Tuesday, May 16, 2006

PICTURES OF CHRIST


The question of the propriety of pictorial representations of the Saviour is one that merits examination. It must be granted that the worship of Christ is central in our holy faith, and the thought of the Saviour must in every instance be accompanied with that reverence which belongs to his worship. We cannot think of him without the apprehension of the majesty that is his. If we do not entertain the sense of his majesty, then we are guilty of impiety and we dishonour him.

It will also be granted that the only purpose that could properly be served by a pictorial representation is that it would convey to us some thought or lesson representing him, consonant with truth and promotive of worship. Hence the question is inescapable: is a pictorial representation a legitimate way of conveying truth regarding him and of contributing to the worship which this truth should evoke?

We are all aware of the influence exerted on the mind and heart by pictures. Pictures are powerful media of communication. How suggestive they are for good or for evil and all the more so when accompanied by the comment of the spoken or written word! It is futile, therefore, to deny the influence exerted upon mind and heart by a picture of Christ. And if such is legitimate, the influence exerted should be one constraining to worship and adoration. To claim any lower aim as that served by a picture of the Saviour would be contradiction of the place which he must occupy in thought, affection, and honour.

The plea for the propriety of pictures of Christ is based on the fact that he was truly man, that he had a human body, that he was visible in his human nature to the physical senses, and that a picture assists us to take in the stupendous reality of his incarnation, in a word, that he was made in the likeness of men and was found in fashion as a man.

Our Lord had a true body. He could have been photographed. A portrait could have been made of him and, if a good portrait, it would have reproduced his likeness.

Without doubt the disciples in the days of his flesh had a vivid mental image of Jesus’ appearance and they could not but have retained that recollection to the end of their days. They could never have entertained the thought of him as he had sojourned with them without something of that mental image and they could not have entertained it without adoration and worship. The very features which they remembered would have been part and parcel of their conception of him and reminiscent of what he had been to them in his humiliation and in the glory of his resurrection appearance. Much more might be said regarding the significance for the disciples of Jesus’ physical features.

Jesus is also glorified in the body and that body is visible. It will also become visible to us at his glorious appearing—

“he will be seen the second time without sin by those who look for him unto salvation” (Hebrews 9:28).

What then are we to say of pictures of Christ?

First of all, it must be said that we have no data whatsoever on the basis of which to make a pictorial representation; we have no descriptions of his physical features which would enable even the most accomplished artist to make an approximate portrait. In view of the profound influence exerted by a picture, especially on the minds of young people, we should perceive the peril involved in a portrayal for which there is no warrant, a portrayal which is the creation of pure imagination. It may help to point up the folly to ask:

what would be the reaction of a disciple, who had actually seen the Lord in the days of his flesh, to a portrait which would be the work of imagination on the part of one who had never seen the Saviour?

We can readily detect what his recoil would be. No impression we have of Jesus should be created without the proper revelatory data, and every impression, every thought, should evoke worship. Hence, since we possess no revelatory data for a picture or portrait in the proper sense of the term, we are precluded from making one or using any that have been made.

Secondly, pictures of Christ are in principle a violation of the second commandment. A picture of Christ, if it serves any useful purpose, must evoke some thought or feeling respecting him and, in view of what he is, this thought or feeling will be worshipful. We cannot avoid making the picture a medium of worship. But since the materials for this medium of worship are not derived from the only revelation we possess respecting Jesus, namely, Scripture, the worship is constrained by a creation of the human mind that has no revelatory warrant. This is will-worship. For the principle of the second commandment is that we are to worship God only in ways prescribed and authorized by him. It is a grievous sin to have worship constrained by a human figment, and that is what a picture of the Saviour involves.

Thirdly, the second commandment forbids bowing down to an image or likeness of anything in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. A picture of the Saviour purports to be a representation or likeness of him who is now in heaven or, at least, of him when he sojourned upon the earth. It is plainly forbidden, therefore, to bow down in worship before such a representation or likeness. This exposes the iniquity involved in the practice of exhibiting pictorial representations of the Saviour in places of worship.

When we worship before a picture of our Lord, whether it be in the form of a mural, or on canvas, or in stained glass, we are doing what the second commandment expressly forbids. This is rendered all the more apparent when we bear in mind that the only reason why a picture of him should be exhibited in a place is the supposition that it contributes to the worship of him who is our Lord. The practice only demonstrates how insensitive we readily become to the commandments of God and to the inroads of idolatry. May the Churches of Christ be awake to the deceptive expedients by which the archenemy ever seeks to corrupt the worship of the Saviour.

In summary, what is at stake in this question is the unique place which Jesus Christ as the God-man occupies in our faith and worship and the unique place which the Scripture occupies as the only revelation, the only medium of communication, respecting him whom we worship as Lord and Saviour. The incarnate Word and the written Word are correlative. We dare not use other media of impression or of sentiment but those of his institution and prescription. Every thought and impression of him should evoke worship. We worship him with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God. To use a likeness of Christ as an aid to worship is forbidden by the second commandment as much in this case as in that of the Father and Spirit.

Author unknown

IDOLATROUS PICTURES OF CHRIST

PICTURES OF CHRIST

“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:4-6).

In this second commandment we are forbidden to make any graven image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. We are forbidden to bow down to them or to serve them. Now the question has been asked whether or not this commandment forbids the use of pictures of Christ. Naturally the commandment forbids the bowing down before such pictures and worshipping them. There can be no question of that.

But in many Protestant churches and in many evangelical churches pictures of Christ are used in teaching, and in the homes of Christians pictures of Christ are hung up to remind them, I suppose, of Christ.


Is that Scriptural?
Does it meet with the approval of God?
Is it sinful?
Is it another way of breaking the second commandment?

No doubt, if I state that the use of pictures of Christ is unscriptural; that it does not meet with the approval of God; that it is sinful; and that it is a breaking of the second commandment—I will be considered as a fanatic, a reactionary, and perhaps not quite normal. But before you have such unkind thoughts please hear me out. If we are Christians our service and worship will be regulated by the Word of God. The Bible is our infallible guide in faith and worship.

Now here is the surprising thing. Nowhere in the Bible, either in the Old Testament or New Testament, is there a physical description of Christ. Isn’t that strange if God wanted to use the picture of Christ in spreading the Gospel or in worship, that we are not told whether Christ was tall or short, fair or dark, light or dark hair, blue eyes or brown eyes?

With all their love for the Lord you would think that Peter or John would have given a description of him—unless, of course, they were forbidden. They wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Surely it is significant that neither they nor any other of the Scriptures gave a physical description of the Lord. Surely if God desired the use of pictures of Christ to further the cause of Christ he would have had a physical description of his Son in his Word.


Why should we consider ourselves wiser than God and provide what he has deliberately left out?

The second amazing fact is that in the first four centuries of the history of the Church no picture of Christ was used. These were the years when the Church made her most astonishing growth. These were the years in which the Christians conquered pagan Rome. It is so frequently stated that we need pictures of Christ in order to teach people the Gospel. The apostle Peter did not need pictures of Christ to instruct the young or bring the Gospel to adults. The apostle John did not need pictures of Christ to convert pagans and instruct the Church. The apostle Paul did not need pictures of Christ to convert Barbarians and Greeks. The early church did not need pictures of Christ to conquer paganism. They accomplished it by preaching the Word in the power of the Holy Spirit.

When pictures of Christ were first introduced they were opposed. The Church historian Eusebius, who lived in the fourth century, declared himself in the strongest manner against images of Christ in a letter to the Empress Constantia who asked him for such an image. Amongst other things Eusebius wrote: “Who can therefore counterfeit by dead and insensible colors, by vain shadowing painter’s art, the bright and shining glistering of such his glory? whereas his holy disciples were not able to behold the same in the mountain; who, therefore, falling on their faces, acknowledged they were not able to behold such a sight.”

Here Eusebius touches on one of the reasons why it is impossible to have a true picture of Christ.


If you want a picture of Christ do you want it as he was upon earth or as he is now in heaven?

If you want a picture of him as he was upon earth you have quite a problem. There was no picture of him painted. The so-called pictures of Christ which are present today are from the imaginations of the artists. That is why there are so many different pictures. Not one of them is a true picture. So every time you say this or that is a picture of Christ you are uttering a lie. You cannot teach truth by a lie. Christ is the Truth, and surely he would not want the use of a false means to point to him. Christ abhors lies and falsehoods.

How would you like it if someone who never saw you painted a picture and told every one that it was a picture of you?


Certainly you would resent it. And certainly Christ must resent all those counterfeit pictures of him.

But supposing you wanted a picture of Christ as he is now. The disciples had such a vision of him on the mount of transfiguration. We read in:


Matthew 17:2
“And his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.”

This was the glorified Christ. No artist could give us a picture of Christ which would show the glowing of Christ’s face as the sun and his raiment as white as the light. They would only rob Christ of his glory by miserably falling short of a true painting of Christ in his present glory.

But someone will state that at least we can depict the humanity of Christ as he appeared upon earth. But who are we to separate his humanity from his divinity!


John 1:14 “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

Notice that the apostle states that even while Christ was in the flesh they beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father. In other words, they beheld his divinity as well as his humanity. This one cannot paint. So one must behold his humanity as separate from his divinity. Then one falls into the ancient error of Nestorius. He stated that Christ consisted of two persons: one human and the other divine. There was, according to Nestorius, a separation between the human and the divine persons.

That was the ground on which the Council called by Constantine V condemned paintings of Christ. You see, this question of pictures of Christ was the subject of controversy throughout the eighth century. So Constantine in 753 called a council of three hundred and thirty bishops. Their conclusion was this:
“If any person shall divide the human nature, united to the Person of God the Word; and, having it only in the imagination of his mind, shall therefore attempt to paint the same in an image; let him be holden as accursed. If any person shall divide Christ, being but one, into two persons; placing on the one side the Son of God, and on the other side the son of Mary; neither doth confess the continual union that is made; and by that reason doth paint in an image the son of Mary, as subsisting by himself; let him be accursed. If any person shall paint in an image the human nature, being deified by the uniting thereof to God the Word; separating the same as it were from the Godhead assumpted and deified; let him be holden as accursed.”

This council points out the difficulty and indeed the impossibility of painting a portrait of Christ. Christ is more than man. He is God-man. It is impossible to depict by a painter’s brush the almighty power of Christ; the glorious majesty of Christ; the infinite knowledge of Christ. You cannot localize by a painter’s brush the everywhere-presence of Christ. One can only succeed in degrading Christ. When one considers the deity of Christ it is no wonder that the apostles did not attempt a physical description of their Lord and Saviour.

There is always, also, the danger of worshipping the picture of Christ and attaching power to it. Even a Protestant publishing firm stated that there is power in a picture of Christ. It stated: “When one plants deeply and firmly in his mind the picture of Christ, it has a strong and powerful influence in his life.” Thus instead of attributing this influence to Christ and the Holy Spirit they attribute it to the picture they are trying to sell! That is a breaking of the second commandment.

But can it not help in the saving of souls, it is asked.


But how?

Looking at a picture of Christ hanging upon the cross tells me nothing. It does not tell me that he hung there for sin. It does not tell me that he hung there for my sin. It does not tell me that he is the Son of God. Only the Word of God does that. And it is the Word of God that has been given us to tell the story of salvation through the blood of Christ. It is not through the foolishness of pictures that sinners are converted but through the foolishness of preaching.

It is amazing how slowly unscriptural practices enter the Christian Church. We must at all times go back to the Scriptures. The Bible is our infallible guide. And if our practices and doctrines do not conform with the teachings of the Scriptures, then we must eliminate them. The Bible instructs the Church not to make any likeness of Christ. The present day pictures of Christ are false and no one would make a serious claim that they resemble Christ upon earth. They separate his humanity from his deity. They do not at all give us a glimpse of his present glory. They are not condoned by the inspired apostles.

God has ordained the foolishness of preaching to evangelize the world. He has promised to attend the preaching of the Word with the power of the Holy Spirit. The so-called pictures of Christ are a hindrance and a temptation to idolatry. Let us cleanse the Temple of God from them.


Author Unknown

WHY BIBLE-BELIEVING STUDENTS SHOULD USE THE KJV


A Recapitulation

By Edward F. Hills - AUTHOR OF 'The King James Version Defended'

In regard to Bible versions many contemporary Christians are behaving like spoiled and rebellious children. They want a Bible version that pleases them, no matter whether it pleases God or not. “We want a Bible version in our own idiom,” they clamor. “We want a Bible that talks to us in the same way in which we talk to our friends over the telephone. We want an informal God, no better educated than ourselves, with a limited vocabulary and a taste for modern slang.” And having thus registered their preference, they go their several ways. Some of them unite with the modernists in using the RSV or the NEB. Others deem the NASV or the NIV more “evangelical.” Still others opt for the TEV or the Living Bible.

But God is bigger than you are, dear friend, and the Bible version which you must use is not a matter for you to decide according to your whims and prejudices. It has already been decided for you by the workings of God’s special providence. If you ignore this providence and choose to adopt one of the modern versions, you will be taking the first step in the logic of unbelief. For the arguments which you must use to justify your choice are the same arguments which unbelievers use to justify theirs, the same method. If you adopt one of these modern versions, you must adopt the naturalistic New Testament textual criticism upon which it rests. This naturalistic textual criticism requires us to study the New Testament text in the same way in which we study the texts of secular books which have not been preserved by God’s special providence.

In other words, naturalistic textual criticism regards the special, providential preservation of the Scriptures as of no importance for the study of the New Testament text. But if we concede this, then it follows that the infallible inspiration of the Scriptures is likewise unimportant. For why is it important that God should infallibly inspire the Scriptures, if it is not important that He should preserve them by His special providence?

Where, oh where, dear brother or sister, did you ever get the idea that it is up to you to decide which Bible version you will receive as God’s holy Word? As long as you harbor this false notion, you are little better than an unbeliever. As long as you cherish this erroneous opinion, you are entirely on your own. For you, the Bible has no real authority—only that which your rebellious reason deigns to give it. For you, there is no comfort, no assurance of faith. Cast off, therefore, this carnal mind that leads to death!

Put on the spiritual mind that leads to life and peace! Receive by faith the true text of God’s holy Word, which has been preserved down through the ages by His special providence and now is found in the Masoretic Hebrew, the Greek Textus Receptus, and the King James Version and other faithful translations!

SIX REASONS WHY THE KJV VERSION SHOULD BE RETAINED

By Edward F. Hills. author of 'The King James Version Defended'

“The Old Testament in Hebrew...and the New Testament in Greek...being immediately inspired by God, and by His singularcare and providence kept pure in all ages...”
(Westminster Confession of Faith 1:8).

1. In the first place, the English of the King James Version is not the English of the early 17th century. To be exact, it is not a type of English that was ever spoken anywhere. It is biblical English, which was not used on ordinary occasions, even by the translators who produced the King James Version. As H. Wheeler Robinson (1940) pointed out, one need only compare the preface written by the translators with the text of their translation to feel the difference in style. And the observations of W. A. Irwin (1952) are to the same purport. The King James Version, he reminds us, owes its merit, not to 17th century English—which was very different—but to its faithful translation of the original. Its style is that of the Hebrew and of the New Testament Greek. Even in their use of “thee” and “thou” the translators were not following 17th century English usage but biblical usage, for at the time these translators were doing their work these singular forms had already been replaced by the plural “you” in polite conversation.

2. In the second place, those who talk about translating the Bible into the “language of today” never define what they mean by this expression. What is the language of today? The language of 1881 is not the language of today—nor the language of 1901, nor even the language of 1921. In none of these languages, we are told, can we communicate with today’s youth. There are even some who feel that the best way to translate the Bible into the language of today is to convert it into “folk songs.” Accordingly, in many contemporary youth conferences and even worship services there is little or no Bible reading but only crude kinds of vocal music accompanied by vigorous piano and strumming guitars. But in contrast to these absurdities the language of the King James Version is enduring diction which will remain as long as the English language remains—in other words, throughout the foreseeable future.

3. In the third place, the current attack on the King James Version and the promotion of modern-speech versions is discouraging the memorization of the Scriptures, especially by the children. Why memorize or require your children to memorize something that is out of date and about to be replaced by something new and better? And why memorize a modern version when there are so many to choose from? Hence, even in conservative churches children are growing up densely ignorant of the Holy Bible because they are not encouraged to hide its life-giving words in their hearts.

4. In the fourth place, modern-speech Bibles are unhistorical and irreverent. The Bible is not a modern, human book. It is not as new as the morning newspaper, and no translation should suggest this. If the Bible were this new, it would not be the Bible. On the contrary, the Bible is an ancient, divine book which nevertheless is always new because in it God reveals Himself. Hence, the language of the Bible should be venerable as well as intelligible, and the King James Version fulfills these two requirements better than any other Bible in English. Hence, it is the King James Version which converts sinners soundly and makes of them diligent Bible students.

5. In the fifth place, modern-speech Bibles are unscholarly. The language of the Bible has always savored of the things of heaven rather than the things of earth. It has always been biblical rather than contemporary and colloquial. Fifty years ago this fact was denied by E. J. Goodspeed and others who were pushing their modern versions. On the basis of the papyrus discoveries which had recently been made in Egypt it was said that the New Testament authors wrote in the everyday Greek of their own times. This claim, however, is now acknowledged to have been an exaggeration. As R. M. Grant (1963) admits, the New Testament writers were saturated with the Septuagint and most of them were familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures. Hence, their language was not actually that of the secular papyri of Egypt but biblical. Hence, New Testament versions must be biblical and not contemporary and colloquial like Goodspeed’s version.

6. Finally, in the sixth place, the King James Version is the historic Bible of English-speaking Protestants. Upon it God, working providentially, has placed the stamp of His approval through the usage of many generations of Bible-believing Christians. Hence, if we believe in God’s providential preservation of the Scriptures, we will retain the King James Version, for in so doing we will be following the clear leading of the Almighty.

Monday, May 15, 2006

CHRISTMAS


Jeremiah 10:1-3
“Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen...for the customs of the people are vain”
Christmas is coming! Quite so;

but what is “Christmas?”

Does not the very term itself denote its source—“Christ-mass”?

Thus it is of Roman origin, brought over from paganism. But, says someone, Christmas is the time when we commemorate the Savior’s birth.

It is?
And who authorized such commemoration?

Certainly God did not. The Redeemer bade His disciples “remember” Him in His death, but there is not a word in scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, which tells us to celebrate His birth.

Moreover, who knows when, in what month, He was born?

The Bible is silent thereon. It is without reason that the only “birthday” commemorations mentioned in God’s Word are Pharaoh’s (Genesis 40:20) and Herod’s (Matthew 14:6)

Is this recorded “for our learning?”

If so, have we prayerfully taken it to heart?

And who is it that celebrates “Christmas?”


The whole “civilized world.” Millions who make no profession of faith in the blood of the Lamb, who “despise and reject Him,” and millions more who while claiming to be His followers yet in works deny Him, join in merrymaking under the pretense of honoring the birth of the Lord Jesus. Putting it on its lowest ground, we would ask:

is it fitting that His friends should unite with His enemies in a worldly round of fleshly gratification?

Does any true born-again soul really think that He whom the world cast out is either pleased or glorified by such participation in the world’s joys?

Verily, the customs of the people are vain; and it is written,

Exodus 23:2
“Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil”

Some will argue for the “keeping of Christmas” on the ground of “giving the kiddies a good time.”


But why do this under the cloak of honoring the Savior’s birth?

Why is it necessary to drag in His holy name in connection with what takes place at that season of carnal jollification?

Is this taking the little one with you out of Egypt (Exodus 10:9-10), a type of the world, or is it not plainly a mingling with the present day Egyptians in their “pleasures of sin for a season?” (Hebrews 11:25).

Scripture says:

Proverbs 22:6
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Scripture does command God’s people to bring up their children

Ephesians 6:4
“in the nurture and admonition of the Lord”

but where does it stipulate that it is our duty to give the little one a “good time?”

Do we ever give the children “a good time” when we engage in anything upon which we cannot fittingly ask the Lord’s blessing?There are those who do abstain from some of the grosser carnalities of the “festive season,” yet are they nevertheless in cruel bondage to the prevailing custom of “Christmas”; namely, that of exchanging “gifts.” We say “exchanging” for that is what it really amounts to in many cases. A list is kept, either on paper or in memory, of those from whom gifts were received last year, and that for the purpose of returning the compliment this year. Nor is this all: great care has been taken that the “gift” made to the friend is worth as much in dollars and cents as the one they expect to receive from him or her. Thus, with many who can ill afford it, a considerable sum has to be set aside each year with which to purchase things simply to send them out in return for others which are likely to be received. Thus a burden has been bound on them which not a few find hard to bear.

But what are we to do?

If we fail to send out “gifts,” our friends will think hard of us, probably deem us stingy and miserly. The honest course is to go to the trouble of notifying them—by letter if at a distance—that from now on you do not propose to send out any more “Christmas gifts” as such. Give your reasons. State plainly that you have been brought to see that “Christmas merrymaking” is entirely a thing of the world, devoid of any Scriptural warrant; that it is a Romish institution, and now that you see this, you dare no longer have any fellowship with it (Ephesians 5:11); that you are the Lord’s “free man” (1 Corinthians 7:22), and therefore you refuse to be in bondage to a costly custom imposed by the world.What about sending out “Christmas cards” with a text of Scripture on them?



That also is an abomination in the sight of God.

Why?

Because His Word expressly forbids all unholy mixtures; Deuteronomy 22:10-11 typified this.

What do we mean by an “unholy mixture?”

This: the linking together of the pure Word of God with the Romish “Christ-mass.” By all means send cards (preferably at some other time of the year) to your ungodly friends, and Christians too, with a verse of Scripture, but not with “Christmas” on it.

What would you think of a printed program of a vaudeville having Isaiah 53:5 at the foot of it?

Why, that it was altogether out of place, highly incongruous. But in the sight of God the circus and the theater are far less obnoxious than the “Christmas celebration” of Romish and Protestant “churches.”

Why?

Because the latter are done under the cover of the holy name of Christ; the former are not.Proverbs 4:18
“But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto perfect day”

Where there is a heart that really desires to please the Lord, He graciously grants increasing knowledge of His will. If He is pleased to use these lines in opening the eyes of some of His dear people to recognize what is a growing evil, and to show them that they have been dishonoring Christ by linking the name of the Man of Sorrows (and such He was, when on earth) with a “Merry Christmas,” then join with the writer in a repentant confessing of this sin to God, seeking His grace for complete deliverance from it, and praise Him for the light which He has granted you concerning it.Beloved fellow-Christian,



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

Do we really believe this?

Believe it not because the Papacy is regaining its lost temporal power, but because God says so—

2 Corinthians 5:7
“for we walk by faith, not by sight”.

If so, what effects does such believing have on our walk?

This may be your last Christmas on earth. During it the Lord may descend from heaven with a shout to gather His own to Himself.

Would you like to be summoned from a “Christmas party” to meet Him in the air?

Matthew 25:6
“Go ye out to meet Him”

The call for the moment is out from a Godless Christendom, out from the horrible burlesque of “religion” which now masquerades under His name.2 Corithians 5:10
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad”.

How solemn and searching! The Lord Jesus declared that

Matthew 12:36
“every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment”.

If every “idle word” is going to be taken note of, then most assuredly will be every wasted energy, every wasted dollar, every wasted hour! Should we still be on earth when the closing days of this year arrive, let writer and reader earnestly seek grace to live and act with the judgment seat of Christ before us. His “well done” will be ample compensation for the sneers and taunts which we may now receive from Christless souls.Does any Christian reader imagine for a moment that when he or she shall stand before their holy Lord, that they will regret having lived “too strictly” on earth?



Is there the slightest danger of His reproving any of His own because they were “too extreme” in “abstaining from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11)?

We may gain the good will and good works of worldly religionists today by our compromising on “little (?) points,”

but shall we receive His smile and approval on that day?

Oh to be more concerned about what He thinks, and less concerned about what perishing mortals think. Exodus 23:2
“Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil”.

Ah, it is an easy thing to float with the tide of popular opinion; but it takes much grace, diligently sought from God, to swim against it. Yet that is what the heir of heaven is called on to do: to “Be not conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2), to deny self, take up the cross, and follow a rejected Christ. How sorely does both writer and reader need to heed that word of the Savior, “Behold, I come quickly; hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown” (Revelation 3:11). Oh that each of us may be able to truthfully say, “I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep Thy Word” (Psalm 119:101).Our final word is to the pastors. To you the Word of the Lord is,

1 Timothy 4:12
“Be thou an example of believers in word, in deportment, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity”.

Is it not true that the most corrupt “churches” you know of, where almost every fundamental of the faith is denied, will have their “Christmas celebrations?”

Will you imitate them?

Are you consistent to protest against unscriptural methods of “raising money,” and then to sanction unscriptural “Christmas services?”

Seek grace to firmly but lovingly set God’s truth on this subject before your people, and announce that you can have no part in following pagan, Romish, and worldly customs.

Arthur W. Pink



QUESTIONS FOR DISPENSATIONALISTS

If the dispensationalist will simply answer these honestly presented queries, we will be able to discern whether the accusations against dispensationalism are true -

1. Has the OT saint partaken of the blood of Christ shed for sins?

Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, 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 eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." -John 6:53-54

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is My body." Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." -Matthew 26:26-282.

Does the Spirit of Christ dwell in the OT saint?

"He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him." -John 6:56

But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. -Romans 8:93.

Are ALL the saints of ALL the ages ONE BODY, drinking of the SAME Spirit?

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread. -1 Cor 10:16-17

For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-- whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free--and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. -1 Cor 12:13

If one answers in the affirmative the above queries, one has abandoned Dispensationalism. Congratulations, brother, welcome to orthodox Christianity! If one answers any of the above in the negative, then the accusations against dispensationalism are true, and we would ask that person to produce the means of the OT saints salvation!

Soli Deo Gloria !

HOW THE PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE DENIES THE GOSPEL


By John H. Gerstner

We have discussed the fact that the dispensationalist's understanding of "dispensation" invalidates the reality of grace in any age, how the dispensational "Kingdom Offer" impugns the honesty of God and makes the gospel nothing more than an afterthought, and how presumed distinctions between Israel and the church deny the New Covenant to either. We will now examine how the peculiarly dispensational doctrine of the Pretribulational Rapture of the Church makes manifest these errors.

The novel doctrine of the pretribulational rapture is central to dispensational teaching. The removal of the church to heaven preceding the Tribulation period, when the stopped prophetic clock begins ticking for Israel again with the "Seventieth Week of Daniel", was Darby's innovation.


Darby broke not only from previous millenarian teaching but from all of church history by asserting that Christ's second coming would occur in two stages. The first, an invisible "secret rapture" of true believers could happen at any moment, ending the great "parenthesis" or church age which began when the Jews rejected Christ.


Scofield also taught this doctrine along with Chafer, Ryrie, Walvoord, etc. At dispensational schools, failure to hold steadfastly to the doctrine of the pretribulational rapture may have dire consequences.

...the doctrine of a pretribulational rapture of the church seems to be a litmus test of orthodoxy. To "outsiders," including classic premillennialists, this doctrine is not crucial, if it is believed at all. But not only is it vigorously maintained in Dallas Dispensationalism, but deviation from it causes a person to be suspect and institutions to shake and sometimes split.

It is unfortunate that "outsiders" - historic premillennialists, postmillennialists, and amillennialists - have not taken this distinctively dispensational doctrine more seriously, for it is here that dispensational theology stands or falls. It is the doctrine of the pretribulational rapture that proves conclusively that Dispensationalism is not, as dispensationalists claim, a return to Biblical theology - but a pseudo Christian cult.

Most arguments against pretribulationism have focused upon showing that the doctrine is a new development in theology and can not be found in the scriptures. Various orthodox commentators and theologians, from the ranks of each of the millennial views, have presented this case with considerable skill. We will therefore take a different tack, and show that the doctrine is in direct opposition to the everlasting Gospel of Christ Jesus.


Most earlier dispensational theologians allowed that the Old Testament saints would be resurrected along with the church in the pretribulational rapture. Alexander Reese, a classic premillennialist, utterly destroyed this position with convincing scriptural arguments locating the resurrection of the Old Testament saints at the Day of the Lord at the end of the Tribulation.

"At that time Michael shall stand up, The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt. -Daniel 12:1-2


Although I heard, I did not understand. Then I said, "My lord, what shall be the end of these things?" And he said, "Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. "Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand. "And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days. "Blessed is he who waits, and comes to the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days. "But you, go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days." -Daniel 12:8-13


No dispensationalist would argue that the "time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation", the "abomination of desolation", and the taking away of the daily sacrifice is not a reference to the time of the Tribulation. Yet, Daniel is told that the resurrection follows these events.

Dispensationalists then, for the most part, amended their position to separate the resurrection of the Old Testament saints from the rapture.
... many careful students of premillennial truth have come to the conclusion that the opinion that Israel's resurrection occurred at the time of the rapture was a hasty one and without proper Scriptural foundation. It seems far more preferable to regard the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 as a literal one following the tribulation, but not to be identified with the pretribulational rapture of the church... The church will be raised at the time of the rapture before the tribulation, and the Old Testament saints, including Israel, at the beginning of the millennial reign of Christ.


On this point the dispensationalist has jumped from the frying pan into the fire. In order to preserve the precious doctrine of the pretribulational rapture of the church, they raise the Old Testament saints apart from the saints of the church age. We note that this is consistent with the dispensational understanding of "dispensations" and with their distinction between Israel and the church. It also reveals that the longstanding charge made by orthodox Christianity that dispensationalism teaches multiple methods of salvation is absolutely true. Let us look at some of the texts concerning the resurrection of the saints -

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed--in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." "O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?" -1 Cor 15:50-55

For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. -1 Thes 4:15-17

In these classic dispensational proof texts of the pretribulational rapture, we see that the righteous dead are raised first, and then those who are alive and remain are translated into incorruptable bodies and gathered to Christ. How, then, can the dispensationalist justify the concept of the Old Testament saints being raised at some later point in time?

Some people are startled by the thought that the Old Testament saints will not be resurrected until the end of the Tribulation. But keep in mind that the rapture is a promise to the Church, and the Church only.

We see that the dispensationally imposed distinction between Israel and the church is at the root of this argument. The Old Testament saints are not "in Christ" and therefore will not arise to everlasting life at the same time as the church saints.

According to dispensationalists, the Old Testament people are not the heirs of the Holy Spirit, are not regenerated by Him, and are not grafted by Him into Christ in the same way that the New Testament people are.

...the verse simply says that the dead in Christ will precede the living in Christ in the rapture. If you are saying that Daniel would be included in "the dead", then you have to show that Daniel is "in Christ". If you will study the NT you will see that "in Christ" refers to the baptism in the Holy Spirit. "For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free--and we were all given the one Spirit to drink"...There is no way that Daniel was part of the body of Christ. This verse in 1 Thess 4:16 simply does not apply to him.

The Holy Spirit did not permanently indwell believers in the OT. It is not really people or time period that delineates the church--it is the Holy Spirit. Personal faith in Jesus Christ--which is what the passage is referring to--was not an option for OT saints. They are not in view in this passage. It is referring to people who do have the option of this personal faith in Jesus...OT saints are "in Christ" in that sense that the death of Jesus is the basis for the salvation of anyone--past, present, future. However, they were not part of the body of Christ, in the sense of being permanently indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

The technical term for the Church is those who are "in Christ." 1 Thess. speaks of those who have died "in Christ" being resurrected at the time of His coming IN THE AIR. The context has ONLY the Church in mind.

This dispensational distinction between the OT & NT saints, the church & Israel, is in fact what denies dispensationalism any claim to Christianity at all, for in that very distinction dispensationalism teaches multiple methods of salvation. By excluding the OT saint from the ekklesia (church) the dispensationalist is required to produce some means, other than partaking of the New Covenant in Christ, for one or the other of the groups to be granted eternal life. The teaching of the church for the last 2,000 yrs precludes this, as does our Lord.

Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, 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 eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. " - John 6:53-56

Notice these points which contradict Dispensational doctrine -
No one has life who does not partake of the New Covenant in Christ's Blood. The OT saint must partake, as does the NT & tribulation saint, in order to have life.


ALL who partake are raised at the LAST DAY. That day is the "end of the days" prophesied to Daniel -
"But you, go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days."- Daniel 12:13
ALL who partake are "in Christ" and He in they.
ALL THE SAINTS are promised the same resurrection, by the same Blood, at the same time!


And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. -Hebrews 9:15


By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. -Hebrews 11:9-10

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth...But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. -Hebrews 11:13,16

And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. -Hebrews 11:39-40The dispensationalist, ignoring the clear teaching of scripture and the historic church, denies the existence of the general assembly, and falls back to perdition by advocating shadows as the means of salvation for the OT & Tribulation saint, all in order to preserve the delusion of the pretribulational rapture!

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, "Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven." Now this, "Yet once more," indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire. -Hebrews 12:22-29

The dispensational argument that proclaims that the OT saint is somehow saved because of Christ - rather than being "in Christ" by partaking of the New Covenant in His Blood - is opposed to orthodox Christian soteriology.

The truth will inevitably manifest itself. It has in dispensational soteriology. The truth is that another way of salvation which is somehow connected with Christ but not resting on Christ is a DIFFERENT way. The dispensationalist at this point is, unconsciously perhaps, consistent with himself. He does not regard the Old Testament people of God as second, third, or fourth class citizens of the Kingdom of God. They simply are not citizens at all. While dispensationalists roundly assert that Old Testament people were saved by Christ, there is NO WAY IN THEIR THEOLOGICAL SYSTEM they could be.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

THE HERESY OF DISPENSATIONALISM

Dispensationalism

A Return to Biblical Theology
or
Pseudo Christian Cult

"What is indisputably, absolutely, and uncompromisingly essential to the Christian religion is its doctrine of salvation... If Dispensationalism has actually departed from the only way of salvation which the Christian religion teaches, then we must say it has departed from Christianity. No matter how many other important truths it proclaims, it cannot be called Christian if it empties Christianity of its essential message. We define a cult as a religion which claims to be Christian while emptying Christianity of that which is essential to it. If Dispensationalism does this, then Dispensationalism is a cult and not a branch of the Christian church. It is as serious as that. It is impossible to exaggerate the gravity of the situation."

By John H. Gerstner
Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth: A Critique of Dispensationalism

What is Dispensationalism?


Dispensationalism is a form of premillennialism originating among the Plymouth Brethren in the early 1830's. The father of dispensationalism, John Nelson Darby, educated as a lawyer and ordained Anglican priest, was one of the chief founders of the Plymouth Brethren movement, which arose in reaction against the perceived empty formalism of the Church of England. To the Brethren the true "invisible" church was to come out of the apostate "visible" Church, rejecting such forms as priesthood and sacraments.

Dispensational theology centers upon the concept of God's dealings with mankind being divided into (usually) seven distinct economies or "dispensations", in which man is tested as to his obedience to the will of God as revealed under each dispensation.


Dispensationalists see God as pursuing two distinct purposes throughout history, one related to an earthly goal and an earthly people (the Jews), the other to heavenly goals and a heavenly people (the church).


Dispensationalists believe that in the Old Testament God promised the Jewish people an earthly kingdom ruled by Messiah ben David, and that when Christ came He offered this prophesied kingdom to the Jews. When the Jews of the time rejected Christ and the earthly kingdom, the promise was postponed, and the "mystery form" of the kingdom - the church - was established.


The church, according to dispensational doctrine, was unforeseen in the Old Testament and constitutes a "parenthesis" in God's plan for Israel. In the future, the distinction between Jew and Gentile will be reestablished and will continue throughout all eternity. The "parenthesis", or church age, will end at the rapture when Christ comes invisibly to take all believers (excepting OT saints) to heaven to celebrate the "marriage feast of the Lamb" with Christ for a period of seven years.

God's program for the Jews then resumes with the tribulation, Antichrist, bowls of wrath, 144,000 Jews preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, and Armageddon. Then, the Second (third, if you count the preTrib rapture) Coming, the instantaneous conversion of the entire nation of Israel, the resurrection of the Tribulation and Old Testament saints, and the "sheep and goats" judgment. The "goats" will be cast into hell, the "sheep" and the believing Jews will enter the millennium in natural human bodies, marrying, reproducing, and dying. The "mystery church" and the resurrected Tribulation and Old Testament saints will live in the heavenly Jerusalem suspended above the earthly city. This millennium will be a time of great peace and prosperity, with Christ ruling on David's throne. After 1,000 yrs. Satan will be released from the chain with which he had been bound at the beginning of the millennium and many of the children born to the "sheep" and the Israelites will follow him in revolt against Christ. The King will again destroy His enemies, followed by another resurrection of the righteous, another resurrection of the unrighteous, a final judgment, and at last the New Heavens and the New Earth.

Although premillennial thought has been recorded in the early church, dispensational theology and its pursuant eschatology are new, as even the father of the system admitted -
"I think we ought to have something more of direct testimony as to the lord's coming, and its bearing also on the state of the church: ordinarily, it would not be well to have it so clear, as it frightens people. We must pursue it steadily; it works like leaven, and its fruit is by no means seen yet; I do not mean leaven as ill, but the thoughts are new, and people's minds work on them, and all the old habits are against their feelings - all the gain of situation, and every worldly motive; we must not be surprised at its effect being slow on the mass, the ordinary instruments of acting upon others having been trained in most opposite habits." - LETTERS OF J.N.D., vol.1 pg.25-26

The new doctrine was widely accepted in America, due to popular prophetic meetings such as the Niagara Bible Conferences. C.I. Scofield promulgated dispensational thought in his Scofield Reference Bible. Dispensational Bible institutes by the hundreds have sprung up across the continent - notably Moody Bible Institute and Dallas Theological Seminary. Media evangelists such as Jerry Fallwell, Pat Robertson, Jack Van Impe, and Hal Lindsey popularize dispensational eschatology today. Most likely you have heard these doctrines taught over Christian radio programs, and yes, from your own church's pulpit, though probably no one defined the theological system as dispensationalism nor the origination as Darby circa 1832.
Dispensationalists view the teaching as a return to Biblical theology, after nearly 1,800 years of darkness. But, since the day Darby began to preach the doctrine, Godly men have opposed.

Many books have been published exposing the flaws in the intricate system. Most hack away at the branches, arguing peripheral issues. We intend to lay the axe to the root of the tree.
"My brother, I am a constant reader of my Bible, and I soon found that what I was taught to believe (by Darby's doctrine) did not always agree with what my Bible said. I came to see that I must either part company with John Darby, or my precious Bible, and I chose to cling to my Bible and part from Mr. Darby." - George Müeller, a contemporary and one time supporter of Darby quoted by Robert Cameron in his book SCRIPTURAL TRUTH ABOUT THE LORD'S RETURN, pp.146-7


Friday, May 12, 2006

WHAT SAITH YOU PROFESSOR


The university professor challenged his students w/this question:
"Did God create everything that exists? "

A student bravely replied, "Yes, he did!"

"God created everything?" the professor asked.

"Yes sir," the student replied.

The professor answered, "If God created everything, then God created evil since evil exists, and according to the principal that our works define who we are, then God is evil."

The professor was quite pleased with himself and boasted to the students that he had proven once more that the Christian faith was a myth.

Another student raised his hand and said, "Can I ask you a question professor?"

"Of course," replied the professor.

The student stood up and asked,
"Professor, does cold exist?"

The professor replied
"Of course it exists. Have you never been cold?"

The students snickered at the young man's question.

The young man replied,

"In fact sir, cold does not exist. According to the laws of physics, what we consider cold is in reality the absence of heat.


Every body or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body, or matter, have or transmit energy.

Absolute zero (- 460 degrees F) is the total absence of heat. Cold does not exist. We have created this word to describe how we feel if we have no heat.


The student continued. "Professor, does darkness exist?"
The professor responded, "Of course it does."

The student replied,
"Once again you are wrong sir.

Darkness does not exist either. Darkness is in reality the absence of
light. Light, we can study, but not darkness. In fact we can use Newton's prism to break white light into many colors and study the various wavelengths of each color. You cannot measure darkness. A simple ray of light can break into a world of darkness and illuminate it. How can you know how dark a certain space is?

You measure the amount of light present. Isn't this correct? Darkness is a term used by man to describe to describe what happens when there is no light present."


Finally the young man asked the professor. "Sir, does evil exist?"

Now uncertain, the professor responded,
"Of course, as I have already said. We see it every day. It is in the daily example of man's inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil."

To this the student replied,
"Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God.

God did not create evil. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God's love present in his heart. It's like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light." The professor sat down.


The young man's or student's name was:

***ALBERT EINSTEIN***