we can tell other members of the Christian faith.

A premillenial view isn't the only one that has a future sight of the rapture. But the order of this rapture is very important. Some say that this connects to Matthew 24, but it doesn't. The context of the rature is the ressurection of the dead. There is no ressurection of the dead in the Olivet Discourse. Premillenialists seem to believe in a 'secret rapture' where no one will see Jesus. They must be deafened first to miss the trumpeting.

I'll leave it there for now. God bless and keep well!

1 I would rather be accused of taking the 'thousand years' to mean a long period of time that 'after.' Please note that in the Greek, much like English, a prefix would usually indicate numeracy, meaning that this actually does not mean one thousand.

Matthew 24 follow up

Matthew 24, as previously discussed, deals with events that are clearly prior to 70 C.E. Most people have a problem when it gets down to the events that are predicted in Matthew. The first thing we need to consider is the audience:

"See that no one leads you astray"[Matthew 24:4]


Clearly, in this first section (at least) Jesus refers to the disciples, he starts off with things that they are to not identify the coming of the end of the age by:
  1. Many will come in His name claiming to be Christ
  2. The disciples will hear of wars and rumors of wars
  3. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom
  4. Famines and earthquakes in various places

All these things do not mark the beginning of anything. That is what Christ is saying. He says this will lead to the 'sign of His coming' and the 'end of the age:'
  1. 'They' will deliver the disciples up to tribulation and put them to death
  2. The disciples will be hated by all nations for Christ's name's sake
  3. Many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another.
  4. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.
  5. The love of many will grow cold.
  6. And the gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

At this point most people from the popular view will argue that their hermeneutic is scriptural because the gospel has not been preached in the whole world, and that will usher in the tribulation, rapture and millennial reign of Christ. Wrong! That hermeneutic will lead to read this verse first, lean on your own understanding, and then re-read the passage with 'futurist' eyes just because you think 'world' means something it actually does not.

The term 'world' here is the Greek word 'oikoumenē', which means 'land.' [SOURCE] It does not refer to every person on the planet literally hearing the gospel. Even if you believe it that way, try reconciling this:

"...the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth," [Colossians 1:5-6]


The bible points to the fulfillment of Jesus' words in Matthew 24.

Then some people will argue that Matthew 24 splits up the end of the age and the second coming of Christ. This is generally due to the fact that Jesus says "...so will be the coming of the Son of Man" in verse 37. Or does did Jesus come in Judgment in C.E. 70? I think He did. The reason is

"36But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. [Matthew 24:]


My argument is that Jesus came in judgment of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. I believe that the second coming is not taught in Matthew 24, but in other places of scripture, which I need to address.

The Secret

Hi,

I am a fairly new member of the Christian society and I am still on my path of discovering what my absolute convictions in regards to theology are. Some people would label me as a liberal though I would describe myself as someone who is open to new ideas and opinions whether it be conservative or liberal. I am still very easily influenced and can easily be misled by wrong teachings.

The church that I am attending right now can be categorized as semi-charismatic/liberal. Last night in church our guest reverend hosted a discussion on the book "The Secret". This book has created a stir around the world and has been read by millions of people. For those who like me don't know what "The Secret" is here is just a quick explanation: The Secret revolves around the concept of "the law of attraction." Basically, you attract everything in your life to you whether it be good things or bad things. Successful people attract success. According to the the book this law is the sovereign power of the universe. You can not escape from it thus you must learn how to use it to your own advantage. By means of your mind you can learn how to control this law. You are your own destiny. That in short is The Secret.

Now, the reverend did not push for us to believe The Secret he just compared it to the bible and pointed out the good points and the bad points. At the end of the day it is up to you to decide if you want to believe in this or not. But what upsets me is why are we having an entire sermon about this?? If I had known what the sermon was going to be about I would have stayed at home.I went to church to receive a message. To learn something.To be humbled. To learn more about God. To prepare myself for this week.I did not go to church to have a book discussion. I feel that the church has far more important things to do than to waste an entire sermon on this. The first 50 minutes was devoted to the book with the last 10 minutes or so focusing on God and how we should give him control over our lives, how we can not be in control. I am sorry but the message was completely lost on me. Maybe I am overreacting but I truly feel my time was wasted.

Guest Author

I have a friend at work who wishes to express herself theologically every now and then. Thus I have invited Nelmari to be a guest blogger on gthruf. She is liberal and hates to be tied down to labels (hehehe...). I do not necessarily agree with her on all matters of theology, in fact I know I don't, but it will be nice to be bouncing some other idea's around the table.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Calvinism Number 3 in top 10 World Changing Ideas

I heard of this a while ago, but I never thought to actually link to it. But I have some time so it is worth mentioning. Time magazine is busy publishing the top ten of everything, one of them is "Ideas Changing the World Right Now." Who would have expected calvinism to even have entered their minds, let alone win the bronze?

"Calvinism is back, and not just musically. John Calvin's 16th century reply to medieval Catholicism's buy-your-way-out-of-purgatory excesses is Evangelicalism's latest success story, complete with an utterly sovereign and micromanaging deity, sinful and puny humanity, and the combination's logical consequence, predestination: the belief that before time's dawn, God decided whom he would save (or not), unaffected by any subsequent human action or decision." [Source]


'Amoritality' came in fifth:

"Amortality is a stranger, stronger alchemy, created by the intersection of that trend with a massive increase in life expectancy and a deep decline in the influence of organized religion — all viewed through the blue haze of Viagra....The defining characteristic of amortality is to live in the same way, at the same pitch, doing and consuming much the same things, from late teens right up until death."[Source]


Well, you can't have your cake and eat it now can you? It seems that while religion makes a difference, it does not necessarily make a difference to every single person.

Of course, not all religion is the same.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Lord's Prayer (Part 1)

The Lord's prayer is a topic of my study at the moment. I found that both prayer and bible study where waning, so I decided, in my usual lazy fashion, to combine the two. What a fantastic blessing it has been. Already my prayers are longer (not that it matters, but if we don't have much to say to our Lord and Father, we just can't say we love Him that much) and I feel genuine in prayer again.

I am reading the texts every day (Matthew 6 and Luke 11) as well as J.I. Packers "Praying the Lords Prayer". I am getting so much out of it that I think blogging can only make it better and further my depth.

Prayer is such an important aspect I'm not even going to delve into the text first, I want to get the context. The same prayer is given in two different contexts, so determining whether they were given at the sime time is not actually possible. I would say that although these texts are parallel, their contexts are not.

In Matthew 6 , Jesus is giving the famous sermon on the mount. He is giving instructions on Godly living before our common creator, right before prayer, he talks about giving to the needy, he connects the idea of giving and prayer in that both can be done far more humbly than what the religious leaders etc. of the day where doing. Twice in the text the phrase " And your Father who sees in secret will reward you."

Now Jesus did not give us a personal prayer, He actually gave us a group prayer. "Our Father..." which will be expounded later, but this supposes that we are not always to lock ourselves away, but that, appropriately, prayer must be done in a group.

In Luke 11, the sequence is heavily disconnected. I would assume that the preceding chapter is not tied to this chapter. We have a story of Mary and Martha, chapter 11 beginning with the disciples asking Him to teach them to pray. They must have seen the difference to the way Jesus prayed from the pharisees, but also noticed a similarity from John (the baptist?). In this context the disciples innitiate Jesus speaking of prayer as a result of seeing Him pray.

Prayer is our communication mechanism with God, it is not to be taken lightly. To not pray is to decidedly turn our back on our God. And it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of an angry God. I think one of the main reasons I fall so easy is that I do not hold on to God as fast as I should in terms of prayer.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Wallowing in our Abundance

I wonder if we have lost our way as a Christian community over the years. Has not our focus shifted to such a degree that we do minor things as if they were larger things. Do we focus too much on the things that should come last, first?

My concern is over service. I wonder how many people could actually be considered as minsters of God. My concern is growing over the matter or proper service. Is what we do for God's sake actually pleasing to Him? My concern is not over salvation (though my concern here is great), but rather over the far more important issue of glorifying God in the correct manner.

"10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire." 1 Corinthians 3:15


One has to wonder if the work one does actually glorifies God. Are the 'ministries' that we are involving ourselves in the most effective in proving our love for God, but also obeying the commands laid out for us by God?

I have grown weary lately of menial and nominal service. Things that occupy my time in the name of God but for which I see no purpose in the kingdom of God. I cannot see how some surfer playing the guitar for a crowd of misbehaving teenagers glorifies God by merely having lyrics which may or may not be directed towards the heavens.

Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the orphan, cry with the weary, visit the sick. These are things for which no skill is required, the most basic of things and in the kingdom of God the most important. But how many of us have grown comfortable arranging camps, singing in choirs or playing an instrument? What would Jesus say? Do you really think that Jesus was speaking into the air when He said that He had not come for the righteous, but for the unrighteous?

I was called a hypocrite the other day, and I started thinking that it was a righteous complaint. It's so easy to serve when it costs us nothing and perhaps even gains us a bit of glory. But it is astonishing to think how empty the real ministries are. Do we have gain in heaven? For choirs and bands? Or are we serving Him when we get down, so that people will look up and see Him?

"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this:(A) to visit(B) orphans and widows in their affliction, and(C) to keep oneself(D) unstained from the world." James 1:27

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Calvinist's heads roll first

The economic crisis is no joke, it is here to stay and lay-offs are definitely on the way. But by what rules do people lose their jobs? At South Western Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS), they are ahead of the rest of the world: Let's fire the Calvinists first! [ARTICLE]

"I will say ... that Southwestern will not build a school in the future around anybody who could not look anybody in the world in the eyes and say, 'Christ died for your sins.'"


Ding ding ding! Round 399! Calvinists and Arminians have been debating the nature of the atonement since the remonstrance in 1610. The battle boils down to: Did Christ provide the means of salvation for man by man's own volition on the cross, or did Christ actually save people by going to the cross (thereby requiring God to cause a sinner to repent)? The former being the Arminian perspective, the latter being the Calvinist perspective. (Thanks Mike for the correction)

Regardless of the debate, I have to admit that it is rather upsetting being of the persecuted camp here. Losing your job over theology. Very dodgy ground politically. I also wonder how the situation got to be like this in the first place. I also wonder what the reaction would be had the situation been reversed.

My mind is pretty skewed at the moment. I would ask readers top see past the theology and to the implications of Calvinist and Arminian pastors working together in one building. I work with Arminians all day (even some just plain nominal Christians), but of course my bread and butter does not hinge on theology. I guess the debates that go on must be quite edifying as long as both parties are willing to disagree agreeably.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Why I love John Piper

7 Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.[Hebrews 13:7]


John Piper is a man truly concerned for the salvation of souls. Not one of his books have I read to find an agenda. Granted, there are other men like this, but John Piper is ahead of the crowd.

Why? Because at least some of his books are free. And they are not hard to find either. I downloaded on just to see the quality and content of one and I am more encouraged than ever. Also his sermons are free as well. It is so hard to grasp that in this day and age that as part of their ministry they will host the files and still offer them for free.

Not only are his sermon transcripts available, but the audio files as well. A web site so well deserving of it's name, can be found at [http://www.desiringgod.org]

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Olivet Discourse Part 2: Conclusion

I have had this post in my head for some time. I hope it will be short... But maybe not.

We saw last time that Jesus was looking at the temple when He predicted it's downfall. We know for a fact that 70 years later this prediction came to pass. We saw that three questions were asked:
  • Matthew: "When will the destruction occur and what will be the sign of your coming and the sign of the end?"
  • Mark: "When will the destruction start and in what manner will it end?"
  • Luke: "When will the destrcution start and what will that look like?"

Now it becomes difficult (as we saw) to take one gospel and come to a conclusion. That is, until we look at the answer Jesus gives. We need to have the question in our minds: Does Jesus in Matthew's gospel have anything extra to say? This is of course if we assume that Jesus really is predicting the end of the world.

The answer is no. Jesus' answer is pretty much the same in all three synoptic gospels. That means he cannot be predicting the end of the world, based on the fact that He is not answering that question in the other two gospels. We have to say that the disciples were expecting a change of 'age' and not the end of the world.

The next question is: did the age change? Yes it did. We went from old testament to new testament. But the end is not given in the gospels. Only the fall of Jerusalem was predicted in Matthew, Mark and Luke. The judgement coming of Christ on that land happened in CE 70.

Before you run off thinking I am a preterist, please note this: I do not think that Matthew 24 (or Mark or Luke) have much to do with Revelation. I agree with preterists in their interpretation of the Olivet Discourse, but I am weary to agree that it is connected to Revelation. That should whet our appetites before we jump into the final book of the New Testament. God bless!

Woman's roles (in the CHURCH)

A friend asked me what the bible said about woman's roles. Now someone else wanted to know. So I am putting part of the email I wrote in this blog.

The bible says woman are evil. They won't even be in heaven (Revelation 8:1)

HAHAHA Just kidding!!!! Phew!
Ok seriously.

The main text for the role of woman in church is given in 1 Tim 2:8-15:

"I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarrelling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control." 1 Tim 2:8-15



Now speak to any female pastor on this text and ALL OF A SUDDEN they will teach you some solid hermeneutics (art/science of interpretation) - "Ah, but it was written in a different culture and time!" That is very true. So why do the conservatives insist that this verse is non-cultural but 1 Thess 5:26 IS a cultural verse? CONTEXT. The REASON that Paul gives is counter-cultural: because EVE was deceived and became a transgressor. That was 4000 years before Paul's culture. The context of the verse takes it out of the cultural bias argument.

Just a side note for a cool lesson in Genesis. The curse of the woman is "I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." (Gen 3:16) Part of the curse is that her 'desire will be for the husband' - that doesn't mean she wants to be with him, rather that she wants his position. Part of the CURSE in Genesis is that woman will want to be in man's role, but he will rule over her.

But before we get fundamentalist and start saying that woman cannot have ANY authority, let's get it straight. It's authority over a man in church. The letter to Timothy is a PASTORAL epistle, written to a leader of a CHURCH. In the conservative opinion (which I follow because it is the biblical opinion), woman may teach woman and children (Titus 2:1-6). It is where there are grown men that woman are not given a position of scriptural authority.

"But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behaviour, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled."
Titus 2:1-6



Now why does he say "working at home?" CONTEXT in king yet again. While some might take it literally, no one in our church condemns a woman working outside. What Paul is saying is not a direct commandment from God, unlike 1 Tim 2. What is he saying then? Well, in Jewish culture (and most of Gentile culture in those days) the woman would stay at home. So Christian wives are to make themselves USEFUL. Don't just sit on your butt and watch the candles burn down! 'Don't be a lazy wife' is the instruction there.

If you were to ask me "Are men and women equal?" I would say no. But that does not raise the one above the other. This is not a mathematical operation. Men and Women have different roles on earth that compliment one another. I am a complimentarian.

UPDATE 5 MARCH 2009: Here are some additional links:
Got questions: Woman Pastors
CARM: Q&A on Woman Pastors

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Olivet Discourse Part 1

I recommend you read Matthew 23 and 24 for yourself before reading this blog. I think you'll get the best out if you do.

Talk to a preterist about the eschaton and they will invariably take you to the olivet discourse. Talk to a pre-millenailist about preterism and they will go on and on about the words 'generation' and 'world.' The fact is that the olivet discourse is an important text, since Jesus himself is making a prophetic utterance. In addition, the disciples as a very important question.

We begin where Jesus has just left the temple proclaiming seven (or 8) "woes" upon the Pharasees. He has issued them with some harsh judgement and left them with these words: "See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'"


1Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. 2But he answered them, "You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down."
[Matthew 25]



This happened in CE 70. There is no question in history or in anyone's mind that Jesus is predicting something that happened within a generation (40 years) of here. Take note of a few things:
  1. He is looking down on Jerusalem
  2. He is talking directly to the disciples

No one scholar dares to try and make symbols out of these words. They happened in such a manner that it was fulfilled directly and precisely. It turns out that when Titus sacked Jerusalem in CE 70 the flames roared so fiercely that it melted the gold on the temple. The gold then ran through the cracks of the bricks and when the Roman soldiers came to plunder, had to render each brick separate from another [REF].


3As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the [world]?"
[Matthew 24:3]


Huh? What kind of a question is that? I can understand the first part, to ask when these things will be (Matthew 23-here), but to ask when the end of the world will be? Who mentioned the end of the world? The honest answer is no one did. This is where pre-millennialism starts, and it makes me sick. [Tyrell] makes a good point when we look at how an author uses a word, but what is shocking is that most translations do not even translate this word properly.

You notice the square brackets in my quote of the text - academically that is saying I altered the original. I use an English Standard Translation, which actually uses the word "age" for world. Why is that so? Well, the Greek word, 'ahee-ohn' literally means:


"properly an age; by extension perpetuity (also past); by implication the world; specifically (Jewish) a Messianic period (present or future): - age, course, eternal, (for) ever (-more), [n-]ever, (beginning of the, while the) world (began, without end)"
[Strongs Hebrew and Greek Dictionary]


Well, the definition, in this text, seems to be weighted towards 'age,' but we have to look at how the author uses this word. It's amazing to see that "The devil showed him all the kingdoms of the WORLD" and "you are the light of the WORLD" BOTH use the Greek word kos'-mos, which mean world far more than the current word. However, we have to keep in mind that the other uses of this word in Matthew tend towards 'world' as well.

"And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come." [Matthew 12:32]
"and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels." [Matthew 13:39]
"So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous" Matthew 13:49


Every single verse is chock-full of apocalyptic language. It seems that we cannot escape the fact that Matthew has a lot to do with the end. But praise the Lord for cross references. We must be convinced from all scripture.

"Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?" [Mark 13:4]
And they asked him, "Teacher, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?"[Luke 21:7]


This is where things get interesting. The gospels of Mark and Luke do not ask when the end of the world / age will be at all. Just when the destruction will take place and the sign of it's accomplishment for Mark, or the sign of the beginnings (Luke). Mark asks "when will it start and HOW will it [the destruction] end?" Luke asks "when will it start and what will that look like?" The disciples are asking here when is it going to start, and how will we know when it is finished. The questions have nothing to do with the age or the world.

So lets compare the prophecies found in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. Please click on [THIS LINK] to view the table of comparison I constructed.

Notice that they are all very similar, but one things stands out that MUST shout to the believer: Jesus seals EVERY prophecy with the words: "This generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away." So we need to find out what "THIS GENERATION" means and then we have solved the TIMING issue. Then it's a matter or research to discover what the rest means.

I would like to add to this long post that these three texts are equally valid as the next. Where two agree they trump a possible re-definition of the third, where the third is vague. For example, you cannot support a pre-tribulational rapture from comparing these texts. The tribulation clearly comes before any 'rapture' texts. (I'm not sure I agree with rapture theology, today I'm feeling opposed...)

A story I like

The analogy falls apart a bit, but it is a good story:

A preacher and an atheistic barber were once walking through the city slums. Said the barber to the preacher: "This is why I cannot believe in a God of love. If God was as kind as you say, He would not permit all this poverty, disease, and squalor. He would not allow these poor bums to be addicted to dope and other character-destroying habits. No, I cannot believe in a God who permits these things."

The minister was silent until they met a man who was especially unkempt and filthy. His hair was hanging down his neck and he had a half-inch of stubble on his face. Said the minister: "You must not be a very good barber because you wouldn't permit a man like that to continue living in this neighborhood without a haircut and shave." Indignantly the barber answered: "Why blame me for that man's condition? I can't help it that he is like that. He has never come in my shop; I could fix him up and make him look like a gentleman!"

Giving the barber a penetrating look, the minister said: "Then don't blame God for allowing the people to continue in their evil ways, when He is constantly inviting them to come and be saved."
[SOURCE]

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Revelation: Defence vs. Definition

I have begun to dig into my revelation study. I think some points need to be made here: I am not looking for an excuse to believe what I think. I am looking for valid textual evidence from the text of scripture. If scripture does not prove it, then I will remain unswayed on the issue.

There is a difference between my approach and other approaches. Mine seems far more scientific. Please remember I am undoubtedly biased in my interpretation. I have my church to thank for that, and my history. Even though I do not know what my interpretation is, I am by far sure that I know what I am not.

I have listened to arguments on both sides and have decided to look at this myself. In addition, my interpretation will require revision, since I am blogging first and determining the whole of my eschatology last. I do this in order to prevent bias.

I will approach the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ in this manner: scripture and my hermeneutic. I wish to study key words, genres, history and geography that surround the text, keeping in mind that SCRIPTURE tells me the truth and anything else is subject to scripture. I am using the same technique I use to read Genesis that I use to read Revelation, without trying to add to or make incorrect inferences from the text, which is what I fear is going on altogether too much.

My defence versus definition approach is thus: I am determining my values regarding the eschaton from the beginning. I am fortunate enough in that no one has had any major impact on my view. This makes me far more able to be clear on the text than people who go in with too many pre-suppositions.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The beginning of my Eschatology

I realized the other day I am being slow in fulfilling a vow I made to God. Two years ago I was asked to write a paper for a conference. I was not impressed with the request and rushed the writing. However, I was careful since I determined that I would use the paper as a chapter. The day I finished the first paper, I was asked to complete a second, summarizing my work. This new request annoyed me greatly, since I only was required to complete one paper for my degree. The second paper had far less effort put into it.

A few months after submission I heard results on the first paper. Not only was the paper accepted, but for full publication (as opposed to having to write a short paper - half the length). This news humbled me greatly. I realised I was wasting opportunities given to me by God. What made matters worse is that the second paper had been submitted prior to the news. So there was nothing I could do.

Now the problem is that writing papers is an end in itself. There is prestige in being a published scientist, especially at my age. However, there is a bonus: you get to present at an international conference! My university pays for the plane ticket, conference fees and accommodation, so it is, in essence, a free trip. Now for the first paper I presented in Bangkok 2007 and I had a wonderful time. In August 2007 I had just joined my church, Brackenhurst baptist.

Now my new church had been in suffering a few years back. The pastor had changed his eschatology from a dipensational pre-millennialist (believing that all of the book of the Revelation has not been fulfilled, with the exception of chapters 1-3) to a partial or moderate preterist (believing that Revelation 1 - 20 has been fulfilled). Many left the church and the church had received a very bad name as a result.

So eschatology was on my mind, plus the fact that I was wasting my opportunities. Then I learned that the second conference was to be held in Turkey. But not just anywhere in Turkey, but Izmir, really close to Ephesus.

Ephesus! One of the seven churches! I literally threw away an opportunity to stand on the same paths as Paul the apostle. So I prayed and vowed that if I got accepted to the conference for the second paper, that I would ensure that the book of Revelation was a dominant topic of study for me.

I got the publication. I walked on the same paths as Paul. I stood where he stood. I saw the place of the church who had forgotten her first love. I did not deserve it and I know it, plus I have a vow that must be paid.

Myself and Grace (Work colleague) at Ephasus

This comes at an opportune time. [Tyrell], a brother who knows his interpretation, has started looking into the eschaton. I am sure of what my interpretation will be, but I am not sure under what categories it will fall. There are so many terms describing different things, I'm not going to try. Rather than trying to defend a position, like Tyrell, I am rather going to try and define a position.

And I will do it soon.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Congratualtions!

Tyrell Haag, a dear friend to this blog, engaged another friend, Ainsley Smith, on Friday. I wish them a happy and wonderful marriage, with the strength of God binding them together.

I owe much to Tyrell, friendship in times when friends were few and guidance when I could not see things clearly. Tyrell was the instrument of God's providence in my life, without which I would not have ever been exposed to the teachings which literally changed my life. He also nurtured both learning and evangelism in the area in which I live, both of which are missed since he had to move north.

God bless!

New Year

My verses for the new year have come from my daily sequential reading:

"A fool gives full vent to his spirit,
but a wise man quietly holds it back." [Proverbs 29:11]



"Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you." [Ecclesiastes 7:21]



"The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgement, with every secret thing, whether good or evil." [Ecclesiastes 12:13-14]


If I can follow these, I think I may accomplish something this year. God bless!